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Magic mushrooms show promise in treatment for depression, study says

Trial suggests psilocybin combined with psychological therapy is as effective as antidepressant drug One of the authors of the study warned against seeking out mushrooms for DIY treatment. Photograph: Imperial College London/PA Magic mushrooms have a long and rich history. Now scientists say they could play an important role in the future, with their active ingredient a promising treatment for depression. The results from a small, phase two clinical trial have revealed that two doses of psilocybin appears to be as effective as the common antidepressant escitalopram in treating moderate to severe major depressive disorder, at least when combined with psychological therapy. “I think it is fair to say that the results signal hope that we may be looking at a promising alternative treatment for depression,” said Dr Robin [...]

April 14th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Sweden has highest new Covid cases per person in Europe

Figure of 625 new infections per 1m people is many times larger than Nordic neighbours   People queue for their vaccine against Covid-19 at the Stockholmsmässan centre in Stockholm, Sweden.Photograph: Fredrik Sandberg/EPA Sweden has reported Europe’s highest number of new coronavirus infections per head over the past week and has more patients in intensive care than at any time since the pandemic’s first wave. The Scandinavian country, which has opted against strict lockdowns but gradually ratcheted up its still mostly voluntary restrictions, has a seven-day average of 625 new infections per million people, according to ourworldindata.org. That compares with 521 in Poland, 491 in France, 430 in the Netherlands, 237 in Italy and 208 in Germany, the data showed. The figure was many times higher than the 65, 111 [...]

April 13th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

New Zealand introduces climate change law for financial firms in world first

FILE PHOTO: The town of Glenorchy on Lake Wakatipu and Otago river in New Zealand. (Reuters/Henning Gloystein)   SYDNEY: New Zealand has become the first country to introduce a law that will require banks, insurers and investment managers to report the impacts of climate change on their business, minister for climate change James Shaw said on Tuesday (Apr 13). All banks with total assets of more than NZ$1 billion (US$703 million), insurers with more than NZ$1 billion in total assets under management, and all equity and debt issuers listed on the country's stock exchange will have to make disclosures. "We simply cannot get to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 unless the financial sector knows what impact their investments are having on the climate," Shaw said in a statement. "This [...]

April 13th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

More than 18,200 people visited Singapore through unilateral border openings; 70% from China

Travellers walking out from the arrival hall at Changi Airport Terminal 1 (Photo: Jeremy Long)   SINGAPORE: More than 18,200 visitors have entered Singapore on an Air Travel Pass from places that Singapore has unilaterally opened its borders to. The figure, as of Apr 8, includes about 2,400 travellers from Australia, 800 from Brunei, as well as 12,800 from mainland China, which made up about 70 per cent of the total number. There were also 300 Air Travel Pass visitors from New Zealand, 800 from Taiwan and 1,100 from Vietnam, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said in response to queries from CNA. The Air Travel Pass allows short-term, leisure travellers to enter Singapore without any restriction on their itineraries. This is different from the reciprocal green lanes between countries, which are for essential or business travel. [...]

April 13th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Turkey’s economic turmoil drives Bitcoin frenzy

Investors turn to cryptocurrency after Erdoğan’s sacking of central bank governor caused further fall in lira A man holds a physical imitation of a Bitcoin at a cryptocurrency exchange near the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.Photograph: Ozan Köse/AFP/Getty Images The neighbourhood teahouse is a focus of daily life across Turkey, an Ottoman tradition that has endured through the centuries. At the Red Lightning teahouse in Çorum, the enterprising owners have one foot in the past and one in the future: it’s the first one in the country where customers can pay in bitcoin. “Everyone we know in Çorum is starting to invest in cryptocurrency. We think that in five years or so regular currency will be in decline, it will be replaced by digital ones. So we wanted to be in [...]

April 13th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Largest Chinese breach of Taiwan air zone in a year after US warning

China sends 25 military jets a day after US secretary of state’s comments about Beijing’s aggression   A file photo from February 2020 of a Taiwanese military jet in the foreground flanking a Chinese bomber passing near Taiwan. Photograph: AP Twenty-five Chinese military jets breached Taiwan’s defence zone on Monday, the island’s government has said, after a senior US official warned of an “increasingly aggressive” Beijing. The defence ministry scrambled aircraft to broadcast warnings to leave after Chinese jets, including 18 fighters, entered the island’s southwest air defence identification zone for a 10th straight day. The incursion – the largest in a year – came after the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, on Sunday warned China not to attempt to change the status quo around Taiwan, saying to [...]

April 13th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

NZ Becomes First In World For Climate Reporting

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark says Aotearoa New Zealand has become the first country in the world to introduce a law that requires the financial sector to disclose the impacts of climate change on their business and explain how they will manage climate-related risks and opportunities. The Financial Sector (Climate-related Disclosure and Other Matters) Amendment Bill has been introduced to Parliament and will receive its first reading this week. “It is important that every part of New Zealand’s economy is helping us cut emissions and transition to a low carbon future This legislation ensures that financial organisations disclose and ultimately take action against climate-related risks and opportunities, “Becoming the first country in the world to introduce a law like this means we have an opportunity to show [...]

April 13th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

COVID ‘long Way From Over’ As Cases And Deaths Surge – WHO

The COVID-19 pandemic is “a long way from over” but there are many reasons to be optimistic and it’s possible the pandemic can be brought under control “within months”, the head of the UN health agency said on Monday. Although January and February saw six consecutive weeks of plummeting COVID-19 cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) chief said that had gone into reverse, with last week yielding “the fourth-highest number of cases in a single week so far”. “We have now seen seven consecutive weeks of increasing cases, and four weeks of increasing deaths”, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists at a regular media briefing. Keep physical distancing More than 780 million doses of vaccine have now been administered globally, but several Asian and Middle Eastern countries have seen large [...]

April 13th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

2020 Prime Minister’s Science Prize winners

There are some familiar faces as well as some new names among the Prime Minister’s Science Prize winners this year. Two of the five prizes are awarded for efforts to better understand and communicate the Covid-19 pandemic.   A team of 24 researchers working on covid-19 modelling with Te Te Pūnaha Matatini has won the 2020 Prime Minister's Science Prize. Photo: University of Auckland   The five Prime Minister’s Science Prizes are New Zealand’s most valuable research awards. Awarded annually, they are worth nearly $1 million. A real team effort The team prize, worth half a million, has been awarded to a consortium of 24 researchers working together in the field of complexity science as part of Te Pūnaha Matatini, a Centre of Research Excellence. In early 2020, director Shaun Hendy saw [...]

April 13th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Police, Defence Force and Transport Agency contractor spending up by at least 15%

Private contractors and consultants are doing well out of government spending propelled by the pandemic and big IT projects. Photo: 123rf  Thousands of them were collectively paid more than a billion last year by 17 of the largest departments or agencies. The Covid-19 response has forced spending up, and there's more to come, say several agencies in their annual reviews. Caught in the crosshairs, the Social Development Ministry expects its spending on contractors to rocket up 50 percent this year, to $93 million, as it starts up IT projects delayed by the pandemic. Public Services Minister Chris Hipkins is forecasting greater demand for contractors for the next 12 months, due to the pandemic and one-off capital projects like building classrooms, but says overall the trend is down. Yet, even [...]

April 11th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Tropical Cyclone Seroja makes landfall in Western Australia

The destructive core of tropical cyclone Seroja is moving inland north of Geraldton in Western Australia after wind gusts of up to 170km/h were reported during landfall. The storm hit the Western Australian coast south of Kalbarri at 8.00pm AWST on Sunday as a category three system. At 10.00pm AWST the storm weakened to a category two system as it continued moving inland. Cyclone Seroja is travelling at around 55km/h and significant impacts are expected to extend south and inland through to Wheat Belt communities overnight. The cyclone will weaken as it moves further inland today but is still likely to result in damaging wind gusts and heavy rain. A severe weather warning is current for areas to the southeast of the Tropical Cyclone Warning area. The Bureau of [...]

April 11th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

India protests US Navy’s transit through its exclusive economic zone

India's military monitored the movement of the USS John Paul Jones (pictured) as it headed towards the Malacca Straits.PHOTO: AFP     NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - India protested to the United States for a navy vessel conducting a transit through its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) without consent, the foreign ministry said on Friday (April 9), in a rare row between the friendly navies of the two countries. The USS John Paul Jones "asserted navigational rights and freedoms," inside India's EEZ in line with international law by sailing about 130 nautical miles (241km) west of India's Lakshadweep islands, the US Seventh Fleet said in a statement on Wednesday. But an Indian foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement that UN rules did not allow such passage without consent. "The Government [...]

April 11th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Pacquiao dares hate crime suspects: ‘Ako labanan mo, duwag!’

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 1) — Senator and boxing legend Manny Pacquiao took to social media to challenge hate crime suspects amid waves of reported anti-Asian violence in the United States. Pacquiao joined the voices of other celebrities and personalities in condemning Asian-American attacks. "Tigilan nyo ang pag-atake sa mga Pilipino na walang laban. Ako labanan mo, duwag!" the Filipino boxing icon said in his Facebook post. [Translation: Stop attacking Filipinos who can't defend themselves. Fight me instead, you coward!]   Pacquiao is the only eight-division world champion and oldest welterweight champion in boxing history. He holds a record of 62 wins, seven losses, and two draws in a career that spans over two decades. The recent hate-crime attack involved a 65-year-old Filipino-American woman. The assault was captured [...]

April 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Coronavirus: WHO chief criticises ‘shocking’ global vaccine divide

IMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS image captionThe WHO-led Covax scheme is designed to boost vaccine supplies to poorer nations around the world     The World Health Organization (WHO) has criticised what it describes as a "shocking imbalance" in the distribution of coronavirus vaccines between rich and poor countries. The group's chief said a target of seeing vaccination programmes under way in every country by Saturday would be missed. The WHO has long called for fairer distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. It is leading the Covax scheme which is designed to get jabs to poorer nations. So far, more than 38 million doses have been delivered to around 100 countries under the scheme. Covax hopes to deliver more than two billion doses to people in 190 countries in less than a year. In [...]

April 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Elon Musk startup shows monkey with brain chip implants playing video game

Neuralink video appears to show monkey controlling game paddle simply by thinking Elon Musk co-founded the San Francisco-based Neuralink in 2016. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters The billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s brain-chip startup released footage on Friday appearing to show a monkey playing a simple video game after getting implants of the new technology. The three-minute video by Neuralink shows Pager, a male macaque with chips embedded on each side of its brain, playing Mind Pong. Although he was trained to move a joystick, it is now unplugged. He appears to control the paddle simply by thinking about moving his hand up or down. “First @Neuralink product will enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using thumbs,” Musk tweeted on Thursday. Neuralink works by [...]

April 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Kindness shown in ship’s sinking unites Chinese and Māori cultures in Northland

The kindness which formed an enduring relationship between two cultures has been hailed as a powerful example for all New Zealanders. The joining of Māori and Chinese cultures was recognised in Northland on Saturday at the historical SS Ventnor memorial dedication ceremony. Held at Opononi on the edge of the Hokianga Harbour, the ceremony brought together about 200 people with different backgrounds, ethnicities and languages.                         LUCY XIA/STUFF A lion dance pays tribute to deceased Chinese miners whose remains sank with the SS Ventnor in 1902, at the SS Ventnor memorial dedication ceremony at Opononi.   The story of the SS Ventnor is one that was almost lost in time. In 1902 the ship was chartered by association [...]

April 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Kōkako population increasing in Pirongia Forest Park

The kōkako population in the Pirongia Forest Park in Waikato is expected to reach about 60 this year after the native bird had disappeared from the maunga in the 1990s. Predators, such as rats, stoats, possums, feral cats and hedgehogs threaten the survival of the kōkako. Photo: supplied A joint project between the Department of Conservation and the Pirongia Te Aroaro O Kahu Restoration Society (PRS) has worked to bring back the kōkako. About 40 were released in the park in 2017 and 2018 to kickstart a breeding programme. Clare St Pierre from the society said with the latest nesting season over it is hoped another 20 chicks will be raised successfully. ''It was in the 1990s the last were captured to stop them going extinct, so DOC arranged [...]

April 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Govt increases Air NZ loan by $600m

The government has increased how much money Air New Zealand can borrow, as it defers its plan for a capital raise until September. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook The national carrier had initially planned to tap shareholders for a cash injection around June. However, the company has delayed that until late September as it assesses recent developments such as the vaccine roll-out, an extension to the airfreight capacity scheme, and the opening of a trans-Tasman bubble. "These developments are good news and fundamental to Air New Zealand's return to success, but the storm hasn't cleared yet," Air New Zealand chair Therese Walsh said. To ensure the company has sufficient cash reserves until then, the government has increased loan to the airline by $600 million to a total of $1.5 [...]

April 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Commentary: Singaporean companies are not spared the impact of Myanmar’s political woes

Besides coping with changed rules, Singaporean businesses have come under increased scrutiny by international and Myanmar activists, says ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute’s Dr Su-Ann Oh.   Unrest -- including a widespread strike -- has crippled Myanmar's economy AFP/STR     SINGAPORE: Singaporean businesses, like other enterprises in Myanmar, have been trying to navigate the turbulent waves created by the military coup on Feb 1. Their operations have been affected in three main ways: Everyday disruptions brought about by political protests against the coup, challenges raised by the measures taken by the military government to assert control over resistance to the coup, and greater scrutiny of Singaporean businesses and their links with the Myanmar military. In the first few days after the coup, internet blackouts and communication blocks set [...]

April 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Iran starts up advanced centrifuges in nuclear deal breach

  The type of centrifuges used at Iran's uranium enrichment plant in Natanz are one of the key restrictions it signed up to under a troubled 2015 nuclear deal with major powers AFP/HO   TEHRAN: Iran announced on Saturday (Apr 10) it has started up advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges in a breach of its undertakings under a troubled 2015 nuclear deal, days after the start of talks on rescuing the accord. The United States had said on Friday that it had offered "very serious" ideas on reviving the accord but was waiting for Tehran to reciprocate, something Saturday's move signally failed to do. President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated the three cascades of 164 IR-6 centrifuges, 30 IR-5 and another 30 IR-6 devices at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant in a ceremony broadcast [...]

April 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa to get tougher steps to fight coronavirus

Special countermeasures likely to apply to capital's 23 wards and Musashino, the city of Kyoto and Naha The Japanese government will decide Friday to put Tokyo plus Kyoto and Okinawa prefectures under the novel coronavirus quasi-emergency stage following a resurgence in infection cases there. The stage, under which powerful “priority” measures can be taken under a recently revised law, is expected to run from Monday until May 11 in Tokyo and until May 5 in Kyoto and Okinawa. The decision will be made Friday at a meeting of the government’s coronavirus response headquarters, headed by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. The Tokyo metropolitan government is considering taking the priority measures mainly in the densely populated 23 special wards and the nearby city of Musashino, informed sources said. The measures will [...]

April 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

World leaders react to news of Duke of Edinburgh’s death

World leaders have expressed sympathy and sorrow at the Duke of Edinburgh's death.   Archive photo: Prince Phillip in 2015 Photo: AFP   In a statement, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed condolences to the Queen and the Royal Family. "Our thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen at this profoundly sad time. On behalf of the New Zealand people and the Government, I would like to express my sincere condolences to Her Majesty and to all the Royal Family," Ardern said. "Prince Philip will be fondly remembered for the encouragement he gave to so many young New Zealanders through The Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary Award. In over 50 years of The Award in New Zealand, thousands of young people have completed life-changing challenges through the programme. "New Zealanders will [...]

April 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

COVID-19 variants could drive up economic hit on Tokyo by ¥4 trillion

A woman films with her mobile phone on a street in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward on Friday. | AFP-JIJ University of Tokyo economists estimate the capital could take an additional ¥4 trillion economic hit if highly contagious coronavirus variants spread quickly across the city, but says the impact can be mitigated if infections are slowed. A relatively speedy spread of mutations in Tokyo could leave the capital dealing with over 1,400 daily infections in May — up from around 500 in recent days — an increase that would make variants a major source of new COVID-19 infections by around July, the estimate shows. Such a scenario would expand the economic loss in Tokyo by ¥3.76 trillion, according to the team led by Taisuke Nakata, an associate professor of economics, and [...]

April 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Alibaba fined $2.8 billion on competition charge in China

BEIJING (AP) — Alibaba Group, the world’s biggest e-commerce company, was fined 18.3 billion yuan ($2.8 billion) by Chinese regulators on Saturday for anti-competitive tactics, as the ruling Communist Party tightens control over fast-growing tech industries. Party leaders worry about the dominance of China’s biggest internet companies, which are expanding into finance, health services and other sensitive areas. The party says anti-monopoly enforcement, especially in tech, is a priority this year. Alibaba was fined for “abusing its dominant position” to limit competition by retailers that use its platforms and hindering “free circulation” of goods, the State Administration for Market Regulation announced. It said the fine was equal to 4% of its total 2019 sales of 455.712 billion yuan ($69.5 billion). “Alibaba accepts the penalty with sincerity and will ensure [...]

April 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Air New Zealand starts to sell direct flights to Tasmania

Air New Zealand has started selling tickets for the airline's direct flights to Tasmania. (file picture) Photo: Supplied / Air New Zealand   The Auckland to Hobart service will be the airline's first new international route since the Covid-19 pandemic started. The first flight is set to depart at 9am on the 22 April and will operate on Thursdays and Sundays. Chief executive Greg Foran said it is exciting to be launching a new route after a year of being predominantly a domestic airline. "It's really exciting to be launching a new route alongside reopening our other Australian ports after a year of being predominantly a domestic airline," he said in a statement. Foran said the non-stop service opens a direct link between Auckland and a potential 540,000 Tasmanian [...]

April 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Adapting at pace: One year of MIQ in New Zealand

The leaders of MIQ have paid tribute to a system they describe as a cornerstone of New Zealand's Covid-19 elimination strategy.   Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas     One year ago today, all arrivals at New Zealand airports began to be taken to managed isolation hotels for a 14-day stay. Since then, 130,600 people have passed through the 32 border hotels. Joint head Megan Main said staff working at the facilities had made "considerable personal sacrifices" to keep those people safe. More than 850 people have tested positive for Covid-19 during their stay - including about 95 current cases. Main said MIQ had been a process of continuous improvement and the biggest learning curve had been adapting "at pace". "If something goes wrong, we get together and learn from [...]

April 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

US unveils new rules for government contacts with Taiwan

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announces his appointment of Gayle Smith as the new State Department Coordinator for Global COVID-19 Response and Health Security as he speaks about U.S. leadership in fighting the coronavirus pandemic at the State Department in Washington, Monday, April 5, 2021. (Al Drago/Pool via AP) WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department on Friday unveiled new rules for U.S. government contacts with Taiwan that are likely to anger China but appear to reimpose some restrictions that had been lifted by the Trump administration. The department announced the changed policy in a statement that said the Biden administration intends to “liberalize” the rules to reflect the “deepening unofficial relationship” between the U.S. and Taiwan. However, the revised guidelines don’t include all the changes put in place by [...]

April 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

World shares mixed, US futures higher

Men wearing protective masks stand in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm as a car passes by in Tokyo Friday, April 9, 2021. Shares fell Friday in most Asian markets after China reported a stronger than expected rise in prices that could prompt authorities to act to cool inflation. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) BANGKOK (AP) — European shares opened higher on Friday and U.S. futures gained after a lackluster session in Asia. Germany’s DAX edged up 0.1% to 15,222.44 and the CAC 40 in Paris picked up 0.3% to 6,182.93. Britain’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.1% to 6,932.51. The future for the S&P 500 inched up 0.1% and the future for the Dow industrials added 0.2%. Asian shares were mostly lower after [...]

April 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, dies at 99

FILE - In this Wednesday Aug. 2, 2017 file photo, Britain's Prince Philip, in his role as Captain General of the Royal Marines, attends a Parade on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, in central London. Buckingham Palace says Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has died aged 99. (Hannah McKay/Pool via AP, File) LONDON (AP) — Prince Philip, the irascible and tough-minded husband of Queen Elizabeth II who spent more than seven decades supporting his wife in a role that both defined and constricted his life, has died, Buckingham Palace said Friday. He was 99. His life spanned nearly a century of European history, starting with his birth as a member of the Greek royal family and ending as Britain’s longest serving consort during a turbulent reign in [...]

April 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Ardern invited to US-led summit on the climate crisis

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is among 40 world leaders invited to a virtual summit on climate to be hosted by US President Joe Biden. Jacinda Ardern will be among leaders asked to share their countries climate plans, when a climate summit happens later this month. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone The Leaders Summit on Climate on 22-23 April will underscore the urgency - and the economic benefits - of stronger climate action, the White House said in a statement. The US regards the event as a forerunner to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to be held in Glasgow in November. The virtual meeting will be live-streamed for public viewing. It reconvenes the US-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together 17 countries responsible for [...]

April 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Beijing colour-codes buildings to show workers’ Covid vaccination rates

Chinese capital rolls out grading system as part of campaign to vaccinate 560m people by June   A man walks past a blue sign indicating workers’ Covid vaccination rates on the door of a printing business in Beijing. Photograph: Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images     Beijing authorities are colour-coding buildings to show the public the rates of vaccination among businesses’ employees, as part of a campaign to vaccinate more than 560 million people by June. In recent weeks, green signs have appeared in the shopping centre in the Chinese capital’s financial district. The circular design showed a health worker in full PPE, holding a giant syringe and a medieval knight-style shield, and text declaring the vaccination rate of workers in the area was more than 80%. Other buildings with rates [...]

April 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Festival drug testing law to be made permanent – Minister Little

The government has given a permanent all clear for pill testing at summer festivals, allowing partygoers to check whether their illicit drugs have been laced.   Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas MPs rushed through interim legislation under urgency late last year to ensure volunteer checkers would not be prosecuted over the holiday period. The bill is set to expire in December but Health Minister Andrew Little says fresh legislation would be passed this year, making it permanent. He says Victoria University of Wellington research shows 68 percent of festival-goers who used the service changed their behaviour as a result. Some disposed of the drugs that had been tested, some reduced the amount of drugs they took, and most 87 percent said that as a result of talking to the [...]

April 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Macron to close elite school that hothouses French leaders

Institution has been pathway to power for country’s elite, including four French presidents The former French president François Hollande (right) and his successor Emmanuel Macron in 2017. Both leaders studied at ENA. Photograph: Eric Feferberg/AFP via Getty  Emmanuel Macron is expected to officially announce on Thursday the closure of the École Nationale d’Administration, the elite French finishing school for the country’s leaders where he studied. Known as ENA, the grande école has been the hothouse for France’s top civil service and a pathway to power in the public and private sectors. Four French presidents, including Macron, have passed through its doors as have dozens of ministers and business leaders. Founded by Gen Charles de Gaulle in October 1945 with the idea of breaking the upper-class hold over France’s higher [...]

April 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Great Britain’s electricity system has greenest day ever over Easter

Sun and wind generated 60% of all electricity on Monday, data shows   Solar farm on Godley Reservoir in Hyde, Manchester. Sunshine and windy weather helped National Grid to lowest carbon intensity recorded since 1935. Photograph: Ashley Cooper pics/Alamy Stock Photo Great Britain’s electricity system recorded its greenest ever day over the Easter bank holiday as sunshine and windy weather led to a surge in renewable energy. The power plants generating electricity in England, Scotland and Wales produced only 39g of carbon dioxide for every kilowatt-hour of electricity on Monday, according to National Grid’s electricity system operator, the lowest carbon intensity recorded since National Grid records began in 1935. The new low smashed the grid’s previous record of 46g on 24 May last year, during the country’s greenest ever [...]

April 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

New Zealand temporarily suspending travel from India – PM Jacinda Ardern

Travel into New Zealand from India - including for New Zealand citizens and residents - is being temporarily suspended because of high numbers of Covid-19 cases, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.   Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield confirmed this afternoon that a border worker had tested positive for Covid-19. Bloomfield also announced 23 new positive Covid cases in managed isolation, 17 of whom had arrived from India. Ardern says she is focusing on the new cases at the border today. "Cases of the virus have been on the rise internationally ... with surges particularly in Brazil and India... we are starting to see this global trend mirrored here," she says. "We are temporarily suspending entry into New Zealand for travellers from India." The travel ban will be from 11 [...]

April 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Russian President Putin signs law allowing him to serve two more terms

The legislation gives Russian leader Vladimir Putin the possibility to stay in power until 2036.PHOTO: REUTERS     MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday (April 5) gave final approval to legislation allowing him to hold office for two additional six-year terms, giving himself the possibility to stay in power until 2036. The 68-year-old Russian leader, who has already been in power for more than two decades, signed off on the Bill on Monday, according to a copy posted on the government's legal information portal. Putin proposed the change last year as part of constitutional reforms that Russians overwhelmingly backed in a vote in July. Lawmakers approved the new Bill last month. The legislation will allow Putin to run in presidential elections again after his current and [...]

April 7th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

All DHBs now operating vaccination programmes- Bloomfield

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says all New Zealand's district health boards are now operating vaccination programmes, and vaccine numbers are likely to increase further.     He was speaking at today's Covid-19 vaccine update, alongside Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare. Bloomfield says 90,286 vaccine doses administered have been administered so far and New Zealand is likely to hit the 100,000 milestone in the next couple of days. He says 147 adverse reactions to the vaccine have been recorded, and three of those cases are considered serious. All those involved an allergic reaction of some kind and no new safety concerns have been identified in New Zealand. Henare received his first Pfizer vaccine dose at a clinic in Porirua this morning. He is one of several politicians with a [...]

April 7th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Research shows promising development in hunt for HIV vaccine

Though they've shown success, the trials are still in the very early stages.             STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images After more than 30 years of attempts, there may be a promising advance in the search for a vaccine for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS if left untreated.   Now, preliminary data from an early stage clinical trial out of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, suggests that a new HIV vaccine may hold promise.   "These are very early studies. But nonetheless, they are provocative," said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventative medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, who was not involved in the clinical trial.   Although the vaccine candidate will still [...]

April 7th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Race to find dozens missing in deadly Indonesia, Timor-Leste floods

Rescuers retrieving a victim's body in Nelemamadike village, East Flores, after torrential rains triggered floods and landslides in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. (Photo: AFP/National Search and Rescue Agency/Handout)     LEMBATA: Rescuers were searching for dozens of people still missing on Tuesday (Apr 6) after floods and landslides swept away villages in Indonesia and Timor-Leste, killing at least 120 people and leaving thousands more homeless. Torrential rains from Tropical Cyclone Seroja turned small communities into wastelands of mud, uprooted trees and sent about 10,000 people fleeing to shelters across the neighbouring Southeast Asian nations. Indonesia's disaster management agency said it had recorded 86 deaths in a cluster of remote islands near Timor-Leste, where another 34 have been officially listed as dead since the disaster struck on Sunday. Authorities revised down a higher [...]

April 6th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Janet Yellen pledges greater US international co-operation

GETTY IMAGES The US "isolated ourselves and retreated from the international order that we created," Janet Yellen said     US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has signalled a stronger engagement on issues from climate change to human rights to tax evasion, pledging to restore America's economic leadership. "America first must never mean America alone," she said in her first major speech on its overseas economic policy. Ms Yellen is also keen for greater global co-operation, rolling back Donald Trump's protectionist policies. She also raised the issue of a global corporate tax rate. "Over the last four years, we have seen first hand what happens when America steps back from the global stage," Ms Yellen said pointing to a reversal of Mr Trump's international economic policies. The US "isolated ourselves and [...]

April 6th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Christchurch: Treasures arise from cathedral ruins, 10 years after earthquake

Finds include 1980s time capsules, old collection boxes and a nativity scene with figures heads ‘taken clean off’   A rescue worker looks through the rubble of the Cathedral of Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch, New Zealand after the February 2011 earthquake Photograph: Simon Baker/REUTERS   Ten years on from Christchurch’s devastating earthquake, the Catholic Diocese has discovered that it is missing a pair of angels. As work continues to deconstruct the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Barbadoes Street – extensively damaged in the 2011 quake, along with most of the central city – many treasures thought lost have been recovered. Triona Doocey, archivist for the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch, has been documenting the finds on Facebook – among them, decades-old time capsules, a charity collection box full of [...]

April 6th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Dozens jailed in New Zealand for coronavirus breaches

Large proportion of Māori among the more than 400 people to be convicted draws concerns about police bias A police officer on patrol in Wellington during the first day of New Zealand’s first lockdown in March last year. Dozens of people have been sent to prison for Covid breaches. Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images       More than 400 New Zealanders have been convicted of breaching coronavirus restrictions, with one in five of them sentenced to prison terms. New Zealand passed new laws in May last year that gave the Ministry of Health special powers and provided a legal framework for closing businesses, enforcing lockdowns or creating stay-at-home orders during the pandemic. Over the past year, thousands of New Zealanders broke those rules – with more than 7,500 breaches [...]

April 6th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Gusty severe weather and high fire danger prompt warnings

Fire fighters spent last night battling two small vegetation fires in high winds, and much of the South Island and parts of the lower North Island are being warned to prepare for severe weather today.   Photo: Supplied/ MetService     MetService has issued a number of weather warnings and watches, with northwesterly wind gusts of up to 130 km/h expected in exposed places, particularly around the Canterbury High Country. The northwest flow will bring high temperatures, with Dunedin, Timaru and Christchurch expected to reach the mid to late twenties. People in rural Otago and Canterbury are asked to avoid lighting fires today, to prevent the flames being spread by the wind. At 10.40pm last night Otago fire crews were called to Taieri Mouth Road, south of Brighton, following [...]

April 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Tourism New Zealand forecasting billion-dollar economy boost if trans-Tasman bubble opens

Welcoming Australians back to Aotearoa could result in a billion dollar boost to our economy if a trans -Tasman bubble opens in the coming weeks.   Before Covid-19, Australia was our biggest overseas market, making up about 40 percent of international visitors (file image). Photo: 123rf.com   That's the latest forecasting from Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) ahead of Tuesday's expected opening date announcement. TNZ interim chief executive René de Monchy said it would be very welcome news after a tough year for tourism. Before Covid-19, Australia was our biggest overseas market, making up about 40 percent of international visitors. That accounted for about $2.7 billion a year. "And by our modelling if a Australia opens up in the coming weeks, it could be up to $1b and maybe even [...]

April 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

US couple arrested while trying to join ISIS in Yemen

The case demonstrated that extremist groups still exert a pull on some people in the US.PHOTO: AFP     WASHINGTON (AFP) - A US couple was charged on Thursday (April 1) with support for a terror group after trying to board a Yemen-bound ship to join the ISIS militant group, the Justice Department said. James Bradley, 20, of New York and Arwa Muthana, 29, from Alabama were stopped on Wednesday as they stepped onto the gangplank of a cargo ship in Newark, New Jersey. The Justice Department said that Bradley had expressed violent extremist views since at least 2019, and in contacts with an undercover law enforcement agency last year repeatedly said he believed in the ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) group. He also told the undercover [...]

April 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Stock markets hit new records on Biden spending plan

IMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES Asian markets rose on Friday following a record-breaking session on Wall Street. The S&P 500 broke the 4000-point barrier for the first time, while the Nasdaq and Dow Jones also made gains. Investors were buoyed by President Joe Biden's new $2.3tn (£1.7tn) infrastructure spending plan and growing optimism about the economy. Markets in Tokyo and Seoul were up more than 1%, while Shanghai was also in positive territory. Trading was thin in Asia, as markets in Hong Kong and Australia were closed for Good Friday. Renewed optimism The latest highs in the US point to renewed confidence among investors that the economic recovery is gaining pace. The S&P 500 has gained 7% since the start of 2021, although the Nasdaq is about 5% below its peak [...]

April 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Jordan arrests: Former crown prince says he is under house arrest

Jordan's former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein has sent a video message through his lawyer, saying he is under house arrest and criticising the way the country is being governed. In the video which is nearly six minutes long, Prince Hamzah says the chief of the Jordanian armed forces told him he was "not allowed to go out, communicate with people or to meet with them". He said that a number of his friends had been arrested, his security had removed and his internet and phone lines had been cut. Earlier the Jordanian military said it had asked Prince Hamzah not to engage in activities that could be used to undermine the country's security.

April 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Philippines extends coronavirus curbs in capital, nearby provinces

FILE PHOTO: Police officers man a checkpoint as the country's capital returns to stricter lockdown measures amid rising coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 29, 2021. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David     MANILA: Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has extended a strict lockdown in the capital region and adjacent provinces by at least one week to try to contain a renewed surge in coronavirus infections, his spokesman said on Saturday (Apr 3). The Philippines, which has the second-highest COVID-19 cases and deaths in Southeast Asia, reported 12,576 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, putting further strain on the healthcare system. Restrictions, which include a ban on non-essential movement, mass gatherings and dining in restaurants, will remain for at least another week, Duterte's spokesman, Harry Roque, said in [...]

April 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Taiwan train crash survivors recount horror and loss

Passengers gave harrowing testimony of making their way out of the train, half of which was lodged inside the narrow tunnel. (Photo: AFP/Handout)     HUALIEN, Taiwan: Survivors of Taiwan's worst rail crash in decades have recounted their desperate efforts to find loved ones in the twisted wreckage of the train at what should have been the start of a holiday weekend. Friday's crash, which killed at least 50 people and injured more than 170, was caused by a collision with a vehicle that slipped onto the tracks just as the train went into a narrow tunnel near the eastern coastal city of Hualien. Many passengers were heading to their home towns to tidy the graves of their ancestors at the start of the annual four-day Tomb Sweeping Festival. Instead, [...]

April 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Auckland Central Library closed until further notice after building issues

Auckland's Central Library has closed its doors this week as its roof is fixed.   Photo: Google Maps     The waterproof layer on the surface of the 50-year-old building is being replaced, which involves breaking off the concrete surface, grinding the old waterproof membrane and laying a new one. There are several layers on the roof of the Lorne Street building and the project is expected to take until the end of the year. A spokesperson said a decision on the best options for continuing to deliver the library service will be made after Easter. The library was temporarily closed on 22 March due to a precautionary evacuation after an unpleasant odor was reported by staff and customers, which was associated with the building works. It remained closed [...]

April 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Italy expels two Russian officials over espionage case

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio is seen at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov (not pictured) after a meeting in Moscow, Russia, on October 14, 2020. Rome (CNN) Italy is expelling two Russian officials in connection with an espionage case, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Wednesday on his Facebook page. The expulsions followed the arrest Tuesday of an Italian navy captain and the detention of a Russian military officer who is stationed in Rome, both on charges of espionage. The two men were "caught in flagrante and by surprise" and were arrested right after the Italian navy captain gave classified information to the Russian officer 'in exchange for money,'" the Carabinieri, or Italian paramilitary police, said in a press release. The Russian [...]

April 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Spratly Islands: Philippines’ Locsin seeks concessions on Beijing trip

Manila has demanded more than 200 Chinese vessels leave Whitsun Reef as a South China Sea dispute again threatens to escalate into confrontation Chinese and Philippine foreign ministers set to meet, days after Philippines said its military aircraft received warnings from the anchored ships     The Philippines has repeatedly asked the 200-plus Chinese vessels to leave Whitsun Reef. Photo: Reuters Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin   will meet Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Friday facing an uphill task to convince Beijing to withdraw more than 200 ships from Whitsun Reef in the disputed South China Sea. Manila on Wednesday called on China to “immediately withdraw” the vessels, which are inside its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) at the reef in the Spratly Islands, about 320km (175 nautical miles) west [...]

April 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Chinese coronavirus vaccines’ efficacy data ‘meets WHO requirements’

Products made by Sinopharm and Sinovac ‘have levels of efficacy that would be compatible with [WHO] requirements’, chairman of Strategic Advisory Group of Experts says Vaccines now on verge of being accepted for the Covax Facility, which aims to make billions of doses available to people in poorer countries   A vaccine made by China’s Sinopharm could soon be added to the products distributed by the Covax Facility. Photo: Reuters Two Chinese Covid-19 vaccines are a step closer to being included in the Covax Facility – the global initiative to ensure poorer countries receive fair access to such products – after the head of a World Health Organization (WHO) experts group said their efficacy data was in line with the required standards. The information about the vaccines was presented [...]

April 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

New Zealand tycoon Ron Brierley pleads guilty to possessing child sexual abuse images

Businessman will be sentenced later over allegations more than 1,600 images of child abuse were stored on a database   Ron Brierley was arrested at Sydney international airport in December 2019 over possession of child sexual abuse images. Photograph: Jenny Evans/Getty Images One of New Zealand’s most well-known businessmen has pleaded guilty to possessing child sexual abuse images, including some showing children as young as two. Ron Brierley’s pleas on three charges in an Australian court have sparked a rarely invoked procedure to strip him of the knighthood he received more than 30 years ago. New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said she was initiating a forfeiture process for the honour, which requires approval from the Queen. Brierley faces a maximum of 10 years in prison when he is [...]

