The $3 trillion HEROES Act, which could provide households with a one-time payout of up to $6,000, is facing three virtually insurmountable obstacles.
The United States and China imposed visa restrictions on each other in tit-for-tat moves over their disagreement on Tibet, adding fuel to the diplomatic fire between the superpowers. China announced Wednesday its curbs on people from the US who "behave badly" on Tibet-related issues, in retaliation for American curbs unveiled a day before. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday he was taking action against an unspecified number of officials under a new US law that presses China to let Americans visit the far west region, renewing a call for "meaningful autonomy" in the predominantly Buddhist area.
Dozens of demonstrators and police were injured in overnight rioting in Belgrade, triggered when a crowd stormed Serbia's parliament in protest at plans to reimpose a lockdown following a surge in coronavirus cases. Footage showed police kicking and beating people with truncheons while protesters pelted officers with stones and bottles, after thousands chanting for the resignation of President Aleksandar Vucic gathered outside the building. Police director Vladimir Rebic said on Wednesday that 43 police and 17 protesters were injured and 23 protesters had been arrested.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak will spell out new measures to revitalise Britain's economy and protect jobs from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic when he updates parliament on Wednesday. Here's what we know already about Sunak's announcement, due at around 1130 GMT. Sunak has earmarked 3 billion pounds ($3.75 billion) to improve the energy efficiency of homes and public buildings, and support more than 100,000 jobs, the finance ministry said.
China’s central bank is partnering up with Didi Chuxing to test the use of its digital currency, which could make China's dominant ride hailing platform one of the world's first's corporate users of a government-created virtual currency. The digital currency research unit of People’s Bank of China (PBOC) is working with Didi to apply digital currency electronic payment, or DCEP, on the ride hailing app, Didi said in a statement on Wednesday.
The killing of jihadism expert Hisham al-Hashemi has stirred fears Iraq is entering a dark and violent phase, as boiling tensions between pro-Iran factions and the government reach new heights. Hashemi, 47, was gunned down outside his home in east Baghdad late Monday by masked assailants on motorcycles. "Armed forces of various affiliations have killed protesters and others willing to publicly criticise the government and armed forces with impunity," said Belkis Wille of Human Rights Watch.
Alibaba Cloud, the data backbone of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, is expanding its global footprint via partnerships with international companies, including internet connection and data centre company Equinix and wide area network (WAN) company Aryaka.The collaboration with California-based Equinix will give Alibaba Cloud access to 17 markets around the world, including Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Jakarta, London, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, as well as US cities such as Chicago, Dallas and Denver, according to a press release issued by Equinix on Tuesday.The partnership will give Alibaba Cloud direct access to more than 9,700 customers, including 1,800 network providers and over 2,900 cloud and IT service providers globally to enhance performance, lower latency, and increase reliability for its customers, Equinix said.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.“Equinix's global platform and ever-expanding footprint has made it easy for Alibaba Cloud to grow into new markets and offer our customers access to a rich ecosystem of cloud service providers,” said Shunmin Zhu, researcher of network products from Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.Last week, Alibaba Cloud also joined hands with cloud-first WAN company Aryaka to extend the Chinese company’s services to enterprises within China and internationally in support of digital transformation initiatives in the countries, a separate statement from Aryaka said. Cloud computing adoption accelerates in China as economy recoversIn April Alibaba Cloud announced it would invest an extra 200 billion yuan (US$28 billion) over the next three years to boost its cloud business after the coronavirus pandemic dramatically accelerated the digitalisation of various industries, leading to booming demand for cloud services.“We are extremely confident in the future of the global digital economy, especially with the digitalisation of health care, business, education, leisure and other parts of our lives during the pandemic,” Jeff Zhang, president of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, said at the Alibaba Cloud Summit 2020 event last week.Alibaba Cloud plans to open its third data centre in Indonesia next year as well as its first data scrubbing centre in the country. Last week it formed the Alibaba Cloud Philippines Ecosystem Alliance, aimed at speeding up the digital transformation of businesses in the country.Cloud computing has become one of Alibaba’s fastest-growing units outside its core e-commerce business, with cloud revenue up 58 per cent year on year in the March quarter to 12.2 billion yuan and up 62 per cent year on year in the 12 months ended March to 40 billion yuan.Alibaba Cloud also said it plans to recruit 5,000 people worldwide during its current financial year, drawing professionals from the network, database, server, chip and AI sectors.Alibaba Cloud held a 6 per cent global market share in the first quarter of this year, according to an April report from research firm Canalys. The global leaders in the sector are Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Azure and Google Cloud, which are all restricted from operating in the mainland Chinese market.Tencent, the Chinese social media and gaming giant, has launched an aggressive push into the cloud market in a bid to erode Alibaba’s dominance. Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post.Purchase the 100+ page China Internet Report 2020 Pro Edition, brought to you by SCMP Research, and enjoy a 30% discount (original price US$400). The report includes deep-dive analysis, trends, and case studies on the 10 most important internet sectors. Now in its 3rd year, this go-to source for understanding China tech also comes with exclusive access to 6 webinars with C-level executives. Offer valid until 31 August 2020. To purchase, please click here.More from South China Morning Post: * Alibaba Cloud to hire 5,000 people after global cloud spending hits record high in first quarter * Kingsoft Cloud is considering a Nasdaq IPO, in a US$450 million bet that anti-China sentiment is a tempest in a teapotThis article Alibaba Cloud expands global reach via two new international partnerships first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
Beijing said Wednesday that US demands for it to join nuclear disarmament talks with Russia are a ruse to sink the negotiations, but it could take part if Washington lowers its arsenals to China's level. US and Russian officials held talks in Vienna last month to discuss a replacement for the New START treaty, which limits each side to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads but is due to run out in February. US President Donald Trump has insisted China be included in disarmament talks, citing what he says is the free rein Beijing has had to develop weapons systems.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for the coronavirus after months of downplaying the dangers of the disease, as the United States begins its withdrawal from the World Health Organization despite logging a record number of new infections. The American pull-out from the WHO comes as the UN agency conceded there was "emerging evidence" coronavirus is transmitted through particles in the air, heightening fears over an illness that has already infected nearly 11.8 million people worldwide and caused more than 540,000 deaths. Countries are struggling to keep a lid on new cases as they attempt to restart economies, with Australia's second-biggest city becoming the latest victim of a second surge after recently lifting virus restrictions.
Fewer Hong Kong restaurants than expected have so far signed up for a discount campaign intended to boost a sector slammed by the Covid-19 pandemic, now in its third wave in the city.To date, more than 1,000 restaurants have joined the initiative, which will offer 30 per cent off dinner menus in July and 20 per cent off in August. But that number is just a fraction of the 6,000, or half of Hong Kong’s 12,000 licensed operators, that were expected to take part. Thousands of Hong Kong restaurants to offer 30 per cent off in massive discount campaign to revive ailing economyLawmaker Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, who represents the city's catering sector, believes the price-slashing campaign could generate some HK$35 billion (US$4.5 billion) in revenue for restaurants, driving recovery momentum.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.“For those restaurants that have not joined, they can still jump on the bandwagon,” Cheung said, encouraging more eateries to take part before the promotion kicks off next Wednesday.Announced by financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-po last month, the campaign is aimed at encouraging recipients of the HK$10,000 (US$1,290) cash handout to prop-up local consumption.As of Monday, about 42 per cent of Hong Kong permanent residents, or some 3.15 million people, had received the money in their bank accounts.But with the discount scheme set to kick in soon, five local infections reported on Tuesday were linked to three different restaurants across the city, with health authorities considering tightening social-distancing rules to contain the spread of the coronavirus again. Coronavirus: tables tougher to come by as ‘revenge spending’ drives bookings bounceback at Hong Kong restaurants, insiders sayThe Hong Kong Tourism Board and seven restaurant associations said at a Wednesday press conference that the new infections at eateries are cause for concern, but that the sector was prepared to cooperate with the government if social-distancing measures are tightened.“Obviously I am concerned, and so are all of us … about the cases reported yesterday,” Cheung said, urging all restaurateurs and staff to wear masks when serving customers.Allan Zeman, chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Group, which owns bars and restaurants in the city’s party district, said he believed the sector was showing signs of recovery.“We don’t want to go back to February and March,” he said, referring to the plunge in business after a cluster of infections broke out in the nightlife area, forcing bars and clubs to close for more than a month.