HONG KONG (Reuters) - China's yuan currency overtook the euro in October, becoming the second-most used currency in trade finance, global transaction services organization SWIFT said on Tuesday. The market share of yuan usage in trade finance, or Letters of Credit and Collection, grew to 8.66 percent in October 2013. That improved from 1.89 percent in January 2012. The yuan, also known as the renminbi, now ranks behind the U.S. dollar, which remains the leading currency with a share of 81.08 percent. The top five countries using the yuan for trade finance in October were China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany and Australia, SWIFT said in a statement. "The RMB is clearly a top currency for trade finance globally and even more so in Asia," Franck de Praetere, SWIFT's Asia Pacific head of payments and trade markets said. The RMB remained the 12th payments currency of the world, with a slightly decreased share of 0.84 percent compared with 0.86 percent in September. RMB payments increased in value by 1.5 percent in October, while growth for all payments currencies was at 4.6 percent. The world's second-largest economy is accelerating the pace of financial reform to promote its currency to international players beyond Hong Kong. China aims to lift the yuan's global clout and reduce its reliance on the U.S. dollar. Yuan trade settlement has expanded quickly since it first began in 2009 and the percentage of China's total trade settled in yuan has risen from 12 percent in 2012 to nearly 20 percent. (Reporting by Michelle Chen; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
- Yahoo News
Mitch McConnell: Nancy Pelosi's plan for investigating the Capitol attack is a 'bizarre partisan concept'
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s concerned Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to establish a commission to probe the assault on the U.S. Capitol would be overly “partisan.”
The first big real-world study of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be independently reviewed shows the shot is highly effective at preventing COVID-19, in a potentially landmark moment for countries desperate to end lockdowns and reopen economies. Up until now, most data on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines has come under controlled conditions in clinical trials, leaving an element of uncertainty over how results would translate into the real world with its unpredictable variables. The research in Israel - two months into one of the world's fastest rollouts, providing a rich source of data - showed two doses of the Pfizer shot cut symptomatic COVID-19 cases by 94% across all age groups, and severe illnesses by nearly as much.
- Business Insider
A preliminary study from Israel suggests people vaccinated against COVID-19 have lower viral loads, which are linked to less spread of the virus.
Kaley Cuoco thought she was meeting with her 'Big Bang Theory' costars to discuss a 13th season - instead she found out the show was ending
The actress said she was "in a state of shock" when Jim Parsons said he wanted to leave the series, which ended the popular CBS sitcom.
Marvel Studios president hints 'we probably could' see characters like Jessica Jones again 'someday' in the MCU
"I'm not exactly sure...but perhaps someday," Kevin Feige said of the possibility that Netflix or ABC characters would enter the MCU.
- Associated Press
Twenty20 specialist Mohammad Hafeez has declined a central contract offer from the Pakistan Cricket Board. The allrounder “politely turned down” a contract offer in category C for 2020-21, the cricket board said Wednesday. “While I am disappointed, I fully respect his decision,” PCB chief executive Wasim Khan said in a statement.
- The Daily Beast
Jim Watson./GettyLouis DeJoy had a defiant message on Wednesday for those craving to see him ousted as U.S. Postmaster General: “Get used to me.”The comment came after Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) asked the embattled U.S. Postal Service chief how long he would remain as Postmaster General—“long time,” DeJoy spat back—during a Wednesday hearing in the House Oversight Committee.That exchange was indicative of the entire proceeding, which was frequently chippy, combative, and fueled by Democratic lawmakers’ outrage over DeJoy’s handling of the USPS at a time of worsening mail delays and difficult questions about the service’s long-term viability.DeJoy’s crack to Cooper made Democrats’ blood boil even more. But he may have a point, at least for now: because the postmaster general is installed by the service’s board of governors—and not by the president—it means that President Joe Biden, or Congress, cannot fire DeJoy even if they wanted to.His removal would only be possible when Biden fills Democratic vacancies on the USPS Board of Governors, which has the authority to hire and fire postmasters general. Confirming those spots in the Senate will take time, though the Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Biden has identified three nominees to move forward.In the meantime, though, Democratic lawmakers are working with DeJoy on urgent legislation to reform the agency’s finances and employee pension burden, even while many publicly call for his resignation.To many Democrats, DeJoy’s performance on Wednesday on Capitol Hill may make that balancing act harder: they found much to dislike not only in what the postmaster general said, but how he said it.“I gotta say—I just don’t think the postmaster gets it,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), a member of the Oversight Committee who questioned DeJoy on Wednesday about the agency’s delivery standards. “I think it’s time for him to go.”