Europe World

U.S. Faces Tough ‘Great Game’ Against China in Central Asia and Beyond

KHIVA, Uzbekistan — Inside the ancient walls of the Silk Road oasis town of Khiva, China has put down a marker of its geopolitical ambitions. A sign promotes a Chinese aid project to renovate a once-crumbling mosque and a faded madrasa.

Outside the town’s northern gate, a billboard-size video screen shows clips of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan meeting with world leaders. President Xi Jinping of China features prominently, but there are no shots of President Trump.

That China is advertising its aid efforts so boldly in this remote outpost linking Asia and Europe — where camel caravans once arrived after crossing the Kyzylkum and Karakum Deserts — is the kind of action these days that sets off alarm bells among American officials. The Trump administration is trying with greater force to insert itself into the political and economic life of Central Asia to counter China’s presence. American officials see the countries in the heart of the continent’s vast, arid steppe as critical battlegrounds in the struggle with China over global influence.

“Whenever we speak to countries around the world, we want to make sure that we’re doing what the people of those countries want,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week at a news conference in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.

The Uzbeks want a “good, balanced relationship,” he said.

“They have long borders,” he added. “They sit in a region where China and Russia are both present.”

Leaders of the five Central Asian nations that became independent republics after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 — Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan — are used to walking a regional tightrope. The area was contested during the so-called Great Game of the 19th century, when the British and Russian empires competed to establish influence and control.

Now a new game is underway. And officials in Central Asia, like many of their counterparts around the world, are hedging their bets when it comes to aligning with Washington or Beijing.

“I’d like to once again note that we want to see Central Asia as a region of stable development, prosperity and cooperation,” said Abdulaziz Kamilov, the foreign minister of Uzbekistan. “And we would really not like to feel on ourselves unfavorable political consequences in relation to some competition in our region between large powers.”

The State Department released a Central Asia strategy document on Feb. 5 that said the top priority was to “support and strengthen the sovereignty and independence of the Central Asian states” — a reference to warding off the influence of China and Russia.

It is a tough mission for the United States. The nations are in China’s and Russia’s backyards, and there have been decades of close interactions among them. Mr. Xi has made multiple state visits to the countries since he took power in 2012, most recently last year.

The Trump administration has hit major setbacks in its attempts to build a global coalition against projects by the Chinese government and by Chinese companies. In fact, Britain said on Jan. 28 that it would not ban technology made by Huawei, a Chinese telecom giant, from its high-speed 5G wireless network, despite intense pressure from American officials.

Mr. Pompeo made London his first stop on a recent six-day trip to Europe and Central Asia, and he said there on Jan. 30 that the Chinese Communist Party was “the central threat of our times.” The next day, he spoke about China with leaders in Ukraine.

But words go only so far. The Americans fail to present an economical alternative to Huawei. And the Trump administration is discovering that its belligerent approach toward allies has a cost when it comes to China strategy. Withdrawing from the global Paris climate agreement and the landmark Iran nuclear deal, starting trade conflicts with friendly governments and berating members of NATO make those nations less likely to listen to Washington’s entreaties on China.

A recent policy report on China by the Center for a New American Security said “critical areas of U.S. policy remain inconsistent, uncoordinated, underresourced and — to be blunt — uncompetitive and counterproductive to advancing U.S. values and interests.”

Some analysts say the constant hawkish talk on China by Mr. Pompeo and other American officials paradoxically makes the United States look weak.

“And that last point is just the core of it for me. A central problem of US foreign policy today, not just in Central Asia, is that it feels increasingly reactive to me — back footed and on defense, not least in the face of Chinese initiatives,” Evan A. Feigenbaum, a deputy assistant secretary of state on Central Asia and South Asia in the George W. Bush administration who is now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote on Twitter.

“To wit, the secretary of state just made the first visit by America’s top diplomat to Central Asia in five years — five! — but spent a hefty chunk of it talking about China,” he wrote. “The challenge for the US is to get off its reactive back foot and be proactive and on offense.”