“We really want to move forward, but [now] we have experience. We know if we keep social distancing and [maintain] 1.5 metres [apart], we believe that things will work out,” Zeman said.He added that business has bounced back more than 80 per cent for some restaurants in the past two months, even as social-distancing measures were helping to contain the spread of the virus.Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, noted that some eateries were introducing their own discount schemes as well, with some slashing prices by as much as 50 per cent.“Many businesses are offering as much of a discount as they can that strikes a balance between attracting customers and generating a reasonable revenue,” Wong said.“The discounts will boost consumption, which in turn will help the economy to recover and keep people employed in the catering sector.”Hong Kong has officially been in a recession since the third quarter of 2019, reeling from the combined impact of the US-China trade war and months of anti-government protests. Total restaurant receipts plunged 31.2 per cent year on year in the first quarter of 2020, a loss of HK$21.67 billion.With the situation compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, Hong Kong's unemployment rate soared to a 15-year high, with the jobless rate in the food and beverage sector reaching 14.8 per cent for the March-May period, according to official data.Purchase the 100+ page China Internet Report 2020 Pro Edition, brought to you by SCMP Research, and enjoy a 30% discount (original price US$400). The report includes deep-dive analysis, trends, and case studies on the 10 most important internet sectors. Now in its 3rd year, this go-to source for understanding China tech also comes with exclusive access to 6 webinars with C-level executives. Offer valid until 31 August 2020. To purchase, please click here.This article Coronavirus: sign-ups lag for Hong Kong’s restaurant discount campaign, while fears mount social-distancing rules could tighten again first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
Lives are at risk as the new coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in the trafficking of substandard masks, sanitisers and other medical products, the UN warned Wednesday. Organised criminal groups -- exploiting fears and uncertainties surrounding the virus -- are providing such products to cater to a sudden surge in demand and the supply gap, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report. UNODC said it expected criminals to shift their focus to vaccine-related trafficking once one was developed.
The death toll from demonstrations and ethnic violence that erupted in Ethiopia last week following the murder of a popular singer from the Oromo ethnic group has risen to 239, according to a tally of police figures. Pop star Hachalu Hundessa, a hero to many Oromo who saw him as the voice of their marginalisation, was shot dead by unknown attackers on Monday of last week, fuelling ethnic tensions threatening the country's democratic transition. Protests broke out in the capital Addis Ababa, as well as the surrounding Oromia region which is the homeland of the country's largest ethnic group, who have long felt economically and politically sidelined in the diverse nation.
Torrential rain pounded central Japan Wednesday as authorities said 58 people were feared dead in days of heavy downpours that have triggered devastating landslides and terrifying floods. Rains that began early Saturday on the island of Kyushu have already caused widespread damage across a swathe of the southwestern portion of the country, causing rivers to burst their banks and hillsides to collapse. As the weather front moved north, the Japan Meteorological Agency warned of heavy rain in central Gifu and Nagano prefectures, but downgraded its advisories from their top level.
Asian markets were mixed Wednesday following the previous day's sharp drop, with optimism about the reopening of economies clouded by concerns about fresh spikes in infections around the world. A string of positive indicators from China to the US in recent weeks -- as well hopes for a vaccine and the easing of lockdowns around the world -- has added fuel to a global rally that has lifted equities out of the March depths. Adding to the unease are ongoing tensions between China, the US and several other nations over Beijing's imposition of a security law in Hong Kong.
Austria is issuing travel warnings for Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova because of the worsening coronavirus situation in those countries and clusters in Austria involving people connected to the region, the government said on Wednesday. The move, which means arrivals from those countries must show a negative test or go into two weeks' quarantine, follows warnings last week for Serbia and three other non-European Union countries in the Western Balkans. Romania and Bulgaria, by contrast, are EU member states.
When the new coronavirus hit Tanzania in mid-April, President John Magufuli called for three days of national prayer to seek God’s protection from the scourge. Barely a month later, he claimed victory over the disease and invited tourists to return to his East African nation. The shortage of reliable data afflicts many African nations, with some governments reluctant to acknowledge epidemics or to expose their crumbling health systems to outside scrutiny.
