Categories
World News

Polish president accuses German-owned tabloid of election meddling

WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish President Andrzej Duda suggested on Friday that Germany was trying to meddle in the presidential election after a German-owned tabloid newspaper reported on a pardon that he granted to a man who had served his sentence in a paedophilia case.

Duda, a conservative who faces a neck-and-neck race against a centrist opponent in a presidential runoff election on July 12, was angered by reporting by the Polish tabloid Fakt.

“Does Axel Springer, a company of German descent that owns the Fakt newspaper, want to influence the Polish presidential election?” Duda, an ally of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), said during a campaign rally in the western town of Boleslawiec.

“Do the Germans want to choose the president in Poland?” he said.

The case, in which the pardon was granted in March, was initially reported by the Rzeczpospolita daily, but Fakt followed up with more details on Thursday.

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, who also serves as prosecutor general, confirmed the pardon was related to a paedophilia case but said it consisted only of lifting a restraining order and the man had served out his entire sentence.

Duda had applied the law of pardon following a request of a victim who was now an adult, added Ziobro, who was shown speaking by Polish state TVP.

According to Fakt the man finished serving his sentence five years ago.

Earlier on Friday, Duda’s re-election campaign spokesman, called on the German ambassador to Berlin to talk to the owners of Fakt.

“We do not want this kind of foreign interference in the electoral process,” spokesman Adam Bielan told public radio PR1.

The German embassy referred questions to the German ministry of foreign affairs, which declined to comment.

Fakt denied meddling in the election, saying in a statement published on its website that it is run by Polish journalists and editors.

PiS has long accused foreign-owned media outlets of meddling in Poland’s affairs.

Duda’s spokespeople could not be reached for comment.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

Botswana top vet defends investigations into unexplained elephant deaths

GABORONE (Reuters) – Botswana’s top wildlife vet on Friday dismissed accusations from some conservationists that the government had not moved quickly enough to investigate the unexplained deaths of least 275 elephants.

Authorities said on Thursday they were still trying to find out what killed the elephants around two months after the first carcasses were spotted in the Okavango Panhandle region.

Widely-published pictures of the bodies triggered an international outcry, and some campaign groups raised questions about why tests results had not come through.

“A government investigating team has been on the ground since the first cases were reported,” Mmadi Reuben, principal veterinary officer in the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, told Reuters. “Botswana responded swiftly.”

He said local teams had carried out tests and ruled out anthrax as a cause. “We then sent samples to Zimbabwe and South Africa to test for other known pathogens or a novel pathogen,” he said.

The coronavirus crisis had delayed some samples leaving the country, he said.

Poaching has been ruled out, as the carcasses were found intact.

Botswana is home to around 130,000 elephants, a third of Africa’s total, making it a magnet for wildlife lovers.

“Elephants began dying in huge numbers in early May and the government would normally respond within days to an event of this scale,” Mark Hiley, co-founder of National Park Rescue, said on Thursday.

“Yet here we are, months later, with no testing completed and with no more information than we had at the start.”

Chris Thouless, head of research at Save the Elephants, said mass elephant deaths on this scale were almost unprecedented, save during droughts. But he said it was wrong to assume the government had been dragging its feet.

“This is pretty remote country, hearing about the carcasses, getting in there, taking a whole range of samples, knowing how and where to get them from, … that is a pretty difficult task.”

If a virus was to blame, he said the government had a limited range of options. “You’re not going to be able to get the elephants to do social-distancing, and you’re not going to be able to inoculate them.”

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

Canada's biggest banks join boycott of Facebook platforms

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s biggest lenders confirmed on Friday they had joined a widespread boycott of Facebook Inc (FB.O) begun by U.S. civil rights groups seeking to pressure the world’s largest social media platform to take concrete steps to block hate speech.

More than 400 brands have pulled advertising on Facebook in response to the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign, begun after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

Canadian lenders Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO), Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO), Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO), National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) all said they will pause advertising on Facebook platforms in July.

