LONDON, September 6 -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday (Sept 6) he was not willing to contemplate resigning.
"I'll go to Brussels, I'll get a deal and we'll make sure we come out on October 31 - that's what we've got to do," Johnson told Sky News during a visit to Scotland. When asked if he would resign if he could not deliver that, he said: "That is not a hypothesis I'm willing to contemplate." Johnson is pushing for an election on Oct 15, two weeks before the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union, though opposition parties say they want a no-deal Brexit ruled out before they will agree to an election date. In a sign of how far Brexit has distorted British politics, Johnson's Conservatives expelled 21 rebels on Tuesday - including the grandson of Britain's World War II leader Winston Churchill and two former finance ministers - for seeking to block any exit from the EU without a deal. On Friday, Johnson said the rebels' expulsion "grieved me deeply". "These are friends of mine. I worked with them for many years. But we have to get Brexit done and we were being very clear about the risks we're running now in snarling up the process of leaving the EU in Parliament," he said. "And yes of course I am going to reach out to those colleagues and have been reaching out to them, try and find ways of building bridges but I have got to be clear - we must get Brexit done."
Meanwhile, British opposition parties were discussing on Friday how to respond to Johnson's bid to call a snap election, after the Prime Minister said he would rather die in a ditch than delay the planned Oct 31 departure from the EU. As the United Kingdom spins towards an election, Brexit remains up in the air more than three years after Britons voted to leave the bloc in a 2016 referendum. Options range from a turbulent "no-deal" exit to abandoning the whole endeavor. British lawmakers will on Monday hold another vote on a motion on whether to hold an early election, probably in mid-October, just over two weeks before the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on Oct 31. But opposition parties, including the Labour Party, want to ensure that an election does not allow Johnson to lead the United Kingdom out of the EU without a deal. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn will hold a conference call with other opposition parties on Friday, a Labour spokesman said. Johnson on Thursday said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than delay Brexit. "We need to be absolutely sure that we are not going to end up in a situation where the general election is used as a distraction whilst they (the government) by some cunning wheeze bounce us out of the European Union without a deal," Emily Thornberry, Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, said.
The opposition Scottish National Party (SNP) will only agree a date for an election when it is sure the threat of a no-deal exit has been averted, its leader in the Westminster Parliament said. "We will choose the timing of when an election comes. I want to remove Boris Johnson as prime minister, but we need to make sure we don't leave the European Union on a no-deal basis, that's the first priority," the SNP's Ian Blackford said. An SNP source said: "The SNP is ready for an election, but we will not be played by Boris Johnson." "We are considering all options and discussing with all parties the best way to prevent a disastrous no-deal Brexit and get rid of this shambolic (Conservative) government as soon as possible," the source added.
BERLIN, September 4 -- After a plethora of teases and an almost daily barrage of videos and image of the vehicle, the final production version of the all-electric Porsche Taycan has been revealed.
The first pure EV from the German automaker comes in two variants (Turbo and Turbo S) and starts at $150,000 (or $153,000 if you put a deposit down for the launch edition) and will start being delivered by the end of the year. The Taycan (Pronounced Tai Khan) started as the concept Mission E four years ago at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Since then, Porsche has been doling out a steady stream of information, teaser images and videos of the vehicle's prowess. The Turbo S version of the four-door sports sedan has an impressive 750 horsepower while in launch control and 774 pounds of torque from two motors situated in the front and back. Those powerplants along with a 93.4 kWh battery pack can propel the turbo s variant from zero to 60 in as little as 2.6 seconds putting it nearly on par with the Tesla Model S P100D. The Turbo trim level will hit 60 in 3.0 seconds. This is the first vehicle in the company's E-Performance lineup with the Taycan Cross Turismo coming in by the end of next year and all-electric Macan's landing in the automaker's SUV lineup.
In addition to a new design and powerplant, the Taycan is also home to the new Porsche infotainment system that trims distraction and introduces a new voice assistant feature. With "Hey Porsche," drivers will be able to control many aspects of the cars secondary controls like media, climate and navigation. While we wait patiently for EPA range numbers, the more generous European WLTP gives the vehicle a 412 KM range (256 miles). So expect a range probably around 225 to 230 miles once the final testing has been completed. What we do know is that the Taycan can be charged from five to 80 percent in 22.5 minutes via a charger that outputs 270 kW. for super-quick stops, it'll add 60 miles in about 5 minutes. So if you're in a hurry -- and frankly if you bought a Porsche, you probably are -- if you can find a powerful enough station you can be back on the road pretty quickly. So it's fast, looks amazing and it's filled with more tech than any Porsche that came before. With over 20,000 preorders already on the books, the automaker is off to a good start with its new venture. "Only by always changing has Porsche remained Porsche," said Detler Von Platen, member of the executive board sales and marketing at the unveiling event. But with a six billion euro investment allotted to its electrification plans, it's going to take all three of those things and the Porsche-buying public to buy into this new world to make financial sense.
