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UN Chief outraged at Burkina Faso Attack that left more than 100 dead

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The world is no stranger to terrorist attacks now. There have been many terrorist attacks in different parts of the world by now. Each country in the world struggles with its own form of terror today. The most recent example of a brutal terrorist attack is in Burkina Faso. On June 4, 2021, armed terrorists took control of a village in northeastern Burkina Faso. The attack that has claimed more than 100 lives now is the worst terrorist attack Burkina Faso has faced in recent years.

The attack took place in the Solhan village of Yaga province in jihadist controlled northeastern region. The small village of Solhan lies on the Burkina Faso- Niger border. It is, therefore, one of the most volatile regions of the country. Firstly, the attackers killed the residents of the village and then burnt down their homes too. Secondly, the attackers also burnt the village marketplace too. Moreover, more than 40 residents were wounded in the attack, further endangering civilian lives.

The Burkina Faso government has declared a 72 hour mourning period condemning the loss of lives and property. No particular terrorist group has till now taken responsibility for the incident. However, international and national organizations are trying to link the incident with infamous terrorist groups. Despite the presence of UN peacekeeping forces in the country, Burkina Faso still struggles with jihadist organization presence. The most recent attack is only one out of the many attacks that happen in the country periodically.

The violence in Burkina Faso has native residents leave the country. For example, more than 1.4 million people have left the country because of long-standing violence and conflict. Given the number of civilians that have been affected by terrorist activists, strong responses from different spheres of the world are coming in.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has strongly expressed his outrage over the brutal massacre of civilians in Burkina Faso. The attack also took the lives of nearly seven children. Regardless to say, the recent terrorist attack is seen as a crime against humanity and peace. The Secretary-General has also called for support from the international community so that the West African country can save itself from further terrorist attacks. The United Nations Organization has expressed its solidarity with the Burkina Faso government in its journey towards peace and order in the region. Different African countries and other international powers have also condemned the incident.

WHO: Vaccination is important, can help reduce risk of variants

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The most effective tool right now to win the battle against Covid-19 is vaccination. Getting the jab means protecting yourself as well as others against the deadly virus.

Vaccines train the immune system to fight the virus and develop antibodies against it without getting the virus itself. Majority of people who are getting infected with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus, are able to develop temporary anti-bodies within a few weeks.

But taking the vaccine acts as a booster and strengthens the immune system against future transmission, especially because of instances of people getting infected with the virus for the second time even after fighting it once.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently estimated that vaccination against Covid-19 is bound to reduce the risk against the new variants by 80%. With new variants getting recognized in every country, the vaccines are said to be effective in reducing the risk so that the imported strain does not wreak major havoc.

During a news conference on Monday, 7th June, 2021, Dr. Michael Ryan, Emergencies Chief, WHO, exclaimed that wider vaccine coverage is the only way out of the pandemic. Many rich countries have opened vaccinations for the youth who are at low risk of danger even before the elderly, even as the same countries are facing pressure to export vaccines to poor ones who do not have enough supply.

Even though Britain has seen a huge slump in the number of cases due to an aggressive vaccination drive, the recent reports have shown a surge owing to the Indian originated so-called delta variant of the deadly virus.

WHO is still not sure about the exact percentage of vaccination coverage to fully have an impact on the transmission but 80% can be claimed on a sure basis.

The Indian delta variant has spread in more than 60 countries worldwide, and has higher transmissibility chances than the alpha variant that first originated in Britain, as per Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on coronavirus. Kerkhove has also thrown light on the increased transmission of the virus, increased gatherings, relaxation of public health and social distancing measures and uneven distribution of vaccines around the world, all adding to the increase in the number of cases, even after the virus has been in existence for over a year.

According to reports, the G-7 leaders are all set to meet later this week in England and can possibly help to meet the set target of vaccinating 10% of the population in every country by the end of September and 30% by the end of the year 2021.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that these targets can only be fulfilled by the availability of additional 250 million doses by September and millions more in the months of June and July itself.

Safe and effective vaccines are contributing in preventing the chaos due to vaccines but as a part of mankind, it is our personal responsibility to get vaccinated.

Migrant chaos in UK- How is the situation worsening?

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The UK is facing migrant chaos since more than 1600 migrants arrived in the country after illegally crossing the English Channel in May, 2021 – approximately more than double the number of last year May.

The highest number of migrants in a single day this year has been 209 people in nine boats. In total, more than 1850 people have arrived in the UK by boat in 2021 up till now.