A local court in southern China has sentenced four teachers and school administrators of a controversial detox centre to prison terms ranging from 11 months to more than two years for illegally detaining students who enrolled to kick the habit of internet addiction, court documents said.The Yuzhang Shuyuan Institute was founded in 2013 and advertised that it used Confucian philosophy, classic Chinese literature and calligraphy to “transform” students who were addicted to internet and gaming.In November, five members of the institute were arrested and they were indicted two months later. In June, three former students filed civil lawsuits against the school, demanding a public apology and financial compensation.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.On Tuesday, the Qingshanhu District People’s Court in Nanchang city in eastern China’s Jiangxi province, handed down verdicts on the teachers as well as the students’ petition.“From 2013 to 2017, the institute’s director general Wu Junbao and principal Ren Weiqiang set up rooms and put students in forced incarceration, and that constituted illegal detention,” said a document issued on Tuesday by the Qingshanhu court.The document said rooms at the institute had been guarded by staff assigned by Ren and they detained 12 students – 11 were minors at that time – for three to 10 days at a time. The institute had the parents’ consent in enrolling the students, the court said.Wu was sentenced 34 months in prison while Ren received a 31-month jail term. Two teachers, with the surnames Zhang and Qu, were sentenced to 19 months and 11 months in prison respectively. Another teacher, surnamed Chen, was acquitted and released.However, the court rejected the application by the three students for a public apology and compensation, according to an official court broadcast of the trial on Tuesday.CCTV quoted the four defendants as saying they would think about appealing against the verdict. Similarly, two of the three students said on the TV programme they would appeal. The third indicated he would consult legal opinions before deciding whether to appeal.The scandal broke in October 2017 when a former student at the institute revealed in a series of social media posts that teachers beat “troublesome” students with iron rulers and cables, and locked them in windowless rooms with nothing but a dirty towel, a bucket of water and a rice bowl.Follow-up media reports found ill-treatment was common practice at the institute. Luo Wei, one of the students, told The Beijing News he was sent to the institute in 2013, when he was 20 years old. In three months, he lost 10kg because of abuse by the teachers. After “graduation”, he was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Inside a Chinese internet addiction treatment centreThe centre charged 30,000 yuan ($4,273) for a half-year term and attracted families who wanted to correct their children’s internet and gaming obsession.China became the first country to list “internet addiction” as a clinical disorder in 2008. The country’s top lawmaking body, the National People’s Congress, estimated that 10 per cent of Chinese children were “addicted” to the internet, most of them male.Internet detox “boot camps” and treatment centres have begun to flourish in recent years as a solution for parents with “difficult” teens. Most of these institutions were unregulated, illegal and run military style where corporal punishment was common. Screams heard at hospital notorious for electroshocking teen net ‘addicts’Similar high-profile cases have emerged in the past. Yang Yongxin, a controversial clinical psychiatrist, was accused by former patients for allegedly using electroshock treatment at an internet addiction treatment centre between 2009 and 2016.Purchase the 100+ page China Internet Report 2020 Pro Edition, brought to you by SCMP Research, and enjoy a 30% discount (original price US$400). The report includes deep-dive analysis, trends, and case studies on the 10 most important internet sectors. Now in its 3rd year, this go-to source for understanding China tech also comes with exclusive access to 6 webinars with C-level executives. Offer valid until 31 August 2020. To purchase, please click here.More from South China Morning Post: * The top 10 takeaways from the China Internet Report 2020 * Inside China’s battle to keep internet addiction in check * Live-streaming service providers Huya, DouYu to drive cloud-based gaming expansion in China * China’s Twitch-like platforms remove gaming ads aimed at students following state media criticismThis article Staff from controversial internet addiction treatment centre jailed for detaining students illegally first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
Britain's National Gallery reopens on Wednesday, with masks recommended and social distancing and advance booking mandatory, as the country continues to emerge from three months of coronavirus lockdown. The central London venue is the first major art museum in the British capital to open its doors after closing in late March along with the rest of the hospitality, tourism and cultural sectors. Gallery director Gabriele Finaldi told reporters he hoped initially for around a quarter of the usual number of visitors -- or 3,000 to 4,000 people per day.
