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European hotels are looking for staff, and the G-7 is looking for an opportunity to limit the price of Russian oil

4-7-2022 |

Fresh - freshly squeezed news from the international press. We prepare it 3 times a week.

CNN: Suspect in Copenhagen mall shooting was known to psychiatric professionals, police say

A man arrested on suspicion of killing three people and wounding several others during a shooting at a shopping mall in Copenhagen was known to psychiatric professionals, Danish police said Monday.

The shooting unfolded on Sunday at multiple locations inside Field's, a shopping center in the Danish capital. Social media footage showed people running through the mall and heavily armed law enforcement officers on the scene.

At a press conference on Monday morning, Copenhagen's Head of Police Soren Thomassen said a 17-year-old Danish woman, a 17-year-old Danish man and a 47-year-old Russian national had been killed in the gunfire.

Two other Danes and two Swedish nationals had received gunshot wounds and were in hospital in critical but stable conditions, while several others sustained minor injuries while leaving the mall, Thomassen said.

A 22-year-old Danish man was arrested in connection with the shooting and is currently the only suspect.

"There is no indication the suspect was acting with others but there is still a massive investigation ongoing to make sure this is the case," Thomassen said.

Earlier, the police had said they detained the suspect 13 minutes after receiving the first emergency call, and that he was "carrying a rifle and ammunition" at the time of his arrest.

At the press conference on Monday, Thomassen said there is no indication the attack was an "act of terror" nor motivated by gender, and police believe the victims were chosen at random.

The suspect was "known to people in the psychiatric field," he said.

The suspect will be charged with manslaughter, Thomassen said.

Eyewitness Joachim Olsen, a former Danish politician and athlete, told CNN that he was on his way to a gym inside Field's when he saw large groups of people exiting the mall.

"It looked like something, I'm sorry to say, like something you would see from a school shooting in the US, people coming out with their hands above their heads," Olsen said.

According to Olsen, security tried to get the crowds to move away from the mall.

"At one point we were rushed away. The police came and said 'Run, run, run, they're still shooting in there!'"

A spokesman for Rigshospitalet, Denmark's largest hospital, told CNN that the hospital had taken in several victims and had called in extra staff to deal with the emergency.

A phone line for victims has been opened and police said they have set up a central location where eyewitnesses can get support and report their experiences to law enforcement officials.

Danish police said Sunday they had evacuated thousands from the Royal Arena venue next to the mall. The arena had been scheduled to hold a Harry Styles concert, but this was canceled following the shooting.

In a statement Sunday night, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen sent sympathy to the wounded, their relatives and the bereaved, as well as "all the Danes who were close to these frightening events."

"We have all been brutally ripped from the bright summer that had just begun. It is incomprehensible. Heartbreaking. Meaningless. Our beautiful and usually so safe capital was changed in a split second," Frederiksen said.

In a statement, Denmark's Royal House said, "Our thoughts and deepest sympathy are with the victims, their relatives and all those affected by the tragedy."

Gun violence is relatively rare in Denmark. Copenhagen's last major shooting incident was in 2015, when a gunman attacked a free speech forum featuring controversial cartoonist Lars Vilks, killing one man and wounding three others.

CNBC: Limiting Russian oil prices - a real threat or G-7 dream?

The world’s seven-largest industrialized economies have floated the idea of a price cap on Russian oil to further squeeze the Kremlin’s ability to fund its onslaught in Ukraine and try to protect consumers amid surging energy prices.

The G-7′s pursuit of a price ceiling on Russian oil is not without its challenges, however, with energy analysts highly skeptical about the integrity of the proposal.

For its part, the Kremlin has warned any attempt to impose a price cap on Russian oil will cause more harm than good.

How the idea came about

The United States seems to be the biggest supporter of a price cap on Russian oil.

Back in May, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen explained the idea to her European counterparts, saying it would work as a tariff or cap on Russian oil and help Europe in the interim period until imposing a full ban.

The EU agreed in late May to impose a gradual embargo on Russian oil until the end of 2022 — after several weeks of tough negotiations among the 27 nations.

The bloc used to receive about 25% of its oil imports from Russia and it represented one of the most important buyers for the Kremlin. Stopping these oil purchases are an attempt to hurt Russia’s economy after the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, but they are difficult to end overnight given how some EU countries are heavily dependent on Russian fossil fuels.

U.S. President Joe Biden presented the idea of an oil price cap to the rest of the G-7 leaders over the weekend of June 25 and 26 and his counterparts agreed to look at how to do it. The G-7 is comprised of the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and Japan.

How might a price cap work?

Energy analysts have questioned exactly how the G-7 can impose a price ceiling for Russian oil, warning that the plan could backfire if key consumers are not involved, and time may be running out to make it workable.

“I’m one of those scratching my head,” Neil Atkinson, an independent oil analyst, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Thursday.

“Something like this could only work if you get all of the key producers and crucially all of the key consumers working together and then finding some way of enforcing whatever plan you come up with,” he added.

