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MILAN — The post-pandemic surge in global sales of luxury handbags, shoes and apparel is set to stall this year amid a creativity crisis and price hikes as brands shift focus to the biggest spending customers, a new study by the Bain consultancy said Tuesday.

Bain is forecasting flat worldwide luxury sales in 2024 following a slight first-quarter dip, according to the study commissioned by the Altagamma association. The consultancy cited political uncertainty during a presidential election year in the United States as well as economic uncertainty in China that has brought on a phenomenon of “luxury shaming.”

Beyond socioeconomic factors and rising geopolitical tensions, the slowdown is also partly “self-inflicted,” said Bain partner Claudia D’Arpizio.

She cited a “creativity crisis,” in the sector, as a number of major fashion houses are transitioning creative directors, and a new focus on the super-wealthy customers, at the expense of the aspirational middle class and Gen-Z youngsters who fueled growth before the pandemic.

“There is a lack of clarity for many of these brands. They are making attempts to regain focus. It is five, six brands under turn-around, big ones. This is not helping the overall excitement,” D’Arpizio told The Associated Press. “This is a supply-driven industry. When you have the brands really in tune with customer needs, it usually reacts quickly.”

She said some “tweaks” are needed on strategy and price points, adding that “you can’t grow without the middle class and younger generations.”

Among major fashion houses, Gucci and Moschino have made runway debuts of their new creative directions, while the first Valentino collection by the new creative director hits the runway in September. Chanel has the position to fill after the incumbent resigned earlier this month.

While inflation is one element of price hikes, D’Arpizio said brands are also refocusing on the estimated 6 million to 8 million consumers at the top of the pyramid as they search for better profit margins. At the same time, there has been less rejuvenation in the offerings.

Steep price increases for items that don’t show significant innovation, and feel like something they have seen before, leaves customers “upset and puzzled.”

Flat global luxury sales forecasts follow a pent-up post-pandemic spending surge that pushed sales during the 2021-23 period up 24% over 2019 levels.

Last year, sales of personal luxury goods grew by 4% to 362 billion euros (about $388 billion) from 349 euros in 2022, due largely to a resurgence of U.S. and Asian tourism to Europe fueling purchases. Add in luxury travel, fine art, cars and yachts, the vast global luxury market expanded to 1.5 trillion euros last year — highlighting a trend toward experiences over tangible goods.

Japan is a bright spot as the return of foreign tourists with the yen at the lowest level to the U.S. dollar in 20 years, while Europe continues strong trends due to tourist spending and an increase in local consumption, especially in French and Italian cities.

Shanghai, China — The German vice-chancellor assured China on Saturday that the “doors” remained “open” to discuss EU surcharges on Chinese electric vehicles, without reassuring Beijing which promised to “firmly defend” its manufacturers.

Also, the Minister of Economy and Climate, Robert Habeck is making a visit that seems like a last chance to avoid a trade war between the Old Continent and the second world power, an important economic partner of Germany.

A task further complicated by the political context, the German leader reproached China on Saturday for its economic support for Russia against a backdrop of the invasion of Ukraine, stressing it was “harming” relations between Beijing and Brussels.

China regularly denounces these upcoming surcharges on electric vehicles as being “purely protectionist.”

“These are not punitive customs duties,” Habeck assured Zheng Shanjie, director of the Chinese Economic Planning Agency (NDRC) Saturday, according to a recording sent to AFP by the Chinese Embassy in Germany.

“This is not a punishment,” he insisted.

Up to 28% increase

Without compromise by July 4, the European Commission will impose up to 28% increase in customs duties on imports of Chinese electric vehicles, accusing Beijing of having, according to it, distorted competition by massively subsidizing this sector.

These surcharges would become definitive from November.

“For Europe, I can say that the doors are open and the invitation or offer for discussion has been made several times. Now it must be accepted,” Habeck said at a news conference in Shanghai.

