Euro tumbles to 20-year low, oil sinks below US$100 as recession fears mount

NEW YORK (REUTERS, NYTIMES) – The euro sank on Tuesday (July 5) to its weakest level against the US dollar in almost 20 years, while oil futures tumbled and bond prices rose, as investors sought safety after the latest data fuelled fears of a global economic slowdown.

Euro zone recession fears were exacerbated by concerns about an energy crisis in Europe and by Tuesday’s data, which showed a sharp slowdown in business growth in June, after Germany on Monday reported its first monthly trade deficit since 1991.

Earlier, news that Norwegian offshore workers began a strike on Tuesday that will reduce oil and gas output compounded fears about a European energy shortage.

Mr Bipan Rai, North America head of foreign exchange strategy at CIBC Capital Markets in Toronto, cited signs of a looming energy crisis in Europe and economic concerns for the euro’s tumble.

“The threat of a recession in the euro zone is a more clear risk now relative to before,” Mr Rai said.

The euro dropped by almost 1.8 per cent against the dollar to US$1.0236, its weakest level since December 2002. It was last down 1.48 per cent against the dollar.

Meanwhile, the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a group of major currencies, was up 1.31 per cent, after hitting its highest level since December 2002. The dollar is seen as a safe haven in times of acute economic uncertainty.

“If people are concerned there is going to be a slowdown and put their money in the safest place and cut back on unnecessary spending, it can become a self-fulfilling prophesy,” said Mr Shawn Cruz, head trading strategist at TD Ameritrade.

After falling sharply early in the session, US equities pared losses as the day wore on and the Nasdaq ended up rallying with strength in technology and consumer stocks. The S&P 500 ended up 0.16 per cent, recovering from a deep slide earlier in the day.

The yield on the US 10-year Treasury note, an important gauge of borrowing costs, dipped below the two-year yield, which traded at about 2.8 per cent. The so-called inverted yield curve is a rare phenomenon that often happens before a recession.

Economists have recently raised the possibility of a recession in their forecasts. Interest rates in the United States have experienced their largest increase since 1994, inflation is at its highest in 40 years, and financial markets set grim records in the first half of the year.

In Europe, energy industry turmoil and the war in Ukraine are weighing heavily on the region. Supply chain strains are expected to slow the euro zone’s largest economy, which is heavily dependent on exports, and may even cause a recession.

“Overall, we think the outlook is deteriorating precipitously,” Ms Daniela Ordonez of Oxford Economics wrote in a note on Tuesday about the euro zone economy.


Nasdaq rallies as interest rate worries ebb

NEW YORK (AFP) – The Dow fell on Tuesday (July 5) as recession fears pounded petroleum-linked equities, but tech shares rallied with markets eyeing chances for less severe interest rate hikes in light of the weakening economic outlook.

After a bruising morning spent deep in negative territory, US equities rallied in the afternoon, enabling two of the three major indices to finish higher.

The shift came as the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note, a proxy for interest rates, fell further below three percent.

“The concern of a recession is deepening,” said Quincy Krosby of LPL Financial, who noted the correlation between tech shares and drops in Treasury bond yields.

“You look for growth, where you can find it,” Krosby said.

“Many of those large tech names that have been beaten up by the market become attractive again, particularly when the bond yields are lower.”

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index ended up 1.8 per cent at 11,322.24.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.4 per cent to 30.967.82, while the broad-based S&P 500 added 0.2 per cent at 3,831.47.

Major US indices struggled early in the session, a day that saw European bourses tumble and US oil futures close below US$100 (S$140) a barrel for the first time in about two months.

Investors are jittery about the upcoming earnings season in light of soaring inflation and the possibility firms will sharply cut their forecasts.

Petroleum producers had a bad day, with ConocoPhillips losing 4.7 per cent and ExxonMobil 3.1 per cent.

But large tech names prospered, including Google parent Alphabet, up 4.4 per cent and Amazon, up 3.6 per cent.


Fractional shares and real-time chats with experts: Trading app makes investing easier for beginners

New investors face many challenges when starting their journey. As a beginner, navigating the financial world can feel like being lost in the jungle without a trail to follow.
However, that has not deterred beginner investors from getting their feet wet. According to a report by Singapore Exchange previously, retail investor participation has grown significantly and “retail trading volume has nearly doubled since pre-Covid-19 days” during the pandemic.
To serve new investors, uSMART has recognised the need to build a beginner-friendly trading app. Instead of repurposing the existing version of its app aimed at the Hong Kong market, it has created one that is tailor-made for Singapore investors.
“In Hong Kong, the investing landscape is saturated and app functionality is skewed towards more sophisticated traders. In Singapore and the region, investors favour a cleaner look and feel where the multiple functions don’t cause the interface to feel overwhelming,” says Mr Ian Leong, chief executive officer of uSMART.
Having been in the market since 2018, uSMART understands the challenges facing new investors. The uSMART app is developed to target those who are new to investing and aims to educate and empower beginner investors.

Giving investors with tight budgets more choices

Beginner traders are often hesitant to commit large amounts of capital, or feel constrained to a limited number of options due to tight budgets.
To remedy this problem, uSMART has introduced a Fractional Shares feature, which is rarely offered by brokers.
The feature enables users to purchase any fraction of a stock on the US market. 
By purchasing fractional shares, investors with a low starting capital are able to gain exposure to pricier stocks like Tesla and Google, and can also manage risk more effectively as they hone their trading skills.
Fractional shares are ideal for those who wish to diversify their portfolios but have limited funds. For instance, with the funds they would spend on just one expensive stock, traders can buy a fraction of 10 stocks for better diversification.
With the Fractional Shares feature, beginners who are still exploring the various markets and products will enjoy a breadth of options to choose from, as well as a high degree of liquidity so they can easily adjust allocation of their funds.

Stock picks, curated insights and expert advice at hand

After finally mastering the basic financial knowledge needed to make trades, choosing what to buy or trade is a key challenge. Researching stocks is a time-consuming activity that even experienced traders do not always have the time to undertake thoroughly.
Beginners who are not sure what shares to buy can turn to uSMART’s Daily Stock Picks feature. Every day, a team of uSMART analysts recommends three stocks that have a high possibility of increasing in value in the next few days.
This can be a good starting point for beginners who are unsure of what to invest in and helps them to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the myriad choices available on the markets.
Newbie traders tend to have many urgent questions that need prompt resolution. The uSMART app’s Community function addresses this by offering access to an array of live chat rooms hosted by experts who can answer questions and facilitate discussions on key topics.
Users can engage with one another via the Community tab on the app or access the Expert tab to chat directly with financial experts.

User-friendly, intuitive app interface for a better experience

There is a wealth of information online, but beginners are sometimes floored by the technical terms used in financial reporting and investment-related content. Instead of having to keep turning to Investopedia to find out the meanings of financial jargon, the uSMART app has a Quick Guide function which users can tap for instant access to explanations of investment terms or step-by-step instructions.
The uSMART app also has a beginner-friendly interface that replaces financial jargon with simple terms. For instance, the term “conditional orders” is replaced with the more intuitive terms like “buy low” or “sell high”.
Thanks to the app’s clean and user-friendly interface, beginners should be able to navigate the world of investing with ease.
For investors with a thirst for knowledge, the app’s Intel mode is a subscription feature offering even more smart solutions and support, including the Daily Stock Picks feature, Featured Strategies and a Trend Tracker. These features enable users to delve even deeper into stocks and strategies as they advance on their investing journey.


EU green gas, nuke investment rules head for final vote

Flags of the European Union fly outside the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 21, 2021. (ZHENG HUANSONG / XINHUA)

BRUSSELS – The EU's plan to label investments in gas and nuclear power plants as climate-friendly faces a final vote on Wednesday when European lawmakers decide whether to accept or reject proposals that have divided governments and investors.

The vote is the final hurdle in the European Union's long-delayed decision on whether to add the two energy sources to its "taxonomy", a rulebook determining which investments can be marketed in Europe as being sustainable. 

Green lawmaker Bas Eickhout said the EU proposal would create artificial incentives to invest in nuclear energy and gas, a fossil fuel, at the expense of the renewable energy needed to rapidly curb planet-warming emissions

Designed to guide private capital towards truly green projects, the rules aim to set a European standard for sustainable investment and stamp out greenwashing among the myriad so-called eco-friendly products on the market.

READ MORE: Nuclear power gets energetic push

But the debate about investments that can be marketed as green has morphed into a broader political stand-off over which fuels Europe should invest in to fight climate change and replace Russian gas.

EU lawmakers will debate the gas and nuclear rules on Tuesday and vote on Wednesday in what officials expect to be a tight ballot. A majority of the European Parliament's 705 lawmakers must vote against the proposal to block it. 

