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The UN said it was taking “swift action” in response to allegations in the past few days that several employees of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East participated in the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.


As quoted by (30/1) Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said an investigation by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services was immediately launched.


According to Dujarric, any employee involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution. (


FILE PHOTO: A logo of Publicis Groupe is seen at its exhibition space, at the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France June 15, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File



Voinews, Jakarta - Publicis, the world's largest advertising group by market value, said on Thursday it will invest 300 million euros ($326.94 million) in artificial intelligence (AI) over the next three years, as part of its new plan to become "the industry's first AI-powered intelligent system".

The group said in a film presentation - ahead of it annual results publication in February - that it will invest 100 million euros in 2024 alone, fully funded by "internal efficiencies" and with no dilutive impact on its operating margin.

The maker of the Heineken and Barilla pasta campaigns reported in its presentation organic growth in 2023 of 6.3 per cent, exceeding the 5.5 per cent to 6 per cent guidance range shared in October.

"In terms of strategy, it was important for us to show the financial market that we were starting from a position of strength," said CEO Arthur Sadoun in a press conference, regarding the early figure.

Publicis said in its presentation that it plans to integrate AI further into its current platform model, connecting every individual in the company to an entity called "CoreAI", that the group started engineering in the second half of 2023, to start implementing it in the first half of 2024.

"CoreAI is based on the data we have acquired, but also the one that we have built over this past decade," Sadoun said.

Half of the 2024 investment will be focused on upskilling and training people as well as recruitment, while the other half will be dedicated to tech, licences, software and cloud infrastructure.

Asked about prospective acquisitions, Sadoun answered, "our transformation is behind us", adding that the group will now focus on lesser investments in tech, IP and talent.

Publicis' recent strong performance runs counter to a general slowdown in the advertising industry, seen as a bellwether for broader economic health//VOI


The skyline with its banking district is photographed in Frankfurt, Germany, January 7, 2020. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo - 



BERLIN : Germany's IT and telecommunication (ITC) sector is expected to speed up its growth this year and clearly outperform Germany's ailing economy, a study by German digital association Bitkom showed on Wednesday.

According to the study, the sector's revenues are expected to rise by 4.4 per cent to 224.3 billion euros ($245.09 billion), compared to a 2.0 per cent increase last year.

"Even under difficult economic conditions, characterised by geopolitical crises and budget cuts, sales and employment (within the sector) are increasing," said Bitkom President Ralf Wintergerst.

The industry's predicted growth for this year is, however, slow in comparison to other countries, including India, seen up 7.9 per cent, the U.S. expected to increase 6.3 per cent and China, estimated to grow 5.7 per cent.

"In order for Germany to catch up in terms of digitalization, companies and administrations need to ramp up their investments more decisively," Wintergerst said, urging the government to put digitalization and economic growth at the centre of its policies.

According to estimates of the International Monetary Fund, Germany's economy as a whole is expected to grow only 0.9 per cent in 2024, which remains well below the average of 1.4 per cent for advanced economies//CNA-VOI


NASA's Artemis 1 Space Launch System launches at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Nov 2022 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images North America/Red Huber) - 



WASHINGTON: The United States is pushing back its planned return of astronauts to the surface of the moon from 2025 to 2026, NASA administrator Bill Nelson said Tuesday (Jan 9) amid technical challenges and delays.

Artemis, named after the sister of Apollo in Greek mythology, was officially announced in 2017 as part of the US space agency's plans to establish a sustained presence on Earth's nearest space neighbour and apply lessons learned there for a future mission to Mars.

Its first mission, an uncrewed test flight to the moon and back called Artemis 1, took place in 2022, after several postponements. Artemis 2, involving a crew that doesn't land on the surface, has been postponed from later this year to September 2025, Nelson told reporters.

Artemis 3, in which the first woman and first person of colour are to set foot on lunar soil at the moon's south pole, should take place in September 2026.