As per the board officers, unruly smugglers have been trying to attract more migrants to invade through the English Channel on boats that is quite a risky journey.

The department claims that it has been working to break the chain of smugglers and illegal travelers who are risking their lives to carry out such a perilous journey.

The Home Officer has also claimed that 132 migrants crossed the channel on 3rd June, 2021.

This gave impetus to larger groups of people as the weather has started to warm up and seas have become relatively calmer.

Everyday since last month, boats have been intercepted by the UK authorities. A vessel with 17 people entered the channel on 5th June, 2021 with 71 more people travelling in three boats on Monday.

With the crisis getting out of hand, the Home Officer confirmed French authorities stopping 3600 prospective travelers from making the journey so far in 2021. 65 prosecutions regarding small boats have also been secured since the beginning of the year.

Home Secretary Priti Patel vowed to make the crossing “unviable” and has plans to make the overhaul more difficult for asylum seekers, as published in March, 2021. Under the plans, these asylum seekers won’t be enjoying the same privileges as compared to those entering legally.

Officials believe that the recent surge is because of two reasons- firstly, the illegal immigrants were supposed to be returning to safer places like the EU countries, but the nations abruptly refused them entry. Secondly, the rise in small boats trespassing the English Channel can be partially due to the reduction in the number of lorries travelling from French ports.

Majority of migrants arriving are being lodged at former army barracks in Folkestone, Kent, which was set ablaze in an uproar earlier in January this year during the coronavirus outbreak.

Asylum seekers are being permitted to enter and leave the camp. Adults are being interviewed before allotment of lodging centers across Britain that are being provided by private contractors in the UK. In the process of waiting on asylum applications, the migrants are being granted 37.75 pounds per week for basics like food, shelter, clothing and toiletries.

Normally, the Kent County Council takes solo children into its shelter but due to warnings by the UK border staff about the alarming situation, matters are supposed to be worsening. According to Lucy Merton, Officer, ISU immigration, the Border Force Staff are facing the pressure and multiple threats from the arriving groups, but the groups will be provided with accommodation.

Crowdfunding: How to give without getting scammed!

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Crowdfunding is the process of raising capital for a project or a venture from a large number of people, typically over the internet. The practice makes use of social media platforms and crowdfunding websites to collect amounts as little as even $10 from volunteers willing to donate.

With the world being attacked by the deadly coronavirus since December 2019, crowdfunding has become a major S.O.S for the needy and distressed. Crowdfunding raised record amounts in 2020. Crowdfunding sites like GoFunfMe have become a very popular source to donate. The website claimed that it attracted funds worth $625 million for Covid relief between March, 2020- June, 2020.

In the UK, Coronavuirus has had a big impact on the type of crowdfunding. Crowdfunding platforms related to rewards and donations have been raising funds for frontline workers. In the domain of equity crowdfunding, UK based fintech startup Freetrade raised 7 million pounds from around 8000 backers in just five days.

Gluten Free premium cup noodles company – Pure Food Company raised funds for themselves to scale up their sales and marketing efforts amidst the chaos to help the poor eat better via their products.

In addition to that, many celebrities, influencers, social media bloggers and fundraising networks organised fund collection drives for various causes like college tuition, medical expenses etc. to help the distressed sail through the tough times.

But while the social media platforms and crowdfunding websites employ highly technical and reliable safeguards against hackers and frauds, there have been cases of misuse of funds collected in all parts of the world.

There are many ways to ensure the authenticity of a fundraiser and give without getting scammed. In case of fundraising via a social media platform, check as to who is raising the funds, whether they are an influencer or the family member of the grieved itself.

In case of involvement of a middle party like an influencer, check their reach and how they are related to the grieved. In case of a social media profile, check the number of followers and the profile photo. A freshly constructed profile just for the sake of one fundraising campaign is something that one would want to steer clear of.

To assess posted pictures and profile photos, a Google reverse image search can be performed by dragging the photo into the site’s search window and checking if it’s an original photo or picked up from stock images.

Some of the top crowdfunding websites are Crowdcube, Kickstarter, Syndicate Room, Indiegogo, GoFunfMe, JustGiving, Crowdfunder and Seedrs. Many of these platforms like Crowdfunder do not charge any platform fee for donations, medical related charities, personal cause projects and fundraising related to Covid-19 cases.

In these unprecedented times, many companies have been forced to layoff employees to reduce operating costs. National charities are doing their but but giving to non-profit organisations and standing up for genuine causes is the best way to help the community and stay clear from scams.

