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Saudi Arabia Says It Could Start an Oil War on OPEC Countries

Saudi Arabia has promised an oil war to OPEC + countries in the event of failure to comply with agreements to reduce production, wrote with reference to The Wall Street Journal.

According to the interlocutors of the American publication, the Minister of Energy of Saudi Arabia, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman recently put forward an ultimatum to Angola and Nigeria. He asked for plans for additional reductions to compensate for their outstanding obligations, Radio Sputnik reported.

He also noted that he could start trading oil at reduced prices in order to undermine Angola and Nigeria.

OPEC + agreed on April 12 to reduce oil production by 9.7 million barrels per day in May-June, 7.7 million in the second half of the year and 5.8 million further until the end of April 2022. The base of reference was taken in October 2018, but for the Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia, 11 million barrels per day were taken, from which, by analogy with all, there is a decrease of 23%, 18% and 14%, respectively.

Earlier, Radio Sputnik reported that the Kremlin specified whether Putin planned to contact OPEC + participants.

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Fitch Maintains Forecast for World GDP Decline of 4.6% in 2020

The international rating agency Fitch has maintained an estimate of the fall in world GDP this year at 4.6%, according to a report by Global Economic Outlook (GEO).

At the same time, the forecast for the Chinese economy was improved to a growth of 1.2% from the expected 0.7% in May, Interfax informs.

In 2021, agency analysts predict an increase in global GDP of 4.9%.

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Mishustin Says Unemployment in Russia Up by 3.5 Times

Image source: RT

The number of officially registered unemployed in the Russian Federation since April 1 has increased by 3.5 times, but there is no need to talk about the explosive increase in unemployment, said Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Interfax reports.

“Our first priority is the fight against unemployment,” he said at a meeting on the situation on the labor market.

According to him, “since April 1, the number of people who were officially registered as unemployed by the employment service has grown more than 3.5 times, but judging by the data of the Ministry of Labor, they managed to avoid a sharp, explosive increase in unemployment.”

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Change in ourselves helps drive change in the world  

An email from CEO Satya Nadella to Microsoft employees: 

Seeing injustice in the world calls us all to take action, as individuals and as a company. Sometimes this action is personal – what do I do to change? Sometimes it is organizational – what changes do I need to make around me? And sometimes it is reflected into the world – what can we do as a company to accelerate the change we desire? As we see the everyday racism, bias and violence experienced by the Black and African American community, the tragic and horrific murders of so many, the violence in cities across the US, it is time for us to act in all arenas. As I shared in our Employee Town Hall last week, each of us – starting with me and the senior leaders at the company – has a role to play. We cannot episodically wake up when a new tragedy occurs. A systemic problem requires a holistic response.  

I am heartbroken by the deep pain our communities are feeling. The results of systemic racism, which have impacted opportunities and exacerbated injustices for Black and African American communities, urge me to consider my own role as a leader. I must continue my journey of understanding and empathy and examine actions I take, or don’t take, every day. Listening and learning from my Black and African American colleagues is helping me develop a better understanding of their experience. And I take accountability for my own continued learning on the realities of privilege, inequity and race and modeling the behavior I want to see in the world.  

As a company, we need to look inside, examine our organization, and do better. For us to have the permission to ask the world to change, we must change first. We have to embrace the same speed and mindset that we do in anticipating and building for future technological shifts. Each day, we work to bridge the gap between the culture we espouse and our daily lived experience, but we must do more and do it faster. In order to be successful as a business in empowering everyone on the planet, we need to reflect the world we serve. This is our commitment; we have goals and programs to improve representation in all roles and at all levels. We’re investing in the talent pipeline broadly, as we’ve expanded our connections with Historically Black Colleges and Universities. We also have to create an environment where all voices are heard and valued, that’s why inclusion is a core priority for each one of us. I ask each of us to recommit to our shared D&I priority, participate in our inclusion learning programs, use the tools and resources we have shared on becoming an effective ally for others. We have the capabilities to make Microsoft more diverse and inclusive, but we must do the work.  

We also have a responsibility to use our platform and resources intentionally to address systemic inequities in our communities and in society broadly. This is the work we need to do to have lasting impact. For example, we’re using our technology and our voice toward a more equitable criminal justice system with our Criminal Justice Reform Initiative. We created our Supplier Diversity program 15 years ago, so our supplier companies better reflected the diversity of our customers. Today, it makes up nearly 10 percent of our supplier spend. That spend has an amplifying effect, growing the local economies in the communities where those businesses are located. We need to keep building on this work in every community we operate in.   