The future of top regional budget carrier AirAsia is in "significant doubt" due to the collapse in demand for air travel caused by coronavirus, its auditor warned, sending its share price tumbling 18 percent on Wednesday. The aviation industry is facing its biggest-ever crisis due to the pandemic, with airlines worldwide laying off huge numbers of staff while some have already gone out of business. AirAsia, led by colourful chief executive Tony Fernandes, pioneered low-cost air travel across Asia in the early 2000s at a time of growing demand from a fast-emerging middle class.
Thailand expects to delay plans for so-called travel bubbles given a resurgence in coronavirus infections in countries that had managed to contain the initial outbreak, a senior official told Reuters on Wednesday. Thailand partially lifted a three-month ban on foreign visitors this month and had been planning to further boost tourism, a key contributor to its economy, by creating travel bubbles later in the year with countries like Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong that had managed to contain the virus. "The travel bubble that was going to begin in the fourth quarter could be delayed," he added.
Key points:● Under the new powers, police can search premises without a warrant when “not reasonably practicable” to do so, intercept communications with the chief executive’s permission, ask foreign and Taiwan political organisations to hand over details, and take down online messages deemed threatening to national security● Hong Kong officials have dismissed concerns, arguing the additional powers are similar to other powers already granted to law enforcement under existing local statuesGet the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.● Lawyers and the city’s officials are still locked in a debate on whether the new powers can be judicially reviewableSenior Hong Kong lawyers have warned of fewer judicial safeguards and limited channels to seek redress, a day after the sweeping powers given to the police unit charged with implementing the new national security law were made public.Several law enforcement powers, traditionally requiring a judge’s approval, can now be signed off by the city’s leader or high-ranking police officers in investigations relating to national security, lawyers have said.Those mistakenly caught up in cases would have little room to sue for damages, they added, because litigation would be costly and the move could prompt Beijing to interpret the law, a move that would be considered by some as a blow to Hong Kong’s legal system.“The rules represent a backward step from the modern day trend for investigative powers, which require judicial authorisation and conditions to be observed before the powers can be used,” Michael Blanchflower, a former assistant solicitor general, said.The effect of that would be a loss of “checks and balances”, he added.On Tuesday, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu dismissed those concerns and said some of these powers were either prescribed in existing laws or were common in Western jurisdictions.Hong Kong police already have the power to search premises for weapons without a warrant, and the power to intercept communications and conduct covert surveillance was not “peculiar to Hong Kong”, Lee said.“In a lot of jurisdictions including western countries, in matters relating to national security, there are practices that the government officials, such as prime ministers, can issue authorisations for interception or covert surveillance,” Lee added.The government gazetted the “implementation rules” on Monday night, laying out how police officers from the new bespoke regiment would exercise their new power under the legislation.Hong Kong national security law official English version:The law is aimed at targeting acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, but opponents have expressed concerns about its wide power, although Beijing and the local administration have repeatedly stressed it would safeguard human rights and be applied very sparingly.Under the new rules, police could search any place, and electronic equipment, without a magistrate’s warrant when it is not reasonably practicable to obtain a warrant, and when there is a reasonable ground for suspecting that evidence is in that place, and that the evidence is related to an investigation, its preservation or protecting the safety of others.Police can also intercept communications with just the approval of the chief executive, or senior police officers they have authorised.Both powers require judicial scrutiny in non-national security cases.The police commissioner, with the secretary for security’s permission, can also require foreign and Taiwan political organisations to provide details, ranging from information on staff in Hong Kong, to its activities, to its source of income. A national security tale of two cities: differences in law between Hong Kong, MacauSenior Counsel John Reading, former deputy director of public prosecutions between 2000 and 2009, pointed out that police still had to meet certain criteria under the new law to proceed without a warrant.But it would be preferable if all police action was subject to court oversight, he said.Barrister Anson Wong Yat-yu said the reason the court had been the safeguard over the years was because police officers were considered “inherently biased” because of their interest in the investigation.