Disney+ hikes prices as sales sink across the company



CNN
 — 

The Walt Disney Company is hiking prices for its Disney+ streaming service again, as its third-quarter earnings report showed revenue struggles almost everywhere but international parks.

The streaming service’s ad-free subscription will cost $13.99 beginning October 12, an increase of $3 per month. This is the second time in less than a year Disney raised the price of its streaming offering; in December, the company upped the price of its ad-free tier to $10.99 from $7.99.

Disney owns a majority stake in Hulu, which will also see prices go up in October: its ad-free offering will rise $3 to $17.99. An new ad-free package of Disney+ and Hulu will cost $19.99.

However, the ad-supported subscription tier has been left out of the latest round of price hikes. That offering from Disney+ will remain at $7.99 per month, according to the company.

On Disney’s fiscal third quarter earnings call, CEO Bob Iger said these pricing decisions were made with the goal of pushing more Disney+ subscribers to the service’s ad-supported option.

“The advertising marketplace for streaming is picking up. It’s more healthy than the advertising marketplace for linear television,” Iger said.

The price hike comes after Disney reported that its streaming business remains unprofitable, though it has narrowed its revenue loss in the third quarter.

Streaming subscribers in the US and Canada are pulling back, as well. Disney reported a 1% decline in domestic subscribers for the second quarter in a row. International subscribers grew 2% in the quarter.

Iger also hinted that Disney+ is looking into ways to crack down on password sharing, a strategy that recently helped Netflix add millions of new subscribers.

“In calendar ’24, we’re going to get at this issue,” Iger said about password sharing. “We certainly have established this as a real priority. We actually think that there’s an opportunity here to help us grow our business.”

Overall, Disney reported slightly lower than expected revenue for its fiscal third quarter on Wednesday, with revenue shrinking in nearly every division but theme parks.

The company reported quarterly revenue of $22.3 billion compared to expectations of $22.5 billion, according to estimates from Refinitiv.

Revenue in linear television continued to slip, declining 7% compared to the same quarter last year.

Iger addressed the future of Disney’s linear assets, which include ABC, the Disney Channel, FX and National Geographic, after his comments about the business last month in an interview with CNBC fueled speculation that some of those might be put up for sale.

“While linear remains highly profitable for Disney today, the trends being fueled by cord-cutting are unmistakable,” Iger said. “As I’ve stated before, we’re thinking expansively and considering a variety of strategic options.”

Disney

(DIS)
shares initially fell in after-hours trading but reversed course to gain 3%.

Disney’s parks were a bright spot, even as the company struggles with declining attendance at Disney World Resort in central Florida.

Disney parks, experiences and products revenues for the quarter increased 13% to $8.3 billion, which the company said reflected growth in its international parks, like Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.

“The increase at Shanghai Disney Resort was due to the park being open for all of the current quarter compared to 3 days in the prior-year quarter as a result of Covid-19 related closures,” the company said in a statement.

However, the Disney acknowledged that the division’s growth was partially offset by lower revenue at its US-based domestic parks. The company attributed Disney World’s slowdown in attendance to fading post-Covid pent-up demand for travel to Florida, which fully reopened from pandemic lockdowns earlier than other US states.

In fact, recent signs point to a slowing of tourism to Central Florida. Orange County, which includes Orlando, collected 6.7% less in taxes on hotel stays in May of this year compared the same time last year, according to the Orange County Comptroller’s office.

Iger also addressed the ongoing writers’ and actors’ strikes in Hollywood after calling strikers’ actions “frankly, very disruptive” in an interview last month.

“Nothing is more important to this company than its relationships with the creative community, and that includes actors, writers, animators, directors, and producers,” he said. “I have deep respect and appreciation for all those who are vital to the extraordinary creative engine that drives this company and our industry. And it is my fervent hope that we quickly find solutions to the issues that have kept us apart these past few months. And I am personally committed to working to achieve this result.”

