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Jumia adapts Pan-African e-commerce network in response to COVID-19

Pan-African e-commerce company Jumia is adapting its digital retail network to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The Nigeria headquartered operation — with online goods and services verticals in 11 African countries — announced a series of measures on Friday. Jumia will donate certified face masks to health ministries in Kenya, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Nigeria and Uganda, drawing on its supply networks outside Africa.

The company has offered African governments use of of its last mile delivery network for distribution of supplies to healthcare facilities and workers. Jumia will also reduce fees on its JumiaPay finance product to encourage digital payments over cash, which can be a conduit for the spread of coronavirus.

Governments in Jumia’s operating countries have started to engage the private sector on a possible COVID-19 outbreak on the continent, according to Jumia CEO Sacha Poignonnec .

“I don’t have a crystal ball and no one knows what’s gonna happen,” he told TechCrunch on a call. But in the event the virus spreads rapidly on the continent, Jumia is reviewing additional assets it can offer the public sector. “If governments find it helpful we’re willing to do it,” Poignonnec said.

Africa’s COVID-19 cases by country were in the single digits until recently, but those numbers spiked last week leading the World Health Organization to sound an alarm. “About 10 days ago we had 5 countries affected, now we’ve got 30,” WHO Regional Director Dr Matshidiso Moeti said at a press conference Thursday. “It’s has been an extremely rapid…evolution.” 

By the World Health Organization’s latest stats Monday there were 1321 COVID-19 cases in Africa and 34 confirmed deaths related to the virus — up from 463 cases and 10 deaths last Wednesday.

Dr. Moeti noted that many socioeconomic factors in Africa — from housing to access to running water — make common measures to curb COVID-19, such as social-distancing or frequent hand washing, challenging. She went on to explain that the World Health Organization is looking for solutions that are adoptable to Africa’s circumstances, including working with partners and governments to get sanitizing materials to hospitals and families.

As coronavirus cases and related deaths grow, governments in Africa are responding. South Africa, which has the second highest COVID-19 numbers on the continent, declared a national disaster last week, banned public gatherings and announced travel restrictions on the U.S.

Kenya has imposed its own travel and crowd restrictions and the country’s President Uhuru Kenyatta urged citizens and businesses to opt for digital-payments as a safer means for transactions.

Across Africa’s tech ecosystem — which has seen significant growth in startups and now receives $2 billion in VC annually — a number of actors are stepping up.

Jumia Nigeria Fleet

Image Credit: Jumia

In addition to offering its logistics and supply-chain network, Jumia is collaborating with health ministries in several countries to use its website and mobile platforms to share COVID-19 related public service messages.

Heeding President Kenyatta’s call, last week Kenya’s largest telecom Safaricom waived fees on its M-Pesa mobile-money product (with over 20 million users) to increase digital payments use and lower the risk of spreading the COVID-19 through handling of cash.

Africa’s largest innovation incubator CcHub announced funding and a call for tech projects aimed at reducing COVID-19 and its social and economic impact.

A looming question for Africa’s tech scene is how startups in major markets such as Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa will weather major drops in revenue that could occur from a wider coronavirus outbreak.

Jumia is well capitalized, after going public in a 2019 IPO on the New York stock exchange, but still has losses exceeding its 2019 revenue of €160 million.

On managing business through a possible COVID-19 Africa downturn, “We’re very long-term oriented so it’s about doing what’s right with the governments and thinking about how we can help,” said Jumia’s CEO Sacha Poignonnec.

“Revenue wise, it’s really to early to tell. We do believe that e-commerce in Africa is a trend that goes beyond this particular situation.”

Airport informants, overhead drones: How the U.S. killed Soleimani

By Ken Dilanian and Courtney Kube and Dan De Luce

The Americans were waiting for him.

Armed with a tip from informants at the airport in Damascus, the CIA knew exactly when a jet carrying Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani took off en route to Baghdad. Intelligence from Israel helped confirm the details.

Once the Cham Wings Boeing 727 landed, American spies at Iraq’s main airport, which houses U.S. military personnel, confirmed its exact whereabouts.

Three American drones moved into position overhead, with no fear of challenge in an Iraqi airspace completely dominated by the U.S. military. Each was armed with four hellfire missiles.

This account of how the U.S. took out Soleimani is based on interviews with two people directly familiar with the details of the operation, as well as other American officials who were briefed on it.

