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Protests over George Floyd’s death expose raw race relations worldwide

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AMSTERDAM/MADRID (Reuters) – Images of a white police officer kneeling on the neck of African-American George Floyd, who then died, have sparked protests from Amsterdam to Nairobi, but they also expose deeper grievances among demonstrators over strained race relations in their own countries.

With violent clashes between protesters and authorities raging in the United States, anti-police-brutality activists gathered by the thousands in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in various European and African cities.

Peaceful protesters highlighted allegations of abuse of black prisoners by their jailers, social and economic inequality, and institutional racism lingering from the colonial pasts of the Netherlands, Britain and France.

“If you want to believe that we in the Netherlands do not have a problem with race, you should go ahead and go home,” Jennifer Tosch, founder of Black Heritage Amsterdam Tours, told a crowd in Amsterdam, from where the Dutch West India Company operated ships estimated to have traded 500,000 slaves in the 1600s and 1700s.

Tosch and others drew a comparison between Floyd’s death and the treatment of slaves centuries ago. “We have seen this image before as white persecutors and enslavers held down the enslaved and branded them with an iron.”

In London, a protester held a placard reading “The UK isn’t innocent,” while in Berlin around 2,000 people protested outside the U.S. embassy and two Bundesliga soccer players wore “Justice for George Floyd” shirts on Monday.

A similar message came from Dominique Sopo, president of French NGO SOS Racisme, which organised a small protest outside the U.S. embassy in Paris on Monday.

“This issue of police racism is also, albeit with a lower level of violence, an issue that concerns France,” he said.

Police in northern Paris fired tear gas on Tuesday to disperse demonstrators protesting over the 2016 death of a young black Frenchman in police custody – an incident that has drawn parallels with Floyd’s killing.

Adama Traore’s family have blamed excessive force used during his arrest, when the 24-year-old was pinned down by three gendarmes. Successive pathology reports have reached conflicting conclusions over whether his death two hours later resulted from asphyxiation or other factors including pre-existing conditions.

Amid a coronavirus lockdown, French activists also say there have been a number of police brutality cases in low-income neighbourhoods where many originate from Africa.

People wearing protective face masks hold up signs during a protest against the death of George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis, Liverpool, Britain, June 2, 2020. REUTERS/Molly Darlington

CLASHES IN TURKEY

In Istanbul, more than 50 people clashed with police officers minutes after beginning a protest over Floyd and what they called police brutality in Turkey.

At least five people were detained after scuffles with officers holding shields, after which other protesters gave speeches denouncing lethal police force and bans on demonstrations in Turkey during the pandemic.

In Nairobi, protesters at the American embassy held signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and “Stop Extrajudicial Killings”.

Organiser Nafula Wafula said violence against blacks is international and cited the killing of prisoners in Kenya.

“The system that allows police brutality to happen in Kenya is based on class. In America, it’s race and class.”

Protests are planned in coming days in Gambia, Britain, Spain and Portugal.

In Spain, protesters will mark the death of Floyd and “all sisters and brothers who have died at the hands of institutional racism on our streets,” the African and Afro-descendant Community CNAAE said.

Portugal’s gathering will address “the myth that Portugal is not a racist country”.

But not all in Europe side with the protesters.

Spain’s far-right Vox party and the Netherlands’ anti-Islam Freedom Party called those protesting Floyd’s death “terrorists” and backed U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Our support for Trump and the Americans who are seeing their Nation attacked by street terrorists backed by progressive millionaires,” Vox wrote in a Tweet.

In the Netherlands, the Freedom Party’s Geert Wilders tweeted: “White House under attack. This is no protest but anarchy by #AntifaTerrorists.”

Slideshow (12 Images)

Even amid such racial division, Linda Nooitmeer, who heads the National Institute for the Study of Dutch Slavery and its Legacy, drew hope from Monday’s protest in Amsterdam.

“We don’t have the history of the civil rights movement in Holland, so what occurred yesterday was really something new. It is the start of real dialogue.”

Reporting by Anthony Deutsch, Catarina Demony, Ingrid Melander, Richard Lough, Maria Sheahan, Umit Bektas and Katharine Houreld; Additional reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by Giles Elgood and Jonathan Oatis

Source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/topNews/~3/2pNW3yUIlxM/protests-over-george-floyds-death-expose-raw-race-relations-worldwide-idUSKBN2392PE

Blockchain

India to have a ‘window’ for Bitcoin, says minister amid crypto ban FUD

The Ministry of Finance of India continues to form a careful position on private cryptocurrencies.

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The minister of finance of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, has given a ray of hope for the Indian cryptocurrency community as more fear, uncertainty and doubt circulate regarding a supposedly impending ban on digital assets. 

In a Saturday interview with India Today, Sitharaman emphasized that the ministry does not plan to shut off Indian innovations associated with Bitcoin (BTC) and its underlying blockchain technology.

“From our side, we are very clear that we are not shutting all options off. We will allow certain windows for people use, so that experiments on the blockchain, Bitcoins or cryptocurrency […] and fintech, which depend on such experiments, will have that window available for them. We are not going to shut it off,” she said.

Sitharaman said that the ministry is finalizing a cabinet note on crypto as India continues formulating its official stance on the asset class. “It is nearing completion, and then it will be taken to the cabinet. The Supreme Court had commented on cryptocurrency. We are very clear that the Reserve Bank of India will take a call on an official cryptocurrency,” she said.

After India’s supreme court lifted a crypto banking ban one year ago, reports of a new ban started circulating in early 2021. In February, another anonymous Indian official claimed that the government was about to introduce a complete ban on crypto, giving investors up to six months to liquidate their holdings.

