Tag Archives: Thursday

Italian Deficit May Reach 9.2% This Year as Covid Costs Pile Up

A man drives a moped along a cobbled street in Rome, Italy, on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. Italy’s economy is forecast to shrink 9% this year and then rebound 6% in 2021, according to a Finance Ministry official. Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg (Alessia Pierdomenico/)(Bloomberg) — The Italian Treasury is starting to factor in a bigger hit to the country’s battered public finances this year as another extended lockdown holds back the recovery, a senior government official said.Treasury models suggest the budget deficit may reach as much as 9.2% of output this year, the official said. The government is also looking at a deteriorating outlook for growth and could see the economy expand as little as 4.5% in its worst-case scenario, according to the official.The government recently said the deficit would run to 8.8% and, in October, forecast growth of 6% for this year, banking on European Union recovery funds to help activity rebound after a hammering in 2020. Under the bleaker picture set out by the official, who asked not to be named discussing private calculations, government debt is also set to end the year higher than forecast, at 158.5% of output instead of the 155.6% projection published in October.To make matters worse, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is under pressure to resign to avoid a damaging defeat in the Senate this week following the defection of a coalition ally. Conte may have more chance of salvaging his premiership if he appeals to President Sergio Mattarella for a mandate to form a new coalition without first suffering a reversal in the upper house.Conte and his allies are maneuvering to avert a snap election which could see the right euroskeptic opposition led by the populist Matteo Salvini take power.The prospect of spiraling borrowing and political instability in a country that is already the European Union’s problem child is likely to prompt despair in Brussels and Frankfurt, where officials spent much of 2020 unlocking fiscal and monetary aid to help Italy and countries similarly crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.Asking for MoneyDespite hundreds of billions of euros in bond-buying and emergency funds, the government will have to keep pumping money into the economy to keep it afloat and the situation could prove even worse that the Treasury’s models suggest. The Bank of Italy sees output growing at around 3.5% this year.Last week, the parliament backed plans for 32 billion euros ($39 billion) in extra spending, the fifth such measure since the start of the pandemic, and Finance Minister Roberto Gualtieri promised it would be the last time he’d appeal for extra borrowing. But limiting spending isn’t an option for Conte’s embattled administration and a new government would be unlikely to have either the appetite or the votes to act any differently.For now, Italy’s spending is under written by the European Central Bank, which is buying up just about every government bond it can, pushing talk of austerity to repair the country’s broken finances down the line. It’s also making Covid-era debt considerably less expensive to service.At the same time, Italy is set to receive as much as 209 billion euros in grants and loans from the EU Recovery Fund in the coming years, which analysts and finance ministry officials say will help boost growth and keep the country’s finances under control. The concern in government circles is whether the support from EU institutions will remain in place long enough for them to place their finances back on a sustainable footing.

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Author: Newsroom Infobae

NCR Is Said Close to Reaching $1.7 Billion Deal with Cardtronics

A bank customer uses the keypad on an automated teller machine (ATM) in Aarhus, Denmark, on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. Denmark is re-introducing a number of coronavirus-related restrictions following the worst spike in infections since the height of the pandemic. Photographer: Cathrine Ertmann/Bloomberg (Cathrine Ertmann/)(Bloomberg) — Cardtronics Plc is in talks to accept a $1.7 billion offer from NCR Corp., according to people familiar with the matter, after ATM operator outbid Apollo Global Management Inc. and Hudson Executive Capital LP.The companies could announce a deal as early as Monday, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Apollo’s consortium decided not to raise its offer, they added.NCR earlier this month offered to buy Cardtronics for $39-per-share, topping the $35-per-share that Apollo and its partner had put up last year.Cardtronics shares closed trading Friday at $40.86 in New York, giving the Hatfield, England-based company a market value of about $1.8 billion.A representative for Cardtronics and Apollo declined to comment. NCR and Hudson Executive couldn’t immediately be reached.

