German consumer morale climbs as energy prices fall

German consumer confidence improved at the start of the new year, a key survey showed on Tuesday, as government support measures help keep the lid on energy costs.Workers construct a fence on behalf of German energy supplier RWE around the village of Luetzerath, western Germany, on January 11, 2023. (Photo: AFP)Pollster GfK said its forward-looking survey of around 2,000 people climbed 3.7 points to reach minus 33.9 points for February, the fourth consecutive monthly increase."Falling prices for energy, such as gasoline and heating oil, have ensured that consumer sentiment is less gloomy," said GfKs consumer expert Rolf Buerkl.But he warned that the indicator was still at a "very low level" overall and that the months ahead would remain "difficult" for Europes top economy."Private consumption will not be able to make a positive contribution" to economic growth this year, he said.The German government unveiled a 200-billion-euro ($212 billion) support package last year after Russias war against Ukraine sent energy prices surging.The fund includes a cap on electricity and gas prices for households from January. Mild winter weather and a recent drop in the wholesale prices of natural gas have further helped ease concerns.Chancellor Olaf Scholz said last week he now expects the German economy to dodge a recession in 2023.In its October forecast, the government was still predicting a 0.4-percent contraction for this year.Economy Minister Robert Habeck will unveil the newest forecasts on Wednesday.

'Dedication is a habit, and persistence is a responsibility': overseas Chinese employee

Rio de Janeiro (People’s Daily) –During the Spring Festival, reporters from the Peoples Daily drove nearly three hours from downtown Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to a large-scale power supply facility surrounded by mountains. This is the Rio converter station of XRTE, Brazil.The project is funded, built and operated by the State Grid Corporation of China. The total length of its power supply lines is about 2,500 kilometers. It transmits electricity from the Belo Monte hydropower station in the north of Brazil to the southeast of Brazil, across five states of the country, and can meet the electricity demand of about 22 million people. The Rio converter station and the Xingu converter station are located at both ends of the line. They convert direct current into alternating current and are the "heart" of the operation of XRTE.The Rio converter station and the Xingu converter station are located at both ends of the line. They convert direct current into alternating current and are the "heart" of the operation of the second phase of the Belly Mountain UHVDC transmission project. This photo shows the Rio converter station. (Photo: People’s Daily/Chen Yiming)Xu Hongfei, director of operations and maintenance of the Rio Converter Station, told reporters that his daily work at Rio Converter Station is to inspect the progress of the operation and maintenance of equipment, exchange operation and maintenance information with Brazilian employees, and provide information to Brazilian holding companies.The Rio converter station is located deep in the mountains. Its Chinese employees usually live in the nearby small town of Paracambi, and it takes half an hour to drive to the converter station. Their journeys to and from work are along rugged paths, with cars bouncing through dust and puddles."We are used to this kind of environment," said Xu Hongfei, who has worked in Rio converter station and Xingu converter station.Xu Hongfei (left), director of op...

Grateful Ardern makes last bow as New Zealand PM

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday she was grateful for her time in office, insisting that a sustained barrage of online abuse was not the reason for her shock resignation. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern leaves the Labour caucus meeting to elect a new premier at Parliament in Wellington on January 22, 2023. (Photo: AFP)The 42-year-old said last week she no longer had "enough in the tank" after a turbulent five years, during which she steered the country through natural disasters, its worst-ever terror attack and the Covid-19 pandemic.Her resignation, less than three years after an emphatic election victory, has ignited a national debate about the vitriol faced by women leaders, especially on social media. Chris Hipkins, who will take over as prime minister, has said Ardern experienced "utterly abhorrent" abuse while leading the country.Ardern however said she would not describe it that way. While on her last public engagement as prime minister, visiting the Maori settlement of Ratana in the North Island, she said she would "hate" for her departure to be seen as "a negative commentary on New Zealand""I leave feeling gratitude for having this wonderful role for so many years," she told reporters from the birthplace of one of the countrys most influential indigenous political movements. The popularity of Arderns Labour government has soured in recent months, hampered by a looming recession and a resurgent conservative opposition. Hipkins will be sworn in as prime minister on Wednesday, saying it was "bittersweet" to replace his friend of 20 years."I’m really honoured to take on the role, but Jacinda is also a very good friend of mine," he told reporters Tuesday.Hipkins, 44, admitted there were "moments when it sinks in, and moments when it doesnt feel quite real".Ardern said she would now be stepping back from domestic politics, and offered some...