Finally, we must carry our company values out into the world in a way that reflects our strengths and expertise. To this end, we will deepen our engagement with six organizations that are advancing social justice, helping community organizers address racial inequality, and offering solidarity to the Black community: Black Lives Matter FoundationEqual Justice InitiativeInnocence ProjectThe Leadership ConferenceMinnesota Freedom Fund, and NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund. This starts with a company donation of $250,000 to each of these organizations ($1.5 million in total), followed by a company match of our employees’ contributions to eligible organizations. Together, through your giving and the company match, we have donated more than $15 million to civil rights, social action, and advocacy nonprofit organizations since 2015.

I have heard from many employees over the past several days, expressing calls for action, calls for reflection, calls for change. My response to all of you is this: Yes. We have to act. And our actions must reflect the values of our company and be directly informed by the needs of the Black and African American community. We must continue to nurture the energy and passion that the Blacks at Microsoft employee resource group fueled in all of us since its founding in 1989. We have been on a cultural transformation journey and must accelerate our pace of change. Each of us, starting with me, must look at where we are as individuals, confront our fixed mindset and act. Our humanity is what calls out to us to make the world a better place. 

We all have a role to play. I will do the work. The company will do the work. I am asking each of you to do the work. And together, we will help make the difference we want to see in the world. 


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Microsoft Build 2020: Empowering developers to deliver impact today and tomorrow

For the past several years, developers from around the world have gathered here in Seattle, the original “Cloud City,” to meet, exchange ideas, hone or learn skills, build community. This year, we won’t be meeting in person, but the spirit of the event will continue as we move online – and the response we’ve received from our community of developers looking to learn, connect and code at Microsoft Build 2020 has been overwhelming, and quite frankly, humbling. This will likely be our biggest event ever … not just for Build, but for all the events that Microsoft holds. Wow.

The title of our show is a fitting mantra to this unprecedented era we find ourselves in: Build.

Socrates (not the Greek philosopher; the gas station attendant) once said: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” We believe the developer community is the next wave to join the ranks of those who will build and re-build organizations, industries, communities.

This week, we celebrate the critical role of developers and their tireless efforts to rally during this time of crisis. We’ve unveiled a range of new tools and services to meet their needs to provide immediate impact and value, empowering innovations that help organizations and individuals achieve more.

As work environments evolve, you’ll see how we’re creating solutions to help companies build, rebuild and thrive, including new tools that enable developers to design and deliver artificial intelligence (AI) applications in an ethical and responsible way, as well as help them build connected productivity experiences.

You’ll see an emphasis on impact and value, delivering solutions within Azure, M365 and Windows – from tools to help developers be more collaborative and productive at work, to services that give customers the flexibility to deploy AI capabilities in any environment – and with no prior coding experience.

And finally, you’ll see a nod to technical excellence, and how we’re looking to help developers achieve more in the future through AI and other technology advancements.

Key news highlights:

  • We’re introducing Azure Synapse Link, bringing operational database services and analytics together in real-time. Launched initially in Azure Cosmos DB, but coming soon to all operational systems, Azure Synapse Link helps customers lower costs and reduce time to gain valuable insights without managing data movement.
  • Platform enhancements to Microsoft Teams include a streamlined experience for developers to build and publish Teams apps from Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code; the ability for IT admins to evaluate and deploy line-of-business and ISV applications for their users in Teams; and new ways for people to discover and engage with apps in Teams.
  • We are announcing updates to Fluid Framework, including making it open source to developers, and introducing the first way for end users to experience Fluid with the upcoming availability of Fluid components and Fluid workspaces in and Outlook for the Web.
  • We’re delivering new Responsible ML tools in Azure Machine Learning and our OSS toolkits to help customers deploy AI models more responsibly by improving model interpretability, reducing unfairness while ensuring data privacy and confidentiality.
  • To help unify app development across 1 billion Windows 10 devices we’re introducing Project Reunion: our vision for evolving the Windows developer platform to make it easier to integrate across Win32 and UWP APIs and build great apps that work across all the Windows 10 versions and devices people use.
  • We’re further investing in bringing comprehensive low-code Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology into Power Automate with the acquisition of Softomotive, a leading provider of low-code, easy-to-use RPA development environments. Softomotive’s technology will complement UI flows to streamline how our customers get work done.
  • We’re announcing one of the world’s most powerful AI supercomputers built in Azure. Developed in collaboration with and exclusively for OpenAI, this supercomputer is purpose-built to train massive distributed AI models, giving it all the benefits of a dedicated appliance paired with the benefits of Azure’s robust modern cloud infrastructure.
  • We’re highlighting pitches from six finalist teams in this year’s Imagine Cup, and unveiling the 2020 champion as part of Microsoft’s commitment to helping students develop big, bold ideas by providing tools, programs and technology to learn the skills they’ll need to create. Top ideas include solutions that help improve treatment of youth living with mental illness; tools that help battle misinformation in the media; and technology that better enable physicians to detect early onset Parkinson’s disease and track patient progress throughout treatment plans.
  • And lastly, we’re introducing Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, our first industry-specific cloud offering, which brings together capabilities for customers and partners to enrich patient engagement, connect caregiving teams, and improve collaboration, decision-making and operational efficiencies. Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare will support capabilities such as the new Bookings app in Teams, now generally available to customers across industries to help schedule, manage and conduct business-to-consumer virtual appointments. Teams supports HIPAA compliance and is HITRUST-certified.

