Facebook working on smartwatch

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Facebook on Wednesday confirmed it is working on a smartwatch that might one day connect with augmented reality glasses being developed by the leading social network. Facebook Reality Labs is investing in ways to make AR glasses more useful, unit head Andrew “Boz” Bosworth said in a tweet responding to a Verge report that the social network is aiming to unveil a smartwatch next year. Smartwatch features will include […]

UK competition watchdog probes Facebook use of ad data

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain’s competition watchdog said Friday it has opened an investigation into Facebook’s use of advertiser data s the EU announced a similar probe into the social media giant. “We intend to thoroughly investigate Facebook’s use of data to assess whether its business practices are giving it an unfair advantage in the online dating and classified ad sectors,” Andrea Coscelli, head of the Competition and Markets Authority, said in a statement. […]

TikTok helping deaf Black Americans preserve their brand of sign language

by Louis BAUDOIN WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — “English is not my first language,” writes Nakia Smith on her TikTok account, although the 22-year-old grew up in Texas. The young African American woman has been deaf since birth, and uses her large online following to promote her little-known dialect: Black American Sign Language. In her video clips, she tells her 400,000 followers about the differences between her language and the standard American Sign Language (ASL). […]

Picasso painting sells for $103 million in New York: auction house

NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Pablo Picasso’s “Woman sitting by a window (Marie-Therese)” sold Thursday for $103.4 million at Christie’s in New York, the auction house said. The painting, completed in 1932, was sold for $90 million, which rose to $103.4 million when fees and commissions were added, after 19 minutes of bidding, Christie’s said. The sale confirms the vitality of the art market despite the Covid-19 pandemic — but also the special status […]

Apple powers up iPads after pandemic-fueled surge

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Apple on Tuesday unveiled a new lineup of powered-up iPads including some with 5G connectivity, responding to surging interest in tablets and home-based work and play during the pandemic. The California tech giant also introduced a redesigned suite of iMac computers with a sleeker look and more power thanks to its own M1 chips. The M1 chip is also powering the new lineup of iPad Pro tablets unveiled at […]

Facebook restores news for Australian users after media bargaining deal

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Facebook on Friday restored access to news for its Australian users after reaching agreement with the government on a landmark law requiring it and other tech firms to pay for journalistic content. The Facebook pages of Australian news outlets were able to update from early Friday morning for the first time in a week, since the social media slapped a ban on news content being seen Down Under in a dispute […]

Indian rescuers try drilling from above into disaster tunnel

by Jalees ANDRABI Agence France-Presse INDIA (AFP) — Indian rescuers began drilling from above a debris-filled tunnel Thursday in a desperate bid to reach dozens of people missing since a flash flood likely caused by a breaking glacier four days earlier. Workers have toiled night and day clearing rocks and mud from the tunnel at a damaged hydroelectric plant at Tapovan in Uttarakhand in northern India since Sunday’s disaster. More than 170 people are missing […]

‘Run!’: India glacier disaster survivors recount tunnel escape

by Jalees Andrabi and Aishwarya Kumar in Kochi Agence France-Presse TAPOVAN, India (AFP) — A whistle turned into a roar of water that trapped a dozen men in a Himalayan tunnel after a glacier burst in northern India, but Rajesh Kumar lived to tell the tale. Twenty-six people were confirmed dead but at least 170 others remained missing Monday after the glacier broke off a mountainside, triggering a flash flood through a valley in Uttarakhand […]

AstraZeneca vaccine effective against UK variant: Oxford University

  LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain’s Oxford University said on Friday its researchers behind the joint AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine had found it to be effective against the UK virus variant now dominant across the country. The university, which developed the jab with the British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm, said an ongoing assessment of its effectiveness showed that it has “similar efficacy” to other coronavirus strains. “Data from our trials… in the United Kingdom indicate that the […]

Toxic mine leaves poisoned legacy in French town

by Adam PLOWRIGHT Agence France-Presse WITTELSHEIM, France (AFP) — Jean-Pierre Hecht, a miner in eastern France, remembers how attractive the idea sounded when he first heard about it: a dying pit could be turned into something useful and environmentally friendly. Back in the 1990s, the local state mining group MDPA approached the community in the town of Wittelsheim in Alsace with an idea for stocking hazardous waste in a nearby potash mine. “The pitch was […]

Spotify losses triple in 2020 despite more subscribers

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AFP) — Swedish music streaming giant Spotify on Wednesday reported a tripled net loss in 2020, citing increased operating expenses, even as the number of paying subscribers continued to increase. At the end of 2020, the number of monthly active users was 345 million, a 27-percent increase compared with a year earlier. Paying subscribers, the main source of revenue for the streaming service, stood at 155 million, a 24-percent increase. Spotify, which is […]

World lost equivalent of 255 million jobs in 2020: UN

  by Nina LARSON Agence France Presse The coronavirus pandemic took a huge toll on global jobs last year, the United Nations said Monday, with the equivalent of more than a quarter of a billion lost. In a fresh study, the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) found that a full 8.8 percent of global working hours were lost in 2020, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. That is equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs, […]