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These Republicans have met qualifications for the first GOP presidential debate

The first Republican presidential primary debate is less than a month away, and eight of the candidates seeking the GOP nomination for the White House have met the required polling and fundraising criteria to earn a spot on stage.

Last month, the Republican National Committee (RNC) revealed the polling and fundraising criteria that GOP presidential candidates must reach in order to make the stage at the first primary debate, which Fox News will host on Aug. 23 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The debate starts at 9 p.m. ET.

To make the stage, candidates are required to reach 1% in three national polls, or 1% in two national polls and two state-specific polls from the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. The polls must also be recognized by the RNC and must be conducted on or after July 1.

Additionally, to reach the debate stage, candidates must have 40,000 unique donors to their campaign committee (or exploratory committee), with “at least 200 unique donors per state or territory in 20+ states and/or territories,” according to the RNC criteria.

LONG-SHOT GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE DOUG BURGUM REVEALS ‘COMPLETELY LEGAL’ HACK THAT SECURED DEBATE SPOT

Republican debate candidates and qualifiers

Here’s which candidates have met certain RNC requirements for the first Republican presidential debate. (Fox News)

The Republican candidates who have reached both the polling and fundraising threshold are, in alphabetical order: 

  • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum
  • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
  • Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence
  • Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy
  • South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott
  • Former President Donald Trump
Nikki Haley, Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott

From left to right: Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and South Carolina GOP Sen. Tim Scott. (Scott Olson, Michael M. Santiago via Getty Images)

Other GOP candidates, as of Wednesday, have not yet met the fundraising threshold required by the RNC to take a spot on stage.

The candidates who have met polling requirements – but not fundraising requirements – include: 

  • Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson

The candidates who have met fundraising requirements – but not polling requirements – include:

  • Miami Mayor Francis Suarez

The candidates also must sign a pledge agreeing to support the eventual Republican presidential nominee; agreeing not to participate in any non-RNC-sanctioned debates for the rest of the 2024 election cycle; and agreeing to data-sharing with the national party committee, the RNC noted last month.

The candidates who have signed the pledge, thus far, include:

  • Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

REPUBLICAN PARTY RELEASES REQUIREMENTS FOR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES HOPING TO MAKE FIRST 2024 PRIMARY DEBATE

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and former Vice President Mike Pence

From left to right: Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and former Vice President Mike Pence. (Scott Olson, Michael M. Santiago, Mario Tama, Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The RNC says candidates must present their fundraising figures at least 48 hours prior to the first debate.

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The first presidential debate of the 2024 election cycle will air on Fox News, and Rumble is the online live-streaming partner. Young America’s Foundation is also a partner in the first debate.

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser and Brandon Gillespie contributed to this report.

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German man accused of spying for Russia



CNN
 — 

A German national who worked for a government agency that equips the German armed forces, has been arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia, the German Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement Wednesday.

The man was employed the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support– and is alleged to have passed information to the Russian intelligence service, the federal prosecutor’s office said.

“The defendant is strongly suspected of having worked for a foreign intelligence service,” it added. “Starting in May 2023, he approached the Russian Consulate General in Bonn and the Russian Embassy in Berlin several times on his own initiative and offered cooperation.”

“On one occasion, he passed on information he had obtained in the course of his professional activities for the purpose of forwarding it to a Russian intelligence service,” the statement said.

The man was arrested in the western Germany city of Koblenz and as part of the investigation, his and workplace were searched. An arrest warrant was issued by a Federal Supreme Court judge on July 27, 2023, the federal prosecutor’s office said.

“The investigation was conducted in close cooperation with the Federal Military Counter-Intelligence Service and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution,” the federal prosecutor’s office said.

The man was brought before the Federal Supreme Court investigating judge on Wednesday. The judge ordered that he be remanded in custody, the federal prosecutor’s office said.

The Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support has almost 12,000 people working for it, including 18,000 soldiers, according to Reuters.

