Category: government

Tesla Beefing Up Its Public, Government Relations Teams in China

(Bloomberg) — Tesla Inc. is hiring public and government relations staff in China as the world’s biggest car market becomes a more important source of income for the top electric-vehicle maker.

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The Palo Alto, California-based company is seeking new hires in China’s large cities, as well as smaller hubs including Shijiazhuang in Hebei province near Beijing and Haikou, a port city that’s the capital of the island province of Hainan, according to a job advertisement that was confirmed by a company representative. The online ad didn’t specify how many people Tesla is looking for but the recruitment posting covers 10 cities.

The hirings are in contrast to Tesla’s media approach in the U.S., where its communications team has largely been disbanded. The company, run by billionaire Elon Musk, hasn’t responded to inquiries from Bloomberg and other media outlets for nearly a year, and many of the people who were in communications roles have moved on to jobs at other tech companies. Chief Executive Officer Musk does appear on podcasts and is an avid user of Twitter.

Tesla, which gets almost a quarter of its revenue from China versus about half from the U.S., has a factory in Shanghai where it builds Model 3s. It plans to export China-made EVs to countries including Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, as well as Europe as soon as the end of this year or early 2021, people familiar with the matter said last month.

Although China is already the world’s largest car market, the potential upside is huge. Vehicle penetration is still low and there’s a rising middle class able to afford personal transport for the first time. EVs in China are also much cheaper than in Europe and the U.S., and the Chinese consumer is more tech savvy and likely to be an early adopter.



chart: Cheap in China


© Bloomberg
Cheap in China

The position, described as a regional external relations manager, will be responsible for “establishing and maintaining a positive corporate image of Tesla in regional markets,” building contacts with media, government agencies and industry groups. Responsibilities may involve arranging media interviews for executives, conducting policy research and liaising with local governments. The ads were posted in late August.

Tesla delivered 69,514 domestically built Model 3s in the first eight months of 2020, making it the No. 1 player in China followed by BYD Co. with more than 40,000 cars, registration data show. Tesla is however facing greater competition from China’s legions of smaller EV firms, including NIO Inc., Xpeng Inc. and SAIC-GM Wuling Automobile Co., which has a an EV for less than $5,000.

Volkswagen AG’s Audi is also expanding its partnership with Chinese manufacturer FAW, saying earlier this week a memorandum of understanding was signed to start a company that will produce electric cars in China from 2024.

To boost China sales, Tesla has been rolling out price cuts, bringing the starting price of Model 3s to as low as 249,900 yuan ($36,800). People familiar have said that move has been

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The real black history? The government wants to ban it

When the enslaved African was put on a ship to be transported across the Atlantic, “that moment he became a revolutionary”, wrote the historian, campaigner and later prime minister of Trinidad, Eric Williams. He was complicating the familiar British story of abolition, in which black people who had somehow managed to get themselves enslaved were freed by the ‘Saints’ – educated white men of conscience.



a baseball player holding a bat on a field: Photograph: Central Press/Getty Images


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Central Press/Getty Images

In reality, both slaves and other colonial subjects in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean fought for their rights and freedom in very difficult circumstances. Those rebellions and liberation movements, along with the work of white abolitionists and critics of empire, put pressure on Britain to ultimately concede emancipation and independence. If the official history is of Britannic rule, a still-hidden history tells of black (and Asian) resistance to that rule.

So, when speaking of black history, which is also British history, we need to ditch prejudicial and misleading phrases like “victim narratives”, recently used in the Department for Education’s statutory guidance to English schools. The present government deems accounts of oppression and exploitation “divisive” and “harmful”, along with discussions of alternatives to capitalism. Using phrases like “victimhood mentality” when describing ethnic minorities stokes an unhelpful culture war and delegitimises necessary accounts of racist and colonial dispossession.



a man standing on a baseball field: ‘In the postwar period, the colour bar in hotels and other public spaces was challenged by people like the famous cricketer Learie Constantine.’


© Photograph: Central Press/Getty Images
‘In the postwar period, the colour bar in hotels and other public spaces was challenged by people like the famous cricketer Learie Constantine.’

It is convenient for the powerful, of course, to demand that the spotlight be turned away from the harm they foster, whether through bigotry or predatory capitalism. Historical amnesia works in their favour.

