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Japan's core CPI hits highest level since 1981 in December

TOKYO, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Japans core consumer prices gained 4.0 percent in December from a year earlier, marking the highest level since 1981, owing to soaring prices for energy and food, the government said in a report on Friday.(File photo: CGTN)According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, while also marking the largest growth in over 40 years, the core consumer price index, excluding volatile fresh food items, has stayed above the Bank of Japans 2 percent inflation target for the seventh straight month.Higher prices for electricity and other energy costs, as well as food, saw the core CPI elevated, the statistics bureau said, with food prices climbing 7.4 percent in December, while energy prices leaped 15.2 percent.Electricity soared 21.3 percent in the recording month, while city gas leaped 33.3 percent, the ministry said.Gasoline was up 1.6 percent, while kerosene prices rose 4.7 percent in the recording period, according to the ministry.Japans core-core CPI, meanwhile, excluding both fresh food and energy prices, rose 3.0 percent, the highest since 1991, the statistics bureaus data showed.For 2022, core CPI rose 2.3 percent from a year earlier, the data also showed, which when the effects of prior consumption tax hikes are taken away, marked the fastest pace since 1991, the ministry also said.

Huge fire erupts near Lima's San Martin Square

A massive fire broke out near San Martin Square in the Peruvian capital of Lima on Thursday, local newspaper La Republica reported.(File photo: AFP)The Peruvian police warned residents to stay away from the area. They earlier tweeted that protesters were gathering in the center of Lima.Firefighters are on the scene to control the blaze.

Small plane from JFK to Ohio crashes near White Plains in US

(File photo: AFP)A small plane flying from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Ohio crashed on Thursday night, local news Pix11 reported, citing Federal Aviation Administration officials.The single-engine Beechcraft crashed around 6:15 pm local time. Officials do not yet know how many people were on the plane.

Uber not planning layoffs: CEO

Ride-hailing giant Uber is not planning any company-wide layoffs, the US firms boss said Thursday, bucking the downsizing trend in the tech sector.(File photo: CGTN)Uber employed some 32,600 drivers worldwide at the end of September, according to the companys last quarterly earnings report."Were not at this point planning on any company-wide layoffs," Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said at a Wall Street Journal event on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.Microsoft said Wednesday it would layoff 10,000 employees in the coming months as the economic downturn punishes US tech giants.Facebook-owner Meta, Amazon, Twitter and Salesforce have also announced thousands of layoffs.The redundancies follow a major hiring spree during the height of the coronavirus pandemic when companies scrambled to meet demand as people went online for work, shopping and entertainment.Khosrowshahi said it was his job to make "shifts" within the company but that "the core business and the core workforce ... are well balanced and well positioned for the future."I certainly hope it stays that way. But it is a dynamic environment, and were going to adjust pretty quickly."Khosrowshahi said Uber was working with various automakers to design cars purpose-built for its ride-hailing and delivery services.He declined to name the companies.

Netflix soars to 230 mn subscribers, co-founder steps down

US streaming giant Netflix on Thursday said it ended last year with more than 230 million global subscribers, beating analysts expectations as hits such as "Wednesday" and "Harry & Meghan" enticed new viewers.(File photo: CFP)"2022 was a tough year, with a bumpy start but a brighter finish," the company said in a letter announcing bumper fourth quarter earnings.Netflix also announced that co-founder Reed Hastings was standing down as CEO, ending a two-decade long leadership that saw the company grow from a rent-by-mail DVD service to an entertainment juggernaut.Hastings ceded everyday control of Netflix to his two longtime associates Chief Operating Officer Greg Peters and Ted Sarandos, who has been the face of Netflix in Hollywood and had already been named co-CEO."Our board has been discussing succession planning for many years (even founders need to evolve!)" Hastings said in a blog post.He said he would hold the new job of executive chairman, noting this was a role that tech giant founders often take, using Amazons Jeff Bezos and Microsofts Bill Gates as examples.The changing of the guard was announced as Netflix posted added subscribers that blew past even the most optimistic expectations.The streaming giant said it enticed 7.7 million new members in three months, bringing Netflix membership around the world to 230 million people.Netflix praised a successful slate of new content that included horror-themed comedy "Wednesday," saying the "Addams Family" spinoff was the companys third most popular series ever.Royal tell-all documentary "Harry & Meghan" also scored, Netflix said, as well as "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" starring Daniel Craig."This is in stark contrast to the first half of the year. Creating the next biggest blockbuster drives subscribers," said tech and media analyst Paolo Pescatore.The fresh titles helped attract users to a ...

South Korea to lift indoor mask requirement from January 30

(File photo: AFP)South Korea will lift the requirement to wear masks indoors from January 30, the prime minister announced on Friday.

