Renewed push for republican status comes 45 years after the former British colony gained independence.
Barbados wants to remove the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and become a republic, the Caribbean nation’s government has said.
A former British colony that gained independence in 1966, Barbados has maintained a formal link with the monarchy like some other countries that were once part of the British empire.
“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” said Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason, delivering a speech on behalf of the country’s Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
“Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving. Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a republic by the time we celebrate our 55th anniversary of independence.”
That anniversary will come in November of next year.
Some on social media celebrated the move.
Kristen Clarke, the head of the Washington, DC-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said the development symbolised the “globalisation” of the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to the Barbados Today, the idea of Barbados becoming a republic was discussed as early as the 1970s.
“The peril and uncertainty of the times compel us to reinforce our foundation. Equally, we are challenged to shore up our traditional structures and find stronger, more resilient, more sustainable architecture, on which we can build a modern and enduring structure for current and future generations,” Mason said, according to the newspaper.
“Barbados has developed governance structures and institutions that mark us as what has been described as, ‘the best governed Black society in the world’.
“Since Independence, we Barbadians have sought constantly to improve our systems of law and governance so as to ensure they best reflect our characteristics and values as a nation.”
People who fled Greece’s largest camp sleep in supermarket parking lots and on roadsides, many without food and water.
Thousands of refugees slept rough on the Greek island of Lesbos for a second night after a fire razed the country’s largest camp to the ground, sending crowds fleeing but with nowhere to go.
Families slept on roadsides, in supermarket parking lots and in fields across the island, which was at the forefront of the European migrant crisis in 2015-2016.
There had been about 13,000 people in the camp.
Tuesday night’s inferno at Moria sent thousands rushing to save their lives, reducing the camp – notorious for its poor living conditions – to a mass of smouldering steel and melted tent tarpaulin.
A second fire broke out on Wednesday night, destroying what little was left.
Desperate families, many with young children, spent Wednesday night in the open, some without tents or basic bedding. Some of the homeless trekked to the nearest villages for water and other supplies.
Police reinforcements were brought in to prevent refugees and migrants from reaching the island’s main town of Mytilene, confining them to fields and roadsides.
Eight-year-old Congolese girl Valencia, who was barefoot, gestured to a Reuters reporter that she was hungry and asked for a biscuit. “Our home burned, my shoes burned, we don’t have food, no water.”
Both she and her mother Natzy Malala, 30, who has a newborn, slept on the side of the road.
“There is no food, no milk for the baby,” Natzy Malala said.
Officials have declared a four-month emergency on Lesbos and flown in additional riot police.
The migration ministry said it would take “all necessary steps” to ensure that vulnerable groups and families had shelter, but these were expected to be met with stiff resistance from locals.
Authorities were already at loggerheads with locals over plans to replace Moria with a closed reception centre, which Lesbos residents fear would mean thousands of asylum seekers remaining permanently.
Municipalities were at odds over the handling of the situation, said Costas Moutzouris, governor of the Northern Aegean. “There is no decision. It’s up in the air,” he told Reuters.
The migration ministry said a ferry had been sent to accommodate hundreds of people ahead of the expected arrival of European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas to inspect conditions on the island.
Reporting from Lesbos, NRM said the situation was dire for the government.
“It is hard to see how the government is going to settle so many thousands of [refugees] who have been left shelterless and homeless.
“We are told that three ships are under way to house thousands of the most vulnerable people with small children, but that will probably still leave some thousands uncared. There is a huge problem because the municipality doesn’t have the infrastructure to provide for them.”
A government official who declined to be named said that sheltering refugees and migrants on boats was not a safe solution and was sending the wrong message to migrants who would want to leave Lesbos.
The fire brought fresh tragedy to the refugees who had been living in Moria. The camp was under quarantine restrictions due to an outbreak of COVID-19 last week.
Authorities are investigating whether Tuesday night’s fires were started deliberately after COVID-19 tests led to the isolation of 35 refugees
Amnesty report says Malta arranged ‘unlawful pushbacks to Libya’ and diverted migrant boats to Italy.
An Amnesty International report has blamed Malta for using “ever more despicable and illegal tactics” to turn away migrants and refugees from North Africa.
In its report released on Tuesday, Amnesty said Malta has arranged “unlawful pushbacks to Libya”, diverted migrants boats to Italy and illegally detained “hundreds of people on ill-equipped” offshore quarantine ferries.
The rights group also criticised Maltese authorities for signing a new agreement with Libya to stop migrants and refugees leaving the conflict-ridden country.
“Malta is stooping to ever more despicable and illegal tactics to shirk their responsibilities to people in need,” Amnesty researcher Elisa De Pieri said.
