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World News

Newt Gingrich: China poses serious threat to US in new space race – no issue is more important

NASA and SpaceX successfully launch astronauts to space

It’s an exciting time for space exploration. On May 30, SpaceX and NASA launched a manned mission into space, sending astronauts into orbit. It was the first time anyone had flown into space from U.S. soil since the Space Shuttle program was retired in 2011.

The launch was also historic because never before had a privately designed and built spacecraft carried astronauts into space. The mission illustrates that the future of space travel will be driven by American innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Chinese are also heavily investing in space, with support and funding from the ruling Communist Party.

NASA PUSHES BACK MARS ROVER AGAIN, CITING 'LAUNCH VEHICLE PROCESSING DELAYS'

We are beginning the next great space race. It’s the United States versus China, in competition to be first to create systems for commercial space travel, to establish outposts on the moon, and ultimately to colonize other planets.

Never has the time been more important to discuss the future of space exploration and the importance of space as an infrastructure investment. This is why I explore the U.S.-China space race and humanity’s future in space more broadly on this week’s episode of my podcast “Newt’s World.”

Space holds effectively unlimited resources and can provide boundless opportunities for humanity.

My guest is Charles Miller, president and owner of NexGen Space LLC. Few people have deeper knowledge and a more impressive resume in terms of preparing for the future of space travel.

It’s vital for Americans to understand that, in the long run, no issue is more important than U.S. leadership in space.

As Miller told me, in the future whoever dominates space is going to be able to control Earth and dictate the planet’s culture and values. The next decade or two will determine whether the future of humanity will be governed by freedom and respect for the individual or by oppression and repression.

China seems to understand what’s at stake and has more launches into orbit than the U.S. The Chinese government is giving its commercial space companies huge subsidies to grow a massive industry.

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The Chinese are also copying and stealing American and Russian technology. Beijing is growing its commercial space capabilities rapidly, investing in the effort to influence the future.

The Chinese threat in space is real, and America cannot become complacent. The U.S. needs to let private companies like SpaceX innovate and lead America into the future in space travel and habitation. Commercial efforts will be far more efficient than NASA, which has a crucial role to play but shouldn’t be the driving force.

Space holds effectively unlimited resources and can provide boundless opportunities for humanity. But if China’s communist dictatorship outpaces the U.S. in space, hope will quickly turn into despair.

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I hope you will listen to this week’s episode. Now is the time to have a practical, comprehensive national conversation on space – both the amazing opportunities and the serious threats if we wait.

And I hope you will listen to my last episode, which examined the Michael Flynn scandal and how Russiagate began.

To read, hear, and watch more of Newt Gingrich’s commentary, visit Gingrich360.com.

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World News

Gianno Caldwell: Trump – not Biden – has made black lives better

Trump: I think I’ve done more for the black community than any other president

I celebrated last New Year’s Eve in Ghana, Africa. I’d grown up poor with a mom addicted to drugs but started this decade far from the South Side of Chicago and amongst some of the most “elite” black people in the world.

With me was one of my best friends, Nate, an executive for one of the largest technology companies in the world and a former Obama administration attorney; his brother-in-law, a neurosurgeon who graduated from Harvard; a billionaire whose house party we all attended to ring in 2020; and many Hollywood celebrities, including Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker.

This was to be the start of the best year of our lives.

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Back home in the U.S., African-Americans were experiencing the best economy we have ever seen: Unemployment for our racial group was the lowest in recorded history, black wages were rapidly increasing for the first time in decades, and people who’d been out of work long-term were being hired and suddenly able to take their families on vacations for the first time in years.

President Trump’s policies made it possible.

Tax cuts and rocketing GDP growth meant companies were feeling financially stable for the first time in a decade and public confidence in our economy had never been higher. Trump’s reelection was on cruise control. Even Democrats were willing to admit that the chances of Trump losing were slim.

No one could have predicted what would happen next.

Since COVID-19, almost every economic benefit of the Trump presidency has evaporated. Unemployment has surged again – reaching numbers closer to the end of the Great Depression – and has impacted, as it has in every U.S. downturn, African-Americans the most.

All this is coupled with the issues of race that still plagues our country and the media’s incessant narratives of Trump “being racist.” In some cases, these wounds have been self-inflicted, as with Trump’s recent retweeting of a white-supremacist video that used racist language, which the president later claimed he hadn’t heard.

The black vote will be the swing vote this year. And right now, it’s looking like it’s Joe Biden’s for the taking. This is despite Biden’s history, which is riddled with policies that have historically and devastatingly disenfranchised African-Americans.

