Tag Archives: Top News

UPDATE 2-Strike Brazilian truck drivers gather strength as oil unions lend their support | Instant News


(Added Oil Union)

SAO PAULO, Jan 26 (Reuters) – Brazil’s national truck driver strike gathered momentum on Tuesday as the major oil unions lent their support for upcoming action that could cripple the country’s economy, which is still recovering from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Brazilian National Confederation of Transport and Logistics Workers (CNTTL) on Tuesday urged its 800,000 members to join the Feb. 1 strike led by the National Association of Autonomous Carriers of Brazil (ANTB). Later, the Federação Única dos Petroleiros (FUP) union said they also supported the move.

A similar national strike three years ago paralyzed Brazil and sent shockwaves across its economy. While it remains to be seen how widespread the industrial action will be, a major strike will deal a crushing blow to the Brazilian economy.

Truck drivers are upset that the government-set minimum transport prices are too low. CNTTL spokesman Carlos Alberto Litti Dahmer slammed the government’s lack of support to improve the working conditions of truck drivers, and called on members of his group to join the movement. In a CNTTL statement, he said the minimum freight rates set by Brazil’s land transport agency ANTT were not sufficient for drivers to earn a living.

“We will cross our arms on the first of February,” the truck leader said, adding that the minimum freight price allowed to rise by only 2.51%, which is not enough to offset rising costs, including for replacing auto parts. “Minimum fare equals hunger.”

The FUP said in a statement that it considered the fuel price increases “against the law”.

In May 2018, a truck driver strike brought Brazil’s economy to a halt, as the world’s biggest exporters of agricultural commodities such as soybeans and poultry were unable to deliver goods to ports or food to supermarkets.

Striking truck drivers also caused the culling of millions of chickens, as feed failed to reach farmers. The strike ended after President Michel Temer gave in to pressure and agreed to set minimum haul tables. (Reporting by Aluisio Alves Written by Ana Mano Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Aurora Ellis)

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Why Restoring Press Freedom Globally Should Be High on Biden’s Priority List | Instant News


When newly-appointed President of the United States Joseph Biden began his term, he had a lot of work to do from the ruins left by his predecessors.

One of the more disturbing messages that emerged from the attack by violent pro-Trump rebels on the US Capitol on January 6 involved a terrifying threat to a free press. On the door of the building were the words: “Killing Media.”

The cruel and pithy line represents the crude culmination of five years of rhetorical attacks by Donald Trump and his political allies on critical media coverage.

From the start of his reign, when a White House assistant announced that there was such a thing as “alternative facts”, to the incessant lying (30,000 at last count, based on The Washington Post) by the president, to the abuse of social media platforms to spread misinformation, the press is under tremendous pressure to simply report the truth.

As The Washington Post editor Marty Baron said in 2017: “We are not at war with the government, we are working. We’re doing our job. “

Performing a reporting task has never been more difficult, or more dangerous, in the US and around the world.

Attacks on journalists

The main theme that runs through the The annual report issued by the Committee to Protect Journalists recently is blatant impunity for those who target journalists, arrest, imprison and prosecute them for doing their job.

The report details how governments around the world have used false justifications to jail journalists for telling the truth, under pretexts ranging from crackdowns on elusive “fake news” to inciting civil unrest by reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic.

CPJ the annual census of incarcerated journalists recorded a record high of 274 behind bars in 2020. As in previous years, the main offenders were China, Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. No other country claims to respect a free press, and no international body can actually hold them to account.

Representational image. Illustration: Wikimedia Commons

That record number does not include the hundreds of journalists arrested and released throughout the year – and not just in the countries mentioned above. In Pakistan, for example, the new government was in November 2020 released on bail the nation’s biggest media tycoon, Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman. She ever jailed since March, eight months in prison on charges of bogus land deals since 1986. Its media company has criticized Prime Minister Imran Khan and the military.

In fact, the CPJ report is a damning indictment of how “the authorities are again taking cover in anti-press rhetoric from the United States”.

Over the past five years, there has been a lack of leadership in promoting democratic values, including freedom of the press and freedom of opinion. These deficiencies are particularly evident in the United States, where Trump has continually attacked the press and mingled with dictators abroad.

Authorities around the world, from the Philippines to Turkey, are taking advantage of Trump’s “fake news” rhetoric to justify their actions. This year, 34 journalists were jailed for “fake news”, compared to 31 years ago. On December 12, Iran hanged journalist Ruhollah Zam, who was accused of fomenting political unrest.

