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Business

End of an era? Series of U.S. setbacks bodes ill for big oil, gas pipeline projects

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – A rapid-fire succession of setbacks for big energy pipelines in the United States this week has revealed an uncomfortable truth for the oil and gas industry: environmental activists and landowners opposed to projects have become good at blocking them in court.

The latest setbacks have increased the difficulty for developers of billions of dollars worth of pipeline projects in getting needed permits and community support. The oil industry says the pipelines are needed to expand oil and gas production and deliver it to fuel-hungry markets, but a rising chorus of critics argue they pose an unacceptable future risk to climate, air and water.

“Any company that is going to look to invest that kind of money into our infrastructure is really going to have to take a hard look,” said Craig Stevens, spokesman for Grow America’s Infrastructure Now, a coalition comprised mainly of chambers of commerce and energy associations.

The Trump administration has sought to accelerate permits and cut red tape for big-ticket energy projects such as the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. That effort has failed so far, and may even have made legal challenges easier, because rushed permitting paperwork has caught the eyes of judges.

A federal judge on Monday ordered the Dakota Access pipeline, the biggest duct moving oil out of the huge Bakken basin, to shut down and empty because the Army Corps of Engineers had failed to do an adequate environmental impact study. The same day, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked construction on the proposed Keystone XL line from Canada pending a deeper environmental review.

For years, both those pipelines have been targets of protests and lawsuits by climate, environment and indigenous rights activists.

On Sunday, Dominion Energy Inc (D.N) and Duke Energy Corp (DUK.N) decided to abandon the $8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline, meant to move West Virginia natural gas to East Coast markets, after a long delay to clear legal roadblocks almost doubled its estimated cost.

“What we have been seeing in the last couple of weeks is a shift in the importance of communities and landowners — and their voices in this process,” said Greg Buppert, a lawyer for the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represented opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

“Building energy infrastructure today is certainly more challenging than it was five, 10 or 15 years ago,” said Joan Dresken, chief counsel to the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America.

U.S. oil and gas lobby group the American Petroleum Institute is concerned about the “chilling effect” the recent decisions will have on the industry and investor community, said Robin Rorick, API vice president of midstream and industry operations.

RECIPE FOR A SETBACK

The unifying factors in all these setbacks were a highly motivated opposition and shoddy regulatory paperwork, according to Josh Price, senior analyst of energy and utilities at Height Capital Markets.

He added that both factors were, ironically, enabled by President Donald Trump’s vocal efforts to boost the fossil fuels industries and downplay climate risks.

“You have environmental justice groups emboldened by the Trump administration’s stance on climate and really dedicating a lot of resources to halting projects through the courts,” Price said. “The second part in this dynamic is some of the hasty work being done at the permitting agencies in the Trump administration. We’ve seen this time and time again, this effort to streamline projects has backfired.”

A White House official did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump has said oil and gas jobs are important to the economy and that the industry can thrive without causing significant environmental damage.

Investors in future will likely favor projects that expand on existing infrastructure and already have in place rights of way and environmental permits, said Jay Hatfield, portfolio manager of the New York-based InfraCap MLP ETF, a fund with a focus on energy pipeline operators.

“There are possible expansion opportunities when you can’t do long-haul pipes… The cancellations of recent projects could make it more valuable to own those assets,” he said.

In the coming days, the Trump administration is expected to finalize an overhaul of the National Environmental Protection Act, a bedrock environmental law guiding environmental reviews for major projects. The revisions will likely set time limits for environmental assessments and limiting the scope of reviews.

Environmental activists oppose the overhaul, but also figure that if it goes ahead it will only formalize legal risks for big energy infrastructure projects.

“There is no path to building new major crude oil pipelines anymore,” said Jan Hasselman, the Earthjustice lawyer representing the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in its years-long battle to block Dakota Access.

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Politics

Singapore GE2020: PAP new face Yip Hon Weng has plans for the elderly in Yio Chu Kang if elected

SINGAPORE – New face Yip Hon Weng has plans to support the elderly residents in Yio Chu Kang SMC if elected, the People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate told the media on Wednesday (July 8).

These plans include taking care of their mental well-being, fostering more inter-generation interaction between the youth and the elderly, and helping senior caregivers access resources and help.

This is also an extension of the work Mr Yip, 43, had done earlier, as the former group chief of the Silver Generation Office under the Agency for Integrated Care. The AIC serves seniors and their caregivers.