For example, the 1994 crime law, which Biden helped author when he was a senator, incentivized local police departments to lock up as many black people as possible, creating mass incarceration of African Americans, along with more prison cells and more aggressive policing.

In addition, Biden was responsible for a provision in the 1986 crack law that came to be viewed as one of the most racially slanted sentencing policies on record: a rule that treated crack cocaine as significantly worse than powder cocaine and ended up disproportionately punishing African- Americans and sending them to prison, but sparing white Americans who typically used cocaine.

We also must not forget the racially charged language Biden has used numerous times, including the notion that if you don’t vote for him “you ain’t black.” But politicians on both sides of the aisle have used offensive language, and what counts more, in my view, are deeds rather than words.

I personally do not agree with everything President Trump says or does, and I often find myself on national TV as a conservative pundit saying exactly that. But I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that Trump has been one of the most impactful presidents for African-Americans from a policy perspective – and that’s what matters.

I often say black lives don’t matter to Democrats, black votes matter to them.

He supported the First Step Act, which released thousands of people from prison (90 percent of whom were black). He has promoted “opportunity zones” that incentivized private investment into marginalized communities, and also increased federal funding to historically black colleges and universities by 17 percent – a total exceeding $100 million, more than any president in history.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration infamously removed a two-year Bush-administration program that annually funded $85 million directly to these prized institutions.

As I mention in my book, “Taken For Granted,” during the 2016 election Trump did something few Republicans had the courage to do – he targeted the black vote and spoke directly to African-American issues.

He was not afraid of saying the “wrong thing” (and, yes, he sometimes did) while achieving the ultimate goal of creating real dialogue and opportunity in communities largely ignored by both parties. In return, he received only 8 percent of the black vote generally, and 12 percent of black men.

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By comparison, 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney earned 6 percent of the black vote.

But after three years in office, having delivered on so many issues for black voters, Trump’s support among black men had risen to 24 percent, according to one February poll.

Although the polls now look bad for Trump, I often remind people that polls don’t vote, and we are still four months from Election Day. At the same time, Trump cannot afford to sit on the sidelines or be complacent about the black vote.

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President Trump and Republicans have delivered for the black community on tangible policies that have had a positive impact – something the Democrats never achieved.

Trump needs to remind African-Americans about what he has accomplished and contrast it with Biden’s record of failure, mass incarceration and racially charged language. I often say black lives don’t matter to Democrats, black votes matter to them. And that party’s lack of targeted policies benefiting African-Americans proves just how much they take their votes for granted.

THIS OP-ED WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE NEW YORK POST

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World News

Defiant President Trump is reportedly convinced that venting white grievance is his path to reelection victory

  • President Trump is rejecting advisers' concerns, convinced that divisive rhetoric designed to appeal to his core of white supporters is the key to reelection, sources told The Washington Post. 
  • Trump underlined his reelection message in his Independence Day address at Mount Rushmore, warning of an America imperiled by "far-left fascists." 
  • Instead of seeking to unify America in the wake of the George Floyd protests, Trump has doubled down on divisive messaging, including a video of a supporter yelling "white power." 
  • Advisers reportedly believe that Trump's response to crises, including the coronavirus pandemic and the anti-racism protests, has alienated many supporters. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump is shrugging off concerns within his party over his divisive rhetoric and is convinced that stoking the grievances of his white core voters will see him reelected in November, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

In recent weeks there has been growing alarm within Trump's reelection campaign and in the Republican party about national and swing-state polls showing Trump crashing to defeat to his Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden in November.

Some advisers are reportedly urging the president to tone down his rhetoric, and reach out to independent and suburban voters repelled by his response to the George Floyd anti-racism protests. 

But Trump reportedly believes that "following his own instincts on race and channeling the grievances of his core base of white voters" will see him beat Biden in November, a White House official and outside adviser to the president, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the publication. 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report. 

Trump's allies told the publication the president is not racist, but attentive to core supporters. 

Armstrong Williams, an adviser to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, said: "He doesn't see the implications of his tweets in the way that his critics do. He just loves his supporters."

Trump departed from the message of unity presidents usually deliver to the nation on Independence Day, and in a speech at Mount Rushmore Saturday painted a bleak picture of an America imperiled from within by far-left extremists determined to tear down America's history and heritage. 

"Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our Founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities," Trump said. "They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive."

He also, in the speech, affirmed the equality of all Americans, regardless of race. 

 

During the anti-racism protests, led by the Black Lives Matter movement, that have swept America since Floyd's death, demonstrators have targeted statues and other monuments associated with and racial oppression. Many honor figures from the slave-owning Confederacy in the US Civil War. 

Trump has sought to make the issue one of the central grievances of his reelection campaign, threatening protesters involved in defacing monuments with tough jail terms. 

