Taylor Swift review: Pop’s heartbreak princess dazzles in Edinburgh

After more than a year of anticipation, Taylor Swift’s blockbuster Eras tour has finally landed in the UK.

Pop’s heartbreak princess launched the first of 17 British concerts at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium where, shortly before taking to the stage, she was wheeled into the arena hidden inside a janitor’s cart.

Appropriately enough, then, she cleaned the floor with her competition - putting on a meticulously-paced, endlessly entertaining show that delighted fans who’d come from as far afield as Australia, Japan and America.

For three and a half hours, the star chronicled her journeys through country and pop; love and tragedy; success and notoriety - all in the form of era-defining hits like 22, Shake It Off, Bad Blood, Karma and Anti-Hero.

Not only that, she made it her mission to make Scotland feel special.

“My one regret is that I really should have come to play in Scotland more,” she said near the beginning of what was only her second-ever gig in the country.

“You’ve made us feel so welcome. The volume of the singing, the dancing… You are performing on such a level.

“I can’t stop looking at the crowd. I’m captivated.”

This, more than anything, is Swift’s superpower – peddling the idea that she’s one of us, awed by the spectacle of which she’s the focus.

When she emerges on stage, her first words are, “Oh, hi!”, like we’d just bumped into her at the top of Arthur’s Seat.

And her signature look is an open-mouthed “who, me?” – as if to suggest this $2bn world tour is some sort of happy accident.

Apparently unfeigned, her delight is very endearing. But, of course, this tour is a well-oiled machine, full of vivid set pieces, pin-sharp choreography and visual grandeur.

Swift emerges in a billow of white smoke shortly after 7:15pm to the synth-pop strains of Miss Americana And The Heartbreak Prince, twirling around the stage in the first of 16 distinct outfits.

The setlist is drawn from 10 of her 11 albums, each one designated as a specific “era” in her evolution from country ingénue to chart-topping pop star to lockdown folk singer.

She zigs and zags through the chronology with giddy abandon, opening with the unabashed romanticism of 2019’s Lover, before delving into her back catalogue for the country hits of Fearless and her pop transformation on Red.

Every moment gets its own look. The Man, a song about restrictive gender stereotypes, is performed inside an elaborate set of office cubicles and typewriters. The spiky and sarcastic Look What You Made Me Do sees dancers trapped in glass boxes, each imitating a different look from Swift’s 19-year career. And Blank Space is like a live action Tron, with neon bicycles circling the stage.

But for her masterpiece, All Too Well, Swift stands alone on a raised platform for 10 minutes, armed only with her guitar and a red-black ombre coat.

Taken from 2012’s Red Album, the song is a 10-minute evisceration of an ex-boyfriend (believed to be actor Jake Gyllenhaal) that contains some of her most scathing and desolate lyrics.

She sings it with faded anger and bittersweet tenderness, the crowd joining sympathetically on the pivotal line: “You call me up again just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest.”

The song is an emotional highlight, simultaneously specific and universal, a characteristic that's endeared her to female fans in particular. 

It's one of several songs in Edinburgh that elicits tears from the audience. 

But only one prompts a proposal.

Macron is Hosting Biden for a State Visit as the Two Leaders Try to Move Past Trade Tensions

PARIS (AP) — President Joe Biden is being feted by French President Emmanuel Macron with a state visit Saturday, as the two allies aim to show off their partnership on global security issues and move past trade tensions.

Biden and Macron attended ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day on Thursday. They met separately the following day with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Paris — engagements they both used to underscore the urgent need to support Kyiv’s fight against Russia’s invasion.

But Macron and Biden have often chafed at the pace of support for Ukraine, especially as the U.S. — by far the largest contributor to Kyiv’s defense — was forced to pause aid shipments for months while congressional Republicans held up an assistance package.

The state visit will begin with a welcome ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe and a military parade along the Champs-Élysées leading to the Élysée Palace, where the two will hold official meetings and deliver public statements. Later, Macron will host a state dinner at the palace for Biden and his wife, Jill.

Biden hosted Macron in December 2022 at the White House for the first state visit of his presidency — a glamorous affair that included business and political figures after the COVID-19 pandemic.

First lady Jill Biden will join her husband for the Saturday events, returning to France aboard a government plane after spending Friday in Delaware to support their son, Hunter Biden, who is standing trial on federal gun charges.

