Spotify to cut 6% of workforce, some 600 employees: CEO

Swedish music streaming giant Spotify said Monday it was cutting six percent of its roughly 10,000 employees, the latest cost-cutting announcement among technology companies.(File photo: CGTN)"In hindsight, I was too ambitious in investing ahead of our revenue growth. And for this reason, today, we are reducing our employee base by about six percent across the company," Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek said on Spotifys official blog."I take full accountability for the moves that got us here today," Ek added.The Swedish company, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, has invested heavily since its launch to fuel growth with expansions into new markets and, in later years, exclusive content such as podcasts.Spotify has never posted a full-year net profit despite its success in the online music market.In recent months, tech giants such as Google parent company Alphabet, Facebook-owner Meta, Amazon and Microsoft have announced tens of thousands of job cuts as the sector faces economic headwinds.

Brazilian President Lula makes first official trip to Argentina

The photo of Brazils President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is taken in Brasilia, Brazil, January 16, 2023. /CFPBrazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva arrived in Argentina on Sunday night in his first trip abroad since assuming office on January 1. The purpose of his visit is to strengthen bilateral relations and to participate in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit.Lula will attend the CELAC summit on Tuesday alongside a number of heads of state in the capital Buenos Aires. On the sidelines of the summit, the Brazilian president will also meet with Argentine President Alberto Fernandez and Vice President Cristina Fernandez to reactivate cooperation and dialogue that were suspended by former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.According to a statement from the Government of Alberto Fernandez, the both sides have decided to advance in the discussions on a common South American currency aimed at driving regional business and reducing reliance on the U.S. dollar."We intend to overcome the barriers to our exchanges, simplify and modernize the rules and encourage the use of local currencies," the two presidents said in a joint article they penned and published on the Argentine website Perfil.The idea of a common currency was raised originally in an article written last year by Fernando Haddad and Gabriel Galipolo, now Brazils finance minister and his executive secretary, respectively, and was mentioned by Lula during the campaign.Earlier in the day, the Financial Times reported that politicians from both countries have discussed the idea already in 2019, but met with pushback from Brazils central bank at the time. But the two neighboring nations will announce this week they are starting preparatory work on a common currency and an official announcement was expected during Lulas visit to Argentina, the report added.The two leaders, in the joint article, also emphasized strengthening the Mercosur trade bloc, ...

Iran says exchange of messages on nuclear deal revival continues

TEHRAN, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Exchange of messages among different parties to revive a 2015 nuclear deal continues through different channels, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.(File photo: CFP)The absence of formal negotiations on the revival of the deal does not mean an absence of interactions or message exchanges among the parties to the nuclear talks, Irans official news agency IRNA quoted Nasser Kanaani as saying during a weekly press conference.The European Unions foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is interacting with the talks different sides, including both Iran and the United States, said Kanaani.The spokesman said Iran is resolving the nuclear issue and seeking the removal of the U.S. sanctions within diplomatic frameworks.While ruling out the possibility of direct talks between Iranian and U.S. officials, Kanaani said Iran will wait and see what the other sides would do in practice and to what extent they would cooperate constructively.Iran signed the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with world powers in July 2015, agreeing to put some curbs on its nuclear program in return for the removal of the sanctions on the country. The United States, however, pulled out of the deal in May 2018 and reimposed its unilateral sanctions on Tehran, prompting the latter to reduce some of its nuclear commitments under the deal.The talks on the JCPOAs revival began in April 2021 in Vienna. No breakthrough has been achieved after the latest round of talks in August 2022.

Latvia lowers diplomatic relations with Russia

The Latvian Foreign Ministry decided to lower the level of diplomatic relations with Russia from February 24, according to a statement.