US takes 'extraordinary' steps to avoid looming default

The US Treasury began taking measures Thursday to prevent a default on government debt, as Congress heads towards a high-stakes clash between Democrats and Republicans over raising the borrowing limit.The US Treasury Department building in Washington D.C., the United States. (Photo: Xinhua)Such "extraordinary measures" can help reduce the amount of outstanding debt subject to the limit, currently set at $31.4 trillion, but the Treasury has warned that the tools would only help for a limited time likely not longer than six months."I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States," said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in a letter to Congressional leadership on Thursday.She added that there is "considerable uncertainty" on how long the measures can last before risking default.

Israel, US discuss possible Israeli diplomatic breakthrough with Saudi Arabia

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he met visiting US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Thursday and explored ways to forge official ties with Saudi Arabia.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. /File Photo: Getty ImagesThe two discussed "the next steps to deepen the Abraham Accords and expand the circle of peace, with emphasis on a breakthrough regarding Saudi Arabia," Netanyahus office said in a statement.The Abraham Accords are a series of normalization deals signed in 2020 in which the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco agreed to establish official ties with Israel, breaking the countrys relative isolation in the Middle East.Upon his return to office last December, Netanyahu declared that he wish to form diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, a move that he hopes will "bring an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict."Netanyahu and Sullivan also discussed "joint efforts to stop the Iranian nuclear program and Irans actions in the region," the office said.Sullivan is the most senior US official to visit Israel since Netanyahus new extreme-right government was inaugurated last December. The swearing-in of this coalition government, which includes ministers who advocate the annexation of the occupied West Bank and voice anti-Arab rhetoric, has caused discontent in the administration of US President Joe Biden.

US FAA: Human error caused computer outage, not cyberattack

(File photo: CGTN)The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has determined that a computer outage last week was caused by contract personnel unintentionally deleting files, and that no evidence of a cyberattack or malicious intent has been discovered thus far.

About 500 people evacuate homes in S.Korea's shantytown fire

SEOUL, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- About 500 people evacuated their homes on Friday morning in a fire that broke out in Guryong Village, called the last remaining shantytown in the South Korean capital Seoul, according to Yonhap news agency.(File photo: AFP)The blaze started around 6:27 am local time (2127 GMT Thursday) from the fourth district of the village in Seouls southern Gangnam Ward.The fire authorities and the ward office evacuated some 500 residents from their homes in the village, where about 666 households reside.No casualty had been confirmed yet, and some 60 houses were believed to have burned down.Dispatched to the scene were 10 helicopters, 61 pieces of fire equipment, about 500 firefighters and police officers, some 100 army servicemen and around 300 ward officials.The blaze was largely brought under control around 10:10 am local time (0110 GMT).The fire was presumed to have spread rapidly as the shanties are made of flammable materials, such as vinyl and plywood.

Prime Minister Prayut celebrates Chinese New Year in western Thailand

Thailand Prime Minister Prayut delivered a speech on the opening ceremony. (Photo: Peoples Daily/Zhao Yipu)Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha attended an opening ceremony for the Ratchaburi Chinese New Year celebration on Thursday evening in Ratchaburi, a western Thailand town and capital of Ratchaburi Province.Sponsored by the Thailand Tourism and Sports Ministry, Thailand Culture Ministry and Ratchaburi government, the celebration will last until Monday January 23."Gong xi fa cai!" Prayut said. "This year marks the 48th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Thailand and China."We kept our friendship all 48 years and the Thailand government celebrates Chinese New Year almost every year."The prime minister called for more Chinese tourists to come to Thailand."Tourism is important to the Thailand economy and Thai people," he said. "We always welcome Chinese tourists."A large Chinese community can be found in Ratchaburi, 150 kilometers from Bangkok where people have a tradition of celebrating the Chinese New Year.

China's commerce minister, Australia's trade minister to hold talks

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Representatives from Beijing and Canberra communicated with each other on Thursday and agreed that Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell will hold talks in the near future via video conference, reliable sources told Xinhua.The two sides made the agreement during a mini-ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization held here, the sources said.

