Tuesday, 20 Oct 2020

South Africa: Gauteng rail service disrupted by vandalism

Indonesia reports 3,989 new coronavirus infections, 105 deaths

FILE PHOTO: A woman wears a protective face mask at the Tanah Abang Station as Indonesia’s capital returns to large-scale social restrictions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia reported 3,989 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, taking the total to 244,676, data from the country’s health ministry showed.

The data added 105 new deaths, taking the total to 9,553, the biggest death toll in Southeast Asia.

Don’t Expect Travel Between Australia and New Zealand in 2020

Australians hoping for a summer holiday in New Zealand to see family and friends will need to think again.

Quarantine-free travel between the two neighbors is unlikely to resume for at least another six months, according to the head of New Zealand’s biggest airline.

“I certainly do not believe we will see anything across the Tasman this calendar year,” Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran told the Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s hard to believe it would be before March next year, and could well be longer.”

“If it comes back quicker, we’re going to pop some champagne.”

Plans for a safe-travel corridor to stimulate tourism and help both economies recover from the pandemic were put on hold after renewed outbreaks of the virus in both countries. In normal times, international tourism is New Zealand’s major export, and the many businesses connected with the industry are hurting.

Air New Zealand reported its first full-year loss in 18 years in August and said it’s unlikely to return to profit soon as the virus cripples international travel.

Daimler Diesel Claims Mount as More Investors Seek Damages

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More investors have filed multi-million-euro lawsuits against Daimler AG in connection with the diesel scandal, DPA reports, citing the Stuttgart regional court.

Plaintiffs have demanded almost 250 million euros ($296 million) in damages in one case alone and claims in three other cases totaled an additional 100 million euros. The latest suits take overall claims against Daimler filed to the Stuttgart court to more than 1 billion euros.

A spokesman for Daimler told DPA the company will defend itself using all legal means.

Daimler was sued earlier this year by more than 200 shareholders for as much as 900 million euros over claims the parent of Mercedes-Benz luxury cars failed to properly disclose that its vehicles were fitted with technology that altered diesel emissions during tests. Daimler has denied allegations of cheating.

Indian Parliament Passes Farm Bills in Face of Strong Opposition

India’s Parliament Sunday approved two agriculture bills despite strong criticism from within the ruling party’s own coalition and opposition groups.

The legislation seeks to remove restrictions on marketing farm products and allow cultivators to deal directly with private companies to sell their crops.

“These laws will bring an unprecedented change to the lives of the farmers,” Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said in Parliament. Farmers would still receive full protection and procurement of their produce at guaranteed prices, he said.

The government has said the move would boost output and income for producers, but opposition groups and a key coalition ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party say it will lead to exploitation of farmers by private companies.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s long-time supporter, Shiromani Akali Dal, which rarely goes against the decision of Modi’s coalition, said farmers fear the changes are the first step toward removing the government’s guaranteed procurement at minimum prices, forcing them to make distress sales to private companies.

The changes to agriculture laws were proposed as part of Modi’s plan to make India self-reliant after the effects of the pandemic ravaged the South Asian country’s economy.

— With assistance by Pratik Parija

EU seeks new powers to penalize tech giants: report

The European Union wants to arm itself with new powers to penalize big technology companies, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

The proposed plan includes forcing tech giants to break up or sell some of their European operations if their market dominance is deemed to threaten the interests of customers and smaller rivals, the newspaper said.

EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, in an interview with the FT, said the proposed remedies, which would only be used in extreme circumstances, also include the ability to exclude large tech groups from the single market altogether.

South Africa: Gauteng rail service disrupted by vandalism

In South Africa, Gauteng’s railway system grinds to a halt, leaving hundreds of thousands stranded.

Hundreds of thousands of people in South Africa have been left with no affordable transport after parts of the rail system closed down.

Train services have already been severely limited because of the pandemic, and now the theft of cables and even station roofing material has led to even more limitations as the passenger rail agency struggles to keep trains running.

Al Jazeera’s Fahmida Miller reports from Johannesburg, South Africa.

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