The United States did not pursue serious partnerships in Central Asia until after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when the Pentagon needed regional bases for the war in Afghanistan.

China has taken a different approach. Beijing says it will help build up the region under what it calls the Silk Road Economic Belt, which is part of the larger Belt and Road Initiative, a blanket term for global infrastructure projects that, according to Beijing, amount to $1 trillion of investment. The Trump administration says the projects are potential debt traps, but many countries have embraced them.

The economic liberalization of Uzbekistan under Mr. Mirziyoyev, who took power in 2016 after the death of a longtime dictator, has resulted in greater trade with China.

China is Uzbekistan’s largest trading partner, and trade totaled almost $6.3 billion in 2018, a nearly 50 percent increase from 2017, according to Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency. Chinese goods, including Huawei devices, are everywhere in Samarkand, Bukhara, Tashkent and other Uzbek cities.

Uzbekistan is also committing to being part of rail and road networks that China is building across Central Asia.

Since 2001, China has worked with Central and South Asian nations as well as Russia in a multilateral group, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to address security issues.

China’s People’s Liberation Army has gained a new foothold in the region, in the form of a base in Tajikistan’s Pamir Mountains. For at least three years, Chinese troops have quietly kept watch from two dozen buildings and lookout towers near the Tajik-Chinese border and the remote Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan. The Afghan corridor is a strategic strip of land whose borders were drawn by Britain and Russia during the original Great Game as a buffer zone.

The United States had hundreds of troops at an air base in Uzbekistan that it operated with the Uzbeks. But it wants to move the relationship well beyond the military.

“We want private investment, American private investment sector, to flow between our two nations,” Mr. Pompeo said.

He added that the United States had committed $100 million to programs in Uzbekistan last year, and that it would give $1 million to help develop financial markets and another $1 million to increase trade and “connectivity” between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

On his trip, Mr. Pompeo also made a demand regarding human rights in China as he met with officials in Tashkent and Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan. He raised the issue of China’s internment camps that hold one million or more Muslims and urged the Central Asian nations, which are predominantly Muslim, to speak out against the camps. In Nur-Sultan, he met with Kazakhs who have had family members detained in the camps.

Yet, as in other predominantly Muslim nations, Central Asian leaders have remained silent on this. (Mr. Trump himself has said nothing, and Mr. Pompeo has been accused of hypocrisy by excluding Taiwan, the democratic island that China threatens, from a religious freedom alliance.)

In December, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, denounced Washington’s prodding of Central Asian nations on the Muslim issue: “If the United States once again tries to get up to its old tricks, it will certainly still be futile for them.”

Trump administration policies perceived as anti-Muslim undermine trust in Washington. On Jan. 31, Mr. Trump added Kyrgyzstan and five other nations, all with substantial Muslim populations, to a list of countries whose citizens are restricted in traveling to the United States. In an interview in Nur-Sultan, a Kazakh television journalist, Lyazzat Shatayeva, asked Mr. Pompeo, “What do you think that signals to the other countries and other governments in Central Asia on why it happened?”

Mr. Pompeo said Kyrgyzstan must “fix” certain things: “passport issues, visa issues, visa overstays.”

“When the country fixes those things,” he said, “we’ll get them right back in where they can come travel to America.”

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Pompeo Calls China’s Ruling Party ‘Central Threat of Our Times’

LONDON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared the Chinese Communist Party “the central threat of our times” on Thursday, even as he sought to talk up the prospects of a United States trade deal with Britain, which rebuffed American pressure to ban a Chinese company from future telecommunications infrastructure.

The scathing criticism of the Chinese government was the strongest language Mr. Pompeo has used as the Trump administration seeks to convince American allies of the risks posed by using equipment from Huawei, a Chinese technology giant.

At the same time, Mr. Pompeo sought to reassure British officials that even though the two countries saw the issue differently, it would not undermine the strong bond between them.

Mr. Pompeo’s reassurances come at a delicate moment for the British government as it begins the process of forging new stand-alone trade deals after it formally leaves the European Union on Friday.