He has also made little attempt to reach out to the millions of Americans who took part in the protests. Instead, he has turned to Twitter to spread arguably racist messages, including a video in which an elderly supporter in a Florida retirement home yelled "white power." (The president subsequently removed the video but has not disavowed it.) 

So far, polls don't bear out the president's apparent conviction that most Americans are hostile to the protests, with a June 28 survey by CBS News showing that a majority of Americans agree with ideas proposed by the BLM movement. 

 

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Economy

Travel agents resort to hardline tactics to get out of a refund

The tone was pleasant, but the message on Steph Nixon’s voicemail contained a threat. Nixon, like thousands of others, had been informed by her travel agent that her package tour of Morocco could not go ahead because of coronavirus restrictions.

Also, like thousands of others, her request for a refund was refused. The agent, TourRadar, claimed it was a “suspension”, not a cancellation, and that she would have to accept a credit note. The tour operator, Intrepid Travel, insisted that a credit note was the only option.

Nixon, who is on furlough and fears for the future of her job, issued a chargeback claim for her £600 via her card company, Amex. That’s when the voicemail message was left.

A TourRadar operative said it was successfully contesting credit card claims and that if she did not drop her case, it would deem her to have cancelled the holiday and breached the contract. She would, therefore, be left without a refund and lose her entitlement to the credit note.

“TourRadar has continued to advise me every day by email that if I don’t withdraw the dispute within 24 hours it will remove the offer of credit and I’ll receive nothing,” she says. “It claims that it doesn’t have long to file paperwork with Amex to fight its side, but Amex tells me that dispute windows have been lengthened to 60 days. I believe they’re trying to put pressure on me by creating a false deadline. I now have no idea what to do.”

The travel industry is facing ruin as Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on the holiday market. Although consumer law requires firms to refund customers if they cannot provide the goods and services purchased, many are instead offering protected credit notes in a bid to remain solvent. Some appear to be trying to manipulate the law to deter those who are unable or unwilling to rebook their cancelled holidays.

The Observer has been contacted about half a dozen agents who have retrospectively added exemption clauses to their terms and conditions, renamed cancellations “postponements” to avoid payouts or threatened customers who seek to enforce their right to a refund.

The approach by TourRadar, which sells holidays arranged by a range of package tour operators including Intrepid, is troubling.

Customers who do not receive the goods or services they have paid for have the right to make a claim via their card issuer. They can do this either through the voluntary chargeback scheme operated by Visa, Mastercard and Amex – which retrieves the money from the trader’s bank – or, if they used a credit card, under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which requires the card issuer to cover the cost.

Nixon’s booking had already been cancelled by the tour operator before she sought redress from Amex, so it’s absurd for TourRadar to threaten to hold her liable for cancelling it herself.

Nonetheless, an email from customer services informed her that the booking terms and conditions had been amended after the coronavirus outbreak to redefine cancellations as “suspensions”. Amended terms and conditions can’t be retrospectively applied to a contract and the original terms promised a refund if the operator had to cancel.

Moreover, the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations require operators to issue refunds within 14 days for cancelled trips. Nixon was eventually refunded after approaching Intrepid for a second time.

The Financial Ombudsman Service says it was unaware of companies trying to pressure customers to drop claims. “Consumers have the right to make a complaint about section 75 with their bank and we’ll expect businesses to investigate these complaints thoroughly and treat consumers fairly,” it says.

Amex told the Observer that it took into account the terms and conditions that were in place at the time of the transaction if a card holder raised a dispute. “Our card acceptance agreements require merchants to comply with the laws applicable to their businesses,” it says.

TourRadar claimed that the voice messages were merely a recommendation that Nixon seek a refund directly from the tour operator, despite the fact that its subsequent emails insisted that Intrepid’s refusal was non-negotiable, and none suggested she approach Intrepid again.

“Looking back, we do acknowledge that communication between our team and Ms Nixon was not very clear in explaining this recommendation as typically the most successful route,” says Vanessa Subramaniam, global director of customer support at TourRadar. “We take full responsibility for this. Moving forward, we’ll continue to work on our training to ensure processes like these are carried out in line with best practices and standards in place.” Intrepid Travel was contacted for a comment.

Sheila Pearce was also told that her tour operator’s terms and conditions had been changed retrospectively, denying her the refund promised for her cancelled package holiday. When she attempted to recover the money through the small claims court, she was warned that the company would use pending insolvency legislation to thwart it.

Pearce had booked a £3,640 tour of Pompeii with an award-winning specialist travel company, Andante Travel. She was notified that the trip would have to be cancelled due to the pandemic and was twice promised a refund within six weeks. Instead of her money, she received a message informing her that the booking terms and conditions had been changed and she was only due a credit note.