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Author: Newsroom Infobae

Farmer in girl’s rape-slay surrenders

  BY MARIE MARTICIO     TACLOBAN CITY – A 32-year-old farmer surrendered to the police last Thursday, two days after he allegedly raped and killed a 10-year-old girl who asked for help in answering her school module in Calubian, Leyte. Eastern Visayas police spokesperson Police Lt. Col. Bella Rentuaya identified the suspect as Jaime […]

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Author: Tempo Desk

South Korea ex-Olympic coach jailed 10.5 years for sexual assault

SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) — A South Korean court Thursday sentenced a former national speed skating coach to over a decade in prison for sexually assaulting double Olympic gold medallist Shim Suk-hee. Shim filed her complaint against her former coach Cho Jae-beom in January 2019, accusing him of having sexually abused her for years. The Suwon District Court on Thursday sentenced Cho to 10 and a half years in jail for the “highly condemnable” act […]

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Author: DCY

Republicans bludgeon Biden’s big stimulus plans

Senate Republicans vowed Thursday that President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief bill will not get 60 votes, daring the White House to either compromise with the GOP or use partisan procedural tactics to evade their filibuster.
Put simply, the Senate GOP says Biden’s proposal spends too much money and comes too soon on the heels of Congress’ $900 billion stimulus package from last month. And that unless the proposal has major changes made to it or Democrats use budget reconciliation to pass it with a simple majority, it is doomed on the Senate floor.
“I don’t think it can get 60. Because even the people on our side that would be inclined to want to work with the administration on something like that, that price range is going to be out of range for them,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D,) the party’s chief vote counter. “Absent some change and economic conditions, etc., I think that would be a very heavy lift.”
The early opposition from Republicans signals that the next round of coronavirus relief will be at least as painful as the last, which took more than six months to clinch in late December. It also means Biden may have to choose between lowering his ambitions in order to follow through on his bipartisan desires or embracing a partisan bill that he says the country desperately needs.
Some House Democrats have mulled a smaller package that links vaccines and larger stimulus checks, although Democratic leaders in both chambers have yet to decide on a path forward.
Biden has pushed a massive plan that includes a $15 an hour minimum wage hike, further boosts in unemployment benefits and $1,400 in direct payments. It also pumps more money into vaccines and testing.
Some of those items can get support from Republicans. But that package as a whole is a “non-starter,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the No. 4 GOP leader.
“We’re ready to look at what it takes to move forward, as effectively and quickly as we can, on vaccine distribution, on securing what we need for the future in terms of CDC,” Blunt said. “There’s some things in there that aren’t going to happen, there’s some things that can happen.”
Even progressives prefer to work with Republicans instead of using reconciliation or changing the Senate’s filibuster rules to ram the relief package through. But they say they will not be stymied by Republicans’ use of the supermajority requirement in getting things done.
“The American people are crying out for help, crying out for action and we’ve got to respond,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “I hope we can get cooperation of our Republican colleagues and that they understand the severity of what’s facing the country. But we need all the tools that we have.”
Sanders is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, which could set the stage for using the procedural tool to skirt a GOP filibuster. Using budget reconciliation, Democrats can pass legislation with just 50 votes and Vice President Kamala Harris breaking any tie. Still, there are some limits to budget reconciliation — and Biden’s big pitch is that he can unite the country and work with Republicans.
There are few takers among Republicans, however, to go as big and bold as Biden wants. And there’s even less enthusiasm to do it now. Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, two Republicans that helped marshal the last bipartisan bill into law, both indicated this week that Biden would have to sell them on passing such a large bill now.
“They have to know this is not going to get anywhere,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) of the Biden administration. “It goes nowhere. No, it cannot get 60 votes.”
The Biden administration says the exact opposite is true. In a press briefing on Thursday afternoon, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden “feels that package is designed for bipartisan support.” Also, some business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have endorsed his plan.
Collins and Romney are among a group of 16 senators in both parties set to meet with the Biden administration over the weekend to begin discussing economic issues. It’s just the start of what’s likely to be a long set of talks with the Senate, which is split 50-50 and will take weeks to confirm Biden’s Cabinet and conduct former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial before being able to fully turn to Covid relief.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has listed an aid package as among the Senate’s top three priorities, alongside confirmations and the impeachment trial. On Thursday he said his new majority has to confront “the greatest economic crisis since the New Deal 75 years ago, the greatest health crisis in 100 years.”
He and Biden also have to confront a recalcitrant Republican Party that thinks it has already spent too much money.
“We’ve already given $5 trillion,” said Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.). “It’s too high. It’s too vague … I don’t want to just throw money out there.”
Some Democrats acknowledge what Biden is presenting will not be embraced by the Republican Party and say his proposal is just the first step toward an eventual compromise with the GOP. The alternative is to scrap efforts at bipartisanship and try and pass Biden’s first legislative agenda item unilaterally, which could always be a fallback plan.
“Some of the elements will draw very strong bipartisan support,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a close Biden ally. “What we need to do is just work hard to find a good principled compromise.”
Matthew Choi contributed to this report.