April 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

New Zealander back from Myanmar raising funds for anti-coup protesters

                   SUPPLIED                        Development workers Hannah Cunneen and Rowan Hamill-McMahon have returned from Myanmar and want New Zealanders to support the protest movement. Hannah Cunneen and Rowan Hamill-McMahon reluctantly and guiltily left Myanmar last week, vowing to help the anti-coup civil disobedience campaign. Martin van Beynen reports. The long queues stretched out the door of Yangon (Rangoon) International Airport. People, mostly foreigners, were leaving in droves with everything they had, including their pets. In the three hours it took development workers Hannah Cunneen, 33, originally from Ashburton, and her partner, British national Rowan Hamill-McMahon, 31, to get in the airport door, they had ample time to consider those left behind. “We [...]

April 1st, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

No evidence of trafficking in case of Chinese men to be deported, immigration minster says

Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi says he has been assured the 10 men facing deportation to China have been afforded their rights.   Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone   Two of the 10 men - who officials say were working illegally at construction sites in Auckland - are due to be deported at 11pm tonight - and some others in the next week, according to their lawyer. Green MP Ricardo Menendez-March, who was among a delegation to visit the men today, wants the deportations paused to allow an investigation into claims of migrant exploitation and human trafficking. But Faafoi said he had been assured the proper processes were followed and Immigration had not found any evidence of trafficking. In a statement, Faafoi said: "We [...]

April 1st, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Philippine military says it has spotted more ‘illegal’ South China Sea structures

An aerial view of an uninhabited island of the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea, Apr 21, 2017. (File photo: REUTERS/Erik De Castro)     MANILA: The Philippine military said on Thursday (Apr 1) it has documented illegal manmade structures on Union Banks in the South China Sea's Spratly Islands, near areas where hundreds of Chinese vessels had massed last month. Military chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana said the structures were not far from islands and features claimed by the Philippines inside its exclusive economic zone. He did not say which country had built the structures or the extent of the construction. They were discovered on Mar 30, during one of the military's maritime flight patrols over the South China Sea, where it has been closely monitoring the activities of the Chinese vessels [...]

April 1st, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Ukraine says Russia massing troops on border, US warns Moscow

Ukraine has been locked in a conflict with Russian-backed separatists since 2014. (Photo :AFP/Anatolii Stepanov)     KIEV: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday (Apr 1) accused Moscow of building up troops on his country's border as the United States warned Russia against "intimidating" Ukraine. Kiev has been locked in a conflict with Russian-backed separatists since 2014, and this week Ukrainian officials reported Russian troop movement in annexed Crimea and on the border, near territories controlled by Moscow-backed separatists. On Thursday, Zelensky's ministers discussed the escalating security situation with Western allies including US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin. "Muscle-flexing in the form of military exercises and possible provocations along the border are traditional Russian games," Zelensky said in a statement. He accused Moscow of seeking to create "a threatening atmosphere" as [...]

April 1st, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Pfizer vaccine has 91% efficacy for up to six months, trial shows

Findings based on two doses three weeks apart are first to show shot remains effective for many months US navy personnel prepare doses of the Pfizer vaccine for administration. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters     The coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech protects against symptomatic Covid for up to six months, an updated analysis of clinical trial data has found. In a statement released on Thursday, the companies reported efficacy of 91.3% against any symptoms of the disease in participants assessed up to six months after their second shot. The level of protection is only marginally lower than the 95% achieved soon after vaccination. The findings are the first to demonstrate that the vaccine remains effective for many months, an outcome that doctors and scientists had [...]

April 1st, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Minimum Wage Increases To $20

New Zealand- The Council of Trade Unions is welcoming the introduction of the new legal minimum wage of $20 per hour from 1 April 2021. CTU President Richard Wagstaff said, "it’s important that the $20 minimum wage has finally become a reality. "Over 170,000 Kiwis will have a pay rise, and for those who were on the previous minimum wage of $18.90, working a 40 hour week, they will have an increase of $44 a week (before tax)." "We know that thousands of working people do not earn enough to provide for a comfortable life for them and their whanau. They are the working poor; struggling to meet the costs of basics like food and housing. Increasing the minimum wage has a real and meaningful impact on these people’s [...]

April 1st, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine proves safe and effective for kids ages 12 to 15, company study shows

The COVID-19 vaccine from drug company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech vaccine is safe for and extremely effective in adolescents, according to a company-sponsored study released early Wednesday. In adolescents 12 to 15 years old, vaccination led to a higher protective antibody response than in adults and was seen to be 100% effective against symptomatic disease, the study of 2,260 adolescents found. The two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had been authorized for use in those 16 and up based on previous trials, but not in younger adolescents. Last week, the companies began testing their vaccine in children ages 5 to 11; next week, they will begin testing in ages 2 to 5, and later will look at children 6 months to 2 years. Results from those trials should be available later this year. Moderna, which [...]

March 31st, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Tourism Infrastructure Fund to refocus on Covid-19 hit regions – minister

A tourism fund to help local councils build infrastructure for visitors is set to re-open.   The Queenstown Lakes application is one of the ones that will be prioritised. Photo: 123RF  Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said the Tourism Infrastructure Fund will now be prioritised for regions hardest hit by the fallout of Covid-19. The fund last allocated money for councils in November 2019. Nash said $13 million is expected to be allocated for the funding, although the final amount has not been determined. "I have updated the criteria for projects to be prioritised by the fund. It will now better reflect the reality that jobs and businesses in some regions, particularly the South Island, are harder hit by the loss of international tourists than other regions," Nash said. Applications [...]

March 31st, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

New Zealand chief executives cautious but positive about global economic outlook

Chief executives remain cautious about the global economic outlook despite New Zealand's better-than-expected response to the pandemic.   Photo: RNZ / Robert Smith  An annual global survey by PwC of more than 5050 chief executives in 100 countries has found just 39 percent of 89 New Zealand chief executives surveyed believe the global economy would improve this year, compared with 70 percent of Australian chief executives and 76 percent of chief executives around the world. PWC New Zealand chief executive Mark Averill said New Zealand's closed border was perhaps one of the reasons for the lower rate of optimism. "New Zealand is a smaller market, we've probably been a bit more restrictive, so therefore that's got challenges around labour pool. We've also got greater dependency on sectors like tourism," [...]

March 30th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Isis claims deadly attack in northern Mozambique

Attack on port town of Palma has forced hundreds of people to flee amid fierce fighting   Photo posted on ISIS account purportedly shows insurgents who attacked Palma, Mozambique. Photograph: Twitter   The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack on a town in northern Mozambique last week that forced hundreds of foreign contractors to flee amid fierce fighting. Local police and soldiers were reported to have secured control of most of Palma on Monday, after hundreds of Islamist insurgents who overran the small port last week withdrew to surrounding forests and fields leaving a trail of devastation. In a statement issued on official media channels, Isis claimed insurgents killed more than 55 members of local security forces and Christians, including those from “Crusader nations”, and destroyed official [...]

March 30th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Malaysia pays S$102.8 million in compensation for terminated KL-Singapore HSR project

  An artist's impression of a KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) station. (Photo: MyHSR)   SINGAPORE: Malaysia has paid more than S$102 million in compensation to Singapore for the terminated Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project, ministers from both countries said on Monday (Mar 29). The payment of S$102,815,576 (RM320,270,519) has been made to Singapore for costs incurred for the development of the HSR project, and in relation to the extension of suspension of the project, Singapore's Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung and Malaysia's Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamed said in a joint statement. "The two countries reached an amicable agreement on the amount following a verification process by the Government of Malaysia. This amount represents a full and final settlement in relation to the termination of the bilateral agreement," [...]

March 30th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid-19: Two cases in MIQ, no new community cases

Testing has found two new cases of Covid-19 in people in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities, and no new community cases, the Ministry of Health says.   Photo: 123rf.com   In a written statement, the ministry said the two new cases arrived on the same flight as 10 cases detected yesterday, which travelled from India via UAE. "These recent positive cases do not necessarily indicate an issue with pre-departure testing, since people may not have been infectious at the time of pre-departure testing," the ministry said. "They may have been incubating the virus at the time or be exposed to the virus after being tested." The ministry said it did not consider the cases from India as entirely unexpected, given the country was reporting the highest number of [...]

March 30th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

PH to get only 100,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine from Russia

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is so far slated to receive only 100,000 doses of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the country’s vaccine manager, disclosed Monday during the pre-recorded briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte that was televised Monday night. The government is currently in talks with Gamaleya for a vaccine supply and has requested three million doses, but the firm only committed 100,000 doses, Galvez said. According to Galvez, he, along with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay, will talk to Russia Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to negotiate for more doses of the Sputnik V vaccine. “We really need three million doses because these can be used on senior citizens,” Galvez said. Duterte [...]

March 30th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

MFAT approved military equipment export permits to UAE Land Forces

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) approved export permits for military equipment that was sent to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a key partner in Saudi Arabia's military intervention in Yemen, in 2018 and 2019.   File photo: Saudi armed forces march during a parade in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on August 13, 2018, ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Photo: AFP  Experts say the information heightens concerns that New Zealand may have contributed to war crimes in Yemen following revelations last month that similar exports were approved for Saudi Arabia. It comes as MFAT reviews its export controls regime to ensure it's fit for purpose. Since 2015, at least 100,000 people have died in Yemen's civil war, which has also displaced millions and [...]

March 30th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid-19 tests results, vaccine passports easily available on dark web

A cybersecurity expert says New Zealanders on the dark web are discussing the fake Covid-19 test results and vaccine passports.   Photo: Jenya/123rf  The documentation is widely available overseas for about $US25. However, there is no evidence that New Zealanders or people heading here have obtained the forged documents. Darkscope International cybersecurity expert Joerg Buss told RNZ's First Up it was fairly easy to fake reports because there was no centralised way to track test results. "At the moment we are scanning more than 200 million dark web pages per week. We do see an increase in Covid-19 vaccine proof or Covid-19 test result but also there were some tests results on offer in certain marketplaces." He said some entries were about $US25 (approx $NZ35) to be paid in [...]

March 29th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Czech billionaire Kellner killed in Alaska helicopter crash

Billionaire Petr Keller and four others were killed in the crash. PHOTO: EPA-EFE/PPF GROUP     PRAGUE (REUTERS) - The Czech Republic's richest man, billionaire Petr Keller, was killed in a helicopter crash in Alaska, his financial group PPF said on Monday (March 29). He was 56. PPF said five people died in the crash, the circumstances of which were being investigated. We announce with the deepest grief that, in a helicopter accident in Alaska mountains on Saturday, March 27, the founder and majority owner of the PPF group, Mr Petr Kellner, died tragically," PPF said in a statement. Mr Kellner was a towering business figure of the Czech post-communist era, with his wealth estimated at US$17.5 billion (S$23.6 billion) according to Forbes. Prime Minister Andrej Babis offered his [...]

March 29th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China picks UAE as regional production hub for Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine

The Sinopharm vaccine can be transported and stored at normal refrigerated temperatures.PHOTO: REUTERS     DUBAI (BLOOMBERG) - The United Arab Emirates will start producing China's Sinopharm vaccine next month in a deal that deepens Beijing's influence in the Arab Gulf, long a bastion of United States power. Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries PSC said on Sunday (March 28) that it signed a contract to start manufacturing the vaccine from April. With the accord, the UAE will become the first Gulf state to set up a coronavirus vaccine production facility, boosting its efforts to become a supply hub to the Middle East and beyond. The company, also known as Julphar, said it signed the agreement with Abu Dhabi's G42 Medications Trading. G42, which describes itself as an artificial intelligence and cloud [...]

March 29th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

South China Sea military risks rising, APSI security summit officials warn

Military leaders say trade routes in the South China Sea face increased risk and New Zealand cannot be complacent about it.   A Chinese Navy formation, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning (C), during military drills in the South China Sea on January 2, 2017. Photo: STR / AFP The two-day Asia Pacific Security Innovation Summit has attracted influential military, diplomatic and other officials from around the world to discuss to security. The Covid-19 pandemic has not put a stop to the security threats faced in our region, Asia Pacific Security Innovation forum chair Dr Anita Abbott said. She said there was a growing security risk in oceans, particularly in the South China Sea. "Many players are arming themselves. What for? Is it for cooperation, competition or for shared interests? [...]

March 29th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Suez Canal backlog: New Zealand containers caught up in blockage

There are fears the Ever Given ship's six-day occupation of the Suez Canal could spell a domino effect in New Zealand's shipping supply chains.   Tug boats and dredgers on March 27, 2021, attempting to free the ship Ever Given, which was lodged sideways and impeding all traffic across Egypt's Suez Canal. Photo: Satellite image 2021 Maxar Technologies / AFP Before the Ever Given was refloated today, locals, importers and exporters were already preparing for potential months worth of headaches. The skyscraper-sized ship has been blocking as many as 50 ships a day from getting through their main route between Europe and Asia, and has more than 300 ships waiting in traffic either side of it. The breakthrough happened after diggers removed 27,000 cubic metres of sand. It's unclear [...]

March 29th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Severe weather warnings issued as front moves over New Zealand

Taranaki and Waitomo are especially at risk. Photo credit: MetService + Getty     Severe weather warnings are being issued as a front over the South Island on Sunday moves north, with MetService saying the humid conditions are "favourable for thunderstorm development". The front came off the Tasman Sea on Sunday morning, bringing heavy northerly rain to the West Coast. A heavy rain warning has been issued until 11pm on Sunday for the ranges of Nelson west of Motueka, along with the ranges of Buller and Westland from Otira northwards. "Expect 70 to 100 mm of rain. Peak rates of 10 to 15mm/h," MetService says. Another warning has been issued for Richmond Range and Rai Valley where 75 to 100mm of rain is expected, with peaks of 10 to [...]

March 28th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Stuck in Suez Canal: Thousands of animals packed tight in ship hulls

Stranded container ship Ever Given is seen after it ran aground, in Suez Canal, Egypt, on March 26, 2021.PHOTO: REUTERS   ISMAILIA (BLOOMBERG) - Of all the millions of tons of cargo that's piled up in the Suez Canal, none is more delicate than the animals crammed into the hulls of several of the ships. Little information is available, with neither canal officials nor shipping executives willing to talk, but data compiled by Bloomberg indicate as many as 10 vessels stuck in and around the canal could be carrying livestock. Given the Europe-to-Saudi Arabia itinerary, they are most likely carrying sheep. While much of the waylaid cargo is commodity products such as oil that can be stored on ships for long periods, livestock need food and water, and such [...]

March 28th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Iran-China sign 25-year cooperation pact: Teheran

The pact will be signed by visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.PHOTO: REUTERS/SAUDI ROYAL COURT   TEHERAN (AFP) - Iran and China signed a 25-year “strategic cooperation pact” Saturday (March 27) in the latest expansion of Beijing’s flagship trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative as the United States rivals move closer together. Negotiations for the deal, launched five years ago, sparked controversy in Iran last year and virtually no details of its contents have been released. China is Iran’s leading trade partner and was one of the biggest buyers of Iranian oil before then US president Donald Trump reimposed sweeping unilateral sanctions in 2018 after abandoning a multilateral nuclear agreement with Teheran. The China- Iran pact, which Teheran said included “political, strategic and economic” components, was signed by the two [...]

March 28th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

This affects all of us’: Marches, rallies against Asian hate crimes see widespread participation

Hundreds of people took to the streets this weekend to demonstrate against violence toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders following the shooting in Atlanta last week that killed eight people, six of them women of Asian descent. Marchers gathered in major cities nationwide, including New York, Washington, Chicago, San Fransisco and Tusla, Okalahoma. There has been a significant increase in violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders nationwide during the pandemic, including a 6% uptick in online harassment, such as the use of racist and xenophobic slurs. In one recent incident, a 75-year-old woman was punched by man in the streets of San Francisco. "We are Americans, we are mothers, we are friends, we live here," said Ling Liu, who marched in Indianapolis on Saturday. "We love our community. This affects all of us, and [...]

March 28th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China sanctions US and Canadian individuals, entities over Xinjiang

FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter outside the building of an American company in Beijing, China January 21, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang       BEIJING: China announced tit-for-tat sanctions against two Americans, a Canadian and a rights advocacy body late Saturday (Mar 27), in response to sanctions imposed earlier this week by the two countries over Beijing's treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang. Two members of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Gayle Manchin and Tony Perkins, as well as Canadian MP Michael Chong and a Canadian parliamentary committee on human rights are prohibited from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, the Chinese foreign ministry said. At least one million Uighurs and people from other mostly Muslim groups have been held in camps in northwestern Xinjiang, according [...]

March 28th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China reported 8 new mainland COVID-19 cases

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk down a pedestrian overhead bridge in Beijing, Sunday, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)   BEIJING: China reported 8 new COVID-19 cases on Mar 27, compared with 12 new infections the previous day, the country's national health authority said on Sunday (Mar 28). The National Health Commission said in a statement that all of the new cases were imported infections originating from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 19 from 27 cases a day earlier. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 90,167 while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,636. Source: Reuters/ta    

March 28th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Foreign spy working in New Zealand – SIS

The Security Intelligence Service says it has found a person in New Zealand who is working for a foreign state's intelligence services.   The SIS says the individual is a New Zealand citizen who is collecting intelligence against New Zealand based people and relaying it to the foreign state's embassy in New Zealand. Photo: 123RF   In its annual report, the SIS says the individual is a New Zealand citizen, but did not specify which country they are working for. It says the person is almost certainly collecting intelligence against New Zealand-based people, who are viewed as dissidents by the foreign state's government. "The target of our investigation uses overt and covert means to collect identifying information about these individuals and pass it to the foreign state's embassy in [...]

March 28th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

114 killed in Myanmar’s deadliest day of coup

The top military officer from the United States and nearly a dozen of his counterparts are set to condemn the deadly use of force by Myanmar's security forces and say the country's military has lost credibility with its people.   Relatives weep during the funeral of a person killed during the latest day of protests in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: AFP     The joint statement, obtained by Reuters ahead of its planned release this weekend, is a rare declaration by the most senior military commanders from countries around the world, including in Asia and Europe. It came after news reports that Myanmar security forces have killed 114 people, including children, in a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, the bloodiest day of violence since last month's military coup. The killings, [...]

March 28th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Landlords still raising rents despite best financial circumstances – Swarbrick

The Green Party's housing spokesperson says landlords are crying "crocodile tears" after a year of amazing capital gains and falling mortgage interest rates.   Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone   The government this week announced its plans to help first-home buyers into the market, by increasing the caps for financial support, and extending the bright-line test to 10 years. Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick said following the announcement the loudest voice in the room has been the concerns of investors, rather than renters and sole home owners. She said there's a narrative focusing on "mum and dad homeowners" but a large portion of the country's homes are owned by people who have a portfolio of properties. "Thirty percent of the homes in this country are owned by people who [...]

March 25th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Israel, UAE see success in pace of Covid-19 vaccine roll-outs

People vaccinated against Covid-19 and holding a "green pass" attend a concert in Tel Aviv, on March 5, 2021.PHOTO: AFP       Israelis are attending pop concerts and football matches. Residents in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are lounging by swimming pools and dining at eateries at midnight. Both countries have set a blistering pace in their vaccine roll-outs. Israel and the UAE's small populations, of nine million and close to 10 million, respectively, account for the success in the speed of their vaccination drives, although experts also noted that both acted quickly to secure vaccines. Israel launched its vaccination drive last Dec 19, and as at Sunday, over 55 per cent of its population have received at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Almost 49 per [...]

March 24th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Hundreds take overseas holidays despite ‘don’t travel’ advice

Some New Zealanders have not waited for an Australian travel bubble before taking leisure trips across the ditch - with about 27 holidaymakers heading there and back over Christmas and New Year.   Australia is among the top four destinations of more than 400 holidaymakers who headed overseas before the end of January. Photo: AFP     They're among at least 424 Kiwis who've taken return trips overseas in the past year and ticked "holiday/vacation" on their departure card, since a Do Not Travel advisory appeared on the government's SafeTravel website on 20 March 2020. Managed isolation became mandatory for returnees last April and there has been more demand than rooms ever since, with people needing to book as far as 16 weeks in advance unless they met extremely [...]

March 24th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

UK PM Johnson praises capitalism and greed for vaccination successes

Capitalism and greed gave Britain its success in vaccinating its population, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told lawmakers in a closed meeting, praising pharmaceutical companies for developing a shot in record time.   Johnson's comments may inflame already-strained relations with the EU. Photo: AFP  The comments, reported by The Sun newspaper, were made by Johnson during a Zoom meeting and could inflame a row with the European Union which is considering a ban on vaccine exports to Britain. "The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed my friends," The Sun newspaper quoted him as saying during a meeting with Conservative lawmakers to rally them to support coronavirus restrictions. The Sun reported that he later added: "Actually I regret saying it" and that he [...]

March 24th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

‘Prelude to occupation’: worries flare in Philippines as Beijing tells US not to provoke confrontation over Chinese ships

Foreign secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr says the Philippines might invoke its defence treaty with the US to deal with presence of Chinese ships in its waters Duelling statements from the Chinese and American embassies have also fuelled anxiety and speculation in the Philippines Chinese maritime vessels at the Whitsun Reef Photo: AFP Beijing could be testing Washington’s commitment to its allies with the incursion of ships believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel into Manila’s exclusive economic zone, analysts say. Philippine officials on Sunday reported that about 220 Chinese vessels had been anchored at the Whitsun Reef, which Manila calls the Julian Felipe Reef, in the South China Sea since March 7. There are growing concerns over the issue in the Southeast Asian nation, with the American and [...]

March 24th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Type 55: Feast Your Eyes on China’s ‘Sort of’ Stealth Destroyer

  China has launched its new stealthy Type 055 Destroyer into the Sea of Japan in what appears to be a provocative show of power through the Tsushima Strait, calling attention to its ambitious plan to deploy a quasi-stealthy warship while also doubling the sheer size of its fleet of destroyers over the course of the next five years. The new destroyer, called the Nanchang, is reported in Chinese newspapers as having an ability to fire anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, anti-submarine missiles, and even some land-attack missiles, all while operating with some measure of radar eluding capacities. The bow of the ship does appear to incorporate a blended hull-body with curves designed to deflect radar pings away from the ship and therefore not generate any kind of return rendering. [...]

March 24th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Hong Kong and Macau suspend Covid Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine over packaging flaw

Governments stress there is no safety risk but the stoppage is the latest blow to rollouts of the coronavirus vaccine around the world   People queue up at a vaccination centre after Hong Kong suspended use of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.Photograph: Tyrone Siu/Reuters Hong Kong and Macau have suspended the use of Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine after being informed of a packaging problem affecting one batch of vials. Although officials stressed that they did not believe there was a safety risk, the stoppage is the latest blow in efforts to roll out mass vaccination programmes against a virus that has killed more than 2.7 million people around the world. “For the sake of precaution, the current vaccination must be suspended during the period of investigation,” Hong Kong’s government said in [...]

March 24th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Israel election: early results suggest extended deadlock

Benjamin Netanyahu may need to build alliance yoking together far right and Islamists Benjamin Netanyahu, greets supporters at the Likud party final election event after early exit polls. Photograph: Abir Sultan/EPA     Early results from Israel’s fourth snap election suggested yet another stalemate, with Benjamin Netanyahu looking to cobble together a coalition by partnering with extreme nationalist, hardline religious and far-right parties. With close to 90% of votes counted on Wednesday, the prime minister’s Likud party was clearly leading with about 30 seats. The opposition head, Yair Lapid, had roughly 18.   However, Netanyahu and Lapid will each need to convince rival parties in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to join them to form a majority government of 61 seats. That prospect appeared in doubt for both men, suggesting [...]

March 24th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Government’s plan to help first-home buyers: What you need to know

A suite of changes designed to "tilt the balance" toward first-home buyers have been unveiled by the government today, so what are they? The government plans to help first-home buyers into the market, by increasing the caps for financial support, and extending the bright-line test to 10 years. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly First-home buyers If you're a first-home buyer, from 1 April the income caps for the First Home Loan and the house price caps under the First Home Grants scheme will increase. For the First Home Loan scheme, borrowers can get a home loan with just a 5 percent deposit if they earn under $95,000 a year for one person, or under $150,000 for two or more people buying together. These loans are underwritten by Kāinga Ora [...]

March 23rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

U.S. “deeply concerned” as China tries Canadians in secret in case seen as Huawei retaliation

Beijing — The trial of Michael Kovrig, the Canadian detained for more than two years in China on espionage charges, started on Monday, with relations between Ottawa and Beijing in freefall. The hearing comes days after the closed-door trial of another Canadian man, with both detained in apparent retaliation for Canada's arrest on a U.S. extradition warrant of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. Kovrig, a former diplomat, was detained in 2018 and formally charged last June with spying at the same time as his compatriot, businessman Michael Spavor. On Monday, police cordoned off an area outside the Beijing court as Canadian diplomats were denied entry and turned away. A court official told reporters no entry was allowed because the trial is a national security case. Jim Nickel, the charge d'affaires of the [...]

March 23rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

AstraZeneca says advanced trial shows its COVID-19 vaccine is 79% effective

London — AstraZeneca said Monday its COVID-19vaccine provided strong protection against disease and complete protection against hospitalization and death across all age groups in a late-stage U.S. study. The British drug manufacturer also said its experts didn't identify any safety concerns related to the vaccine, including any surrounding a rare blood clot that was identified in Europe. Scientists found no increased risk of clots among the more than 20,000 people who got at least one dose of the AstraZeneca shot. AstraZeneca said the advanced trial data on the vaccine it developed along with Oxford University shows it is 79% effective. Although the vaccine has been authorized in more than 50 countries, it hasn't been given the green light in the U.S. yet — and has struggled to gain public [...]

March 23rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Biden infrastructure, jobs spending push could hit $4 trillion: source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden will be briefed by advisers this week on infrastructure, climate and jobs proposals being considered by the White House that could collectively cost as much as $4 trillion, according to people familiar with discussions.   FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the state of vaccinations during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response event in the East Room at theWhite House in Washington, U.S., March 18, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Barria   Biden advisers are weighing a price tag of between $3 trillion and $4 trillion for new legislative action, including repairing the country’s crumbling infrastructure and tackling climate change, one source said. A second source said Biden advisers have a package of proposals totaling up to $3 trillion for infrastructure and other priorities they [...]

March 23rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Australia backs sanctions against Chinese officials over ‘serious human rights abuses’

Australia has backed international sanctions against two Chinese officials for "serious human rights abuses" against Uighur Muslims. Foreign Minister Marise Payne - in a joint statement with New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta - said the two governments supported the measures announced by the US, UK, Canada and the European Union overnight. "The Australian and New Zealand Governments today reiterate their grave concerns about the growing number of credible reports of severe human rights abuses against ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang," the statement said. Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the Federal Government backed international sanctions against Chinese officials over the treatment of Uighurs. (Nine) "In particular, there is clear evidence of severe human rights abuses that include restrictions on freedom of religion, mass surveillance, large-scale extra-judicial [...]

March 23rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Hundreds rally in Atlanta to support Asian American community after fatal shootings

Demonstrators gather at Liberty Plaza, near the Georgia state Capitol in Atlanta, on March 20, 2021.PHOTO: NYTIMES       ATLANTA (REUTERS) - Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on Saturday (March 20) in support of the Asian American community after a shooting at three local day spas this week left eight people dead, six of them Asian women. The killings followed a year of mounting anti-Asian violence in the United States, which community leaders say is due to Asian Americans being blamed for the coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China in late 2019. Crowds of people wearing masks, waving American flags and carrying posters that read "We are not the virus" and "Stop Asian Hate" stood in front of the golden-domed Georgia State [...]

March 22nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

South China Sea: alarm in Philippines as 200 Chinese vessels gather at disputed reef

Philippines defence chief says vessels at Whitsun reef are manned by militias rather than fishermen, and accuses Beijing of ‘provocation’   A photo from the Philippine Coast Guard shows Chinese vessels moored at Whitsun reef in the disputed South China Sea on 7 March. Photograph: Pcg-Ntfwps Handout/EPA The Philippines’ defence chief has demanded more than 200 Chinese vessels he said were manned by militias leave a South China Sea reef claimed by Manila, saying their presence was a “provocative action of militarising the area.” “We call on the Chinese to stop this incursion and immediately recall these boats violating our maritime rights and encroaching into our sovereign territory,” defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement on Sunday, adding without elaborating that the Philippines would uphold its sovereign rights. [...]

March 22nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Philippines reports record rise of COVID-19 cases as curbs tightened

An officer carries a child over a barrier near a concrete wall built in the middle of a road for security and safety concerns from a nearby prison amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 22, 2021. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez     MANILA: The Philippines on Monday (Mar 22) reported a record daily rise of 8,019 COVID-19 infections, as authorities implemented tighter curbs in the congested capital region and hospital capacity neared critical levels in some areas. In a bulletin, the health ministry said total confirmed cases had reached 671,792, while deaths increased by four to 12,972. It was the third time the Philippines has posted a fresh high in daily cases in the past four days. "Exercise extra caution to prevent the quick spread of [...]

March 22nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

EU approves sanctions over China, Myanmar abuses

Ethnic Uighur women demonstrated near the Chinese consulate in Istanbul. (Photo: AFP/Ozan Kose)       BRUSSELS: EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday (Mar 22) approved sanctions over abuses in China, Myanmar and Russia, as the bloc expands measures targeting global rights breaches. The 27 nations are due to place four Chinese officials and one state-run entity on a blacklist over Beijing's crackdown on the Uighur minority after ambassadors gave the go-ahead last week. The highly symbolic move - reported by EU diplomats and expected to be formally unveiled in the EU's official journal later Monday - is the first time Brussels has hit Beijing over human rights abuses since it imposed an arms embargo in 1989 after Tiananmen Square China's foreign ministry has warned that Beijing will [...]

March 22nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

North Korean diplomats leave Malaysia after ties cut over US extradition row

Kim Yu Song, counsellor at the North Korean embassy in Malaysia, carries his luggage into a bus at the embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, Mar 21, 2021. (Photo: AP/Vincent Thian)     KUALA LUMPUR: North Korean diplomats in Malaysia shuttered their embassy and flew out of the country on Sunday (Mar 21), after Pyongyang severed diplomatic ties over the extradition of a citizen to the United States. The North Korean flag and embassy signage have been removed from the premises in a Kuala Lumpur suburb and the gates were chained up. Ties between North Korea and Malaysia have been virtually frozen since the 2017 assassination of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Two days after Kuala Lumpur extradited a North Korean man to the [...]

March 22nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Survey reveals Māori grief and anger at daily experiences of racism

Dr Rāwiri Tinirau, director of the Whanganui-based Te Atawhai o te Ao research institute. Photo / Supplied       New research released today shows that 93 per cent of Māori in Aotearoa experience racism every day, and even more – 96 per cent – say racism is a problem for their whānau. Legal definitions of racism and discrimination fall short of describing the breadth, depth and true cost of racism to Māori, the research finds. That cost includes impact on both physical and mental health. The research – Whakatika: A Survey of Māori Experiences of Racism – was launched in Wellington today by the independent Māori institute for environment and health, Te Atawhai o te Ao. Dr Rāwiri Tinirau, who is the director of the Whanganui-based kaupapa Māori [...]

March 22nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Trans-Tasman travel: Date for bubble to be announced on 6 April – Ardern

Several concerns need to be resolved before a trans-Tasman bubble can go ahead, but the government hopes on 6 April to announce a start date, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. Ardern has been speaking to media this afternoon after a Cabinet meeting. She says 2020 was one of the most challenging years New Zealand has faced as a country. It will have been one year since we went into level 4 lockdown on Wednesday. She says it is the government's intention that everyone in the country who can be vaccinated will be by the end of the year. The vaccine will be "individual armour" and allows us to move our Covid-19 defences away from a "collective barricade", she says. She says there are a series of concerns that must [...]

March 22nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Myanmar military junta adds bribery charge on Aung San Suu Kyi

The junta charged Ms Aung San Suu Kyi with violating an anti-corruption law, which carries a maximum of 15 years in prison.PHOTO: AFP     YANGON (BLOOMBERG) - Myanmar's military regime piled more charges on ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi as it seeks to justify a Feb 1 coup and ensure she stays behind bars. The junta charged Ms Suu Kyi with violating an anti-corruption law, which carries a maximum of 15 years in prison, according to a broadcast on state-run MRTV. That adds to four other charges the junta had previously filed at a court in Naypyitaw, the capital. The broadcast showed a video clip of Say Paing Construction chairman Maung Weik saying that he paid US$550,000 (S$737,000) to Ms Suu Kyi at her residence in four [...]

March 18th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Taiwan clears AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines, shots may start next week

Taiwan's first vaccines - 117,000 doses of the AstraZeneca shot - arrived on the island earlier this month.PHOTO: REUTERS     TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Taiwan has completed checks on its first batch of AstraZeneca Plc Covid-19 vaccines and the first shots may start being administered from Monday (March 22), Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said. Taiwan's first vaccines - 117,000 doses of the AstraZeneca shot - arrived on the island earlier this month, though they have yet to start being administered. In a video statement late on Wednesday, Mr Chen said the doses, which came from a South Korean factory, had now cleared the last of the checks by Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration. The aim is to start administering them from as early as Monday, he added. Around 60,000 [...]

March 18th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Malaysia PM Muhyiddin unveils RM20 billion economic stimulus package

Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin unveiling the Pemerkasa package on Mar 17, 2021. (Photo: Bernama)     KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced a new economic stimulus package worth RM20 billion (US$4.8 billion) on Wednesday (Mar 17), one year after Malaysia first imposed a lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. This is the sixth package unveiled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. "To revive economic activity, I am pleased to announce that the government will implement the Strategic Programme to Empower the People and Economy or Pemerkasa worth RM20 billion, with a new fiscal injection of RM11 billion from the government," Mr Muhyiddin said in a live address. The programme comprises 20 strategic initiatives to boost economic growth, support business and extend targeted assistance to the people and [...]

March 17th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Auckland money laundering: police arrest 10, seize $10m in assets

Police have arrested 10 people in Auckland as part of an investigation into money laundering.   Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller   Detective Inspector Lloyd Schmid said 12 warrants were carried out by the Financial Crime Group. More than $10 million worth of assets including four properties and three vehicles in St Heliers, Kumeu and New Lynn, and $200,000 worth of jewellery, were seized. Police also restrained 23 bank accounts, as well as cash and cryptocurrency wallets. The nine men and one woman aged between 32 years old and 70 are due to appear in the Auckland District Court tomorrow and on 23 March 2021. They face a range of charges including money laundering and possession of methamphetamine for supply. Detective Inspector Lloyd Schmid of the Financial Crime Group [...]

March 17th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

America’s Cup: Victory on home waters for Team NZ

Team New Zealand has successfully defended the America's Cup on home waters. Photo: AFP The Kiwi syndicate wrapped up a 7-3 series win over Luna Rossa with a 46 second victory in race 10 of the regatta on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf on Wednesday. "It's absolutely unreal," Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling said on board Te Rehutai. "Just coming back to the chase boat and seeing all the people involved in this campaign over three or so years and how many Kiwis are out here supporting the event again. "We've had messages from everyone from the Prime Minister to high school kids to just about anyone you could think of with support and it just means the world to us as a team. "I don't think you could think [...]

March 17th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Atlanta massage parlor shootings leave eight dead including six Asian women

Man taken into custody after shootings at three locations, amid rising number of attacks on Asian Americans in the US A series of shootings at three massage parlors in the Atlanta area have left eight people dead, the majority of them women of Asian descent, leading to fears the killer had a racial motive. A 21-year-old man, Robert Aaron Long, is a suspect in the shootings, and was taken into custody in south-west Georgia about 150 miles (240km) from the city after his car was intercepted by police after a manhunt. The killings occurred amid a rising number of attacks on Asian Americans across the US since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Six of those killed were Asian while two were white. “It appears that they may be [...]

March 17th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Global oil demand ‘could exceed pre-Covid levels without clean energy moves’

Figures from International Energy Agency dash hopes that world consumption had peaked   The IEA’s report found that a rebound in oil demand could lead the world’s appetite for crude to break above 100m barrels of oil a day for the first time by 2023. Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters The world’s oil demand could exceed pre-Covid 19 levels within the next two years unless concrete government action and legislation leads to a much stronger move towards clean energy, according to the International EnergyAgency. Figures from the global energy watchdog threaten to dash hopes that the world’s consumption of oil may have peaked in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic caused oil demand to plummet by 9m barrels a day. The IEA’s influential report found that a rebound in oil demand, particularly [...]

March 17th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China to only allow foreign visitors who have had Chinese-made vaccine

Move raises questions as China’s vaccines not approved in many countries to which it is opening travel   A vial of the Chinese-made Sinovac coronavirus vaccine. Chinese vaccines have been approved for use in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand and Iraq. Photograph: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters     China is resuming visa processing for foreigners from dozens of countries, but only if they have been inoculated against Covid-19 with a Chinese-made vaccine. The move has raised questions about the motivations behind the demand, given China’s vaccines are not approved in many of the countries to which it has opened travel and that it will not accept foreign vaccines made elsewhere, including those approved by the World Health Organization. Beijing had largely banned non-essential travel into China during the pandemic. Resumption of [...]

