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China launches counter-mechanism to US sanctions list


China said Saturday it had launched a mechanism enabling it to restrict foreign entities, a much-anticipated move seen as retaliation to US penalties against Chinese companies such as telecom giant Huawei.

An announcement by the Ministry of Commerce did not mention any specific foreign entities, but broadly spelled out the factors that could trigger punitive measures, which may include fines, restrictions on import-export business or investment in China, and the entry of personnel or equipment into the country.

It covers “foreign enterprises, other organisations and individuals”, it said.

The launch of the “unreliable entities list” ups the ante in the escalating commercial fight with the Trump administration, which has used its own “entity list” to bar Huawei from the US market on national security grounds.

The announcement also came a day after the United States ordered a ban on downloads of popular video app TikTok and effectively blocked the use of the Chinese super-app WeChat on similar grounds, which prompted a threat by China to strike back.

Beijing would consider sanctions on entities whose activities “harm China’s national sovereignty, security, and development interests” or violate “internationally accepted economic and trade rules”.

That language closely tracks wording that Beijing has used to repeatedly denounce US actions against Chinese companies.

The ministry said that if an entity is suspected of violating the provisions, an investigation would be launched under China’s cabinet, the State Council.

The foreign party in question would have an opportunity to defend its conduct to the Chinese investigators.

Chinese enterprises that rely on business with the targeted organisations also will be allowed to apply for exemptions from any ban on doing business with them, as the US system allows.

The United States and China are engaged in an escalating trade battle centring on technology.

Huawei, the world’s leading supplier of telecoms networking equipment, has been a particular target.

Washington has used its own entity list to essentially ban Huawei from the US market and prevent American companies from doing any business with it or with Huawei-affiliated organisations.

The United States says Huawei could be used by Chinese state security to infiltrate communications networks.

China’s government and Huawei deny that, saying the US has offered no evidence supporting the claim.

Under a US order on Friday, the Tencent-owned WeChat app would lose functionality in the United States from Sunday. TikTok users will be banned from installing updates but could keep accessing the service through November 12.

China has for years blocked or restricted big US tech companies from operating in its market, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

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Trump promised a big announcement. Then he read off a long list of names.



“Now, we have a list of people that I’ll be speaking to over the next very short period of time, in many cases, tomorrow,” Trump said. “We have a list of different industries that I’ll be discussing by, meeting by telephone, because we don’t want people traveling right now.”

Trump read off names of just about every leading corporation in America — all of whom he said would advise the administration in the coming weeks about how to reopen the economy from its coronavirus-induced shutdown.

After the president concluded his news briefing, the White House released a list of nearly 200 corporate executives, faith leaders and thought leaders broken out by sector in what the announcement called “Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups.”

“These bipartisan groups of American leaders will work together with the White House to chart the path forward toward a future of unparalleled American prosperity,” the statement said. “The health and wealth of America is the primary goal, and these groups will produce a more independent, self-sufficient, and resilient Nation.”

At no point did Trump or the White House explain the way the committees would work, or the types of suggestions they sought or the benchmarks the White House would use to determine whether it was safe to reopen shuttered businesses, send children back to school, reopen stadiums or resume work in offices.

Trump also did not indicate who would lead the effort emanating from the various industry groups from the White House; on Monday, the councils had seemed like a potential new project for chief of staff Mark Meadows. Throughout the past week there were also confusing signals about the involvement of senior advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

The back-and-forth deliberations over the “Opening Our Country Council,” as Trump called it at one point last week, laid bare for the American public the way decisions often are made in the Trump White House — through power struggles, the loose and very public airing of possible ideas and then the president making adjustments on the fly with a goal of having a big announcement.

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Tuesday the president would likely make an announcement later this week on when and how he intended to reopen the economy, a choice Trump has called one of the toughest decisions of his presidency.

Inside the White House, aides have been zeroing in on the estimates from the nonpartisan Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which show the U.S. is now past its peak outbreak and estimates that hospitalizations related to Covid-19 will start to rapidly decline beginning in late April.

Aides are reluctant to identify May 1 as a target date given how things panned out last time — when Trump identified Easter as his target and then had to walk it back — but the president and vice president do think May is a realistic timeline for some parts of the country to begin reopening.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said he could see the country re-opening in phases, depending on the infection rates.

In an Associated Press interview, Fauci indicated the U.S. needed stronger and more efficient testing to be in place before parts of the country reopened. That was in sharp contrast to the president’s more upbeat, congratulatory messages about the administration’s coronavirus response.

Fauci did not speak at the briefing on Tuesday and no government officials spoke apart from the president.

