Bitcoin’s price during Davos 2018: $10,000.
Bitcoin’s price during Davos 2019: $3,560.
The digital currency was a major focus of last year’s World Economic Forum. Its collapsing value is reflected in a much lower profile this time around.
The “CRYPTO” and “BLOCKCHAIN” signs that littered the city’s promenade last year have all but disappeared, and bitcoin has virtually vanished from the official agenda. There was a line to get into last year’s big panel debate on cryptocurrencies; there were plenty of empty seats on Wednesday.
But the discussion was perhaps more mature.
Elizabeth Rossiello, the founder of digital payments platform BitPesa, explained how the industry was evolving. She pointed to her company, which operates across Africa, as an example.
BitPesa allows people to transfer funds by using bitcoin to move money across borders. “We don’t want to replace the local African currencies … we want to make it easier to have African currency pairs,” she said.
Rossiello argued that digital currencies have shaken off their reputation as only being useful for hiring an “assassin” on the “dark web.”
This being Davos, there was also a skeptic on the panel. Harvard professor Kenneth Rogoff, who has in the past likened bitcoin to a lottery ticket, said that digital currencies remain vulnerable to manipulation.
“If someone wants to do mischief, there seem to be ways to do it. And then who do you call? Oh, we decentralized it,” he said.
The discussion ended with a vote on what’s next for cryptocurrencies. Asked whether “the whole thing is totally overhyped and quite dangerous,” only one member of the audience raised a hand.
That person? Gottfried Leibbrandt, CEO of the global international payments system Swift.
Barbadians celebrate the birth of a republic and bid farewell to the Queen
Official festivities marking the island’s historic transition from realm to republic took place in National Heroes Square in the heart of the capital of Bridgetown. Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, had come from London for the occasion and watched as the Royal Standard flag was lowered from the flagpole and the new Presidential…
Official festivities marking the island’s historic transition from realm to republic took place in National Heroes Square in the heart of the capital of Bridgetown. Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, had come from London for the occasion and watched as the Royal Standard flag was lowered from the flagpole and the new Presidential Standard raised in its place.
After taking in a 21-gun salute to mark the historic switch, Mason later bestowed the country’s highest-ranking honor, the Order of Freedom, upon the Prince of Wales — a move designed to highlight the continued close relationship between Barbados and the United Kingdom.
Barbados’s decision marks the first time in nearly three decades that a realm has opted to remove the British monarch as head of state. The last nation to do so was the island of Mauritius in 1992. Like that country, Barbados intends to remain part of the Commonwealth — a 54-member organization of mostly former British territories designed to foster international cooperation and trade.
Prince Charles, who had arrived late on Sunday as Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s guest of honor, told the people of Barbados it was “important” to him to witness the ceremonial changeover.
He also reaffirmed “the close and trusted partnership between Barbados and the UK as vital members of the Commonwealth.”
Some in Bridgetown, however, questioned why the Queen’s son had come at all, pointing out that the island’s historical relationship with the crown was rooted in slavery.
“No member of the royal family should participate in our major freedom day,” activist David Denny told CNN.
“The royal family benefited from slavery financially and many of our African brothers and sisters died in battle for change,” added Denny, general secretary of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration.
An expedition for King James I of England claimed Barbados when his ships first arrived on its shores in 1625. A settlement was established two years later.
“It was the first laboratory for English colonialism in the tropics,” Richard Drayton, professor of imperial and global history at Kings College London, told CNN.
“Barbados also provided an important source of private wealth in 17th and 18th-century England,” he added, noting that many English families made substantial fortunes from sugar and slavery.
Citing that history, Denny described Prince Charles’ participation as “an insult to our people” and called for financial reparations from the royal family, as well as the British government and other institutions that profited from transporting people from Africa and enslaving them on plantations across the Caribbean.
A stone’s throw away from the site of the ceremony in Swan Street, a popular shopping area among locals in downtown Bridgetown, many Barbadians also welcomed the change .
Roger Goodridge, a 59-year-old toy seller, described the move to a republic as “a long time coming” and said he was unsurprised by Charles’ visit.
“The time has passed for ‘Little England.’ We are now on our own and on to our biggest success — breaking the waters and moving onto another stage in our life.”
Victoria Norvill, a 16-year-old student enjoying the public holiday with some girlfriends told CNN: “I feel very good about Barbados becoming a republic because we get to be free and independent.”
Others expressed support but wondered if transition had been “a bit too fast.” The government created its 10-member group tasked with helping manage the transition from a monarchical system to a republic in May this year.
