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Sterling clings to three-week highs ahead of British budget plan

LONDON (Reuters) – Sterling was steady at $1.2545 GBP=D3 and at 89.96 pence against the euro EURGBP=D3 on Wednesday, a day after hitting three-week highs against both currencies, ahead of expected British moves to prevent a full-blown unemployment crisis.

In his new budget speech, due at 1130 GMT, British finance minister Rishi Sunak is expected to include a 2 billion-pound fund to create six-month work placement jobs for unemployed 16-24 year-olds.

Sunak is also expected to cut property purchase taxes which could jump-start the housing market and to allocate 3 billion pounds to improve the energy efficiency of homes which would support more than 100,000 jobs.

Jordan Rochester, Nomura’s forex strategist, said only fundamental growth enhancing reforms, such as the change to Stamp Duty on property, might have an impact on the British currency, given that forex investors are in a growth mindset.

“It’s an event worth watching out for but not clear if it’s a fundamental game change for the direction of the currency,” Rochester said of the likely impact on the pound, with the market also focused on renewed Brexit talks this week.

British and European Union negotiators kicked off the talks on Tuesday, with the top EU official saying he wants a deal, “but not at any price”.

Last week’s talks were cut short with both sides saying they had yet to overcome the gulf in positions that could see Britain leaving a status-quo transition period at the end of this year without a trade deal.

Britain is prepared to leave the EU on the same terms as Australia has with the bloc if it cannot agree on a future trading deal, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Germany’s Angela Merkel in a telephone call on Tuesday.

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European shares slip as virus cases surge; HSBC, Nokia slump

(For a live blog on European stocks, type LIVE/ in an Eikon news window)

July 8 (Reuters) – European shares opened lower on Wednesday, with banks and energy firms leading the declines as surging coronavirus infections globally dimmed the prospect of a swift economic recovery.

The pan-European STOXX 600 fell 0.5% by 0714 GMT. Banks and energy firms slid more than 1%.

London-listed HSBC fell 3.5% after a report said U.S. President Donald Trump’s top advisers weighed proposals to undermine the Hong Kong currency’s peg to the U.S. dollar. The proposal could possibly limit the ability of Hong Kong banks to buy dollars.

Market sentiment soured overnight on Wall Street as the U.S. coronavirus outbreak crossed a grim milestone of over 3 million confirmed cases on Tuesday, while the World Health Organization acknowledged “evidence emerging” of the airborne spread of the coronavirus.

Finland’s Nokia slumped 6.7% after JPMorgan downgraded its stock to “neutral” on indications of a potential loss of business with U.S. telecoms company Verizon.

Europe’s home appliance maker Electrolux jumped 5.1% after saying that it would report a smaller loss than previously anticipated for the second quarter due to sales growth in June and cost mitigation actions. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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Man quit coke, ket and gambling to go hill walking and now he's addicted

Lockdown has given us all the opportunity to pause and re-evaluate, perhaps take up new hobbies or make personal changes that we’ve always pined for.

For Rhys Sinclair, it forced him to swap ‘cocaine and ket’ for hill walking – and he says it has changed his life.

Rhys, 23, is celebrating ‘not having a sore head or feeling sick’ all the time after swapping nights out for days spent enjoying the great outdoors.

He ditched drugs, alcohol and gambling while in quarantine and said he is thriving thanks to ‘no more hangovers or comedowns’.

Rhys, from Leith in Edinburgh, made a New Year’s resolution to kick his addictive habits but struggled to stick to it until the pandemic put a stopper on all his plans.

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Instead, he took up walking as an opportunity to get his one form of exercise in and said it has kept him sober ‘to stay fresh for the hills’.

Rhys told Metro.co.uk: ‘I think the biggest change apart from feeling healthier has been my overall mood, I feel a lot happier in general not having a sore head or feeling sick.

‘It definitely improved my mental state and my relationships with my friends.’


He has now been relying on an app called Nomo which creates personalised sobriety clocks to keep track of his progress.

He has so far clocked up 25 days without gambling, 32 days ketamine free, 31 days cocaine free, and 31 days alcohol free.

Rhys shared his achievements on social media, saying: ‘I stand by that a healthy body makes a healthy mind from there on, it’s simple.

‘To be honest I’m not too fussed about drinking, I just don’t see the appeal at the moment but this will definitely help me cut back.

‘But the drugs – I definitely hope that is me for life.’

He admitted the most difficult part was ‘sticking to your word’ without giving in to the ‘excuses’ of having a good time or being down ‘as a reason to use drink or drugs’.

Rhys said: ‘Doing hill walking is a fitting substitute to satisfy both those reasons.’

