Monthly Archives : December 2020

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Into the Brexit Unknown, a Divided United Kingdom Goes It Alone

31
Dec,2020

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The United Kingdom exits the European Union’s orbit Thursday, turning its back on a tempestuous 48-year liaison with the European project for an uncertain post-Brexit future in its most significant geopolitical shift since the loss of empire.Brexit, in essence, takes place at the strike of midnight in Brussels, or 2300 London time (GMT), when the United Kingdom leaves de-facto membership that continued for a transition period after it formally left the bloc January 31.For five years, the frenzied gyrations of the Brexit crisis dominated European affairs, haunted the sterling markets and tarnished the United Kingdom’s reputation as a confident pillar of Western economic and political stability.After years of Brexit vitriol, one of the most significant events in European history since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union will pass with little fanfare: The United Kingdom will slip away, serenaded by the silence of the COVID-19 crisis.Supporters cast Brexit as the dawn of a newly independent “global Britain,” but it has weakened the bonds that bind England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland into a $3 trillion economy.UK chief trade negotiator David Frost looks on as Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson signs the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement at 10 Downing Street, London, Dec. 30, 2020.”This is an amazing moment for this country,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 56, said in his New Year’s Eve message. “We have our freedom in our hands, and it is up to us to make the most of it.”As EU leaders and citizens bade farewell, Johnson said there would be no bonfire of regulations to build a “bargain basement Dickensian Britain” and that the country would remain the “quintessential European civilization.”But Johnson, the face of the Brexit campaign, has been short on detail about what he wants to build with Britain’s “independence,” or how to do it while borrowing record amounts to pay for the COVID-19 crisis.BrexitIn the June 23, 2016, referendum, 17.4 million voters, or 52%, backed Brexit while 16.1 million, or 48%, backed staying in the bloc. Few have changed their minds since. England and Wales voted out, but Scotland and Northern Ireland voted in.The referendum showed a United Kingdom divided about much more than the European Union, and fueled soul-searching about everything from secession and immigration to capitalism, the legacy of empire and what it now means to be British.Leaving was once the far-fetched dream of a motley crew of “eurosceptics” on the fringes of British politics: Britain joined in 1973 as “the sick man of Europe” and two decades ago British leaders were arguing about whether to join the euro. It never did.But the turmoil of the euro zone crisis, attempts to integrate the EU further, fears about mass immigration and discontent with leaders in London helped Brexiteers win the referendum with a message of patriotic, if vague, hope.”We see a global future for ourselves,” said Johnson who won power in 2019 and, against the odds, clinched a Brexit divorce treaty and a trade deal, as well as the biggest Conservative majority since Margaret Thatcher, in the 2019 election.Supporters see Brexit as an escape from a doomed Franco-German project that has stagnated while the United States and China surged ahead. Opponents say Brexit will weaken the West, further reduce Britain’s global clout, make people poorer and lessen its cosmopolitanism.When the bell known as Big Ben tolls 11 through a scaffold, there will be few outward displays of emotion as gatherings are banned because of COVID-19 restrictions.FILE – British Union flag waves in front of the Elizabeth Tower at Houses of Parliament containing the bell know as “Big Ben” in central London, March 29, 2017.United Kingdom?After the United Kingdom leaves the Single Market or the Customs Union, there is almost certain to be some disruption at borders. More red tape means more cost for those importing and exporting goods across the EU-U.K. border.After haggling over a trade deal for months, the British government published 70 pages of case studies just hours before its departure advising companies on what rules they would have to follow at the new U.K.-EU border.The Port of Dover expects volumes to drop off in early January. The most worrisome period, it says, will be in mid- to late January when volumes pick up again.Support for Scottish independence has risen, partly because of Brexit and partly because of COVID-19, threatening the 300-year-old political union between England and Scotland.FILE – In this Feb. 10, 2020, file photo, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks during an event at the European Policy Center in Brussels.Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon has said an independence referendum should take place in the earlier part of the devolved parliament’s next term, which begins next year.After clinching the Christmas Eve trade deal that will smooth out the worst disruption, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen quoted both William Shakespeare and T.S. Eliot.”Parting is such sweet sorrow,” she said. “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” 

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British PM Johnson’s Father Applying for French Citizenship  

31
Dec,2020

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The father of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday he was in the process of applying for a French passport to maintain his ties with the European Union after Brexit. 
 