MILAN, September 4 -- Members of Italy's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement were due to vote online on Tuesday on whether they approved a new coalition with the opposition Democratic Party, known as PD, with fresh elections looming if the pact is rejected.
On Monday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte urged members of 5-Star to back the coalition, saying the planned government could transform Italy. About 100,000 people who subscribe to 5-Star's so-called Rousseau website were asked to answer the question: "Do you agree that the 5-Star Movement should form a government together with the Democratic Party, chaired by Giuseppe Conte?" Conte on Monday delivered a video speech, through Facebook, to Rousseau subscribers, saying: "I understand your concerns. But I'd also like to remember that the 5-Star, before the elections last year, had said they were ready to join any political force that was ready to carry out the movement's political agenda. Today, we have a great chance to change this country." Shortly after he spoke, 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio also took to Facebook, but delivered a more subdued message and refused to advise his party members on how to vote. "There is no right or wrong vote, there are your ideas and the sum of your ideas will guide the movement," Di Maio said. "Don't be afraid ... we have already won, the world is waiting for the democratic outcome of your vote to know Italy's future."
An SWG opinion poll for La7 television channel said 51 percent of 5-Star supporters backed a tie-up with the PD, while some 69 percent of PD voters endorsed the idea. Though the two parties are longstanding enemies, they are also the two largest parties in Parliament. Italian President Sergio Mattarella gave Conte a mandate last week to try to form a new coalition following Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's decision to pull his right-wing League from a 14-month-old alliance with 5-Star in an attempt to trigger early elections. If no agreement is sealed in the coming week, Mattarella is expected to dissolve Parliament and set a date for a new vote. The 5-Star party's internet portal stated that the government program agreed with the PD would be available online to members when voting started.
Despite differences over policy and ministerial roles, senior figures from both sides spoke in support of a coalition over the weekend as the talks have continued. "I know it is difficult, but we're doing our best to give this country a new government," PD leader Nicola Zingaretti said on Sunday in a video post on Twitter. After talks with Conte, he said on Friday that Italy's next government must cut income taxes to boost consumption, relaunch investment and focus on health and education.
BIARRITZ, August 26 -- G-7 leaders discussed the return to the G-8 format with Russia's participation at a summitin the French city of Biarritz, Kyodo news agency reported, citing sources from Japanese government circles.
No details were provided about the content of the interview, and an agency source said the information "will never be disclosed". Earlier, US President Donald Trump agreed to a proposal by his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, to invite Russia to the G7 summit in 2020 in the US. Vladimir Putin, for his part, said that Russia considered all contacts with the G7 countries useful and did not rule out the resumption of the G8 form. German Chancellor Angela Merkel linked the issue of the resumption of the G-8 with progress in resolving the conflict in Ukraine. The G-7 is an association of economically developed countries that includes the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Canada, the United States, France and Japan. In the form of the seven, the club has existed from 1976 to 1997. After Russia's accession, it became known as the G8
The U.S. administration of President Donald Trump has renewed sanctions on Iran after quitting Tehran's deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, which promised sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. "Iran's active diplomacy in pursuit of constructive engagement continues," Zarif tweeted. "Road ahead is difficult. But worth trying." The minister departed on a government plane for Iran on Sunday evening. A source at the French presidential office said practical discussions at the G-7 summit led to Zarif's visit to Biarritz, which the United States had acknowledged. Macron is said to have personally contacted Trump.
G-7 leaders shared the view Saturday that Iran should not possess nuclear weapons, but differed in their approach to finding a solution. With U.S.-Iran tensions escalating, France, which has expressed hope the nuclear agreement will survive, has apparently been trying to mediate between Washington and Tehran, foreign affairs experts say. Zarif was already in France, having met with Macron in Paris on Friday.
ROTTERDAM, August 25 -- Eleven years after the global financial crisis, the European banking industry is once again preparing for tough days ahead.