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Author: Burgess Everett

‘Wartime effort’: Biden signs orders to fight the pandemic

President Joe Biden signed 10 more executive orders on Thursday, invoking the Defense Production Act in a “wartime undertaking” to boost production of vaccine supplies while also requiring travelers to the U.S. to get a test before flying.
After assailing Donald Trump’s coronavirus response as a candidate and throughout the transition, Biden laid out in more detail what he’ll do differently as cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, with the U.S. death toll expected to reach half a million people within weeks. Biden said that the worst of the pandemic is yet to come and that it will take time for progress to be measurable.
Biden’s plan aims to speed up vaccinations and testing and better protect workers. It also directs the Education and Health and Human Services departments to get schools guidance and resources they need to reopen safely. Further, it will reimburse states for the use of the National Guard in Covid-19 relief efforts, he said.
He also said Thursday that his administration directed FEMA to have a Covid-19 liaison to help “maximize cooperation between the federal government and the states.”
“We’re in a national emergency. It’s time we treat it like one,” Biden said. “This is a wartime undertaking.”
“The brutal truth,” Biden said, is that it will take “months” for a majority of Americans to be vaccinated. He has pledged 100 million vaccine shots in his first 100 days. Biden was testy when a reporter asked Biden if 100 million was high enough.
“When I announced it, you all said it’s not possible, Biden said. “C’mon, give me a break, man.”
“For almost a year now, Americans could not look to the federal government for any strategy, let alone a comprehensive approach, to respond to Covid, and we’ve seen the tragic costs of that failure,” Jeff Zients, Biden’s coronavirus coordinator, told reporters on a Wednesday night call, adding that Biden’s plan will “fundamentally change course of pandemic” and “get us back to our lives and loved ones.”
This next wave of executive actions comes after Biden, hours after being sworn in, signed an order requiring face coverings and social distancing on federal property and canceled the Trump administration’s attempt to withdraw the U.S. from the World Health Organization. But while many of the latest moves flex the executive branch’s power, several depend on cooperation from Congress or governors.
“We do need Congress to act and act quickly,” Zients said, calling for passage of the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill Biden unveiled last week. “We will only overcome this pandemic together. It’s the only way out of the darkness.”

The order invoking the Defense Production Act is to increase the supply of all the materials needed to get the vaccines into arms and ramp up testing. The order covers N95 masks and other protective gear, testing machines, rapid test kits and syringes capable of maximizing the amount of Covid vaccine that can be extracted from vials.
Tim Manning, a former FEMA official who will be Biden’s Covid-19 supply coordinator, said he sees the DPA as just one of many tools the new administration can use going forward.
“We’ll do whatever we need to do to ensure that we have an adequate supply of vaccine,” he said.
Biden also ordered the creation of a pandemic testing board, modeled on President Franklin Roosevelt’s War Production Board, that will be tasked with expanding testing capacity, particularly in schools. Officials said Biden will also “clarify” health insurance companies’ obligation to cover Covid-19 testing, a sign the new administration may reverse a policy that has allowed insurers to refuse to cover testing of asymptomatic individuals for public health surveillance or back-to-work programs.
Other executive actions will create a public dashboard with real-time national and state-level data on cases, testing, vaccinations and hospital admissions, and impose a mask-wearing mandate on airplanes and other forms of interstate transportation. The administration also will deploy FEMA to set up 100 community vaccination sites in the next 30 days.
Biden restored full federal funding for the National Guard’s pandemic work — reversing a Trump administration decision last summer to cut most states’ funding by 25 percent. The same order will also approve more FEMA funding to help states reopen schools — reimbursing states for items like masks for teachers — and make more FEMA resources available to Native American tribes.
On workplace issues, another Biden order aims to strengthen enforcement against employers who put their workers at risk of contracting Covid-19, directing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to put out stronger guidance around virus prevention measures and go after “the worst violators.” But while labor groups have pressed Biden for months to order OSHA to create an temporary emergency standard for workplaces during the pandemic, the order will only instruct the agency to determine whether or not such a move is necessary.
As more states report having to cancel vaccine appointments due to shortages and uncertainty about future shipments, Biden’s team has also not yet indicated how it plans to allocate vaccines going forward. Zients indicated the administration would not maintain the Trump administration’s recently implemented policy to distribute vaccines to states based on how fast they administered them — penalizing states that are slower — but also wouldn’t commit to return to the original system of allocating shots based on each state’s total population.
“We are not looking to pit one state against another. Our system will have equity as the guiding principle,” he said. “We do not envision punishing states.”
Zients also said repeatedly that due to obstruction and poor information sharing during the transition, he and other Biden officials are only just now getting a full picture of how much vaccine supply the government has on hand, how much they’ve already promised to send and to where, and when they can expect more.
“The cooperation, or lack of cooperation from the Trump administration has been an impediment,” he said. “We don’t have the visibility we would hope to have into supply and allocation.”
Biden’s Covid response team members also made clear that they’re concerned about reports of stark racial disparities in who is getting the first vaccines — and plan to take steps to make sure people of color don’t get left behind. While one of the new orders creates a Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force to advise the team on these issues, many of the administration’s other proposals to expand the availability of testing, treatment, and vaccines require Congress to approve tens of billions of dollars in new funding.

