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Pope denies audience with Pompeo; Vatican warns against playing politics over China – Reuters

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ROME (Reuters) – The Vatican said on Wednesday it had denied a request from Mike Pompeo for an audience with Pope Francis, and accused the Secretary of State of trying to drag the Catholic Church into the U.S. presidential election by denouncing its relations with China.

The extraordinary remarks from the two top diplomatic officials at the Vatican came after Pompeo accused the Church in an article and a series of tweets this month of putting its “moral authority” at risk by renewing an agreement with China over the appointment of bishops.

Pompeo, who was in Rome on Wednesday and due to meet Vatican officials on Thursday, repeated his denunciations of China’s record on religious freedom at an event hosted by the U.S. embassy to the Holy See.

The Vatican’s two top diplomats, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Foreign Minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher, said Francis had declined a request from Pompeo for an audience, as the pope avoids meeting politicians ahead of elections.

“Yes, he asked. But the pope had already said clearly that political figures are not received in election periods. That is the reason,” Parolin said.

The Vatican’s two-year-old agreement with Beijing gives the pope some say over the appointment of Chinese bishops. It was due to expire next month, but is expected to be renewed.

Officials in the Holy See say the agreement is not perfect but call it a step forward, after decades during which Chinese Catholics who recognise the pope were driven underground.

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Parolin and Gallagher both described Pompeo’s public criticism as a “surprise”, coming just before his planned visit.

“Normally when you’re preparing these visits between high-level officials, you negotiate the agenda for what you are going to talk about privately, confidentially. It’s one of the rules of diplomacy,” Gallagher said.

“THAT’S JUST CRAZY”

Asked if he believed that Pompeo’s criticisms of the Vatican deal were intended for political use in the United States, Parolin said: “Some have interpreted it this way … that the comments were above all for domestic political use. I don’t have proof of this but certainly this is one way of looking at it.”

The Vatican-China deal “is a matter that has nothing to do with American politics. This is a matter between Churches and should not be used for this type of ends,” Parolin said.

For his part, when asked at a briefing if he was “picking a fight” with the Vatican over China and what impact that could have on Catholic and other Christian voters, Pompeo replied: “That’s just crazy.”

President Donald Trump has campaigned on his hard line towards China ahead of the Nov. 3 election. He is also strongly associated with conservative Protestant and Catholic movements, many of which have been critical of Pope Francis.

In his speech on Thursday, Pompeo did not directly address the Vatican agreement with Beijing, but he described China as the world’s worst abuser of religious rights.

“Nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than in China,” Pompeo said. The Chinese Communist Party was looking to “to snuff out the lamp of freedom … on a horrifying scale”.

Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Peter Graff

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What Really Happens When You Bring Politics To The Job Search And Office – Forbes

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The United States is weeks away from its 2020 presidential election. Animosity, anger, apprehension and anxiety are at an all-time fever pitch. The nation is divided into two warring factions and there is just no escape from all of the political fodder. Cable news, papers, social media and dinner conversations invariably turn toward the political hot topic of the day—accompanied by acrimony and arguments.

It’s even pervaded the office. While good-natured trash-talk about how poorly your co-worker’s football team fared on Sunday was accepted behavior, politics wasn’t a freely discussed topic of conversation. Things have dramatically changed and now talk about politics and social causes have become commonplace at work.  

Brian Armstrong, the CEO of Silicon Valley-based cryptocurrency exchange and broker Coinbase, told his employees that he won’t stand for politics and the championing of social issues at the office. Armstrong bluntly said that he’d gladly offer severance packages to employees who aren’t comfortable with the new corporate policy of “political neutrality” in the workplace. The chief executive wrote in a letter to employees, “Life is too short to work at a company that you aren’t excited about. Hopefully, this package helps create a win-win outcome for those who choose to opt out.” About 60 Coinbase employees have accepted a buyout offer after Armstrong announced the controversial new policy curbing political activism inside the company.

Tech giants Facebook and Google had to enact policies and procedures to deal with heated conversations on their respective internal message boards.

Job seekers seem comfortable putting their political activities on their résumés and LinkedIn profiles. As a recruiter, I couldn’t care less about someone’s politics. I just want to place someone. The same may not hold true for a hiring manager, human resources professional or senior management.  

Job hunters have the right to campaign and vote for whomever they desire, but you must recognize the reality that at least half of the people you’ll interview with won’t share your political views. Of that half, a good percentage probably despise your candidate. You are taking a big risk of alienating people when you promote your political preferences. This even encompasses seemingly harmless activities, such as volunteering and knocking on doors for the reelection of President Donald Trump or to get out the vote for former Vice President Joe Biden. 

