Thailand remains in pole position for the highest funds raised across Southeast Asia – Business, Corporate, Investment, News

THAILAND, 26 November 2020 — Capital markets across Southeast Asia stayed resilient in 2020 despite a host of uncertainties from the evolving global health crisis to the worsening US-China trade tensions and the impact of the US presidential elections.

Total IPO activity in the region for 10.5 months this year bucked the overall downward trend to inch up to pre-COVID levels with total funds raised of US$6.44 billion from 100 initial public offerings (IPOs).

The total IPO market capitalisation in 2020 increased by 3% to $25.96 bln

  • Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia saw a year-on-year increase in IPO funds raised in spite of the pandemic
  • Thailand to close 2020 as Southeast Asia’s IPO star with total proceeds of US$3.9 billion exceeding five countries combined.
  • First homegrown deep-tech debut on the SGX Mainboard raised more funds than each of the two real estate investment trusts (REITs) listed in 2020, signals strong investor demand.

Although the number of IPOs decreased by 38% from 161 IPOs in full year 2019 and the total IPO proceeds decreased by 12% from US$7.34 billion, the total IPO market capitalisation in 2020 increased by 3% to US$25.96 billion.

The good news is capital markets in Southeast Asia appear to be navigating global economic headwinds well thus far.

For the second consecutive year Thailand remains in pole position

For the second consecutive year, Thailand remains in pole position for the highest funds raised across Southeast Asia. Taking the top two spots on the region’s leaderboard this year are Thailand’s Central Retail Corporation Public Company Limited and SCG Packaging Public Company Limited with US$1.77 billion and US$ 1.27 billion funds raised respectively.

The two listings collectively accounted for almost half of the total funds raised in Southeast Asia. A stable economic growth, strong currency, low interest rates and consistently strong domestic liquidity have allowed the Stock Exchange of Thailand to net US$3.94 billion in IPO proceeds as of 15 November 2020, which accounted for 61% of total funds in 2020 to emerge as one of the bright spots in the region.

This marks the fourth consecutive year that Thailand has raised more than US$2 billion from IPO listings and the first time since 2015 to break the US$3 billion mark.

Thailand’s IPO market continues to show its growth potential as one of the stronger IPO markets in Southeast Asia. Largely driven by home-grown companies and fuelled by increasing investor interests in firms focused on consumer businesses, it continues to appeal strongly to investors and fund managers

Ms Wilasinee KRISHNAMRA, Disruptive Events Advisory Leader, Deloitte Thailand

Across the border, Bursa Malaysia scored the biggest boost from the listing of Mr D.I.Y. Group (M) Berhad which raised US$362 million, making it the largest listing in three years, while new listings fell to 18 this year, as compared to 30 listings in 2019.

Overall, Bursa Malaysia mustered a total fund raising of US$481 million for 2020, registering growth from US$447 million raised in 2019. 

Mr WONG Kar Choon, Disruptive Events Advisory Leader, Deloitte Malaysia commented, “The average trading volume has increased by approximately 86% and 208% for Q2 and Q3 2020 as compared to the same quarter in 2019. The high trading volume with buying momentum should remain strong where investors are generally looking at stock specific rather than sectors, especially those related to technology and healthcare.”

In the Philippines, the landmark listing of AREIT, Inc. marked the country’s first-ever REIT listing, lifting the bourse with a US$255 million IPO in August. The IPO contributed to 31% of the total funds raised by the Philippine Stock Exchange, in addition to the 65% of funds contributed by Converge Information and Communications Technology Solutions Inc, which raised US$523 million.

Indonesia was responsible for 46 IPOs in the first 10.5 months of 2020, which accounted for the highest number of IPOs across Southeast Asia in 2020. The high IPO activity can be attributed to the easing of listing for small and medium-sized enterprises since 2017. 

Singapore saw its largest home-grown listing through Nanofilm Technologies International Limited (Nanofilm Technologies), which raised US$345 million on the SGX Mainboard, a platform typically dominated by REITs listings in recent years.