One senior White House official described the IHME estimates as “promising” and a “positive sign.” This official also said there are “many plans in development” right now that are aimed at safely reopening the economy, including ways to boost surveillance testing across the country.

The administration conducted a stress test of the current surveillance testing system last week to see if it works and views that as one of the main areas that needs improvement before people return to work.

“The data is looking better and better each day, and ultimately we want the data to drive the decision-making in terms of reopening the economy,” the senior White House official said.

A second official said White House aides were aware of a widely circulated timeline put out by Morgan Stanley for restarting the economy and disagreed with it slightly. According to that timeline, the first wave of Americans returning to nonessential businesses would be in June, which is farther out than the current timeline being discussed by task force and other administration officials.

A number of conservatives outside of the administration, along with top officials like Kudlow, Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have been pushing Trump to relax the administration’s guidelines on social distancing as soon as possible to urge businesses to reopen.

Health officials have been sifting through state-by-state data to determine when the economy could reopen, including diagnostic rates of new infections as well as the availability of hospital beds.

Even before the flurry of discussions about forming the new economic council, top economic and Treasury officials had been meeting to discuss ways to boost the economy once people return to work; that could include tax cuts, such as temporarily suspending the payroll tax cut for employers and employees for up to a year, or easing regulations even further.

In just three weeks of the crisis, 16.8 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, according to the Labor Department, and millions more are expected to be added to that tally in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, governors are making their own plans to reopen the economy without the president’s input. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that state officials would consider the state’s ability to track the virus; the protection of vulnerable people; and the capacity of hospitals as he weighed reopening schools and businesses throughout the state.



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Canada slips out of list of world’s ten least-corrupt countries after SNC-Lavalin scandal


Canada slid to its lowest level in at least a decade on a global index of corruption, driven down by the SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. scandal, a new report shows.

The country was ranked 12th of 180 countries on Berlin-based Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index, an annual worldwide list from least corrupt country to worst issued Thursday. Canada ranked ninth in 2018 and sixth in 2010.

While Canada had the best score in the Americas – 77 out of 100 —, the country has slipped four points since last year and 12 points since 2010, the data shows.

“A former executive of construction company SNC-Lavalin was convicted in December over bribes the company paid in Libya,” Transparency International said in the report. “Our research shows that enforcement of foreign bribery laws among OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ) countries is shockingly low,” it said, referring to a group of 36 countries sometimes called the rich nations club.

Denmark and New Zealand co-led the index, emerging as the world’s least corrupt states with scores of 87, while Somalia had the worst score at nine, followed by war-torn nations South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The U.S. ranked 23rd and the U.K. tied with Canada, Australia and Austria.

The corruption index is among a handful of indicators — such as the Washington, D.C.-based World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking that measures red tape in countries, and the United Nations’ Human Development Index that assesses lifespan, education and income — that give snapshots of a country’s performance. They can help influence foreign policy and even debt ratings.

The report didn’t specifically mention the political realm of the SNC-Lavalin scandal, and how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was criticized by Parliament’s Ethics Commissioner for improperly influencing then-Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the bribery case facing the Montreal-based company. Wilson-Raybould later resigned from her posts and Trudeau expelled her from the Liberal party caucus.

“The controversy surrounding the attorney general, the governing party and the allegations of influence — another word for influence is corruption — that has to play into the index, and it should,” Len Brooks, associate professor of business ethics at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, said by phone.

Trudeau said he wanted SNC-Lavalin to face a deferred prosecution agreement — essentially a fine negotiated with a judge instead of a criminal trial — because it would help save jobs that might be put at risk from lost contracts after a criminal conviction. A bribery conviction could ban a company from federal contracts for a decade under government law and also risk contracts linked to the World Bank.

Last month, the Court of Quebec ordered SNC-Lavalin to pay a $280-million fine over five years, with three years of probation, in what appeared to be a break for the company. The RCMP had charged the builder with fraud and bribing Libyan officials in Moammar Gadhafi’s regime with $48 million from 2001 to 2011 to secure contracts.

Brooks said Canada still has work to do on corruption issues, such as stamping out the paying-for-access to politicians, a trend that Transparency International cited as affecting many countries along with concerns over conflicts of interest, preferential treatment, electoral integrity, lobbying activities and civil liberties.

“The work around pipelines and Indigenous groups — there’s all kinds of stuff that comes up there,” said Brooks, who noted Canada’s score would barely earn a B+ at Rotman. “Certainly arguments can be made that we’re not recognizing certain groups of people as best we should.”

