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New Omicron variant stokes world fears; triggers travel bans


The discovery of a new coronavirus variant sent a chill through much of the world Friday as nations raced to halt air travel, markets fell sharply and scientists held emergency meetings to weigh the exact risks, which were largely unknown. A World Health Organization panel named the variant “Omicron” and… Read


Okinawa governor refuses to approve change to U.S. base transfer plan


Okinawa Gov Denny Tamaki said Thursday he will not approve the central government's planned design change for the relocation of a key U.S. military base within the southern island prefecture, a decision that could lead to a legal battle. Tamaki has been calling for dialogue with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida… Read


South Africa detects new COVID variant with many mutations


Scientists in South Africa said Thursday they had detected a new COVID-19 variant with a large number of mutations, blaming it for a surge in infection numbers. The number of daily infections in Africa's hardest-hit country has increased tenfold since the start of the month. "Unfortunately we have detected a… Read


China urges Japan to support Beijing Olympics


China on Thursday urged Japan to support the Beijing Olympics, as the United States and other democratic countries are weighing up whether to implement a "diplomatic boycott" of the Winter Games. "China fully supported Japan in hosting the Tokyo Olympics" this summer, so "Japan should have basic faith," Foreign Ministry… Read


Flash mob thefts terrorize U.S. retailers ahead of Christmas


U.S. retailers are adding security and locking up goods after flash mob heists involving dozens of thieves at once stunned luxury stores in the San Francisco area and beyond, as the holiday shopping season opens. In the most shocking of recent thefts, around 80 masked people in 25 cars raided… Read


NATO chief warns Russia of 'costs' if it moves on Ukraine


NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned Russia Friday that any attempt to invade Ukraine would have costs, as concern mounts about a Russian military buildup near its former Soviet neighbor’s borders. Ukraine says Moscow kept about 90,000 troops near their common border following massive war games in western Russia earlier this… Read


Japan to release hundreds of thousands of kiloliters of reserve oil


Japan will release hundreds of thousands of kiloliters (several million barrels) of crude oil from its emergency reserves, industry minister Koichi Hagiuda said on Wednesday, as the country seeks to address rising prices in tandem with the United States and other major energy-consuming countries. Hagiuda told reporters the timing of… Read


After slow starts, some Asian vaccination rates now soaring


When Cambodia rolled out COVID-19 vaccines, lines stretched down entire streets and people left their shoes out to save their places as they sheltered from the sun. But three months into its campaign, just 11% of the population had received at least one dose. In far wealthier Japan, it took… Read


Should we really worry about inflation?


Whether it is the heating bill, pump prices or making the weekly run to the supermarket, consumers are having to dig deeper and deeper into family budgets. Inflation is complicating the recovery of individual consumers from the pandemic and putting the recovery of the global economy at risk. What does… Read


Nikkei plunges on concerns over new COVID-19 variant


Stocks in Japan plummeted Friday, with the Nikkei index ending at a one-month low, as concerns were raised following reports of a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa and its potential impact on the global economic recovery. The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 747.66 points, or 2.53 percent, from… Read

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