From Brussels, Olof Gill, the EU spokesperson, assured that European Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis and Chinese Trade Minister Wang Wentao “had a frank and constructive call on Saturday regarding the anti-subsidy investigation of the EU on electric cars produced in China.”

“Both sides will continue to engage at all levels in the coming weeks,” he added.

China vows to defend ‘rights’

Earlier Saturday, the tone had been firm on the Chinese side.

“If the EU shows sincerity, China wants to start negotiations as soon as possible” on the surcharges, Trade Minister Wang told him, according to the English-speaking state television CGTN.

“But if the EU persists in this course, we will take all necessary measures to defend our interests. This will include lodging a complaint with the dispute settlement mechanism of the World Trade Organization (WTO). We will firmly defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.”

Beijing had already announced Monday that it had launched an anti-dumping investigation into imports of pork and pork products from the European Union.

German and European manufacturers are strongly affected by cheaper Chinese competition. Imports of Chinese electric vehicles into Germany increased tenfold between 2020 and 2023.

China argues that the success of its electricity sector is due to innovation and efficient supply chains, not subsidies.

“(EU) protectionism will not protect (its manufacturers’) competitiveness and will only slow down the global fight against climate change and the promotion of a green transition,” Zheng told Habeck.

“We expect Germany to show leadership within the EU and take the right measures,” implying the cancellation of surcharges, he insisted, according to the New China agency.

Habeck blames Beijing

Such an epilogue seems improbable, with Habeck again blaming Beijing on Saturday for the surge in its trade with Moscow.

“The Russian war of aggression and Chinese support for the Russian government are already harming trade and economic relations between Europe and China,” he said he told his Chinese interlocutors.

China has pledged not to supply weapons to Russia and calls for respect for the territorial integrity of all countries — including Ukraine. But China has never condemned Moscow for its invasion.

Habeck assured Saturday that many “dual-use” goods (both civil and military) were used by Russia after passing through “third countries” — implying China.

“We therefore cannot accept” that the Russian invasion is supported with these products, insisted the German vice-chancellor, calling on Beijing to ban their export to its Russian neighbor.

German car manufacturers still fear a major trade conflict with Beijing, which would undermine their activity in this crucial market. For Mercedes, Volkswagen or BMW, China represents up to 36% of sales volumes.

Nairobi, Kenya — A 21-year-old man died after being hit by a tear gas canister during protests in Kenya this week, a human rights official and the victim’s relative said Saturday, in the second fatality in connection with the youth-led demonstrations. 

Led largely by Gen-Z Kenyans who have livestreamed the demonstrations against tax increases, the protests have been galvanized by widespread anger over President William Ruto’s economic policies. 

Thursday’s demonstrations in Nairobi were mostly peaceful, but officers fired tear gas and water cannons throughout the day to disperse protesters near parliament. 

According to a Kenya Human Rights Commission official, 21-year-old Evans Kiratu was “hit by a tear gas canister” during the demonstrations. 

“He was rushed to hospital around 6 p.m. on Thursday … and died there,” Ernest Cornel, a spokesperson at the Kenya Human Rights Commission, told AFP. “It is tragic that a young person can lose his life simply for agitating against the high cost of living.” 

The victim’s aunt told national broadcaster Citizen TV that her nephew had died in the hospital before she was able to see him. 

“We are demanding justice for my nephew,” she said. 

The rallies began in Nairobi on Tuesday before spreading across the country, with protesters calling for a national strike on Tuesday. 

Kiratu’s death comes on the heels of another fatality reported Friday, when a police watchdog group said it was investigating allegations that a 29-year-old man was shot by officers in Nairobi after the demonstrations. 

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority said it had “documented the death … allegedly as a result of [a] police shooting” Thursday. 

According to a police report seen by AFP, a 29-year-old man was taken to the hospital in Nairobi around 7 p.m. Thursday, “unconscious with a thigh injury” before “succumbing” to his injuries, without giving further details. 