“We objected on the grounds that we are pensioners with an underlying medical condition, so we will almost certainly never travel abroad again,” says Pearce.

Andante refused to budge and, when she began legal action, its lawyer sent a letter advising that the company could not afford to pay refunds to all its customers. It warned that the directors would not defend her claim so a default judgment would be issued by the court and have to be enforced.

Enforcement is usually done through a petition to wind up a company and, the letter stated, the pending corporate insolvency and governance bill, designed to protect struggling companies during the pandemic, would prevent Pearce doing that.

“It will therefore be the case that in the event that you proceed with your claim and are successful in obtaining judgment, the company will not make payment and will be protected from further enforcement measures by you,” the letter concluded.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy told the Observer that the new rules do not prevent creditors appointing bailiffs to enforce a county court judgment, and that winding up petitions can still be brought once the temporary new insolvency legislation has expired.

“The measures are not a licence for a company not to pay debts which remain legally due and enforceable,” says a government spokesperson. “Where cancellations occur, companies have a legal obligation to ensure their consumers are fairly compensated.”

Jackie Willis, CEO of Andante Travel, says the purpose of the letter is “simply to set the legal position from the company’s viewpoint, having received appropriate professional advice”.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has set up a taskforce to investigate companies that have behaved unfairly towards customers during the pandemic, including tour operators and holiday lettings companies. The majority of the complaints have been about cancellations and refunds, with 75% about holiday companies and airlines. “The vast majority of businesses are behaving in a reasonable way, but the CMA will not hesitate to take enforcement action if there is evidence that businesses have breached competition or consumer protection law,” it says.

Pearce is still without her £3,640. Andante Travel promised customers that they can claim a refund if they do not use their credit notes before they expire at the end of March 2021, but Pearce does not want to wait a further nine months.

“I feel they are, in effect, using our money as an interest-free loan without any agreement on our part,” she says. “This is causing us considerable stress, to say nothing of the disappointment from losing the chance to visit Pompeii which we have planned for 40 years.”

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World News

Mike Huckabee: Racism a 'spiritual' problem for US — and elections can't solve it

America divided on the Fourth of July: Can the nation come together?

Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, joins Judge Jeanine Pirro on ‘Justice.’

America's racism problem is more "spiritual" than political, Mike Huckabee said Saturday night.

"The only way to get rid of racism is with God," the former Arkansas governor told host Jeanine Pirro during an appearance on Fox News' "Justice with Judge Jeanine."

"Why do you say that?" Pirro responded.

"Well, because racism is essentially when I'm disrespecting God and the people that he made who are equal to me," Huckabee said. "If I really have a good relationship with God and I love him, I can't help but love the people that he made. And some of them are black and some of them have white in their color and some are Asian and they're all kinds of people. But he made them all and he didn't make any of them to be less important than me."

CNN SLIGHTS MOUNT RUSHMORE AS 'MONUMENT OF TWO SLAVEOWNERS' AFTER EXTOLLING ITS 'MAJESTY' IN 2016

Racism is solved individually and not by "electing a certain politician," Huckabee added.

"So if I've got a problem with somebody of a different race, my problem is with God. And that's why I say we've got all these people arguing over politics and race and economics and sociology," Huckabee said. "The real problem is spiritual. And that's where I feel like that we are failing in this debate — because we think we can resolve it by electing a certain politician."

"We resolve it individually when we accept the fact that there is nobody on this Earth who is better than I am and there's nobody on this Earth who is less than me — not because the government said we're equal, but God did," the Fox News contributor added.

Pirro asked Huckabee how America got to where it is today regarding social unrest and racism.

Huckabee blamed "selfishness."

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"I think we're there because we have systematically not just given in to racism, we've systematically given into selfishness and everyone becoming his or her own God," Huckabee said. "That's really the fundamental problem."

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Business

Italian Soccer’s Old Stadiums, Empty Seats Seek Bailout

Italian soccer has fallen a long way from its heyday. Now, the chance to refurbish one of Europe’s top leagues to its former glory has attracted interest from a clutch of private equity firms who are betting on getting a bargain.

Private equity firms including Advent International and Bain Capital are considering bids for a stake in a league division that manages TV rights, Bloomberg News has reported. The Serie A league has hired Lazard as an adviser and bids are expected by July 25, people familiar with the talks said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. No final decisions have been made and a deal may not go ahead, they said.

Representatives for Serie A and Lazard declined to comment.

