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India police decommission historic British-era rifles

Sun, 01/26/2020 - 05:59

Police in northern India on Sunday bid goodbye to the historic British-era bolt-action rifles after using them for one last salute during the annual Republic Day parade. The Lee-Enfield .303 rifle was the main firearm of British colonial military forces and, despite being designated "obsolete" around 25 years ago, it has been the main weapon used by police in Uttar Pradesh state over seven decades. "They have been in use since independence (from the British in 1947) and now they'll be replaced by INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) and SLRs (Self-Loading Rifles)," said police superintendent Amit Verma.


Survivor in Slovenia turns 100 on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Sun, 01/26/2020 - 04:38

For Marija Frlan it's as symbolic as it can get: A survivor of a Nazi concentration camp during World War II, the Slovenian woman turns 100 years old on Monday, the international Holocaust Remembrance Day. Frlan, who was held at the Nazi's Ravensbrueck camp in northern Germany for over a year in 1944-45, will join other survivors and officials in Poland on Monday for ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. “The ones who didn’t survive this, they can’t understand, no," the energetic woman said at her home in the small village of Rakek in southwestern Slovenia.


Death Toll Rises in Turkey Quake as Erdogan Slams Social Media

Sun, 01/26/2020 - 04:12

(Bloomberg) -- A magnitude 6.8 earthquake in Turkey’s eastern Elazig province on Friday evening killed at least 31 people and injured hundreds. By Sunday, 45 people had been rescued from the rubble of collapsed buildings.A total of 76 buildings were destroyed and 645 heavily damaged, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said in a statement. As many as 20 of the 640 aftershocks since the first temblor had a magnitude greater than 4 on the Richter scale, according to the agency.Speaking on Sunday in Istanbul, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan targeted “provocative” social media posts about the earthquake. “Some messages are terrible, depraved,” he said, according to the Anadolu Agency. “For example, some question what the government has done about earthquakes in the past two decades.”The earthquake occurred at 8:55 p.m. local time on Friday at a depth of 6.75 kilometers (4.2 miles) on the East Anatolia Fault Line. Tremors were felt in many cities across the region.Prosecutors have launched an investigation into social media posts found to be “provocative,” Anadolu reported. Two people in Gaziantep province have been detained.Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, Environment & Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca were in Elazig as of early Sunday to coordinate rescue efforts.Turkey is situated in a seismically active area and is among countries, including China and Iran, that can experience catastrophic earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1999, a 7.5-magnitude quake shook the western Marmara region killing thousands of people and damaging more than 300,000 buildings. The nation’s economy contracted 3.4% that year.To contact the reporters on this story: Cagan Koc in Istanbul at ckoc2@bloomberg.net;Taylan Bilgic in Istanbul at tbilgic2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Onur Ant at oant@bloomberg.net, Lars Paulsson, Michael GunnFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Putin Decides Low-Growth Russia Could Use Some Help From Keynes