Green lawmaker Bas Eickhout said the EU proposal would create artificial incentives to invest in nuclear energy and gas, a fossil fuel, at the expense of the renewable energy needed to rapidly curb planet-warming emissions.

European People's Party lawmaker Christian Ehler said the taxonomy's impact on future investment was not yet clear, but he said its harsh limits on CO2 emissions and other criteria would ensure investments in gas plants complied with climate goals.

Rejection would be a blow to the European Commission, which has spent more than a year redrafting the rules amid intense lobbying from governments and the gas and nuclear industries

Brussels says gas and nuclear power plants must meet strict conditions to earn a green label.

Critics, including the Commission's advisers, have said gas plants would need to meet far tougher emissions limits than those in the Commission proposal to align with the steep cuts needed to avert severe climate change. 

The Commission had included a lower emissions limit in an early proposal in 2020 but amended it after backlash from some of the bloc's 27 member states.

EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans said on Monday that he would have decided differently on the taxonomy were it his choice alone, but that the rules reflected the political realities within the bloc.

ALSO READ: Europe's bid to reduce reliance on Russia complicates gas crisis


OBI Pharma 宣佈停止對其抗體 OBI 888 的第 1/2 期研究,以專注於其他優先癌症計劃

台灣台北, July 06, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE via — 台灣生物製藥公司 OBI Pharma(台灣浩鼎生技)(TPEx: 4174) 今天宣佈在完成我們的調查中心納入後,將停止對其 Globo H 抗體 OBI 888 進行第 1/2 期研究*。

OBI Pharma 主席兼行政總裁 Michael Chang 表示:「我們很高興第 1/2 期研究的初步數據顯示,OBI 888 是一種安全和耐受性良好的產品,展示出不少療效趨勢。然而,在與 ADC OBI-999 相比,以及在大規模生產下出人意料的低藥物產量,OBI-888 治療所需的抗體量更高,因此無法再實現我們為癌症患者開發符合成本效益療法的目標。因此,我們決定停止 OBI-888 的開發,並專注於第 3 期(Adagloxad Simolenin 疫苗)和第 2 期(OBI 999-ADC、OBI 833 疫苗 和 OBI 3424 小分子)臨床發展的新型抗癌產品。OBI-888 臨床研究報告預計將在 2022 年第四季度完成,並會在未來的醫學會議上發表。

OBI Pharma 很高興能夠開發和驗證我們的新型抗 Globo H、AKR1C3 和 Trop 2 產品線,以滿足癌症患者的醫療需求。」


關於 OBI Pharma

OBI Pharma(台灣浩鼎生技)是一家台灣生物製藥公司,於 2002 年成立。公司使命是開發和授權新型治療製劑,以滿足針對癌症治療目標,例如 Globo 系列(包括 Globo H 和 SSEA-4)、AKR1C3、Trop-2 和其他有發展前景產品的目標的醫療需求。公司的使命是開發和授權新型治療劑,以未滿足對癌症靶標的醫療需求,如 Globo 系列(包括 Globo H 和 SSEA-4)、AKR1C3、Trop-2 和其他有前景的靶標治療。

公司對 Globo H 的新型一流免疫腫瘤學產品包括:Adagloxad Simolenin(前稱 OBI-822)和作為 Globo H 活性免疫療法疫苗的 OBI 833,以及 OBI-999 (Globo H ADC)。公司的新型一流 AKR1C3 標靶治療是 OBI-3424(小分子前藥),可在醛酮還原酶 1C3 (AKR1C3) 酵素存在下選擇釋放一種有效的 DNA 烷化劑。如欲了解更多資訊,請瀏覽


本新聞稿中包含的非歷史事實描述的陳述屬於《1995 年私人證券訴訟改革法》含義內的前瞻性陳述。此類前瞻性陳述包括但不限於關於未來臨床試驗、結果,以及此等試驗和結果進行時間的陳述。這些風險因素會不時在 OBI Pharma 的報告和簡報中識別和討論,包括 OBI Pharma 向台灣證券期貨局提交的文件。


Kevin Poulos
OBI Pharma USA, Inc.
1.619.537.7698 內線 102


Best Compostable Poop Bags With Handles On Amazon – Pogi’s Biodegradable Waste Bags For Pets Launched

Hong Kong Island, July 05, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE via — Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong –

Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong – Pogi’s Pet Supplies, a Hong Kong-based online retailer of eco-friendly pet care products, is proud to announce that its Compostable Poop Bags with Handles have received additional positive reviews from satisfied customers. This particular product can be found on Amazon at and comes in boxes of 300 and 900 dog poop bags with easy-tie handles in one pack. Each bag is very large, measuring 7 inches by 14.5 inches including the handles.

In their recent review, user J. Vaughn gave the product five stars and said, “I got these to clean out the litter box and they work well for it. Handles make it great for tying the bag shut.”

Compostable Poop Bags With Handles

Picking up a dog’s poop is easy with this bag. Pet owners simply need to stick their hand inside the bag, pick up the poop, and then reverse the bag over their hand. Finally, they must tie the handles in a knot to secure the waste in the bag. It is also easy to obtain a bag from the roll. The first bag sticks out of a slit on the top of the box and the user simply pulls the bag out. Once it is out of the box, the next bag comes to the top, ready for the next time that the bag is needed.

It should be noted that this particular product has been certified as backyard compostable. Specifically, the home compostable bags have been ascertained to be in compliance with ASTM D6400, which is the US standard specification for solid material biodegradation by composting, which is a requisite for the labelling of plastics that are designed to be aerobically composted in municipal or industrial facilities. This product has also been certified based on European standards. Specifically, it has been ascertained to be in compliance with the European Bioplastics Standard EN 13432 for products made of compostable materials and also under the TÜV Rheinland® Standard AS 5810 for plant-based materials that are suitable for home composting.

In addition, the packaging is also sustainable since the cardboard cores are fabricated using recycled materials. This pack has a total of 300 or 900 rolls of fragrance-free compostable bags with handles and is estimated to last for more than one month.

As previously announced, the founders of Pogi’s Pet Supplies have made it their mission to offer the best products for pets while also ensuring that these products are environmentally friendly. They found their inspiration to develop eco-friendly products from their pet dog Pogi, and the company was set up for him and all the other cats, dogs, and other furry loved ones. Pogi’s Pet Supplies’ products can be bought one at a time or customers can set up a subscription, which can easily be scheduled online. The first step toward subscription is to select the specific product to purchase. The second step is to indicate the frequency of deliveries, whether it is monthly, every two months, every quarter, and so on. Each subscription receives a 10% discount on the price for every order. Once the orders are placed, they are delivered to the customer’s home as soon as possible.

Dar Ghafourpour from Pogi’s Pet Supplies says, “We started Pogi’s Pet Supplies because we wanted to provide only the best for him while staying true to our earth-friendly values. We do this for Pogi and all the pups, cats, and furry loved ones that make our world a happier place by sourcing high-quality, sustainable materials that work great and keep our environment clean. Pogi loves long walks around the block, playtime at the local dog park, and weekend strolls through the city. We love being able to pick up after him with Pogi’s durable, earth-friendly poop bags.”

Those who are interested in getting more information about the pet products from Pogi’s Pet Supplies, such as the compostable poop bags with handles, can visit the company’s Amazon store:


For more information about Pogi’s Pet Supplies, contact the company here:

Pogi’s Pet Supplies
Dar Ghafourpour

CONTACT: Dar Ghafourpour


DR Congo declares 14th Ebola outbreak over

In this July 16, 2019 photo, health workers dressed in protective gear begin their shift at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Congo DRC. (JEROME DELAY / AP)

KINSHASA — The health ministry of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Monday declared an end of the latest Ebola outbreak that erupted less than three months ago in Mbandaka, the capital of the northwestern Equateur province.

It was the third outbreak in the province since 2018 and the country's 14th overall.

With greater experience in Ebola control, DRC national emergency teams, with the support from World Health Organization (WHO) and partners, mounted a swift response soon after the outbreak was declared on April 23, rolling out key countermeasures including testing, contact tracing, infection prevention and control, treatment and community engagement.

The latest outbreak in Equateur province saw a total of 2,104 people vaccinated, including 302 contacts and 1,307 frontline workers

Vaccination, a crucial protective measure, was launched just four days after the outbreak was declared.

There were four confirmed cases and one probable case, all of whom died, in the latest outbreak.

In the previous outbreak, in Equateur province in June-November 2020, there were 130 confirmed cases and 55 deaths.

ALSO READ: DR Congo declares new Ebola outbreak

"Thanks to the robust response by the national authorities, this outbreak has been brought to an end swiftly with limited transmission of the virus," said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa. "Crucial lessons have been learned from past outbreaks and they have been applied to devise and deploy an ever more effective Ebola response."

The just-ended outbreak saw a total of 2,104 people vaccinated, including 302 contacts and 1,307 frontline workers.