“And the reality is that the biggest consumers of Russian oil, or amongst the biggest consumers of Russian oil, are China and India.”

Photo: Alexey Babushkin / RIA Novosti

China and India have “benefitted enormously” from discounted Russian crude, Atkinson said. Russian oil has been selling at a heavy discount of $30 or more when compared to international benchmark Brent crude futures at $110 a barrel — and China and India have been snapping it up.

Atkinson also highlighted a lack of unity over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine given that China and India have failed to explicitly condemn the Kremlin.

“In any event, the Russians won’t just sit there and do nothing. They can play games with supplies of oil and indeed gas … they can mess with the G-7′s head in some respect so I think this plan is really a non-starter,” Atkinson said.

For Claudio Galimberti, senior vice president at energy research firm Rystad, the most direct mechanism to impose a price cap on Russian oil is via insurance.

“The International Group of Protection & Indemnity Clubs in London covers around 95% of the global oil shipping fleet. Western countries could try to impose a price cap by letting buyers keep that insurance, as long as they agree to pay no more than a certain price cap for the Russian oil on board,” Galimberti said in a note.

“However, there are many obstacles that could derail such a plan,” he added.

Among the most obvious examples, Galimberti said, was the fact that Russia could simply decide not to sell at the prices set by the cap, particularly if the benchmark is very low and close to the cost of production.

President Vladimir Putin has already shown his willingness to withhold natural gas supplies to so-called “unfriendly countries” that have refused to meet his gas-for-rubles payment demands.

China is the “next most likely obstacle,” Galimberti said, since Beijing may decide for geopolitical reasons “to lend support to Russia by accepting inferior Russian insurance and therefore facilitate a loophole for the price cap.”

“Still, a price cap is surely a measure worth considering at this stage, albeit time is running out, as the EU is determined to ban imports of Russian oil by the end of the year,” Galimberti said.

How has Russia responded?

Russia has warned any attempt to limit the price of Russian oil could wreak havoc in the energy market and push commodity prices even higher.

Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak on Wednesday described the move by Western leaders to consider imposing a price cap as “another attempt to intervene into the market mechanisms which may only lead to market’s disbalance … which would lead to [a] price increase,” according to Reuters.

Novak said he was confident Russia would restore oil output to pre-sanction levels in the coming months, largely because a significant amount of Russian crude had been re-routed to Asian markets.

Politico: Russia’s Jews fear resurgent anti-Semitism amid Ukraine war

As Vladimir Putin’s war rages on for the fifth month in Ukraine and repression suffocates civil liberties back home, Russian Jews are worried they’ll soon become the Kremlin’s targets.

Jews have been fleeing Russia in droves; those who’ve stayed behind are terrified of directly criticizing the war, which Putin has cynically claimed he launched to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

“In our congregation, we don’t talk about any political issues,” said a Moscow rabbi who asked not to be named.

He added that after a 2011 crackdown on protests linked to Putin’s reelection, he ordered that politics must stay out of his synagogue, which has roughly 300 members.

“Any words which we say publicly [about the war] can be used against us as a Jewish community,” the rabbi said.

Vladimir Khanin, an associate professor at Israel’s Ariel University and an expert on the Russian Jewish diaspora, said he estimates around a third of Jews living in Russia are currently “actively” expressing their opposition to the war; most “aren’t happy” with the situation, but are too scared to speak out.

He estimates that only 10 to 15 percent of Jewish people in Russia support the war — partly because 70 percent of Russian Jews live in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and most are “more liberal, more modernized” and better educated than the average Russian, he said.

Unlike Russian Orthodox leader Patriarch Kirill, whom the EU mulled sanctioning over his support of Putin’s war, Jewish religious figures have been more critical.

Berel Lazar, the chief rabbi of Russia who was previously known to be friendly with Putin, called for “peace” and offered to be a mediator in the conflict.

Other leading Jewish figures have made similar appeals, including the President of the Federation of Jewish Communities Alexander Boroda.

Meanwhile, Moscow’s Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, under pressure from the authorities to back the war, fled the country two weeks after the conflict began.

He now lives in exile in Israel, and has said he has no plans to return to Russia, though he will remain in his position.

The longer Putin’s war drags on, the more likely he is to look for scapegoats, and Russian Jews are all too aware that the lesson from their country’s bloody history of pogroms is these scapegoats can often end up being them. In the most notorious case, the assassination of Czar Alexander II in 1881 unleashed a wave of anti-Semitic mob violence.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gave a taste of what could be to come, comparing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Adolf Hitler, who he said “also had Jewish blood.” Putin subsequently walked back on those comments, issuing a rare personal apology to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, but Russia’s Jews were on notice.

“Due to the constant negative attitude toward us, hatred … we are used to being silent, adjusting to the current government, and [we] always keep a foreign passport at the ready,” said one 23-year-old Jewish woman from Derbent, in southern Russia, who works in retail (she asked for her name not to be used).

