Spain becomes first EU nation to top 1 million Covid-19 cases

Spain became the first Western European country to exceed 1 million coronavirus infections on Wednesday, doubling its tally in just six weeks despite a series of increasingly stringent measures to control the second wave.

Health ministry data showed total cases had reached 1,005,295, rising by 16,973 from the previous day. The death toll increased by 156 to 34,366.

After slowing to a trickle in the wake of Spain’s strict March to June lockdown, the infection rate accelerated to frequently exceed 10,000 cases a day from late August, and hit a new peak of more than 16,000 last week.

A hurried exit from confinement before tracing systems were in place let transmission get out of hand faster than in other countries.

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‘It’s good to see you’: Obama stumps in Pennsylvania for Biden campaign

Former President Barack Obama made his first appearance on the campaign trail on Wednesday for Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who is locked in a tight race with President Donald Trump in crucial states with just 13 days to go in the campaign.

Obama, one of the Democratic Party’s biggest stars and a frequent target of Trump’s attacks, joined a roundtable discussion with Philadelphia Black male politicians and community and religious leaders before a 6pm (2200 GMT) outdoor drive-in rally to urge supporters to vote early for Biden and other Democratic candidates.

“It’s good to see you,” Obama said, as he entered to applause from the 15 guests.

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Pompeo says designating six China-based media firms as foreign missions

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday the State Department was designating the US operations of six China-based media companies as foreign missions.

Pompeo also told a State Department news conference the United States would launch a dialogue on China with the European Union on Friday.

Pompeo did not name the media outlets.

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Pope Francis says homosexuals should be covered by civil union laws

Pope Francis has said that homosexuals should be protected by civil union laws in some of the clearest language he has used on the rights of gay people since his election seven years ago.

He made his comments in a new documentary “Francesco” by Oscar-nominated director Evgeny Afineevsky that was released on Wednesday.

“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it,” he said.

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Jack Ma’s Ant Group to launch $48b IPO after final nod from China regulator

China’s Ant Group has won the final nod from the country’s top securities watchdog for the registration of its Shanghai offering, the regulator said on Wednesday, clearing the last regulatory hurdle for its US$35 billion (S$48 billion) dual-listing.

Ant, the fintech company backed by Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba Group Holding, plans to list simultaneously in Hong Kong and Shanghai in the coming weeks, sources have said.

The listing could be the world’s largest initial public offering, surpassing the record set by Saudi Aramco’s US$29.4 billion float last December. 

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