In context, the attacks on the press in the United States may not seem dire. However, 120 journalists were arrested or criminally charged in 2020 (compared to nine in 2019) and around 300 people were persecuted, the majority by law enforcement, according to US Press Freedom Tracker. Sixteen face criminal charges.

Most of these attacks occurred during anti-racism protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis this summer, when police arrested or attacked journalists who identified themselves as the press.

Journalists who cover protests have the same rights as citizens of other countries – that is, they can engage in legitimate behavior that includes taking photos and interviewing people in public. The First Amendment provides additional legal protection, and many police departments have written policies on how police should treat journalists.

There are few, if any, instances of officers being held accountable for crossing this line.

President Trump’s hostility to the press has sparked direct attacks on journalists. Sometimes, the attackers were held to account – as was the man, Robert Chaim, who made several calls The Boston Globe newsroom with death threats, echoing Trump’s criticism of the Globe as an “enemy of the people”. A police search at Chaim’s home in California found 19 firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. In 2018, the court sentenced him to four months in prison.

As the CPJ report notes, populist leaders around the world target the news media with such accusations against journalists. A prominent example is the President Roderigo Duterte in the Philippines, not mentioned in the report, under the supervision of journalists Maria Ressa facing various lawsuits including cyber fraud and slander.

“The reason why this is important is where the Philippines goes, America follows. Take the arsenal of social media – we are the pre-American case, ” Ressa said. “Online violence leads to real world violence.”

Among many items on president-elect Biden’s to-do list, restoring respect for a free press will send an important, ricocheting signal around the world.

Here are some steps the government needs to take urgently:

  • Holding Saudi Arabia accountable for its role in the killings The Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi
  • Leads with international institutions, including the special rapporteur on freedom of expression of the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
  • Hold police officers to account – those who use tear gas, rubber bullets and electric shocks against journalists, and detain, arrest, and target journalists trying to do their job
  • Dismiss the accusation against the reporter who provides important information to the reporter regarding administrative violations.

The US government has traditionally promoted and financed independent media around the world, defending journalists and news outlets under threat, in addition to promoting and defending the internet as a shared global information system, as noted by the CPJ report.

Restoring this historic role and the nation’s commitment to press freedom around the world and here at home will be one of the most important achievements of the Biden presidency.

James McManus is a lawyer and journalist in Boston. Beena Sarwar is a journalist and political analyst from Pakistan where she has lived and worked through two military dictatorships. Both teach law and journalism at Emerson College, Boston.

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UPDATE 2-Strike Brazilian truck drivers gather strength as oil unions lend their support | Instant News


(Added Oil Union)

SAO PAULO, Jan 26 (Reuters) – Brazil’s national truck driver strike gathered momentum on Tuesday as the major oil unions lent their support for upcoming action that could cripple the country’s economy, which is still recovering from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Brazilian National Confederation of Transport and Logistics Workers (CNTTL) on Tuesday urged its 800,000 members to join the Feb. 1 strike led by the National Association of Autonomous Carriers of Brazil (ANTB). Later, the Federação Única dos Petroleiros (FUP) union said they also supported the move.

A similar national strike three years ago paralyzed Brazil and sent shockwaves across its economy. While it remains to be seen how widespread the industrial action will be, a major strike will deal a crushing blow to the Brazilian economy.

Truck drivers are upset that the government-set minimum transport prices are too low. CNTTL spokesman Carlos Alberto Litti Dahmer slammed the government’s lack of support to improve the working conditions of truck drivers, and called on members of his group to join the movement. In a CNTTL statement, he said the minimum freight rates set by Brazil’s land transport agency ANTT were not sufficient for drivers to earn a living.

“We will cross our arms on the first of February,” the truck leader said, adding that the minimum freight price allowed to rise by only 2.51%, which is not enough to offset rising costs, including for replacing auto parts. “Minimum fare equals hunger.”

The FUP said in a statement that it considered the fuel price increases “against the law”.

In May 2018, a truck driver strike brought Brazil’s economy to a halt, as the world’s biggest exporters of agricultural commodities such as soybeans and poultry were unable to deliver goods to ports or food to supermarkets.