On Sunday, Reuters published a report citing an anonymous senior government official who claimed that India is preparing to enforce a blanket ban on crypto and impose major penalties on rule-breakers. As part of an alleged bill, India is planning to criminalize “possession, issuance, mining, trading and transferring crypto-assets,” the source claimed.

Despite reports of a ban from anonymous sources continuing to surface, Sitharaman said in early March that the ministry wants to form a “calibrated” stance on digital assets. 

Nischal Shetty, founder of local crypto exchange WazirX, seemed optimistic about Sitharaman’s comments in a tweet, stating that it is time for the Indian crypto community to build. 

The RBI and the Ministry of Finance did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.

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Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/india-to-have-a-window-for-bitcoin-says-minister-amid-crypto-ban-fud

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Reuters

Fintech banker McLaughlin hunts bigger deal after upsized SPAC IPO

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – The blank check firm co-founded by one of the most prominent U.S. financial technology investment bankers will broaden its search for merger partners to companies worth up to $10 billion after pricing a larger initial public offering (IPO).

Steve McLaughlin started FT Partners in 2001 and since then, the fintech-focused investment bank has worked on mergers and acquisitions and public and private fundraising for the likes of BlackRock Inc, StoneCo Ltd and GreenSky Inc.

An alumnus of Goldman Sachs, McLaughlin and FT Partners have also been involved in advising a half-dozen firms in mergers with so-called special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), most recently mobile bank MoneyLion’s $2.9 billion combination with Fusion Acquisition Corp.

Alongside Gene Yoon, founder of technology-focused investment firm Bregal Sagemount, McLaughlin is now sponsoring his own SPAC. Independence Holdings Corp. priced a $435 million IPO on Monday, having increased the number of units sold due to investor demand.

SPACs are shell companies that raise funds from investors to take a private company public.

Pulling in extra cash and fully exercising the greenshoe, a share allotment potentially sold in the days after an IPO prices, McLaughlin told Reuters on Tuesday, will allow Independence to target larger fintech companies, beyond the $5 billion maximum size previously considered.

He added a deal involving a company that processes payments between businesses, or one providing financial management services, would be likely for Independence.

“We provide an incredibly attractive option for a company as we’ve successfully taken many companies through this complex process, so we can give comfort to founders and investors along the way,” McLaughlin said.

Despite heightened investor interest in cryptocurrencies, McLaughlin said Independence wouldn’t be investing in a firm in that industry because most businesses are still too early in their development.

He added it was highly unlikely that Independence would end up merging with a client of his investment bank.

Source: Reuters – Fintech banker McLaughlin hunts bigger deal after upsized SPAC IPO

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Reuters

Former Disney executives Mayer and Staggs plan new SPAC – source

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(Reuters) – Former Walt Disney Co executives Kevin Mayer and Thomas Staggs plan to raise $300 million in an initial public offering for a new special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The duo’s first SPAC, Forest Road Acquisition Corp, agreed a three-way merger last week with fitness companies Beachbody LLC and Myx Fitness LLC that was valued at around $2.9 billion.

Former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, who is also on the board of directors at pizza chain Papa John’s International Inc, and Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, are working for Forest Road II as a strategic advisor and a director, respectively, the source said.

Mayer and Staggs will serve as co-chief executives and co-chairmen of the new SPAC, the source said. They had worked with the first Forest Road SPAC as a strategic advisor and director, respectively.

The source requested anonymity ahead of a regulatory disclosure on the SPAC IPO.

Mayer was Disney’s top streaming executive before he left the media giant last year to become the chief executive of popular video app TikTok. He departed the company three months after joining. Staggs worked at Disney for 26 years and held various roles including chief operating officer.

SPACs are shell companies that raise funds to take a private company public. They have gained immense popularity since last year, as they allow companies to go public by eschewing traditional IPOs.

A string of high-profile SPACs have been raised in the last 12 months, including by financial investors William Ackman and Barry Sternlicht, former U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Source: Reuters – Former Disney executives Mayer and Staggs plan new SPAC-source

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Reuters

Global firms raise $546 billion in January as SPAC frenzy continues

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(Reuters) – Companies raised $546 billion from new bond and share issues in January, as a flood of central bank money-printing and recovering stock markets brought record numbers of new listings, SPAC deals and share sales, Refinitiv data showed on Wednesday.

The numbers included $106.15 billion in initial public offerings (IPOs), SPACs and secondary offerings, with the amount of money raised by SPACs alone soaring 20 times to $24.26 billion from a year earlier, the data showed.

Companies also raised nearly $439.9 billion in corporate debt in January, a 5% fall since the same period last year, but still the second largest January in 25 years.

A SPAC, a shell company that raises money in an IPO before later merging with a privately held company to take the latter public, has become many investors structure of choice over the past year.

January’s haul was already 30% of a total $79 billion raised by SPACs in the whole of 2020.

Traditional IPO volumes in the United States, however, remained higher than SPACs in January, hitting a 25-year high of $33.9 billion.

Some 47% new bond and share issues were U.S. offerings in January this year, with China second with $23.96 billion.

Nasdaq was the clear winner among exchanges, with 167 issues raising $41.12 billion, followed by the New York Stock Exchange and the Hong Kong Exchange a close third, with both raking in a little more than $18 billion respectively.

That was in stark contrast to European financial hubs London and Frankfurt, which raised $4.29 billion and $1.72 billion respectively.

Chinese online video company Kuaishou Technology is the biggest IPO globally so far this year, raising $5.42 billion in Hong Kong, followed by Polish parcel locker business InPost SA which raised $3.40 billion in Amsterdam.

Source: Reuters – Global firms raise $546 billion in January as SPAC frenzy continues

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