Slide 1 of 58: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announce new sanctions on Iran in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 10, 2020.Slide 2 of 58: Brian Hook (2nd R), U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Senior Policy Advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brian (R) listen during a press briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House January 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin held the press briefing to discuss the new sanctions against Iranian officials.Slide 3 of 58: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R3), Qasem Soleimani's long-time lieutenant and the new leader of Quds Force Gen. Esmail Qaani (R2) attend a memorial for Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Forces, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq, in Tehran, Iran on January 09, 2020.Slide 4 of 58: Qasem Soleimani's long-time lieutenant and the new leader of Quds Force Gen. Esmail Qaani (L2), Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Hossein Salami (R3), son of Qasem Soleimani, Mphammed Reza Soleimani (R2) attend a memorial for Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Forces, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq, in Tehran, Iran on January 09, 2020.


On large screens, various U.S. officials watched as an Iraqi militia leader walked up a set of stairs to greet the leader of Iran’s Quds Force as he emerged from airplane.

It was past one in the morning, so the black and white infrared imagery wasn’t very clear. No faces could be seen.

The men on the ground had no idea that their lives were now to be measured in minutes.

CIA Director Gina Haspel was observing from agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Defense Secretary Mark Esper was watching from another location. Another feed was on view in the White House, but Trump was in Florida at the time.

The imagery showed two senior figures get into a sedan, which pulled away. The rest of the entourage climbed into the minivan, which sped to catch up.

The drones followed as the vehicles began moving to exit the airport. Signals intelligence specialists sought to home in on the cell phones of the occupants to confirm their identities. Years of mapping and terrain information from satellites was available on the screens of the drone operators.

Other vehicles passed occasionally, but traffic was light. The minivan pulled ahead of the sedan.

At U.S. Central Command forward headquarters in Qatar, where the operation was being run, there were no significant doubts about who was inside those vehicles.

Qasem Soleimani, Hossein Salami are posing for a picture: Image: Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei © Press Office of Iranian Supreme Leader Image: Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Those watching could see the missiles strike, a man-made bolt from the sky. The vehicles were engulfed in a fireball. In total, four missiles were fired. There were no survivors.

The leader of Iran’s Quds force, who had helped kill Americans for more than a decade, was no more.

U.S. military officials watched a live feed of the strikes at various locations around the world. Despite the successful operation, the reaction was somber as the gravity of the attack set in and the officials contemplated what response it could unleash.

It was an operation utterly unremarkable for any technical or intelligence wizardry. It’s remarkable, rather, for how routine such lethal actions have become.

The targeted killing is the latest demonstration of how, two decades after the CIA spotted but was unable to kill a man they believed was Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, the U.S. has become adept at hunting and killing its enemies, particularly in the troubled regions of the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.

“In less than a generation, we went from something that was abnormal and maybe even science fiction, to the point where it’s the new normal,” said Peter Singer, an expert on future warfare at the New America Foundation. “Both leaders and the public don’t even blink an eye.”

Targeted strikes like the one that killed Soleimani represent a fundamental change in warfare, said Anthony Cordesman, who studies military trends at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“It requires a truly immense intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance effort — one which basically no other country in the world can match, and which is vastly expensive, time-consuming and requires lot of expertise.”

The only thing different about Soleimani was that he was a state actor, a senior official of another government. For that reason, and in light of the expected retaliation from Iran, this strike has proven far more controversial than others. But as a technical matter, experts say, it was fairly straightforward.

Soleimani, long a shadowy presence in the Middle East, had ventured into public view in recent years, posing for pictures in Iraq and elsewhere as he plotted strategy to counter U.S. interests. So he wasn’t nearly as hard to find as bin Laden, who was hiding in Pakistan when he was killed in 2011, or the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in Syria by a U.S. drone strike in October 2019 after a years-long manhunt.

Still, it’s not as if the Iranian put his name on passenger manifests. Tracking his travels took some doing, and knowing exactly where he would be was an intelligence feat, officials say. So was killing him in a way that risked no civilian casualties.

“These things are tricky,” said one former special operator familiar with what happened. “There is a lot that can go wrong.”

At the Baghdad airport, Soleimani was greeted by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of an Iraqi anti-American militia and suspect in the bombing of the American and French embassies in Kuwait in 1983. Al-Muhandis got into the sedan with the Iranian and he, too, was killed in the strike.

The drones that followed the convoy are not silent, but in an urban environment like Baghdad, the sound they make is not easily discernible, officials say. There was no hint that the men in the vehicles knew they were being targeted.

The Iraqi government was not pleased by the news that the U.S. killed an official of a neighboring state on its territory without consultation. Two Iraqi security officials told Reuters that they are investigating the role of suspected U.S. informants at the Baghdad airport.

Syrian intelligence is investigating two employees of Cham Wings airline, Reuters reported.

U.S. officials told NBC News that they had been closely tracking Soleimani’s movements across the region for days. The Trump administration says he was planning attacks against Americans, though they have not released any evidence.

“We had specific information on an imminent threat,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a Friday news conference at the White House. “And those threats included attacks on U.S. embassies. Period, full stop.”