As at 15 November 2020, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) raised a total of US$852 million in IPO proceeds from 8 IPO deals. In addition to Nanofilm Technologies, this includes two REIT IPOs on SGX Mainboard with US$479 million funds raised and five deals on the Catalist board that raised US$29 million. In comparison, the exchange raised US$2.26 billion in proceeds from 11 IPO deals in 2019.

Ms TAY Hwee Ling, Disruptive Events Advisory Leader, Deloitte Southeast Asia and Singapore on how the pandemic has impacted the capital markets: “In a time of crisis, companies can find new growth by making fundamental changes to their business model. Sectors like healthcare and its suppliers have benefitted from the COVID-19 pandemic. Investors have also responded to the crisis and are adapting to the next normal – we have seen a significant increase in trading activities as the pandemic unfolded during the lockdowns. The use of technology for virtual IPO roadshows have allowed companies to break down barriers, gaining access to a wider pool of investors.”

For some countries, REITs continue to remain an attractive asset class with low volatility, above-market dividend yields and provide exposure to high-quality properties, healthcare facilities, e-commerce or digitalisation related assets. The growth potential for REITs across Southeast Asia region is promising, given the region’s population and urbanisation-led growth trends.

On the outlook for 2021, Ms TAY Hwee Ling, Disruptive Events Advisory Leader, Deloitte Southeast Asia and Singapore believes the region will continue to see good growth and expects an upswing in listings as a soon as a vaccine is proven safe and effective.

“COVID has made companies reevaluate their business and growth forecast; and companies are looking into windows of opportunity to raise funds from stock markets to support their growth and stay resilient in this challenging climate. Although we are not out of the woods yet, the listing markets in Southeast Asia are still dynamic and attractive to investors.”

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Why the Glock 19 Remains One of the Finest Guns Today

Key point: There is no doubt the Glock 19 made a big impact when it was first released. But it has been upgraded and modernized several times since then.

The Glock 19 took the firearms world by storm when it was first introduced for law enforcement markets in 1988, revolutionizing the compact 9mm handgun category with its winning blend of concealability, handling, and magazine capacity.

But that was over three decades ago; and yet, the Glock 19 remains one of the most popular handguns in the world despite recurrent attempts to dethrone it. So, what accounts for the Glock 19’s continued success? Here are the factors at play.

The gun that first propelled Austrian firearms manufacturer Glock to international fame was the Glock 17, a striker-fired, polymer frame semi-automatic pistol that fast became a bestseller for its friendly ergonomics and low-recoil handling. Nevertheless, a sizable segment of the commercial and law enforcement market sought a “compact” version of the Glock 17 for easier concealed carry; thus, the Glock 19 was born.

On paper, the differences between the two Glocks are quite subtle; the Glock 19 boasts a slightly smaller frame at a length/height ratio of 7.36/4.99 inches versus the 8.03/5.43 inches of the Glock 17, while being just a hair lighter at a loaded weight of around 1.89 lbs versus the 2 lbs of its predecessor. The Glock 19 comes with a standard 15 round magazine, as compared with the 17-capacity magazine of the Glock 17– to be sure, it’s exceedingly difficult to conjure up a realistic scenario where the two-round difference would be meaningful.

In practice, however, the Glock 19’s dimensions made it a significantly better everyday concealed carry (EDC) choice. That weight difference of around two ounces, insignificant as it seems at first glance, adds up over the course of carrying the Glock 19 on one’s hip for an entire day. Meanwhile, the Glock 19’s slightly reduced length and height can easily make the difference between the gun printing– that is, protruding through your clothing in a way that makes it its presence obvious to those around you– or not.

Notably, the Glock 19 achieved its reduced dimensions without sacrificing the performance and ease of use that made the Glock 17 so popular in the first place. Still, Glock is far from the only game in town when it comes to compact pistols. In explaining how the Glock 19 has managed to stay relevant for 30 years, it’s crucial to note that the pistol has undergone several major revisions to stay competitive in the handgun market. The “Gen4” version of the Glock 19, released in 2010, boasted an updated magazine release mechanism, a new Rough Textured Frame (RTF) grip, modular backstrap system, and larger dual-recoil spring. The Gen5 line, introduced in 2017, boasts nDLC coating, flared mag-well, and Glock’s new Marksman Barrel.

