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- Initially, SpaceX planned to send humans to the Red Planet in 2024, but recently delayed the project, saying it will likely occur before 2030. “The next really big thing [after landing humans on the planet] is to build a self-sustaining city on Mars and bring the animals and creatures of Earth there. The goal overall has been to make life multi-planetary and enable humanity to become a spacefaring civilisation”, Elon Musk said.
- Ghislaine Maxwell’s notorious “little black book”, which is said to contain thousands of addresses and the contact info of celebrities, politicians, and world leaders, will not be revealed to the public during her sex trafficking trial, The Telegraph has reported. The decision to not make the book public was reportedly made by both legal teams, with the two parties and the jury only able to view a small excerpt from it. Per The Telegraph, it has been dubbed “Exhibit GX52”, and was earlier mentioned by the prosecution after Judge Alison Nathan warned against “needless” name-dropping. “It is not being offered for the truth of the matters asserted therein, and you may not consider it for that purpose”, read a letter from US Attorney Damian Williams to Judge Nathan.
- Two crew members on board the British cargo ship “Scot Carrier” involved in a fatal collision with a Danish dredger in the Baltic Sea were over the limit when undergoing a drug and alcohol test, the vessel’s UK owner has acknowledged. A spokesperson for Scotline Marine Holdings Limited said in a statement that “in line with standard procedures, […] all crew members of the Scot Carrier were tested for drugs and alcohol with two crew members exceeding the legal limit”.
- In a virtual event, Zuckerberg will unveil how emerging technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will help the evolution of education, learning, businesses and the creator economy in India. “We are excited about the new phase of our journey as Meta. Our ambition is to play a pivotal role in building the next chapter of the internet – the metaverse,” Ajit Mohan, vice-president and managing director of Meta India (previously known as Facebook) said in a statement on Tuesday.
- An Antarctic ice shelf containing the Thwaites Glacier could shatter within the next five to ten years, an international group of scientists has warned. Nicknamed the “Doomsday Glacier” for its humongous size, (roughly the size of the United Kingdom or US state of Florida) the researchers say it will likely live up to its name as it is melting more rapidly than was previously estimated. The scientists conducted a study using an uncrewed submarine travelled beneath Thwaites for the first time and took measurements.
- According to the report, the duke’s lawyer Andrew Brettler requested that US District Judge Lewis Kaplan keep Andrew’s response to some of Giuffre’s claims “sealed”. The secrecy around the case is notable, as reports emerged earlier in the week suggesting that even Queen Elizabeth II (who happens to be paying Andrew’s hefty legal fees in the case) is being left “in the dark” about her son’s defence strategy. Prince Andrew is reportedly fully engaged in the development of his secretive legal strategy, even seeking to cancel his American team’s Christmas so that the attorneys “leave no stone unturned” while looking for a way to battle Giuffre’s accusations.
- France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has triggered a process to close a mosque where an imam allegedly targeted “Christians, homosexuals and Jews” in his sermons. The French minister told the Cnews TV channel that the mosque he seeks to close is located in the town of Beauvais, which is some 75 kilometres north of Paris, in the Oise region. He also described the preaching by the imam there as “unacceptable”. Local authorities have reportedly already announced that they mulled closing the mosque because of the sermons promoting hatred and violence, and which even “defend jihad”.
- Israeli spyware firm the NSO Group is considering shutting down its Pegasus unit and selling the entire company to an American investment fund, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The company, previously blacklisted by the United States over its alleged involvement in actions that threaten the country’s national security, has been facing the risk of defaulting on its debts. Currently, per Bloomberg, several options are on the table, including refinancing or outright sale.
- Stella Moris, the fiancee of Julian Assange, accused the UK on Sunday of playing the “executioner” in a US “plot” to kill the WikiLeaks publisher. In a statement to the Daily Mail Online, Moris stressed to the outlet that Assange’s “incarceration is having a catastrophic effect on his health”. “The US government plotted to kill him and have found a way to do so – get the UK state to play the role of executioner,” she said, adding that “this is a slow-motion Khashoggi playing out in the heart of London”. “It is horrifying that Britain has let itself be instrumentalised by a foreign power to bring about travesty”, Moris underscored.
- A German cardinal has sparked controversy by claiming that the coronavirus pandemic has been used by the likes of George Soros and Bill Gates to create a global “surveillance state.” The Covid-19 pandemic has sparked “chaos” and “turmoil” stemming not only from the “lacking knowledge” about the transmissibility and danger of the virus itself, but from the will of the super-rich to “snatch an opportunity to bring people in line,” Gerhard Ludwig Mueller said in an interview with Austria’s St. Boniface Institute last week. He is a high-ranking judge at the Vatican court. “People, who sit on the throne of their wealth,” see an “opportunity to push through their agenda,” the cardinal said, naming Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, billionaire George Soros and the head of the Davos Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, among those behind the alleged global control scheme.
- The fuel theft scandal centered around the Mihail Kogălniceanu air base, which serves as the main hub for US troops in Romania, got an unexpected twist when the country’s Defense Minister Vasile Dincu bizarrely blamed it on the Americans themselves. While the theft was allegedly perpetrated by a group of locals, it might have been facilitated by the “negligence” and lack of knowledge about local “culture” on the part of the Americans, the minister told local media on Friday, suggesting the supply point should have been guarded better to prevent the siphoning of fuel.
- The melting of permafrost may not only lead to the release of methane gasses and potential devastation to arctic infrastructure but could also see old viruses and bacteria waking up, Russia has warned. Speaking to the TV channel Zvezda, senior diplomat Nikolay Korchunov revealed that Russia has proposed a project on biosafety to the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum made up of eight countries that have sovereignty over land within the Arctic Circle.
- The websites of Brazil’s Health Ministry and the ConectaSUS platform, which centralizes vaccination data and other health information for Brazilians, were taken down by hackers in the early hours of Friday. Early in the morning, when trying to access the ministry website, users only saw a black screen with a message which read “The internal data of the systems were copied and deleted. 50 Tb of data is in our hands. Contact us if you want the data back,” followed by an email address and a link to a Telegram channel. The platform with vaccination data was also inaccessible, preventing Brazilians from issuing their vaccination certificates. A group known as the Lapsus$ Group claimed responsibility for the attack but did not elaborate on what had motivated it. Earlier, President Jair Bolsonaro lashed Anvisa’s recommendation saying that the vaccination passport would be a “leash” around people’s necks.
- Indonesian government will begin inoculating some 26 million children aged 6 to 11 ahead of schedule. Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin announced the plan on Monday as part of wider efforts to fend off the threat of Omicron. This came following instruction from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo last week to accelerate vaccination for this age group. So far, only 115 regencies and cities, out of a total of 514, are eligible to start the vaccine drive because they have administered the first jabs of the two-dose vaccine to at least 70 percent and 60 percent of their general population and the elderly, respectively.
News Burst 15 December 2021