“Shamefully, the EU and Italy have normalised cooperation with Libya on border control, but sending people back to danger in Libya is anything but normal.”
It also said in the report “some of the actions taken by the Maltese authorities may have involved criminal acts being committed, resulting in avoidable deaths, prolonged arbitrary detention, and illegal returns to war-torn Libya”.
“The authorities also used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to declare that Malta was not a safe place to disembark – to discourage people from seeking safety and a decent life in Europe.”
Amnesty recalled that 27 people rescued by Danish tanker Maersk Etienne on August 4 are still at sea as no disembarkation has been offered to them.
On Monday, three international organisations called on Mediterranean countries to take in the migrants, saying their situation was becoming dire.
Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela has said his country is not responsible for them. However, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) accused governments of breaking international law by refusing to allow the migrants to leave the ship.
“International law and maritime conventions place clear obligations on ships and coastal States to ensure people in distress are rescued and promptly disembarked in a place of safety,” the three organisations said.
“The Maersk Etienne fulfilled its responsibilities, but now finds itself in a diplomatic game of pass the parcel.”
In May, Malta’s Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo said the country’s migration centres were holding twice the number of people they were designed for, and Malta was at the mercy of people smugglers.
“We want to protect the rights of people seeking protection, but we can only do so much. We are being left alone. Words of sympathy are not enough; we need practical help,” he said referring to the EU.
Malta is the EU’s smallest member state. According to the IOM, it has taken in 2,162 migrants from the sea between January 1 and August 20, compared with 3,405 in 2019.
Malta and Italy have long said they are disproportionately affected by Europe-bound sea migration from North Africa, and that there is insufficient burden-sharing across the European Union.
The positions of both Valletta and Rome hardened in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, amid concerns migrants could have turned into virus spreaders.
Human rights groups have repeatedly warned that migrants stuck in Libya, or forcibly returned there, are exposed to torture, exploitation and abuse.
According to Amnesty, “7,256 people were ‘pulled back’ to Libya by the EU-supported Libyan Coast Guard” between January and August 27, often with the help of Frontex and other EU operations
The repayment comes as Harry and Meghan seek to forge new careers for themselves and attain financial independence.
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have refunded British taxpayers 2.4 million pounds ($3.2m), the cost of renovating their United Kingdom home, in line with a commitment they made after announcing in January they would step back from royal duties.
The refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, a house within the grounds of Queen Elizabeth’s Windsor Castle west of London, had been criticised by some British media as too expensive.
The repayment comes as Harry and Meghan, an American former actress, seek to forge new careers for themselves and attain greater financial independence. They announced last week they had signed a contract with Netflix to produce content for the streaming platform.
Officially known as the duke and duchess of Sussex, the couple has moved to California but will keep Frogmore Cottage as their home when they come back to the UK, under the terms of their agreement with the queen, Harry’s grandmother.
“A contribution has been made to the Sovereign Grant by The Duke of Sussex,” a spokesperson for the couple said, referring to a pot of taxpayer money used to fund the monarchy.
“This contribution as originally offered by Prince Harry has fully covered the necessary renovation costs of Frogmore Cottage, a property of Her Majesty The Queen, and will remain the UK residence of The Duke and his family.”
The terms of Harry and Meghan’s contract with Netflix have not been disclosed. Prior to that, the bulk of their income was coming from the private estate of Prince Charles, Harry’s father and the heir to the British throne.
EU’s chief negotiator ‘worried’ as UK reportedly plans new law to override key parts of Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
Brexit trade talks have plunged into crisis on the eve of a penultimate round of negotiations in London, after the United Kingdom warned the European Union that it could effectively override the divorce deal it signed unless the bloc agrees to a free trade deal by October 15.
Tensions mounted on Monday, with chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier saying he was “worried” about negotiations, and that he will seek clarification from London about plans to renege on commitments.
The UK is reportedly planning new legislation that will override key parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement – a step that, if implemented, could jeopardise a treaty signed in January and stoke tension in Northern Ireland.
Sections of the internal market bill, due to be published on Wednesday, are expected to “eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement” in areas including state aid and Northern Ireland customs, the Financial Times newspaper said on Monday, citing three people familiar with the plans.
If no deal is agreed, both sides should “accept that and move on”, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will say later on Monday. In this scenario, the UK would have a trading relationship with the bloc like Australia’s, which would be “a good outcome”, Johnson will say.
Johnson will also say there is no sense in thinking about timelines beyond October 15.
“If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us, and we should both accept that and move on,” he will say.