"Safety is our top priority, and to give Artemis teams more time to work through the challenges," said Nelson.

NASA is also looking to build a lunar space station called Gateway where spacecraft will dock during later missions. Elon Musk's SpaceX has won the contract for a landing system for Artemis 3 based on a version of its prototype Starship rocket, which remains far from ready. Both of its orbital tests have ended in explosions. 

Delays to Starship have knock-on effects because the spacesuit contractor needs to know how the suits will interface with the spacecraft, and simulators need to be built for astronauts to learn its systems. 

The Artemis 1 mission itself revealed technical issues, such as the heat shield on the Orion crew capsule eroded in an unexpected way, and the ground structure used to launch the giant SLS rocket sustained more damage than expected.

As of March 2023, NASA has agreed to pay about US$40 billion to hundreds of contractors supporting Artemis, the same watchdog found.

A key difference between the 20th-century Apollo missions and the Artemis era is the increasing role of commercial partnerships, part of a broader strategy to involve private companies in space exploration to reduce costs and to make space more accessible//CNA-VOI



Solar panels on Southeast Asia's first zero energy building in Singapore. (File photo: TODAY) - 



SINGAPORE: Singapore is more than halfway to its solar power deployment target of at least 2,000 megawatt-peak by 2030, said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu on Wednesday (Jan 10).

The country has doubled its solar power deployment since 2021 to over 1,000 megawatt-peak currently, she added.

The minister gave the updated figures in parliament in response to questions on Singapore's progress in transitioning towards renewable energy. 

During the UN Climate Change Conference 2023 (COP28), Singapore co-facilitated negotiations on mitigation and the first global stocktake that contributed to the successful adoption of the UAE Consensus, which calls on countries to transition away from fossil fuels, said Ms Fu.  

The UAE Consensus also calls on countries to triple renewable energy and double energy efficiency globally by 2030. 

At the conference, Singapore signed the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency pledge. 

"Singapore supports the UAE Consensus. As part of our long-term low-emissions development strategy, Singapore has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, despite being a small, alternative energy disadvantaged city-state with many natural limitations on our climate action measures," said the minister. 

The country has been accelerating its energy transition, with solar energy as one of its key pushes. 

Solar energy is one of the four "switches" that Singapore is deploying to achieve its net-zero target by 2050. The other three are natural gas, regional power grids and low-carbon alternatives. 

Solar energy will eventually allow Singapore to meet about 10 per cent of its projected electricity demand in 2050, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) said in November last year. 

The country is on track to meet the 1,500 megawatt-peak goal of solar deployment by 2025. 

According to EMA's Singapore Energy Statistics 2023 report, the private sector has been the driving force behind the growth in solar deployment, accounting for 63.5 per cent of the total installed capacity.

Apart from solar energy, Singapore is working towards importing low-carbon electricity from the region. 


In their supplementary questions, Members of Parliament asked about timelines and net-zero strategies moving forward. 


MP Liang Eng Hwa (PAP-Bukit Panjang) asked if Ms Fu was satisfied with the overall outcome of COP28 and if Singapore's position on nuclear energy has changed following other countries' call to triple the world's nuclear energy capacity by 2050. 


Answering Mr Liang's first question, Ms Fu noted several improvements and movements in negotiations. 


With the global stocktake, there was a "louder" and "more concerted call" to accelerate action in this decade due to climate projections that indicate the world needs to do more in the near term, said Ms Fu. 

It is no longer about setting net-zero targets but charting a pathway to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, said Ms Fu, adding that there were "very specific recommendations and agreements".

"And there are many other details, it's a very extensive and comprehensive process ... It deserves a much more extensive discussion."

On nuclear energy, the government has not changed its position. It has yet to make a decision on adopting nuclear energy as a potential source of renewable energy, but is instead keeping tabs on how the technology develops. 

"We think the advanced nuclear technology offers us some potential. In terms of safety, there's better safety in these technologies and also in terms of cost competitiveness, these are very ... important decision metrics that feed into our energy decision," said the minister.

