- entertainment Deadline
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper lost his cool during a Friday night interview with newly released former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. In a contentious interview, Cooper finally boiled over after hearing Blagojevich's defense of his gubernatorial record and his criminal case. Blagojevich was convicted of trying to sell or trade the Illinois Senate seat that Barack […]
- Lifestyle Teen Vogue
"I'm asking you human-to-human - as a mother - if you don't know anyone here, can you please stop taking pictures of our children playing football this morning?"
- News The Daily Beast
ROME-The word quarantine comes from 17th-century Venetian dialect for 40 days, which was the amount of time ships had to wait in isolation before entering certain Italian ports during the pandemic known as the Black Death. Now the word is being used again in Italy, applied to the government’s draconian reaction as the coronavirus and the disease known as COVID-19 appear to be hitting the country with a vengeance. More than 50,000 Italians living in 10 communities are literally locked down, facing jail sentences and fines if they leave their homes, thanks to the largest outbreak outside Asia. Our Experts Answer the Coronavirus Questions You’re Afraid to AskThe towns, all in the north of the country, are cut off from the rest of Italy now, not even the trains stop when they roll through. The church services are cancelled and dipping one’s hand in holy water is strictly prohibited. Three major Serie A soccer games in the area have been postponed, and schools have all been closed for the foreseeable future. Anyone defying the restrictions faces three months in jail and a fine of around $250. But all across the country, paranoia is spreading faster than the virus. Giorgio Armani tweeted that he will now hold his Fall 2020 show behind closed doors in Milan this week, livestreaming the runway from an empty theater. The mayor of Milan, a city of more than 1.3 million people, announced Sunday that all schools and universities will be closed for at least a week even though the city is not locked down under the current quarantine.In Rome, nervous taxi drivers outside Fiumicino Airport were hesitant to pick up Asian passengers and a Chinese woman in Turin reported being assaulted for simply being Chinese.Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that all scholastic trips into and out of the country are suspended, including one involving this reporter’s son who was pulled from a flight to Budapest along with 30 other students early Sunday morning. Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right League party wants to close the frontier, though countries that border Italy are likely thinking the same thing from their side. An outbreak this extensive and virulent is likely to impact all of Western Europe very quickly, if not with the disease itself, then with precautions taken to try to stop it.Since Friday, Italian authorities have confirmed more than 150 new cases, including three fatalities, in the north of the country. Three people, including two Chinese tourists, who were confirmed positive in Rome last month have since recovered and are no longer believed to be contagious. Coronavirus Spread by a Second Coming ‘Cult’ Has Put South Korea on ‘Maximum Alert’A Chinese tourist died in France earlier this month, but the deaths in Italy are the first Europeans killed by the virus. Both of the Italian victims were in their 70s. The first was a man who died in hospital, and who also suffered from other respiratory problems. The second was a woman found dead in her home on Saturday morning, clearly unaware she even had the virus. It is unknown how many people may have been in contact with her.The quick spread of the disease in this outbreak and the uncertainty about how it came to Italy is especially troubling. In the northern town of Codogno, near Milan, the 39 people who initially tested positive are all tied to the local hospital and a so-called “Patient Zero” who was thought to have brought it back from Shanghai. The problem is that “Patient Zero” never tested positive for the virus. Authorities think he may have been a silent carrier, infecting a friend referred to as “Patient One” whose only tie to China was being a friend of “Patient Zero.” Authorities at first thought “Patient Zero” had the virus and recovered, but they concede that, in fact, there may be another source. Clearly, this is not a perfect science.On Sunday morning, the regional governor of Lombardy, Attilo Fontana, confirmed that 89 people have now tested positive for the virus and a much larger but unspecified number are referred to as suspect cases.The second hotspot is in the Veneto region, near Venice, which is celebrating Carnevale to somewhat diminished crowds. Twelve people in the region have tested positive even though none of them has ever been to mainland China or, as far as is known at this point, been in contact with any obvious vectors. Eight Chinese residents, two of whom came back from Wuhan through via Germany, are under quarantine-but they have not tested positive. It is yet unclear if that cluster will grow. Other cases in Turin and Milan confirmed Sunday morning have spread the panic even further. Closing down such major metropolitan hubs would be a logistical and economic disaster.Prime Minister Conte says the situation is “fluid” and will be evaluated as the situation warrants. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Finance The Canadian Press