To facilitate the vaccination rollout, an ultra-cold chain freezer was installed in Mbandaka, allowing for vaccine doses to be safely stored locally and delivered effectively.

The DRC has now recorded 14 Ebola outbreaks since 1976, six of which have occurred since 2018.

"Africa is seeing an increase in Ebola and other infectious diseases that jump from animals to humans impacting large urban areas," said Moeti.

READ MORE: WHO: DRC sees 5 Ebola cases, all dead, amid latest outbreak

"We need to be ever more vigilant to ensure we catch cases quickly. This outbreak response shows that by bolstering preparedness, disease surveillance, and swift detection, we can stay a step ahead," she said.

Although the outbreak in Mbandaka has been declared over, health authorities will maintain surveillance and stand ready to respond quickly to any flare-ups. It is not unusual for sporadic cases to occur following an outbreak, according to a statement by the WHO regional office for Africa.

The disease, which affects humans and other primates, is severe and often fatal. Case fatality rates have varied from 25 percent to 90 percent in past outbreaks.

However, with the currently available effective treatment, patients have a significantly higher chance of survival if they are treated early and given supportive care.


Pope Francis denies he is planning to resign soon

Pope Francis recites the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican on July 3, 2022. (ANDREW MEDICHINI / AP PHOTO)

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has dismissed reports that he plans to resign in the near future, saying he is on track to visit Canada this month and hopes to be able to go to Moscow and Kyiv as soon as possible after that.

All of these coincidences made some think that the same 'liturgy' would happen. But it never entered my mind. For the moment no, for the moment, no. Really!

Pope Francis

In an exclusive interview in his Vatican residence, Francis also denied rumors that he had cancer, joking that his doctors "didn't tell me anything about it", and for the first time gave details of the knee condition that has prevented him carrying out some duties.

In a 90-minute conversation on Saturday afternoon, conducted in Italian, with no aides present, the 85-year-old pontiff also repeated his condemnation of abortion following the US Supreme Court ruling last month.

Rumors have swirled in the media that a conjunction of events in late August, including meetings with the world's cardinals to discuss a new Vatican constitution, a ceremony to induct new cardinals, and a visit to the Italian city of L'Aquila, could foreshadow a resignation announcement.

Francis also dismissed rumors that a cancer had been found a year ago when he underwent a six-hour operation to remove part of his colon because of diverticulitis, a condition common in the elderly

L'Aquila is associated with Pope Celestine V, who resigned the papacy in 1294. Pope Benedict XVI visited the city four years before he resigned in 2013, the first pope to do so in about 600 years.

READ MORE: Pope Francis to make risky trip to Iraq in early March

But Francis, alert and at ease throughout the interview as he discussed a wide range of international and Church issues, laughed the idea off.

"All of these coincidences made some think that the same 'liturgy' would happen," he said. "But it never entered my mind. For the moment no, for the moment, no. Really!"

Francis did, however, repeat his often stated position that he might resign someday if failing health made it impossible for him to run the Church – something that had been almost unthinkable before Benedict XVI.

Asked when he thought that might be, he said: "We don't know. God will say."

Pope Francis receives holy communion as he presides over a mass for the Congolese community, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, on July 3, 2022. (ANDREW MEDICHINI / AP PHOTO)

Knee injury

The interview took place on the day he was to have left for Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, a trip he had to cancel because doctors said he might also have to miss a trip to Canada from July 24-30 unless he agreed to have 20 more days of therapy and rest for his right knee. 

He said the decision to cancel the Africa trip had caused him "much suffering", particularly because he wanted to promote peace in both countries. 

ALSO READ: Vatican cancels public attendance at pope's Easter events

Francis used a cane as he walked into a reception room on the ground floor of the Santa Marta guest house where he has lived since his election in 2013, eschewing the papal apartment in the Apostolic Palace used by his predecessors.

The room has a copy of one of Francis' favorite paintings: "Mary, Untier of Knots", created around 1700 by the German Joachim Schmidtner.

Asked how he was, the pope joked: "I'm still alive!"

He gave details of his ailment for the first time in public, saying he had suffered "a small fracture" in the knee when he took a misstep while a ligament was inflamed.

"I am well, I am slowly getting better," he said, adding that the fracture was knitting, helped by laser and magnet therapy.

Francis also dismissed rumors that a cancer had been found a year ago when he underwent a six-hour operation to remove part of his colon because of diverticulitis, a condition common in the elderly.

When the Vatican first asked about a trip several months ago, Francis said Moscow replied that it was not the right time. But he hinted that something may now have changed.

"It (the operation) was a great success," he said, adding with a laugh that "they didn't tell me anything" about the supposed cancer, which he dismissed as "court gossip".

READ MORE: Pope tests negative for virus; UK sets out plans to curb virus

But he said he did not want an operation on his knee because the general anesthetic in last year's surgery had had negative side-effects.

Papal trip to Moscow?

Speaking of the situation in Ukraine, Francis noted that there have been contacts between Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about a possible trip to Moscow.

The initial signs were not good. No pope has ever visited Moscow, and Francis has repeatedly condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine; last Thursday he implicitly accused it of waging a "cruel and senseless war of aggression". 

When the Vatican first asked about a trip several months ago, Francis said Moscow replied that it was not the right time.

But he hinted that something may now have changed.

"I would like to go (to Ukraine), and I wanted to go to Moscow first. We exchanged messages about this because I thought that if the Russian president gave me a small window to serve the cause of peace…

"And now it is possible, after I come back from Canada, it is possible that I manage to go to Ukraine," he said. "The first thing is to go to Russia to try to help in some way, but I would like to go to both capitals."

Pope Francis celebrates a Holy Mass for the Congolese community, at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on July 3, 2022.

Abortion ruling

But he strongly condemned abortion, comparing it to "hiring a hit man". The Catholic Church teaches that life begins at the moment of conception

Asked about the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a woman's right to have an abortion, Francis said he respected the decision but did not have enough information to speak about it from a juridical point of view. 

But he strongly condemned abortion, comparing it to "hiring a hit man". The Catholic Church teaches that life begins at the moment of conception.

ALSO READ: Pope urges Thais not to see Christianity as 'foreign'

"I ask: Is it legitimate, is it right, to eliminate a human life to resolve a problem?"

Francis was asked about a debate in the United States over whether a Catholic politician who is personally opposed to abortion but supports others' right to choose should be allowed to receive the sacrament of communion.

House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, has been barred by the conservative archbishop of her home diocese of San Francisco from receiving it there, but is regularly given communion at a parish in Washington, D.C. Last week, she received the sacrament at a papal Mass in the Vatican.  

"When the Church loses its pastoral nature, when a bishop loses his pastoral nature, it causes a political problem," the pope said. "That's all I can say."


Russia announces control of Lugansk

Smoke billows over an oil refinery outside Lysychansk on June 23, 2022. (ANATOLII STEPANOV / AFP)

BEIJING – Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has informed President Vladimir Putin that the region of Lugansk has been "liberated", the Defense Ministry said Sunday.

The region fell after Russian troops and the armed forces of Lugansk took full control of Lysychansk, a key city of Lugansk, and its nearby settlements, according to a brief statement by the ministry.

Lugansk was "liberated" after Russian troops and the armed forces of Lugansk took full control of Lysychansk, a key city of Lugansk, and its nearby settlements, according to a brief statement from the Russian Defense Ministry

Shoigu told Putin that the total area of territories taken over the past day amounted to 182 square km, it added.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held a meeting with visiting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to discuss security cooperation, the presidential press service reported.

During the talks, Zelensky informed Albanese of the situation on the frontline in Ukraine, while the Australian prime minister announced more military-technical assistance to Ukraine, according the report.

ALSO READ: Russian, Indonesian presidents discuss Ukraine, food supplies

Also on Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry said Ukraine launched an attack using Tochka-U ballistic missiles with cluster munitions and Tu-143 Reys unmanned aerial vehicles on residential areas in the southern cities of Belgorod and Kursk.

The Russian air defense destroyed all three missiles, the ministry said, adding that fragments of one of the destroyed missiles fell down on a residential building in Belgorod.


Glacier collapses in Italian Alps, killing at least six

A panoramic view shows the mountains around Bormio as ski resorts reopen in Bormio, Italian Alps, on Dec 4, 2021. (PIERO CRUCIATTI / AFP)

ROME – Parts of a mountain glacier collapsed in the Italian Alps on Sunday amid record temperatures, local authorities said, killing at least six people and injuring eight.

The Trento provincial government said rescue operations were in progress after a large "ice avalanche" involving hikers, adding that there was likely to be a "heavy toll".