The other, no less important ingredient to Glock 19’s enduring popularity is the glut of aftermarket support; from slides to firing pin springs, there are few Glock 19 components that can’t be customized. Though aftermarket modding is scarcely necessary for the basic EDC role in which the Glock 19 excels, those looking for better performance in low-light situations would do well to swap the stock white dot sights for one of many, more specialized options.

Small enough for EDC but functional enough to be as a full-fledged service and self-defense pistol, the Glock 19 is the quintessential “goldilocks gun”– a versatile, compact, and highly moddable firearm made to appeal to almost any consumer and a wide range of law enforcement customers.

Mark Episkopos is a frequent contributor to The National Interest and serves as a research assistant at the Center for the National Interest. Mark is also a PhD student in History at American University. This article first appeared earlier this year.

Image: Reuters.

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Panic attacks – The “gay-panic” defence remains legally admissible in 39 American states | United States

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Baby comes home, as B.C. mother remains in ICU due to COVID-19 complications

Dave McIntosh was able to take his newborn son home from the hospital in Abbotsford, B.C., Wednesday, but his wife, Gillian, the mother of their baby, remained in ICU, fighting for her life due to complications from COVID-19.

Gillian McIntosh, 37, started to feel sick in early November. She chalked up her symptoms to pregnancy-related pressure and pain late in her third trimester, but then started feeling worse and was unable to eat.

“That’s when they found out she had pneumonia and tested for positive for COVID,” said Dave McIntosh.

“They said she would be in there hopefully a couple of days … and then, all of a sudden, everything just went haywire.”

The baby was born via emergency C-section; Gillian McIntosh has been in an induced coma and on a ventilator in the hospital’s ICU. Her condition has not improved.

The baby has been in the neonatal intensive care unit for the past two weeks but was released to go home Wednesday.

Dave McIntosh leaves the Abbotsford Regional Hospital with his newborn baby and assistance from his sister in Abbotsford, B.C., on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Dave McIntosh called the day “bittersweet” saying he was overjoyed that his son was coming home, but devastated about his wife still being in hospital.

“He’s a perfect, cute little guy and he’s got a lot of people who are just so excited to meet him,” he said, adding their three-year-old daughter is eager to boss around her new baby brother as soon as she can.

Gillian McIntosh, who remains in critical condition, has had significant damage to a majority of her lung tissue due to the virus, said her husband.

“We don’t know if she’ll end up needing permanent care for the rest of her life. We just have no idea right now.”

Dave McIntosh says when his wife was first admitted to hospital, there was hope she’d only be in a couple of days, but then ‘everything just went haywire.’ (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Gillian McIntosh’s diagnosis has not been traced back to an exposure event, and her husband said the family is unsure how she contracted the virus. On Wednesday, B.C. recorded another 13 deaths from COVID-19 and 738 new cases of the disease. There are 294 patients in hospital, 61 of whom are in critical care.

The majority of new cases in recent weeks have been in B.C.’s Fraser Health Authority, the region where the McIntoshes live.

Dave McIntosh expressed thanks to the medical staff at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, both in the NICU and ICU as well as the larger community for their kind thoughts, prayers, messages and donations. He also urged the broader community to take the virus as seriously as possible. 

Currently, he can only see his wife through Zoom calls because she still has COVID-19. 

“We talk to her and [hospital staff] provided a digital photoframe and some sound clips we play for her as well,” he said.

Gillian McIntosh, right, seen with husband Dave and their three-year-old daughter, gave birth to a son via C-section while in an induced coma and on a respirator because of COVID-19. (Submitted to CBC)

It’s not clear whether she is aware of the communication, but Dave McIntosh says he hopes she hears him. 

“We just keep telling her all we can about her son, about how much we miss her and hope she gets better.”

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Remains of up to 80 Aboriginal people could be buried near Tasmanian roadworks site

A heritage investigation is underway near a roadworks project in Tasmania’s south-east amid revelations there could be the remains of up to 80 Aboriginal people buried there.