In December, a German citizen who worked for the country’s foreign intelligence service was arrested on charges of spying for Russia.

It comes after a large expulsion of Russian diplomats, many of whom are alleged to be operating as spies, from European countries last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Robert Saleh's crazy analogy in inspiring speech has Jets fired up in 'Hard Knocks' premiere

HBO’s “Hard Knocks” debuted on Tuesday night, and this year’s NFL team has been delivering the hype since the beginning of the year with its trades, free agent signings and heightened expectations: The New York Jets

To kick off the behind-the-scenes look at Jets training camp, the series opened with some blasts from the past, with Joe Namath winning Super Bowl III. Then, it funneled into the present day Jets, who are now quarterbacked by Aaron Rodgers. 

However, before the theme music played, head coach Robert Saleh delivered an inspiring speech during a full team and staff meeting in Florham Park, New Jersey. 

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Robert Saleh at training camp conference

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh speaks to reporters after a practice at the NFL football team’s training facility in Florham Park, New Jersey, Thursday, July 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

“Did you know that the only bird, the only bird in the world that will attack an eagle is a crow?” Saleh questioned his team. 

The camera panned to players looking a bit dumbfounded and confused as to where Saleh’s story was heading. 

JETS’ AARON RODGERS RECEIVES CREDIT FROM ZACH WILSON ON LONG COMPLETION: ‘GREAT CALL’

“It will perch on the eagle’s back and peck at its neck. So rather than fight back and tearing the crow to pieces, like it can, the eagle spreads its wings, and it soars as high as it possibly can. It keeps going, and going, and going as high as it can. The higher the eagle flies, the harder it is for the crow to breath. Eventually, the crow suffocates, falls back down to Earth and dies.”

“Guys, we got a great deal of hype around us. We do. All kinds of expectations. And with great expectations, we know that there’s going to be a whole lot of people, a whole lot of crows expecting us to fall on our face. 

“What are you doing to find that little bit more to get us closer to being a great f—ing team? You finish practice, now what? You finish meetings, now what? You finish lifting, now what? A rep, now what?”

Robert Saleh speaks to the media

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh talks to reporters after training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on July 26, 2023 in Florham Park, New Jersey. (Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

“If we come together and we challenge ourselves to do a little bit more every day, the crows? They’ll fall by themselves. Embrace what we’re capable of. Embrace the fact that we aren’t the same old Jets. Embrace the fact that we do have a target on our back. Embrace the fact that when teams look at our schedule, they’re not chalking us up for a W. They’re coming at you. That’s exactly where we want to be. 

“That’s f—ing awesome.”

BROWNS DEFEAT JETS IN HALL OF FAME GAME BEHIND DORIAN THOMPSON-ROBINSON’S STELLAR SECOND HALF

While the Jets players, including Rodgers, seemed on the edge of their seats during the speech, fans on social media were ready to run through a brick wall for Saleh, too. 

“I would die for Robert Saleh,” one X user wrote, with the Jets’ #TakeFlight attached to the post. 

Another user said, “This opening monologue from Robert Saleh got me hype.”

Robert Saleh on practice field

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh looks on during training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on July 20, 2023 in Florham Park, New Jersey. (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

From the interactions with Rodgers and his teammates to the battle between two of the elite young stars in the game in Garrett Wilson and Sauce Gardner, the Jets are clearly an entertaining bunch that will only get better as training camp and the new NFL season unfolds.

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Fans are also learning a thing or two about nature courtesy of Saleh, who wants to be the eagle in his story when the 2023 season comes to an end. 

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China's property crisis deepens as another huge developer risks default


Hong Kong
CNN
 — 

Investor confidence in China’s troubled property sector has been rocked again this week by reports that one of the country’s largest private building conglomerates missed interest payments on two bonds.

China’s vast real estate industry was long an important engine of growth in the world’s second biggest economy, accounting for as much as 30% of the country’s GDP.