The winner has its work cut out. When Diego Maradona played for Napoli more than 30 years ago, the inspiration for Asif Kapadia’s 2019 film on the Argentinian player, San Paolo’s stadium was a centerpiece of Italian soccer. It was one of the venues for the FIFA World Cup in 1990. But in a 2018 radio interview, the president of Napoli called the team’s colossal stadium “a toilet.” It’s been partially refurbished since, but illustrates the league’s need for investment.

Shutdowns from the Covid-19 pandemic have strained the league further, potentially making it a bargain for a bidder. After a three-month lockdown and with the threat of stadiums sitting empty for the rest of this season and the start of next — depriving the sport of ticket sales, TV revenue and hospitality — some teams are financially stretched. And accumulated debt is rising. The figure for the league is about 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion) for the 2018-2019 season, according to analysis of 18 out of 20 clubs by KPMG.

Serie A ranked fourth out of the five biggest European leagues by revenue in Deloitte’s annual review of soccer finance. Its revenues for the 2018-2019 season were less than half of the wealthier British Premier League at just under 2.5 billion euros.

The key to turning the league around may be television rights, the fuel behind the Premier League’s financial performance. Payouts from the rights to broadcast matches remain relatively low and suffer from a lack of competition in Italy. Sky and streaming service DAZN carve out domestic rights to the live matches between themselves. England’s league made about 3.5 billion euros from broadcasting rights in the 2018-2019 season compared to 1.46 billion euros in Italy, according to Deloitte.

The chairman of AC Milan, Paolo Scaroni, said on Bloomberg TV that there were lots of markets where Italian soccer could do better, naming India and China as examples.

“Serie A is not receiving the amount of money we should be,” Scaroni said, and added that the offers from three private equity firms value the rights higher than what they’ve been getting for the last couple of years. “We are reviewing as a league all of our strategy because we need to improve the revenues coming from the Italian TV rights and international TV rights.”

Utilization of stadiums — which, with the exception of a few modernized ones such as Juventus and Udinese, remain unappealing to many fans — was also the lowest of the top five European teams, with just 61% of seats filled, according to the Deloitte report.

The stadiums, mostly owned by local councils, have had trouble finding funds and overcoming bureaucracy to modernize.

Genoa Cricket and Football Club, known as Genoa, is Serie A’s oldest soccer team, founded in 1893. After Italy’s lockdown, Genoa applied for a 7 million euro state-backed credit facility, according to people familiar with the matter. Like Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s 6.3 billion euro credit-facility, Italy’s trade-credit insurer Sace SpA will guarantee most of the loan, the people said, asking not to be identified because the application isn’t public. Representatives for Genoa and Sace declined to comment.

There are plans to replace Milan’s San Siro stadium, one of the country’s most iconic, in about three years. AC Milan and Inter Milan soccer teams are in advanced talks with local municipality on the project that will require investments and a project financing of about 1.2 billion euros shared between two teams, according to a statement. The architectural projects are under review include the “Cathedral” by design firm Populous and “The Rings of Milan” by Sportium.

But Serie A still has potential. Juventus’s Cristiano Ronaldo is a celebrity. The Turin team’s player is the most followed person on Facebook, with more than 122 million followers, and has about 228 million Instagram fans, according to the social media platforms. Clubs like AC Milan, Inter Milan and Napoli are still powerful names in European soccer, and in recent years they have been joined by Bergamo-based Atalanta, which is in the European Champions League quarter-final this season.

Andrea Sartori, KPMG’s global head of sports, said the Italian league has the most upside potential of all the big leagues in Europe. “As far as the clubs are concerned a few clubs have liquidity issues, so it is easy to see why selling a stake in the league might make sense for them,” he said.

For the first time, no Italian teams made it to the top 10 in KPMG’s ranking of European soccer clubs by valuation. Ronaldo’s Juventus came in at 11, followed by Inter Milan at 14, but both were overshadowed by six of England’s Premier League teams.

“As an investor you need to look to the future, not the past, and the future for Serie A looks positive,” said Joe Dagrosa, a U.S. investor who used to own French soccer team Girondins de Bordeaux and is looking for an investment in a Premier League club. “Italy has major players ready to buy into the leagues’ broadcasting rights revenues, and we think that bodes very well for the long-term potential for Italy.”

Private equity is no stranger to sports investments. CVC had a controlling stake in the Formula One auto racing competition for a decade until 2016, and it’s also bought into English rugby. Elliott Management Corp., the American activist investment firm, owns AC Milan.

Others are skeptical a deal with private equity is the panacea that Italian soccer really needs.

“I’m just wondering whether leagues will regret selling minority stakes now,” says Yannick Ramcke, a sports commentator at the Offthefieldbusiness.de blog. “If the situation gets worse, minority holding PEs could have a path to gaining a majority – which would make sense since I don’t see much upside for PEs at the moment.”