Desjardins Group, Canada’s largest federation of credit unions, also said on its website on Thursday it will pause advertising on Facebook and Instagram for the month “barring any exceptional situations where we need to communicate with our members or clients.”

Most cited their commitments to inclusion and diversity.

Facebook has opened itself up to a civil rights audit and has banned 250 white supremacist organizations from Facebook and Instagram, a spokesman said by email. Its investments in artificial intelligence mean it finds nearly 90% of hate speech it takes action on before users report it, he added.

BMO said it is continuing its “ongoing dialogue with Facebook on changes they can make to their platforms to reduce the spread of hate speech.”

RBC said one way to help clients and communities is to stand against “misinformation and hate speech, which only make systemic racism more pervasive.”

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

Global coronavirus cases exceed 11 million

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Global coronavirus cases exceeded 11 million on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease that has killed more than half a million people in seven months.

The number of cases is more than double the figure for severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organization.

Many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus while making extensive alterations to work and social life that could last for a year or more until a vaccine is available.

Some countries are experiencing a resurgence in infections, leading authorities to partially reinstate lockdowns, in what experts say could be a recurring pattern into 2021.

The United States reported more than 55,400 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a new daily global record as infections rose in a majority of states. Several U.S. governors halted plans to reopen their state economies in the face of a surge in cases.

Almost a quarter of the known global deaths have occurred in the United States – nearly 129,000.

Latin America, where Brazil has 1.5 million cases, makes up 23% of the global total of people infected. India has become the new epicenter in Asia, rising to 625,000 cases.

Asia and the Middle East have around 12% and 9% respectively, according to the Reuters tally, which uses government reports.

In some countries with limited testing capabilities, case numbers reflect a small proportion of total infections. Roughly half of people reported to have been infected are known to have recovered.

Worldwide, there have been more than 520,000 fatalities linked to the disease so far, roughly the same as the number of influenza deaths reported annually.

The first cases of the new coronavirus were confirmed on Jan. 10 in Wuhan in China, before infections and fatalities surged in Europe, then the United States, and later Russia.

The pandemic has now entered a new phase, with India and Brazil battling outbreaks of over 10,000 cases a day, putting a major strain on resources.

Countries including China, New Zealand and Australia have experienced new outbreaks in the past month, despite largely quashing local transmission.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

Masmovil buyers secure first leveraged loan since COVID-19 crisis

LONDON/MADRID (Reuters) – The private equity consortium behind the mooted acquisition of Spanish telecoms firm Masmovil (MASM.MC) has secured a 2 billion euro ($2.3 billion) loan towards that deal, helping revive a leveraged loan market that has taken a beating this year.

The seven-year loan, which will be issued by Masmovil but go towards financing a bridge loan taken to fund its buyout by Cinven, KKR (KKR.N) and Providence, priced late on Thursday, according to a document seen by Reuters.

It is the first such deal to be completed after the COVID-19 crisis wrought havoc on the market in March and pushed the U.S. leveraged loan default rate to a six-year high.

The final amount is 500 million euros more than originally targeted.

“If we had done this deal in February, perhaps we would have got 2.5 or 3 billion (euros); but still it was the first deal underwritten after the virus and it shows that the market is open,” a person familiar with the transaction said.

He and another person familiar with the matter said the buyers were mostly institutional loan investors and some in the collateralised loan obligations market, and that the deal was oversubscribed.

Other previously-agreed acquisitions such as the private equity buyout of ThyssenKrupp’s elevators unit and AMS’s purchase of Osram have found financing in recent weeks, but this leveraged loan is the first agreed after the crisis broke out.

Central bank stimulus has helped revive appetite for low-rated debt and give investors’ confidence in such deals again, bankers said.

Masmovil has grown through acquisitions against fierce competition from Telefonica (TEF.MC), Vodafone (VOD.L) and Orange (ORAN.PA) and owns low-cost brands Pepephone and Yoigo.

