Daily News

LONDON - Britain reported 438 new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, the highest figure since February, government data showed. The figures also showed there had been 94,432 further daily infections. That compares with 84,429 news cases and 85 deaths a day earlier.   (Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; editing by William James)...
FRANKFURT - The European Union's drugs regulator said vaccine developers should work on more than one upgraded COVID-19 shot and consider not only a product tailored to the fast emerging Omicron variant but also versions that address a combination of variants. "What we are hearing also from other regulatory agencies is that is important not to exclude any options," the European Medicines Agency's Head of Vaccines Strategy, Marco Cavaleri, told a media briefing on Tuesday. "So it will be equally important to consider not only a monovalent vaccine at this point in time but maybe also bivalent vaccine or even a multivalent vaccine."   (Reporting by Ludwig Burger and Pushkala Aripaka; Editing by Catherine Evans)...
JERUSALEM - Israel has offered security and intelligence support to the United Arab Emirates against further drone attacks after a deadly strike by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group, according to a letter released on Tuesday by Israel's leader. Three people were killed and six wounded on Monday when three tanker trucks exploded in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital. A Houthi military spokesman said the group fired "a large number" of drones and five ballistic missiles in the attack. On Twitter, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett condemned what he described as a "terrorist drone attack". His spokesman attached a copy of a condolence letter he sent on Monday to the UAE's de facto leader, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. "We stand ready to offer you security and intelligence support in order to help you protect your citizens from similar attacks," Bennett wrote. "I have ordered the Israeli security establishment to provide their counterparts in the UAE with any ass...
WARSAW - Poland's President Andrzej Duda will attend the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, a top aide told Polish state news agency PAP on Tuesday, as a number of Western countries call for a diplomatic boycott of the Games. A U.S. boycott to protest against China's human rights record has been joined by Australia, Britain, Canada and Japan. "Unless the epidemic or the security situation changes at our borders, the president plans to take part in the opening of the Olympic Games in China and support Poland's athletes in this way," the president's foreign affairs advisor Jakub Kumoch told PAP. Officials have told that, as Poland's relationship with the United States has worsened under President Joe Biden's administration, it's no longer in Poland's interests to continue criticising China simply to please the Americans. The Polish president's relationship with China has been positive recently, with him making a surprise appearance at the 17+1 summit wit...
- Media entrepreneur Byron Allen's Allen Media Group (AMG) struck a multi-year deal with Google Cloud on Tuesday, through which the Alphabet Inc-owned company will provide cloud services to the entertainment firm. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Media companies are increasingly signing up cloud partners for hosting content and analytics to get a bird's-eye view of content metrics across platforms. Google Cloud provides services to a host of media clients, including Comcast Corp-owned media group Sky and Major League Baseball. Through the deal, AMG said it would double down on its streaming service offerings to audiences worldwide and push its content on YouTube TV. AMG runs ten cable TV networks such as The Weather Channel and Entertainment Studios, its movie production unit. Meanwhile, the company's top boss Byron Allen is currently pursuing a bid to acquire U.S. regional TV operator Tegna Inc.   (Reporting by Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel...
By Natalia Zinets KYIV - Ukraine's central bank will likely raise its key interest rate from 9% this week to tackle worsening inflation expectations and a weakening hryvnia due to fears of a Russian military offensive, a poll of analysts showed on Tuesday. Eight out of the 14 Ukrainian analysts expected the rate to be raised to 9.5% and the two more expected a hike to 10.0% at the central bank's monetary meeting on Jan. 20. The other four contributors believed the rate would remain unchanged. "Rising military tensions with Russia are having a negative impact on inflation and exchange rate expectations, which has already affected the hryvnia's significant devaluation," said Kostiantyn Khvedchuk from Bank Pivdenny. Western countries fear Russia, which has massed troops near the Ukrainian border, is preparing a pretext for a new assault on Ukraine, which it invaded in 2014. Moscow denies plans for an attack, but said it could take unspecified military action unless the West agrees to a l...
DUBAI - An Iranian ethnic Arab separatist leader went on trial in Iran on Tuesday on charges of involvement in an attack on a 2018 military parade that killed 25 people and several bombings, state media reported. Iran said in 2020 that its security forces arrested Habib Farajollah Chaab, a dissident Swedish-Iranian dual national, without saying where or how he was captured. Neighbouring Turkey later detained 11 people, accusing them of involvement in Chaab's abduction and smuggling to Iran. During Tuesday's trial, Chaab was charged with leading the separatist Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz, which seeks a separate state in the oil-rich Khuzestan province in southwestern Iran, and plotting and carrying out "numerous bombings and terrorist operations" including the attack on the military parade, the state news agency IRNA reported. Another separatist group, also seeking independence for Khuzestan, claimed responsibility for the parade attack that killed 12 members of...