Sun, 01/26/2020 - 01:00

(Bloomberg) -- Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify or Pocket Cast.With time running out on his final term as president, Vladimir Putin evidently wants to end it with a boom.Putin has been a cautious steward of Russia’s $1.7 trillion economy, partly to shield it against blowback from his more adventurous foreign policy. For the last five years, he’s imposed some of the world’s toughest budget austerity. Combined with high interest rates, that’s made Russia a favorite of carry-trade investors –- but it’s left living standards mired at 2012 levels and economic growth stuck below 2%.Now, the president is changing course –- and channeling an economist whose pro-growth ideas are mainstream almost everywhere else: John Maynard Keynes. Putin just appointed a new cabinet stacked with advocates for more government spending and investment, a Keynesian recipe. And he’s told them to hurry up about it.In power for 20 years, Putin gets credit at home for steadying an economy that suffered a decade of chaos and debt default after the Soviet Union collapsed. But lately, stability has threatened to turn into stagnation.Until now, the government hasn’t rushed to the rescue. It’s pared borrowing to a minimum in the last five years, and has been stashing any spare cash from Russia’s commodity exports into a massive rainy-day fund.“Russia’s first priority was to secure its borders to reduce its vulnerabilities,” said Elina Ribakova, deputy chief economist at the Institute of International Finance in Washington. “At the time, it would’ve been wrong to lean on Keynesian theories. Now they’re so comfortable on that front that it’s time to start thinking about how to boost potential growth.”‘Feel the Change’Western sanctions and volatile oil prices have been a key reason for Putin’s “fortress Russia” approach, which aimed to make the economy self-sufficient. But the turn to Keynesian stimulus shows that Russia isn’t walled off from wider currents of economic thinking. There’s been a similar shift in other countries.The U.S. has widened budget deficits even after a decade-long expansion, and the U.K. and Germany have begun to shift away from austerity. India and Turkey are trying to boost growth via fiscal policy.At the first meeting of Russia’s new government, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said he wants to get the spending spree underway quickly. Russians should “feel the changes in their lives and surroundings in the near future,” he said.Mishustin has appointed former Kremlin adviser Andrey Belousov, who’s lobbied for more government borrowing and spending, as his deputy premier. Evgeny Yasin, a director at Russia’s Higher School of Economics and one of the country’s most prominent economists, calls Belousov a “Russian Keynesian.”“Russian political changes at this moment have one goal: to boost economic growth,” Billionaire Oleg Deripaska, founder of aluminum producer United Co Rusal Plc, told Bloomberg Television in Davos.There are limits to how far he can loosen the purse-strings. The government is sticking to a budget law that says revenue from oil above $42 a barrel (it currently trades around $61) must be saved, not spent.Still, extra spending this year could total 2.1 trillion rubles ($34 billion), or 1.3% of gross domestic product, according to calculations by ING Groep NV in Moscow. The government will likely tap its rainy-day fund and release about 500 billion rubles left over from last year’s budget, which posted a surplus equal to 1.8% of GDP.Any Means NecessaryA key part of the fiscal push will be speeding up an existing plan to invest $400 billion in things like highways, housing and ports over four years. The so-called National Projects got mired in bureaucracy and made little progress in 2019.Other elements are new. Putin proposed last week to spend about $65 billion through 2024 on expanding benefits for families and the poor.Putin’s growth program relies mainly on state spending because increased pressure on business and a still-uncertain sanctions outlook has stalled private-sector investment.Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina argues that Russia needs structural reform aimed at improving the business climate and increasing competition. Putin has long claimed to support such measures, but never made much progress on implementing them.“This isn’t a market economy,” and Putin doesn’t follow any particular economic principles, Yasin said. The president “uses any methods that seem necessary to him in order to maintain full control.”His latest methods may not deliver much of a boost right away. Budget easing will probably add 20 or 30 basis points to economic growth rates in the short term, according to Bloomberg Economics.But as Keynes always argued, spending is better for growth than squirreling away money. Markets have generally welcomed the shift –- including even some of the bond investors who’ve reaped rewards from years of tight policy.Russian austerity was geared all along to “preparing for a future crisis,” said Oleg Shibanov, a finance professor at Moscow’s New Economic School.“Russia is prepared now,” he said. “I expect that there’ll be more spending and more investment.”\--With assistance from Anya Andrianova.To contact the reporters on this story: Natasha Doff in Moscow at ndoff@bloomberg.net;Evgenia Pismennaya in Moscow at epismennaya@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory L. White at gwhite64@bloomberg.net, Ben HollandFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park to be closed from Sunday to help prevent spread of virus: CCTV

Sat, 01/25/2020 - 21:27

Hong Kong's popular amusement parks Disneyland and Ocean Park are closed from Jan. 26 to help prevent the spread of a deadly coronavirus that broke out in the Chinese city Wuhan, state media CCTV reported on Sunday. Business is going on as usual at the hotels inside Hong Kong Disneyland, however, CCTV reported. The Shanghai government said on Friday that Shanghai Disneyland will be closed from Saturday.


Chinese Uighurs in Saudi face impossible choice

Sat, 01/25/2020 - 21:18

His eyes brimming with tears, a Uighur student in Saudi Arabia holds out his Chinese passport -- long past its expiry date and condemning him to an uncertain fate as the kingdom grows closer to Beijing. The Chinese mission in Saudi Arabia stopped renewing passports for the ethnic Muslim minority more than two years ago, in what campaigners call a pressure tactic exercised in many countries to force the Uighur diaspora to return home. Half a dozen Uighur families in Saudi Arabia who showed AFP their passports -- a few already expired and some approaching the date -- said they dread going back to China, where over a million Uighurs are believed to be held in internment camps.


China virus death toll rises to 56, total cases near 2,000

Sat, 01/25/2020 - 20:48

The death toll from a virus in China has risen to 56 and the number of people infected across the country is nearing 2,000, authorities said Sunday. Fifteen more people have died and at least 688 new cases of the coronavirus have now been confirmed, according to the National Health Commission. Among the new deaths, 13 were in Hubei, the province at the heart of the outbreak, while Shanghai reported its first death.


Jordanian charged with 'terror' over tourist stabbings

Sat, 01/25/2020 - 19:48

A Jordanian court on Sunday levelled "terrorism" charges against a man suspected of wounding eight people in a November knife attack at a popular tourist site. The suspect, Moustafa Abourouis, 22, faces up to 20 years in prison after the stabbing of three Mexicans, a Swiss woman, a Jordanian tour guide and a security officer at the Roman city of Jerash. At a hearing open to the press, prosecutors accused Abourouis of committing a "terrorist act" and "promoting the ideas of a terrorist group" -- a reference to the Islamic State (IS) group.