“I thought he approached a lot of our questions with that exact same attitude, which was one of sneering condescension,” Krishnamoorthi told The Daily Beast after the hearing, invoking DeJoy’s response to Cooper. “That’s not gonna fly, man. Not gonna fly.”Wednesday’s hearing was the second time in DeJoy’s short tenure that he has been subjected to a high-profile grilling in the House Oversight Committee. Shortly after taking the USPS’ top job in June 2020, delays and irregularities quickly began to mount—a particularly alarming development for lawmakers on the eve of an election in which more voters than ever planned to vote by mail.Biden to Nominate 3 New USPS Board Members, Opening Path to Oust DeJoyIn a contentious August 2020 hearing, Democrats interrogated the former logistics executive and GOP mega-donor on everything from cuts in overtime hours to the price of a stamp. Questioning from Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) produced a memorable DeJoy response: “I will submit that I know very little about postage and stamps.”By the time House Democrats called DeJoy back to Capitol Hill this week, their worst fears about the USPS delays’ impact on the voting system had failed to materialize. But they still had plenty of questions about DeJoy’s stewardship of the USPS: in October, the USPS inspector general issued a report finding that the changes DeJoy made to delivery schedules and protocol led to the worsening delays. Already battered by the pandemic, the USPS limped into a busy holiday season, and is now providing the poorest service that many longtime observers of the agency have ever seen.Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), a member of the Oversight panel, was a 29-year veteran of the USPS before she came to Congress. She told The Daily Beast after the hearing that she has never seen the service in such dire straits as it is now: “I don’t think we’ve ever confronted this,” she said.The unprecedented delays are happening around the country. In Washington, D.C., just 40 percent of all first-class mail arrived on time by the end of December 2020—compared to nearly 90 percent the same time the year before. Chicago residents are receiving holiday packages a month-and-a-half late. Lawmakers are inundated with calls and emails from frustrated constituents looking for answers; this week, 33 senators signed a letter to DeJoy asking him to explain the recent delays.DeJoy apologized for those delays at the top of Wednesday’s hearing. “We must acknowledge that during this peak season we fell far short of meeting our service goals,” he said. “I apologize to those customers who felt the impact of our delays"But Lawrence expressed concern about DeJoy’s forthcoming “strategic plan” to get the USPS through this difficult stretch. Though the postmaster general has not revealed specifics, he testified on Wednesday that he will propose cuts to delivery standards, including the standard that local mail be delivered within two days. Democrats believe that would be a disastrous move at a time when the USPS is struggling to compete with private-sector competitors, particularly if it is coupled with consumer cost increases, which DeJoy has suggested.“To say that’s what’s bold and needed… that’s not leadership,” said Lawrence. “He has to prove himself. He heard us loud and clear, that he needs to prove himself.”The Michigan Democrat stopped short of saying that DeJoy deserved removal, and told The Daily Beast that she and other Democrats are working with the USPS on postal reform legislation. On Wednesday, CNN reported that Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) was supportive of working with DeJoy to pass reforms.In the wake of the new political reality in Washington, the postmaster general has begun to attempt outreach to Democratic lawmakers. Lawrence said that during the last administration, DeJoy did not take her calls or respond to her—but after the 2020 election, they had a “cordial” call.Other Democrats see any charm offensive as too little, too late. Krishnamoorthi said he is supportive of working with whatever USPS leadership is in office in order to pass reforms, but argued that DeJoy should go as soon as is possible.Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), a senior member of the Oversight Committee, issued a statement after DeJoy’s hearing hailing Biden’s nomination of three appointees to the USPS Board of Governors—and explicitly stated his hope they would remove DeJoy. “These nominations are an important first step toward reforming the Postal Service,” said Connolly. “My hope is the newly constituted Board will do the right thing and bring in a new, qualified Postmaster General.”A majority of the nine-member board would be required to support DeJoy’s removal. Currently, there are four Republican appointees, and two Democratic appointees. If all Biden’s choices are confirmed, Democrats would hold a majority on the board.The Republicans on the Oversight Committee had questions for DeJoy about mail delays, but largely cast him as a victim in an anti-Trump Democratic crusade. Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the top Republican on the panel, compared the party’s concerns about USPS delays—and Trump’s potential role in those delays—to the Trump impeachment investigation he said was predicated on “baseless conspiracies.”Far-right Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), meanwhile, suggested that the root cause of USPS delays was actually the Black Lives Matter protests that took place over the summer, and read articles from fringe outlets like the Gateway Pundit to prove his point. And Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) raised the unfounded belief in widespread conspiracies about election fraud while saying it was not time to get into “specifics.”At one point, tempers flared when Connolly said that Republicans who voted to object to the Electoral College certification on Jan. 6 had “no right to lecture” anyone on the dangers of partisanship.Democrats left more concerned about the fate of the USPS, however, than the state of things in Congress. “It’s not some theoretical concept,” said Krishnamoorthi. “It’s not some abstract issue, it’s real for every single one of us… I’ve gotta tell you, people are starting to work around the mail, which is a scary concept.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get 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.