As the prospect of a no-deal Brexit loomed, sterling fell against the dollar and euro.
The UK left the EU on January 31, but talks aimed at clinching a new trade deal before the end of a status-quo transition arrangement in December have so far snagged on state aid rules and fishing.
Without a deal, nearly $1 trillion in trade between the UK and the EU could be thrown into uncertainty, including rules over everything from car parts and medicines to fruit and data.
European concern over UK’s reported plan The reported plan to undermine the Withdrawal Agreement was condemned by parties on both sides of the Irish border and surprised some in Brussels.
“If the UK chose not to respect its international obligations, it would undermine its international standing,” said one EU diplomat.
“Who would want to agree trade deals with a country that doesn’t implement international treaties? It would be a desperate and ultimately self-defeating strategy,” the diplomat said.
“Without correct implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, I cannot imagine the EU would conclude a treaty with a country that does not abide by its treaty commitments,” said another EU diplomat.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, who played a key role in negotiating the withdrawal agreement and Northern Ireland protocol, said on Twitter that the reported move “would be a very unwise way to proceed”.
Senior members of Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein and SDLP parties, the region’s two largest Irish nationalist groups, also criticised the UK’s reported plan.
Asked about the report in the Financial Times, British Environment Secretary George Eustice said there might be some minor “legal ambiguities” that needed to be tidied up over the Northern Irish protocol.
“We are not moving the goal posts,” he told Sky News broadcaster.
Barnier said everything that has been signed “must be respected”, as he planned to discuss the FT report with his British counterpart David Frost during this week’s talks.
“The important thing for me is what the prime minister says and does, and what the British government itself says and does,” he said.
Regarding Northern Ireland, Barnier insisted that under the withdrawal deal it will continue to apply the EU’s single market rules, intended to avoid a “hard border” with Ireland but which would effectively create a trade border in the Irish Sea.
The move is meant to avoid reviving sectarian tensions between Ireland and Northern Ireland that were largely calmed by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.
“No land border is the pre-requisite for peace since the end of the conflict … and it’s the pre-requisite for a united and coherent economy for the entire island, and also to respect the single market,” Barnier said.
Post-Brexit trade talks have stalled over the UK’s push for autonomy over state aid and fishing rights.
The United Kingdom has set a deadline of October 15 to strike a free-trade deal with the European Union, and if none is agreed, both sides should “accept that and move on”, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will say on Monday.
The UK left the EU on January 31, but there has been little progress on a new trade deal after a status-quo transition arrangement ends in December. Failure to reach a deal could result in the imposition of trade tariffs and customs controls for goods moving between the UK and EU.
Talks, which have stalled over the UK’s insistence that it has full autonomy over state aid and fishing, are due to resume in London on Tuesday.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said an agreement on trade needed to be reached urgently and he blamed the stalemate on the UK’s attitude.
Johnson will say there is no sense in thinking about timelines beyond October 15.
“If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us, and we should both accept that and move on,” he will say, according to comments released by his office.
If no deal is agreed, the UK would have a trading relationship with the bloc like Australia’s, which would be “a good outcome”, Johnson will say.
The EU has been negotiating a trade agreement with Australia since 2018 but has yet to conclude a deal.
‘Full control’ “As a government we are preparing, at our borders and at our ports, to be ready for it,” Johnson will say. “We will have full control over our laws, our rules and our fishing waters.”
In that case, the UK would be ready to find sensible accommodation with the bloc on practical issues such as flights, lorry transport or scientific cooperation, according to the excerpts.
The Financial Times newspaper reported that the British government is planning legislation that will override key parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, risking the collapse of trade negotiations with Brussels.
Sections of the internal market bill, due to be published on Wednesday, are expected to “eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement” in areas including state aid and Northern Ireland customs, the newspaper said, citing three people familiar with the plans.
A source told the newspaper that the move could “clearly and consciously” undermine the agreement on Northern Ireland – a part of the UK – that Johnson signed last October to avoid a return to a hard border with the neighbouring Republic of Ireland.
The UK’s Brexit negotiator David Frost said on Sunday that the British government was not scared of a no-deal exit at the end of the year.
Johnson will say there is still a deal to be had based on a standard free trade agreement if the EU is ready to rethink its current position.
“But we cannot and will not compromise on the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country to get it,” he will say.
Under the deal, whose value was not disclosed, the couple will produce content on issues that resonate with them.
The United Kingdom’s Prince Harry and his American-born wife Meghan have signed an exclusive multiyear production deal with Netflix Inc, a major step in their plan to make a living for themselves outside the royal family.
