Two treated for deadly pneumonic plague in Beijing

BEIJING, China (AFP) — Two people in Beijing have been diagnosed with the pneumonic plague — a rare instance of the highly-contagious disease that is fatal if left untreated. The two individuals were being treated at a central hospital in China’s capital city — home to over 21 million inhabitants — on Tuesday, local authorities said. Pneumonic plague can prove fatal in 24 to 72 hours and is the “most virulent form of plague,” according […]

Facebook nixes billions of fake accounts

by Glenn CHAPMAN SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Facebook on Wednesday said it has taken down some 5.4 billion fake accounts this year in a sign of the persistent battle on social media against manipulation and misinformation. Amid growing efforts to create fraudulent accounts, Facebook said it has stepped up its defenses and often removes the accounts within minutes of being created. “We have improved our ability to detect and block attempts to create […]

Flooding in Venice drowns Catholic cathedral’s priceless mosaics in sewage

by Ella IDE Agence France Presse VENICE, Italy (AFP) — Dirty water swirls around marble tombs inside the 12th century crypt of St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, which suffered untold damage when an unprecedented high tide swept through the city. Pumps work overtime to clear the seawater from around the altar and under the pink and white stone arches, as the historic monument’s custodians look on in sadness and anger. “We’re talking about millions of […]

WHO prequalifies first Ebola vaccine

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said it had prequalified an Ebola vaccine for the first time, hailing a “critical step” towards its licensing, access and roll-out in countries most at risk of outbreaks. “This is the fastest vaccine prequalification process ever conducted by WHO,” it said in a statement, explaining that “prequalification means that the vaccine meets WHO standards for quality, safety, and efficacy.” The announcement comes hot on […]

The voyage home: Japan’s Hayabusa-2 probe to head for Earth

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Japan’s Hayabusa-2 probe will leave orbit around a distant asteroid and head for Earth on Wednesday after an unprecedented mission, carrying samples that could shed light on the origins of the Solar System. Science and Education Minister Koichi Hagiuda told reporters on Tuesday that the long voyage home would begin soon, with the probe expected to drop off its precious samples sometime in late 2020. The mission took the fridge-sized probe […]

Twitter spy case highlights risks for big tech platforms

by Rob Lever Agence France Presse WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The allegations of spying by former Twitter employees for Saudi Arabia underscore the risks for Silicon Valley firms holding sensitive data which make the platforms ripe for espionage. The two Saudis and one US citizen allegedly worked together to unmask the ownership details behind dissident Twitter accounts on behalf of the Riyadh government and royal family, according to a federal indictment. Analysts say the […]

Facebook apologizes after black workers complain of bias

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Facebook apologized on Friday after black employees anonymously shared feelings of workplace bias in an online post. The post shared at Medium by a “FB Blind” profile laid out perceived slights by managers, white colleagues, and the human resources department. “No one at Facebook, or anywhere, should have to put up with this behavior,” corporate communications vice president Bertie Thomson said in response to an AFP query. “We are […]

In photos: Scenes at the EBC PopCon 2019

  (Eagle News) — These are just some of the scenes during the first day of EBC PopCon 2019 held on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at the Eagle Broadcasting Corporation headquarters. The event brought together comics and  pop culture afficionados, students, comics illustrators, artists and legends, as well as priceless collections of  PopCon — from life-sized statues to rare collections of vintage comics and other PopCon art. The event continues on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019 […]

Shelling out: Japan crab fetches record $46,000 at auction

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — A Japanese bidder may be feeling the pinch after forking out $46,000 at auction for a snow crab — a price that “probably set a new world record”, local officials said Thursday. The winter seafood delicacy is in season from this week in the western Tottori region, where the crustacean was snapped up for a final price of five million yen. In Japan, buyers often pay eye-watering sums to secure a […]

Sea levels could rise even faster, higher than feared: study

by Bryan McManus / Marlowe HOOD PARIS, France (AFP) — Global warming could drive a much more dramatic increase in sea levels than current projections suggest, scientists say, citing a rise of 10 meters (33 feet) during Earth’s last warming interlude more than 100,000 years ago. Such a change far outstrips current projections and could be catastrophic for vast swathes of humanity, a team at Australian National University concluded in a study. During the last […]

E-cigs may damage the heart, study says

by Elizabeth DONOVAN PARIS, France (AFP) — Vaping devices and the chemicals they deliver — increasingly popular among teens — may damage the cardiovascular system, a study said Thursday, adding to a growing chorus of concern over injury and deaths related to e-cigarettes. The latest findings, published in the journal Cardiovascular Research, come after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month declared an “outbreak of lung injuries” linked to vaping. “E-cigarettes contain […]

Twitter offering ‘topics,’ from sports teams to K-pop

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Twitter said Wednesday it is rolling out a feature that lets users follow topics the way they do people, starting with sports and K-pop, as part of its efforts to bring in and keep more users on the service. The new “Topics” option was expected to be available to Twitter users on mobile devices powered by Android or Apple software or through web browsers by November 13. “We are […]