“The court acts as an impartial tribunal,” he said.The police commissioner can also make internet users and social media service providers delete online messages “likely to constitute an offence of endangering national security”, or face a fine and jail term.Service providers need to render decryption assistance and hand over a user’s details under the law, which cover local and overseas firms.“This is a very low threshold and does not require a court to be satisfied of this condition,” Blanchflower said, adding it could amount to an infringement of freedom of expression.Wong said for those who feel they have been wronged, it would be costly to launch a judicial challenge just to reinstate a message.Launching a judicial review could also prompt Beijing to issue an interpretation on the legislation, which was an undesirable consequence, he said.People who have their properties frozen or raided could also file court actions, including a compensation order as set out in the legal document gazetted on Monday.“But the reality is your home has already been searched,” Wong said.For those who have their phones tapped, they would not be aware their communications had been intercepted in the first place, he said.But Ronny Tong Ka-wah, an executive councillor and senior counsel, said rules struck a balance between safeguarding national security and protecting human rights.“For instance, such operations are necessary in considering the balance between the relevant factors and the intrusiveness of the interception or covert surveillance on any person who is to be the subject of the interceptions or covert surveillance,” Tong said.Philip Dykes, chairman of the city’s Bar Association, said the rules left more questions than answers, as they were not clear on which searches and surveillance would warrant judicial oversight and which would not.He said much depended on the authorities, but he was hopeful police “would exercise this power sparingly, and that warrants will be obtained in most instances”. Rebel City: Hong Kong’s Year of Water and Fire is a new book of essays that chronicles the political confrontation that has gripped the city since June 2019. Edited by the South China Morning Post's Zuraidah Ibrahim and Jeffie Lam, the book draws on work from the Post's newsrooms across Hong Kong, Beijing, Washington and Singapore, with unmatched insights into all sides of the conflict. Buy directly from SCMP today and get a 15% discount (regular price HKD$198). It is available at major bookshops worldwide or online through Amazon, Kobo, Google Books, and eBooks.com.More from South China Morning Post: * National security law: Microsoft and Zoom join pause on Hong Kong data requests * National security law: Taipei says Hong Kong police powers under legislation ‘create fear’ on self-ruled islandThis article Hong Kong national security law: lawyers warn of loss of checks and balances on police power as rules remove traditional judicial safeguards first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
China said on Wednesday it will impose visa restrictions on U.S. citizens who have engaged in what it called egregious behaviour over Tibet, in an apparent retaliation against U.S restrictions on some Chinese officials. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters that Beijing would allow no foreign interference in Tibetan affairs. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing what he called human rights abuses by the Chinese government in Tibetan areas, said on Tuesday the United States would restrict visas for some Chinese officials because Beijing obstructs travel to the region by U.S. diplomats, journalists and tourists.
Peru's iconic tourist attraction Machu Picchu will reopen at half capacity following a coronavirus-forced closure, the Peruvian government said on Tuesday, although it didn't set a date. "Admission to Machu Picchu will be 2,244 visitors a day," the government said in the official gazette. The new limit has been suggested by international experts in a bid to avoid the gradual deterioration of the crown jewel of Peruvian tourism, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983.
New French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Wednesday that any new lockdown will be targeted, and not imposed nationwide, if there is a major new coronavirus outbreak. The previous French government enforced a strict nationwide lockdown from mid-March to May 11 to try to curb the spread of COVID-19, and some restrictions on public gatherings are still in place. Castex, who was a civil servant and used to be an adviser to former President Nicolas Sarkozy, was appointed prime minister on Friday.
The Cambodian tourist town of Siem Reap has banned the dog meat trade, a victory for animal rights campaigners who describe the area as the "lynchpin" of an industry that slaughters millions of creatures each year. Dog meat, a cheap source of protein, is eaten in several Asian countries, including Cambodia, although it is much more popular in neighbouring Vietnam. Siem Reap authorities announced a ban late Tuesday, with the provincial agricultural department saying the dog meat trade has descended into "anarchy" in recent years.
Germany's dominant political party, Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, plans steps to achieve equal representation of women within its regional and national governing bodies by 2025, two party sources said on Wednesday. Although currently chaired by a woman, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, and although it gave Germany its first female Chancellor in Merkel, women make up only a quarter of its members - something the party leadership wants to change.