China's development to create conditions for US-China win-win cooperation: Chinese diplomat

Xu Xueyuan, Chargé dAffaires of the Embassy of China in the United States, delivered the keynote speech at the China General Chamber of Commerce-USA 2023 Lunar New Year of the Rabbit Gala in New York on Wednesday January 18.In her speech at the annual economic and trade event for Chinese and US business communities, Xu encouraged Chinese and US companies to promote their countries economic and trade cooperation.Xu Xueyuan, Chargé dAffaires of the Embassy of China in the United States. (Photo provided by Chinese Embassy in United States)In a press release of Xus speech posted online on Thursday by the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC, she listed the two countries economic and trade cooperation achievements and said an accurate understanding of China-US economic and trade relations required an "objective and rational view of shared interests.""China-US trade is highly complementary," Xu was quoted as saying. "Even with the trade frictions in recent years, the two-way trade from January to November 2022 still approached $700 billion and the momentum of growth is continuing."China-US trade is mutually beneficial and the American economy, businesses and consumers are all beneficiaries."All 50 US states export goods and services to China, benefiting nearly 1 million US jobs, especially agricultural states which export soybeans, corn, sorghum, beef and pork, Xu said, citing the US-China Business Council, a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of over 280 American companies that do business with China.Mutual respect would lay the foundation for sound interactions between China and the United States, she said."Our economic and trade cooperation should follow economic laws and abide by international economic and trade rules," Xu said.Section 301 tariffs, industrial subsidies, investment barriers and export controls were "detrimental to both sides and should not continue," the charge d...

Middle East, African airliners add more China flights as demands surge

More airliners have updated plans to resume and add direct international flights to China, especially ahead of the traditional Chinese New Year, as China optimizes its COVID-19 response measures to facilitate cross-border travel. An airliner of Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates. (Photo: CFP)Etihad Airways and Emirates, two leading airline giants based in the aviation hubs of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, are among those looking to expand flights to major Chinese metropolises. "Emirates will ramp up its operations in China ahead of the new lunar year and in response to strong travel demand, boosting connectivity to its gateways, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing, as the country reopens its borders and eases its COVID-related entry restrictions," said the Emirates media center on January16, 2023. Etihad Cargo, the cargo and logistics arm of Etihad Aviation Group based in Abu Dhabi, announced plans to further expand its capacity offering to the Chinese market with the introduction of an additional weekly Abu Dhabi – Shanghai freighter flight from February 2, 2023, bringing the total freighter flights to eight per week.Ethiopian Airlines, the leading airline in Africa, which links many major cities across the continent, is also gearing up to resume flights to China, its largest overseas market.In a recent statement, the airliner announced that the frequency of its flights to Chinese cities will increase as of February 6, 2023, ultimately returning to the pre-COVID-19 levels on March 1, 2023, following the lifting of restrictions by the government of China.Starting March 1, the flights will surge back to the pre-COVID-19 levels with daily flights to Beijing and Shanghai and 10 and four weekly flights to Guangzhou and Chengdu, respectively, the airlines said.

Strikes, protests test French plan to raise retirement age

Workers in many French cities took to the streets Thursday to reject proposed pension changes that would push back the retirement age, amid a day of nationwide strikes and protests seen as a major test for Emmanuel Macron and his presidency.High school students block their school Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023 in Paris. (Photo: AP)Demonstrations gathered thousands of people in the cities of Paris, Marseille, Toulouse, Nantes, Lyon and other places as strikes were severely disrupting transport, schools and other public services across the country.French workers would have to work longer before receiving a pension under the new rules — with the nominal retirement age rising from 62 to 64. In a country with an aging population and growing life expectancy where everyone receives a state pension, Macron’s government says the reform is the only way to keep the system solvent.Unions argue the pension overhaul threatens hard-fought rights, and propose a tax on the wealthy or more payroll contributions from employers to finance the pension system. Polls suggest most French people also oppose the reform.More than 200 rallies are expected around France on Thursday, including a large one in Paris involving all France’s major unions.Laurent Berger, head of the CFDT union, called the governments plans a “unfair” reform on BFMTV and called on workers to “peacefully come (to the streets) to say they disagree.”Police unions opposed to the retirement reform are also taking part, while those who are on duty are bracing for potential violence if extremist groups join the demonstrations.A majority of trains around France are canceled, including some international connections, according to the SNCF rail authority. About 20% of flights out of Paris’ Orly Airport are canceled and airlines are warning of delays.Electricity workers pledged to reduce power supplies as a form of protest.The ministry of National Education said some 34 to 42% of teachers were on strike, depending on schools. High ...