Several organizations, including Amnesty International Kenya, said that at least 200 people were injured in Nairobi after Thursday’s protests, which saw thousands of people take to the streets across the country.

Following smaller-scale demonstrations in Nairobi earlier in the week, the cash-strapped government agreed to roll back several tax increases laid out in a new bill. 

But Ruto’s administration still intends to increase some taxes, defending the proposed levies as necessary for filling its coffers and cutting reliance on external borrowing. 

The tax increases will pile further pressure on Kenyans, with many already struggling to survive as the cost of living surges and well-paid jobs remain out of reach for young people. 

Organized largely through social media, the protests have caught the government by surprise, with demonstrators now calling for a nationwide shutdown. 

“Tuesday 25th June: #OccupyParliament and Total Shutdown Kenya. A national strike,” read a poster shared widely online, adding that “Gen Z are granting all hard-working Kenyans a day off. Parents keep your children at home in solidarity.” 

After the government agreed to scrap levies on bread purchases and car ownership as well as financial and mobile services, the treasury warned of a 200 billion shilling ($1.5 billion) shortfall. 

The proposed taxes were projected to raise 346.7 billion shillings ($2.7 billion), equivalent to 1.9% of GDP, and reduce the budget deficit from 5.7% to 3.3% of GDP. 

The government has now targeted an increase in fuel prices and export taxes to fill the void left by the changes, a move critics say will make life more expensive in a country battling high inflation. 

Kenya is one of the most dynamic economies in East Africa, but a third of its 51.5 million people live in poverty. 

Xichang, China — A French-Chinese satellite blasted off Saturday on a hunt for the mightiest explosions in the universe, in a notable example of cooperation between a Western power and the Asian giant.

Developed by engineers from both countries, the Space Variable Objects Monitor, or SVOM, will seek out gamma-ray bursts, the light from which has traveled billions of light years to reach Earth.

The 930-kilogram (2,050-pound) satellite carrying four instruments — two French, two Chinese — took off around 3 p.m. aboard a Chinese Long March 2-C rocket from a space base in Xichang, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, AFP journalists witnessed.

Gamma-ray bursts generally occur after the explosion of huge stars — those more than 20 times as big as the sun — or the fusion of compact stars.

The extremely bright cosmic beams can give off a blast of energy equivalent to over a billion billion suns.

Observing them is like “looking back in time, as the light from these objects takes a long time to reach us,” Ore Gottlieb, an astrophysicist at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Astrophysics in New York, told AFP.

“Several mysteries”

The rays carry traces of the gas clouds and galaxies they pass through on their journey through space — valuable data for better understanding the history and evolution of the universe.

“SVOM has the potential to unravel several mysteries in the field of [gamma-ray bursts], including detecting the most distant GRBs in the universe, which correspond to the earliest GRBs,” Gottlieb said.

The most distant bursts identified to date were produced just 630 million years after the Big Bang — when the universe was in its infancy.

“We are … interested in gamma-ray bursts for their own sake, because they are very extreme cosmic explosions which allow us to better understand the death of certain stars,” said Frederic Daigne, an astrophysicist at the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris.

“All of this data makes it possible to test the laws of physics with phenomena that are impossible to reproduce in the laboratory on Earth,” he said.

Once analyzed, the data could help to better understand the composition of space, the dynamics of gas clouds or other galaxies.

The project stems from a partnership between the French and Chinese space agencies, as well as other scientific and technical groups from both nations.

Space cooperation at this level between the West and China is uncommon, especially since the United States banned all collaboration between NASA and Beijing in 2011.

Race against time

“U.S. concerns on technology transfer have inhibited U.S. allies from collaborating with the Chinese very much, but it does happen occasionally,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the United States.

In 2018, China and France jointly launched CFOSAT, an oceanographic satellite mainly used in marine meteorology.

And several European countries have taken part in China’s Chang’e lunar exploration program.

So, while SVOM is “by no means unique,” it remains “significant” in the context of space collaboration between China and the West, said McDowell.