The Hostile Environment for Rough Sleepers is Costing Lives In November 2020, Priti Patel made rough sleeping grounds for deportation. Samir Jeraj spent a year with the Museum of Homelessness as part of a project to push-back against the policy ShareEmailTwitterFacebook Like many migrants, Adam came to the UK to support his family – his wife, son and parents – who stayed behind in Poland. He had been working as a chef for three years when his world ended. His family, all of them, died in a car crash. Nine years on, Adam still lives with the trauma and depression from those tragic events – but that was just the start.  “Within a few months of their deaths, I had lost everything,” he told Byline Times. Adam’s job, money and flat evaporated in quick succession, and he started using drugs and staying on the street. “I spent my first nights on the street in Shoreditch,” he recalled. “It was absolutely horrible.” The years after were a precarious mix o...
MILAN -Sales at Italian fashion group Prada bounced back sharply in 2021 as pent-up demand for luxury handbags and clothes helped push revenues above pre-pandemic levels, the company said on Tuesday. In an unscheduled trading update, Prada said group sales last year rose by 41% at constant exchange rates to 3.364 billion euros ($3.83 billion), and stood 8% above 2019 levels. The figure was above an estimate of 3.28 billion euros in an analyst consensus cited by UBS and indicates a revamp strategy, which aims to move Prada upmarket and increase the share of online sales, is paying off. Prada last November set itself a medium-term sales goal of 4.5 billion euros. The Hong Kong-listed group, which had not been due to disclose full-year results before March, said sales had particularly accelerated in the second half of last year thanks to its retail network, which grew by 27% compared to 2020 and by 21% compared to 2019, including e-commerce. Core profits also showed a "significant increa...
Boris Johnson has Exposed a Void at the Heart of Conservatism There is a growing consensus that the Prime Minister’s days are numbered – but his party has few ideas about how to renew itself or the country, reports Adam Bienkov ShareEmailTwitterFacebook “Boris is toast.” That was the verdict of one of the Prime Minister’s former senior officials and allies, who Byline Times spoke to this week. This view, which is now a majority one in Westminster, may be proven wrong. Some Conservative MPs believe that there is still a chance the Prime Minister could ultimately recover. However, the majority consensus among both Conservative supporters and opponents of Boris Johnson is that he will not lead them into the next election. “No one, apart from maybe Nadine Dorries or Jacob Rees-Mogg, now thinks that this is a salvageable position,” the former official said. “It’s just a question of when he goes, not if.” With most people now assuming that Johnson is...
LONDON (Bywire News)  - On Tuesday, health minister Sajid Javid revealed his optimism that COVID-19 measures that were introduced to stop the spread of the Omicron variant, could be scaled back as soon as next week. Javid believes the number of cases and people admitted to hospitals has passed its peak.  Speaking in parliament, Javid said, "I have always said that these restrictions should not stay in place a day longer than they are absolutely necessary," adding that in comparison to the EU, Britain was the most boosted and had the largest number of COVID-19 antivirals. "Due to these pharmaceutical defences and the likelihood that we have already reached the peak of the case numbers and hospitalisations, I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll be able to substantially reduce measures next week." (Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by William James and Klaudia Fior)...
FILE PHOTO: British Health Secretary Sajid Javid walks outside Downing Street in London, Britain, January 5, 2022. REUTERS/Toby Melville
LONDON - British finance minister Rishi Sunak said he believed Prime Minister Boris Johnson's explanation over a drinks party in the gardens of Downing Street. Asked if he believed Johnson's account to parliament of the event, Sunak said: "Of course I do - the Prime Minister set out his understanding of this matter in Parliament last week."   (Reporting by William James; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)...
A Guide to the Radicalisation of the Conservative Party Sam Bright digs into the recent history of Boris Johnson’s party, to explain why its centre of gravity has shifted markedly to the right ShareEmailTwitterFacebook Deploying the military against migrants; criminalising protests; disenfranchising the marginalised; waging war against the BBC – Boris Johnson has drafted a mini-manifesto to fortify his unstable position in the Conservative Party, one that has seemingly been lifted directly from the populist-authoritarian playbook. Indeed, Johnson’s latest strain of radicalism is not borne from deeply-held convictions – the Prime Minister is famously unmoored from any ideological or moral creed aside from his own self-interest – but it has rather been guided by the Conservative Party’s centre of gravity, which has lurched rightwards in recent years. Likewise, the battle for succession, when Johnson finally departs, will hinge on the ability of one candidate to encapsu...
