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New York, Singapore are the world’s most expensive cities

NEW YORK and Singapore have emerged as the joint-most expensive cities to live in, according to a new worldwide survey. The cost of living in 172 of the world’s major cities rocketed an average 8.1% over the past year, driven by factors including the war in Ukraine and supply-chain snarls, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Worldwide Cost of Living report. Tel Aviv, which topped the rankings last year, was bumped into third position,...

UN seeks record $51.5-billion aid ‘lifeline’ next year

GENEVA — The United Nations (UN) and partners on Thursday launched an appeal for a record $51.5 billion in aid money for 2023, with tens of millions of additional people expected to need humanitarian assistance. The UN Global Humanitarian Overview estimates that an extra 65 million people will need help next year, bringing the total to 339 million in 68 countries. That represents more than 4% of the people on the planet or about the...

China softens tone on COVID severity after several protests

BEIJING — China is softening its tone on the severity of COVID-19 and easing some coronavirus restrictions even as its daily case toll hovers near record highs, after anger over the world’s toughest curbs fueled protests across the country. Several cities in the world’s second-largest economy, while still reporting new infections, are breaking with practice by lifting district lockdowns and allowing businesses to reopen. Health authorities announcing the relaxation of measures did not mention the...

French baguette gains place on World Cultural Heritage list to bakers’ delight

PARIS — The humble baguette, France’s staple bread, made it onto the United Nation’s cultural heritage list on Wednesday, drawing delighted responses from French bakers and non-bakers alike. Paris-based UN heritage body UNESCO on Wednesday voted to include the “artisanal know-how and culture of baguette bread” on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which already includes around 600 traditions from over 130 countries. This “celebrates the French way of life: the baguette is a daily...

Royal aide steps down after racist comments — Buckingham Palace

LONDON — A member of the British royal family’s household has left her role after making “unacceptable and deeply regrettable” comments about race and nationality to a woman at a grand reception at Buckingham Palace, a spokesperson said on Wednesday. Ngozi Fulani, who was born in Britain and works for a domestic abuse support group, wrote on Twitter that the royal aide had repeatedly asked her: “What part of Africa are you from?” when she...

Elon Musk expects Neuralink’s brain chip to begin human trials in 6 months

ELON MUSK said on Wednesday he expects a wireless brain chip developed by his company Neuralink to begin human clinical trials in six months, after the company missed earlier timelines set by him. The company is developing brain chip interfaces that it says could enable disabled patients to move and communicate again, with Mr. Musk adding on Wednesday that it will also target restoring vision. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area and Austin, Texas,...

Sam Bankman-Fried says he ‘didn’t ever try to commit fraud’

NEW YORK — Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder and former chief executive officer of now-bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, attempted to distance himself from suggestion of fraud in his first public appearance since his company’s collapse stunned investors and left creditors facing losses totaling billions of dollars.  Speaking via video link at the New York Times’ Dealbook Summit with Andrew Ross Sorkin on Wednesday, Mr. Bankman-Fried said he did not knowingly commingle customer funds on FTX with funds at...

US bans new Huawei, ZTE equipment sales, citing national security risk

The Biden administration has banned approvals of new telecommunications equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies and ZTE because they pose “an unacceptable risk” to US national security.  The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Friday it had adopted the final rules, which also effectively bar the sale or import of new equipment made by Chinese surveillance equipment maker Dahua Technology Co, video surveillance firm Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. Ltd. and telecoms firm Hytera Communications...

UK to trial Elon Musk’s satellite broadband equipment in remote locations

LONDON — Britain is to trial using low Earth orbit satellites to provide high-speed internet connections to remote homes and businesses, with the initial sites supported by equipment supplied by Elon Musk’s Starlink system. The government said on Wednesday it would start with Starlink “given the readiness and availability of its technology.” It said it was also holding discussions with other providers such as British satellite company OneWeb. Mr. Musk’s SpaceX rocket company activated Starlink,...

IMF sees scope for growth from recalibration of China’s zero-COVID policy

WASHINGTON — The International Monetary Fund (IMF) sees scope for a further gradual, safe recalibration of China’s zero-COVID policy that could allow economic growth in the country to pick up in 2023, an IMF spokesperson said on Wednesday. China’s strict containment measures in Shanghai and elsewhere dampened domestic economic activity in the world’s second-largest economy earlier this year and spilled over to other countries through supply chain interruptions, the spokesperson said in response to a...

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