Seven reasons why Arsenal’s Premier League rivals should be worried including transfer business and Arteta effect

ARSENAL fans always seem to have something to complain about – and the build up to this season appears to be no different.

Even after so much genuine positivity in July and August, the transfer window does tend to bring out the worst in us supporters.

EPA

Mikel Arteta is on a mission to bring the glory days back to Arsenal [/caption]

Particularly when, despite the riches of the owner, Arsenal are operating a self-sustaining model and need to offload player, to buy new ones and when other clubs know this, selling at good prices is all the harder.

Yes we are not getting or being quoted full value to Martinez, Bellerin or Torreira BUT it is not our money and if the club bring in the funds they need to buy the players Arteta has identified and asked for then all’s well that ends well.

When it comes to Arsenal ahead of the new season, opening at Craven Cottage, I am certainly a glass much more than half full kind of guy. Here’s why.

WORK OF ART

In Arteta I am convinced we have a coach, or should I say manager, to genuinely believe in and take us forwards.

He is articulate, focused, prepared to delegate to specialists and
crucially smart enough and willing to adapt both for the opposition and within games.

THE ‘ARSENAL WAY’

Arteta is also a student of Arsenal and understands the ‘Arsenal Way’ which is critical to being a success at this club.

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Having dispensed with the services of Sanllehi, I think the relationship he has with Edu, another Arsenal Man, is vital to the success and to bringing
in the right players for this team.

Their relative inexperience, in my opinion, is more than compensated for by their passion and conviction for their Arsenal project.

As we have already heard from our new signing Gabriel, this is what brought him to the Emirates.

DELEGATION IS KEY

The Club are embracing the restructure to give Arteta the team and set up he believes will make the team successful on the pitch.

However, unlike in the later Wenger era, Arteta is building a team he can delegate to.

A team of specialist coaches, all with specific roles to give him the marginal gains he sees as crucial.

Getty Images – Getty

Arsenal signed Willian from London rivals Chelsea[/caption]

GOOD SIGN

The new additions are wholly positive to date.

We have huge potential in the two new central defenders and a wily old fox in Willian, will bags of experience and a winning mentality to pass on to Saka, Smith-Rowe and Nelson.

THE REAL DEAL

Virtually all the players Arteta wants are now on longer deals and of course we await seem to have the long-awaited news of the worst kept secret in football, that Aubameyang has bought into Arteta’s dream.

This includes the generational talent that is Martinelli who I think most seen as Auba’s heir apparent.

Getty Images – Getty

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks set to extend his contract with Arsenal[/caption]

PARTEY TIME

There is still some work to be in the central midfield area, but I am convinced Thomas Partey, Arteta’s number one target will arrive sooner rather than later and the return of Dani Ceballos for this campaign is a huge boost.

The Spaniard was arguably the most effective midfielder in the Premier League post lockdown and he has a Euro place in his sights to drive him on.

TACTICAL SMARTS

Arteta proved consistently at the end of last season and in the Community Shield, he has the tactical smarts to out-think the big boys.

I believe with more time and the final pieces of is midfield jigsaw, which may even include Ozil’s vision from the bench, I am convinced he will add the creative nous to similarly break down lesser teams set up to
defend in numbers.

For all of the above reasons and so many more, such as an irrational feeling that Eddie Nketiah will be a surprise package.

Maitland-Niles may well end up starring in midfield, Pepe will have a Pires like second season and Willian might play centrally between the lines.

I cannot wait for this campaign.

Getty – Contributor

Mikel Arteta has a good relationship with club director Edu[/caption]

This content was originally published here.

Ian Wright admits new Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang deal would be Arsenal’s most ‘significant’ business this summer

Aubameyang is yet to have officially signed a new deal

Aubameyang is yet to have officially signed a new deal (Picture: Getty Images)

Arsenal legend Ian Wright says the most vital piece of business Mikel Arteta needs to take care of this summer is tying down Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to a new contract.

The Gabon international is yet to commit his future to the north London club with less than a year remaining on his current deal.

Aubameyang once again proved his worth to the Gunners last season, scoring 29 goals in all competitions, including a brace in the FA Cup victory over Chelsea.