Once in orbit 625 kilometers (388 miles) above the Earth, the satellite will send its data back to observatories.

The main challenge is that gamma-ray bursts are extremely brief, leaving scientists in a race against time to gather information.

Once it detects a burst, SVOM will send an alert to a team on duty around the clock.

Within five minutes, they will have to rev up a network of telescopes on the ground that will align precisely with the axis of the burst’s source to make more detailed observations.

ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN — Economic analysts in Kazakhstan say the government is using a formulation for setting the poverty line that fails to capture the number of people living below a humane standard of living. The result, they say, lowers the amount of assistance provided to the poor.

Kazakhstan sets the poverty line at about $70 a month, slightly over $2 a day. That results in an official poverty rate of 5.1% of the population. The World Bank, in a March report, More, Better and Inclusive Jobs in Kazakhstan, said that using its poverty line of $3.65 a day for lower middle-income countries (although the World Bank actually classifies Kazakhstan as upper middle-income) puts the poverty rate at about 10% in 2018.

Meruert Makhmutova, an economist and director of the Almaty-based Public Policy Research Center, said Kazakhstan should adopt the World Bank standard, which she said would result in more people receiving government assistance.

“The switch to $3.65 a day would automatically increase the number of the poor and the government would have to provide targeted social assistance to a greater number of people,” Makhmutova said. “As a result, the government, failing to admit the real scale of poverty, reduces budget spending on social assistance to poor citizens.”

The official Kazakh poverty level is close to the World Bank’s extreme poverty line of $2.15 a day, but Andrey Chebotarev, an Almaty-based economist and director of the Alternativa center for topical research, told VOA that figure is not applicable in Kazakhstan because of climate.

“It’s hard to just survive on the street in Kazakhstan in winter because the weather and climate make it impossible,” he told VOA, referring to winter temperatures that could drop to minus 30 degrees Celsius.

“We need to assess poverty differently,” he said.

Makhmutova also disputed methods authorities use to set the minimum wage and gauge the unemployment level.

Until recently, the minimum wage has been set arbitrarily without consideration of personal incomes or the real cost of living in the country. It was set around $190 a month for 2024, even though the average monthly wage was $890 at the end of last year.

“The government doesn’t use the average wage for setting the minimum wage, that’s why the minimum wage doesn’t grow substantially and its growth in the past few years doesn’t even match the inflation rate,” Makhmutova said.

Baglan Kasenov, the head of the Kazakh Labor and Social Protection Ministry’s department for labor and social partnership, told VOA the Kazakh government had adopted a new methodology to set the minimum wage starting next year. It conforms to International Labor Organization recommendations, he said, and will be based on the median wage and productivity, reaching 50% of the median wage in future. The median wage, where half of workers receive less than that and half receive more, was about $560 a month last year.

The joblessness rate is another contentious issue in Kazakhstan, as authorities, Chebotarev said, now categorize people, for example, farming their kitchen gardens and working without pay in family businesses as “self-employed,” which is new.

Makhmutova said the move “masks unemployment”; the number of jobless has been constant at around 450,000 people or under 5% in the past few years, whereas the number of self-employed is around 2.1 million, according to the government.

“As for unemployment, it’s a Kazakh invention of global scale because we have invented 2 million self-employed and blame everything on them,” Chebotarev said. “Our estimates of unemployment should be revised … but no one in government wants to consider self-employed as jobless.”

World Bank report questioned

Use of the government figures has resulted in criticism of the World Bank report, which claimed that despite declining economic growth, Kazakhstan’s poverty rate had dropped.

Makhmutova questioned the World Bank’s report because it based its analysis on “irrelevant” official Kazakh income and unemployment statistics – figures that are derived from the wrong method to assess poverty as well as being out of date.

She told VOA the report “is not objective in the first place because it relies on statistics provided by the labor ministry which avoids the assessment of the real scale of poverty and unemployment.”