Speaking at an appearance with the British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, Mr. Pompeo referred derisively to a 2016 warning from President Barack Obama that Brexit would place Britain at the “back of the queue” in any trade negotiations.

“We intend to put the United Kingdom at the front of the line,” Mr. Pompeo said.

Still, while Britain’s security and economy depend on a close relationship with Washington, China is a significant investor in the country and a growing buyer of British goods.

That was reflected in Britain’s decision this week to allow Huawei to play a limited role in its systems for the next generation of high-speed mobile internet, known as 5G.

With Washington pressing governments across Europe and elsewhere to ban Huawei equipment from new 5G networks, leaders have had to walk a fine line, trying not to antagonize either economic giant while not falling behind in the race to build the next generation of information technology.

Mr. Pompeo said that the concerns of the United States were not about any one company, but rather, the Chinese system.

“When you allow the information of your citizens or the national security information of your citizens to transit a network that the Chinese Communist Party has a legal mandate to obtain, it creates risk,” he said.

“While we still have to be enormously vigilant about terror, there are still challenges all across the world, the Chinese Communist Party presents the central threat of our times,” he said.

While Mr. Pompeo was particularly blunt in his criticism of the Chinese government on Thursday, it was in keeping with his warnings to European leaders as he has sought to persuade them to keep Huawei out of their new networks.

“China has inroads too on this continent that demand our attention,” he told reporters in June during a trip to The Hague, in the Netherlands. “China wants to be the dominant economic and military power of the world, spreading its authoritarian vision for society and its corrupt practices worldwide.”

Mr. Pompeo said he was disappointed by the British decision, but said the two countries would work through the issue and reaffirmed Britain’s vital role in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance with the United States.

Still, he cautioned it could still affect the way information was shared.

“We will never permit American national security information to go across a network we do not have trust and confidence in,” he said.

Mr. Pompeo also mentions Iran regularly as a threat, but not using language as strong as what he applied to China today.

London was Mr. Pompeo’s first stop on a five-nation tour that includes Ukraine, where he will become the first United States cabinet member to visit the country since President Trump’s July phone call with the newly elected Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

That call, during which Mr. Trump urged Mr. Zelensky to look into issues related to the 2016 election in the United States and to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter Biden, provoked a whistle-blower complaint and led to Mr. Trump’s impeachment and his trial in the Senate.

Mr. Pompeo’s trip was originally scheduled to take place just after the new year, but was delayed because of concerns about escalating tensions with Iran.

In addition to the United Kingdom and Ukraine, Mr. Pompeo is scheduled to make stops in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Mr. Pompeo left the United States trailed by controversy after the State Department barred National Public Radio’s diplomatic correspondent from the trip. It came after a dust-up with a veteran reporter from the organization, Mary Louise Kelly, who questioned him about the Trump administration’s firing of the United States ambassador to Ukraine.

In an extraordinary statement, Mr. Pompeo lashed out at Ms. Kelly, and said the news media was “unhinged.”

And the decision by Britain to allow Huawei to provide some of the equipment in its 5G network, coming just days before Mr. Pompeo arrived, was a bitter disappointment.

British officials sought to convince the Americans that in limiting the role of Huawei, they would keep their critical infrastructure safe.

Without naming Huawei, the British guidelines noted the dangers posed by “high-risk” vendors and said they would be limited to parts of the country’s wireless infrastructure, such as antennas and base stations, that were not seen as critical to the integrity of the entire system.

Mr. Pompeo said that while the Trump administration disagreed with that assessment, the issue would not undermine the deep bond shared between the two countries.

“The truth is it is your best friends you call up and say ‘What the heck are you doing?’” he said.

Mr. Pompeo then went on to Downing Street for a meeting with Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, which he summed up as “fantastic.”

Edward Wong contributed reporting from Kyiv, Ukraine.

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Africa World

A Battle to Protect Forests Unfolds in Central Africa

Indigenous people, environmentalists and industries vie for control over lands that can offer economic benefits or climate protection — but not always both.