March 17th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Court rules that Japan’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional

A district court in Japan ruled Wednesday that the government's failure to recognize same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. "Legal benefits stemming from marriages should equally benefit both homosexuals and heterosexuals," the Sapporo District Court said, according to The Associated Press. But the court didn't go along with the plaintiffs' request for $9,100 in compensation per person for the difficulties they've suffered. The case was part of a series of lawsuits filed by same-sex couples arguing that they've suffered because they can't marry, reports the Japan Times. Many of the couples sued on Valentine's Day 2019, with actions being brought in Sapporo, Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. Another group of same-sex couples filed suit in Fukuoka in September 2019. Japan is the only country in the G7 that doesn't allow same-sex couples [...]

March 17th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Trump urges people to get COVID vaccine, saying it’s safe and works

Former President Trump again urged people to be vaccinated against COVID-19, saying he would recommend vaccination to "a lot of people that don't want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me." In an interview Tuesday night on Fox News, Mr. Trump acknowledged that people were free to decide for themselves whether they would be vaccinated against the virus. "We have our freedoms and we have to live by that and I agree with that also. But it is a great vaccine. It is a safe vaccine and it is something that works," he said. Mr. Trump has promoted the vaccination before. When he appeared Feb. 28 at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, he said, "Everybody, go get your shot." But public health experts [...]

March 17th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

North Korea warns US against ‘causing a stink’

North Korea has sent a message to the US, warning President Joe Biden’s administration against “causing a stink at its first step”.   North Korea has issued a message to America, warning President Joe Biden and his administration against “causing a stink at its first step”, hours after the White House said it had not received a response to its outreach to Pyongyang. Leader Kim Jong-un's influential sister, Kim Yo Jong – a key adviser to her brother – offered “a word of advice to the new administration of the United States that is struggling to spread the smell of gunpowder on our land”. “If it wants to sleep in peace for (the) coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step,” she [...]

March 16th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Texting, landlines decrease in New Zealand as internet usage rises – Commerce Commission

New Zealanders are sending fewer text messages and disconnecting the landline but upping their internet usage, according to the latest telecommunications report from the Commerce Commission.   New Zealanders are texting less but their internet usage has increased by 37 percent, according to the Commerce Commission. Photo: 123RF   The report shows for the year to June broadband usage grew 37 percent on the year earlier, likely accelerated by the Covid-19 lockdown, and more people opting for unlimited usage plans. Text messages sent fell 13 percent and landline connections were down 12 percent, while copper connections fell 24 percent as more households moved to fibre networks. There were now 57 percent of of households on fibre, 13 percent on fixed wireless and 28 percent on copper. By 2023, 87 [...]

March 16th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

NZ’s coal imports highest in 14 years, but Energy Minister berates ACT’s ‘utterly false’ suggestion why

Energy Minister Megan Woods has hit back at claims from ACT that New Zealand’s highest annual coal import figure in 14 years is linked to the ban on future coal and gas exploration.   Source: 1 NEWS   New Zealand imported just shy of 1.1 million tonnes of coal in 2020, the most since 1.24 million tonnes were imported in 2006, data from MBIE shows. Coal imports last year were also more than the amounts brought into the country in 2018 and 2018 combined. ACT climate change spokesperson Simon Court says the record coal imports was evidence the Government’s “marketing-led environmentalism has been mugged by scientific reality”, adding that the “environmental case for allowing natural gas exploration is now overwhelming”. “Our trading partners have reduced emissions by using natural [...]

March 15th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Hundreds feel magnitude 4.7 earthquake centred near Gisborne

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has caused "moderate" shaking south of Gisborne this afternoon.   Felt map for earthquake south of Gisborne. March 15, 2021. Source: GeoNet     GeoNet says the earthquake struck 25km south of Gisborne at 2:12pm. The quake was 30km deep and according to GeoNet the shaking was "moderate". Just over 1200 people have reported feeling the quake, with most listing it as "light" shaking. The earthquake was centred just offshore of the east coast south of Gisborne.

March 15th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Minneapolis reaches $27M settlement with George Floyd’s family in wrongful death lawsuit

MINNEAPOLIS – City leaders approved a $27 million settlement Friday with the family of George Floyd in a wrongful death lawsuit over his death in police custodythat spurred protests worldwide and a national reckoning on racial justice. The Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to approve the settlement Friday, and Mayor Jacob Frey was expected to sign it, according to city officials. The settlement includes $500,000 to be directed to enhance the 38th Street and Chicago Avenue business district where Floyd died, according to the city and a statement from Ben Crump, lead attorney for the family. "George Floyd’s horrific death, witnessed by millions of people around the world, unleashed a deep longing and undeniable demand for justice and change," Crump said in a statement Friday. He called it the largest [...]

March 12th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus: Auckland moves to alert level 1 from midday Friday, announces Jacinda Ardern

Auckland has now returned to alert level 1 - with no restrictions on crowd gatherings - 14 days since the last community case of Covid-19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced. The move is a godsend for organisers of major events such as the America's Cup - two races are scheduled for each of Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons - the Auckland Cup horse-racing event on Saturday and the Blues-Highlanders Super Rugby match on Sunday. The Government has been under fire for not announcing the decision despite Cabinet meeting last night. Ardern said the Government wanted to wait to see the results of the last day-12 tests. Shortly after 11.30am, Ardern confirmed Auckland would move out of level 2 at midday today after the Valentine's Day cluster was contained. [...]

March 12th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Reports of Anti-Asian hate crimes rose nearly 150% in major U.S. cities last year

A new study based on police department statistics across major U.S. cities found a nearly 150% surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020, while overall hate crimes fell by 7%. The numbers reflect a growing trend of discrimination against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. The report, released this week by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, examined hate crimes in 16 of America's largest cities, found the first spikes rose alongside COVID-19 cases in March and April. New York City saw the highest jump, rising from 3 to 28. Boston and Los Angeles followed, with increases from 6 to 14, and 7 to 15, respectively. The report is limited to crimes reported to local police departments. Meanwhile, "hate incidents," [...]

March 12th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Person dead after truck collides with car in Bay of Plenty’s second fatal crash today

A person has died after a truck collided with a car in the Bay of Plenty this morning. Source: 1 NEWS   Emergency services were called to the crash in Athenree Gorge, along State Highway 2, just before 6.40am today, police said in a statement. Another person involved in the crash sustained moderate injuries. The road is due to reopen shortly, after being closed for most of the morning, police said. It's the second fatal crash in the region today, after a person was killed in the early hours of the morning in Aongatete. The single vehicle collision was reported around 2am on Work Road. Police inquiries in to both crashes are ongoing.

March 12th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

NASA is naming new features discovered on Mars in Navajo language

As NASA's Perseverance rover starts to discover and identify interesting new features on the surface of Mars, the team back on Earth will need to start naming them — and they've chosen to honor the Navajo Nation first. Since landing on the surface of the red planet on February 18, the Perseverance rover has sent back some 7,000 images, moved its seven-foot-long robot arm, undergone a post-landing software upgrade and taken a short test drive. It is just the beginning of its long journey to hunt for signs of ancient life. The rover team has now named a rock, the first scientific focus of the rover, "Máaz," the Navajo word for "Mars." Working with the Navajo Nation, the team will continue naming new features in the Navajo language, NASA [...]

March 12th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Record $31 Billion Investment To Help Auckland Build Back Better

The Government and Auckland Council are building on their record transport investment to help Auckland meet the long-term challenges of climate change and housing, Transport Minister Michael Wood and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff announced today. The Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) 2021-31 package invests $31 billion into critical transport infrastructure and services across Auckland. ATAP largely reflects and builds upon the $28 billion 2018 package, which focused on developing a rapid transit network, walking and cycling, safety and unlocking growth. Michael Wood said the updated package continues the work started last term to unlock Auckland. “There are a number of projects already underway which are helping with our economic recovery and will reduce congestion, like the Glen Innes to Tāmaki Drive Shared Path, upgrades to SH20B and the Northern [...]

March 12th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China successfully launches Long March 7A rocket after failed first attempt

China's Long March 7A rocket blasts off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Hainan Province on March 12.     (CNN) China successfully launched its new-generation Long March 7A rocket early Friday morning on its second attempt, sending an experimental satellite into orbit. The rocket launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Site, in China's southern Hainan province. Photos from the scene show crowds gathered with tents at a distance, waiting to witness the liftoff. The rocket carried the Shiyan-9 satellite to test new technologies such as space environmental monitoring, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). CASC built the experimental satellite in only eight months, setting a record for mid- to large-size remote sensing satellites, said the government-owned space contractor. The Long March 7A is a [...]

March 12th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

No reason to stop using AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine: WHO

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A test tube labelled "vaccine" in front of an AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken, September 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo     GENEVA: The World Health Organization said on Friday (Mar 12) there was no reason to stop using AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine after several European countries suspended the roll-out over blood clot fears. The WHO said its vaccines advisory committee was currently looking at safety data and stressed that no causal link has been established between the vaccine and clotting. Health authorities in Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Italy and Romania postponed or limited the roll-out of AstraZeneca vaccines after isolated reports of recipients developing blood clots. "AstraZeneca is an excellent vaccine, as are the other vaccines that are being used," WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters at a briefing [...]

March 12th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

‘A huge opportunity for space’: What going car-lite means for Singapore’s 1.4 million parking lots

SINGAPORE: With the push to go car-lite reducing demand for parking spaces in Singapore, authorities are looking to convert more lots for other uses. Already, the rooftops of some Housing and Development Board (HDB) car parks will be used for urban farming. And the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced earlier this month that it would pave over some roadside parking lots along Havelock Road to widen walking paths, as part of wider efforts to make walking and cycling more convenient. "With significant improvements made to the public transport network and first-and-last mile connectivity such as cycling paths and better walking connectivity, an increasing number of places can be conveniently accessed," said LTA, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and HDB on Wednesday (Mar 10). "This reduces reliance on private transport and the demand [...]

March 12th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Quarantine-free travel from Niue to NZ to begin this month

Quarantine-free travel from Niue to New Zealand will begin on 24 March.   Photo: Supplied/ Air NZ     The Premier of Niue Dalton Tagelagi and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement this morning that the one way bubble would commence on Wednesday 24 March (NZT). Tagelagi said Niue was unique as one of the few countries in the world that was completely free of Covid-19. "This Covid-19 Free status is significant for the ongoing health and safety of Niue as well as the opportunities it creates for trade and the resumption of travel destination to New Zealand." Ardern indicated that status gave her confidence about the move. "Niue has no reported cases...and its stringent border controls mean we can be confident it is safe to [...]

March 12th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Air NZ resumes flights to Sydney, Melbourne

Air New Zealand has resumed quarantine-free flights to Sydney and Melbourne. Photo: Supplied / Air New Zealand   Services were suspended following the February Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland. However, an update from the Australian Government has given the go-ahead for flights to resume. Air New Zealand operated three Auckland-Sydney services and two Auckland-Melbourne services today to enable customers impacted by the travel suspension to get to where they need to go. Quarantine-free flights to Brisbane remain suspended until the 20 March at the request of the Queensland authorities.

March 12th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

G-7 powers urge China to end ‘oppression’ in Hong Kong

Hong Kongers participate in a flash mob march to show solidarity with Hong Kong pro-democracy activists in the US on March 7, 2021.PHOTO: AFP     WASHINGTON (AFP) - Group of Seven (G-7) powers on Friday (March 12) demanded that China honour commitments in Hong Kong and end "oppression" against democratic activists after Beijing forced sweeping changes of the city's election system. Beijing's rubber-stamp parliament on Thursday passed reforms that said that only "patriots" can run the city, which was guaranteed a separate system before Britain handed over control in 1997. "Such a decision strongly indicates that the authorities in mainland China are determined to eliminate dissenting voices and opinions in Hong Kong," Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States as well as the European Union [...]

March 12th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Auckland bars, restaurants brace for alert level change announcement

Bars and restaurants in Auckland may be starting level 1 on the backfoot with possibly only a few hours to prepare for a Friday night capacity crowd.   Bar. Photo: 123rf.com     Cabinet has already made the decision but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will only announce it at 11.30am. That's leaving the hospitality industry in the lurch - not able to risk ordering lots of food and drink for a big night out, just in case level 1 is delayed. With no community cases in more than a week and no evidence of any spread of Covid-19, it is likely that Auckland will join the rest of the country in level 1. Businesses are hoping for a boost to the coffers but they are not certain of a [...]

March 11th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

No visas for superyacht passengers, non-essential crew – Immigration NZ

Immigration New Zealand told the crew on superyacht Bold only those essential for its operation would be granted a visa. The 85m-long pleasure craft was destined for New Zealand but due to visa constraints is now its heading to Australia for refit work worth three-quarters of a million dollars. The yacht owner and crew had been hoping to watch the America's Cup races today. In a statement, Immigration said seven of the 23 crew were not given border exemptions. "For foreign crew to be granted an exception to enter New Zealand under these circumstances, they must be considered essential for the operation of bringing the ship to New Zealand for the purpose it was granted permission by the Director-General of Health," INZ national border manager Peter Elms said. "This [...]

March 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Reclusive Chinese water tycoon Zhong Shanshan is now Asia’s richest person

Mr Zhong Shanshan's net worth has surged to US$85 billion and made him the seventh-richest person on the planet.PHOTO: EN.NONGFUSPRING.COM     BEIJING (AFP) - Until recently, few people had even heard of the Chinese billionaire with a gruff reputation who built a fortune on China's seemingly unquenchable demand for his ubiquitous red-capped bottled water. But reclusive Mr Zhong Shanshan has become Asia's richest man following the stock listings last year of his Nongfu Spring mineral water and separate pharma company Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, which has tapped into massive demand for Covid-19 test kits. Mr Zhong's net worth has surged to US$85 billion (S$114 billion) and made him the seventh-richest person on the planet, Hurun Report, a China-based compiler of "rich lists", said last week. Called a "lone [...]

March 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China building offensive, aggressive military, top US Pacific commander says

Hong Kong (CNN)China is assembling an increasingly offensive military and expanding its regional footprint, as Beijing steps up efforts to supplant American military power in Asia, a top US commander warned Congress on Tuesday. "I cannot for the life of me understand some of the capabilities that they're putting in the field unless it is an aggressive posture," Adm. Philip Davidson, the head of US Indo-Pacific Command, said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. "I see them developing systems, capabilities and a posture that would indicate that they're interested in aggression," Davidson said. Adm. Philip Davidson, head of US Indo-Pacific Command Davidson, who in the hearing defended budget requests for billions of dollars of new weaponry in the Pacific, said the increased investment was necessary to deter [...]

March 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid-19 vaccine: 2m New Zealanders will get first dose within four months

Frontline health workers and people in high-risk settings including older people in South Auckland, people in residential care and older people - particularly Māori and Pacific - will get vaccine priority, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says. At today's 1pm Covid-19 briefing, Hipkins - who was joined by Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield - said there were no new cases of the coronavirus in the community and just one case in managed isolation today. The one new case today is a person who returned from the US and tested positive in routine testing a day or so after arrival. They are in an Auckland quarantine facility. Dr Bloomfield said all close contacts and other contacts to date have returned negative results from the aircrew member who tested positive at [...]

March 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Queen Elizabeth says saddened by Prince Harry and Meghan’s experiences

Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex pose for a picture with some of Queen's Young Leaders at a Buckingham Palace reception following the final Queen's Young Leaders Awards Ceremony, in London, Britain, on Ju 26, 2018. (Photo: John Stillwell/Pool via Reuters)   LONDON: Queen Elizabeth said on Tuesday (Mar 9) the British royals were saddened by the challenging experiences of her grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan and promised to privately address revelations about a racist remark about their son. Meghan and Prince Harry's tell-all TV interview with Oprah Winfreyaired on US television on Sunday has plunged the monarchy into its biggest crisis since the 1997 death of Prince Harry's mother Princess Diana. In the two-hour show, Meghan accused Britain's royal family of raising concerns about how [...]

March 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

In message to China, Biden to meet Australia, India, Japan PMs

President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Mar 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)   WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden will hold first-ever joint talks on Friday (Mar 12) with the leaders of Australia, India and Japan, boosting an emerging four-way alliance often cast as a bulwark against China. It will be one of the first summits, albeit in virtual format, for Biden, who has vowed to revive US alliances in the wake of the disarray of Donald Trump's administration. "That President Biden has made this one of his earliest multilateral engagements speaks to the importance that we place on close cooperation with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday. Amid rising tensions with [...]

March 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Call for KiwiSaver investors to be able to split savings between funds

KiwiSaver investors should be able to split up their savings between different funds and providers to diversify, according to a leading investment analyst. File image. Photo: 123RF     At present investors can switch the type of funds they are in and switch from one provider to another, but it is not possible to be with two different providers. The government is currently reviewing the default KiwiSaver providers, but no changes to the rules are expected. Summer KiwiSaver investment committee chairperson Martin Hawes said he would like to see it happen. "A lot of people ask can they have two funds, and the answer is they can't, but what they're really looking for is perhaps being able to diversify KiwiSaver, so they get a bit of management diversification. "But [...]

March 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Australian cryptocurrency Qoin makes marketing push in New Zealand

An Australian based cryptocurrency appears to be making a marketing push in this country amid criticism about its operations in its home base. File image. Photo: 123RF Qoin - which is owned by the same company that operates Bartercard - has been suffered a backlash in Australia after it was expelled from the industry group Blockchain Australia, with concerns being raised about the transparency of its dealings. The concerns centre on a perceived conflict of interest with the owners of Qoin, BPS Financial Limited, also owning the only marketplace on which it can be traded, Block Chain Trade Exchange. Qoin has been aiming to entice "mum and dad" investors, with the currency being offered as a way for consumer to buy goods and services as well as investing in. [...]

March 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

PM Jacinda Ardern says Pfizer deal simplifies way to mass vaccination, could open border

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the bulk purchase of additional Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines has simplified New Zealand's path to achieving herd immunity by the end of the year. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas  An additional 8.5 million doses will arrive in the second half of the year, creating enough for five million people to get the two jabs needed to be fully protected against Covid-19. Ardern and Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins made the announcement at a post-Cabinet briefing yesterday. She told Morning Report New Zealand was on track to vaccinate the population by the end of the year and that the bulk Pfizer vaccine order had simplified matters. She said that, although some wouldn't be vaccinated - including children under 16 and sceptics of the [...]

March 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Singapore to vaccinate migrant workers against COVID-19, starting with 10,000 dormitory residents

A migrant worker undergoes a swab test in Singapore on Apr 28, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)     SINGAPORE: COVID-19 vaccinations for migrant workers in Singapore will begin with 10,000 people living in the country's five largest dormitories, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Monday (Mar 8). This batch of workers have never been infected by COVID-19, said the ministry, adding that their vaccinations will be conducted at the five dormitories. Workers who have been fully vaccinated can be subjected to a lower frequency of testing that is conducted every 28 days instead of the current 14-day cycle. Vaccinations will progressively be made available to other migrant workers, said MOH. Migrant workers living in dormitories made up about 90 per cent of Singapore's COVID-19 tally. Infections among this group have [...]

March 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Myanmar security forces trap protesters, media outlets ordered shut

Tear gas and fire extinguisher gas float around demonstrators during a protest against the military coup in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on Mar 8, 2021. (Phoot: REUTERS/Stringer)     YANGON: Myanmar security forces cornered hundreds of young protesters overnight in a district of Yangon and threatened to hunt for them door to door as the United States and United Nations appealed for them to be allowed to leave. Thousands of people defied a night time curfew to take to the streets of Myanmar's main city in support of the youths in the Sanchaung district, where they had been holding the latest daily protest against the Feb 1 coup. The army takeover and arrest of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi has plunged Myanmar into chaos. Security forces have killed over 60 protesters and [...]

March 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

12 Republican-led states sue President Biden over climate change order

WASHINGTON — Twelve Republican-led states Monday sued President Joe Biden over his first executive order aimed at climate change, alleging he lacked the constitutional authority to implement new rules about greenhouse gases. The federal lawsuit, led by Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt of Missouri, argues Biden violated the separation of powers clause in the Constitution because Congress, not the president, has the power to regulate. On his first day in the White House, Biden signed Executive Order 13990, directing federal agencies to calculate the "social cost" of greenhouse gas pollution by estimating "monetized damages" to inform future federal regulations. This includes changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, property damage from increased flood risk and the value of ecosystem services. But the 12 states that are plaintiffs say assigning such values is a "quintessentially legislative action that falls within Congress’s exclusive [...]

March 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Two months and nearly 300 Capitol riot arrests later, the FBI is hunting hundreds more

In the two months since an angry mob forced its way into the U.S. Capitol, agents in all but one of the FBI’s 56 field offices have been drafted to track down those who participated in the deadly insurrection. Investigators who typically work cases involving the trafficking of drugs, child pornography and sex have taken calls from rioter’s angry ex-wives and former girlfriends and employers turned tipsters. They’ve mined tens of thousands of photos and videos. They followed trails the rioters left on social media bragging about being inside the Capitol, like the Florida man toting a rostrum or the New Hampshire man who snapped a selfie with a pilfered bottle of wine. And they’ve arrested almost 300. But, as many as 500 remain at large of the 800 who [...]

March 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

New Zealand: Ardern’s decision to drop regular interview gives fuel to political foes

Prime minister was already under fire for her recent handling of the Auckland Covid outbreak   Newstalk ZB host Mike Hosking, who supports the opposition National party, claims that Jacinda Ardern is ‘over being held to account’ Photograph: Newstalk ZB New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has cancelled one of her highest-profile regular media appearances, surprising commentators and fuelling criticism that she is dodging tough questions. Newstalk ZB’s morning show host Mike Hosking on Monday announced that Ardern would no longer be appearing for a weekly interview: a regular segment observed by New Zealand’s prime ministers for more than 30 years. In a statement provided to media, Ardern’s office confirmed that the schedule of media appearances had been reviewed “and while it hasn’t reduced overall, it has changed”. Ardern [...]

March 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Young men take up arms in northern Ethiopia as atrocities fuel insurgency

Anger over violence that UN says could amount to war crimes drives recruitment in Tigray A man mourns the victims of a massacre allegedly perpetrated by Eritrean soldiers in the village of Dengolat. Photograph: Eduardo Soteras/AFP/Getty Images Ethiopian troops and their allies in the restive northern province of Tigray face a growing insurgency fuelled by a series of massacres and other violence targeting civilians. The country’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, launched a military offensive four months ago to “restore the rule of law” by ousting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the political party in power in the province, following rising tensions and a surprise attack on a federal army base. Despite government claims of a significant improvement in the security situation in recent weeks, tens of thousands of [...]

March 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

OECD Annual Inflation Picks Up To 1.5% In January 2021 While Euro Area Records Sharp Increase To 0.9%

Annual inflation in the OECD area picked up to 1.5% in January 2021, compared with 1.2% in December 2020. Following a rebound between December and January, the annual decline in energy prices was less pronounced in January (minus 3.9%) than in December (minus 6.5%), while food price inflation slowed slightly to 3.1%, compared with 3.2% in December. OECD annual inflation excluding food and energy, also increased slightly, to 1.7% in January, compared with 1.6% in December.     © Scoop Media    

March 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Govt Purchases Enough Pfizer Vaccines For Whole Country

The Government has guaranteed that every New Zealander will have access to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, after securing an additional 8.5 million doses, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. “The Government has signed an advance purchase agreement for 8.5 million additional doses, enough to vaccinate 4.25 million people. The vaccines are expected to arrive in New Zealand during the second half of the year,” Jacinda Ardern said. “This brings our total Pfizer order to 10 million doses or enough for 5 million people to get the two shots needed to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.” The Government’s original agreement with Pfizer was for approximately 1.5 million doses, enough to vaccinate 750,000 people. “The decision to make Pfizer New Zealand’s primary vaccine provider, was based on the fact the Pfizer vaccine [...]

March 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Auckland traffic: Harbour Bridge crash causing delays for southbound motorists

The two-car prang is likely to cause delays for those heading south over the Auckland Harbour Bridge from 12.30pm onwards. Photo / NZTA   A crash on the Auckland Harbour Bridge is causing delays for southbound commuters. Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency said the crash was currently blocking the far left of the southbound lanes. The agency tweeted that the crash happened at 12.25pm and asked motorists to pass the scene with care. Delays should also be expected. SH1 AKL HBR BRIDGE, SOUTHBOUND - 12:25PM A crash is blocking the left lane (lane 1 of 4) southbound on the harbour Bridge currently. Pass with care and expect some delays until cleared. ^TP pic.twitter.com/biaUE8k3WM — Waka Kotahi NZTA Auckland & Northland (@WakaKotahiAkNth) March 7, 2021 The crash was cleared 10 [...]

March 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

NZ seafarers working overseas plead for priority MIQ spots

Seafarers stranded outside the country are seeking unrestricted access to managed isolation. Seafarers are missing out on MIQ rooms because they only get a few days' notice about leaving their vessels. (file pic) Photo: 123RF  While there are managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) rooms set aside for air crew and seafarers who have been in New Zealand waters, people who work in foreign waters must book their stay using the Managed Isolation Allocation System. They say they're missing out on spots, getting stuck overseas and forgoing seeing their families for months because they don't know very far in advance when they will disembark their vessels. Rainer Hillberg said he had spent eight months away from his wife, baby and stepson to keep his job as a 'fly in, fly [...]

March 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Switzerland referendum: Voters support ban on face coverings in public

Switzerland has narrowly voted in favour of banning face coverings in public, including the burka or niqab worn by Muslim women. People hold signs during a protest hours after Switzerland voted in favour of banning face coverings in public, including the burka or niqab worn by Muslim women. Photo: AFP Official results showed the measure had passed by 51.2 percent to 48.8 percent in Sunday's referendum. The proposal was put forward by the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) which campaigned with slogans such as "Stop extremism". A leading Swiss Islamic group said it was "a dark day" for Muslims. "Today's decision opens old wounds, further expands the principle of legal inequality, and sends a clear signal of exclusion to the Muslim minority," the Central Council of Muslims said in [...]

March 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Malaysian PM Muhyiddin starts official visits to Saudi Arabia and UAE

Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is making a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia.PHOTO: REUTERS     KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Saturday (March 6) departed for official visits to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), only his second official trip abroad since assuming office on March 1 last year. His only official overseas trip before this was to Indonesia on Feb 4 and 5, when he met President Joko Widodo. Tan Sri Muhyiddin is making a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he will meet King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He will be performing the umrah pilgrimage to Mecca and will also visit Madinah, Islam's second holiest city, before the meetings with the Saudi ruler. PM Muhyiddin, in his Facebook, [...]

March 7th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Scientists find new Covid-19 mutation in Oregon

The researchers have so far found just a single case of this formidable combination.PHOTO: OREGON HEALTH AND SCIENCE UNIVERSITY (OHSU)/FACEBOOK   OREGON (NYTIMES) - Scientists in Oregon have spotted a home-grown version of a fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus that first surfaced in Britain - but now it's combined with a mutation that may make the variant less susceptible to vaccines. The researchers have so far found just a single case of this formidable combination, but genetic analysis suggested that the variant had been acquired in the community and did not arise in the patient. "We didn't import this from elsewhere in the world - it occurred spontaneously," said Associate Professor Brian O'Roak, a geneticist at Oregon Health and Science University who led the work. He and his colleagues [...]

March 7th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Antivirus software pioneer John McAfee charged by US with cryptocurrency fraud

John McAfee and his accomplices reaped more than US$13 million (S$17.45 million) from the fraud and money-laundering schemes.PHOTO: REUTERS   NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - John McAfee, the antivirus software pioneer whose former company still bears his name, has been indicted on fraud and money-laundering conspiracy charges stemming from two cryptocurrency schemes, the US Justice Department said on Friday (March 5). Authorities accused McAfee and his bodyguard, Jimmy Gale Watson Jr, of exploiting McAfee's large Twitter following to artificially inflate prices of "altcoins" through a so-called pump-and-dump scheme, and concealing payments McAfee received from startup businesses to promote initial coin offerings. The Justice Department said McAfee and his accomplices reaped more than US$13 million (S$17.45 million) from the schemes. The charges were brought in Manhattan federal court. The Commodity Futures [...]

March 7th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Italy prosecutors seek life for US pair accused of killing cop

US defendants Finnegan Lee Elder (left) and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth arrive for the hearing in Rome, March 6, 2021.PHOTO: EPA-EFE   ROME (AFP) - Italian prosecutors on Saturday (March 6) requested life sentences for a pair of young US citizens accused of murdering an Italian police officer two years ago while holidaying in Rome. Officer Mario Cerciello Rega, 35, died from knife wounds in July 2019 after he and a colleague, both in plain clothes, had a nighttime confrontation with Finnegal Lee Elder and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth. Elder has admitted stabbing Cerciello Rega multiple times with an eight-inch combat knife, but has said he and Natale-Hjorth were jumped by men they thought were drug dealers. "It was an aggression, a violent, deadly, disproportionate attack," prosecutor Maria Sabina Calabretta told a court [...]

March 7th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Moderna reaches supply deal with Philippines for 13 million COVID-19 vaccine doses

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts: Moderna said on Saturday (Mar 6) it has agreed to supply the Philippines government 13 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, with deliveries set to begin in mid-2021. The company will work with regulators to pursue necessary approvals prior to the distribution, it said in a press release. Moderna said it expected to reach a separate deal with the Philippines government and private sector to supply an additional 7 million doses. In January, the Philippines' Food and Drug Administration approved the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency use.

March 7th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Hundreds of Thai protesters rally to demand leaders’ release

BANGKOK: Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the Thai capital on Saturday (Mar 6) evening to demand that authorities release some protest leaders from jail, defying an order late Friday banning public gatherings in the city A youth-led protest movement sprang up last year calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a former junta leader, and reform of the powerful monarchy. Thai courts have denied recent requests for bail for some of the jailed protest leaders. "Release our friends," shouted the protesters in unison, as they gathered in front of a criminal court, which was surrounded by barbed wire. A water cannon truck could be seen behind the gates of the court. Anti-government protesters march to the criminal court during a protest in Bangkok, Thailand, on Mar 6, 2021. [...]

March 7th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Trump reportedly told Republican party to stop using his name for fundraising

Party bodies have used former president’s name while fundraising for Republicans who voted for his impeachment Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando. Photograph: Joe Skipper/Reuters Donald Trump has told the Republican National Committee and other party bodies to stop using his name and likeness in fundraising efforts, it was reported on Saturday. “President Trump remains committed to the Republican party and electing America First conservatives,” Politico quoted an unnamed adviser to the former president as saying about the legal cease-and-desist notice, “but that doesn’t give anyone – friend or foe – permission to use his likeness without explicit approval.” The website previously reported that Trump’s ire was stoked by bodies including the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) [...]

March 7th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid-19: US Senate passes major $1.9tn relief plan

The US Senate has voted to approve America's third major spending package to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.   The relief plan has been championed by US President Joe Biden. Photo: SAUL LOEB / AFP  The $US1.9 trillion ($NZ2.6tn) plan passed by 50 votes to 49. It will head to the House of Representatives on Tuesday where it is expected to be endorsed. The relief plan has been championed by President Joe Biden, but Republicans have criticised it as too costly. Biden's Democratic Party compromised on a key issue ahead of the vote. There were long discussions over federal unemployment benefit, which Democrats agreed to lower from $400 to $300 a week. The benefit would be extended until 6 September under the plan. The package also [...]

March 6th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus vaccination: 550,000 Kiwis have ‘wait and see’ attitude

More than 550,000 New Zealanders unlikely to accept a Covid-19 vaccination say that's because they'd rather wait and see if others get any side effects. The Ministry of Health has released full results of polling into attitudes to the vaccine rollout, following an Official Information Act request from the Herald, and having earlier publicised only top-line findings. Polling was done in September and December last year, and a report after the December polling shows: • An estimated 555,100 adults who said they'd be unlikely to be vaccinated gave a main reason as, "I'd rather wait and see if others who have taken it suffer any side effects" - indicating this large group could be eventually convinced of vaccine safety. • People who chose "I don't trust any vaccine" were [...]

March 6th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Earthquake swarm: More than 140 quakes of magnitude 4 or greater recorded since Friday

Seismologists have recorded more than 140 earthquakes of magnitude 4 or higher since a 7.2 earthquake caused householders to flee low-lying East Coast areas on Friday morning. A magnitude 7.2 earthquake shook much of the North Island on Friday. GNS Science experts are researching the relationship between them and the even bigger sea-floor quakes of magnitude 7.4 and 8.1 which hit the Kermadec Islands - 1000km - later on Friday morning. Seismologist Matt Gerstenberger said there were questions about whether the East Cape jolt was a single rupture or something more complicated. Gerstenberger said generally after a large earthquake a lot of quakes of varying size could be expected, but over time they would become fewer and smaller. But he warned there is still an increased probability of a [...]

March 6th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

ANZ fined $280,000 by High Court for misleading customers over credit card insurance policies

New Zealand's largest bank has been fined $280,000 by the High Court for misleading hundreds of customers over credit card insurance policy breaches "hiding in plain view". ANZ New Zealand (ANZ) accepted it violated the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 (FMCA) as part of a resolution with the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) after legal proceedings were filed by the regulator in June last year. The bank charged customers for credit card repayment insurance (CCRI) which offered no cover or benefit and issued duplicate policies between April 2014 and November 2019. CCRI covers some or all of a person's credit card repayments in certain circumstances such as redundancy, bankruptcy, injury, illness or death. ANZ earlier said it identified 390 customers who had more than one CCRI policy and a further [...]

March 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Earthquakes and tsunami threats in New Zealand: How Friday unfolded

This Friday was expected to herald a possible reduction in Covid-19 alert levels for many New Zealanders, but the first big shake off East Cape in the wee hours of the morning meant a sudden change of plans for many. Three earthquakes off the coast of New Zealand today has meant threat of tsunami for many on the coast, prompting towns to be evacuated, their people sheltering on high ground for hours. Read how it all unfolded...   Photo: RNZ At 2.27am a severe 7.1 magnitude quake struck 100km east of Te Araroa. It was widely felt across the North Island and parts of the South Island - by 3am, nearly 60,000 people reported feeling it on Geonet. A shift manager at McDonald's Gisborne, Miles Downes, said he felt [...]

March 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Tokyo Olympics will be closed to fans from abroad, hints Games organiser

Situation is tough,’ says committee president Japanese press report decision has been made Tokyo organisers will focus on essentials. Photograph: Viola Kam/Sopa Images/Shutterstock The new president of the Tokyo Olympic organising committee has hinted that foreign fans will not be allowed at this summer’s Games amid reports in the Japanese press that a decision had already been made to exclude them. “If the situation is tough and it would make the [Japanese] consumers concerned, that is a situation we need to avoid from happening,” the committee president, Seiko Hashimoto, told reporters after online talks with the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach. The Japanese newspaper Mainichi stated on Wednesday before the meeting with Bach that officials had already made up their minds ahead of a final announcement on the [...]

March 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

More than $352m returned to Kiwis with cancelled travel plans

Kiwis have had $352 million refunded from their cancelled travel plans. Photo / 123r     The Government says its scheme to get Kiwis' cancelled travel plans refunded has seen more than $352 million returned. The Consumer Travel Reimbursement Scheme was launched in October to help travel agents pivot to help travellers get their money back from airlines and holidays. Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark said New Zealanders were at risk of not seeing a cent of their money because it was locked offshore. "This means more money is coming back into the local economies as Kiwis now look to holiday domestically supporting the local tourism industry." The scheme was launched in October 2020 and pays New Zealand-based travel agents 7.5 per cent of the value of all cash [...]

March 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Auckland lockdown threatens to split ‘team of five million’

Checkpoints, swabs and isolation make residents in New Zealand’s biggest city question the government’s approach to Covid-19 Motorists wait in line for a Covid-19 test in Auckland as New Zealand’s largest city goes into lockdown.Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock The catch cry of “be kind” – which prime minister Jacinda Ardern impressed upon New Zealand since its first lockdown a year ago – is in danger of being replaced with a less positive mantra as Aucklanders struggle through their second Covid-19 lockdown in a fortnight. The country’s biggest city has been in level-three lockdown since Sunday morning as a result of two cases of community transmission, which were found to have happened while an earlier period of level-three restrictions were in place – threatening to fracture the unity of the “team of [...]

March 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Glow-in-the-dark sharks found in New Zealand waters

Sharks that glow in dark of the ocean have been seen for the first time off the coast of New Zealand. Researchers suggest the sharks' glowing underbellies may help them hide from predators or other threats beneath them. Photo: ©Dr J. Mallefet FNRS, UCLouvain   Belgian scientists were able to document three species of luminous deepwater shark while on a research expedition to the Chatham Rise area of ocean floor, east of the mainland. Marine biologist Dr Jérôme Mallefet, of UCLouvain university in Belgium, said scientists knew the sharks would be able to produce blue light but it had not been be documented. "Thanks to NIWA I was able to collect some of them and finally to see [them] glowing," he told Morning Report. "It was so magnificent." Mallefet [...]

