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Billionaires are now richer than 60 percent of the world’s population: report

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The world’s billionaires have doubled in the past decade and are richer than 60 percent of the global population, the charity Oxfam said Monday.

It said poor women and girls were at the bottom of the scale, putting in “12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day,” estimated to be worth at least $10.8 trillion a year.

“Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist,” Oxfam’s India head Amitabh Behar said.

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“The gap between rich and poor can’t be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies,” Behar said ahead of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, where he will represent Oxfam.

Oxfam’s annual report on global inequality is traditionally released just before the forum opens on Tuesday in the Swiss Alpine resort.

It had some astonishing statistics.

“The 22 richest men in the world have more wealth than all the women in Africa,” it said.

If the world’s richest one percent paid just 0.5 percent extra tax on their wealth for 10 years, it would equal the investment needed to create 117 million new jobs in elderly and child care, education and health, Oxfam said.

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Oxfam’s figures are based on data from Forbes magazine and Swiss bank Credit Suisse, but they are disputed by some economists.

The numbers show that 2,153 billionaires now have more wealth than the 4.6 billion poorest people on the planet.

Women and girls are burdened in particular because they are most often care givers that keep “the wheels of our economies, businesses and societies moving,” Behar said.

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They “often have little time to get an education, earn a decent living or have a say in how our societies are run,” and “are therefore trapped at the bottom of the economy,” he added.

“Across the globe, 42 percent of women cannot get jobs because they are responsible for all the caregiving, compared to just six percent of men,” Oxfam figures showed.

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Walkouts as Roman Polanski wins best director at French Oscars

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Roman Polanski won best director for "An Officer and a Spy" at a fractious ceremony for the French Oscars, the Cesars, that ended in walkouts and recrimination in Paris early Saturday.

The entire French academy had been forced to resign earlier this month amid fury that the veteran -- wanted in the US for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977 -- had topped the list of nominations.

Protesters chanting "Lock up Polanski!" tried to storm the theatre where the ceremony was being held before being pushed back by police firing tear gas.

And France's Culture Minister Franck Riester had warned that giving the maker of "Rosemary's Baby" a Cesar would be "symbolically bad given the stance we must take against sexual and sexist violence".

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Trump accuses Democrats of coronavirus ‘hoax’ as confirmed cases in US gather pace

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President Donald Trump accused Democrats of a new “hoax” over criticism of his handling of the coronavirus threat, as US health officials reported Friday a fourth case of novel coronavirus of unknown origin, indicating the disease was spreading in the country.

The latest case is a boy under 18 in Washington State who tested "presumptive positive" and is currently in home isolation in Snohomish County. The high school he attends will be shut until March 3 while it is deep cleaned, the Washington State Department of Health said.

A positive test is treated as "presumptive" until the results have been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Regulators move to fine telecoms for selling location data

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US regulators moved to impose fines Friday against the nation's four major wireless carriers for selling location data of customers without their consent.

The Federal Communications Commission proposed fining T-Mobile more than $91 million; AT&T some $57 million; Verizon $48 million, and Sprint $12 million.

The wireless firms were accused of having disclosed mobile network user location data to a third party without authorization from customers, the FCC said.

The FCC began an investigation after a report that a sheriff in Missouri used a "location-finding service" operated by a prison communications services company called Securus to track whereabouts of people including a judge and law enforcement officers.

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