— With assistance by Jan-Henrik Foerster

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Business

I left my heart in the Luton airport branch of Bella Italia …

The Covid-19 era has been a sensitive time for the high street. To a roll of honour that includes TM Lewin, Monsoon Accessorize, Le Pain Quotidien, Warehouse, Victoria’s Secret, Cath Kidston and Laura Ashley, we must now add Café Rouge and Bella Italia, which went into administration last week. These brands won’t all vanish entirely. Some have been bought out of administration with the hope of saving the profitable parts, but many will be slips of their former selves – an alarming thought in the case of Victoria’s Secret.

Some of these businesses were already at risk, thanks to a combination of rates and rents, Brexit, Deliveroo and Amazon. There’s no shame in going out to coronavirus, and you might argue it’s better for some of them in the long run.

At this point it’s easier to try to work out which will be the last high street businesses standing. My money is on Greggs, Timpson, and Games Workshop, which is now worth more than British Gas. Unless you’re selling key items such as sausage rolls, keys or plastic elves, the retail reaper is on his way.

My daughter was born just before lockdown, and while I wouldn’t say I was necessarily looking forward to taking her to Café Rouge, I had hoped we might be able to walk past and peer in, in the same way I plan to point out interesting graves.

“When I was your age this was the height of sophistication,” I would say, gazing in at the peeling rattan furniture. “Café is French for ‘cafe’, and rouge is French for ‘red’, so this meant ‘red cafe’. You could get a baguette with warm lettuce and chargrilled chicken slivers for just £12.45. Frites were extra. Frites is French for chips.”

Now I wonder whether the high street will seem like a relic of a past era, a mysterious place where fathers could still pop out on Christmas Eve to buy a foot spa.

“Dada, what’s a TM Lewin?” my daughter will ask, looking up wide-eyed from her history book. “Well,” I’ll say, “it was a shop where you’d go to get four superficially presentable office shirts for £100.”

“What’s an office?”

“It’s where you’d go to do your job. It was also the name of a shoe shop.”

“What’s a job?”

“Well, before King Mike Ashley granted Mummy and Daddy this strip of land to toil, we would go to a little room and sit at a computer while we waited for the pub to open.”

“What’s a pub?”

“Oh yes, sorry. Pub is the old word for Wetherspoons.”

It’s easy to mock the high street brands, but they became chains for a reason. Once upon a time, they offered something exciting. I loved Byron when it opened. Notting Hill types can be snooty about Monsoon, but in market towns around Britain it’s a byword for exotic chic. These chains also set a base level of quality. Bella Italia is no Padella, but the point is that with a Bella Italia around, every new pasta restaurant must be at least as good.

Restaurant closures tend to sting more because they are the setting for meaningful events. I’ve never been dumped in Oak Furnitureland, and now I never will be. It’s telling that the moment Prince Andrew lost the British public was when he brought up Pizza Express. You can abuse your position as a prince of the realm, conduct nefarious relationships and be a laughably ineffectual trade negotiator, but woe betide the minor royal who drags La Reine through the mud. As an alibi, Woking was compelling because it was relatable. We could all imagine Pizza Express in Woking, even if we’d never been. It was also oddly plausible. No self-respecting royal would be seen in a KFC or Nando’s, but Pizza Express? Perhaps he was one of us after all. (He was not.)

Like everything else in this rainy, class-obsessed isle, high-street shops and restaurants are as much about belonging as commerce, which is why we take them so seriously. The most memorable fact in the Salisbury poisonings was the fateful trip to Zizzi; a sign that this crime had truly penetrated to the heart of middle England.

Few things provoke national terror like the suggestion that John Lewis or M&S might be in trouble. Woolworths was practically given a state funeral. We feel the loss of these places, even if we hadn’t been for years. Cut us and we all bleed Rouge.

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World News

Mont. Gubernatorial Candidate Isolates After Wife Is Exposed To Kimberly Guilfoyle

Montana Gubernatorial candidate and Congressman Greg Gianforte (R) is self-quarantining after both his wife and running mate were exposed to Donald Trump campaign official Kimberly Guilfoyle, who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, whose virus status was reported Friday, appeared to take no social distancing precautions nor wear a face mask during a recent campaign appearance.

Susan Gianforte and Kristen Juras, who is running for lieutenant governor in Montana, attended an event with Guilfoyle and Trump Jr. Tuesday. 

“Out of an abundance of caution and for the health and safety of others, they will self-quarantine, be tested for COVID-19, and suspend in-person campaign events pending test results,” said a spokesperson for Greg Gianforte.

