William Langley in Hong Kong
UAE says it intercepted another Houthi missile
William Langley in Hong Kong
The United Arab Emirates said it intercepted another missile fired from Yemen on Monday morning, the third attack in recent weeks, as Houthi rebels in the region escalate their aggression towards the emirates.
The UAE’s defence ministry reported that the missile was intercepted shortly after midnight and that no harm was caused, with fragments of the missile falling outside of populated areas.
It later reported that it had destroyed the platform responsible for launching the missile.
The missile attack did not affect civilian flights in the capital Abu Dhabi, which is the home to international carrier Etihad, the official WAM news service reported.
The attack highlights the growing threat from the Houthis, who have targeted neighbouring Saudi Arabia for years with missile and drone strikes.
The UAE said last week it had intercepted two ballistic missiles fired by Houthi rebels over Abu Dhabi. That followed a similar attack the week before, for which the rebels claimed responsibility.
That assault was the first time the UAE had acknowledged a Houthi attack on its territory, after previously denying rebel claims that they had struck Abu Dhabi’s airport and nuclear power plant.
What to watch in Asia today
William Langley in Hong Kong
India: The country will release an annual economic survey which will include an estimate for gross domestic product growth for the 2021-2022 year.
Taiwan: Today is the deadline for Globalwafers, the world’s third largest producer of semiconductor wafers, to close on its acquisition of Siltronic. The deal is likely to lapse, however, as Germany has yet to approve the $5.3bn merger.
Lunar new year’s eve: Celebrations for the lunar new year, one of Asia’s most important holidays, begin today, with markets in Hong Kong and Singapore closing at midday. The South Korean stock exchange will close entirely until Thursday, while markets in mainland China are closed all week.
Spotify adds Covid content warnings in bid to quell Rogan boycotts
Anna Nicolaou in New York
Spotify said it would add “content advisory” warnings to podcasts that discussed Covid-19, as the streaming service responded to a backlash against its popular podcaster Joe Rogan.
The company, however, has not removed the December 31 episode of Rogan’s podcast that has triggered the ire of hundreds of doctors and scientists, as well as musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, who have pulled their music from Spotify in protest.
Rogan’s podcast, in which he hosted a virologist who is sceptical of mRNA coronavirus vaccines, did not meet the threshold for violating Spotify’s content rules, the company said.
“Based on the feedback over the last several weeks, it’s become clear to me that we have an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time”, chief executive Daniel Ek wrote in a blog post on Sunday.
Spotify is doing damage control after Young and Mitchell removed their music from its streaming service in protest at “lies” spread by Rogan. The moves spurred a backlash online, where some social media accounts promised to #DeleteSpotify.
Ek outlined the steps Spotify would take to address concerns that the platform was spreading false information regarding the coronavirus. He said Spotify will add a “content advisory” to any podcast that discusses Covid-19. The advisory will direct listeners to a new coronavirus “hub” that will provide facts and information, as well as links to “trusted sources”.
Read more about Spotify’s content warnings
French ‘people’s primary’ chooses Taubira as left’s candidate
Victor Mallet in Paris
Nearly 400,000 French leftwing supporters chose former minister Christiane Taubira as their candidate for the presidential election in April after voting in an online “people’s primary” on Sunday, but the process was rejected by rival candidates and leaves the left in disarray as it seeks to prevent Emmanuel Macron from winning a second term.
The vote, in which participants graded the seven named candidates from “not good enough” to “very good”, gave Taubira a clear win, with 67 per cent of voters rating her at least “good”.
Yannick Jadot of the Greens and Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the far-left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party, came second and third, while Anne Hidalgo, the Paris mayor who is the Socialist party candidate, came fifth. However, all three have rejected the primary and have vowed to continue their own campaigns.
Taubira, a former justice minister in the Socialist government of François Hollande and an elected member of the National Assembly from the French territory of Guiana in South America for nearly two decades, immediately called for unity.
“We want a united left, a strong left,” she told supporters in Paris. “We have a good road ahead of us . . . We don’t have the right to give up.”
Read more about Christiane Taubira
Tech founders launch fund aimed at finding Africa’s next ‘unicorns’
Richard Milne, Nordic and Baltic Correspondent
Dozens of tech executives including the founders of Klarna, Skype, Delivery Hero and Flutterwave have started a $200m venture capital fund aimed at finding the next $1bn-plus companies in Africa.
Niklas Adalberth, co-founder of Klarna, told the Financial Times that Africa was in a similar situation to Sweden in 2005, the year the fintech was founded, where it was possible to get seed capital for start-ups but there was little to no growth capital available to develop them into potential ‘unicorns’ — companies worth more than $1bn.
The fund, started by the Norrsken Foundation set up by Adalberth, is ultimately aiming to raise up to $2bn by inviting existing venture capital firms such as Sequoia to co-invest, and is announcing a first close of $110m on Monday.
It is in talks with its potential first investments and has 400 companies on its radar, mostly in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.
The Klarna co-founder said that before 2005 start-ups in Sweden were satisfied with targeting valuations of $10m until Niklas Zennström, one of the backers of the Norrsken22 fund, sold Skype for $2.6bn.
Read more about the fund