Biden’s trip to France also comes ahead of Sunday’s European Parliament election, in which the far right is likely to emerge as one of the biggest winners while Macron’s pro-EU movement is flagging.

A top French official said Macron and Biden have a friendly and warm relationship and stressed that the U.S. president is spending five days in France, reflecting the importance he attaches to the visit. The official spoke anonymously, in line with customary practices for Macron’s office.

The official said the U.S. presidential campaign was not a factor in the discussion.

Macron previously hosted then-President Donald Trump, the Republicans’ presumptive 2024 nominee, in France for Bastille Day in 2017, before being hosted himself by Trump in 2018 for a state visit, before the two leaders’ relationship soured.

Both U.S. and French officials said Ukraine would be at the top of Saturday’s agenda, but the centerpiece of the weekend event would be the strength of the alliance, proven at Normandy 80 years ago, but with roots far deeper.

“It’s probably a good thing for us to remember that we didn’t win our independence either without some foreign help or foreign assistance, specifically from France,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Friday.

Max Bergmann, a former U.S. State Department official who leads Europe research at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the relationship between the two countries is strong despite occasional disagreements.

“There’s always tension in Franco-American relations, because the French try to do stuff,” he said. “They’re bold, they throw up proposals, and that leads to some friction when we push back.”

For example, he said, France proposed putting Western trainers on the ground in Ukraine, leading to questions of whether this is “really giving Ukraine a major, tangible benefit” or has the “potential to be escalatory and dangerous.”

Regarding Macron, Bergmann said, “he’s the one that pushes the boundaries and throws up ideas.”

Kirby said the two leaders would have an announcement Saturday on deepening maritime law enforcement cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. They also are to discuss economic and climate challenges.

While praising the Biden administration’s commitment to supporting Ukraine, Macron said earlier this year that Europe must become “capable of defending its interests, with its allies by our side whenever they are willing, and alone if necessary,” arguing the continent should rely less on the U.S. for its own defense.

He also warned Western powers against showing any signs of weakness to Russia as he repeatedly said that sending Western troops into Ukraine to shore up its defense shouldn’t be ruled out.

The two leaders were also set to discuss their efforts to bring about a cease-fire to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, as the U.S. and Israel await Hamas’ response to a Biden-promoted ceasefire proposal that would allow a surge of humanitarian assistance into Gaza.

“The president will update President Macron on all of that. And again, eagerly await his perspectives and his views as well on what’s going on in Gaza,” Kirby said.

Macron is expected to raise U.S. trade practices that he has often criticized, including the Inflation Reduction Act, which favors American-made climate technology, like electric vehicles. Macron said the U.S., like China, has “decided not to respect the rules of global trade” by shoring up protections and subsidies while Europe’s industry remains open and is stuck in overregulation.

The French top official said Europe has to defend European interests, after watching the U.S. do the same with its own, but said Macron hopes to find a mutually acceptable outcome.

Gary Hufbauer, nonresident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said trade with China is a sticking point between the U.S. and Europe, particularly France. The U.S. has been more eager to restrict trade, particularly regarding technology.

Biden is also moving toward tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles and batteries, which could affect European cars that include Chinese parts.

The fear is that “if you’ve got some component from China, we don’t want you in the U.S.”

“That’s a big worry in Europe.”

Overall, Hufbauer said, “Europe wants to maintain much more trade with China than the U.S. wants.”

WhatsApp boss in online spat with Elon Musk

WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart has hit back at claims from Elon Musk that the messaging app "exports your user data every night."

Posting on X, Mr Cathcart said the allegation was simply "not correct".

He pointed to the fact WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted, meaning they cannot be read by the company at all.

Yann LeCun - artificial intelligence chief at parent company, Meta - has also weighed in, using more industrial language in his X post attacking Mr Musk's claims.

On another Meta platform, Threads, Mr LeCun also levelled further criticisms at Mr Musk, accusing him of making contradictory and unrealistic claims about artificial intelligence and "spewing conspiracy theories" on his own social media platform.

Mr Musk has a well-established reputation for getting himself into online rows, from submariners to sacked former employees.

In this case, Mr Cathcart is right to say only the sender and recipient of a WhatsApp message can read its contents.

In fact, the firm's commitment to encrypting messages is so significant that it previously said it would rather be blocked in the UK than weaken the encryption it uses.

