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France to suspend fuel tax hike after protests

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France President Macron

Paris, Dec 4: The French government will suspend its plan to introduce a fuel tax hike which has led to violent protests, the media reported on Tuesday.

The tax on petrol and diesel, due to increase next month in a move towards cleaner fuels, sparked protests that quickly escalated to reflect a range of grievances including the marginalization of rural areas, high living costs and general anger at President Emmanuel Macron’s economic policies.

The demonstrations hit major French cities causing damage for the past three weekends and claimed three lives, the BBC reported citing the French media.

Earlier, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe sought a compromise with the protesters, but they called off talks citing death threats from extremists in their ranks.

He was due to meet Cabinet ministers to agree to a response to rioting, looting and destruction in Paris amid the “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests) movement.

The movement is called “yellow vests” because the protesters took to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law.

The protest movement has broadened its demands to include Macron’s resignation and the dissolution of the French Parliament, the Guardian reported.

Macron repeatedly vowed not to give in to street rule but has been forced to reconsider after the worst violence in Paris in half a century. He has accused his political opponents of hijacking the movement in order to block the reforms.

Nearly 300,000 people took part in the first countrywide demonstration. There were more than 106,000 a week later and 136,000 people last Saturday.

Protests continued on Monday. About 50 “yellow vests” blocked access to a major fuel depot in the port of Fos-sur-Mer, near Marseille, and petrol stations across the country have run out of fuel.

Students in about 100 secondary schools across the country held demonstrations against educational and exam reforms.

Macron has postponed a two-day visit to Serbia this week to deal with the crisis.

IANS

Business

Chinese ‘wet markets’ selling bats, dogs start reopening: Report

“The markets have gone back to operating in exactly the same way as they did before coronavirus,” a Mail on Sunday correspondent in Dongguan was quoted as saying.

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Wuhan of Hubei seafood Market

Beijing, April 1 : Despite concerns that “wet markets” selling live animals like cats, dogs and bats, among others, helped spread the novel coronavirus, these markets have started reopening in several regions in China, said a media report.

While bats are believed to be the primary source of the novel coronavirus, researchers believe that an intermediate host might have carried it to humans. Mail on Sunday correspondents reported seeing meat markets open back up for business in China, the Washington Examiner reported on Monday.

Markets in south-west China’s Guilin and southern China’s Dongguan are back in business where meats of domesticated animals like cats and dogs are sold, said the report.

Following report that the wet markets might have contributed to the spread of the coronavirus, the Chinese government earlier banned the sale of wild animals.

“The markets have gone back to operating in exactly the same way as they did before coronavirus,” a Mail on Sunday correspondent in Dongguan was quoted as saying.

“The only difference is that security guards try to stop anyone taking pictures which would never have happened before.

“Wet markets in China has long been drawing criticism for being unhygienic and cruel to animals. Restrictions across China started lifting as coronavirus cases in the country started levelling off.”

Some restrictions were lifted even from Wuhan where the outbreak originated. COVID-19, the diseases caused by novel coronavirus, has spread across the world, infecting over 880,000 people, while killing more than 44,000 people.

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UN climate talks in Glasgow postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19

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Boris Johnson

London, April 2 : Britain said on Wednesday that it will postpone until next year the UN climate talks (COP26) set to take place in Glasgow in November this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a government press release.

“Dates for a rescheduled conference in 2021, hosted in Glasgow by the UK in partnership with Italy, will be set out in due course following further discussion with parties,” it added, Xinhua reported.

The press release noted that the decision has been taken by representatives of the COP Bureau of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), with Britain and its Italian partners.

“In light of the ongoing, worldwide effects of COVID-19, holding an ambitious, inclusive COP26 in November 2020 is no longer possible,” stated the release.

“Rescheduling will ensure all parties can focus on the issues to be discussed at this vital conference and allow more time for the necessary preparations to take place.”

COP26 President-Designate and British Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma said: “We will continue working tirelessly with our partners to deliver the ambition needed to tackle the climate crisis and I look forward to agreeing a new date for the conference.”

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa was quoted as saying that COVID-19 is the most urgent threat facing humanity today, “but we cannot forget that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity over the long term.”

“We continue to support and to urge nations to significantly boost climate ambition in line with the Paris Agreement,” she said.

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China hid coronavirus numbers, claims report quoting US officials

“The Chinese Communist Party”s cover-up and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic,” the Epoch Times wrote.

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Coronavirus Treatment

Washington, April 2 : The skeletons are apparently tumbling out of the closet. A media report on Wednesday claimed that the Chinese government has deliberately underreported the total number of new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and deaths in the country.

Citing US intelligence officials, Bloomberg said that “China’s public reporting of COVID-19 infections and deaths is purposefully incomplete”.

The US intelligence community has submitted a classified report on this to the White House.

“Two of the officials said the report concludes that China’s numbers are fake,” the Bloomberg report added.

According to the data from Johns Hopkins University, China has reported 82,361 coronavirus cases and 3,305 deaths while the cases in the US has almost touched 2 lakh, with over 4,000 deaths.

The White House or any Chinese official were yet to comment on the report.

There have been murmurs in the world intelligence community of China not disclosing real coronavirus figures, which Beijing has always denied.

Earlier, a Chinese blogger based in New York, Jennifer Zeng, posted the official monthly data released on March 19, showing the number of cellphone users decreased from 1.600957 billion to 1.579927 billion in February 2020.

Similarly, the number of landline users reduced from 190.83 million to 189.99 million, a drop of 840,000 last month.

Compared with the data, which was released on December 18, 2019, for November 2019 data, both cellphone and landline users dropped dramatically.

Last year too, for the same month, the number of cell phones had increased by 24.37 million and the number of landline users had gone up by 6.641 million.

Zeng insinuated the drop could be due to the closing of accounts due to coronavirus-related deaths.

A US-based independent news media run by American Chinese, The Epoch Times, in a detailed report described how cellphones are an indispensable part of life in China due very high level of digitization in every sphere of life controlled by the government.

Activities in Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus seem to contradict the reported death toll in China.

The seven funeral homes in the city of Wuhan were reported to be burning bodies 24 hours a day, seven days a week in late January. Hubei Province has used 40 mobile crematoria, each capable of burning five tons of medical waste and bodies a day since February 16.

“The Chinese Communist Party”s cover-up and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic,” the Epoch Times wrote.

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