Germany’s first ‘green’ bonds attract strong demand

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany (AFP) — Germany on Wednesday launched its first “green” bond offering to finance environmental initiatives as it pivots towards a sustainable economy, and could become a benchmark issuer in the booming field. The government raised 6.5 billion euros ($7.7 billion), in the offering for the 10-year 0% bond, with investors placing orders of more than 33 billion euros, according to German finance agency. Even at this early stage, “Germany is well on the way […]

Zimbabwe to return land to farmers protected by investment deals

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AFP) — Zimbabwe said Tuesday that only foreign farmers protected by international investment treaties qualified to retrieve land seized by the government two decades ago. Former president Robert Mugabe launched land reforms in 2000, grabbing parcels from 4,000 white farmers on the grounds that he was reversing historical land ownership imbalances that favoured the minority whites. On Monday, the government said white farmers could apply to regain the titles to their land. Information ministry […]

Stricken ship behind oil spill sunk off Mauritius

PORT LOUIS, Mauritius (AFP) — The broken stem of a Japanese-owned ship which ran aground causing a devastating oil spill in pristine waters off Mauritius, has been successfully sunk in the open ocean, the national crisis committee said Monday. The MV Wakashio ran aground on a coral reef off the Indian Ocean island on July 25 and began leaking oil two weeks later, prompting a race against the clock to pump all the fuel off the […]

On burrowed time: hunting with Ireland’s last rabbit catcher

by Joe STENSON Agence France-Presse CARNDONAGH, Ireland (AFP) — Steven McGonigal crosses a pockmarked field in the north of Ireland with a box of unruly ferrets while his dog, Fudge, sniffs out rabbit warrens. As the lurcher does his work, McGonigal covers the openings with nets before releasing a single ferret down the hole to flush out the occupants inside. For five minutes, the ferret races around the underground tunnels, poking its head out of […]

Google turning smartphones into earthquake detectors

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Google added an earthquake alert system in California on Tuesday, saying it is working on letting Android-powered smartphones double as tremor detectors. Android phones will receive warnings triggered by a “ShakeAlert” earthquake early-warning system implemented on the West Coast by the US Geological Survey and partners. ShakeAlert uses signals from hundreds of seismometers across the state to trigger warning messages that “an earthquake has begun and shaking is imminent,” […]

‘I don’t want to die’: Blast traumatises Beirut children

by Rouba EL HUSSEINI Agence France-Presse BEIRUT, Lebanon (AFP) — “I don’t want to die.” Those were the first words Hiba’s six-year-old son screamed after the massive explosion at Beirut port sent shards of glass flying around their house. The blast a week ago that injured around 1,000 children and temporarily displaced 100,000 according to the UN had the magnitude of an earthquake. The mental shock it caused among Beirut’s youngest was just as powerful. […]

Road test: Chinese ‘robotaxis’ take riders for a spin

by Dan Martin / Beiyi SEOW Agence France-Presse SHANGHAI, China (AFP) — Chinese entrants in the race to put autonomous vehicles on the road are bringing “robotaxis” online in hopes that a hired-car format can be the key to unlocking wide acceptance of the futuristic technology. It is expected to be years before cars that operate completely without human intervention are unleashed owing to lingering technological, regulatory, and safety hurdles. But as China challenges US […]

Samsung upgrades folding smartphone in move to rev up sales

by Glenn CHAPMAN SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Samsung on Wednesday unveiled a second-generation folding smartphone along with other new gadgetry aiming to jump-start sales in a market hit hard by the global pandemic. The consumer electronics colossus unveiled its latest lineup at a streamed “Galaxy Unpacked” event, aiming directly at remote work and education trends supercharged around the world by the coronavirus outbreak. “Our mission is to give you new ways to communicate; […]

Defying virus, Latvian ocean rower plans next adventure

by Imants LIEPINSH Agence France-Presse RIGA, Latvia (AFP) — After spending 140 days rowing across the ocean without seeing another human being, Latvian adventurer Karlis Bardelis has some valuable tips for those learning to cope with coronavirus lockdowns. Bardelis started his nearly two-year journey in Peru in July 2018, reaching French Polynesia after nearly five months and finishing in Malaysia in June of this year. Along the way, he was rammed by sharks off Papua […]

Microsoft to keep exploring TikTok deal after talks with Trump

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Microsoft announced Sunday it would continue talks to acquire the US operations of popular video-sharing app TikTok, after meeting with President Donald Trump who seemingly backed off his earlier threats to ban the Chinese-owned platform. “Following a conversation between Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Donald J Trump, Microsoft is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States,” the company said in a statement, […]

Plague to protein: Israeli firm seeks to put locusts on the menu

by Jonah MANDEL Agence France-Presse GOLAN HEIGHTS, Undefined (AFP) — From biblical plague to modern day protein, one Israeli firm wants to make locusts a sustainable food choice in the Holy Land and beyond. As for whether or not the insects are kosher, the answer is not so simple. At Hargol Foodtech’s farm in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, a rectangular enclosure that once served as a chicken coop is filled with thousands of locusts, a […]

Pandemic an ‘apocalypse’ for restaurants in US

by Jocelyne ZABLIT Agence France Presse LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — For Gabriel Gordon and his wife Lena, the small restaurant they opened 14 years ago in the coastal California town of Seal Beach was a dream project and the cornerstone of their future success. But this weekend, Beachwood BBQ, which had become a staple in the community, permanently shut down — yet another casualty of the carnage the coronavirus pandemic has unleashed on […]