A Facebook post featured a photo of Susan Gianforte, Juras, Guilfoyle and Trump Jr. None wore a mask nor maintained six feet of social distance, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

Guilfoyle had been scheduled to attend the president’s event at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota Friday, but did not make an appearance.

The previous day Guilfoyle was filmed at a campaign stop in South Dakota speaking to a group of people without a mask and in close proximity to others, including her boyfriend, who also wasn’t wearing a mask.

The president’s son on Tuesday on social media ridiculed the use of a bandana to protect against COVID-19 transmission.

In a study published in the journal Physics of Fluids on Tuesday researchers at Florida Atlantic University found that bandanas helped protect against COVID-19 transmission by reducing the average distance that coughs traveled from 8 feet to 3.6 feet. Commercial cone masks reduced the distance to 8 inches, and a stitched, two-layer mask to 2.5 inches.

A number of people close to the president have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent months. Trump’s personal valet and Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary both tested positive for the virus in May.

Last month, several staffers who worked on Trump’s Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally and Secret Service officers also tested positive for the virus.

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World News

Huawei CEO: We have full capability and determination

Hong Kong (CNN Business)Huawei is under a lot of pressure.

Fresh US sanctions have cut off the Chinese tech company’s access to vital American technology to a greater extent than ever before. Countries and mobile network operators around the world are now questioning whether Huawei will be able to deliver on its 5G promises. And rising anti-China sentiment in India and elsewhere is not helping matters.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared last month that “the tide is turning against Huawei as citizens around the world are waking up to the danger of the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state.”

    Those remarks were “a bit pre-emptive,” said Carisa Nietsche, a researcher at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank.
    Huawei fights to protect UK business as pressure for 5G ban mounts
    Pompeo lauded countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland and Estonia for “only allowing trusted vendors in their 5G networks.” But Nietsche noted that many of those countries made up their minds last year, when they signaled they wouldn’t work with Huawei. And European countries with much bigger economies, such as the United Kingdom, France and Germany, have yet to announce a total ban on Huawei.

    But there is “the beginning of a sea change in Europe,” Nietsche said.
    European countries and mobile carriers are now worried that Huawei won’t be able to provide 5G infrastructure as promised given the “massive hit to their business” from the new US export controls, she said.

    Huawei’s 5G business in ‘grave danger’

    Huawei has been here before. Last year, the US government barred American firms from selling tech and supplies to the Shenzhen-based company without first obtaining a license to do so. Huawei stockpiled inventory and found alternative suppliers, and as a result, continued doing brisk business despite the US ban. The company’s overseas smartphone sales took a hit, though, because it was forced to release new models that weren’t able to access to popular Google apps.
    Even after reporting a strong finish to 2019, however, Huawei warned that 2020 would be “difficult.”
    That would prove to be all too true.
    Huawei's Shenzhen headquarters. Its 5G business is in danger, as the company battles a prolonged American campaign against its business.
    The latest US sanction announced in May cuts much deeper than last year’s ban. It applies to any global firms using American equipment to make semiconductors. The new rule restricts companies like TSMC, a Taiwan-based firm, from exporting computer chipsets and other key components to Huawei.
    Without those chipsets, Huawei can’t build 5G base stations and other equipment, according to analysts at brokerage firm Jefferies.
    “Based on the current direct export rule that the US put on, I really think that Huawei’s 5G equipment business is in grave danger,” Jefferies analyst Edison Lee said on a recent call with investors.
    “If the law doesn’t change, and if the US-China tension does not de-escalate, then I think there’s a big risk that Huawei will stop being able to provide 5G equipment” from early next year, he added.
    Asked for comment for this story, Huawei spokeswoman Evita Cao said “we continue to receive support from our customers,” without going into further detail.
    The company said in May that it “categorically opposes” the latest US sanction, calling the new rule “discriminatory.”
    “It will have a serious impact on a wide number of global industries” and damage “collaboration within the global semiconductor industry,” Huawei said in a statement. “We expect that our business will inevitably be affected,” it added.
    That may already be happening in the United Kingdom.
    US pushes for new crackdown on Huawei, raising concerns of retaliation against American companies
    On Saturday, the UK-based Telegraph newspaper reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is poised to begin phasing out Huawei 5G tech in Britain “as soon as this year,” walking back a decision that granted Huawei a limited role in building that network.
    Earlier last week, Oliver Dowden, the country’s digital and media secretary, said that the US sanctions will “likely have an impact on the viability of Huawei as a provider for the 5G network.”
    “I am not a Sinophobe, I won’t be drawn into Sinophobia,” Johnson said on Tuesday. But “I do want to see our critical national infrastructure properly protected from hostile state vendors, so we need to strike that balance.”
    Huawei said earlier this year that it has secured 91 commercial 5G contracts, more than half (47) are in Europe, 27 are in Asia and 17 are elsewhere in the world.

