Archive for July, 2020

News24.com | Rand slips to a three-week low in the wake of poor US growth

Posted by Fin24 Markets on July 31, 2020  |   Comments Off on News24.com | Rand slips to a three-week low in the wake of poor US growth
The local currency opened trade at R16.75 on Friday and ended the day 1.5% weaker at R17.01.

11 injured in brazen broad daylight bank robbery in Berlin (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Posted by RT on July 31, 2020  |   Comments Off on 11 injured in brazen broad daylight bank robbery in Berlin (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

A large-scale police operation has been launched in central Berlin after four robbers raided a bank located in a local mall. The robbers sprayed some irritant gas inside, injuring 11 people.

Dozens of police cars alongside firefighters and ambulances have arrived at a mall located in Berlin’s Hermannplatz square not far from the city center following a daring bank robbery committed in broad daylight on Friday afternoon.

Four suspects are reported to have broken into a bank branch in the mall spraying irritant gas before fleeing the crime scene in a car. Eleven people – all said to be bank customers – have suffered injuries due to gas exposure. Four of them have been taken to hospital.

Law enforcement officers have “descriptions” of the suspects, police spokesman Thilo Cablitz said without providing any details on the robbers’ identities. Yet, many details of the heist remain unclear. It is even not known whether the robbers managed to take anything from the bank.

The robbery also occurred as a cash-in-transit van was standing in front of the mall entrance. Yet, according to Cablitz, it was not targeted by the robbers.
Police are currently searching for the suspects. A special forces unit, SEK, has arrived at the site. Hermannplatz Square and nearby areas, as well as a local metro station, have all been cordoned off by officers.

Police are currently investigating “all possible versions” of the incident, yet, a terrorist motive has been “absolutely ruled out,” the spokesman said.

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Bubble indemnity: Big Pharma firms will NOT be held accountable for side effects of Covid vaccine

Posted by RT on July 31, 2020  |   Comments Off on Bubble indemnity: Big Pharma firms will NOT be held accountable for side effects of Covid vaccine

A senior executive for pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has confirmed that his company cannot face legal action for any potential side effects caused by its Covid vaccine. Those affected will have no legal recourse.

AstraZeneca is one of 25 pharmaceutical companies worldwide already testing their Covid vaccines on humans, in preparation for injecting hundreds of millions of people. These are flush times for Britain’s largest pharmaceutical company, worth something in the order of £70 million. They have just reported bumper profits of $12.6 billion in the last six months alone.

But despite its healthy balance sheet, AstraZeneca is unwilling to be held responsible for any potential side effects of its ‘hopeful’ vaccine candidate. In other words, the company is completely protected, or indemnified, against lawsuits from people who are injected with their vaccine and experience negative effects, regardless of how severe or long-lasting they are.

The firm’s lawyers have demanded that clauses to that effect be put in their contracts with the countries AstraZeneca has agreed to supply with its Covid vaccine. The company says that, without such guarantees of indemnity, they would not be incentivised to produce the drug. And it seems most of the countries have ceded to this demand.

Done in the national interest?

Ruud Dobber, a senior AstraZeneca executive, told Reuters “In the contracts we have in place, we are asking for indemnification. For most countries it is acceptable to take that risk on their shoulders because it is in their national interest’’. For “national interest,” read “government interest.” Whether what is happening is good for the actual people of vaccinated countries is, to put it very mildly, an open question.

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FILE PHOTO.
Vaccine nationalism: Rich nations spend BILLIONS to grab first anti-coronavirus doses while poor countries are left behind (again)

Dobber refused to name the countries which have placed orders for the firm’s vaccine, although many major western democracies are likely to be on the list. The UK government has been on a vaccine spending spree, buying 250 million doses from various Big Pharma outfits. America, meanwhile, is way ahead of the curve here – they have a special legal framework in which no pharmaceutical companies face lawsuits for side effects of vaccines in case of ‘public health emergencies’. This legislation, known as the PREP Act, was the product of a massive lobbying effort from the US pharmaceutical industry, and was introduced despite vigorous opposition from consumer groups. Unless the vaccine maker intentionally murders or injures you – willful misconduct – you cannot sue them.

As senior EU officials told Reuters this week, they are locking horns with the vaccine manufacturers over price, payment timelines and, above all, liability. That no one wants to be stuck with liability is hardly surprising. Pump a population full of an experimental vaccine to ‘immunise’ them against a disease that is harmless to most people, and then be held accountable for the consequences? I don’t think so. Big Pharma executives do not earn the seven-figure salaries they do for falling into traps like that.