The 31-year-old carried his good form over to the new campaign, scoring the winning penalty in the Community Shield to beat Premier League champions Liverpool at Wembley.

The Gunners have already completed the signings of Willian and Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille, while Atletico’s Thomas Partey is a priority signing.

Wright believes persuading Aubameyang to extend his stay at the Emirates is Mikel Arteta’s most important task this summer.

‘To be honest, I think he will be the most significant signing Mikel can make,’ Wright told Good Morning Britain.

Wright says Arsenal must tie down Auba

Wright says Arsenal must tie down Auba (Picture: Getty Images)

‘We do need to make that happen, simply because of what he brings to that team. When you look at the chances created for Arsenal, they were 16th in the league and he still scored the amount of goals he scored.

‘So if you can imagine, we can start creating more with the players we have signed – the Willians and people like that – then he is going to score more goals.

‘It is imperative that he signs.’

Speaking after the Community Shield win, Arteta once again reiterated his confidence that Aubameyang will put pen to paper on a new deal.

‘I keep saying the same thing,’ the Spaniard told BT Sport. ‘I try to do my job, which is convince him that he is in the right place, that he has the environment here to produce the moments like he’s done today and he’s done here three weeks ago.

‘I am very positive that he’s going to sign but a lot of time there’s a lot of things involved in a contract deal and we are trying to show him.’

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Judge dismisses Trump’s second attempt to block criminal investigation into his business dealings

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A federal judge has dismissed Donald Trump’s second attempt to block a criminal investigation into him by Manhattan prosecutor Cyrus Vance, who is seeking to subpoena eight years of the president’s tax filings.

“Under their theory of temporary absolute immunity, even if the President (presumably any president) while in office were to shoot a person in the middle of New York’s Fifth Avenue, he or she would be shielded from law enforcement investigations and judicial proceedings of any kind, federal or state, until the expiration of the President’s term,” the federal judge wrote, denying the president’s lawsuit motioning to end Mr Vance’s investigation.

That legal theory is “as unprecedented and far-reaching as it is perilous to the rule of law and other bedrock constitutional principles on which this country was founded and by which it continues to be governed,” the judge wrote.

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The president’s legal defence team has appealed the ruling.

In 2019, Mr Vance’s office subpoenaed the Mr Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for eight years of personal and business tax filings — which the president has refused to make public — following a criminal investigation into “hush money” payments arranged by the president’s former attorney, Michael Cohen.

Those alleged hush payments were an attempt to quash accusations from adult film star Stormy Daniels that she had had an affair with Mr Trump years earlier.

Mr Vance wrote in a court filing earlier this month that his office was investigating the president for “alleged bank and insurance fraud,” accusations Mr Trump has dismissed as “just a continuation of the witch hunt” against him.

“They failed with Mueller, they failed with everything. They failed with Congress. They failed at every stage of the game,” Mr Trump said at a press conference earlier this month.

“This has been going on for three and a half, four years, even before I got in,” he said.

Mr Vance’s investigative impetus rests largely on public media reports about Mr Trump’s business dealings.

His district court filings point to ”undisputed” news reports about the president’s businesses and his wealth that would justify a legal basis for a subpoena to probe those records. The Manhattan DA’s office did not identify the explicit focus of its investigation.

Mr Trump has spent nearly his entirely presidency fending off accusations of corruption, including campaign finance crimes, financial crime and ethical mismanagement related to his business empire, and ties between his campaign and Russia, to name just a few.

Mr Cohen, who is roughly halfway through a prison sentence after pleading guilty to lying to Congress about an ultimately unsuccessful bid to build a Trump Tower in Moscow in 2016, has accused Mr Trump under congressional oath of inflating the value of his various properties in business negotiations, only to deflate them on his tax returns.

“It was my experience that Mr Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes,” Mr Cohen told the House Oversight Committee last year.

This content was originally published here.

Judge dismisses Trump’s second attempt to block criminal investigation into his business dealings

The Independent employs reporters around the world to bring you truly independent journalism. To support us, please consider a contribution.