But many major developers racked up huge debts, typified by the collapse two years ago of Evergrande which was followed by a wave of defaults across the industry.

The latest major industry player to get into trouble is Country Garden, once China’s largest developer.

Shares in the construction giant have plunged 16% in Hong Kong since Tuesday, after reports by Reuters and Chinese media that it missed interest payments on two US dollar-denominated bonds. Several of Country Garden’s yuan-denominated bonds were suspended from trading in Shanghai and Shenzhen on Tuesday after they dropped by more than 20%.

Country Garden did not respond to a request from CNN for comment.

On Tuesday, state-owned media outlet Paper.cn, citing an anonymous company source, reported that Country Garden suffered “temporary liquidity pressure” due to deteriorating sales and a difficult refinancing environment. It was “actively” seeking funds to resolve the debt crunch and would protect the legitimate rights of creditors, the person was quoted as saying.

Although Country Garden still has a 30-day grace period before it can be labeled as a defaulter, the collapse in market confidence shows investors are worried about the company’s future.

Ranked No.1 by sales last year, Country Garden is one of the few major private developers yet to default since a liquidity crisis engulfed China’s property sector more than two years ago.

An aerial view of a residential project developed by Country Garden Holdings is seen in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province on October 31, 2021.

But the company slid to No. 5 by sales in the first half of this year, according to the China Index Academy — a leading Chinese real estate research firm, a sign that even the biggest players in the industry are suffering from the worst slump the country’s property market has seen.

“If Country Garden, the biggest privately owned developer in China goes down, that could trigger a crisis in confidence for the property sector,” said Edward Moya, a senior market analyst for Oanda.

Country Garden’s stock has lost more than 30% of its value since last week, after it warned of an unaudited net loss for the first six months of the year.

“The company will actively consider taking various countermeasures to ensure the security of cash flow,” it said in an exchange filing on July 31. “Meanwhile, it will actively seek guidance and support from the government and regulatory authorities,” it added.

The next day, it was reported to have canceled an attempt to raise $300 million by selling new shares.

On Aug. 3, Moody’s downgraded Country Garden’s credit rating to B1 — meaning it considers its debt to be “high risk.”

“The downgrade reflects our expectation that Country Garden’s credit metrics and liquidity buffer will weaken due to its declining contracted sales, still-constrained funding access and sizable maturing debt over the next 12 to 18 months,” Kaven Tsang, a senior vice president at Moody’s, said in a statement.

China’s property industry has been mired in a historic downturn in the past two years. Households have grown reluctant to purchase new homes, as the now-defunct Covid curbs, falling home prices and rising unemployment discouraged would-be buyers.

A series of major defaults by property giants in 2021 also undermined confidence in the sector and led to many home buyers paying for apartments they never received, sparking rare protests.

New home sales by China’s 100 biggest developers dropped by 33% in July from a year ago, marking the steepest monthly decline since July 2022, according to industry statistics released last week.

Investors see the revival of the sector as crucial to the recovery of the economy after three years of self-imposed coronavirus pandemic isolation.

Recent signals from top policymakers suggest Beijing is getting increasingly worried about growth and have recognized the need to bolster the sector.

Last Monday, Premier Li Qiang pledged to “adjust and optimize” policies to ensure the healthy and stable development of the property market, urging cities to roll out measures that meet their own needs,

Last month, the People’s Bank of China said it would give developers another 12 months to repay their outstanding loans due this year.

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Avian influenza: Symptoms of the disease and how it affects birds and humans

Avian influenza is a disease that is more commonly seen in birds but can also spread to humans. 

It can be fatal to humans.

It has wreaked havoc on bird populations around the globe. 

HOW TO PREVENT AND TREAT ILLNESSES THAT ARE MOST COMMON DURING SUMMER MONTHS

Here is information about avian influenza, including symptoms, how it is detected in humans and methods for prevention. 

