Solar-powered barge a key ‘interceptor’ for plastic waste

KLANG, Malaysia (AFP) – Patrick Lee Scooping waste from a Malaysian river to stop it reaching the sea, a solar-powered barge named the “Interceptor” is the latest weapon in a global battle to rid the world’s waters of plastic. Trash is being dumped into seas and rivers in enormous quantities, polluting vital habitats, endangering a kaleidoscope of marine life and sullying once pristine tourist spots. Some eight million tons of plastics enter the world’s oceans […]

Hyundai to make flying cars for Uber air taxis

LAS Vegas, United States (AFP) — Hyundai announced Monday it would mass produce flying cars for Uber’s aerial ride share network set to deploy in 2023. The South Korean manufacturer said it would produce the four-passenger electric “vertical take-off and landing vehicles” at “automotive scale,” without offering details. The deal announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas could help Uber, which is working with other aircraft manufacturers, to achieve its goal of deploying air […]

SpaceX launches third batch of Starlink satellites

by Issam AHMED WASHINGTON, United States  (AFP) — SpaceX on Monday launched its third batch of 60 mini-satellites into orbit, part of its plans to build a giant constellation of thousands of spacecraft that will form a global broadband internet system. A live broadcast by SpaceX showed a Falcon 9 rocket taking off without incident from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 9:19pm (0219 GMT Tuesday). The satellites are set to release about one hour after takeoff, bringing the […]

Superfast 5G on the slow road at gadget gala

by Julie JAMMOT Agence France-Presse LAS VEGAS, United States (AFP) — It will be revolutionary when superfast 5G mobile networks come to our gadgets, cars and digital lives. But the road to 5G remains agonizingly slow at the massive Consumer Electronics Show opening this week in Las Vegas, where ultrafast products are expected to be few and far between. Backers of 5G tout a cornucopia of potential applications, but networks are still nascent, as are the […]

Popular Mideast app accused of spying back on Google Play

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates  (AFP) — The popular UAE-developed mobile application ToTok has returned to the Google Play Store after it was removed on claims it was being used for government spying, the company said Saturday. Google and Apple removed the app from their online marketplaces last month after The New York Times reported ToTok allowed the UAE government to track the conversations, movements and other details of people who installed it on their phone. […]

China’s Huawei says ‘survival first priority’ after 2019 sales fall short

BEIJING, China (AFP) –Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei said Tuesday that “survival” was its first priority after announcing 2019 sales were expected to fall short of projections as a result of US sanctions. Chairman Eric Xu said Huawei — banned from working with American firms over national security fears — estimates sales revenue will reach 850 billion yuan for 2019 (US$121 billion) — up roughly 18 percent from the previous year, but much lower than initially expected. […]

Facebook fined $1.65 mn by Brazil

BRASILIA, Brazil (AFP) — Brazil on Monday fined  Facebook $1.65 million for improperly sharing users’ data in a case linked to the global Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook engaged in an “abusive practice” by allowing data from 443,000 users in Brazil to be unduly available to developers of the application “This is Your Digital Life,” according to the Ministry of Justice. That application — a psychological survey — collected personal data from millions of Facebook users worldwide, […]

UAE denies developing popular Mideast app as spy tool

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AFP) — The United Arab Emirates on Saturday denied reports that a popular mobile application developed in the country was used for government spying. Apple and Google removed the ToTok app from their marketplaces last week following a report claiming it allowed the UAE government to track users’ conversations, movements and other details. But the country’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said in a statement that UAE laws “prohibit any kind of data breach […]

NASA’s trip to Mars begins in California ‘clean room’

Pasadena, United States (AFP) — NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will head off for the Red Planet next year. But like Voyager, Galileo and Cassini before it, the mission’s epic journey began in a “clean room” in California. One of two ultra-sterile labs used for spacecraft assembly at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, the eggshell-white room was briefly and exceptionally opened to journalists Friday. “We need to keep the […]

China launches powerful rocket in boost for 2020 Mars mission

by Jing Xuan TENG Agence France-Presse BEIJING, China (AFP) — China Friday launched one of the world’s most powerful rockets in a major step forward for its planned mission to Mars in 2020. The heavy lift Long March 5 rocket carrying a Shijian 20 test satellite payload blasted off from the Wenchang launch site on the southern island of Hainan at 8:45 pm (1245 GMT), a live-stream from state broadcaster CCTV showed. “After more than 2,000 […]

Europe marks 40th anniversary of first Ariane rocket launch

  by Juliette Collen  PARIS, France (AFP) — The first Ariane space rocket lifted off over the forests of French Guiana 40 years ago, enabling Europe to at last take its place as an independent player in the international race for space. Following a number of delays and technical setbacks, Ariane 1 finally left the launch pad in Kourou at 2:13 pm local time on December 24, 1979. Its maiden flight was a so-called qualification […]

First commercial electric plane takes flight in Canada

by Alia DHARSSI Agence France-Presse VANCOUVER, Canada (AFP) — The world’s first fully electric commercial aircraft took its inaugural test flight on Tuesday, taking off from the Canadian city of Vancouver where tall mountain peaks edge the Pacific Ocean. “This proves that commercial aviation in all-electric form can work,” said Roei Ganzarski, chief executive of Seattle-based engineering firm magniX. The company designed the plane’s motor and worked in partnership with Harbour Air, which ferries half […]