The avalanche took place on the Marmolada, which at more than 3,300 meters is the highest mountain in the Dolomites, a range in the eastern Italian Alps straddling the regions of Trento and Veneto

The avalanche took place on the Marmolada, which at more than 3,300 meters is the highest mountain in the Dolomites, a range in the eastern Italian Alps straddling the regions of Trento and Veneto.

Injured people were taken to hospitals in the nearby towns of Belluno, Treviso, Trento and Bolzano, said the president of Veneto, Luca Zaia.

ALSO READ: Scientists probe link between 'snow blood', climate change

The huge mass of ice collapsed close to Punta Rocca, on the route usually used by hikers and climbers to reach the summit, the Alpine rescue unit said.

"Fortunately the weather conditions are good but the danger is that there could be further collapses," a spokesperson said.

Helicopters and dogs were being used to try to find survivors.

READ MORE: Referendum flop for Italy's Salvini; right eyes local gains 

An early summer heatwave in Italy saw temperatures on the Marmolada touch 10 degrees Celsius on Saturday, Zaia said.

Rising average temperatures have caused the Marmolada glacier, like many others around the world, to shrink steadily over recent decades.


Video shows Ohio officers killed unarmed Black man in hail of bullets

Demonstrators hold "Justice for Jayland" signs as they gather outside Akron City Hall to protest the killing of Jayland Walker, shot by police, in Akron, Ohio, July 3, 2022. (MATTHEW HATCHER / AFP)

AKRON, Ohio – Video released on Sunday showed eight police officers in Akron, Ohio, were involved in a shooting that killed an unarmed Black man whose body was found with some 60 gunshot wounds after he fled a traffic stop last week.

Police played multiple videos at a news conference, one of which they said showed a gunshot being fired from the car driven by Jayland Walker, 25. He fled in his car after officers attempted to pull him over for a minor traffic violation.

Police played multiple videos at a news conference, one of which they said showed a gunshot being fired from the car driven by Jayland Walker, 25

After a chase of several minutes, Walker jumped out of the car and ran from police, the video showed. Police say it appears he was turning toward officers, who at the time believed he was armed. A gun was later recovered from his car.

ALSO READ:Judge delays trial of two officers charged in George Floyd murder

On Sunday, the attorney for the Walker family, Bobby DiCello, told reporters he was "very concerned" about the police accusation that Walker had fired at officers from his car, adding that there was no justification for his violent death.

"They want to turn him into a masked monster with a gun," DiCello said. "I ask you, as he's running away, what is reasonable? To gun him down? No, that's not reasonable."

DiCello urged the public to be peaceful in protests against Walker's killing, adding that it was the wish of Walker's family to avoid more violence.

The shooting was the latest in a spate of killings of Black men and women by law enforcement in the United States that critics say are racist and unjustified, including the 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis that ignited global protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

ALSO READ: 21 killed in Texas elementary school shooting; gunman dead

On Sunday, the Akron NAACP led a peaceful protest at city hall. Hundreds of demonstrators marched in the streets of the city of about 200,000 people, waving "Black Lives Matter" flags and chanting, "We are done dying," and "Justice for Jayland."

Later police declared a protest outside Akron police headquarters an unlawful assembly, media said. Officers in riot gear fired about a dozen canisters of tear gas to scatter protesters, WKYC-TV said.

Troopers in riot gear watch as demonstrators gather outside Akron City Hall to protest the killing of Jayland Walker, shot by police, in Akron, Ohio, July 3, 2022. (MATTHEW HATCHER / AFP)

Akron police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It was not clear how many bullets struck Walker, but the body camera video shows police firing scores of rounds at him.

The medical examiner is still determining how many of the 60 wounds were entrance versus exit wounds, Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett said.

Mylett said officers had tried to give Walker first aid after he was shot, but he was declared dead at the scene.

ALSO READ: Three ex-police officers guilty of violating George Floyd's rights

The eight officers directly involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave, Mylett said, and they have not made any individual statements.

The officers said they had believed Walker was "moving into firing position" when he got out of his car, prompting them to react to him as a potential threat, Mylett said.

Pressed by reporters for evidence that Walker had fired a gun from his car, Mylett said police had returned to the area where they believe Walker had fired from his car after the incident and found a bullet casing "consistent with a firearm that Mr. Walker had in his vehicle."

Police also pointed to what appears to be a flash of light on the driver's side of Walker's car in the video, which they said was a muzzle flash.

Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which is investigating the shooting, has not confirmed any of these details.


West African leaders lift economic and financial sanctions on Mali

President of the ECOWAS Commission Jean Claude Kassi Brou (right) speaks during the Economic Community of West African States 61st Ordinary Session in Accra, Ghana, on July 3, 2022. (NIPAH DENNIS / AFP)

ACCRA – Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States on Sunday lifted economic and financial sanctions imposed on Mali, after its military rulers proposed a 24-month transition to democracy and published a new electoral law.

The bloc imposed stiff sanctions on Mali in January after the junta said it would not organize democratic elections the following month as initially planned.

Borders with Mali will reopen and regional diplomats will return to Bamako. The individual sanctions targeted members of the ruling junta and the transitional council

ECOWAS Commission President Jean Claude Kassi Brou told a news conference that the sanctions will be lifted immediately. Borders with Mali will reopen and regional diplomats will return to Bamako.

"However, the heads of state decided to maintain individual sanctions, and the suspension of Mali from ECOWAS, until the return to constitutional rule," Kassi Brou said.

The individual sanctions targeted members of the ruling junta and the transitional council.

Mali has defaulted on over $300 million of its debt due to the sanctions, which cut it off from the regional financial market and the regional central bank.

The West African leaders meeting in Accra also accepted a pledge from the junta that seized power in Burkina Faso in January to restore constitutional order in 24 months.

ALSO READ: African Union suspends Burkina Faso after military coup 

Kassi Brou said that after a lengthy discussion with the coup leaders in Burkina Faso, a new proposal for a 24-month transition was more acceptable, after the heads of state rejected a proposed 36-month transition.

Economic and financial sanctions on Burkina Faso were also lifted, he said.

But the ECOWAS leaders rejected a three-year transition proposed by coup leaders who seized power in Guinea in September. They told Guinea's junta to propose a new timeline by the end of July or face economic sanctions.

READ MORE: WHO ramps up response in E. Africa amid looming health crisis

The heads of state appointed Benin's former president Yayi Boni as a new mediator and urged the Guinea junta to work with him and quickly propose a new timetable.

"Beyond that, economic sanctions will be imposed," Kassi Brou said.


Virus: Peru logs 70% increase in cases between June 19 and 25

A health worker inoculates a child with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 during a vaccination campaign in Lima on Jan 25, 2022, amid the coronavirus pandemic. (ERNESTO BENAVIDES / AFP)

ROME / BERLIN / HAVANA / LIMA – Peru registered 17,841 COVID-19 cases between June 19 and 25, an increase of 70 percent compared to the previous weekly period, the country's social security agency Essalud reported on Sunday.

The agency said in its report that increases in cases have occurred throughout the country, with Lima and Arequipa registering 11,254 and 2,188 cases, respectively.

The South American country has recorded 3,634,918 cases and 213,545 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest report from the Peruvian Ministry of Health.

Alegre Raul Fonseca, executive president of Essalud, said that people aged 30 and above have been the most affected by the disease.

More than 78 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been applied in Peru, with 27.65 million people having received two doses, 18.75 million three doses, and 2.64 million four doses.

A resident shows his identification card to a police officer who is limiting access to a neighborhood as a way to curb the spread of COVID-19, as nurses stand behind, in Havana, Cuba, Feb 22, 2021. (RAMON ESPINOSA / AP)


Cuba officially started the 2022 summer break season from Saturday as the continuing decline of COVID-19 cases has prompted the country to lift anti-pandemic measures for the first time in two years.

The holiday will run through the end of August, coinciding with the school summer vacation.

According to the Cuban government, guided tours, music concerts and festivals, and sports activities are scheduled for the weeks to come, as part of the summer break.

Since June 1, the number of daily cases in Cuba has dropped to about 30, sometimes even less than 20. On Friday, the country reported 22 new cases.

Olaf Scholz attends a signing ceremony of the coalition agreement to form a government, in Berlin, on Dec 7, 2021. (LIESA JOHANNSSEN-KOPPITZ / BLOOMBERG)


Germany will not shut schools and non-essential businesses again if the COVID-19 infection rate rises again later this year but protective masks would play a bigger role, Chancellor Olaf Scholz told broadcaster ARD on Sunday.

The infection rate in Germany has been on the rise for the past month, reaching close to 700 new cases per 100,000 residents this week, after falling below 200 in late May, but Scholz said that vaccinations should help limit what measures will be needed to curb the spread of the virus.

"There should not be school closures again, and I also don't think that we will need the kind of lockdowns we had several times in the last couple of years," he told ARD in an interview.