A federal judge has dismissed Donald Trump’s second attempt to block a criminal investigation into him by Manhattan prosecutor Cyrus Vance, who is seeking to subpoena eight years of the president’s tax filings.

“Under their theory of temporary absolute immunity, even if the President (presumably any president) while in office were to shoot a person in the middle of New York’s Fifth Avenue, he or she would be shielded from law enforcement investigations and judicial proceedings of any kind, federal or state, until the expiration of the President’s term,” the federal judge wrote, denying the president’s lawsuit motioning to end Mr Vance’s investigation.

That legal theory is “as unprecedented and far-reaching as it is perilous to the rule of law and other bedrock constitutional principles on which this country was founded and by which it continues to be governed,” the judge wrote.

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Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

The president’s legal defence team has appealed the ruling.

In 2019, Mr Vance’s office subpoenaed the Mr Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for eight years of personal and business tax filings — which the president has refused to make public — following a criminal investigation into “hush money” payments arranged by the president’s former attorney, Michael Cohen.

Those alleged hush payments were an attempt to quash accusations from adult film star Stormy Daniels that she had had an affair with Mr Trump years earlier.

Mr Vance wrote in a court filing earlier this month that his office was investigating the president for “alleged bank and insurance fraud,” accusations Mr Trump has dismissed as “just a continuation of the witch hunt” against him.

“They failed with Mueller, they failed with everything. They failed with Congress. They failed at every stage of the game,” Mr Trump said at a press conference earlier this month.

“This has been going on for three and a half, four years, even before I got in,” he said.

Mr Vance’s investigative impetus rests largely on public media reports about Mr Trump’s business dealings.

His district court filings point to ”undisputed” news reports about the president’s businesses and his wealth that would justify a legal basis for a subpoena to probe those records. The Manhattan DA’s office did not identify the explicit focus of its investigation.

Mr Trump has spent nearly his entirely presidency fending off accusations of corruption, including campaign finance crimes, financial crime and ethical mismanagement related to his business empire, and ties between his campaign and Russia, to name just a few.

Mr Cohen, who is roughly halfway through a prison sentence after pleading guilty to lying to Congress about an ultimately unsuccessful bid to build a Trump Tower in Moscow in 2016, has accused Mr Trump under congressional oath of inflating the value of his various properties in business negotiations, only to deflate them on his tax returns.

“It was my experience that Mr Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes,” Mr Cohen told the House Oversight Committee last year.

This content was originally published here.

South Auckland Mad Butcher owner dies suddenly after business goes into liquidation | Stuff.co.nz

A young butcher has died suddenly, less than a week after his shop went into liquidation.

Roy Green, 38, and his wife Amanda had owned Pukekohe Mad Butcher, in south Auckland, for five years.

Green was well-known in the Franklin community and supported various sporting and charitable organisations.

He and his staff had featured in several Stuff stories, most recently for their support in donating meat for the Franklin County News Smiles for Christmas appeal.

The company was placed into liquidation on Tuesday and Victoria Toon of Corporate Restructuring Ltd was appointed liquidator.

Toon is seeking claims from creditors until June 3.

Mad Butcher Pukekohe is one of a string of Mad Butcher stores that have been liquidated over the past year.

It is not yet known if the store closed due to the impacts of Covid-19 or a separate matter.

FACEBOOK/SUPPLIED
About six weeks ago, Pukekohe Mad Butcher owner Roy Green took to Facebook to thank locals for their support, and urged them to stay safe.

In November, Mad Butcher Northcote on Auckland’s North Shore closed its door for good when its franchise agreement with Mad Butcher Holdings ended and was not extended.

It followed the closure of Mad Butcher stores in Glen Innes and Albany earlier last year after the companies running them were placed into liquidation.

In a video with TVNZ during alert level 4, Green said many stores like his were struggling.

“We’re just struggling big time, we need to sell meat to actually make any money,” Green said.

“And at the moment we’re not selling meat, so we’re not making any money.

“The money I do have in the bank is all going to outgoings at the moment, it’s just a tough struggle.

The shop had been turning over $92,000 per week prior to the lockdown but was making no money in level 4, TVNZ reported.