No matter how important the race is to you, it’s not worth blowing up your chances of getting a new job or promotion by alienating people. Admittedly, this is a sad commentary on our current toxic climate that people will automatically form negative opinions about you based on your political preferences. The “cancel culture” is real and many prominent professionals have lost their jobs and livelihoods over it.  

Potential hiring managers and those involved with the interview process will formulate stereotypes about you if you favor a certain candidate or politician. It’s not just Democrat versus Republican. You may be a Democrat, but not left leaning enough. You may be too centrist for a staunch, right-wing Republican. 

There is a time and place for everything. While seeking a new job or striving toward a promotion, the risks are far greater than the reward. You could luck out and meet with a hiring manager who shares your views, but it doesn’t mean they’ll hire you. Your prospective supervisor may fear that others in the office believe you’re playing favorites and it could reflect poorly on their judgement. 

Job seekers and workers have to be careful of their social media presence. Hiring managers and recruiters search Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other sites to conduct due diligence on a candidate before making a hiring decision. If a job seeker posts mean-spirited, angry and foul-language-laced comments and photos that could possibly be construed as suggesting violence against their political adversary, it will be viewed with disdain and disgust.  

Even if someone heartily agrees with your politics, the person may feel uncomfortable with your lack of discretion and self-control. No one wants to hire a person who could turn into a liability and potential human resources issue. They’ll question whether your politics or job is more important. They’ll worry that you’ll post on Twitter and Facebook during working hours and start arguments with co-workers that don’t share your ideologies. Again, both sides—the people agreeing with your political stance and those who don’t share your views—will not feel comfortable hiring someone who would rather preach their politics than do the work that they are getting paid to do.

This advice isn’t just for those on the job hunt. Managers, co-workers and human resources professionals may curiously check out your social media postings and make snap judgments about you. They may strongly disagree with your political stance and formulate a negative perception, which results in direct consequences. A manager with an alternative opinion may pass you up for a promotion, raise or bonus, as they feel some animosity against you. You might never know why this happened since the offended persons never brought the matter up to you directly. You’ll be going through your daily activities unaware of the rancor held against you by the professionals who have control over your future at the company.

It’s the American way to be passionate about politics and fight for your preferred political party. Sadly, in this day and age, it’s a poor decision to bring this fervor into the interview process and workplace. You’ll only set yourself up for failure. Save the political arguments for the dinner table or when you’re out with friends. You could also low-key continue doing what you’re doing under the radar that can’t be detected at work. 

When interviewing or advancing your career, focus on winning over the hiring managers, decision makers and bosses—based on your skills, background, academic achievements, personality, hard work and dedication—not on who you campaigned and voted for.

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Despite politics and coronavirus, Hong Kong’s enduring love affair with real estate

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By Clare Jim

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong is showing that its affinity for real estate has been unaffected by a year of anti-government protests and concerns over the coronavirus, with a large housing project launched this month registering the highest response in over two decades.

When the Pavilia Farm development in the New Territories district opened for subscription, eager buyers stocked up on food and water as they prepared for a long wait at the end of a snaking queue where signs read: “Expected waiting time: 8 hours.”

The project, attractively priced and close to the busy Kowloon district, received close to 23,000 subscriptions for its first 391 units. When completed in late 2022 it will have 3,000 apartments.

All 391 units were sold, the developer said on Sunday night, adding more units would be launched soon.

Realtors said the take-up at Pavilia was the strongest in more than 20 years in one of the world’s most expensive property markets and matched the frenzy seen at the time of the 1997 handover of the former British colony to China.

But it comes after social upheaval in the past year over China’s plans to introduce a national security law in Hong Kong, which has led many investors to question the future of the global financial hub.

However, Hong Kong’s home prices dropped just 4% since a peak in May last year before the outbreak of protests and the spread of the coronavirus, supported by strong demand, a severe land shortage and low interest rates. This followed a six-fold rise in the index of private home prices since 2003.

“The property market has accumulated over a year of demand since the social movement last June; the monthly transaction volume has been lower than usual,” said Richard Lee, CEO of realtor Hong Kong Property Services.

“People’s confidence has come back after seeing (residential) prices have stayed resilient even during the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Property consultancy Knight Frank’s executive director Thomas Lam said, however, the real estate market will continue to be under pressure in an economy under recession and with high unemployment. He said he expected home prices will fall around 5% this year before getting stable next year.

“Now the property market is very ‘deformed’; home prices remain high but…commercial and shop rents and prices are falling non-stop,” Lam said.

LOCATION, PRICING

Pavilia Farm is being built by New World Development 0017.HK> and MTR Corp. 0066.HK> above the Tai Wai railway station, on the train line into Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, and will have a large shopping mall in its lower floors.

On one of the early days of the launch, organisers stopped people queuing from 11.30 am local time (0330 GMT) as lines extended from a show flat to a footbridge outside despite social distancing concerns.