Multiple chickens

Avian influenza is more common in birds than humans.  (iStock)

  1. What is avian influenza?
  2. Is avian influenza a serious threat?
  3. What are the symptoms of avian influenza?
  4. How do you prevent avian influenza?

1. What is avian influenza?

Avian influenza, or bird flu, is more commonly seen in wild birds, but it can also spread to domestic poultry and to humans. 

The risk of a human catching avian influenza is low. 

It can be passed from bird to human, or from human to human. It spreads through infected birds’ saliva, mucus and feces. 

Avian influenza is rare in humans and much more common in birds. 

2. Is avian influenza a serious threat? 

Avian influenza can be a serious threat to humans who contract it. The symptoms can be mild or severe. 

It can be fatal to humans when it leads to pneumonia. 

Those who work with animals closely are at higher risk of catching the disease, although the overall risk is still low. 

Since 2003, there have been just over 850 human cases on a global scale and 457 of those cases were fatal, giving the disease a 53% fatality rate in humans, according to The National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center (NETEC).  

Woman with flu

Someone who gets avian flu will likely experience normal flu-like symptoms. The illness can be fatal to humans. (iStock)

While the fatality rate for humans is high, there is a near 100% fatality rate for birds with the disease. 

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It can also spread very quickly among animals because they often don’t show many symptoms of the disease. 

3. What are the symptoms of avian influenza? 

Humans who catch avian influenza typically experience no symptoms to mild symptoms. 

Those with severe cases will experience common flu-like symptoms such as cough, headache, shortness of breath, sore throat, fever, chills, fatigue and runny nose. 

Avian influenza is diagnosed through laboratory testing. 

4. How do you prevent avian influenza?

You can protect yourself and other animals in your care or that you work with on a day-to-day basis by following safety practices.

Chickens in a group

Avian influenza has a near 100% fatality rate among birds.  (AP Photo/Erin Hooley, File)

Use protective gear such as gloves and eye protection when handling possibly infected birds. 

Also, keep your hands away from your nose, mouth and eyes after coming in direct or indirect contact with birds.

Wash your hands as frequently as you can and change your clothes after dealing with birds. 

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There are also precautions to keep birds safe. 

Keep their habitat spotless, keep equipment clean, buy birds only from reputable vendors, limit visitors coming in contact with the birds, avoid contact with wild birds — and have a plan in case one or more birds become sick.

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5 Croatians arrested in Greece following deadly stabbing of a Greek soccer fan outside stadium

Police in Greece have arrested five Croatian nationals allegedly involved in deadly soccer fan violence, apprehending them as they attempted to flee the country.

The arrests were announced Wednesday, a day after a 29-year-old Greek fan was stabbed to death outside AEK Athens’ stadium, prompting the cancellation of a Champions League qualifier against Dinamo Zagreb.

The five suspects were detained in the northwestern port of Igoumenitsa as they prepared to board a ferry bound for Italy, police said. More than 90 other suspects are due to appear before a magistrate in Athens for their alleged involvement in attacks that left 10 people injured. Four remain hospitalized.

FLORIDA MAN ARRESTED FOR MURDER OF WIFE WHOSE REMAINS WERE FOUND IN 3 SUITCASES

More violence was feared Wednesday as Athens club Panathinaikos faces Marseille in a Champions League qualifier, which was set to go ahead under strict security measures at Leoforos Stadium in the center of the Greek capital.

Greek Public Order Minister Giannis Oikonomou said the police had made “tragic errors” in failing to stop the traveling Croatian supporters and failing to act on information that clashes were likely. He has dismissed calls from opposition parties to resign and suspended seven police officers, including several in senior positions, pending an investigation and their reassignment or dismissal.

men cover their faces during police escort

Soccer fans, mostly from Croatia, cover their faces as police escort them outside the Athens Police Headquarters in Greece on Aug. 9, 2023.  (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Outside AEK’s Opap Arena, fans set up tributes to the supporter who was killed — identified by family members as Michalis Katsouris from a town near Athens — leaving flowers and candles at the site where he died of a stab wound.