Work from Home – How to battle the lethargy?

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After spending more than a year working from home due to Covid-19, some basic problems in terms of work, motivation and productivity on a personal level still remain.

The settling has offered multiple benefits like flexible working hours and greater savings. But the flip side has been more challenging with longer working hours, fewer breaks, lack of concentration and divided attention.

Languishing – the feeling of stagnation, emptiness and burnout despite having energy has been the common state of people globally. Staying focused and motivated has been a challenging task but a here are a few hacks that never go out of style to tackle this problem:

Correct Posture: According to a study by the private healthcare specialist Bupa in May, 2021, thousands for remote workers in the UK have been complaining of body aches and injuries. Lack of a proper workspace is the major cause of this medical problem. A good posture with a straight back is the way to go to avoid any added misery in the tough times

Procrastination: Lack of zest and languishing has been the mood of 2021. With the stress levels soaring, productivity has plummeted big time. A little bit of will power and accountability is the best way to solve this problem. Taking a break from the screen for a few minutes and some exercise actually helps sustain energy and improve concentration levels.

Using the dead time: Dead time is the time that used to be consumed while commuting to the office. Now with the work from home situation, ideally this time should be enough to give a head start to the day. But according to some US reports, the disrupted sleep pattern and in many cases, childcare responsibilities have eaten up this time leading to a worse routine.

Productivity coaches globally have suggested the use of visual cues like post it notes to help plan the day better and avoid ‘decision fatigue’ when the mind is too tired to make any decisions.

Get moving: With gyms being shut for over a year, the time, space and energy to scoop in a quick workout before or after work have seen a major crunch. Decreased physical activity has been leading to unwanted laziness and low productivity. To effectively tackle this lack of motivation, virtual workout sessions have been organised since the start of the lockdown. Not only do these sessions help in body movement but also lessen the feeling of loneliness owing to taking part in a group activity.

While everyone has their own way of getting their groove back, some of the proven and effective methods other than the ones talked about above are having a healthy to-do list, setting a routine, staying in touch with friends and family and accepting the distractions of working at home. Being cooped up at home might bring feelings of stagnation but the important part is to remember that we are sailing the same boat and shall come out stronger.

FAD Diets – Are they really worth it in the long run?

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Who doesn’t want to look good? But more importantly, who doesn’t want to look good with minimum efforts and maximum results? The start of every New Year marks the start of making decisions to be happier, healthier and being more kind towards oneself. It also marks the start of most people making resolutions to be fitter and shed those extra kilos off. Ironically, majority of people making the latter resolution want to see results, and they want to see them fast!

So the first week at the gym is accompanied by sore muscles, a low-carb diet and highintensity interval training. But has intensity ever been able to beat consistency and patience? This is where most of us forget the former resolution of being kind to ourselves, get wearied with pulling up those socks, eating that salad and fall for bogus fad diets.

Now while these fad diets may start showing evident results in a short span of time with absolutely negligible physical effort, the problem is that instead of aiding in making a positive lifestyle change, these diets drastically change eating habits that result in quick weight loss but are difficult to stick to once the weight goal has been achieved. Not just that, most of these diets, once they are successfully completed, eventually lead to gaining all the lost weight back because – “ I stuck to a diet for so long, now I can finally eat whatever I want to. Plus, what difference will a slice of pizza make?” And has anyone ever stopped at a single slice of pizza after a six months reunion? I don’t think so!

The physical changes with fad diets are there, but in maximum cases, they are not always there! The changes can be very temporary and going back to a normal diet after the fad diet can be very upsetting – physically, mentally and even biologically. Forget about the post-diet phase, majority of people, even during fad diets are not happy with what they are eating and ultimately quit, leading to a drastic change in body chemistry, an unbalanced diet and a lasting feeling of depression and low self-confidence. Amidst an already stressful schedule, the pressure of sticking to a fad diet can be all the more stressful.

Want to achieve the latter resolution? A little bit of will power, nutritious and healthy meals, your favourite pizza with portion control and an hour-long brisk walk on a regular basis will check not only the latter resolution but also the former. After all, consistency over intensity always!

Just some simple additions to the everyday life like eating a variety of foods, saying no to fad fats, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, some exercise, cleaning out the kitchen and avoiding empty calories like sodas and processed fruit drinks can go a long way. After all, the body is out temple and no second person can nurture it better than one-self.

