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Author: Tan KW   |   Latest post: Sun, 26 Mar 2023, 4:14 PM


Elon Musk puts US$20 bil value on Twitter — the Information

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Sun, 26 Mar 2023, 4:14 PM

Twitter Inc CEO Elon Musk has offered the social media company's employees stock grants at a valuation of nearly US$20 billion, the Information reported on Saturday, citing a person familiar with an email Musk sent to Twitter staff.

The reported valuation is less than half of the US$44 billion that Musk paid to acquire the social media platform, pointing to a drop in Twitter's value.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a Reuters' emailed request for a comment.

Musk said in December that Twitter is on track to be "roughly cashflow break-even" in 2023, as top advertisers slashed their spending on the social media platform after the billionaire's takeover.


  - Reuters


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China minister says nation’s recovery to benefit US firms

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Sun, 26 Mar 2023, 4:13 PM

 China’s opening up after Covid and its strong economic recovery will offer “‘triple” benefits for US business communities despite “chilly” relations between the two countries, Foreign Minister Qin Gang told a group of American business leaders.

The fact that President Xi Jinping was reelected, the nation’s continued efforts to open up to the world, and its social and economic “reset” will benefit US business communities, Qin said in the meeting on Saturday in Beijing, according to a statement posted on China’s Foreign Ministry website. 

Still, relations between China and the US are as “chilly” as early spring weather, the minister said.

Qin welcomed US companies to keep expanding investments in China and to set roots in the country, according to the statement. Beijing hopes the US can help promote bilateral relations despite current difficulties and restore ties to a healthy and stable trajectory, he said. 

US representatives said China-US relations are at a critical stage and the business communities are committed to preventing the two countries from stepping into a trap of isolation and conflict. They said they welcome further face-to-face communications and hope more China-US flights could be added to facilitate exchanges, according to the statement.  

Among US attendees at Saturday’s meeting were Albert Bourla, chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer Inc; Craig Allen, president of the US-China Business Council; and Ray Dalio, founder of hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, according to a photo attached to the statement. 

American business leaders including Apple Inc chief executive officer Tim Cook and Boeing International Corp president Brendan Nelson are attending the China Development Forum in Beijing this weekend.  

“Clearly, the US China tension and the way it is managed will have great bearing on the global economy, great bearing on all nations.” Tharman Shanmugaratnam, a senior minister of Singapore and chairman at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said at the forum on Sunday, “And how the US and China are able to combine competition - perfectly legitimate competition, economic competition - with the need for cooperation, is going to require considerable strategic ambition and strategic skill, but it will matter to the world. ”


  - Bloomberg


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Ukraine security chief says basing Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus will destabilise Belarus

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Sun, 26 Mar 2023, 4:13 PM

KYIV - A top security adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday that Russian plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus would destabilise that country, which he said had been taken "hostage" by Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the decision on Saturday, sending a warning to NATO over its military support for Ukraine and escalating a standoff with the West.

Although the move was not unexpected and Putin said it would not violate nuclear non-proliferation promises, it is one of the Russia's most pronounced nuclear signals since the beginning of its invasion of Ukraine 13 months ago.

Oleksiy Danilov, head of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, called it "a step towards internal destabilization of the country" adding it maximizes what he called the level of "negative perception and public rejection" of Russia and Putin in Belarusian society.

"The (K)remlin took Belarus as a nuclear hostage," he wrote on Twitter.

Putin likened his plans to the U.S. stationing its weapons in Europe, and said Russia would not be transferring control of the weapons to Belarus. However this could be the first time since the mid-1990s that Russia has based such weapons outside the country.

Washington, the world's other nuclear superpower, played down concerns about Putin's announcement and the potential for Moscow to use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine.

"We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture nor any indications Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon. We remain committed to the collective defence of the NATO alliance," a senior U.S. administration official said.

The official noted that Russia and Belarus had been speaking about the transfer of nuclear weapons for some time.

Analysts at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in a note late on Saturday that the risk of escalation to nuclear war "remains extremely low".

"ISW continues to assess that Putin is a risk-averse actor who repeatedly threatens to use nuclear weapons without any intention of following through in order to break Western resolve," it wrote.

However, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons called Putin's announcement an extremely dangerous escalation.

"In the context of the war in Ukraine, the likelihood of miscalculation or misinterpretation is extremely high. Sharing nuclear weapons makes the situation much worse and risks catastrophic humanitarian consequences," it said on Twitter.

Putin said that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had long requested the deployment. There was no immediate reaction from Lukashenko.

While the Belarusian army has not formally fought in Ukraine, Minsk and Moscow have a close military relationship. Minsk allowed Moscow to use Belarusian territory to send troops into Ukraine last year and the two nations stepped up joint military training.


