english news

Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to work on metaverse


Facebook is planning to hire 10,000 people in the European Union to develop a so-called metaverse. A metaverse is an online world where people can game, work and communicate in a virtual environment, often using VR headsets. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been a leading voice on the concept. The announcement comes as Facebook deals with the fallout of a damaging scandal and faces increased calls for regulation to curb its influence. “The metaverse has the potential to help unlock access to new creative, social, and economic opportunities. And Europeans will be shaping it right from the start,” Facebook said in a blog post. The new jobs being created over the next five years will include “highly specialised engineers”. Investing in the EU offered many advantages, including access to a large consumer market, first-class universities and high-quality talent, Facebook said. Facebook has made building the metaverse one of its big priorities. Despite its history of buying up rivals, Facebook claims the metaverse “won’t be built overnight by a single company” and has promised to collaborate. It recently invested $50m (£36.3m) in funding non-profit groups to help “build the metaverse responsibly”. But it thinks the true metaverse idea will take another 10 to 15 years.(BBC)…[+]

Myanmar to release 5,000 prisoners held over coup


Myanmar’s government has said it will free more than 5,000 prisoners jailed for protesting against February’s coup. Thousands of people were detained during bloody demonstrations after military leaders seized power. The coup leader, Min Aung Hlaing, said the 5,636 prisoners would be released for humanitarian reasons. It comes days after the general was excluded from an annual summit of regional leaders, who said the military had not done enough to end the turmoil. The Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) agreed to invite a non-political representative from Myanmar instead of Gen Min Aung Hlaing. At least 1,178 people were killed and 7,355 arrested, charged or sentenced during a crackdown on dissent that followed Aung San Suu Kyi being ousted from power, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.(BBC)…[+]

Peter R de Vries: Suspect denies knowledge of Dutch reporter’s murder

peter de vries

Two men suspected of murdering prominent crime reporter Peter R de Vries have appeared in court in the Netherlands. Kamil E, the suspected getaway driver, denied knowledge of the murder while the alleged gunman, Delano G, refused to comment. They were arrested shortly after Mr de Vries was shot dead outside a TV studio in Amsterdam on 6 July. He was revered for his investigations of mobsters and drug lords. The journalist, 64, had been working as an adviser to a key state witness in a major trial involving a drugs gang. Delano G, a 21-one-year-old from Rotterdam, and Kamil E, a 35-year-old originally from Poland, were arrested hours after the attack in a car on a motorway near The Hague. Both suspects were in court on Wednesday for a procedural hearing, where the prosecution gave an update on its investigation. Delano G invoked his right to remain silent, but Kamil E spoke in court the defend himself and proclaim his innocence.(BBC)…[+]

Sudan: Protesters demand military coup as crisis deepens


Opponents of Sudan’s transition to democracy took to the streets of Khartoum on Saturday to call on the army to take control of the country. Several thousand demonstrators gathered outside the presidential palace as the country’s political crisis deepens. Military and civilian groups have been sharing power since the toppling of President Omar al-Bashir in 2019. However, tensions have grown since a coup attempt attributed to followers of Mr Bashir was foiled in September. Since then, military leaders have been demanding reforms to the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition, a civilian alliance which led the anti-Bashir protests and formed a key part of the transitional government. The armed forces have also called for the replacement of the cabinet. However, civilian leaders say that the demands are part of a power grab from the armed forces.

On Saturday, pro-military demonstrators chanted “down with the hunger government” and called for General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the armed forces and Sudan’s joint military-civilian Sovereign Council, to instigate a coup and seize control of the country. “We need a military government, the current government has failed to bring us justice and equality,” one protester told AFP. Unlike previous demonstrations in the country, protesters were allowed to reach the gates of the presidential palace and there was little police presence.(BBC)…[+]

Bill Clinton: Former US president discharged from hospital


Former US President Bill Clinton has been discharged from a Californian hospital after spending five nights under care. Mr Clinton had been receiving treatment for a urinary tract infection that developed into sepsis. The 75-year-old gave a thumbs up to waiting news crews as he walked out of hospital with his wife, former presidential candidate Hillary. Mr Clinton will return home to New York to complete his recovery, doctors said. Dr Alpesh Amin, who oversaw the team of medics treating Mr Clinton, said in a statement: “His fever and white blood cell count are normalised and he will return home to New York to finish his course of antibiotics.” The 42nd president, who served from 1993 to 2001, shook hands with waiting medical staff as he left the facility with his wife of 46 years. According to US media, Mr Clinton – who was in California to attend a private event for his foundation – had felt fatigued on Tuesday and underwent tests before being admitted to the hospital.(BBC)…[+]

