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Asian stocks grind higher, dollar slips as US data brightens mood

The rises come after a tech rally left the S&P 500 within a whisker of a record closing high overnight.

Asia’s stock markets followed Wall Street higher on Thursday, as investors returned to tech stocks, gold and selling dollars after steady coronavirus figures and a surprising jump in US inflation boosted sentiment.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.2 per cent, and gains in semiconductor makers drove Japan’s Nikkei 1.9 per cent higher to a six-month peak.

The rises come after a tech rally left the S&P 500 within a whisker of a record closing high overnight, in a climate where even bad news is regarded as good news if it increases the chances of more stimulus to aid recovery.

“We’d seen value outperforming over the last few days, but that was unwound last night,” said Chris Weston, head of research at Melbourne brokerage Pepperstone, pointing to a drop in US real yields as inflation expectations rose.

“Maybe that was enough to get people back into the short dollar, long precious metals, long tech trade,” he said.

Rising fuel costs lifted US consumer prices 0.6 per cent last month, compared with expectations for 0.3 per cent, leaving core inflation at 1.6 per cent for the year to July.

At the same time, the number of daily new Covid-19 infections in the United States seems to be stabilising around 55,000. S&P 500 futures traded flat.

The bond market was steady after a huge auction and the generally upbeat mood drove selling overnight, with benchmark 10-year US debt yielding 0.6622 per cent.

A softer dollars helped gold rise steadily, adding 1 per cent to $1,937 an ounce after whipsawing around $1,900 overnight.

Australia was the outlier in regional equity markets, with selling of communications giant Telstra after a profit plunge dragging on the index.

Markets are still eagerly awaiting a breakthrough in wrangling over the next US stimulus package, despite little sign of progress in talks, and a crucial weekend meeting between US and Chinese trade officials.

“Exuberance in US equities begs the question of whether markets have succumbed to inflated optimism rather than reacting to inflation and some optimism,” said Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho in Singapore, warning the inflation bounce seemed fragile.

“The V-shaped market rebound appears removed from the lived realities of an arduous slog back for the real economy,” he said.

Dollar slips

Besides gains on Wall Street the broader mood had investors turning the blowtorch back on the US dollar.

It has steadied in August after a 4 per cent slump in July against a basket of currencies, but was trading under pressure on Thursday as a cautious tone from Federal Reserve policymakers overnight reinforced expectations for low rates for a long time.

The dollar was last 0.2 per cent weaker on the euro at $1.1806 while sterling crept off a one-week low hit in the wake of diabolical growth figures overnight.

The only saving grace from a record 20.4 per cent crash in second-quarter growth in Britain, the most severe contraction reported by any major economy so far, was a surprisingly strong 8.7 per cent rebound in June.

The Australian dollar briefly rose after data showed better-than-expected hiring last month, but as it was not enough to stave off a rise in unemployment to a two-decade high the currency settled to steady at $0.7168.

“The likelihood is that job gains will be much harder to generate in the coming months,” said ING economist Rob Carnell. “The economy is still operating far from business as usual.”

In commodities oil mostly clung on to solid gains made overnight when a drop in US crude inventories spurred hopes that fuel demand is recovering.

Brent crude futures were last 0.3 per cent softer at $45.28 a barrel, while US crude dipped by the same margin to $42.54 a barrel.

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Trump cares more about himself, says Kamala Harris

Nearly nine out of 10 Democrats approved of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s pick, according to a poll released on Wednesday.

Kamala Harris made her campaign-trail debut as Joe Biden’s Democratic running mate on Wednesday, delivering a strong rebuke of President Donald Trump’s leadership and highlighting the historic significance of her new role.

Harris said Biden, the former vice president under President Barack Obama, had recognised the critical moment being faced by the country by picking her to be the first Black woman and Asian American on a major-party US presidential ticket.

“Today, he takes his place in the ongoing story of America’s march toward equality and justice as the only person who served alongside the first Black president, and has chosen the first Black woman as his running mate,” said Harris, a US senator from California.

Nearly nine out of 10 Democrats approved of Harris as Biden’s pick, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.

Forced by the coronavirus pandemic to stage a more subdued launch than would be expected from a typical presidential campaign, the new running mates managed to display a personal connection that dates back to Harris’ friendship with Biden’s son Beau, who died of cancer in 2015.

Harris said she had long admired Biden’s commitment to his family and country, and she described him as ready to meet the challenges created by Trump’s failures in handling the pandemic and its economic consequences, as well as racial unrest.

“This is a moment of real consequence for America,” she said. “Everything we care about – our economy, our health, our kids, the kind of country we live in – it’s all on the line.”

“America is crying out for leadership, yet we have a president who cares more about himself than the people who elected him, a president who is making every challenge we face even more difficult to solve,” Harris said.