Under the deal, whose value was not disclosed, the couple will produce films and series ranging from children’s shows to scripted content, the streaming platform said on Wednesday.
The couple moved to Southern California with their infant son Archie this year after stepping back from royal duties in January and announcing plans to be more financially independent.
They said they will produce content on issues that resonate with them and that their nonprofit Archewell is focused on.
“Our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope,” the couple said in a statement on Wednesday. “As new parents, making inspirational family programming is also important to us.”
Meghan, a former star of the USA Network television show, Suits, has no plans to return to acting under the deal.
The couple has no previous experience as producers, but Netflix said they already have several projects in development, including a nature documentary series and an animated series that celebrates inspiring women. They said they plan to highlight diversity in front of and behind the camera.
“We’re incredibly proud they have chosen Netflix as their creative home,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement.
The Netflix deal follows a similar pact in 2018 with former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.
NRM said Harry and Meghan had been speaking with other Hollywood companies, including Walt Disney Co and Apple Inc. Variety reported earlier this month that they had met with Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal.
Netflix last month released, Rising Phoenix, a documentary about the Paralympic Games, in which Harry, who founded the Invictus Games for wounded veterans, makes a brief appearance.
Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth, had previously teamed up with the Apple TV+ streaming service to make a documentary with Oprah Winfrey about mental health.
The documentary, which was in the works before the couple stepped back from their royal duties, has yet to be aired.
In June, the couple signed with the Harry Walker Agency in New York, which serves as an agent for lectures by clients such as former US Presidents Obama and Bill Clinton, as well as Oprah Winfrey.
Harry and Meghan are expected to speak together and individually on issues such as racial justice, gender equity, the environment, and mental health.
The couple recently bought a mansion in the celebrity enclave of Montecito, north of Los Angeles, which is more sheltered from media attention.
Since arriving in California in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, they have undertaken some low-profile charity work, handing out supplies to families in need.
French officials say programme will be Europe’s largest relative to GDP, likely to create around 160,000 jobs by 2021.
The French government has detailed its 100 billion euro ($118bn) stimulus plan to erase the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis over two years, lining up billions of euros in public investments, subsidies and tax cuts.
The plan – dubbed “France Relaunch” – earmarks, in particular, 35 billion euros ($41bn) for making the euro zone’s second-biggest economy more competitive, 30 billion euros ($35bn) for more environmentally friendly energy schemes and 25 billion euros ($30bn) for supporting jobs, officials told the Reuters news agency ahead of its official presentation late on Thursday.
With the plan equating to 4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), France is ploughing more public cash into its economy than any other big European country as a percentage of GDP, one of the officials said.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said he hoped the economic recovery plan would create 160,000 jobs by 2021.
Speaking on RTL radio, he also said the plan aimed to erase the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis over two years as well as helping to avert widespread job losses.
Risky bet It is a high-stakes political move for President Emmanuel Macron. His government is banking on the plan to return the economy to pre-crisis levels of activity by 2022 after suffering this year what the finance ministry expects to be its worst post-war recession with a contraction of 11 percent, among the biggest slumps in Europe.
The initial rebound following the end of a nationwide lockdown in May appears to be tapering off. Furlough measures have helped contain unemployment for now, but it could rise sharply in the coming months.
Looming over the grim outlook are presidential elections in April 2022, leaving Macron no time for another shot at a defining policy transformation before he faces voters.
The economic recovery plan also aims to put Macron’s pro-business push back on track with already-flagged cuts in business taxes worth 10 billion euros ($12bn) annually and fresh public funds to boost France’s industrial, construction and transport sectors.
Officials said the transport sector would get 11 billion euros ($13bn) with 4.7 billion euros ($5.5bn) targeting the rail network in particular while energy-efficient building renovations would be spurred with four billion euros ($4.7bn) for public buildings and two billion euros ($2.4bn) for homes.
The hydrogen industry, increasingly seen as a key building block in the transition away from fossil fuels, would get two billion euros ($2.4bn) over the two years of the stimulus plan.
Another one billion euros ($1.2bn) would be offered in direct aid for industrial projects, including 600 million euros ($709m) to help firms relocate overseas plants back to France.
‘Very French’ The government estimates that France Relaunch will return economic output to 2019 levels in 2022, according to officials at the prime minister’s office, while also having a lasting impact that will raise potential growth by one percentage point 10 years from now.
“It’s a wise mix of short-term boosts to demand via job protection and longer-term supply via investment,” Allianz’s chief economist Ludovic Subran told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media). “But it’s very French in the way it aims to resolve everything in one plan. There are no contingencies for supporting businesses and households in response to a changing pandemic.”
