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Chinese leaders pledge to prop up Covid-stricken economy as virus spreads By Reuters

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© Reuters. People wait in line at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing center in Xinyang, China. This still image is obtained from a social media video released December 15, 2022. Video obtained by Reuters

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Written by Kevin Yao and Albie Zhang

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping and his top officials have pledged to shore up China’s collapsing economy next year as the deaths of two veteran journalists highlight the worsening spread of COVID-19 in the capital, Beijing.

Xi and his leaders ended the two-day Central Economic Work Conference with a call, via state media, to step up policy adjustments and strengthen coordination to prop up an economy that analysts estimate will grow just 3% this year — its worst performance in nearly half a year. century.

The meeting comes days after the leadership abandoned some of the world’s toughest coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns, which President Xi had endorsed, but which have dampened the economy and sparked unprecedented public protests in his 10-year rule.

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State media said in its statement to the conference that China will strengthen overall coordination of epidemic policies, ensuring a smooth “transition” during the current epidemic and social order.

“We must insist on stability first next year while we seek progress amid this stability,” state media said.

This “transition” to a “year of stability” began with virus infections surging in Beijing and growing fears that the novel coronavirus could sweep the 1.4 billion people in China as people take advantage of eased travel restrictions during the Lunar New Year next month.

Two veteran Chinese media journalists have died after contracting COVID-19 in the capital Beijing – among the first reported deaths since the government abandoned its “zero COVID” policies on December 7, state media reported on Friday.

Yang Lianghua, 74, died on Thursday, while Zhou Zhichun, 77, a former editor of China Youth Daily, died a week ago, said financial magazine Caixin, citing their families.

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China’s National Health Authority has not reported any official coronavirus deaths since the policy change. The last official death was reported on December 3 in Shandong and Sichuan provinces.

Reports of the deaths came as China laid out urgent plans on Friday to protect rural communities from the virus as millions of city dwellers plan their lunar holiday, starting on January 22, for the first time in years.

But the excitement over the policy shift that allowed them to travel has cooled amid fears that China is ill-prepared for the next wave of infections, and the blow it could deal to the world’s second-largest economy.

China reported 2,157 new symptomatic COVID-19 infections on Thursday, compared to 2,000 the day before.

However, the official numbers don’t show the whole picture as testing has fallen and conflict with indications of a broader spread in cities where queues spread outside fever clinics and empty pharmacy shelves.

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China’s National Health Commission said on Friday it is ramping up vaccinations and building stocks of ventilators, essential medicines and testing kits in rural areas. It also advised travelers to reduce contact with elderly relatives.

A day after the White House said the United States stood ready to help if China requested it, an Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said on Friday that Canberra “stands ready” to continue cooperation on the novel coronavirus that has so far included supply. Of medical equipment and joint research work.

International borders in mainland China remain largely closed, but recent decisions to abandon testing before domestic travel and disable apps that track people’s flight histories have freed people to move around the country.

State media reported that Henan, one of China’s most populous provinces, has canceled all holidays for healthcare staff through the end of March to ensure a “smooth transition” as Covid restrictions ease.

The government newspaper Global Times reported that many cities have also opened new vaccination sites to encourage the public to take booster shots.

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“Go all out” was the message from China’s state asset regulator in a statement urging government-owned pharmaceutical companies to ensure supplies of COVID-related drugs to meet the “rapid increase” in demand.

“everyone will have it”

Thanks to previously strict government controls, China has lagged slightly compared to many other countries during the epidemic over the past three years, but now many Chinese have succumbed to infection with the virus.

“I think everyone will get it,” a 29-year-old Beijing resident, who asked to give her surname Du, told Reuters.

Analysts fear that China will pay the price for allowing the virus to spread in a population that lacks “herd immunity”, after long periods of enforced isolation under lockdown, and low vaccination rates among the elderly.

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This has dampened near-term growth prospects, even if the opening-up eventually revives the battered Chinese economy.

JPMorgan (NYSE: ) on Friday cut its forecast for China’s growth in 2022 to 2.8%, which is well below the country’s official target of 5.5% and would be one of its worst performances in nearly half a century.

