Mint Lite is a quick update to bring you up to speed on all the news you need to know—and some things that are just fun to know—in five minutes before you start your day
The European Union plans to partially and slowly ease restrictions and allow most travel to its member countries from 1 July. Non-essential travel was restricted from mid-March, and the curbs are due to lapse on 15 June. After months of shutdown, Europe is now looking to revive the domestic economy as the summer tourism season begins while guarding against a second wave of infections. To catch up on the rest of the news in five minutes, here’s Mint Lite.
World economy to slide 6%: OECD
The COVID-19 pandemic has fragmented the world economy, Paris-based OECD said. The “extraordinary uncertainty and unprecedented loss of income" will hit businesses and the most vulnerable, it said, prompting governments to take “extraordinary action" to protect people. OECD has forecast a global economic slump of 6% this year, more than World Bank estimates earlier this week. This is if virus continues to recede. If there is a second wave of infections, it could mean 7.6% contraction. It highlighted deepening fault lines created by the virus, including in social and health systems, and the capacity of governments to respond. Lockdowns have heightened inequalities between workers, with the youngest and least qualified on the front line. By the end of 2021, it expects loss of income to “exceed that of any previous recession over the last 100 years outside wartime". Covid-19 has accelerated “the shift from great integration to great fragmentation," it said.
Assam fire threatens lives, wetlands
Two firefighters have died and over 3,000 people evacuated from a fire at an Oil India natural gas well in Assam’s Tinsukia district. The well caught fire on Tuesday afternoon, about two weeks after it began leaking gas. Workers have been trying to cap the well since 27 May, but OIL has now said the fire could take at least four more weeks to control. Four people have been injured and about 30 homes damaged. Environmentalists said they are worried about the impact as the well is about 1km from the Maguri-Motapung Beel wetland, and 2.5km from the Dibru Saikhowa National Park. The fire at the periphery has been contained, but it has spread due to the presence of natural gas condensate, an OIL official told Al Jazeera. Last month, OIL received clearance from the Centre to carry out drilling and testing of hydrocarbons in seven locations under Dibru Saikhowa National Park, which locals and activists have been protesting, Mongabay reports.
Covid-19 hits women’s jobs
The lockdown has been lifted, but its effect is harsher on employment of women and disadvantaged caste groups than others. Ashoka University’s Ashwini Deshpande used data from Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy to find that 100 million men lost jobs, against 17 million women, but as a proportion of workforce, 39% women were without work in April 2020 as against 29% men. The reason is more men get paid work than women. This is a trend worldwide—70% of 44 million jobs likely to be lost globally due to covid-19 are done by women. In US, more women than men lost jobs from February to May—11.5 million to 9 million men’s jobs. Hospitality, education, health, and trade—which employed 47% women—accounted for 59% of total loss in non-farm jobs from February to May.
34 years on, Sweden closes case
After 34 years, Sweden has closed the investigation into the murder of former prime minister Olof Palme in 1986. Palme was shot in Stockholm while walking home with his wife and son. The killer disappeared, setting off a manhunt and conspiracy theories that speculated on the involvement of everyone from CIA to Kurdish separatists and even linked it to his discovery of corruption in the Bofors deal in India. At a press briefing on Wednesday, officials said the assassin was Stig Engstrom, a graphic designer, a former army veteran and a critic of Palme’s policies who died by suicide in 2000. Palme was a Social Democrat who laid the foundations for Sweden’s welfare state. Over the years, more than 100 people claimed responsibility for the murder but the investigation got nowhere. Palme’s murder is seen a “defining moment" in a nation that considers itself an open and peaceful society.
Notre-Dame work resumes
The delicate work of removing molten scaffolding from the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris is underway. Scaffolding encased much of the 850-year-old cathedral, including its spire, as it was undergoing repairs when a huge fire broke out in April last year. The spire crashed down during the blaze, and the scaffolding, which included 50,000 tubes, became a tangled melted mess and got attached to the building. This week, workers have started the job of cutting away the 20 tonnes of metal. To do this, they’ve built another complex, giant scaffold structure over the damaged cathedral. Teams hanging from ropes 40 to 50 metres in the air will use electric saws to cut away the scaffolding piece by piece. It’s one of the riskiest operations of the restoration process, officials said. The process could damage the limestone walls supporting the ceiling vaults. The operation is expected to take four months, after which reconstruction and redesign can begin.