Power of Scotland

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TayWood consortium lodges £400m Edinburgh plan

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US law firm to lease City HQ after two-year search

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B&Q launches huge Midlands shed hunt

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Discovery tunes in to Chiswick Park

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L&G brightens south-east gloom

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PREMIUMConcern grows over unchecked Jakarta wildlife trade amid global outbreak

first_imgTopics : LOG INDon’t have an account? Register here Google Forgot Password ? Linkedin Log in with your social account Markets trading in exotic animals – similar to the one suspected to be at the epicenter of the novel cornavirus (2019-nCoV) that emerged in Wuhan, China – are still operating openly in Jakarta despite the rising health and safety concerns.The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Thursday the outbreak of the disease, temporarily named the “2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease”, as a global emergency.“The animals that are traded [in Jakarta’s markets] are the same as the animals traded on the Chinese market where the virus started,” Femke den Hass of the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) told The Jakarta Post on Monday, referring to pasar burung.“They’re doing exactly the same thing [as the Wuhan market]. They’re selling live animals straight from the wild to be eaten,” she added, … Facebook coronavirus Wuhan-coronavirus Wuhan-coronavirus-in-Indonesia wuhan WHO health wildlifelast_img read more

Russia-linked disinformation campaign fueling coronavirus alarm, US says

first_imgThousands of Russian-linked social media accounts have launched a coordinated effort to spread alarm about the new coronavirus, disrupting global efforts to fight the epidemic, US officials say.The disinformation campaign promotes unfounded conspiracy theories that the United States is behind the COVID-19 outbreak, in an apparent bid to damage the US image around the world by seizing on health concerns.State Department officials tasked with combating Russian disinformation told AFP that false personas are being used on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to advance Russian talking points in multiple languages. “Russia’s intent is to sow discord and undermine US institutions and alliances from within, including through covert and coercive malign influence campaigns,” said Philip Reeker, the acting Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia. “By spreading disinformation about coronavirus, Russian malign actors are once again choosing to threaten public safety by distracting from the global health response,” he said.The claims that have been circulating in recent weeks include allegations that the virus is a US effort to “wage economic war on China,” that it is a biological weapon manufactured by the CIA or part of a Western-led effort “to push anti-China messages.”US individuals including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, a philanthropist who has spent billions on global health programs, have also been falsely accused of involvement in the virus. The disinformation campaign was identified by US monitors in mid-January after Chinese officials announced a third death from the new coronavirus in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.More than 2,340 people have since died, mostly in China. The number of cases exceeds 76,000 and the virus has reached around 25 countries. Among them is Iran, which on Saturday ordered the closure of schools and universities in two cities, after a fifth death.- Close coordination observed -Several thousand online accounts — previously identified for airing Russian-backed messages on major events such as the war in Syria, the Yellow Vest protests in France and Chile’s mass demonstrations — are posting “almost near identical” messages about the novel coronavirus, according to a report prepared for the State Department’s Global Engagement Center and seen by AFP.The accounts — run by humans, not bots — post at similar times in English, Spanish, Italian, German and French and can be linked back to Russian proxies, or carry similar messages to Russian-backed outlets such as RT and Sputnik, it said.  Russian state-funded media started pushing anti-Western messages about the cause of the epidemic on January 20, with operators of the social media accounts beginning to post globally the following day, US officials say.”In this case, we were able to see their full disinformation ecosystem in effect, including state TV, proxy web sites and thousands of false social media personas all pushing the same themes,” said Special Envoy Lea Gabrielle, head of the Global Engagement Center, which is tasked with tracking and exposing propaganda and disinformation.During many past news events, the accounts would post actively for up to 72 hours. But messages about the new coronavirus have been uploaded every day over the past month — a sign, US officials said, of Russia’s investment in a story unlikely to disappear soon from the headlines.”In the Russian doctrine of information confrontation, this is classic,” said another official from the Global Engagement Center. “The number of coronavirus cases globally hasn’t reached its apex, so the Russian strategy is to very cheaply but very effectively take advantage of the information environment to sow discord between us and China, or for economic purposes.”Experts saw parallels with previous conspiracy theories traced to Moscow, including a KGB disinformation campaign in the 1980s that convinced many around the world that US scientists created the HIV virus that causes AIDS.US intelligence has also said that Russia interfered through social media manipulation in the 2016 election and seeks to do so again in 2020. The Kremlin has denied the charges and President Donald Trump has scoffed at suggestions of Russian help.- Risks seen in response -Scientists believe the COVID-19 illness originated in late December in Wuhan at a market selling exotic animals for human consumption.Bats are known carriers of this strain of the coronavirus, whose official name is SARS-CoV-2, but scientists think it spread to humans via another mammal species, possibly pangolins.The US believes the latest Russian disinformation campaign is making it harder to respond to the epidemic, particularly in Africa and Asia, with some of the public becoming suspicious of the Western response.The World Health Organization warned Friday that the window to stem the outbreak was narrowing, voicing alarm at a surge of cases with no clear link to China.A State Department official said that Russian operatives appeared to have been given “carte blanche” to attack the US reputation.”Whether or not a particular theme is being directed at the highest levels doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that they have freelance ability to operate in this space to do whatever damage they can, which could have seismic implications.”Topics :last_img read more

