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Britain's Prince Charles warned Thursday that tiny island nations could be wiped off the map by climate change, at a Commonwealth gathering geared towards finding practical ways to reverse its effects.

Charles, the heir to the throne, said the planet was facing an existential crisis as he urged the Commonwealth to take forward its ideas to COP23, the next United Nations climate summit in the German city of Bonn in November.

While the 52-member Commonwealth contains G20 industrial powers like Britain, Canada and Australia and emerging forces like India and Nigeria, many of its members are developing island microstates.

The 2015 COP21 Paris accord targets keeping the rise in temperatures within two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels and strives for 1.5 C (2.7 F) if possible.

Charles said some northern nations seemed worryingly ambivalent about the difference.

"For some countries, particularly, the small island developing states of the Commonwealth, the difference could scarcely be more critical as it may literally mean the survival of their countries or their extinction," he told ambassadors and science experts gathered at the organisation's London headquarters.

"We face an existential crisis in every sense of the word."

- Carbon-eating concrete -

A two-day Commonwealth conference in October brought together global experts to thrash out innovative schemes that could pull carbon out of the air and put it back into the Earth.

Thursday's gathering brought together the results of that conference and try and forge a common approach to COP23.

"The task we face is not only to protect nature but also to collaborate with nature," said Charles.

"The ideas we need are already out there but they will not happen by chance."

The Commonwealth is looking at notions including carbon-absorbing concrete and getting more productive agriculture through mimicking the ecosystems of wild, untended land.

They have also considered buildings designed like termite mounds that ventilate themselves with cool air, or making ships' hulls like shark skin to move through water more efficiently.

 

 

Britain's centrist Liberal Democrats launched their party manifesto on Wednesday with a promise to hold a Brexit referendum, as they seek to win pro-EU votes in next month's national election.

Sitting a distant third place in opinion polls ahead of the June 8 vote, the Lib Dems are styling themselves as the party of the 48 percent who voted last year to remain in the European Union.

"We are giving the people of this country the chance to decide on what comes next with Brexit," party leader Tim Farron told Sky News.

"And if the deal that (Prime Minister) Theresa May comes back with is not good enough for you and your family, you should have the right to reject it and to vote to remain," he added.

The Lib Dems pledge to hold a referendum on the final Brexit deal following two years of negotiations between London and Brussels, giving voters the chance to reject the agreement and stay in the European Union.

The party also promises to keep Britain in the European single market and continue freedom of movement, both of which have been ruled out by May.

 

 

Twelve people were injured when a corrosive substance was sprayed inside a packed London nightclub, police and fire services said, amid a sharp rise in acid attacks in Britain's capital.

Two of the victims, both men in their twenties, are in a "serious but stable condition" and 10 others suffered "minor injuries", police said in a statement.

A London Fire Brigade spokesman told AFP an "unknown corrosive substance" was thrown in Mangle, a club in east London, in the early hours of Monday.

It was identified as "an acidic substance" from testing, he said, adding that there were around 600 people in the club at the time.

Police said the incident was not believed to be terrorism or gang related but the result of a dispute between two groups of people in the club.

They said the fight led to "a noxious substance being sprayed by a male suspect directly at Victims 1 and 2" -- the two men with the more serious injuries.

 

The European Union could end up paying a Brexit bill to Britain instead of the other way round, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told The Daily Telegraph in an interview on Saturday.

Asked if he believed that Britain might end up receiving a payment, Johnson replied: "I do, I think there are very good arguments".

"There are assets that we share, that we have paid for over the years and there will need to be a proper computation of the value of those assets," said Johnson, one of the leading lights in last year's Brexit referendum campaign.

Johnson dismissed as "absurd" the various estimates for the exit fee that would have to be paid by Britain, which some reports have said could be as high as 100 billion euros ($109 billion).

"They are going to try to bleed this country white with their bill," he said, threatening that Britain could "definitely" walk away from the negotiations without paying anything.

 

 

Asian and European stock markets paused Friday following a healthy run-up in the week, traders siad.

Investors also mulled an overnight sell-off on Wall Street where a plunge in retail giant Macy's fanned concerns about the key US retail sector.

Optimism has been high the past four days on solid US jobs data and moderate Emmanuel Macron's landslide French presidential win Sunday, pushing some markets to multi-year highs.