Iranian officials have said that Wednesday’s missile strikes against U.S. troops in Iraq, which caused no casualties, will be the end of their retaliation for the killing of their general. But U.S. intelligence officials don’t believe that.

“If I were a U.S. ambassador, I wouldn’t be starting my own car for the foreseeable future,” one official said.

Uber’s Asian rival Grab loses its head of engineering

 Grab may be in the process of raising a huge $2.5 billion investment round, with SoftBank, Didi and Toyota confirmed as participants, but Uber’s Southeast Asia-based rival has lost its head of engineering.
Arul Kumaravel, VP of engineering at Grab, has left the company for person reasons, according to a source. It’s not yet clear what his next plan is. Grab confirmed the… Read More

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Yes, Vladimir Putin has gone shirtless again to remind you of his dad bod power


You already know that the golfing, TV watching, Twitter-obsessed U.S. president is on vacation, but you might not have known that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is on vacation, too. 

Luckily for you, we just got our hands on Putin’s vacay photos, and they’re full of spymaster-in-the-Siberian-tundra cheesecake. 

In photos released by the Kremlin on Saturday, Putin is shown going on a fishing trip with a few friends. 

The first photo (above) is innocent enough, showing the Russian leader steering a boat through the Siberian waters. And look at all those layers. Since it’s not that cold in the Republic of Tuva (where the fishing trip occurred) this time of year, things probably got steamy pretty fast.  Read more…

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Doctor takes a break from giving birth to deliver another baby


A doctor in Kentucky and her patient will always remember their babies’ birthdays. 

Amanda Hess, an OB/GYN in Frankfort, Kentucky, was in the hospital as she prepared to give birth to her daughter. While she waited, Hess heard another expectant mother who was closer to giving birth. 

The doctor went to the room, where a woman who happened to be one of her patients was fully dilated. The doctor on call was on his way to the hospital, but the baby was coming. So Hess stepped in and handled the delivery right before she went back to her own room to give birth.  Read more…

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Anthony Bourdain has anointed this Filipino street food dish as 'the one'


Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has eaten his way around the world, and is convinced he’s found The One.

That dish is sisig from the Philippines, a local street food dish made from chopped parts of a pig.

He’s so sure of it, he’s gone ahead and said it could be the next big thing globally.

He told CNN Philippines that the sizzling, crispy pork dish is “perfectly positioned to win the hearts and minds of the world as a whole.

“I think it’s the most likely to convince people abroad who have had no exposure to Filipino food to maybe look further and investigate further beyond sisig,” he said. Read more…

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A group of 4 drones grounded 60 flights in a day, leaving 10,000 passengers stranded


An illegal flying stunt of a group of four drones caused more than 60 flights to get disrupted on Friday — the third such incident in a week.

More than 10,000 passengers were left stranded, as a result.

According to a report by China News Service, Chengdu’s Shuangliu International Airport received reports of four drones flying within the protected zone of the airport, with one even passing below an incoming flight.

Some 58 flights ended up getting diverted to other nearby airports, with four others forced to return, and more than 10 cancelled, on the day. Read more…

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Those food stalls you love about Bangkok are about to disappear from Bangkok


Bangkok’s iconic bustling streets, lined with food vendors may soon vanish.

The government is moving to ban these food carts and makeshift clothing stalls from the capital’s main roads, as part of a campaign to clean up the city.

“All types of stalls including clothes, counterfeit goods and food stalls will be banned from main city roads,” Walop Suwandee, chief adviser to Bangkok’s governor, told news agency AFP.

“They will not be allowed for order and hygiene reasons.”

Officials have for weeks been forcing vendors out of Thonglor, one of the city’s popular tourist districts, but the latest announcement confirms that the ban is city-wide.  Read more…

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$43 million was found in a Nigerian apartment and everyone made the same joke


Bet you regret deleting all those emails you got from that Nigerian prince.

More than $43 million in U.S. dollar notes was uncovered in an apartment in Nigeria by the country’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The EFCC announced on Facebook that they had received a whistleblower’s tip that someone had been moving bags in and out of the apartment.

The stash uncovered.

Image: Economic and Financial Crimes Commission/ facebook

Naturally, everyone only had one thing to say about this. 

@ctvedmonton I think this is mine, I got a legimate looking email a few weeks back about it. Please contact

— iwan hughes (@IwanHughes2001) April 16, 2017 Read more…

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China comes down harder on Muslims, outlawing 'abnormal beards' and veils in public


In an effort to combat “religious extremists,” China has announced a series of bans on a range of physical attributes, including “abnormal beards” and the wearing of veils in public places.

While China claims that the measures are in place to fight “extremists,” many of them appear to cover traditional Muslim custom, and will be enforced in Xinjiang, home to the country’s largest Muslim population.