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Brit CEO calls family celebrating birthday in restaurant 'Asian piece of s**t'

A British Silicon Valley CEO has been caught on camera shouting ‘Trump is gonna f*** you’ during a tirade at an Asian family celebrating a birthday in a California restaurant.

Michael Lofthouse, founder of tech company Solid8, called the family a ‘f***ing Asian piece of s***’ before he was thrown out of the Bernadus Lodge and Spa’s Lucia restaurant, in Carmel Valley, on Saturday evening.

Jordan Chan said the ‘evil racist’ ‘relentlessly harassed’ her family after they sang happy birthday to her aunt on a table near Lofthouse. In footage shared on Instagram, Ms Chan said he also told her family off camera ‘to go back to whatever f***ing Asian country you’re from’.

The footage, which has been shared thousands of times, appears to begin after Lofthouse has made an offensive remark. The person filming says: ‘Woah, say that again. Oh now you’re shy? Say it one more time.’

He smiles back at the person filming and shows them his middle finger, before saying ‘Trump is gonna f*** you’.

A woman off camera, who appears to be working at the restaurant, tells him he needs to leave, before Lofthouse stands up saying to the family: ‘No, you f***ers need to leave’.

The restaurant worker is heard shouting: ‘Get out of here, you are not allowed here. You do not talk to our guests like that.’

As Lofthouse puts on his jacket, he continues his tirade against the family shouting: ‘You f***ing Asian piece of s***.’

He then turns to the employee asking: ‘Who are these f***ers?’


When she tells them they are ‘valued guests,’ he retorts: ‘Are they? They are valued guests in America?’

The worker continues to tell him to leave, adding: ‘You are not allowed here ever again.’

Ms Chan wrote on Instagram that Lofthouse ‘had a LOT more to say after I stopped recording’ and that he told the family ‘you don’t belong here’.

‘We were literally just singing happy birthday to [my aunt] and taking pictures, when this white supremacist starts yelling disgusting racist remarks at us,’ wrote Ms Chan.

She added: ‘The surfacing of racists is so prevalent right now, even in such an ethnically/culturally diverse and liberal state like California’.

Lofthouse later issued a statement saying: ‘My behavior in the video is appalling. This was clearly a moment where I lost control and made incredibly hurtful and divisive comments. 

‘I would like to deeply apologize to the Chan family. I can only imagine the stress and pain they feel. I was taught to respect people of all races, and I will take the time to reflect on my actions and work to better understand the inequality that so many of those around me face every day.’

He appears to have taken down his Twitter and LinkedIn accounts following the incident.

Vice president and general manager of The Bernardus Lodge, Sean Damery, apologised for the attack their guests were subjected to but said they were proud of the way his staff handled the incident.

In a statement to KION, Mr Damery said: ‘This is an extremely unfortunate situation, however, we are proud of our staff at Lucia in keeping with Bernardus Lodge’s core values.

‘This incident was handled swiftly and the diner was escorted off property without further escalation. 

‘We provide guests with a safe environment for lodging and dining, and extend our sincere apologies to the guests enjoying a birthday celebration on a holiday weekend.’ 

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

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Amazon India's unit gets $308 million in fresh funds from parent

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc has invested 23.10 billion rupees ($308.02 million) in Amazon Seller Services, an Indian unit, strengthening the business at a time when more people shop online in a bid to avoid crowded public places.

Amazon Singapore made a significant portion of financing, data from business intelligence firm Tofler showed.

The company’s Indian arm in May said it would hire 50,000 temporary workers to meet a surge in online shopping in the country.

The company, which competes with Walmart Inc’s Flipkart in India, has also been expanding its seller network in the country.

Indian laws allow foreign e-commerce companies to operate as “market places,” connecting buyers with sellers online.

As India went into lockdown, Amazon encouraged small shops to join as sellers on its platform in a bid to boost local businesses and expand its reach.

Jeff Bezos-led Amazon.com in January announced a $1 billion investment to bring more than 10 million small businesses online in India by 2025.

($1 = 74.9950 Indian rupees)

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Airborne coronavirus: What you should know

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) – The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests.

This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain superspreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants.

It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Dr Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech.

Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

What is clear, they said, is that people should consider minimising time indoors with people outside their families. Schools, nursing homes and businesses should consider adding powerful new air filters and ultraviolet lights that can kill airborne viruses.

Here are answers to a few questions raised by the latest research.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR A VIRUS TO BE AIRBORNE?

For a virus to be airborne means that it can be carried through the air in a viable form. For most pathogens, this is a yes-no scenario. HIV, too delicate to survive outside the body, is not airborne. Measles is airborne, and dangerously so: It can survive in the air for up to two hours.