The Department of State Growth has been granted a permit by the Aboriginal Heritage Council to conduct test pitting — excavations — at a site off the Arthur Highway at Eaglehawk Neck in Tasmania’s south-east.

Road-widening construction was due to start later this year.

Tasmanian Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor told budget estimates hearings about the site on Tuesday.

The broader area is already recognised as having significant Aboriginal heritage values, but a second piece of land is potentially the burial site of dozens of Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal Heritage Council Chairman Rodney Dillon says it’s not yet know how many bodies are near the roadworks site.(ABC News)

Aboriginal Heritage Council chairman Rodney Dillon said there were definitely remains there, it was just a matter of how many and exactly where the graves were.

“We know there are some bodies there in different places, you don’t know how many are there until you do some work in that area,” he said.

Mr Dillon said the council had been working closely with State Growth since the testing began earlier this year and he praised its approach to investigating the area.

The road-widening project was part of the State Government’s multi-million dollar package to improve roads frequently used by tourists.

The section of road concerned had not been upgraded for 35 years and roadworks would cost $3.7 million.

A beach at sunrise viewed from sand dunes with native grass in the foreground.
The broader area at Eaglehawk neck is already recognised as having Aboriginal heritage values.(ABC News: Katri Uibu)

‘First time’ site has been investigated

Elena Macdonald, director of the Parrdarrama Pungenna Aboriginal Corporation (PPAC) which includes the Tasman Peninsula, said her people had oral history about the area, but wanted to wait for the investigations to be concluded.

Parrdarrama pungenna woman Elena Macdonald poses for a photo.
Elena Macdonald, from the Parrdarrama Pungenna Aboriginal Corporation, wants the community to be fully informed of what is found.(ABC News: Lucy MacDonald)

“For our community, we think it’s important we wait until we’ve heard what these investigations produce before we extend any of our knowledge that’s been passed down through the years because this is the first time an investigation has been done,” she said.

“When some conclusion is produced, we need to be informed of that and involved in the process of what happens from there because regardless of whatever’s found, it is our country and it’s important we be included.”

Ms Macdonald said she had been told there would be ways to build the roadworks “without damaging the site too significantly”, but Mr Dillon said it was too soon to tell if the works could go ahead.

Wooden markers with blue tops line a pathway next to a timber fence and a road.
The road widening at Eaglehawk Neck was due to start late this year.(ABC News: Katri Uibu)

In a statement, a State Growth spokesperson said the investigation of potential archaeological sensitivity (PAS) would be completed mid-next month and the current design did not affect existing identified Aboriginal heritage.

The sun rises over a beach with cliffs in the distance.
The Department of State Growth says the area of Aboriginal heritage has always been known.(ABC News: Katri Uibu)

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China Says It Remains Open to the World, but Wants to Dictate Terms

After Australia dared last spring to call for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, China began quietly blocking one import after another from Australia — coal, wine, barley and cotton — in violation of free-trade norms. Then this month, with no clear explanation, China left $3 million worth of Australian rock lobsters dying in Shanghai customs.

Australia nonetheless joined 14 Asian nations and just signed a new regional free-trade deal brokered by China. The agreement covers nearly a third of the world’s population and output, reinforcing China’s position as the dominant economic and diplomatic power in Asia.

It’s globalization with Communist characteristics: The Chinese government promotes the country’s openness to the world, even as it adopts increasingly aggressive and at times punitive policies that force countries to play by its rules.

With the United States and others wary of its growing dominance in areas like technology, China wants to become less dependent on the world for its own needs, while making the world as dependent as possible on China.

“China wants what other great powers do,” said Yun Jiang, a researcher and editor of the China Story at the Australian National University. “It wants to follow international rules and norms when it is in its interest, and disregard rules and norms when the circumstances suit it.”

China’s strategy is born out of strength. The coronavirus has practically disappeared within its borders. The country’s economy is growing strongly. And China’s manufacturing sector has become the world’s largest by a wide margin, leaving other nations heavily dependent on it for everything from medical gear to advanced electronics.