Stanley Johnson, a former member of the European Parliament who voted Remain in Britain’s 2016 referendum, told RTL radio he wanted to become a French citizen because of strong family links to France. 
 
“If I understand it correctly, I am French. My mother was born in France, her mother was totally French as was her grandfather. So for me it is about reclaiming what I already have. And that makes me very happy,” said the 80-year-old Johnson, who was speaking in French. 
 
“I will always be a European, that’s for sure. One cannot tell the British people: you are not Europeans. Having a tie with the European Union is important,” he added. 
 
His son Boris was the public face of the Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum and says Britain can “prosper mightily” as a fully sovereign nation outside what he sees as an overly bureaucratic EU. 
 
But on Wednesday, the prime minister sounded a more conciliatory note as parliament approved a new trade deal with the EU, saying: “This is not the end of Britain as a European country. We are in many ways the quintessential European civilization … and we will continue to be that.” 
 
Britain officially leaves the EU’s orbit Thursday night, after an often strained 48-year liaison with the European project.  

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Pope Will Not Lead New Year Services Because of Flare Up of Leg Pain

31
Dec,2020

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Pope Francis will not lead New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day services because of a flare up of his sciatica condition, which produces pain in his right leg, the Vatican said Thursday.  It was the first time in years that Francis, who turned 84 this month, has had to skip a papal event for health reasons. A year-end vespers service the pope was to lead Thursday afternoon will be led by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, and the Friday Mass will be said by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State.  
 
The Vatican said the pope would lead his noon prayer Friday as scheduled.  
 
The pope suffers from sciatica, a condition that causes pain that radiates from the lower back along the sciatic nerve to the lower part of the body.  
 
He can sometimes be seen walking with difficulty because of the pain and receives regular physical therapy because of the condition.

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Istanbul Art Exhibition Brings Light, Hope to City Grappling With COVID

31
Dec,2020

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With Istanbul facing further COVID restrictions at the start of the New Year, scores of public spaces across the city have become venues for light installations as part of a major art exhibition. Dorian Jones reports the aim is to lift people’s spirits in these dark times.Producer: Marcus Harton.

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US Accuses Ukrainians of Using Misappropriated Funds for Ohio Real Estate

31
Dec,2020

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U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday accused Ukrainian tycoon Ihor Kolomoisky and another Ukrainian businessman of using misappropriated funds to buy real estate in Ohio, following earlier similar U.S. allegations involving property in Kentucky and Texas.Kolomoisky, one of the most prominent tycoons in Ukraine and regarded as a key political backer of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, had denied the previous allegations. Bruce Marks, a U.S. lawyer who represents Kolomoisky, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest complaint.Representatives for the other businessman, Gennadiy Boholiubov, could not be immediately reached for comment. He has not previously commented on the matter.In a statement, the U.S. Department of Justice alleged the two men had used misappropriated funds from Ukraine-based PrivatBank to buy commercial real estate in Ohio and that the U.S. was seeing its forfeiture.U.S. prosecutors said that between 2008 and 2016, Kolomoisky and Boholiubov obtained fraudulent loans and lines of credit, some of whose proceeds they laundered through shell company accounts at PrivatBank’s Cyprus office before transferring the money to the United States.Altogether, the properties in the three U.S. states are worth more than $60 million, the Justice Department said. 

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Vladimir Putin: President for Life?

31
Dec,2020

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For Russians, the past year saw a national vote to approve changes to their constitution … including an amendment granting longtime leader Vladimir Putin the right to remain president through the year 2036. And as Charles Maynes reports from Moscow, the question now is … will he?Camera: Ricardo Marquina Montanana  
Producer: Henry Hernandez  
 

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British Lawmakers Approve Trade Deal with EU

