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Myanmar blocks internet for second night in bid to choke protests | Military News

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Blackout follows 10th day of protests marked by prominent military presence and use of force in Mandalay.

Myanmar was plunged into a second internet blackout on Monday night after the 10th day of demonstrations against the military coup marked by an increased presence of troops and injuries in Mandalay, the country’s second-biggest city, after police used force to break up a protest.

Internet monitoring group NetBlocks said connectivity dropped to 15 percent of the standard levels overnight.

“#Myanmar is in the midst of a near-total internet shutdown for a second consecutive night,” as of 1am local time (18:30 GMT), NetBlocks tweeted early on Tuesday morning.

The United Nations warned the military of “severe consequences” for tough action against the protesters, and condemned the internet restrictions.

“Ms Schraner Burgener has reinforced that the right of peaceful assembly must fully be respected and that demonstrators are not subjected to reprisals,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq said in New York.

“She has conveyed to the Myanmar military that the world is watching closely, and any form of heavy-handed response is likely to have severe consequences.”

In an account of the meeting, Myanmar’s army said Soe Win, the regime’s second in command, had discussed the administration’s plans and information on “the true situation of what’s happening in Myanmar”.

People have been on the streets for days demanding the military, who seized power in a coup on February 1, step down and free the country’s elected leaders including 75-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi. She has been charged with the illegal possession of walkie-talkies and is expected to appear in court by video-link on Wednesday.

At least two people were slightly wounded during Monday’s protests when police in the city of Mandalay used rubber-coated bullets and catapults to break up a protest, media and residents said.

Demonstrators threw bricks, said a rescue team member who assisted with the injured.

“One of them needed oxygen because he was hit with a rubber bullet in his rib,” rescue team head Khin Maung Tin told the AFP news agency.

At least two people were hurt in Mandalay when soldiers and polices used rubber-coated bullets and catapults to break up a protest [Stringer/Reuters]

Journalists on the scene also said police had beaten them.

A demonstration led by student groups in Naypyidaw, the country’s military-built capital, was also met with force after the gathering had retreated. Police also arrested dozens of the young protesters, although some were later released.

Coup leader General Min Aung Hlaing told a junta meeting on Monday that authorities were trying to proceed softly, but warned: “Effective action will be taken against people who are harming the country, committing treason through violence.”

As well as the demonstrations in towns and cities, civil servants including doctors and teachers have gone on strike as part of a civil disobedience movement that has crippled many functions of government.

The army has been carrying out nightly arrests and has given itself enhanced search and detention powers through amendments to the colonial-era Penal Code.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which is tracking detentions, expressed concern that internet blackouts could be used to “commit unjust activities including arbitrary arrests.” It said at least 426 people had been picked up since the coup and 391 remained in custody.

The group said the latest amendments to the Penal Code made the law more “arbitrary” and were “aimed at the civil disobedience movement” noting that the changes could allow the military to target pamphlets, protest banners and even songs. People found guilty of such offences could face as long as 20 years in prison, the AAPP added.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won a 2015 election and another on November 8 – increasing its majority – but the military claimed the vote was fraudulent and used that complaint to justify its coup. The electoral commission has dismissed accusations of fraud.

Aung San Suu Kyi spent nearly 15 years under house arrest during the previous military regime.



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US debt projected to balloon to more than double GDP by 2051 | Debt News

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The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office warned that by 2051, the United States’ debt will skyrocket to 202 percent of its gross domestic product, up from 102 percent this year.

The U.S. federal debt will grow to more than double the size of the economy in three decades, increasing the risk of a fiscal crisis even though dangers appear low in the near term, the Congressional Budget Office said.

Debt will be equivalent to 202% of gross domestic product by 2051 from 102% this year, the nonpartisan arm of the legislature said Thursday in its long-term budget outlook. Its projection for 195% in 2050 was unchanged from the prior report, whose forecasts ran through that year.

Net interest payments on the debt are expected to remain relatively low for the next decade, then rise rapidly over the following 20 years, the CBO said. The agency projects 10-year Treasury yield, after inflation, at 2.6% in 2050. The nominal yield was at 1.54%, near the highest in more than a year, on Thursday.

The CBO also said that the two Social Security trust funds, for seniors and people with disabilities, will be exhausted later than the agency projected last year.

The report — which doesn’t reflect the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan currently working its way through Congress — follows the selloff in Treasuries over the past week that sent yields spiking. Investors are gaining more confidence that rates will move up, with U.S. growth and the labor market set for a stronger-than-expected uptick as vaccines roll out and states lift restrictions.

The CBO outlook’s debt projections will likely underpin already-firm opposition by Republicans to the relief plan, and could also concern some Democratic lawmakers as President Joe Biden prepares a followup multitrillion-dollar plan to build infrastructure and boost the economy in other ways.

“The risk of a fiscal crisis appears to be low in the short run despite the higher deficits and debt stemming from the pandemic,” the CBO said in the report. “Nonetheless, the much higher debt over time would raise the risk of a fiscal crisis in the years ahead.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday that the U.S. economy still has a long way to go before the central bank considers tightening, and underscored that the low-inflation world of the past several decades is unlikely to change.



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