Governments across Europe are planning additional stimulus as the coronavirus continues to hammer economies. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling bloc on Tuesday backed plans allowing for extraordinary deficit spending next year.
But many countries have already stretched their finances. In France’s case, emergency spending has pushed the debt burden to around 120 percent of economic output – a level the central bank has warned the government should not exceed.
Some 80 billion euros of the overall cost of the French plan will weigh directly on the budget deficit, with EU subsidies offsetting 40 billion euros ($47bn), officials said.
Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters marched through the streets of London, blocking traffic outside Notting Hill tube station and lying down in the road staging die-in.
The “Million People March” is advocating against racial injustice and is taking place instead of this year’s Notting Hill carnival.
Organisers have said the event is more important than ever amid the worldwide campaign for justice after George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis.
Naomi Bennett, protester and nurse spoke to the press;
“I’ve known about deaths in custody of black people, from when I was, from back in the 90s. We’ve been protesting all these years. Fortunately the George Floyd (death), has just highlighted that to the rest of the world. Now this is a fight that is not new to black people in this country.”
Aside from highlighting racial injustice in the UK, organisers said the march was also to denounce forthcoming government spending on prisons.
The “Million People March” was held in place of the annual Notting Hill Carnival, which will be streamed online this year due to coronavirus restrictions.
Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street fair, tracing its roots to the late 1950s.
The Million People March comes the day after thousands of people gathered in Trafalgar Square in central London to protest against lockdown restrictions and the wearing of face masks.
European stock markets surged Monday on hopes of a coronavirus vaccine, while the dollar waned on continued deadlock over a new US stimulus deal, dealers said.
Looking ahead to a key meeting of central bankers this week, traders sent London’s benchmark rallying 2.0 percent and major eurozone indices were almost 2.5-percent higher approaching the half-way stage.
American authorities on Sunday announced that doctors could use blood plasma from recovered coronavirus patients as a treatment against the disease that has killed more than 176,000 in the US.
The move by the Food and Drug Administration comes as President Donald Trump faces intense pressure to curb the contagion that has hobbled the world’s largest economy and clouded his once-promising prospects for re-election in November.
“European markets have kicked off the week in style, with the FDA’s decision to approve the convalescent plasma coronavirus treatment raising hopes that we could see a vaccine fast-tracked before long,” said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG trading group.
Hong Kong’s main stock index meanwhile led gains across Asia, rallying 1.7 percent with traders cheered by a pledge from China’s banking regulator that it would continue to back the city as a financial hub after concerns were raised following the imposition of a new security law last month.
Investors will this week be keeping an eye also on a virtual gathering of central bankers at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for monetary policy guidance after they have already provided already a wall of cash to support the global economy during the pandemic.
The main attraction is a speech by Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell that is slated to take place on Thursday.
“More clarity will no doubt be sought via this week’s Jackson Hole symposium,” said Ben Emons, of Medley Global Advisors.
Traders are additionally keeping tabs on Washington, where US lawmakers are struggling to reach an agreement on a fresh stimulus package for the American economy.
“Democrats and Republicans are still very far (from) reaching a deal, and this means no further immediate aid in terms of fiscal policy,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Avatrade.
“Investors will like to know how the Fed will use language to make politicians understand in Washington about the importance of another stimulus package.”
– Key figures around 1045 GMT –
London – FTSE 100: UP 2.0 percent at 6,118.76 points
Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 2.4 percent at 13,075.07
Paris – CAC 40: UP 2.3 percent at 5,009.88
EURO STOXX 50: UP 2.3 percent at 3,334.80
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 22,985.51 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.7 percent at 25,551.58 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,385.64 (close)
New York – Dow: UP 0.7 percent at 27,930.33 points (close Friday)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1829 from $1.1795 at 2115 GMT on Friday
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 105.72 yen from 105.78 yen
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3120 from $1.3087
Euro/pound: UP at 90.18 pence from 90.09 pence
Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.7 percent at $44.66 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.6 percent at $42.61 per barrel.
European stock markets rose Tuesday, extending the previous session’s gains after a record-lead from Wall Street tech stocks but confidence was kept in check by ongoing China-US tensions and lack of movement on a new US stimulus, analyst said.
Technology firms continued to lead a rally in New York overnight, sending the Nasdaq to yet another all-time high, while the S&P 500 closed just short of a record finish as frustrated investors wait for Democrats and Republicans to hammer out a much-needed virus financial support package.
Asia’s main stock indices steadied Tuesday, while the dollar slid versus its main rivals and oil prices dipped.
