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China trade growth ‘unsustainable’ if virus not controlled: minister

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A recovery in China’s trade growth is not sustainable unless the coronavirus pandemic is brought under control globally, the minister of industry and information technology warned Wednesday.

China’s exports saw a surprise increase in April, partly because of rising medical product shipments, as production resumed after months of closures to control the outbreak, while imports and exports fell less than expected in renminbi terms during the first four months.

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But Miao Wei told a news conference that “although our imports and exports in renminbi terms from January to April have increased moderately, I think that if the global pandemic cannot come under effective control, this is unsustainable”.

To drive economic growth, the country will “rapidly activate domestic demand” to make up for weakness in the international markets, he said.

China had already been trying to boost consumption as a key driver of domestic growth in a drive to recalibrate the economy from one driven by exports and state investment.

Miao also said companies have experienced a fall in production since work resumed because of falling demand after governments went into lockdown to contain the spread of the disease, effectively strangling their economies.

China’s key markets have been reeling from the virus fallout, with more than 30 million jobs destroyed in the United States, where the Treasury Secretary has warned of “permanent damage” to the economy if strict stay-at-home measures are not lifted soon enough.

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Asked about the possibility that firms have to stop work again after resuming production, Miao said the “general policy direction is still to… use domestic demand and consumption to drive economic growth”.

He believes there remains scope for the industrial economy to continue recovering in the second quarter, and said if the pandemic comes under control performance will be better in the second half of 2020.

While a recent survey by Chinese authorities showed some 40 percent of foreign-funded enterprises plan to step up investment in China in the near term, according to Miao, firms engaged in foreign trade have been hit particularly hard during the pandemic.

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China plans to “introduce more targeted policies” to help smaller firms, he said.


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A historian details Trump’s surprising and peculiar relationship with America’s Puritan legacy

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Whatever one feels about it, the ‘Trump phenomenon’ is often described as the US version of a populist trend that has impacted on many areas of contemporary global politics.  However, despite the global political similarities, Donald Trump’s success is also rooted in a peculiarly American experience, since a very large and influential part of his support base lies among Christians of the so-called ‘evangelical right’.

The presidential inauguration, in 2017, featured six religious leaders, more than any other inauguration in history.  Since then many evangelical leaders have (controversially) claimed that God has placed Trump in the White House, despite his character flaws, because he is the man who will get God’s work done at this – in their  view – critical point in US and world history. As a result, the influence of evangelical Christians on American politics has never been more pronounced. From the appointment of Supreme Court judges to US relations with Israel, from support for ‘The Wall’ to abortion legislation, the power of this extraordinary lobby is seen in the changing politics and policies of the nation. A veritable culture war appears to be occurring over the future direction of the USA; a battle for the ‘soul of America’.

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Trump supporters desperately grasp at a new ‘gotcha’ to discredit a national social justice uprising

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Unable to defend the extrajudicial killing of black people by the police or the viciousness of police assaults on peaceful protesters, conservatives are grasping desperately at a new gotcha to discredit the recent national uprisings: Liberals are a bunch of hypocrites. This time, however, it's got a coronavirus twist, as progressives are being accused of hypocrisy for supporting the protests while allegedly opposing all other social gatherings in the name of "public health."

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One out of three Americans used bleach ‘in non recommended high-risk practices’ to battle coronavirus: CDC report

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One third of Americans used bleach or other household disinfectants "in non-recommended high risk practices" in attempts to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus, a new CDC survey finds.

Among the non-recommended practices were using “bleach on food products, applying household cleaning and disinfectant products to skin, and inhaling or ingesting cleaners and disinfectants,” the CDC says, as The Daily Beast reports.

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