Dobber also added: “This is a unique situation where we as a company simply cannot take the risk if in ... four years the vaccine is showing side effects.” Oh… okay then. So who does take on the responsibility then? The WHO? Pull the other one. Politicians? Don’t make me laugh. No one? Gotcha.

Who pays?

Because there is a virtual guarantee that in a major vaccination programme some people will be harmed or even killed by the vaccine, some countries have set up special public funds to pay compensation to those affected. The WHO supports this model of taxpayer-funded damages for vaccine claimants.

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FILE PHOTO © Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach
Feline unwell: Pet cat becomes FIRST UK animal to test positive for Covid-19

The US has such a fund, as do many European countries including the UK, Germany, Sweden and Italy. It might be worth looking up the relevant system in your own country if you are worried about taking the vaccine. One thing is certain though: when it comes to Covid-19, private capital have decided that they want nothing to do with the long-term consequences of their vaccinations.

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‘Evita’, ‘Fame’ director Alan Parker dies aged 76

Posted by RT on July 31, 2020  |   Comments Off on ‘Evita’, ‘Fame’ director Alan Parker dies aged 76

British filmmaker Alan Parker has died after a long illness, his family has announced. The director’s work earned 10 Academy Awards and 19 British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs).

Parker was best known for his ability to move between genres, finding success in most that he explored. He got behind the camera for serious social dramas like the Oliver Stone-penned 1978 film ‘Midnight Express,’ about an American imprisoned for years for drug dealing in a foreign country, but Parker also dove into music-themed films like 1982’s ‘Pink Floyd: The Wall’ and 1980’s ‘Fame.’

Not one to be pigeon-holed, the filmmaker would also go on to dabble in horror with 1987’s acclaimed ‘Angel Heart,’ starring Mickey Rourke and Robert De Niro, a New Orleans-set noir piece that found Parker battling the Motion Picture Association of America system when it was initially slapped with an X-rating for its intense violence and sexual content. Other successful films by Parker included 1988’s ‘Mississippi Burning’ and 1996’s ‘Evita.’

Born in London, Parker did not set out to be a filmmaker, nor did he have any connections to the business. Born to a seamstress mother and a house painting father, the director eventually got into advertising, starting as a copywriter and then making commercials for the ad firm CDP.

Eventually forming his own company to make advertisements, Parker slowly moved into the world of filmmaking through scripting the 1971 ‘Melody’ and eventually moving to directing full features with 1976’s ‘Bugsy Malone.’

After years of acclaim and studio battles, Parker stepped away from the camera after 2003’s ‘The Life of David Gale.’ He confirmed his retirement in 2015.

“I've been directing since I was 24, and every day was a battle, every day it was difficult, whether you're fighting the producer who has opinions you don't agree with, the studios, whoever it is,” he said.

Film...is hugely expensive, and the moment it gets expensive, you've got people you have to serve.

Films like ‘Angel Heart’ and ‘Fame,’ however, only grew in popularity, and Parker was never far from the public eye.

He was awarded the Academy Fellowship, the highest honor in the British film industry, in 2013, and was knighted in 2002. He spent his later years focused on painting. 

Parker is survived by five children, seven grandchildren, and his wife Lisa Moran-Parker.

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One killed and at least 50 people injured in high speed train derailment in Portugal

Posted by RT on July 31, 2020  |   Comments Off on One killed and at least 50 people injured in high speed train derailment in Portugal

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

AFRICOM confirms HQ is leaving Stuttgart, German defense minister says US withdrawal is ‘regrettable’

Posted by RT on July 31, 2020  |   Comments Off on AFRICOM confirms HQ is leaving Stuttgart, German defense minister says US withdrawal is ‘regrettable’

The US Africa Command will seek to move its headquarters as the Pentagon plans a major reduction of American forces based in Germany. The German Defense Ministry is now considering how to help regions after the US withdrawal.

Since its establishment in 2008, the US Africa Command has been headquartered in Stuttgart, the capital of Germany’s southwestern Baden-Wurttemberg state. Now the command “will look first at options elsewhere in Europe, but also will consider options in the United States,” AFRICOM said in a statement.

AFRICOM chief US Army General Stephen Townsend noted that the decision-making will “likely take several months” as the command searches for a new home.

The Pentagon previously said it will move the Special Operations Command Europe, also based in Stuttgart, to Mons in Belgium. Overall, the US plans to withdraw nearly 12,000 of the 36,000 American troops stationed in Germany, relocating a portion of them to other NATO member states, including Belgium and Italy.