“The dollar continues to fall with investors expecting the Fed to maintain its expansionary monetary policy for a long time owing to concerns the persistence of COVID-19 will weigh on economic recovery,” noted Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst with ThinkMarkets.
“The greenback is also suppressed because of the lack of haven demand for the reserve currency, with investors evidently favouring foreign currencies, gold and bitcoin,” he added.
The American stimulus stand-off is one of a number of issues nagging markets, with China-US tensions continuing to sour and coronavirus fallout in full view.
UK retailer Marks and Spencer on Tuesday announced 7,000 job cuts. In the US, Walmart reported surging e-commerce sales.
– Trade, stimulus tensions –
Washington-Beijing unrest meanwhile took a new twist, with the US expanding sanctions on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to further limit its access to computer chips and other US-made products.
While there are concerns raised tensions between the US and China could affect the superpowers’ recently signed trade pact, such fears have been played down by both sides.
“For the moment, the fact the… trade deal remains in place, and will do while the two sides choose not to hold their six-month review that was to have taken place last weekend, is seen as overriding the building evidence of a technology cold war now under way,” said National Australia Bank’s Ray Attrill.
Analysts said there was not too much concern on markets about possible tax hikes if Joe Biden beats President Donald Trump in the race for the White House.
The Democratic Convention kicked off Monday and “the theme should be that Biden will be good for the economy,” said Edward Moya at OANDA.
“Wall Street seems convinced that Biden’s tax policy will not kill the stock market… a Biden presidency could offer greater certainty and stability for the economy,” Moya added.
– Key figures around 1145 GMT –
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 6,142.33 points
Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.8 percent at 13,029.71
Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.4 percent at 4,993.03
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.7 percent at 3,327.82
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.2 percent at 23,051.08 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 25,367.38 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 3,451.09 (close)
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.3 percent at 27,844.91 (close Monday)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1903 from $1.1876 at 2050 GMT
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 105.56 yen from 105.99 yen
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3164 from $1.3107
Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.39 pence from 90.58 pence
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.6 percent at $42.65 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.3 percent at $45.22 per barrel
Long-dormant viruses brought back to life; the resurgence of deadly and disfiguring smallpox; a dengue or zika “season” in Europe.
These could be disaster movie storylines, but they are also serious and increasingly plausible scenarios of epidemics unleashed by global warming, scientists say.
The COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the globe and claimed over 760,000 lives so far almost certainly came from a wild bat, highlighting the danger of humanity’s constant encroachment on the planet’s dwindling wild spaces.
But the expanding ecological footprint of our species could trigger epidemics in other ways too.
Climate change — already wreaking havoc with one degree Celsius of warming — is also emerging as a driver of infectious disease, whether by expanding the footprint of malaria- and dengue-carrying mosquitos, or defrosting prehistoric pathogens from the Siberian permafrost.
– ‘Ignorance is our enemy’ –
“In my darkest moments, I see a really horrible future for Homo sapiens because we are an animal, and when we extend our borders things will happen to us,” said Birgitta Evengard, a researcher in clinical microbiology at Umea University in Sweden.
“Our biggest enemy is our own ignorance,” she added. “Nature is full of microorganisms.”
Think of permafrost, a climate change time bomb spread across Russia, Canada and Alaska that contains three times the carbon that has been emitted since the start of industrialisation.
Even if humanity manages to cap global warming at under two degrees Celsius, the cornerstone goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the permafrost area will decrease by a quarter by 2100, according to the UN’s climate science panel, the IPCC.
And then there are the permafrost’s hidden treasures.
“Microorganisms can survive in frozen space for a long, long time,” said Vladimir Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.
– An Anthrax comeback? –
As ground thaws, once-frozen soil particles, organic material and microorganisms that had been locked away for millennia are carried toward the surface by water flows, he explained.
“That’s how thawing can spread these microorganisms into present day environments.”
There are already examples of ancient, long-frozen bugs coming to life.
“When you put a seed into soil that is then frozen for thousands of years, nothing happens,” said Jean-Michel Claverie, an emeritus professor of genomics at the School of Medicine of Aix-Marseille University in France.
“But when you warm the earth, the seed will be able to germinate,” he added. “That is similar to what happens with a virus.”
Claverie’s lab has successfully revived Siberian viruses that are at least 30,000 years old.
These reanimated bugs only attack amoebas, but tens of thousands of years ago there were certainly others that aimed higher up the food chain.
“Neanderthals, mammoths, woolly rhinos all got sick, and many died,” said Claverie. “Some of the viruses that caused their sicknesses are probably still in the soil.”
The number of bacteria and viruses lurking in the permafrost is incalculable, but the more important question is how dangerous they are.