31
Dec,2020

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Britain’s House of Commons voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to approve a trade deal with the European Union, the last major step in London’s yearslong split from the continent’s 27-member governing body. With a day to spare, lawmakers voted 521-73 in favor of the Brexit deal that Britain reached with the EU last week. It will become British law after passing through the unelected House of Lords and gets a formal royal assent from Queen Elizabeth. Britain left the EU almost a year ago, but its economic split will be finalized Thursday at midnight in Brussels. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, left, and European Council President Charles Michel show signed EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreements at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Dec. 30, 2020.European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel signed the agreement in Brussels early Wednesday. The documents were then flown by a Royal Air Force plane to London for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to add his signature. “The agreement that we signed today is the result of months of intense negotiations in which the European Union has displayed an unprecedented level of unity,” Michel said. “It is a fair and balanced agreement that fully protects the fundamental interests of the European Union and creates stability and predictability for citizens and companies.” Johnson heralded the pact as “a new relationship between Britain and the EU as sovereign equals.” UK chief trade negotiator David Frost looks on as Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson signs the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement at 10 Downing Street, London, Dec. 30, 2020.It has been 4 1/2 years since Britain voted 52% to 48% to leave the bloc it joined in 1973. Starting Friday on New Year’s Day, the trade deal ensures that Britain and the EU can continue to trade goods without tariffs or quotas. That should help protect the $894 billion in annual British-EU trade, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that rely on it. But Brexit will also bring inconvenience, such as the need for tourists to have insurance when traveling between the EU and Britain and for companies to fill out millions of new customs declarations. But Johnson said Brexit would turn Britain from “a half-hearted, sometimes obstructive member of the EU” into “a friendly neighbor — the best friend and ally the EU could have.” He said Britain would now “trade and cooperate with our European neighbors on the closest terms of friendship and goodwill, whilst retaining sovereign control of our laws and our national destiny.” 
 

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З початку 2021-го 98% українських товарів матимуть доступ на ринок Великої Британії – Мінекономіки

31
Dec,2020

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Угода про вільну торгівлю з Великою Британією, ратифікована раніше Верховною Радою, надасть 98% української продукції доступ на британський ринок, заявляє 30 грудня Міністерство розвитку економіки, торгівлі та сільського господарства України.

Як нагадують у відомстві, угода набуде чинності з 1 січня 2021 року.

«Зокрема, документ надасть вільний доступ на британський ринок для 98% української продукції, а з 2023 року для України буде лібералізовано ще 2%», – повідомляє Мінекономіки.

Пресслужба цитує міністра Ігоря Петрашка, який вказує, що угоду з Великою Британією Україні довелося узгоджувати і з Європейським Союзом. З 1 січня Сполучене королівство виходить з єдиного ринку Євросоюзу.

Читайте також: Країни-члени ЄС одностайно погодились схвалити торговельну угоду щодо Brexit

«Нам вдалося досягти хороших результатів, оскільки наші показники торгівлі з Євросоюзом не були змінені», – сказав Петрашко.

За оцінкою уряду, Угода покращить баланс і структуру двосторонньої торгівлі між Україною і Великою Британією.

Як зазначають у Мінекономіки, зараз відомство готується до укладення нових угод із Тунісом, Єгиптом, Йорданією, В’єтнамом, Індонезією та Китаєм.

16 грудня Верховна Рада підтримала ратифікацію «Угоди про політичне співробітництво, вільну торгівлю і стратегічне партнерство між Україною та Сполученим Королівством Великої Британії і Північної Ірландії».

Угоду про співробітництво, вільну торгівлю та стратегічн партнерство з Великою Британією підписав президент Володимир Зеленський під час офіційного візиту до Лондона в жовтні 2020 року.

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Putin Signs Amendments to ‘Foreign Agents’ Law

30
Dec,2020

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law legislation that human rights watchdogs and opposition politicians have said will undermine democratic processes.The legislation, which came into force on December 30, included a series of amendments to the controversial law on “foreign agents” to allow individuals and public entities to be recognized as “foreign agents” if they are considered to be engaged in political activities “in the interests of a foreign state.”Entities that have received the label will be required to report their activities and face financial audits.Putin Signs Amendments Allowing Large Fines for ‘Foreign Agents’ Law ViolationsCritics say law is used to muzzle dissent, discourage the free exchange of ideas and a free pressPutin signed a separate bill imposing penalties of up to five years in prison to those identified as “foreign agents” who do not register as such or fail to report on their activities.Grounds for being recognized as a “foreign agent” could be holding rallies or political debates, providing opinions on state policies, actions promoting a certain outcome in an election or referendum, or participation as an electoral observer or in political parties if they are done in the interest of a foreign entity.Amnesty International has slammed the proposed legislation, saying it would “drastically limit and damage the work not only of civil society organizations that receive funds from outside Russia but many other groups as well.”Critics say the “foreign agent” law, originally passed in 2012 and since expanded through amendments, has been arbitrarily applied to target Russian civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and political activists.Putin also signed a bill allowing media regulator Roskomnadzor to partially or fully restrict or slow access to foreign websites that “discriminate against Russian media.”The legislation is expected to affect major social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Britain Drug Regulatory Agency Approves Second COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use