  - Reuters


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More rain havoc as two people killed in landslide in western Indonesia

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Sun, 26 Mar 2023, 4:12 PM

JAKARTA, March 25 : A landslide triggered by heavy rain damaged a worship center and killed two people in the Indonesian province of West Sumatra on Saturday, a local official said.

The disaster took place at around 6 a.m. local time in Agam Regency of the western province. Bambang Warsito, head of the regency's disaster mitigation agency, told local media that the two victims were inside the worship building hit by the landslide.

He said the landslide in the area was caused by torrential rains since Friday.

Disasters like floods and landslides often occur in Indonesia during the rainy season.

 - Xinhua

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Philippines may lean towards rate pause in May, Diokno says

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Sun, 26 Mar 2023, 4:12 PM

MANILA, March 26 : The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Philippines Central Bank) has done enough to address inflation and could pause from raising interest rates at the next policy meeting in May, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said.

"Contrary to some analysts’ view that the BSP Monetary Board could even push its policy interest rate higher than 6.5 percent, I think that the BSP is leaning towards a pause in its policy meeting in May,” Diokno said in a mobile phone message to reporters on Sunday.

Diokno is a member of the BSP’s policymaking body.

BSP raised the overnight reverse repurchase rate by 25 basis points to 6.25% on Thursday.

That brings the cumulative increases since May to 425 basis points. The rate is at the highest since May 2007.


  - Bloomberg


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India's Gandhi vows to keep fighting after removal from parliament

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Sun, 26 Mar 2023, 4:11 PM

NEW DELHI, March 25, 2023 : Top Indian opposition figure Rahul Gandhi said Saturday he would keep fighting for democracy after blaming his expulsion from parliament on his demands for a probe into a key business ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Gandhi, 52, was stripped of his parliamentary seat on Friday, a day after he was convicted of defamation in Modi's home state of Gujarat for a 2019 campaign-trail remark seen as an insult to the premier.

Modi's government has been widely accused by political opponents and rights groups of using the law to target and silence critics, but Gandhi said he would not bow to intimidation.

"I will do whatever I have to do to defend the democratic nature of this country," he told reporters.

"They are used to everybody being scared of them," he said, in reference to the ruling party. "I am not scared of them."

The removal from parliament of Modi's chief opponent comes at a time when the prime minister's relationship with Gautam Adani, one of India's most powerful industrialists, has been under scrutiny.

Modi has been a close associate of Adani for decades but the latter's business empire has been subject of renewed attention this year after a US investment firm accused it of "brazen" corporate fraud.

Gandhi's opposition Congress party has for weeks demanded a proper investigation by parliament of the allegations.

"I have been disqualified because the prime minister... is scared of the next speech that is going to come on Adani," Gandhi told reporters.

"I will continue to ask the question -- what is the prime minister's relationship with Mr. Adani?"

Congress supporters held small protests in several cities around the country on Saturday to protest against Gandhi's removal as a lawmaker.

- 'Due judicial process' -

Gandhi is the leading face of Congress, once the dominant force of Indian politics but now a shadow of its former self.

He is the scion of India's most famous political dynasty and the son, grandson and great-grandson of former prime ministers, beginning with independence leader Jawaharlal Nehru.

But he has struggled to challenge the electoral juggernaut of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its nationalist appeals to the country's Hindu majority.

The lower house of parliament ruled him ineligible to continue sitting as an MP on Friday, a day after his conviction in the defamation case.

The prosecution stemmed from a remark made during the 2019 election campaign in which Gandhi had asked why "all thieves have Modi as (their) common surname".

His comments were seen as a slur against the prime minister, who went on to win the election in a landslide.

Members of the government also said the remark was a smear against all those sharing the Modi surname, which is associated with the lower rungs of India's traditional caste hierarchy.

Gandhi was sentenced to two years imprisonment on Thursday but walked free on bail after his lawyers vowed to appeal.

A BJP spokesman said Thursday that the court acted with "due judicial process" in arriving at its judgement.

- 'Emasculation of democratic institutions' -

But legal action has been widely deployed against opposition party figures and institutions seen as critical of the Modi government in recent years.

Gandhi faces several other defamation cases in the country and a money-laundering case that has been snaking its way through India's glacial legal system for more than a decade.

Indian tax authorities in February raided the BBC's local offices, weeks after the broadcaster aired a documentary on Modi's conduct during deadly sectarian riots decades ago.

The Editors Guild of India said then that the raids were part of a wider "trend of using government agencies to intimidate or harass press organisations that are critical of government policies".

Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters on Friday that the verdict represented the "emasculation of democratic institutions by the ruling party".

 - AFP

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