Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg’s prime minister (DP), has criticised proposed EU budget cuts. Pictured: Bettel speaks with press upon arrival for an EU budget summit in Brussels, 20 February 2020. Photo credit: European Council
Trump advisor sentenced, Tesla gets Gigafactory OK and coronavirus hurting air carriers. Delano’s breakfast briefing for Friday.
Bettel on EU budget
EU leaders made little progress during a multiannual budget summit on Thursday night. The bloc needs to plug a €60bn-€75bn shortfall created by Brexit. Charles Michel, the European Council president, proposed gradually cutting rebates, which was rejected by Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Austria. Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg’s prime minister, said the plan was “to do more with less”, leading Bettel to quip that Michel could be the “twin brother” of the magician David Copperfield. Sources: Associated Press, EUobserver, Express, Financial Times, Politico and Telegraph.
Bettel on Brexit
Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel said Britain needs to keep its Brexit promises to maintain a level playing field on competition rules. Bettel stated: “We have the political declaration and we must keep the declaration. If we change already what we decided a few weeks or months ago, that might be difficult.” Source: Reuters.
A former political advisor to Donald Trump, Roger Stone, was sentenced to 40 months in prison for lying to congress, obstruction and witness tampering. Trump hinted at a presidential pardon. Sources: BBC, Deutsche Welle, Financial Times, NPR and Reuters.
Switzerland’s financial regulator banned Julius Baer, a private bank, from making large acquisitions after finding it fell “significantly short in combating money laundering” in Latin America. Sources: Bloomberg, Financial Times and Reuters.
PSG chief accused in bribery case
Swiss prosecutors charged Nasser Al-Khelaifi, president of the Paris Saint-Germain football club and head of the Bein sports broadcaster, in a corruption case around the granting of World Cup TV rights. Khelaifi said he had already been cleared of most “suspicions” in the inquiry and stated: “While a secondary technical charge remains outstanding, I have every expectation that this will be proven completely groundless.” Sources: AFP, CNN, Financial Times, The Guardian and Yahoo Sports.
A Berlin-Brandenburg court said Tesla could continue cutting down trees in a forest that will be the site of the electric carmaker’s first European factory. Sources: Bloomberg, Deutsche Welle and Reuters.
Barclays drops ‘Big Brother’ monitoring software
The British bank Barclays scrapped plans to use spyware that tracks the activity of staff at their desks at its London headquarters. Sources: BBC, CityAM and The Guardian.
Here are 7 science & technology stories you may have missed
Lowering carbon footprint: Several homes in Brussels are being heated by capturing warmth from the city’s sewer system, per the BBC. Health & environment: Hong Kong’s consumer watchdog found that 28 out 30 yoga mats it tested contained formaldehyde, a toxic substance, with 9 of them exceeding EU safety limits, per the South China Morning Post. Regulations: The use of animals in scientific research tests appears to be down in the EU, per Nature. AI: A Dutch court ruled that using an algorithm to predict benefits or tax fraud (which critics dubbed a “welfare surveillance state”) violates human rights, per Techcrunch. Social media: Facebook has finally granted researchers access to data on how its users share misinformation, per Science magazine. Social media: Facebook inadvertently blocked the use of Jinghpaw, a minority language spoken by about 1.1m people in Myanmar, for several hours in January, which alarmed civil society groups, per The Verge. Space: Astronomers have detected what they think is an Earth-sized exoplanet 26 light years away, circling a star called GJ 1151, which is “right at the edge of the star’s habitable zone”, per Quanta Magazine.
Vox explained why telecom bills in the US are nearly twice as high as in Europe.
£425 advert scored Valentine’s Day date
A single guy in Manchester claims to have received more than 2,300 applications for a date after advertising himself on a billboard, per Sky News.
Dogs on the go
Osaka airport opened a canine lounge for travelling dogs, which features a “pee pole”, per CNN.