In fact, black history contains few victim narratives, even if it tells us a great deal about victimisation and the infliction of suffering. The documents of colonial and racist barbarism are also documents of the power of protest. Black history is not just about slavery or colonialism, but in the context of Black Lives Matter and the contemporary struggle for racial and social justice, the history of black struggle teaches us something valuable about the relationship between resistance and change.

One familiar defensive response to discussions of racism today is to insist that Britain is one of the most tolerant countries in the world. Missing from that grand claim is the story of how all progress on race has been won through persistent protest and campaigning, by ethnic minorities and their allies.

Black people, both in Britain and in the colonial world, have not waited meekly for changes to take place. From the abolition of slavery to the removal of the colour bar, and from the moderate inclusion campaigns of the League of Coloured Peoples in the 1930s to more militant organising against police brutality in the 1970s, black people in Britain have defended their communities, mobilised and contributed to vital social and institutional change. As the historian Peter Fryer noted, across Britain and the British Empire black people

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Bill to allow virtual government meetings headed to Whitmer for signature

LANSING, MI – Guidance on public and virtual meetings could be headed to local governments across the state after the passage of a bill in the legislature.

In the wake of the Michigan Supreme Court striking down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders last week, a handful of local entities quickly nixed public meetings scheduled to be held via Zoom. Whitmer’s executive orders allowed public bodies to hold electronic meetings since March. Remotely held meetings of public bodies could otherwise violate the Open Meetings Act.

Senate Bill 1108, sponsored by state Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton, would permit virtual public meetings as long as the local government declares a state of emergency. It passed 85-16 during House a session Tuesday, Oct. 13.

It passed 36-1 in the Senate later Tuesday night. The bill now heads to Whitmer’s desk for final consideration.

The legislation would allow for virtual meetings by local governments until December 2021. The bill also seeks to clear up the question of whether local governments violated the Open Meetings Act after April 30, since the Michigan Supreme Court invalidated Whitmer’s executive orders after that date.

The bill also replaces elements of Whitmer’s executive order allowing for virtual meetings. Those include requiring an explanation within 18 hours of the meeting for why it needs to be held virtually, ensuring two-way communication for members to hear each other, posting agenda updates online and establishing how the public can view meetings.

There were dissenting comments from both Republican and Democratic representatives that signaled lingering issues with elements of the bill.

In its current form, the bill would allow members of public bodies to remotely tune in and vote during in-person meetings under certain circumstances, including required military duty, a medical condition or a state of emergency that would “risk the personal health or safety of members of the public or the public body,” according to analysis from the House Fiscal Agency.

The last two provisions prompted proposed amendments by Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain. He suggested that medical conditions must require quarantine to allow an absence by a local official. If that person is hospitalized, he also suggested they be required to be in hospital within 100 miles of the public meeting to be involved in the vote.

“There’s no requirement that the individual be even sick with COVID-19,” he said on the House floor. “They could’ve broken their leg, and could avoid the scrutiny of the public and get around the Open Meetings Act and the transparency to the public that goes along with it.”

Lastly, the state of emergency should be one linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, and not something such as flooding or fires, he proposed. The amendment was denied.

Additionally, Rep. Matt Koleszar, D-Plymouth, offered an amendment calling for the allowance of virtual meetings until March 2022, rather than the end of next year. That amendment was also scrapped.

Local municipalities have been dealing with the issue of meeting virtually since last week’s Supreme Court decision. On Monday, Oct.

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China is snapping up Japanese government bonds, and it’s not just for the returns

  • China bought 1.46 trillion yen ($13.8 billion) in medium to long-term Japanese government bonds on a net basis between April and July. That was 3.6 times more than the same period last year.
  • In the same period, the U.S. increased its purchases by only 30%, in comparison. Europe, meanwhile, sold off 3 trillion yen worth of JGBs.
  • Yields on such bonds are near zero, making them an unlikely option as an investment. But analysts told CNBC there are other reasons why China would want to buy those bonds.



text, calendar: Bank notes of the Chinese yuan, Japanese yen and the U.S. dollar.


© Provided by CNBC
Bank notes of the Chinese yuan, Japanese yen and the U.S. dollar.

SINGAPORE — China’s recent purchase of Japanese government bonds surged to the highest level in more than three years – as the country more than tripled its holdings between April and July this year, compared to the previous year.

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During those three months in 2020, China bought 1.46 trillion yen ($13.8 billion) of medium- to long-term JGBs on a net basis, according to Japanese media Nikkei, which cited data from Japan’s finance ministry and its central bank. That was 3.6 times more than the same period last year.

