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South Korea & U.S. to ease COVID restrictions on Chinese travellers



The move is seen as easing tensions between the nations

When China lifted its zero covid policy late last year – there was a wave a covid infections across the country.

That sparked fears that letting the virus rip in a country of almost 1.5 billion people would see new variants emerge.

A number of countries, including the U.S., Japan and South Korea, imposed travel restrictions.

In December, when the U.S. announced that travellers from China would need to show a negative test to enter – sources told media outlets there was also a lack of transparency from Chinese officials on case numbers.

Now, those restrictions in the U.S. are set to be lifted.

The Wall Street Journal – who initially broke the story – said the decision was made by national security and health officials – and airlines should be notified shortly.

The Biden administration says it will still monitor cases.

It’s a surprising move – and may perhaps be seen as extending an olive branch – as tensions continue to ratchet up between the world’s two largest economies.

Earlier this week, the US Department of Energy concluded that the virus likely emerged from a lab accident.

This angered Beijing – seeing it issue a statement calling the U.S.’ conclusion “politics-driven” and saying Washington needs “to respect science and facts and stop politicising this issue.”

Earlier this week at China’s National People’s Congress – President Xi took aim at the US – accusing it of trying to “contain, encircle and suppress” China. #trending

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Two Australian Army personnel injured in helicopter crash



The helicopter crashed into water during counterterrorism training

Two Defence Force personnel have been injured after an Australian Army helicopter crashed into the water during routine counterterrorism training on New South Wales south coast.

There were 10 personnel on board the aircraft when the incident occurred and all have been recovered from the water.

Chief of Army Lieutenant General Simon Stuart says the incident had the potential to end in “tragedy”.

He notes the quick responses of ADF personnel and emergency services alongside well drilled teams prevented potential loss of life.

An investigation into this incident has been launched to determine the cause.

The training activity has been temporarily paused as a precaution and the MRH-90 Taipan fleet will be grounded while the cause of the incident is determined. #trending

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Volodymyr Zelensky visits Bakhmut frontline



The President was handing out medals and visited the wounded

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky visited his troops near the frontline city of Bakhmut, the ongoing battle for the city being one of the bloodiest of the war.

Footage released by the president’s office shows him handing out medals and visiting wounded in the Donetsk region, where Bakhmut is located. He’s telling the troops that they’re there to protect the land for their children and later, in the hospital, “good luck, boys.”

Zelensky’s visit came after a swarm of Russian drones hit Ukrainian cities including the capital overnight, said by Ukraine’s military to include Iranian-built suicide drones.

And in a tweet, Zelensky apparently referenced Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Moscow, saying: Every time someone tries to hear the word ‘peace’ in Moscow, another order is given there for such criminal strikes.”

Meanwhile, the British government is rejecting accusations from Moscow that ammunition it has given Ukraine made from depleted uranium risks raising the nuclear stakes in the war.

Depleted uranium shells are used by many militaries including Russia to penetrate armour such as tanks.

The UK doesn’t consider it nuclear armament, but the dust it creates does pose a risk to people wherever the shells land after being fired.

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U.S. Fed Reserve raises interest rates, hikes may be ending



Jerome Powell has admitted a pause may be coming

Jerome Powell has announced interest rates in the U.S. will be going up by a quarter of a per cent.

The move will see rates move closer to the 4.75-5 per cent range.

The Fed has been raising rates since the middle of last year to try and get inflation down to a controlled level of two per cent.

Meanwhile, during the announcement, Powell acknowledged the central bank’s hikes may be coming to an end.

It follows a turbulent few weeks in the banking sector.

“We have to bring down inflation down to 2%,” he said. “There are real costs to bringing it down to 2% but the costs of failing are much higher.

“My colleagues and I are acutely aware that high inflation imposes significant hardship as it erodes purchasing power, especially for those least able to meet higher costs of essentials.

“We believe however that events in the banking system over the past two weeks are likely to result in tighter credit conditions for households and businesses which would in turn affect economic outcomes,” Powell said.

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