Digital Marketing – Growing strong amidst Covid-19

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The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is impacting all our lives in multiple ways. Work from home has become the new norm. There is a considerable shift in priorities and active consciousness towards spending money.

Every sector has been hit by the virus and the marketing and advertising industry is of course no exception. Print advertising has seen a huge slump and outdoor marketing has completely gone out of the window.

While the pandemic is to be blamed for the slowdown, modern ways of advertising like social media marketing, digital marketing and OTT platforms have experienced a huge surge. Many companies worldwide have taken to social media platforms and OTT to establish and maintain a connect with their audience.

In general, digital marketing has seen massive growth over the last few years and Covid-19 has made it threefold with all organizations, big and small using it to sell their products and services. With mankind being glued to their gadgets at the moment, an alteration in the marketing strategy by including digital marketing seems to be a real profit earning recipe.

Digital marketing includes very convenient and cost-effective methods of marketing like email marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization, display marketing, content marketing etc.

Ad spends across digital and social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have risen 31% year-on-year in March 2021, reporting highest increase percentage since January 2020. According to Dentsu’s Ad Spend Report 2021, UK’s ad spends have the scope of growing at second highest rate among all global markets at 10.4%. Hong Kong’s digital ad spend stands at 72.3% in March 2021, showing 9% increase since 2019. India, France, Canada and Italy are also predicted to experience adequate growth during this term.

As per the Forbes compiled predictions from three top ad agencies – Group M, Magna and Zenith, digital advertising is bound to grow faster than traditional advertising with a major boom in sports advertising.

With the unprecedented times, understanding consumer behaviour and trends of audience engagement has become very temporary and ever-changing. However, brands in all domains have a confident approach towards digital marketing to sail them through the times of virtual interaction and reap growth.

Categories that have been spending larger amount of money on digital advertising as compared to their competitors include FMCG, food, supermarkets, publishing and broadcasting.

With increased usage of internet worldwide, the dependency on digital platforms to reach out to people has also increased. The need to stay in touch with friends and family and be updated with the current happenings has also made Google the second highest contender for UK online traffic. The average daily time spent on social media has increased from 2-3 hours to 4-5 hours.

This is a clear-cut signal for the global industry to bank on the boom of digital advertising and make use of this opportunity to grow their businesses even during these tough times. Afterall, it has proved to give major respite during the lockdown.

A record-breaking moment in the Australian share market

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The Australian share market has done it again. It has been on the run lately and has managed to break all records in recent days. They have broken the record three times, and the chances of success are expected to keep climbing higher as there is no looking back for them.

 

When there was an outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, everybody knew that the global share markets were getting jabbed. It had become evident that economies would be facing a terrible recession. That is when Australia declared recession in September, and things looked terrible. This has ended their 28 years record of continuous economic growth.

 

What went wrong?

The Australian stock market and Wall Street in the USA have always been a big interest of investors. They are in a great direction, and interested investors keep an eye on it when all the people worldwide are asleep. Investors went on piling up stocks as they had nowhere else to go for a decent amount of returns as the cost of the property was high. Also, because of the low-interest rate in banks, keeping their money in the bank was not an option.

 

The Australian stock market had retreated to its last level that was seen in February 2020, by January. Again, the pandemic came as a blockage and caused a widespread shutdown. The Australian Stock market kept hitting the records of all time last Friday and once again on Wednesday and Thursday continuously as the government’s response was exhausted. There was continued good news of a faster-than-expected economic recovery.

 

What are the reasons for the growth?

The tech sector’s growth had been at its peak last year, and Australia’s Afterpay was the favorite of the young generation who avoided expensive credit cards. The work from home tech stocks was booming for apparent reasons. Consumer discretionary inventories were robust as shoppers were not able to travel abroad. They had to spend their time at home improving it with the support of Jobkeeper and jobseeker payments.

 

Australia’s flagship resource sector has also returned as a river as global stimulus measures have their motives set at driving the economy from the economic downturn recently. This is helping in boosting the economic demand. Also, earnings have been great in recent months in Australia in terms of bank stocks.

 

What will ASX do next?

It is hard to predict anything yet, but there are chances that the current 7000 to 8000 point mark could come up next. This week’s GDP figures have proven that the Australian economy has recovered and has stood back again after the pre-coronavirus infection highs. This is the fastest recovery of recessions in the last 45 years. However, the virus is still a significant uncertainty.

 

Another strange thing is whether China will continue the bitter share trade with Australia and whether it will ease out the bitterness or not. However, ASX is on a roll, and there is no looking back for them right now.