Mr Musk's vague language - simply saying that "user data" was being uploaded - could however be interpreted to refer to metadata, the extra bits of information sent alongside the actual message.

"WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted, but user data is not only about messages," said security researcher Tommy Mysk in a post on X.

"That also includes the metadata such as user location, which contacts the user is communicating with, the patterns of when the user is online, etc."

It is known that WhatsApp does share some metadata with other platforms Meta owns - but this does not include messages.

"One area of particular concern has been WhatsApp sharing data with other Meta companies," said Dr Tristan Henderson, lecturer in computer science at the University of St Andrews.

"This does include sufficient metadata for these Meta companies to make suggestions and show personalised adverts, which in itself shows what metadata can reveal."

The WhatsApp Privacy Policy specifically states that the firm will use some user data for "showing relevant offers and ads across the Meta Company Products".

The BBC has approached Meta for comment.

Ministry, IOM committed to migrant workers’ rights

Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Heng Sour met with Kristin Parco, Head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Mission in Cambodia, at the Ministry on Monday.

During the meeting, both parties discussed the orientation information provided to migrant workers prior to their departure abroad.

Sour said the Ministry’s strategic plan is to enable migrant workers to receive maximum protection and benefits, which is the goal of the government.

Sour thanked Parco for establishing cooperation and support for the Ministry in the past and to continue to strengthen the management mechanism for migrants to be more effective and beneficial in the future.

Parco reiterated her continued support for the government, in particular on migration management.

Ministry spokesman Katta Orn said yesterday the meeting between the two sides was to study the policy, strategy, and other priority programmes of the Ministry towards strengthening governance and labour migration management, promoting protection, skills development, the successful integration of migrant workers, increasing potential of oversees work, and how the IOM can best support the Ministry in achieving its strategic goals.

“The Ministry continues and expands cooperation with countries that receive Cambodian workers, the private sector, and NGOs to ensure that a legitimate migration is fully supported by the host country to improve the lives of migrant workers, and provide additional support. At the end of their term, the workers can return to Cambodia,” he added.

The Ministry and IOM have been working together to compile orientation information for workers before leaving for work abroad.

In 2010, the Ministry and IOM compiled a pre-departure orientation guide for migrant workers going to Thailand, Malaysia, and Kuwait.

“The Royal Government, through the Ministry, is committed to promoting the rights of migrant workers abroad,” Orn said,

“The Ministry cooperates with development partners to ensure that Cambodian workers are fully aware of their labour and legal rights when abroad as migrant workers,” he added.

A programme officer with the labour rights group Central, De The Hoya, said yesterday that to prevent trafficking, the government should disseminate more information to workers regarding job scams and illegal trafficking, and take action against companies that use fraudulent methods to lure Cambodian workers to foreign countries.

He wants to see effective implementation in the prevention of human trafficking in Cambodia to protect migrant workers, by ensuring their safety and upholding their human rights.

In 2023, the Ministry provided employment opportunities abroad to 1,355,936 people, of whom 552,851 were women.

Around 1,262,175 Cambodian migrant workers are in Thailand, 50,970 in South Korea, 22,262 in Malaysia, 20,056 in Japan, 871 in Singapore and 218 in Hong Kong.

Samsung Electronics union calls first-ever strike

A union representing thousands of workers at Samsung Electronics has called the first strike at the South Korean technology giant since it was founded five and a half decades ago.

The National Samsung Electronics Union says it will hold a one-day protest by asking all of its members to use their paid leave on 7 June and has not ruled out a full-scale strike in the future.

The union says its has about 28,000 members, accounting for more than a fifth of the company's total workforce.

Samsung Electronics says it will continue to negotiate with the union.

“We can’t stand persecution against labour unions anymore. We are declaring a strike in the face of the company’s neglect of labourers,” a union representative said during a live-streamed news conference.

Samsung Electronics' management has been in talks with the union since the start of this year over wages, but the two sides have so far failed to strike a deal.

The union has demanded a 6.5% pay rise and a bonus pegged to the company's earnings.

Samsung Electronics is the world's largest maker of memory chips, smartphones and televisions.

Analysts have warned that a full-scale strike could affect the firm's computer chip manufacturing and impact the global supply chains of electronics.

Samsung Electronics is the flagship unit of South Korean conglomerate Samsung Group. It is the biggest of the country's family-controlled businesses that dominate Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

Samsung Group was known for not allowing unions to represent its workers until 2020 when the company came under intense public scrutiny after its chairman was prosecuted for market manipulation and bribery.