    China tensions

    The United States has long viewed Huawei warily, suspicious of how closely the company is tied to the Chinese Communist Party. The company maintains that it is a private firm owned by thousands of its employees.
    Critics also say Beijing could force Huawei to spy on other nations. Huawei says that has never happened and if it did, the company would refuse such orders.
    Yet even as it claims independence from Beijing, Huawei has been caught up in sparring between China and the United States, and to an increasing degree, the European Union and countries such as India that are growing more wary of China.
    Desk dining and mandatory health checks: How Huawei is returning to work
    The coronavirus pandemic has only strained relations further. Some countries, such as the United States, have blamed China for the outbreak, and others have been put off by what they see as Beijing’s aggressive response to criticism.
    There was a moment during the pandemic “where China was able to assert itself on the global stage as a leader, and I think they fumbled that,” especially in Europe, after China sent masks and respirators of dubious quality to countries experiencing outbreaks, said Nietsche.
    EU countries are concerned about their lopsided trade and investment relationship with China, and they have taken steps in recent months to prevent subsidized Chinese companies taking over the bloc’s industrial champions or winning public contracts. Beijing’s repression of the Uyghur ethnic minority in the northwest province of Xinjiang is another major area of concern.
    There are now “excellent signals” coming from Germany and the United Kingdom “that they will move to exclude or at least will take Huawei out of the core [5G] network,” said Nietsche. Germany, for instance, is scrutinizing Huawei’s data flows to see if the company is breaching European laws, she said.
    India, meanwhile, had been going back and forth over whether to include Huawei equipment in the country’s 5G network, said Chaitanya Giri, an analyst with Indian foreign policy think tank Gateway House. Huawei received the green light to participate in 5G trials late last year.
    TikTok ban undercuts ByteDance in one of the world's biggest digital markets
    But tensions between New Delhi and Beijing have risen dramatically in recent weeks after at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in border clashes with Chinese troops stationed in the Himalayas. China has also been singled out in India for blame over the coronavirus pandemic, according to Giri.
    Some Indians have been calling for a boycott of Chinese goods. And in a move widely seen as retaliation against China, the Indian government last week banned TikTok and several other Chinese apps, saying they pose a “threat to sovereignty and integrity.”
    Huawei may now get caught up in the escalating tensions, according to Giri. Public sentiment has now “consolidated, that we are not going to use any of the Chinese equipment,” he said.

      What Europe and India share, according to Giri, is a growing sense of unease following years of substantial investment by China.
      “Big democracies right now are singing in a chorus,” he said. “They understand what’s at stake.”
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      Markets

      Myanmar Pushes Ahead With Capital-Market Projects Despite Virus

      Foreign investment in Myanmar’s fledging capital markets should increase quickly after the pandemic subsides, as the country pushes ahead with new trading platforms for stocks and bonds, according a Securities and Exchange Commission of Myanmar official.

      The Southeast Asian nation started allowing foreigners to invest in equities on March 20 — four days before the country reported its first coronavirus cases. That’s one reason foreigners purchased shares in only three of the six listed companies as of July 1, with a combined 175 million kyats (US$128,790) worth changing hands, mainly in First Myanmar Investment Co. Ltd. and Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings Public Ltd.

      “If we say we don’t suffer any impacts of Covid-19, then it is just a lie,” Htay Chun, an SEC commissioner, said in a phone interview on Friday. “But it is fair to say that we are not hit as badly as some developed markets.”

      Ever Flow River Pcl recently made its debut on the Yangon Stock Exchange despite the coronavirus outbreak, and two other companies, one in the telecom sector and the other an infrastructure developer, have also applied for listing, he said, declining to give the names.

      “Post pandemic, we expect to see three or four new main-board listings every year,” he said. “Listed companies can offer foreign investors as many shares as they want,” though a firm’s designation changes into a “foreign entity” if overseas ownership exceeds 35%.

      The planned opening of a “pre-listing board” in August has been pushed back to the final quarter of this year, though the goal of having 10 companies at the outset hasn’t changed, Htay Chun said. A program of corporate-bonds issuances has also been delayed, but should see a “pilot run” by December with help from the International Finance Corporation, he said.

      The central bank’s recent reduction of interest rates should boost investment in Myanmar’s stock and bond markets, as people with bank deposits may seek alternative, the regulator said. That will also “help attract more foreign investors after Covid-19.”

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