"But I believe that you can expect that masks will play a bigger role again in the autumn and winter than they do now," he added.

Scholz, who has so far not been infected with COVID-19, said he would recommend that anyone over 60 years of age should seek a fourth shot of COVID-19 vaccine, as he had.

A worker of the Cremona hospital cleaning staff, wearing a personal protective equipment, walks past the COVID-19 intensive care unit of the Cremona hospital, in Cremona, northern Italy on Jan 11, 2022.


The number of active cases of coronavirus surpassed 1 million in Italy on Sunday, the result of a swift increase in cases over the last two weeks.

As recently as June 17, Italy had fewer than 575,000 active cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. On Sunday, that number totaled 1.01 million, an increase of more than 75 percent in a span of 16 days

As recently as June 17, Italy had fewer than 575,000 active cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. On Sunday, that number totaled 1.01 million, an increase of more than 75 percent in a span of 16 days.

The Ministry of Health has said the increases in the infection rate are mostly due to the Omicron-5 sub-variant of the virus.

Italy became the fourth country in the world to have more than 1 million active cases, following the United States, with 3.5 million, Germany, with 1.5 million, and France, with 1.4 million, according to data from the World Health Organization.

Eight of Italy's 21 regions and autonomous provinces are considered to be at high risk for the coronavirus, with the remainder considered at moderate risk.

ALSO READ: Russia scraps remaining COVID-19 restrictions

The coronavirus transmission rate has been rising at a similar rate: the government reported on Friday that the rate rose for the fourth consecutive week, reaching 1.30 over the most recent period up from 1.07 a week earlier. A rate above 1.0 means a disease is in a phase of expansion.

The other main coronavirus indicators have also been on the rise in recent weeks, though not to the same extent as the infection rate and the transmission rate.

Daily mortality figures remain below 100, totaling 57 on Sunday. The number of patients in intensive-care units, meanwhile, has inched higher, reaching 291 Sunday, an increase of 16 from the day before. But those figures are less than a tenth of all-time highs set two years ago.

The latest increases come despite Italy having a largely successful vaccine rollout. Government data shows that as of Sunday, 90.1 percent of residents over the age of 12 had been fully vaccinated. A total of 96.6 percent of those residents are either fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 in the last six months, a status seen as providing increased protection against the virus. 


Register for the Course! 5th Edition of Global CX Summit India Physical Conference on July 7

INDIA, Jul 4, 2022 – (ACN Newswire via – After successful 4 editions of Global CX Summit, Exito ( is all set to host another milestone event – which serves as an ideal platform to enhance the experience to latest insights in “Orchestrating a Holistic CX Strategy”. The agenda is carefully curated to address challenges faced along multiple touch points, helping you overcome various silos. Through engaging panel discussions, insightful keynotes and immersive networking sessions, the event is sure to incite both thought and action at your organization. 5th Edition GCX India ( is meticulously curated in alignment with the above initiatives. The summit provides an ideal opportunity to connect, learn and network with like-minded peers from various enterprises of India.

The event will be elated with insightful sessions by the qualified speakers hosting a vast experience in the customer experience domain. An exclusive one-day closed door conference hosting 120+ CX Heads, CMOs, CDOs, Contact Center heads, etc to discuss the best practices on customer experience from various enterprises of India.

Speakers like Zeenat Mongal, VP & Head Of CX, ICICI Lombard, Hari Shankar Mishra, Sr Vice President – Customer Experience, Future Generali India Insurance Co. Ltd, Dharmarajan K, Chief Business Officer – Beauty, Tata CliQ, Ankit Goenka, Senior VP, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co. Ltd, Mayank Jain, Group Digital Customer Initiatives, Aditya Birla Capital, among many others will be sharing their experiences and expertise at the Summit.

Event registration has commenced for Delegates ( and Sponsors.

– The delegates will be exposed to in-depth, trend-forward sessions & workshops – practical takeaways and ideas to keep you ahead in the digital economy.
– The sponsors will be able to create an overwhelming branding in the event along with meeting their prospects and displaying the products.
– Hundreds of seasoned marketers, strategists, designers, and more to network and connect with. Meet your customers, vendors, expert resources, friends and colleagues on the 7th of July 2022.

Register Today to engage at this grand event as the slots are filling up fast.

To know more about the event,

About Exito

We are a global B2B business events company focused on crafting bespoke solutions and contexts by designing platforms that create new business opportunities for our clients across concepts and industries. We cherish the trust over the last 12 years garnered from our partnering organizations globally, and with a growing team of young, vibrant, and creative individuals, Exito aims at success and perfection.

Copyright 2022 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved. (via SEAPRWire)


Indonesian peace mission on Russia-Ukraine conflict

JAKARTA, Jul 3, 2022 – (ACN Newswire via – President Joko Widodo has accomplished his visits to Ukraine and Russia on Thursday evening (June 30) to invite both countries to build dialogue, stop the war, and build peace.

President Joko Widodo has visited Kyiv, Ukraine, for a peace mission. (Laily Rachev – Biro Pers Sekretariat Presiden)

President started his mission by visiting Kiev, Ukraine. At the Maryinsky Palace, Kyiv, Jokowi was greeted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday afternoon (June 29).

For Ukraine, that day was a historic day, as President Jokowi’s visit was the first one to be made by an Asian leader since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Jokowi, during a joint press statement with Zelenskyy, conveyed several important points from his visit to Ukraine.

“I conveyed to President Zelenskyy that I made this visit as a manifestation of Indonesia’s concern for the situation in Ukraine,” he remarked.

He reiterated the invitation to Zelenskyy to attend the G20 Summit in November 2022 in Bali.

Jokowi also emphasized Indonesia’s principled position regarding the importance of respect for sovereignty and territory.

“Although it is still very difficult to achieve, I still convey the importance of a peaceful settlement, and the spirit of peace must never fade,” he affirmed.

Indonesia will strive to contribute through assistance, including medicines, and remain committed to reconstructing one of the hospitals around Kiev.

To this end, President Jokowi offered to carry a message from President Zelenskyy to President Putin.

On the other hand, President Zelenskyy praised Jokowi’s visit because Indonesia hosts the G20 Presidency this year and is the strongest country in ASEAN.

Zelenskyy expressed optimism that it would strengthen the effort to end the war.

After visiting Kiev, President Jokowi also made a visit to Moscow, Russia and meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During the visit, Jokowi emphasized the issue of peace and humanity has always been a priority for Indonesia.

“The Indonesian Constitution mandates Indonesia to always try to contribute to the creation of world peace. In this context, I made visits to Kiev and Moscow,” he stated.

He also emphasized that food and fertilizers were humanitarian issues and were of interest to the world community. Thus hundreds of millions of people affected by disruptions, especially in developing countries.

Hence, Jokowi lauded Putin’s guarantee for the security of food and fertilizer supplies.

Jokowi stressed that Indonesia has no interest apart from helping resolve the war between Russia and Ukraine.

“I invite all world leaders to work together to revive the spirit of multilateralism, the spirit of peace, and the spirit of cooperation,” President Jokowi stated.

Meanwhile, Putin noted that Indonesia is one of their key partners in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Russian-Indonesian relations are constructive and mutually beneficial, developing steadily on the basis of long-standing good traditions of friendship and mutual assistance,” he said.

During the joint press conference, President Jokowi reiterates the importance of the spirit of peace.

With President Jokowi’s visit to Ukraine and Russia for a peaceful mission, hopes are pinned high on the war ending soon and the food crisis being mitigated quickly.

Written by: Katriana, Editor: Rahmad Nasution (c) ANTARA 2022

Copyright 2022 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved. (via SEAPRWire)


Biggest stablecoin Tether fails to calm jittery nerves with short-sellers circling

MUMBAI (BLOOMBERG) – Repeated assurances by the backers of Tether, the biggest stablecoin, that the token is backed by ample reserves and working smoothly have not been enough to reassure markets.

A so-called liquidity pool that allows traders to swap between the three biggest stablecoins still shows an elevated supply of Tether, with the token accounting for 65 per cent of the total as at Friday (July 1). This is an indication that investors remain cautious about holding Tether, said Mr Edul Patel, chief executive of crypto investment platform Mudrex.

Crypto investors have soured on Tether since the collapse of the TerraUSD stablecoin in early May led to increased scrutiny of the assets. Short-sellers have boosted bets against Tether in the past month, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Monday, citing Mr Leon Marshall, Genesis Global Trading’s head of institutional sales.

Tether’s market value dropped by about US$600 million (S$837.4 million) this week, bringing declines since just before TerraUSD’s implosion to roughly US$17 billion, CoinGecko data shows.

“USDT is the most widely held and most accessible stablecoin in the world, so it is not a surprise that more people hold USDT and have it available to swap for other assets that they want to use for other purposes,” a Tether spokesman said in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg. USDT is the ticker for Tether’s main United States dollar-based stablecoin.