30
Dec,2020

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The year 2020 is ending with good news about two more potential vaccines that could slowly bring an end to the global COVID-19 pandemic that has killed nearly 1.8 million people out of a total of nearly 82 million infections.   Britain’s medical regulatory agency announced Wednesday that it has granted emergency authorization of a coronavirus vaccine developed jointly by British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University. Late-stage clinical trials of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine revealed it to be 70% effective against COVID-19. The vaccine had a 62% efficacy rate for participants given a full two doses, but tests of a smaller sub-group revealed it to be 90% effective when given a half-dose followed by a full dose weeks later.   The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine is the second to be approved by Britain for its mass inoculation effort, which began earlier this month with the vaccine developed by U.S.-based Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech.  The new vaccine will be distributed across the country within days, with Britain having already ordered 100 million doses.   Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which needs to be stored in super-cold refrigerators at temperatures below 70 degrees Celsius, the newly approved vaccine can be stored at normal temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, making it easier to transport and administer to people in poorer and remote nations.   But the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine has come under intense scrutiny over the number of people who took part in the smaller sub-group, which was just 2,741, and whether it is effective for people over age 55.   In a related development, Chinese state-owned drug maker Sinopharm is seeking regulatory approval for its COVID-19 vaccine after it was found to be 79.3 percent effective against the disease in a final large-scale clinical trial. The vaccine, developed by Sinopharm’s subsidiary Beijing Biological Products Institute, is one of five vaccines developed by Chinese companies that have already been administered to more than one million people in China under its emergency use program while still undergoing Phase 3 clinical trials.   The United Arab Emirates granted emergency use approval for a Sinopharm-developed vaccine earlier this month after it was shown to be 86% effective in preventing moderate and severe cases of the virus in a late-stage clinical trial back in September.   Wednesday’s vaccine news comes just days after several European Union countries began inoculating its citizens after receiving a first shipment of 10,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.  Vaccinations also began Wednesday in Singapore, with a 46-year-old nurse the first in the city-state to be inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.  The nurse is one of more than 30 staffers at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases to receive the first dose of two-shot vaccine, with the second dose to be delivered sometime in January.  Singapore, which has one of the lowest rates of total infections with just 58,569, including 29 deaths, is the first Asian nation to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.  It expects to have enough vaccine doses for all its 5.7 million people by the third quarter of 2021. Meanwhile, another potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S.-based drug maker Novavax has begun final-stage testing in the United States. The trials involving 30,000 volunteers will focus on high-risk older adults, as well as people from Black and Hispanic communities who have been disproportionately affected by the virus.    

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Vietnam, Britain Sign Free Trade Deal, to Take Effect Dec. 31

30
Dec,2020

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Britain and Vietnam signed a free trade agreement on Tuesday, Vietnam’s trade ministry said, days before Britain completes its transition out of the European Union.The deal, which will for Britain replace the existing EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), will take effect on Dec. 31, the ministry said in a statement.Trade between Vietnam and Britain has risen by an average of 12% a year over the past decade to reach $6.6 billion last year, and the deal will help boost Vietnam’s exports of garments, footwear products, rice, seafood and wooden furniture, it said.Since leaving the EU in January, Britain has been striking out alone and negotiating new trade deals with countries to replace those the bloc had negotiated.Tuesday’s deal will ensure Britain does not lose access to preferential tariffs in one of the fastest growing and most open economies in Asia.The free trade agreement with Britain has the same provisions as those of EVFTA, the ministry said. EVFTA came into effect in August and was due to cut or eliminate 99% of tariffs on goods traded between Vietnam and the EU.”The agreement will create a framework for comprehensive, long-term and sustainable economic cooperation between the two countries,” the ministry said. 

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Earthquake in Croatia Kills 5

30
Dec,2020

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Five people, including a 12-year-old girl, died after a magnitude-6.4 earthquake swept through central Croatia Tuesday, destroying several buildings, injuring at least 20 people and causing tremors in neighboring countries, according to officials.
 
The epicenter of the quake, Petrinja, a town of about 25,000 people, sustained the worst damage. On Monday it was hit by a 5.2 quake. Tuesday’s quake saw people run out onto rubble-covered streets for safety.
 
“The biggest part of central Petrinja is in a red zone, which means that most of the buildings are not usable,” Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said when he and other government ministers arrived in Petrinja after the earthquake.
 