Family of five and their dog found dead in NC home

Sat, 01/25/2020 - 19:40

A family of five and their dog were found dead Friday in their Vanceboro, North Carolina home, authorities said.


Postal worker dies a week after being shot while delivering mail in Mississippi

Sat, 01/25/2020 - 18:59

The local community rallied around Ingold by hosting prayer vigils, dressing in purple and placing purple bows along her mail route.


China says virus situation 'grave' as Lunar New Year curtailed

Sat, 01/25/2020 - 16:52

President Xi Jinping warned Saturday that China faced a "grave situation" as authorities raced to contain a virus that has killed 41 people and caused a drastic scale-back of Lunar New Year celebrations. The world's most populous country, which is scrambling to contain the disease that has infected nearly 1,300 people and overwhelmed health facilities, is building a second field hospital and closing more travel routes. After more countries reported cases, Xi said at a Communist Party leadership meeting on the disease that China was "faced with the grave situation of an accelerating spread of the new coronavirus" but that the country will "definitely be able to win the battle," according to state media.


Millions of locusts are swarming in Kenya. These striking photos show just how bad the outbreak is

Sat, 01/25/2020 - 16:12

Hundreds of millions of locusts are swarming into Kenya from neighboring Somalia and Ethiopia with unprecented size and destructive potential.


As defense opens, Trump attorneys accuse Democrats of 'blind drive' to impeachment

Sat, 01/25/2020 - 15:22

Attorneys for President Trump opened their defense in his Senate impeachment trial Saturday morning by charging that the case presented by House Democrats was full of “bluster and innuendo,” and that “devastating evidence” would lead to the inevitable conclusion that the two articles of impeachment now being considered have no merit.


Israeli Challenger Gantz Accepts Trump’s White House Invitation

Sat, 01/25/2020 - 15:03

(Bloomberg) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main election opponent accepted invitations to the White House ahead of President Donald Trump’s planned release of a Middle East peace plan.Netanyahu and former Israeli military chief Benny Gantz, locked in a close race for the March 2 election, are due to visit Washington early next week. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence invited both of them during a visit to Jerusalem on Thursday.“The peace plan devised by President Trump will go down in history as a meaningful landmark,” Gantz, who leads the centrist Blue and White bloc, said in a statement. “These are fateful times, for both Israel’s borders and character, as well as its democratic fabric. Therefore, I have decided to accept the invitation extended to me by President Trump.”That the U.S. invited both Netanyahu and Gantz is a sign of the dysfunction in Israeli politics. The upcoming election is the third in less than year, after two previous attempts resulted in no leader being able to put together a governing coalition.Netanyahu, who’s been indicted on corruption charges, is campaigning on his diplomatic prowess and ties with Trump. Gantz, a political newcomer, faced the choice between risking being upstaged at the White House by Netanyahu, or appearing to turn his back on Israel’s key ally.Netanyahu said Saturday he would head to Washington “full of hope that we are on the verge of a historic moment in the annals of our state,” and with “a sense of great mission.”To contact the reporter on this story: Ivan Levingston in Tel Aviv at ilevingston@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: James Ludden at jludden@bloomberg.net, Tony Czuczka, Ros KrasnyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Military investigating video of Navy members shot through peephole

Sat, 01/25/2020 - 14:46

The Navy is reportedly investigating videos found on the website Pornhub that it believes show unsuspecting Navy service members through a peephole in a bathroom.


Iranian airplane makes emergency landing at Tehran airport

Sat, 01/25/2020 - 14:25

An Iranian airplane made an emergency landing at a Tehran airport, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported on Saturday. The plane was en route from Tehran to Istanbul but returned because of a technical problem and landed safely at Mehrabad airport without any injuries to passengers or crew, Mehr reported, citing an official at the Imam Khomeini airport, the departure point of the airplane. The report did not provide any additional details about the technical problem encountered by the airplane, which belonged to the Iran Airtour company.


Pompeo lashes out at journalist; NPR defends reporter

Sat, 01/25/2020 - 14:14

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out Saturday at an NPR reporter who accused him of shouting expletives at her after she asked him in an interview about Ukraine. In a personal attack, Pompeo said the journalist had “lied” to him and called her conduct “shameful.”


Jeff Bezos’s girlfriend gave Amazon boss’s ‘flirtatious texts’ to brother who leaked to National Enquirer, report claims

Sat, 01/25/2020 - 13:56

Text messages allegedly sent by Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos may have been sold to tabloid newspaper the National Enquirer by his girlfriend’s brother, according to sources quoted by The Wall Street Journal.According to the paper, federal prosecutors are examining messages, including at least one photograph, first sent by the world’s richest man to news reporter Lauren Sanchez, with whom he was having an extramarital affair.


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