He is up against Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP) Kayla Low, 43, a chartered accountant and former prisons officer in Friday’s (July 10) general election. She also volunteers with low-income families and the elderly.

An estimated 40 per cent of the constituency, which has 26,005 voters, is made up of senior citizens from the Merdeka and Pioneer Generation. The area also has about 70 blocks of flats, seven condominiums and two landed estates. 

Mr Yip, who was speaking at Block 123, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6 on the last day of campaigning, said: “I hope to (also have) inter-generational programmes. This is an aged estate, so we (can) work out some programmes where we get the younger ones to interact with the older residents here, maybe with some visitations or forms of activities… We can foster a stronger community spirit.”

He added: “A lot of people talk about infrastructure development but I think that the programming and having services to come in is important (as well).”

He also noted that mental health care is important, especially for seniors who live alone and may feel lonely or have depression.

“Can we bring in some services and programmes to address these (issues)? Can we get more befrienders to talk to them on a regular basis?”

Another issue he noticed was that some seniors were being cared for by elderly family members who were prone to frailty themselves.

“How can we improve the caregiving resources here? It can be, for instance, providing a platform where caregivers can connect with each other so that they can share issues, concerns and suggestions to help each other. Perhaps there can also be a better way of getting resources to caregivers, (such as) where they can look for help and which number to call.”

He also has plans for the younger residents, including ways to get the youth to help others with their studies, for instance.

Community programmes and webinars on topics such as job seeking during this pandemic can also help the youth.

“I intend to do more of these activities where we can talk about some of these issues that youths are very much interested in and that are acutely affecting them,” he said.

Mr Yip acknowledged that it is not easy to be a new face fielded in an SMC.

“In an SMC you’re in a way competing alone. I think I have to fight very hard here. But you also have a bit more autonomy in how you run your campaign and operations on the ground during these nine days.”

He added: “I think it will be a tough fight. I will do my best to win this election.”

He also said that his previous experience in the civil service was not typical in the sense that he held stints in ground operations, such as running the Silver Generation Office. He was also part of the team that set up the Municipal Services Office.

“You really have to get your hands dirty, be innovative and be willing to try and fail and push boundaries. (It also) required me to walk the ground very often to meet my counterparts in statutory boards and town councils… and talk to residents. It is not the typical civil servant path… and I think it has put me in good stead for this (role) going forward.”

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

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World News

Racism to blame for Grenfell fire death toll, claim families

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They said race was the Grenfell inquiry’s “elephant in the room” and urged the panel to investigate why so many of those killed were black or from ethnic minorities when flames tore through the 24-storey block in 2017. Mr Floyd’s death in the US after a policeman knelt on the back of his neck for almost nine minutes sparked a wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the world. Yesterday Leslie Thomas, QC, claimed the tragedy had “parallels” with the disproportionate number of black and minority ethnic (BAME) victims of Grenfell and the Covid-10 crisis.

Mr Thomas, who represents a group of survivors and bereaved families, told the Grenfell inquiry: “George Floyd’s last words were, ‘I can’t breathe’. These were a chilling reminder of the experiences of survivors and sadly were some of the last words of those who died in this tragedy.

“Some of the survivors and the bereaved have highlighted the similarities of the last words of a black man who died at the hands of the state to the last words of their friends and loved ones.

“Most of them were from ethnic minority backgrounds. The Grenfell fire did not happen in a vacuum. A majority of the Grenfell residents who died were people of colour.”

Mr Thomas continued: “Grenfell is inextricably linked with race. It is the elephant in the room.”

He asked panel chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick: “What will this inquiry be remembered for? You will undoubtedly want it to be on the right side of history.

“Our clients’ perception is that the inquiry is deaf to their concerns.”

Meanwhile, six law firms submitted a detailed document which claims a failure to investigate the racial element could be a breach of the victims’ human rights.

They said that out of the 67 permanent Grenfell residents who died in the fire 57 – or 85 percent – were from BAME backgrounds.

The submission, backed by senior counsel including Michael Mansfield, QC, said the inquiry should ask whether the tower was badly maintained because so many BAME people lived there.

Cyrilia Davies Knight of Saunders solicitors said: “It is time to break the circle of inaction. Race and poverty must no longer be ignored by the Grenfell Tower inquiry.

