Ace Breaking News

BREAKING ITALY BUSINESS REPORT: Italy Tells Beijing It Is Leaving China’s Global Belt & Road Initiative

a closeup of Meloni's face as she stands in front of EU flags
Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has long been opposed to China’s global Belt and Road initiative.(Reuters: Yves Herman)none

AceBreakingNews – Italy has withdrawn from China’s vast Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) more than four years after becoming the only G7 nation to sign up, government sources said.


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.08: 2023: Wires/ABC News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link

a closeup of Meloni's face as she stands in front of EU flags
Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has long been opposed to China’s global Belt and Road initiative.(Reuters: Yves Herman)none

Italy in 2019 became the first and — so far — only major Western nation to join the trade and investment programme, ignoring warnings from the United States that it might let China take control of sensitive technologies and vital infrastructure.

However, when Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni took office last year, she said she wanted to withdraw from the deal, which was championed by President Xi Jinping, saying it had brought no significant gains to Italy.

The 2019 accord expires in March 2024 and an Italian government source has told several media outlets that Rome had sent Beijing a letter “in recent days” informing China that it would not be renewing the pact.

There was no immediate comment from China.

“We have every intention of maintaining excellent relations with China even if we are no longer part of the Belt and Road Initiative,” a second government source said.

“Other G7 nations have closer relations with China than we do, despite the fact they were never in [the BRI],” he added.

Italy will assume the presidency of the G7 in 2024.

A close up of Xi Jinping wearing a suit looking over his shoulder in front of a flag.
The BRI is a major part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s push for China to play a larger role in global affairs.(Reuters: Florence Lo)

More than 100 countries have signed agreements with China to cooperate on BRI infrastructure and building projects since the scheme was launched in 2013.

The initiative involves Chinese companies building transportation, energy and other infrastructure overseas, funded by Chinese development bank loans.

It has built power plants, roads, railroads and ports around the world and deepened China’s relations with Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Mideast…………However, not all has gone to plan.

In 2021, the Australian government ended Victoria’s BRI agreements with China.

Reuters has also reported that $17.4 billion in projects in Malaysia were cancelled between 2013-2021, with nearly $2.25 billion scrapped in Kazakhstan and more than $1.5 billion in Bolivia.

A map showing some countries which have backed China's Belt and Road Initiative.
The BRI invloves road, rail and maritime trade networks.(ABC News: Jarrod Fankhauser)

Italy seeks to maintain strategic ties with Beijing

In 2013, then-Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte hoped for a trade bonanza when he signed up in 2019, but Chinese firms seemed to be the main beneficiaries.

Italian exports to China totalled 16.4 billion euros ($26.9 billion) last year from 13 billion euros in 2019.

By contrast, Chinese exports to Italy rose to 57.5 billion euros from 31.7 billion euros over the same period, according to Italian data.

Italy’s main eurozone trading partners France and Germany exported significantly more to China last year, despite not being part of the BRI, which is modelled on the old Silk Road that linked China to the West.

Looking to maintain strategic ties, Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani visited Beijing in September and President Sergio Mattarella is due to visit China at some stage next year.

Ms Meloni herself has said she wants to go to Beijing, but no date has been fixed.

Without directly confirming the news, Mr Tajani said on Wednesday that Italy was seeking to “relaunch the strategic partnership” with Beijing.

He told parliament that during his September trip to China, he made clear Rome wanted to “promote better access to our products regardless of our participation” in the BRI.

Despite being part of the BRI, successive governments in Rome signalled their doubts about the pact by vetoing some proposed takeovers or limiting the sway of Chinese companies over their Italian counterparts.

In June, Ms Meloni’s cabinet curbed the influence of Chinese shareholder Sinochem on Italian tyre maker Pirelli, using “golden power” rules designed to protect strategic assets.

Ms Meloni, who heads a conservative coalition, has been keen to burnish her credentials as a committed pro-NATO leader and a government source said that she had assured US President Joe Biden earlier this year that Italy would quit the BRI.