On Curve’s 3pool, where traders can swap between Tether, USDC and DAI, Tether’s share of supply stood at 29.9 per cent on May 6, just before TerraUSD started deviating from its peg. This portion jumped as high as 82 per cent on May 12 as the TerraUSD crisis worsened, briefly knocking Tether from its own peg.

While Tether’s share of supply has since declined, it remains far above pre-TerraUSD crisis levels, and it has reversed some of the decrease after the WSJ report.

The 3pool platform handled about US$117 million in trading volume on Friday.

Tether relies on a reserve of dollars and dollar-equivalent assets to maintain its one-to-one peg with the currency, though the quality of this stockpile has repeatedly been called into question. Tether files quarterly attestations from a Cayman Islands accounting firm on its holdings, which show that it has been steadily decreasing its exposure to assets like commercial paper in favour of more liquid instruments like Treasury bills.

Bloomberg reported in February that Fir Tree Capital Management was making a substantial short wager on Tether, predicting it could pay off within a year.

Tether chief technology officer Paolo Ardoino has repeatedly taken to Twitter to reassure markets since TerraUSD cratered. In a 12-part tweet this week, just after the WSJ story was published, he said Tether has “never failed a redemption” and has cut its commercial paper holdings by roughly US$45 billion.

“Tether portfolio is stronger than ever,” he added.

Since the brief decoupling on May 12, Tether has traded close to its dollar peg.


Food delivery war in Singapore hots up even as some players drop out

SINGAPORE – The food delivery war rages on even as some players have been forced out of the industry due to high logistics costs and thin margins.

At least three out of 10 new platforms that emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic have bowed out.


Bumpy ride ahead in third quarter with greater market volatility

SINGAPORE – This year thus far has proven to be an absolute annus horribilis for financial markets. In fact, the first six months have been the worst for Wall Street in 52 years.

The S&P 500 has fallen some 20 per cent year-to-date, while the Dow Jones index is down 21 per cent from its Jan 3 high. The Nasdaq is down some 30 per cent from its January highs.


S’pore-listed manufacturing stocks see robust activity as sector grows

SINGAPORE – The robust growth recorded by local manufacturers in recent months has sparked heightened trading activity in the shares of listed firms in the sector.

Singapore’s 20 most traded manufacturing-related stocks have recorded a combined $200 million in daily trading turnover this year, according to Singapore Exchange (SGX) data. They span the key facets of industrial production, including electronics and transport engineering, and rank among Singapore’s top 100 most traded shares by turnover this year.


How to invest for a slump or a bump

SINGAPORE – It’s been a tough year for investors: Stocks and bonds in the United States have posted their worst starts to a year in more than half a century; crypto markets are tanking; and Asia’s bear market is now the longest since 2000 and nearly twice as long as the average drawdown of eight months.

This violent shift in market mood is occurring against the backdrop of a macro regime shift – from deflation to soaring inflation, and from unprecedented quantitative easing to rapid monetary tightening.


PropertyGuru’s chief guru keeps things real

There you are, running LinkedIn’s Asia-Pacific operations from Singapore, having earlier grown the professional network’s members more than fivefold to 18 million in the four years you ran its India operations out of Mumbai.

Then, along comes Insead classmate Jani Rautiainen, who co-founded Singapore’s first globally recognised Internet start-up in 2007 and nine years later, seeks the next level. Before you know it, you have signed on as chief executive officer and managing director of PropertyGuru Group.


3 tips on investing in a bear market

(NYTIMES) – The party in the financial markets is long over. Chatter about hot stocks and fabulous opportunities in cryptocurrencies and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) has died down to a whisper. Recession and bear market are the big buzzwords these days.

Clearly, this is not the happiest of times for investors. If you have never put money into the market before, this may not seem the most obvious time to start.


Getting over the fear of investing

After close to four years of working I finally decided to invest some of my money, something I had put off for a long time for various reasons.

One was that I did not want to put myself through an emotional roller-coaster whenever things became volatile.


Electric car market gets hotter with new Korean models

(BLOOMBERG) – The electric vehicle market just got hotter, with Hyundai Motor muscling in new EVs that are touted to have the “most electric”.

Earlier this year, the South Korean carmaker rolled out two new battery-powered cars – the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and its sibling, the Kia EV6 – which promptly tore up the sales charts, passing the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Bolt and every other electric vehicle on the market not made by Tesla. In the United States this year through May, Hyundai sold 21,467 of these two machines, besting even the white-hot Ford Mustang Mach-E, which was snapped up by 15,718 drivers.


Me & My Money: Entrepreneur finds largest returns in building property business

SINGAPORE – Making a career switch to the property industry was gruelling but entrepreneur Nick Tan reckons the cutting-edge real estate media business he has built is one of his best investments.

Mr Tan, who initially cut his teeth in kitchens at Shatec hospitality school, where he graduated with a culinary diploma, and Raffles Hotel, says: “I’ve always had a penchant for good food, so when I was younger, I figured that was my passion.


Elderly man who lived in HDB rental flat has $1m savings

SINGAPORE – The phrase “appearances can be deceptive” doesn’t come close to capturing the case of a Singaporean man in his 80s who lived what seemed to be a hand-to-mouth existence in a one-room rental flat, when in fact he has $1 million in his bank account and other financial products.
He dressed simply and lived mostly on food bought from nearby markets and hawker centres – not unlike other retirees in the neighbourhood. 
Few would have guessed that he was actually cash-rich and with a well-devised retirement plan.
Apart from a whopping savings account, he receives a decent amount of deposits every month from retirement money in his Central Provident Fund as well as four private annuities.

Private annuities do not come cheap; each one can cost a few hundred thousand dollars to set up, if not more. So the bank and CPF savings suggest this man has access to $1 million or more in cash if he surrenders his policies. While it is not known why he chose to rent a small Housing Board flat, he was certainly meticulous with his expenses: he never fell behind on rent even as his health deteriorated.


Plan early to avoid financial abuse in old age

SINGAPORE – Even if you are very savvy in building substantial wealth, you should realise that you are only human and will grow old and frail one day – and be vulnerable to no end of financial abuse.

That makes it important to learn how to safeguard yourself so that you won’t become a victim of such abuse in old age.


Wall Street ends first day of third quarter with solid rebound

NEW YORK (REUTERS) – Wall Street bounced back to a sharply higher close in light trading on Friday (July 1) as investors embarked on the second half of the year ahead of the long holiday weekend.

All three major US stock indexes reversed early losses to end well into positive territory in the wake of the stock market’s worst first half in decades.

Still, all three indexes posted losses for the week.

“We’re headed into the holiday weekend and having a late-day relief rally,” said Joseph Sroka, chief investment officer at NovaPoint in Atlanta.

“But we’ll likely have to wait until investors return from the holiday weekend to see if it’s sustainable at the start of the new quarter.”

Market participants now look to the second-quarter earnings season, the Labour Department’s June employment report, and the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting expected later in July.

The microchip sector dropped sharply after Micron Technology Inc warned of cooling demand.

Micron’s shares slid 2.9 per cent, pulling the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index down 3.8 per cent.

Worries over waning demand in the face of decades-high inflation were reflected in the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) purchasing managers’ index, which showed a deceleration in both new orders input prices.

ISM’s report seemed to back the view that the economy is cooling and inflation appears to be past its peak. This has raised the possibility that the Fed might have wiggle room for a dovish pivot after its second straight 75 basis point interest rate hike expected in July.

“The Fed is going to need to see a lot more evidence to change its mind about further continued interest rate hikes,”said Tim Ghriskey, senior portfolio strategist Ingalls & Snyder in New York.

“There’s still a lot of uncertainty about the economy and inflation despite early signs that inflation may have peaked.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 321.83 points, or 1.05 per cent, to 31,097.26, the S&P 500 gained 39.95 points, or 1.06 per cent, to 3,825.33 and the Nasdaq Composite added 99.11 points, or 0.90 per cent, to 11,127.85.

All 11 major sectors of the S&P 500 ended the session green, with utilities enjoying the largest percentage gain.


Ukraine war will hurt Singapore’s economic growth but not all is lost

SINGAPORE – The fallout from the Ukraine war is boosting inflation and bleeding economies worldwide, which in turn has dampened trade-driven Singapore’s growth outlook while threatening to send living costs sky high.

Unfortunately, the way to tame inflation before it becomes entrenched is to allow the cost of borrowing to rise, usually seen as a growth-busting option. 


WikiLeaks’ Assange lodges appeal against US extradition

A mural of Australia's Julian Assange is seen in a laneway in Melbourne on Jan 5, 2021. (PHOTO / AFP)

LONDON – WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange has appealed to the High Court in London to block his extradition to the United States to face criminal charges, his brother said on Friday, the latest step in his legal battle that has dragged on for more than a decade.

