TOKYO – Candidates to become Japan’s next prime minister all said they would have better policies to fight the pandemic and reduce the income gap during television debates on Friday, but they were split on diversity issues from same-sex marriage to married couples having separate surnames. Whoever wins the Liberal Democratic Party presidency on Sept. 29 will become prime minister because of the LDP’s majority in the lower house of parliament, and campaigning began in…"Japan PM candidates differ on same-sex, women rights issues"
MELBOURNE – Australia recorded 1,882 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, as thousands of police officers in Sydney and Melbourne were deployed to quell planned anti-lockdown protests, setting up checkpoints and barricades. Several hundred people managed to gather in downtown Melbourne and local media reported some early arrests and clashes with the police, as 2,000 officers made the area virtually a no-go zone. Public transport and ride shares into the city were suspended. In Sydney, riot…"Australia reports 1,882 COVID-19 cases as police quell protests"
– A panel of outside advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday voted against approval of a booster dose of the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 16 and older."FDA advisers vote to oppose Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster"
NEW YORK – A former assistant to R. Kelly testified on Friday she once saw him engage in sexual activity with one of the women he is charged with abusing, as prosecutors neared the end of presenting their sex trafficking case against the R&B singer. On the 18th day of testimony at Kelly’s trial in federal court in Brooklyn, Cheryl Mack, the mother of music producer London on da Track, said she saw Kelly begin…"R. Kelly witness says she saw singer’s sexual activity, was pressed to write apology letter"
LONDON – England set out measures to boost international travel on Friday, abandoning expensive COVID-19 testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers, scrapping its traffic light system and adding eight countries to its safe list. Travellers returning to England from Turkey, Pakistan, and the Maldives will not have to quarantine on their return as they are removed from the so-called COVID red list for travel, British transport minister Grant Shapps said. Shapps also said under the…"England eases COVID-19 rules for international travellers"
WASHINGTON – The United States would delay sanctions over the Ethiopia conflict if the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation front “cease ongoing hostilities and enter into ceasefire negotiations immediately and without preconditions,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday. “If the parties take immediate steps in this regard, the United States is prepared to delay imposition of sanctions and focus on supporting a negotiated process,” Blinken said in a statement."U.S. willing to delay Ethiopia sanctions if violence ends -Blinken"
PARIS – The International Monetary Fund’s ethics committee and board need to look into a report alleging its chief Kristalina Georgieva pressured staff to boost China’s ranking in a flagship report while at the World Bank, a French finance ministry source said on Friday. Georgieva has headed the IMF since 2019, during which it has seen its role ramped up, distributing around $650 billion in new Special Drawing Rights, its quasi-currency, as part of a…"IMF chief in spotlight after China rigging report"
LONDON – Economists at investment funds expressed dismay on Friday at revelations that World Bank leaders put “undue pressure” on staff to boost China’s ranking in its influential “Doing Business 2018” report, and the series’ subsequent cancellation. They said the World Bank’s discontinuation of the “Doing Business” reports, which rate countries according to how easy it is to do business in them, could make it harder for investors to assess where to put their money.…"Bad for business: World Bank China rigging scandal rattles investors"
MOSCOW – Russia, China, Pakistan and other regional states called on the United States on Friday to engage with the Taliban and fund aid to Afghanistan, though they also urged the former insurgents to yield power to a more inclusive government. The fate of Afghanistan dominated a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, formed 20 years ago as a talking shop for Russia, China and ex-Soviet central Asian states, but which has lately expanded into…"Regional powers at summit demand U.S. fund Afghan aid"
BEIJING/HONG KONG – One of China Evergrande Group’s main lenders has made provisions for losses on a portion of its loans to the embattled property developer, while some creditors are planning to give it more time to repay, four bank executives told . The Chinese banks’ measures, reported for the first time, show how financial institutions in the world’s second-largest economy are bracing for a possible collapse of Evergrande. The developer epitomised China’s freewheeling era…"Exclusive: China Evergrande’s lenders weigh up loan losses, rolling over credit – sources"