JACKSON THOMAS/STUFF
Mad Butcher store numbers have dramatically decreased over the past few years (file pic).

“The stress at the moment we’re under trying to pay everyone is ridiculous.

“I’ve spent nights awake in bed.

“Some nights I’ve sat there crying, wondering what I’m going to do next. It’s just not fair.”

On April 25, a post to the Mad Butcher Pukekohe Facebook page said the shop would not be opening in alert level 3.

The Mad Butcher opened on the first day of the lockdown, saying it met the definition of an essential business, but they were eventually told to shut.

Mad Butcher store numbers have dramatically decreased over the past few years. There have been more than 20 outlet liquidations, of which six franchisees have been liquidated since 2017. The numbers do not include stores that have closed at the end of franchise agreements.

In a statement, police said they were called to reports of a sudden death at a Tuakau property just after 10pm on Sunday.

“Police are not treating the death as suspicious and it will be referred to the coroner,” a police spokeswoman said. 

Tributes to Green have been posted on social media, with his local club Tuakau Rugby League saying he was a huge part of their community.

Green coached his son’s under 6 team and was a “committee member that went above and beyond to support our club” the post read

WHERE TO GET HELP

If you, or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed, counsellors are available 24/7:

0800 LIFELINE (0800 54 33 54) or free text HELP (4357)

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 TAUTOKO (0508 82 88 65)

Kidsline: 0800 54 37 54

Youthline: 0800 376 633 or free text 234.

If it’s an emergency, please phone 111.

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‘No FUR-loughs’: BBC commentator stages hilarious Zoom ‘business meeting’ with his two dogs  | Daily Mail Online

‘No FUR-loughs’: BBC commentator stages hilarious Zoom ‘business meeting’ with his two dogs

A BBC Sport commentator and his two labradors have entertained fans on Twitter with a hilarious video of a team meeting on Zoom.

Andrew Cotter, 46, who lives in Cheshire, posted a video last month of his dogs Olive and Mabel competing in an eating race and a tug-of-war over a toy.

Now the trio have returned in another video where they are holding a company meeting.

When posting the video Andrew commented: ‘Still having the company meetings online.’ 

Andrew Cotter, 46, and his labradors Olive and Mabel have returned in anther hilarious video. This time the trio are holding a business meeting

At first both labradors seem to struggle with the technology as Andrew walks them through turning on their cameras.

He says: ‘Mabel you are connected but you need to start your video. Down at the bottom of the screen there’s a little camera, looks like a biscuit, if you just nudge it with your nose.’ 

Andrew tells his dogs that they won’t be furloughed and that the dogs are expected to show the same loyalty to him. 

It doesn’t take long for Mabel to start staring into the distance prompting Andrew to pick her up on her lack of focus.

‘This is one of the things that we have to address,’ he says, ‘the lack of focus at times because well there’s the inappropriate stuff with Kevin the Doberman from accounts as well but one thing at a time.’

Part way through the performance reviews Mabel is is told to turn her camera off if she needs to scratch so the rest of them don’t have to see it

She reappears after scratching with a green squeaky toy in her mouth, much to the annoyance of Andrew who says he has to mute her to continue talking with Olive

He then delivers the annual report: ‘You’ve pretty much ruined the sofas. 913 squirrels chased, none caught, so not a good return.’

The report seems to bore Mabel though who turns away and begins scratching herself.

Andrew tells her to switch her camera off if she needs to scratch so that the rest of them don’t have to see it. 

Mabel returns to the video after having retrieved a squeaky toy.

Olive receives a message from head office telling her ‘you’re a good dog, yes you are. Who’s a good dog? You’re a good dog.’

Towards the end of the video Mabel leaves the call and Andrew considers firing her but doesn’t because ‘she gets such good results’.

Olive is allowed to sign off from the meeting after being told she is a ‘good dog’ but Mabel (pictured) is told to start addressing some of her shortcomings

Replying to the video on Twitter, one person said: ‘Andrew, you’re brightening up my life and it was already pretty good anyway! Keep em coming!’