Thanks for joining us this year as we try something – and build something – new together.

Be sure to check out all the highlights on our Microsoft Build site – including key segments from Microsoft executives – and other session content available virtually.


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Skills for the future start today — new resources for students

Our CEO Satya Nadella references a term from the education field that I think is particularly fitting and important during this unprecedented time in history. Satya talks of the importance of being a “learn-it-all” instead of a “know-it-all.” Learn-it-alls are curious, resourceful and willing to fail, understanding that insights from failure lead to future success.

Learn-it-alls see adversity as a challenge to be overcome, and they work toward the future with focus and determination.

Right now, we’re all working toward the future in different ways. And the future itself is evolving rapidly as we work and learn together to fight and defeat COVID-19 across the globe. Work is changing, learning is changing, life is changing. Every person on the planet will need new skills to be successful tomorrow, one year from now, and one decade from now. This is particularly apropos for students (and the educators teaching them), with the World Economic Forum predicting that two-thirds of students today will work in jobs that do not yet exist. Likewise, LinkedIn continues to report cloud and artificial intelligence as top emerging jobs.

Today’s students are the innovators and inventors of the future who can use technology as a bedrock to help find solutions to the types of problems we’re facing today — and those we can’t predict. Educators are key enablers of this ability, and that’s why I’m excited to announce a new set of opportunities and resources for educators to teach Microsoft technical skills aimed at supporting students to continue learning during this pandemic and beyond.

Introducing Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors

Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors help their peers learn about things they care about most, from social issues to new technologies. Ambassadors get a first look at new Microsoft technologies, gain leadership skills, and receive mentoring from professionals in the industry, and their peers benefit from their knowledge, which can now be shared via the Microsoft Learn platform. All our incoming 2020 interns are invited to join the Student Ambassadors and it’s open to any higher ed student who wants to apply.

We are aiming to help skill millions of students in the coming years — helping tomorrow’s leaders gain knowledge in areas spanning topics like responsible AI, Internet of Things (IoT), and building cloud-native apps, among so much more.

New hub on Microsoft Learn for educators and students

Students are natural continuing learners — it’s in their DNA. And to make it easier for them to both acquire and transfer knowledge, Microsoft Learn now has a new home just for educators and students, including our Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors.

We’ve partnered with universities to create new learning paths based on their popular courses in data science, cloud development, and AI engineering, all tailored for the students that want to build in-demand job skills and educators that want to teach them:

We’ve also added a new series of learning paths to inspire and challenge students to build with social impact and responsibility in mind. These take a solution-driven, project-based approach to learning:

We continue to offer foundational developer paths designed especially for students that faculty can easily teach in the classroom. These include:

Educators play a pivotal role in empowering students for future success. At Microsoft, we’re committed to enabling and supporting them in their mission. Microsoft Learn for Educators curates online learning paths and supporting instructor-led training materials into the classroom. Eligible educators and faculty members at universities, community colleges, polytechnics and secondary schools can access Microsoft ready-to-teach curriculum and teaching materials aligned to industry-recognized Microsoft certifications. These certifications augment a students’ existing degree path and validate the skills needed to be successful across a variety of technical careers. Provided Microsoft curriculum and instructor-led training materials will cover:

  • Azure Fundamentals
  • Azure Data Fundamentals (coming soon)
  • Azure AI Fundamentals (coming soon)

Python for Beginners on YouTube expands

Last fall, we launched a 44-part video series called Python for Beginners, consisting of short lessons aimed to help students learn Python and then build AI apps on Azure. People kept asking for more, so we’ve expanded on it with 50 additional new videos that dive deeper into the popular Python libraries like NumPy, Pandas, and Scikit-learn. If you’re looking to try Python for the first time or brush-up your skills, begin here!

Students at Microsoft Build

Microsoft’s annual developer conference, Build, is set to bring the developer community — including student developers and our 2020 class of interns — together virtually May 19-21 to learn, connect and code together. In the spirt of connecting students and professional developers, the Imagine Cup World Championship will be held during Build where teams will compete for the $100,000 grand prize and a mentoring session with Satya Nadella.