March 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Nearly 20m receive first dose of Covid vaccine in the UK

Government data shows 19.6m get first jab and up to 770,000 inoculated a second time   Since 90-year-old Margaret Keenan became the first person in the UK to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, more than 20.5m jabs have been administered across the country. Photograph: Jacob King/AP  More than 20 million people in the UK have received at least a first dose of coronavirus vaccine, with under 4% of those given as second doses. Government data shows that of the 20.5m jabs given in the UK up to 26 February, 19.6m were first doses. About 770,000 of the doses given were second jabs, an increase of nearly 33,000 on figures released the previous day. This means just over 1.1% of the UK population have been fully vaccinated with two doses. A [...]

February 28th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China takes aim at Australian universities with latest boycott

A new ploy from the Chinese government could see an Aussie sector, which was already hit hard by COVID-19, suffer another crippling blow.   Australian universities have already been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. But now, a new ploy by the Chinese government could see institutions across the country suffer another crippling blow. Many Australian universities rely on international students as a major part of their revenue, with that crucial stream abruptly cut off by the pandemic and subsequent border closures. The international education sector brought $37.5 billion to the Australian economy between 2019 and 2020, with China accounting for a staggering $10.5 billion of that figure. The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has sparked hopes that international student levels could soon be on the rise, but unsettling reports coming [...]

February 28th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

PH banking system key to economic recovery: Diokno

MANILA – The Philippines’ banking system has proven its resiliency several times and the current pandemic is not an exemption, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said.              BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno. (File photo)         In his speech during The Manila Times virtual economic forum on Friday, Diokno said the domestic banking system remains sound and stable amid the virus-induced pandemic. He said the sector’s performance is among the key factors why the economy is expected to recover this year. The other factors are the quarter-on-quarter gross domestic product (GPD) improvement in the last quarter of 2020, better business and consumer outlooks, within-target inflation, ample domestic liquidity, robust external payments position, and manageable fiscal deficit. Diokno said domestic financial [...]

February 28th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Philippines to receive AstraZeneca doses on March 1

MANILA, PHILIPPINES The vaccines will come a day after Sinovac’s CoronaVac arrives in the country. The Philippines will receive 525,600 doses of vaccines developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford on Monday, March 1, Presidential Spokesperson confirmed on Saturday, February 27. The vaccines are part of the first round of allocated doses from the COVAX facility, from which the Philippines is entitled to 44 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. (READ: What is COVAX and why does it matter for getting vaccines to developing nations?) “We thank the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) towards this end,” Roque said. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency [...]

February 28th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Philippines’ Duterte signs indemnity Bill for COVID-19 vaccine roll-out

File photo of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. (File photo: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)   MANILA: Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday (Feb 26) signed into law a Bill that gives indemnity to vaccine-makers if their COVID-19 shots cause adverse side effects, days before the country starts its lagging inoculation programme. Despite having one of the highest number of coronavirus infections in Asia, the Philippines will be the last Southeast Asian nation to receive its initial set of vaccines. In a statement, the presidential office said the law would fast-track the purchase and administration of vaccines. It covers the creation of a 500 million pesos (US$10.26 million) indemnity fund to cover compensation for potential serious adverse effects stemming from the doses' emergency use. COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers would be immune from lawsuits for [...]

February 27th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Five-point Plan To Get New Zealand Out Of Lockdown

Press Release: New Zealand National Party National is urging the Government to get on top of the latest Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland by adopting a five-point plan for managing community cases, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop and Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti say. National’s five-point plan for managing community outbreaks: Introduce rapid antigen testing – nasal swab tests that return results in 15 minutes. Roll out high intensity, well-staffed testing stations across Papatoetoe and at every single location of interest Conduct higher intensity wastewater testing at suburb and sub-suburb levels in Papatoetoe Set aside enough vaccines for all border and port workers, then priority vaccinate South Auckland Increase monitoring of people who are required to self-isolate, including spot checks Mr Bishop says New Zealand should follow the example [...]

February 27th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

NZUSA Calls For Increased Student Support With Yo-yoing Alert Levels

Press Release: NZUSA The New Zealand Union of Students' Associations is calling for increased student support to ensure that students can continue to study amid fluctuating Alert Levels. "With this morning’s increase in COVID Alert Levels, students face yet more uncertainty and stress at the start of the academic year. They've already had their orientations disrupted by COVID; the Government cannot allow this virus to ruin their entire year" says National President Andrew Lessells. "Government needs to step up for students to make sure they can access technology, to make sure they can pay their rent, to make sure they can afford to survive." With the increase in Alert Levels also comes significant mental hardship for the 400,000 students across Aotearoa. The Government has committed $25 million to mental [...]

February 27th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid-19: Auckland back in alert level 3, the rest of New Zealand alert level 2

Auckland is back at alert level 3 this morning, while the rest of the country has moved to alert level 2 following two new Covid-19 community cases that could not be directly linked to earlier cases. Central Auckland at 9am on the first morning of the latest level three lockdown. Photo: RNZ / Robert Smith     Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement at a briefing at 9pm last night saying that the alert level changes would come in from 6am today and would be in place for seven days. She said Cabinet would assess the alert levels but it was likely that Auckland would remain in alert level 3 for the full seven days. Ardern said the announcement comes after two new Covid-19 community cases that could [...]

February 27th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Japan women’s minister opposes plan to allow keeping of birth names

Tamayo Marukawa among 50 conservative MPs to urge local body not to support policy change Japan’s minister for women’s empowerment and gender equality, Tamayo Marukawa. Photograph: Jiji Press/EPA Japan’s minister for women’s empowerment and gender equality, Tamayo Marukawa, is among a group of conservative MPs who have opposed a legal change that would allow women to keep their birth name after marriage. Japan is one of only a few industrialised countries where it is illegal for married couples to have different surnames. The country’s civil code, introduced in 1896, requires married couples to share a surname and while it does not stipulate which name they should adopt, in practice women take their husband’s name in 96% of cases. Pressure to change the law has built in recent years. In [...]

February 27th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Ghana Becomes First Country to Receive COVAX Vaccines

  Another ninety countries and eight territories have agreed to pay if they choose to receive vaccines via COVAX, which aims to deliver close to two billion doses of coronavirus vaccines around the world this year. The world’s first COVAX Facility shipment has landed in Ghana, providing the West African nation with six hundred thousand potentially life-saving doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. According to Ghana’s Information Ministry, the initial vaccine doses already have been prioritized for frontline medical workers, people over age sixty, and those with preexisting health conditions. The mass vaccination campaign will launch on March 2. “The government of Ghana remains resolute at ensuring the welfare of all Ghanaians and is making frantic efforts to acquire adequate vaccines to cover the entire population through bilateral and [...]

February 27th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

US finds Saudi crown prince approved Khashoggi murder but does not sanction him

Biden administration to target ‘counter-dissident’ activity and Saudi official but not Mohammed bin Salman personally Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has long been accused of involvement in the killing of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Photograph: Bandar Aljaloud/AP US intelligence agencies have concluded in a newly declassified intelligence report that Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, approved the 2018 murder of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi – but Washington stopped short of targeting the future Saudi king with financial or other sanctions. The four-page report released on Friday confirmed the long-suspected view that the 35-year-old future king had a personal hand in the violent murder of one of his most prominent critics, a columnist and former Saudi insider who was living in exile in the [...]

February 27th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Airstrike in Syria faces pushback from Democrats

Democratic lawmakers question legal authorities Biden used to order the strike. Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images A day after President Joe Biden ordered the first military action of his presidency, an airstrike in Syria, his administration finds itself in the unlikely position of defending the move to Democratic lawmakers concerned about the legal authorities used to justify it. Thursday night's airstrike targeted a compound used by two Iranian-backed militias the U.S. believes are responsible for rocket attacks in Iraqthat wounded Americans. A Pentagon spokesman confirmed on Friday casualties resulted from the airstrike in eastern Syria. Visiting Houston on Friday, Biden told reporters that the message he was sending to Iran with the attack in Syria was "you can't act with impunity, be careful." John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said [...]

February 27th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Global stock markets drop as inflation fears prompt sell-off

UK FTSE was down 2.5%, its biggest one-day fall in percentage terms since the end of October The FTSE 100 closed down 168 points at 6,483, a 2.5% drop. Photograph: Refinitiv Global stock markets ended February deep in the red, as fears of higher inflation prompted a sell-off in government bonds and spread anxiety across financial markets. The UK’s FTSE 100 index fell 168 points to 6,483, a 2.5% drop – the biggest one-day fall in percentage terms since the end of October. The UK stock market suffered the heaviest losses in Europe, while Germany’s Dax fell 0.67%, France’s CAC slid 1.4%, Italy’s FTSE MiB shed 0.9% and Spain’s Ibex lost 1.1%. The Europe Stoxx 600 index tracking the biggest European companies fell 1.7% and is down 2.5% over [...]

February 27th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid-19 update: No new community cases reported today in NZ

There have been no new community cases of Covid-19 reported in New Zealand today, a day after it was revealed a new case had worked a shift at an Auckland KFC outlet. Photo: 123rf.com   In a statement, the Health Ministry said there was just one new case in managed isolation. The new community case revealed yesterday was a person linked to the Auckland February cases who had been in quarantine since Tuesday, but had worked a late shift at KFC Botany Downs on Monday evening. Customers who entered the KFC store during that shift have been considered close contacts, while those who used the drive through during that time have been designated as 'casual plus contacts'. They have all been advised to get tests today and the close [...]

February 27th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Pfizer Covid vaccine 94% effective, study of 1.2m people finds

A major study of data from Israel showed Pfizer shot cut symptomatic cases drastically across all age group   The first big real-world study of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be independently reviewed shows the treatment is highly effective in preventing Covid-19. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images The first major real-world study of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be independently reviewed shows the shot is highly effective at preventing Covid-19, in a potentially landmark moment for countries desperate to end lockdowns and reopen economies. Until now, most data on coronavirus vaccines has come under controlled conditions in clinical trials, leaving an element of uncertainty about how the results would translate into the real world. The research in Israel – two months into one of the world’s fastest rollouts, providing a rich source [...]

February 25th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Thailand says it nears a COVID-19 vaccine passport, hopes to welcome tourists in Q3

Tourists wear protective masks at Emerald Buddha temple, which is usually full of tourists, amid fears of COVID-19 in Bangkok, Thailand, Mar 16, 2020. (File photo: REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun) BANGKOK: Thai authorities are preparing a plan to ease restrictions for travellers vaccinated against the coronavirus, senior officials said on Wednesday (Feb 24), as the country looks to revive a tourism industry battered by travel curbs. Measures for vaccinated visitors would be introduced step-by-step and could include shortening the mandatory quarantine for all arrivals from two weeks to three days for those vaccinated, or waiving it entirely, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn said. "We have to be fast because we want to start welcoming tourists in the third quarter," he told Reuters.   The TAT plans to begin [...]

February 25th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

$400,000 Fine For “carefully Crafted” Home Funding Group Scheme

Press Release: Commerce Commission A company which falsely claimed to offer a savings scheme to assist low-income families buy a home has been fined $400,000 following a Commerce Commission investigation. In a formal proof hearing in the Auckland District Court on 12 January, Home Funding Group Limited (HFG) was convicted on two charges under the Fair Trading Act 1986. HFG is in liquidation and did not appear at the hearing. HFG offered services to prospective home buyers who found it difficult to save for a deposit or qualify for bank finance. It claimed to operate a savings scheme which could assist customers to purchase a home with a deposit as low as 5%. However, customers’ payments were not paid into or treated as being in any form of savings [...]

February 25th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

2020 The Costliest Year For Severe Weather – Customers Get $248m Support From Insurers

Press Release: Insurance Council of New Zealand Insurance support for communities around the country hit by extreme weather events has hit a new annual record of $248m, with insurance customers making more than 13,600 weather related claims for the twelve months to December 2020. The revised figure includes the preliminary cost of the severe weather and floods across the Greater Wellington region 29 November - 1 December, and the freak hailstorm that hit the Nelson-Marlborough region on Boxing Day 26 December. "Sudden and unexpected extreme weather can leave widespread losses for individuals and their communities in its wake. The preliminary support from insurers for the Boxing Day hailstorm is $41m but the true costs are much higher." says Tim Grafton CE ICNZ. "It is sobering to think of the [...]

February 25th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Housing affordability worst in at least 17 years, report finds

Buying a home is increasingly out of reach for many New Zealanders as housing affordability plummets to historically low levels. Income inequality needs to be considered more when seeking solutions for the housing crisis, an expert says. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon       A report by CoreLogic found average property values surged 6.1 percent in the final three months of last year, while they went up more than 11 percent for the whole of 2020. CoreLogic senior property economist Kelvin Davidson said while wages had fared better than expected given the pandemic, average household incomes were not keeping pace with property values. "Based on the historical data we have, houses are as unaffordable as they've been at any time for at least 17 years, maybe longer," Davidson [...]

February 25th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Prince Philip is said to be responding well to treatment in the hospital. Photo / Getty Images     The Sydney Morning Herald was forced to quickly remove a pre-prepared obituary for Prince Philip seemingly published by accident on Monday afternoon. An article titled "Prince Philip Through the Years" appeared in the paper's obituary section at around 5pm, with it unclear whether a coincidental retrospective article was put in the wrong section of the paper, or it was in fact a very awkward oversight. The Duke of Edinburgh is very much still alive and, according to family members, "doing OK" as he remains in hospital for "rest and observation". On Monday afternoon, an eagle-eyed Twitter user noticed the curious article, which was sold as "The life and times of [...]

February 25th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Viruses don’t always produce respiratory symptoms – Epidemiologist professor Michael Baker

Epidemiologist professor Michael Baker says the spectrum of symptoms experienced by people with the UK variant of Covid-19 is quite broad - and can include muscle aches and fatigue. Photo: 123rf.com   Several people in the country's newest Covid-19 cluster have reported experiencing muscle aches and fatigue. Those in the cluster, 11 people, all have the UK variant of the virus. The UK Variant - also known as B.1.1.7 - was first found in September of 2020 and has since spread throughout the world. A study carried out by the UK Office of National Statistics surveyed Covid-19 patients between 15 November and 16 January and found the variant to be up to 70 percent more infectious than the original strain. Fatigue, headaches and muscle pain were all common symptoms [...]

February 24th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Australian states tighten travel restrictions as New Zealand cluster grows

Travellers arriving in Australia from New Zealand face tighter restrictions in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania in response to a growing COVID-19 outbreak in Auckland. At least eight cases have been linked to a cluster at a high school in Auckland that was discovered on February 14 and triggered a snap three-day lockdown in New Zealand’s largest city.   The cluster emerged days after quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand resumed. CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES The cluster was discovered days after quarantine-free “green flights” from New Zealand to Australia resumed. NSW Health is contacting travellers who have arrived on quarantine-free flights from New Zealand since Saturday, February 20, to check if they had been to any venues of concern visited by an infectious person. “As a precaution, people who have [...]

February 24th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

‘We stand together’: ethnic Chinese rally in Myanmar against coup

Yangon: The chorus of banging pots and pans begins in Chinatown at about 8pm. The district in Myanmar’s commercial city of Yangon is normally festooned with bright red lanterns to celebrate Chinese New Year. But when the Year of the Ox arrived in mid-February, the usual festive atmosphere was gone - replaced by a tension in the air. Demonstrators display a picture of Chinese president Xi Jinping, with a message requesting not to support military coup during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar.CREDIT:AP           Here, and across the country, swelling ranks of young ethnic Chinese protesters are joining mass rallies against the junta that abruptly deposed Aung San Suu Kyi’s government. Many are united by rumours that China is helping the regime [...]

February 24th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Air New Zealand to trial Covid vaccine passport on Sydney flights

Airline aims to ‘streamline health verification’ for travel as vaccinations begin Air New Zealand to trial Covid vaccine passport on Sydney flights using an app developed by the International Air Transport Association. Photograph: Daniel Munoz/Reuters Air New Zealand will trial a digital vaccine passport in April on flights between Auckland and Sydney. As vaccination begins in Australia, attention has turned to the potential resumption of international travel and how Australia could track whether potential visitors have been vaccinated. Several tech companies have been working with the World HealthOrganization to develop a secure digital vaccination record system that could be used to prove to airlines and governments that passengers have had a Covid vaccine. One such app, Travel Pass, developed by the International Air Transport Association, will be trialed by [...]

February 23rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Supreme court rejects Trump bid to block tax records from prosecutor

Court’s order is a win for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr, who has been seeking Trump’s tax records since 2019   Donald Trump on the South Lawn of the White House on 6 August 2020. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP In a significant defeat for Donald Trump, the supreme court on Monday declined to step in to halt the turnover of his tax records to a prosecutor in New York City. The court’s action was the apparent culmination of a lengthy legal battle that had reached the high court before. Trump said it was part of “the continuing political persecution of President Donald J Trump”. Having left the White House on 20 January, Trump has lost the legal protections of office. He faces jeopardy on multiple fronts. In New [...]

February 23rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Canada votes to recognize China’s treatment of Uighur population as genocide

Parliament’s move was not supported by Trudeau and likely to raise diplomatic tensions between the two nations Umer Jan attends a rally on 19 February outside the Canadian embassy to encourage Canada in labeling China’s treatment of its Uighur population as genocide. Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters Canada has become the second country in the world to describe China’s treatment of its Uighur minority as a genocide, following a contentious parliamentary vote which is likely to further raise diplomatic tensions between the two nations. Lawmakers approved the non-binding motion, brought forward by opposition Conservatives, to recognize China’s actions in the north-western Xinjiang province as a genocide against Muslim Uighurs. Prime minister Justin Trudeau and senior members of cabinet did not attend the vote on Monday. All other Liberal members present voted [...]

February 23rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Mayor in PNG arrested with gun and cash near election recount

The mayor of Wabag in Papua New Guinea's Enga province has been arrested in Chimbu province while armed and carrying significant cash. Papua New Guinea police Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades Kennedy Kiak's arrest took place in the Chimbu capital Kundiawa where a recount of votes for the 2017 election in Enga's Kandep district is underway. EMTV reported that Kiak had been charged for possession of an unlicensed firearm, resisting arrest and assaulting police. Police say that when apprehended he was in posession of $US22,000. The Police acting Eastern End Commander, Joseph Tondop, warned people not to attempt to disturb the work of the Electoral Commission. "We will take whatever action that is necessary to deal with anyone who takes any advantage, especially the people outside who might want [...]

February 22nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

PM makes alert level announcement for Auckland

Auckland will drop from Covid alert level 2 and join the rest of New Zealand at alert level 1, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced. Watch Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern make the announcement here: Cabinet met this afternoon to decide whether the risk of Covid-19 spreading has diminished enough for Auckland to move to alert level 1. Eight cases that had recently emerged had all been linked and close contacts of the mother of a family at the centre of the outbreak had all produced negative results, she said. Cabinet had decided to make face coverings mandatory in all public transport across NZ at levels one and two. People will be able to remove face coverings to eat or drink, but children under 12 are exempt, as are people [...]

February 22nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

U.S. stocks close lower for third day as investors weigh economic data, rising bond yields

  (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)AP                   Referenced Symbols DJIA -0.38% SPX -0.44% COMP -0.72% WMT -6.48% MAR +0.49% RIGL +5.08% LLY -2.59% HRL +1.13% GOLD -2.45% TWLO +7.73% SHCOMP -0.94% 000300 -1.62% GME -11.43% AMC -0.72% U.S. stock indexes closed down but off the session’s lows on Thursday, as investors digested economic data showing little improvement in the labor market and weighed a rise in bond yields on worries over potential inflation amid elevated commodity and energy prices. An increasing pace of coronavirus vaccinations, declining case numbers, good quarterly corporate earnings, and hope for a better economy in the second half of 2021 have helped to lift stocks to record highs this month but investors are now finding fewer reasons to [...]

February 19th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Boris Johnson to pledge surplus Covid vaccine to poorer countries at G7

PM to counter accusations that richest countries are piling up supplies and creating global inequality Boris Johnson will say that the UK will share any surplus vaccines and vow to cut the time it takes to develop a vaccine from the unprecedented 300 days achieved last year to 100 days. Photograph: Geoff Caddick/PA Boris Johnson will lead efforts to fend off accusations that the world’s richest countries are hoarding Covid vaccines by pledging at a G7 summit that the UK will donate surplus doses to poorer countries and cut to 100 days the time it takes to produce new jabs. Both Russia and China are threatening to win an escalating vaccine diplomacy war by sending their vaccines direct to Africa, while the G7 club of wealthy nations continues to [...]

February 19th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Mars rover landing: Nasa’s Perseverance safely touches down in search of life

Radio signals confirmed that the six-wheeled rover had survived its perilous descent and arrived within its target zone Nasa mission control erupts as Perseverance rover successfully lands on Mars – video Nasa’s science rover Perseverance, the most advanced astrobiology laboratory ever sent to another world, streaked through the Martian atmosphere on Thursday and landed safely on the floor of a vast crater, its first stop on a search for traces of ancient microbial life on the Red Planet. Mission managers at Nasa’s jet propulsion laboratory near Los Angeles burst into applause and cheers as radio signals confirmed that the six-wheeled rover had survived its perilous descent and arrived within its target zone inside Jezero crater, site of a long-vanished Martian lake bed. The robotic vehicle sailed through space for nearly [...]

February 19th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Biden to announce US will donate $4 billion for COVID-19 vaccines for poor countries

The move comes as the U.S. grapples with its own shortages. Life expectancy dropped a full year as the coronavirus spread during the first half of 2020 with Black Americans suffering the most, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control. Guillermo Legaria/Getty Images President Joe Biden plans to announce on Friday that the United States will contribute $2 billion to a U.N.-backed program seeking to distribute COVID-19 vaccine doses to people in the poorest countries in the world, according to senior Biden administration officials. Congress had already allocated the money in December for the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide to Gavi, an international vaccine distribution alliance. Congress provided a total of $4 billion and the officials said that the U.S. would give the [...]

February 19th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid-19: First jab of Pfizer vaccine to be administered to vaccinators today

Nine days shy of a year since the country's first confirmed case, the first Covid-19 vaccine in New Zealand will be given today. Vaccinators are the first in the queue to get the jab of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. Photo: AFP     The first people immunised will not be border workers or their families but vaccinators - the people with the important job of administering the shots. The government says months have gone into planning the logistics of the transport and distribution of the vaccines. The first here, and the only Medsafe-approved so far, is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, requiring constant storage at -70C. Dr Joe Bourne, part of the Covid vaccine immunisation programme, said with training and dress rehearsals now complete, they were ready for the rollout. "We've [...]

February 19th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Biden says China to face repercussions on human rights

Chinese President Xi Jinping has drawn global criticism for holding Uighurs in internment camps and other human rights abuses.PHOTO: AFP   MILWAUKEE (REUTERS) - China will pay a price for its human rights abuses, US President Joe Biden warned on Tuesday (Feb 16), responding to queries at a televised event on the Asian nation's handling of Muslim minorities in its far western region of Xinjiang. Chinese President Xi Jinping has drawn global criticism for holding the minority Uighurs in internment camps and other human rights abuses. "Well, there will be repercussions for China and he knows that," Mr Biden said ofMr Xi, when pressed on the issue at the town hall event televised on broadcaster CNN. The United States will reassert its global role in speaking up for human [...]

February 17th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus: Auckland to level 2, rest of NZ to level 1 – despite another new Covid case

Auckland will move to alert level 2 at midnight, despite a third new community case of Covid-19 being announced today. The rest of the country will move to alert level 1 but face masks will be mandatory on public transport until further notice. The alert levels will be reviewed again on Monday. The Prime Minister made the announcement at a press conference this afternoon - alongside director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield - after Cabinet met to review the settings. Another family member of the two Papatoetoe High School pupils who tested positive today has also been confirmed as a case, Bloomfield said. They are currently all isolating at home. There are five people in the household. Bloomfield said it was "reassuring" all the new cases were linked [...]

February 17th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Dubai princess says in video she is being held ‘hostage’ and fears for her life

The BBC released the video excerpts of Sheikha Latifa (above, in a screenshot) ahead of its investigative news programme Panorama.SCREENSHOT: BBC     LONDON (AFP) - The daughter of Dubai's ruler says she is being held captive and fears for her life after a foiled attempt to flee, according to footage broadcast on Tuesday (Feb 16). Sheikha Latifa has not been seen in public since she attempted to escape from the Emirate by sea in March 2018. The BBC aired clips it said were filmed roughly a year after she was captured and returned to Dubai showing her crouched in a corner of what she says is a bathroom. "I'm a hostage and this villa has been converted into a jail," she says in one cellphone video. "There's five [...]

February 17th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Ebola Is Back. Can the WHO Contain It?

The West African country was declared free of the virus five years ago. The World Health Organization has announced that it has confirmed a fourth case of Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As health officials scrambled to vaccinate individuals in the high-risk areas to contain the potential outbreak, the WHO earlier in the week said that a woman died from the virus in Butembo, a city in North Kivu Province and an epicenter of a previous Ebola outbreak that lasted until early summer. The agency has since confirmed three additional cases. In addition, officials in Guinea declared an outbreak over the weekend after at least three people died in recent weeks from the Ebola virus and four more people were confirmed to be infected. Health [...]

February 17th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

New Zealand Oil and Gas, Beach Energy to surrender exploration permit

The hunt for oil and gas off the east coast of the South Island has been dealt a major blow. A drilling rig (file image). Photo: 123rf     New Zealand Oil and Gas (NZOG) and its Australian partner, Beach Energy, will surrender an exploration permit for a large area they hoped held the prospect of a significant find. NZOG chief executive Andrew Jeffries said: "It is with great regret that the Joint Venture relinquish this permit after years of work to mature it and bring in appropriate partners". A combination of circumstances had killed off the chances of exploration of the Clipper permit, which included the highly favoured Barque prospect. "Adverse regulatory settings for offshore exploration; the dry hole at OMV's Tawhaki permit; the recent announcement terminating Wherry-1 [...]

February 16th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid-19: What happened in New Zealand on 16 February

A decision on alert levels will be announced tomorrow, use of the Covid Tracer app may be made compulsory and a bank warns another recession may be looming. From left: Chris Hipkins and Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Auckland's lantern festival, a camper van and the country's Covid-19 Tracer app. Photo: RNZ       Two days after the confirmation of three community cases - a South Auckland family - Director General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins reported no new Covid-19 community or MIQ cases had been found today. Auckland has been at alert level 3 and the rest of New Zealand at alert level 2 since midnight on Monday morning. With the level settings due to expire tomorrow at midnight, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern [...]

February 16th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China sought to reassure Philippines over new coastguard law, envoy says

Chinese said they’re not targeting the country or any specific nation and they won’t resort to force in the first instance, according to ambassador in Beijing Jose Santiago Sta. Romana says Manila objects to the law being applied to all waters claimed by China       China’s new coastguard law has heightened concerns that it could take a more aggressive approach in maritime disputes. Photo: AP   China has again sought to ease tensions with the Philippines over its controversial new coastguard law  , saying it is not aimed at the Southeast Asian nation or any other country, according to Manila’s top envoy in Beijing. “The Chinese have reassured us through their foreign ministry spokesman as well as the Chinese embassy [in Manila] that they are not targeting [...]

February 16th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Lorenzana: New China coast guard law raises risks in South China Sea

MANILA, Philippines—A new law plucked by China and allowing its coast guard to use violent force on foreign ships in waters it claims raises the risks of miscalculation, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday (Feb. 8). “I’m very concerned about this law because it might cause miscalculations and accidents there, especially now that they are now allowed to fire at foreign vessels,” Lorenzana said in an interview with CNN Philippines. The China Coast Guard, he said, operates in disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea, part of the Philippines’ claims in the South China Sea, where the Philippine navy and coast guard also patrol. “The chances of accident or miscalculation [are] great, and so I call upon all claimants there, Chinese, Vietnamese to exercise caution and carefulness [...]

February 14th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Government to keep majority share of Air NZ

The government has confirmed it will keep its majority stake in Air New Zealand when the airline taps the markets for more money later this year. Photo: AFP It has said it will raise funds by June, although it is not yet known for how much. The carrier has been burning between $65 million and $85m a month and has dug into the $900m government loan it secured in the early stages of the pandemic. Exactly how much of that loan has been spent would be revealed when the company updated shareholders with its interim results. Air New Zealand chair Dame Therese Walsh said the government remained committed to its shareholding. "Given the critical role the company has in New Zealand's economy and society, the Crown has, in that [...]

February 12th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid-19: Prime Minister gives briefing on vaccination in New Zealand

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine will arrive in New Zealand next week, earlier than expected. Watch the media conference here: Ardern and senior ministers have given a briefing on the country's coronavirus vaccination programme. "We should be in a position, providing all goes well, to start vaccinating border workers from next Saturday," Ardern said. Over the next two to three weeks, 12,000 workers should be vaccinated, followed by their household contacts. The next priority will be healthcare and essential workers, along with most at-risk groups, in the second quarter of the year. "It's going to take all the year to reach everyone," Ardern said. Deliveries are expected near weekly, with a batch in the low tens of thousands delivered within the [...]

February 12th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Google apps feel strain as firm’s privacy standoff with Apple drags on

Google failure to update more than 80 apps to comply with Apple’s ‘nutrition label’ requirement means users are being told apps are out of date On Wednesday night, even Google’s own apps began to complain about the lack of updates. Photograph: Chesnot/Getty Images Google’s privacy standoff with Apple has lasted so long that even the company’s own apps are complaining about it. Since early December, Apple has required any iOS app to include a privacy “nutrition label”, listing all the ways the app uses personal data. Those labels, which are written by the app developers, range from short and sweet – the podcast app Overcast, for instance, lists six uses of personal data, from usage information for analytics to user IDs for the app’s sign-in functionality – to somewhat [...]

February 12th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China bans BBC World News in retaliation for UK licence blow

China has been critical of BBC reports on Xinjiang, while Ofcom recently revoked CGTN licence The BBC headquarters in Portland Place, London. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images BBC World News has been banned from airing in China, a week after Beijing threatened to retaliate for the recent revocation of the British broadcasting licence for China’s state-owned CGTN. In a statement published at midnight Beijing time on Friday, China’s National Radio and Television Administration said BBC World News’s coverage of China had violated requirements that news reporting be true and impartial and undermined China’s national interests and ethnic solidarity. In response, the BBC said: “We are disappointed that the Chinese authorities have decided to take this course of action. The BBC is the word’s most trusted international news broadcaster and reports [...]

February 12th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Japan to discard millions of Pfizer vaccine doses because it has wrong syringes

Japan has secured 144m shots of the vaccine, but it does not have enough of the specialised syringes to be able to draw six shots from each vial Japan’s health minister Norihisa Tamura said Pfizer vaccine doses will be lost because it does not have enough low ‘dead space’ syringes. Photograph: Mehdi Fedouach/AFP/Getty Images   Millions of people in Japan will not receive Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine as planned due to a shortage of specialist syringes – an oversight that could frustrate the country’s inoculation programme. Standard syringes in use in Japan are unable to extract the sixth and final dose from each vial manufactured by the US drugmaker, according to the health minister, Norihisa Tamura. Japan has secured 144m shots of the Pfizer vaccine – enough for 72 million [...]

February 11th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Biden raises Taiwan and human rights with Xi Jinping in first phone call

The conversation came hours after the US president announced a new Pentagon taskforce on China US President Joe Biden has pressed Xi Jinping on China’s human rights abuses. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock Joe Biden has affirmed the US’s tough line on China’s human rights abuses and regional expansionism in his first phone call with president Xi Jinping since taking office. Xi defended China’s policies as matters of sovereignty, but told the US leader confrontation would be “a disaster”, and called for the two sides to re-establish the means to avoid misjudgments, according to state media. The call came just hours after the announcement of Biden’s establishment of a Pentagon task force on China and a senior state department official meeting in person with Taiwan’s representative to the US. US 'deeply disturbed' [...]

February 11th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid-19 Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine: New Zealand government gives formal approval

New Zealand authorities have given formal approval for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to be administered to those 16 years and older once stocks arrive in the country. Hipkins says they are aiming to vaccinate border workers and their closest contacts within days of the first shipment arriving. The vaccines will be free. The authorisation by Cabinet ministers comes after the vaccine was given provisional approval by Medsafe last week. An expert panel has since made recommendations on who should be eligible for the jab. Cabinet has deemed the vaccine "suitable for use" for nearly everyone except tamariki and rangatahi younger than 16. People under the age of 16 have been shut out for now as they have not yet been included in clinical trials. Pregnant women are being advised [...]

February 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Myanmar protests: woman shot in head as police response escalates

Teargas and water cannon also deployed on fourth day of protests against last week’s coup Myanmar: gunfire heard as police and protesters clash – video Police in Myanmar have responded with increasing violence to protests against last week’s military coup, using water cannons, rubber bullets and live ammunition in a crackdown that left a woman in a critical condition on Tuesday. Tens of thousands of people marched in towns and cities across the country in defiance of a ban on gatherings in some areas to voice their opposition to the military takeover of the government. The police response the past three days had been mostly limited to using water cannons to disperse crowds, but escalated on Tuesday to include rubber bullets and live rounds mostly fired into the air [...]

February 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Interpol alert for New Zealand banker wanted by Germany

Interpol has issued a global alert for a New Zealand banker wanted by Germany in connection with a massive tax fraud scheme BERLIN -- Interpol on Tuesday issued a global alert for a New Zealand banker wanted by Germany in connection with a massive tax fraud scheme. The agency based in Lyon, France, posted a ‘red notice’ on its website seeking information on the whereabouts of 53-year-old Paul Robert Mora, who is suspected of facilitating and concealing fraudulent transactions worth more than 113 million euros ($137 million). Mora is alleged to have acted on behalf of an investor while he worked at a large bank between 2006 and 2008. Frankfurt prosecutors, who are handling the investigation, said Mora has “many contacts abroad, including in New Zealand, Great Britain, Switzerland, [...]

February 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Britain toughens coronavirus rules for international travellers

A sign directs passengers to a Covid-19 testing centre at Terminal 5 of London's Heathrow Airport.PHOTO: AFP     LONDON (AFP) - Britain on Tuesday (Feb 9) announced tough new measures to curb the spread of coronavirus variants from abroad, including steep fines and even jail time for those who break the rules. The country has been one of the worst affected in the global health crisis, with some 113,000 deaths, and is banking on a mass vaccination drive to cut infection rates. But fears have grown over new variants of the virus, including a South African strainthat may be more resistant to new vaccines. Now, travellers who already must show evidence of a negative test 72 hours before their trip will have to take two Covid tests during [...]

February 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China space probe sends back first images of Mars as new space race hots up

A Long March-5 rocket carrying the Tianwen-1 Mars probe lifts off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China's Hainan Province in July 2020. Photo / AP     China's Tianwen-1 probe has sent back its first image of Mars, the national space agency said, as rival missions from the United States and United Arab Emirates follow close on its tail. Mars is about to be at the centre of an extraordinary confluence of interplanetary missions unprecedented in the history of space-faring. Probes sent by three countries will arrive within days of each other as the US, China, and the surging UAE space programme take advantage of a window in which the Red Planet is close to Earth. The black-and-white photo released late Friday by the China National [...]

February 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

The Spinoff: New rules for renters and landlords kick in this week. Here’s what you need to know

Last year a swathe of new rental reforms were passed into law. This week, a number of those finally come into effect. So what can you expect? What's all this? The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020 delivered one of the most significant updates to our rental regulations in years. While some of those changes are already in effect, most of the biggies come into force from this Thursday, February 11. So, what changes are we talking about? There's a whole heap, so let's start with the most significant. Goodbye, no cause terminations! Landlords will no longer be allowed to end a periodic tenancy without cause simply by providing 90 days' notice. Instead, new termination grounds will be available to landlords under a periodic tenancy and the required notice periods [...]

February 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai denied bail in national security case

Media tycoon and Beijing critic Jimmy Lai has been in custody since Dec 3.PHOTO: AFP     HONG KONG (REUTERS, AFP) - Hong Kong's top court denied bail on Tuesday (Feb 9) to media tycoon and Beijing critic Jimmy Lai, the most high-profile person to be charged under the city's national security law. Lai had been in custody since Dec 3, except for when he was released on bail for about a week late last year. He was granted a HK$10 million (S$1.72 million) bail by a lower court on Dec 23 only for the Court of Final Appeal (CFA) to bring him back into custody on Dec 31 for another hearing. His return to custody was related to Article 42 of the security law, which says that "no [...]