AEK says it has called on European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, to impose “immediate and severe punishment” on Dinamo Zagreb, expressing disappointment that the qualifier will go ahead in Zagreb later this month.

MINNESOTA HOCKEY COACH DIES AFTER BEING PUNCHED OUTSIDE BAR IN SOCIAL DISTANCING DISPUT: REPORT

“The question that torments our fans is one that we described from the outset and that also torments us: How is it possible that following the brutal murder of Michalis by a gang of vicious criminals from Croatia, for AEK Athens to enter the field and play against this team?” AEK said.

“Will any of his killers be in the stands?”

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The Croatian government and Dinamo Zagreb have both strongly condemned that attacks in Athens. And in a joint statement, the mayors of Athens and Zagreb, Kostas Bakoyannis and Tomislav Tomasevic appealed for calm.

“Athens and Zagreb maintain friendly ties, and as mayors we are committed to strengthening them,” they wrote. “This senseless violence has no place in our stadiums, in our cities and in our societies.”

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Amazon nations fail to agree on a common goal to end deforestation



CNN
 — 

Eight South American countries failed to agree on a common goal to save the critically vulnerable Amazon from deforestation following a landmark summit in Brazil Tuesday, a concerning outcome as the world’s largest rainforest acts as a key buffer against the climate crisis.

It was the first time in more than a decade that member states of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) had met, with the aim of establishing definite goals to avoid a point of no return for the vital rainforest.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been advocating for a common regional policy to end deforestation by 2030, promising his country will reach zero deforestation.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased rapidly under Lula da Silva’s predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, and some scientists have warned the rainforest may be approaching a critical tipping point that could see it transformed into a grassy savannah, with huge implications for biodiversity and the climate crisis.

“We haven’t met in 14 years. This is the first time that we meet here in [the state of] Pará, and the first time in the context of a severe worsening of the climate crisis,” Lula da Silva said during his opening remarks Tuesday in the Brazilian city of Belém.

“It has never been so urgent to resume and to expand on this cooperation. The challenges of our era and the opportunities that are before us demand joint action.”

Indigenous people from Amazon countries and members of social movements take part in the March of the Peoples of the Earth for the Amazon in Belém, Para State, Brazil, on August 8.

The Brazilian President and heads of state from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, along with top officials from Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname, did sign a list of environmental efforts, called the Declaration of Belém, to “advance in a new common agenda in the Amazon.”

The 113-point agenda of cooperation included creating an association called the Amazon Alliance to Fight Deforestation among States Parties, “aiming at stopping the Amazon region from reaching the point of no return,” according to a Brazilian government news release.

The alliance would also promote the “compliance of national goals, including the ones related to zero deforestation through the elimination of illegal logging, by strengthening the implementation of forest legislation,” the release said.

However, the failure to agree on a common policy to end deforestation in the Amazon is concerning, as the fate of the rainforest is critical to the health of the planet.

It is home to a unique array of animal and plant life, and is crucial to maintaining a global climate balance because it stores a huge amount of carbon and strongly influences global weather patterns.

According to CNN affiliate CNN Brasil, Guyana, Suriname and Bolivia left the meeting refusing to agree on a goal.

Data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research show the rate of deforestation under Bolsonaro’s presidency climbed by more than 70% from 2018 to 2021.

Scientists say about three-quarters of the rainforest is showing signs of “resilience loss” – a reduced ability to recover from disturbances like drought, logging and fires.

And already the Amazon is emitting more carbon dioxide than it absorbs in some locations, a shift that could have an enormously negative impact on planet heating trends. If the Amazon is not protected, it will also be much harder to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

On Monday, Colombia backed an indigenous-led global pact to protect 80% of the Amazon by 2025.

Colombian Environment Minister Susana Muhamad called on all eight ACTO state members to join the “Amazonia for Life 80% by 2025” initiative “so that we find a common purpose.”