Assange, 50, is wanted by US authorities on 18 counts, including a spying charge, relating to WikiLeaks' release of vast troves of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables which Washington said had put lives in danger.

Assange, 50, is wanted by US authorities on 18 counts, including a spying charge, relating to WikiLeaks' release of vast troves of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables which Washington said had put lives in danger

Last month, Home Secretary Priti Patel approved his extradition, with her office saying British courts had concluded his extradition would not be incompatible with his human rights, and that he would be treated appropriately. 

Australian-born Assange's legal team have lodged an appeal against that decision at the High Court, his brother Gabriel Shipton confirmed. The court must give its approval for the appeal to be heard, but it is likely the legal case will take months to conclude.

ALSO READ: Assange case rips West's cloak of 'freedom'

"We also urge the Australian government to intervene immediately in the case to end this nightmare," Shipton told Reuters.

The saga began at the end of 2010 when Sweden sought Assange's extradition from Britain over allegations of sex crimes. When he lost that case in 2012, he fled to the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he spent seven years.

When he was finally dragged out in April 2019, he was jailed for breaching British bail conditions although the Swedish case against him had been dropped. He has been fighting extradition to the United States since June 2019 and remains in jail.

READ MORE: Assange one step closer to extradition to United States

"We're going to fight this. We're going to use every appeal avenue," his wife Stella Assange told reporters after Patel approved his extradition.


Suspected driver in Texas migrant deaths was on meth, lawmaker says

A girl looks at the portrait of Wilmer Tulul – killed inside a tractor-trailer in Texas after crossing from Mexico – at his house in Tzucubal village, Nahuala, Guatemala, on June 30, 2022. Melvin Guachiac and his cousin Wilmer were among the 53 migrants who died after they were abandoned in a suffocatingly hot tractor-trailer truck in the US state of Texas. (JOHAN ORDONEZ / AFP)

SAN ANTONIO – The suspected driver of a truck packed with dozens of migrants who died in blazing heat during a Texas smuggling attempt was allegedly under the influence of methamphetamine when police encountered him, a US lawmaker told Reuters, citing information from law enforcement.

San Antonio police officers found Homero Zamorano Jr, a Texas native, hiding in brush near the abandoned tractor-trailer on Monday, according to documents filed in federal court on Thursday. Fifty-three migrants lost their lives, making it the deadliest such trafficking incident on record in the United States.

US Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat whose district includes the eastern part of San Antonio, told Reuters on Thursday that suspected truck driver Homero Zamorano Jr was found to have had methamphetamine, a powerful synthetic drug, in his system

US Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat whose district includes the eastern part of San Antonio, told Reuters on Thursday that Zamorano was found to have had methamphetamine, a powerful synthetic drug, in his system.

Cuellar said he was briefed on the matter by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), but did not know how authorities made that determination. A CBP official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, separately told Reuters that Zamorano had methamphetamine in his system.

ALSO READ: Two more men charged in truck smuggling incident killed 53 in Texas

Reuters was not immediately able to independently confirm the accounts of the alleged drug use.

Zamorano, 45, appeared in federal court in San Antonio on Thursday where human trafficking charges against him were read. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison or the death penalty and up to a $250,000 fine, he was told.

He was accompanied by public defender Jose Gonzalez-Falla, who declined to comment on the case. US Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Chestney said Zamorano would be held in custody until his next hearing, on July 6.

Officials described finding the trailer's rear door ajar with bodies stacked inside that were hot to the touch. In nearby brush, officers discovered other victims, some deceased. They found Zamorano hiding near the victims and escorted him to a local hospital for medical evaluation, prosecutors said. Mexican officials said he had tried to pass himself off as one of the survivors.

'Where you at?'

The truck had been carrying migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador and was found in a desolate, industrial area near a highway on the outskirts of the US-Mexico border.

Police work the scene where dozens of people were found dead in a semitrailer in a remote area in southwestern San Antonio, June 27, 2022. (ERIC GAY / AP)

Temperatures in the area that day had soared as high as 39.4 C, and authorities called to the scene found no water supplies or signs of working air-conditioning inside the cargo trailer.

Prosecutors allege Zamorano conspired with Christian Martinez, 28, who was also charged with a human trafficking offense. Martinez on Monday sent a photo of a truck load manifest to Zamorano, who responded by saying, "I go to the same spot," a federal investigator wrote in a court filing Wednesday.

Martinez repeatedly messaged Zamorano in the hours after but received no reply, wrote Nestor Canales, a special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) investigations division. Martinez sent messages including "Call me bro" and "Wya bro," meaning "where you at," Canales wrote.

A confidential informant for ICE and the Texas police spoke with Martinez after the incident, Canales wrote. Martinez told the informant, "The driver was unaware the air conditioning unit stopped working and was the reason why the individuals died," Canales added.

Reuters was unable to reach Martinez for comment. Martinez, who is in official custody, made an initial appearance in a court in the Eastern District of Texas on Wednesday.

'Stash house'

Along with 27 Mexicans, the victims included 14 Hondurans, eight Guatemalans and two Salvadorans, Mexican and Guatemalan officials said. Others, including minors, remain hospitalized.

A spokeswoman for Guatemala's foreign ministry told Reuters it was unclear whether two of the Guatemalans identified Thursday had died on Monday or at a later date.

Among the dead were Pascual Melvin Guachiac, 13, and Juan Wilmer Tulul, 14, both from Guatemala, the country's foreign ministry wrote on Twitter.

The two were cousins who left home two weeks ago to escape poverty, Guachiac's mother was quoted as saying by Guatemalan media.

A relative of Wilmer Tulul -killed inside a tractor-trailer in Texas after crossing from Mexico- mourns at his house in Tzucubal village, Nahuala, Guatemala, on June 30, 2022. Melvin Guachiac and his cousin Wilmer were among the 51 migrants who died after they were abandoned in a suffocatingly hot tractor-trailer truck in the US state of Texas. (JOHAN ORDONEZ / AFP)

Also among the victims was Yazmin Nayarith Bueso, who left Honduras nearly a month ago. Her brother said she had gone a year without a job. "She looked and looked and couldn’t find anything, and became desperate," Alejandro Bueso told a Honduran television program on Thursday.

Officials believe the migrants boarded the truck on the US side of the border with Mexico.

Surveillance photographs captured the truck passing through a border checkpoint at Laredo, Texas, at 2:50 pm CT (1950 GMT) on Monday, before the migrant passengers are believed to have boarded.

Cuellar, the Texas lawmaker, said the migrants had likely crossed the border and gone to a "stash house" before being picked up by the trailer and passing the Encinal checkpoint. They likely then went into San Antonio and experienced mechanical issues that left them in the back of the truck without air conditioning or ventilation, Cuellar said.

ALSO READ: Two Mexicans charged after 51 migrants die in Texas truck

Another truck carrying migrants headed for San Antonio evaded the Encinal checkpoint on Thursday, crashing into the back of a tractor-trailer after a chase and killing four on board, according to Mexican authorities. 

Two other men suspected of involvement in Monday's incident, Mexican nationals Juan Claudio D'Luna-Mendez and Francisco D'Luna-Bilbao, were charged on Tuesday in US federal court with possessing firearms while residing in the country illegally. A preliminary hearing for the pair is set for Friday.

D'Luna-Mendez's attorney, Michael McCrum, said his client is a 21-year-old carpenter who has been in the US since childhood and had "nothing to do with" the tragedy. McCrum said he believed the other man charged was his client's father.

Charging documents in the case said the truck's registration was tracked to the men's address. "They are arresting anyone they can," McCrum said.

READ MORE: 'Stacks of bodies': 46 dead migrants found in truck in Texas


Russia scraps remaining COVID-19 restrictions

A woman has her body temperature checked as she waits in line to receive an injection of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination point in a public services office in Moscow, Russia, on Feb 10, 2021. (NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)

ROME / HELSINKI / JUBA / BERLIN / COPENHAGEN – Russia said on Friday it was ending all restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19, including the requirement to wear masks, citing a steady decline in deaths from the virus.

However, it did not rule out re-introducing restrictive measures if the situation deteriorates.

Consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said it was "suspending previously introduced restrictions, including the mask regime, a ban on public catering at night, and a number of other measures".

It said the dynamics of the virus were consistent with global trends and 93 percent of confirmed cases were mild or asymptomatic.

Since the start of the pandemic in Russia in April 2020, over 800,000 people have died from coronavirus or causes related to COVID-19, Reuters calculations show, with the country recording over 18 million infections. 

