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US rolls out tech export controls to curb repression

The United States and several other countries on Friday rolled out an export control programme to curb the spread of technologies which they said could be used by governments for repression.

Washington also placed SenseTime Group, a Chinese facial recognition software company accused of enabling the repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang, on a blacklist that will bar Americans from investing in it.

Along with Australia, Denmark and Norway, the US will develop a voluntary written code of conduct over the coming year “to prevent technologies from falling into hands that would misuse them”, said US Agency for International Development administrator Samantha Power.

Canada, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom also support the export controls, which were announced at the US-convened Summit for Democracy.

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Plan C? British PM Johnson not planning further Covid-19 rules despite Omicron


PHOTO: AFP

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not planning further restrictions in England to contain the significant growth of the Omicron coronavirus variant, his spokesman said on Friday, as Scotland warned it could become dominant within days.

Johnson, who sets health rules in England, introduced his Plan B Covid-19 measures on Wednesday, ordering people to work from home, wear masks in public places and use vaccine passes to slow the spread of Omicron.

There are 1,265 genomically confirmed cases of Omicron in the United Kingdom, but health minister Sajid Javid has said it is spreading in the community, and on Wednesday estimated the number of Omicron infections at closer to 10,000.

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G-7 finance ministers to discuss inflation at virtual meeting on Monday


PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Finance ministers from the Group of Seven (G-7) rich nations will meet virtually on Monday to discuss the recent spike in inflation, among other matters, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The meeting, reported earlier by Bloomberg News, will be the last under Britain’s G-7 presidency before Germany takes over that role next year, the source said.

The agenda will include economic issues such as inflation, as well global health and climate.

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US FAA finds no Blue Origin safety issues after review


PHOTO: REUTERS

The US Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday it had found no safety issues after investigating allegations made against Blue Origin’s human spaceflight programme.

The FAA said in September it would review safety concerns raised by former Blue Origin employees.

The FAA said on Friday it was closing its investigation after finding “no specific safety issues” and was taking no action against billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space company.

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Can’t shake this: Taylor Swift to face copyright lawsuit


PHOTO: REUTERS

Pop superstar Taylor Swift must face a lawsuit from songwriters who claim the Grammy-winning singer copied their lyrics in her 2014 hit single Shake It Off, a California judge has ruled.

In a decision issued on Thursday, US District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald rejected Swift’s bid to throw out a suit that said she took wording from 2014 song Playas Gon’ Play by R&B girl group 3LW.

Fitzgerald said there were “some noticeable differences” between the songs but also “enough objective similarities” that the case should go to a jury trial.

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