Power networks fully restored across Pakistan day after massive outage

Pakistans capital Islamabad during a nationwide power outage, January 23, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Power networks were fully restored across Pakistan as of Tuesday morning, a day after a nationwide breakdown left the country of 220 million people without electricity."All 1,112 grid stations restored within 24 hours nationwide," Pakistans energy ministry tweeted on Tuesday. The outage started around 7:30 am (0230 GMT) on Monday, a failure linked to a cost-cutting measure as Pakistan grapples with an economic crisis.

Keeping pace with China in 2023: New Zealand's think tank

WELLINGTON, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Many kiwis with experience of modern China are familiar with the concept of "China speed," and New Zealand will need to get out of the blocks fast in its relationship with China in the Year of the Rabbit, New Zealand China Council Executive Director Alistair Crozier said.File photo: CGTNThe op-ed was originally published on on Monday.Like other countries China can be expected to soon enter an equally fast-changing period of social and economic recovery, Crozier said.A strong political relationship underpins New Zealands bilateral engagement with China, New Zealands largest trade partner, he said, adding in this regard New Zealand stands in good stead as the Year of the Rabbit gets underway.The New Zealand government has emphasized that while differences between the two countries will have to be discussed and managed, "We will seek do so predictably and respectfully while also focusing on opportunities for cooperation," he said.During the COVID-19 pandemic, China helped to fuel New Zealands economy through a challenging period as New Zealands exports to China and imports from China both rose greatly in 2021, Crozier said."CEOs, boards and market managers across key sectors will need to prioritize an early visit back to China if they are to remind themselves of its dynamism and potential, cement personal relationships, and understand for themselves how market strategies will need to adjust to Chinas challenges and opportunities in 2023 and beyond."China has moved on from its long-held reputation as "the worlds factory" to become one of the worlds leading innovators, a global leader in research, tech and other areas which now produces more high-quality science than any other country, Crozier cited a recent report as saying.It is the worlds largest producer of electric vehicles (EVs) and EV batteries, and solar and wind energy machin...

5.8-magnitude quake hits 171 km NW of Tobelo, Indonesia -- USGS

File photo: CGTNJAKARTA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 jolted 171 km NW of Tobelo, Indonesia at 02:13:15 GMT on Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.The epicenter, with a depth of 35.0 km, was initially determined to be at 2.8178 degrees north latitude and 126.9122 degrees east longitude.

Preventing weight gain can help avoid total knee replacement: research

SYDNEY, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Preventing weight gain from young adulthood to late midlife to reduce overweight or obesity could significantly reduce the cost burden of total knee replacements, an Aussie research found.File photo: CGTNThe study, which was led by Monash University, used data from 24,368 participants in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study. It examined the association between patterns of weight gain from early adulthood to late midlife and the risk of total knee replacement for osteoarthritis.Dividing the BMI (body mass index) data into six distinct trajectories, researchers found the risk of requiring a total knee replacement increased in all groups where someone progressed into a higher weight group.In total, 28.4 percent of knee replacements could be prevented if people moved to one group lower, with an average of 8-12 kg weight loss from early adulthood to late midlife, according to the research.Flavia Cicuttini from Monash University, senior author of the paper published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, told Xinhua on Tuesday that while weight loss was recommended for people with osteoarthritis who were overweight or obese, this was often too little and too late."The big problem is that if a person has gained weight, become obese and developed knee arthritis, it is important to try and lose weight, but fixing or reducing the obesity will not repair any damage that has already happened to the knee," Cicuttini said."If you have a choice, it is better to stop the gain of 5 kg in the first place rather than trying to take off that 5 kg."Cicuttini said, in a number of countries including Australia where populations are slowly gaining weight, they see some people become very heavy. They then introduce treatments or surgery to tackle the problems, resulting in millions of Australian dollars to the health system per year.She added that prevention has multiple health and cost benefits compared to the idea that to solve the o...