Beijing is also pushing back against President Trump and his administration, taking advantage of the political disarray that has followed his electoral defeat. Beijing’s confidence on the global stage now compounds the challenge China will pose for the incoming administration of Joseph R. Biden Jr.

In a flurry of speeches over the last week, Xi Jinping, China’s ambitious, authoritarian leader, laid out his vision for this new world order, while making clear his terms for global engagement.

He reiterated at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, an important regional forum, that the country had no intention of going it alone and “decoupling” its economy from the world. Appearing by videoconference, he said China remained committed to opening up and would “play its part” to make the global economy “fairer and more equitable.”

“Openness is a prerequisite for national progress, and closure will inevitably lead to backwardness,” Mr. Xi said in remarks that seemed to take a swipe at Mr. Trump’s America-first agenda.

At the same time, Mr. Xi is aggressively pushing for greater economic self-reliance at home — in other words, at least a partial decoupling. Mr. Xi has called for protectionist policies that would “comprehensively increase technological innovation and import substitution.”

During a meeting with leaders of the Group of 20 nations this weekend, he defended his new strategy to build greater self-sufficiency as a benefit to the global economy.

“While making the Chinese economy more resilient and competitive, it also aims to build a new system of open economy with higher standards,” he said. “This will create more opportunities for the world to benefit from China’s high-quality development.”

Mr. Xi wants to tether other countries ever more tightly into China’s economic and thus geopolitical orbit. In a speech to other Chinese leaders, recently published by a Communist Party journal, he called for Beijing to make sure that other countries remained dependent on China for key goods, as a way to ensure that they would not try to halt their own shipments to China.

Mr. Xi’s own economic and political policies this year have been the mirror opposite. China’s plan, Mr. Xi has said, is to lessen dependence on imports, insulating the country from rising external risks, including the threat of a long, pandemic-induced global economic downturn and the severing of Chinese access to American high-tech know-how.

In August, for example, the state offered a package of tax incentives for domestic semiconductor manufacturers, hoping to cultivate homegrown suppliers that can help reduce the nation’s huge dependence on imported silicon. Beijing does not want other Chinese tech businesses to suffer the same fate as Huawei, the telecom equipment giant that the Trump administration has targeted since last year by restricting its access to foreign-made semiconductors.

Thousands of Chinese companies have since jumped into the chip business, though progress is likely to be slow. Making advanced chips requires expertise and technological mastery that money alone cannot buy.

Mr. Xi’s strategy, of course, grew out of the Trump administration’s intensifying efforts to isolate China, which show no sign of waning in its last weeks. Since the election, the administration has barred investment in Chinese businesses with military ties; imposed more sanctions on Chinese officials for their role in cracking down on Hong Kong; and further engaged with Taiwan, the self-ruled island claimed by China.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said recently that countries now faced a choice between “barbarism on one side and freedom on the other.”

“We’ve woken them up to the threat posed by this Marxist-Leninist monster,” he said.

In the Asia-Pacific region, few governments view the choice so starkly. With many of them more dependent on trade with China now than with the United States, they cannot easily turn away. China, by far, is the largest market for Australia’s goods, buying nearly 38 percent of its exports; the United States accounts for 4 percent.

“The world as it exists today cannot be reduced to the rivalry of superpowers,” Laurent Bili, the French ambassador to China, said at a conference organized last week by the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing research group.

Mr. Trump’s go-it-alone approach has given China an opening to portray itself as the champion of globalization. In Beijing’s argument, it is the United States that has now retreated by trying to restrict Chinese investments.

China is not only trying to capitalize on American political disarray but also to repair the damage that the pandemic has caused to China’s image, especially in Europe.

“The United States is still in electoral chaos, while China is forming the world’s largest trade agreement,” the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing wrote on its official website recently.

State media has struck a similar chord, trumpeting China as the defender of the global order. An opinion article by the state broadcaster CGTN was blunt, warning that those who would cut off links with China “are likely to end up on the outside of the world’s economic gravity.”

Australia is quickly learning to navigate this new world order, as dictated by China.