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English History

ENGLISH HISTORY: Hopes Sycamore Gap 200yr Old Seeds Can Grow ‘ New Descendants’ National Trust Say


AceHistoryDesk – Cuttings and seeds taken from the tree at Sycamore Gap will be used to grow new saplings.

Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.07: 2023: BBC History News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link

The tree at Sycamore Gap before it was cut down
The tree at Sycamore Gap was cut down on 28 September

The National Trust confirmed that the seeds from the 200-year-old tree are expected to be able to grow new trees.

The sycamore at Hadrian’s Wall was a popular destination for hikers and tourists before it was cut down in September.

The National Trust’s Andy Jasper said he hoped “the trunk of the original tree will regrow” and the seeds could be used to grow “new descendants”.

‘Strong, sturdy saplings’

Work is being carried out at the National Trust’s rare plant propagation nursery to grow saplings from the sycamore.

Mr Jasper said that despite it not being the right time of year to carry out the work, it is hoped more than 30% of the mature seeds and half of the cuttings are viable.

He said: “Over the next year, we’ll be doing all we can to nurture the seeds and cuttings, in the hope that some will grow into strong, sturdy saplings – providing a new future for this much-loved tree.”

While it is hoped that the original tree will regrow from its trunk, it will take up to three years before experts know if this is possible, the National Trust said.

Artwork plans

The organisation is preparing to launch an appeal that will go towards plans for the site and the tree’s wood.

A spokesperson for the National Trust said the most popular suggestion from the public is to commemorate the tree through a sculpture or artwork. 

Any artwork created would not be placed at the gap itself due to the protected nature of the site. 

Instead, the trust is looking for “an appropriate public location” for the artwork.

National Trust Images – Bec Hughes

Work being carried out to move the Sycamore Gap tree in October

The public is being invited to share photos and memories of the tree.

The recollections will be added to a temporary exhibition at The Sill, Northumberland National Park Authority’s visitor hub.

Andrew Poad, general manager at the National Trust, said:

“ Any photos and memories we receive will be used to help create potential future exhibitions, inform our next steps for honouring the tree and aid the ambition of creating 3D imaging of the tree.”

A police investigation was launched following the tree’s felling and forensic officers were seen taking measurements and samples from its remains.

Two men in their 30s have been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and have since been bailed.

A boy, 16, and a man in his 60s were previously held by police. Northumbria Police confirmed the 16-year-old will face no further action.

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Ace Breaking News

BREAKING BRAZIL REPORT: Brazil deploys Deploys Troops To Venezuela Border


AceBreakingNews – Brazil says that it is deploying troops along its border with Venezuela after the Venezuelan government announced plans to incorporate an area controlled by Guyana into its territory.


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.07: 2023: By Katy Watson: BBC South America correspondent, São Paulo: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link

Aerial view of the Potaro River near Kaieteur, the world's largest single drop waterfall, located in the Potaro-Siparuni region of Guyana, on April 12, 2023. The Kaieteur National Park is part of Essequibo, an oil-rich disputed area of 160,000 square kilometers that is administered by Guyana but which Venezuelans voted to claim as theirs in a referendum.
A view of the Essequibo region

The oil-rich Essequibo region has been in dispute since the 19th Century when Guyana was a British colony.

Venezuela renewed its land claims after offshore oil and gas reserves were discovered a few years ago.

Tensions have been rising since a referendum on Sunday in Venezuela.

More than 95% of voters are said to have supported the government’s claim to Essequibo.

Venezuela’s leader Nicolás Maduro has since asked the state oil company to issue extraction licenses there and proposed that the National Assembly pass a bill to make the area part of Venezuela. 

The measures are cause for concern across the region. While Guyana has its troops on high alert, the Brazilian army has said that it is moving more soldiers to the border city of Boa Vista, the capital of Roraima state, as well as bringing in more armed vehicles.

