Britain’s economy almost as weak as Argentina, warns OECD
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has warned that Britain will be one of the worst performing advanced economies this year and next, with only Argentina performing worse over the period. The prediction comes amid a row between former Bank of England governor Mark Carney and Liz Truss over whether Britain is turning into Argentina. The OECD downgraded its expectations for UK growth next year by 0.2 percentage points, saying it now expects the economy to expand by just 0.8% in 2024. The only worse advanced economy is expected to be Argentina, where the economy is forecast to shrink by 1.2% next year.
Disney pouring $60 billion into theme parks, cruises over the next 10 years
The Walt Disney Co. plans to invest around $60bn in its theme parks and cruise lines over the next decade, almost double what it spent in the past 10 years, according to a regulatory filing. The Disney Parks, Experiences and Products segment has grown well for the company, with revenue up 13% in the third quarter, offsetting a 1% dip in its Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution unit. The company said it had plenty of room to expand, with more than 1,000 acres of land available. Disney has previously announced it will add two ships in 2025 and another in 2026.
French journalist arrested over report on Egypt spy operation
French journalist Ariane Lavrilleux, a member of investigative website Disclose, has been arrested and her home searched by agents of France's domestic intelligence agency, the DGSI. The arrest follows the publication of articles by Disclose in November 2021, which alleged that information from a French counter-intelligence operation in Egypt was used by the Egyptian state for killings of smugglers along the Libyan border. Disclose denounced the arrest as an "unacceptable attack on the secrecy of sources," with Reporters Without Borders expressing concern that the DGSI's actions could undermine the confidentiality of journalists' sources. The articles published by Disclose alleged that French forces were complicit in bombings against smugglers in the region. France's Ministry of the Armed Forces filed a complaint for violation of national defense secrecy, leading to the case being opened by the Paris prosecutor's office and handed over to the DGSI.
France and Germany plot EU ‘inner circle’ - with door open for Britain
France and Germany are proposing a plan to offer the UK and other European nations “associate membership” of the EU in order to rebuild ties with the bloc. The proposed plan would divide EU membership into four tiers, with the inner circle being made up of the most closely aligned states. Associate members, such as Switzerland or the UK, would not be bound to further integration or the principle of “ever closer union”, but would have to commit to the EU’s common principles and values. They would also pay into the EU budget, though at a lower cost than full members.
Starmer doesn’t commit to finishing HS2 as Labour flip flops on stance
Labour leader Keir Starmer has declined to commit to building HS2 in full if the UK government abandons plans to build the high-speed rail route to the North. While Labour has previously pledged to deliver HS2 in full, including to Leeds, Starmer did not go as far as promising to complete the project, stating that the government needs to clarify its position and “make clear that it will hold good on the promises it has made.” Labour has concerns over the cost of completing the project and the need for additional funding.
‘Baku’s promise was broken’: World decries Nagorno-Karabakh flare up
Azerbaijan has launched a military operation in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region and demanded the withdrawal of Armenian forces as a precondition for peace. Armenia accused Azerbaijan of building up troops and decried a blockade of its only land link to Nagorno-Karabakh. The region is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but has a majority ethnic Armenian population that broke from Baku's control after a war in the early 1990s. The EU, Russia, Germany, and the US have all called for an end to the fighting and a return to negotiations.
Helena Christensen: ‘It’s more fun modelling at 54 than when I was 20’
Helena Christensen, the supermodel who rose to fame in the 1990s, has revealed her secrets to staying radiant at 54. Christensen credits her love for nature and the outdoors as the key to feeling good and looking beautiful. She enjoys activities such as swimming in rivers and oceans, cooking, hiking, and watching the changing seasons. She also stays grounded by taking cold-water swims, which she documents on Instagram for her 1.1 million followers. Christensen avoids discussing plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures, preferring to focus on healthy living and unique recipes. She also has a passion for vintage underwear and has collected pieces since she was 13 years old. Christensen has modelled for lingerie brand Coco de Mer and now uses her photography skills to shoot for the brand. Throughout her career, Christensen has followed her own path and values her friendships with fellow supermodels Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington. She describes them as a close group of friends who share a unique experience in the fashion world.