Financial Post

• Email: [email protected]



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Man Utd boss Solskjaer will be handed £250MILLION to rebuild club – with Sancho and Haaland top of his shopping list – The Sun


OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER will be handed a staggering £250million next year to rebuild Manchester United.

The Old Trafford boss wants established stars who would walk into the first-team — with Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland on his hitlist.

 Red Bull Salzburg striker and Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho are targets of Man Utd

1

Red Bull Salzburg striker and Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho are targets of Man Utd

He said: “We are going to strengthen. We are going to get starters into this team — we need to.

“We are one or two players down in numbers.

“But it doesn’t have to be this window, it might be the summer window.”

The Old Trafford transfer kitty could swell to £400m if Paul Pogba leaves for the £150m asking price.

Solskjaer shelled out almost £150m to bring in Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Dan James last summer.

But he has also invested time in youth with budding stars like Mason Greenwood, 17, and Brandon Williams, 19, coming through.

Yet he knows he needs more creative options and at least one more top defender.

Dortmund’s £100m-rated Sancho and RB Salzburg whizkid Erling Haaland, 19, who is priced at £70m, are among Solskjaer’s targets.



Centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, who would cost £80m from Napoli, and £70m midfielder Bruno Fernandes at Sporting Lisbon are some of the others on his hitlist.

Pogba could be back by Christmas after playing only six games this season due to ankle problems.

It is understood Solskjaer and executive vice–chairman Ed Woodward may reconsider their stance over the French star leaving the club.

How Man Utd could line up with Havertz, Haaland and Tuanzebe as captain with best academy prospects in world





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This is the list of the top 10 stolen vehicles in Canada


With key-less entry, GPS and mobile apps, vehicles are getting smarter and smarter — and auto thieves are keeping up, according to a new report by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

Sophisticated thieves are using technology to “bypass security systems,” IBC, which represents Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers, warned in a press release on Tuesday.

Auto theft these days is less and less about stealing keys and manual hot-wiring and increasingly about intercepting the signal between your vehicle and your entry fob, said IBC’s Vanessa Barrasa. As long that the two are in close proximity, thieves can capture the signal, she added.

READ MORE: Your car-loan payment may be way too high. Here’s what’s happening

That may explain why, despite ever more sophisticated technology, auto theft has held remarkably constant over the past few years. The IBC estimates thieves steal a vehicle every six minutes in Canada, something that collectively costs owners close to $1 billion every year, with insurers paying out around half that to fix or replace the stolen trucks, SUVs and cars.

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As for the top 10 stolen vehicles in Canada, here’s the list from IBC:

1. Ford 350SD AWD 2007
2. Ford 350SD AWD 2006
3. Ford 350SD AWD 2005
4. Ford 350SD AWD 2004
5. Ford 250SD AWD 2006
6. Ford 350SD AWD 2003
7. Lexus RX350/RX350L/RX450h/RX450hL 4DR AWD 2018
8. Ford F250 SD 4WD 2005
9. Ford F350 SD 4AWD 2002
10. Honda Civic Si 2DR Coupe 1998

What’s so special about the Ford 350?

While the list is dominated by the popular Ford pickup truck, that’s hardly an indication that Ford 350 owners are more likely to suffer theft, Barrasa said. Rather, the data is a reflection of “what’s available” for thieves to steal.

The truck is very common in populous provinces like Alberta, which weighs heavily in the national data, she added.

Still, pick-up trucks in general, as well as some SUVs, are being shipped for resale overseas, which is part of a larger organized crime problem, Barrasa said.



Global News reported in 2018 that organized crime was behind a surge in Canadian vehicle thefts, with some provinces, such as Ontario, seeing double-digit increases in theft even as the national average remained roughly steady.

READ MORE: Organized crime behind surge in Canadian vehicle thefts, auto insurance fraud, experts say

Organized auto theft rings are involved in international trade-based money laundering and raising money for drug-trafficking and terrorism, the IBC told Global News. Transnational gangs are even sending SUVs stolen in Canada to carry out terrorist bombings in the Middle East.

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Still, owners of small, less expensive vehicles can’t rest easy either, as thieves also may target vehicles in order to steal parts or take them on a joyride, according to Barrasa.

“These are thieves: they’re picky, but they’re not too picky.”


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How to protect your vehicle

Some of the steps Canadians can take to reduce the risk of theft are just commonsense precautions. For example, leaving your vehicle running while unattended — even if it’s really cold outside, Barrasa said.

Always locking your doors and making sure the windows are closed is another simple step that can help you ensure your vehicle isn’t an easy target. Other deterrents include steering wheel or brake pedal locks and visible or audible devices that let thieves know the vehicle is protected.