“It’s too hasty. Everyone hasn’t think about it yet and there’s so many people that don’t even know what is a republic,” said Andre Moore, 36.
“I think they should at least have taken a whole year to deal with this or at least two years. I think two years to really think about it, get the mind settled for what they have prepared for this whole republic thing.
Tropical cyclones in Asia could have double the destructive power by the end of century, study finds
Using data from nearly four decades from 1979 to 2016, researchers found that the destructive power of tropical cyclones had dramatically increased, with stronger landfalling cyclones lasting longer and tracking further inland.The study, by researchers at the Shenzhen Institute of Meteorological Innovation and the Chinese University of Hong Kong and published in Frontiers in Earth…
Using data from nearly four decades from 1979 to 2016, researchers found that the destructive power of tropical cyclones had dramatically increased, with stronger landfalling cyclones lasting longer and tracking further inland.
The study, by researchers at the Shenzhen Institute of Meteorological Innovation and the Chinese University of Hong Kong and published in Frontiers in Earth Science, said that tropical cyclones now last between two and nine hours longer and traveled an average of 100 km (62 miles) further inland than they did four decades ago.
The study looked at cyclones over east and southeast Asia and found the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi and the southern China region were hardest hit between 1979 and 2016.
Researchers also found that by the end of the century, the average landfall wind speed over Asian inland regions could increase by two meters per second, or 5 miles per hour. Small increases in top wind speeds of a cyclone can bring much higher levels of destruction.
The study suggests an average cyclone by then will last around 5 hours longer and will travel 92 kilometers (57 miles) farther inland, nearly doubling their destructive power.
Tropical cyclones are among the most dangerous natural disasters, with flooding rainfall, damaging winds and storm surge. Over the past 50 years, these cyclones have led to nearly 780,000 deaths and around $1.4 billion worth of economic losses globally.
And in September 2021, the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused torrential rain and flash flooding in New York, leaving at least 50 people dead.
“Both disasters caused huge economic and human losses,” the study’s lead author, Dr Chi-Yung Tam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong said.
Tam and his colleagues are calling for more action to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions and increase disaster preparedness in Asia.
Several studies suggest that warmer ocean temperatures are intensifying tropical cyclones.
If a cyclone intensifies in strength at landfall, it will travel further inland, amplifying its destructive power.
While human-caused global warming is likely fueling the increase in the severity of the storms, natural weather cycles and events can also strengthen — or weaken — the intensity and frequency of cyclones.
Tam said numerical models predict the climate crisis “will likely continue the increasing trend in landfalling typhoons and their impacts on inland regions.”
“More Asian inland regions may be exposed to more severe storm-related disasters in the future as a result of the climate crisis,” he said.
Travel to Japan during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go
Editor’s Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on November 29.(CNN) — If you’re planning…
Editor’s Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on November 29.
Following the identification of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Japan shut its borders to all foreigners except those visiting the country on humanitarian grounds, effective November 30.
Currently there are no exceptions for students or for people visiting family members. The government will revisit these rules if and when the new variant is contained.
What’s on offer
A heady mix of the cutting edge and deeply traditional, Japan remains a major draw for travelers from all over the globe. Whether participating in a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto, scouring Tokyo’s Akihabara district for tech bargains or soaking in a hot onsen in the forests of Tohoku, this is a country that leaves its mark on all who visit.
Who can go
Japan has some of the most stringent travel restrictions in the world.
What are the restrictions?
Those traveling under Japan’s revised business travel rules will need to provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, signed and stamped by the laboratory where it was taken. While they will not need to self-isolate, they will need to provide details of their movements for the following two weeks and not use public transport.
Japan is entirely free of the “state of emergency” or “quasi-state of emergency” designations as of October 1. That is the first time since April that not a single prefecture will be in one of the categories.
Under these states and quasi-states, prefecture governments were allowed to make restrictions about things like crowd sizes and restaurant hours. With those designations lifted, it is possible for venues like bars, malls and cinemas to reopen.
What’s the Covid situation?
As of November 22, Japan had reported 1,725,850 confirmed cases of the virus and 18,343 deaths. These numbers don’t include any positive cases connected to the Olympics or Paralympics. More than 76% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato confirmed to local media that his team is exploring options for “vaccine passports.” Business travelers would be prioritized for these at first.
What can visitors expect?
While much of Japan remains open for business, cities are far quieter than usual and the government has the right to request the closure of businesses in areas of high transmission. Masks must be worn in public.
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Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley and Lilit Marcus contributed to this story