In comparison, the U.S. increased its purchases by only 30% in the same period, that data reportedly showed. Europe, meanwhile, sold off 3 trillion yen worth of JGBs, according to Nikkei.

Yields on JGBs are around zero, making them an unlikely option as an investment since the returns are comparatively low.

But analysts told CNBC there could be other reasons why China would want to buy those bonds.

“One of the odd things about the current environment is that JGBs are no longer an obviously unattractive fixed income security, depending on the currency you are funding the purchase in,” said Ross Hutchison, investment director of global fixed income at Aberdeen Standard Investments.

Chinese government bonds are an attractive proposition: JPMorgan Private Bank

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For instance, China can actually earn more on the investment by buying 30-year JGBs in the Japanese yen and swapping their currency exposure back into U.S. dollars, said Hutchison. It can pick up an additional 0.56% by doing so, according to him. Longer term bonds typically have higher yields as investors need to take on higher risks for holding on to them for a longer period of time.

The practice of a currency swap is when two parties exchange an equivalent amount of money with each other in different currencies, in order to protect themselves from further exposure to exchange rate risk, for instance.

“Many reserve managers buy JGBs and then swap or hedge the currency back into dollars, earning an additional ‘basis’ premium,” said David Nowakowski, a senior strategist of multi-asset and macro at Aviva Investors.

It’s also possible that China may be trying to manage the appreciation of the yuan, as the Chinese currency spiked against the Japanese yen in June, Hutchison pointed out. Selling off the yuan to buy JGBs, which are denominated in yen, could

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Japan firms fall woefully short of meeting government goals on women in management – Reuters poll

TOKYO (Reuters) – About one-fifth of Japanese companies have no female managers and most say women account for less than 10% of management, a Reuters monthly poll found, highlighting the struggle for the government’s “womenomics” drive to make headway.

FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a protective face mask uses an escalator in a quiet business district on the first working day after the Golden Week holiday, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan, May 7,2020.REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The survey results come as Japan is seen to delay its target this year to raise the share of women in leadership posts to 30% as part of the government’s campaign to empower women, dubbed “womenomics”, and cope with Japan’s ageing population.

The Reuters Corporate Survey, conducted Sept. 29-Oct. 8, found 71% of Japanese firms said women accounted for less than 10% of management, while 17% had no female managers at all.

Asked how much scope there was to increase female managers, 55% said by around 10%, a quarter said by about 20%, one in 10 firms said by around 30%, while 5% saw no room for that.

“Regardless of sex, we should hire talented people and promote them on their merits, rather than putting priority on the proportion,” a chemicals maker manager wrote in the survey.

A paper and pulp maker manager wrote: “We hire more female new graduates than male, but many female hires tend to leave the company after a while, making it hard to raise female managers.”

The survey, conducted for Reuters by Nikkei Research, canvassed 485 large and midsize non-financial firms. About 240 firms answered the questions on condition of anonymity.

The results were similar to the previous poll taken in 2018.

Japan’s global ranking on gender parity fell to 121st out of 153 countries in a World Economic Forum report for 2020.

New premier Yoshihide Suga’s 21-member cabinet has just two female ministers, and women account for just short of 10% of all lawmakers in parliament’s powerful lower house.

While aiming to follow his predecessor Shinzo Abe’s policies including the coronavirus pandemic response, Suga has pledged to allow insurance coverage for expensive fertility treatments.

On the pandemic impact on employment and wages, 47% of Japan firms suffered it, causing many to curb new hiring, slash wages and reduce staff, the survey showed.

One third of firms expect employment to remain short of pre-pandemic levels at the year end, while a slim majority, 52% of firms, saw capital expenditure would undershoot their initial plans, dampening prospects for sustained economic recovery.

Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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Virginia’s governor was also a possible target of an anti-government plot, the F.B.I. says.

Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia was discussed as a possible target by members of an anti-government group charged last week with plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, the F.B.I. said on Tuesday.

During a hearing in Grand Rapids, Mich., Special Agent Richard J. Trask II of the F.B.I. said that Mr. Northam and other officials were targeted because of their aggressive lockdown orders to restrict the spread of the coronavirus.

Last week, 13 men accused of involvement in the alleged plot were charged with a variety of state and federal crimes including terrorism, conspiracy and weapons possession.

During Tuesday’s hearing, the authorities revealed that the suspects also spoke about “taking” the Virginia governor “based” on coronavirus lockdown orders that restricted businesses.