Under the 15 new rules, workers in public places will be asked to “dissuade” those who fully cover their bodies, including the wearing of veils and the growing of “abnormal beards.” Read more…

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David Beckham managed to piss just about everyone off with his new Facebook post


Looks like there’s just no winning this time for David Beckham.

The English football star probably lost a bunch of Chinese fans after a post in which he referred to Hong Kong as China.

Beckham posted a video of Hong Kong on Instagram and Facebook, saying he had a “great 48 hours in China” — something netizens quickly picked up on.

It’s a touchy subject for many in Hong Kong, which was handed back to China in 1997 after over a century of British rule. Plenty of Hong Kongers still see the island as largely independent from the mainland. Read more…

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Qatar Airways is launching in one of the biggest aviation markets in the world


Qatar Airways, which was running for the title of the world’s longest flight operator last year, is soon launching an airline in India — one of the top ten aviation markets in the world.

QA chief Akbar Al Baker announced at the ITB Berlin Travel Show on Wednesday that the carrier would be making an application to the India government soon, Times of India reports.

The Doha-based airline is owned by the state of Qatar and its operations in India would be in partnership with the investment arm of the Qatar government. Read more…

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BBC's shortwave transmissions from Thailand go dark, after talks fail


The British Broadcasting Corporation announced Wednesday it is ending its shortwave transmissions from Thailand after 20 years of operation, because it failed to reach agreement with Thailand’s military government on a renewal of its operating permit.

Shortwave transmissions are radio broadcasts in the AM band. Demand for AM receivers has dropped steeply over the years, but the BBC had still employed 45 staff members, who may lose their jobs with the decision.

Its Thai transmitters were serving the East Asia region. The BBC moved its East Asia relay station to Thailand from Hong Kong after the handover of the British colony to China in 1997. Read more…

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Here's the woman who offered U.S. citizenship to the highest bidder at the Shanghai marriage market


That’s certainly one way to get noticed.

At the Shanghai marriage market, parents of single folks gather to show off their children’s credentials, in hopes of netting them a spouse.

But over the weekend, a woman, dressed in a wedding gown and holding her American passport, caught the eye of many for the prize she was dangling — U.S. citizenship.

Image: Weibo

Alas, she wasn’t for real.

The woman, has been identified as Erin Peisert, an American performance artist currently based in Shanghai.

In viral photos circulating on Weibo and Instagram, she’s shown holding up a sign saying “USA Citizenship through marriage to the highest bidder,” as she is surrounded by curious onlookers. Read more…

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Police decide man touching woman's thigh on a bus wasn't harassment, for a ridiculous reason



A man accused of harassing a young woman after touching her thigh on a bus, was eventually released from custody after police decided that he wasn’t guilty — because she was wearing long pants.

The incident occurred in Jatinegara, a suburb in Jakarta, Indonesia. The bus officer confirmed that the man even owned up to what he did, according to Coconuts Jakarta.  

But police don’t see it that way.

Bambang Edi, the head of criminal investigations for the Jatinegara police division, told Vivanews: “She was wearing long pants, and he happened to touch her thigh since they were sitting next to each other.” Read more…

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Former Indian minister falls for online puppy scam


A former Indian minister has been duped in an online puppy sale. 

Salman Khurshid, who had served in the previous government, tried buying a pedigree Maltese puppy on a website that was offering them for cheap.

However, that was not to be. This came to light after Khurshid filed a police report against the ecommerce scammer, Press Trust of India reports.

“On February 13, I came across an advertisement on the internet for the sale of two Maltese puppies by one Tonny Wallace for Rs 12,000 ($180) per puppy,” Khurshid said in a complaint filed at a New Delhi police station. Read more…

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Looks like Manny Pacquiao won't fight Amir Khan after all because of a scam


It turns out that the Philippines’ Manny Pacquiao will not be fighting British pro Amir Khan, after all.

The two headlining boxers had initially agreed to a $38 million offer to fight in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in April.

The offer, which was made an unnamed group of investors in the UAE, has been revealed to be fake.

Pacquiao and Khan had earlier posted details of the fight on their Twitter feeds  last week, with Khan saying that his team had “agreed terms” with Pacquiao. 

My team an I have agreed terms with Manny Pacquiao and his team for a super fight #pacquiaokhan #April23rd

— Amir Khan (@amirkingkhan) February 26, 2017 Read more…

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Turtle living in wishing pond gets surgery after years of eating of coins left by tourists


The Thai sea turtle that spent years eating coins off the bottom of a wishing pond has undergone a successful surgery.

The 25-year-old, nicknamed Omsin (Thai for “piggy bank”), was found with an engorged stomach full of heavy coins, and she made headlines as a warning to people casting coins into ponds for good luck.

