Japan’s digital minister says he’s ready for a fight

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) – Japan’s media-savvy digital minister said Friday he’s ready to take an iron-fisted approach to speed up the nation’s slow embrace of online services at government offices and workplaces. Taro Kono — a political heavyweight who has been minister of defence, foreign affairs and Covid vaccines — has already declared war on fax machines, floppy disks and other obsolete technologies that are still common in the world’s third-largest economy. “I have no […]

So much more than wars: five things about Bosnia

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFP) — While Bosnia is often associated with the bloody wars, the Balkan country is also home to stunning landscapes, a vibrant multicultural history and one very large bunker. Here are five things to know about the troubled nation that holds general elections on Sunday. – The shot and the siege – Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo has been the unfortunate scene of violent events that have convulsed the world far beyond its […]

Biden warns Hurricane Ian could be ‘deadliest’ in Florida history

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) – US President Joe Biden on Thursday warned that Hurricane Ian may end up being Florida’s “deadliest” storm ever and cited fears there could be “substantial” numbers of fatalities across the state. “This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida history,” he said after a briefing at the FEMA emergency management headquarters in Washington. “The numbers… are still unclear, but we’re hearing reports of what may be substantial loss of life,” […]

Putin calls for Russia draft mistakes to be ‘corrected’

MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday called for mistakes in Russia’s ongoing military mobilisation for the offensive in Ukraine to be “corrected”, as discontent grows over the often chaotic conscription push. Russian media and social networks have reported cases of the mobilisation of elderly people, students, the sick or conscripts without military experience. Opposition to the drive has also sparked protests and the flight of thousands of men abroad. “This mobilisation raises […]

USA to face Canada, Australia meet China in women’s basketball World Cup semis

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) – Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas nailed 13 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists as the United States close in on an 11th title after setting up a women’s basketball World Cup semi-final against Canada Thursday. Guard Kelsey Plum added a game-high 17 points in a 88-55 pummelling of Serbia, with the three-time defending champions strong on both offence and defence. They will meet Canada in Sydney on Friday after the world […]

Hurricane Ian a ‘catastrophe’ for Cuba’s vital cigar sector

SAN JUAN Y MARTINEZ, Cuba (AFP) – Western Cuba’s tobacco growing heartland has been left devastated by Hurricane Ian with piles of wood and tiles where once stood farms. A triangle of three municipalities in the Vuelta Abajo region of Pilar del Rio province, the Cuban region worst affected by the tropical storm, is where the best tobacco leaves grow and is a pillar of the island nation’s ravaged economy. “We’ve never had a catastrophe […]

Ukraine offensive defies Russia’s annexation plan

KUPIANSK, Ukraine (AFP) – As Russia prepares to annex four Ukrainian regions, Kyiv’s forces are finishing the job of driving Moscow’s retreating troops out of a fifth and threatening their foe’s supply lines. On Friday, the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia will be incorporated into Russia in a Kremlin ceremony that will be rejected by most international capitals. But the Kharkiv region, an early target of Moscow’s February 24 invasion and home […]

After California, New York moves to ban new gas vehicles by 2035

NEW YORK, United States (AFP) – New York advanced a plan Thursday to require that all new vehicles sold in the state by 2035 be zero emissions, state Governor Kathy Hochul said. After signing legislation last year, Hochul announced officials were putting their “foot down on the accelerator” after having been required due to a federal law to wait for California to pass its own legislation. California ruled in August that an ever-increasing percentage of […]

Biden ramps up aid in Pacific Islands summit as China clout grows

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) – US President Joe Biden on Thursday announced $810 million in new funding for Pacific Islands at a first-of-a-kind summit with their leaders in Washington, vowing a closer partnership with a strategic but sparsely populated region where China is making inroads. Addressing leaders of South Pacific states including 12 heads of state or government, Biden said he wanted to show an “enduring commitment,” adding, “The security of America, quite frankly, and […]

Nike shares tumble as it reports lower profits

NEW YORK, United States (AFP) – Nike reported lower quarterly profits Thursday on increased logistics spending and a hit from product markdowns, as it pivots in a fast-changing consumer market challenged by inflation. The sports giant topped analyst estimates for both earnings per share and revenues, but shares fell sharply as it faced questions over excess inventory in North America and signaled the strengthening dollar would dent results. Nike expects a $4 billion hit from […]

Meta to freeze hiring to tighten budget: report

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) – Facebook-parent Meta put out word to employees on Thursday that it will freeze hiring to cut costs as it endures tough economic times, The Wall Street Journal reported. Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg revealed a planned pause in hiring during a weekly all-hands meeting, the Journal reported, saying the move came as the social media titan planned to cut expenses by at least 10 percent. Meta declined to comment on […]

Pres. Putin recognizes independence of two Ukraine regions

  Moscow, Russia (AFP) Russian President Vladimir Putin has recognised the independence of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, according to presidential decrees issued late Thursday, on the eve of Russia finalising their annexation. “I order the recognition of the state sovereignty and independence” of the regions of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, located in southern Ukraine, Putin said in the decrees, as Russia prepares to formalise the annexation of the two regions, along with Donetsk and Lugansk […]