Samsung Electronics' shares were trading about 2% lower in Seoul after the announcement.

With additional reporting by Jake Kwon in Seoul

Musk Disbands Tesla EV Charging Team, Leaving Customers in the Dark

REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla and owner of X, formerly known as Twitter, gestures as he attends the Viva Technology conference on innovation and startups at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris, France, June 16, 2023.

Reuters

14:00 JST, May 1, 2024

April 30 (Reuters) – Elon Musk has dismissed two Tesla TSLA.O senior executives and plans to lay off hundreds more employees, frustrated by falling sales and the pace of job cuts so far, The Information reported on Tuesday, citing the CEO’s email to senior managers.

Rebecca Tinucci, senior director of the electric vehicle maker’s Supercharger business, and Daniel Ho, head of the new vehicles program, will leave on Tuesday morning, the report said.

Musk also plans to dismiss everyone working for Tinucci and Ho, including the roughly 500 employees who work in the Supercharger group, The Information said. It was not clear how many employees worked for Ho.

Tesla’s public policy team, which was led by former executive Rohan Patel, will also be dissolved, the report said.

“Hopefully these actions are making it clear that we need to be absolutely hard core about headcount and cost reduction,” Musk wrote in the email, the report said. “While some on exec staff are taking this seriously, most are not yet doing so.”

Tesla, which had 140,473 employees globally as of end-2023, did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment.

Ho joined Tesla in 2013 and was a program manager in the development of the Model S, the 3, and the Y before being put in charge of all new vehicles, while Tinucci joined in 2018 as a senior product manager, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

Two other senior leaders — Patel and battery development chief Drew Baglino — announced their departures earlier this month, when Tesla also ordered the layoffs of more than 10% of its workforce.

Tesla is grappling with falling sales and an intensifying price war, which led to its quarterly revenue falling for the first time since 2020, the company reported last week.

Musk made progress towards rolling out Tesla’s advanced driver-assistance package in China, the epicenter of the EV price war, during a surprise visit to Beijing on Sunday.

That trip came just over a week after he scrapped a planned trip to India, where Tesla has long sought to start operations, due to “very heavy Tesla obligations.”

Riel Makes Debut in Tokyo Airport

PHNOM PENH – Foreign currency exchange company Travelex has begun trading riel at Tokyo Haneda Airport after the first launch succeeded at Changi Airport in Singapore. In partnership with the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), the initiative aims to promote the riel’s use in international markets.

The exchange of the riel at Japan's International Airport makes it easier for Japanese tourists visiting Cambodia to change their yen for riel and especially to encourage more international tourists to visit Cambodia.

The inclusion of the riel on the Tokyo trading charts increases confidence in the use of the riel and enables the NBC to intervene in the exchange market to stabilize the riel. In addition, the greater use of the riel stabilizes the Cambodian economy and mobilizes more reserves.

Hong Vanak, director of international economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said tourists will have the convenience of exchanging the currency before coming to Cambodia.

“Tourists won't have a long way to access the exchange at the banks or anywhere else. They can have riel banknotes as soon as they arrive,” he said. 

NBC and Travelex will expand the initiative in other countries.

Europe is the Fastest-warming Continent, at Nearly Twice the Average Global Rate, Report Says

Burnt trees and a car after yesterday's fire in Mandra, west of Athens, on Wednesday, July 19, 2023. Photo: AP/Thanassis Stavrakis, File

NAPLES, Italy — Europe is the fastest-warming continent and its temperatures are rising at roughly twice the global average, two top climate monitoring organizations reported Monday, warning of the consequences for human health, glacier melt and economic activity.

The U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization and the European Union's climate agency, Copernicus, said in a joint report that the continent has the opportunity to develop targeted strategies to speed up the transition to renewable resources like wind, solar and hydroelectric power in response to the effects of climate change.

The continent generated 43% of its electricity from renewable resources last year, up from 36% the year before, the agencies say in their European State of the Climate report for last year. More energy in Europe was generated from renewables than from fossil fuels for the second year running.

The latest five-year averages show that temperatures in Europe are now running 2.3 degrees Celsius (4.1 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, compared to 1.3 degrees Celsius higher globally, the report says — just shy of the targets under the 2015 Paris climate accord to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“Europe saw yet another year of increasing temperatures and intensifying climate extremes — including heat stress with record temperatures, wildfires, heat waves, glacier ice loss and lack of snowfall,” said Elisabeth Hamdouch, the deputy head of unit for Copernicus at the EU’s executive commission.