February 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Two US carrier groups conduct exercises in South China Sea

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) as it is moored pier side at Naval Base Guam, on May 15, 2020.PHOTO: AFP.US NAVY       WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Two US carrier groups conducted joint exercises in the South China Sea on Tuesday (Feb 9), days after a US warship sailed near Chinese-controlled islands in the disputed waters that have emerged as another flashpoint in strained Sino-US relations. The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group and the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group “conducted a multitude of exercises aimed at increasing interoperability between assets as well as command and control capabilities”, the US Navy said, marking the first dual carrier operations in the busy waterway since July 2020. The exercise comes days after China condemned the sailing of the destroyer, the [...]

February 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

New Zealand suspends military, polical contact with Myanmar after military coup – Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed the Foreign Minister has made fundamental changes to New Zealand's relationship with Myanmar after the country's military coup. Speaking at a post-Cabinet conference, Ardern said Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta had announced fundamental changes to New Zealand's relationship with Myanmar in the wake of the country's military coup. "New Zealand is suspending all high-level political and military contact with Myanmar," Ardern said. Mahuta had also directed for New Zealand's aid programme to Myanmar that it should not include projects that are delivered with or benefit to the military government, Ardern said. "Keeping in mind, it's not an insignificant aid programme in Myanmar, $42 million from 2018 through to 2021, so you would just want to make sure that was managed in an appropriate way [...]

February 9th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Myanmar junta leader vows there will be election; Martial law declared in cities

People protest against Myanmar's military coup in Mandalay on Feb 8, 2021.PHOTO: AFP     MANDALAY (AFP, REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Myanmar’s junta leader on Monday (Feb 8) called on the public to prioritise facts and not feelings, and said an election would be held and power handed to the winning party, in a rare national address, as martial law was imposed in cities after anti-coup protests nationwide. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, in his first address since a coup a week ago, said the junta was different to previous military governments. Suitable ministers were selected, he said, adding foreign policy would remain unchanged and countries would be encouraged to invest in Myanmar. He reiterated there were irregularities in last year’s election that were ignored and said no organisation was above the [...]

February 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Air NZ apologises after revelations it helped Saudi Arabian military

Air New Zealand's chief executive has apologised to the Finance Minister Grant Robertson following revelations the national carrier has been working with the Saudi Arabian military. Photo: AFP     Through a third party contract, the airline's gas turbines unit has worked on two engines and one power turbine module from vessels belonging to the Royal Saudi Navy. Robertson said he was surprised and alarmed that a subsidiary of the airline had been doing the work and the situation was simply not acceptable. Robertson said Air New Zealand had assured him it would not undertake any more work with the Saudi military. Air New Zealand said in a statement its gas turbines unit specialises in the repair and overhaul of gas turbines, such as power stations, fast ferries and [...]

February 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Oxford Covid vaccine 10% effective against South African variant, study suggests

Small-scale trial of vaccine’s efficacy shows it offers very little protection against mild to moderate infection   Scientists still hope the vaccine can offer significant protection against more serious Covid infection. Photograph: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images           The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offers as little as 10% protection against the Covid variant first seen in South Africa has halted the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, while a UK health minister indicated that an annual Covid jab could become the norm for many people as scientists work to stay a step ahead of the virus’s mutations. Prof Shabir Madhi from the University of the Witwatersrand, who led the trial, said that, while the study was small, it was designed to focus on determining whether or not the vaccine had [...]

February 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Relocation of supply chains is a hot topic. But how much might move from China? Our novel approach scales the issue with surprising results 06 Jan 2021 The narrative of a hasty supply chain retreat from China looks overdone We tore down an electric fan and ‘tore it back up’ in different countries to look at manufacturing competitiveness and assess how much of China’s manufacturing is vulnerable to relocation, and to where. With China’s gross exports 3% of world GDP, this issue is of global significance. Our controversial conclusion is that widescale supply chain relocation is overhyped. Unsurprisingly, Vietnam and India come out as low cost winners. The big surprise in our fan analysis was that the production cost in China was only 5% higher than in India, despite wages nearly 3x as high. The principal reason? China’s embedded advantages in its vast economies-of-scale supply chain. China’s domestic supply chain remains very competitive, anchoring production This cost advantage won’t be eroded easily and helps anchor manufacturing even in the face of higher wages or tariffs. Our work on tariffs/customs rules also shows the difficulty of just moving the ‘last mile’ of production, underpinning the importance of a competitive domestic supply chain. Our analysis suggests that the bulk of manufacturing in China looks likely to stay, in line with Tao Wang’s previous work around export employment sensitivities and UBS Evidence Lab survey data. Electronics assembly looks the least sticky industry That said, some sectors are more vulnerable than others to relocation to low cost locations. Our detailed analysis of input/output tables and export competitiveness, suggests that around 30% of China’s gross exports are in industries that don’t have strong competitive onshore supply chain advantages – mainly in electronics assembly industries. Patching on employment and fixed asset data from bottom-up sources suggest that the employment opportunity for low cost countries looking to attract these industries might be 6-10m jobs, and around US$70bn of capital investment.

There have been no new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today, either in the community or at the border. File image. Photo: 123rf.com   The Ministry of Health said in a release that the total number of active cases in New Zealand is 66, with the total number of confirmed cases 1964. On Sunday 2579 Covid-19 tests were processed. Hamilton case historical The ministry confirmed that the Hamilton border-related case reported on Saturday is considered to be historical and is not infectious. The person has been discharged from Jet Park quarantine facility. A range of factors are considered in determining whether a case is historical including genomic sequencing, clinical history, PCR test results and serology, it said. The local public health unit considered these factors in assessing this [...]

February 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

ASB Bank increases deposit requirement from investors

ASB Bank is taking further steps to help to address the rapid growth in home lending volumes. (File image) Photo: RNZ / DOM THOMAS       Chief executive Vittoria Shortt said effectively immediately, the deposit required from investors would increase from 30 percent to 40 percent. "We are very focused on being a prudent and responsible lender," Shortt said. "We all have to play our part and this decision to immediately increase the deposit required from investors is about ensuring a balanced and sustainable housing market which is in the best interests of all New Zealanders." She said the bank was concerned that the continue high levels of investor demand were unsustainable. Pre-approvals already in place would not be affected by the chance, which would apply to home [...]

February 7th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

The Week in Politics – Vaccine approved but questions about when it will arrive

Analysis: The first Covid-19 vaccine is approved but questions are being asked about when it will arrive. The latest unemployment figures leave an economist "flabbergasted", a climate change report sets tough targets for the government and the prime minister speaks at a quiet Waitangi Day celebration. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, National Party leader Judith Collins and Greens co-leader Marama Davidson (on far right) at Waitangi Day celebrations. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone       Medsafe's provisional approval for the Pfizer vaccine was announced on Wednesday by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, quickly followed by a briefing from Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. It means vaccinations for the most at-risk people can start as soon as the first batch arrives, and Bloomfield seemed confident the manufacturer would meet the [...]

February 7th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Tianwen1 probe sends back its first picture of Mars

Chinese spacecraft aiming to enter orbit in days before putting down lander and rover months later China National Space Administration (CNSA) photo from its Mars probe, Tianwen-1. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock China’s Tianwen-1 probe has sent back its first picture of Mars, the Chinese space agency has said, as the mission prepares to touch down later this year. The spacecraft, launched in July around the same time as a US mission, is expected to enter Mars orbit around 10 February. The photo released by the China National Space Administration shows geological features including the Schiaparelli crater and the Valles Marineris, a vast stretch of canyons on the Martian surface. The photo was taken from about 1.4m miles away (2.2m kilometres), said the CNSA, with the spacecraft since reaching 1.1 million kilometres [...]

February 6th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Man arrested after shot fired in Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill

No one was injured in the incident. Photo credit: Getty       A man has been arrested after a firearms incident in the Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill early Saturday morning. Police received calls from concerned members of the public shortly after 4am regarding a shot being fired at an address on McCullough Ave. After a "swift response" by armed officers, who worked with police dogs, the Eagle helicopter and investigations staff, a man was subsequently arrested and charged with unlawfully possessing a firearm, said Detective Senior Sergeant Glenn Baldwin. The 36-year-old is due to appear in Auckland District Court on February 9. Police said no one was injured in the incident, though a firearm and ammunition was recovered from the property. "Police are not seeking anyone else [...]

February 6th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Positive Covid-19 case in Hamilton: ‘People should not be alarmed’ – MoH

The Ministry of Health is providing a Covid-19 update after a former Pullman Hotel guest, who has been isolating at home for a week, tested positive. Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay told media the positive case was asymptomatic and they were acting with an "abundance of caution". "People in and around Hamilton should not be alarmed." Dr McElnay said there was also one new case in managed isolation to report today, as well as one new case which was being treated as historical. Earlier today, the ministry said the guest at the managed isolation facility in Hamilton had been isolating at their home since 30 January. It is the fourth case of a person leaving that hotel and testing positive, with a fifth person also catching the [...]

February 6th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Chinese company plans to build $39 billion city on Australia’s doorstep

Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo / AP     A Chinese company plans to build a city on Australia's doorstep in a move set to inflame tensions between Beijing and Canberra. A Chinese company has approached the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government with a proposal to build a $39 billion city just kilometres from Australia's sea border, according to leaked documents obtained by The Australian. Hong Kong-based WYW Holding asked PNG Prime Minister James Marape in April to sign off on a "build operate transfer" deal to build the city on the island of Daru, situated just two kilometres Australia's border in the Torres Strait. If approved, the "New Daru" would be passed onto PNG after an unspecified period of Chinese control. A spokesman for Marape told The Australian [...]

February 6th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Islamic extremists planning ‘rash of attacks’ after Covid curbs lifted, says UN

Report says pandemic gives Isis and al-Qaida opportunity to undermine governments in conflict zones Fighters from a local armed group in the town of Menaka, Mal, a centre of Islamic State activity in the Sahel region. Photograph: Souleymane Ag Anara/AFP/Getty Images Islamic extremists are planning a possible “rash of pre-planned attacks” when restrictions on movement imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic are lifted, the United Nations has warned. A report based on intelligence received from member countries over the last six months says Islamic State will seek to “end its marginalisation from the news” with a wave of violence and notes that the group recently urged supporters to spend less time on social media to free up time to launch operations against its enemies. “Isis has enjoyed a captive audience, [...]

February 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid-19 coronavirus: Jacinda Ardern reveals vaccine timeline as experts approve Pfizer jab

Medsafe has conditionally approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in New Zealand and the first Kiwis to get it will be MIQ workers and their families. The announcement was made at 2pm by the Ministry of Health and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the conditional approval won't stop use of the vaccine but will require Pfizer to continue providing rolling data. "Subject to the expected delivery of the first batch of the vaccine, we will start vaccinating first our border workers and the people they live with. People such as cleaners, the nurses who undertake health checks in MIQ, security staff, customs and border officials, airline staff and hotel workers will be among the first to get the vaccine," Ardern said. Ardern said she and her family members will [...]

February 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Water contamination: Blood tests to help determine exposure to lead

Hundreds of people packed the East Otago Events Centre hall tonight to discuss the state of water affecting about 1500 residents in the townships north of Dunedin. Photo / Gregor Richardson     Blood tests will help officials work out whether Waikouaiti and Karitane residents may be chronically affected by exposure to lead, a public meeting has been told. Hundreds of people packed the East Otago Events Centre hall in Waikouait tonight to discuss the state of water affecting about 1500 residents in the townships north of Dunedin, amid growing anger about multiple bungles. There was standing room only at the venue and people lined the walls at the meeting called by Public Health South. Residents have been advised not to drink tap water since Tuesday after lead was [...]

February 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Dan Tehan: NZ knows it ‘shouldn’t speak’ for Australia

New Zealand’s trade minister understands he ‘shouldn’t speak for Australia’ after telling Canberra to treat Beijing with “more respect”, Dan Tehan says.   A senior New Zealand minister who criticised Canberra’s handling of its relationship with Beijing understands he “shouldn’t speak for Australia”, Trade Minister Dan Tehan says. His NZ counterpart Damien O’Connor told Australia to “show respect, (and) a little more diplomacy” towards China on Friday. Mr Tehan said he has since received a call from Mr O’Connor clarifying the intervention. “On Friday, he made some comments. He rang me about those comments and said that he understands he shouldn’t speak for Australia,” he told Sky News.   Dan Tehan says his NZ counterpart knows Wellington ‘shouldn’t speak for Australia’, after giving Canberra advice last week. Picture: Mick [...]

February 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China’s gender roles: War on ‘feminisation’ aims to build boys’ ‘masculinity’

China has laid out a strategy to stop the “feminisation” of Chinese boys after complaints their teens were too delicate, timid and effeminate.   China has laid out a plan to stop the “feminisation” of Chinese boys following complaints the nation’s teens were too delicate, timid and effeminate. A letter from China’s state education ministry has announced the plan to prevent the “feminisation” of young Chinese males, arguing adolescents can be prevented from becoming too girly by exercising and being exposed to male role models at school, including ex-athletes and other volunteers. The notice to Chinese teachers, on “Preventing the Feminisation of Male and Adolescents”, sparked a debate in China, between those who argue for a traditional society, and others who wanted to modernise, Reuters reported. The Chinese Government [...]

February 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Russian Vaccine Team in Talks With China on Combination Trial

Researchers are looking at whether combining different developers’ vaccines in a two-shot regimen produces results that are as good as, or better than, using the same product as a booster. Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg     Fresh off global validation of their Covid-19 vaccine’s extraordinary effectiveness, Russian developers are in talks with China’s CanSino Biologics Inc. to test a combined regimen of their shots to better protect against new virus strains, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The Russian Direct Investment Fund, a partner in the Sputnik V vaccine program, forged a preliminary agreement with the Tianjin-based vaccine developer and Petrovax Pharm Llc, owned by billionaire Vladimir Potanin, to conduct tests in Russia, four people said, declining to be identified as the information isn’t public. Petrovax is Cansino’s Russian [...]

February 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China takes aim at BBC as dispute with Britain intensifies

The BBC said its reporting is fair and unbiased.PHOTO: REUTERS     BEIJING (REUTERS, AFP) - The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) came under fire from Chinese officials and social media on Friday (Feb 5) in an escalating diplomatic dispute, a day after Britain's media regulator revoked the TV licence of Chinese state media outlet CGTN. China's foreign ministry issued a statement accusing the broadcaster of pushing "fake news" in its Covid-19 reporting, demanding an apology and saying that the broadcaster had politicised the pandemic and "rehashed theories about covering up by China". The BBC said its reporting is fair and unbiased. Britain and China have been exchanging barbs for months over China's crackdown on dissent in the former British colony of Hong Kong, concern over the security of Huawei [...]

February 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Biden ends US support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen

President Joe Biden declared a halt to US support for a Saudi Arabia-led military campaign in Yemen, demanding that the more than six-year war "has to end." Fighters with the Saudi-backed coalition man a checkpoint in Dar Sad, north of Yemen's southern city of Aden on December 31, 2020. Photo: Saleh Al-Obeidi / AFP Biden also named veteran US diplomat Timothy Lenderking as the US special envoy for Yemen in a bid to step up American diplomacy "to end the war in Yemen, a war which has created humanitarian and strategic catastrophe." The United Nations describes Yemen as the world's biggest humanitarian crisis, with 80 percent of its people in need and millions on the verge of a large-scale famine. "This war has to end," the Democratic president said [...]

February 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Govt restarts its refugee resettlement programme after Covid-19 shutdown

Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman speaks to media. Photo / Mark Mitchell     New Zealand's refugee resettlement programme, which was mostly put on hold due to Covid-19 risks for most of last year, has been restarted by the Government. This follows similar moves by US President Joe Biden, who yesterday revealed he would sign an executive order to allow more refugees into the United States. Immigration New Zealand this afternoon revealed that the first group of 35 refugees will arrive in New Zealand this month. The group will complete a 14-day stay in a managed isolation facility and are the first of roughly 210 refugees to be resettled in New Zealand by June 30 this year. Between now and then, cohorts will be flown into the country in [...]

February 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

GOP two-step: Republicans keep faith with Donald Trump in backing of Marjorie Taylor Greene

WASHINGTON – Between Reps. Liz Cheney and Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republicans are doing a Donald Trump two-step – distancing themselves from the ex-president at times, moving closer to him at others. In keeping Cheney, R-Wyo., in her leadership role, House Republicans essentially said they would not let Trump and his allies dictate how to handle disputes within the party. In protecting Taylor Greene, R-Ga., meanwhile, Republicans also indicated they would not overtly alienate Trump and his most fervent supporters, even as Democrats try to lump them in with the insurrections who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. "Everyone has said things they wish they didn't say, everyone has done things they wish they didn't do," said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, an outspoken Trump supporter. "So who's next? Who will the cancel culture attack [...]

February 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Orthodox Church under fire in Romania after baby dies following baptism

Six-week-old suffered cardiac arrest during ceremony, which involves three immersions in holy water Orthodox priests immerse a child in holy water three times during baptism. Photograph: Daniel Mihăilescu/AFP/Getty Images The Orthodox Church in Romania is facing growing pressure to change baptism rituals after a baby died following a ceremony which involves immersing infants three times in holy water. The six-week-old suffered a cardiac arrest and was rushed to hospital on Monday but he died a few hours later, the autopsy revealing liquid in his lungs. Prosecutors have opened a manslaughter investigation against the priest in the north-eastern city of Suceava. An online petition calling for changes to the ritual had gathered more than 56,000 signatures by Thursday evening. “The death of a newborn baby because of this practice is [...]

February 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Investors Suffer Huge Loss in Miles Kwok’s Financing Fraud

FBI is investigating the exiled businessman Miles Kwok and his aide Steve Bannon The Wall Street Journal disclosed earlier that GTV Media, affiliated with Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's former political adviser and Miles Kwok, had raised more than US$300 million through private financing in the spring of 2020. The company is now under investigation by the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the state government. Sources close to insiders said that the investigators of the SEC are trying to meet the investors who are currently requesting GTV Media and the Voice of Guo Media (VOG) to pay back the funds while filing a lawsuit against Miles Kwok and his associates. Investors' anger: from followers to accusers "After watching a few episodes of his talk show on YouTube, I [...]

February 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

PH Red Cross eyes over 2 million COVID-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca, Moderna

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has begun discussions with various pharmaceutical companies as it eyes the procurement of vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN) Senator Richard Gordon, also the PRC chairman, announced the possible procurement of at least two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in a DZMM interview on Wednesday. “Nag-order ako, kung pwede, sa malalaking kumpanya katulad nitong (Astra) Zeneca, two million (doses) and Moderna, 200,000 (doses). (I have ordered, if it is allowed, from big companies like AstraZeneca, two million (doses) and Moderna, 200,000 doses),” Gordon said. “May kakausapin pa kami ngayon na pagkukuhaan ng another 200,000 (doses). May mga kakausapin din kami na ibang tao. (We are still negotiating with other companies to procure another 200,000 doses. [...]

February 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Panelo says there’s no way for PH economy but up

MANILA – Despite the pandemic-induced blow to the economy, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Wednesday echoed the sentiment of economic managers that the country’s economy will bounce back. Panelo made this remark after President Rodrigo Duterte, in a recent speech, admitted that the country’s economy is “in bad shape”, but the government is doing its best to stay afloat. “Sabi nga ni [Trade] Secretary Mon Lopez at [Finance] Secretary Sonny Dominguez,makaka-ahon din po tayo diyan. When you’re down, there is no other way but up. Bagsak tayo pero tatayo tayo dahan-dahan. At pag tayo’y nakatayo na, at nagkaroon na tayo ng pakpak, o e di (As Secretary Mon Lopez and Secretary Sonny Dominguez said, we will recover. When you’re down, there is no other way but up. [...]

February 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Hong Kongers move to Taiwan in record numbers

The number of Hong Kongers relocating to Taiwan in 2020 is the highest in at least three decades.PHOTO: REUTERS   HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - A record number of Hong Kong residents have relocated to Taiwan following China's crackdown on the city's protest movementand the implementation of a controversial new national security law. Newly released figures from Taiwan's Immigration Agency show that more than 10,800 Hong Kongers received local resident permits in 2020, nearly double the amount who relocated to the democratic island the prior year. The number of Hong Kongers relocating to Taiwan in 2020 is the highest in at least three decades, according to agency data that goes back to 1991. The figures underscore the desire among some Hong Kong residents to seek a new home and more [...]

February 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Climate Change Commission plan ‘a big challenge’ for New Zealand

New Zealand is heading for a major upheaval under a landmark plan to combat the climate crisis - but the sectors in line for the most serious change are already showing signs of resistance. (file photo) Climate Change Minister James Shaw says the cost of the transition is far lower than previously estimated. Photo: RNZ / Rachel Thomas     The Climate Change Commission has released a draft blueprintwith recommendations on how to slash emissions to ensure the country is carbon neutral by 2050. Among its proposals: a ban on conventional car imports, slashing livestock numbers by about 15 percent, the closure of Tiwai Point, and a ban on gas hobs in new houses. The government calls it this generation's nuclear-free moment - radical reform required in the face [...]

February 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine granted provisional approval by Medsafe

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been provisionally approved by Medsafe, with certain conditions placed on the company. In its assessment of the vaccine, the medicines regulator met with the Medicine Assessment Advisory Committee (MAAC) for six hours yesterday to receive advice and recommendations. In a statement, Medsafe said the MAAC supported the decision. However, the provisions mean the company must meet 58 conditions that are placed on it. "Of these, 52 relate to requiring additional manufacturing data from the company, for instance as it upscales its manufacturing," Medsafe group manager Chris James said. Medsafe group manager Chris James Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas     "Six of the conditions relate to additional clinical information such as regular updates from clinical trials, and ensuring we receive any information on safety concerns [...]

February 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

G7 condemns coup in Myanmar, China rejects claims of support

The Group of Seven largest developed economies have condemned the military coup in Myanmar saying it is deeply concerned about the fate of detained political leaders like Aung San Suu Kyi. Myanmar's military stand guard at around Sin Bin Guest House in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. Photo: AFP     "We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union, are united in condemning the coup in Myanmar," they said in a statement. "We are deeply concerned by the detention of political leaders and civil society activists, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, and targeting of the media." The G7 foreign ministers called on the military to end [...]

February 3rd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Northern Ireland suspends post-Brexit port checks over staff safety concerns

Many pro-British unionists fiercely oppose the new trade barriers introduced between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.PHOTO: REUTERS   DUBLIN (REUTERS) - Northern Ireland temporarily suspended some post-Brexit checks at two ports on Monday (Feb 1) after a local council withdrew staff over concerns for their safety and police said they planned to increase patrols at points of entry. Many pro-British unionists fiercely oppose the new trade barriers introduced between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom as part of the Northern Ireland protocol, a standalone deal for the region after Britain left the EU. The council whose staff inspected goods at Larne Port said serious concerns around their safety were raised after a rise in"sinister and menacing behaviour" in recent weeks, including the [...]

February 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Myanmar’s Coup, Explained

The coup returns the country to full military rule after a short span of quasi-democracy. Here is what we know.   A soldier standing guard on a blockaded road to Myanmar’s Parliament in Naypyidaw on Monday after the military detained the country’s leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, in a coup.Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images     The military of Myanmar overthrew the country’s fragile democratic government in a coup d’état on Monday, arresting civilian leaders, shutting off the internet and cutting off flights. The coup returns the country to full military rule after a short span of quasi-democracy that began in 2011, when the military, which had been in power since 1962, implemented parliamentary elections and other reforms. Waiting to vote during the November elections at a polling [...]

February 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus: NZ’s managed isolation system booked out until June

New Zealanders travelling home from overseas are unable to book managed isolation as the system is full. The Government is yet to release dates beyond May, and it's stopped re-releasing people's cancelled bookings while it accounts for the loss of the Pullman Hotel. People logging into the booking website will encounter a calendar showing dates from today through till May 31 - each struck out with a little grey cross. Advice from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday, to "keep checking" for regular cancellations, was promptly superseded yesterday by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), which runs the hotels. "Cancelled vouchers that would normally be released back into the Managed Isolation Allocation System will be kept as additional contingency for a short period as we navigate through [...]

February 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus: Mutant strains, ghostly hotels, vaccine hoarding the new frontlines in epic struggle

Empty corridors in one hotel, vaccine stockpiles and mutant variants loom large in new debates about how to defeat Covid-19. Epidemiologist Dr Michael Baker said alert levels "desperately" needed revision due to new mutations and the fact New Zealand's four-tier system was almost a year old. New Covid-19 varieties, including some believed to be more infectious than earlier strains, have emerged independently in Brazil, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern holds up information on Covid-19 alert levels during a press conference at Parliament on March 21, 2020. There are calls for new revised alert levels. Photo / Getty Baker said New Zealand's alert level system worked well when introduced but now needed revision, and an integrated national facemask policy could be considered. He said a [...]

February 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

White House reviewing whether Trump should continue receiving intel briefings

The White House is conducting a review to determine whether former President Trump should continue receiving intelligence briefings now that he has left office. Speaking at the White House press briefing on Monday, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said President Biden’s national security team is looking into the matter. “It’s something that is under review,” Psaki said. Former presidents typically have access to intelligence briefings after leaving office. However, Democrats — and even some former Trump administration officials — have warned that the former president cannot be trusted with national security secrets, believing he could reveal sensitive information or seek to profit off of it. Sue Gordon, who was principal deputy director of national intelligence during the Trump administration, urged in a recent op-ed that Trump be cut off from intelligence briefings, [...]

February 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

S&P: Biden coronavirus relief proposal would restore economy by summer

    President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal would restore the economy to pre-pandemic levels by this summer, according to an analysis published Monday by S&P Global. "We find that if the $1.9 trillion package were put into law, the U.S. economy would reach pre-crisis levels in the second quarter of 2021, with a stronger demand-driven path of growth through 2023," the report said. Biden's proposal would also set the economy on course to exceed its pre-pandemic growth path until the end of 2022, when it would start to slow, S&P said. On the jobs front, S&P said the injection of government funds would likely push unemployment down below 4 percent by mid-2023, a year earlier than its current forecast. The nationwide unemployment rate stood at 6.7 percent [...]

February 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Biden reverses Trump last-minute attempt to freeze $27.4 billion in programs

President Biden on Sunday sent a letter to congressional leaders reversing former President Trump's last-minute attempt to freeze $27.4 billion in government programs. Trump had moved, with less than a week left in his term, to freeze the billions in federal funding using a budget maneuver called rescission. “I am withdrawing 73 proposed rescissions previously transmitted to the Congress,” Biden said in the letter. The 73 budget reductions that Trump had called for were spread across almost every Cabinet-level agency and mostly lined up with his proposed cuts to domestic program spending in the 2021 federal budget that were rejected by Congress. Trump had sent a letter to congressional leadership on Jan. 14 asking for the rescissions, including for the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Endowments for the Arts and [...]

February 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Trump’s lawyers will argue impeachment trial is unconstitutional after split with old legal team over voter fraud

WASHINGTON – Former President Donald Trump’s legal team are expected to use an argument at his impeachment trial next week that is already supported by the majority of Senate Republicans in charge of his fate: That the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer the commander in chief. But still unclear is whether they’ve entirely jettisoned Trump's allegations of election fraud, an issue that led to a rift with Trump’s prior legal team. Trump and his first set of lawyers parted ways over trial strategy over the weekend. The former president wanted to emphasize "voter fraud" issues during the trial, said a person familiar with the legal discussions. But the original attorneys wanted to stress that the Senate should not hold a trial of a former officeholder, and that Trump's comments during a Jan. [...]

February 1st, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Germany considering Russian and Chinese vaccines to boost Covid inoculation drive

Health minister’s comments come before summit on country’s sluggish programme A woman approaches a concert hall repurposed as a vaccination centre in the city of Duisberg. Photograph: Martin Meissner/AP       Germany should use the Russian and Chinese coronavirus vaccines if they win EU approval, the health minister has said, as the French president said Europe must step up its vaccine roll-out and several European countries began easing restrictions. Speaking ahead of an emergency summit with vaccine manufacturers to tackle the country’s sluggish rollout, Jens Spahn said that if a vaccine “can be considered safe and effective, regardless of what country it has been produced in, then it could help”. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will chair the summit, is under pressure to accelerate Germany’s vaccine programme which has [...]

February 1st, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Fears army will tighten grip in Myanmar after Aung San Suu Kyi detained

Civilian leader urges the public to protest against any return to a military dictatorship   A National League for Democracy demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand against Myanmar’s military coup.Photograph: Peerapon Boonyakiat/Sopa Image/Rex/Shutterstock Myanmar has been placed on knife edge, with activists fearing a further clampdown after the military detained Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders in early morning raids and took direct control of the country in a coup. A statement attributed to Aung San Suu Kyi said the military, which directly ruled Myanmar for more than 50 years, was trying to reimpose a dictatorship. “I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly to protest against the coup by the military,” it said. Threat of Myanmar coup was never far away Read more Aung San [...]

February 1st, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Trade Minister Damien O’Connor says Australia should follow NZ’s lead on China diplomacy

Minister for trade Damien O'Connor. Photo / Pool   Minister for Trade Damien O'Connor has suggested Australia speak with "more diplomacy" about China, so it too can have a "mature" relationship. He made the comments in an interview on CNBC's Squawk Box Asia programme about the offer from New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta last December to broker a truce between China and Australia. At the time, Mahuta said "both parties will have to be willing to come together and concede in some areas where they are currently not seeing eye to eye". O'Connor today spoke with his Australian counterpart, minister for trade Dan Tehan, "to reiterate, as I said in the interview, that we do not speak for Australia on this or any other matter". He [...]

January 31st, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Climate change report ‘incredibly encouraging’, PM says

The Prime Minister says it is incredibly encouraging that the Climate Change Commission's first official report shows that reaching our emissions reduction goals are both achievable and affordable. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern moves a motion declaring a climate emergency last year. Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox     The commission's first report, published today, laid out a path to drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Paris Agreement targets. Three new targets for the country were set: an average reduction of 2 percent each year between 2022 and 2025, 17 percent each year between 2025 and 2030 and 36 percent each year between 2030 and 2035. Commission chair Dr Rod Carr said investing in electric vehicles, renewable energy generation, climate-friendly farming practices and planting more native forests would [...]

January 31st, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Australia-New Zealand travel bubble reopens

Photo: 123rf.com     Australian acting chief medical officer Professor Michael Kidd said the "green zone flights" from New Zealand will recommence this afternoon. The travel arrangements were paused after a Kiwi woman infected with the highly contagious South African variant of Covid-19 travelled to about 30 locations in New Zealand before testing positive. The initial 72-hour suspension was extended on Thursday, but flights will now recommence this afternoon. There were no new community cases reported in New Zealand today. The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) noted today that there had been no further confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the community in New Zealand since the initial three cases were infected with the South African strain. "As you know, the three cases all originated from transmission within hotel [...]

January 31st, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Alexei Navalny protests: Moscow in lockdown as police detain 1,000

Riot police and national guard troops shut down central metro stations in unprecedented measures Riot police detain a man during a rally in support of the jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Photograph: Pavel Korolyov/AFP/Getty Images Moscow police have paralysed the centre of the Russian capital as protests in support of the jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny continued for a second consecutive weekend. More than 1,000 people were detained at rallies across the country as supporters of the Kremlin critic took to the streets to protest against his jailing, despite biting cold and the threat of arrest. Taking unprecedented security measures, riot police and national guards troops shut down central metro stations in Moscow and blocked off downtown avenues to prevent a repeat of last week’s record protests. Forced out [...]

January 31st, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Myanmar military vows to abide by constitution amid coup fears

Armed forces release statement saying remarks by general about political system were misinterpreted Military chiefs arrive at a news conference ahead of the start of a new parliament term in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyitaw this week. Photograph: Thar Byaw/Reuters Myanmar’s armed forces have said they will protect and abide by the country’s constitution and act according to law, amid concerns in the country that the military might attempt to seize power. In an official statement on Saturday, the military said recent remarks by its top general about abolishing the constitution were misinterpreted by media and some organisations. More than a dozen embassies, including the US and EU delegation, urged Myanmar to “adhere to democratic norms” on Friday, joining the UN in a chorus of international concern about a possible coup. [...]

January 30th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Putin signs last-minute extension to nuclear weapons treaty with US

Russian president spoke to Joe Biden earlier in the week about arms control pact due to lapse in February President Vladimir Putin signed the arms control treaty into law on Friday after the Russian parliament approved it on Wednesday. Photograph: Sputnik/Reuters Vladimir Putin has signed a bill extending the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States a week before the pact was due to expire. Both houses of the Russian parliament voted unanimously on Wednesday to extend the New Start treaty for five years. Putin and the US president, Joe Biden, had discussed the nuclear accord a day earlier, and the Kremlin said they agreed to complete the necessary extension procedures in the next few days. New Start expires on 5 February. The pact’s [...]

January 30th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid-19 vaccines: Those that work – and the others to come

Mass vaccination campaigns are under way around the world in the fight back against the coronavirus. A nurse holds a vial of the Pfizer vaccine at the Pablo Arturo Suarez Hospital in Quito on 21 January, 2021. Photo: AFP           A range of vaccines, designed in completely different ways, are being used to reduce people's chances of getting sick, needing hospital treatment or dying. And two new vaccines have just been shown to work in large scale clinical trials. Why do we need a vaccine? It is more than a year since the virus first emerged, yet the vast majority of people are still vulnerable to the virus. The restrictions on our lives are the only thing holding the virus in check as they reduce [...]

January 30th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Politics live updates: House members deliver Trump impeachment charge to Senate for trial

House prosecutors walked the article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday night, setting the stage for a trial to begin Feb. 9. Nine House members led by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., will serve as prosecutors, who are called managers, in the trial. House Democrats were joined by 10 Republicans in voting Jan. 13 to charge Trump with inciting insurrection at the Capitol a week earlier after a riot left five people dead. A violent mob smashed windows and doors while storming the building and occupying offices, including the Senate chamber, where the trial will be held. With the formal presentation of the article of impeachment, senators will be sworn in Tuesday as jurors to determine whether Trump incited the rampage. Conviction requires a [...]

January 26th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Chinese aircraft enter Taiwan’s air defence zone

Eight bombers and four fighter jets warned off as missiles deployed to monitor incursion China’s nuclear-capable H-6K bomber. Photograph: Liu Rui/AP Eight Chinese bomber planes and four fighter jets entered the south-western corner of Taiwan’s air defence identification zone on Saturday, and Taiwan’s air force deployed missiles to “monitor” the incursion, the island’s defence ministry said. China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has conducted almost daily flights over the waters between the southern part of Taiwan and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea in recent months. However they have generally consisted of just one or two reconnaissance aircraft. The presence of so many Chinese combat aircraft on this mission – Taiwan said it was made up of eight nuclear-capable H-6K bombers and four J-16 [...]

January 24th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Hong Kong on track to lifting lockdown in densely packed district after mass Covid-19 testing

HONG KONG - The Hong Kong government is on target to lifting the city's first lockdown on a densely packed inner city area on Monday (Jan 25), with a senior official saying he does not rule out more lockdowns if needed. Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung told reporters on Sunday that based on government data, there are about 8,000 people in the restricted area in Jordan, a neighbourhood on the Kowloon Peninsula. This is down from the previous "liberal estimate" of 10,000 given by the government on Saturday. He said almost 7,000 individuals had been tested as of Saturday after government staff went door to door but 45 households did not answer the door. Mr Cheung said the government was unable to determine the exact number of people who fled the [...]

January 24th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promises to fix what she says is New Zealand’s ‘housing crisis’

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is promising to fix New Zealand's housing crisis and has unveiled new details of her Government's state housing plan. The country's state house waiting list continues to balloon – nearly 22,500 people are now on the public housing waitlist. The Government this morning releases its Public Housing Plan, which identifies where in the country the additional 8000 state and transition houses will go. Those 8000 homes were one of the headlines of last year's budget.   But this morning it revealed that the big winners are Northland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Napier, Hastings, Palmerston North and Whanganui. Details as to how the 8000 will be split between these regions will be unveiled later date. Ardern, who is in Nelson for Labour's annual retreat, said: [...]

January 24th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

The race to immunise a nation: Preparing to vaccinate NZ against Covid-19

The next big Covid-19 challenge is looming - the race to immunise the entire country. A healthcare worker holds a Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. Photo: 2020 Anadolu Agency/ AFP Training to administer vaccines should start next month, with up to 3000 more healthcare staff needed. But there are fears some people won't accept the jab, and it's them a government campaign will target. The first people to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in New Zealand is not set in stone. It will depend if the virus is in the community or not. If there is no community transmission, it'll be border workers first; if there is, the elderly and those most at risk will be first in line. University of Auckland vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris said once vaccines were here and authorised [...]

January 19th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China reports strongest growth in two years after Covid-19 recovery

Country was expanding at a faster rate than before the coronavirus pandemic at the end of 2020   Workers checking aluminium pistons for vehicle engines at a factory in Binzhou, Shandong province, China. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images   China’s economy has posted its strongest growth in two years after completing a rapid recovery from the slump caused by the Covid-19 pandemic at the start of 2020. Although the 2.3% annual increase in activity for the world’s second biggest economy was its slowest since 1976, by the final three months of last year China was expanding at a faster rate than before the crisis. Analysts said China’s success in being the one big economy to avoid a year-on-year fall in output was due to Beijing’s rapid response to the pandemic after [...]