"So we have not made a decision on adopting nuclear energy, but we are building capabilities to understand how this technology is advancing and also how these technologies can potentially be of help to Singapore."//CNA-VOI




Tohoku Power Electric Co.'s Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant is seen in Onagawa town, Miyagi Prefecture, September 7, 2011. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo - 



TOKYO : Japan's Tohoku Electric Power said on Wednesday it will delay the restart of reactor No. 2 at its Onagawa nuclear station due to additional safety construction works, keeping all its nuclear power plants shutdown since the 2011 earthquake.

Japan is gradually bringing nuclear power back to its energy mix in a move to reach carbon neutrality goals and to reduce imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) which it imports from elsewhere including from Russia.

Tohoku, whose Onawaga plant was closest among Japan's nuclear stations to the epicentre of the magnitude-9 quake in March 2011, received a regulatory approval to restart the No. 2 reactor in 2020 but has seen a delay in completion of safety construction measures.

On Wednesday, it said it expected a delay of several months in finishing safety construction measures earlier targeted for February. Timing of the reactor restart, set for May, will also be changed, Tohoku said, without providing a new timeline.

The station was swamped by the 2011 tsunami, but survived with its cooling system intact, saving its reactors from the threat of meltdowns similar to those that occurred at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi plant to the south.

Japan's Hokuriku Electric Power on Sunday reported a small oil leak from its Shika nuclear power station, which was shaken by a powerful earthquake on New Year's Day, but said external radiation levels were not affected and there were no adverse impacts on the environment or human health.

Days before the magnitude 7.6 quake, which has killed over 200 people in the Hokuriku region, Japan's nuclear power regulator lifted an operational ban on Tokyo Electric Power's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, the world's biggest.

Resumption of the plant, offline following the Fukushima disaster, needs consent from the local governments of Niigata prefecture, Kashiwazaki city and Kariwa village, where it is located, and its timing is unknown//CNA-VOI


The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, December 29, 2023 Photo - 



SYDNEY :Global stock markets were lacklustre on Wednesday, while the dollar stayed strong, as market optimism about early U.S. interest rate cuts ebbed and the latest escalation of hostilities in the Middle East weighed on sentiment.

MSCI's broad index of world equities was 0.1 per cent lower, following a 0.8 per cent fall on Tuesday, marking a weak start to 2024 that may herald the end of the blistering gains for stocks and bonds that began late last year.

Europe's STOXX 600 share index opened flat and Asia Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.3 per cent.

Caution crept in ahead of the release of minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's December meeting, due at 1900 GMT on Wednesday.

Fed officials in December predicted 75 basis points (bps) of rate cuts in 2024, driving money market bets for around double that amount of cuts that prompted a cross-market year-end rally.

Futures markets still see a 70 per cent chance of the Fed starting to lower U.S. borrowing costs from their current 22-year high from March.

"The market has already executed a pivot on the Fed’s behalf," strategists at Rabobank said in a research note, adding that the minutes "may still reinforce" the views of policymakers who are less committed to imminent cuts.

Reuters analysis of Fed policymakers' recent comments shows that, while many of them have noted improvements on inflation and some easing of wage pressures, most have not said monetary easing is urgent.

Important U.S. data this week should clarify the outlook further, with ISM's manufacturing survey, due later on Wednesday, set to signal whether the central bank has any new signs of an economic slowdown to worry about. The market-moving U.S. nonfarm payrolls report is due on Friday.

Kyle Rodda, an analyst at, said the combination of event risk and thin liquidity at the tail end of the holiday raises the prospect of exaggerated moves in markets and heightened volatility this week.

"All that's required is a catalyst, which could come from the data flow in the coming days," Rodda said.

Futures markets tipped Wall Street's S&P 500 index to open flat later in the day after Tuesday's 0.6 per cent fall in a retreat from record highs.