Australia has effectively blocked the purchase of Huawei 5G telecommunications gear for its national network and has become increasingly outspoken on China’s domestic politics. It joined the United States, Britain, New Zealand and Canada — the so-called Five Eyes nations — in a statement last week calling on Beijing to rescind its recent disqualification of pro-democracy legislators in Hong Kong.

The riposte from China’s foreign ministry was swift. “Be careful lest eyes get poked blind,” warned Zhao Lijian, a foreign ministry spokesman, at the ministry’s daily briefing on Thursday.

China has repeatedly targeted a grocery list of Australian exports, often with no formal explanation.

Australia went ahead anyway with the new trade agreement on Sunday in the hope that binding China in international agreements would affect its behavior — a position that has disappointed countries over and over.

Just a day later, officials at China’s embassy in Australia delivered a 14-point list of grievances to three news organizations, citing Australian foreign interference laws seen as aimed at China, the ban on Huawei and other investments, and its diplomatic “crusade” against Chinese policies in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

“China is angry,” one embassy official explained to The Sydney Morning Herald. “If you make China the enemy, China will be the enemy.”

Chris Buckley and Raymond Zhong contributed reporting. Claire Fu contributed research.

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Dayton at 25 – After a quarter of a century of peace, Bosnia remains wretched | Europe

THE WAR IN Bosnia-Herzegovina raged for three and a half years. Then, in 1995, after three weeks of being virtually locked up in an American air-base in Dayton, Ohio, the warring leaders struck a deal to end it. Bosnia was devastated, half its population had fled or been ethnically cleansed, and more than 100,000 were dead. The country has been at peace ever since. But on November 21st, exactly a quarter of a century after the Dayton deal, not many Bosnians will be celebrating.

Most are miserable, and it is not hard to see why. Incomes are low, public services are poor and politicians argue about the same things they fought the war over. Bosnians are ageing and emigrating, cities are choked by smog and, says Adnan Cerimagic of the European Stability Initiative, a think-tank, “half of the country’s 14-year-olds are functionally illiterate.”

Before the war there were some 4.2m people in Bosnia. Today there are probably between 2.7m and 3.3m, though no one knows for sure. With such a small population, it is sometimes said that all the country needs is a mayor. Instead Dayton created a complex system designed to make sure that none of the country’s three main ethnic groups could dominate the others. Twenty-five years on it often defies logic, and seems to serve the interests only of nationalist politicians who have successfully resisted any attempts at reform.

The tiny country has a weak central government, three presidents, two “entities” and an autonomous town. The vast majority of Serbs live in the Republika Srpska (RS), while Bosniaks (a term used to refer to Bosnia’s Muslims, who make up around half of the country’s population) and Croats live mainly in the ten cantons of what is called the Federation. Most, though not all, main parties are ethnically based, and on the big questions of governance and international relations their leaders rarely agree. An international “High Representative” lingers in the country only so that he could use his far-reaching powers if peace were under threat.

Milorad Dodik, who has long dominated the politics of the RS, derides Bosnia and talks of independence and integration with Serbia. Bosnian Croat leaders often call for their own “third entity”. Bosniaks celebrate November 25th as “statehood day” because that is when modern Bosnia was founded in 1943. In schools all three ethnic groups learn different histories. Before the war 13% of marriages were mixed and in Sarajevo a third were. In 2019 the number of mixed marriages was only 3%. A survey in 2018 found that 49% of young Bosnians want to leave.

Gloom is so all-pervasive that it is common for parents to press their children to go. Ivana Cook, from Tuzla, was born a few months before the end of the war. She says that of 25 students in her graduating class from school, 20 have gone. Ms Cook’s mother says that she regrets not leaving herself after the war. Ms Cook did not want to emigrate, but she is lucky. She has a job and a flat which she shares with her boyfriend. Some 80% of Bosnians her age still live with their parents, and youth unemployment is high.