Another, Eloise Baily said: ‘Andrew, Olive and Mabel…and you a bit…have easily been the best thing to come out of lockdown. Genuinely, thank you.’

While Graham Love commented: ‘You just raised the game .’

In April, Mabel and Olive shot to internet fame after Andrew Cotter posted a video of him commentating as the dogs competed in an eating race and a play fight over a toy.

Describing the eating match in the earlier video Andrew says: ‘Mabel heavy tail use, happy to be alive, everything is amazing. Olive more steady, wasting little energy, very much of the old Labrador school of serious business.

‘Olive, focused, relentless, tasting absolutely nothing… Nothing left but the bowl to lick now.

‘Great rivals but great friends. You see the swapping of bowls there at the end.’

Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds even retweeted the clip with laughing emojis.

‘No FUR-loughs’: BBC commentator stages hilarious Zoom ‘business meeting’ with his two dogs 

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Texas judge JAILS defiant hair salon owner who opened her business despite stay-at-home orders | Daily Mail Online

Texas salon owner Shelley Luther was sentenced to seven days in jail on Tuesday for refusing to shut down her business in accordance with stay-at-home orders. Pictured in mug Tuesday

The defiant Texas salon owner who refused to close her business despite stay-at-home restrictions and repeated court orders has been sentenced to seven days in jail. 

Shelley Luther, the owner of Salon a la Mode in Dallas, appeared in court on Tuesday where she was sentenced to seven days behind bars and $7,000 – $500 for each day she opened her business’ doors.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s started phase one of Texas reopenings last week, but did not allow salons to resume business – but that didn’t stop Luther from opening up. 

Dallas County Judge Eric Moyé found Luther in criminal and civil contempt of court and told her she owed local leaders an apology.

He gave her the opportunity to admit fault and offered to commute her sentence if she apologized for ‘being seflish’, but Luther refused to admit she did anything wrong. 

Dallas County Judge Eric Moyé found Luther in criminal and civil contempt of court on Tuesday and sentenced her to a week in jail and to pay $500 to the court for every day she opened her salon. Luther pictured in court Tuesday

The Judge gave her the opportunity to admit fault and offered to commute her sentence if she apologized for ‘being selifsh’ but she refused saying: ‘I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say that I am selfish because feeding my kids is not selfish’

If the salon continues to operate, the judge ordered Luther to pay $500 each day through May 8, which is when Texas will allow said salons and barbershops to reopen

‘I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say that I am selfish because feeding my kids is not selfish. I have hair stylists that are going hungry because they’d rather feed their kids. So sir, if you think the law is more important than kids being fed, then please go ahead with your decision. But I’m not going to shut the salon,’ she said before the judge.  

If the salon continues to operate, the judge ordered Luther to pay $500 each day through May 8, which is when Texas will allow salons and barbershops to reopen. 

‘The defiance of the court’s order was open, flagrant and intentional, Moyé wrote in his decision. ‘The defendants, although having been given an opportunity to do so, have expressed no contrition, remorse or regret for their contemptuous action.’ 

Luther reopened her Dallas business Salon a La Mode on April 24 and repeatedly ignored court orders to close up shop

Luther pictured holding her citation and speaking to the media after she was cited by City of Dallas officials for reopening her Salon A la Mode in Dallas, Friday April 24

Luther pictured being issued a citation by Dallas City officials on Friday April 24

A man carrying a rifle and Texas flag stands with salon owner Shelley Luther, left, and others in front of her salon on Friday April 24

Luther had received multiple citations for opening her business on April 24. 

On April 24 she received a cease and desist letter from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

She received a court-issued temporary restraining order on April 28 mandating she close her business.

Last week on Wednesday Luther shared a Facebook Live video saying she intended to remain fully open and that it was her right to. 

‘I’m still here, I’m standing for your rights and Salon A La Mode is open for business,’ she said.

On April 25 at an Open Texas rally to reopen businesses in Frisco, Texas, she ripped her cease and desist letter that was issued Friday into pieces before a cheering crowd.