The tech-focused Nasdaq slid 1.6 per cent on Tuesday, dragged lower by a nearly 3 per cent drop in Apple to a seven-week low after Barclays downgraded its shares.

It was also set to flatline on Wednesday, judging by futures trade.

A climb in U.S. Treasury yields as the government debt securities sold off also continued on Wednesday. The benchmark 10-year yield, a barometer of expected long-term borrowing costs, briefly popped above 4 per cent on Tuesday.

It was last trading around 2 bps higher at 3.96 per cent.

Germany's 10-year Bund yield climbed 3 bps to 2.089 per cent, rising for the fourth consecutive session.

Market sentiment was souring after tensions in the Middle East ratcheted up.

Israel on Tuesday killed Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri in Lebanon's capital Beirut, Lebanese and Palestinian security sources said, raising the risk of war in Gaza spreading well beyond the Palestinian enclave.

Denmark's Maersk and German rival Hapag-Lloyd said on Tuesday their container ships would continue to avoid the Red Sea after a series of attacks on vessels blamed on Houthi militants.

The U.S. dollar, which climbed 0.8 per cent against an index of major currencies overnight to a two-week high, held steady at 102.1.

Brent crude oil futures,, were 0.2 per cent lower at $75.69 a barrel as expectations of ample supply outweighed concerns about disruptions to Red Sea shipping routes [O/R].

Spot gold rose 0.3 per cent to $2,065.39 an ounce//CNA-VOI


U.S. dollar banknote is seen in this picture illustration taken May 3, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo - 



LONDON/SINGAPORE :The dollar stayed near a two-week high on Wednesday after jumping the previous day, its rally underpinned by elevated U.S. Treasury yields and a cautious turn that weighed on Wall Street.

Trading was relatively subdued, with Japanese markets shut for a holiday and investors waiting for important U.S. economic releases later in the day, including minutes from the Federal Reserve's December meeting.

The euro was last up 0.12 per cent against the dollar at $1.0954. It fell 0.95 per cent on Tuesday, its biggest daily drop since July.

That helped push the dollar index, which tracks the currency against six major peers, slightly lower to 102.18, although it held on to almost all of the previous day's gains of 0.86 per cent.

A surge in risk appetite at the end of last year, sparked by a drop in inflation and a dovish tilt in the Federal Reserve's December policy meeting, fuelled bets for U.S. rate cuts in 2024, toppling the greenback and sparking a rally in Treasuries and stocks. The dollar index hit a five-month low of 100.61 last week.

That buoyant mood failed to carry over into the New Year, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite closing lower on their first trading session of 2024, dragged down by big tech names [.N]. Treasury yields jumped as prices fell, boosting the attractiveness of U.S. debt and propelling the dollar higher.

"I think that what happened in the latter half of December was just not justified," said Alvin Tan, head of Asia FX strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

"The markets got carried away with this view of imminent Fed cuts in the first quarter, that took the dollar off. So I do think that this reversal can carry on for a bit longer."

The greenback was last up 0.43 per cent against Japan's yen at 142.57 to the dollar, adding to the previous day's 0.82 per cent gain.

Investors will scrutinise the minutes from the Fed's December meeting, due at 1900 GMT (2 p.m. ET), for any hints about how many rate cuts the central bank will actually carry out this year.

Data on U.S. job openings for November and a survey-based gauge of the manufacturing sector could also move markets.

"As more people come back it will be more about the data," said RBC's Tan.

The New Zealand dollar, often used as a proxy for risk appetite, was last 0.11 per cent higher at $0.6259, having slid to a two-week low of $0.6246 earlier on Wednesday.

Sterling gained 0.21 per cent to $1.2646, having slid 0.87 per cent in the previous session, its sharpest daily fall in nearly three months.

Analysts said the risk-off mood was also in part driven by concerns over escalating geopolitical tensions, after Israel killed Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri in a drone strike in Lebanon's capital Beirut on Tuesday.