The speech, delivered in a Delaware high school gymnasium near Biden’s home, featured no cheering crowds. The two candidates wore masks as they arrived and kept their social distance on a stage flanked by state flags.

The joint appearance came just days before Biden will formally accept the Democratic presidential nomination at next week’s party convention, which will take place largely as a virtual event due to Covid-19.

The Republican convention, where Trump is set to be nominated to seek a second four-year term, follows a week later and kicks off a 10-week sprint to Election Day on November 3.

Stuff of Presidents

In choosing Harris, Biden selected a former rival for the nomination whose most memorable campaign moment came during a televised debate when she criticised his past position on using busing to integrate schools and talked about its effect on her as a little girl.

Biden on Wednesday said her addition to the ticket sent a powerful message to girls across America.

“This morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up – especially little black and brown girls, who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities – today, just maybe, they’re seeing themselves in the first time in a new way. As the stuff of presidents, and vice presidents,” Biden said.

In recent months, as unrest has convulsed many US cities following the May police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis, Harris has been a prominent voice calling for change. She has marched alongside protesters and pushed legislation to reform policing practices.

Some activists have said her work in the Senate had helped temper concerns about her past as a prosecutor in California and could build enthusiasm among some of the party’s liberal voters for the more centrist Biden.

Harris is the daughter of immigrants, her mother from India and her father from Jamaica. On Wednesday, Harris recalled her parents’ involvement in the US civil rights movement, and her friendship with Beau Biden, who was attorney general of Delaware when Harris was attorney general in California. She stressed that, like Biden, “my family means everything to me.”

Harris, 55, was announced as Biden’s choice on Tuesday after a selection process that drew extra scrutiny thanks to Biden’s age. The 77-year-old would be the oldest president ever if he wins, raising speculation that he would not seek re-election in 2024.

At a joint fundraiser with Harris later on Wednesday, Biden said his campaign had raised $26 million and had 150,000 new contributors in the 24 hours since he revealed his pick.

Trump told reporters at a White House news conference that he had watched some of the Biden-Harris rollout event and was surprised his Democratic opponent had chosen someone who failed in her own presidential bid.

Harris thanked Joe Biden and his wife Jill for welcoming her into their extended family, specifically mentioning the former second lady, who described Harris’ attacks on Biden during the primary debate as a “punch to the gut.”

She said Joe Biden had proven his empathy and connection with those who are suffering.
“He’s someone whose first response when things get tough is never to think about himself, but to take care of everybody else,” Harris said.

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Kamala Harris rebukes Trump in historic campaign-trail debut

Nearly nine out of 10 Democrats approved of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s pick, according to a poll released on Wednesday.

Kamala Harris made her campaign-trail debut as Joe Biden’s Democratic running mate on Wednesday, delivering a strong rebuke of President Donald Trump’s leadership and highlighting the historic significance of her new role.

Harris said Biden, the former vice president under President Barack Obama, had recognised the critical moment being faced by the country by picking her to be the first Black woman and Asian American on a major-party US presidential ticket.

“Today, he takes his place in the ongoing story of America’s march toward equality and justice as the only person who served alongside the first Black president, and has chosen the first Black woman as his running mate,” said Harris, a US senator from California.

Nearly nine out of 10 Democrats approved of Harris as Biden’s pick, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.

Forced by the coronavirus pandemic to stage a more subdued launch than would be expected from a typical presidential campaign, the new running mates managed to display a personal connection that dates back to Harris’ friendship with Biden’s son Beau, who died of cancer in 2015.

Harris said she had long admired Biden’s commitment to his family and country, and she described him as ready to meet the challenges created by Trump’s failures in handling the pandemic and its economic consequences, as well as racial unrest.

“This is a moment of real consequence for America,” she said. “Everything we care about – our economy, our health, our kids, the kind of country we live in – it’s all on the line.”

“America is crying out for leadership, yet we have a president who cares more about himself than the people who elected him, a president who is making every challenge we face even more difficult to solve,” Harris said.

The speech, delivered in a Delaware high school gymnasium near Biden’s home, featured no cheering crowds. The two candidates wore masks as they arrived and kept their social distance on a stage flanked by state flags.

The joint appearance came just days before Biden will formally accept the Democratic presidential nomination at next week’s party convention, which will take place largely as a virtual event due to Covid-19.

The Republican convention, where Trump is set to be nominated to seek a second four-year term, follows a week later and kicks off a 10-week sprint to Election Day on November 3.

Stuff of Presidents

In choosing Harris, Biden selected a former rival for the nomination whose most memorable campaign moment came during a televised debate when she criticised his past position on using busing to integrate schools and talked about its effect on her as a little girl.

Biden on Wednesday said her addition to the ticket sent a powerful message to girls across America.

“This morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up – especially little black and brown girls, who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities – today, just maybe, they’re seeing themselves in the first time in a new way. As the stuff of presidents, and vice presidents,” Biden said.

In recent months, as unrest has convulsed many US cities following the May police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis, Harris has been a prominent voice calling for change. She has marched alongside protesters and pushed legislation to reform policing practices.

Some activists have said her work in the Senate had helped temper concerns about her past as a prosecutor in California and could build enthusiasm among some of the party’s liberal voters for the more centrist Biden.

Harris is the daughter of immigrants, her mother from India and her father from Jamaica. On Wednesday, Harris recalled her parents’ involvement in the US civil rights movement, and her friendship with Beau Biden, who was attorney general of Delaware when Harris was attorney general in California. She stressed that, like Biden, “my family means everything to me.”

Harris, 55, was announced as Biden’s choice on Tuesday after a selection process that drew extra scrutiny thanks to Biden’s age. The 77-year-old would be the oldest president ever if he wins, raising speculation that he would not seek re-election in 2024.

At a joint fundraiser with Harris later on Wednesday, Biden said his campaign had raised $26 million and had 150,000 new contributors in the 24 hours since he revealed his pick.

Trump told reporters at a White House news conference that he had watched some of the Biden-Harris rollout event and was surprised his Democratic opponent had chosen someone who failed in her own presidential bid.

Harris thanked Joe Biden and his wife Jill for welcoming her into their extended family, specifically mentioning the former second lady, who described Harris’ attacks on Biden during the primary debate as a “punch to the gut.”

She said Joe Biden had proven his empathy and connection with those who are suffering.
“He’s someone whose first response when things get tough is never to think about himself, but to take care of everybody else,” Harris said.

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Coronavirus: Bahrain reports 460 new Covid-19 cases

As many as 10,420 Covid-19 tests were carried out, taking the total number of recoveries to 41,836.

The Bahrain health ministry has reported 460 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 332 recoveries.

Of the new cases, 199 were among expatriate workers, 260 were contacts of active cases, and one was travel related.

One new death was also reported. The death toll rose to 166.

As many as 10,420 Covid-19 tests were carried out on August 12, the ministry said, taking the total number of recoveries to 41,836.

There are currently 38 Covid-19 cases in a critical condition, and 79 cases receiving treatment. 3,224 cases are stable out of a total of 3,262 active cases.

 

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Weather: Partly cloudy and hazy day in prospect

NCM says winds will blow dust during the day, with humidity increasing by evening.

It will be a partly cloudy and hazy day at times on Thursday with a top temperature of 46 degrees in internal areas, according to the National Center of Meteorology (NCM).

Some clouds will appear over the mountains by afternoon, the NCM says, with humidity due to increase by evening.

There will also be the chance of fog and mist forming in the north by Friday morning.

Light to moderate winds, freshening at times, will blow dust during the day. 

Conditions will be moderate in the Arabian Gulf, possibly becoming rough by afternoon especially westwards, and slight to moderate in Oman Sea.

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Biden, Harris vow to ‘rebuild’ America post-Trump

The Democratic duo launch vigorous attack on US President in first public appearance as running mates.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris launched their joint bid for the White House Wednesday, with vice-presidential nominee Harris saying Americans are “crying out for leadership” to overcome a triple crisis of health, racial injustice and a ravaged economy.

Making their first appearance as running mates, before a small crowd of reporters and staffers at a Delaware high school closed to the public due to coronavirus concerns, the Democratic duo vowed to end Donald Trump’s presidency and, in Biden’s words, “rebuild this country.” 

“Everything we care about,” said Harris. “It’s all on the line.”

A formidable 55-year-old US senator from California and a daughter of immigrants, Harris has already made history as the first woman of colour tapped for a major party presidential ticket.

Describing a country at the crossroads, she

“America is crying out for leadership, yet we have a president who cares more about himself than the people who elected him,” said Harris.

Despite the awkwardly intimate setting, a far cry from the typical campaign rollout featuring an audience of thousands, Harris appeared telegenic and confident in her first speech as vice-presidential nominee — for which she and Biden both arrived wearing face masks.

“The case against Donald Trump and Mike Pence is open and shut,” said the former California attorney general as she assailed the president’s “failures of leadership” on containing the deadly pandemic and reviving a hobbled economy.

The daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants to the United States sought to tap into the nationwide upheaval over police violence and racial disparities.

“We’re experiencing a moral reckoning with racism and systemic injustice that has brought a new coalition of conscience to the streets of our country demanding change,” she said.

For Biden — who leads Trump in most national polls and in swing states like Florida and Wisconsin despite conducting the campaign mostly from his Wilmington home — his VP reveal marks a crucial moment as he aims to build a broad coalition of voters to defeat Trump.

Biden spoke of why he chose Harris as his partner, stressing she was a tough and experienced legislator who is “ready to do this job on Day 1.”

– ‘America’s story’ –

And he said that Harris’ story as the child of immigrants and a woman of color who fought her way to the top ranks of US legal and political circles would inspire the country.

“Her story’s America’s story,” Biden said. “She’s worked hard (and) she’s never backed down from a challenge.

He also laced his remarks with optimism about the future, promising that a Biden-Harris administration will do what it takes to “turn the corner on this pandemic.”

The Biden-Harris ticket already strikes a contrast with 2016, when nominee Hillary Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine struggled to unite a Democratic Party weakened by infighting between her supporters and those of progressive candidate Bernie Sanders.

Harris’s politics are to the left of Biden’s, but the pair have made a point of highlighting their shared values and goals — despite their clashes during the primaries last year.

She is the first Indian American to be a presidential running mate, personifying the diversity seen as key to building enthusiasm for the Democratic ticket — and black lawmakers and activists were largely thrilled with the pick.

– ‘Fine choice’ –

Harris, who is two decades younger than Biden and Trump, could appeal to younger voters and women, particularly those in the suburbs who have been fleeing the Republican president, according to polling.

Trump, who last month acknowledged Harris would be a “fine choice” for Biden, attacked her following Tuesday’s announcement as “nasty” and a radical leftist who would implement “socialised medicine” and confiscate Americans’ guns. 

Biden sniped at the presidents’ attacks, asking if anyone was “surprised Donald Trump has a problem with a strong woman?” 

And veteran political analyst David Axelrod put it more bluntly.

“If I were watching this @KamalaHarris rollout in the WH, I’d be deeply concerned. She nailed it. And them,” he tweeted.  “Not ‘nasty.’ Powerful.”

For Harris, being elevated onto a presidential ticket is political gold. If she and Biden win, the telegenic but tough Harris would almost certainly become the 2024 or 2028 Democratic presidential frontrunner.

Biden would be the oldest person to take the office, and there is broad speculation that he would serve one term and prepare his deputy to succeed him. 

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Covid-19 returns to New Zealand, lockdowns could be back too

A growing Covid-19 cluster in the country’s biggest city, Auckland, has caused concern among health officials.

New Zealand health officials said on Wednesday a Covid-19 cluster in Auckland had grown, raising the prospect a lockdown imposed on the country’s biggest city after the virus returned will be extended.

National health director-general Ashley Bloomfield said a high-school student in Auckland had tested positive, taking the number of confirmed infections to five, with another four probable cases.

“This is someone who was a close contact with one of our existing confirmed cases,” Bloomfield told TVNZ.

Health authorities rushed to implement a lockdown in the country’s largest city after testing revealed four family members had contracted the virus from an unknown source.

It ended New Zealand’s much-envied run of 102 days without community transmission, and resulted in a three-day stay-at-home order in Auckland which ends at midnight Friday.

Bloomfield said it was “almost certain” more cases would emerge, and teams of health workers were racing to find the cluster’s origin.

“We want to find out how large it is as soon as possible, so we’ve been testing all close contacts, casual contacts, workplace, family related,” he said. 

“This is what we want to do as quickly as possible to find out how extensive the outbreak is and who the first case might have been.”

He said any decision on extending the lockdown depended on what the investigations uncovered over the next 24 hours.

“It’s too early to say… we’ll have a lot more information tomorrow,” he said.

He played down one line of inquiry investigating whether the virus was imported via freight, then picked up by a male member of the family, who worked in a cool room for imported goods.

“It’s a possibility — it’s unlikely but it’s something we need to rule out,” Bloomfield said, adding that another focus was whether the infection came from managed isolation facilities.

Despite New Zealand’s previous success in containing the virus — with just 22 deaths in a population of five million — Bloomfield said health authorities had always anticipated the return of Covid-19, even it had taken some Kiwis by surprise.

“Yes we were becoming complacent and that’s why our message over the last few weeks has been around avoiding that,” he said.

“As you’ll recall, last week I was talking about when — not if.”

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New Zealand mulls lockdown extension as Covid-19 spreads

A growing Covid-19 cluster in the country’s biggest city, Auckland, has caused concern among health officials.

New Zealand health officials said on Wednesday a Covid-19 cluster in Auckland had grown, raising the prospect a lockdown imposed on the country’s biggest city after the virus returned will be extended.

National health director-general Ashley Bloomfield said a high-school student in Auckland had tested positive, taking the number of confirmed infections to five, with another four probable cases.

“This is someone who was a close contact with one of our existing confirmed cases,” Bloomfield told TVNZ.

Health authorities rushed to implement a lockdown in the country’s largest city after testing revealed four family members had contracted the virus from an unknown source.

It ended New Zealand’s much-envied run of 102 days without community transmission, and resulted in a three-day stay-at-home order in Auckland which ends at midnight Friday.

Bloomfield said it was “almost certain” more cases would emerge, and teams of health workers were racing to find the cluster’s origin.

“We want to find out how large it is as soon as possible, so we’ve been testing all close contacts, casual contacts, workplace, family related,” he said. 

“This is what we want to do as quickly as possible to find out how extensive the outbreak is and who the first case might have been.”

He said any decision on extending the lockdown depended on what the investigations uncovered over the next 24 hours.

“It’s too early to say… we’ll have a lot more information tomorrow,” he said.

He played down one line of inquiry investigating whether the virus was imported via freight, then picked up by a male member of the family, who worked in a cool room for imported goods.

“It’s a possibility — it’s unlikely but it’s something we need to rule out,” Bloomfield said, adding that another focus was whether the infection came from managed isolation facilities.

Despite New Zealand’s previous success in containing the virus — with just 22 deaths in a population of five million — Bloomfield said health authorities had always anticipated the return of Covid-19, even it had taken some Kiwis by surprise.

“Yes we were becoming complacent and that’s why our message over the last few weeks has been around avoiding that,” he said.

“As you’ll recall, last week I was talking about when — not if.”

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Iran seizes ship in international waters, says US CENTCOM

Iranian forces seized a ship in international waters on Wednesday, the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Twitter.

“Today in international waters, Iranian forces, including two ships and an Iranian “Sea King” helicopter, overtook and boarded a ship called the ‘Wila.’,” CENTCOM, which oversees American troops in the region, said on Twitter.

The tweet included a video that showed sailors rappelling onto the deck of the ship from a helicopter.

Iranian authorities and media are yet to comment on the matter.

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Iran seizes ship in international waters in Gulf, says US CENTCOM

CENTCOM posted a video on Twitter that showed sailors rappelling onto the deck of a ship from a helicopter.

“Today in international waters, Iranian forces, including two ships and an Iranian Sea King helicopter, overtook and boarded a ship called the Wila,” CENTCOM, which oversees American troops in the region, said in the same tweet.

CENTCOM did not provide any further details.

Iranian authorities and state media are yet to comment on the incident.

Read more: UN Iran arms embargo vote choice between ‘terror’ and ‘peace’: US Ambassador

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Coronavirus: Trump says government will provide 125 million masks to US schools

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday released eight recommendations for reopening US schools amid the coronavirus pandemic, including that masks be used when social distancing is not possible.

Trump said at a White House press briefing that the federal government would provide 125 million reusable masks to school districts around the country.

Visit our dedicated coronavirus site here for all the latest updates.

For American universities to safely reopen in the fall, all students on campus must be tested for the coronavirus at least every two to three days, according to a new Yale University study.

Read more:

Coronavirus: Vaping linked to COVID-19 infection risk in young adults, teenagers

Coronavirus: Do not use face masks with a vent or valve, CDC warns

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman arrives in NEOM for rest after recent hospital treatment

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz arrived in NEOM Wednesday, where he is expected to spend time “for rest and recuperation,” according to state news agency SPA.

“Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud arrived in NEOM where he will spend some time for rest and recuperation,” the SPA reported.

For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

King Salman was admitted to King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh last month for medical checks due to an inflammation in the gall bladder. He later underwent surgery to remove his gallbladder, which was successful and King Salman was discharged from the hospital shortly after.

NEOM is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and includes high-tech projects powered by wind and solar energy as well as sports halls, concert facilities and restaurants.

Read more:

Know the aims of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 privatization program

Saudi Arabian citizens to receive free plots of land in Neom futuristic megaproject

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman arrives in NEOM: SPA

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz arrived to NEOM Wednesday, where he is expected to spend time “for rest and recuperation,” according to state news agency SPA.

“Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud arrived in NEOM where he will spend some time for rest and recuperation,” the SPA reported.

For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

King Salman was admitted to King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh last month for medical checks due to an inflammation in the gall bladder. He later underwent surgery to remove his gallbladder, which was successful and King Salman was discharged from the hospital shortly after.

NEOM is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and includes high-tech projects powered by wind and solar energy as well as sports halls, concert facilities and restaurants.

Read more:

Know the aims of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 privatization program

Saudi Arabian citizens to receive free plots of land in Neom futuristic megaproject

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alarabiya.net RSS

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman arrives in NEOM

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz arrived in NEOM Wednesday, where he is expected to spend time “for rest and recuperation,” according to state news agency SPA.

“Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud arrived in NEOM where he will spend some time for rest and recuperation,” the SPA reported.

For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

King Salman was admitted to King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh last month for medical checks due to an inflammation in the gall bladder. He later underwent surgery to remove his gallbladder, which was successful and King Salman was discharged from the hospital shortly after.

NEOM is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and includes high-tech projects powered by wind and solar energy as well as sports halls, concert facilities and restaurants.

Read more:

Know the aims of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 privatization program

Saudi Arabian citizens to receive free plots of land in Neom futuristic megaproject

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US elections: Biden, Harris attack Trump in first public appearance together

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris delivered an aggressive one-two attack on the character and performance of US President Donald Trump on Wednesday, as they made their election case for the first time as running mates.

Biden, a 77-year-old white man, embraced the significance of naming the first Black woman to a major party’s presidential ticket, but he also focused on other attributes Harris brings to the ticket. He hailed the California senator, the 55-year-old former prosecutor who a year ago excoriated Biden on a primary debate stage, as the right woman to help him defeat Trump and then lead a nation facing crises in triplicate: a pandemic, wounded economy and long-simmering reckoning with racism.

For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Harris, Biden declared at a high school gymnasium in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, is “smart, she’s tough, she’s experienced, she’s a proven fighter for the backbone of this country.”

“Kamala knows how to govern. She knows how to make the hard calls. She’s ready to do this job on day one,” he said.

Reflecting the coronavirus pandemic, both candidates came on stage wearing protective masks in a high school gym with relatively few in attendance, not in a hall filled with cheering supporters as would normally be the case. Both spoke without masks but did not physically embrace.

Read more: US elections: Joe Biden picks Kamala Harris to be his VP candidate to fight Trump

Biden praised her experience vigorously questioning Trump administration officials in the Senate, and highlighted the historic nature of her pick, noting she’s the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica.

“This morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up — especially little black and brown girls, who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities. But today, today, just maybe, they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way,” Biden said.

Harris sat feet away from Biden, listening with her protective mask off.

Taking the stage after him, she flicked at some of the gender critiques she’d faced throughout the Democratic primary, saying she was “mindful of all the ambitious women before me, whose sacrifice, determination and resilience makes my presence here today even possible.” She then launched into an attack on Trump, lambasting him for a lack of leadership on the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a moment of real consequence for America. Everything we care about — our economy, our health, our children, the kind of country we live in — it’s all on the line,” she said.

Read more: US elections: Trump blasts ‘Slow Joe’ and ‘Phony Kamala’ after Biden VP pick

Trump has seized on those dynamics, tagging Harris as “Phony Kamala” and casting her as the latest evidence that Biden, a five-decade veteran of the Democratic establishment, is captive to his party’s left flank.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday insisted Harris is “very much part of the radical left” and suggested the senator will have a hard time not outshining Biden, whose age and fitness for office Conway frequently mocks. “He’s overshadowed basically by almost everyone he comes in contact with,” she said.

Biden’s campaign seemed prepared for the counteroffensive, noting that just weeks ago, Trump said Harris would be a “fine choice.” And campaign finance records show that Trump contributed as a private citizen to Harris’ attorney general campaigns in California. Harris was elected to the Senate in 2016.

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UAE heals the world, to train one million doctors for free

Sheikh Mohammed said the initiative is part of the UAE’s efforts to support the international medical fraternity.

A UAE project launched on Wednesday will train over one million healthcare professionals for free. Dubbed ‘Waterfalls’, the initiative aims to deliver “continuous education” to doctors, physicians, pharmacists, technicians and specialists in hospital management and humanitarian fields.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the launch of the remote learning initiative that will be carried out by 140 experts and 67 academic and training institutes from around the world.

Sheikh Mohammed said the initiative is part of the UAE’s efforts to support the international medical fraternity. It will be supervised by Lt.-General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.

The ‘Waterfalls’ initiative (https://waterfalls.ae/) offers virtual medical training sessions across 14 medical sectors. The specialised lectures, seminars and educational sessions cover the most vital topics in various fields like medicine, pharmacy, nutrition, public health, nursing, dentistry and hospital management.

Over 140 doctors, scientists and specialists from around the world participated in designing and developing scientific lectures, educational sessions and training workshops remotely.

Trainees will obtain a certificate and approved hours from the international scientific and academic bodies participating in the initiative. This can be used by medics in research, or in completing their scientific studies through distance education without having to leave their jobs or their workplace or bearing any financial burdens.

The unique project is an initiative from the UAE Ministry of Possibilities, INDEX Holding and Aqdar World Summit to support front-liners across all medical and humanitarian fields.

[email protected] 

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WAM NEWS

Emirati youth capable of making success: Hazza bin Zayed

ABU DHABI, 12th August 2020 (WAM) – H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, has expressed pride in the Emirati youth who have proven that "the word impossible is not in their vocabulary."
In a statement he made today on the occasion of the International Youth Day, which falls on 12th August, Sheikh Hazza said thanks to the leadership’s continuous support and to their determination and resolve, the young men and women of the UAE, have played a key role in UAE’s recent achievements, including the successful launch of first Arab mission to Mars and the start of operations at Barakah, the first peaceful nuclear energy reactor in the Arab world.
"There are no limits to ambition. The UAE’s wise leadership has always counted on the youth in its vision for sustainable development," he added. Source

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US, Israel seek change in UN peacekeeping operation in Lebanon

The UN Security Council remains at odds over the way the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon operates on the ground, with the United States backing Israel’s demands for major changes.

At a closed council meeting on Tuesday on the mission known as UNIFIL, whose mandate is up for renewal at the end of the month, US Ambassador Kelly Craft stressed the need for a new mandate.

“The US has long reiterated publicly and privately that the status quo in Lebanon is unacceptable,” Craft said in a statement to The Associated Press after the meeting. “Now is the time to empower UNIFIL, end the long complacency, and enable the mission to fully achieve what it was set out to accomplish.”

But Craft faces an uphill struggle because most of the council backs a continuation of the current UNIFIL mandate.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote to the council on July 29 recommending a 12-month renewal of UNIFIL’s mandate, stressing the importance of maintaining high troop strength.

In his latest report to the Security Council, the UN chief underscored the importance of UNIFIL’s work as it continues to maintain peace and provide stability at a difficult time for the country, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday.

Earlier on Wednesday, France circulated a draft resolution that diplomats said would extend the current UNIFIL mandate for a year. The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions have been private, predicted tough negotiations before the mandate expires on Aug. 31.

Read more: Beirut blasts damaged UN ship, badly injured crew: statement

UNIFIL was created to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli troops after a 1978 invasion. The mission was expanded after a 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah militants so that peacekeepers could deploy along the Lebanon-Israel border to help Lebanese troops extend their authority into their country’s south for the first time in decades.

Danger of escalation

Germany’s deputy UN ambassador Günter Sautter told the council in remarks circulated by the country’s UN mission that “recent tensions and the danger of escalation only underline the importance of UNIFIL presence on the ground.”

He said “the new political reality” since last week’s devastating explosion at Beirut’s port made it “more important than ever.”

“UNIFIL’s mandate continues to be of utmost importance,” Sautter said. “It is clear that UNIFIL will not be able to do more with less. We therefore fully support UNIFIL in its current mandate and strength, and we hope that the council will once more show unanimous support to this important mission.”

Israel has repeatedly accused Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants of impeding the peacekeepers from carrying out their mandate.

Israel’s former ambassador Danny Danon said in May that Israel will insist that peacekeepers have access to all sites, that they have freedom of movement and that any time they are being blocked the UN Security Council must be immediately informed.

Craft said at that time that UNIFIL was being “prevented from fulfilling its mandate” and Hezbollah had “been able to arm itself and expand operations, putting the Lebanese people at risk.”

She said the Security Council “must either pursue serious change to empower UNIFIL or realign its staffing and resources with tasks it can actually accomplish.”

As of June 15, UNIFIL comprised 10,275 military personnel from 45 troop-contributing countries, 238 international civilian staff and 580 national civilian staff.

Its Maritime Task Force comprised six vessels, two helicopters and 864 of the force’s military personnel. However, one vessel was damaged in last week’s deadly explosion and 23 naval personnel from Bangladesh were injured, two critically.

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Dujarric, the UN spokesman, said on Wednesday that four remain hospitalized in stable condition.

Jan Kubis, the United Nations special coordinator for Lebanon, and UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix briefed Tuesday’s virtual council meeting.

Kubis urged the rapid formation of a new government following Monday’s resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his Cabinet.

The UN quoted him as telling the council: “There are immediate humanitarian needs that need to be addressed and necessary reforms that need to be undertaken without any delay to restore the trust of the Lebanese people, and of the international community in Lebanon.”

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WAM NEWS

ADDED launches ‘Industrial Sector Sustainability’ project in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI,12th August 2020 (WAM) – The Industrial Development Bureau (IDB) of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) has launched the ‘Industrial Sector Sustainability’ project, an initiative aimed at adopting a sustainable approach to all manufacturing operations of industrial facilities in Abu Dhabi.
The project will also help improve the efficiency and quality of industrial products, in line with the Abu Dhabi Government’s sustainable development plan and its efforts to protect the environment as part of the emirate’s bid to become globally competitive and a leading model for regional and international sustainability-based industries.
The ‘Industrial Sector Sustainability’ project will issue an instructional guide on industrial sustainability to owners and managers of buildings, industrial warehouses and manufacturing firms, storage areas, administrative buildings and offices with an area of less than 2,000 square meters. The first phase will see the application of the standards included in the instructional guide, and it will cover 21 industrial facilities operating across seven different manufacturing segments in Abu Dhabi.
Furthermore, the new project is set to assess the current sustainability practices in Abu Dhabi's industrial sector. The process involves collecting and evaluating data; conducting normative studies; identifying objectives and opportunities; developing sustainability guidelines specific for the sector; and spreading awareness on the required sustainability measures across the industry.
Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of ADDED, affirmed that the Abu Dhabi Government will continue to respond to the directives of the wise leadership to enhance the industrial sector based on the latest global sustainability trends and provide innovative solutions to help instill sustainability in all sectors. The directives are aimed at transforming Abu Dhabi into a global hub for sustainability.
Al Shorafa said: "The industrial sector plays a key role in the local non-oil economy. We work closely with our partners to increase the sector’s contribution to Abu Dhabi’s gross domestic product (GDP) by implementing projects, initiatives and development programs that support and attract investments to this strategic sector."
"The ‘Industrial Sector Sustainability’ project is one of the most significant initiatives through which we seek to achieve the highest level of sustainability in the industrial sector, as well as upgrade all industrial production mechanisms and enhance industry efficiency and quality. Over the coming period, we also aim to expand the project’s scale to include as many industrial facilities as possible across Abu Dhabi," Al Shorafa added.
He called on the cooperation of all target entities and facilities as IDB begins to implement the project in line with its goals of optimal use of resources, rationalized energy and water consumption and proper management of resources within the industrial sector.
Rashed Abdul Karim Al Balooshi, Undersecretary of ADDED, explained that the project aims to achieve the key performance indicators (KPIs) set for 2020-2040. The main targets include reducing energy consumption by 15 per cent by 2040; managing the water consumption in industrial operations by 100 per cent by 2025; achieving water wastage to zero; reducing and diverting industrial waste away from landfill by 75 per cent by 2030; reducing carbon dioxide emissions of industries by 15 per cent by 2030; and training employees and raising awareness on sustainability by 100 per cent.
Al Balooshi explained that the project will also offer incentive programs to encourage industries to implement the industrial sustainability measures, in addition to plans aimed at organizing a training program for industrial facilities on industrial sustainability, green product manufacturing, circular economy and sustainable financial mechanism.
For the project’s next phase, Al Balooshi said that the IDB is now preparing a well-established control mechanism using modern technologies, including a digital platform, to develop sustainability-related capabilities of the industrial sector. It will also implement the government incentive programs that are aimed at rewarding industries applying the sustainability measures. The IDB will also urge the industrial sector to invest in industrial sustainability measures and prepare training programs on technologies relevant to improving energy efficiency and reducing water consumption and waste generation.
Mohammed Munif Al Mansouri, Executive Director of ADDED’s IDB, said that the Bureau will conduct more normative studies and widen the study on industrial sustainability to include other industrial segments and minimize the impact of the industrial sector on the environment.
Al Mansouri added that the IDB will encourage industrial facilities to perform detailed audits of energy and water consumption to improve their utilization and encourage industries to start maintaining data about their by-products and how to recycle and best reuse them. This will be achieved through the establishment of a steering committee for sustainability whose members will include industrial developers and owners of facilities tasked to implement guidelines for industrial sustainability.
He noted that the project will also include an industrial sustainability model designed to enhance the development of innovative products and digital sustainability processes, as well as to find new ways to reduce water consumption and build capabilities in coordination with the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Group (ADSG).
The ‘Industrial Sector Sustainability’ project covers key resource requirements to ensure efficiency and excellence and attain environmental sustainability across all manufacturing operations. It contains 50 sustainable measures, which include the establishment of electronic boards to control and monitor the consumption of energy and water resources as well as the implementation of a monitoring system to ensure compliance of facilities’ internal operations with environmental standards and conditions.
During the implementation of the project’s first phase, the IDB will focus on 21 industrial facilities operating in seven industries, namely iron and steel; aluminum; paper and pulp; construction materials; cement; plastic; and food. Meanwhile, data on the manufacturing operations of the seven industries were studied to develop analysis and cost measurement standards and determine the extent of the industrial sector’s compliance with and application of the industrial sustainability measures across their production processes.
To achieve the project’s objectives, the initial phase will focus on six KPIs, which are energy consumption; water consumption; disposal of waste and by-products; greenhouse gas emissions; indoor air quality in the workplace; and occupational indoor noise level. Source

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Macron hits out at Turkey, says France to increase military presence in Mediterranean

France will boost its military presence in the Mediterranean to show that international law must be respected, French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday as he criticized Turkey’s oil exploration in the region.

Macron also demanded that Turkey end its unilateral oil exploration, during a phone call with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

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The French president also said that France would increase its military presence, in cooperation with European Union partners, including Greece.

Read more:

France leaves NATO maritime operation after probe into clash with Turkish ships

France condemns ‘aggressive’ intervention by Turkey in Mediterranean