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Lifestyle Style

Countries come together in hope of creating cryptocurrency backed by central banks

The Bank of England has created an international group to explore the possibility of developing a cryptocurrency backed by central banks.

The central banks of Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and the eurozone joined the initiative, together with the Bank of International Settlements (BIS).

The group will look at the economic and technical benefits that a bitcoin-style digital currency could offer.

Global focus on central bank digital currencies (CBDC) intensified last year after Facebook announced plans to introduce a cryptocurrency called Libra.

The European Central Bank subsequently expressed an interest in creating its own digital currency, while China has also moved forward with plans to launch a state-backed cryptocurrency. 

“The group will assess CBDC use cases; economic, functional and technical design choices, including cross-border interoperability; and the sharing of knowledge on emerging technologies,” the banks said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

Figures within the cryptocurrency industry welcomed the news, claiming it indicated regulators are at last recognising the potential benefits of digital currencies.

“When the first national central bank issues a CBDC, this will be a major milestone in monetary history and a turning point for the global financial system,” Andy Bryant, co-head of popular cryptocurrency exchange BitFlyer, told The Independent

“However, at this stage, there is still a lot up for discussion. The particular design of each new CBDC — for instance, whether or not it bears interest — will have profound implications on its effectiveness as a monetary policy instrument.”

Marcus Swanepoel, CEO of London-based cryptocurrency firm Luno, described it as “very positive” but warned it would be a slow process.

“They understand a shift to digital currencies won’t happen overnight. However, it is a part of a generational change being driven by people who have grown up with technology and see the world in a different way,” he said. 

“Over thousands of years, money has always evolved and most central banks would agree that the current international monetary system is now out of date.”

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Dining & Wine

Manteca restaurant review: A rare spot – reliable, reasonable and in central London

Manteca is the permanent incarnation of 10 Heddon Street, a popular pop-up on the fringes of Mayfair that was open for four months last year.

The new site is on Great Marlborough Street, on the walk from Liberty to Soho proper, which for anyone who spends time in central London is about as convenient as the food being spooned into your mouth in bed.

Its creators, Chris Leach and David Carter, are best known as meat men. Carter, a tall Bajan with one of the best accents in food, gave us Smokestak, a barbecue-van-turned-reliable-meaterie in Shoreditch.

Leach comes from the foodie wine bar Sager + Wilde and previously worked at Pitt Cue Co and Kitty Fisher’s. 

The latter venue’s signature dish is, or at least was when I last went, ages ago, a hunk of old dairy cow, so it’s slightly surprising that while there are big flesh options on the menu at Manteca, including a charcoal-grilled old dairy steak, the focus is just as much on pasta. 

There’s a shortlist of snacks, from which we order focaccia with homemade mortadella, followed by a pig croquette with a curl of crisp puffed skin. There’s a lot of pork on the menu, pointing to an unobtrusive whole-animal philosophy. Mortadella is the ugly duckling of the cured meats, hated even by ham lovers. It is too pink, too smooth, too obviously processed. The islands of fat in its folds are too visceral for many tastes. Carter’s version here comes thin-sliced with a rougher texture and falls apart willingly in the hand, just the thing to convert the unbelieving. 

After that, a bowl of nduja mussels, with the mollusc flesh, is happily overwhelmed by the heat from the sausage. The pool of nduja mussel sauce left at the end is exactly as mop-inducing as it sounds. 

The brown crab cacio e pepe is just the right side of moreish (Manteca)

We order all four of the pastas between two and it is too much food, unusual in the new wave of pasta places, where portions and prices are usually designed to entice you to share three or four plates. Not that we didn’t lick every scrap of sauce from them, especially the brown crab cacio e pepe, where the deep flavour of the meat mingles with the cheese to create something just the right side of moreish. Pigtail ragu finds purpose for yet another part of the beast. Mushroom ravioli: woody. Agnolotti feel slightly underdone, with a residual flour texture in the bite, but perhaps we are just full by then. With a couple of glasses of wine each, the bill came to £50 a head. It would be easy to spend less. 