January 19th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

WHO: just 25 Covid vaccine doses administered in low-income countries

Director-general warns of ‘catastrophic moral failure’ if richer countries hoard treatment   The world is on the edge of a “catastrophic moral failure” in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, with just 25 doses administered across all poor countries compared with 39m in wealthier ones, the head of the World Health Organization has said. It was the sharpest warning so far from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus about the dangers of vaccine hoarding since inoculations started being administered in 49 mostly high-income countries. Guinea is the sole low-income country to have delivered any shots so far, last week providing doses of the Russian Sputnik vaccine to a mere 25 people, including its president. Tedros told an annual meeting of the WHO’s executive board on Monday that it was wrong to see people [...]

January 19th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Almost 30% of Covid patients in England readmitted to hospital after discharge – study

Readmission rate for Covid patients 3.5 times greater, and death rate seven times higher, than for other hospital patients   Of 47,780 people with Covid, 29.4% were readmitted within 140 days of discharge, and 12.3% died. Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex/Shutterstock     Nearly a third of people who were discharged from hospitals in England after being treated for Covid-19 were readmitted within five months – and almost one in eight died, a study suggests. The research, which is still to be peer-reviewed, also found a higher risk of problems developing in a range of organs after hospital discharge in those younger than 70 and ethnic minority individuals. “There’s been so much talk about all these people dying from Covid … but death is not the only outcome that matters,” said [...]

January 19th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

All travellers to Singapore need to take Covid-19 PCR test on arrival from Jan 25

The stay-home notice requirements, including the PCR test at the end of the stay, will continue to be in place.PHOTO: ST FILE       SINGAPORE - Singapore has tightened its border restrictions in response to new virus variants and the worsening global pandemic situation. All travellers, including Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents, will have to take a Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test when they arrive in Singapore. This will take effect from Jan 24, 11.59pm, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Saturday (Jan 16). The stay-home notice requirements, including the PCR test at the end of the stay, will continue to be in place. Short-term visitors will also need travel insurance to cover the costs of their medical treatment in Singapore, if they are suspected of [...]

January 17th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China tells Five Eyes nations to back off after statement criticising Hong Kong crackdown

Former Hong Kong Democratic Party legislators attend a news conference after being released on bail on January 8. Photo / AP         China has fired a warning shot at the Five Eyes nations that raised concerns about a mass arrest of politicians and activists in Hong Kong. Australia, Canada, the UK and US condemned the largest crackdown yet under Hong Kong's controversial national security law in a joint statement issued on Sunday. New Zealand did not contribute to the joint statement, saying it aired its concerns individually on January 7. Sunday's statement alleged the laws were being used to "eliminate dissent and opposing political views", and called on authorities to respect the rights and freedoms of Hongkongers. But China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has slammed [...]

January 17th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus found in ice cream made in China from NZ milk powder

Ice cream made in China with ingredients from New Zealand and the Ukraine has been contaminated with Covid-19 in what experts describe as a "one-off". Health officials in the Chinese municipality of Tianjin report that three samples of the ice cream returned a positive Covid-19 test. However, the infection is thought to be a "one-off" and there is said to be no cause for alarm. The ice creams in question are produced by Tianjin Daqiaodao Food Company, using New Zealand milk powder. The ice cream is made in China, using milk powder imported from New Zealand. Photo / 123rf The company has sealed and contained all its products after the tests found the virus in the ice cream this week. "It's likely this has come from a person, and [...]

January 16th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus: NZ still exposed to mutant strain, despite tightened border

New Zealand still remains exposed to the new, more contagious strain of Covid-19 despite the Government yesterday bolstering its border and pre-departure defences. The number of daily Covid-19 tracer app scans has dropped significantly over summer and new data has highlighted a number of contact tracing shortcomings after previous incursions. And, according to a briefing Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins received from officials, managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities would be unable to handle a prolonged community outbreak. "The chances of a community outbreak have never been greater," Act leader David Seymour said yesterday. "This is an unacceptably dangerous situation." Although Hipkins acknowledges the significantly reduced Covid-19 tracer app usage is "concerning" he remains confident the Government's new border and pre-departure restrictions will help keep Covid-19 out of the community. [...]

January 14th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

African Union buys 270 million vaccine doses for continent

The African Union has announced it has purchased a total of 270 million doses of coronavirus vaccines for the continent from Pfizer, AstraZeneca through the Serum Institute of India, and Johnson & Johnson   The Associated Press A health-care worker sanitises her hands before conducting COVID-19 tests at a Dis-Chem drive-through testing station at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. South Africa with 60 million people has reported by far the most cases of the coronavirus in Africa, with more than 1.1 million confirmed infections. (AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht) JOHANNESBURG -- The African Union announced Wednesday that it has purchased a total of 270 million doses of coronavirus vaccines for the continent from Pfizer, AstraZeneca through the Serum Institute of India, and Johnson & [...]

January 14th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

World Bank approves cash assistance to crisis-struck Lebanon

The World Bank has approved a $246 million loan to Lebanon to provide emergency cash assistance to nearly 800,000 Lebanese reeling under the country’s compounded economic and health crises   BEIRUT -- The World Bank approved a $246 million loan to Lebanon to provide emergency cash assistance to nearly 800,000 Lebanese reeling under the country’s compounded economic and health crises. The World Bank said in a statement late Tuesday the loan would also support the development of a national social safety net in Lebanon, which was struggling with a financial crisis before the pandemic struck, driving nearly half the population of the small country of 6 million into poverty. Over 1 million refugees from Syria live in Lebanon. The economic crisis has led to a projected 19.2% decline in [...]

January 14th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Brazil researchers report disappointing 50.4% efficacy for China’s CoronaVac vaccine

An employee picks up a vial containing CoronaVac at a biomedical production centre in Sao Paulo, Brazil.PHOTO: REUTERS   RIO DE JANEIRO (REUTERS) - A coronavirus vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech was just 50.4 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic infections in a Brazilian trial, researchers said on Tuesday (Jan 12), barely enough for regulatory approval and well below the rate announced last week. The latest results are a major disappointment for Brazil, as the Chinese vaccine is one of two that the federal government has lined up to begin immunisation during the second wave of the world’s second-deadliest Covid-19 outbreak. Several scientists and observers blasted the Butantan biomedical centre for releasing partial data just days ago that generated unrealistic expectations. The confusion may add to scepticism in [...]

January 13th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China, 4 other countries included on PH travel restriction list

MANILA – China and four other countries have been included on the Philippines’ list of countries/jurisdictions covered by a temporary travel restriction to prevent the spread of a new variant of coronavirus, Malacañang said on Tuesday. In a regular virtual Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Office of the Executive Secretary released the additional countries that also include Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxembourg, and Oman. He said prohibition on entry of all foreigners will take effect Jan. 13 at 12:01 p.m. until Jan. 15, 2021 subject to the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID). Roque earlier announced the temporary ban on the entry of foreign travelers from the United Kingdom, the United States, Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, Brazil, Denmark, [...]

January 13th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Live updates: Pence says he will not invoke 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office

As the House of Representatives attempts to remove President Donald Trump from office after last week's attack on the U.S. Capitol, the president criticized the impeachment effort, calling it "ridiculous." Trump, who visited the Texas-Mexico border today, defended today the remarks he made to his supporters at a rally before the Jan. 6 riot. “People thought what I said was totally appropriate,” Trump said. Meanwhile, the House is expected to vote tonight on a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to use the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump. The House is also preparing for a possible vote tomorrow on whether to impeach Trump for a second time. Speaker Pelosi names impeachment managers who will argue Trump case House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named nine members of her Democratic caucus to [...]

January 13th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

New Zealand jobs market bounces back close to pre-pandemic levels

Country’s biggest job advertising website reports 19% growth in jobs, after remarkable economic recovery in December Business confidence has picked up since New Zealand eliminated Covid. Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images   Job vacancies are booming in New Zealand since the country contained an outbreak of the coronavirus with a hard lockdown in early 2020. The country’s biggest job advertising site, Seek, has reported a 19% national growth in jobs advertised in the final quarter of 2020, and the number of job ads on the website has bounced back to nearly pre-pandemic levels. The sectors posting the most vacancies included IT and communications, manufacturing, transport & logistics and trades & services. Jobs in customer-facing roles have taken the hardest hit. The news follows a surprise economic recovery for the country, [...]

January 13th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Global survey shows Kiwis gloomy about economic recovery and inequality

New Zealanders are pessimistic about the prospects of economic recovery this year compared to other nationalities and think social inequalities will increase, according to a new global survey. The majority of Kiwis surveyed didn't believe there would be widespread availability of Covid vaccines this year. Photo: AFP Market research giant Ipsos questioned 23,700 people in 31 countries on its Global Advisor online platform between 23 October and 6 November, last year and released its finding this morning. A 1000-person sample in New Zealand showed Kiwis were gloomy not only about the chances of a post-Covid bounce in economic fortunes, but were also sceptical about the wide availability of vaccines, and thought income inequality would become worse. Research Director for IPSOS, Jonathan Dodd, told Morning ReportNew Zealanders generally felt better [...]

January 13th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Japan finds new Covid-19 variant in travellers from Brazil

A new coronavirus variant has been detected in four travellers from Brazil's Amazonas state - the latest new mutation of the virus discovered, Japan's Health Ministry said on Sunday local time. Photo: 123rf.com     A ministry official said studies were underway into the efficacy of vaccines against the new variant, which differs from highly infectious variants first found in Britain and South Africa that have driven a surge in cases. "At the moment, there is no proof showing the new variant found in those from Brazil is high in infectiousness," Takaji Wakita, head of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, told a health ministry briefing. Still, Brazil's Health Ministry said it has been notified by Japan's authorities that the new variant has 12 mutations, and one of them [...]

January 11th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Twitter deletes China embassy’s Xinjiang ’emancipation’ tweet

Twitter has deleted a post from China's US embassy which claimed Uighur women had had their minds "emancipated" by their policies in Xinjiang. A woman and her child in the China's northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Photo: AFP   The post linked to an article by state-run media which claimed women were no longer "baby making machines" due to action on alleged religious extremism. Beijing is alleged to have forced many Uighur women to be sterilised or fitted with contraceptive devices, apparently to control population growth. China has denied the allegations. The Uighurs are a mostly Muslim minority group which lives mainly in Xinjiang province in northwestern China. The tweet, published on Thursday, also claimed that Uighur women were "more confident and independent" as a result of "reproductive health" [...]

January 11th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid-19: Four new cases in NZ, all in managed isolation

There are four new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand's managed isolation facilities, the Ministry of Health has reported. Photo: 123RF In a statement, it said there were no new cases in the community. The new cases: 6 January One case arrived from Russia via Singapore and tested positive during routine testing around day 3. This person is in a quarantine facility in Christchurch. One case arrived from Russia via Singapore and tested positive during routine testing around day 0. This person is in a quarantine facility in Christchurch. One case arrived from Russia via the United Arab Emirates and tested positive during routine testing around day 3. This person is in a quarantine facility in Christchurch. The Ministry said the three cases are part of the group of [...]

January 11th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid-19: UK variant raises risk of community transmission – Baker

There is an increased risk of community transmission from the UK strain of Covid-19 that is now arriving in the country, says epidemiologist Michael Baker. Most of the new cases with the new variant have come into NZ from the UK. Photo: AFP / Niklas Halle'n There were 31 new imported cases of Covid-19 reported today, with the Health Ministry also revealing that 19 people have tested positive for the more infectious UK variant of the virus at the New Zealand border in the past four weeks. The variant is considerably more transmissible than previous strains but not necessarily any more dangerous for those infected. First detected in November, the variant has driven a spike in cases in the UK and has now spread across the globe. The Ministry [...]

January 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

UK has vaccinated around 2 million people, says Health Secretary Hancock

Britain is aiming to vaccinate around 14 million people by the middle of February 2021.PHOTO: AFP   LONDON (REUTERS) - Britain has now given around 2 million people Covid-19 vaccination, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday (Jan 10) ahead of a ramp-up in the roll-out of the shots on Monday. "Over the last week we've vaccinated more people than in the entirety of December, so we're accelerating the roll-out," he told BBC TV. Asked how many people had been vaccinated, Mr Hancock said:" It's around the 2 million mark, but we're going to publish the exact figures tomorrow and then henceforth on a daily basis." Britain is aiming to vaccinate around 14 million people by the middle of February, comprising the over-70s, the clinically vulnerable - the elderly [...]

January 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Malaysian minister Mustapa Mohamed tests positive for Covid-19

Malaysia’s Economic Affairs Minister Mustapa Mohamed was admitted to a hospital on Saturday night, but remains in stable condition.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK     KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s Economic Affairs Minister Mustapa Mohamed has tested positive for the coronavirus and is in stable condition, his office said on Sunday (Jan 10). He tested positive following a Covid-19 test last Saturday morning, three days after he attended a Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) meeting at which Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and several other Cabinet members were present. The Malay Mail reported that Datuk Seri Mustapa also attended a Cabinet meeting that Wednesday. Bersatu information chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan said all those who attended the party meeting will undergo Covid-19 tests. Mr Mustapa got tested in Kota Baru in [...]

January 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Indonesian authorities locate two black boxes from crashed plane

Indonesian rescue members carry what is believed to be remains from Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ182 on Jan 10, 2021.PHOTO: REUTERS     JAKARTA – The locations of the two black boxes of the crashed Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 plane have been identified, National Transport Safety Committee chief Soerjanto Tjahjono said on Sunday (Jan 10). Military chief Hadi Tjahjanto said the boxes can hopefully be retrieved soon. Earlier, the authorities searching for the ill-fated plane that crashed on Saturday said they picked up signals possibly coming from the aircraft's black box. “We received two emergency signals, which would help us find the black box,” search and rescue agency Basarnas chief Bagus Puruhito told MetroTV in an interview on Sunday. “We have marked the spots with buoys and will immediately deploy divers there.” He [...]

January 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Jack Ma’s absence raises more questions than it answers amid Ant and Alibaba probe

Alibaba founder Jack Ma stepped down from the board in 2019, but he has majority control of financial firm Ant.PHOTO: REUTERS   BEIJING - When Alibaba founder Jack Ma criticised the Chinese financial system during a speech at a high profile forum in October, industry watchers braced themselves. Ant Group, the fintech titan also founded by Mr Ma, was days away from a record US$37 billion listing. During the Bund Summit in Shanghai on Oct 24, the outlandish billionaire - who usually speaks off the cuff - launched a blistering attack on China's banks and financial institutions. Reading from prepared remarks, he said they operated with a "pawn shop mentality" of requiring collateral before agreeing to lend money. It set in course a now familiar series of events, including [...]

January 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Twitter permanently suspends Trump’s account

Twitter permanently suspended President Trump’s account Friday after determining that his posts pose “the risk of further incitement of violence.” The platform had previously handed the president a 12-hour suspension for posts made during Wednesday’s violent insurrection at the Capitol building. "After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account," the company wrote in a blog post. Permanent suspension of Trump is a step further than other social media platforms have gone. Facebook announced Thursday that it would be suspending his access until at the least Biden's inauguration with the potential for it being extended indefinitely further. As supporters of the president stormed the [...]

January 10th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

UK approves Moderna coronavirus vaccine

© getty The United Kingdom on Friday approved a third coronavirus vaccine, allowing the inoculation developed by Moderna to be distributed for emergency use. The U.K. Department of Health revealed the regulatory approval as the country enters a new national lockdown following a spike in COVID-19 cases. BREAKING NEWS: The Government has accepted @MHRAgovuk recommendation for authorisation of @moderna_tx's #COVID19 vaccine for use in the UK. This follows: ✅ clinical trials ✅ data analysis ✅ MHRA authorisation Deliveries will begin from spring.https://t.co/lSe5RIjwXDpic.twitter.com/deSavpKy6R — Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) January 8, 2021 Moderna is the third vaccine authorized for use in the country, following earlier approvals for the vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech and the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. It requires two doses, administered 28 days apart, and has already [...]

January 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Indonesia police say two militants linked to Philippine church bombs killed

The January 2019 church attack left more than 20 dead and over 100 injured.PHOTO: PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK/UNITED KABALIKAT CIVICOM     JAKARTA (REUTERS) - A counter-terrorism unit raiding a militant hideout in central Indonesia on Wednesday (Jan 6) killed two men suspected by police of involvement in twin bombings at a Philippine church in 2019 that killed more than 20 people. Police said in a statement that the raid in Makassar in South Sulawesi by the Densus 88 unit led to a fatal shoot-out with two suspected militants who resisted arrest. Makassar police chief Witnu Urip Laksana told Reuters separately that the suspects were involved in the bombings of a church on Jolo island in a restive, predominantly Muslim region of the Catholic-majority Philippines. Police carried out [...]

January 8th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

MIQ spaces ‘extremely limited’ until March

Managed isolation and quarantine facilities are expected to have no spare rooms in the next two weeks. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas According the latest MBIE managed isolation and quarantine daily 14-day forecast, spaces in MIQ facilities are "extremely limited" until March, but some may come available as travel plans changed. MIQ facilities around the country had a combined operational capacity of 4500 rooms - in the next 14 days, 4299 of these rooms will be full with 5627 people staying in them. MBIE said rooms were occupied for a minimum of 14 days and additional time was needed for cleaning and maintenance. This meant this full 14 day period was considered as opposed to room availability on any single day. Rooms that were vacant on one day might be [...]

January 7th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

‘Democracy will prevail’: Jacinda Ardern condemns US Capitol violence by Trump supporters

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has issued an official statement condemning the violent protests in the US Capitol today. "Like so many others, I've been watching what's happening in the United States. I share the sentiment of friends in the US - what is happening is wrong. Democracy - the right of people to exercise a vote, have their voice heard and then have that decision upheld peacefully should never be undone by a mob," Ardern wrote on social media. "Our thoughts are with everyone who is as devastated as we are to see the events of today. I have no doubt that democracy will prevail." The New Zealand PM also posted the statement on Twitter, a social media platform she does not use often. In fact, prior [...]

January 7th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China stalls WHO mission to investigate origins of coronavirus

UN body says scientists were due to be deployed to country on Tuesday, but China says negotiations ongoing   A man who recovered from Covid-19 is disinfected by medical staff as he leaves a hospital in Wuhan, China, in February 2020. Photograph: AFP via Getty Images       China has attempted to downplay concerns over its refusal to authorise a fact-finding mission to the country by the World Health Organization to study the origins of Covid-19, saying it is still negotiating access with the UN body. A day after the head of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said he was “very disappointed” that China had not authorised the entry of the 10-strong research team, led by Dr Peter Ben Embarek, China insisted there had been a “misunderstanding” [...]

January 7th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

America shaken as violent pro-Trump mob storms Capitol building

Siege comes after Trump urges crowd of protesters to march on Capitol and undo November election defeat by Joe Biden Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the US Capitol in Washington. Mike Pence and members of Congress were evacuated for their own safety. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images America was shaken on Wednesday as a mob of Donald Trump supporters staged an insurrection at the US Capitol building in Washington, storming the debating chambers and fighting police in clashes that left one person dead. The siege was among the worst security breaches in American history and came after Trump had earlier urged a crowd of protesters to march on the Capitol and undo his November election defeat. The violence halted the tallying of electoral college [...]

January 7th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

China blocks entry to WHO team studying Covid’s origins

Officials say visas not yet approved for World Health Organization delegation due to visit Wuhan   The World Health Organization’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photograph: WHO/AFP/Getty   China has blocked the arrival of a team from the World Health Organization investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, claiming that their visas had not yet been approved even as some members of the group were on their way. The WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed his dismay and said he had called on China to allow the team in. “I’m very disappointed with this news, given that two members have already begun their journeys, and others were not able to travel at the last minute,” he said. “But I have been in contact with senior Chinese officials. And [...]

January 6th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Dozens of Hong Kong pro-democracy figures arrested in sweeping crackdown

Campaigners and politicians held in wave of arrests under the national security law The legal scholar Benny Tai (C), is driven away in a car after he was among those arrested. Photograph: GNPHOTO-YUNG/AP More than 50 people, including pro-democracy politicians and campaigners, have been arrested in early-morning raids across Hong Kong in a crackdown by authorities that was condemned as a “despicable” assault on freedom. In a police operation involving more than 1,000 officers, the 53 individualswere detained under the territory’s controversial national security law (NSL), accused of “subverting state power” by holding primaries for pro-democracy candidates for the Hong Kong election. That election was ultimately delayed by the chief executive, Carrie Lam, for a year, purportedly because of the pandemic, and has not yet taken place. The raids, [...]

January 6th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Saudi Arabia agrees to open borders with Qatar in sign of easing rift

© Getty Images Saudi Arabia is set to open airspace, land and sea borders with Qatar, Kuwait’s foreign minister said on Monday, signaling the first steps in ending a three and a half year blockade of the tiny Gulf country. The remarks were made by Kuwait’s foreign minister, Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, on the Gulf country’s state television, al-Arabiya reported, saying the decision came from a proposal by Kuwait’s ruler. “Based on (Kuwait's ruler Emir) Sheikh Nawaf's proposal, it was agreed to open the airspace and land and sea borders between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Qatar, starting from this evening," Kuwait’s foreign minister said on state TV. Saudi Arabia instituted a full blockade on Qatar in mid-2017 in part over Doha’s close ties with Iran. [...]

January 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

President Trump's extraordinary phone call with Georgia's secretary of state is roiling Washington and putting Republicans on the defensive as Democrats call for a criminal investigation of the president. The political fallout of Trump’s hour-long call over the weekend, which was recorded and widely disseminated, is putting a damper on an insurgent Republican bid to challenge the results of electoral votes in several swing states. The effort to muster Republican support for objecting to states’ electoral votes when Congress meets in a joint session Wednesday stalled after Trump’s tense communication with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger became public. Arguments by Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) and other Trump-allied GOP senators that the tally of electoral votes should be suspended so that states’ election results can be further reviewed now [...]

January 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

FTSE 100 vaccine optimism tempered by prospect of full lockdown

Hopes of swift economic rebound give way as country heads for tighter restriction.   The Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine was approved by the UK medicines regulator last week. Photograph: WPA/Getty Images  The FTSE 100 rose strongly on the first trading day of 2021, although optimism over the newly approved Oxford coronavirus vaccine was tempered by the prospect of tougher lockdown restrictions. The index of Britain’s biggest listed companies gained by more than 100 points, or about 1.7%, on Monday, to reach 6,571 after the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca was administered for the first time since its approval by the British medicines regulator last week. The index had leapt by almost 3% earlier in the day, but lost ground in the afternoon as England headed [...]

January 5th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

At least 33 countries have reported cases of the new, possibly more infectious coronavirus variant from the UK

Doctors wait for patients to arrive at the Policlinico Tor Vergata hospital where patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are being treated in Rome, Italy November 13, 2020.Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters     Reports of a new and possibly more contagious coronavirus variant have prompted panic in Europe and beyond. The new variant of the virus, called B.1.1.7, was first detected in the UK in September but had since spread rapidly. British authorities formally identified the new variant around mid-December. Prime Minister Boris Johnson cited one academic — Dr. Erik Voltz, a public health lecturer at Imperial College, London — saying the variant could be up to 70% more transmissible. But Volz has himself said that "it's really too early to tell" how transmissible it is, "but from what we [...]

January 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Coronavirus: Israel leads vaccine race with 1m given jab

IMAGE COPYRIGHTEPA Israel has given priority to the over-60s in its vaccination campaign Israel has given vaccinations against coronavirus to more than one million people, the highest rate in the world, as global immunisation efforts step up. Israel has a rate of 11.55 vaccination doses per 100 people, followed by Bahrain at 3.49 and the UK at 1.47, according to a global tracking website affiliated with Oxford University. In comparison, France had vaccinated 138 people in total by 30 December. More than 1.8m people have now died of the virus around the world. The comparative figures on vaccination are put together by Our World in Data, which is a collaboration between Oxford and a UK-based educational charity. They measure the number of people who have received a first dose [...]

January 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Iran nuclear crisis: Tehran to enrich uranium to 20%, UN says

IMAGE COPYRIGHTEPA image captionIran began increasing enrichment after the US abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal Iran intends to start enriching uranium to 20% purity, the UN's atomic watchdog says - its most significant breach of an international nuclear deal so far. This remains short of the 90% required to make a nuclear bomb. But under the 2015 agreement Iran was supposed to keep enrichment below 4%. Iran began breaching the deal after President Trump took the US out of it and re-imposed crippling sanctions. However the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China all hope it can be revived. What is Iran planning? The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran had informed it of its plans to enrich to a purity of up to 20% at its Fordow Fuel [...]

January 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

26 residents die in Belgian retirement home after visit by volunteer Santa

A resident at a retirement home in Belgium receives a dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine on Dec 28, 2020.PHOTO: AFP     BRUSSELS (AFP) - At least 26 residents of a Belgian retirement home have died since a visit by a volunteer dressed as Santa Claus who has since tested positive for Covid-19. A Flemish health official told AFP on Thursday (Dec 31) it is not yet certain that it was the visitor who brought the coronavirus to the Hemelrijck home in Mol on Dec 5. But 26 residents have died since the visit, and 85 more have tested positive for the coronavirus, along with 40 staff. The outbreak was detected a few days after the visit, and prominent virologist Marc Van Ranst reported on Twitter that most [...]

January 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

EU, China leaders seal long-awaited investment deal

  The Associated Press A screen displays live Chinese President Xi Jinping, top left, European Council President Charles Michel, top right, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, bottom right, French President Emmanuel Macron, bottom center, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during an EU-China Leaders' meeting video conference at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. The European Union top officials and China president Xi Jinping will conclude Wednesday a business investment deal that will open big opportunities to European companies, with the potential to irk the new American administration. (Johanna Geron, Pool Photo via AP) BRUSSELS -- Top European Union officials and Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded a business investment deal Wednesday that will open big opportunities to European companies, but has the potential to [...]

January 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Indonesian fisher finds drone submarine on possible covert mission

Navy seizes UUV, likely a Chinese Sea Wing, that experts say could be used to plot routes for military subs Suspected Chinese Seawing drone recovered by a fisher and the Indonesian navy. Photograph: @Jatosint/Twitter An Indonesian fisher has found what experts say is likely to be a Chinese submarine drone in waters on a strategic maritime route from the South China Sea to Australia. According to Indonesian media the unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) was found on 20 December near Selayar Island in South Sulawesi. Six days later it was handed to police and then transferred to the Indonesian military. Military observers have said the drone appears to be a Chinese Sea Wing (or Haiyi) UUV. The underwater glider was developed by the Shenyang institute of automation at the Chinese [...]

January 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Stock exchange says companies are ‘no longer suitable for listing’, in move condemned by Beijing The order is considered to be a fresh attempt by the Trump administration to put pressure on China over what it views as Beijing’s unfair trade practices. Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has said it will delist three Chinese telecommunications firms because of their alleged links to China’s military. China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom Hong Kong will be suspended from trading in early January, while delisting proceedings are initiated, according to a statement released by the stock exchange. The NYSE said that it had decided that the companies were “no longer suitable for listing” and was taking action to comply with an executive ordersigned by Donald Trump in [...]

January 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Brexit: What are the key points of the deal?

Almost at the 11th hour, the UK and EU have struck a Brexit dealthat will have many implications for everyday life and the UK's future relationship with other countries. The full complicated agreement is over 1200 pages long, but here are some of the key points. Fishermen sort and load trays of salmon heads as they prepare for their next voyage to sea, on the South Pier of Bridlington Harbour fishing port in Bridlington, north east England on December 11, 2020. Photo: AFP / Oli Scarff Trade There will be no extra charges on goods (tariffs) or limits on the amount that can be traded (quotas) between the UK and the EU from 1 January. However, there will be extra checks at borders, such as safety checks and customs [...]

December 29th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Zhang Zhan: China jails citizen journalist for Wuhan reports

A Chinese citizen journalist who covered Wuhan's coronavirus outbreak has been jailed for four years. Screengrab taken on December 28, 2020 from an undated video showing former Chinese lawyer and citizen journalist Zhang Zhan. Photo: Handout / YoutTube / AFP Zhang Zhan was found guilty of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble", a frequent charge against activists. The 37-year-old former lawyer was detained in May, and has been on hunger strike for several months. Her lawyers say she is in poor health. Zhang is one of several citizen journalists who have run into trouble for reporting on Wuhan. There is no free media in China and authorities are known to clamp down on activists or whistleblowers seen as undermining the government's response to the outbreak. Ren Quanniu, one of Zhang [...]

December 29th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

New strain of COVID-19 is driving South Africa’s resurgence

South Africa has announced that a new variant of the COVID-19 virus is driving a resurgence of the disease, with higher numbers of confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths   JOHANNESBURG -- South Africa has announced that a new variant of the COVID-19 virus is driving the country's current resurgence of the disease, which is seeing higher numbers of confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The new variant, known as 501.V2, is dominant among new confirmed infections in South Africa, according to health officials and scientists leading the country’s virus strategy. “It is still very early but at this stage, the preliminary data suggests the virus that is now dominating in the second wave is spreading faster than the first wave,” Professor Salim Abdool Karim, chairman of the government's Ministerial Advisory [...]

December 28th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

China lowers age of criminal liability to 12 for some crimes

China has lowered the age of criminal responsibility for some serious crimes from 14 to 12, as it looks to combat juvenile crime committed by children   BEIJING -- China has lowered the age of criminal responsibility for some serious crimes from 14 to 12, as it looks to combat juvenile crime committed by children. Under an amended law, children aged 12 to 14 will be held criminally liable for “intentional homicide or intentional injury that leads to death or causes others severe disabilities by extremely cruel means.” The amendment, which was passed on Saturday by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, will take effect on March 1. Those under the age of 14 who commit crimes apart from those mentioned in the newly [...]

December 28th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Nashville bombing suspect killed in explosion: FBI

FBI investigators said DNA evidence was found at the scene. Federal investigators said the suspect in the Christmas Day RV bombing in Nashville was killed in the explosion. FBI investigators said DNA evidence found at the scene matched Anthony Quinn Warner, who was earlier named as a person of interest. "Anthony Warner is the man believed to be responsible for this horrible crime," Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake said at a news conference. Human remains were discovered amid the blast debris, and investigators worked to determine if they belonged to the RV owner. Multiple law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation told ABC News the suspect was identified as Warner of Antioch, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville. Douglas Korneski, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Memphis [...]

December 28th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

EU’s mass vaccination campaign starts, with nursing homes as focus

BERLIN (NYTIMES) - From nursing homes in France to hospitals in Poland, older Europeans and the workers who care for them rolled up their sleeves Sunday (Dec 27) to receive coronavirus vaccine shots in a campaign to protect more than 450 million people across the European Union. The inoculations offered a rare respite as the continent struggles with one of its most precarious moments since the coronavirus pandemic began. Despite national lockdowns, restrictions on movement, shuttering of restaurants and cancellations of Christmas gatherings, the virus has stalked Europe into the dark winter months. The spread of a more contagious variant of the virus in Britain has raised such alarm that much of continental Europe rushed to close its borders to travelers coming from the country, effectively plunging the nation [...]

December 28th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Liu Xiaoming to quit his role of Chinese ambassador to Britain

Critic of UK decision to ban Huawei from 5G networks to be replaced by China’s vice-foreign minister Liu Xiaoming has repeatedly denied that Uighur Muslims were being forced into detention camps in Xinjiang.Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters China’s long-serving envoy to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, a staunch defender of closer UK-China economic ties and the imposition of new security laws in Hong Kong, is standing down, marking the end of an era in relations between the two countries that hit a high in 2015 but has since worsened markedly. He is being replaced by his country’s vice-foreign minister, Zheng Zeguang, a former Cardiff University law student once tipped to become China’s ambassador to the US, and still seen as a candidate for that post in a couple of years’ time. Liu, 64, [...]

December 28th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

UK quietly shifts away from promise of ‘deep’ foreign and security links with EU

Little-discussed reversal of thinking means plans for formal co-operation look dead The shift on foreign policy thinking has not been formally announced nor its implications discussed. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Plans for the UK to re-establish formal foreign and security policy links with the European Union, frozen during negotiations over a trade deal, may never be revived, as UK foreign policy focuses on bilateral links in Europe and developing new alliances in the Indo-Pacific and Middle East. The freeze marks a little-discussed reversal of thinking from Theresa May’s era, when the political declaration at the time of Britain’s withdrawal spoke about negotiating deep cooperation between the UK and EU. May herself told the Munich security conference in 2018: “Europe’s security is our security, and the United Kingdom is unconditionally committed [...]

December 28th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Donald Trump signs Covid-19 relief and spending bill

Move comes after Republicans voiced anger over the delay, which resulted in millions of Americans losing unemployment aid   U.S. President Donald Trump plays golf at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, before signing the Covid relief bill Photograph: Marco Bello/Reuters     Donald Trump has signed the Covid-19 relief and spending bill after days of delays, preventing a mid-pandemic government shutdown. The announcement on Sunday night came after Republicans urged him to act following his refusal to sign the bill, a decision that meant millions of Americans lost unemployment aid. Trump blindsided members of both parties and upended months of negotiations when he demanded last week that the package – already passed by the House and Senate by large margins and believed to have [...]

December 28th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

More Covid tests for arrivals as new strains emerge

New variants of Covid-19 has led the government to introduce a third test for people travelling from high risk countries like the United Kingdom and United States. People returning to New Zealand will now be tested on the first day of their quarantine stay. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook       Currently everyone who travels here is tested on day three and 12 of their quarantine stay. From midnight on 31 December, all returnees from higher risk countries will be tested on their first day as well. Minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins said returnees would also be required to be in isolation or quarantine in their allocated room at a facility until their initial test had returned a result. "This means if the result is positive they [...]

December 28th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Brexit deal reached

"The deal is done," Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Thursday. LONDON -- London and Brussels have announced a Brexit trade deal, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. "The deal is done," Johnson announced on Thursday, on Twitter. After months of negotiations, the European Union and the United Kingdom have agreed on a post-Brexit trade deal, as the United Kingdom is set to leave the European single market and customs unions on Jan. 1. Paul Grover/Pool via Reuters British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a news conference in Downing Street on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, in London, Dec. 24, 2020. Four-and-a-half years after the referendum in favor of the country leaving the EU, the deal sets the terms of the U.K.’s future cooperation with the European Union. [...]

December 26th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Police killing of unarmed Black man ignites fresh outrage in US

A protester lights a candle outside the home where Andre Maurice Hill was killed in Columbus, Ohio, on Dec 24, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS       COLUMBUS (AFP) - The fatal shooting of an unarmed Black man by police in Columbus, Ohio - the US city's second such killing this month - sparked a fresh wave of protests on Thursday (Dec 24) against racial injustice and police brutality in the country. Mr Andre Maurice Hill, 47, was in the garage of a house on Monday night when he was shot several times by a police officer who had been called to the scene for a minor incident. Seconds before the gunfire, bodycam footage shows Hill walking towards the policeman holding a cell phone in his left hand, while his other [...]

December 26th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Magnitude 6.3 earthquake strikes south of Philippines’ Luzon island

The centre of the earthquake was traced at Calatagan in Batangas province.PHOTO: USGS       MANILA (REUTERS) - An earthquake of magnitude 6.3 struck the Mindoro region of the Philippines, the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said on Friday (Dec 25). The quake occurred at a depth of 144km, EMSC said. The temblor, which was also felt in the capital region, also registered at magnitude 6.3 at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). The centre was traced at Calatagan in Batangas province, according to an initial report from Phivolcs, which said it did not expect damage but warned of aftershocks. It issued no tsunami warning.

December 26th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Sinovac Covid-19 shot claimed to be more than 50% effective, but data withheld

A 50 per cent efficacy rate is the minimum standard set by US regulators for emergency authorisation of Covid vaccines.PHOTO: REUTERS       BRASILIA (BLOOMBERG) - A Covid-19 vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech Ltd was found to be more than 50 per cent effective in a Brazilian clinical trial, though researchers delayed releasing more information at the request of the company. A 50 per cent efficacy rate is the minimum standard set by US regulators for emergency authorisation of Covid vaccines. Messenger RNA vaccines from Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc have produced far better results, reducing symptomatic Covid cases by well over 90 per cent in giant trials. Chinese vaccine developers have been slow compared with their western peers in releasing efficacy data on their [...]

December 26th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

China to overtake US as world’s biggest economy by 2028, report predicts

Centre for Economics and Business Research says it expects this to happen half a decade sooner than it forecast a year ago Shipping containers at the Yangshan deep-water port in Shanghai. Photograph: Aly Song/Reuters China will overtake the US as the world’s biggest economy before the end of the decade after outperforming its rival during the global Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report. The Centre for Economics and Business Research said that it nowexpected the value of China’s economy when measured in dollars to exceed that of the US by 2028, half a decade sooner than it expected a year ago. In its annual league table of the growth prospects of 193 countries, the UK-based consultancy group said China had bounced back quickly from the effects of Covid-19 and [...]