"I suspect that markets (are) starting the year with finding it hard to completely ignore geopolitics," said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank//CNA-VOI


Pump jacks of Wintershall DEA are pictured in Emlichheim near the northern German city of Meppen, Germany, Mar 9, 2022. (Photo: Reuters/Fabian Bimmer) - 



Voinews, Jakarta - Oil prices stabilised in early Asian trade on Wednesday (Jan 3) after sharp moves earlier in the week, as markets weighed concerns about the US economy and potential supply disruptions from ongoing tensions in the Red Sea.

Brent crude slipped 1 cent, or 0.01 per cent, to US$75.88 a barrel by 0300 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 4 cents, or 0.06 per cent, to US$70.42 a barrel.

Oil prices had climbed around US$2 earlier in the week following attacks on vessels in the Red Sea by Houthi rebels over the weekend and the reported arrival of an Iranian warship on Monday. A wider conflict could close crucial waterways for oil transportation and disrupt trade flows.

However, the market fell in the previous session as market optimism about early and aggressive US interest rate cuts ebbed ahead of the release of Federal Reserve minutes and jobs data.

"Energy markets were unable to escape the broader pressure seen on risk assets with equity markets also weaker. The weakness in oil comes despite a ratcheting up in tensions in the Middle East," said ING analysts in a client note.

Expectations of ample supply in the first half of 2024 have kept a lid on prices ahead of OPEC+ plans to hold a meeting of its Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) in early February. An exact date has not been decided, three sources from the alliance said.

"While the geopolitical situation is a concern for the oil market, a fairly comfortable oil balance over the first half of 2024 does help to ease some of these worries," said ING analysts.

"Given the scale of cuts we are already seeing, it will be increasingly difficult for the group to cut more if needed over the course of 2024," they said, pointing to the fact that recent cuts have been driven by voluntary reductions, rather than group-wide cuts.

Ahead of weekly US crude and product inventory reports, analysts polled by Reuters expected crude stockpiles fell last week, while distillate and gasoline stocks likely rose.

Data from the American Petroleum Institute industry group is due at 4.30pm local time (2130 GMT) on Wednesday, and data from the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the US Department of Energy, is due at 11am (1600 GMT) on Thursday, delayed by a day due to the New Year's holiday on Monday//CNA-VOI


Firefighters inspect collapsed wooden houses in the city of Wajima on Japan's Noto Peninsula, the area hardest hit by the New Year's Day earthquake (Photo: AFP/Kazuhiro NOGI) - 



Voinews, Jakarta, WAJIMA: Japanese rescuers scrambled to search for survivors on Wednesday (Jan 3) as authorities warned of landslides and heavy rain after a powerful earthquake that killed at least 62 people.

The 7.5-magnitude quake on Jan 1 that rattled Ishikawa prefecture on the main island of Honshu triggered tsunami waves more than a metre high, sparked a major fire and tore apart roads.

The Noto Peninsula of the prefecture was most severely hit, with several hundred buildings ravaged by fire and houses flattened in several towns, including Wajima and Suzu, as shown by before-and-after satellite images released on Wednesday.

The regional government announced on Wednesday that 62 people had been confirmed dead and more than 300 injured, 20 of them seriously.

The toll was expected to climb as rescuers battle aftershocks and poor weather to comb through rubble.

More than 31,800 people were in shelters, the government said.

"More than 40 hours have passed since the disaster. We have received a lot of information about people in need of rescue and there are people waiting for help," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Wednesday after an emergency task force meeting.

The number of military personnel sent to the area on rescue missions has been doubled, with more rescue dogs also deployed, he added.

The operation was given extra urgency as the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued a heavy rain warning in the region, advising people to be on alert for landslides until Wednesday evening.

There were "almost no houses standing" in one town in the Suzu area, said municipal mayor Masuhiro Izumiya.

"About 90 per cent of the houses (in that town) are completely or almost completely destroyed ... The situation is really catastrophic," he said, according to broadcaster TBS//CNA-VOI

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