“You never know when you’ll have to run again,” she added. “We understand that none of us are truly protected.”

Ilya Yablokov, a digital media lecturer at the U.K.’s Sheffield University who has written about anti-Semitism in Russia, said anti-Jewish xenophobia could flare up at any moment if the Kremlin wants it to.

“In the 1980s and 1990s, the brutal anti-Semitism of politicians was a reaction to the social polarization of Russia,” Yablokov said. “In the 2000s, things got better economically so the level of anti-Semitism went down,” he continued, with the Kremlin targeting other minority groups and making the West its No. 1 boogeyman.

But Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and the West’s retaliating sanctions, has Russian Jews fearing they’ll once again be targeted by the Kremlin.

In response, Israel has stepped up its specialized diaspora immigration program, sometimes known as Aliyah, which grants citizenship to those who can prove their relatives are Jewish up to the third generation.

Waiting times at local consulates were shortened from up to nine months to a few weeks, according to an Israeli government official involved in the immigration process, who asked not to be named as they were not authorized to speak to the media. Tel Aviv also allowed refugees to apply for citizenship after arriving in Israel, which the official said “a large majority” have opted for.

According to estimates, around 165,000 Jews lived in Russia in 2019, at that time making them the sixth-largest Jewish community outside of Israel.

In the first three months after Putin launched his invasion on February 24, approximately 10,000 of them were granted Israeli citizenship, the official said, compared with just 800 in as many months prior.

Reuters: No experience, no resume, you're hired! Hotels fight for staff

Top European hotel chains are hiring workers without experience or even a resume as executives admit years of underpaying staff have come back to bite, leaving them unable to meet post-pandemic travel demand.

Thousands of workers left the hospitality industry when international travel shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many chose not to return, finding better paid employment elsewhere, leaving hoteliers facing a desperate shortage.

Europe's largest hotelier Accor is running trial initiatives to recruit people who haven't previously worked in the industry, Chief Executive Sebastien Bazin said in an interview with Reuters at the Qatar Economic Forum last month.

Accor, which operates brands like Mercure, ibis and Fairmont in over 110 countries, needs 35,000 workers globally, he said.

"We tried in Lyon and Bordeaux ten days ago and this weekend we're having people interviewed with no resume, no prior job experience and they are hired within 24 hours," Bazin said.

In the short term, Accor is filling roles in France with young people and migrants while also limiting services.

"It's students, people coming from North Africa," Bazin said. "And basically closing restaurants for lunch or (opening them) only five days a week. There's no other solution."

The new recruits are given six hours of training and learn on the job, he said.

Staff shortages are particularly pressing in Spain and Portugal, where tourism accounted for 13% and 15% of economic output respectively before the pandemic.

Hoteliers there are offering higher pay, free accommodation and perks like bonuses and health insurance.

"Many employees have decided to move to other sectors, so we are starting an industry from scratch and we have to fight for talent," Gabriel Escarrer, CEO of Spanish hotelier Melia, told reporters in Madrid.

To attract staff, his company recently provided accommodation, sometimes in hotel rooms, due to a shortage of rental housing near its resorts.

Smaller hoteliers face similar staffing challenges.

The operations director of Hotel Mundial, one of Lisbon's most iconic hotels, said it was currently trying to recruit 59 workers. Without enough staff, he fears some hotels will cut guest numbers and the range of amenities they can provide.

"If we cannot recruit, we will have to cut services," he said. "This is regrettable and dramatic for an industry that has had no revenue for the last two years."

Across Spain and Portugal, two of Europe's top tourism destinations, the scenario is echoed in bars, restaurants, and hotels - the bookings they have longed for but at a cost they are struggling to meet.

Jose Carlos Sacó, 52, can only open his Madrid bar, Tabanco de Jerez, during the weekend when students in need of extra cash have no classes and are available to work.

"During the week we can't open because we have no hands, they are studying," he said, gesturing to his student workforce setting up tables on a Saturday.

Spain's catering industry is 200,000 workers short and Portuguese hotels need at least 15,000 more people to meet growing demand, according to national hospitality associations.

"The solution will surely be to pay more," said Jose Luis Yzuel, from the catering services sector association.

Attempts are being made to lure workers back. In Spain, bars and restaurants increased workers' wages by nearly 60% in the first quarter compared to a year earlier, according to official data. But the tourism industry is still the sector that pays employees the least, around 1,150 euros per month.

In neighbouring Portugal, salaries for hospitality workers are expected to increase 7% this year, according to a survey by the central bank and the National Institute of Statistics, but the average wage in the sector is 881 euros per month, above the minimum wage of 705 euros.

In the past, the industry has neither paid enough or focused on developing staff, Bazin said.

"Half of it is we've been blind, we've been not paying attention to a lot of people and probably underpaying some people for too long as well," he said. "So it's a wake up call."

Picked and squeezed for you: Irina Iakovleva