As US nears debt limit, political frictions raising alarms

The countdown toward a possible U.S. government default is in the offing — with frictions between President Joe Biden and House Republicans raising alarms about whether the U.S. can sidestep a potential economic crisis.The Treasury Department is seen near sunset in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. (Photo: AP)The Treasury Department projects that the federal government will on Thursday reach its legal borrowing capacity of $38.381 trillion, an artificially imposed cap that lawmakers have increased roughly 80 times since the 1960s. Markets so far remain calm, as the government can temporarily rely on accounting tweaks to stay open, meaning that any threats to the economy are several months away. Even many worried analysts assume there will be a deal.But this particular moment seems more fraught than past brushes with the debt limit because of the broad differences between Biden and new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who presides over a restive Republican caucus.Those differences increase the risk that the government could default on its obligations for political reasons, a problem that could rattle financial markets and — if not resolved — plunge the worlds largest economy into a wholly preventable recession.The pair have several months to forge a deal, as the Treasury Department imposes “extraordinary measures” to keep the government operating until at least June. But years of intensifying partisan hostility have led to a conflicting set of demands that jeopardize the ability of the U.S. lawmakers to work together on a basic duty.Biden insists on a clean increase to the debt limit so that existing financial commitments can be sustained, refusing to even start talks with Republicans. McCarthy is calling for negotiations that he believes will lead to spending cuts. Its unclear how much he wants to trim and if his fellow Republicans would support any deal after a testy start to the new Congress that required 15 rounds of voting to elect McCarthy speaker.As...

2023 economy will be 'a lot better than feared': Lagarde

The eurozone economy will fare "a lot better" this year than initially feared, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde said Thursday, as hopes grow that countries can avoid a painful recession.Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank (ECB) appears on a screen as she speaks during a press conference on Governing Council meeting focused on monetary policy in the euro zone in Amsterdam on June 09, 2022. (File photo: AFP)The economic "news has become much more positive in the last few weeks", Lagarde told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The ECBs forecast of 0.5 percent growth this year is not "brilliant" but "it is a lot better than what we had feared", Lagarde said.

Russian FM accuses West of contributing to Ukraine crisis

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (Photo: CFP)MOSCOW, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that the Ukraine crisis is "the result of preparations by the United States and its satellites for the start of a global hybrid war" against his country.The West is trying to prove that they are not fighting Russia but are only helping Ukraine respond to an "aggression" and restore its territorial integrity, Lavrov said at his annual press conference, adding that the scale of their support makes it clear that the West has staked a great deal on its war against Russia.As for the prospects for negotiations between Russia and the West on the Ukraine issue, Lavrov said that Russia is ready to consider serious proposals, but there havent been any so far.

Shooter stood over California mom holding baby, killed both

A gunman stood over a 16-year-old young mother cradling her 10-month-old baby and fired into their heads in a massacre that left six family members dead on Monday in the U.S. state of California, local media reported Wednesday, citing police.The Tulare County Sheriff crime unit removes the body of one of the victims at the scene of a shooting in Goshen, California, January 16, 2023. (Photo: AP)"Its shocking for the nation," Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux was quoted as saying by The Sacramento Bee, the largest newspaper in Sacramento, the capital of the western U.S. state. The massacre was a very specific targeted act of violence, he said.The six were killed in an early Monday morning attack at a home in Tulare Countys town of Goshen. Police officers were called to the home just before 4 a.m. local time for multiple shots fired.Authorities have identified the victims of the execution-style killings, most of them shot in the head. The oldest victim, a 72-year-old grandmother, may have been sleeping when she was shot and killed, according to a report in The Sacramento Bee.Boudreaux said during a news conference on Tuesday that the massacre has the hallmarks of "cartel-like executions" and stressed that investigators are still determining whether it was gang-related or if there is a drug cartel angle, reported the newspaper.The teen mother was found in a nearby ditch down the street from the home. Investigators believe the teen fled and was hiding when a gunman stood over her and fired into her head, and the baby was also shot in the head, said the report, citing Boudreaux.A third victim was found in the doorway of the home, and three others were found dead at multiple places on the property, the report said.Investigators believe two people committed the massacre and speculate that a third person was in a getaway car. Authorities are offering a reward of $10,000 for help in solving the massacre.On January 3, a search warrant at the ho...

New Zealand sees largest annual increase in food prices in 32 years

WELLINGTON, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- New Zealands food prices were 11.3 percent higher in December 2022 than they were in December 2021, which was the biggest annual increase in 32 years, the statistics department Stats NZ said on Thursday.It has been the biggest annual increase since April 1990, when food prices increased by 11.4 percent, Stats NZ said.In December 2022, the annual increase was due to rises across all the broad food categories measured, with fruit and vegetable prices increasing by 23 percent, compared with December 2021, it said.Grocery food was the largest contributor to this movement, said Stats NZ consumer prices manager James Mitchell."Increasing prices for cheddar cheese, barn or cage-raised eggs, and potato chips were the largest drivers within grocery food," Mitchell said, adding the second-largest contributor to the annual movement was fruit and vegetables.Monthly food prices rose 1.1 percent in December 2022 compared with November 2022, he said.

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