State television reports four people were killed In Glina. The prime minister confirmed the fifth casualty was a young girl in Petrinja.
 
The army has been dispatched to the area to help rescue people from the rubble. At least two people are seriously injured. Rescue operations also are underway in Sisak, a neighboring town.
 
Some injured people have been treated for “fractures, concussions and some have had to be operated on,” said Tomislav Fabijanic, head of emergency medical services in Sisak.
 
Plenkovic said people will have to be moved from Petrinja “because it was unsafe” to be here.”
 
The government says it also has made arrangements for people displaced by the quake to find accommodations. The Croatian army is providing about 500 places for victims, while others will be housed in hotels and other habitable places, according to the government.
 
Twelve countries including Serbia, Slovenia, Austria and Bosnia also felt tremors, according to Hina, Croatia’s news agency.
 
Buildings shook for a couple of minutes in the city of Graz and the Carinthia province in Austria. Local news media report residents said their furniture and furnishings shook for several minutes.
 
In Slovenia, the STA news agency reports authorities shut down its nuclear power plant as a precautionary measure.
 
Croatia’s Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said the country has sought help from the European Union and is awaiting assistance.
 
Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter she spoke with Plenkovic and instructed an envoy to travel to Croatia as soon as possible.
 
Earthquakes are not uncommon in Croatia, but ones as strong as this have not been felt since the 1990s, when the village of Ston was destroyed.    

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Мінфін залучив понад 23 мільярди через розміщення ОВДП

30
Dec,2020

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Міністерство фінансів розмістило еквівалент 23,6 мільярда гривень через облігації внутрішньої державної позики. Про це йдеть в повідомленні відомства 29 грудня.

«За результатами проведення розміщень облігацій внутрішньої державної позики 29 грудня 2020 року, до державного бюджету залучено 23 643 599 317,37 гривень (за курсом НБУ)», – повідомляє міністерства.

Мінфін здійснив вісім дорозміщень, дата погашення – з березня 2021 до лютого 2025 року. На ОВДП подали 117 заявок, задовольнили 107 із них. Середньозважена дохідність варіюється від 2,9% до 12,25%.

Читайте також: США можуть надати фінансову допомогу для відмови Києва від послуг Huawei – заступник держсекретаря

22 грудня Міністерство фінансів залучило через ОВДП до державного бюджету в еквіваленті 22 мільярди 209 мільйонів гривень.

Рекордне розміщення ОВДП, на суму понад 51 мільярд гривень, Міністерству фінансів України вдалося провести минулого тижня. Два тижні тому за такою ж процедурою до державного бюджету чиновники залучили майже 16 мільярдів гривень.

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Мінекономіки очікує скорочення економіки України на 3% у IV кварталі 2020 року

29
Dec,2020

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Міністерство розвитку економіки очікує скорочення економіки України на 3% у IV кварталі 2020 року, повідомив очільник відомства Ігор Петрашко.

«Ми вже почали бачити економічну стабілізацію… Падіння в третьому кварталі збереглося на рівні 3% ВВП й очікується 3% ВВП у четвертому кварталі», – сказав Петрашко.

Міжнародний валютний фонд прогнозує, що валовий внутрішній продукт України у 2020 році скоротиться на 7,2%. Світовий банк очікує, що українська економіка скоротиться на 5,5%.

Українська влада при цьому очікує, що цьогоріч ВВП впаде на 4,8%.

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‘Many Injured’ as Strong Earthquake Strikes Croatia

29
Dec,2020

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An earthquake of magnitude 6.4 struck a town in Croatia on Tuesday, with the emergency services saying many people had been injured and video footage showing people being rescued from rubble near the epicenter.The GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences said the quake hit at a depth of 10 km (6 miles).The N1 news channel reported that the epicenter was in the town of Petrinja, 50 km from Croatia’s capital Zagreb.N1 quoted a Petrinja town official as saying that a 12-year old child in Petrinja had been killed, but gave no details.It showed footage of rescuers there pulling out a man and a child from the debris. Both were alive.Other footage showed a house with a roof caved in. The reporter said she did not know if anyone was inside.Tomislav Fabijanic, head of emergency medical service in Sisak near Petrinja, said there were many injured in Petrinja and in Sisak.”There are fractures, there are concussions and some had to be operated on,” he said,Slovenia’s STA news agency said that the country’s sole nuclear power plant which is 100 km from the epicenter was shut down as a precaution.There was no further information available on casualties.The quake could be felt in the capital Zagreb, where people rushed onto the streets, some strewn with broken roof tiles and other debris. It was also felt in neighboring Bosnia and Serbia.On Monday a magnitude 5.2 earthquake hit central Croatia, also near Petrinja. In March, an earthquake of magnitude 5.3 hit Zagreb causing one death and injuring 27 people. 