For the coronavirus, the definition has been more complicated. Experts agree that the virus does not travel long distances or remain viable outdoors. But evidence suggests it can traverse the length of a room and, in one set of experimental conditions, remain viable for perhaps three hours.

HOW ARE AEROSOLS DIFFERENT FROM DROPLETS?

Aerosols are droplets, droplets are aerosols – they do not differ except in size. Scientists sometimes refer to droplets fewer than 5 microns in diameter as aerosols. (By comparison, a red blood cell is about 5 microns in diameter; a human hair is about 50 microns wide.)

From the start of the pandemic, the WHO and other public health organisations have focused on the virus’s ability to spread through large droplets that are expelled when a symptomatic person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets are heavy, relatively speaking, and fall quickly to the floor or onto a surface that others might touch. This is why public health agencies have recommended maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others, and frequent hand washing.

But some experts have said for months that infected people also are releasing aerosols when they cough and sneeze. More important, they expel aerosols even when they breathe, talk or sing, especially with some exertion.

Scientists know now that people can spread the virus even in the absence of symptoms – without coughing or sneezing – and aerosols might explain that phenomenon.

Because aerosols are smaller, they contain much less virus than droplets do. But because they are lighter, they can linger in the air for hours, especially in the absence of fresh air. In a crowded indoor space, a single infected person can release enough aerosolised virus over time to infect many people, perhaps seeding a superspreader event.

For droplets to be responsible for that kind of spread, a single person would have to be within a few feet of all the other people, or to have contaminated an object that everyone else touched. All that seems unlikely to many experts.

“I have to do too many mental gymnastics to explain those other routes of transmission compared to aerosol transmission, which is much simpler,” Dr Marr said.

CAN I STOP WORRYING ABOUT PHYSICAL DISTANCING AND WASHING MY HANDS?

Physical distancing is still very important. The closer you are to an infected person, the more aerosols and droplets you may be exposed to. Washing your hands often is still a good idea.

What’s new is that those two things may not be enough.

“We should be placing as much emphasis on masks and ventilation as we do with hand washing,” Dr Marr said. “As far as we can tell, this is equally important, if not more important.”

SHOULD I BEGIN WEARING A HOSPITAL-GRADE MASK INDOORS? AND HOW LONG IS TOO LONG TO STAY INDOORS?

Health care workers may all need to wear N95 masks, which filter out most aerosols. At the moment, they are advised to do so only when engaged in certain medical procedures that are thought to produce aerosols.

For the rest of us, cloth face masks will still greatly reduce risk, as long as most people wear them. At home, when you’re with your own family or with roommates you know to be careful, masks are still not necessary. But it is a good idea to wear them in other indoor spaces, experts said.

As for how long is safe, that is frustratingly tough to answer. A lot depends on whether the room is too crowded to allow for a safe distance from others and whether there is fresh air circulating through the room.

WHAT DOES AIRBORNE TRANSMISSION MEAN FOR REOPENING SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES?

This is a matter of intense debate. Many schools are poorly ventilated and are too poorly funded to invest in new filtration systems.

“There is a huge vulnerability to infection transmission via aerosols in schools,” said Dr Don Milton, an aerosol expert at the University of Maryland.

Most children younger than 12 seem to have only mild symptoms, if any, so elementary schools may get by.

“So far, we don’t have evidence that elementary schools will be a problem, but the upper grades, I think, would be more likely to be a problem,” Dr Milton said.

College dorms and classrooms are also cause for concern.

Milton said the government should think of long-term solutions for these problems. Having public schools closed “clogs up the whole economy, and it’s a major vulnerability”, he said.

“Until we understand how this is part of our national defence, and fund it appropriately, we’re going to remain extremely vulnerable to these kinds of biological threats.”

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS I CAN DO TO MINIMISE THE RISKS?

Do as much as you can outdoors. Despite the many photos of people at beaches, even a somewhat crowded beach, especially on a breezy day, is likely to be safer than a pub or an indoor restaurant with recycled air.

But even outdoors, wear a mask if you are likely to be close to others for an extended period.

When indoors, one simple thing people can do is to “open their windows and doors whenever possible”, Dr Marr said. You can also upgrade the filters in your home air-conditioning systems, or adjust the settings to use more outdoor air rather than recirculated air.

Public buildings and businesses may want to invest in air purifiers and ultraviolet lights that can kill the virus. Despite their reputation, elevators may not be a big risk, Dr Milton said, compared with public bathrooms or offices with stagnant air where you may spend a long time.

