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US, Britain announce partnership on AI safety, testing

WASHINGTON — The United States and Britain on Monday announced a new partnership on the science of artificial intelligence safety, amid growing concerns about upcoming next-generation versions. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and British Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan signed a memorandum of understanding in Washington to jointly develop advanced AI model testing, following commitments announced at an AI Safety Summit in Bletchley Park in November. “We all know AI is the defining technology of our generation,” Raimondo said. “This partnership will accelerate both of our institutes work across the full spectrum to …


Kia Recalls 427,000 Telluride SUVs; Could Roll Away While Parked

New York — Kia is recalling more than 427,000 of its Telluride SUVs due to a defect that may cause the cars to roll away while they’re parked. According to documents published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the intermediate shaft and right front driveshaft of certain 2020-2024 Tellurides may not be fully engaged. Over time, this can lead to “unintended vehicle movement” while the cars are in park — increasing potential crash risks. Kia America decided to recall all 2020-2023 model year and select 2024 model year Tellurides earlier …


Gmail Revolutionized Email 20 Years Ago

San Francisco — Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin loved pulling pranks, so they began rolling out outlandish ideas every April Fool’s Day not long after starting their company more than a quarter century ago. One year, Google posted a job opening for a Copernicus research center on the moon. Another year, the company said it planned to roll out a “scratch and sniff” feature on its search engine. The jokes were consistently over-the-top, and people learned to laugh them off as another example of Google mischief. That’s why Page …


New $20 Minimum Wage for California Fast Food Workers Starts Monday 

LIVERMORE, Calif. — Most fast food workers in California will be paid at least $20 an hour beginning Monday when a new law is scheduled to kick in giving more financial security to an historically low-paying profession while threatening to raise prices in a state already known for its high cost of living. Democrats in the state Legislature passed the law last year in part as an acknowledgement that many of the more than 500,000 people who work in fast food restaurants are not teenagers earning some spending money, but adults …


IMF Confirms Increasing Egypt’s Bailout Loan To $8 Billion

CAIRO — The executive board of the International Monetary Fund confirmed a deal with Egypt to increase its bailout loan from $3 billion to $8 billion, in a move that is meant to shore up the Arab country’s economy, which is hit by a staggering shortage of foreign currency and soaring inflation. In a statement late Friday, the board said its decision would enable Egypt to immediately receive about $820 million as part of the deal, which was announced earlier this month. The deal was achieved after Egypt agreed with the …


West African Project Helps Women Farmers Claim Their Rights, Land

ZIGUINCHOR, Senegal — Mariama Sonko’s voice resounded through the circle of 40 women farmers sitting in the shade of a cashew tree. They scribbled notes, brows furrowed in concentration as her lecture was punctuated by the thud of falling fruit. This quiet village in Senegal is the headquarters of a 115,000-strong rural women’s rights movement in West Africa, We Are the Solution. Sonko, its president, is training female farmers from cultures where women are often excluded from ownership of the land they work so closely. Across Senegal, women farmers make up …


Swedish Embassy Exhibit Highlights Uses of Artificial Intelligence

WASHINGTON — Artificial Intelligence for good is the subject of a new exhibit at the Embassy of Sweden in Washington, showing how Swedish companies and organizations are using AI for a more open society, a healthier world, and a greener planet. Ambassador Urban Ahlin told an embassy reception that Sweden’s broad collaboration across industry, academia and government makes it a leader in applying AI in public-interest areas, such as clean tech, social sciences, medical research, and greener food supply chains. That includes tracking the mood and health of cows. Fitbit for …


Chinese President Xi Meets With US Executives as Investment Wanes

BEIJING — China’s President Xi Jinping met American business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday, as the government tries to woo back foreign investors and international firms seeking reassurance about the impact of new regulations.  Beijing wants to boost growth of the world’s second-largest economy after foreign direct investment shrank 8% in 2023 amid heightened investor concern over an anti-espionage law, exit bans, and raids on consultancies and due diligence firms.  Xi’s increasing focus on national security has left many companies uncertain where they might …


Chinese Leader to Dutch PM: Restricting Technology Access Won’t Stop China’s Advance

BEIJING — Chinese leader Xi Jinping told visiting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Wednesday that attempts to restrict China’s access to technology will not stop the country’s advance.  The Netherlands imposed export licensing requirements in 2023 on the sale of machinery that can make advanced processor chips. The move came after the United States blocked Chinese access to advanced chips and the equipment to make them, citing security concerns, and urged its allies to follow suit.  An online report from state broadcaster CCTV did not mention the chip machinery, but …


Vietnamese Automaker VinFast to Start Selling EVs in Thailand

Bangkok — Vietnamese automaker VinFast announced Tuesday that it plans to sell its electric vehicles in Thailand and said it had tied up with auto dealers to open showrooms in the country. VinFast, which only began exporting its EVs last year, faces stiff competition in Thailand from Chinese automakers like BYD. Tesla also recently entered the fray. All were displaying their latest models at the Bangkok International Motor Show. The Thai EV market is small but growing fast, buoyed by incentives and subsidies from the government. The country of more than …


US Aims to Tap Domestic Lithium Supply Without Chinese Products

washington — Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a record conditional loan of $2.26 billion to tap the largest known lithium reserves in North America. The loan is an important step in an effort by the U.S. government to reduce reliance on China for the metal used to make batteries. Analysts, however, say that it may be too late to move away from reliance on China completely when it comes to metal processing and the production of batteries. The DOE’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) says the funds, if …


Critics Slam Apple CEO Tim Cook for Laudatory Remarks in China

 Washington — Tim Cook, CEO of the American technology giant Apple, is facing criticism at home over laudatory remarks he made about China during a recent visit to try to boost sagging iPhone sales in the lucrative market.  Cook was in Shanghai for the opening of China’s largest Apple retail store on Friday and met with Chinese political and business people. He praised China for being “so vibrant and so dynamic,” in remarks widely quoted by state media and Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.    The new Apple store took seven …


Florida’s Governor Signs One of Country’s Most Restrictive Social Media Bans for Minors

TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Florida will have one of the country’s most restrictive social media bans for minors — if it withstands expected legal challenges — under a bill signed by Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday.  The bill will ban social media accounts for children under 14 and require parental permission for 15- and 16-year-olds. It was slightly watered down from a proposal DeSantis vetoed earlier this month, a week before the annual legislative session ended. The new law was Republican Speaker Paul Renner’s top legislative priority. It takes effect …