In addition, although the report was published this year, “the latest statistical data on poverty is from 2018, which is why it is irrelevant for the assessment of the current situation,” she said, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and high inflation after Russia invaded Ukraine as having worsened living standards and increased poverty in Kazakhstan since 2018.

In response to Makhmutova’s criticism, the World Bank said it welcomes “critique and debate” over its reports, adding that the report “used the latest available data as is standard in World Bank reports for analysis.”

Єврокомісар додав, що «в першу чергу увага на використанні доходів буде зосереджена на військовій підтримці України»

President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump agree on few things, but a ban of the Beijing-based social network TikTok is one of them. Now with a presidential election at stake, both are joining the platform they previously attempted to take down. Will it make a difference on Election Day? Tina Trinh reports.

Washington — U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration on Thursday banned Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky from providing its popular antivirus products in the United States over national security concerns, the U.S. Commerce Department said.

“Kaspersky will generally no longer be able to, among other activities, sell its software within the United States or provide updates to software already in use,” the agency said in a statement.

The announcement came after a lengthy investigation found Kaspersky’s “continued operations in the United States presented a national security risk due to the Russian Government’s offensive cyber capabilities and capacity to influence or direct Kaspersky’s operations,” it said.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said, “Russia has shown time and again they have the capability and intent to exploit Russian companies, like Kaspersky Lab, to collect and weaponize sensitive U.S. information.”

Kaspersky, in a statement to AFP, said the Commerce Department “made its decision based on the present geopolitical climate and theoretical concerns,” and vowed to “pursue all legally available options to preserve its current operations and relationships.”

“Kaspersky does not engage in activities which threaten U.S. national security and, in fact, has made significant contributions with its reporting and protection from a variety of threat actors that targeted U.S. interests and allies,” the company said.

The move is the first such action taken since an executive order issued under Donald Trump’s presidency gave the Commerce Department the power to investigate whether certain companies pose a national security risk.

Raimondo said the Commerce Department’s actions demonstrated to America’s adversaries that it would not hesitate to act when “their technology poses a risk to the United States and its citizens.”

While Kaspersky is headquartered in Moscow, it has offices in 31 countries around the world, servicing more than 400 million users and 270,000 corporate clients in more than 200 countries, the Commerce Department said.

As well as banning the sale of Kaspersky’s antivirus software, the Commerce Department also added three entities linked to the firm to a list of companies deemed to be a national security concern, “for their cooperation with Russian military and intelligence authorities in support of the Russian government’s cyber intelligence objectives.”

The Commerce Department said it “strongly encouraged” users to switch to new vendors, although its decision does not ban them from using the software should they choose to do so.

Kaspersky is allowed to continue certain operations in the United States, including providing antivirus updates, until September 29, “in order to minimize disruption to US consumers and businesses and to give them time to find suitable alternatives,” it added.  

«Вантажні автоперевезення з України до ЄС та з Євросоюзу в Україну і далі не потребуватимуть спеціальних дозволів»

Шмигаль зауважив, що під час зустрічі з Гопінах він «подякував за успішну роботу над четвертим переглядом програми EFF»

«Позитивні тенденції спостерігались у транспортній галузі, промисловості, будівництві, сільському господарстві та внутрішній торгівлі»

«Ми маємо повернути реальну енергетичну безпеку в усіх її аспектах та подолати російське ставлення до енергії, до енергоресурсів як до зброї»

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s executive arm on Wednesday criticized France for running up excessive debt, a stinging rebuke at the height of an election campaign where President Emmanuel Macron is facing a strong challenge from the extreme right and the left.

The EU Commission recommended to seven nations, including France, that they start a so-called “excessive deficit procedure,” the first step in a long process before any member state can be hemmed in and moved to take corrective action.

“Deficit criteria is not fulfilled in seven of our member states,” said EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, also pointing the finger at Belgium, Italy, Hungary, Malta, Slovakia and Poland.