Manteca’s apparent simplicity is misleading. Plenty of thought has gone into it. The interior is unpretentious, with simply-painted breeze blocks, plain tables, low lights and a soundtrack of studied low-fi vibe. The kitchen is not fully open but visible through a letterbox window, a kind of half-way house where you don’t feel like you are working there yourself, but you’re also not wondering what kind of mysterious practices are going on behind the closed door. 

The room is surprisingly large and they hold back half the tables for walk-ins. Service is knowledgeable but easygoing, and we are even thanked for coming, a startlingly rare occurrence at a time when you are often made to feel like the restaurateur is doing you a favour by granting you a timeslot in their temple.

All of which means Manteca has the potential to become that rarest of spots: a reliable, reasonably priced standby in central London, flexible enough to handle a work lunch and a grand bouffe. An unfussy idea, executed with aplomb, a vision for 2020. 

Would I go again? Yes
Should you go? Yes
Can you take your parents? Yes

Manteca, 58-59 Great Marlborough St, Soho, London W1F 7JY; 020 3827 9740; open Mon-Sat;

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Asia Pacific World

Christmas Typhoon Batters Central Philippines

Typhoon Phanfone ravaged three provinces in the central Philippines over the Christmas holiday, with at least 16 people reported to have been killed.

The typhoon made landfall on Tuesday at 4:45 p.m. over Salcedo in Eastern Samar Province, according to Pagasa, the national weather agency. The eastern portion of Samar Island caught the brunt of powerful winds and rainfall as the typhoon battered the province.

Thirteen people were killed in western Visayas, the central of the three main island groups that make up the Philippines, news agencies quoted disaster agency officials as saying. Three others were reported to have died in the eastern part of the island group.

The typhoon, known in the Philippines as Ursula, was upgraded from a tropical storm as it approached the country. It led to the evacuation of more than 58,000 people and stranded thousands of travelers over the holiday period. Ferries were suspended and flights canceled.

The storm prevented many in the overwhelmingly Catholic nation from traveling to be with their families for Christmas.

Earlier in the week, the authorities advised residents in areas prone to floods and landslides to leave their homes as the typhoon picked up speed, with sustained winds up to 75 miles per hour, heavy rain and flooding.

Among the places the typhoon hit was Tacloban, which was drowned within minutes when Typhoon Haiyan struck in 2013. This storm was less devastating but still managed to cause severe damage, shredding through houses, causing power outages and leading to the evacuation of hundreds of families there. The typhoon also hit Boracay, Coron and other popular tourist destinations.

Felled trees cut electricity in several provinces, and emergency services distributed food and medical aid. Roads were impassable across several provinces, disaster agencies reported.

The typhoon was reported to be easing in strength on Thursday as it moved over the western Philippines toward the South China Sea.

At least 20 typhoons have hit the Philippines this year, with one hitting three weeks ago as the country hosted the Southeast Asia Games. That typhoon, Kammuri, killed at least 17 people as it pummeled the capital, Manila, and surrounding areas.

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Women Are Missing at Central Banks

Outright discrimination is one obvious cause. Laura Hospido, an economist at the Bank of Spain, presented research she did with Carlos Sanz, also from the Spanish central bank, showing that economic papers by women are less likely to be accepted for publication than papers by men.

Deepa D. Datta, an economist at the Fed, examined 3,000 research papers published by the American central bank and found that men were more likely to collaborate with other men on research. Ms. Datta said her study, conducted with Robert Vigfusson of the Fed, didn’t prove that discrimination was at play, though that was an obvious implication. Publishing papers is crucial to career advancement in economics.

Economics is a highly competitive, often unfriendly profession — especially if you’re a woman, according to research presented by Alicia Modestino, an associate professor at Northeastern University.