“The numbers show that people from minority ethnic groups were substantially over-represented among the Grenfell Tower tenants, most importantly among those who were injured or killed.”

Trinidad-born survivor Joseph John said after the hearing: “The racism is all in housing and the way you have to jump through hoops to get what you want.

“I just get pushed from one place to the next without people listening. My friends who are white have a much better experience.”

The inquiry continues.

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World News

Canada eyes longer-term debt as servicing costs fall on lower rates: source

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada is eyeing issuing longer-term debt to take advantage of low interest rates, and expects servicing costs to be lower this fiscal year than was forecast last year despite the billions in emergency spending due to COVID-19, a government source said.

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau will deliver a “fiscal snapshot” on Wednesday that will outline the current balance sheet and growth expectations.

In December, Canada said it expected public debt charges to be C$23.7 billion ($17.4 billion) in the 2020-21 fiscal year starting on April 1. But a government source said the new estimate would be lower despite a much higher deficit than had been expected.

Canada’s independent Parliamentary Budget Officer said the federal deficit was likely to balloon to C$256 billion ($188 billion) in 2020-21, mainly because of the spending meant to soften the blow of pandemic shutdowns, compared with a 2019-20 deficit of C$21.8 billion reported in May.

The Globe and Mail, citing two senior government officials, reported that Morneau on Wednesday would forecast a deficit of more than C$300 billion.

The Bank of Canada slashed its benchmark rate in March by a total of 1.5 percentage points to 0.25%. It has said it does not intend to reduce rates any further.

Canada lost one of its coveted triple-A ratings in June when Fitch downgraded it for the first time, citing the billions of dollars in emergency aid Ottawa has spent to help bridge the downturn caused by COVID-19 shutdowns.

Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and DBRS still give Canadian debt the highest rating.

Issuing longer-tenure debt “makes a whole lot of sense,” said Brett House, deputy chief economist at Scotiabank.

“It’s an excellent idea to tilt more of the issuance towards longer-term borrowing and … I do think there’s still appetite,” said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets. “So I would heavily encourage them to take advantage of these exceptionally low long-term yields.”

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World News

Ask Amy: I just found out my husband has been having sex with men – The Denver Post

Dear Amy: I found out recently that my husband of many years has been having sex with men for the last 52 years.

He says he is bisexual, but his appetite for sex with men is stronger than with women. He is into fetish and crossdressing.

I believe he needs to come out and live the life he craves, and not try to keep up the appearance that he is a heterosexual married man.

He says he never cheated on me with another woman, and that he would like to stay married. He offered to give me equal time to the time he spends with these men, but I know he has never been that attached to our sexual life. Plus — I got married to a man who pledged his fidelity to me, and I chose not to share.

I feel this marriage is done. We both got tested and we are okay, but he is not only a regular at a couple of (senior) gay clubs, but also has put himself out on three internet sites, asking to hook up with anyone who would like to have some fun.

He will be 74 and I will be 80 next month.

Over the years, he went from seeing men two to three times a year — to two to three times a week. We are talking about 100 to 150 different partners over the years.

He is not willing to give any of this up.

He says he will be honest with me about what he is doing when he goes out. Am I supposed to believe that?

What is your opinion? Do marriages survive this?

— Broken!

Dear Broken!: My opinion is that your husband is quite obviously going to live his life the way he wants to and the way he has been. He has announced as much to you.

You have the right – and the duty — to do the same.

Marriages survive all sorts of circumstances, including lengthy separations, loss, sexual and emotional infidelity, illness, shocks, gender transitions and sometimes — genuine trauma. But marriage is supposed to be the embodiment of mutuality: I elevate you, you elevate me. Not: I do what I want and you either tolerate it … or leave the marriage.

Your husband does not get to define fidelity for you. His choice to explain away his own behavior as being actually within the bounds of your marriage is gaslighting. His sexual behavior is putting both of you at risk.

Eyes open – you must make the choice that is best for you, both now and longer-term.

Dear Amy: While my daughter and son-in-law, “Brian,” were waiting for their new house to be built, they lived in our basement for six months.

Brian is a hoarder. I moved some of his things, and he attacked me in a fit of rage, breaking three of my ribs and bloodying my nose.

We called the police but did not press charges.

My daughter and Brian have since moved into their new home. We paid for the mover and gave the couple a generous house gift.

They have a new baby. We have visited, avoiding contact with Brian.

