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Global leaders want answers: Why Belarusian activist was detained

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International tensions are growing after a Ryanair flight traveling from Greece to Lithuania was diverted to Belarus, where authorities boarded the aircraft and arrested a Belarusian activist who was onboard.

Raman Pratasevich was living in exile from Belarus and is a vocal critic of the country’s President and his regime.

International leaders are calling for answers.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he condemns the brazen and shocking act and America demands an international investigation.

The Lithuanian president’s chief adviser on foreign affairs also fronted the media a short time ago.

Ryanair flight 4978 was preparing to descent into Lithuania on Sunday when it was informed about a “security alert” and forced to turn around and land.

Questions remain as to whether this security alert was fabricated… with some governments calling it a “state-sanctioned hijacking”.

In a statement, Ryanair says the flight was informed of a “potential security threat onboard” by Belarus air traffic control and was ordered to make an emergency landing.

The Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed that the activist was detained at Minsk airport, the nation’s main international hub.

Pratasevich is the founder of the Telegram channel Nexta – which is often used to criticise Belarusian leaders and organise anti-government protests.

Our resident political expert Bruce Wolpe says the situation is far from over and the world will demand answers.

The President of the country has been in power since 1994, and was inaugurated into office for his sixth term last year, an election that the European Union says was not legitimate.

Business

Third Australian airline enforces vaccine mandate

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A third Australian airline has moved to mandate the COVID vaccine amongst staff

Rex Airlines on Monday confirmed the vaccine will be mandated to all of the airline’s frontline, customer facing staff.

Employees have until November 1, 2021 to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The mandate makes Rex the first Australian airline to achieve that goal, and would include company employees working at check-in and all pilots and cabin crew across its regional and domestic networks.

The airline reassures that passengers onboard Rex flights will be travelling in “the safest possible circumstances” as all crew will be vaccinated.

“We have a duty of care to both our passengers and staff to provide the safest possible
environment,”

Rex Deputy Chairman, the Hon John Sharp AM, said.

Rex confirmed it would offer the small number of unvaccinated frontline staff non customer facing roles wherever available, while unvaccinated office staff will be required to wear a mask while at work.


“As we provide an essential service operating to regional centres and remote communities
throughout Australia, it is incumbent upon us to do whatever we can to help those residents remain safe and healthy.”

Rex is Australia’s largest independent regional and domestic airline operating a fleet of 60 Saab 340 and six Boeing 737-800NG aircraft to 62 destinations throughout all states in Australia.

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China crackdown wipes billions off top companies

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China’s regulatory crackdown has wiped hundreds of billions off the market capitalisations of some of its largest companies and put investors on alert over who may be next

China is cracking down on some of its largest companies with regulatory stings wiping hundreds of billions of dollars off their market value.

From technology, to education and property – it seems no sector is safe from Beijing’s far reaching tentacles.

Let’s take a closer look at who’s been affected so far.

First up is Alibaba.

China’s biggest e-commerce company was founded by this man, once China’s richest person – Jack Ma.

Ma made a speech back in October 2020 blasting the country’s regulatory system.

Those stinging comments are widely viewed as the trigger for what came next. Beijing abruptly suspended the record $37 billion stock market debut of Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Group.

Later, Chinese regulators fined the company $2.75 billion for abusing its market dominance. Alibaba’s U.S.-listed shares have shed more than $400 billion in value since Ma made that speech.

Next up is China’s largest gaming and social media company Tencent. It was fined for failing to report past deals to anti-trust regulators.

Tencent has also been affected by China’s latest efforts to combat gaming addiction among minors.

In August under-18-year-olds were banned from playing video games for more than three hours a week. The company has lost nearly $350 billion in market value since February.

The food delivery company – Meituan – became another target of an antitrust probe in April, after its founder and Chief Executive Wang Xing posted an ancient poem on social media.

Some perceived it as criticizing the government and President Xi Jinping. Meituan has lost more than $150 billion in value since February.

The company has also been accused of violating consumer rights and mistreating delivery drivers.

China’s largest provider of private educational services has seen its value tumble following a policy shift in Beijing.

In July, the Communist Party issued new rules barring for-profit tutoring on the school curriculum.

Since then, the market value of New Oriental Education and Technology Group’s U.S. listed shares has fallen by $7.4 billion.

Beijing wants to ease pressure on school children and reduce a cost burden on parents.

BEIJING, CHINA – MAY 15: Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a news conference at the end of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on May 15, 2017 in Beijing, China. The Forum, running from May 14 to 15, is expected to lay the groundwork for Beijing-led infrastructure initiatives aimed at connecting China with Europe, Africa and Asia. (Photo by Nicolas Asfouri-Pool/Getty Images)

But analysts warn that the new rules threaten to decimate the country’s private education sector.

So what’s the motive behind Beijing’s regulatory crackdown?

President Xi Jinping has called for China to achieve “common prosperity.”

The campaign seeks to narrow the yawning wealth gap between the rich and the poor.”Common prosperity” as an idea is not new in China, but a sharp escalation in official rhetoric and a crackdown on excesses in industries has rattled investors in the world’s second-largest economy.

Reuters.

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Afghan banks are running out of currency as cash squeeze tightens

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Banks in Afghanistan are running out of money following the Taliban’s recent rule to government

Banking firms are now pleading with the Taliban to release more funds otherwise they’ll be forced to close their doors.

The Afghan cash squeeze threatens to upend the country’s already battered economy which has been largely dependent on hundreds of millions of dollars shipped by the United States to the central bank in Kabul which then makes its way to the Afghani people through banks.

The Taliban has been in charge of the nation for a month and many fear the cash squeeze will lead to inflation.

Bankers fear fewer dollars could inflate the cost of food or electricity and make it harder to afford imports, spelling further misery for Afghans.

Although the cash crunch has lasted weeks, the country’s banks have in recent days repeatedly underlined their concerns to the new government and central bank according to reports.

Since the fall of the Afghanistan government, banks have already pared back services and imposed weekly $200 payout limits amid a run on savings.

Reports claim that there has been constant long queues outside branches as people try to get hold of dollars.

Long wait times at banking firms in Afghanistan,

The hobbling of the central bank, whose foreign reserves were frozen after the Taliban took charge, could also hamper efforts of the international community to support Afghans

Commercial banks have appealed to the central bank in recent days to free up the supply of U.S. currency, however they are pending to receive an answer to those requests.

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