She and Muriel Niederle of Stanford University and Justin Wolfers of the University of Michigan dispatched more than 90 student researchers to economics seminars at leading universities. Armed with a special iPad app, the students secretly tallied the interactions. Women speakers were more likely to be interrupted during the seminar and to face hostile questioning, according to the research.

Numerous speakers said more needs to be done to encourage women to study economics. That is especially a problem for racial minorities, whose problems don’t get enough attention, said Rhonda Sharpe, president of the Women’s Institute for Science, Equity and Race in Mechanicsville, Va. Only a handful of African-American, Hispanic or Native American women earn economics doctorates, she said.

“The bulk of the conversation centers on white women,” Ms. Sharpe said during a panel discussion.

Ghazala Azmat of Sciences Po, an elite university in Paris, presented research which analyzed advancement at American law firms and was implicitly applicable to any highly competitive profession. Although women joined law firms at the same rate as men, according to the research, they were much less likely to become partners.

One reason was that they became discouraged by negative experiences early in their careers, including sexual harassment. Women who reported being harassed were much less likely to make partner, according to the research conducted with Vicente Cuñat of the London School of Economics and Emeric Henry of Sciences Po.

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‘Joker’ would have been a whole other story were the central character not white

Before “Joker” opened last weekend, much was being made of how its tale of a murderous villain echoed news stories of mass shooters and incel threats, and how the film might encourage unbalanced viewers to commit acts of violence. As it turned out, it mainly inspired audiences to open their wallets for the biggest October opening ever.

After watching the film, I could understand the concerns: Directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the deranged clown Arthur Fleck, the title character, “Joker” is simultaneously a well-made film in its own right and a blatant mashup of “The King of Comedy” and “Taxi Driver.” It nods at classism and winks at the Bruce Wayne family mythos, but at its core the movie is about a mentally ill loner.

Still, what struck me most is that what the film wants to say — about mental illness or class divisions in American society — is not as interesting as what it accidentally says about whiteness. For it is essentially a depiction of what happens when white supremacy is left unchecked. It shows the delusions that many white men have about their place in society and the brutality that can result when that place is denied.

The fact that the Joker is a white man is central to the film’s plot. A black man in Gotham City (really, New York) in 1981 suffering from the same mysterious mental illnesses as Fleck would be homeless and invisible. He wouldn’t be turned into a public figure who could incite an entire city to rise up against the wealthy. Black men dealing with Fleck’s conditions are often cast aside by society, ending up on the streets or in jail, as studies have shown.

And though Fleck says he often feels invisible, had he been black, he truly would have been — except, of course, when he came into contact with the police. They would be sure to see him.

Though Fleck is pursued and investigated by Gotham’s finest, his whiteness acts as a force field, protecting him as he engages in the violent acts of the latter half of the film. Consider his appearance on the live talk show hosted by Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro). A black man acting as strangely as Fleck does would not have been allowed to go on the air. But the white Fleck is given access, and bloodshed soon follows.

Or look at how Fleck interacts with others. He is frequently in conversation with people who occupy a lower rung in society than he does: a state-appointed therapist he sees early on; a protective mother who chastises him for playing peekaboo with her son on the bus; his possible love interest, a neighbour who lives in the same building; and the psychiatrist he sees in Arkham Asylum. Every one of these characters is a black woman with whom he eventually has confrontations. Phillips consistently places Fleck in an oppositional or antagonistic position to these women.

I don’t know if this is intentional on Phillips’ part, but it is significant. When we learn that his relationship with the neighbour (played with artful restraint by Zazie Beetz) was merely a figment of his troubled imagination, the way he leaves the apartment implies that this realisation has led Fleck to kill her and perhaps her child. After his final conversation with the Arkham doctor, his bloody footsteps suggest that he kills her as well.

Fleck kills white men because he cannot access their status and is ostracised by them, but his black female victims are so invisible that the film does not bother to show their deaths. We as viewers can and should take note of them.

There are other ways that whiteness informs Fleck’s character. He anticipates he’ll be treated as a son by the Wayne family, and assumes he’ll be given medical records just by asking the hospital orderly (played by the great Brian Tyree Henry). The privileges that come with Fleck’s race set him up for these unrealistic expectations. When they’re not met, the consequences are deadly.