Luther is one of many Texans who are rallying for the state to completely lift all closures and lockdown measures to reopen the economy. Pictured April 25 speaking at Open Texas rally in Frisco

Luther pictured speaking at an Open Texas rally in Frisco, Texas on April 25 where she ripped up the citation the state issued her for opening her salon

Luther says that her business needs to be open because her hairstylists need to work to provide for their families. She argues that her salon is a safe and clean environment that doesn’t pose a threat in spreading COVID-19.

‘I can’t afford to not stay open, and my stylists can’t afford to stop working anymore,’ Luther said to ABC13 over the weekend. ‘We’re about to lose everything and haven’t gotten any help, so I had to make a decision.’  

There have been widespread protests to lockdown measures in Texas, with hundreds calling on Gov. Abbott to full open the state despite his incremental opening plan.

In Texas, there are more than 33,900 cases of COVID-19 and 925 deaths.

Texas judge JAILS defiant hair salon owner who opened her business despite stay-at-home orders

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Coronavirus: Business owner pockets $150,000 from Government wage subsidy, and he’s not paying it back | Stuff.co.nz

The managing director of a construction firm says he has made $150,000 profit from the Government’s wage subsidy, and he has no intention of paying it back.

Tony Black, of Black Steel, received $239,000 as part of the Government’s $10 billion emergency payout to ensure businesses could pay staff during lockdown.

Black says the shutdown has so far cost him about $80,000, and he’s planning to have his 40 employees back at work on Tuesday, when tens of thousands of workers in the construction, restaurant and manufacturing industries are expected to return to work under alert level 3 conditions.

Black says his business is in good shape and will likely emerge out of lockdown with plenty of work, but may still incur losses over the three month period that the wage subsidy covers.

“At the moment, I’m keeping that as security for my guys’ wages and stuff because I have to keep paying them.

“I don’t believe there’s any legislation in place to enforce anyone to give it back. It was just a stupid idea from the beginning from our Labour Government.

“I’m at a loss as to why the government gave away so much money in a lolly scramble.

Tony Black, is managing director of Black Steel.

“I’m going to use it to pay my staff and keep my cashflow up and ensure that my guys have still got a job in five months time.”

On Friday, Finance Minister Grant Robertson warned the Government was coming after businesses who had wrongly received wage subsidies.

He said $17.5m was being repaid by more than 1200 companies, most of which had been paid in error. 

A specialist investigations team from the Ministry of Social Development is working with the IRD to ensure the scheme was not being abused, and random and targeted audits into 2435 wage subsidy claims and 292 allegations of abuse of the scheme had led to 56 applicants being asked to repay just over $1m.

Robertson said the false claims represented a “fraction” of the 500,000 claims for $10.3 billion that had been paid out so far.

Black said the Government was “stupid” to pay out three months of wages in one go.

“We’ve got people making really big decisions without a lot of forethought, and it frustrates the hell out of me. Our government seems to be giving money away left right and centre.” 

Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images
Finance Minister Grant Robertson says there are a team of investigators keeping an eye on wage subsidy claims.

Black said his business, which does steel fabrication for residential construction in the Auckland area, had outgoings of $190,000 a month for rent, insurance and wages alone.

“The amount of money I need to keep running is massive.”

He said many other businesses in the construction sector didn’t need the millions of dollars in wage subsidies they received to survive.

And he accused the Government of overestimating the threat of the virus, pointing to Australia who have had a similar rate of coronavirus as New Zealand with less stringent lockdown measures.

“Had our Government stuck with level 3, we wouldn’t have needed that grant. It’s a physically transmitted disease, it’s not bubonic plague.

“Most people in this country haven’t got a clue what this is going to cost the country. They’re spending taxpayers’ money like there’s no end to it. 

“I’ve been through many recessions without any help. It cost me everything I had, and I pumped everything I had into it. Sometimes you’ve got to take the swings and the roundabouts.”

Black said operating in level 3 would present challenges, and staff would inevitably have to take more sick days.

“The second they get a sniffle or something, they can’t work. There are going to be a lot more costs running my business.

“I treat my staff like family. I’ve said as soon as we get down to the right level, I’m putting on a huge barbecue to say thanks. I look after my people.” 