After Deutsche Bank announced a large-scale layoff plan not long ago, another large European bank might follow suit to do the same. Italy’s largest bank by asset size UniCredit is considering 10,000 job cuts, accounting for 10% of the bank’s total global workforce. This layoff makes up part of the business plan that UniCredit will announce at the end of this year. UniCredit will announce at least 9,000 layoffs, and almost all the employees getting retrenched will be Italians. The negotiations between UniCredit and the union will begin after the announcement of its business plan for 2020-2023 on December 3 this year. The negotiations between both parties may help to reduce the number of layoffs from the original figures.
UniCredit is a European bank headquartered in Milan, with operations in 19 countries and having more than 28 million customers. It is also one of the largest banking groups in Europe. The core business of UniCredit is mainly distributed in the more well-off regions of Italy, Austria and southern Germany, as well as a large number of businesses in Central and Eastern Europe. With assets of EUR 91 billion, UniCredit has become the largest bank in the Eurozone, the third largest in Europe and the sixth largest in the world. However, its profitability is in decline. According to publicly-accessible information, UniCredit’s net profit for 2018 was EUR 3.892 billion, a decline of nearly 29% compared to a net profit of EUR 5.473 billion in 2017.
The recent frequent layoffs could be a possible indication that the European banking industry has not fully recovered from the financial crisis. After the crisis, the United States adopted quantitative and accommodative monetary and fiscal policies as guarantees, and through legislation to strengthen supervision of the banking industry. At the same time, the government helped the banks through the crisis by using national capital injection. The period of de-leveraging the banking industry is relatively short, and the profitability of the U.S. banking industry therefore recovered within a shorter span of time.
In Europe, there was a lack of a unified fiscal policy. It was only in November 2014 that the single regulatory mechanism for the banking sector in the euro zone was launched. The de-leverage of the European banking industry lacked sufficient policy support and assistance, hence slowing its process of deleveraging. Since the total loans of 27 banks in Europe account for a much higher proportion of non-financial debt than the United States, the impact on the economy in its de-leveraging process was much greater, which in turn affected its profitability.
On a more general level, the poor performance of the European banking industry stemmed from the slow recovery of the European economy and the tightening of banking regulations. Data from the World Bank reveals that from 2010 to 2017, the world’s GDP increased from US$ 65.96 trillion to US$ 80.73 trillion, representing an increase of 22.39%. Among them, the U.S. GDP increased from US$ 14.96 trillion to US$ 19.39 trillion, an increase of 29.61%. However, the EU’s GDP only increased from US$ 16.98 trillion to US$ 17.28 trillion, a mere 1.76% increase and far less than that of the United States. The economic growth of the EU is not only significantly lower than the global average, but also significantly lower than the United States.
The reason why European banking performance is closely related to its economy is because European banks, especially small and medium-sized banks, are not highly globalized, and their business is mainly located in Europe. Only a few larger banks, such as Deutsche Bank, have branches around the world that provide services to customers globally. As the global trade frictions intensify and the downward pressure on the economy increases, the profits of these large banks are being affected. Small and medium-sized banks whose businesses are mainly concentrated in Europe will see difficulty in achieving improvement.
After the financial crisis, especially since the European debt crisis, the strength of regulation in Europe has been increasing. The European debt crisis has exposed two major problems of the European banking industry. Banks conducting higher-risk businesses and the general EU financial system were under-regulated. To resolve this, the EU on the one hand has increased the banking capital adequacy requirements, prohibiting large banks from engaging in proprietary trading, and curbing excessive speculation in the banking industry. On the other hand, it established a banking industry alliance to form a unified regulatory mechanism, clearing mechanism and deposit insurance system. However, EU member states have major differences in the relevant new banking regulations. The increase in capital adequacy ratio and the divestiture of risky assets have augmented the stability of the banking industry. At the same time, it also led to a decline in the income and profit of the banking industry.
Kevin Dowd, a professor of finance and economics at Durham University, has previously analyzed that the large European banks have suffered setbacks in the United States, and also contraction of their business activities. However, a careful analysis will reveal that the main problem in the EU banking industry is happening in European soil. The European banking industry is facing a major repayment crisis, and this crisis has been brewing for a long time. The thorny issue facing the European banking industry is caused by none other than the EU itself.
