US congressmen in Lebanon over crippling economic crisis

US congressmen in Lebanon over crippling economic crisis
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati meets with US congressmen Rep. Darrell Issa and Republican Rep. Darin LaHood in Beirut on Saturday. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 20 November 2021

US congressmen in Lebanon over crippling economic crisis

US congressmen in Lebanon over crippling economic crisis
  • The delegation is to report to President Joe Biden and the Congress and propose ways to help the Lebanese
  • Lebanon’s crisis is rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement

BEIRUT: A group of US congressmen held meetings Saturday with Lebanon’s top leaders during a fact-finding mission to the Middle East nation roiled by an unprecedented economic crisis.
The delegation is to report to President Joe Biden and the Congress and propose ways to help the Lebanese. The country’s new government, in place since September, has struggled to kick off reforms and negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.
The US team includes Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, and also Republican Rep. Darin LaHood of Illinois, as well as Edward Gabriel, head of the Washington-based American Task Force for Lebanon. The three, who arrived Friday and are to spend three days in Lebanon, first met with President Michel Aoun.
Lebanon’s crisis is rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement. The international community has said it will only help the small nation once it implements wide reforms and tackles widespread corruption.
Gabriel told the local Al-Jadeed TV that the congressmen are in town “to see firsthand” what is going on in Lebanon and that he hoped they would “come up with some new ideas” for ways the United States could help the Lebanese.
The delegation later met with Prime Minister Najib Mikati who thanked the US for standing by Lebanon and for its continuous support to the Lebanese Armed Forces, his office said.
Lebanon’s economic meltdown began in late 2019 and has been made worse by political bickering between rival groups who have failed to start reforms despite the fact that the crisis has thrown three quarters of the country’s 6 million people, including a million Syrian refugees, into poverty.


Shanghai partly resumes public transport in patchy reopening

Shanghai partly resumes public transport in patchy reopening
Updated 13 min 11 sec ago

Shanghai partly resumes public transport in patchy reopening

Shanghai partly resumes public transport in patchy reopening
  • China’s largest city has been almost entirely locked down since April
  • Four of the city’s 20 subway lines restarted Sunday along with some road transport

SHANGHAI: Shanghai partially restarted public transport Sunday and set out new classifications for COVID-19 risk areas, signaling a gradual reopening after nearly two months sealed off from the outside world.
China’s largest city has been almost entirely locked down since April, when it became the epicenter of the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak since the early days of the pandemic.
Unlike other major economies, Beijing has dug in its heels on a strict zero COVID-19 approach that relies on stamping out clusters as they emerge, though this has become increasingly difficult with the infectious omicron variant.
But as new infections have slowed, Shanghai has cautiously eased restrictions, with some factories resuming operations and residents in lower-risk areas allowed to venture outdoors.
Four of the city’s 20 subway lines restarted Sunday along with some road transport, with officials announcing last week that it would provide a “basic network covering all central urban areas.”
Those who take public transport will have to show a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of their journey and have a “normal temperature,” they added Saturday.
Shanghai will also classify areas as high, medium or low-risk after May 31, city health official Zhao Dandan told a press briefing on Sunday.
Districts with 10 or more reported COVID-19 cases — or at least two community infections — will be considered “high-risk” while areas with no positive cases for 14 days will be deemed “low-risk,” Zhao said.
Medium or high-risk areas face lockdowns of two weeks.
The new system appears to set the stage for a degree of movement comparable to other cities, a shift from tough current measures in which even residents of lower risk areas have faced tight restrictions.
But despite broader attempts to ease those restrictions, the city’s central Jing’an district was back under lockdown on Sunday, according to an official notice.
Jing’an will undergo three consecutive rounds of mass COVID-19 testing from Sunday and residents are not to leave their homes during this period, a WeChat notice said.
“Exit permits that have been issued will be suspended,” the notice added Saturday, while assuring residents that “victory is not far away.”
The city of 25 million residents reported more than 600 COVID cases on Sunday, 570 of them asymptomatic, according to National Health Commission data.
But restrictions continued in other Chinese cities with COVID-19 cases, including the capital Beijing, which has already banned dining out and forced millions to work from home.
As of Saturday, nearly 5,000 people in Beijing’s Nanxinyuan residential compound had been relocated to quarantine hotels after 26 new infections were discovered in recent days, state media reported.
Fears have run high that the city may take a similar approach to Shanghai, where the lockdown has denied many adequate access to food and medical care.


Bronze for Saudi cyclist Dania Sambawa at GCC Games in Kuwait

Bronze for Saudi cyclist Dania Sambawa at GCC Games in Kuwait
Updated 37 min 4 sec ago

Bronze for Saudi cyclist Dania Sambawa at GCC Games in Kuwait

Bronze for Saudi cyclist Dania Sambawa at GCC Games in Kuwait
  • Heartbreak for Saudi women’s futsal team after they lost to host nation on penalties in semi-finals

Saudi cyclist Dania Sambawa claimed third place and a bronze medal in the women’s individual time trial at the third Gulf Games in Kuwait.

