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Paris ties Singapore, Hong Kong as world’s priciest cities

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Paris has climbed to the top of the world’s priciest city for expatriates, tied first with Singapore and Hong Kong according to a survey Tuesday that named the capital of strife-torn Venezuela as the cheapest.

The French capital was the only eurozone city in the top 10, rising from second most expensive last year and from seventh position two years ago.

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Paris is “extremely expensive to live in”, with an average two-piece business suit for men setting buyers back around $2,000 and a typical women’s haircut costing $120, it found.

Only “alcohol, transport and tobacco” offer value for money compared with other European cities, the survey said.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said it was the first time in the more than three decades of the survey that three cities were equally ranked top, after Singapore led the chart outright a year earlier.

 AFP / Roslan RAHMAN Singapore led the chart outright a year earlier

The top ten list was dominated by Asian and European cities, with Osaka and Seoul in joint fifth and joint seventh places respectively, and Zurich (4th), Geneva (joint 5th) and Copenhagen (joint 7th) also in the elite club.

North America was represented by the US cities of New York, seventh, and Los Angeles, tied 10th with Israel’s Tel Aviv.

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Currency appreciation, inflation and devaluation as well as political upheaval played a part in this year’s rankings, said EIU, which surveyed 133 cities worldwide.

It compared 400 individual prices across 160 products and services, including food and drink, clothing, home rental, transport, schooling and recreation.

The survey is aimed at helping companies calculate compensation packages and allowances for expatriate staff and business travellers.

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AFP/File / Anthony WALLACE It was the first time that three cities — Hong Kong, Paris and Singapore — were equally ranked top of the survey

Caracas dethroned Damascus as the world’s cheapest city amid a power struggle in Venezuela that plunged the country into a deepening crisis.

“As Damascus and Caracas show, a growing number of locations are becoming cheaper because of the impact of political or economic disruption,” EIU said.

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Asia’s economic divide was underscored, with cities including Bangalore (129th), Karachi (127th), Chennai (125th) and New Delhi (123rd) ranking near the bottom.

“Put simply, cheaper cities also tend to be less liveable,” EIU said.


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Google tightens political ads policy in effort to stop abuse

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Google on Wednesday updated how it handles political ads as online platforms remain under pressure to avoid being used to spread misleading information intended to influence voters.

The internet company said its rules already ban any advertiser, including those with political messages, from lying in ads. But it is making its policy more clear and adding examples of how that prohibits content such as doctored or manipulated images or video.

"It's against our policies for any advertiser to make a false claim -- whether it's a claim about the price of a chair or a claim that you can vote by text message, that election day is postponed, or that a candidate has died," Google ads product management vice president Scott Spencer said in an online post.

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Pope Francis begins Asia tour with visit to Buddhist temple

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Pope Francis will visit one of Thailand's famed gilded temples Thursday to meet the supreme Buddhist patriarch, on the first full day of his Asian tour aimed at promoting religious harmony.

The 82-year-old pontiff is on his first visit to Buddhist majority Thailand, where he will spend four days before setting off to Japan.

His packed schedule a day after touching down in Bangkok includes a meeting with the king and the prime minister before leading an evening mass expected to draw tens of thousands of people from across Thailand, where just over 0.5 percent of the population is Catholic.

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Hong Kong campus stalemate persists while US congress passes bill of support for democracy protesters

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Hardline Hong Kong protesters held their ground on Thursday in a university besieged for days by police as the US passed a bill lauding the city's pro-democracy movement, setting up a likely clash between Washington and Beijing.

Beijing did not immediately respond to the passage in Washington of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which voices strong support for the "democratic aspirations of the Hong Kong people."

But China had already threatened retaliation if the bill is signed into law by President Donald Trump, and state-run media warned Thursday the legislation would not prevent Beijing from intervening forcefully to stop the "mess" gripping the financial hub.

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