New Zealand opposition leader Judith Collins has been criticised for calling obesity a “personal choice”, creating a headache for her National party which is struggling in the polls ahead of Saturday’s election.

Collins told radio station Newstalk ZB that “people need to start taking some personal responsibility for their weight” before joking that weight gain was not an epidemic and “wasn’t catching”.

New Zealand is listed by the OECD as the third fattest country in the world, with 31% of Kiwis regarded as obese. Aotearoa sits behind only Mexico (32%) and the United States (38%). Two in three Pasifika (66%) and half of Māori (48%) are obese.

Collins attacked suggestions her views oversimplified a complex issue or were heartless. “Do you know what is heartless? Thinking that someone else can cure these issues. We can all take personal responsibility,” she said.

She criticised parents on the AM Show, saying: “It doesn’t take actually much to get frozen vegetables out of the freezer and pull them out and do something with them. It’s not that hard.”

Mark Mitchell, a former defence minister and expected party leadership contender to Collins should she lose the election, said obesity was “a lot more complex”. “Some obesity is related to medical conditions, even psychological conditions that need treating, so it’s a more complex issue,” he told Newstalk ZB.

Dr Lisa Te Morenga, senior lecturer in Māori health and nutrition at Victoria University, called Collins’ remarks “outrageous and disappointing”.

“Making healthy food choices is really difficult for people when they are constrained by income, lack of access to healthy foods and the environment is full of junk food options,” she said. “And Maori and Pasifika families earn less money, are more likely to live in poverty and in areas not well served by shops.”

Te Morenga

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) used his time questioning Amy Coney Barrett to touch on a big topic in America and the law: racism.

During her Tuesday confirmation hearing, Durbin asked Barrett whether she had seen the video of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police, and how it affected her. “Given that I have two Black children, that was very, very personal for my family,” Barrett responded, referring to her two children adopted from Haiti.

Barrett’s husband Jesse had taken her boys on a camping trip, but Barrett was home with her 17-year-old daughter Vivian, who is Black, as “all of this was erupting,” she said. “It was very difficult for her; we wept together in my room,” Barrett continued. “To understand there would be a risk to her brother or the sons she might have one day, of that kind of brutality, has been an ongoing conversation.”

It was difficult to “try to explain” the incident to her 10-year-old daughter who was also home, as her children “have had the benefit of growing up in a cocoon where they have not yet experienced hatred or violence,” Barrett continued. Durbin then asked her to explain “where are we today when it comes to the issue of race. Barrett responded by saying it’s “uncontroversial and obvious” that “racism persists in our country,” but would not go further into what she called “hotly contested policy questions” about race.

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(Reuters) – The European Union’s new trade chief has told the U.S. to withdraw tariffs on more than $7 billion of EU products or face additional duties on exports to Europe, as he urged a settlement to the dispute over Airbus SE

and Boeing Co

, the Financial Times reported on Sunday. 

Repairing the transatlantic relationship would be EU’s top priority, and the U.S. should withdraw its Airbus-related tariffs as a confidence-building measure, the EU’s new trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis told the FT.

“Of course, if the US is not withdrawing their tariffs we have no choice but to then introduce our tariffs,” he was quoted as saying.

Washington was awarded the right by the World Trade Organization (WTO) last October, to impose tariffs on $7.5 billion of annual EU imports in its case against Airbus. Washington then imposed 25% duties on products ranging from single-malt whisky to olives and cheese and 10% tariffs on most European-made Airbus jets.

In mid-February, the U.S. government said it would increase tariffs on aircraft imported from the EU to 15% from 10%, ratcheting up pressure on Brussels in a nearly 16-year dispute over aircraft subsidies.

The EU for its part, has been cleared by the WTO to impose tariffs on U.S. products worth $4 billion to retaliate against subsidies for American planemaker Boeing, sources told Reuters last month, with the award expected to be published within weeks.

Dombrovskis refused to speculate about the impact a Joe Biden presidency might have on the dispute, but told the FT that a more protectionist approach was something that came with the administration of Donald Trump.

“But in any case we will be engaging . . . and trying to bring the US administration back within the framework of multilateralism,” he added.

(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank doesn’t need to ease policy further because measures taken to fight a pandemic-induced recession could boost the euro zone economy more than expected, ECB policymaker Jens Weidmann said.

Weidmann also expressed doubts about letting inflation overshoot after it has been low for too long, buying stocks or deliberately suppressing bond yields, in an interview with Boersen-Zeitung published on Wednesday.

The head of Germany’s Bundesbank and one of the ECB’s most conservative policymakers, Weidmann was countering calls for more stimulus from dovish rate setters like board member Fabio Panetta, in an internal ECB debate about the path ahead for a central bank that has missed its inflation goal for a decade.

“At the moment I see no reason to deviate from our assessment,” Weidmann said. “The monetary policy stance is currently appropriate.”

He argued the economy could perform better than the ECB’s baseline scenario, which put growth at 3.2% and inflation at 1.3% in 2022, because that did not include a 750 billion-euro package agreed by European Union leaders over the summer and French fiscal easing worth 100 billion euros.

Weidmann warned of likely legal trouble with Germany’s constitutional court if the ECB extended the exceptionally flexible terms of its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme to its regular bond purchases.

And he added he could not reconcile the purchase of shares by the ECB or the targeting of a specific level in sovereign bond yields — two measures deployed by the Bank of Japan — with a market economy and the central bank’s mandate.

The ECB is in the middle of reviewing its inflation goal of just under 2% after lagging behind it for a decade.

Some policymakers are debating whether to follow the lead of the U.S. Federal Reserve. The Fed said in August

Adds details on consolidation, comments on Mali, Grasberg mine, and Congo

JOHANNESBURG/TORONTO, Oct 7 (Reuters)Barrick Gold ABX.TO CEO Mark Bristow on Wednesday said the gold industry in Africa should consolidate further, as he warned of a “serious reserve crisis” looming for the sector.

A dearth of exploration has seen average mine life across the gold mining sector fall from 20 years to closer to 10 years, he added, speaking at the Joburg Indaba mining conference.

“The prospect of a serious reserve crisis is looming,” said Bristow. Gold production across the industry has only increased by 1.6% every year for the past two decades, he said.

Bristow said this week’s deal between Northern Star Resources NST.AX and Saracen Mineral Holdings SAR.AX was a “great example” of industry consolidation that should be celebrated.

On Mali, where Barrick is among the biggest investors and operates the Loulo-Gounkoto gold mine, Bristow said the transition after an August military coup has been “very well” run.

“Everyone agrees that 18 months for transition back to full civilian rule is doable, and that’s ambitious,” Bristow said, adding that “none of the organs of state has stopped functioning.”

Bristow again signalled his appetite for acquiring Freeport-McMoran’s FCX.N Grasberg mine in Indonesia, the world’s biggest gold mine and second-biggest copper mine.

“There are not a lot around, and so by deduction of course we remain interested in being able to add to our portfolio any tier 1 asset out there,” he said.

Bristow said he has no doubt the company will be able to repatriate $500 million which belongs to its Kibali joint venture in the Congo.

“That paperwork is far down the road,” he said. At the start of July, Bristow had said the money would be cleared to leave the country “very soon”.