Analysts at the bank said China is preparing for a “transitional pain period,” adding that they expect the number of infections to pick up after the Lunar New Year before the economy begins to recover in mid-2023.

The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top government planning body, said “hard efforts” were needed to sustain a recovery in growth due to the adverse external environment and the global economy’s loss of momentum.

This was confirmed on Friday as traders remained optimistic that more measures to support the economy would emerge from the conference.

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Red Flags That Your Spouse Is Hiding Money (And What To Do About It)

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Marriage can be hard enough without one spouse hiding money from the other.

When financial infidelity occurs in the form of “hidden cash,” a marriage or a live-forever relationship can easily be ended.

The truth is About 30% of American couples suffer from financial infidelity. Other evidence shows that more than 75% of couples describe the hidden money situation as negative and common 10% of these scenarios end in divorce.

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US judge orders Norwegian Cruise Line to pay $110m for use of Cuba port By Reuters

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© Reuters. Norwegian American Airlines cruise ship Marina arrives in Havana Bay, Cuba on March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Alexander Meneghini/File/File Photo

Written by Brian Ellsworth

MIAMI (Reuters) – Norwegian Shipping Line (NYSE) has to pay $110 million in compensation for the use of a port confiscated by the Cuban government in 1960, a US judge said Friday, marking a significant milestone for Cuban Americans. Who are seeking reparations for the Cold War era. Assets confiscation.

The decision by US District Judge Beth Bloom in Miami follows her decision in March that use of the Havana Cruise Terminal constituted smuggling of forfeited property belonging to the plaintiff, Delaware-registered Havana Docks Corp.

The decision read: “The judgment is made in favor of Plaintiff Havana Docks Corporation and against Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Ltd.”

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“The plaintiff was awarded $109,848,747.87 in damages,” it says, adding that the Norwegian must also pay an additional $3 million in legal fees and costs.

Norwegian Cruise Line did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has sharply criticized the Helms-Burton Act, calling it an extraterritorial violation of international law.

Havana Docks also sued Carnival Cruise Lines (NYSE: ), Royal Caribbean (NYSE:) and MSC under the Helms-Burton Act, which allows US citizens to sue over the use of property seized in Cuba after 1959.

The ruling could fuel more lawsuits by Cuban exiles pursuing claims, worth $2 billion, according to one estimate, over asset seizures under late Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

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It may also serve as a reminder to multinational companies of the complexities that can come with doing business in Cuba.

In 2016, US cruise ships began traveling to Cuba for the first time in decades after a détente negotiated by former President Barack Obama eased some provisions of a Cold War US embargo.

But the Trump administration in 2019 ordered a halt to all such cruises amid efforts to pressure Cuba over its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Washington’s ideological foe.

The Trump administration has also allowed US citizens to sue third parties for using property seized by Cuban authorities, a provision of the Helms-Burton Act that every previous president has waived since the law was passed in 1996.

Havana Docs says Cuba, which has been under a US trade embargo for decades, has never compensated it for taking the drug.

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The four cruise lines sued in 2019 in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Bloom in March held the companies liable for damages under the Helms-Burton Act, also known as the Libertad Act.

According to the US-Cuban Economic and Trade Council, a nonprofit organization that provides information on relations between the two countries, 5,913 validated claims related to property seized in Cuba represent an estimated liability of nearly $2 billion.

Forty-four lawsuits have been filed under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, the organization says.

“For the current plaintiffs of Cuban descent, (the decision) will give them a moment of relief,” said John Cavulich, the group’s president. “It will give them a moment to say ‘You can run but you can’t hide,’” Cavulich said.

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Is a Royal Caribbean or Carnival beverage package worth it?

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An all-inclusive beverage package that gives you access to beer, wine, liquor, bottled water, soda, specialty coffee, and even shakes/juices may cost more than your cruise fare.

This is especially true right now when many cruise cabins are being sold at discounted prices while the drinks package prices have gone up.

Deciding whether to purchase a drink package is a challenge because you have to estimate whether you will be drinking enough to cover the cost. Or, more importantly, whether you’d spend more if you decided not to purchase a drink package.



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