Striking truck drivers also caused the culling of millions of chickens, as feed failed to reach farmers. The strike ended after President Michel Temer gave in to pressure and agreed to set minimum haul tables. (Reporting by Aluisio Alves Written by Ana Mano Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Aurora Ellis)

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THE EMERGING MARKET-Brazil Realization jumps 2%; Argentine stocks shine | Instant News


    * Real rises in catch-up trade
    * Mexico's peso recovers from 2-week low
    * Petrobras Distribuidora lifts Brazil's Bovespa
    * Best day in two months for Merval as YPF surges

 (Updates prices)
    By Ambar Warrick and Susan Mathew
    Jan 26 (Reuters) - Brazil's real rose 2.2% on Tuesday in
catch-up trade after a long weekend, although sentiment in Latin
America was dampened by increased COVID-19 infections and
concerns over fiscal health in the region. 
    With Brazil's Economy Minister Paulo Guedes saying he
expects economic growth of 3.5% this year, the real
recovered from steep losses last week sparked by renewed
concerns over fiscal spending, as well as the central bank
saying it would not hike interest rates any time soon.

    Breaking a four-day losing streak, Brazil's Bovespa stock
index rose 0.2%. 
    Fuel distributor Petrobras Distribuidora SA
provided the biggest boost, up almost 12%, after Wilson Ferreira
Jr., the former chief executive of state-run power firm Centrais
Eletricas Brasileiras was set to take charge of the
firm.
    Argentina's Merval stock index posted its best day
in two months, with state energy company YPF jumping
9% on sweetening its offer to creditors. YPF's shares had taken
beating after its plans to swap some $6.2 billion in bonds
sparked a fierce backlash from investors.
    "We believe a rebound in Latam equity markets would be an
important step in turning around Latam FX performance," Ilya
Gofshteyn, senior EM macro strategist at Standard Chartered,
wrote in a note.
     "The boost to FX from inflows to Latam asset markets will
be greater than the drag from cross-currency trades using Latam
currencies."
    Concerns over the spread of the coronavirus in major
economies, uncertainty over vaccine distribution and increased
government deficits from fiscal spending have made Latin
American assets relatively less attractive than their emerging
market peers.
    A difference in yields with broader emerging markets has
also made currencies such as the real and Mexican peso a
less desirable means for carry trades.
    Mexico's peso rose 0.7% after a three-day losing
streak. The country has the fourth-highest death toll from the
pandemic in the world, which has weighed on demand for its
assets.
    As oil prices fell, crude exporter Colombia's peso
lost 0.7% to extend losses to a fourth straight session. 
    
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies:
  Stock indexes           Latest   Daily %
                                   change
 MSCI Emerging Markets    1388.77    -1.52
                                   
 MSCI LatAm               2396.74     1.55
                                   
 Brazil Bovespa         117565.24     0.16
                                   
 Mexico IPC              44793.68    -0.74
                                   
 Chile IPSA               4476.04    -0.29
                                   
 Argentina MerVal        49200.84    3.646
                                   
 Colombia COLCAP          1395.50    -0.15
                                   
                                          
      Currencies          Latest   Daily %
                                   change
 Brazil real               5.3497     2.26
                                   
 Mexico peso              19.9821     0.61
                                   
 Chile peso                 732.2     0.04
                                   
 Colombia peso            3598.28    -0.34
                                   
 Peru sol                  3.6437     0.00
                                   
 Argentina peso           87.0100    -0.11
 (interbank)                       
                                   
 
 (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru
Editing by Paul Simao and Nick Zieminski)
  

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UPDATE 1-BT Italy fake accounting test to continue in April | Instant News


(Update with delay, comments BT)

MILAN, Jan 26 (Reuters) – Trials over alleged false bookkeeping at British Telecom’s Italian unit in 2015 and 2016 opened in Milan on Tuesday, with 20 defendants, including two former BT executives and the Italian subsidiary itself, facing charges.

In a brief hearing on Tuesday morning, the court went through formalities such as verifying the defendants’ legal counsel, and the case was adjourned until April 23. None of the defendants were present in the courtroom.

Milan prosecutors alleged that BT Italia’s employee network increased revenues, faked contract renewals and invoices, and created fake supplier deals to disguise the unit’s true financial performance.

BT took a £ 530 million ($ 725 million) fee on its account in 2017 in connection with false accounting allegations.

All of the defendants have always denied wrongdoing.

The case is being tried in a high-security courtroom on the outskirts of Italy’s financial capital, normally selected for Mafia trials but now used to comply with coronavirus restrictions.

Under Italian law, companies can also be prosecuted for offenses committed by their managers in their own interests.

“While we remain confident in our defense, given the ongoing process, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further,” said a BT spokesman in London.

Among the defendants were Richard Cameron, former chief financial officer of BT Global Services, and Corrado Sciolla, former head of BT for continental Europe.

Both denied wrongdoing. (Additional reporting by Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Keith Weir, Alexander Smith and Alex Richardson)

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