What would joining the EU’s new ‘associate membership’ mean for the UK?
France and Germany have proposed the creation of an “inner circle” of EU membership, which would allow countries to join the bloc on the condition that they overhaul it. The plan includes a new outer tier of membership for countries such as the UK. Under the proposed scheme, the EU will have greater powers to manage expansion and decision-making will be streamlined. The UK could become an “associate member” of the EU, contributing to the bloc’s budget and being governed by the European Court of Justice in exchange for participation in the single market. Other tiers would include a second tier for countries that are unwilling to join the EU in the foreseeable future and a third tier for countries that want close trade ties with the EU while remaining outside the bloc.
England’s Rachel Daly believes calendar in women’s game needs a re-think
Rachel Daly has said that the women's football calendar is “excessive” and that it needs to be addressed. England manager Sarina Wiegman has also expressed concerns over the amount of games being played.
German city reveals plans to banish cars from its centre
The German city of Hanover has announced plans to ban cars from its inner city as part of a major traffic overhaul. The city will remove almost all of its 4,000 street-side parking spots and impose a speed limit of 20 kph (12 mph) on one-way streets leading to 11 multi-storey car parks. The freed-up space will be used to extend cafes and terraces and to plant more trees. The city's conservative opposition has criticised the plans, claiming they will harm the viability of the city centre by making people travel further.
‘No one wants to hear you’: The (unofficial) rules of airport phone calls
The Sydney Morning Herald
Air travellers are being urged to behave responsibly when using their phones in airports. Brian Hart Hoffman, a former flight attendant, said phone etiquette “seems to be checked in the belly of the plane” with people using FaceTime in lounges, boarding areas and on flights. Travellers are advised not to speak on the phone in airport toilets, to use earphones to reduce noise and to move to empty gates or corridors for calls. Excessive use of phones can delay the boarding process and cause passengers to miss flights.
Asian Games 2023: it’s all about the numbers in our 5 things to know
South China Morning Post
The second day of competition at the Hangzhou Asian Games has seen some interesting numbers emerge. There are nearly 12,000 athletes from 45 countries expected to compete, with nine sports in Hangzhou serving as Olympic Games qualifiers. The road to Paris 2024 will see athletes compete in archery, artistic swimming, boxing, breaking, hockey, modern pentathlon, sailing, tennis and water polo. In cricket, Hong Kong's women's team almost stole the spotlight with a record 172-run victory over Malaysia, while Mongolia suffered a 172-run defeat at the hands of Indonesia. The rowing events begin on Wednesday, and the opening ceremony will be environmentally friendly, featuring drones and clean fuel methane.
Wrestling body explains why it let Russian champions compete at worlds despite pro-war rally
Three Olympic champions from Russia have been cleared to compete at the wrestling world championships after being judged to have been pressured to appear at a pro-war rally in Moscow last year. Zaurbek Sidakov, Zaur Uguev, and Abdulrashid Sadulaev, who all won Olympic gold medals at the Tokyo Games in 2021, were paraded at a rally attended by President Vladimir Putin three weeks after he ordered the military invasion of Ukraine. The International Olympic Committee had advised governing bodies to exclude athletes who publicly supported the war, but the wrestlers were cleared because their participation in the rally was judged to not be of their own will.
Ireland won’t change approach against South Africa ‘Bomb squad’ – Caelan Doris
Caelan Doris, the Irish rugby union player, has said that the sheer size of the South African team shocked him when he played against them in November 2020. However, Doris insisted that Ireland's game plan will not be significantly altered ahead of the Rugby World Cup showdown between the two teams. He acknowledged that South Africa's physicality is a key aspect of their game, but also highlighted their pace and skill in the backs. Ireland can secure a place in the quarter-finals with a win against South Africa.