In the early post-war years Bosnians did not mix much, and it is still the case that many young people from mono-ethnic towns or villages, or the divided city of Mostar, have never met someone of a different ethnicity. But it is less so than before, and Bosnian politics is far more nuanced than is often believed. On November 15th a Serb was elected as mayor of overwhelmingly Bosniak central Sarajevo. The vast majority of young Bosnians are not hostile to one another. They play sports together, civil-society activists work on causes together and many criss-cross the inter-entity border daily for work, to shop or just to have fun somewhere else.

But that does necessarily mean that the first generation not to remember the war is going to change the country. Last week’s local elections saw Drasko Stanivukovic, a 27-year-old, elected as mayor of Banja Luka, the capital of the RS. He says that its leadership is corrupt and needs to be replaced. He is against independence for RS, but otherwise he holds many of the same Serbian nationalist positions as Mr Dodik.

Hana Curak, aged 26, a sociologist from Sarajevo, says a lack of opportunities is the bane of her generation. You need connections with people in power to find a job, said 87% of young people polled in 2018. Because a higher proportion of the educated and liberal young leave, Ms Curak says, more of those with less progressive and more nationalist values remain. She thinks that by legitimising a system in which ethnicity is paramount, Dayton has actually served to make many of her generation “even more conservative and nationalistic than their parents”.

“What scares me”, says Mr Cerimagic, is that “for years people have been saying it is up to the young people to save us from this misery, but then my impression is that they are not really different from the rest of us.” For those dedicated to creating a better Bosnia, “it is going to be a long struggle.”

This article appeared in the Europe section of the print edition under the headline “Dayton at 25”

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Remains of Two Killed in Vesuvius Eruption Are Discovered at Pompeii

ROME — Excavations at a suburban villa outside ancient Pompeii this month have recovered the remains of two original dwellers frozen in time by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius one fateful morning nearly 2,000 years ago.

The unearthing of the two victims — whom archaeologists tentatively identified as a wealthy Pompeian landowner and a younger enslaved person — offered new insight into the eruption that buried the ancient Roman town, which has been a source of popular fascination since its rediscovery in the 18th century.

The finding is an “incredible font of knowledge for us,” said Massimo Osanna, the departing director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, said in a video issued by the Culture Ministry on Saturday. He noted that it was also “a touching discovery of great emotional impact.”

For one thing, the two were dressed in woolen clothing, adding credence to the belief that the eruption occurred in October of 79 A.D. rather than in August of that year as had previously been thought, Mr. Osanna said later in a telephone interview.

The Vesuvius eruption was described in an eyewitness account by the Roman magistrate Pliny the Younger as “an extraordinary and alarming scene.” Buried by ash, pumice and rocks, Pompeii and neighboring cities lay mostly dormant, though intact, until 1748, when King Charles III of Bourbon commissioned the first official excavations of the site.

Since then, much of the ancient city has been unearthed, providing archaeologists and historians with a wealth of information about how its ancient dwellers lived, from their home décor to what they ate to the tools they used.

Using a method refined by the Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli in 1863 and further honed with modern technology, archaeologists last week made plaster casts of the two newly discovered victims. That brings the ranks of Pompeii’s posthumous effigies to more than 100.

In addition to being the first time in half a century that archaeologists created such casts linked to Pompeii — an attempt using cement in the 1990s was not successful — the new casts are also remarkable in the surprising details they captured, including what Mr. Osanna described as the “extraordinary drapery” of their woolen clothing.

“They really seem like statues,” he said.

Archaeologists posit that the two victims had sought refuge in an underground cryptoporticus, or corridor, before being engulfed by a shower of pumice stones, ash and lapilli.

“They very likely died by thermal shock, as the contracted limbs, hands and feet would suggest,” Mr. Osanna said in the video, adding that DNA testing was being carried out on the recovered bones. Pompeii officials believe the older man to have been 30 to 40 years old, and the younger between 18 and 23.

The villa where the discovery was made is in Civita Giuliana, an area about 750 yards northwest of Pompeii’s ancient walls, which has already yielded important finds, including a purebred horse with a bronze-plated saddle uncovered in 2018.

Although the archaeological park closed to visitors on Nov. 6 because of coronavirus restrictions, excavations at the site have continued.