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Author: Alice Miranda Ollstein and Ben Leonard

No Mask, No Fly: Biden Signs Order Requiring Face Coverings On Planes

The executive order signed by President Biden Thursday also includes interstate travel on trains, buses and cruise ships, in a sharp reversal of the Trump administration’s lax mask culture.(Image credit: Alex Brandon/AP)

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Author: David Schaper

No Mask, No Fly: Biden Signs Order Requiring Face Coverings On Planes

The executive order signed by President Biden Thursday also includes interstate travel on trains, buses and cruise ships, in a sharp reversal of the Trump administration’s lax mask culture.(Image credit: Alex Brandon/AP)

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Author: David Schaper

U.S. Will Remain In WHO, Fauci Announces, As Biden Reverses Trump Move

U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci informed the WHO on Thursday that the U.S. will not be leaving the organization. Fauci is seen here last month, receiving the Moderna coronavirus vaccine in Washington.

Chia-Chi Charlie Chang/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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Chia-Chi Charlie Chang/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Updated at 10:06 a.m. ET

“I am honored to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday, informing the WHO’s executive board that President Biden has reversed former President Donald Trump’s move to leave the U.N.’s health agency.

The U.S. will also fulfill its financial obligations to the WHO, Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president, said, as well as cease a drawdown of U.S. staff who work with the organization.

The U.S. relationship with the WHO is “one that we value deeply and will look to strengthen going forward,” Fauci said.

Biden has sent letters to retract Trump’s withdrawal to the U.N. secretary-general and to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Fauci said, addressing Tedros as “my dear friend.”

Tedros responded on Twitter, “Thank you my brother Tony for leading the delegation” at the executive board meeting and for announcing the renewed U.S. support for the WHO.

Tedros also welcomed Fauci, the head of infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, to his new spot on the executive board. Previously, Assistant Secretary of Health Adm. Brett Giroir had represented the U.S. on the board, as the world fell into the grip of a pandemic.

“This is a good day for WHO and a good day for global health,” Tedros said. He praised Fauci for his “incredible leadership” on COVID-19, adding that for the world, the U.S. role in public health is “very, very crucial.”

“And I send my deep thanks and my warm congratulations to President Biden and Vice President Harris, and to the American people,” Tedros added.

Fauci’s remarks were a seismic shift from the criticisms leveled at the WHO by Trump, who had threatened to put a permanent hold on U.S. funding for the agency unless it agreed to substantial changes. Many of Trump’s complaints about the agency centered on its handling of COVID-19 and its relationship with China. He also accused Tedros of waiting too long to declare COVID-19 a public health emergency.

Fauci did not refer to any of those criticisms directly in his speech to the WHO’s virtual meeting. But he did say the U.S. will work with the organization “to strengthen and reform the WHO, citing goals such as improving how the world responds to health emergencies and expanding pandemic preparedness.

An international investigation into the origins of a coronavirus that has now killed more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and 2 million people worldwide must be “robust and clear,” Fauci said.

“We are committed to transparency, including those events surrounding the early days of the pandemic,” he said. “It is imperative that we learn and build upon important lessons about how future pandemic events can be averted.”

Fauci also said the U.S. will join the international COVAX initiative, which is meant to distribute COVID-19 vaccines and therapies to low-income countries. He added that Biden will issue a directive about that move on Thursday.

The 180-degree U.S. policy shifts — both to remain in the WHO and to join COVAX — are “important steps toward reestablishing America’s leadership in global health,” said UNICEF USA President and CEO Michael J. Nyenhuis.

“American inclusion in COVAX will help ensure that UNICEF and partners can equitably deliver vaccines to low-income countries,” Nyenhuis said, “and help protect children from the ravaging impacts COVID-19 has had on their health, education, and well-being.”