He has yet to apologize and has shown no remorse. He has complete control over our daughter and is verbally abusive to her.

How can we maintain a relationship with our daughter in light of this?

Should I continued to avoid him?

— Fearful Father-in-Law

Dear Fearful: I wish you had chosen to press charges when “Brian” assaulted you. This would have shown your daughter the reality of what she is facing.

At this point, you must do everything possible to stay close and supportive.

Your daughter is in an extremely dangerous situation.

Tell her, “We love and care about you. We are here for you and we want to help.”

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a great resource. Check thehotline.org or call (800) 799-SAFE (7233) to talk to a counselor. Always call the police if you witness violence.

Dear Amy: Shame on your answer to “Pandemic Pandemonium” where you suggested that a woman who has stopped wearing makeup and fancy clothes might be suffering from depression!

Maybe you love getting dolled up every day, but I was truly disgusted by your sexist response.

— Disgusted

Dear Disgusted: I don’t happen to wear makeup – ever. But this isn’t about me. This man expressed dismay about his wife suddenly neglecting her hygiene. Many people are struggling right now, and I believe it is important to pay close attention to our mental health.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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World News

India arrests South Korean CEO among 12 others over gas leak

The arrests were made under a case of culpable homicide after a leak at a chemical plant killed 12 people in May.

Indian police have arrested 12 LG Polymers officials, including its South Korean chief executive, an officer said, two months after a gas leak at the company’s south India chemical plant killed 12 and injured hundreds.

The arrests were made under a case of culpable homicide filed against the company’s South Korean parent, LG Chem Ltd, when the leak occurred in May, police commissioner Rajiv Kumar Meena said on Wednesday.

“A total of 12 members including the CEO and two directors were arrested on Tuesday evening,” Meena, the top officer in the port city of Visakhapatnam where the plant is located, said.

Among those arrested were two directors, one of whom was a South Korean, Meena said.

Toxic styrene gas leaked from the chemical plant on May 7, choking many people who were sleeping.

This week, a government-appointed committee recommended that the plant be shifted away from human habitation and called for action against the top employees. 

The leak took place around 2:30am on a Thursday when most people were asleep.

Footage on Indian television channels showed people, including women and children, slumped motionless in the streets after residents raised the alarm in the early hours.

“There was utter confusion and panic. People were unable to breathe, they were gasping for air. Those who were trying to escape collapsed on the roads – kids, women and all,” resident Kumar Reddy told local media.

Police said that styrene gas leaked out of two 5,000-tonne tanks which had been left unattended as the factory was closed for 40 days during India’s lockdown.

They said that heat produced inside the tanks was released soon after the factory reopened.

According to officials, a blanket of gas spread over a radius of about three kilometres (1.9 miles), sickening people in at least four villages. 

Rescuers broke open the doors of village homes that were locked from the inside and found some people who had collapsed and transported them to hospitals.

At least 800 were taken to hospital with breathing difficulties and irritated skin. The leak was stopped by 8am, officials said.

The incident echoed one of the worst industrial disasters in history when gas leaked from a pesticide plant in the central Indian city of Bhopal in 1984.

About 3,500 people died in the days that followed and thousands more in the following years. People still suffer its after-effects now.

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World News

In Africa, lack of coronavirus data raises fears of 'silent epidemic'

NAIROBI (Reuters) – When the new coronavirus hit Tanzania in mid-April, President John Magufuli called for three days of national prayer to seek God’s protection from the scourge. Barely a month later, he claimed victory over the disease and invited tourists to return to his East African nation.

His rush to reopen came despite alarm from the World Health Organization (WHO) over an almost total lack of information on the spread of the virus in the country of 55 million people, which has one of the region’s weakest healthcare systems.

The shortage of reliable data afflicts many African nations, with some governments reluctant to acknowledge epidemics or to expose their crumbling health systems to outside scrutiny. Other nations simply cannot carry out significant testing because they are so ravaged by poverty and conflict.

Sharing information is vital to tackling the pandemic in Africa – both for planning the response and mobilising donor funding – public health experts say. As things stand, it is impossible to gauge the full severity of the contagion across the continent.

According to the latest data collated by Reuters, Africa, with a population of 1.3 billion people, had over 493,000 confirmed cases and 11,600 deaths. By comparison, Latin America, with roughly half the population, had 2.9 million cases and 129,900 deaths.