The coins, found in her stomach and intestines, were pressing on her other organs, and preventing her from diving, breathing or eating properly.

Vets operated on Omsin on Monday, removing removed some 915 coins weighing nearly 5 kg, according to Nantarika Chansue, an associate professor at Chulalongkorn University who has been spearheading the turtle’s recovery. Read more…

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The robots studying the Fukushima nuclear waste site keep failing


The robots sent in to investigate the nuclear fallout at Fukushima just aren’t good enough.

Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) head of decommissioning admitted on Thursday that more creativity was needed in developing its robots sent to the reactive zone.

The Fukushima nuclear power plant was massively damaged in 2011, when three of the six nuclear reactors suffered meltdown after being struck by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and associated tsunami waves.

More than 100,000 residents of the nearby Fukushima Prefecture had to be relocated, and the government has spent the last five years struggling with the aftermath. The incident is regarded as the world’s largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Read more…

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South Korea's biggest dog meat market stays open, despite promises to shut it


Amid reports celebrating the closure of South Korea’s biggest dog meat market, it appears the Moran market will stay open after all, an animal rights group says.

The country has started to shutter its dog meat markets in response to international criticism, ahead of it playing host to the 2018 Winter Olympics.

But Moran in Seongnam, which sells the meat from over 80,000 dogs per year for human consumption, is due to stay open, says the Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE). 

It’s merely the display and slaughtering of live dogs that would stop — dog meat sales will continue at Moran, CARE said in a statement on Wednesday. Read more…

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Singapore's Ministry of Defence suffers its first successful cyberattack


A cyberattack on the Defence Ministry of Singapore’s internet system (I-net) has resulted in the personal data of 850 employees and conscripted military personnel being stolen.

The stolen data includes national identity (NRIC) numbers, telephone numbers and dates of birth.

No classified military data was stolen in the breach of the I-net system, the government said, as reported by Channel NewsAsia.

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) added that the purpose of the hack may have been “to gain access to official secrets.”

The attack, which originated online, “appeared to be targeted and carefully planned,” Mindef deputy secretary David Koh said. Read more…

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See the Sistine Chapel like never before in this detailed new photo project


It’s all in the details.

The Sistine Chapel can now be viewed from a whole new perspective, thanks to a digital photo project that has captured every minute detail of the building.

270,000 photographs were taken during the five-year project, capturing everything from Michaelangelo’s frescoes to the building’s mosaic floor.

Image: Getty Images

Photographers used a 10-metre-high portable scaffold and special telescopic lens in order to capture the images (which are not pictured). The photos are now stored in a Vatican server holding 30 terabytes of information.  Read more…

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Stop throwing coins into ponds, this sea turtle ate a whole bunch and needs surgery


Years of eating coins dropped at the bottom of a pond has rendered a sea turtle in pain, and headed to the surgery ward.

The 25-year-old Thai sea turtle was discovered living in a pond in Si Racha, a town on the east coast of Thailand, according to the Bangkok Post

Vets conducted a CT scan and discovered a lump of coins measuring an alarming 20 x 23 x 30 cm (7.8 x 9 x 11 in.) in the turtle’s body, pressing down on its ventral shell (or the turtle’s belly), causing it to be cracked, swollen and infected. Scans also showed a fish hook in her intestine.  Read more…

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China's capital is replacing tens of thousands of taxis with electric cars to fight pollution


China’s capital city is doing something huge about its perennial pollution issue.

Almost 70,000 petrol powered taxis in Beijing will gradually be replaced with electric vehicles, and any new taxis on the road must be electric, according to a report by the National Business Daily.

The project to replace all the current petrol powered cars is estimated to cost taxi operators $1.3 billion (9 billion yuan).

Some 67,000 of Beijing’s 71,000 taxis currently run on petrol. 

A conventional car is estimated to cost around $10,000, with an electric vehicle double that amount, at $20,000. Read more…

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18-year-old chess grandmaster gets kicked off Iran national team for not wearing a headscarf


An 18-year-old Iranian chess grandmaster has been kicked off the national team after she showed up for a game not wearing a hijab.

Dorsa Derakhshani was competing in a chess tournament in Gibraltar earlier this month.

However, she failed to wear a hijab, or traditional headscarf, which is compulsory wear for Iranian women in public.

Derakhshani, who is a student in Spain, will be barred from representing Iran, as well as banned from playing in any tournaments in Iran.

Separately, her younger brother, Borna, was also playing at the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival. The 15-year-old was similarly barred from the team — a punishment for playing against Alexander Huzman, of Israel. Read more…

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Japan zoo kills 57 monkeys carrying 'invasive alien' genes


A Japanese zoo has killed 57 snow monkeys by lethal injection, after they were found to be carrying genes of an “invasive alien species.”

