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European Space Agency seeks diversity in new astronaut drive

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European Space Agency seeks diversity in new astronaut drive

PARIS — The European Space Agency is holding its first astronaut recruitment drive in 11 years and says greater diversity is one of the goals.

The European equivalent of NASA is seeking to recruit more women astronauts this year, as well as people with disabilities who have always dreamed of going into space.

“We are looking towards the Moon … and Mars. We need very excellent astronauts for the future,” ESA Director General Jan Woerner said Tuesday. “To go farther than we ever have before, we need to look wider than we ever have before.”

Only 65 of the more than 560 people who have ever gone into space have been women. Of those 65 women, 51 were American. ESA has sent only two women into space — Claudie Haigneré and Samantha Cristoforetti — and is now trying to redress the imbalance.

The agency also said the “time has come” to put disabled people into space as part of an initiative called the Parastronaut Feasibility Project. According to ESA, it’s the first time that a space agency anywhere has opened the application process up to people with disabilities.

“Representing all parts of our society is a concern that we take very seriously,” David Parker, the agency’s director of human and robotic exploration, said. “Diversity at ESA should not only address the origin, age, background or gender of our astronauts, but also perhaps physical disabilities.”

The agency said that, based on categories set by the International Paralympic Committee, it will initially consider applications from individuals with lower limb deficiency below the knee or ankle, extreme differences in leg length, or below 130 centimeters (4 feet 3 inches) in height.

British astronaut Tim Peake welcomed the initiative, saying it “will hopefully change the landscape” so people from diverse backgrounds “will see that actually there is an opportunity here to become part of Europe’s new space pioneers.”

The application process, agency officials say, will take some 18 months before a handful of astronauts are selected.

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Myanmar soldiers use TikTok to threaten protesters

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Myanmar soldiers use TikTok to threaten protesters

SINGAPORE – Armed Myanmar soldiers and police are using TikTok to deliver death threats to protesters against last month’s coup, researchers said, leading the Chinese video-sharing app to announce it was removing content that incites violence.

Digital rights group Myanmar ICT for Development (MIDO) said it had found more than 800 pro-military videos that menaced protesters at a time of increasing bloodshed – with 38 protesters killed on Wednesday alone according to the United Nations.

“It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said MIDO executive director Htaike Htaike Aung, who said there were “hundreds” of videos of threatening uniformed soldiers and police on the app.

A spokesman for the army and junta did not respond to a request for comment.

One video from late February reviewed by Reuters shows a man in army fatigues aiming an assault rifle at the camera and addressing protesters: “I will shoot in your fucking faces… and I’m using real bullets.”

“I am going to patrol the whole city tonight and I will shoot whoever I see… If you want to become a martyr, I will fulfil your wish.”

Reuters was unable to contact him or the other uniformed men who appear in the TikTok videos or to verify that they are in the armed forces.

TikTok is the latest social media platform to suffer a proliferation of menacing content or hate speech in Myanmar.

US tech giant Facebook has now banned all pages linked to Myanmar’s army – and has itself been banned.

TikTok said in a statement: “We have clear Community Guidelines that state we do not allow content that incites violence or misinformation that causes harm… As it relates to Myanmar, we have been and continue to promptly remove all content that incites violence or spreads misinformation and are aggressively monitoring to remove any such content that violates our guidelines.”

TikTok’s policies forbid displays of guns unless they are in “safe environments”. According to a Linkedin job posting from Thursday, the platform is currently recruiting for a Myanmar product policy manager.

Reuters reviewed over a dozen videos where uniformed men, sometimes brandishing guns, threatened to harm protesters who are calling for the reversal of the coup and the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Some videos had tens of thousands of views. Those reviewed by Reuters were taken down this week. Some used hashtags relating to US celebrities.

Already growing fast in Myanmar, TikTok saw a strong rise in downloads after the military banned Facebook last month. It is in the top 20 most downloaded apps in Myanmar, according to industry data. It also became popular with young activists, with the protest hashtag #SaveMyanmar reaching 805 million views.

Facebook, which remains popular in Myanmar despite the ban, has toughened its scrutiny of content since being accused of helping to fan atrocities against the Rohingya Muslim minority in 2017.

Researchers like Htaike say they believe the military is now attempting to grow its presence on other platforms.

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Amazon opens first UK checkout-free grocery store in London

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The Amazon Fresh grocery store opens in London, Thursday March 4, 2021, where a sign explains for shoppers to pick up items and walk out of the store, contactless, without the need for a till. Customers will scan a QR code on their way into the store, with cameras and technology identifying the items that shoppers take from the shelves and their account automatically paid.

LONDON — Amazon has opened a cashier-free supermarket in London, its first bricks and mortar expansion outside the US as the company bets on strong demand for its contactless shops.

The online retailing giant opened the doors to its Amazon Fresh shop in West London’s Ealing neighborhood on Thursday, in what it said will be the first in a wave of shops in the British capital using its automated checkout technology.

Shoppers use a smartphone app to scan a QR code so they can enter the store. They can fill their shopping bags with milk, eggs or other groceries while cameras and sensors track what’s taken off shelves.

Purchases are charged to an Amazon account after leaving and a receipt sent by email. There’s no need to wait in line to pay at the checkout, a feature that has more appeal after the pandemic highlighted the need for social distancing.

Amazon already operates 26 cashier-free convenience stores in the US under the Amazon Go brand and two larger supermarkets called Amazon Go Grocery. As part of its U.K. launch, Amazon also unveiled its new private label food brand, by Amazon.

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UK doorbell cameras, dashcams capture meteor on video

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UK doorbell cameras, dashcams capture meteor on video

Residents of the UK were surprised over the weekend when a slow-moving meteor blazed across the night sky.

Videos posted to social media taken from doorbells and dashcams across Britain show the fireball just before 10 pm on Sunday.

A video from UK Meteor Network now has more than 100,000 views on YouTube.

“Was so clear,” Twitter user @JillHemingway wrote on Twitter alongside her own footage from Yorkshire.

Another user, @Lafford_MK, shared his nine-second video from his doorbell in the town of Milton Keynes.

@gingerssnap wrote to her followers: “Anyone else see the #meteor burn up over the UK just before 10pm tonight? I first thought it was a bright star or plane, then it got bigger & faster, then a huge flash lit up the sky & it burst into a massive tail of orange sparks trailing behind like a giant firework! So cool!”

The falling object flashed flight as it began to burn up and break down.

The meteor is likely to have been a small piece of a comet or asteroid entering the planet’s atmosphere, UK Meteor Network co-founder Richard Kacerek told The New York Times, noting that some pieces of it were believed to have survived the fall.

Some witnesses reported hearing a sonic boom or rumbling

Scientists from the UK Fireball Alliance (UKFall) agreed and told Yahoo News that the bright light was speeding at around 30,000 miles per hour.

Hundreds of people took to the internet with eyewitness reports of the incident.

In general, meteors are common, though less than 5 percent make it to the ground, according to NASA.

The Planetary Science Institute reports that approximately 500 meteorites make it to the Earth’s surface annually, but less than 10 are found.

More than 50,000 meteorites have been found on Earth, most from asteroids, they report.

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