But traders took a step back ahead of the weekend with confidence rattled by a series of below-par Chinese data and Donald Trump's shock firing of the head of the FBI, which some fear could lead to a crisis that will knock the president's economy-boosting agenda offline.

On Thursday, New York's three main indices turned negative after Macy's announced a 39 percent fall in net profit, its latest in a series of weak readings that have underscored the deterioration of bricks-and-mortar stores due to the rise of e-commerce.

The figures hit other big-name stores and with the retail sector a crucial driver of the world's top economy, there are fears about the outlook for well-known shops.

 

 

Wall Street wobbled Wednesday as wary investors mulled the political fallout from US President Donald Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey.

European stocks meanwhile posted slight gains, with some analysts detecting an investment flow from across the Atlantic.

"The latest surfacing of the unpredictable side of Trump adds further weight to renewed investor confidence in European stocks," said Accendo Markets analyst Henry Croft.

At the closing bell, stock prices were a touch higher in Paris and Frankfurt, while surging oil prices helped lift London by 0.6 percent.

On the other side of the Atlantic Wall Street was lower, also hit by sliding Disney shares, but the dollar staged a timid recovery, having tumbled to a six-month euro low after Trump ousted Comey late on Tuesday.

"Political uncertainty is resurfacing," said analysts at Charles Schwab after Trump ousted the man who headed a wide-ranging investigation into whether his aides colluded with Russia to sway last year's US election.

 

 

Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday accused Brussels of deliberately making "threats against Britain" over the Brexit talks in order to affect the outcome of next month's general election.

In a tough statement outside Downing Street, just hours after the European Union's negotiator set out his plans for the negotiations, May said some people in the EU did not want the negotiations to succeed.

"In the last few days, we have seen just how tough these talks are likely to be," the Conservative Party leader said, charging that Britain's negotiating position had been "misrepresented" in the European press.

 

 

British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit strategy came under fresh scrutiny Tuesday following reports of a disastrous meeting with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

May has dismissed as "Brussels gossip" accounts of tension at last week's Downing Street dinner, but faces accusations of botching the first face-to-face talks with EU leaders since triggering Brexit.

The report came just days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Britain that it should have no "illusions" that it could continue enjoying the benefits of EU membership while outside the bloc.

May responded by accusing the other 27 EU countries of lining up against Britain, in a sign of hardening positions on both sides.

Formal negotiations will not begin until after Britain's election on June 8, in which May is expecting to return to office with an increased parliamentary majority.

 

 

Britain took a significant step towards exposing dirty money in the London property market this week, passing a law allowing the seizure of homes from foreigners who cannot explain how they paid for them.

Anti-corruption campaigners hailed the "unexplained wealth orders" as a potentially game-changing tool to stop wealthy individuals from laundering their money through mansions in the affluent London boroughs of Knightsbridge and Hampstead.

The measure in the Criminal Finances Act, which became law on Thursday, will enable enforcement agencies to seize and if necessary then sell the properties, returning the funds to the country involved.

"If some corrupt official, who we know earns £30,000 ($39,000) or £40,000 a year, buys a house in the UK for £2 million there is unexplained wealth," said Margaret Hodge, an opposition Labour MP who campaigns on this issue.

In research published last month, campaign group Transparency International identified London properties worth £4.2 billion that it says were bought by individuals with suspicious wealth.

 

 

Laden with whisky and baby milk, the first freight train linking China directly to the UK arrived in the eastern Chinese city of Yiwu Saturday after a 12,000-kilometre (7,500-mile) trip, becoming the world's second-longest rail route.

The journey is the latest effort in China's drive to strengthen trade links with western Europe along a modern-day "Silk Road" route.

"The train arrived at around 9:30am (0130 GMT) to Yiwu on Saturday," the Yiwu Tianmeng Industry Company told AFP.

The world's top trading nation launched the "One Belt, One Road" strategy in 2013, and has since poured millions into constructing vast infrastructure links.

The train -- which was also carrying pharmaceuticals and machinery -- departed London on April 10 and passed through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan during its 20-day trip before arriving in Yiwu in eastern Zhejiang province, a major wholesale centre for small consumer goods.