The official numbers make it seem as though the illness has skirted much of Africa, but the real picture is certain to be worse, with WHO special envoy Samba Sow warning on May 25 of a possible “silent epidemic” if testing was not prioritised.

By July 7, 4,200 tests per million people had been carried out across the continent, according to a Reuters analysis of figures from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a body set up by the African Union in 2017. That compares with averages of 7,650 in Asia and 74,255 in Europe.

Interviews with dozens of health workers, diplomats and local officials revealed not just a scarcity of reliable testing in most countries, but also the lengths some governments have gone to prevent news of infection rates from emerging, even if that meant they missed out on donor funding.

“We cannot help a country against its own will,” Michel Yao, head of emergency operations for the WHO in Africa, told Reuters. “In some countries, they are having meetings and not inviting us. We are supposed to be the main technical advisor.”  Yao declined to single out countries, saying the WHO needed to preserve a working relationship with governments.

For more details, see this graphic: here

TROUBLE IN TANZANIA

Tanzania confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 16. The next day, the government convened a task force  to coordinate the response with international partners including the WHO, foreign embassies, donors and aid agencies, multiple sources said.

This body never met again with outsiders, two foreign officials familiar with the situation told Reuters, while government officials failed to show up to dozens of subsequent coronavirus-related meetings, they said.

“It’s very clear the government does not want any information about the state of COVID in the country,” said one aid official, who like many of those interviewed by Reuters for this story, asked not to be identified for fear of antagonizing political leaders.

Tanzania’s health minister Ummy Mwalimu and government spokesman did not respond to phone calls or emailed questions raised by this article about their handling of the crisis. The spokesman, Hassan Abbasi, has previously denied withholding information about the country’s epidemic.

Tanzania has not published nationwide figures since May 8, when it had recorded 509 cases and 21 deaths. Days earlier, President Magufuli dismissed testing kits imported from abroad as faulty, saying on national television that they had also returned positive results on samples taken from a goat and a pawpaw fruit.

According to three emails seen by Reuters sent between May 8-13, the WHO believed it had reached an agreement with the government to let it take part in joint surveillance missions around the country. However, a WHO spokeswoman said these were all cancelled on the day they were supposed to start, with no reason given.

Donors have released some $40 million to fund Tanzania’s coronavirus response, two diplomatic sources involved said. But the country’s lack of engagement meant it had missed out on “tens of millions of dollars” more, another official said.

By mid-May, the government decided to ease its lockdown, despite doctors and diplomats saying the outbreak was far from contained. The U.S. Embassy warned its citizens on May 13 that hospitals in the main city Dar es Salaam were “overwhelmed”, an assertion denied at the time by the Tanzanian government.

Tanzania’s failure to share information about its outbreak has frustrated its neighbours, who fear that gains won through painful lockdowns in their own countries could be jeopardized as Tanzanians cross porous borders.

The WHO organised a call on April 23 with African health ministers to discuss, among other things, a lack of information sharing, Yao said. He declined to say who was on the call, and Tanzania did not respond to requests for comment as to whether its minister participated.

The United Nations agency cannot compel cooperation and must tread carefully. When WHO officials expressed concern in late April about a lack of measures to contain the virus in Burundi, the tiny East African nation expelled its top representative and three other WHO experts without explanation on May 12.

Burundi was one of the first African countries to shut its borders in March, which seemed to slow the virus’ spread initially. But the country saw an uptick in suspected cases after rallies were held in the run-up to May 20 general elections, a health care provider said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Burundi’s 55-year-old president, Pierre Nkurunziza, died in early June amid speculation he had come down with COVID-19. The government said in a statement he had suffered a heart attack. An air ambulance service told Reuters it had flown his wife, Denise Bucumi, to Kenya on May 21 but declined to confirm reports in the Kenyan media that she had sought treatment for the coronavirus. A family spokesman declined to comment.

Burundi’s new president, Evariste Ndayishimiye, has promised measures to tackle the pandemic, including mass testing of people in areas suspected of being epicentres of the virus.

Another African state to fall out with the WHO was Equatorial Guinea. It hasn’t shared figures with the U.N. agency since late May, when its government accused the WHO of inflating the caseload and demanded that it recall its representative. The WHO blamed a “misunderstanding over data” and denied any falsification of figures.

Mitoha Ondo’o Ayekaba, Equatorial Guinea’s deputy health minister, did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the dispute. The Central African country has continued to provide periodic updates to the Africa CDC, which puts the number of confirmed cases there at 3,071 with 51 deaths.

