IMF sees less severe global contraction but trouble in emerging markets

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Forecasts for the global economy are “somewhat less dire” as rich nations and China have rebounded quicker than expected from coronavirus lockdowns, but the outlook for many emerging markets has worsened, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Gita Gopinath, Economic Counsellor and Director of the Research Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), speaks during a news conference in Santiago, Chile, July 23, 2019. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido/File Photo

The IMF forecast a 2020 global contraction of 4.4% in its latest World Economic Outlook, an improvement over a 5.2% contraction predicted in June, when pandemic-related business closures reached their peak.

The global economy will return to growth of 5.2% in 2021, the IMF said, but the rebound will be slightly weaker than forecast in June, partly due to the extreme difficulties for many emerging markets and a slowdown in the reopening of economies due to the

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U.S., UK and other countries warn tech firms that encryption creates ‘severe risks’ to public safety

  • Lawmakers from countries within the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance have urged tech firms to develop backdoors that allows them to access encrypted messages.
  • In an open statement, seven nations said that unbreakable encryption technology “creates severe risks to public safety.”
  • While citizens benefit from additional privacy, law enforcement agencies see end-to-end encryption as a barrier to their investigations.



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LONDON — Lawmakers from countries within the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance have warned tech firms that unbreakable encryption technology “creates severe risks to public safety.”

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Ministers from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand published a statement Sunday calling on the tech industry to develop a solution that enabled law enforcement to access tightly encrypted messages.

“We urge industry to address our serious concerns where encryption is applied in a way that wholly precludes any legal access to content,” the statement, which was signed by

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Breakthrough discovery in gene causing severe nerve conditions — ScienceDaily

Researchers have made a breakthrough genetic discovery into the cause of a spectrum of severe neurological conditions.

A research study, led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and gracing the cover of and published in the October edition of Human Mutation, found two new mutations in the KIF1A gene cause rare nerve disorders.

MCRI researcher Dr Simranpreet Kaur said mutations in the KIF1A gene caused ‘traffic jams’ in brain cells, called neurons, triggering a devastating range of progressive brain disorders. KIF1A-Associated Neurological Disorders (KAND) affects about 300 children worldwide.

“KAND symptoms often appear at birth or early childhood, have varying severity and can result in death within five years of life. Because clinical features overlap with other neurological disorders, children can be misdiagnosed or remain undiagnosed for a long period of time,” she said.

“Our study will lead to more diagnoses by expanding the mutation pool further, finding

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The ancient Neanderthal hand in severe COVID-19 — ScienceDaily

Since first appearing in late 2019, the novel virus, SARS-CoV-2, has had a range of impacts on those it infects. Some people become severely ill with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and require hospitalization, whereas others have mild symptoms or are even asymptomatic.

There are several factors that influence a person’s susceptibility to having a severe reaction, such as their age and the existence of other medical conditions. But one’s genetics also plays a role, and, over the last few months, research by the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative has shown that genetic variants in one region on chromosome 3 impose a larger risk that their carriers will develop a severe form of the disease.

Now, a new study, published in Nature, has revealed that this genetic region is almost identical to that of a 50,000-year old Neanderthal from southern Europe. Further analysis has shown that, through interbreeding,

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Strong activation of anti-bacterial T cells linked to severe COVID-19 — ScienceDaily

A type of anti-bacterial T cells, so-called MAIT cells, are strongly activated in people with moderate to severe COVID-19 disease, according to a study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden that is published in the journal Science Immunology. The findings contribute to increased understanding about how our immune system responds against COVID-19 infection.

“To find potential treatments against COVID-19, it is important to understand in detail how our immune system reacts and, in some cases, perhaps contribute to worsening the disease,” says Johan Sandberg, professor at the Department of Medicine, Huddinge, at Karolinska Institutet and the study’s corresponding author.

T cells are a type of white blood cells that are specialized in recognizing infected cells, and are an essential part of the immune system. About 1 to 5 percent of T cells in the blood of healthy people consist of so-called MAIT cells (mucosa-associated invariant T cells), which

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Severe marine heat waves linked to human-caused warming

Unusually hot zones in the ocean likely will become longer, more frequent.