PREMIUMIndonesia should focus on renewable energy, not nuclear, activists say

first_imgNuclear energy renewable-energy renewable-energy-bill Activists are warning the government to steer clear of building nuclear power plants, citing safety concerns and urging Indonesia to focus on renewable energy instead.A Greenpeace Indonesia official, Satrio Swandiko, said Indonesia should heed the lessons of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, which was caused by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.Greenpeace’s Japan chapter surveyed Fukushima city, as well as the nearby towns of Naraha and Okuma in Fukushima prefecture in October and November 2019. In Fukushima’s city center, Greenpeace found at least 45 radioactive hot spots — 11 of which had radiation levels equal to and even above the Japanese government’s decontamination target of 0.23 microSieverts per hour. It showed that the impact of the nuclear meltdown continued years after the incident.“Indonesia has a high risk of… Log in with your social account Linkedin Google LOG INDon’t have an account? Register here Topics : Forgot Password ? Facebooklast_img read more

‘File your tax returns’: Tax office intensifies efforts to collect taxes as budget burdens multiply

first_img“We will go door-to-door if the taxpayers have yet to file their tax returns after the deadline,” he said, adding that the tax office would deploy officials and volunteers to visit non-compliant taxpayers.The tax office has also extended the deadline to file tax returns from March 31 to April 30, “to make things easier and provide certainty for individual taxpayers”, it said in a statement on Sunday.According to tax office data, 7.5 million taxpayers had filed their annual tax returns as of Monday, an increase from 6.9 million in the same period last year. A total of 306,464 taxpayers have filed their tax returns face-to-face this year, compared to last year’s figure of 407,044.A tax office official shows taxpayers how to file their annual tax returns at the Taxation Directorate General office in Sudirman, Jakarta, March 3, 2020. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has also taken to social media to communicate the tax office’s new policies. “We ask taxpayers to file their tax returns online or through the post office, and to avoid face-to-face interactions to minimize the potential for transmission.”By Monday, the government had announced 117 confirmed cases, including five deaths from the pneumonia-like illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Globally, the pneumonia-like illness has infected more than 182,000 people and taken at least 7,100 lives.Yustinus Prastowo, the executive director of the Center of Indonesian Taxation Analysis (CITA), said the government could afford to widen its budget-deficit-to-GDP ratio to its self-imposed threshold of 3 percent to provide fiscal room to contain any potential shocks stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.“Right now, economic growth needs to be prioritized at the cost of tax revenue, but state budget credibility needs to continue to be maintained because it’s important,” Yustinus said, projecting that tax revenue would reach around 75 percent of the state budget target during the pandemic.“The government should consider revising down the tax revenue target because the deficit could widen and thus make the state budget not credible,” said Yustinus, adding that the government should halt its long-term spending including on infrastructure projects to focus its attention on COVID-19 mitigation.Read also: Indonesia can afford the coronavirus battle, but…The government announced on Friday that it would allocate Rp 120 trillion (US$8.1 billion) from the state budget to stimulate the economy by providing tax incentives and subsidies for workers, businesses and families affected by the pandemic.It has also announced a second stimulus package, worth Rp 22.9 trillion, which includes individual and corporate tax breaks, as well as a relaxation of loan disbursement and restructuring requirements.The new measures add to the first Rp 10.3 trillion stimulus package announced on Feb. 25, which provided mortgage subsidies for low-income families and fiscal incentives for travel-related industries. The government will also speed up the disbursement of social spending in the first quarter and subsidies for the preemployment card program this month.Read also: Indonesia’s 2019 budget deficit widens to 2.2 percent amid tax revenue short fallThe government collected Rp 103.7 trillion in state revenue in January, down 4.6 percent from the same month last year. Of the total, about Rp 84.7 trillion came from taxes, down 6 percent from the same period last year.Meanwhile, government spending reached Rp 139.8 trillion, down 9.1 percent from the same period last year. This resulted in a budget deficit of Rp 36.1 trillion, 0.21 percent of GDP in January.Topics : “People need to file their tax returns to help the country amid the coronavirus outbreak that has had severe impacts, such as lowering oil prices and disrupting the manufacturing and tourism sectors,” Hestu told The Jakarta Post in a phone interview on Friday. “FILE YOUR TAX RETURNS.” As if once is not enough, this message is repeated three times in gigantic lettering on billboards across Indonesia. It projects the dire need for taxpayers to file their annual tax returns (SPT) so the government can secure the funds needed to stimulate the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.Tax office spokesperson Hestu Yoga Saksama said the authority targeted for at least 80 percent of 19 million individual taxpayers to file their SPTs, adding that the tax office had several strategies in place to ensure taxpayers filed their SPTs.center_img The tax office is encouraging individuals to file their SPTs online as it has suspended direct face-to-face services in compliance with the government’s social distancing policy to help limit the spread of COVID-19.The tax office has also taken to social media including YouTube to remind people to file their SPTs online.President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo called on all citizens on Sunday to practice social distancing to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the country, urging people to work, study and worship at home.last_img read more