SURVEILLANCE GAPS 

While some countries won’t share information, others can’t: Their health systems are too broken to carry out any large-scale testing, surveillance or contact tracing.

“Even at the best of times, collecting quality data from countries is not easy because people are stretched thin,” said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa CDC. “Combine that with an emergency, and it becomes very, very difficult.”

For example, Islamist militants and ethnic militias operate across vast swathes of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, making it impossible for governments there to establish a nationwide picture of the spread of the illness.

As in other countries, a shortage of kits has led Burkina Faso to largely limit the number of tests it conducts to contacts of confirmed cases and people arriving from abroad. This means there is little data on local transmission, health ministry reports show.

Some countries, like Cameroon and Nigeria, have decentralised testing, but many others have very little capacity outside their capitals, said Franck Ale, an epidemiologist with the international aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

Democratic Republic of Congo, a nation of 85 million that was already battling Ebola, was quick to suspend international flights and lock down parts of the capital Kinshasa when the virus hit in mid-March.

However, it took three months before the government was able to process tests outside Kinshasa, said Steve Ahuka, a member of Congo’s COVID-19 response committee, citing a lack of laboratories, equipment and personnel. In many areas, it still takes two weeks to get results, said two doctors.

South Africa, the continent’s most advanced economy, is one of the few to have rolled out mass testing. But it had a backlog of more than 63,000 unprocessed specimens as of June 10, because global suppliers were unable to meet its demand for laboratory kits, according to the health ministry. South Africa’s national laboratory service declined to disclose the current backlog.

In the absence of comprehensive testing data in other parts of the world, researchers look to different yardsticks to judge the prevalence of the coronavirus, including reviewing the number of deaths that exceed the average for the time of year.

But even that is not possible in most of Africa because data from previous years is lacking. Only eight countries – Algeria, Cape Verde, Djibouti, Egypt, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles and South Africa – record more than 75% of their deaths, according to the United Nations. Ethiopia records less than 2%, the country’s health ministry said.

Without information about how severe an outbreak is and what resources are available to cope with it, nations risk lifting lockdowns too soon or maintaining them too long, said Amanda McClelland of the U.S.-based health policy initiative Resolve to Save Lives. 

“The big gap for us is really understanding the severity of the outbreak,” she said. “Without clarity on data, it is very hard to justify the economic pain that shutting down countries causes.”

Interactive graphic – Global COVID-19 overview: here

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World News

Princess Diana heartbreak: How Diana would be devastated by latest move in royal feud

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Princess Diana tragically died in a car crash in 1997 aged 36 when her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, were just 15 and 12 respectively. Now the royal princes have married and have children of their own. But speculation about the deepening resentment between the two royals has been sparked again after the pair took steps to break apart once more.

Prince Harry stepped back from his role as a senior member of the Royal Family at the end of March.

Since that time, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been seen out in public less often, but last week, Harry paid tribute to his mother in a touching video message shown at The Diana Awards.

During his speech, Harry said: “I know that my mother has been an inspiration to many of you and I can assure you she would have been fighting your corner.

“Like many of you, she never took the easy route, she never took the popular one, or the comfortable one.

“But she stood for something. And she stood up for people who needed it.”

READ MORE

  • William and Harry drift apart as they split earnings from Diana fund

Express.co.uk spoke to body language expert and energy reader Alison Ward who said she was touched by the parallels between Harry and his mother.

She said: “Harry is carrying on his Mother’s legacy by searching for truth whether the world likes it or not, He talks of this generation of young people who are being the change they wish to see in the world by being genuine with power inside.

“It is as if Diana is talking through him, but of course, she is.

“Even though she wasn’t their mother for long, she clearly instilled right from wrong, searching for truth and standing up for people who need it.

“Here is Harry being their voice then humbly handing over the mike to these amazing young changemakers.”

But this week it has been revealed William and Harry intend to take steps to divide the proceeds of the fund founded in memory of their late mother.

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund was originally instituted following her death in 1997, and since 2013, has been paid into the Royal Foundation, a charitable fund used by Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle.

The change leaves William and Kate as sole executors of the foundation which received around £21,000 from the fund last year according to the annual report.

Prince Harry and Meghan are instead launching their own charitable organisation named Archewell.