The Imagine Cup is perhaps one of the most visible ways we encourage students to address real problems through teamwork and technology. Much like a sports bracket which requires repetitive wins to advance to get the World Championship, teams must win their regional competitions — an impressive feat by itself. This year, tens of thousands of competitors from more than 170 countries participated, culminating in 16 students representing six teams that made it to the championship.

Beyond the excitement of Imagine Cup, the Student Zone at Build will have content tailored to and appropriate for students. Speakers include a variety of top influencers in the digital learning spaces, with content available for each skill level (13-21 years-old) attending our sessions virtually. And, special guest NASA Education Specialist Matthew Wallace will demo a machine learning tool that introduces students to process for analyzing images of Earth taken from the International Space Station, like our astronauts do.

Azure for Students

We believe strongly in providing access to the most current technology, and that’s why we’re providing free Azure accounts, plus a $100 credit, for qualifying students. With their accounts, students can develop in Visual Studio to create custom apps, explore AI through Cognitive Services and smart APIs, and build and train machine learning models faster with the latest open source technologies. Free developer tools are included, as are free learning paths and labs.

I hope you’ll take advantage of all the free content that interests you and join us as learn-it-alls.

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Black Sea Wheat Exports to Hold Steady, Poll Shows

Wheat exports from Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan will hold steady in 2020-21, a Reuters poll showed, due to a larger crop in Russia and Kazakhstan, making competition easier with the European Union, where output is forecast lower.

Most of the wheat exported from these three countries is moved via the Black Sea to customers in the Middle East and Africa, which are also major markets for European wheat.

One agriculture consultant who responded to the survey and wished to remain anonymous told Reuters that Russia likely will harvest less wheat with high protein this year, but its wheat will still be in high demand due to the EU’s declining crop size in 2020-21.

Wheat exports from Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan are forecast to remain stable at 60.2 million tonnes in the season that is due to start on July 1, the poll of 17 analysts, officials and traders showed.

The combined 2020-21 wheat crop of the three countries will rise 0.8% to 115.2 million tonnes, the median estimate showed.

Russia has threatened to place a quota on exported wheat in 2020-21 in attempt to control domestic food prices. This could be an advantage for Ukrainian traders, according to a trader in Kiev. However, he added that unfavorable weather conditions could have a negative impact on Ukraine’s output.

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Russian Nuclear-Powered Sub Enters Service Amid Arms Control Fears

Russia’s most-advanced new nuclear-powered submarine entered service on Friday, the defense ministry said, at a time of growing arms control tensions between Moscow and the West, Reuters reported.

The Knyaz Vladimir (Prince Vladimir) – designed to carry Bulava intercontinental nuclear missiles – was enrolled into the navy during Friday’s Russia Day celebrations.

The announcement comes against the background of a rift with Western powers over Ukraine and fears of a burgeoning arms race following the demise of a landmark Cold War-era nuclear pact.

The Borei-A (Boreas) class submarine is named after a ruler of the medieval Kievan Rus, the territory in modern-day Ukraine from which the Russian state would later emerge.

The first upgraded 955A model to be produced in the Borei class is one of the centrepieces in President Valdimir Putin’s plans to upgrade the nuclear-powered fleet.

The Borei submarine project, started shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, had long been plagued by shortages of cash and failures during tests of the Bulava missile.

The global arms control architecture erected during the Cold War to keep Washington and Moscow in check has come under strain since the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

In August last year, the United States pulled out of the accord that banned the deployment of short and intermediate range missiles, accusing Moscow of flouting it, something Russia denies.

The last major nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States, the New START treaty, is due to expire in 2021. It limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads the world’s two biggest nuclear powers can deploy.

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Russia Tracks U.S. and British Naval Ships in Barents Sea

Russia’s Northern Fleet is tracking a group of U.S. and British naval vessels which entered the Barents Sea on Monday morning, the Russian Defense Ministry was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

The U.S. Navy said earlier on Monday that four U.S. Navy ships and a Royal Navy vessel had entered the Barents Sea to conduct maritime security operations in what it called the challenging environmental conditions above the Arctic Circle, Reuters reported.

It said U.S. Navy surface ships had not operated in the Barents since the mid-1980s, and that Russia’s defence ministry had been notified on May 1 “in an effort to avoid misperceptions, reduce risk, and prevent inadvertent escalation”.

Russia’s Northern Fleet, which includes both nuclear-powered ships and submarines, is based near Murmansk in the waters of the Kola Bay, a fjord which feeds into the Barents Sea.

The U.S.-British decision to conduct operations in the Barents Sea comes with Russia pushing ahead with a huge military build-up in the Arctic, an area it regards as strategically vital due to its huge hydrocarbon reserves, warming Northern Sea shipping route, and geopolitical and defence importance.

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