September 29, 2020

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NEED TO KNOW

EUROPEAN UNION

Down and Out in Paris, Milan and Prague

In the 1920s, American writers like Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway fled their boring homeland to live in bohemian Paris. They were called the Lost Generation.

Now the term is being applied to young Europeans who have had to put off their careers twice in the early years of their lives – once due to the Eurozone crisis of 2009 and now because of the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled the continent’s economy.

“For millennials in their mid-30s, especially in southern Europe, bouts of economic misery could indeed be all that they have ever known,” wrote openDemocracy.

One of those millennials is Alessandro Margiotta: He got a job as a warehouse worker in Milan, Italy on a six-month contract, standard fare in a country where economic growth is meager, he told Politico. He had to stay home during the country’s lockdown, then lost the job when his boss said he could not renew his contract.

“My father helps me by paying for my gas, and doing the shopping,” Margiotta told Politico. “It is not easy. I can’t help but think: What if I had my own children?”

After Dunia Skaunicova received a degree in media marketing from Metropolitan University in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, she landed her “dream first job at a startup” that needed multilingual graduates, Reuters wrote. But she lost her job a few months later. Now she’s stuck.

Around 17 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 have lost their jobs in the pandemic worldwide. Those who remain employed have worked almost a quarter of fewer hours, according to the United Nations’ International Labor Organization.

In Europe, the situation was already tough for young people looking to begin their lives. But Covid-19 is making things worse. Unemployment among those under 25 increased to 15.7 percent, more than double the rate of older workers. In some southern countries, it’s twice that. One study found that youth unemployment in the European Union would increase from 2.8 to 4.8 million.

In addition to lost wages, missed opportunities and forestalled dreams today, prolonged periods of unemployment can hurt people’s chances of finding good jobs tomorrow.

Not all is doom and gloom. Germany reported improved business morale recently. But the New York Times predicted a potential “grinding downturn,” hardly a good omen, especially when one notes that the newspaper’s reporting on the European economy was far more optimistic in July.

The EU hopes to integrate financial markets more closely in a bid to jumpstart growth. That could boost the role of the euro in international commerce, Pensions & Investments wrote.

It will take more than high-level financial machinations, however, to help 20-somethings who desperately need direction in their lives – and a job.

WANT TO KNOW

WORLD

A Terrible Toll

The global death toll from the coronavirus exceeded one million Monday, a grim milestone for the world as the number of infections continues to increase exponentially, Marketwatch reported.

The number of Covid-19 deaths has been climbing in late August and September, reaching more than 5,000 a day on average in seven days. Globally, there are more than 33 million confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The United States continues to lead the number of infections globally with more than 7.1 million confirmed cases and more than 200,000 dead. India comes in second with more than six million people infected.

New hot spots have emerged in Spain, France and the UK, prompting governments to impose further restrictions to curb infection rates: The UK is on the verge of imposing another lockdown on parts of the country, Reuters reported.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, urged people to abide by strict safety measures and warned that the number of infections could rise from about 2,000 a day to 19,200 daily by Christmas.

Elsewhere, South Korea witnessed only 50 new cases, the lowest daily increase since Aug. 10, according to the Wall Street Journal. In Australia, authorities in Victoria state agreed to remove some restrictions, including ending a nighttime curfew.

ARMENIA AND AZERBAIJAN

Simmer and Boil

Fresh clashes broke out Monday between Armenian and Azeri troops in Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh in a conflict threatening to spill over into the greater Caucasus region, the Financial Times reported.

On Sunday, Azerbaijan’s military launched attacks on the region, which is within its borders but populated by ethnic Armenians. Authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh said more than 50 soldiers have died, while Azeri officials said that six civilians were killed.

The conflict has been described as the worst outbreak in fighting since 2016, when hundreds died in a five-day war.

The situation also threatens to spill over into an all-out war between Turkey and Russia, which support Azerbaijan and Armenia, respectively. It also endangers the stability of a European energy supply corridor via a pipeline that runs through Turkey.

Meanwhile, Russia and Western powers have been calling for an immediate ceasefire between the two former Soviet republics.

The disputed region split from Azerbaijan following the collapse of the Soviet Union and has been supported militarily and politically by Armenia since then. Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a ceasefire following a 1990 war that killed thousands but have yet to make a comprehensive peace deal over the region.

SPAIN

Freedom Fighter Versus Criminal

Spain’s Supreme Court upheld a ruling to bar Catalonia’s separatist leader from public office, a decision that could once again spark tensions in the northeastern region of the country, the New York Times reported Monday.

The court said that Catalan President Quim Torra will be barred from office for 18 months, upholding a previous ruling made by a Barcelona court in December.

Torra was charged for civil disobedience after refusing to take down yellow ribbons and other signs of solidarity with the separatist movement during a political campaign leading up to Spanish elections in April 2019.

Monday’s verdict is part of a long series of clashes between Spain’s central government and the Catalan leaders who favor independence. Politicians have failed to resolve the dispute and previous attempts by Catalan leaders to secede from Spain have led to arrests and the exile of separatist leaders.

Among them is Carles Puigdemont, who was ousted by the Spanish government in 2017 after pushing for secession. Since then, Puigdemont has been fighting efforts to extradite him from Belgium to stand trial for his role in the failed independence effort.

DISCOVERIES

What’s in a Day?

People measure a day using a 24-hour period but actually, that’s off, according to Business Insider.

It takes 23 hours and 56 minutes for Earth to complete a 360-degree rotation. If humans planned their lives by the Earth’s rotation, we’d be going to bed in the middle of the day after six months.

Luckily, there’s another way of measuring a day. While the “sidereal” day measures the Earth’s rotation, the one we actually use, the “solar” day, uses the Sun’s position in the sky: This is the 24 hour-day we’re used to.

In an animation, scientist James O’Donoghue explained that due to Earth circling of the Sun, a different point on the planet faces the Sun directly at the end of that 360-degree spin. For the Sun to reach the exact same position in the sky, Earth has to turn one degree further.

He noted that if humans used a sidereal day, a year would take 366 days – one day more than a solar day – and we would wake up four minutes earlier each day.

“After six months of doing this, the Sun would be rising 12 hours earlier,” he said.

COVID-19 Global Update

More than 180 nations worldwide have confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The following have the highest numbers worldwide as of 4 a.m. ET*:

  1. US: 7,149,073 (+0.47%)
  2. India: 6,145,291 (+1.16%)
  3. Brazil: 4,745,464 (+0.28%)
  4. Russia: 1,154,299 (+0.70%)
  5. Colombia: 818,203 (+0.63%)
  6. Peru: 808,714 (+1.07%)
  7. Spain: 748,266 (+4.44%)
  8. Mexico: 733,717 (+0.47%)
  9. Argentina: 723,132 (+1.66%)
  10. South Africa: 671,669 (+0.13%)

Source: Johns Hopkins University

*Numbers change over 24 hours