Preliminary data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research released last week shows deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell by 66% last month compared to July 2022 and is now at its lowest rate in six years – promising news at a time when the rainforest remains critically vulnerable.

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Fire brakes out in French holiday home for people with intellectual disabilities, 11 reported missing

French authorities say 11 people are missing after a fire broke out early on Wednesday in a holiday home for people with disabilities in eastern France while 17 others have been evacuated.

Interior minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted that “early this morning, a fire broke out in a facility for disabled people” in the small town of Wintzenheim, close to the border with Germany. “Despite the rapid and courageous intervention of the fire department … several casualties are reported,” he said. Rescue operations were still ongoing.

The local administration of the Haut-Rhin region said the fire broke out at 6:30 a.m. in private accommodation in Wintzenheim. Seventeen people were evacuated, including one person sent to a hospital in a “relative emergency.”

CALIFORNIA FIREFIGHTING HELICOPTER CRASHES AFTER MID-AIR COLLISION DURING FIRE RESPONSE, MULTIPLE DEAD 

Christophe Marot, the secretary general of the local administration, said on news broadcaster France Info the group includes adults with “slight intellectual disabilities.” He said that 10 disabled people and one person accompanying the group are among the missing.

The group usually lives in the city of Nancy, in eastern France, the statement from the Haut-Rhin prefecture said. “The building was being used … for their vacation,” it added.

map of France

A graphic shows the location of a fire that broke out in Wintzenheim, eastern France, on Aug. 9, 2023, in a holiday home for people with disabilities. (AP Photo/Jennifer Magno)

The fire department deployed 76 firefighters, four fire engines and four ambulances to contain the blaze and treat the victims. Forty police officers were also mobilized.

The fire was quickly brought under control, the statement said.

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French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: “In the face of this tragedy, my thoughts are with the victims, the injured and their families. Thank you to our security forces and emergency services.”

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on X that she was heading to the site of the fire.

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China slips into deflation as consumer prices fall for the first time in more than two years


Hong Kong
CNN
 — 

The Chinese economy has slipped into deflation, with consumer prices falling for the first time in more than two years in another sign of weakening demand.

The consumer price index (CPI) fell by 0.3% in July from a year ago, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday. That’s the first time the index has fallen since February 2021.

The cost of food, transportation, and household goods all declined in July. In particular, pork prices were down 26%, and vegetable prices were down 1.5%.

The producer price index (PPI), which measures goods prices at the factory gate, also dropped by 4.4% in July from a year earlier. It was the 10th straight drop in PPI, and the first time since November 2020 that consumer and producer prices have fallen in the same month.

Signs of deflation have become more prevalent in the world’s second biggest economy in recent months, sparking concerns that China could enter a prolonged period of stagnation.

“Evidence of combined consumer and producer price deflation undoubtedly endorse the notion of a broad-based economic slowdown in China, ” said analysts from ING Group in a research note on Wednesday.

China’s gross domestic product barely grew in the April to June period compared with the previous quarter, as an initial burst in economic activity triggered by the lifting of pandemic restrictions late last year faded. China is also suffering from a prolonged slump in its real estate sector, and weak trade.

China refrained from the giant Covid-era support seen in developed economies. While this helped it avoid the rampant inflation shock seen elsewhere, disposable household income fell as wages and property asset values simultaneously stalled, UBS analysts said in a recent research note

The government has tweaked interest rates, promised more support for the private sector and incremental steps to boost the property market but those measures have done little to revive the economic recovery.

Analysts say Beijing must roll out more forceful plans to restore confidence and stimulate consumer spending.

“The economic momentum continues to weaken due to lacklustre domestic demand,” said Zhiwei Zhang, president and chief economist for Pinpoint Asset Management.

CPI deflation may put more pressure on the government to consider additional fiscal stimulus, he added.

Beijing’s scope for a big stimulus package is limited, however, by concerns about rising levels of national debt.

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