While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, June 23

People eat in outdoor seating outside a restaurant in New York City, on June 21, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

New Yorkers rush to get haircuts, dine outside but Covid-19 cases soar in other US states

After more than 100 days of a coronavirus lockdown, New York City residents on Monday celebrated the lifting of more restrictions by getting their first haircuts in months, shopping at reopened stores, and dining at outdoor cafes.

Once the epicentre of the global outbreak, the city was the last region in New York state to move into Phase 2 of reopening with restaurants and bars offering outdoor service and many shops reopening.

Barber shops and hair salons welcomed customers for the first time since mid-March, with some fully booked for the next two weeks.

Playgrounds were also due to reopen on Monday in the most populous US city.


US tightens rules on four more Chinese state 'propaganda outlets'

The United States on Monday changed the status of four more Chinese state media organisations, denouncing them as propaganda outlets, renewing a feud with Beijing.

The State Department said it was reclassifying four outlets - China Central Television, the China News Service, the People's Daily and the Global Times - as foreign missions rather than media outlets in the United States, adding to five others designated in February.

All nine outlets "are effectively controlled by the government of the People's Republic of China," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.


Saudi Arabia says to hold 'limited' haj: State media

Saudi Arabia on Monday announced it would hold a "very limited" haj this year, with pilgrims already in the kingdom allowed to perform the annual ritual as it moves to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

The haj, one of the five pillars of Islams and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime, represents a major potential source of contagion as it packs millions of pilgrims into congested religious sites.

But the decision to limit the haj, scheduled for late July, is fraught with political and economic peril and comes after several Muslim nations pulled out of the ritual.


Need for speed: Japanese supercomputer is world's fastest

Japan's Fugaku supercomputer, built with government backing and used in the fight against coronavirus, is now ranked as the world's fastest, its developers announced Monday.

It snatched the top spot on the Top500, a site that has tracked the evolution of computer processing power for more than two decades, said the Riken scientific research centre.

The list is produced twice a year and rates supercomputers based on speed in a benchmark test set by experts from Germany and the US.


Apple to redesign iPhone home screen and add translation app

Apple Inc will make the most drastic changes to the iPhone home screen since the product's release in 2007 as part of a software update expected later this year.

The new home screen allows users to place widgets that sit between the typical grid of apps, Apple said Monday at a virtual conference for developers.

The widgets present information from an app, such as the weather or a calendar, that updates throughout the day and can be set to varying sizes.


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