FirstFT: At this time’s high tales | Monetary Occasions – The Shepherd of the Hills Gazette

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Fears are rising that Myanmar’s military junta will crack down on a popular resistance movement against the coup, after it sent army troops and vehicles into the streets on Monday and ordered internet providers to shut down services.

The military has warned that anti-coup protesters — who are calling for the release of their elected leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi and for the restoration of democracy — face up to 20 years in prison if they obstruct the armed forces. Many banks were closed in the city of Yangon as employees joined a general strike by civil servants and others, despite the increased presence of soldiers.

These developments came 14 days after Min Aung Hlaing, the army’s commander-in-chief, ordered the arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi and scores of other government officials and seized power. 

The internet was shut down after the Myanmar’s military junta floated a punitive cyber security law that would, once implemented, give authorities sweeping powers to censor online activity. In the first week after the coup it also ordered telecoms companies to block temporarily access to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and issued an order banning the use of VPNs.

The junta has escalated night-time arrests of opponents, reviving a tactic from the country’s old military regime that human rights groups said was designed to instil fear following the coup on February 1. 

Many of those arrested in recent days were lawyers, doctors, civil servants and other professionals who have led protests.

Coronavirus digest

  • Novovax is to complete its US vaccine trial in record time, bringing it a step closer to fulfilling orders to inoculate 50m Americans. 

  • South Korea has blocked use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in all adults over concerns over the efficacy of the jab in older people.

  • The first quarantine passengers arrived in the UK on Monday from countries at high risk of Covid infection.

  • Israel is to ease lockdown restrictions, opening stores and cultural venues, after a rapid drop in new infections among its vaccinated elderly population.

History is crucial to understanding vaccine hesitancy among people of colour, writes Esan Swan. Follow the latest news on our live blog and our vaccine tracker has the latest on the global race to vaccinate.

In the news

Biden steps up stimulus pitch In his first official trip outside Washington, President Joe Biden on Tuesday will visit Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to make the case for a $1.9tn stimulus plan to the US public in a bid to put pressure on Congress into closing negotiations over the package. (FT)

Exclusive: Apple approached Nissan to work on car project Apple approached Japan’s Nissan in recent months about a tie-up for its autonomous car project, according to people briefed on the matter. Talks between the Silicon Valley company and Kia, the affiliate of South Korea’s Hyundai Motor, ended recently. (FT)

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Japanese stocks pass 1990 high Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index rallied past 30,000 points for the first time since 1990 on Monday, reflecting the country’s growing economic momentum and broader investor optimism. Economic output in Japan grew 3 per cent from the third to the fourth quarter of 2020 as the country recorded a strong comeback from Covid-19. (FT)

Texas begins blackouts as temperatures plunge The Texas grid operator began rolling blackouts early on Monday as arctic air enveloped the central US and sparked record demand for power. Freezing temperatures from Canada will send temperatures to 4F (minus 15.5C) in Dallas, forecasters said. (FT)

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Election blow for Spain’s centre right Spain’s centre right parties were left licking their wounds on Monday after the pro-independence camp came out on top in a high stakes Catalonia poll, despite Socialists winning most single-party votes. (FT)

Asian authorities clamp down on digital lenders Authorities in Asia are clamping down on digital lenders, stepping up to rein in a fast-growing sector that has charged ahead with little oversight in credit-hungry large economies such as India and Indonesia. (FT)

The day ahead

Economic data Japan releases its January trade balance on Tuesday. Eurostat releases the second reading of fourth quarter eurozone GDP.

Earnings Mining and commodity groups BHP Billiton and Glencore both release earnings on Tuesday. The US drugstore chain CVS also publishes results.

What else we’re reading

A tale of two very different Chinese new years The contrast in celebrations in China and the US underline their relative success in fighting the pandemic, writes Patti Waldmeir, watching crowds in China on her iPhone while making do with takeaway in Chicago: “I’m trying to cultivate the confidence that next year’s dim sum will be hot off the trolley at my favourite Chinatown food emporium, and not cold from the kerbside.” (FT)

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Mori’s resignation fuels Japan gender equality debate Tokyo Olympic Games president Yoshiro Mori followed the standard procedure after making sexist remarks: retract the comments, apologise and attack the media for making a fuss, writes Robin Harding. It has worked for other politicians in the past, but this time was different. There are underlying problems in corporate Japan, argues Leo Lewis, that require more than a quick-fix. (FT)

Are planes as Covid-safe as the airlines say? Sitting shoulder to shoulder with strangers for hours in a sealed tube may not sound safe, but according to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health we have less chance of contracting Covid-19 on an aircraft than almost anywhere else. (FT)

‘Green steel’: cleaning up one of the world’s dirtiest industries Just as the oil and coal sectors have faced intense pressure in recent years, steel’s role in the climate crisis is now under much closer scrutiny. A race against time is on to develop low-carbon versions of this strong and versatile material. (FT)

‘Authentic’ leaders who lack skill are doomed to fail. Bill Michael quit as chairman of KPMG last week after the Financial Times reported he had told consultants to “stop moaning” during a discussion about the pandemic’s impact — failing to demonstrate empathy, humanity and other important leadership attributes, which are needed now more than ever, writes Andrew Hill. (FT)

Video of the day

Video: Opinion: David Allen Green: the Northern Ireland Protocol

The Northern Irish Protocol, agreed between the UK and the EU, deals with the special position of Northern Ireland after Brexit. But why does it matter? In this video the FT’s legal commentator David Allen Green explains why it will continue to dominate rows over Brexit.

Don’t forget that geoFence is the only solution you need to block NFCC countries and I feel your mother would say the same!

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