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France will unveil a long-awaited plan on Thursday to prevent a wave of bankruptcies in the nation after the pandemic, combining private and public money to provide as much as €20 billion to strengthen the finances of small companies. The so-called participative loans—which combine some of the advantages of equity and debt—are a central plank of President Emmanuel Macron’s stimulus plan. They are also a test case for other European governments looking for ways to keep businesses afloat when they start withdrawing their extraordinary fiscal aid.

Japan’s Kirin put on watch list

Japan’s Kirin put on watch list
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Japan’s Kirin put on watch list

The UN special envoy for Myanmar said the generals who have seized power in the South-East Asian nation indicated they don’t fear renewed sanctions, though they are “very surprised" that their plans to restore military rule without much opposition isn’t working. Christine Schraner Burgener told UN correspondents on Wednesday that after the 1 February military coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government from power she warned Myanmar’s army that the world’s nations and the UN Security Council “might take huge strong measures". Meanwhile, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund put Kirin Holdings Ltd under observation due to the risk that the beverage maker might contribute to serious violations of human rights, reports Bloomberg. The Oslo-based fund, which is the world’s biggest stock owner, is managed according to a wide range of ethical guidelines.

US passes Police Reform bill

US passes Police Reform bill
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US passes Police Reform bill

The US House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday banning controversial police tactics and easing the way for lawsuits against officers violating suspects’ constitutional rights, although the measure’s Senate prospects were uncertain. Democrats pushed the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act" through the House by a vote of 220-212, with the support of only one Republican, just days before former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin goes on trial on a state murder charge in the death of Floyd last year. With President Joe Biden in office since January, and the Senate narrowly controlled by Democrats, the bill was reintroduced last week and it passed Wednesday along party lines. Just one Republican supported the measure, while two Democrats opposed it. Wednesday the House also passed a bill aimed at lowering voting barriers nationwide, a top Democratic priority.

Odisha forest fire under control

Odisha forest fire under control
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Odisha forest fire under control

Indian forestry officials said on Thursday they had brought a week-long blaze in a tiger reserve under control. Hundreds of forestry officials in Similipal National Park, home to protected species including the Bengal tiger and Asian elephant, have been using leaf blowers to clear debris at risk of catching fire. The fires, which have so far affected around 300 hectares of forest, have been caused by an abnormal rise in temperatures, he added. Biswajit Mohanty, secretary for the non-profit organisation Wildlife Society of Odisha, said there was a lack of accountability over the fires, which hit the region each year during the dry season. “There is no effort by the (forestry) department to involve the locals and the community to control the fire," he said.

Hong Kong dropped from Eco Freedom index

Hong Kong dropped from Eco Freedom index
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Hong Kong dropped from Eco Freedom index

Hong Kong has been excluded from the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom because its economic policies are controlled from Beijing, the Washington-based think tank said, removing Hong Kong from a list it topped for 25 years up to 2019, reports Reuters. The title of the world’s freest economy for 2021 was retained by Singapore for the second year, the Heritage Foundation said, with Hong Kong’s investment freedom hurt by political and social unrest dating back to 2019. In the 2021 index published on Thursday, the foundation said Hong Kong and Macau, both special administrative regions of China, were no longer included because even though citizens enjoy more economic freedom than the average resident of China, “developments in recent years have demonstrated unambiguously that those policies are ultimately controlled from Beijing".

SpaceX rocket explodes on landing

SpaceX rocket explodes on landing
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SpaceX rocket explodes on landing

Spacex’s unmanned rocket exploded on the ground Wednesday after carrying out what had seemed to be a successful flight and landing—fresh on the heels of two fiery crashes. It was yet another flub involving a prototype of the Starship rocket, which SpaceX hopes one day to send to Mars. “A beautiful soft landing," a SpaceX commentator said on a live broadcast, although flames were coming out at the bottom and crews were trying to put them out. The rocket exploded a few minutes later. “As if the flight test was not exciting enough, SN10 experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly shortly after landing," SpaceX joked on its website, without giving an explanation for the explosion. Musk has been developing the next-generation Starship rocket for the purpose of going to Mars—though two prototypes blew up in spectacular fashion on their test runs in December and early February.

Curated by Sohini Sen. Have something to share with us? Write to us at feedback@livemint or tweet to @shohinisen

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