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Worker prepare pipes with concrete cover for the Nord Stream pipeline at a factory in Mukran on the Baltic island of Ruegen April 8, 2010. © REUTERS/Christian Charisius
Trump says US won’t protect Germany as it ‘pays Russia billions for energy’ in 1st tweet after Pentagon announces troop withdrawal

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer called the plan to reduce the US military presence in the country “regrettable.” She promised to invite the heads of German states after the summer to discuss how that the German forces can “support the affected regions.”

We’re bearing German and European interests in mind. The truth is that a good life in Germany and Europe increasingly depends on how we ensure our own security.

As well as Baden-Wurttemberg, the US is set to pull some of its troops from Rhineland-Palatinate and Bavaria.

US President Donald Trump and other officials have accused Berlin of not contributing enough to NATO. On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper argued that Germany “can and should pay more to its defense.”

German officials were caught off guard by Trump last month when he first announced the decision to scale down the US contingent in the country. Politicians from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union argued that the withdrawal will weaken NATO, while the opposition Left party welcomed the decision.

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RT
It has ‘never been an alliance of equals,’ CDU party member & economist tells RT amid US plan to relocate troops from Germany

As part of its military repositioning scheme, the Pentagon plans to move the HQ of the US Army’s V Corps to Poland. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak confirmed that at least 1,000 additional American soldiers will be deployed in the country. Poland currently hosts around 4,500 US personnel.

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Hong Kong leader uses emergency powers to postpone legislative election for a year

Posted by RT on July 31, 2020  |   Comments Off on Hong Kong leader uses emergency powers to postpone legislative election for a year

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam invokes her emergency powers to postpone the city’s September legislative election by one year, citing coronavirus resurgence as reason.

The leader made the announcement on Friday, while addressing the media, and called it “the most difficult one” since the virus outbreak started. She added that though the decision is a tough one to make, it is “essential” to ensuring public safety and health.

Lam is reported to have said that the Covid-19 situation in Hong Kong was at its worst, and that Beijing had given her the green light to implement the precautionary measures.

It had been previously speculated by the media, that the election was going to draw crowds to the polling stations and increase the risk of the virus’ transmission.

Since 2019, Hong Kong has been rocked by protests, initially triggered by a proposal of a now defunct extradition bill. The demonstrations grew into a full-blown anti-Chinese government movement, fueled by the strict new national security law in 2020, a law perceived by dissenters as an attack on the territory’s special status.

Protests display banners during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020. © AFP / DALE DE LA REY

The opposition protests have attracted the support of many Western countries, namely the US and the UK, who have taken political action, including sanctions, to punish Beijing for what they say are human rights violations. In response, China has been calling out its detractors for what it perceives as interference in its internal affairs.

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FILE PHOTO © Global Look Press / Geovien So
As US beats sanctions drums over Hong Kong, Germany says keeping ties with China warm brings 'more stability & less conflict'

Hong Kong has seen a massive rise in untraceable infections since the start of July. The numbers now stand at more than three thousand cases and twenty-seven Covid-related deaths. On Monday, local authorities introduced mandatory social distancing measures, including limiting public gathering to just two people and making facemasks compulsory to wear outdoors.

Protesters are arrested by police in Hong Kong on May 24, 2020, ahead of protests against new security legislation in Hong Kong. © AFP / ISAAC LAWRENCE

The delay also follows Tuesday’s events, when twelve anti-Beijing activists were banned from participating in the election. “These people intended to paralyze the government and subvert state power,” explained Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, one of the banned activist leaders Joshua Wong said that Beijing “tramples upon the city’s last pillar of vanishing autonomy.”

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News24.com | Asia markets sink as dour US data reinforces worries over virus

Posted by Fin24 Markets on July 31, 2020  |   Comments Off on News24.com | Asia markets sink as dour US data reinforces worries over virus
Asian markets struggled and the dollar extended losses as data showing the US suffered its worst quarter on record highlighted the impact of the virus on the global economy.

News24.com | Markets struggle as coronavirus hammers economies worldwide

Posted by Fin24 Markets on July 31, 2020  |   Comments Off on News24.com | Markets struggle as coronavirus hammers economies worldwide
Asian and European stocks struggled on news of rapidly-shrinking economic activity, highlighting the "devastating impact" of coronavirus on the global economy, analysts said.

News24.com | Markets struggle as coronavirus hammers economies worldwide

Posted by Fin24 Markets on July 31, 2020  |   Comments Off on News24.com | Markets struggle as coronavirus hammers economies worldwide
Asian and European stocks struggled on news of rapidly-shrinking economic activity, highlighting the "devastating impact" of coronavirus on the global economy, analysts said.
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