One third of the monkeys at the Takagoyama Nature Zoo were found to have been crossbred with the rhesus macaque.

The rhesus macaque, which is native to parts of India and China, is banned in Japan, and therefore categorised as an “invasive alien species.”

The snow monkeys were believed to have escaped from their enclosure and bred with the wild monkeys outside the facility.

The monkeys had “to be killed to protect the indigenous environment,” an official told the Japan Times. Read more…

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The 'Humans of Payatas' features inspiring stories about people living in its slums


Trash is the first thing most people think of when you mention Payatas, home to the Philippines’ largest open dump site.

But one organisation is hoping to change that with its photo project, “Humans of Payatas.”

Inspired by “Humans of New York”, the project aims to show that Payatas, one of the country’s biggest and poorest slums, has a lot more to offer than just trash. 

Humans of Payatas
Roy, 27 years old

English version#HumansOfPayatas #Fairplay #Payatas #ShareHumanity #SocialGood #giveback

— Humans Of Payatas (@HumansOfPayatas) November 23, 2016 Read more…

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Sweden's embassy in the U.S. is looking forward to schooling Trump


So as President Donald Trump has already figured out, there were a few things that happened in Sweden on Friday. 

There was the car chase of a drunk driver, a major road closure, and a technical problem in the rehearsal of the country’s annual singing competition “Melodifestivalen.” But terror related? Certainly not.

Speaking at a rally in Melbourne, Florida, on Saturday, Trump alluded to a terrorism incident in Sweden as part of his argument for implementing his immigration ban. He ticked off a list of places affected by terrorism, taking aim at Europe’s immigration policies.  Read more…

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Bill Gates isn't kidding around when he says bioterrorism could kill '30 million people'


President Donald Trump may have the nuclear codes, but when it comes to things to be scared about, think biggerAccording to Bill Gates, bioterrorism could be even more deadly.

The Microsoft cofounder warned the world is not paying enough attention to “health security and international security” in some decidedly grim remarks at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, the Guardian reported.

Gates said that a virus, engineered by terrorists to be extra-contagious and deadly, could be devastating. 

“Whether it occurs by a quirk of nature or at the hand of a terrorist, epidemiologists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year,” he explained. “And they say there is a reasonable probability the world will experience such an outbreak in the next 10 to 15 years.” Read more…

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Ring of underground factories making fake branded cosmetics gets busted in China


You might want to check the label of that perfume bottle carefully.

Police in China have uncovered seven underground dens in Zhejiang manufacturing brand-name cosmetics, from big names like Chanel and Lancome.

In a raid conducted earlier this month, they found over 1,200 boxes of counterfeit makeup worth some $120 million (827 million yuan). 

All the seven dens were run by a syndicate.

A gang member belonging to the syndicate told local press [link in Chinese] that he had bought raw materials online and mixed them to mimic the products, in another factory in Henan. Read more…

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India just can't make enough rules about playing the national anthem at the movies


India continues to scramble for ways to use the national anthem to instil a “sense of committed patriotism and nationalism” in its citizens.

In November, the Supreme Court of India ordered movie theaters to play the national anthem before each screening. People are also required to stand up when the national anthem is being played. 

As one would expect, the ruling wasn’t received with open arms by many Indians. The move came after Narayan Chouksey, 78, filed a petition, saying that watching people not respect the national anthem hurt him “very badly”. Read more…

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Man and his adult son maintain 7 sex dolls that they care for like family


A man and his 18-year-old son’s story is going viral in China after they were featured with their rather unorthodox “family” — seven silicone sex dolls that the two care for.

58-year-old Li Chen (not his real name) and his son, Yangyang, live in Guizhou, southwest China.

According to the state-run Global Times, the unusual family started when Li brought home his first doll in 2010 after he divorced his wife for her gambling addiction.

Li putting several of the dolls to bed.

Li putting several of the dolls to bed.

Image: Pear Video/Weibo

Li carrying one of the dolls outside.

Li carrying one of the dolls outside.

Image: pear video/weibo Read more…

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Porn site posts rape joke on Facebook, and people are enraged


A Filipino porn site has left netizens enraged after it posted an offensive “joke” on Facebook saying “it wouldn’t be rape if you enjoy it.”

The site, RBreezy, posted the picture, which received over 1.4k likes, on its Facebook page on Saturday.

The photo caption says LOL

The photo caption says LOL

Image: End rape culture ph/facebook

It also said “LOL” in its photo caption and to “tag your rapist friends.”

Its Facebook page has since been suspended, but screenshots of its offensive post have been captured on various other pages.