The F.B.I. alerted members of Mr. Northam’s security team throughout their investigation, Alena Yarmosky, Mr. Northam’s press secretary, said in a statement. The governor was not informed, “per security protocols,” Ms. Yarmosky said, but added that “at no time was the governor or his family in imminent danger.”

Mr. Northam, a Democrat, issued a statewide stay-at-home order on March 30, instructing residents to leave their homes only for work, medical appointments, family care, shopping for essentials and “outdoor activity with strict social distancing requirements.”

In April, President Trump had openly encouraged right-wing protests of social distancing restrictions in Virginia, Michigan and other states with stay-at-home orders, a day after his administration had announced guidelines for governors to set their own timetables for reopening. “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment,” the president wrote on Twitter at the time. “It is under siege!”

Ms. Yarmosky referenced the president’s tweets in the statement from Mr. Northam’s office and said that the “rhetoric coming out of this White House has serious and potentially deadly consequences.” She added: “It must stop.”

Mr. Trask of the F.B.I. said that some of the suspects had held a meeting in Dublin, Ohio, several months ago where they “discussed possible targets” for “taking a sitting governor.”

Last week, the authorities said the men were affiliated with an extremist group called the Wolverine Watchmen, which court documents called “an anti-government, anti-law enforcement militia group.”

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Japan firms fall woefully short of meeting government goals on women in management: Reuters poll

By Tetsushi Kajimoto

TOKYO (Reuters) – About one-fifth of Japanese companies have no female managers and most say women account for less than 10% of management, a Reuters monthly poll found, highlighting the struggle for the government’s “womenomics” drive to make headway.

The survey results come as Japan is seen to delay its target this year to raise the share of women in leadership posts to 30% as part of the government’s campaign to empower women, dubbed “womenomics”, and cope with Japan’s ageing population.

The Reuters Corporate Survey, conducted Sept. 29-Oct. 8, found 71% of Japanese firms said women accounted for less than 10% of management, while 17% had no female managers at all.

Asked how much scope there was to increase female managers, 55% said by around 10%, a quarter said by about 20%, one in 10 firms said by around 30%, while 5% saw no room for that.

“Regardless of sex, we should hire talented people and promote them on their merits, rather than putting priority on the proportion,” a chemicals maker manager wrote in the survey.

A paper and pulp maker manager wrote: “We hire more female new graduates than male, but many female hires tend to leave the company after a while, making it hard to raise female managers.”

The survey, conducted for Reuters by Nikkei Research, canvassed 485 large and midsize non-financial firms. About 240 firms answered the questions on condition of anonymity.

The results were similar to the previous poll taken in 2018.

Japan’s global ranking on gender parity fell to 121st out of 153 countries in a World Economic Forum report for 2020.

New premier Yoshihide Suga’s 21-member cabinet has just two female ministers, and women account for just short of 10% of all lawmakers in parliament’s powerful lower house.

While aiming to follow his predecessor Shinzo Abe’s policies including the coronavirus pandemic response, Suga has pledged to allow insurance coverage for expensive fertility treatments.

On the pandemic impact on employment and wages, 47% of Japan firms suffered it, causing many to curb new hiring, slash wages and reduce staff, the survey showed.

One third of firms expect employment to remain short of pre-pandemic levels at the year end, while a slim majority, 52% of firms, saw capital expenditure would undershoot their initial plans, dampening prospects for sustained economic recovery.

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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Danish government orders death of a million minks due to COVID-19 outbreak

The Danish government has ordered mink farms to cull over 1 million animals due to reported outbreaks of coronavirus among the species, prized for its fur.

The outbreak among the mink population was detected in late June after a COVID-19 patient was linked to a mink farm in North Jutland, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service said in a report.

 

As of this month, mink on around 60 farms in North Jutland have tested positive for coronavirus, and an additional 46 farms are under suspicion, Mogens Jensen, the Danish minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, told CNN.

“We have continuously launched initiatives to manage and contain the spread of infection,” Jensen said in a statement.

“In view of the recent large increase, we must unfortunately state that it has not been sufficient to prevent continued spread of infection among the North Jutland mink herds,” he added.

The order mandates that mink farms within five miles of a farm or herd that is confirmed or suspected to be infected with the coronavirus must be culled.

“It is a difficult decision that the government has made, but we fully support it,” said Tage Pedersen, chairman of the Danish Mink Breeders Association.