BEIJING - Warning that China’s virus epidemic is “still grim and complex,” President Xi Jinping called Sunday for more efforts to stop the outbreak, revive industry and prevent the disease from disrupting spring planting of crops.Xi defended the ruling Communist Party’s response as “timely and effective” in a video conference with officials in charge of anti-disease work, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.Xi sounded a note of caution in the face of hopes abroad that the disease that has killed more than 2,400 people since December might be under control. He said the situation is at a “critical stage” and called on officials to “resolutely curb the spread of the epidemic.”“The current epidemic situation is still grim and complex,” Xinhua cited Xi as saying. “Prevention and control are at the most critical stage.”The ruling party is trying to strike a difficult balance between stopping the virus and reviving China’s vast manufacturing and other industries. Most of the world's second-largest economy has been shut down since late January in the most sweeping anti-disease measures ever imposed and are only gradually reopening.Forecasters say China might rebound quickly if the outbreak can be controlled by the end of March. But they say this quarter’s economic output will shrink by as much as 1% from the quarter ending in December after Beijing extended the Lunar New Year holiday to keep factories and offices closed and told the public to avoid travelling.Concern is growing that the disease might be spreading in South Korea and other countries, instead of only affecting people who visited China and others who had close contact with them.Xi said the epidemic is a health emergency with the “fastest spread” and “most difficult prevention and control” in China since the Communist Party came to power in 1949, according to Xinhua.“For us, this is a crisis and a big test,” Xi was cited as saying.The report made no mention of criticism from members of the public that officials delayed taking action against the disease and might be concealing details its impact, but Xi was cited as saying “all work arrangements are timely” and anti-disease measures are effective.The meeting included officials of the Cabinet and the group headed by Premier Li Keqiang, China’s No. 2 leader, that was formed to oversee anti-disease efforts, according to Xinhua. It said officials from Hubei, the central province where the outbreak began, also participated.Invoking the martial theme the ruling party has given the anti-disease campaign, Xi called on them to “deploy medical forces” to “cut off the source of infection,” especially in the capital, Beijing. At the same time, he said they must help factories and other companies reopen and make sure low-income workers are employed.The president said “low-risk areas” in China should adjust disease-control measures to “fully restore production” while higher-risk areas keep their focus on epidemic prevention.The government previously promised tax breaks, subsidies and other aid to entrepreneurs and farmers to cushion the blow of the most sweeping anti-disease controls ever imposed.Forecasters say it will be at least mid-March before manufacturing and other industries return to normal after the government cut off most access to Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak, imposed travel controls nationwide and closed factories, restaurants, shopping malls and other businesses. That disrupted the flow of supplies to farmers and factories.Xi mentioned possible use of monetary policy and more cuts in taxes and fees to support job creation but announced no specific initiatives.“We must promptly solve the outstanding problems that affect spring plowing and organize production, circulation and supply of materials to ensure production does not miss the farming time,” Xi was cited as saying.Local officials previously were ordered to make sure food supplies flow to populous Chinese cities following panic buying after the shutdown of access to Wuhan. Villages have been banned from setting up roadblocks to keep away outsiders and possible infection.The government must “actively organize” production of vegetables, livestock and poultry and “unblock transportation channels,” the president said.Joe McDonald, The Associated Press
- Finance Bloomberg
(Bloomberg) -- Brigita, a director at one of China’s largest car dealers, is running out of options. Her firm’s 100 outlets have been closed for about a month because of the coronavirus, cash reserves are dwindling and banks are reluctant to extend deadlines on billions of yuan in debt coming due over the next few months. There are also other creditors to think about.“If we can’t pay back the bonds, it will be very, very bad,” said Brigita, whose company has 10,000 employees and sells mid- to high-end car brands such as BMWs. She asked that only her first name be used and that her firm not be identified because she isn’t authorized to speak to the press.With much of China’s economy still idled as authorities try to contain an epidemic that has infected more than 75,000 people, millions of companies across the country are in a race against the clock to stay afloat.A survey of small- and medium-sized Chinese companies conducted this month showed that a third of respondents only had enough cash to cover fixed expenses for a month, with another third running out within two months. Only 30% of such firms have managed to resume operations due to a complicated local government approval procedure as well as a lack of employees and financing, a government official said at a press conference on Monday.While China’s government has cut interest rates, ordered banks to boost lending and loosened criteria for companies to restart operations, many of the nation’s private businesses say they’ve been unable to access the funding they need to meet upcoming deadlines for debt and salary payments. Without more financial support or a sudden rebound in China’s economy, some may have to shut for good.