Estonia to expel Russian ambassador in retaliatory move

Estonia said Monday it would expel the Russian ambassador from Tallinn in retaliation for Moscows expulsion of the Estonian ambassador.(File photo: AFP)"We stand by the principle of parity in relations with Russia," the Estonian ministry of foreign affairs said in a tweet, adding that the Russian ambassador would have to leave at the same time as his Estonian counterpart, ordered by Moscow to leave on February 7.Russia has lowered its diplomatic representation in Estonia to charge daffaires and asked the Estonian ambassador to leave Russia, the Russian foreign ministry said on Monday.Estonia has pledged to send all its 155-mm howitzers to Ukraine.

UK imposes new sanctions on Iran

The British government on Monday added seven designations under the Iran sanctions regime.

EU ministers agree on new package of sanctions against Iran

(File photo: AFP)EU ministers agreed on new package of sanctions against Iran on Monday, according to the Swedish EU presidency. The EU "strongly condemns the brutal and disproportionate use of force by the Iranian authorities against peaceful protesters," Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said on Monday.

Japan PM says tackling birth rate crisis 'cannot wait'

Japans low birth rate and ageing population pose an urgent risk to society, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday, pledging to address the issue by establishing a new government agency.(File photo: AFP)Birth rates are declining in many developed countries, but in Japan the issue is particularly acute because it has the worlds second-highest proportion of people aged 65 and over, after the tiny state of Monaco, according to World Bank data."The number of births dropped below 800,000 last year, according to estimates," Kishida told lawmakers in a policy address marking the start of a new parliament session."Japan is standing on the verge of whether we can continue to function as a society," he said."Focusing attention on policies regarding children and child-rearing is an issue that cannot wait and cannot be postponed."The conservative leader said his policies -- including launching the new Children and Families Agency in April -- were designed to support parents and ensure the "sustainability" of the worlds third-largest economy.Kishida added that he eventually wants the government to double its spending on child-related programmes."We must build a child-first social economy to reverse the (low) birth rate," he said.Japan has a population of 125 million and has long struggled with how to provide for its fast-growing number of elderly residents.Birth rates are slowing in many countries including Japans closest neighbours, due to factors including rising living costs, more women entering the workforce and people choosing to have children later.Official data showed last week that Chinas population shrank in 2022, for the first time in more than six decades.

Russia lowers its diplomatic representation in Estonia to charge d'affaires

Russia has lowered its diplomatic representation in Estonia to charge daffaires and asked the Estonian ambassador to leave Russia, RIA news agency reported on Monday, citing the Russian foreign ministry.Earlier, the Estonian ambassador in Kyiv said Estonia will send all its 155-mm howitzers to Ukraine, according to RIA.

Train derails in Nigeria, no casualties reported

LAGOS, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- A passenger train derailed in Nigerias central state of Kogi on Sunday, but no casualties were reported, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has said.(File photo: CGTN)The train went off the track at a location near the states Itakpe town, Sanni Abdulganiyu, an NRC train service coordinator in Kogi, said in a statement late on Sunday.Rescue crew were dispatched to the scene immediately, and all passengers and crew members have been evacuated to a safe place, Abdulganiyu said, noting that there were no casualties as a result of the derailment.Authorities are still trying to establish what caused the derailment, which led to a suspension of train service along the route, he said.

Billions still exposed to toxic trans fat: WHO

Efforts to eliminate industrially-produced fat have a long way to go with five billion people exposed to toxic fat added to many food products, the UN health agency said Monday.(File photo: CGTN)The World Health Organization called in 2018 for harmful trans fatty acids to be wiped out by 2023. They are thought to be responsible for around 500,000 premature deaths from coronary heart disease each year.Although 43 countries with combined populations of 2.8 billion people have now implemented best-practice policies, most of the world remains unprotected, it said.WHO acknowledged in an annual progress report that the goal was still out of sight.Industrially-produced trans fat is often used in packaged foods, baked goods, cooking oils and spreads. "Trans fat has no known benefit, and huge health risks that incur huge costs for health systems," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said."By contrast, eliminating trans fat is cost effective and has enormous benefits for health," he said."Put simply, trans fat is a toxic chemical that kills, and should have no place in food. It’s time to get rid of it once and for all."The WHO said that nine of the 16 countries with the highest estimated proportion of coronary heart disease deaths caused by trans fat intake were not implementing best-practice policies.They include Australia, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan and South Korea.Francesco Branca, the WHOs nutrition and food safety director, told reporters that trans fat elimination policies were in place in 60 countries, covering 3.4 billion people or 43 percent of the worlds population.Of those countries, 43 are implementing best practice standards.Best practice means either a mandatory national limit of two grammes of industrially-produced trans fat per 100 grammes of total fat in all foods; or a national ban on the production or use of partially-hydrogenated oils, which are a major source of trans fat.&...