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French Fashion Designer Pierre Cardin Dies at 98 

29
Dec,2020

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French couturier Pierre Cardin, who made his name by selling designer clothes to the masses, and his fortune by being the first to exploit that name as a brand for selling everything from cars to perfume, died on Tuesday aged 98. In a career spanning more than 60 years, Cardin drew scorn and admiration from fellow fashion designers for his brash business sense, and influenced catwalks with his space-age, futuristic bubble dresses and geometrical cuts and patterns. Cardin, who was a mentor to designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, was active in fashion circles until the last, still taking young designers under his wing, attending parties and events and regularly visiting his Paris office by Jaguar. FILE – French fashion designer Pierre Cardin poses in front of his 1954-1956-1957 fashion creations in his museum called “Past-Present-Future” in Paris, Nov. 12, 2014.Cardin was the first designer to sell clothes collections in department stores in the late 1950s, and the first to enter the licensing business for perfumes, accessories and even food – which later drove profits for many other fashion houses. “It’s all the same to me whether I am doing sleeves for dresses or table legs,” a telling quote on his website once read. Hard as it may be to imagine decades later, Armani chocolates, Bulgari hotels and Gucci sunglasses are all based on Cardin’s realization that a fashion brand’s glamour had endless merchandising potential. Over the years his name has been stamped on razor blades, household goods, and tacky accessories – even cheap boxer shorts. He once said it would not bother him to have his initials, PC, etched into rolls of toilet paper, and he was also the inspiration for a phallus-like perfume flask. His detractors accused him of destroying the value of his brand and the notion of luxury in general. But he seemed largely unaffected by criticism. “I had a sense for marketing my name,” Cardin told Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in 2007. “Does money spoil one’s ideas? I don’t dream of money after all, but while I’m dreaming, I’m making money. It’s never been about the money.” He maintained that he built his business empire without ever asking a bank for a loan. Born near Venice on July 2, 1922, to French parents of Italian descent, Cardin was educated in the not-so-glamorous French city of Saint Etienne. He went to work for a tailor in nearby Vichy at age 17 and dreamt for a time of becoming an actor, doing some work on the stage as well as modeling and dancing professionally. ‘Beauty and the beast’ When he came to Paris in 1945, he made theatrical masks and costumes for Jean Cocteau’s film, “Beauty and the Beast,” and a year later joined the then-unknown Christian Dior. His first big commercial venture, when he teamed up with the Printemps department store in the late 1950s, led to him being briefly expelled from the rarified guild of French fashion designers, the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture. Couturiers in that club were forbidden at that time to show outside their Paris salons, let alone in department stores. He also blazed a trail outside France long before other fashion multinationals in search of new markets. He presented a collection in Communist China in 1979 when it was still largely closed to the outside world. And just two years after the Berlin Wall came down, in 1991, a Cardin fashion show on Moscow’s Red Square attracted a crowd of 200,000. Cardin also expanded into new businesses, buying fabled Paris restaurant Maxim’s in the 1980s and opening replica outlets around the world. He leveraged the investment further by launching Minim’s, a chain of fancy fast-food joints that reproduced the Belle Epoque decor of the original exclusive Paris eatery. His empire embraces perfumes, foods, industrial design, real estate, entertainment and even fresh flowers. True to his taste for futuristic designs, Cardin also owns the Palais des Bulles, or Bubble Palace, a residence-cum-events-venue woven into the cliffs on one of the most exclusive strips of the French riviera. Not too far away, there is also a chateau in the village of Lacoste that once belonged to the Marquis de Sade. In February this year he teamed up with a designer seven decades his junior. Pierre Courtial, 27, unveiled a collection at Cardin’s studio on Paris’s chic Rue Saint-Honore, with pieces that echoed some of the veteran designer’s geometrical esthetics. Cardin said he still rated originality above anything else. “I’ve always tried to be different, to be myself,” he told Reuters. “Whether people like it or not, that’s not what matters.” 

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