December 26th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Japan and France report cases of coronavirus variant found in UK

Six new cases emerge as Russia becomes latest country to tighten controls on travel from Britain Pedestrians wearing marks in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The daily number of Covid cases passed 3,000 for the first time this month. Photograph: Kimimasa Mayama/EPA   Five cases of the new coronavirus variant spreading fast across the UK have been found in Japan, and one case has been confirmed in France, while Russia has become the latest country to impose stricter quarantine on travellers from Britain. Japan has avoided the huge infection numbers seen in countries from the US to Europe, but cases are rising sharply and daily numbers passed 3,000 for the first time this month. The five people infected with the more highly transmissible form of Covid-19 had all recently arrived from the [...]

December 26th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

NZX sharemarket continues streak at record high

The local sharemarket has headed into the holidays at a record high. (File image). Photo: 123RF     The NZX Top 50 index has extended yesterday's break through the symbolic 13,000 level, as investors picked up underpriced stocks and positioned themselves for the new year. The index ended a shortened trading session 18 points higher at 13,038, off its highs for the day but still a record close. So far this year, the New Zealand market has risen nearly 14 percent, making it one of the best performing in the developed world.

December 26th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Brexit: New Zealand to negotiate free-trade agreements with UK and EU

The New Zealand Government has congratulated Britain and the European Union on the Brexit deal agreed this morning - four and a half-years after the British people voted to leave the EU. Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said in recent months the Government had ramped up efforts to help New Zealand businesses prepare for the new era, deal or no deal. "We warmly congratulate the UK and the EU on the announcement. We know this has not been an easy process and we acknowledge there are further steps before the agreement is formalised." She said the Government looked forward to negotiating free-trade agreements with both parties but in the meantime, the issue of preserving quota access in both markets must be resolved. Both the UK and the EU have given [...]

December 26th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

LOOK: Solidarity rally for Afghanistan

  MARAWI RALLY. The group Kilusang Pagbabago-Ranao Youth Movement (KPRYM) holds a rally organized by KPRYM co-convenor Carl Lacato Ma-amor to join international condemnation of the killing of Muslim Afghan civilians, including women and children, by Australian troops. The group had written to the United Nations last Dec. 18. PHOTO FROM KPRYM  

December 26th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern named ahead of Queen Elizabeth in Forbes 100 most powerful women

This is the third year in a row Jacinda Ardern has been named in the top 50. Photo / File       New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been named the 32nd most powerful woman in the world according to Forbes. Ardern was one of 100 women from 30 countries who were named in the 17th annual power rankings list. The list was included 38 chief executives, 10 heads of state and five entertainers. "New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (No.32) vanquished a first and second wave of a virus in her country by implementing strict lockdown and quarantine procedures," ForbesWomen editor Maggie McGrath said. ADVERTISEMENT Advertise with NZME. The Prime Minister was placed above Queen Elizabeth II, who was at number 46. This is not the [...]

December 9th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Trump orders US to pull troops from Somalia

Nearly all of 700 troops will leave over next few months follow president’s latest order with short notice The acting US defense secretary, Christopher Miller, greets Maj Gen Lapthe Flora, the commanding general of combined joint taskforce – horn of Africa, which is involved in Somalia operations, last month. Photograph: Lisa Ferdinando/DoD/AFP/Getty Images The US will pull out nearly all its estimated 700 troops in Somalia over the next few months, the latest in a series of short-notice withdrawals ordered by Donald Trump in his last few weeks in power. A Pentagon statement on Friday said that some of the troops would be repositioned in neighbouring countries while others – it did not say how many – would leave the region altogether. “The US is not withdrawing or disengaging [...]

December 6th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Japan’s Hayabusa2 sends capsule carrying asteroid samples towards Earth

Capsule will burn through atmosphere before landing in South Australia in the early hours of Sunday morning A capsule carrying asteroid samples has been released towards earth by Japna’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft. Photograph: JAXA/Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft has successfully separated a capsule and sent it toward Earth to deliver samples from a distant asteroid that could provide clues to the origin of the solar system and life on our planet. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said the capsule successfully detached Saturday afternoon from 220,000km (136,700 miles) away in a challenging operation that required precision control. The capsule is now descending to land in a remote, sparsely populated area of Woomera, Australia, on Sunday. Hayabusa2 left the asteroid Ryugu, about 300m kilometres (180m miles) away, a year ago. After [...]

December 5th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Russia’s Terminator Armored Fighting Vehicle Is Ready to Terminate

The Russian Federation’s BMPT (Tank Support Fighting Vehicle), known as the “Terminator,” has traveled back in time to ensure the future for the machines—but the vehicle has come back from “financial neglect.” First introduced more than twenty years ago the platform has never been fully embraced by the Russian Military, but it has gone through a number of upgrades. The Russian Federation’s BMPT (Tank Support Fighting Vehicle), known as the “Terminator,” has traveled back in time to ensure the future for the machines—but the vehicle has come back from “financial neglect.” First introduced more than twenty years ago the platform has never been fully embraced by the Russian Military, but it has gone through a number of upgrades. The tracked armored fighting vehicle (AFVs) was developed and manufactured by [...]

December 5th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus: North Korea executes man for breaking quarantine rules

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Photo / Getty Images     North Korea has publicly executed a citizen for violating "emergency quarantine measures". According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), a citizen in North Korea was executed by firing squad shooting, after the man was accused of smuggling with his Chinese business partners. The public execution was reportedly ordered in an effort to scare other citizens into strict compliance with the emergency quarantine measures in the country. North Korea, which shares an 880-mile border with China, claims it is Covid-free but the totalitarian regime has implemented a number of severe lockdown restrictions used to stop the spread of the virus, including a ban on travel between provinces. Smugglers who make a living bringing Chinese goods into North Korea have [...]

December 5th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Parliament passes climate emergency motion in House

Parliament has officially declared a climate emergency in New Zealand – a move Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called an "acknowledgement of the next generation". It was a "declaration based on science," she told MPs in the House this afternoon. After she moved the motion – which was opposed by National and Act, but supported by the Greens and the Māori Party – Ardern announced a suite of new measures in a bid to curb climate change. The Government now requires all its agencies and ministries to exclusively buy electric vehicles and will mandate all public sector buildings to be up to a "green standard". This is part of the Government's goal to make the entire public sector carbon neutral by 2025. "It is up to us to make sure [...]

December 3rd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Biden adviser says US stands ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with Australia

Washington: One of US President-elect Joe Biden's most senior advisers has declared that the United States will continue to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with Australia in an apparent response to China's increasingly hostile actions towards the country. The Chinese Foreign Ministry's fabricated tweet depicting an Australian soldier cutting the throat of a child in Afghanistan has drawn bipartisan criticism in Washington, with a Trump administration spokesman describing it as "a new low, even for the Chinese Communist Party". Jake Sullivan, Joe Biden's choice to be national security adviser, defended Australia on Twitter.CREDIT:AP   Jake Sullivan, whom Biden has chosen to be his national security adviser, tweeted on Thursday (AEDT): "The Australian people have made great sacrifices to protect freedom and democracy around the world. "As we have for a [...]

December 3rd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

New Zealand declares a climate change emergency

New Zealand has declared a climate change emergency and committed to a carbon-neutral government by 2025, in what the prime minister Jacinda Ardern called “one of the greatest challenges of our time”. A motion tabled in parliament on Wednesday recognised “the devastating impact that volatile and extreme weather will have on New Zealand and the wellbeing of New Zealanders, on our primary industries, water availability, and public health through flooding, sea level rise, and wildfire”. Thirty-two other nations have formally acknowledged the global crisis by declaring a climate emergency. The motion acknowledged the “alarming trend in species decline and global biodiversity” including the decline in New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity. The declaration of a climate emergency was supported by the Green Party and Māori Party and opposed by the National [...]

December 3rd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Checks Coming Soon? $908 Billion Coronavirus Stimulus Package Unveiled

  The $908 billion stimulus proposal is the most recent effort from lawmakers to reportedly draft a coronavirus-related spending measure since talks between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hit a brick wall ahead of the presidential election. A bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled a coronavirus stimulus package Tuesday, as failed talks between congressional leaders and top White House aides have put negotiations at a partisan deadlock over authorizing federal spending to aid the strained economy. The $908 billion stimulus proposal is the most recent effort from lawmakers to reportedly draft a coronavirus-related spending measure since talks between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hit a brick wall ahead of the presidential election, with the two remaining divided on key [...]

December 2nd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Hong Kong to offer free Covid-19 vaccines to all its residents

Hong Kong's health secretary said the government plans to buy two doses of Covid-19 vaccine for every resident.PHOTO: REUTERS       HONG KONG - Hong Kong plans to provide free coronavirus vaccines for all its residents, said Health Secretary Sophia Chan on Wednesday (Dec 2), as the city battles the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections. Ms Chan told the Legislative Council that the vaccines would be offered first to three million people considered most at risk or vulnerable, public broadcaster RTHK reported. These include medical workers, patients with chronic diseases, and the elderly. She added that receiving the vaccine would be voluntary. The government has allocated HK$10 million (S$1.7 million) to promote and educate Hong Kongers on the programme, she added. Additionally, government regulators would make the registration [...]

December 2nd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid Pfizer vaccine approved for use from next week in UK

The UK has become the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for widespread use. The UK has already ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. Photo: AFP     British regulator, the MHRA, says the jab, which offers up to 95 percent protection against Covid-19 illness, is safe for rollout next week. Immunisations could start within days for those who need it the most, such as elderly people in care homes. The UK has already ordered 40 million doses - enough to vaccinate 20m people. Around 10m doses should be available soon, with the first 800,000 arriving in the UK in the coming days. It is the fastest ever vaccine to go from concept to reality, taking only 10 months to follow [...]

December 2nd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

On World AIDS Day, South Africa finds hope in new treatment

Health officials are hoping that new, long-acting drugs to help prevent HIV infection will be a turning point for the fight against a global health threat that’s been eclipsed by the coronavirus pandemic   JOHANNESBURG -- Health officials are hoping that new, long-acting drugs to help prevent HIV infection will be a turning point for the fight against a global health threat that’s been eclipsed by the coronavirus pandemic. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted the new drug in a weekly newsletter, saying the long-term acting and injectable HIV drug has “the potential to significantly strengthen our response to the epidemic.” The region is especially hard-hit. South Africa has the biggest epidemic in the world with 7.7 million people living with HIV, according to UNAIDS. In separate studies of [...]

December 1st, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

New Zealand joins Australia in denouncing China’s tweet

New Zealand has joined Australia in denouncing a tweet posted by a Chinese official that shows a fake image of a grinning Australian soldier holding a bloodied knife to a child’s throat   New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during a media stand-up on her way to Question Time at Parliament, in Wellington, New Zealand Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. New Zealand has joined Australia in denouncing a graphic tweet posted by a Chinese official that shows a fake image of a grinning Australian soldier holding a bloodied knife to a child’s throat. (Mark Mitchell/NZ Herald via AP) WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- New Zealand has joined Australia in denouncing a graphic tweet posted by a Chinese official that shows a fake image of a grinning Australian soldier holding a [...]

December 1st, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Suspected extremists kill at least 40 farmers in Nigeria

Nigerian officials say suspected members of the Islamic militant group Boko Haram have killed at least 40 rice farmers and fishermen while they were harvesting crops in northern Borno State   The Associated Press People attend a funeral for those killed by suspected Boko Haram militants in Zaabarmar, Nigeria, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. Nigerian officials say suspected members of the Islamic militant group Boko Haram have killed at least 40 rice farmers and fishermen while they were harvesting crops in northern Borno State. The attack was staged Saturday in a rice field in Garin Kwashebe, a Borno community known for rice farming. (AP Photo/Jossy Ola) MAIDGURI, Nigeria -- Suspected members of the Islamic militant group Boko Haram killed at least 40 rice farmers and fishermen in Nigeria as they [...]

November 30th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

New Zealand media giant Stuff apologises for ‘racist’ past reporting

Outlet promises to ‘do better in the future’, admitting that it seldom treated Māori fairly Stuff apology for its treatment of Māori follows investigation by 20 of its journalists. Photograph: Michael Craig/AP New Zealand media giant Stuff has issued a public apology for its portrayal of Māori it says has ranged from blinkered to racist, from its first editions until now. Its mea culpa follows an investigation by 20 of its journalists into its journalism throughout its history. “The media often talks about its role in holding the powerful to account. That includes ourselves,” tweeted Stuff chief executive, Sinead Boucher, who in May bought the company for $1 from Australia’s Nine Entertainment. Boucher said this was not an exercise in political correctness or about being “woke” but imperative for [...]

November 30th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Joe Biden fractures foot after slipping while playing with dog

President-elect will probably have to wear a boot after accident while playing with German shepherd Major Joe Biden leaving the Delaware Humane Association with his German shepherd, Major. Photograph: Stephanie Carter/AP American president-elect Joe Biden has fractured his right foot after slipping while playing with his dog Major. The injury was discovered in a scan on Sunday and will likely require him to wear a boot for several weeks, his doctor said. Biden suffered the injury on Saturday and visited an orthopedist in Newark, Delaware, on Sunday afternoon, his office said. “Initial x-rays did not show any obvious fracture,” but medical staff ordered a more detailed CT scan, his doctor, Kevin O’Connor, said in a statement. The subsequent scan found tiny fractures of two small bones in the middle [...]

November 30th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Huawei: UK bans new 5G network equipment from September

Digital secretary says he is setting ‘clear path for complete removal of high risk vendors’ from 5G networks A decision to rip out all Huawei equipment from UK 5G networks by 2027 will be enshrined in law by the new billPhotograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images Telecoms providers must stop installing Huawei equipment in the UK’s 5G networks from next September, the government has said. The digital secretary, Oliver Dowden, set out a roadmap to remove high-risk vendors ahead of the telecommunications (security) bill coming before parliament. The legislation would create national security powers capable of imposing controls on when – if at all – a telecoms firm could use material supplied by companies such as Huawei. In the summer, the government announced that the Chinese firm was to be banned [...]

November 30th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Chinese spy sent to NZ to track Taiwanese migrants and then abandoned the mission has visa bid appeal dismissed

Beijing sent the operative known as Mr H to New Zealand in 1996, according to the Court of Appeal. Photo / Yinan Chen     A Chinese agent sent to New Zealand to spy on Taiwanese Kiwis abandoned his mission, and has been fighting for 23 years to live here. The Chinese citizen and Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB) officer arrived in New Zealand in 1996 on a visitor visa. The spy, known as Mr H, quickly decided "he preferred New Zealand's democratic way of life and abandoned his mission", according to a new Court of Appeal judgment. He then applied unsuccessfully for refugee status, after failing to disclose his PSB links. "For present purposes it was uncontested that the PSB is an organisation that has committed gross human [...]

November 29th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

NZ to have bilingual traffic signs by 2023, Transport Minister says

Transport Minister Michael Wood in Rotorua on Friday. Photo / Andrew Warner     Transport Minister Michael Wood has committed to having bilingual traffic signs throughout New Zealand by the end of this Government's term, but says the current rules are not racist. Wood was in Rotorua on Friday to meet with Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick. He said the reason for his visit was primarily to discuss bilingual traffic signage, after Te Tatau o Te Arawa representative Rawiri Waru called for a review of the rules earlier this month. Waiariki MP Rawiri Waititi had also added to the calls for a review of the rules, saying they were "absolutely" racist. Speaking to Local Democracy Reporting, Wood said the Government would "absolutely" commit to bilingual road signs by the end [...]

November 29th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus: China’s new claim about origin of virus – India

The Wuhan Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market has largely been accepted as ground zero for the Covid 19 pandemic. Photo / AP     A team of Chinese scientists claim to have proof the Covid-19 pandemic didn't originate in China; instead, researchers have pointed the blame at another country. Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences released a research paper claiming the first coronavirus cases actually appeared in India before then travelling to Wuhan. The paper claims the source of the virus could have been from humans and wild animals sharing the same water source because of a large heatwave across India and Pakistan in 2019. “The water shortage made wild animals such as monkeys engage in the deadly fight over water among each other and would have surely increased [...]

November 28th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

China increases coal import quotas but Australia likely to be excluded

China’s foreign ministry says Australia needs to show ‘mutual respect’   Imported coal at a port in Rizhao in eastern China’s Shandong province. China is increasing its coal import quotas for 2020 by about 20m tonnes but is very likely to exclude Australia Photograph: AP China’s foreign ministry has warned Australia to handle the bilateral relationship with “mutual respect and equality” after it imposed “devastating” tariffs of up to 212% on Australia wines. It comes as the country increases its coal import quotas for 2020 by about 20m tonnes but is very likely to exclude Australia, which has hundreds of millions of tonnes anchored off the Chinese coast in a deepening trade dispute with Beijing. Guardian Australia also understands China is reducing customs clearance times for Australia’s key coal [...]

November 28th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Hospitals in England told to prepare for Covid vaccine rollout in 10 days’ time

Exclusive: NHS could receive first deliveries of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as soon as 7 December The nature of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine appears to have forced a rethink of who will get it first, with NHS workers expected to be front of the queue. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images   Hospitals have been told to prepare for the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine in as little as 10 days’ time, with NHS workers expected to be at the front of the queue, the Guardian has learned. NHS bosses said hospitals in England could expect to receive their first deliveries of a vaccine produced by Pfizer/BioNTech as soon as Monday 7 December, with regulatory approval anticipated within days. According to sources at several hospitals across the country, NHS Englandsaid they should expect to [...]

November 28th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

China’s LGBTQ+ community seize census chance to stand up and be counted

The once-in-a-decade population survey has enabled same-sex couples to register their status Census workers collect information in China’s eastern Shandong province. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images China’s LGBTQ+ community has seized a once-in-a-decade chance to be counted with the launch of the nationwide government census. More than seven million workers have been going door to door across China this month, on a mission to capture the demographic changes among its 1.4 billion people. Guangzhou-based LGBTQ+ Rights Advocacy China is calling on same sex couples to declare the status of their relationship. The campaign, under the tag line, “they are not my roommate, they are my partner,” aims to get Chinese policymakers to pay attention to their community. “Usually the LGBTQ+ community in China is invisible in terms of policy making and [...]

November 27th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

YouTube Suspends, Demonetizes One America News Network

Big tech censorship strikes conservatives again. This time the target is One America News Network which has been suspended for one week and been demonetized by YouTube for allegedly posting a video promoting a cure for the COVID-19 China coronavirus. Chanel Rion, Chief White House Correspondent for OAN The action against OAN was first reported by Axios (excerpt): YouTube has barred One America News Network from posting new videos for a week and stripped it of its ability to make money off existing content after the Trump-friendly channel uploaded a video promoting a phony cure for COVID-19, YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi tells Axios. Why it matters: YouTube has been criticized for allowing OANN to spread misinformation using its platform, particularly around coronavirus and the election. This marks the Google-owned [...]

November 27th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

North Korean hackers tried to disrupt vaccine efforts in South, says spy agency

South Korean intelligence foiled the attempt by secretive regime to infiltrate pharmaceutical companies working on treatments A health worker takes samples for a Covid-19 test from a woman at a testing station in Seoul. Photograph: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images South Korea’s intelligence agency has foiled attempts by North Korean hackers to disrupt attempts to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, according to officials. Ha Tae-keung, a conservative member of the national assembly who was briefed by intelligence officials, said attempts by the North to target South Korean drugmakers had failed, but did not identify the companies involved. His claims came a week after Microsoft said three hacker groups working for the Russian and North Korean governments had tried to break into the networks of seven leading pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers in [...]

November 27th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Pentagon nixes dining halls for troops’ annual Thanksgiving meal

© Getty Images The Pentagon has sent nearly 51,000 pounds of roasted turkey to U.S. troops stationed overseas, albeit with a twist on how they will be served in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Thanksgiving meals will be switched to “grab-and-go style takeout instead of large group gatherings in dining facilities” to cut down on the spread of COVID-19, the Defense Department (DOD) said in a statement. “The holidays will look quite different this year for everyone,” Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support head Army Brig. Gen. Gavin Lawrence said in the statement. “I’m proud that our workforce is doing everything possible to make sure our warfighters get a proper holiday meal, especially since many of us will not be able to be with our family and friends. We want to make [...]

November 26th, 2020|Categories: News|Comments Off on Pentagon nixes dining halls for troops’ annual Thanksgiving meal

Biden calls for nation to unite in COVID-19 fight in Thanksgiving address

President-elect Joe Biden called for Americans to unite ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday as coronavirus cases surge.  "I know the country has grown weary of the fight, but we need to remember, we're at war with a virus, not with one another. Not with each other,” Biden said in his Thanksgiving address from Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday. Biden described the U.S. as “a nation not of adversaries but of neighbors,” calling on Americans to love each other. "Love of country, love of one another. We don't talk much about love in our politics,” the president-elect said. “The political arena is too loud, too angry, too heated. To love our neighbor as ourselves is a radical act. Yet it's what we're called to do." Biden also implored Americans to be [...]

November 26th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

New Zealand records biggest annual trade surplus in 28 years as imports drop

New Zealand has posted its biggest annual trade surplus in 28 years as Covid-19 led to a sharp fall in imports. The trade surplus for the year ended October was driven by a 10-percent slump in imports during the period, notably in fuel and cars. Photo: 123RF Official numbers show a surplus of $2.2 billion for the year ended October, the biggest since July 1992. The surplus was driven by a 10 percent slump in imports during the period, notably in fuel and cars. "Imports are down in part because of restrictions on international and domestic travel imposed in March to slow the spread of the pandemic," Stats NZ trade Manager Alisdair Allen said. "That can be seen in the big drops in annual imports of things like turbojets, [...]

November 26th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid-19: Vaccination will be required to fly, says Qantas chief

International air travellers will in future need to prove they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to board Qantas flights, the airline says. Qantas will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on an aircraft, its chief executive says. Photo: AFP  The Australian flag carrier's boss, Alan Joyce, said the move would be "a necessity" when vaccines are available. "I think that's going to be a common thing talking to my colleagues in other airlines around the globe," he said. Australia shut down its international borders early in the pandemic and required those returning to quarantine. The country has more recently relied on lockdowns, widespread testing and aggressive contact tracing to push daily infections nationwide close to zero. In an interview with Australia's Nine Network [...]

November 26th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

PM Jacinda Ardern: NZ needs certain level of herd immunity before border restrictions eased

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has revealed New Zealand will need to have a certain level of Covid-19 herd immunity before border restrictions are significantly altered. But that may still be a long way off – the Minister of Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins said some travel restrictions would likely remain in place for another 12 to 18 months. Speaking to media this morning, Ardern said the Government was still working through its immunisation strategy, which is centred around a Covid-19 vaccine. "Ultimately, 2021 will be the year of the vaccine," she said. But Ardern said New Zealand's goal is to be at a certain level of immunity before the Government considers changing its border restrictions. People would need to be able to safely go about their day-to-day lives before quarantine [...]

November 24th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus: Air New Zealand crew member case visited six shops across Auckland

An Air New Zealand crew member tested positive for Covid-19 visited six Auckland businesses last weekend. Photo / AP     Shoppers that visited a number of Auckland shops last weekend are being urged to watch for symptoms, after the businesses were visited by an airline crew member that has tested positive for Covid-19. An Air New Zealand crew member tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival in Shanghai on Sunday, after initially testing negative. The crew member visited a petrol station, two Auckland supermarkets, a paint shop, a Pharmacy, and a pet shop, the Auckland Regional Public Health Service said in a statement. The person visited a BP Connect in Mangere, Resene Mt Roskill and the Countdown and New World in Papatoetoe on Friday, 20 November. They also visited [...]

November 24th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Who Will Be in Joe Biden’s Cabinet? Here are the Contenders.

  There are many well-known names of former officials on the list. President-elect Joe Biden will officially announce a round of Cabinet picks on Tuesday, according to two top transition officials, but it still remains unclear which ones will be named. Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming White House chief of staff, told ABC News’ “This Week” that Biden’s team will be “beating” the pace set by those from former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump’s transition teams, although he declined to provide specifics. Senior Biden transition official Jennifer Psaki echoed Klain’s remarks in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union,” emphasizing that the incoming Cabinet “will look like America” and bring “diversity of ideology, diversity of background, and he wants to have a range of views of people [...]

November 24th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Bangladeshi construction worker, 26, arrested under ISA for terrorism-related activities: MHA

Ahmed Faysal actively shared material promoting armed violence on social media, and bought foldable knives to use for attacks in Bangladesh.PHOTOS: MHA     SINGAPORE - A 26-year-old Bangladeshi man was picked up under the Internal Security Act earlier this month for his involvement in terrorism-related activities. Ahmed Faysal was arrested on Nov 2, and preliminary investigations by the Internal Security Department found he had been radicalised and intended to carry out acts of armed violence in support of his religion, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement on Tuesday (Nov 24). Faysal, who is Muslim, left Bangladesh for Singapore in early 2017 to work as a construction worker, and became radicalised the following year after absorbing online propaganda on the Islamic State in Iraq and [...]

November 24th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Biden to name long-time confidant Antony Blinken as secretary of state

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden will name Antony Blinken, a veteran foreign policy official and longtime confidant, as his secretary of state, according to a source familiar with the decision. Blinken, who held top-level national security and State Department positions during the Obama administration, has worked side-by-side with Biden on foreign policy issues for nearly two decades. Biden has called Blinken a "superstar" and once said he could do "any job." By choosing Blinken for one of the most coveted jobs in the Cabinet, Biden is aiming to install an alter-ego at the helm of the State Department. But the move may disappoint some who wanted Biden to nominate Susan Rice, another longtime foreign policy hand and a Black woman, to lead the State Department. Biden has pledged to appoint a diverse Cabinet and [...]

November 23rd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine can be 90% effective, results show

AstraZeneca says its vaccine for the novel coronavirus can be around 90 percent effective without any serious side effects. Photo: AFP The vaccine developed by Oxford University was 90 percent effective in preventing Covid-19 when it was administered as a half dose followed by a full dose at least one month apart, according to data from the late-stage trials in Britain and Brazil. No serious safety events related to the vaccine have been confirmed and it was well tolerated across both dosing regimens, it said. "This vaccine's efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against Covid-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency," Pascal Soriot, Astra's chief executive, said in a statement. The British drugmaker's preliminary trial results mark a fresh breakthrough [...]

November 23rd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

HK, S’pore to decide in December on new date for travel bubble flights postponed over HK Covid-19 cases

Flights have been suspended as the pandemic in Hong Kong escalates.PHOTO: REUTERS       HONG KONG - Travel bubble flights under the Singapore-Hong Kong arrangement have been postponed, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau said on Saturday (Nov 21), adding that the two governments will announce in early December as to when the flights will restart. Flights were originally scheduled to start from Sunday, but has been suspended as the pandemic in Hong Kong escalates. Under the original deal which was announced in mid-October, the bubble flights will be suspended for two weeks if the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked local Covid-19 cases is more than five for either Singapore or Hong Kong.   The moving average for the territory on Friday was 2.14 [...]

November 23rd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Hong Kong to tighten Covid-19 measures as pandemic hits ‘severe’ stage

Health officials and the city's infectious diseases experts have for weeks warned about the impending fourth wave of the pandemic.PHOTO: AFP       HONG KONG - The Hong Kong government has moved to tighten social distancing measures, including a ban on dancing in bars and pubs, as the travel bubble deal with Singapore hangs in the balance. But the first few flights under the travel arrangement will proceed as planned on Sunday (Nov 22), the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said on Saturday. In a release issued on Saturday morning, the Hong Kong government said live performances and dancing in bars and pubs will be banned, while premises like party rooms meant for holding social gatherings will be forced to shut from Sunday for five days till [...]

November 22nd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Protesters burn part of Guatemala’s Congress building

Hundreds of protesters have broken into Guatemala’s Congress and burned part of the building amid growing demonstrations against President Alejandro Giammattei and the legislature for approving a budget that cut educational and health spending The Associated Press A couch and art work destroyed by fire are seen inside the Congress building after protesters set the building on fire, in Guatemala City, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. Hundreds of protesters were protesting in various parts of the country Saturday against Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei and members of Congress for the approval of the 2021 budget that reduced funds for education, health and the fight for human rights. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo) GUATEMALA CITY -- Hundreds of protesters broke into Guatemala's Congress and burned part of the building Saturday amid growing demonstrations against [...]

November 22nd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Israeli army says Gaza militants fired a rocket at Israel

Israeli police say a Palestinian rocket attack has caused damage to a structure in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon   JERUSALEM -- Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket toward Israel on Saturday night, setting off air-raid sirens in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, the Israeli military announced. Israeli police said the rocket caused damage to a structure in the Ashkelon area, roughly 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of Gaza, but there were no injuries. No other details were provided. The launch raised the likelihood of an Israeli reprisal in Gaza. Israel holds Gaza's Hamas rulers responsible for all rocket fire out of the territory and usually strikes Hamas targets in response. Israel and Hamas, an Islamic militant group that seeks Israel's destruction, are bitter [...]

November 22nd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

UK signs trade deal with Canada to prepare for Brexit

The U.K. has signed an interim trade deal with Canada to give the government more time to negotiate future trading rules as it prepares the country for business life outside the European Union   The Associated Press Minister of International Trade Mary Ng participates in a news conference on the Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement in Ottawa, on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. The U.K. signed an interim trade deal with Canada on Saturday, the second major agreement the country has reached as negotiators hurry to cement trading relationships in preparation for life outside the European Union. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP)     LONDON -- The U.K. signed an interim trade deal with Canada on Saturday, giving it more time to negotiate future trading rules as the British [...]

November 22nd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

China to Australia: stop treating us as a threat or we won’t pick up the phone

Exclusive: Beijing ministers won’t speak to counterparts until Canberra discards ‘cold war mentality’, embassy says The Chinese embassy in Canberra. ‘The problem is all caused by the Australian side,’ an embassy official says of the freeze in relations between China and Australia. Photograph: Tim Wimborne/Reuters Chinese government ministers won’t start answering phone calls from their Australian counterparts unless Canberra stops treating Beijing as a strategic threat, a senior embassy official has warned. China is urging the Morrison government to make a clear decision on whether it sees Beijing as a “threat” or an “opportunity”, setting this up as a key precondition for resuming ministerial-level talks, which have been frozen since early this year. In a sign there is no clear offramp from the serious diplomatic rift, a Chinese embassy [...]

November 22nd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

US and Taiwan sign five-year agreement on health, tech and security

Countries emphasise potential for cooperation and future partnerships, which Beijing opposes Guards raise Taiwan’s national flag in Taipei. The US and Taiwan have agreed to a five-year deal pledging cooperation in health, technology and security. Photograph: Ceng Shou Yi/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock Taiwan and the United States have held their first high-level meetings under a new economic dialogue, inking a five-year agreement and pledging future cooperation on health, tech, and security. The talks, held amid a contentious US presidential transition period and high regional tensions with China, did not advance Taiwan’s hopes for a trade deal with US, despite the two countries growing closer under Donald Trump and his pushback on Beijing. They were led by Taiwan’s deputy minister of economic affairs, Chen Chern-chyi, and US undersecretary of state, Keith Krach, [...]

November 21st, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Covid-19: Government agrees in principle to buy Janssen Pharmaceutica vaccines

The government has reached an in-principle agreement to purchase doses of a Covid-19 vaccine for the entire population. A laboratory analyst working at the Janssen Pharmaceutica headquarters in Beerse on June 17, 2020. Photo: DIRK WAEM / various sources / AFP     The agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutica is subject to the vaccine successfully completing clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand. If all goes to plan, the first doses - up to two million - would be delivered from the third quarter of 2021. The government would then have the option to purchase up to three million more doses, which would be delivered throughout 2022. The vaccine is likely to be single-dose and compatible with standard vaccine distribution channels, so it may be more efficient to [...]

November 19th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Taiwan grounds all F16 fighter jets for checks after plane goes missing

Decision removes 150 planes from service, leaving the island with a limited fleet amid increased flyovers by Chinese forces   Taiwan has grounded all of its F16 fighter jets for safety checks as rescuers continue to search for one that went missing during a training exercise. Photograph: Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images   Taiwan has grounded all its F16 fighter jets for safety checks as rescuers continue to search for one that went missing during a training exercise, authorities said Wednesday. The decision removes around 150 planes from Taiwan’s skies, leaving the democratic island relying on a more limited fleet to warn off Chinese jets that have been performing flyovers at an unprecedented rate in recent months. The air force said a single-seat F16 flown by a 44-year-old pilot disappeared from [...]

November 19th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Australian special forces involved in murder of 39 Afghan civilians, war crimes report alleges

Brereton report finds prisoners were executed to ‘blood’ junior soldiers and unlawful killings were deliberately covered up   Australian special forces were allegedly involved in the murder of 39 Afghan civilians, in some cases executing prisoners to “blood” junior soldiers before inventing cover stories and planting weapons on corpses, a major report has found. For more than four years, the Maj Gen Justice Paul Brereton has investigated allegations that a small group within the elite Special Air Services and commandos regiments killed and brutalised Afghan civilians, in some cases allegedly slitting throats, gloating about their actions, keeping kill counts, and planting phones and weapons on corpses to justify their actions. Brereton describes the special forces’ actions as “disgraceful and a profound betrayal” of the Australian Defence Force. The findings [...]

November 19th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Leaders of 21 Apec economies to discuss trade at meeting

How to keep investments flowing amid pandemic among topics at virtual session tomorrow A billboard in Sepang marking the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, which is chaired by Malaysia this year. PHOTO: EPA-EFE     Leaders from 21 Asia-Pacific economies, including Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, will meet virtually tomorrow to discuss ways to keep trade and investments flowing amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Chaired by Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the 27th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Economic Leaders' Meeting comes after last year's chair, Chile, cancelled it amid widespread protests and riots in the country. Last year's meeting was to have been the occasion when now-outgoing US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping would sign an interim agreement to end the United States-China trade war. [...]

November 19th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Canada names China, Russia as main cyber-crime threats; sees risk to power supply

China and Russia have repeatedly denied trying to break into other nations' critical infrastructure.PHOTO: AFP   OTTAWA (REUTERS) - Canada on Wednesday (Nov 18) identified state-sponsored programmes in China, Russia, Iran and North Korea as major cyber crime threats for the first time, and said it feared foreign actors could try to disrupt power supplies. The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) signals intelligence agency said the programmes posed the greatest strategic threat to Canada. "State-sponsored cyber activity is generally the most sophisticated threat," CSE said in its second national cyber threat assessment. CSE's first study, released in 2018, mentioned foreign-based actors without identifying them. In July, Canada, Britain and the United States accused Russian-backed hackers of trying to steal Covid-19 vaccine data. China and Russia have repeatedly denied trying to [...]

November 19th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

There are now two promising potential COVID vaccines. This is what we know about them.

Nearly seven months after Operation Warp Speed was created, Americans are finally starting to get answers about the candidate vaccines that could potentially slow the coronavirus pandemic. Operation Warp Speed, the White House-led task force on coronavirus vaccine treatment and development, was created on May 15. Since then, vague and contradicting timelines made by both the Trump administration and leading scientists have muddled predictions about when a COVID-19 vaccine would be available to the public. However, two big companies leading the race for a vaccine have released promising results from their Phase 3 trials. Here’s what we know about both trials and what they might mean for the future of the pandemic. What are the leading COVID-19 candidate vaccines? Pfizer and the German biotechnology company BioNTechdeveloped one of the candidate vaccines. They announced early [...]

November 19th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Asia-Pacific trade deal to add ‘certainty for New Zealand exporters’ – minster

After eight years and 30 rounds of negotiations, the government has put pen to paper on what has been called the world's largest free-trade agreement. New Zealand is one of 15 Asia-Pacific countries to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal. Damien O'Connor. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O'Connor told Morning Report that the country had more to gain than just regulation around import and export of perishable goods. The agreement sets down "rules for trade with a third of the world's population". "It's been a long process - eight years to get here - and we had hoped that India might at the table, they've pulled back at the last moment but the doors are open for them to join [...]

November 17th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Moderna says its vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing Covid-19

A key advantage of Moderna's vaccine is that it does not need ultra-cold storage like Pfizer's.PHOTO: REUTERS     WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Moderna Inc said on Monday (Nov 16) that its experimental vaccine was 94.5 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19, based on interim data from a late-stage clinical trial, becoming the second US company in a week to report results that far exceed expectations. Together with Pfizer Inc's vaccine, also shown to be more than 90 per cent effective,and pending more safety data and regulatory review, the United States could have two vaccines authorised for emergency use in December with as many as 60 million doses of vaccine available by the year's end. Next year, the US government could have access to more than one billion doses just from [...]

