Friday, 14 Aug 2020

U.S. Nuclear Envoy to Visit South Korea, Japan, Yonhap Reports

Two Believed Dead, 10 Missing in Southern Japan Storms: Kyodo

Two people rescued from a mudslide showed no vital signs and about 10 others were missing after heavy rains lashed Kyushu island in southern Japan, Kyodo News reported on Saturday.

Residents in 11 local communities in Kumamoto Prefecture were told to evacuate because of floods from the overflowing Kuma River and others, Kyodo said.

Four factories run by Sony Semiconductor Solutions on the island are operating normally in the prefectures of Kumamoto, Kagoshima, Nagasaki and Oita, spokesperson Masahito Takeda said by phone Saturday.

Sony’s Kumamoto factory makes image sensors for iPhones and other smartphones.

Another company operating in Kumamoto, Oji Paper Co., said its factory in the city of Yatsushiro is shut Saturday, but hasn’t suffered damage from the rain.

— With assistance by Yuki Furukawa, and Shintaro Inkyo

EU Budget Rules to Return After Crisis: Dombrovskis

Budget restrictions for European Union member states will apply again after the coronavirus-driven recession is over, European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said in an interview with Corriere della Sera.

The EU’s stability pact — rules to ensure members pursue sound public finances and coordinate fiscal policy — remains active, Dombrovskis said in the interview published Saturday, specifying that the bloc’s general escape clause has been activated.

Governments going further into deficit during the crisis need to be mindful of the sustainability of such budget policies, Dombrovskis warned, noting that Italy’s pre-existing deficit left the country with little room to maneuver once the crisis hit.

The EU is examining ways to improve anti-cyclical policies, to allow governments to gain cushioning from lower deficits during positive phases of the cycle, he said.

Speaking on disagreements in countries including Italy over recourse to the European Stability Mechanism, Dombrovskis said the funding comes without conditions other than applying it directly or indirectly toward health-related costs.

On European plans for a recovery fund, Dombrovskis said he agrees with Germany that discussions over the program’s balance between loans and grants need to be resolved quickly.

Lufthansa CEO Says Cheap Flights Are ‘Irresponsible’

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Ultra low-cost tickets priced at less than 10 euros ($11.25) each are harming the aviation industry’s reputation, Deutsche Lufthansa AG Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr said in an interview with Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung.

“Tickets for 9.99 euros are ecologically and economically irresponsible,” Spohr, 53, was quoted as saying.

He also said Europe’s largest airline will seek financing on capital markets to repay the government loans it received to make it through the coronavirus pandemic by 2023.

“Lufthansa won’t be debt-free but we want to get market loans to repay taxpayers’ money in Switzerland, in Germany and Austria,” Spohr said. “We would rather be indebted to the capital market than to the taxpayer.”

Lufthansa avoided the looming risk of insolvency after shareholders approved a 9 billion-euro bailout from the German government, securing its survival after weeks of drama over the rescue package.

Seven Police Officers Injured After Unlicensed Event in London

London (AP) — Seven police officers have been injured as they sought to break up an unlicensed music event in west London, the latest in a series of illegal gatherings in the British capital over the past couple of weeks that have descended into violence.

Police said everyone in attendance at the event in White City had been dispersed by 1:15 a.m. Saturday morning, a few hours after complaints were first received of people gathering at a housing project.

The Metropolitan Police, London’s overarching police force, said bricks and other missiles were thrown at officers on their arrival. Specially trained public order officers then arrived to disperse the group.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said seven officers had sustained injuries as a result of the clashes. The seriousness of their injuries has not been revealed.

“Officers have responded to residents complaining about a large gathering, noise, anti-social behaviour and violence,” he said. “These gatherings are illegal and also pose a risk to public health.”

No arrests have yet been made, police said.

Last week, 22 police officers were slightly injured after a street party in the south London district of Brixton descended into violence. Another gathering in Notting Hill in west London also led to clashes.

Under coronavirus restrictions in England, gatherings are limited to six people, even after Saturday when pubs and restaurants can reopen in the latest easing of the lockdown.

U.S. Nuclear Envoy to Visit South Korea, Japan, Yonhap Reports

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, the Trump administration’s main representative for North Korea, will visit South Korea Tuesday before heading to Japan, Yonhap reported Saturday, citing unidentified diplomatic sources.

Biegun will visit Seoul on July 7, where he is likely to meet South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon along with diplomatic officials at the foreign ministry and the presidential office, according to Yonhap. The U.S. official is expected to hold an informal briefing in Seoul, and spend a couple of days in the country before departing for Tokyo, the news agency said.

Biegun’s visit comes amid escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula. North Korea’s Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui on Saturday lashed out at the U.S. and drew a line against holding further talks, just weeks after the country blew up an inter-Korean liaison office it shared with the South.

Biegun may be accompanied by National Security Council Senior Director for Asian affairs Allison Hooker when he visits South Korea, Yonhap reported a source as saying.

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