“RBreezy, if this is meant to be a joke, it isn’t funny. Stop making rape trivial or funny,” said a post by Facebook group End Rape Culture PH, which has since been shared almost 5,000 times.  Read more…

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Ivanka Trump posts another video of her daughter singing in Chinese and it worked


Donald Trump might have made some enemies in China, but his granddaughter continues to win hearts with her latest viral Chinese song.

Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, posted a timely video on Instagram featuring her daughter Arabella Kushner singing a song for Chinese New Year.

The video has been subsequently reposted on Weibo by the state-run Global Times, and has been viewed 18 million times already, less than 24 hours after the Ivanka Trump’s original Instagram post. Read more…

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Teenager receives a huge gift surprise from Miss Universe contestant


A teenager in the Philippines came home to a dream come true — a prom dress that graced the Miss Universe stage just days before.

15-year-old Zyra Nicole Cifra received Miss Bulgaria-Universe’s blue gown, after the teen’s mother wrote to the beauty queen.

Violina Ancheva, Miss Bulgaria 2016, said in a Facebook post on Monday shortly after the pageant was over that she was looking to donate her dress to someone in need in the Philippines.

Cifra’s mother, Issay Gallano, sent Ancheva a private message on Facebook to appeal for the dress. In her message, she noted that she was a single mother and was scraping some savings together to afford a prom dress for Cifra. Read more…

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These flyers perfectly shut down street harassment and unwanted catcalling


While street harassment continues to be a problem for many women, one artist has released a set of posters aimed at shutting catcallers down.

Manila-based Jara Rogacion tweeted a set of downloadable flyers and calling cards for street harassers, which have quickly gone viral.

dahil ‘di ko na talaga makakaya ‘pag may nang-harass pa sa’min sa susunod, gumawa ako ng calling card, flyers, at sampal ng

— Jara (@j0ssiean) January 25, 2017

Rogacion is offering the flyers to fellow women who face harassment on the street, but don’t know how to deal with it. Read more…

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Justin Trudeau takes on Trump with a perfectly timed photo


In the chaotic, heartbreaking wake of Donald Trump‘s “Muslim ban,” Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau is projecting a markedly different message.

On Saturday, Trudeau tweeted in solidarity with refugees, including those unable to enter the United States under the president’s executive order. “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith,” he said. “Diversity is our strength.”

To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 28, 2017 Read more…

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Justin Trudeau takes on Trump with a perfectly timed photo


In the chaotic, heartbreaking wake of Donald Trump‘s “Muslim ban,” Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau is projecting a markedly different message.

On Saturday, Trudeau tweeted in solidarity with refugees, including those unable to enter the United States under the president’s executive order. “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith,” he said. “Diversity is our strength.”

To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 28, 2017 Read more…

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The heart-wrenching, relevant story behind a viral Twitter account


You’ve probably seen the haunting Twitter posts popping up over the past couple days. They’re being shared all over, and for good reason. 

“My name is Regina Blumenstein.” reads one. “The US turned me away at the border in 1939. I was murdered in Auschwitz.”

“My name is Arthur Weinstock,” reads another. “The US turned me away at the border in 1939. I was murdered in Sobibor.”

The tweets go on and on, more than 250 of them. They’re the names of Jewish people who were denied refuge in the United States, then later killed in Nazi concentration camps. 

The account sharing those stories, called @Stl_Manifest, started as a project to remember Holocaust victims on social media. But it gained added tragic relevance on Friday when President Donald Trump signed an executive order that effectively amounts to a far-reaching ban on Muslim refugees and other visitors. Read more…

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One man has tirelessly put up decorations for his neighbours for 10 years


There are friendly neighbours, and then there are amazing ones like this guy.

One man has put up elaborate festive decorations for his neighbours for the past ten years. And he’s even generously funded each effort himself.

Tan Koon Tat, a carpenter from Singapore, typically puts up the decorations at the corner of the carpark and lobby area of his apartment block.

The 56-year-old does this for major holidays each year — he’s done Christmas, Eid al-Fitr or Hari Raya Puasa, and Diwali.

Tan Koon Tat setting up part of the decorations.

Tan Koon Tat setting up part of the decorations.

Image: ng yi shu/mashable Read more…

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YouTube is removing North Korean content and no one knows why


YouTube has done it again.

Two channels which featured content about North Korea have been removed from the video-streaming service, according to a report.

The removal comes less than two months after YouTube blocked North Korea’s state television channel, Korean Central Television.

One of the two latest terminated channels, “Pozdro z KRLD,” featured travel videos to North Korea, and belonged to a Polish national living in Japan.

“My whole channel was first suspended on…Sunday evening”, Emil Truszkowski told news blog NK NewsRead more…

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Watch 19 buildings collapse into a giant dust cloud


Controlled implosions of buildings are generally mesmerising to watch, and this one is no different.