UK ambulance workers strike again as unions call for talks

Thousands of ambulance workers held another strike across England and Wales on Monday, in escalating industrial action as unions called the government to hold talks on improving pay and conditions. (File photo: AFP)Ambulance workers began strike action on December 21 last year and further dates are planned for February. Nurses have also launched unprecedented strike action, reflecting widespread discontent in the state-funded National Health Service whose staff are struggling with soaring living costs.Mondays industrial action comes ahead of mass simultaneous strikes planned for February 6 by unions representing both nurses and ambulance staff.Mondays strike involves members of three unions -- Unison, Unite and GMB -- in England and Wales.Unison, the UKs largest trade union, said up to 15,000 ambulance staff in England would be striking along with 5,000 members at hospitals in Liverpool in northwest England.Unite said more than 2,600 of its ambulance worker members were striking in England and Wales, following a three-day strike last week."Were trying to get the government to negotiate," Unite general secretary Sharon Graham told BBC radio, accusing the government of inaction."Its been five weeks since Unite ambulance workers were out and in that time there has been literally no meeting about the substantive issue of pay."There are absolutely no pay talks going ahead, its wrong to suggest that they are," she added, even as Health Secretary Steve Barclay has said discussions were ongoing.Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is "missing in action" and "needs to get more involved," she added.The GMB, whose members at one ambulance service in central England were striking Monday, addressed Barclay in a tweet saying: "We need to talk pay. Were ready when you are."The London Ambulance Service advised people to only call the 999 emergency number in "life-threatening" situations and wa...

4 killed, 6 injured as crane collapses during temple festival in India

NEW DELHI, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Four people were killed and at least six others injured after a crane crashed during a temple festival in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, officials said Monday.(File photo: AFP)The crane collapsed Sunday night at Draupathi temple in Ranipet district, 85 km west of Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu.Reports said around eight people were on the crane to receive garlands from the devotees when the accident took place."Last night a crane meant to carry the idols and accept flower garlands from devotees at Draupathi temple collapsed abruptly, killing three people on spot and injuring many others," a police official said. "Of the injured one more succumbed to his injuries this morning at the hospital, taking the toll to four."Local media reports said around 1,500 people were present at the spot.A video of the accident posted on social media shows the crane -- with people hanging on to it -- crashing down to the ground and devotees screaming and running away in panic. Following the collapse, some of the onlookers were seen rushing to help the injured and shift them to the hospital.Police have registered a case and ordered an investigation into the accident.The driver of the crane has been detained, police said."A part of the crane was on higher ground. This soil imbalance appears to have caused the crane to topple. An investigation is underway," a senior police official Deepa Satyan was quoted in media as having said.

Indonesia's Bali welcomes back 1st charter flight of Chinese tourists

Tourists walk out of the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia on Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Dicky Bisinglasi/Xinhua)JAKARTA, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Indonesias famed resort island of Bali on Sunday welcomed back the first batch of Chinese tourists by charter flight after the Chinese government optimized its COVID-19 rules.The flight carrying a total of 210 Chinese tourists from Chinas southern metropolis Shenzhen touched down at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport Bali at 10:40 local time on Sunday.Local traditional songs and dances welcomed Chinese tourists, and one of them was presented with a flower garland by the governor of Bali, I Wayan Koster.Children interact with a lion dance performer at the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia on Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Dicky Bisinglasi/Xinhua)"Im convinced Bali tourism will thrive again with the advent of these Chinese tourists. China has been the largest source of tourists to Bali for many years, and the number of Chinese tourists visiting Bali reached as high as 1.4 million," said Koster.Zhu Xinglong, Chinese Consul General in Denpasar Bali who attended the ceremony, appreciated the thoughtful arrangements made by Indonesia government to welcome Chinese tourists to Bali, saying that Indonesia is one of the first pilot countries for China to resume the business of Chinese citizens traveling abroad, which demonstrates that the Indonesian governments hospitality for the Chinese tourists.Zhu said that Chinas Consulate General in Denpasar will strengthen tourism cooperation with relevant Indonesian departments, and promote personnel exchanges and people-to-people bonds between the two countries.