This is an Inside Science story.

The scientists, led by postdoctoral researcher Charlotte Laufkötter at the University of Bern in Switzerland, focused on seven well-documented marine heat waves from the past decade. For each hot spell, they calculated the relative probabilities that a similar event could have occurred with and without human influence. They found that human activities such as greenhouse gas emissions made the heat waves much more likely

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Microsoft warns that hackers are exploiting a severe Windows security flaw



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Windows Zerologon

  • Homeland Security issued a rare warning about a Windows Server vulnerability that would give attackers complete control of every computer on a network.
  • The CISA warning said at the time that it assumes active exploitation is occurring in the wild, advising everyone to apply the August patch that Microsoft release.
  • Microsoft on Thursday noted that it has already observed attacks that incorporate the new Windows flaw.

Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a rare emergency alert last week, over what appears to be one of the worst Windows flaws in recent history. Security researchers have identified a vulnerability so severe that it received a maximum severity score (10.0), prompting the agency to advise all governmental agencies to update their computers using Microsoft’s first patch for the issue that was launched a few weeks ago. The issue is so severe that a

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Smoking and obesity identified to have causal link with susceptibility to severe COVID-19 and sepsis

News23 SepSmoking and obesity identified to have causal link with susceptibility to severe COVID-19 and sepsis
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An international collaboration of scientists from the UK, Norway and the U.S. have identified genetic evidence supporting a causal effect of smoking and obesity on increasing susceptibility to severe COVID-19 and sepsis.

Published online in Circulation today, the results show that both smoking and higher body mass index (BMI, a measure of obesity) increase risk of severe COVID-19. The same was also true for the risk of developing sepsis, which is a dangerous inflammatory response to infection, experienced by many patients with severe COVID-19.

Confirming the causal connection also highlights that stopping smoking and losing weight can be effective interventions for reducing the risk of developing severe COVID-19 and sepsis.

Led by Dr. Dipender Gill, from St George’s, University of London and Imperial College London, the “Mendelian randomisation” study considered separate datasets of 3,199 patients with severe COVID-19 and 10,154 patients with sepsis. Using genetic

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Driven by climate, more frequent, severe wildfires in Cascade Range reshape forests — ScienceDaily

In recent years — and 2020 is no exception — parts of the Pacific Northwest that are typically too wet to burn are experiencing more frequent, severe and larger wildfires due to changes in climate. New research from Portland State University found that while the increased wildfire activity is causing widespread changes in the structure and composition of these mid-to-high elevation forests, the new landscapes are also likely more resilient to projected upward trends in future fire activity and climate conditions.

The study, led by PSU graduate student Sebastian Busby, examined temperate forests that burned expansively, severely and repeatedly between 2003 and 2015 in the central Cascade Range of Oregon and Washington. On Mt. Adams, these wildfires included the 2008 Cold Springs, 2012 Cascade Creek and 2015 Cougar Creek fires. On Mt. Jefferson, the wildfires included the 2003 Booth and Bear Butte Complex, 2007 Warm Springs Area Lightning Complex and

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Some severe COVID-19 cases linked to genetic mutations or antibodies that attack the body — ScienceDaily

People infected by the novel coronavirus can have symptoms that range from mild to deadly. Now, two new analyses suggest that some life-threatening cases can be traced to weak spots in patients’ immune systems.

At least 3.5 percent of study patients with severe COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, have mutations in genes involved in antiviral defense. And at least 10 percent of patients with severe disease create “auto-antibodies” that attack the immune system, instead of fighting the virus. The results, reported in two papers in the journal Science on September 24, 2020, identify some root causes of life-threatening COVID-19, says study leader Jean-Laurent Casanova, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at The Rockefeller University.

Seeing these harmful antibodies in so many patients — 101 out of 987 — was “a stunning observation,” he says. “These two papers provide the first explanation for why COVID-19 can be so

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