March 3, 2021

Opportunity

JERUSALEM – Israel reopened swathes of its economy on Sunday, with the government saying the start of a return to routine was enabled by a COVID-19 vaccination drive that has reached almost half the population.

Shops were open to all. But access to leisure sites like gyms, hotels and theatres was limited to people who have had both doses of the vaccine more than a week prior, or recovered from the disease with presumed immunity. Those people get “Green Pass” status displayed on a Health Ministry app.

Mask-wearing and social-distancing were still in force. Dancing was barred at banquet halls. Synagogues, mosques or churches were required to halve their normal congregation sizes.

Coming exactly a year after Israel’s first documented coronavirus case, Sunday’s easing of curbs was part of a government plan to open the economy more widely next month, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is up for reelection.

“We … Read the rest

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Three years ago, Suh Kyung-bae was the second-richest person in South Korea. Today he’s barely Top 10, a stark reversal in a K-beauty boom known for minting billionaires, not breaking them.
Suh’s $3.6 billion fortune — down from roughly $8 billion in 2017 — is largely comprised of shares in his family’s cosmetics conglomerate, Amorepacific Group, which have fallen more than 40% from a mid-January high. The parent of brands like Innisfree, Laniege and Sulwhasoo, Amorepacific was struggling even before Covid-19, and the pandemic has ushered in a slew of lifestyle changes that have made cosmetics less central to women’s daily routines.

That’s brought a halt to the wealth created by the rapid rise in popularity of Korean beauty products and the deal-making frenzy that followed. From 2010 to 2014, foreign companies spent at least $215 million to acquire cosmetics firms there, according to a September report by Samjong KPMG. … Read the rest

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LONDON, Dec 26 (Reuters) – China will overtake the United States to become the world’s biggest economy in 2028, five years earlier than previously estimated due to the contrasting recoveries of the two countries from the COVID-19 pandemic, a think tank said.

“For some time, an overarching theme of global economics has been the economic and soft power struggle between the United States and China,” the Centre for Economics and Business Research said in an annual report published on Saturday.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding economic fallout have certainly tipped this rivalry in China’s favour.”

The CEBR said China’s “skilful management of the pandemic”, with its strict early lockdown, and hits to long-term growth in the West meant China’s relative economic performance had improved.

China looked set for average economic growth of 5.7% a year from 2021-25 before slowing to 4.5% a year from 2026-30.

While the United States was … Read the rest

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PALM BEACH, Fla/WASHINGTON, Dec 26 (Reuters) – Millions of Americans saw their jobless benefits expire on Saturday after U.S. President Donald Trump refused to sign into law a $2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending package, protesting that it did not do enough to help everyday people.

Mr. Trump stunned Republicans and Democrats alike when he said this week he was unhappy with the massive bill, which provides $892 billion in badly needed coronavirus relief, including extending special unemployment benefits expiring on Dec. 26, and $1.4 trillion for normal government spending.

Without Mr. Trump’s signature, about 14 million people could lose those extra benefits, according to Labor Department data. A partial government shutdown will begin on Tuesday unless Congress can agree a stop-gap government funding bill before then.

After months of wrangling, Republicans and Democrats agreed to the package last weekend, with the support of the White House. Trump, who hands … Read the rest

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INVESTMENT PLEDGES to the Board of Investments (BoI) are likely to fall short of the government’s P1-trillion target this year, according to the agency.

The BoI had received P905 billion of investment pledges as of Dec. 18, BoI Managing Head Ceferino S. Rodolfo told an online news briefing on Tuesday.

“I’m not sure if the target will be met,” he said in mixed English and Filipino. “Two or three weeks ago we were confident, but we’re still waiting for endorsements from other government agencies so I don’t know if those will be out.”

Investment projects awaiting endorsement account for another P68 billion, he said. If all these remaining projects are approved, the BoI would still fall short of the goal by P27 billion.