The villa at Civita Giuliana was first excavated briefly in 1907 and 1908. But because it is on private property, the sort of government-commissioned excavations typically carried out on public land did not take place. That changed in 2017, when prosecutors in nearby Torre Annunziata charged a group of people with robbing tombs and looting the site using underground tunnels.

The culture ministry is in the process of buying the land where the villa is situated, and Mr. Osanna said he hoped it could eventually open to the public.

With more than 50 acres still to be excavated, Pompeii continues to be “an incredible site for research, study and training,” Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said in a statement on Saturday. It is, he said, a mission for the “archaeologists of today and the future.”

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As the bedrock of our lives turns to shifting sand, hope remains

When COVID-19 put an end to our planned weekend away, we replaced it with Wednesday-evening Zoom sessions. The four of us constitute a cross-section of Victoria’s population: two are regional healthcare providers, two live in metro Melbourne. Of the city dwellers, one works from home and lives with three twentysomething children, the other is retired and living alone.

As the months wore on, what started as a very inferior Plan B took on a disproportionate significance. Our weekly get-togethers – wine optional – were our only regular social contact, a lifeline for those of us living alone or just feeling alone.

In difficult times, we should find faith in the strength of the bond between friends.Credit:Age archive

Self-isolation keeps us safe from infection but it doesn’t stop the outside world from intruding. Over the winter months we all shared in the grief of the loss of a mother, a slow recuperation from eye surgery, the pain of a relationship breakup and the sale of a family home. Interspersed through all that sadness were gales of laughter and memories of good times past, and the hope of more in the future.

With the recent easing of restrictions has come the reinstatement of our long-anticipated weekend away. As we look forward to breathing the same fresh sea air, our anticipation is tinged with trepidation. We are having trouble believing that the solid foundation on which we built our pre-pandemic lives will return. But we can at least have faith in the strength of the bond between us.

For now it will be enough to be able to spread my newly-toned arms wide and encircle these special women, even if it has to be from a safe distance.

Elizabeth Quinn is a Melbourne writer.

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HUS remains in acceleration stage despite increase in number of Covid-19 cases

THE SHARE of positive coronavirus tests is on the increase in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS).

Markku Mäkijärvi, the chief medical officer at HUS, reminded in a press conference yesterday that the number of coronavirus cases has been increasing since the fairly calm summer, with the last couple of weeks alone yielding about 700–800 laboratory-confirmed infections.

“The percentage of positive samples has been rising in recent weeks. Almost three per cent of the samples are now positive,” he was quoted as saying by YLE.

The epidemic nevertheless remains in the acceleration stage in the capital region, as some of the criteria for the spreading stage have yet been met. Mäkijärvi pointed out that the number of patients in hospital care, for example, has yet to increase to the extent that it would place a significant burden on the local health care system.

Roughly two dozen people are currently in hospital care and half a dozen in intensive care with symptoms caused by the coronavirus, he revealed.

“We got 10 new hospital patients last weekend, and maybe that’s a warning sign that the epidemic is still making people sick,” he said. “The number of infections also isn’t growing daily and weekly at the pace required to meet the criteria for the spreading stage.”

Mäkijärvi estimated that some of the criteria for the stage are somewhat artificial and could warrant re-examination.

“Maybe there are some new criteria that should be adopted. I don’t see that it’d have a significant impact on the measures currently in place in Finland. We have the situation under control right now,” he was quoted as saying by the public broadcasting company.

He underlined that the effort to test people at a low threshold is progressing well. People in Uusimaa can currently get tested within a few hours, the sample can be analysed in roughly 10 hours and the results can be delivered relatively soon, with the entire process typically taking less than 24 hours.

People, he also stressed, should continue to get tested even if they are only experiencing the mildest of symptoms.

“Finland’s coronavirus situation is currently the best and the incidence [of the virus] the lowest in Europe. And the way to make sure it stays that way is to get tested proactively,” stated Mäkijärvi.

He additionally assured that the hospital district has the readiness to vaccinate people against the virus, if the vaccine can be administrated similarly to the influenza vaccine.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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