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Home >News >Business Of Life >Mint Lite| VR travel, WTO's first woman leader, world's smallest reptile & more

A new IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study revealed that the majority of CEOs surveyed in India see technological factors, market factors and regulatory concerns among the most important external forces that will affect their business in the next few years, following the massive disruptions in 2020. Global CEOs of outperforming organizations—those who were in the top 20% for revenue growth of those surveyed—are prioritizing talent, technology and partnerships to position their companies for success post-covid-19 pandemic. For more updates, here’s Mint Lite.

Cuba opens economy to private businesses

The measure, which was unveiled last August by Labor Minister Marta Elena Feito, was approved Friday during a meeting of the Council of Ministers
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The measure, which was unveiled last August by Labor Minister Marta Elena Feito, was approved Friday during a meeting of the Council of Ministers

Cuba announced Saturday that private activity will be authorized in most sectors, a major reform in the communist country where the state and its companies dominate economic activity, reports AFP. The measure, which was unveiled last August by Labor Minister Marta Elena Feito, was approved Friday during a meeting of the Council of Ministers, according to the daily Granma, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party. Until now, private activity—which has been authorized in Cuba since 2010 but whose real boom dates back to the historic warming of ties between Cuba and the United States, initiated at the end of 2014 under Barack Obama—was limited to a list of sectors set by the state. Currently, more than 600,000 Cubans work in the private sector, or 13 percent of the workforce on the island of 11.2 million. They are employed mainly in gastronomy, transportation and renting rooms to tourists.

The rise of virtual tourism

Escapism from the sofa through a growing range of VR travel experiences is whetting appetites for post-pandemic holidays and could be a watershed moment for the technology in tourism, say analysts
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Escapism from the sofa through a growing range of VR travel experiences is whetting appetites for post-pandemic holidays and could be a watershed moment for the technology in tourism, say analysts

With globe-trotting banned in the pandemic, increasing numbers of people are turning to virtual reality to relieve pent-up demand for travel, reports the Guardian. Escapism from the sofa through a growing range of VR travel experiences is whetting appetites for post-pandemic holidays and could be a watershed moment for the technology in tourism, say analysts. Oculus launched its Quest 2 headset in October and the most popular experiences include National Geographic VR, which takes users to places such as Antarctica—where they can navigate icebergs in a kayak, climb an ice shelf and survive a raging snowstorm as they search for a lost emperor penguin colony. Another app, Wander, can teleport VR travellers from the pyramids of Egypt to the gardens of the Taj Mahal, while Alcove offers immersive experiences from hot air balloon rides to city tours.

A new leader for WTO

Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was poised to become the first African and first woman to lead the embattled World Trade Organization
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Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was poised to become the first African and first woman to lead the embattled World Trade Organization

Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was poised to become the first African and first woman to lead the embattled World Trade Organization, after a South Korean rival withdrew on Friday and the United States reversed its previous opposition. The government of President Joe Biden expressed its strong support for Okonjo-Iweala in a statement late Friday, lauding her experience at the World Bank and leading Nigeria's finance ministry, and pledging to work with her on needed reforms. The twin developments ended months of uncertainty over the leadership of the global trade body, and cleared the way for WTO members to conclude a consensus-based process and confirm Okonjo-Iweala as the next WTO director-general. The Geneva-based watchdog has gone without a director-general since Brazil's Roberto Azevedo quit a year early in August.

Ecuador to get new president

Sixteen candidates are vying to succeed President Lenín Moreno, a protege-turned-rival of former President Rafael Correa, who governed Ecuador for a decade
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Sixteen candidates are vying to succeed President Lenín Moreno, a protege-turned-rival of former President Rafael Correa, who governed Ecuador for a decade

Ecuador is slotted to select a new President on Sunday facing unprecedented health measures due to the coronavirus pandemic and the influence of a populist former head of state who was blocked from a place on the ballot due to a corruption conviction. Sixteen candidates are vying to succeed President Lenín Moreno, a protege-turned-rival of former President Rafael Correa, who governed Ecuador for a decade and remains a major force despite a criminal conviction that blocked him from seeking the vice presidency this year. There are so many contenders that an April 11 runoff election is almost certain, but the clear leaders have been a Correa-backed candidate, Andrés Arauz, and a conservative former banker who finished second twice before, Guillermo Lasso. The winner will have to work to pull the oil-producing nation out of a deepening economic crisis that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

World’s smallest reptile found in Madagascar

The male Brookesia nana, or nano-chameleon, has a body of just 13.5mm
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The male Brookesia nana, or nano-chameleon, has a body of just 13.5mm

Scientists believe they may have discovered the smallest reptile on earth—a chameleon subspecies that is the size of a seed. According to BBC, two of the tiny lizards were discovered by a German-Madagascan expedition team in Madagascar. The male Brookesia nana, or nano-chameleon, has a body of just 13.5mm. This makes it the smallest of about 11,500 known species of reptiles, according to the Bavarian State collection of Zoology in Munich. Its length from top to tail is 22mm. The female is far bigger at around 29mm, the institute said, adding that other specimens were yet to be located, despite "great effort". "The new chameleon is only known from a degraded montane rainforest in northern Madagascar and might be threatened by extinction," said the Scientific Reports journal. Oliver Hawlitschek, a scientist at the Center of Natural History in Hamburg, hopes the species will survive since its habitat was placed under protection recently.

Curated by Sohini Sen. Have something to share with us? Write to us at feedback@livemint or tweet to @shohinisen

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