Sources familiar with the matter have said its prospective buyers aim to complete the deal in the last three months of this year. Providence already holds 9% of the company, whose board has backed the bid.

($1 = 0.8895 euros)

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

Masmovil buyers secure first leveraged loan since COVID-19 crisis

LONDON/MADRID (Reuters) – The private equity consortium behind the mooted acquisition of Spanish telecoms firm Masmovil (MASM.MC) has secured a 2 billion euro ($2.3 billion) loan towards that deal, helping revive a leveraged loan market that has taken a beating this year.

The seven-year loan, which will be issued by Masmovil but go towards financing a bridge loan taken to fund its buyout by Cinven, KKR (KKR.N) and Providence, priced late on Thursday, according to a document seen by Reuters.

It is the first such deal to be completed after the COVID-19 crisis wrought havoc on the market in March and pushed the U.S. leveraged loan default rate to a six-year high.

The final amount is 500 million euros more than originally targeted.

“If we had done this deal in February, perhaps we would have got 2.5 or 3 billion (euros); but still it was the first deal underwritten after the virus and it shows that the market is open,” a person familiar with the transaction said.

He and another person familiar with the matter said the buyers were mostly institutional loan investors and some in the collateralised loan obligations market, and that the deal was oversubscribed.

Other previously-agreed acquisitions such as the private equity buyout of ThyssenKrupp’s elevators unit and AMS’s purchase of Osram have found financing in recent weeks, but this leveraged loan is the first agreed after the crisis broke out.

Central bank stimulus has helped revive appetite for low-rated debt and give investors’ confidence in such deals again, bankers said.

Masmovil has grown through acquisitions against fierce competition from Telefonica (TEF.MC), Vodafone (VOD.L) and Orange (ORAN.PA) and owns low-cost brands Pepephone and Yoigo.

Sources familiar with the matter have said its prospective buyers aim to complete the deal in the last three months of this year. Providence already holds 9% of the company, whose board has backed the bid.

($1 = 0.8895 euros)

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

UK to set out plans for reopening swimming pools and gyms

LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would set out a timetable next week for when sectors of Britain’s economy which remain shuttered – such as indoor gyms, swimming pools and nail bars – would be allowed to reopen from their coronavirus lockdowns.

“Next week we will set out a timetable for their reopening, though of course I can only lift those remaining national restrictions as and when it is safe to do so,” he told reporters on Friday.

Britain allowed non-essential retailers to reopen last month and pubs, restaurants, cinemas and other leisure and hospitality businesses are due to open their doors again on Saturday, as long as they follow social distancing rules.

Johnson said his government would also publish guidelines next week for how amateur cricket matches – a traditional feature of British summertime – can start up again.

“We will be publishing guidelines in the next few days so that cricket can resume in time for next weekend,” he said.

While professional cricket has already been given the green light to restart, government advisors have been worried that the balls used in the sport could act as a vector for spreading the coronavirus.

England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, provided a glimpse of what the new guidelines for amateur games would look like.”Providing people don’t do things that are clearly not sensible, ranging from hugging the bowler if they’ve just bowled someone for a duck through to spitting on the ball, it should be possible,” he said.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

WHO sees first results from COVID drug trials within two weeks

GENEVA/LONDON (Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) should soon get results from clinical trials it is conducting of drugs that might be effective in treating COVID-19 patients, its Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday.

“Nearly 5,500 patients in 39 countries have so far been recruited into the Solidarity trial,” he told a news briefing, referring to clinical studies the U.N. agency is conducting.

“We expect interim results within the next two weeks.”

The Solidarity Trial started out in five parts looking at possible treatment approaches to COVID-19: standard care; remdesivir; the anti-malaria drug touted by U.S. President Donald Trump, hydroxychloroquine; the HIV drugs lopinavir/ritonavir; and lopanivir/ritonavir combined with interferon.

Earlier this month, it stopped the arm testing hydroxychloroquine, after studies indicated it showed no benefit in those who have the disease, but more work is still needed to see whether it may be effective as a preventative medicine.

Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies programme, said it would be unwise to predict when a vaccine could be ready against COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has killed more than half a million people.

While a vaccine candidate might show its effectiveness by year’s end, the question was how soon it could be mass produced, he told the U.N. journalists’ association ACANU in Geneva.

There is no proven vaccine against the disease now, while 18 potential candidates are being tested on humans.

WHO officials defended their response to the virus that emerged in China last year, saying they had been driven by the science as it developed. Ryan said what he regretted was that global supply chains had broken, depriving medical staff of protective equipment.

Related Coverage

  • Almost a third of COVID-19 samples show mutation, but not worse disease – WHO

“I regret that there wasn’t fair, accessible access to COVID tools. I regret that some countries had more than others, and I regret that front-line workers died because of (that),” he said.

He urged countries to get on with identifying new clusters of cases, tracking down infected people and isolating them to help break the transmission chain.

“People who sit around coffee tables and speculate and talk (about transmission) don’t achieve anything. People who go after the virus achieve things,” he said.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Business

Oil falls below $43/bbl on virus fears, still heads for weekly gain

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil fell below $43 a barrel on Friday as a resurgence of coronavirus cases raised concern that fuel demand growth could stall, although crude was still headed for a weekly gain on lower supply and wider signs of economic recovery.

The United States reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, a new daily global record for the pandemic. The rise in cases suggested U.S. jobs growth, which jumped in June, could suffer a setback.

“If this trend continues, oil demand in the region is at risk,” said Louise Dickson of Rystad Energy.

Brent crude LCOc1 was down 38 cents, or 0.9%, at $42.76 a barrel by 12:03 p.m. EDT (1603 GMT), and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 fell 44 cents, or 1.1%, to $40.21.

U.S. trade was thinned by the Independence Day holiday.

“The fragile U.S. economic rebound is at risk of being undone by the latest surge in new infections,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.

Both benchmarks rose more than 2% on Thursday, buoyed by strong U.S. June jobs figures and a drop in U.S. crude inventories. [EIA/S] Brent is still on track for a weekly gain of 4%.

Signs of economic recovery, and a drop in supply after a record supply cut by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, have helped Brent more than double from a 21-year low below $16 reached in April.

Boosting recovery hopes, a private survey showed on Friday that China’s services sector expanded at the fastest pace in over a decade in June.

OPEC oil production fell to its lowest in decades in June [OPEC/O] and Russian production has dropped to near its OPEC+ target.

The bankruptcy filing of U.S. shale pioneer Chesapeake Energy also supported prices by raising expectations production will decline, JBC Energy said in a report.

Gasoline demand will be closely watched as the United States heads into the July 4 holiday weekend.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

Canada's Trudeau unsure about Washington trip, cites concern over tariffs

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday he was still unsure whether he would go to Washington D.C. next week to celebrate a new North American trade treaty, citing concern about possible U.S. tariffs on aluminum.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump next week, has said he would like Trudeau to attend.

“We’re still in discussions with the Americans about whether a trilateral summit next week makes sense,” Trudeau said in a news conference. “We’re obviously concerned about the proposed issue of tariffs on aluminum and steel that the Americans have floated recently.”

U.S. national security tariffs on imported steel and aluminum – including from Canada and Mexico – were a major irritant during negotiations for the United States-Mexico-Canada trade deal, which was reached last year and entered into force on July 1.

But now, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is considering domestic producers’ request to restore the 10% duty on Canadian aluminum to combat a “surge” of imports.

Concern about the “health situation and the coronavirus reality that is still hitting all three of our countries” is another factor in his decision on whether to go to Washington, Trudeau said.

The spread of the novel coronavirus has slowed steadily in Canada over the past eight weeks, but new cases are spiking in many U.S. states.

As of June 2, Canada had recorded a total of 104,772 coronavirus cases, with 68,345 recovered and 8,642 deaths.

Source: Read Full Article