For decades, the EU has set out targets for member states to keep their annual deficit within 3% of Gross Domestic Product and overall debt within 60% of output. Those targets have been disregarded when it was convenient, sometimes even by countries such as Germany and France, the biggest economies in the bloc.

This time, however, Dombrovskis said that a decision “needs to be done based on, say, facts and whether the country respects the treaty, reference values for a deficit and debt and not based on the size of the country.”

The French annual deficit stood at 5.5% last year.

Over the past years, exceptional circumstances such as the COVID-19 crisis and the war in Ukraine allowed for leniency, but that has now come to an end.

Still, Wednesday’s announcement touched a nerve in France after Macron called snap elections in the wake of his defeat to the hard right of Marine Le Pen in the EU parliamentary polls on June 9.

Le Pen’s National Rally and a new united left front are polling ahead of Macron’s party in the elections, and both challengers have put forward plans in which deficit spending is essential to get out of the economic rut.

In the election campaign, Macron’s camp could use the wrist-slap as a warning that the extremes will drive France to ruin, while the opposition could claim that Macron had overspent and still impoverished the French, leaving them no choice but to spend more still.

Despite the rebuke over excessive debt, EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni stressed France was also moving in the right direction to address certain “imbalances,” sending a “message of reassurance” to the EU institutions.

The International Monetary Fund forecasts that the French economy will grow at a relatively sluggish 0.8% of GDP in 2024, before rising to 1.3% in 2025.

Unlike the measures imposed on Greece during its dramatic fiscal crisis a decade ago, Gentiloni said, excessive austerity was not an answer for the future.

“Much less does not mean back to austerity, because this would be a terrible mistake,” he said.

He also disputed a claim that it was austerity itself that drove voters to veer to the extreme right, pointing out that lenient budget conditions had been in force for the past years and still allowed the hard right to come out as victors in many member states.

“Look to what happened in the recent elections. If the theory is ‘less expenditure, stronger extremes,’ well, we are not coming from a period of less expenditure,” Gentiloni said.

«Від знищення сільськогосподарської техніки на загальну суму 5,8 млрд доларів до втрати та руйнування тваринницьких ферм на понад 250 млн доларів»

New Delhi — Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his third term in office, India and the United States agreed to strengthen cooperation in high technology areas during a visit by U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to New Delhi.

Sullivan met Modi, the Indian foreign minister and his Indian counterpart during the visit that reaffirmed both countries will pursue closer ties.

“India is committed to further strengthen the India-US comprehensive global strategic partnership for global good,” Modi wrote on X after meeting Sullivan on Monday.

The main focus of Sullivan’s visit was to hold discussion with Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on a landmark initiative launched by the two countries in January last year to collaborate more closely in high-technology areas including defense, semiconductors, 5G wireless networks and artificial intelligence.

The initiative, launched with an eye to countering China, marks a significant push in tightening the strategic partnership between the two countries.

“The visit by Sullivan in the early days of Modi’s new administration signals that the U.S. wants to maintain the momentum in the high technology partnership between the two countries,” according to Manoj Joshi, Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.

A joint fact sheet by the two countries following Sullivan’s meeting with Doval said that they launched a new strategic semiconductor partnership between U.S. and Indian companies for precision-guided ammunition and other national security-focused electronics platforms.

They also agreed to co-invest in a lithium resource project in South America and a rare earths deposit in Africa “to diversify critical mineral supply chains” and discussed possible co-production of land warfare systems, according to the fact sheet.

Growing the domestic defense manufacturing sector remains a top focus for the Modi administration as it looks to lower its dependence on imported arms. Although India has diversified its imports of military equipment, it is still heavily reliant on Russia.

For India, the technology initiative is a top priority as it looks to strengthen the country’s security and build its capabilities in high technology areas.

“India wants to become one of the leading countries in cutting edge technologies and it is of great benefit for New Delhi to partner the U.S. which is the leader in these areas,” said Joshi. “The idea is to get into co-production, co-development, innovation and attract American companies to set up bases here.”