10,500 artifacts unearthed in Türkiye in 2022

Photo shows various mosaics unearthed from the excavation site of Germanicia ruins in the Turkish southern province of Kahramanmaras, a treasure trove featuring huge mosaics from over 1,500 years ago. (General Directorate of Museums and Cultural Heritage of Türkiye/Handout via Xinhua) ISTANBUL, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- A total of 10,500 artifacts for museum collections were unearthed in 249 archaeological digs in Türkiye in 2022, according to data from the countrys General Directorate of Museums and Cultural Heritage.Aerial view of the Antioch of Pisidia, a 67-hectare site dating back to 275 B.C. near the town of Yalvac in the Turkish southern province of Isparta. (General Directorate of Museums and Cultural Heritage of Türkiye/Handout via Xinhua) The vast majority of these digs were conducted by Turkish teams, while foreign teams ran 32 excavations. Most digs were on land, while seven were conducted underwater to uncover sunken treasures.Once home to countless ancient civilizations, from the Hittites to the Hellenistic States and the Roman Empire, modern Türkiye is rich in archaeological treasures.Photo shows various mosaics unearthed from the excavation site of Germanicia ruins in the Turkish southern province of Kahramanmaras, a treasure trove featuring huge mosaics from over 1,500 years ago. (General Directorate of Museums and Cultural Heritage of Türkiye/Handout via Xinhua)Yahya Coskun, deputy director of the General Directorate of Museums and Cultural Heritage, predicts that the number of archaeological projects, not just digs but site surveys and restoration projects, will grow to 750 in 2023 from 713 in 2022.One site to look forward to in 2023 is the Germanicia ruins in the southern province of Kahramanmaras, a treasure trove featuring huge mosaics from more than 1,500 years ago.It is worth noting that a staggering number of nearly 400,000 cultural artifacts in 2022 and almost 900,000 over the past three years were seized before they could be smuggled out of...

Chinese New Year celebration at New Zealand beach attracts tourists, boosts local economy

Tourists pose for photos with a rabbit mascot under the Sky Tower to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Auckland, New Zealand, Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Zhao Gang/Xinhua) AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese New Year carnival was held on Sunday at New Zealands famous Takapuna Beach in North Shore Auckland, which attracted thousands of tourists and local families to appreciate cultural performances, lion dances, food and music.The event was welcomed by local businesses, residents and visitors.Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand Wang Xiaolong, Chinese Consul-General in Auckland Chen Shijie, Chairperson of the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board Toni van Tonder, CEO of Takapuna Beach Business Association Terence Harpur are among the revelers to welcome the New Year of the Rabbit.Chen said Sundays celebration had showcased themes of the Happy Chinese New Year events as happiness, reunification and exchange."It is a delight to see people enjoying the wonderful artistic performances, experiencing the rich Chinese culture activities and sharing happiness with families and friends at this beautiful beach, and having a unique Chinese New Year with such Auckland features," he said.Chinese performers pose for photo at Takapuna Beach to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Auckland, New Zealand, Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Sun Xueliang/Xinhua) With the ease of the pandemic and Chinas optimized COVID-19 response, people exchanges between China and New Zealand have gradually resumed and bilateral cultural exchanges have seen the great potential, said the Chinese consul-general."In the past, China and New Zealand have worked out great chapters on cultural exchanges. Looking forward to the future, Chinese culture will become more integrated into New Zealand multi-culture, which will further serve as a bridge for bilateral cooperation," he said."We are delighted to have the Happy Chinese New Year celebration in Takapuna Beach," said van ...