Buyers said they were unconcerned about the exodus of residents following the protests last year as well as the possibility of a crash in prices.

Grace Wong, a 40-year-old fitness trainer, said she wanted to buy a one-bedroom home for investment, although if prices dropped she said she would live in it herself.

Wong said she’s staying in Hong Kong because she’s single and doesn’t have to worry about the future of any children.

“(Otherwise) I’d choose to migrate elsewhere and not buy a property here,” she said. “I’m not young any more; if I don’t buy a property now it’ll be more difficult to secure a mortgage in the future.”

Property agents said Pavilia Farm’s pricing was around 10% lower than nearby developments, making it attractive to buyers who have been waiting for opportunities.

“The overwhelming response for this project demonstrates a rebound in the Hong Kong property sector and confidence from home buyers who are in search of high quality properties as the new normal settles in,” Edward Lau, deputy chief financial officer of New World, told Reuters.

Candy Lau, 26, who works in the consumer industry, said she was also confident about Hong Kong’s property market. She said she expects it to remain stable or rise slightly in the near future and had signed up to buy a one-bedroom apartment in Pavilia and rent it out.

“Property is still a better way of capital conservation. There’s limited investment channels right now; equity is volatile,” Lau said.

(Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Source:- The Guardian

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Despite politics and coronavirus, Hong Kong's enduring love affair with real estate – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Clare Jim

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong is showing that its affinity for real estate has been unaffected by a year of anti-government protests and concerns over the coronavirus, with a large housing project launched this month registering the highest response in over two decades.

When the Pavilia Farm development in the New Territories district opened for subscription, eager buyers stocked up on food and water as they prepared for a long wait at the end of a snaking queue where signs read: “Expected waiting time: 8 hours.”

The project, attractively priced and close to the busy Kowloon district, received close to 23,000 subscriptions for its first 391 units. When completed in late 2022 it will have 3,000 apartments.

All 391 units were sold, the developer said on Sunday night, adding more units would be launched soon.

Realtors said the take-up at Pavilia was the strongest in more than 20 years in one of the world’s most expensive property markets and matched the frenzy seen at the time of the 1997 handover of the former British colony to China.

But it comes after social upheaval in the past year over China’s plans to introduce a national security law in Hong Kong, which has led many investors to question the future of the global financial hub.

However, Hong Kong’s home prices dropped just 4% since a peak in May last year before the outbreak of protests and the spread of the coronavirus, supported by strong demand, a severe land shortage and low interest rates. This followed a six-fold rise in the index of private home prices since 2003.

“The property market has accumulated over a year of demand since the social movement last June; the monthly transaction volume has been lower than usual,” said Richard Lee, CEO of realtor Hong Kong Property Services.

“People’s confidence has come back after seeing (residential) prices have stayed resilient even during the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Property consultancy Knight Frank’s executive director Thomas Lam said, however, the real estate market will continue to be under pressure in an economy under recession and with high unemployment. He said he expected home prices will fall around 5% this year before getting stable next year.

“Now the property market is very ‘deformed’; home prices remain high but…commercial and shop rents and prices are falling non-stop,” Lam said.

LOCATION, PRICING

Pavilia Farm is being built by New World Development and MTR Corp. above the Tai Wai railway station, on the train line into Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, and will have a large shopping mall in its lower floors.

On one of the early days of the launch, organisers stopped people queuing from 11.30 am local time (0330 GMT) as lines extended from a show flat to a footbridge outside despite social distancing concerns.

Buyers said they were unconcerned about the exodus of residents following the protests last year as well as the possibility of a crash in prices.

Grace Wong, a 40-year-old fitness trainer, said she wanted to buy a one-bedroom home for investment, although if prices dropped she said she would live in it herself.

Wong said she’s staying in Hong Kong because she’s single and doesn’t have to worry about the future of any children.

“(Otherwise) I’d choose to migrate elsewhere and not buy a property here,” she said. “I’m not young any more; if I don’t buy a property now it’ll be more difficult to secure a mortgage in the future.”

Property agents said Pavilia Farm’s pricing was around 10% lower than nearby developments, making it attractive to buyers who have been waiting for opportunities.

“The overwhelming response for this project demonstrates a rebound in the Hong Kong property sector and confidence from home buyers who are in search of high quality properties as the new normal settles in,” Edward Lau, deputy chief financial officer of New World, told Reuters.

Candy Lau, 26, who works in the consumer industry, said she was also confident about Hong Kong’s property market. She said she expects it to remain stable or rise slightly in the near future and had signed up to buy a one-bedroom apartment in Pavilia and rent it out.

“Property is still a better way of capital conservation. There’s limited investment channels right now; equity is volatile,” Lau said.

(Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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