“If China fails to contain the virus in the first quarter, I expect a vast number of small businesses would go under,” said Lv Changshun, an analyst at Beijing Zhonghe Yingtai Management Consultant Co.Despite accounting for 60% of the economy and 80% of jobs in China, private businesses have long struggled to tap funding to help them expand during booms and survive crises. About two-thirds of the country’s 80 million small businesses, including many mom-and-pop shops, lacked access to loans as of 2018, according to China’s National Institution for Finance & Development.President Xi Jinping over the weekend pledged a greater focus on reviving the economy, with a more proactive fiscal policy, accelerated construction projects and freer reserves for commercial lenders to unleash more funding.Support from China’s banking giants in response to the outbreak has so far been piecemeal, mostly earmarked for directly combating the virus. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the nation’s largest lender, has offered relief to about 5% of its small business clients.In an emailed response to questions from Bloomberg News, ICBC said it has allocated 5.4 billion yuan ($770 million) to help companies fight the virus. “We approve qualified small businesses’ loan applications as soon as they arrive,” the bank said.As a group, Chinese banks had offered about 794 billion yuan in loans related to the containment effort as of Feb. 20, according to the banking industry association, with foreign lenders such as Citigroup Inc. also lowering rates. To put that into perspective, China’s small businesses typically face interest payments on about 36.9 trillion yuan of loans every quarter.Stringent requirements and shortlists restrict who can access special loans earmarked by the central bank for virus-related businesses, while local governments and banks have imposed caps on the amounts, according to people familiar with the matter. A debt banker at one of China’s largest brokerages said his firm opened a fast lane to ease debt sales by businesses involved in the containment effort, with borrowers required to prove they will use at least 10% of the proceeds to fight the disease.That’s of little help to a car dealership. Brigita, whose firm owes money to dozens of banks, said she has so far only reached an agreement with a handful to extend payment deadlines by two months. For now, the company is still paying salaries.Many of China’s businesses were already grasping for lifelines before the virus hit, pummeled by a trade war and lending crackdown that sent economic growth to a three-decade low last year.At most risk are the labor-intensive catering and restaurant industries, travel agencies, airlines, hotels and shopping malls, according to Lianhe Rating.Yang, a property manager of a seven-story mall in Shanghai, says a tenant who runs a 150-room hotel that’s usually busy has called asking for a month’s rent waiver after business dried up. She expects the massage parlor that rents space in the mall is also struggling and is open to extending some help.A deputy financing director at a small developer in central Anhui province said his firm is even being denied loans under existing credit lines. A drop in sales has hurt the company’s credit profile and a dearth of new projects means there’s no collateral to put up. Without access to credit, the business can survive for about four months, or maybe longer if some payments can be delayed, he said.Banks are hardly any better off themselves. Many are under-capitalized and on the ropes after two years of record debt defaults. Rating firm S&P Global has estimated that a prolonged emergency could cause the banking system’s bad loan ratio to more than triple to about 6.3%, amounting to an increase of 5.6 trillion yuan.Wu Hai, owner of Mei KTV, a chain of 100 Karaoke bars across China, took to the nation’s premier outlet of discontent, social media platform WeChat, to voice his despair.KTV’s bars have been closed by the government because of the virus, choking off its cash flow. The special loans from the authorities will be of little help and no bank will provide a loan without enough collateral and cash flow, he said on his official WeChat account earlier this month.Wu couldn’t be reached for a direct comment, but on WeChat he gave himself two months before he has to shutter his business.(Adds comment from official in 4th paragraph, updates lending data in 7th.)\--With assistance from Jun Luo, Emma Dong and Yinan Zhao.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Evelyn Yu in Shanghai at firstname.lastname@example.org;Ken Wang in Beijing at email@example.com;Zheng Li in Shanghai at firstname.lastname@example.org;Xize Kang in Beijing at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Candice Zachariahs at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jonas Bergman, Michael PattersonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.