South African navy to host Russian, Chinese counterparts for maritime exercise

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa will host the naval forces from China and Russia during the multilateral maritime exercise scheduled to take place next month in Durban and Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal, according to the country's Ministry of Defense and Military Veterans.Known as Exercise Mosi II, the m

Seven dead in two shootings in northern California: media reports

File photo: VCGSeven people have been killed and one critically injured Monday in two shootings in Half Moon Bay in northern California, US media reported.There was no immediate official confirmation of the toll from authorities, but San Mateo County Sheriff said on Twitter it was dealing with an incident."The Sheriffs Office is responding to a shooting incident with multiple victims in the area of (Highway) 92 and the (Half Moon Bay) City limits," it tweeted."Suspect is in custody. There is no ongoing threat to the community at this time." The two incidents reported by US media happened at farms close to each other in an area south of San Francisco.ABC7 originally reported one person was dead and three injured at the Mountain Mushroom Farm, ABC7 reported, citing law enforcement sources. Three people are dead at nearby Rice Tucking-Soil Farm, the broadcaster said on its website.The broadcaster later updated that toll, and NBC Bay Area, citing its own sources, also said seven had died in the two shootings.The new bloodshed came less than 48 hours after a gunman killed 11 people at a dance studio near Los Angeles.California Governor Gavin Newsom, who has been in Monterey Park where that massacre took place, took to Twitter moments after news broke of the new killings."At the hospital meeting with victims of a mass shooting when I get pulled away to be briefed about another shooting. This time in Half Moon Bay. Tragedy upon tragedy."ABC7 aired footage of the arrest of a man, and said this happened as their crew was setting up outside a police station.

US proposes once-a-year COVID-19 shots for most Americans

U.S. health officials want to make COVID-19 vaccinations more like the annual flu shot. Photo: CFPThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday proposed a simplified approach for future vaccination efforts, allowing most adults and children to get a once-a-year shot to protect against the mutating virus. This means Americans would no longer have to keep track of how many shots theyve received or how many months its been since their last booster. The proposal comes as boosters have become a hard sell. While more than 80 percent of the U.S. population has had at least one vaccine dose, only 16 percent of those eligible have received the latest boosters authorized in August. The FDA will ask its panel of outside vaccine experts to weigh in at a meeting Thursday. The agency is expected to consider their advice while deciding future vaccine requirements for manufacturers. In documents posted online, FDA scientists say many Americans now have "sufficient preexisting immunity" against the coronavirus because of vaccination, infection or a combination of the two. That baseline of protection should be enough to move to an annual booster against the latest strains in circulation and make COVID-19 vaccinations more like the yearly flu shot, according to the agency.A two-dose combination may be needed for protection for adults with weakened immune systems and very small children. FDA scientists and vaccine companies would study vaccination, infection rates and other data to decide who should receive a single shot versus a two-dose series. FDA will also ask its panel to vote on whether all vaccines should target the same strains. That step would be needed to make the shots interchangeable, doing away with the current complicated system of primary vaccinations and boosters. The initial shots from Pfizer and Moderna – called the primary series – target the strain of the virus that first emerged in 2020 and quickly swept across the world. The updated boosters...

Death toll from California shooting rises to 11 as police look for motive

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna speaks at a press conference in front of the Civic Center in Monterey Park, California, the United States, Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo: Xinhua)An 11th victim died from injuries on Monday after an elderly gunmans deadly rampage at a Los Angeles-area dance hall, California police said, as authorities were still searching for a motive behind one of the states worst mass shootings.