However any military incursion by Venezuela will be logistically challenging, Venezuelan soldiers would need to pass through Brazilian territory if they enter Essequibo because of challenging terrain elsewhere.

According to AFP news agency, Brazil’s army has said it is reinforcing its presence in the region as part of efforts to “guarantee the inviolability of the territory”.

A Guyanese army helicopter with seven people on board was reported missing near the Venezuelan border on Wednesday. However, the Guyanese Chief of Staff, Omar Khan, said there was “no information suggesting Venezuela was involved”.

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Ace Breaking News

BREAKING U.K BUSINESS REPORT: Shopping With Cash Rises For First Time In A Decade


AceNewsDesk – Cash use has grown for the first time in 10 years as shoppers keep a close eye on their budgets while prices rise, retailers have said.


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.07: 2023: By Kevin Peachey and Charlotte McDonald: BBC Business News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link


The British Retail Consortium said 19% of purchases were made with notes and coins last year, echoing a report by banks showing a slight rebound.

The figures come as the UK’s financial watchdog has proposed new rules to help maintain access to cash.

Ministers say banks will be fined if money cannot be withdrawn or deposited.

Under government rules, free withdrawals and deposits will need to be available within one mile for people living in urban areas.

In rural areas, where there are concerns over “cash deserts”, the maximum distance is three miles.

Shoppers’ choices

Cash was used in 19% of transactions last year, according to retailers, up from 15% the previous year. Until 2015, notes and coins were used in more than half of transactions and, while card use now dominated, cash still had its benefits.

The consortium said consumers were budgeting carefully to try to cope with cost of living pressures, and there was also a “natural return” for cash after it slumped during the pandemic.

Its payments policy adviser, Hannah Regan, said: “We are now seeing a return to many of the pre-pandemic trends in payments, including smaller but more frequent purchases, and a slight return of cash payments. 

“Unfortunately, what has not changed, is the ever-increasing scale of fees paid by retailers in order to accept card payments.”

In September, banking trade body UK Finance also reported that cash use had risen for the first time in a decade, pointing to the financial impact of rising prices.

But it said it expected cash use to decline over the coming years, once the current financial squeeze had eased.

UK Finance said nearly 22 million people only used cash once a month or not at all last year.

However, about five million people still rely on cash and there has been pressure to ensure access is still available as bank branches and ATMs shut.

Among a string of closures announced last week, was the final bank in Richmond, North Yorkshire – part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s constituency – which will be replaced with a shared banking hub.

The Treasury wants to maintain the current level of coverage of free access to cash, through ATMs or face-to-face services, but says that could be diluted as cash use falls.

A voluntary arrangement is currently in place which means every High Street should have free access to cash within 1km.

The UK’s financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, (FCA) proposed new additional rules on Thursday requiring banks and building societies to assess and plug gaps in local cash provision.

The FCA’s consultation document showed that in the two years to the first quarter of 2023, 1,391 bank and building society branches closed, as did 2,176 free-to-use ATMs. 

Under the new rules, designated firms will be required to look at gaps in access to cash across local communities and act if necessary. In their assessments, lenders will need to take into account factors such as transport links and the age of the local population. 

The FCA wants to prevent people and businesses from facing unreasonable costs to access their money, which could be through charges, travel costs or time.

Lenders will be required to provide “reasonable” additional cash services to fill gaps where assessments show that there is, or will be, a big local gap. They must also ensure they do not close cash facilities, including bank branches and ATMs, until those extra services are available.

Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumers and competition at the FCA, said: “We know that, while there is an increasing shift to digital payments, over three million consumers still rely on cash – particularly people who may be vulnerable.” 

He added that the new rules outlined under the proposals would “help manage the pace of change and ensure that people can continue to access cash if they need it”.

The plans follow new powers granted to the regulator by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2023, although they will not enable the FCA to prevent bank branches from closing.

