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Barack-Raul, Brussels Hunt Expands, Bad Game Idea

Barack-Raul, Brussels Hunt Expands, Bad Game Idea

OBAMA-CASTRO MEETING IN CUBA

President Barack Obama's second day itinerary of his historic visit to Cuba will include face-to-face negotiations with Cuban President Raul Castro, as well as a state dinner this evening at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana. The two leaders, who have met three times since the December 2014 surprise announcement of the diplomatic rapprochement, will address economic ties as well as Obama's push for more political freedoms in Cuba. The three-day trip heralds the long-awaited end of the Cold War in Latin America, 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Read more on how the visit in being covered in the Americas, as well as newspaper front pages from the region and around the world.


BELGIUM NAMES NEW SUSPECTS AFTER PARIS ATTACK ARREST

After Friday's capture near Brussels of suspected mastermind of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks Salah Abdeslam, Belgian authorities said this morning that they are searching for at least four other suspects, Le Monde reports. Belgian prosecutors identified a new suspected accomplice of Abdeslam, 24-year-old Najim Laachraoui, known by the alias Soufiane Kayal. The second suspect is Mohamed Abrini, a 31-year-old Belgian-Moroccan who was filmed on Nov. 11 in the company of Abdeslam. Brothers Khalid and Ibrahim El Bakraoui are also wanted, suspected of renting an apartment under false names where Abdeslam is believed to have hidden. Abdeslam, who was believed to have decided at the last moment not to carry out a suicide attack at the Stade de France soccer stadium, had evaded capture for four months. Authorities, who had previously suspected that he had fled to Turkey or Syria, now believe Abdeslam was in or around the Belgian capital the entire time.


RUSSIAN COURT FINDS UKRAINIAN PILOT GUILTY OF MURDER

A Russian court has found Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko guilty of murdering two Russian journalists near Ukraine's Luhansk, Russian news agency TASS reports this morning. Savchenko, who has been in Russian custody since 2014, says she will appeal the decision of the court, saying she was kidnapped in Ukraine and brought across the border into Russia before being charged. Her sentence is expected to be announced tomorrow.


NORTH KOREA FIRES MORE MISSILES

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that North Korea fired five short-range projectiles this morning, flying about 200 kilometers before landing in the country's own waters, Reuters reports. The launch came only three days after North Korea fired two mid-range ballistic missiles into the sea on Friday, adding to the already growing tensions over the country's nuclear and rocket programs and the international sanctions imposed on Pyongyang.


NATIONALITIES OF BUS CRASH VICTIMS IN SPAIN RELEASED

The nationalities of the 13 exchange students killed in the Spanish bus crash were released this morning: Seven Italians, two Germans, one Romanian, one Frenchwoman, one Uzbekistani and one Austrian died in yesterday's crash. The bus carrying exchange students between Valencia and Barcelona crashed a divider and tumbled across a motorway. Of the 44 survivors, 28 people were hospitalized. The veteran bus driver was to be questioned by a judge in a closed court today, but the hearing was postponed after the driver was taken to intensive care, Spanish daily El Periódico reports. Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said: "It appears an undetermined human error and not a mechanical failure was to blame … The driver has tested negative for alcohol and drugs so those factors are ruled out."


ON THIS DAY


Celebrating 10 years of Twitter! This, and more, in today's shot of history.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Beyond her late 20s, a woman in Asia faces huge hurdles in finding a husband. It's especially hard if she is educated and has a career, Julie Zaugg writes for Le Temps: "In China, the average age of marriage has risen from 19 in 1950 to 27 years old today. In 2007, the Chinese government officially introduced the term Sheng-nu in its lexicon to describe single women over the age of 27. ... If these accomplished women find it hard to stay single, it is because they feel the burden of a patriarchal society that values youth above all else. ‘Age is very important in Asia,' says Mein Lin, a resident of Hong Kong who runs a dating agency. ‘Men want younger women, whom they believe are more docile and admiring. At 25, they want someone who is 22, at 35, they look for someone who is 28, and at 40, they prefer women who are 31. After 35, women no longer exist.'"

Read the full article, Too Old At 27: The Extraordinary Pressures On Asian Women.


SNAPSHOT

Photo: UE Syndication/ZUMA

Formula One driver and two-times World Champion Fernando Alonso walked unscathed from an impressive crash Sunday at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.


MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD



DUNCAN SMITH: RESIGNATION WAS ABOUT UK, NOT EU

Former Conservative Party Leader Iain Duncan Smith told BBC Television's "Andrew Marr Show" that his resignation as the UK Work and Pensions Secretary last week was not meant to undermine Prime Minister David Cameron amid Conservative Party divisions over the EU, Bloomberg reports. Duncan Smith, one of the leading campaigners within the Tories to leave the EU, resigned late Friday, sending Cameron a letter that attacked a series of decisions to cut welfare.


IRAN LEADER VOICES SUSPICION OVER U.S. INTENTIONS

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei used a Persian New Year ceremony in the city of Mashhad yesterday to complain that sanctions continue to bite Iran's economy, and again warned against trusting the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reports. Khamenei welcomed the sanctions relief following the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers including the U.S. two months ago, but has expressed suspicion on the intentions of America — Iran's avowed enemy for more than three decades. "They removed the sanctions in paper only," Khamenei said in the televised address. "We don't have any problem with the American people. What we are dealing with here is the politicians. They are the enemies."


BAD GAME IDEA

A Dutch company has created an "escape the room" game modeled on Anne Frank's Amsterdam hideout. The Anne Frank Foundation has condemned the game.

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Future

Livestream Shopping Is Huge In China — Will It Fly Elsewhere?

Streaming video channels of people shopping has been booming in China, and is beginning to win over customers abroad as a cheap and cheerful way of selling products to millions of consumers glued to the screen.

A A female volunteer promotes spring tea products via on-line live streaming on a pretty mountain surrounded by tea plants.

In Beijing, selling spring tea products via on-line live streaming.

Xinhua / ZUMA
Gwendolyn Ledger

SANTIAGO — TikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has spent more than $500 million to break into online retailing. The app, best known for its short, comical videos, launched TikTok Shop in August, aiming to sell Chinese products in the U.S. and compete with other Chinese firms like Shein and Temu.

Tik Tok Shop will have three sections, including a live or livestream shopping channel, allowing users to buy while watching influencers promote a product.

This choice was strategic: in the past year, live shopping has become a significant trend in online retailing both in the U.S. and Latin America. While still an evolving technology, in principle, it promises good returns and lower costs.

Chilean Carlos O'Rian Herrera, co-founder of Fira Onlive, an online sales consultancy, told América Economía that live shopping has a much higher catchment rate than standard website retailing. If traditional e-commerce has a rate of one or two purchases per 100 visits to your site, live shopping can hike the ratio to 19%.

Live shopping has thrived in China and the recent purchases of shopping platforms in some Latin American countries suggests firms are taking an interest. In the United States, live shopping generated some $20 billion in sales revenues in 2022, according to consultants McKinsey. This constituted 2% of all online sales, but the firm believes the ratio may become 20% by 2026.

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