But as auto thieves turn into something closer to hackers, there is more vehicle owners need to know. Thieves can use wireless transmitters to intercept the signal of your key-less entry fob if you leave it at the front entrance of your house, the IBC warned.






Auto thefts are on the rise for car owners and dealers


Auto thefts are on the rise for car owners and dealers

That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t keep storing your fob near your front door, Barrasa said. But instead of dropping in into a generic bowl along with your gloves, and spare change, put it in a metal box with a lid, she suggested.

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Another way to protect yourself from electronic auto theft is to install an immobilizing device, which prevents thieves from bypassing the ignition and hot-wiring a vehicle. This includes devices that require wireless ignition authentication as well as starter, ignition and fuel pump disablers, according to IBC.

READ MORE: Border officers frustrated at police inaction over stolen cars being exported through Montreal

Some vehicles already come with this type of device installed, but if yours doesn’t, you can do your own research or contact your manufacturer or dealer, Barrasa said.

ICB also suggests installing a tracking device, if your vehicle isn’t already equipped with one. While this won’t thwart a theft, it may help authorities to retrieve your vehicle. The device sends a signal to a monitoring station or directly to police in case of auto theft.

Finally, Barrasa recommends storing personal information like insurance and ownership papers in your wallet rather than your glove compartments. That helps prevent a tech-savvy auto thief from also stealing your identity.

— With reporting from Sam Cooper, Global News




© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.







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Cabo Verde’s Morna for UNESCO list, Belgium’s Carnival of Aalst to Go? — Global Issues


  • by A. D. McKenzie (paris)
  • Friday, November 29, 2019
  • Inter Press Service

Made popular by singers such as the renowned Cesária Évora, who died in 2011, morna incorporates voice, music, poetry and dance, and it has fans far beyond the Portuguese-speaking island state where it originated.

Being added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (to give the list its full name) would promote recognition of morna’s value, according to the artistic agencies behind the submission.

Inscription would also raise awareness of the “fundamental” mark that morna has made in “contemporary history and Cabo Verdean cultural identity”, they add.

 Morna, the haunting, traditional music of Cabo Verde, is slated to join UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage List when a committee meets in Bogotá, Colombia, Dec. 9 to 14, to consider submissions from around the world. One of Cesaria Evora’s most famous albums (Lusafrica).

The musical practice is one of 41 elements up for consideration at the annual meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Composed of representatives of 24 states, the committee will vote on submissions including: date-palm knowledge, skills, traditions and practices in several Middle Eastern and North African countries; Byzantine chant of Cyprus, Greece; Ethiopian epiphany; Irish harping; and Kwagh-Hir theatrical performance of Nigeria – a cultural expression that “integrates puppetry, masquerading, poetry, music, dance” and other genres.

Apart from voting on these elements, the committee is expected to take unprecedented action in removing Belgium’s Carnival of Aalst from the Intangible Cultural Heritage List, as the event has been criticised for racist depictions.

During the March 2019 staging of the carnival, racist and anti-Semitic caricatures were displayed on some floats, according to human rights groups. Previously, as far back as 2013, UNESCO received complaints about the offensive nature of some aspects of the carnival, which was inscribed on the List in 2010.

“Since its inscription, the Aalst carnival has on several occasions displayed messages, images and representations that can be considered within and outside of the community as encouraging stereotypes, mocking certain groups and insulting the memories of painful historical experiences including genocide, slavery and racial segregation,” the committee states in documents on the subject.

“These representations are racist,” said UNESCO official Tim Curtis, following a press briefing in Paris Nov. 27. Curtis, the secretary of the Convention on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage, told SWAN that the carnival’s organizers have shown little interest in addressing the issue.

In fact, the event’s organizing committee is reported to have “prepared a set of ribbons as collectors’ items, which depict once again several stereotypical representations … The accompanying text makes fun of UNESCO and reaffirms that the Aalst carnival should continue in the same spirit of satire and mockery”, according to UNESCO documents.

While the carnival may be delisted, another of Belgium’s customs is up for selection – the Ommegang procession in Brussels. This follows the addition of the country’s beer-drinking culture to the List in 2016, one of 429 elements inscribed globally up to now.

Such elements include oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, and the knowledge and skills necessary for traditional crafts.

The aim is to promote the preservation of cultural practices or living expressions inherited from generation to generation, UNESCO says.

The delisting of the carnival may garner attention, but news about Cabo Verde’s morna should also be greeted with celebration, as with the inscription of reggae music of Jamaica in 2018.

Article used by permission of Southern World Arts News

© Inter Press Service (2019) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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