In Utah, cases of COVID-19 have also been detected among mink farm populations, with state officials reporting that over 10,000 animals have died from the virus.

While officials in Utah said, “research indicates there hasn’t been a spread from mink to humans,” state veterinarian Dean Taylor noted the mink suffered from respiratory issues, similar to human symptoms.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and the Danish Emergency Management Agency will handle the process of culling mink in Denmark.

Mink breeders will be compensated for the cost of losing their herd and other operating losses.

Denmark is the world’s largest producer of mink skins, the Danish Agriculture and Food Council reported.

The country has nearly 1,500 Danish fur farmers that produce around 19 million mink skins per year.

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Cue Health awarded $481 million to scale up production of COVID-19 test: HHS

(Reuters) – The U.S. government has awarded diagnostic testing company Cue Health Inc $481 million to scale up the production of rapid COVID-19 molecular test, the Department of Health and Human Services said on Tuesday.



Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in New York


© Reuters/Lucas Jackson
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in New York

The company will raise the domestic production of COVID-19 test kits to 100,000 per day by March 2021 under the deal and deliver 6 million tests and 30,000 instruments to the government to support its response to the pandemic, the health agency said.

The point-of-care test can detect the novel coronavirus in about 20 minutes with nasal swab samples collected using a Sample Wand from the lower part of the nose, the HHS said.

The system also allows results to be sent to a mobile phone via an app.

The company’s test kit was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June for emergency use in patient care settings under the supervision of qualified medical personnel.

The development of the company’s health platform was supported by funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for a molecular influenza test, starting in 2018, the department said.

BARDA later expanded the collaboration with the company to include the development of Cue’s COVID-19 test, it added.

(Reporting By Mrinalika Roy and Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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Syrian government ‘prepares for virus second wave’



a group of people standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Experts say limited testing capacity has hidden the scale of the crisis in Syria


© Reuters
Experts say limited testing capacity has hidden the scale of the crisis in Syria

The Syrian government has set up a temporary hospital for Covid-19 patients at a Damascus sports complex in preparation for what an official said was a possible second wave.

The facility at Al-Faiha Stadium will operate 120 beds for people requiring oxygen, but has capacity for 100 more.

The health ministry has reported 4,774 cases of Covid-19 and 228 deaths in government-held areas since March.

However, experts believe the actual figures are significantly higher.

Last month, researchers in the UK estimated that only a fraction of deaths due to Covid-19 in Damascus had been reported for various reasons, including limited testing capacity.

The UN warned that community transmission was widespread, as almost 90% of new cases could not be traced to a known source; infection rates among health workers were rising; and shortages of staff and supplies were putting even more pressure on a health system decimated by years of civil war.

Health authorities in the opposition-held north-west of Syria and the Kurdish-controlled north-east have separately reported the deaths of another 77 people with Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.

What is the latest from Damascus?

So far this month, the Syrian government has reported 527 new Covid-19 cases and 26 deaths across its territory, according to the health ministry’s website. In September, 1,417 infections and 86 deaths were recorded in total.

The state-run Sana news agency cited a senior health ministry official, Dr Tawfiq Hasaba, as saying the new temporary hospital at Al-Faiha Stadium was part of the measures being taken to “provide appropriate services to coronavirus patients in the event of a new climax”.

Dr Hasaba said there had been an increase in the daily number of new cases in the past week, and noted that there could be a surge in cases this winter.

Sana reported that the ministry had also set up an emergency management room to co-ordinate the transportation and treatment of patients in government and private hospitals.

The government is not currently expected to reimpose the lockdown measures it eased in May because Syria is facing a deep economic crisis.

Why are the official figures being questioned?

Despite the dire humanitarian situation in Syria, far fewer cases and deaths have been reported there than in neighbouring countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that limited testing capacity has hidden the scale of the crisis.

“A lot of cases are still going unreported, and the actual number of Covid-19 cases is much higher,” the WHO’s Syria representative, Akjemal Magtymova, told Reuters news agency last week.



a group of people sitting at a table: Schools reopened in Syria last month, ending a six-month coronavirus-related closure


© Reuters
Schools reopened in Syria last month, ending a six-month coronavirus-related closure

A senior official at a Western non-governmental organisation was also quoted as saying there had been a “major and unprecedented spike in July and most of August” in Syria, during which 120 people were dying each day on average.

That figure tallied with the number of burials that took

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