The report serves up a continental complement for WMO's flagship state of the global climate report, which has been published annually for three decades, and this year came with a “red alert” warning that the world isn't doing enough to fight the consequences of global warming.

Copernicus has reported that March marked the 10th straight month of record monthly temperatures. The average sea-surface temperature for the ocean across Europe hit its highest annual level in 2023, the Europe report said.

The European report focuses this year on the impact of high temperatures on human health, noting that deaths related to heat have risen across the continent. It said more than 150 lives were lost directly last year in connection with storms, floods and wildfires.

The cost of weather- and climate-related economic losses in 2023 were estimated at more than 13.4 billion euros (about $14.3 billion).

“Hundreds of thousands of people were affected by extreme climate events in 2023, which have been responsible for large losses at continental level, estimated to be at least in the tens of billions of euros,” said Copernicus director Carlo Buontempo. “Unfortunately, these figures are unlikely and likely to get smaller, at least in the near future.”

Extreme weather fanned heat waves, wildfires, droughts and flooding, the report said. High temperatures have contributed to a loss of glacier ice on the continent, including in the Alps — which have lost about 10% of their remaining glacier ice over the last two years.

Still, the report’s authors pointed to some exceptions, such as how temperatures were below average in Scandinavia and Iceland even if the mercury was higher than average across much of the continent as a whole.

Cambodia, China to Deepen Ties as Wang Yi Visits Phnom Penh

PHNOM PENH – Cambodia and China’s foreign ministers expressed satisfaction on April 21 with the strong development of bilateral relations in all sectors as China’s top diplomat is paying an official visit to Phnom Penh.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in Cambodia’s capital city on April 21 for a three-day visit during which he will hold talks with top leaders.

Foreign Minister Sok Chenda Sophea met his Chinese counterpart a few hours after he stepped foot in the country.

In a statement released on April 22, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said that the meeting included talks for further cooperation in infrastructure, energy, economy and trade. 

The two ministers also discussed enhancing the diamond cooperation framework – which was agreed upon in February 2023 to develop cooperation in six priority areas –, people-to-people exchanges, and the joint development of industrial and technological, and fish and rice corridors.

Sophea and Wang said they highly value the strong development of bilateral relations in all sectors under the comprehensive strategic partnership.

According to the Chinese state media agency Xinhua, Wang reportedly told Sophea that the two countries should “jointly combat illegal activities such as online gambling, telecommunications fraud, and human trafficking, and thoroughly eradicate related criminal gangs.”

Sophea, who is also deputy prime minister, said Cambodia firmly adheres to the one-China policy and is committed to advancing friendly cooperation with China while looking forward to more cooperation projects with China and welcoming more Chinese companies.

Wang later paid a courtesy call to King Norodom Sihamoni during which he said that China will always be Cambodia’s most trustworthy partner and strongest supporter.

During his stay in Cambodia, Wang will meet Senate President Hun Sen and hold talks with Prime Minister Hun Manet.

Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chanthol and Wang will co-chair an intergovernmental meeting to discuss areas of cooperation.

The visit by the Chinese top diplomat came as Cambodia faced allegations over Chinese military activities at Ream Naval Base and criticism over the 180-kilometer-long Funan Techo Canal project, which will connect the Mekong River to the sea. 

Vietnamese experts expressed they fear China will use the canal as a gateway to access the inland Vietnamese border.

Cambodia repeatedly denied the allegations, saying that the project is purely for economic and trade purposes. 

The canal will cost $1.7 billion which will be covered by the State-Company China Bridge and Road Corporation (CRBC) under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme.

Manga “My Hero Academia” Surpasses 100 Million Copies in Print

Manga series “Boku no Hero Academia” (“My Hero Academia”) hit its 100 million mark of copies including electronic books with its 40th volume published from Shueisha Inc. on Thursday.

The manga is currently serialized in the publisher’s weekly Shukan Shonen Jump manga magazine.

The action-packed manga by Kohei Horikoshi that tells the story of a high school student striving to become the greatest hero has also garnered popularity overseas, including in the United States. According to Shuiesha, over 40 million of the 100 million copies have been printed outside Japan.