EU grants 500 mln euros more military aid to Ukraine

BRUSSELS, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- European Union (EU) military assistance to Ukraine will be topped up by a further 500 million euros (543 million U.S. dollars), foreign ministers agreed here on Monday.File photo: XinhuaTraining for the countrys military worth 45 million euros has also been agreed, EU foreign chief Josep Borrell said."This is the seventh package of military aid for Ukraine," Borrell told a press conference after the EU foreign ministers meeting.This brings the total amount of military financial aid to Ukraine financed through the European Peace Facility to 3.6 billion euros. Meanwhile, total EU support for the country is now approaching 50 billion euros, making the EU the leading provider of aid to Ukraine.Russia has repeatedly said that the supply of Western weapons to Ukraine does not help resolve the conflict but prolongs the suffering of the Ukrainian people.The ministers also discussed the situation in Iran, reaching an agreement on a fourth package of sanctions on 37 Iranian officials, high-level figures and organizations. These include units of the powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps.Among the persons subject to sanctions are representatives of the government and Iranian parliament, important political and media figures, and high-ranking members of the Iranian security forces.However, Borrell said that Irans Revolutionary Guard Corps could not be listed as a terrorist group without a court decision. (1 euro = 1.09 U.S. dollars)

2 students dead in Iowa shooting, authorities say

File photo: VCGTwo students are dead and one employee is in serious condition after a shooting at an educational program in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, according to local police.

Climate change increases human trafficking risks: UN

Evidence is emerging that climate-related disasters are becoming a cause of human trafficking as criminal gangs exploit a growing number of uprooted people, the UN said Tuesday.File photo: CGTNThe continuing war in Ukraine is also another risk factor for increased human trafficking, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report."Climate change is increasing vulnerability to trafficking," the UNODC report said."While a systematic global analysis of the impact of climate change in trafficking in persons is missing, community level studies in different parts of the world point at weather induced disasters as root causes for trafficking in persons," it said.The report is based on data from 141 countries collected from 2017 to 2020, and the analysis of 800 court cases.The impact of climate change "disproportionally" affected poor farming, fishing and other communities mainly relying on the extraction of natural resources for their livelihoods, the report said.Once "deprived of their means of subsistence and forced to flee their community," people were becoming easy prey for traffickers, Fabrizio Sarrica, the reports main author told a press briefing.In 2021 alone, climate-related disasters internally displaced more than 23.7 million people, while many others fled their countries altogether.As entire regions of the world are at risk of becoming "increasingly uninhabitable," millions will face "high risk of exploitation along migration routes," the UN report said.The UN drugs agency noted that an increase in cases of human trafficking had been observed in Bangladesh and the Philippines after devastating cyclones and typhoons displaced millions.Droughts and floods in Ghana, and the Caribbean region -- subject to hurricanes and rising sea levels -- were also forcing many to migrate.

Iranian parliament speaker urges stronger cooperation with Russia in face of US sanctions

TEHRAN, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Iranian parliament speaker on Monday called for expanding cooperation with Russia, as both countries face "cruel" U.S. sanctions, Iranian Students News Agency reported.File photo: CFPMohammad Baqer Qalibaf made the remarks during a joint press conference in Tehran with visiting Chairman of the Russian State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin.The "cruel" U.S. sanctions are the biggest threats to Iran, Russia, and some other countries, Qalibaf told the press conference, which was held after the third meeting of the Supreme Joint Parliamentary Commission of Iran and Russia.During the meeting, the two sides discussed the expansion of cooperation, investments in the oil and gas sector, and gas swap.They also talked about cooperation in the fields of agriculture, cereals trade, the application of modern technologies, and transport, as well as in the banking and monetary sector.Qalibaf called on Iranian and Russian banks to open branches in both countries, so as to enable the use of their respective national currencies in bilateral trade and business transactions.For his part, Volodin said relations between Russia and Iran have reached an "excellent level" and have expanded at different levels.A comprehensive contract is being prepared to be signed between the two countries, which will greatly improve their relations, he added.Commenting on the U.S. sanctions imposed on both Russia and Iran, Volodin said they only lead to greater solidarity between the two countries.Volodin arrived in the Iranian capital on Sunday night, leading a number of Russian officials.

