Monthly Global Forecast |April 2020

Defence and Security

British Armed Forces to be on “Operational Footing” by Mid-April

The Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter has ordered the armed forces to be on an “operational footing” by mid-April. In a letter issued to senior officers, General Carter has said the armed forces should treat the military response to the Coronavirus as a six-month operational tour. The service chiefs and the head of Strategic Command are expected to respond early next week detailing what each can provide for “Operation Rescript,” the codename for the military response to Covid-19. A leave ban for some personnel is expected.

Turkey Will Operationalise Russian S-400s in April

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey will activate its Russian-made S-400 missile-defence systems in April. Washington has threatened Turkey with sanctions over its decision to press ahead with deploying the S-400s and has warned the country against activating them if it wants to buy rival American Patriot batteries and return to joint production of the F-35 stealth warplane. The US fears that the Russian missiles could compromise NATO technology. The last time the US sanctioned Turkey, to pressure it to release a detained US pastor, the lira crashed andthe Turkish economy was sent into a recession from which it is still recovering.

UK Royal Air Force to Launch Swarming Drone Squadron

The United Kingdom Royal Air Force in April is set to launch a new squadron to bring swarming drones into service and assess their capabilities. The technology, originally announced by former Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, was due to be in service by the end of 2019. However, the capabilities will now be brought into service in April. The squadron will reportedly be used to locate and confuse anti-air infrastructure, so conventional aircraft could destroy it.

Politics and Governance

Chinese Government to Ease Lockdown in Wuhan City the Upcoming Month

With the COVID-19 declining in Wuhan city of Hubei province, the Chinese government has announced its plan to ease the lock down in the city on 8 April. Many fear that the loosening of the lockdown might lead to a resurgence of the virus due to its asymptomatic nature and incidence of imported COVID-19 cases. Wuhan became the epicentre of Coronavirus outbreak in December 2020. The lockdown, confining around 11 million Chinese in homes, was imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus. The decreasing restrictions come in the midst of the pandemic strongly accelerating across the world.

Serbia’s Opposition to Boycott Upcoming Parliamentary Election

Serbia’s opposition parties have announced to boycott parliamentary election that is to be held on 26 April. Boycotting parties cite political violence, restricted press freedom, corruption, ties with organised crime and the authoritarian style of leadership as the reasons for calling off participation in the election. Earlier, Serbia was declared among the states with the largest 10-year decline in democratic freedoms by a human rights watchdog, Freedom House.

New Leader of UK’s Labour Party to be Announcedon April 4

The new leader of UK’s Labour Party will be announced on April 4 after the ballot-close on April 2. Critics believe that the on-going election process for Labour Party leadership has led to an incoherent and ineffective party response to the Coronavirus outbreak.  The election has said to also have exposed the growing ideological factions within the party, with difference visibly emerging between the radical left, soft left and the new orthodox left.

Social Issues

Baltimore Police to Launch its First Surveillance Plane in April

Baltimore Police Department is all set to launch its first surveillance plane in April. The Police Commissioner Harrison said that the city will be the first in the United States of America to use a surveillance plane for crime reduction. The four major crime categories that the plane will be monitoring are “fatal shootings, non-fatal shootings, armed robberies and carjackings,” claimed the Commissioner. Many in Baltimore are concerned about the breach of individual rights and the skewed ethics of the project. The commissioner in a bid to win confidence of the citizens said that the resolution of the cameras deployed in the plane is so that a person appears only as a pixel in the video and no proper identification can be made.

Census to Take Place in the US Next Month

The United States Census Bureau is holding census next month. This census will be conducted online, by phone or by mail. From March 30 to April 1, the Census Bureau will count homeless individuals (those in shelters, soup kitchens, mobile food vans, on the streets and non-sheltered, outdoor locations such as tent encampments). Also, in April, census takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, individuals living in senior centres and those living among large groups of people. Follow-up with households in those areas that have not yet responded will also take place in April.

Energy and Environment

The UK Seeks to Block Offshore Wind Impact on Radar

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is seeking new technology to mitigate the impact of offshore wind farms on the UK’s air defence radar system.The MoD’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) innovation hub has launched a £2m (€2.3m) “WindfarmMitigation for UK Air Defence”competition to find suitable technologies, which once deployed, could pave the way for a “significant boost” in the UK’s renewable energy growth. Multiple proposals are expected to be funded with the £2m amount with individual contracts capped at £500,000. The competition will close at midday April17.

Construction of Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam in Ghana

Construction of the Pwalugu multipurpose dam in Ghana is set to begin in April. This is after the Ghanaian Parliament approved the project’s development. The approval of the project which was already launched by President Nana Akufo-Addo had been delayed by parliamentarians who questioned the cost of the project. The Pwalugu multi-purpose dam is located on the White Volta River on the boundary of the Upper East and North East regions. The project which is expected to cost the government nearly $1bn will be undertaken by Sinohydro Power, a Chinese construction firm. The contractor is expected to start work immediately and complete the construction work within 50 months. The project is expected to boost the growth of Ghana’s economy through increased solar energy supply and enhanced agriculture production, thereby reducing imports and ensuring effective perennial flood control.

Trade and Economics

Trump Administration Plans to Kick Off 700,000 Food Stamps During the Pandemic

Starting April 1, the Trump administration will tighten work requirements for those seeking  help of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Able-bodied people between the ages of 18 and 49 years who arenot raising children will have to work at least 20 hours a week to become eligible for SNAP. That is a requirement that many states have been able to waive off until the Trump administration stepped in. It doesnot meanthat SNAP assistance is generally the only government help these people — whose income is at 92 percent below the poverty line — can get, as they do not qualify for other programmes that provide for the elderly, disabled, or parents. On average, this group earns about $2,250 a year and receives about $165 in monthly SNAP benefits. That is only about $1.80 per meal, but it can go a long way for those in low-wage jobs or who are underemployed.

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