Sambawa finished the race in a time of 20:02.34 minutes, while her colleague Munira Al-Dariwish came fourth after reaching the finish line in 20:04.89 minutes.

Meanwhile in the women’s futsal semi-finals, Saudi Arabia lost on penalties to Kuwait after normal time had ended in a 1-1 draw, and the two extra periods finished 2-2.

The Saudi men’s basketball team also suffered defeat, going down 63-51 to Bahrain.


Newcastle United look to end season on a high note against Burnley

Newcastle United look to end season on a high note against Burnley
Updated 40 min 57 sec ago

Newcastle United look to end season on a high note against Burnley

Newcastle United look to end season on a high note against Burnley
  • The Magpies head to Turf Moor Sunday afternoon knowing a win has the potential to see them sneak into the top half of the Premier League table

NEWCASTLE: Stand-in skipper Callum Wilson has told Newcastle United to produce a season-ending ‘statement’ performance at relegation-threatened Burnley.

The Magpies head to Turf Moor this afternoon knowing a win could put them in the top half of the Premier League table. Three points against Burnley might lift them to 10th position, depending on results elsewhere.

Wilson is expected to lead the line again despite suffering a nasty facial injury in the win against Arsenal.

“We have one more important game. We can finish higher up the league, Burnley are fighting relegation. There is a lot riding on it. It won’t fizzle out. We will try to do the job,” said the England international frontman.

“We thank the fans for the atmosphere they have created. Since the takeover it has been fantastic, it has breathed life into the city.

“We brought players into the squad in January. There is a good team environment and everyone is together.

“There are a lot more chances there for a striker and next season is going to be a good one. Everyone wrote us off and we have proved people wrong week in, week out. We can finish in the top half of the table and what a statement of intent that would be for next season.”

Wilson led the team out to a wall of noise and sea of colour at St James’ Park last Monday night, as the Magpies signed off on home turf with arguably their stand-out performance of a topsy-turvy season, beating Arsenal 2-0.

The 30-year-old is expecting a hostile atmosphere, especially given that Mike Jackson’s side can secure safety with a win.

“We have run ourselves into the ground for the cause. We have an unbelievable atmosphere at St James’ Park. (Last week) when we heard it and walked out to it, it made the hair on my arms stand up and gave you butterflies in a good way.

“The thought of playing in the Championship? This club is Premier League and we had to show that. We have managed to get results.

“I watched for a while on the sidelines and was so excited to get back out amongst it. I want to score. We can finish in the top ten. We have to focus on ourselves. It will be hostile and we have to thrive under that and silence them.”

Head coach Eddie Howe might yet recall club captain Jamaal Lascelles to the United starting XI for the final game of the season.

Lascelles has seen very little game time in the second half of the campaign, but that has not affected his leadership skills.

Howe said: “I have to say Jamaal has been an exceptional captain for us and the biggest compliment I can give him is when he was out of the team, and when you’re captain of the club, how do you act in that moment? That was a real test of his leadership and I have to say his response was brilliant.

“For me, it elevated him as a captain because of that. He was positive, led really well around the group. It’s very easy to fall into your own psychology or thinking if you’re disappointed you’re not playing and let that affect you negatively — it didn’t. He has elevated his leadership, been a brilliant captain on and off the pitch.

“It’s not ideal that the armband changes around, you want a consistent leader in your group but actually, the benefits of that happening is it inspired leadership from other people. Callum took the armband and led the team really well. The more leaders I can have in the group, the better.”


Cannes filmmakers urge France to face colonial past in Algeria, Africa

Cannes filmmakers urge France to face colonial past in Algeria, Africa
Updated 37 min 23 sec ago

Cannes filmmakers urge France to face colonial past in Algeria, Africa

Cannes filmmakers urge France to face colonial past in Algeria, Africa

CANNES: Film-makers are holding up a mirror to France over its colonial past at the Cannes festival, helped by star power and a growing French readiness to face up to injustices committed notably in Africa.

The colonization of Algeria and the horrors of the Algerian war of independence (1954-1962) deeply scarred both nations and continues to mar relations, but was hardly discussed in France in public for decades.

Although President Emmanuel Macron has acknowledged crimes committed — including a massacre by police of Algerians in Paris in 1961 which he called “inexcusable” — his government has ruled out “presenting an apology” for France’s colonial past.

French director Philippe Faucon was born in Algeria. File/AFP

“I think you could say that I’m obsessed by the Algerian war,” French director Philippe Faucon told AFP at the Cannes festival.

His film “Les Harkis” tells the story of Algerians who fought alongside French troops against the independence movement, only to be left behind for the most part when France pulled out of Algeria, and facing the vengeance of the victorious Algerians.

