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New Year, new rules: UK begins post-Brexit future

Britain on Friday (Jan 1) began a new year and life outside Europe, after leaving the bloc’s single market trading rules to go it alone for the first time in nearly half a century. Brexit, which has dominated politics on both sides of the Channel since 2016, became reality an hour before midnight, ending the UK’s 48-year obligation to follow Brussels’ rules. Free movement of over 500 million people between Britain and the 27 EU states ended. More rigorous customs checks returned for the first time in decades, despite the hard-fought brokering of a tariff- and quota-free trade deal. New Year’s Day newspapers reflected the historic but still deeply divisive change, which will have repercussions for generations to come. As dawn broke on 2021, attention turned to Britain’s borders, particularly its key Channel seaports, to see if the end to seamless trade and travel would cause delays and disruption. But with New Year’s Day a public holiday followed by a weekend, and the government having announced the phased introduction of checks, few immediate problems were envisaged. (AFP/CNA)

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China will take necessary measures to safeguard the interests of its companies after the New York Stock Exchange began delisting three Chinese telecom firms accused of having military ties, the country’s commerce ministry said on Saturday (Jan 2). The NYSE said on Thursday that it would begin delisting China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom in response to a decision by President Donald Trump to bar US investment in firms owned or controlled by the Chinese military. Trading of the companies is to be suspended sometime between Jan 7 and Jan 11. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said in a statement that the delisting was an abuse of national security and inconsistent with market rules. The actions will also greatly weaken all parties’ confidence in the US capital market. The ministry did not offer details on what the measures might be. Under Trump, the US has stepped up economic sanctions and travel bans against Chinese companies, government officials and Communist Party members, especially recently in Trump’s last few weeks in office. (CNA)

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The virtual cryptocurrency hit $30,823.30 at 13:13 GMT on Saturday, just weeks after soaring above $20,000 for the first time. In the past year, Bitcoin has almost quadrupled in value thanks to interest from large investors looking for rapid profits. Some analysts think it could rise even further as the US dollar drops further. While the value of the US currency rose in March at the start of the coronavirus pandemic as investors sought safety amid the uncertainty, it has since dropped due to major stimulus from the US Federal Reserve. The currency ended last year with its biggest annual loss since 2017. Bitcoin is traded in much the same way as real currencies like the US dollar and pound sterling. (BBC)

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The renowned French fashion designer Pierre Cardin has been buried at a private ceremony in Paris. Cardin - who died on Tuesday at the age of 98 - was laid to rest at the city’s Montmartre Ceremony. The black coffin was adorned with a sword of his own design, the blade resembling a pair of scissors intertwined with the eye of a needle, a thimble and a spool of thread. He was interred with his former partner Andre Oliver, who died in 1993. Born Pietro Costante Cardin in 1922, the Italian moved to France as a child and became a naturalised citizen. (BBC) (mannyrabacal1144@ gmail.com