Sullivan also met Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyan Jaishankar, who has been retained as the external affairs minister in Modi’s new administration, signaling a continuation in the country’s foreign policy. “Confident that India-US strategic partnership will continue to advance strongly in our new term,” Jaishankar wrote on X.

In Washington, White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby told reporters Monday that India and the U.S. “share a unique bond of friendship and Mr. Sullivan’s trip to India will further deepen the already strong U.S.-India partnership to create a safer and more prosperous Indo-Pacific.”

New Delhi’s ties with Washington have expanded in recent years amid mutual concerns in both countries about an assertive China — India’s military standoff with Beijing along their disputed Himalayan borders remains unresolved four years after a clash between their troops.

As Sullivan visited India, an Indian national, Nikhil Gupta, charged with trying to hire a hitman to assassinate a Sikh separatist leader in the U.S., appeared in court in New York Monday following his extradition from the Czech Republic. The alleged plan was foiled.

Allegations by U.S. prosecutors of the involvement of an Indian government official in the plot to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a dual US-Canadian citizen, have raised concerns about a strain in bilateral ties.

The U.S. allegations followed accusations levelled by Canada in September of involvement of Indian nationals in the killing of a Canadian Sikh leader.

India, which views Sikh separatist groups overseas as security threats, has denied its involvement in both the killing in Canada and the alleged plot in the U.S. But it said it has set up an inquiry committee to examine the information provided by Washington.

Analysts in New Delhi say ties are unlikely to be adversely impacted by the alleged murder plot. “The U.S. is quite pragmatic on these matters. They are continuing to stress that ties with India are important, so I don’t think a failed conspiracy will derail ties,” Joshi said.

SYDNEY — A new technology that allows smartphones to identify strokes far quicker than existing methods has been developed by researchers in Australia.

The new technology uses artificial intelligence as it scans a patient’s face for symmetry and certain muscle movements, which are called action units. People who have suffered a stroke often have one side of their face looking different from the other.  

The biomedical engineers at Melbourne’s RMIT University say the smartphone technology can detect facial asymmetry, potentially identifying strokes within seconds – much sooner and more precisely than current technologies.

Professor Dinesh Kumar, who led the research team, explained to Australian Broadcasting Corp. how the AI-driven device works.

“It takes a video of a person who is doing a smile, and the model determines whether this particular smile is indicative of (a) person who has had a stroke,” Kumar said. “We then inform the paramedic or the clinician who is aware of the very high risk of this person having a stroke and, thus, can be treated immediately.”

Strokes affect millions of people around the world.  They occur when the supply of blood to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, which stops brain tissue from receiving oxygen and nutrients.  Experts say that if treatment is delayed by even a few minutes, the brain can suffer permanent damage. 

Symptoms of stroke include confusion, speech impairments and reduced facial expressions.

The RMIT team reports that the smartphone tool has an accuracy rating of 82% for detecting stroke. They stress that it would not replace comprehensive medical diagnostic tests for stroke, but instead would guide initial treatment by first responders by quickly identifying patients who need urgent care.  

The Australian study, which was a collaboration with São Paulo State University in Brazil, is published in the journal, Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine.

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НОВИНИ

Study: Luxury sales flatten amid creativity crisis, price hikes

MILAN — The post-pandemic surge in global sales of luxury handbags, shoes and apparel is set to stall this year amid a creativity crisis and price hikes as brands shift focus…

Germany assures China that doors still open to discuss EU surcharges

Shanghai, China — The German vice-chancellor assured China on Saturday that the “doors” remained “open” to discuss EU surcharges on Chinese electric vehicles, without reassuring Beijing which promised to “firmly defend”…

2 dead in Kenya youth protests

Nairobi, Kenya — A 21-year-old man died after being hit by a tear gas canister during protests in Kenya this week, a human rights official and the victim’s relative said Saturday,…

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