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World in Brief August 21 2018

ISRAEL: US transnational corporation Pepsico announced yesterday that it has bought Israeli company SodaStream for $3.2 billion (£2.5bn).

The Israeli company, which produces machines for people to make fizzy drinks in their own homes, has been targeted consistently by pro-Palestinian BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) campaigners for siting production in the occupied West Bank.

It has transferred its operations to a new factory in the Negev desert.

MALAYSIA: Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad asked China yesterday to sympathise with Malaysia’s fiscal problems after suspending multibillion-dollar construction projects financed by Chinese loans.

He told a joint news briefing with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang he hoped “China will look sympathetically toward the problems that we have to resolve.”

Mr Mahathir wants to cancel a Chinese-backed £15.66 billion east-coast rail link and two energy pipelines worth £1.8bn.

NEW ZEALAND: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reacted yesterday to pay strikes by teachers, nurses and other public workers by announcing an MPs’ pay freeze for 12 months.

She claimed this sent “a strong signal about what our government values, what we stand for and our determination to make sure the economy is working for everyone.”

The prime minister is paid 471,000 NZ dollars (£235,000) and her deputy NZ$335,000 (£167,500), while an MP’s basic salary is NZ$164,000 (£82,000).

VENEZUELA: Right-wing opposition leaders have ordered strikes and street protests today to condemn government action to raise the minimum wage and tackle petrol smuggling.

President Nicolas Maduro announced an economic recovery plan at the weekend, increasing the minimum wage to half a petro or 1,800 sovereign bolivares, with assistance for smaller companies.

Petrol prices will rise to world levels today except for citizens with a government-issued ID card.

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