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Your Weekly Commercial Awareness Update – w/c 30th July 2018

Your Weekly Commercial Awareness Update – w/c 30th July 2018

Here are this week’s headlines, brought to you by our Student Commercial Awareness Team:

US accuses Russia of 'pervasive' election meddling

Reported by Sarah Kinley

Allegations of improper political relations between the US and Russia have been omnipresent in world news for some time; thinly-veiled accusations of meddling and foul play between Trump and Putin dominate contemporary political and world discourse.

However, today fresh claims of “pervasive” election meddling have arisen from within Mr Trump’s own government. Many US national security chiefs, in particular Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, started to warn that American democracy is in the “crosshairs” of foreign adversaries for elections in 2018 and 2020.

Coats claims that “We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to weaken and divide the US,” although he admits that efforts are directed at no singular party, and have yet to reach the levels of corruption many believe to have been prevalent during the political maelstrom of 2016. Despite the Kremlin’s continued denial of their perceived involvement in the US elections, at Thursday’s White House news conference one reporter questioned whether US President Donald Trump had adequately challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin on the matter at their bilateral summit in Finland last month.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton affirmed that “President Putin said the first issue that President Trump raised was election meddling;” nevertheless, Mr Coats maintained that he was accusing both rogue Russian individuals and the Kremlin itself of intervening in US elections.

Whereas many may see these claims as reiterations of accusations that have haunted the arguably already frail spectre of US politics for the past two years, Coats urged the US public to understand that he was merely reassuring them that high-ranking officials within the US government “acknowledge the threat [of foreign political interference]. It is real.”

Weighing in on the debate, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen claimed that “Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and it has become clear that they have become the target of our adversaries.” This ominous portent of political corruption succinctly summarises the opinions of many.

The re-ignition of this debate comes on the back of heavy criticism of President Donald Trump’s lack of condemnation of Russian actions last month, whilst in Helsinki. Despite his continued – some may say naive – dismissal of the “witch hunt” into his alleged conspiracy with Moscow in 2016, today, the message from the White House could not be clearer. As FBI Director Chris Wray urges, “This is a threat that we need to take extremely seriously.”

For more information, see here.

UK energy shift accelerates, as it passes 1,000 hours without coal power

Reported by Nathan Gore

For 1,000 hours in total this year, Britain has been powered by energy sources other than coal, in a major milestone that points towards a bright future for the energy industry here in the UK. In 2017 there were 624 coal-free hours, which was up from 210 hours in 2016.

There was a brief revival of coal power earlier in the year, thanks to the chilly temperatures caused by the ‘Beast from the East’, but that proved to be only a temporary blip, as the UK now looks to march on to a coal-free future.

The figures from MyGridGB demonstrate the growing decline of the UK’s coal reliance, and the temporary nature of the increase in coal usage. Andrew Crossland, an energy expert who runs the MyGridGB site, said: “In 2018, Britain saved its coal use for when it needed it most – during the March cold snap.

“Over the rest of the year Britain’s renewable sector has provided record amounts of electricity, with more than 7.4% coming from solar over the past four weeks.”

The fall of coal power has been swift and relentless. In 2012, it supplied two fifths of electricity, but so far this year so far it has provided less than 6%.

A spokesperson at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said of the coal-free milestone: “The UK leads the world in tackling climate change and this shows the time of unabated coal fired electricity is being ended by a cleaner, greener future increasingly powered by renewable energy.”

Read more here.

No-deal Brexit plans drawn up by the London Stock Exchange

Reported by Dan James

Contingency plans have begun to be implemented by the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in preparation for the UK leaving the EU with no transition deal next year.

Such plans include creating new entities within the EU. The LSE went on to warn that the conundrum that is Brexit may lead to plans not being as effective as currently hoped.

Last month the LSE applied for a number of trading licences in Amsterdam for a variety of its trading platforms, allowing them to provide financial services beyond March 2019.

It was outlines last week that negotiations between the EU and UK are still ongoing but that the UK’s view on their final exit terms are still “unclear”. A white paper dated on the 12th of July which was agreed at Chequers, aimed to create an advanced equivalence model for financial services which is a preferred option by many city firms over a system of mutual recognition.

The LSE noted that “although this provided further clarity around the UK’s negotiating position, there remain several issues to be resolved with the EU or risk a ‘no deal’ scenario”.

The EU has “equivalence” regimes which provide limited access for some non-EU countries to some areas of EU financial services markets. Currently, banks and financial firms based in London rely on an “EU passport” to allow them to operate freely cross the EU’s financial markets.

David Warren, Chief Financial Officer of the LSE stated that “our focus is going to be on the continuity of services and what the customer wants. We need to ensure orderly markets … Fragmentation increases costs and systemic risk, customers don’t want that. They want the existing benefits to be preserved.”

Read more at the Guardian

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