And here, scientists disagree.
“Anthrax shows that bacteria can be resting in permafrost for hundreds of years and be revived,” said Evengard.
In 2016, a child in Siberia died from the disease, which had disappeared from the region at least 75 years earlier.
– Two-million-year-old pathogens –
This case has been attributed to the thawing of a long-buried carcass, but some experts counter that the animal remains in question may have been in shallow dirt and thus subject to periodic thawing.
Other pathogens — such as smallpox or the influenza strain that killed tens of millions in 1917 and 1918 — may also be present in the sub-Arctic region.
But they “have probably been inactivated”, Romanovsky concluded in a study published earlier this year.
For Claverie, however, the return of smallpox — officially declared eradicated 50 years ago — cannot be excluded. 18th- and 19th-century victims of the disease “buried in cemetaries in Siberia are totally preserved by the cold,” he noted.
In the unlikely event of a local epidemic, a vaccine is available.
The real danger, he added, lies in deeper strata where unknown pathogens that have not seen daylight for two million years or more may be exposed by global warming.
If there were no hosts for the bugs to infect there would not be a problem, but climate change — indirectly — has intervened here as well.
“With the industrial exploitation of the Arctic, all the risk factors are there — pathogens and the people to carry them,” Claverie said.
The revival of ancient bacteria or viruses remains speculative, but climate change has already boosted the spread of diseases that kill about half a million people every year: malaria, dengue, chikungunya, zika.
“Mosquitoes moving their range north are now able to overwinter in some temperate regions,” said Jeanne Fair, deputy group leader for biosecurity and public health at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
“They also have longer breeding periods.”
– ‘Climate change aperitif’ –
Native to southeast Asia, the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) — which carries dengue and chikungunya — arrived in southern Europe in the first decade of this century and has been moving rapidly north ever since, to Paris and beyond.
Meanwhile, another dengue-bearing mosquito, Aedes aegypti, has also appeared in Europe. Whichever species may be the culprit, the Europe Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has registered 40 cases of local transmission of dengue between 2010 and 2019.
“An increase in mean temperature could result in seasonal dengue transmission in southern Europe if A. aegypti infected with virus were to be established,” according to the Europe Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
As for malaria — a disease that once blighted southern Europe and the southern United States and for which an effective treatment exists — the risk of exposure depends in large part on social-economic conditions.
More than five billion people could be living in malaria-affected regions by 2050 if climate change continues unabated, but strong economic growth and social development could reduce that number to less than two billion, according to a study cited by the IPCC.
“Recent experience in southern Europe demonstrates how rapidly the disease may reappear if health services falter,” the IPCC said in 2013, alluding to a resurgence of cases in Greece in 2008.
In Africa — which saw 228 million cases of malaria in 2018, 94 percent of the world’s total — the disease vector is moving into new regions, notably the high-altitude plains of Ethiopia and Kenya.
For the moment, the signals for communicable tropical diseases “are worrying in terms of expanding vectors, not necessarily transmission,” said Cyril Caminade, an epidemiologist working on climate change at the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool.
“That said, we’re only tasting the aperitif of climate change so far,” he added.
The student-led, anti-government movement has been calling for three significant changes to Thailand’s power structure: the dissolution of parliament, the rewriting of the military-drafted constitution and an end to the intimidation of dissidents
Liverpool have today announced the signing of Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich on a four-year contract. The deal sees Liverpool pay around £20million up front with another £5million of potential add-ons.
The Reds have been linked with a move for the Bayern Munich midfielder since before the end of last season, when he helped the German giants win their sixth Champions League crown in the revamped end to the tournament in Lisbon.
The European Union reimposed customs duties on many of Cambodia’s exports on Wednesday, suspending its trade arrangement over concerns about human rights.
Trade commissioner Phil Hogan stressed that while Brussels stands by Cambodia in battling the coronavirus, “Our continued support does not diminish the urgent need for Cambodia to respect human rights and labour rights.”
“We have provided Cambodia with trade opportunities that let the country develop an export-oriented industry and gave jobs to thousands of Cambodians,” he said.
Now, Cambodia has lost its access to the EU’s “Everything But Arms” trade arrangement for least developed countries, which will hit typical exports such as garments, footwear and travel goods.
These products represent around 20 percent of Cambodia’s exports to the EU and will now be subject to the general tariffs applied under World Trade Organisation rules.
Hogan said he would restore tariff-free access if the EU sees “substantial improvement” in Cambodia’s human rights record.
Cambodia’s textile sector employs 700,000 people. Total trade between the two partners was 5.6 billion euros last year.
