- China has built an artificial moon on Earth that simulates low-gravity conditions – the first of its kind. Speaking on Tuesday, scientist Li Ruilin, from the China University of Mining and Technology, said that the artificial moon project in eastern city of Xuzhou is expected to be officially launched in the coming months. Li described the program as “first of its kind in the world” and said it takes lunar simulation to a completely new level, as it can make gravity “disappear” and can “last as long as you want.”
- The Taliban administration has announced it is expanding its ‘food for work’ scheme under which it pays thousands of public sector employees with wheat instead of cash. Roughly 40,000 workers in Kabul have been receiving 10 kilograms of wheat per day for working five hours. Agriculture officials have said that the program will now be extended across the country. “We are ready to help our people as much as we can,” said Fazel Bari Fazli, deputy minister of administration and finance at the Ministry of Agriculture, Reuters reports. The Taliban has been largely using the wheat that was donated by India to the previous US-backed Afghan government. The new government also received 18 tonnes of wheat from Pakistan last year and is expecting to receive more. Negotiations are also underway with India over a delivery of 55 tonnes, said Fazli.
- Joe Biden has called for the Senate to change the rule requiring 60 votes to move a bill forward, saying it was the only way to pass the two Democrat initiatives federalizing elections and ensure “majority rule.” “Today, I’m making it clear. To protect our democracy, I support changing the Senate rules whichever way they need to be changed, to prevent a minority of senators from blocking actions on voting rights” Biden said, raising his voice.
- An American Airlines crew has helped to subdue an unruly passenger who broke into a cockpit before takeoff and tried to climb out through the plane’s window. The incident occurred on board of a Boeing 737-800 carrying 121 passengers and six crew members when the plane was preparing to take off from the Ramon Villeda Morales International Airport in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and head to Miami, Florida on Tuesday. The flight was delayed for several hours.
- One of America’s largest newspapers has deleted a social media discussion of pedophilia after stirring outrage by claiming growing scientific consensus that sexual attraction to children is “determined in the womb.” “A pedophile is an adult who is sexually attracted to children, but not all pedophiles abuse kids, and some people who sexually abuse kids are not pedophiles,” USA Today wrote. It added that evidence suggests pedophilia is “inborn,” and better access to therapy can help pedophiles control their impulses.
- “Second time lucky? The Federal Trade Commission’s first antitrust suit against Facebook, Inc. stumbled out of the starting blocks, as this Court dismissed the Complaint last June,” US District Judge James Boasberg wrote in a 48-page opinion on Tuesday. Though the “core theory of the lawsuit remains essentially unchanged,” Boasberg wrote, the new complaint contains “significant additions and revisions,” while the “facts alleged this time around to fortify those theories, however, are far more robust and detailed than before.” Last year, Boasberg dismissed both the initial FTC complaint and the lawsuit by 48 states and the District of Columbia, alleging monopolistic behavior by Mark Zuckerberg’s social media behemoth. Facebook’s market cap surged past $1 trillion as a result. The company has since rebranded as Meta.
- Astronomers have found a “supermassive” black hole containing around 200,000 times the mass of the Sun. This “monster” buried in the dust and gas of a dwarf galaxy could add to knowledge about the size and origin of black holes. The discovery, presented at a virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society on Monday, marks one of the first instances where scientists were able to observe an “obscured” black hole harbored in a galaxy that has just several hundred million stars. This particular dwarf galaxy is named Mrk 462.
- Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market (WFM) has fired back at the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), insisting it has a constitutional right to ban employees from wearing apparel with non-company-related slogans and logos. In early December, the NLRB filed a formal complaint against the Amazon subsidiary over its dress code that, among other things, prohibits workers from sporting BLM-themed face masks in the workplace. Whole Foods insists that any attempts to steamroll it into changing the rules and allowing a “political message” would constitute a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
- When Jessica and Nikii from the Canadian province of British Columbia bought a blender they could hardly imagine that as soon as the box would be in the kitchen it would be immediately occupied by their 4-year-old cat Max. His 13-year-old feline siblings quickly demanded their turn to sit on the high box, and since then the blender has remained inside the box because the cats haven’t allowed anybody to take it away, or even open it, and have been taking turns standing guard while the others were away busy with something else.
- In his live Q&A session with Devi Sridhar, director of Global Health Governance and professor at the University of Edinburgh Medical School in Scotland, Gates predicted what would follow after the current Omicron wave of COVID-19 outbreak dies down. “Once Omicron goes through a country then the rest of the year should see far fewer cases so COVID can be treated more like seasonal flu,” said Gates.
- More countries see space as a possible arena for conflicts in the future and already today, space is used as an arena for intelligence, Swedish Security Police (Säpo) chief Charlotte von Essen said at the national conference Nation and Defence. According to Säpo, a conflict in space can begin with the disruption of socially important functions through an attack on an important space system, such as a navigation satellites.
- On 3 January, Twitter accounts of the Indian Council of World Affairs, Indian Medical Association and many others were hacked and renamed ‘Elon Musk’.
- In the UK, Waitrose is set to begin selling the new variety of “tearless” onions from 18 January for a limited period of time. “Perfect for those with sensitive eyes as well as cooking in the kitchen with children,” Waitrose said. This onion will be more expensive than the usual one, 50p per onion instead of 14p for a typical onion. Sunions were reportedly first developed by agricultural giant Bayer; the project was later taken over by chemicals firm BASF. Sunions are said to have been created through the cross-breeding of less pungent strains of onion over the course of decades.
- Astronomers discovered “the first such Wolf-Rayet star system in our own galaxy,” explains Joseph Callingham of the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON), lead author of the study reporting this system. “We never expected to find such a system in our own backyard. It was surprising that something so bright and beautiful had not been discovered until my observations. However, not only was the image beautiful – it told us that we do not understand the physics of how massive stars die.” The Wolf-Rayet star is rapidly rotating, and thus is the first known candidate in our Milky Way to end its life as a long-duration gamma-ray burst (GRB), among the most energetic events in the universe.
News Burst 13 January 2022