Pedro Sanchez: Spanish PM vows to abolish prostitution


Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez pledged on Sunday to outlaw prostitution in the country. Speaking to supporters at the end of his Socialist Party’s three-day congress in Valencia, Mr Sanchez said that the practice “enslaves” women. Prostitution was decriminalised in Spain in 1995 and in 2016 the UN estimated the country’s sex industry was worth €3.7bn (£3.1bn, $4.2bn).  A 2009 survey found that up to 1 in 3 Spanish men had paid for sex. However, another report published in 2009 suggested that the figure may be as high as 39% and a 2011 UN study cited Spain as the third biggest centre for prostitution in the world, behind Thailand and Puerto Rico.

Prostitution is currently unregulated in Spain, and there is no punishment for those who offer paid sexual services of their own will as long as it does not take place in public spaces. However, pimping or acting as a proxy between a sex worker and a potential client is illegal.(BBC)…[+]

World record holder Agnes Tirop found dead in Kenya

world tour

Kenyan world record holder Agnes Tirop has been found dead at her home in the western town of Iten, a training hub for many athletes. The two-time World Athletics Championships bronze medallist, who finished fourth in the Olympic 5,000m final two months ago, was 25. Kenyan police have told BBC Sport Africa they are still investigating the circumstances surrounding her death, with crime scene investigators at her house on Wednesday. Tirop was found dead with stab wounds to her stomach and neck, sources have told the BBC. Last month, Tirop set the world record for a women’s only 10km road race in Germany.

“Athletics Kenya are this afternoon distraught to learn about the untimely death of World 10,000m bronze medallist Agnes Tirop,” the country’s athletics body said in a statement. “We are still working to unearth more details surrounding her demise. Kenya has lost a jewel who was one of the fastest-rising athletics giants on the international stage, thanks to her eye-catching performances on the track.” At the 2020 Olympic Games in August, Tirop finished just outside the medal places for the women’s 5,000m, trailing Ethiopia’s bronze medallist Gudaf Tsegay by 0.75 seconds. As well as her 10,000m bronze medals at both the 2017 and 2019 World Athletics Championships, Tirop also impressed off the track.(BBC)…[+]

Vaping: FDA approves e-cigarette in US for first time


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates medical products in the US, has approved an e-cigarette for sale for the first time. It authorised the marketing of three products from RJ Reynolds, under the Vuse brand. The FDA decided that the benefit to adults trying to quit smoking outweighs the risk of teenagers becoming hooked. The permitted products are tobacco-flavoured, as opposed to the sweet flavours popular with younger people. E-cigarettes have been widely sold in the US for the past decade, but their take-up by teenagers has caused concern. Manufacturers have been waiting more than a year for official authorisation, as the FDA examined the potential pros and cons for public health.(BBC)…[+]

Teenager apologises for impersonating boy to join band


A young girl in China has apologised for “deceiving fans” after trying to join a boy band. Fu Jiayuan, 13, said she lied about her gender to a popular management company because she was “young and ignorant”. Even though she was only part of YGN Youth Club’s boot camp and not an official band member, fans could watch her training videos on social media. Many YGN Youth Club fans were amused by the revelation, and said it was “not a big deal.” But Ms Fu, who was forced to admit the deception after an internet user pointed out that she is a girl, said she would now quit the entertainment industry. “I’m sorry to everyone who put their trust in me,” she wrote in a statement earlier this week. “I promise I will not show up in the entertainment industry or on any video platforms in the future.” YGN Youth Club only recruits young boys, most aged between 11 and 13. A challenging programme trains them in song and dance techniques and moulds them into future idols.(BBC)…[+]

Elk wandering Colorado for two years with tyre around neck is freed


An elk roaming the hills of the US state of Colorado with a tyre around its neck for two years has finally been freed, wildlife officials say. The four-and-a-half-year-old bull elk had to be tranquilised and have its antlers removed, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officers said. It was the fourth attempt officers had made within a week to free the elk. “It was tight removing it,” said Scott Murdoch, adding the elk’s neck had a small wound and was missing some hair. “We would have preferred to cut the tyre and leave the antlers for his rutting activity,” Mr Murdoch said in a statement on Monday, explaining that officers were unable to cut through steel in the bead of the tyre. He said the tyre had also filled with pine needles and dirt and it would have been a lot of weight to carry around. After removing it late on Saturday, Mr Murdoch said the elk was in surprisingly good shape: “I was actually quite shocked to see how good it looked.”(BBC)…[+]