Due to quantitative easing policies and excessive tolerance policies, the existing problems have worsened. Dowd believes that the EU banking industry is currently moving in the direction towards a crisis, and the EU bank’s bad debt loaning solution will fail to work. In the end, there will be the scenario where the taxpayers will have to bailout the banking industry who will then become too big to fail. It is worth noting that both Deutsche Bank and UniCredit are regarded as banks with high importance in the global financial system. If these banks are having problems, they will inevitably hold a major impact over the European financial system. In particular, the European economy has not recovered from the crisis so far. With the global trade war resulting in economic slowdown, the European Central Bank has clearly stated that in order to support economic growth, it may further introduce easing policies and even cut interest rates further.
Long-term negative interest rates have seriously affected the profitability of the European banking industry, and should the interest rates fall further, the impact on these banks will be even greater. As these banks get into trouble, they will also affect the lending behavior of enterprises, which will in turn drag down the growth of the entire European economy and thus turning these events into a vicious cycle. If this shock continues to expand, it may trigger a new round of global economic crisis.
Final analysis conclusion: The recent frequent layoffs in the European banking industry have highlighted its vulnerability in the post-crisis era, and in the context of global trade war and economic slowdown, this vulnerability may eventually evolve into a trigger for a new global economic crisis.
PARIS, August 24 -- Donald Trump landed in France with First Lady Melania for the G7 summit Saturday, after taking a swipe at fellow leaders, calling them "friends of mine, for the most part" but not in "100 percent of the cases".
The president threw shade at some of America's closest partners on Friday evening, mere hours before he'd see them in Biarritz at the Group of Seven summit. He threatened to tax French 'like they've never seen before' and characterized world leaders attending the event as 'friends for the most part' in front of Marine One. 'We're going to France. We'll have a good few days. I think it will be very productive, seeing a lot of leaders who are friends of mine, for the most part,' he said of his trip, smirking as he added, "Wouldn't say in 100 percent of the cases, but for the most part." He did not say which leaders were getting under his skin, but Trump offered several hints in the comments he delivered outside the White House before he left for Europe with first lady Melania. She arrived into Biarritz wearing a yellow dress with pink stiletto heels and sunglasses. The first lady had departed Washington wearing a Chanel jacket, white pants and a black top. Trump harped on France's digital tax, which he said U.S. tech companies don't deserve. He noted that he's 'not the biggest fan of the tech companies,' which he again accused them of interfering in his election.
Yet, he said, their regulation should be up to the United States, and not foreign countries like France. "I don't like what France did. They put a digital tax on our tech companies," he said. "Those are great American companies, and frankly, I don't want France going out and taxing our companies, very unfair." He cautioned French President Emmanuel Macron against moving ahead with the action that could spark a protracted trade war with the United States. It is understood the two world leaders will have an unscheduled lunch together Saturday. "If they do that, we'll be taxing their wine, or doing something else. We'll be taxing their wine, like they've never seen before," Trump promised. Whether he meant for the earlier jab about his 'friends' in the global community to land on Macron or another leader he'll be seeing like German Chancellor Angela Merkel was unclear.
STUTTGART, August 24 -- Elon Musk has talked about making an electric Tesla Van for a while, Volkswagen has teased the return of its iconic bus as an EV.
But Mercedes-Benz beat everybody to the punch in this critical segment with the 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQV—an electric van that seats up to eight and runs a claimed range of over 200 miles. At least in Europe. Mercedes-Benz showed off a “concept” version of the EQV previously, but it was rather obviously very close to production-ready. That’s backed up now that we have the real deal just in time for this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show next month.
The press release only talks about the public charging network services in Europe, so it may be unlikely we’ll be getting this electron-powered van Stateside, but you never know. That said, the EQV has a 90 kWh battery pack centrally mounted under the floor of the van, offering a claimed preliminary range estimate of 405 km, or roughly 250 miles on a single charge. The van is driven by a single motor on the front axle with an output of 150 kw, or 204 horsepower, and 362 nm of torque, or just about 267 lb-ft. On a 110 kw public DC rapid charger, the Mercedes claims the EQV can charge from 10 to 80 percent of its battery capacity in around 45 minutes. On an AC charger, like a standard public parking charger or using the Mercedes-Benz Wallbox Home 11 kW charger that can be installed in your house, the battery should charge in less than 10 hours. The EQV picks up a little bit of the exterior design language of the EQC crossover, and inside it gets some rose gold accent touches and adaptable seating with optional bench seats, which means you can shove up to eight people in this thing. The EQV is nice and acceptable because it’s just an electric version of the regular Mercedes-Benz van, so it’s very practical. EVs do not all need to be fancy! Just zoom around town without contributing to localized pollution! And now it can. In Europe.
LONDON, August 24 -- The world’s first solar farm to power a railway line directly is due to plug into the track near Aldershot, paving the way for solar-powered trains.
From Friday, about 100 solar panels at the trackside site will supply renewable electricity to power the signalling and lights on Network Rail’s Wessex route. The 30kW pilot scheme could pave the way for a larger project capable of directly powering the trains that use this route from next year. The solar breakthrough comes as Network Rail plans to spend billions of pounds electrifying rail lines to avoid running trains on diesel. This could help reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and costs. Solar panels are already used to power the operations of train stations, including Blackfriars in central London. But the Aldershot project is the first time a solar array will bypass the electricity grid to plug directly into a railway’s “traction” system.
Network Rail hopes to use the scheme, developed by the charity 10:10 Climate Action and Imperial College London, to solar-charge its rail lines across the country. Stuart Kistruck, a director for Network Rail’s Wessex route, said: “We have ambitions to roll this technology out further across the network should this demonstrator project prove successful, so we can deliver a greener, better railway for our passengers and the wider public.” The research team behind the project, called Riding Sunbeams, estimates that solar could power 20% of the Merseyrail network in Liverpool, as well as 15% of commuter routes in Kent, Sussex and Wessex. There is also scope for solar trams in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, London and Manchester, according to the team. The researchers began work on the plans over two years ago to discover whether bypassing the electricity grid could make solar power a more efficient energy source for trains. Innovate UK awarded the project funding from the Department of Transport after it proved that connecting solar power directly to rail, tube and tram networks could help meet a significant share of their electricity needs.
For an apparently abandoned village, Doel certainly seems to have a life, and it’s not just tourists. Despite many inhabitants taking up offers of cash premiums and selling voluntarily around 2000, Doel still has residents who have endured, residents who are once again legally allowed to stay there.
“Court bailiffs appearing at doors used to be a fairly normal occurrence; and so was dealing with vandalism because the municipality wouldn’t provide the appropriate measures to help,” said Brian Waterschoot. Waterschoot is a member of Doel2020, a group responsible for promoting and representing the village through dialogue discussions about its future. “Looting, arson; these were all things that Doel regularly had to deal with, with little done to prevent them from happening,” he explained. While there might not be many of them, the village’s few remaining inhabitants have a certain pride in their houses. As a result, there is a surreal contrast in the village between quaint homes and buildings left exposed to the elements and the whims of vandals. “We settled with the authorities to stop further deterioration of buildings and vandalism by allowing people to live there. Metal plates have been installed to prevent access to abandoned houses, and a barrier that requires a Belgian ID card has been set up on the main road. People now feel a bit safer,” said Waterschoot. There are many buildings that could be habitable or that could be assigned a new function with a minimum of effort, he added. “The current situation is that we’re just trying to live in relative peace. Everyone has different reasons for being in the area, but we all share a common concern,” said Waterschoot. That concern is crystal-clear: What comes next?
The future of Doel
While it has existed in a state of administrative deadlock for years, progress is being made on the issue of Doel with a view towards the long term. After years of uncertainty, some things have changed for the better. One important reason for this is the “complex project”, which aims to create a framework to be implemented by 2030. This is the first opportunity we’ve had in years to sit together and discuss Doel, said Waterschoot. In May 2019, the Flemish government announced that it had selected the so-called ninth alternative for the expansion of the port of Antwerp, which combines a limited new dock that connects to the existing Deurganck dock with new container capacity via a more compact building strategy. In this scenario, Doel is safe, said Waterschoot. The future of Doel and the form the village can take are now the things that need to be researched carefully. Doel can never become the village it once was but the potential is enormous, explained Waterschoot. Its location close to the River Schelde, the port, the history of the village and the historic buildings that are left are all important features which a future Doel could be proud of, he added. One further plan for the future of Doel is a project being developed by the architects of the University of Leuven. The students have prepared detailed repair schedules for three valuable historic buildings in the derelict village. In this way, the students hope to warm the government and the people from the neighborhood to the idea of the reconstruction of the village.
Another question that is yet to be answered is what would be done with the destroyed buildings. “In a way, it could make sense to keep some of these buildings in their current state, as they indeed show the impact of a government failing to act,” said Waterschoot. This decision may have given a reprieve to the people of Doel, but what happens next remains unknown. For now, the future of the village is similar to its past, uncertain, hopeful and well supported by a few loyal residents refusing to give it up.