Whiteness may not have been on the filmmakers’ minds when they made “Joker,” but it is the hidden accomplice that fosters the violence on screen.

The New York Times

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Jofra Archer awarded England Test and white ball central contracts after breakthrough summer

Sussex fast bowler Jofra Archer has been rewarded for a breakthrough international summer with an England Test and white ball central contract, the ECB has confirmed.

Archer has enjoyed an excellent summer, starring as England won their first Cricket World Cup and taking 22 wickets in four Ashes 2019 Tests.

There are 10 players named on the Test list, including opener Rory Burns, who averaged nearly 40 at the top of the order for England during the Ashes.

Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid no longer have Test contracts after the pair were dropped from England’s red-ball set up this summer. They retain their white ball contracts.

The 12-man white ball contract list no longer includes Alex Hales, who missed the World Cup after a drugs ban, David Willey or Liam Plunkett, but Joe Denly is included for the first time.

Tom Curran and Jack Leach have been awarded Incremental contract – the former was a member of England’s victorious World Cup squad, the latter played in four Ashes Tests.

The contracts cover a 12-month period beginning on 1 October.

Test contract holders and those playing all forms of the game will have their salaries paid in full by the ECB.

White ball cricketers will join them from the start of the 2020 ECB financial year at the beginning of February.

ECB Central Contracts for the 2019/20 season

Test Match

James Anderson (Lancashire), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Sam Curran (Surrey), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire).

ODI / T20

Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Joe Denly (Kent), Eoin Morgan (Middlesex), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Jason Roy (Surrey), Ben Stokes (Durham), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham).


Tom Curran (Surrey), Jack Leach (Somerset)

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Apps Gadgets Games Hackers Technology

Facebook to be quizzed by central banks over Libra cryptocurrency

Facebook faces further scrutiny over its plans to launch its own currency, with representatives of the tech giant set to meet with global regulators on Monday.

Officials from 26 central banks will gather in Switzerland to question Facebook over its Libra cryptocurrency and the perceived threat it poses to global financial stability.

The meeting comes after French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said he would block the development of Libra in Europe as it poses a threat to “monetary sovereignty”.

Speaking at a conference on cryptocurrencies last week, Mr Le Maire said: “I want to be absolutely clear – in these conditions, we cannot authorise the development of Libra on European soil.”

Facebook first announced Libra earlier this year and intends to launch it at some point in 2020. It is being developed alongside some of the world’s biggest companies and financial institutions, including PayPal, Mastercard and Visa.

Cryptocurrency experts say that the interest shown in Libra compared to other cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum is due to Facebook’s involvement and the fundamentally different characteristics of the new currency.

“Cryptocurrencies are disruptive in the economy and bring many benefits to both consumers and investors alike. However, Libra differs from many cryptocurrencies as it is centralised in its nature against the founding member companies, in a similar way that fiat currencies are centralised against a central bank,” Ana Bencic, president of digital exchange Nexthash, told The Independent

“Due to the … circle of multi-billion dollar companies essentially managing their own currency, it is not surprising that central banks are cautious of money moving in this direction. It will be interesting to see the result of these talks and whether governments or Libra will make any adjustments to accommodate it within the online global economy.”

Facebook hopes to launch its Libra cryptocurrency in 2020, but is facing significant resistance from regulators around the world (Reuters)

The meeting in Basel, Switzerland, will involve representatives from the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve, according to officials who spoke with the Financial Times.

Facebook previously said that it welcomes feedback from global regulators, claiming that it announced Libra long before its intended release date in order to address any potential issues.

“In the nearly three months since the intent to launch the Libra project was announced, we have become the world’s most scrutinised fintech effort,” a spokesperson for Libra told The Independent last week.

“We welcome this scrutiny and have deliberately designed a long launch runway to have these conversations, educate stakeholders and incorporate their feedback in our design.”

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