19 buildings — each seven to 12 stories high — were destroyed simultaneously to make way for a new business center in Hankou, Hubei, central China. 

The implosion was reportedly the largest in China, covering 15 hectares in area and required more than 5 tons of explosives in 120,000 locations.

Watch how close the implosions were to surrounding buildings — and an adjacent operational train line.

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Scientists have invented paper that can withstand water and fire


While the Chinese have been credited with the invention of paper some 2,000 years ago, this improvement takes the humble material to a whole new generation. 

A research team at the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics in China has developed what is believed to be the world’s first fire-resistant and water-proof paper.

The paper resists water even when its surface is physically damaged, and is unstained by liquids such as coffee and tea.

It is also able to withstand heat up to 200 degrees Celsius, making it fire-resistant. Read more…

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During this fireworks festival, thousands of bottle rockets fly out into the crowd


For a festival where racks of fireworks explode and fly straight into the crowd, it’s little wonder that Taiwan’s annual Yanshui Festival has been described as akin to being caught in “artillery fire.” 

A siren sounds when the fireworks are lit, and participants clad in thick jackets and pants, scarves, helmets and ear plugs, experience thousands of bottle rockets being set off.

When ignited, the racks of gunpowder filled bottles shoot out in every direction — some into the sky, and some into the crowd.


— kon (@pinhole_eyes) February 22, 2016 Read more…

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The world’s best wildlife photography reveals a fragile, beautiful realm


From a leopard slipping through a Mumbai alleyway to giant cuttlefish courting under the sea, the striking images featured in the current Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition are at once beautiful, technically astounding and, often, incredibly moving.

Before the widening rupture between humans and nature, creating images of animals was of the utmost importance: animals were among the first subject matter for painting. 

In his essay Why Look at Animals, the late and renowned art critic John Berger argues that animals “first entered the imagination as messengers and promises.” Wildlife photography joins in this ancient representative tradition, giving new life to animals as symbols and storytellers for the natural world. Read more…

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One of Japan's biggest hotel chains is denying that the Nanjing Massacre took place


Chinese tourists are boycotting APA hotels in droves, one of Japan’s largest hotel chains, after people discovered it had placed books denying the Nanjing massacre throughout its rooms.

The book, titled “Theoretical Modern History II — The Real History of Japan,” was written by the CEO of the APA Group, Toshio Motoya, who wrote under the pen name Seiji Fuji.

The Nanjing massacre refers to the Japanese military invasion of the city of Nanjing in China in 1937, in which around 300,000 Chinese citizens were believed to be murdered and over 20,000 women were sexually assaulted by the Japanese troops. Read more…

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A tech company is making employees walk 10,000 steps a day, or do push-ups if they fail


A Chinese company is in the spotlight for trying to relieve its sedentary employees of their desks — by making it mandatory that they clock 10,000 steps a day.

The seemingly well-meaning but strictly enforced rules also deal a penalty of 50 to 100 push-ups to people who fail to meet the 10,000 step count mark.

The Chongqing Evening News quotes one of the new employees at the unnamed technology firm, Hu, who said that on his first day, the company’s HR department made him sign up for a feature on the WeChat messaging app that tracks the number of steps they take each day. Read more…

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Japan is trying to help clueless tourists figure out their high-tech toilets


There are toilets, and then there are Japanese toilets.

Often more sophisticated than their western counterparts, even public toilets come with various features such as heated  seats, in-built bidets and some even play you music.

Tourists are often unable to understand the many controls, finding going to the toilet more complicated than they thought.

In a bid to make itself more tourist-friendly ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Japan’s Restroom Industry Association has agreed to create a set of standardised icons, so all tourists will now know their backside wash from their small flush.  Read more…

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Chinese lady stabs enforcement officer in the neck with fruit on a skewer


Another city security officer has found himself in an unfortunate clash with a street vendor in China.

In a shocking incident captured on social media, an officer in China was stabbed in the neck with a bamboo skewer by an illegal street vendor selling candied fruit on a stick.

The vendor, who was selling the traditional tanghulu hawthorn candy, apparently attacked the officer, surnamed Ran, when he tried to stop her from putting up her stall.

Image: weibo

The 45-year-old lady was reportedly arrested, and the injured officer’s colleagues were seen taking him to the hospital. Read more…

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This rural school only has two students


You wouldn’t typically picture a school being this empty, but this one in rural Youyang County, near Chongqing in inland China, is so empty it only has two students and one teacher.

The teacher in charge, 53-year-old Yang Jinhua, has taught for nearly 35 years in the village elementary school since he was 18.

Despite the tiny attendance, the school has remained opened in part because of Yang’s dedication to it, according to the Chongqing Morning Post. Yang has refused jobs from principals in other counties, town centers and even corporations. 

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