LONDON - A UK High Court on Tuesday threw out a case brought by climate activists against the country's oil and gas regulator OGA, rejecting their argument that the OGA's actions amount to a type of unlawful subsidy of the fossil fuel sector. The ruling, seen by , is a setback for climate activists who are increasingly taking to the courts to force a reduction in oil and gas production in order to control global warming. In the case, activists including a former oil refinery worker targeted the OGA's assessment of applications for oil and gas field developments on a pre-tax basis, noting in some years if oil and gas prices were low the government actually returned money to producers rather than benefiting from tax receipts. This, they argue, is in conflict with both the government's long-standing policy of "maximising economic recovery" of oil and gas in the British North Sea, meaning that oil and gas extraction there should make commercial sense, and with Britain's 2050 net zero emis...
LONDON (Bywire News) - The government has successfully managed to overturn a court ruling, that stated the way in which it awarded a COVID-19 contract to a public relations company run by associates of Dominic Cummings, the former chief adviser to Boris Johnson, was illegal. On Tuesday, a Court of Appeal ruling reversed the original decision made back in June, which stated the government showed "apparent bias" by giving over £560,000 to Pubic First, a PR company to help determine public opinion on government response to COVID-19. The ruling by the appeal court stated that an observer who is fair and well informed wouldn't have decided that failure to carry out comparison exercises when giving away contracts was a reason to call the government biased. According to the ruling, an observer would have come to the conclusion that in the emergency circumstances imposed by COVID-19, excluding any formal decision-making process was indicative of apparent bias. James Frayne and Rachel Wolf run...
FILE PHOTO: Former special advisor to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, looks on outside of his house, in London, Britain, May 4, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo
By Bate Felix DAKAR - The European Union and partners do not intend to isolate Mali and its military-led government, the EU's special envoy to the Sahel said, calling for talks despite a plan to severely sanction the country for failing to organize elections. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) hit Mali with tough sanctions earlier this month after the junta that seized power in 2020 dropped a proposed February election and said it would stay in office for another four years. The EU has said it will impose its own restrictions in line with ECOWAS, likely later in January. However, Emanuela Del Re, EU's Special Representative to the Sahel, said the door remained open for dialogue. "The position of the European Union is to be firm on certain principles without closing doors completely," Del Re told in an interview late on Monday. "We must continue to dialogue with Mali because we don't want to isolate Mali, we want a Mali that is capable of overcoming this crisis," De...
JERUSALEM - Around half of global cyber defence investment in past few years has been in Israel, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday. Speaking by video to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Bennett said that as more work is done remotely, companies will be increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks. "This means we need good cyber defence and Israel has massively invested in cyber defence technologies," Bennett said. "I believe roughly half or almost half of the global investments in cyber companies over the past few years has been in Israel. So Israel has become a powerhouse in cyber defence. I see a bunch of opportunities and we intend to seize them."   (Reporting by Steven Scheer and Dan Williams, Editing by Louise Heavens)...
LONDON - Britain's finance ministry said on Monday it will crack down on "misleading" advertisements for crypto assets that can harm consumers. The finance ministry set out findings from a public consultation on promotions for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. "The government will therefore act to ensure the appropriate regulation of cryptoasset promotions through secondary legislation, broadly in line with the proposals set out in the consultation," the ministry said.   (Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Catherine Evans)...
By Praveen Menon and Tom Westbrook WELLINGTON/SYDNEY - The South Pacific archipelago of Tonga could spend days, or even weeks, cut off from the rest of world because of difficulties in repairing its sole undersea communications cable, which an operator said was ruptured during a massive volcanic eruption. The challenge underlines the vulnerability of undersea fibre-optic cables, which have become the backbone of global communications, thanks to a capacity to carry data that is about 200 times that of satellites. Saturday's explosion of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano sent tsunami waves across the Pacific Ocean so that connectivity was lost on the line, operated by Tonga Cable Ltd, in waters about 37 kilometres (23 miles) offshore. But the repair of Tonga's critical 827-km (514-mile) fibre-optic link to Fiji depends on the arrival of a specialised ship now days away in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea. "Typically, all things going well, it would take around two weeks...
LONDON - A BBC funded purely by commercial means would fail to serve a universal British audience in the way it does now, its boss warned on Tuesday, after the government questioned whether its public funding model should continue in future. Formed in 1922 to educate, inform and entertain, the BBC creates global, national and local radio, online content and television for mass audiences while also catering to those users who fail to have their interests served by commercial outlets. It is funded by a licence fee paid by all television-owning households that is supposed to guarantee its editorial independence. In reality that forces the corporation to agree a funding round with ministers, often leading to tension. On Monday Culture Minister Nadine Dorries, who has previously accused the BBC of metropolitan group-think, said the licence fee cost would be frozen for the next two years, and would rise in line with inflation for four years after that. She added that a debate was needed on...