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French President, Emmanuel Macron Appoints Jean Castex As New PM

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President Emmanuel Macron on Friday named senior French civil servant Jean Castex, who drew up the policy for easing the coronavirus lockdown, as his new prime minister as part of a government reshuffle.

“The president of the Republic has named Jean Castex as prime minister and mandated him to form a government,” the presidency said in a brief statement.

Recall that Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and his entire government resigned Friday, July 3, as Macron’s ruling party reels from dire local election results and the president prepares to tackle the economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In other news, former French prime minister, François Fillon and his Welsh wife, Penelope, were sentenced to jail on Monday, June 30, for embezzling public funds as part of the “fake job” scandal.

A French court found Francois guilty of charges of creating a fake job for his wife, which paid her over €1 million ($1.13 million) using taxpayer money.

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg Becomes World’s Third Centibillionaire

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Facebook’s CEO has joined Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, and Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates, as the only people with centibillionaire status.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune has topped $100bn for the first time, placing him among members of the world’s centibillionaires’ club.

This comes after Facebook’s shares surged by 6% on the news that the company plans to launch Instagram Reels, a rival to the Chinese video-sharing application TikTok.

Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump banned US companies from dealing with ByteDance and Tencent – the Chinese owners of TikTok and the WeChat messaging service.

The 36-year old media magnate has joined Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, and Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder, as the only people who have centibillionaire status, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index said.

Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook while a student at Harvard in 2004, owns a 13% stake in the company. Earlier, he said that he was going to give away 99% of his Facebook shares over his lifetime to charity.

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Another Canadian Sentenced To Death By Hanging In China

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A court in Southern China on Thursday sentenced a Canadian citizen, Xu Weihong, to death for manufacturing drugs.

This, the court said, was the third such case since relationship between Canada and China soured two years ago over Canada’s detainment of a Huawei Executive.

The Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court said in a statement on its website that it sentenced Weihong to death for manufacturing drugs.

Meanwhile, a Chinese citizen, Wen Guanxiong, was also sentenced to life imprisonment in the same case.

Weihong is the third Canadian to be sentenced to death on drug-related charges in China in the past two years, as relations between Beijing and Ottawa turned icy over Canada’s detainment of Huawei Executive Meng Wanzhou.

Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested in December 2018 in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition request. She faces accusations of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

However, shortly after her arrest, China detained two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor, on accusations of espionage.

Critics say their arrest was done in retaliation for Meng’s detainment, while Beijing says Meng’s case is politically motivated.

In January 2019, Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, who was serving a 15-year prison sentence in China for drug smuggling, was suddenly retried and given the death penalty.

Also, another Canadian, Fan Wei, received the death penalty for drug trafficking after three months.

Drug convictions in China can attract long prison sentences or even the death sentence for trafficking.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday that judicial cases were treated according to the law and that Weihong’s sentencing should not have any impact on China-Canada relations.

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We Will Not Accept US “Theft” Of TikTok — China

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China says it will not accept the U.S.’ “theft” of a Chinese technology company, state media reported on Tuesday.

The Trump administration’s pressuring of ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company in China, to sell its U.S. operations to Microsoft or risk closure amounts to a “smash and grab,” the state-run China Daily newspaper wrote in an editorial.

Beijing has ways to retaliate against Washington’s pressure on the Chinese-owned short video app TikTok.

While Beijing will likely be “cautious” in imposing equivalent restrictions on U.S. companies in China, it has “plenty of ways” to retaliate, the paper said.

Microsoft said on Monday that it was in discussions with ByteDance to buy parts of TikTok after U.S. President Donald Trump gave the companies 45 days to reach a deal.

Trump had initially threatened to ban TikTok in the U.S. on national security grounds.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said over the weekend that Washington might take action “shortly” against TikTok and other Chinese companies believed to share data with the Chinese government.

ByteDance said in a statement late Sunday it was still committed to being a global company despite “complex and unimaginable difficulties” including the “tense” international political environment.

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