The agency last year approved a record P1.14 trillion in investment pledges, which it attributed to strong economic fundamentals and consumer confidence. The approved investments rose by … Read the rest

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Dec 24 (Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

 

Singapore confirms first case of new coronavirus variant

Singapore confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus variant found in the United Kingdom, while 11 other people who were already in quarantine returned preliminarily positive results for the new strain.

Singapore has been conducting viral genomic sequencing for recently arrived confirmed COVID-19 cases from Europe. The patient with the new variant came to Singapore from the UK on Dec. 6, had been quarantined on arrival and tested positive on Dec. 8.

All her close contacts had been placed in quarantine, and had tested negative at the end of their quarantine period. The health ministry said it had been able to ringfence the case so that there was no further transmission.

 

Early success leaves South Korea scrambling

After a summer of touting South Korea’s … Read the rest

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The bamboo tree is known for being resilient. It sways with the breeze and bends when a storm comes, but it doesn’t break and remains standing tall even with the strongest wind. This particular trait makes bamboo stand out.

Amid the pandemic and natural disasters, the bamboo symbolizes Filipinos’ resiliency.

 

Home of bamboos

Las Piñas City, NCR’s Parol Capital, is home to three generations of parol makers who use bamboo frames. Bamboos may have grown abundantly in the area long before, as it is home to the world-famous Bamboo Organ built-in 1824.

In 2006, when Sen. Cynthia Villar was still the representative of Las Piñas, she started the Parol Festival.

Villar SIPAG Chairman Manny Villar and Managing Director Senator Cynthia Villar

She helped organize the parol makers by launching the Samahang Magpaparol ng Las Piñas. She assisted them in setting up the Las Piñas Parol Center. The center served … Read the rest

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Making a vehicle represents a supply chain challenge even for Apple, a company with deep pockets that makes hundreds of millions of electronics products each year with parts from around the world, but has never made a car.

Apple Inc. is moving forward with self-driving car technology and is targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The iPhone maker’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch. At one point, Apple drew back the effort to focus on software and reassessed its goals. Doug Field, an Apple veteran who had worked at Tesla Inc., returned to oversee the project in 2018 and laid off 190 people from the team in 2019.

Since then, Apple has progressed enough that it now aims Read the rest

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By Patricia Mirasol

Plants have already solved a lot of the questions we ask ourselves how to solve. In a Business of Design Walk session entitled “Can Plants Give us New and Visionary Solutions to Design Problems?,” JA Studio’s Kigge Mai Hvid talked about drawing inspiration from the plant kingdom to create better lives for people and the planet. 

The artist and founder of the Index: Awards, the world’s largest design award, gave several examples for solving specific tasks. Solutions for cleaning up nuclear waste, for instance, might be drawn from sunflowers. Huge beds of the plant can be found thriving and offering cheer in the wastelands of Fukushima. Mangroves, meanwhile, with their capability to desalinate water, can be used to provide clean drinking water. Those looking to design structures with strength and flexibility, on the other hand, can scrutinize the pomelo. Because of its organized peel Read the rest

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Singapore is investigating 13 cases of COVID-19 infections among people who served their quarantine at a hotel along the city’s Orchard Road shopping strip.

The cases, all imported, had “high genetic similarity” despite the victims arriving from 10 different countries, the government said in a statement on Saturday. Singapore said it conducts whole genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis on all COVID-19 cases, and it takes about four weeks to culture the virus and complete the sequencing.

The people were confirmed between Nov. 2–11 to have COVID-19, and had stayed at the Mandarin Orchard Singapore hotel between Oct. 22 and Nov. 11. They arrived from places including Bahrain, Canada, Indonesia, Myanmar, Netherlands, the Philippines, South Korea, the UAE, the UK, and the US.

“Epidemiological investigations were immediately initiated to determine if there is a potential link between these 13 cases, and to study if transmission could have occurred locally, and not … Read the rest

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