Japan braces for heavy snow, ultra-cold weather

TOKYO, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Japanese weather officials warned on Monday that the coldest air mass of the season is likely to lead to heavy snow blanketing wide swathes of Japan from Tuesday.The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has said that an ultra-cold air mass flowing into western and eastern Japan between Tuesday and Thursday could bring disruptions to traffic as a result of the heavy snowfall and blizzards.The agency has urged drivers to be vigilant in the snowy conditions, as well as people in general to prepare for the heavy snow and cold temperatures as soon as possible.Water pipes could freeze and there could be power outages, the JMA said, adding that people living in areas where heavy snow is expected should stay indoors, if possible, rather than venturing outside.Areas facing the Sea of Japan coast from northern to western Japan are expected to see heavy snow and snowstorms from Tuesday to Thursday, the weather agency said.In the 24 hours through Wednesday morning, areas in central Japan could expect up to 100 cm of snowfall, with winds in some regions topping 82 km per hour, the JMA added.

Up to 80 pct of Cambodian people celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year: PM

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said here on Monday that the Chinese Lunar New Year has gained great popularity in the kingdom, estimating that up to 80 percent of the population observe it.File photo: XinhuaIn a speech during a graduation ceremony of nearly 6,800 students at the Cambodian University for Specialties, Hun Sen said previously, about 10 percent only of the people in his commune celebrated the festival."Now, around 70-80 percent celebrate it," the 70-year-old prime minister said.Hun Sen said all of his family members, including his wife, children, children-in-law and grandchildren, celebrate the Chinese New Year.The 2023 Chinese Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, fell on Sunday.Sambo Manara, vice president of Pannasastra University of Cambodia, said historic relations have brought about closer bonds of friendship between the peoples of Cambodia and China."A large number of Cambodians have Chinese ancestry, and we estimate that about 80 percent of Cambodians living in urban areas and 40 percent in rural areas celebrate the Chinese New Year," he told Xinhua.Diep Sophal, a history professor at the University of Cambodia, said the Southeast Asian nation usually observes three New Year festivals a year, namely the Universal New Year, the Chinese New Year and the Cambodian New Year.He said days prior to the festival, Cambodian people with Chinese ancestors always clean and decorate their houses with red color paper-cuts, flowers, red lanterns and Chinese couplets.The Chinese New Year is not a public holiday in Cambodia, but it is widely celebrated as some schools, private companies and institutions are closed by themselves on the occasion.

Thailand celebrates 2023 Chinese New Year and 48 years of bilateral friendship

Bangkok ( Peoples Daily) - Bangkok held a big Chinese New Year celebration on Sunday in Chinatown at Yaowarat Road, extending New Year wishes for health, wealth and prosperity in the Year of the Rabbit.Photo: Zhao YichunThailand Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn greeted attendees in a prerecorded video, expressing her most sincere and warmest wishes on the occasion of the Chinese New Year.Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said, “ As we celebrate this most joyous Chinese New Year, we also honor 48 years of diplomatic relations between Thailand and China - a momentous occasion in itself. ”Photo: Li BaijiaYang Xin, charge d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy added, “Each year, Thailand stages one of the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of China, and it is a wonderful occasion in which our two countries come together in the spirit of ongoing friendship and cooperation.”The official ceremony included cultural performances, dragon dances and a concert by the band Paper Planes.Chinese New Year 2023 celebrations also took place in other parts of Thailand with high-level official attendance and cultural performances from China.(Compiled by Li Baijia, Li Yuanxin, Zhao Yichun and Jing Chaoping)Photo: Li Yuanxin

Japan's parliament opens 150-day ordinary session

The Diet, Japans parliament, on Monday opened its 150-day ordinary session, during which the ruling and opposition parties will discuss measures to address rising prices and bolster national defense.

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