14 Marvel shows are coming to Disney Plus from 'Secret Invasion' to 'I Am Groot' - here they all are
Some Marvel characters are getting their own shows on Disney Plus. Here's when you can expect "Ms. Marvel," "WandaVision," and more.
- Associated Press
When “WandaVision” wraps its initial run next month on the Disney+ streaming service, Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda will make her next appearance in the big-screen “Doctor Strange” sequel. It’s storytelling that determines how and when characters from the Marvel Comics universe hopscotch between TV and movies, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige said Wednesday. “All of the crossover between series, between films, will always vary based on the story,” Feige said.
There was no breakthrough at a "hugely disappointing" meeting between the European Commission and the British government on Wednesday over post-Brexit trade issues in Northern Ireland, the region's first minister, Arlene Foster, said on Wednesday. The British government is demanding concessions from the European Union to minimise disruption in trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom that have emerged since Britain left the bloc's trading orbit in January.
- Business Insider
A judge dismissed claims by a Capitol riot suspect that he shouldn't be held responsible because Trump put him up to it
Lawyers for William Chrestman, a Proud Boys member, argued that the group believed it had Trump's "official endorsement."
- Business Insider
Donald Trump has fought hard to keep his personal tax returns, and the Trump Organization's a secret. The Supreme Court just let prosecutors get them.
- Associated Press
Venezuela’s government on Wednesday ordered the expulsion of the chief European Union diplomat in the South American nation following the bloc’s decision to impose sanctions on several Venezuelan officials accused of undermining democracy or violating human rights. Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa was given 72 hours to leave the troubled country. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Brilhante Pedrosa was declared persona non grata by decision of President Nicolás Maduro.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex say they will continue to support their royal patronages despite not being allowed to do so as royals.
- Associated Press
The increasingly slim odds — and surprisingly thin outreach from the White House — for Neera Tanden’s nomination as head of the Office of Management and Budget are raising growing questions about how long the president will stick with her, in an early test of how he will use his limited political capital. In the latest sign of trouble for Tanden, two Senate panels slated to take up her nomination, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Budget Committee, both postponed meetings scheduled for Wednesday. For the third straight day, the White House batted off questions about Tanden’s path to confirmation after at least one key Democrat and multiple Republicans came out against her.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said on Wednesday that the head of the European Union's delegation in Caracas had 72 hours to leave the country and declared her persona non grata after the bloc imposed new sanctions on Venezuelan officials this week. In announcing the action against Portuguese national Isabel Brilhante, Arreaza described the sanctions against 19 Venezuelan officials as "truly unacceptable." The sanctions were a response to legislative elections won by President Nicolas Maduro's allies that Venezuela's opposition and many Western democracies deemed fraudulent.
- USA TODAY
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will support Merrick Garland's nomination. He maintains a block of Garland for the high court wasn't personal.
Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher are one of Hollywood's most private couples. Here's a timeline of their 20-year relationship.
Fisher has said being with Cohen is like "winning the lottery" ... even if she has to deal with his many shenanigans.
- Associated Press
In the first five days since the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden began to process the thousands of asylum seekers waiting in Mexico, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees registered 12,000 people. Migrants who have waited in Mexico and elsewhere to get hearings on their U.S. asylum requests are dealing now with a mix of hope and frustration, along with overloaded websites and telephone lines that never stop ringing. The hurdles are far better than the seemingly endless wait often in wretched conditions of tens of thousands of asylum seekers forced to choose between waiting in Mexico — or returning to Central America — under the Migrant Protection Protocols, or Remain in Mexico program.
- Business Insider
"I don't believe [Trump] should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country," Cheney said.