A spokesman for the Ministry of Social Development said employers were notified at the time of applying for the subsidy that they may be subject to civil proceedings for the recovery of any amount received that they’re not entitled to.

“They could face prosecution for offences under the Crimes Act 1961 if they have provided false or misleading information; failed to meet any of the obligations about how to use the subsidy; or received any subsidy or part of a subsidy they were not entitled to.”

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China tells the US to mind its own business after Pentagon chief criticised Beijing over coronavirus | Daily Mail Online

China has hit back at the US telling it to mind its own business after the chief of Pentagon accused Beijing of misleading Washington and being opaque about the coronavirus pandemic.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said he does not trust that the Chinese leaders are being truthful about the global crisis even now.

Beijing today condemned the US over Esper’s comments, urging America to stop its political spin and spend more energy on the disease outbreak and its economy.

The news comes as Wuhan today revised up its death toll by 50 per cent, revealing that nearly 4,000 people, instead of 2,579, have died from the illness in the area.

Zhao Lijian (pictured on April 8), a spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, grilled US politicians and told them to focus on their own problems at a daily briefing on Friday

Zhao’s criticism comes after US Defense Secretary Mark Esper (pictured in an NBC show) accused Beijing of misleading Washington and being opaque about the coronavirus outbreak

China has revised the death toll in coronavirus ground-zero Wuhan, revealing that nearly 4,000 people have died from the illness in the area. The file picture from January 24 shows people wearing face masks queuing to see doctors at Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan

Continuing the Trump administration’s criticism of China’s handling of the virus outbreak, Esper told NBC’s ‘Today’ show on Thursday that he finds it difficult to believe information from the Chinese Communist Party.

‘They’ve been misleading us, they’ve been opaque if you will from the early days of this virus. So I don’t have much faith that they’re even being truthful with us now,’ he said.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, grilled US politicians at a daily briefing in Beijing on Friday.

He accused American leaders of covering up the truth of the pandemic and shifting its responsibilities by stigmatising China.

The official highlighted the ‘open, transparent and responsible’ attitude from China and praised the country’s ‘most comprehensive, strictest and most rigorous’ prevention measures.

Wuhan officials today said many fatal cases were ‘mistakenly reported’ or missed entirely in an admission that comes amid growing global doubts about Chinese transparency. Medical workers are pictured ready to swab samples from people for COVID-19 in Wuhan on April 16

Coronaviruses are so named because their structure has jagged edges which look like a royal crown – corona is crown in Latin (Pictured, an illustration of the COVID-19 virus released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Zhao slammed Washington for linking the coronavirus to a virus lab in Wuhan.

‘Anybody with any sense would know that [America’s] aim is to muddy the waters, divert people’s attention and evade its responsibilities.’

He stressed that the origin of a virus is a scientific problem and needs professional opinions.

Esper’s scepticism about the Chinese came in the wake of reports that the coronavirus originated in a Wuhan laboratory, not as a bioweapon, but as part of bungling experiments to prove that Chinese scientists were superior to Americans in identifying emerging virus threats.

Donald Trump (pictured on Wednesday) said the US was trying to determine whether or not the coronavirus first crossed to humans accidentally during experiments with bats in Wuhan

US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday his government was ‘doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation.’ US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Chinese ‘need to come clean’ on what they know.

But Zhao told a daily briefing yesterday that WHO officials ‘have said multiple times there is no evidence the new coronavirus was created in a laboratory.’

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday rejected as counterproductive attempts to blame Beijing for delaying informing the world about the coronavirus, the Kremlin said.

Putin and Xi spoke after US President Donald Trump’s administration berated China for not sharing data more quickly.

China’s President Xi Jinping (R) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, pictured November 2019, spoke after the US criticised China for not sharing information on the virus more quickly

Political tensions between China and the US have escalated after the two countries accused each other of being the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.

Zhao last month claimed on Twitter that the virus might have been brought to Wuhan by the US military.

He defended his accusation as ‘a reaction to some US politicians stigmatising China’.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has killed more than 145,000 people and infected over two million worldwide since the crisis began in Wuhan last December.

