Sci-Tech

S.Africa president blasts vaccine hoarding at Davos forum

PRETORIA, South Africa (AFP) — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday lashed “vaccine nationalism,” accusing rich countries of bulk-buying coronavirus vaccines and hoarding them to the detriment of others. Addressing the all-virtual 2021 World Economic Forum (WEF), Ramaphosa said low- and middle-income countries were being shouldered aside by wealthier nations able to acquire “up to four times what their population needs”. “We are concerned about vaccine nationalism,” he warned. “Rich countries in the world are […]

Toyota to pay $180 mln to settle US emissions violations: govt

NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Toyota will pay $180 million to settle charges it failed to comply with rules mandating that auto companies report problems with vehicle emissions to authorities, the US Department of Justice said on Thursday. “Toyota pays the price for its misconduct with a $180 million civil penalty and agreement to injunctive relief to ensure that its violations will not be repeated,” Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark said in a […]

Top global oil exporter Saudi Arabia launches car-free city

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter, announced Sunday the launch of an eco-city “with zero cars, zero streets and zero carbon emissions” at its futuristic NEOM mega development. The $500 billion NEOM project, set to be built from scratch along the kingdom’s picturesque Red Sea coast, is billed as a development evocative of a sci-fi blockbuster. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled plans for a city, dubbed “THE LINE”, in […]

Israeli firm in Gaza extracts drinking water from air

by Guillaume Lavallee Agence France-Presse GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) — The densely populated Gaza Strip has long lacked sufficient drinking water, but a new project helps ease the shortage with a solar-powered process to extract potable water straight from the air. Unusually, the project operating in the Islamist-run Palestinian enclave, which has been blockaded by Israel since 2007, is the brainchild of a Russian-Israeli billionaire, Michael Mirilashvili. The company he heads, Watergen, has developed […]

Virus hunters delve into Gabon forest in search for next threat

by Adrien MAROTTE ZADIE CAVE, Gabon (AFP) — The scene looks like something out of a science fiction movie, or maybe some dystopian TV series. Six men in yellow biohazard suits clamber in suffocating heat towards a cave in the heart of the Gabonese jungle. Their quest: to unlock new knowledge on how pathogens like coronavirus leap the species barrier to humans. In the cave is their goal — a colony of bats. “Our job […]

Jupiter and Saturn cheek-to-cheek in rare celestial dance

by Juliette COLLEN PARIS, France (AFP) — The solar system’s two biggest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, came within planetary kissing range in Monday’s evening sky, an intimacy that will not occur again until 2080. This “great conjunction”, as it is known to astronomers, occurred fortuitously on the winter solstice for those in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of summer in the global south. The two planets were, in fact, more than 730 million kilometers […]

EU court finds against ‘Dieselgate’ car firms

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AFP) — The European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that it had been illegal for car companies to install devices to defeat emissions tests and mislead motorists about diesel pollution levels. “A manufacturer cannot install a defeat device which systematically improves, during approval procedures, the performance of the vehicle emission control system and thus obtain approval of the vehicle,” the court said. The statement identified the manufacturer subject to the complaint as […]

Virus hunters delve into Gabon forest in search for next threat

by Adrien MAROTTE Agence France-Presse ZADIE CAVES, Gabon (AFP) — The scene looks like something out of a science fiction movie, or maybe some dystopian TV series. Six men in yellow biohazard suits clamber in suffocating heat towards a cave in the heart of the Gabonese jungle. Their quest: to unlock new knowledge on how pathogens like coronavirus leap the species barrier to humans. In the cave is their goal — a colony of bats. […]

Chinese space probe carrying lunar samples returned to Earth: state media

BEIJING, China (AFP) — An unmanned Chinese spacecraft carrying rocks and soil from the Moon returned safely to Earth early Thursday in the first mission in four decades to collect lunar samples, the Xinhua news agency said. The return module of the space probe known as Chang’e-5 landed in northern China’s Inner Mongolia region, Xinhua said, quoting the China National Space Administration. Beijing is looking to catch up with the US and Russia after taking […]

India’s Modi lays foundations for renewable energy megapark

AHMEDABAD, India (AFP) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundations Tuesday for what he said would be the world’s largest renewable energy park, set to produce a massive 30 gigawatts of electricity. The vast project in the Kutch region of western Gujarat state spread over an area of 72,600 hectares (180,000 acres) — the size of Singapore — will contain solar panels, solar energy storage units and windmills. “The hybrid renewable energy park […]

China to open giant telescope to international scientists

by Ludovic EHRET PINGTANG, China (AFP) — Nestled among the mountains in southwest China, the world’s largest radio telescope signals Beijing’s ambitions as a global centre for scientific research. The Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) — the only significant instrument of its kind after the collapse of another telescope in Puerto Rico this month — is about to open its doors for foreign astronomers to use, hoping to attract the world’s top scientific talent. The […]

Massive outage hits Google services worldwide

  A massive outage knocked Google services including Gmail and video sharing platform YouTube offline across much of the globe Monday. Within minutes, social media sites were awash with hashtags including #googledown and YouTubeDOWN as hundreds of millions of internet users tried vainly to connect to the US search engine. Google indicated the outage had affected all of its services for the “majority” of users. The outage began at approximately 1150 GMT and by 1230 […]