Wrestling body explains why it let Russian champions compete at world champs despite pro-war rally
Three Olympic champions from Russia have been cleared to compete at the wrestling world championships this week as neutral athletes. Zaurbek Sidakov, Zaur Uguev, and Abdulrashid Sadulaev were judged to have been pressured to appear at a pro-war rally in Moscow last year. The athletes' presence at the rally seemed likely to bar their return to competition with neutral status ahead of the Paris Olympics. However, a vetting process concluded that their participation in certain events was not of their own will. The Russian wrestlers are competing at the championships without their national colors, flag, or anthem.
Meet five Canadian women in film who are proving the future of cinema is brighter than ever
The Toronto Star
Five Canadian women filmmakers are making waves in the industry by telling incredible stories and making dreams a reality. Anubha Momin has several projects in development, including a series with Disney and a rom-com set at a luxury inn in Newfoundland. Noura Kevorkian is an award-winning documentarian whose film "Batata" was nominated for multiple awards and has just been submitted for Oscars consideration. Zoe Hopkins is a writer and director who has worked on a variety of projects, including the hit sitcom "Run The Burbs" and the APTN series "Little Bird." Vanessa Magic is a writer and director whose short films have premiered at the Cannes Short Film Festival and the Brooklyn Film Festival. Meredith Hama-Brown is a writer and director who recently completed her debut feature film, "Seagrass," which explores themes of grief, motherhood, and sisterhood.
These women are breaking barriers and creating opportunities for themselves and others in the industry. They are telling stories that are often overlooked or marginalized, and their work is being recognized and celebrated. As more diverse voices are heard and stories are told, the future of film is bright and promising. These filmmakers are paving the way for others and proving that dreams can become a reality.
Just one Australian hotel makes world’s top 50 list
The Sydney Morning Herald
Brisbane's The Calile hotel has been named among the top 50 hotels in the world by the World's 50 Best group. It is the only Australian hotel to be featured on the list, ranking No. 12 globally and No. 1 for Oceania. The hotel, which was designed by renowned architecture firm Richards and Spence, is known for its brutalist-inspired design and its embrace of the subtropical climate. The rankings were compiled based on the first-person experiences of 580 jurors who voted for their top seven hotels. The list skewed heavily towards European properties, with 21 out of the 50 slots being occupied by European hotels. Asia performed well, with several iconic Asian stays making it into the top 10. The Passalacqua in Lake Como, Italy was crowned the world's best hotel for 2023. The World's 50 Best lists have faced criticism in the past for their lack of diversity and bias towards European venues. Efforts have been made to address these concerns, including mandating a 50/50 gender balance among jurors.
UNESCO adds World War I remembrance sites to its prestigious heritage registry
The Toronto Star
UNESCO has added World War I funerary and memorial locations across the Western Front to its World Heritage registry. The sites, which include necropolises, graveyards, and individual monuments, stretch from Belgium to eastern France and were battle zones where the Allied forces clashed with the German army between 1914 and 1918. The decision to add the sites to the registry is meant to be a testimony to the legacy of the fallen soldiers and is seen as a recognition of their “exceptional universal value.” Belgium and France have been campaigning for the inclusion of these sites since the early 2010s.
'Humanity has opened the gates of hell': Key world leaders missing at UN summit as emissions targets go unmet
UN Secretary General António Guterres has warned that "humanity has opened the gates of hell" with regard to climate change, highlighting the need for urgent action. The UN recently released a report on its first global stocktake, which found that progress has been made in reducing emissions, but there is still a significant gap between commitments and actual action. Guterres called for an acceleration of the phase-out of fossil fuels, stating that the world is "decades behind" in the transition to renewables. Several major polluting countries, including the US, China, and France, did not attend the recent Climate Ambition Summit.
Queen enjoys impromptu table tennis match with France’s First Lady in Paris
During a visit to a sports centre in Saint-Denis, outside Paris, Queen Elizabeth II and France's First Lady, Brigitte Macron, played a game of table tennis. The Queen faced off against Prithika Pavade, a 19-year-old French national team player, but struggled with her service. Macron then stepped in and showed off her impressive skills. The Queen displayed quick reactions and took the first point, but ultimately lost to Macron. Earlier, the royal couple and Macron chatted with youngsters at the sports centre, and the King received a jersey from Paris Saint-Germain football team.