At least one Chinese citizen confirmed dead in US California mass shooting

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles confirmed Monday that at least one Chinese citizen died in the mass shooting Saturday night in the city of Monterey Park, 16 km east of Los Angeles downtown.People mourn for victims of a mass shooting in front of the city hall of Monterey Park, California, the United States, Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo: Xinhua)The fatal incident occurred at 10:22 p.m. Saturday local time in Star Ballroom Dance Studio, a popular ballroom dance facility having been operated for about 30 years, when it was hosting an event to celebrate the countdown to the Chinese Lunar New Year.The mass shooting left 11 dead and 9 wounded as of Monday, according to the authorities. All the victims are over their 50s."It is currently confirmed that a Chinese citizen was unfortunately killed in the incident," the consulates spokesman said in a statement posted on its official website. "We are working with relevant domestic departments and the United States to assist in dealing with the aftermath."The statement noted that the mass shooting, the most fatal one in the United States since the start of the year, occurred amid Chinese Lunar New Year festivals and in a local Chinese community, "was shocking and deeply regretted."The consulate also expressed condolences to local Chinese communities, including Monterey Park, a city of 61,000 residents located on the eastern edge of Los Angeles with a majority Asian American population, while reminding local Chinese citizens to take safety awareness in mind.The Chinese embassy and consulates in the United States flew Chinese flags at half-staff on Monday in honor of the victims of the Saturday tragedy.

UN chief shocked, saddened by US California mass shooting

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was shocked and saddened by the mass shooting in Monterey Park in the U.S. state of California, his spokesman said on Monday.A law enforcement official looks into the window of a van with a body in the drivers seat in Torrance, California, on January 22, 2023. (Photo: AFP)Five women and five men were killed while another 10 people were injured in the mass shooting Saturday night in the city of Monterey Park, 16 km east of Los Angeles downtown, local authorities said Sunday. The death toll rose to 11 as of Monday.Guterres "extends his heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims, wishes a speedy recovery to the injured," said Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for the UN chief, in a statement.The secretary-general also "expresses solidarity with the Asian-American community in the United States of America," the statement added.

US stocks rise as tech shares rally

NEW YORK, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Wall Streets major averages climbed on Monday, boosted by solid gains in tech-related stocks.The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 254.07 points, or 0.76 percent, to 33,629.56. The S&P 500 added 47.20 points, or 1.19 percent, to 4,019.81. The Nasdaq Composite Index increased 223.98 points, or 2.01 percent, to 11,364.41.Ten of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors ended in green, with technology and communication services up 2.28 percent and 1.78 percent, respectively, outpacing the rest. Energy slipped 0.2 percent, the lone declining group.Investors awaited key earnings results as big names such as Microsoft, IBM, Boeing and Tesla are on deck to report later this week.Of the S&P 500 companies that have reported their earnings so far, around 63 percent posted results that exceeded expectations, according to financial market data provider Refinitiv.For the week ending Friday, the Dow declined 2.7 percent, the S&P 500 fell 0.7 percent and the Nasdaq rose 0.6 percent.

WHO launches health emergency appeal for $2.54b in 2023

(File photo: CGTN)The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday launched its 2023 health emergency appeal for $2.54 billion to provide assistance to millions of people around world facing health emergencies, according to a news release.The number of people in need of humanitarian relief has increased by almost a quarter compared to 2022, to a record 339 million, the release mentioned.

French government refuses to back down on pension reform

Frances government on Monday moved forward with a fiercely contested pensions reform plan that would raise the retirement age to 64, saying balancing the systems books must be top priority.Demonstrators take part in a rally against the governments pension reform plan in Lille, France, on Jan. 19, 2023. (Photo: Xinhua)"Going back on this point (of the age increase) would be giving up on getting the system back in balance," Labour Minister Olivier Dussopt said after the legislation was presented at a cabinet meeting, the last step before it enters parliamentary debate.Apart from increasing the retirement age gradually from 62 now to 64 by 2030, the bill would increase the minimum number of years people must pay into the system to get a full pension to 43 from 42 at present.Dussopt said the government "disagrees with trade unions", who were at the forefront of a massive day of strikes and protests Thursday in which over 1.1 million people took to the streets against pension reform.Unions are now gearing up for another strike day on January 31, warning they are prepared to further step up their actions if the government does not relent.Ministers argue that the pension system will slip billions into deficit in the coming years and that savings must be found to avoid costly top-ups from general taxation.They had hoped to mollify opponents by using some of the savings from the reform to pay for measures like a minimum pension of 1,200 euros ($1,300) per month, as well as by offering exemptions to the minimum age for those who started work in their

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