The movie places the responsibility for this “criminal betrayal” and the subsequent massacres of Harkis firmly at the doorstep of then-president Charles de Gaulle.

“Les Harkis” tells the story of Algerians who fought alongside French troops against the independence movement. Supplied

“It is necessary to recall this story and look the truth in the eyes,” said Algerian-born Faucon, although historical “complexities” make easy judgments impossible.

Fellow director Mathieu Vadepied also warned against facile conclusions about France’s forced recruitment of Senegalese soldiers for its World War I war effort, the subject of his film “Tirailleurs” (“Father and Soldier”).

French superstar Omar Sy — who has won a huge international following with his roles in “Untouchable” and the Netflix smash hit “Lupin” — plays the lead in the story about a father and a son who are both forced into the trenches.

“My idea is to put things into question,” Vadepied told AFP. “Question France’s historical relationship with its former colonies, what do we have to say about that today, do we even know what we did?”

France’s forced recruitment of Senegalese soldiers for its World War I war effort is the subject of the film “Tirailleurs”. Supplied

While rejecting any “frontally political” approach, he said that “if we deny the facts we can never move on, we need to tell these stories, everybody needs to know them.”

The idea was however “not to guilt-trip people, but to recognize the painful history and free ourselves.”

Sy, the France-born son of west African immigrants, told the audience at the film’s opening night: “We have the same story, but we don’t have the same memories.”

The second Cannes week will see the screening of “Nos Frangins” (“Our Brothers”) by French director Rachid Bouchareb who in 2006 sparked a nationwide debate with “Indigenes” (“Days of Glory”), a film about the contribution of North African soldiers to the French Free Forces during World War II.

 A still from ‘Nos Frangins’. Supplied

In his latest movie, he tells the story of Malik Oussekine, a student killed in 1986 and whose name resonates deeply among French minorities.

On the night of December 6, 1986, two police officers beat to death the 22-year-old French-Algerian on the sidelines of a student protest in Paris.

He had not been involved in the demonstration, and his killing became a turning point — triggering weeks of unrest and leading to the unprecedented conviction of the officers involved.

It took 35 years for the death of Malik Oussekine to be recounted on-screen.


Commodities Update — Gold edges up; Wheat falls, soybean firm; UK to impose duties of up to 29% on Chinese aluminum extrusions

Commodities Update — Gold edges up; Wheat falls, soybean firm; UK to impose duties of up to 29% on Chinese aluminum extrusions
Updated 47 min 15 sec ago

Commodities Update — Gold edges up; Wheat falls, soybean firm; UK to impose duties of up to 29% on Chinese aluminum extrusions

Commodities Update — Gold edges up; Wheat falls, soybean firm; UK to impose duties of up to 29% on Chinese aluminum extrusions

RIYADH: Gold edged up on Friday, heading for its first week of gains in five on persistent worries over economic growth and a weekly decline in the dollar.

A slide in US Treasury yields supported the safe-haven metal on the day, sending spot gold up 0.1 percent to $1,843.29 per ounce. Prices hit a one-week high earlier in the session.

US gold futures settled up 0.1 percent at $1,842.10.

Platinum falls

Silver fell 0.1 percent to $21.69 per ounce, but was up about 2.9 percent for the week.

Platinum fell 1.4 percent to $948.77, while palladium eased 2.4 percent to $1,958.81. 

Wheat, corn ease 

Chicago wheat fell for a third straight session on Friday, retreating further from a two-month high it hit earlier this week as technical selling pressured the market, traders said.

Corn also eased, as accelerated US planting and news that Argentina may expand an export volume cap weighed. 

Soybeans gained on strong export demand, amid tight supplies.

The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade lost 31-3/4 cents at $11.68-3/4 a bushel, a 0.7 percent weekly decline.

CBOT corn ended 4-1/2 cents lower at $7.78-3/4 a bushel, ending lower for a third consecutive week.

Soybeans firmed 14-3/4 cents to $17.05-1/4 a bushel, logging a weekly gain of 58-3/4 cents, a 3.6 percent increase.

UK to impose duties on Chinese aluminum extrusions

Britain may impose anti-dumping duties of up to 29 percent on aluminum extrusions from China to protect domestic producers, a trade agency said on Friday.

Aluminium extrusions — widely used in the transport, construction and electronics industries — are being dumped in Britain at lower prices than they are sold in China, the Trade Remedies Authority said in an interim report.

“The TRA determined that there is already damage to the UK industry, having found clear evidence of price undercutting, indicating that UK businesses are struggling to compete with the dumped imports,” a statement said.

Provisional measures will be imposed as the TRA completes its investigation, requiring Chinese companies exporting to Britain to provide a bank guarantee beginning on May 28, it added.

Duties ranging from 7.3 percent to 29.1 percent were recommended, depending on the company and the level of dumping margin, the interim report said.

(With input from Reuters)