News Briefing - Wednesday, January 17th 2024
From US Top News and Analysis
China misses fourth-quarter GDP estimates, resumes posting youth unemployment data
China's GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2023 came in at 5.2%, falling short of expectations. The country's National Bureau of Statistics reported these figures while also resuming the release of the unemployment rate for young people. Excluding individuals still in school, the unemployment rate for young people aged 16 to 24 stood at 14.9%, while the urban unemployment rate was 5.1% in December. The bureau had temporarily halted the release of the youth unemployment rate to reassess calculation methods. Retail sales in December grew by 7.4% year-on-year, slightly below the 8% anticipated growth. Meanwhile, industrial production rose by 6.8% in the same period, beating forecasts. Fixed asset investment in 2023 saw a modest rise of 3%, with real estate investment declining by 9.6%. The statistics bureau also disclosed that China's population had decreased by over 2 million people to 1.41 billion in 2023.
Iran warns the U.S. not to 'tie their destiny' to the fate of Israel's Netanyahu
Iran's Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, warned the U.S. not to tie its destiny to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and criticized Washington's full support for Israel, calling it the root of insecurity in the region. Speaking to CNBC's Dan Murphy at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Amir-Abdollahian made these remarks against the backdrop of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, which has lasted over 100 days. The U.S. has shown unwavering support for Israel in its conflict with Hamas in Gaza. After Hamas infiltrated Israel on October 7, resulting in the death of over 1,200 people and the capture of more than 240 hostages, President Joe Biden visited Israel to express solidarity and pledged billions of dollars in military support. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has made multiple trips to Israel since then. Amir-Abdollahian criticized the "full-scale cooperation" between Biden and Netanyahu, which he believes contributes to insecurity in the region. The White House has not yet responded to these comments.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman opens up about being fired by the board: 'Super caught off guard'
Sam Altman, founder and CEO of OpenAI, revealed that he was "super caught off guard" and "super confused" when he was unexpectedly pushed out by the board last year. Altman, speaking at a private gathering at Davos, explained that the unusual corporate structure of OpenAI, which has a complex hierarchy of entities and a board with ultimate power, led to his surprise ouster. Unlike most tech founders, Altman has no equity in the company and therefore less control. The structure also affected his financial stake in the AI startup, which is valued at $86 billion. OpenAI's board controls the 501(c)(3) charity, OpenAI Inc., while a capped-profit company called OpenAI Global sits between the board and the nonprofit. Additional entities, such as a holding company, contribute to the complex structure of the organization.
From BBC News - Home
Rishi Sunak faces key Rwanda vote after Tory deputy chairmen resign
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing a critical vote on the Rwanda bill, a policy aimed at deterring asylum seekers from crossing the English Channel in small boats. Earlier this week, two Conservative deputy chairmen and a ministerial aide resigned in order to support changes to the bill that they believe would strengthen it. The prime minister's authority was further weakened when 60 Tory MPs backed rebel amendments. No. 10, confident that the bill will eventually pass, is reportedly preparing to offer concessions. The bill is expected to be put to a vote in the Commons after further debates and if it remains unamended. If around 30 Tory MPs join opposition parties in voting against the bill, it could be defeated. Some Tory MPs have publicly stated that they are prepared to vote against the bill if it is not improved.
How videos exposed the rape lies of Barrow's Eleanor Williams
A documentary for the BBC's online channel, BBC Three, revealed that Eleanor Williams, from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, repeatedly lied about being beaten and raped by a gang of Asian men. Postings of photographs of her bruised face and body on social media resulted in hate crimes in her hometown, but she was arrested an hour later. In court, Williams was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison for perverting the course of justice. Her false accusations resulted in a serious risk that genuine victims of sex crimes would be deterred from coming forward.
Watch: The video evidence that helped convict Eleanor Williams
Eleanor Williams, a woman from Barrow-in-Furness, has been sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice. Williams gained attention in 2020 when she claimed on Facebook that she had been beaten and raped by a gang of Asian men. However, police later discovered her web of lies going back several years. The BBC has obtained exclusive access to police footage that highlights the extent of Williams' deceit. The video evidence played a crucial role in her conviction. In a documentary titled "Liar: The Fake Grooming Scandal," the BBC explores the full story of how Williams was eventually exposed. The case serves as a reminder of the importance of thorough investigation and the potential consequences of making false accusations.
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Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony counts
Former President Donald Trump's arraignment in a New York state court will not be broadcasted by news outlets, according to Acting New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan. However, he will allow five pool photographers to take still photos in the courtroom before the proceedings begin. Several media organizations, including CNN, had requested permission to broadcast the proceedings, but the judge rejected the request. Trump's arraignment is a public proceeding, but cameras are usually not allowed in the courtroom. Trump's lawyers urged the judge to reject the media's request for live cameras, while the Manhattan District Attorney's office did not take a position on the matter. The arraignment is expected to unseal the criminal charges against Trump, which stem from an investigation into hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump denies any wrongdoing and his lawyers have vowed to fight the charges.
Haberman reveals why Trump attacked judge and his family in speech
CNN political contributor Maggie Haberman delves into the motivations behind former President Donald Trump's decision to attack a judge and his family during a speech at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Trump made these remarks after being arraigned on felony charges. Haberman suggests that Trump's attacks on the judge and his family stem from a tactic he often employs to deflect attention away from his own legal woes. According to Haberman, Trump frequently directs his ire towards individuals he perceives as a threat or who have crossed him in some way. In this case, the judge presiding over Trump's case became the target of his attack. Haberman believes that by attacking the judge and his family, Trump is attempting to cast doubt on the judge's impartiality and credibility. Moreover, Haberman highlights that Trump often uses personal attacks to rally his supporters and create a sense of victimhood. By portraying himself as a victim of a biased judge and a corrupt legal system, Trump seeks to galvanize his base and elicit sympathy and support. In summary, Haberman suggests that Trump's attacks on the judge and his family were part of a broader strategy aimed at deflecting attention from his own legal troubles, undermining the credibility of those who oppose him, and solidifying support among his base.
Russian authorities detain suspect over St. Petersburg cafe blast
Ukraine has received the first tranche of $2.7 billion from a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) program. The IMF approved a new four-year extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) of around $15.6 billion as part of a $115 billion total support package for Ukraine. The program aims to stabilize the country's economy and support its recovery while improving governance and institutions to promote long-term growth. It also enables Ukraine to carry out more ambitious structural reforms. This EFF loan is the first major conventional financing program approved by the IMF for a country engaged in a large-scale war. However, the risks to the arrangement are considered exceptionally high, as the success of the program depends on external financing on concessional terms to close fiscal and external financing gaps and restore debt sustainability.