November 17th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

15 countries, including Singapore, sign RCEP, the world’s largest trade pact

SINGAPORE -The world's largest trade pact was inked on Sunday (Nov 15) by ministers from 15 countries including Singapore, in a move likely to spur the region's economy as it battles its worst crisis in decades. Building on existing free trade deals among members, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will broaden and deepen economic linkages across the Asia-Pacific, ease trade in goods and services, facilitate the flow of foreign investments, and enhance protections in areas such as e-commerce and intellectual property. RCEP members account for 30 per cent of the world's economy and one-third of its population. They comprise all 10 Asean members and key partners Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.   At a virtual leaders' summit chaired by Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc [...]

November 17th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

South Korea facing ‘crisis’, says PM, as Covid measures tightened

Chanting and singing at concerts banned amid daily case rises and fears for the looming winter flu season   In South Korea, coronavirus measures starting on Thursday include keeping churches and sports events at a maximum of 30% of capacity, while school classrooms should be no more than two-thirds full. Photograph: Lee Jin-man/AP     South Korea has strengthened social distancing measures amid a rise in new coronavirus cases, with the country’s prime minister warning that action was needed to avoid a crisis with the arrival of the winter flu season. The country has won widespread praise for preventing a serious Covid-19 outbreak through a combination of mass testing, vigorous track and tracing and isolation, coupled with social distancing and mask wearing. But the decision to implement stricter rules [...]

November 17th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Trump reportedly plans to withdraw nearly half of US troops in Afghanistan

Cuts would decrease military presence from 4,500 to 2,500 in Afghanistan and from 3,000 to 2,500 in Iraq Donald Trump smiles before addressing members of the military during a surprise Thanksgiving Day visit at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, in 2019. Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP The Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, said a hasty withdrawal would “hurt our allies and delight the people who wish us harm”. “The consequences of a premature American exit would likely be even worse than President Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq back in 2011, which fueled the rise of Isis and a new round of global terrorism,” McConnell said. Some analysts suggested however, that it is unclear whether the orders will be implemented as fast as Trump would like in order to secure his legacy on ending [...]

November 17th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Citizen journalist facing jail in China for Wuhan Covid reporting

Zhang Zhan was arrested more than six months ago after reporting on the outbreak Zhang Zhan is among numerous journalists who have been arrested after travelling to Wuhan to report on the coronavirus outbreak and response. Photograph: Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) A Chinese citizen journalist detained since May for reporting on the coronavirus outbreak from Wuhan is facing up to five years in jail after being formally indicted on charges of spreading false information. Zhang Zhan, a 37-year-old former lawyer, was arrested more than six months ago after reporting on the outbreak. She is being held in a detention facility in Shanghai. She was accused of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble”, an accusation frequently used against critics and activists inside China, after reporting on social media and [...]

November 16th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Barack Obama rules out role in Biden cabinet – ‘Michelle would leave me’

The former president vows to help Biden ‘in any ways that I can’ but details toll his position took on wife’s law career Barack Obama would not take a position in Joe Biden’s cabinet if the president-elect offered it – because if he did, he fears, Michelle Obama would leave him. The 44th president made the remark in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, two days ahead of publication of his memoir, A Promised Land. He was due to speak to CBS again, for 60 Minutes, on Sunday night. Biden, Obama’s vice-president from 2009 to 2017, is preparing to become the 46th president in January, having defeated Donald Trump at the polls. Asked how he will help Biden, Obama said: “He doesn’t need my advice, and I will help [...]

November 16th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Trump campaign retreats from key claim in Pennsylvania suit

Election Bureau Director Albert L. Gricoski, left, opens provisional ballots alongside election bureau staff Christine Marmas, right, while poll watchers observe from behind at the Schuylkill County Election Bureau in Pottsville, Pa. on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. (Lindsey Shuey/The Republican-Herald via AP) HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — President Donald Trump’s campaign is withdrawing a central part of its lawsuit seeking to stop the certification of the election results in Pennsylvania, where Democrat Joe Biden beat Trump to capture the state and help win the White House. Ahead of a Tuesday hearing in the case, Trump’s campaign dropped the allegation that hundreds of thousands of mail-in and absentee ballots — 682,479, to be precise — were illegally processed without its representatives watching. The campaign’s slimmed-down lawsuit, filed in federal court on [...]

November 16th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Bach says Tokyo Olympic “participants” may need vaccinations

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, right, greets International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach during their meeting in Tokyo Monday, Nov. 16, 2020. (Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool Photo via AP) TOKYO (AP) — Olympic participants and fans arriving for next year’s postponed Tokyo Olympics are likely to face requirements to be vaccinated to protect the Japanese public, IOC President Thomas Bach said Monday after meeting with new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. It was Bach’s first meeting with Suga and his first trip to Japan since the Olympics were postponed almost eight months ago. “In order to protect the Japanese people and out of respect for the Japanese people, the IOC will undertake great effort so that as many (people) as possible — Olympic participants and visitors will arrive here (with a) [...]

November 16th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

PHOTOS: Donald Trump Thrills D.C. Supporter Rally with Motorcade Drive-By

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images     President Donald Trump thrilled a supporter rally Saturday in Washington, DC, as he drove by the group on the way to the golf course. The “Million MAGA March” and “Stop the Steal” groups rallied in Washington, DC, to protest the election results after former Vice President Joe Biden gained late big margins in states critical to the president’s reelection: Supporters cheer as the motorcade carrying US President Donald Trump passes by Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC on November 14, 2020. – Supporters are backing Trump’s claim that the November 3 election was fraudulent. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images) The president’s motorcade drove down Pennsylvania Avenue, where crowds of his supporters were gathered on both [...]

November 16th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Thousands rally behind Trump, insisting he won race he lost

Supporters of President Donald Trump gathered in Washington, D   WASHINGTON -- Fervent supporters of President Donald Trump rallied in Washington on Saturday behind his spurious claim of a stolen election and swarmed his motorcade when he detoured for a drive-by on his way out of town. “I just want to keep up his spirits and let him know we support him,” one loyalist, Anthony Whittaker of Winchester, Virginia, said from outside the Supreme Court, where a few thousand assembled after a march along Pennsylvania Avenue from Freedom Plaza, near the White House. A week after Democrat Joe Biden was declared the winner of the election, demonstrations in support of Trump took place in other cities. Fury at the prospect of a transfer of executive power showed no signs [...]

November 15th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Federal prosecutors express concern over Attorney General William Barr’s election fraud memo: Sources

Sixteen federal prosecutors tapped by leadership at the Justice Department to monitor voting in last week's presidential election have sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr making clear that they have seen no evidence to substantiate claims that voting tallies have been marred by widespread fraud or other ballot issues, two sources familiar with the matter told ABC News. In their letter, the federal prosecutors -- career assistant U.S. attorneys from more than a dozen states across the country -- called for Barr to rescind a memorandum he sent earlier this week telling Justice Department attorneys to launch election-related investigations if they suspect significant irregularities, the sources said. Justice Department policy has long urged federal law enforcement officials to refrain from engaging in politically charged investigative activity in [...]

November 14th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

China finally congratulates Joe Biden for winning US election

Country recognises Democratic candidate defeated Donald Trump almost a week after result declared ‘We respect the choice of the American people,’ said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, pictured. Photograph: Liu Zheng/AP     China has extended congratulations to the US president-elect, Joe Biden, becoming one of the last countries to acknowledge his electoral victory over Donald Trump. On Friday, nearly a week after Biden was declared the winner, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin commended the Democratic candidate and his running mate, Kamala Harris. “We respect the choice of the American people. We extend congratulations to Mr Biden and Ms Harris,” he said at a regular press briefing. “We understand the results of the US election will be determined according to US laws and procedures.” The comments stand in contrast [...]

November 14th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Global report: Germany may extend lockdown as Covid cases in Italy soar

Record daily infections in Germany; Naples hospitals at risk of being overwhelmed; France reports slowdown in rate of new cases   Paramedics take a Covid-19 patient to the Antonio Cardarelli hospital in Naples, Italy, for treatment. Photograph: Salvatore Laporta/IPA/Rex/Shutterstock     Germany’s partial lockdown could be extended beyond the end of the month and hospitals in parts of Italy are near breaking point as Covid-19 cases continued to surge in both countries, despite positive signs elsewhere in Europe. New daily coronavirus cases in Germany hit a record of 23,542 on Friday, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases reported, prompting government spokesman Stefan Seibert to say measures “were not expected to be relaxed” by next week. Federal and regional leaders are due to meet on Monday to discuss whether [...]

November 14th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Israeli agents in Iran kill al-Qaida’s top lieutenant – report

Abu Muhammad al-Masri was gunned down in Tehran more than three months ago, says New York Times   A marine guard in the aftermath of the 7 August 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, which Abu Muhammad al-Masri was accused of helping to mastermind. Photograph: Antony Njuguna/REUTERS   Al-Qaida’s second-in-command was killed in Iran in August by Israeli operatives acting at the behest of the United States, the New York Times has reported, citing intelligence officials. Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, who went by the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle in Tehran, the NYT reported. He was accused of helping to mastermind the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa. Masri was seen as a likely successor to [...]

November 14th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Vietnam braces for Typhoon Vamco, 53 dead in Philippines

HANOI/MANILA (Reuters) - Vietnam was bracing for Typhoon Vamco to make landfall in the country’s central coast early on Sunday, as the death toll in the Philippines rose to 53 from that country’s deadliest storm this year. Packing winds of up to 165 kph (103 mph), Vamco is forecast to hit a swathe of Vietnam’s coast from Ha Tinh to Quang Ngai province, the government’s weather agency said on Saturday. “This is a very strong typhoon,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said, warning provinces in Vamco’s projected path to prepare for its impact. The provinces plan to evacuate 468,000 people by the end of Saturday, state media cited the government’s disaster management authority as saying. Vietnam is prone to destructive storms and flooding due to its long coastline. Vamco [...]

November 14th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Lawyer shoots self to death after killing RTC judge inside Manila City Hall Read more: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1359273/breaking-lawyer-shoots-rtc-judge-inside-manila-city-hall#ixzz6dY44u9RD Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

stock image MANILA, Philippines — A lawyer fatally shot himself after shooting and killing a judge at the Manila Regional Trial Court inside her office at the Manila City Hall on Wednesday afternoon, police said. Police said the victim, RTC Branch 45 Judge Maria Teresa Abadilla, 44, was allegedly shot by lawyer Amador Rebato Jr., 42, chief of Court Clerk of the same Manila RTC Branch 45, located on the Manila City Hall’s fifth floor. The shooting happened at 2:45 p.m., the police report said. In a 4 p.m. update, Police Major Jhun Ibay, head of Manila Police District Special Mayor’s Reaction Team, said Abadilla was declared dead on arrival at Manila Medical Center 30 minutes after the shooting incident. He told INQUIRER.net that the suspect died allegedly after [...]

November 12th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Category 2 Typhoon Vamco to lash Philippine capital of Manila

The storm comes hardly two weeks after Category 5 Goni slammed the Philippines Typhoon Vamco on Thursday morning local time in the Philippines. (RAMMB/CIRA) Amid what has already been a destructive typhoon season in the Philippines, yet another serious storm is targeting the archipelago nation. Manila, the country’s capital, already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, could be rocked by strong winds and a serious storm surge. The storm was given the name Vamco by the Japanese Meteorological Agency, but is referred to as Ulysses in the Philippines. Follow the latest on Election 2020 The typhoon was closing in on its second landfall on Wednesday afternoon Eastern time, the storm already having crossed parts of Patnanongan and Polillo Islands in Quezon. The system was moving ashore in the General Nakar [...]

November 12th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Marikina River water level nears Ondoy’s peak due to Typhoon Ulysses

Photo: Jolly Gozon/CNN Philippines       Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 12) — Hundreds of residents were forced to flee their homes on Thursday as water in Marikina River steadily rose, moving closer to the peak level during the onslaught of Tropical Storm Ondoy in 2009. At 10:33 a.m., the water level rose to 22 meters — one meter below the 23 meters above sea level reached when Ondoy battered the country 11 years ago and left Marikina City submerged in floodwater for days. Residents near the river were forced to evacuate at past 3 a.m. when the water rose to 18 meters due to nonstop rains brought by Typhoon Ulysses starting Wednesday night. The local government also deployed rescue boats to extricate stranded residents. The typhoon is seen to [...]

November 12th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

US election: Trump wins Alaska, Republicans add another seat in US Senate

President Donald Trump won Alaska and three more electoral votes, and Dan Sullivan was reelected to the Senate with more than 57 per cent of the vote.PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, AFP     WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Donald Trump’s Republican Party won another seat in the US Senate on Wednesday (Nov 11), with a victory in Alaska that puts it one vote away from a majority in the upper house of Congress. Incumbent Dan Sullivan was easily reelected with more than 57 per cent of the vote, according to CNN and NBC television projections. His victory confirms the strong performance of the Republican Party in the congressional elections, which were held on Nov 3 at the same time as the presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden. The Republicans now have [...]

November 12th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

China firms race to find Covid-19 vaccine amid concerns by people given experimental doses

Chinese authorities have cautioned that supply is limited.PHOTO: REUTERS       BEIJING - The Chinese effort for a vaccine is heating up, as scientists continue to administer experimental doses of treatment in thousands of people in China daily. Their effort is being challenged most recently by American pharmaceutical firm Pfizer, which said early data on its Covid-19 vaccine candidate suggests 90 per cent effectiveness in phase three clinical trials. Chinese pharmaceutical companies Sinovac Biotech, Sinopharm and CanSino Biologics have been carrying out phase three clinical trials outside the country, but have been giving out doses of the experimental treatment in the country. This despite persistent concerns about the efficacy of the vaccines and the autonomy of those receiving the treatment in China. Most of them are workers in [...]

November 12th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

South Korea confirms H5N8 bird flu in wild birds, issues warning

South Korean farmers shoot laser beams at migrant birds, in an effort prevent the spread of bird flu at livestock farms.PHOTO: EPA-EFE     SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea's agriculture ministry said on Tuesday (Nov 10) it had confirmed the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of bird flu in samples from wild birds in the central west of the country and issued its bird flu warning. The virus was discovered in samples collected from wild birds last week in Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do, about 84km central west of capital Seoul, the agriculture ministry said in a statement. The ministry said it has ramped up prevention measures to contain a wider spread of bird flu and issued a highly pathogenic avian influenza warning as there are increased risks the virus will spread. "This [...]

November 11th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

S’pore may have a Covid-19 vaccine by early 2021, commits close to $300m to make and buy vaccine

Preliminary findings indicate positive responses in both safety and human immune response.PHOTO: ST FILE     SINGAPORE - Singapore could have a Covid-19 vaccine by early next year. The first shipments of the vaccine co-developed by Singapore researchers are expected in the first quarter. Arcturus Therapeutics, the American pharmaceutical company working with Duke-NUS scientists on the vaccine, said this on Monday (Nov 9), as it announced positive preliminary results from the early-stage clinical trials ongoing in Singapore. Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) is pumping in some US$45 million (S$60.5 million) into the manufacture of the vaccine, said Arcturus. EDB will also have the right to purchase up to US$175 million of the vaccine at pre-negotiated prices, with shipments expected to begin in the first quarter of 2021, said Arcturus. Duke-NUS [...]

November 10th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Global stocks rise for 2nd day on coronavirus vaccine hopes

People walk by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. Asian stock markets rose for second day Tuesday on hopes for progress toward a possible coronavirus vaccine that might allow the world to revive manufacturing, shopping and normal life. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara) BEIJING (AP) — Global stocks and U.S. futures rose for second day Tuesday on hopes for progress toward a possible coronavirus vaccine that might allow the world to revive manufacturing, shopping and normal life. Market benchmarks in London, Frankfurt and Tokyo advanced while Shanghai closed lower. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 has been trading at 29-year highs as shares rallied after Joe Biden was declared president-elect days after the U.S. presidential election. News about possible progress on a COVID-19 vaccine have [...]

November 10th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

As virus spikes, Europe runs low on ICU beds, hospital staff

FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 9, 2020 filer, a patient infected with COVID-19 is treated in one of the intensive care units (ICU) at the Severo Ochoa hospital in Leganes, outskirts of Madrid, Spain. Intensive care space is dwindling across Europe as beds fill again with coronavirus patients, this time in places that had been spared the virus peak from last spring. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)   PARIS (AP) — In Italy lines of ambulances park outside hospitals awaiting beds, and in France the government coronavirus tracking app prominently displays the intensive care capacity taken up by COVID-19 patients: 92.5% and rising. In the ICU in Barcelona, there is no end in sight for the doctors and nurses who endured this once already. Intensive care is the last [...]

November 10th, 2020|Categories: News|Comments Off on As virus spikes, Europe runs low on ICU beds, hospital staff

Russian peacekeepers go to Nagorno-Karabakh to bolster truce

This photo made from the footage provided by Russian Defense Ministry press service on in Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020 shows Russian military vehicles carry peacekeepers on their way to an airport in unknown place in Russia. Scores of Russian peacekeepers were heading to Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday morning, hours after Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to halt the fighting over the separatist region in a pact signed with Moscow which envisions the deployment of nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers and territorial concessions. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)   MOSCOW (AP) — More than a dozen planes carrying Russian peacekeepers headed for Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday, hours after Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to halt fighting over the separatist region and amid signs this cease-fire would hold where others hadn’t. The truce came [...]

November 10th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

ObamaCare faces Supreme Court test with new conservative majority

© Greg Nash The Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in the latest GOP challenge to ObamaCare, this time with a strengthened conservative majority on the bench. The arguments come just a week after a contentious election in which more than 74 million Americans voted for President-elect Joe Biden, who campaigned on bolstering the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Court watchers say a number of outcomes are possible when a decision is handed down, likely in June. The most extreme scenario would involve conservative justices striking down the entire 2010 law, a result that doctors’ groups say would threaten to throw the nation’s health care system into chaos at a time when the country could still be in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic. “Invalidating provisions that have expanded access [...]

November 10th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

‘Severe fatigue and stress’: Australia says stranded sailors’ fate in hands of shipping company

The Australian government says the fate of two dozen Indian sailors stranded for five months at a Chinese port with 170,000 tonnes of Australian coal is a matter for the companies involved. The future of the 23 crew members stuck on board the Jag Anand ship is now hanging on negotiations between Chinese authorities, the Indian government and Australian miners after a five month deadlock.                        Coal exports to China have been  restricted.        CREDIT:BLOOMBERG Family members of the sailors say medications and supplies are running out after the coking coal from Gladstone Port in Queensland was rejected by Chinese authorities at a port in northern China om June 13. The 290-metre long ship has not moved [...]

November 10th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

DOJ official quits after Barr move on election fraud allegations

© Greg Nash   A Department of Justice (DOJ) official stepped down from his role overseeing probes into voting crimes hours after Attorney General William Barr announced on Monday that he had authorized the agency to investigate any "substantial allegations" of voter fraud in the 2020 election. In an email first obtained by The New York Times, Richard Pilger wrote to colleagues, “Having familiarized myself with the new policy and its ramifications… I must regretfully resign from my role as director of the Election Crimes Branch.” Pilger added in the email that the new DOJ policy is "abrogating the forty-year old Non-Interference Policy for ballot fraud investigation in the period prior to elections becoming certified and uncontested." ADVERTISEMENTAccording to the Times, Pilger, who had served as director of the DOJ’s [...]

November 10th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Flooding in Napier as heavy rain sweeps across North Island

Flooding has swept through many Napier streets, prompting evacuations, rescues and causing widespread damage, and a local state of emergency has been declared. Dozens of people have been evacuated from Napier, and firefighters have responded to more than 80 properties. Photo: RNZ/ Tom Kitchin Wild weather is hammering Napier, with slips, flooding and leaking roofs causing chaos. Firefighters have been called to assist flooded buildings, and power is out to many properties. People were being urged to stay inside, as long as it was safe to do so, and not to drive or to come into contact with the floodwaters, which could be contaminated. Those who need assistance were asked to call 111 for help, and not Napier Fire Station. Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise has declared a local state [...]

November 9th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Pfizer’s COVID vaccine candidate shown to be 90% effective in early findings

In a major boost to vaccine development, Pfizer and its collaborator BioNTech released early study results Monday indicating that their vaccine, BNT162b2, prevented more than 90% of infections with the virus that causes COVID-19. In the newly released data on the first 94 trial participants to come down with COVID-19, the vaccine was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing the disease. Half the participants received a placebo and half the vaccine, so the new data shows that more people who received the placebo than the vaccine came down with COVID-19. They were protected a week after the second dose of the vaccine. The two doses are given 21 days apart. There were no serious safety concerns reported to the independent data monitoring board that reviews both [...]

November 9th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

President-elect Joe Biden unveils COVID-19 task force. It includes a Trump whistleblower.

President-elect Joe Biden unveiled Monday members of his COVID-19 advisory board and it includes Rick Bright, a former Trump administration whistleblower who resigned amid allegations his early warnings over the pandemic were ignored. The task force, a group of public health experts – almost all doctors – will offer guidance to Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their coronavirus staff as they prepare to take over the presidency. The board's composition could be an indicator of the Biden administration's intent to follow a more science-based coronavirus approach. "Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts,” Biden said in a statement on his transition website. "The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing [...]

November 9th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

‘Time to heal in America’: President-elect Joe Biden, VP-elect Kamala Harris talk of unity

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden delivered a celebratory message but one of healing and unity in his first remarks Saturday following a bitter and divisive battle for the presidency. “America has always been shaped by inflections points, by moments in time we’ve made hard decisions about who we are what we want to be,” Biden said outside the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, where cheers and the horns from hundreds of cars could be heard between his words. “Folks, we stand at an inflection point.” His remarks came as President Donald Trump continues to contest the results of the cliffhanger election, arguing without evidence that hundreds of thousands of votes are in question. His address, in addition to setting the tone for a Biden transition and presidency, was a symbol that the [...]

November 8th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows tests positive for COVID-19

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has coronavirus, according to reports on Friday. It was not clear when Meadows tested positive, according to Bloomberg News, but sources told the outlet that Meadows informed a group of advisers of his diagnosis after Election Day. Meadows was present with Trump when he visited his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va., on Tuesday. The chief of staff was seen not wearing a face mask. He was also in attendance at a White House gathering that evening and came into contact with Trump family members, according to reports. ABC News and CNN have also confirmed Meadows has the virus. Campaign official Nick Trainor also tested positive for the virus, according to Bloomberg and ABC. White House COVID outbreak:Trump and more than two dozen officials, [...]

November 7th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Election protests live updates: Trump supporters protest in Phoenix, Detroit; Biden voters throw dance parties in New York, Philly

Protests that have formed in cities across the county since Election Day continued Friday as Vice President Joe Biden took the vote count lead ahead of President Donald Trump in Georgia and Pennsylvania. In several battleground states, dueling groups – some chanting "count the votes" and others "stop the steal" – gathered outside locations where votes were being tallied Friday. While some scenes were more akin to joyful dance parties, other demonstrations saw protesters without masks and armed with pistols. Meanwhile, supporters of Biden, who was on the cusp of a presidential victory Friday, were gathering in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. Here's how protests are playing out across the country Friday: Roughly 100 people gathered for a pro-Trump protest outside the Maricopa County Elections headquarters in Phoenix on Friday, chanting "count the [...]

November 7th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Lebanon’s Gebran Bassil hit by US sanctions ‘for corruption’

IMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS Bassil was foreign minister until earlier this year   The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on a top Lebanese politician whom it has accused of playing a major role in corruption in the country. The measure targets Gebran Bassil, head of the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian party allied to the powerful Shia movement Hezbollah. It comes at a time when Lebanon is in deep political and economic crisis. The country has been in turmoil for months, facing mass protests, the Covid pandemic and a devastating blast. Demonstrators have taken to the streets across the country demanding a complete overhaul of its political system, which is widely seen as perpetuating corruption and ineffective governance. Lebanon is also suffering financial collapse, worsened by the effects of the pandemic, as [...]

November 7th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

US election 2020: Who is ahead in the states still counting?

The race for the White House is coming down to who wins the few remaining battleground states - Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Arizona. A win in just Pennsylvania or two of the other four remaining states would be enough to confirm Mr Biden as president-elect, barring any legal challenge. Mr Trump, meanwhile, needs to win Pennsylvania and three of the remaining four states. Here's the state of play in the states at play. GEORGIA - 16 electoral votes Where things stand: The BBC's results system and US partner CBS are now also showing a Biden lead in Georgia of about 1,000 votes. How many votes are still be counted: Local officials said on Thursday that around 15,000 votes were left to count, but there has been no update since. [...]

November 6th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

WHO-led Covid-19 drug scheme doubles down on antibodies, steroids and shuns remdesivir

Convalescent plasma samples before being tested for Covid-19 antibodies in Renton, Washington, on Sept 9, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS   BRUSSELS (REUTERS) - A World Health Organisation-led scheme to supply Covid-19 drugs to poor countries is betting on experimental monoclonal antibody treatments and steroids but shunning Gilead's remdesivir therapy, an internal document shows. The Oct 30 WHO draft document seen by Reuters says priorities are to secure monoclonal antibodies in a tight market and to boost distribution of cheap steroid dexamethasone, of which it has already booked nearly three million courses of treatment for poorer countries. Monoclonal antibodies are manufactured copies of antibodies created by the body to fight an infection, and drug makers, including Roche and Novartis, confirmed initial contact with the WHO scheme. The paper, which for the first time [...]

November 6th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

China says has never interfered in other countries’ affairs

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has never interfered in other countries’ affairs nor does it have any interest in doing so, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Friday, in response to Australia charging the first person under its foreign interference law. Wang Wenbin, spokesman with the ministry, was speaking to reporters at a regular news briefing in Beijing. Australian police said a Melbourne man who appeared in court on Thursday was the first person charged with foreign interference under new legislation introduced in 2018. The person holds senior positions in a number of Chinese community associations in the state of Victoria, including the Oceania Federation of Chinese Australians, and the Chinese Museum, according to organisation records seen by Reuters, websites and press statements.   Reporting by Yew Lun Tian; Editing [...]

November 6th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

New Zealand’s Ardern vows to ‘crack on’ with new-look cabinet

SYDNEY (Reuters) - New Zealand swore in its new cabinet on Friday, including five Maori and its first openly gay deputy prime minister, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government increased its majority with the release of full results of an Oct. 17 general election. In separate vote results, New Zealanders narrowly rejected the legalisation of recreational marijuana while deciding to push ahead with laws to legalise euthanasia. Ardern’s Labour Party increased its majority to 65 seats from 64 in the 120-seat assembly, according to final NZ Electoral Commission results. The results included an additional 500,000 special votes, some of them mailed in from overseas. “There are significant challenges for us to overcome together but I am confident we have the team to do it and it is great to [...]

November 6th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Republicans rebuke Trump over claims of voter fraud

Top Republicans on Thursday blasted President Trump’s baseless claims that the election is being stolen from him through illegal actions by Democrats in swing states where votes are still being counted. Speaking from the briefing room, the president unloaded a dizzying array of unsubstantiated allegations about the electoral system and cast unwarranted suspicion on election workers as it appears that Democrat Joe Biden is inching closer to victory. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), a frequent Trump critic, said there is “no defense” for the president’s comments “undermining our Democratic process.” Trump’s family members and inner circle are growing frustrated by what they view as top Republicans refusing to join them in fighting against what they say is widespread fraud. Donald Trump Jr. and Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale called out [...]

November 6th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Trump campaign loses legal fights in Georgia and Michigan, vows Nevada lawsuit

(Reuters) - President Donald Trump’s campaign lost court rulings in the closely-contested states of Georgia and Michigan on Thursday, even as it vowed to bring a new lawsuit challenging what it called voting irregularities in Nevada. In the Georgia case, the campaign alleged 53 late-arriving ballots were mixed with on-time ballots. In Michigan, it had sought to stop votes from being counted and obtain greater access to the tabulation process. State judges tossed out both the suits on Thursday. Judge James Bass, a superior court judge in Georgia, said there was “no evidence” that the ballots in question were invalid. In the Michigan case, Judge Cynthia Stephens said: “I have no basis to find that there is a substantial likelihood of success on the merits.” Trump allies alleged that [...]

November 6th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Election results updates: Trump calls election fraudulent with zero evidence, still trails Biden in electoral votes

Trump decries election as fraudulent with zero evidence In his first address since his post-election speech in the early hours of Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump appeared to shrug off his Democratic challenger Joe Biden's growing lead in the presidential election and made baseless claims that the election was driven bfraud and corruption. 'If you count the legal votes I easily win. If you count the illegal votes they can try to steal the election from us," Trump told reporters in the White House briefing room, repeating a statement his campaign sent out earlier Thursday on his behalf. The president's comments came as his lead in several states including Georgia and Pennsylvania continued to shrink as more ballots were counted, narrowing his path to victory as Biden inched toward [...]

November 6th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Winners and losers from 2020’s election

The biggest question from the 2020 election lay unresolved on Wednesday afternoon, with President Trump and his Democratic opponent Joe Biden retaining plausible paths to victory. The advantage lay with Biden, who has leads in the vote counts in Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan, three states he would be flipping back to Democrats if he secures them. But the Trump campaign has announced plans to seek a recount in Wisconsin and halt the counting of votes in Pennsylvania. The president’s team also insists he could yet prevail in Arizona. But, beyond the presidential result, who are the major winners and losers? Winners Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) McConnell easily won his reelection race in Kentucky against Democrat Amy McGrath, despite her dramatic fundraising edge. But the sweeter success for McConnell [...]

November 5th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Biden wins battleground Michigan

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is projected to win the battleground of Michigan, walking away with the state's 16 electoral votes.CNN and NBC called the race for Biden on Wednesday shortly before 4:30 p.m. EST. Biden's victory comes four years after President Trump flipped the state by narrowly defeating then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Several polls leading up to Election Day showed Biden with a lead over Trump in the Great Lakes State. The former vice president campaigned in Michigan with former President Obama over the weekend.   Trump won the state by a slim margin of just under 11,000 votes, or 0.23 percentage points, in 2016. Michigan is the second of three Rust Belt “blue wall” states that Trump flipped in 2016 that Biden has won, the other being Wisconsin. The final [...]

November 5th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Police investigate if Vienna attacker was part of wider network

Kujtim Fejzulai believed to have acted alone but known to have been an Isis sympathiser An armed member of the special forces stands guard near the site of the gun attack in Vienna. Photograph: Leonhard Föger/Reuters Austrian police are investigating whether an Islamist terrorist who killed four people in Vienna on Monday night was part of a wider network and if the attack could have been prevented. Kujtim Fejzulai, known to authorities as a sympathiser of the Islamic Stategroup, which claimed credit for the murders, is believed to have been the lone gunman in the attack despite hours of uncertainty over whether accomplices remained at large. The 20-year-old dual citizen of Austria and North Macedonia was shot dead nine minutes into the attack in central Vienna. Police in Austria [...]

November 5th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Paths to US election victory: what Trump and Biden need to win

Paths to victory remain in the US presidential race for both Donald Trumpand Joe Biden, but Biden has more ways to win and appears to be running stronger state to state, based on the places – cities, mainly – where large absentee votes have yet to be counted.Biden leads the electoral college vote tally 264-214 after he was declared the winner in Michigan and Wisconsin on Wednesday and Trump gained one vote in Maine. Adding Alaska for Trump – which had not been called but where the result is not in doubt – gives the president 217. From there, four states remained to be called as Wednesday evening approached in the US: Nevada, North Carolina, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. Trump’s paths For Trump to find the 53 electoral votes he [...]

November 5th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Trump threatens to sue his way to victory amid millions of uncounted votes

No evidence his campaign’s legal challenges will affect the election result – but they could affect public opinion                         Demonstrators protest in Philadelphia on Wednesday. Photograph: Rachel Wisniewski/Reuters With millions of votes waiting to be counted in the US presidential election, Donald Trump has effectively threatened to sue his way to re-election. As of Wednesday evening, the president and his campaign had promised to bring the election to the supreme court, sued to halt vote-counting in threebattleground states and requested a recount in another. But at this moment, there is no evidence the campaign’s legal challenges will have a bearing on the election result under the law. Instead, the concern is how litigation plays in the court of public [...]

November 5th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

JOINT OPERATIONS KILL 7 ASG KIDNAPPERS AT SULU SEA

At 2:15 AM today, Nov 3, 2020, troops of Joint Task Force – Sulu intercepted and killed seven (7) Abu Sayyaf Group kidnappers aboard a twin-engine speed boat at the open waters of Sulu sea near Sulare Island, Parang, Sulu. JTF- Sulu Commander MGen William N Gonzales orchestrated the joint operations utilizing the Augusta Attack Helicopter of the Philippine Air Force and the Multi-Purpose Attack Craft (MPAC) of the Philippine Navy with the Scout Rangers and Special Forces on board. Reportedly killed were Madsmar Sawadjaan (brother of infamous bomber Mundi Sawadjaan), Mannul Sawadjaan @Abu Amara (declared to replace deceased ASG senior leader Hajan Sawadjaan as emir), and five (5) other yet to be identified. Retrieval operations of the sank speed boat and cadavers of ASG members are currently ongoing. [...]

November 5th, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

New weapon added to Singapore’s arsenal against Covid-19: An automated wireless system to monitor blood oxygen

The new system will help automate tasks and compile readings from thousands of individuals neatly on a dashboard.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG     SINGAPORE - A new weapon has been added to Singapore's arsenal against Covid-19: an automated system that monitors oxygen levels in the blood. Low blood oxygen could be a symptom of Covid-19. The new system utilises Bluetooth-enabled pulse oximeters to measure blood oxygen levels. It will help automate manual tasks and compile pulse oximeter readings from thousands of individuals neatly on a dashboard. A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) - in consultation with clinicians from the National University Hospital and Singapore General Hospital - worked on the new system from April to June. The project was also supported by both [...]

November 3rd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Indonesian President Joko signs contentious omnibus Bill into law

Signing off on the law showed the president's commitment to see through his reform agenda.PHOTO: REUTERS       JAKARTA - Indonesian President Joko Widodo has endorsed a new controversial omnibus law which has sparked massive protests across the country by those who see it as eroding labour rights and weakening environmental protection. The Job Creation Law, which spans 1,187 pages, was passed in Parliament on Oct 5 and signed off by the President on Monday (Nov 2). Even if he had not signed it, the bill would automatically have taken effect in 30 days. However, signing off on the law showed the President's commitment to see through his reform agenda during his second term in office. The law is set to simplify more than 70 overlapping regulations, cut [...]

November 3rd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Vienna: Reports of attacks on synagogue, kosher restaurant, 7 dead

Twitter: @disclosetv Developing There are reports Monday that the Jewish community is under attack in Vienna, Austria and that a synagogue and kosher restaurant have been targeted. 7 individuals have been killed by 3 attackers, according to reports. Vienna police have confirmed that at 8:00 p.m. shots were fired by several suspects carrying rifles. The attacks took place at 6 different locations, according to police. One person died, several are injured, including a police officer and one suspect was shot and killed by police. Antisemitism watchdog StopAntisemitism.org called the attack “well orchestrated…. with military grade weapons.” The public has been advised to stay inside. Jews have also been told to remove Kippot (skullcaps) and any other public displays of faith. There are also reports of a hostage situation.

November 3rd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Five new Covid-19 cases in NZ today, Auckland August cluster closed

There are five new Covid-19 cases in New Zealand today, four in managed isolation and one in the community which was revealed last night. Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says all the new cases are in quarantine. One arrived on 19 October from Kabul via Dubai and tested positive around day 12. Another on the 21st from London via Doha and Brisbane tested positive around day 12. The third third case arrived on 29 October from USA via Sydney and tested positive around day three and the fourth case arrived on the 29 October from USA via Doha and Brisbane and tested positive around day three as well. For the first two who tested positive around day 12, Dr Bloomfield says they now have a process to rule [...]

November 3rd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Donald Trump threatens to fire Anthony Fauci after US election

President plays up to chants of ‘Fire Fauci’ at curfew-breaching Florida rally Donald Trump has threatened to fire Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, during a midnight rally in Florida 24 hours before the US presidential election. As crowds at the Miami Opa-Locka airport chanted “Fire Fauci”, the president allowed the chants to continue for several seconds before responding: “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election. I appreciate the advice. I appreciate it.” He continued: “Nah, he’s been wrong on a lot. He’s a nice man though. He’s been wrong on a lot.” Fauci, one of the world’s foremost infectious diseases experts, has served for over three decades as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). [...]

November 2nd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Chinese flyovers towards Taiwan peaked in October amid rising tensions

Increase in sorties comes amid reported unease in Taipei over softer China stance if Joe Biden wins US presidency A military-themed mural in Taiwan’s capital Taipei. Tensions have increased between China and Taiwan. Photograph: David Chang/EPA    China’s military sent planes towards Taiwan on 25 of the 31 days of October, the highest frequency of the antagonistic sorties all year, a Taiwanese monitoring group has said.The report comes as the Taiwanese government seeks to hose down reports that it is concerned at the prospect of Joe Biden becoming the next US president and taking a more conciliatory approach to China than Donald Trump. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has ratcheted up military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait this year, amid increasing hostilities with Taiwan and the US. [...]

November 2nd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments