HK democracy supporters snap up Apple Daily copies amid anger at police crackdown 

HONG KONG  Hong Kong democracy supporters flocked to buy copies of pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily on Friday, citing anger over a police raid of its newsroom as part of an inquiry into whether some articles threatened China’s national security. 

The popular 26-year-old paper, which combines liberal discourse with celebrity gossip and investigations of those in power, increased its Friday press run to 500,000 copies, up from 80,000 the previous day. 

Apple’s presses whirred out the first copies of the print run around midnight, and the papers were whisked away by vans and trucks across Hong Kong. 

In the Mong Kok district, queues formed at some kiosks, with some customers carting off hundreds of first editions on trolleys and suitcases. 

“You never know when this newspaper will die,” said one reader surnamed Tsang who only gave his last name because of the sensitivity of the matter. “As Hong Kongers, we Read the rest

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Far apart at first summit, Biden and Putin agree to steps on cybersecurity, arms control

GENEVA – U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on Wednesday to begin cybersecurity and arms control talks at a summit that highlighted their discord on those issues, human rights and Ukraine.

In their first meeting since he took office in January, Biden asked Putin how he would feel if a ransomware attack hit Russia’s oil network, a pointed question making reference to the May shutdown of a pipeline that caused disruptions and panic-buying along the U.S. East Coast.

While Mr. Biden stressed that he did not make threats during the three-hour meeting, he said he outlined U.S. interests, including cybersecurity, and made clear to Putin that the United States would respond if Russia infringed on those concerns.

Both men used careful pleasantries to describe their talks in a lakeside Swiss villa, with Mr. Putin calling them constructive and without hostility and Biden saying there was no … Read the rest

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Human investment and its impact at SCPA

Hygiene products company Sanitary Care Products Asia, Inc. (SCPA), in partnership with Asian Institute of Management-Dado Banatao Incubator (AIM-DBI), launched an accelerator program for Filipino start-ups called HIIGENE, which stands for Human Investment Impact Grant for Entrepreneurship and Empowerment. It aims to award not just a P500,000 equity-free grant to each of up to three deserving start-ups but would also conduct a three-month long mentorship by SCPA founders and executives themselves.

What does human investment look like in SCPA

President of SCPA and a certified Gallup strengths coach himself, Ven Sio, spearheaded the rollout of a strengths-based approach in the SCPA workplace.

“Instead of focusing on the weaknesses of our employees, we ask what each one is actually good at — identifying their unique strengths and positioning them in work responsibilities that will draw out the very best of them as needed by the company,” Mr. Sio shared.

This challenges … Read the rest

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Opposition coalition names nominees for president, VP

Opposition coalition 1Sambayan announced on Saturday its list of nominees for the two highest positions in the country, more than two months since the alliance of conservative, moderate, and progressive parties and individuals was launched.

Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo, former senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV and human rights lawyer Jose Manuel I. Diokno, who have boldly criticized President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s administration, are among 1Sambayan’s official nominees for president and vice president for the 2022 polls, 1Sambayan convenor and former government official Albert F. Del Rosario said during the coalition’s virtual event on Saturday as the country commemorated Independence Day.

Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Batangas Rep. Vilma- Santos Recto, and Party-list Rep. Eduardo C. Villanueva, who are considered moderates in the Congress, were also nominated by 1Sambayan, Mr. Del Rosario said.

He said there may be additions to the list, which was the result of 1Sambayan leadership’s consultations … Read the rest

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BSP dollar reserves dip in May

The central bank’s dollar reserves dipped in May, as the government withdrew foreign currency to use for debt repayments.  

Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed the gross international reserves (GIR) declined by 0.67% to $106.978 billion as of end-May, from the $107.705 billion logged as of end-April.  

However, this was 14.7% higher than the $93.288 billion in foreign exchange buffers recorded as of end-May 2020. 

“The month-on-month decrease in the GIR level reflected outflows mainly from the foreign currency withdrawals of the national government from its deposits with the BSP to pay its foreign currency debt obligations and various expenditures,” the central bank said in a statement on Friday. 

This was partially offset by inflows from the BSP’s income from investments abroad and its foreign exchange operation. Higher gold prices in the international market also boosted the valuation of BSP’s gold holdings. 

ING Bank-NV Manila Senior Economist Read the rest

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Sunshine classics presents 2021 series at Sunshine place online

The long wait is finally over.

Sunshine Classics will finally be back this June 20 at the exclusive YouTube channel of Sunshine Place: Senior Recreation Center. Interested viewers will get a private link to the concert upon ticket purchase. The viewing of each concerto will be available for viewing throughout the year. With one purchase and click, ticket holders will have access to the concert videos as many times as they want.

Premiering this month is the second of the five-part series entitled Singing in Sunshine, a voice and piano concerto featuring a soprano who “possesses a voice with remarkable flexibility and a truly commanding musical presence”, Stefanie Quintin – Avila. Joining her is tenor Ivan Nery, “an artist who possesses a beautiful voice that is smooth and clear and with a wide range of coloring plus unsullied musicality”, 1st prize in the Jovita Fuentes Vocal Competition and Aliw … Read the rest

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In a world first, El Salvador makes bitcoin legal tender

SAN SALVADOR  El Salvador became the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as legal tender after Congress on Wednesday approved President Nayib Bukele’s proposal to embrace the cryptocurrency, a move that delighted the currency’s supporters. 

With 62 out of 84 possible votes, lawmakers voted in favor of the move to create a law to adopt bitcoin, despite concern about the potential impact on El Salvador’s program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 

Mr. Bukele has touted the use of bitcoin for its potential to help Salvadorans living abroad to send remittances back home, while saying the US dollar will also continue as legal tender. In practice, El Salvador does not have its own currency. 

“It will bring financial inclusion, investment, tourism, innovation and economic development for our country,” Mr. Bukele said in a tweet shortly before the vote in Congress, which is controlled by his party and Read the rest

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GCash sole PH e-wallet feted by The Asian Banker International Awards 2021

GCash has once again solidified its position as the no.1 mobile wallet app in the Philippines as it received two distinctions in the recent The Asian Banker’s Excellence in Retail Financial Services International Awards 2021 (TAB Awards).

This year, GCash is the only e-wallet app in the Philippines that was given accolades by the prestigious awards program.

The award-giving body recognized GCash for having the “Best Financial Inclusion Initiative/Application” for its Social Amelioration Program (Distribution), which was implemented in cooperation with the Philippine Government and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, during the pandemic. Likewise, the mobile wallet app was also awarded the “Best Digital Brand Campaign” for its innovative #FightCOVID19 program aimed at educating various stakeholders on health and safety measures, as well as providing the GCashforGood platform to aid underserved affected communities nationwide.

“I am truly proud of the entire GCash family and all the men and … Read the rest

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Amid accusations of genocide from the West, China policies could cut millions of Uyghur births in Xinjiang — report

BEIJING  Chinese birth control policies could cut between 2.6 to 4.5 million births of the Uyghur and other ethnic minorities in southern Xinjiang within 20 years, up to a third of the region’s projected minority population, according to a new analysis by a German researcher. 

The report, shared exclusively with Reuters ahead of publication, also includes a previously unreported cache of research produced by Chinese academics and officials on Beijing’s intent behind the birth control policies in Xinjiang, where official data shows birth rates have already dropped by 48.7% between 2017 and 2019. 

Adrian Zenz’s research comes amid growing calls among some western countries for an investigation into whether China’s actions in Xinjiang amount to genocide, a charge Beijing vehemently denies. 

The research by Mr. Zenz is the first such peer reviewed analysis of the long-term population impact of Beijing’s multi-year crackdown in the western region. Rights groups, researchers Read the rest

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APEC ministers pledge to expedite transit of COVID-19 vaccines, related goods

MELBOURNE/WASHINGTON – Ministers from the Asia-Pacific trade group APEC on Saturday agreed to review trade barriers and expedite the cross-border transit of COVID-19 vaccines and related goods, but stopped short of a broad commitment to remove tariffs.

A meeting of trade ministers from the 21-economy group, which includes the United States, China and Japan, also produced pledges to support World Trade Organization negotiations for an intellectual property waiver on COVID-19 vaccines.

In three statements issued after the meeting, the ministers said they would “expedite the flow and transit of all COVID-19 vaccines and related goods through their air, sea and land ports.”

“We will consider voluntary actions to reduce the cost of these products for our people, particularly by encouraging each economy to review its own charges levied at the border on COVID-19 vaccines and related goods,” one statement said.

The ministers also said they were committed to work to Read the rest

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