China has eased entry restrictions for nationals from 36 European countries, months after thousands were left stranded when the country closed its borders and slashed flights to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Almost all foreign nationals were forbidden from entering the country when Beijing imposed the measures in March, even those with Chinese work or residence permits or family living in the country.
But this week China said it would relax some of the bureaucratic requirements for Europeans hoping to re-enter.
The new rules will allow European passport holders from 36 countries –- including France, Germany and the UK -– with a valid residence permit to apply for a Chinese visa without an invitation letter, according to a notice by the Chinese embassy in Berlin published Wednesday.
Everyone returning to China has to reapply for their visa since travel documents issued before the pandemic have been nullified.
Previously, China had allowed only a small number of skilled foreign workers to return with special official invitation letters — a process which proved slow.
China’s foreign ministry said in a statement published Monday that European passport holders who qualify will now be allowed to “apply for a Chinese visa free of charge”.
Anyone coming from abroad is still subject to COVID-19 tests and a 14-day quarantine — and will still have to find a plane ticket, after Beijing ordered a drastic reduction in international air links at the end of March, and prices soared.
Some of these strict flight quotas are also being lifted, with Air France allowed to operate three weekly flights between China and France from the end of August.
China has largely brought the spread of COVID-19 under control after the disease first emerged there late last year, but there has been a series of local clusters in recent months.
Stock markets surged Tuesday on optimism that lawmakers in Washington will hammer out a new stimulus package for the crippled American economy, while concerns about the US-China trade pact eased.
Approaching the half-way stage, London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 2.5 percent.
In the eurozone, Frankfurt and Paris rallied 2.6 percent.
European indices took “their cues from a positive Asia session, as investors focus on the prospect of a fiscal stimulus deal from US political leaders…. while setting aside concerns about an escalation in US-China trade tensions”, noted Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
Hong Kong rose more than two percent, with Macau casinos rallying on news that China would resume issuing tourist visas to Macau, reopening a crucial revenue stream for resorts that have been battered by a crash in tourist numbers.
Shanghai dropped more than one percent.
There was some relief that China did not include any members of US President Donald Trump’s administration in a group of 11 Americans hit with sanctions, in retaliation to a similar US move last week linked to the Hong Kong row.
As the pandemic hustles economies around the world, the US-China stand-off has been a major headache, with the two sides butting heads on several issues that have fanned worries they could renew their damaging trade war.
However, there is some confidence they will stick to their commitments after talks at the weekend to review their January tariffs pact.
Observers have pointed out that Beijing has failed to buy certain products owing to restrictions caused by the coronavirus, but the head of the central People’s Bank of China told state media the country would abide by the agreement despite tensions.
“No matter how the international situation changes, the most important thing is to get our own things done and to firmly deepen financial reform and opening-up,” Yi Gang told the Xinhua news agency.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reported that China would increase buying of soybeans from the US and ditch expensive Brazilian purchases.
“The strong sense is that the Trump administration won’t want to jeopardise the deal this side of the election for fear of alienating the important midwest farming constituency,” said Ray Attrill at National Australia Bank.
– Next Digital rockets again –
Shares in Next Digital, the media company owned by Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai who was arrested under a Chinese security law, surged 668 percent at one point thanks to pro-democracy activists buying it.
The stock, which ended Friday at HK$0.09, had soared more than 2,0000 percent to HK$1.96 at its Tuesday peak, before easing back to end at HK$1.10.
US lawmakers meanwhile remain deadlocked in their pursuit of a new stimulus, though observers say that with an election around the corner, Democrats and Republicans will likely reach a deal.
Trump’s executive orders at the weekend deferring payroll taxes, providing $400 in weekly unemployment benefits and making it harder to evict people eased immediate concerns, though markets say a full deal is key.
“The pressure is on the Democrats to offer a meaningful concession and likely a deal will emerge in the $1.5-2.0 trillion area,” said OANDA’s Edward Moya.
– Key figures around 1100 GMT –
London – FTSE 100: UP 2.5 percent at 6,201.60 points
Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 2.6 percent at 13,012.16
Paris – CAC 40: UP 2.6 percent at 5,039.10
EURO STOXX 50: UP 2.5 percent at 3,342.55
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.9 percent at 22,750.24 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 2.1 percent at 24,890.68 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.2 percent at 3,340.29 (close)
New York – Dow: UP 1.3 percent at 27,791.44 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1801 from $1.1737 at 2115 GMT
Dollar/yen: UP at 106.11 yen from 105.95 yen
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3101 from $1.3065
Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.02 pence from 89.79 pence
West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.5 percent at $42.58 per barrel