Russia was quick to develop and launch its Sputnik V vaccine when the pandemic struck but take-up was slow, with many Russians citing distrust of the authorities and fear of new medical products. About 52 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen waits to make a national statement on the second day of the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow on Nov 2, 2021. (ADRIAN DENNIS / POOL / AFP)


A Danish parliamentary probe on Thursday leveled harsh criticism against the government over its order to cull millions of mink in 2020 due to coronavirus concerns, potentially paving the way for an impeachment of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

In efforts to forestall the spread of a mutated variant of the coronavirus, the government ordered about 17 million mink culled, devastating an industry recognised in the fashion industry around the world for its high-quality furs.

While Danes broadly approved of Frederiksen's initial handling of the pandemic, the Social Democratic minority government was thrown into turmoil when it emerged that there had been no legal basis to order the cull of healthy mink.

The incident eventually led to the exit of the agriculture minister and parliament commissioned an inquiry into whether ministers including Frederiksen had known that the legal framework was absent, when the order was made.

Other high-ranking officials were also included in the inquiry.

The Prime Minister office's actions "led to the gross misleading of mink breeders and the public and the clearly illegal instructions to authorities," the commission behind the probe said in its report to parliament.

It was not immediately clear whether a majority in parliament would favour an independent legal assessment of the probe's results, which could prompt a launch of an impeachment case.

Opposition parties have earlier expressed support for an impeachment.

The Prime Minister will respond to the criticism at a news conference at 0800 GMT on Friday.

A passenger wearing a face mask checks in at the Helsinki Airport, Finland, on June 21, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)


Public health measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic are coming to an end at Finland's border crossing points, authorities said.

As of Friday, travelers are no longer required to present a vaccination certificate, a negative test result or a proof of recovery from COVID-19 when entering the country, said the Finnish institute for health and welfare in a press release Thursday.

The end of COVID-19 border health measures applies to travelers within the EU and beyond, it said.

The Finnish Border Guard is expecting an increase in arrivals from non-EU countries, particularly Schengen visa holders who come to Finland for shopping and for transit to other Schengen countries, said Tuomas Laosmaa, head of the border inspections unit, in an interview with national radio Yle.

He said the number of border crossings into Finland would reach half of the pre-COVID-19 level in a few months, but a complete return to the 2019 volume would take longer.

A young man receives the Nuvaxovid vaccine against COVID-19 coronavirus, at the CIZ Tegel vaccination center in Berlin, on Feb 28, 2022. (TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP)


A new regulation came into force in Germany on Thursday that means COVID-19 tests are no longer free for most residents.

Under the regulation, tests continue to be free of charge for children under five, people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, and visitors to hospitals and inpatient care facilities.

However, people attending large indoor events, as well as contact persons of elderly people over 60 and of people among high-risk groups must now pay a contribution of 3 euros ($3.13) per test.

"The tests are valuable, they are important," Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach told public broadcaster ZDF. "I would have liked to continue offering them completely free of charge, but we could no longer afford that."

According to Lauterbach, the cost of the tests had reached around 1 billion euros per month. With cases expected to increase in the autumn, it is economically unfeasible for the government to continue covering expenses for tests, Lauterbach said.

As elsewhere in Europe, COVID-19 figures in Germany have recently risen again due to the more contagious Omicron variant BA.5. Within a week, the country's seven-day COVID-19 incidence rate climbed from 533 to around 669 infections per 100,000 inhabitants on Thursday, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.

The Omicron sub-lineage BA.5 became the dominant COVID-19 variant in Germany last week, accounting for around half of infections, RKI said.

A medical staffer takes a nasal swab for a COVID-19 rapid test at a testing site in Rome on Dec 30, 2021. (ANDREW MEDICHINI / AP)


Italy on Thursday updated coronavirus heath protocols in the workplace, as the main pandemic indicators in the country continue to rise.

The new rules, developed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policies and the Ministry of Health, will require mask use for those with specific health risks, or in cases where workplaces could increase the risk of infection.

The guidelines also encourage "smart working" – working from home instead of the office – as well as staggered entrance and exit times for employees in the workplace, and in common areas such as food dispensaries and changing rooms.

The protocols, which are applicable to private workplaces, also prohibit employees with a body temperature of over 37.5 degrees Celsius from entering a workplace. Any employee presenting flu-like symptoms is required to inform their employer in a "timely" manner.

The changes come as Italy's main coronavirus indicators have worsened in recent days. According to a report released Thursday by the Gimbe Foundation, a health monitoring entity, the country's weekly COVID-19 infections climbed more than 50 percent over the seven-day period ending Tuesday, compared to a week earlier.

Based on data from the Health Ministry, the Gimbe Foundation also reported that hospitalizations due to COVID-19 climbed more than 25 percent over the same period. Meanwhile, the number of people in intensive care units rose by 15 percent, and the weekly mortality rate rose by 16 percent.

However, the main indicators still remain far below the peaks reached earlier in the pandemic.

On Thursday, Italy reported more than 83,000 new cases, down from more than 94,000 cases a day earlier.

Oxford Biomedica

Britain's Oxford Biomedica said on Friday it had signed a new three-year agreement to potentially make AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine beyond 2022, but no volumes were defined in an indication of waning demand for the shot.

An elderly couple wearing protective face masks against COVID-19 walks past the Pfizer Inc headquarters on Dec 9, 2020 in New York City. (ANGELA WEISS / AFP)


Pfizer Inc said on Thursday it is seeking full US approval for its oral COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid, which is currently available under an emergency use authorization (EUA).

Pfizer said it submitted a New Drug Application for Paxlovid to the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of COVID-19 in vaccinated and unvaccinated people at high risk of progression to severe illness.

That is basically consistent with the drug's current EUA, which Pfizer said covers 50 percent to 60 percent of the US population, citing estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A full approval could mean the company would have the option to sell Paxlovid on the open market like other drugs, depending on whether or not the US government decides to stop buying the drug and providing it for free nationwide.

Also, "the company might have more control over educating the public with commercials, or however they want, to boost uptake," said Karen Andersen, healthcare strategist at Morningstar.

The two-drug treatment taken for five days beginning shortly after onset of COVID-19 symptoms reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 88 percent in non-hospitalized, high-risk adult patients in Pfizer's clinical trial, which did not included vaccinated people.

South Sudan

The Chinese government through the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund (SSCAF) on Thursday donated more than 1.3 million personal protective equipment (PPE) items to refugees in South Sudan, in partnership with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to support the COVID-19 response.

Juliette Murekeyisoni, the deputy representative of UNHCR in South Sudan, said the donation of personal protective equipment will help curb the spread of coronavirus among refugees living inside and outside camps, together with their hosts.

"This donation will help us to keep the people we serve safe," Murekeyisoni told journalists during the handover ceremony in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

She stressed the need for strategic collaboration to boost COVID-19 response among vulnerable groups like refugees and internally displaced persons.

The donated items included 1.1 million pairs of gloves, 70,000 disposable fluid-resistant gowns, 70,000 protective eye goggles, 70,000 N95 respiratory masks and 1,000 pairs of rubber boots.

The UNHCR said the anti-COVID-19 supplies donation from China will help protect more than 900 frontline medical and support staff from secondary infections as they respond to and serve patients affected by the disease in 17 primary healthcare centers and units, two hospitals in South Sudan's Unity, Upper Nile, Western and Central Equatoria States, said the UNHCR.

According to the UNHCR, the facilities which will benefit from anti-COVID-19 supplies provide medical services to 343,000 refugees, 80 percent of whom are women and children besides more than 60,000 members of host communities.

Food and Drug Administration building is shown Thursday, Dec 10, 2020 in Silver Spring, Md. (MANUEL BALCE CENETA / AP)

United States

US health regulators will not require companies to submit new clinical trial data on COVID-19 vaccines that target the now dominant BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants to authorize those shots, but will instead rely on studies showing the efficacy of targeting the earlier BA.1 subvariant, a top official said on Thursday.

Peter Marks, a senior official overseeing vaccines at the US Food and Drug Administration, told Reuters the agency would also consider manufacturing data specific to a BA.4 and BA.5 vaccine, and that preclinical data from animal studies and safety data for those shots could also be available.

The FDA on Thursday recommended COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc change the design of their booster shots beginning this fall to include components tailored to combat BA.4 and BA.5. It plans to review them for emergency use authorization.

"It's very similar to what we do with influenza strain changes where there will be a couple of amino acids difference, but we don't expect any difference in the safety that we're going to see," Marks said.

He said he expects the immune response to the BA.4/5 booster shot to be similar to that seen with BA.1.

"We're very comfortable doing this, because it will help us get ahead of things," Marks said.

The FDA has directed manufacturers to launch human clinical trials to study the BA.4/5 vaccines, but said that data will be used to gauge the continued effectiveness of the boosters against new variants that may arise.

Marks said he believes regulators from other countries are seriously considering using BA.1-based vaccines, which some drugmakers have already been producing and may be available sooner.