If none of those things are possible, try to minimise the time you spend in an indoor space, especially without a mask. The longer you spend inside, the greater the dose of virus you might inhale.

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Japanese voice actress Kana Hanazawa announces marriage a day after fellow voice actress Nana Mizuki

A day after Japanese voice actress Nana Mizuki announced her marriage on Tuesday (July 7), voice actress Kana Hanazawa followed suit and said she would also be tying the knot.

Her husband-to-be is fellow voice actor Kensho Ono, 30.

Hanazawa, 31, tweeted in Japanese: “Kensho Ono and I are getting married. Ono is an optimistic person while I worry easily, but he has always provided me with courage gently.

“As husband and wife, we will support each other and strive to take our relationship to the next level. We hope everyone can give us your blessings and support.”

She also posted the announcement in Chinese on her Weibo account on Wednesday.

Hanazawa and Ono were first linked in 2017 when they were spotted by Japanese magazine Shukan Bunshun entering a high-end apartment in Tokyo together. They confirmed later they were dating after the photos were published in the tabloid magazine.

Hanazawa is famous for her voice roles in several animated series, including the Monogatari series (2009 to 2019), and director Makoto Shinkai’s two animated films The Garden Of Words (2013) and Your Name (2016).

She is also a singer who has released 13 singles and five albums and held her first solo concert at the famous Nippon Budokan arena in 2015.

Onois famous for being the Japanese dub voice of Harry Potter in the Harry Potter film series (2001 to 2011).

He is also known for voicing Tetsuya Kuroko, the titular protagonist in the animated TV series Kuroko’s Basketball (2012 to 2015) and Giorno Giovanna, the protagonist in the animated series JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind (2018 to 2019).

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Tennis: 'What are you talking about?' Nick Kyrgios blasts Dominic Thiem in virus row

SYDNEY (AFP) – Outspoken Australian Nick Kyrgios questioned Dominic Thiem’s intellect on Wednesday (July 8) after the world No.3 told him to stop criticising fellow tennis stars Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic for taking risks with the coronavirus.

Kyrgios said Thiem was not on the same “intellectual level” after the Austrian called his criticism “cheap” and claimed it was “bad luck” that Zverev was caught partying after promising to self-isolate.

Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki all tested positive for Covid-19 after last month’s Adria Tour, an exhibition series with minimal social distancing where Thiem and Zverev also played.

“Kyrgios has really done a lot of nonsense himself. That’s why I understand even less when he interferes everywhere,” Thiem told German media this week.

“It would be better for him to come clean instead of always criticising others.”

The Australian shot back on Twitter.

“What are you talking about @ThiemDomi? Mistakes like smashing rackets? Swearing? Tanking a few matches here or there? Which everyone does?

“None of you have the intellectual level to even understand where I’m coming from. I’m trying to hold them accountable.”

Kyrgios added: “This just shows what a joke @ThiemDomi @AlexZverev & @DjokerNole think this is, 2 of them partying like potato’s during a global pandemic.

“People losing lives, loved ones and friends, and then Thiem standing up for the ‘mistake’. These guys are the ‘top’ of our sport. SMH (shaking my head).”

Last week Kyrgios also exchanged verbal blows with German legend Boris Becker, who called him a “rat” for singling out Zverev.

“@TheBorisBecker is a bigger doughnut than I thought. Can hit a volley, obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed though,” he fired back.

Zverev vowed to self-isolate after the Adria Tour, only to be filmed days later in a busy bar in footage that went viral.

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Rapper Kanye West says he no longer supports Trump: Report

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – Kanye West no longer supports President Trump, Forbes reported, citing an interview with the American rapper who says he plans to run for president.

The rapper intends to run for election under the banner of “the Birthday Party”.

“I would run as a Republican if Trump wasn’t there. I will run as an independent if Trump is there,” West told Forbes.

West says he believes he was sick with Covid-19 in February and is suspicious of a potential vaccine, according to Forbes.

He denied that his announcement was a publicity stunt for his upcoming album.

He has selected Ms Michelle Tidball, a preacher from Wyoming, to be his running mate, according to the report.

West has taken almost no concrete steps towards a presidential bid, including filing papers officially declaring a candidacy, qualifying for ballot access or building a campaign infrastructure.

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German exports to fall by 15% in 2020: DIHK

BERLIN (Reuters) – German exports will drop by 15% this year and will only recover slightly in 2021, Germany’s DIHK chambers of commerce said on Wednesday.

Exports will rise by a single-digit percentage next year, by 7% if the situation improves significantly, DIHK foreign trade head Volker Treier said.

“We will only experience disappointments in the next few months,” Treier said.

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