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American History

OTD 1941: Japan Attacked The USA Naval Base At Pearl Harbour Hawaii Killing Over 2,000 Americans


AceHistoryDesk – Today in History – On December 7, 1941: The U.S.S. Arizona was completely destroyed and the U.S.S. Oklahoma capsized. A total of twelve ships sank or were beached in the attack and nine additional vessels were damaged. More than 160 aircraft were destroyed and more than 150 others damaged.


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.07: 2023: History Today News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link


Naval Dispatch from the Commander in Chief Pacific (CINCPAC) announcing the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. (John J. Ballentine Papers). Manuscript Division


A hurried dispatch from the ranking United States naval officer in Pearl Harbor, Admiral Husband Edward Kimmel, Commander in Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet, to all major navy commands and fleet units provided the first official word of the attack at the ill-prepared Pearl Harbor base. It said simply:

The following day, in an address to a joint session of Congress, President Franklin Roosevelt called December 7, 1941 “a date which will live in infamy.” Congress then declared War on Japan, abandoning the nation’s isolationism policy and ushering the United States into World War II. Within days, Japan’s allies, Germany and Italy, declared war on the United States, and the country began a rapid transition to a wartime economy by building up armaments in support of military campaigns in the Pacific, North Africa, and Europe.

Also on the day following Pearl Harbor, Alan Lomax, head of the Library of Congress Archive of American Folk Song, sent a telegram to colleagues around the U.S. asking them to collect people’s immediate reactions to the bombing. Over the next few days prominent folklorists such as John Lomax, John Henry Faulk, Charles ToddRobert Sonkin, and Lewis Jonesresponded by recording “man on the street” interviews in New York, North Carolina, Texas, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. They interviewed salesmen, electricians, janitors, oilmen, cabdrivers, housewives, students, soldiers, physicians, and others regarding the events of December 7. Among the interviewees was a California woman then visiting her family in Dallas, Texas.

“My first thought was what a great pity that… another nation should be added to those aggressors who strove to limit our freedom. I find myself at the age of eighty, an old woman, hanging on to the tail of the world, trying to keep up. I do not want the driver’s seat. But the eternal verities–there are certain things that I wish to express: one thing that I am very sure of is that hatred is death, but love is light. I want to contribute to the civilization of the world but…when I look at the holocaust that is going on in the world today, I’m almost ready to let go…”

“Man-on-the-Street,” Dallas Texas, December 9, 1941.” Lena Jameson, Interviewee; John Lomax, interviewer; Dallas, Texas, December 9 & 10, 1941. After the Day of Infamy: “Man-on-the-Street” Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor. American Folklife Centernone

Pearl Harbor Widows have Gone into War Work… Howard R. Hollem, photographer, August 1942. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Color Photographs. Prints & Photographs Division

The Office of War Information (OWI) capitalized on the fear and outrage associated with the bombings to encourage support of war mobilization.

Created in June 1942, some six months after the air raid on Pearl Harbor, the OWI served as a U.S. government propaganda agency generating pictures and copy such as the above photograph of Pearl Harbor widows. Concentrating on subjects like aircraft factories, training for war, women in the workforce, and the armed forces, the OWI documented and celebrated American patriotism in the military and on the home front.

NBC Program Book. Annotated typescript, December 7, 1941; Microphone, ca. 1938. In World War II, Memory Gallery. American Treasures of the Library of Congress. Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division

The Memory Gallery of American Treasures of the Library of Congresscontains an annotated script of a December 7, 1941, NBC news report on the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The script preserves the announcer’s markings for emphasis. The “program analysis” index card outlines all of the network’s news broadcasts of that day, including the break in regularly scheduled programming to announce the tragic news from Pearl Harbor.

Dry Dock, Pearl Ha[r]bor, H.T.. Robert Lorenz Dancy, photographer, August 21, 1919. Panoramic Photographs. Prints & Photographs Division

Other NBC documentation at the Library outlines nearly every program heard over the network during the World War II era. Recordings of more than half of these programs are held by the Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division.

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