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  • Royal revenge: Diana played Cupid to Fergie and Andrew

Harry has asked his share from the year to go towards his HIV/AIDS charity Sentebale according to People magazine.

The Duke of Sussex set up this organisation with his friend Prince Seeiso of Lesotho in Africa.

He was inspired to launch the organisation by his mother’s work in combating AIDS.

Earlier this year when the Sussexes announced their intention to leave royal life, royal expert Jayne Fincher said Diana “would be heartbroken” by the royal split.

She told Page 6: “[Diana] would be doing everything she could to try and solve it.

“She’d be doing everything to be the peacemaker.

“She’d be shaking the boy’s heads together saying, ‘For goodness sake. What’s going on here?”

“And I think she’d be trying to make peace between the girls, too.”

Growing up, she said the two boys “did everything together…The boys have gone through so much together.”

Princess Diana as “peacemaker” would likely be devastated by further divisions between her two children.

Prince Harry acknowledged the distance between himself and his brother last year in an ITV documentary ahead.

Speaking in it to anchor Tom Bradby, Harry said: “Part of this role and part of this job and this family being under the pressure that it’s under inevitably, you know, stuff happens.

“But look, we’re brothers. We’ll always be brothers.

“We’re certainly on different paths at the moment but I will always be there for him and as I know he’ll always be there for me.

“You know, we don’t see each other as much as we, as much as we used to because we’re so busy.

“But, I love him dearly and, you know, the majority of the stuff is created out of nothing.

“Just as I said, as brothers, you know, you have good days, you have bad days.”

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Thai Cabinet approves $4.46 billion plan for reviving coronavirus-hit economy

BANGKOK (REUTERS) – Thailand’s Cabinet on Wednesday (July 8) approved a budget of up to 100 billion baht (S$4.46 billion) for projects aimed at reviving an economy hit by the coronavirus outbreak, the Prime Minister said.

The projects will mainly support households and farmers as well as provide jobs, Mr Prayut Chan-o-cha told a briefing.

“This is the first phase that will cover many stages of projects… and we will prepare the second phase,” he said.

The Cabinet approved 186 projects worth about 92.4 billion baht for strengthening the economy and boosting consumption and tourism, a government document showed.

These will be financed by the government’s one trillion baht borrowing for easing the outbreak impact – of that, 400 billion baht will be for the restoration of the economy.

Earlier, the state planning agency said it would propose to the Cabinet projects worth about 80 billion baht, which would create more than 400,000 jobs.

Thailand has introduced billions of dollars worth of measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on South-east Asia’s second-largest economy, which the central bank has forecast will contract by a record 8.1 per cent this year.

Tourism, a key driver of Thai growth, is expected to suffer from an 80 per cent plunge in foreign tourist numbers this year, an industry body says.

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Football: Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wary of Jack Grealish threat

LONDON (REUTERS) – Manchester United must be wary of the threat posed by Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish in Thursday’s Premier League clash at Villa Park, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Wednesday (July 8).

Grealish, 24, scored a sensational goal in the 2-2 draw at Old Trafford in December and British media have strongly linked the English midfielder with a move to Old Trafford.

“I think the last game they caused us some problems, Grealish off the left and Anwar El Ghazi on the right,” Solskjaer said in a virtual news conference ahead of the trip to Villa, who are 18th with 27 points, four from the safety zone.

“Grealish scored a fantastic goal, there’s been loads said about him and we need to be aware of him, if he’s off the left, middle or right, he attracts players to him but there’s not just one player in that Villa team, there are a lot of them.”

United, who are fifth with 55 points, four behind fourth-placed Leicester with a game in hand, are on a 16-game unbeaten run in all competitions and Norwegian Solskjaer has challenged his players to continue improving.

“As a footballer you know you can’t just pick out confidence from the fridge, you have to have it from every day in training and results matter,” he said.

“The last 16 games gives us confidence but nowhere near what a Manchester United team should stride towards. If we focus on the next one and suddenly stood there with 16 that’s what we’ve done and hopefully we can continue.”

The arrival of Bruno Fernandes in January has sparked United’s resurgence and Solskjaer believes there is a lot more to come from the Portuguese playmaker.

“I think it’s gone both ways. Bruno has come into the club, seen how many good players there are and that we’ve helped him show his attributes as well,” the United boss said.

“It’s been a good little relationship blossoming and he can also feel we help him improve. He’s come in and lifted everyone and it’s been a very, very good start so far.”

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