Facebook buys maker of hit VR game ‘Beat Saber’

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Facebook-owned Oculus on Tuesday said it is buying the studio behind hit virtual reality game “Beat Saber” as it looks to expand VR technology to wider audiences. Oculus, which makes Rift and Quest VR headgear, did not disclose financial terms of the deal to acquire Prague-based Beat Games. “Beat Games is joining us in our quest to bring VR to more people around the world,” Oculus director of augmented […]

‘Frozen 2’ ices out competition at N. American box office

  LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Disney’s new release “Frozen 2” iced out competitors to top North American box offices over the weekend, taking in $130.2 million, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations said Monday. The film follows the beloved characters from 2013 hit “Frozen,” as they travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest in search of the origin of Queen Elsa’s (voiced by Idina Menzel) magical ice powers. “Frozen 2,” which has come out just in […]

Online fundraiser for bushfire-hit koalas tops Aus$1-million

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — An online fundraiser for koalas injured in devastating bushfires topped Aus$1 million ($680,000) on Thursday, making it Australia’s biggest campaign on the GoFundMe platform this year. Deadly bushfires have ravaged vast swathes of eastern Australia, and wildlife carers estimate the blazes have killed hundreds of koalas this month in New South Wales state alone. A crowdfunding page set up by the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital to provide automatic water drinking stations […]

Samoa’s measles death toll rises to 20

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — The death toll from a measles epidemic in Samoa has risen to 20 as the outbreak rages out of control, with hundreds of new cases emerging daily, official data released Friday showed. The government said there were 1,644 cases, with 202 diagnosed since Thursday, most affecting young children. It said the number of deaths had hit 20, including 19 children aged under four years old. An additional 11 children are […]

Canadian vaping study details danger from ‘popcorn lung’ chemical

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — A 17-year-old Canadian nearly lost his lungs after five months of intensive vaping, but the ingredient suspected of doing the damage, diacetyl, is different from the substance US authorities blame for dozens of deaths. The case, described Thursday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), deepens the mysteries surrounding e-cigarettes, which have grown so popular US President Donald Trump earlier this week backed away from a proposed ban on certain […]

New York sues e-cigarette firm Juul for targeting youngsters

  NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — New York on Tuesday became the second state this week to sue Juul, the United States’ largest electronic cigarette manufacturer, for illegally targeting minors with its marketing campaigns. The lawsuits come as the vaping industry faces intense scrutiny over an epidemic of lung ailments linked to e-cigarette use that has killed more than 40 people and sickened more than 2,000 in recent months. The New York action, which […]

E-cigarettes: five things to know

  by Olivier THIBAULT Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — E-cigarettes have become hugely popular in the past decade but a rash of vaping-linked deaths and illnesses is feeding caution about a product, already banned in some places. On Thursday an 18-year-old man died in Belgium in a vaping-linked death, the first such case in the country. Here are five things to know about electronic cigarettes. – Around for two decades – Early designs […]

Delhi suffocates under toxic smog but millions go without masks

  by Abhaya SRIVASTAVA Agence France Presse NEW DELHI, India (AFP) — A thick grey smog choked New Delhi for the fifth day Saturday, adding to a mounting pollution health crisis, but retired naval commander Anil Charan is one of the vast majority of the city’s 20 million inhabitants who do not wear a mask. Indian media is packed with warnings about the risk of premature death, lung cancer and particular danger to children from […]

Renowned Polish jazz pianist touches on PHL connection to Polish mazurka in “Impromazurka” concert at the CCP

  (Eagle News) — Piano notes that relax and soothe the senses, and at the same time, bring you to an extraordinary exhilarating musical journey. This was what the audience at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Little Theater experienced as they listened to noted Polish jazz pianist and musician-composer Artur Dutkiewicz with his “ImproMazurka” concert on Tuesday night, Nov. 12. It was the first time for the world-renowned pianist to play in a […]

China completes Mars lander test ahead of 2020 mission

HUAILAI, China (AFP) — China on Thursday completed a test of its Mars exploration lander ahead of Beijing’s first mission to the red planet slated for 2020. Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space program, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022. Thursday’s hovering and obstacle-avoidance test, which took place in northern Hebei province, was conducted in a facility that simulated conditions on Mars. A red platform with steel cables attached […]

Climate change poses ‘lifelong’ child health risk

by Patrick GALEY PARIS, France (AFP) — Climate change will damage the health of an entire generation unless there are immediate cuts to fossil fuel emissions, from a rise in deadly infectious diseases to surging malnutrition, experts warned Thursday. Children across the world were already suffering the ill effects of air pollution and extreme weather events said The Lancet Countdown in its annual report on the impact of climate change on human health. And far […]

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 […]