China tells the US to mind its own business after Pentagon chief criticised Beijing over coronavirus

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Call for veil of secrecy to be lifted as £5.5bn public money spent bailing out big business

The transparency of the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) has been called into question as it was revealed that another £3.6 billion has been drawn on, making a total £5.5 billion that big business has been bailed out with. 

Launched by the Bank of England and the Treasury in March, the CCFF allows large corporates which are able to issue investment grade debt to access newly created money from the central bank in exchange for commercial paper (short term debt). This means big businesses are being bailed out with public money.

Yet this is done under a veil of secrecy. The Treasury and the Bank of England refuse to divulge which corporates are being bailed out with public funds.

The CCFF scheme has also run into criticism because it favours big business at a time small and middle-sized companies are at great risk of being lost for good during the lockdown the Government has imposed. A recent British Chambers of Commerce survey found a majority of firms have just three months of cashflow or less. A report by The Corporate Finance Network of accountants predicted that almost a fifth (18 per cent) of Britain’s five million small businesses would not be able to survive the next month.

To qualify for the CCFF, a firm needed to be investment grade, as defined by a rating agency, which applied to just over 100 companies in the UK according to rating agency Fitch. After much criticism, the Chancellor of the Exchequer expanded the scheme, but the Bank of England criteria are still tight and rule out many businesses.

In the first week of the CCFF (23 March – 1 April 2020), the Bank of England bought nearly £1.9 billion of commercial paper from companies. The Bank bought up a further £3.626 billion of commercial paper between 1-8 April, bringing the total bailout so far to over £5.5 billion. The scheme will operate for at least 12 months.

Individual firms are allowed up to £1billion from the CCFF. There appears to be no limit to the amount of money the Bank of England is willing to create to fund the scheme. 

Coronavirus
Bank of England (PA)

Confidentiality agreement

The Bank of England states that “The names of issuers and securities purchased or eligible will not be made public.” In the CCFF scheme guidelines it adds: “We require companies that participate in the facility to sign a confidentiality agreement with the Bank.”

EasyJet is one of the few companies that reported its usage of the CCFF, announcing that it had drawn £600 million from it last week. However in doing so, EasyJet may have violated a confidentiality agreement with the Bank of England.

Despite the confidentiality agreement, housebuilder Redrow which last week revealed 80 per cent of its workforce had been furloughed said it will now have access to an extra £300m of banking facilities from the CCFF scheme which are currently undrawn. FTSE 250 listed housebuilder Crest Nicholson Holdings PLC also said it has furloughed three-quarters of its staff and added that it has qualified to apply for the CCFF on Thursday.

Greggs also said it secured £150 million from the fund after closing bakeries and furloughing thousands of staff with the taxpayer paying 80 per cent of the FTSE 250 bakery chain’s wages.

The Treasury refused to comment on why the public are unable to see which other corporates have been bailed out with public money, saying the Bank of England were taking a lead on the matter.

The Bank of England is yet to reply to our questions on why the public should not know which corporates public money is bailing out.

Set up in the aftermath of the financial crisis, Positive Money is a campaign for a fair and sustainable money and banking system which supports a fair, democratic and sustainable economy system. 

Fran Boait, executive director of Positive Money said: “It almost seems as if the Treasury and the Bank of England have engineered a way to bailout big businesses with public money without the public ever having to know. The severity of the current crisis does not mean that bailouts should be concealed from the public eye.

“The lack of transparency is made even more worrying by the fact there are no social or environmental conditions attached to the CCFF. We already know that an airline has been given hundreds of millions of pounds through the scheme. This begs the question of who else could be getting a bailout behind the scenes.

“The Bank of England should at the very least scrap the confidentiality of its bailout scheme going forward. The public has a right to know where public money is going.”

Meanwhile Rishi Sunak’s small business relief schemes have been criticised for qualifying out many of the businesses they are meant to protect.

Scores of ‘new-economy’ companies which rely on flexible work set-ups to survive have saying they have been found to be ineligible under coronavirus rescue schemes because they don’t meet the criteria.

The post Call for veil of secrecy to be lifted as £5.5bn public money spent bailing out big business appeared first on The London Economic.

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