Norway tested a two-seater electric plane on Monday and predicted a start to passenger flights by 2025 if new aviation technologies match a green shift that has made Norwegians the world's top buyers of electric cars.
Transport Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen and Dag Falk-Petersen, head of state-run Avinor which runs most of Norway's airports, took a few minutes' flight around Oslo airport in an Alpha Electro G2 plane, built by Pipistrel in Slovenia.
"This is ... a first example that we are moving fast forward" towards greener aviation, Solvik-Olsen told Reuters. "We do have to make sure it is safe - people won't fly if they don't trust it."
He said plane makers such as Boeing and Airbus were developing electric aircraft and that battery prices were tumbling, making it feasible to reach a government goal of making all domestic flights in Norway electric by 2040.
Asked when passenger flights in electric planes could start, Falk-Petersen, the pilot, said: "My best guess is before 2025 ... It should all be electrified by 2040."
The two said the plane, with a takeoff weight of 570 kg (1255 lb), was cramped and buffeted by winds but far quieter than a conventional plane run on fossil fuels.
Norway tops the world league for per capita sales of electric cars such as Teslas, Nissan Leafs or Volkswagen Golfs, backed by incentives such as big tax breaks, free parking and exemptions from road tolls.
In May 2018, 56 percent of all cars sold in Norway were either pure electric or hybrids against 46 percent in the same month of 2017, according to official statistics.
Norway, a mountainous country of five million people where fjords and remote islands mean many short-hop routes of less than 200 kms, would be ideal for electric planes, Solvik-Olsen said. Also, 98 percent of electricity in Norway is generated from clean hydro power.
Some opposition politicians said the government needed to do far more to meet green commitments in the 200-nation Paris climate agreement.
"This is a start ... but we have to make jet fuel a lot more expensive," said Arild Hermstad, a leader of the Green Party.
The first electric planes flew across the English Channel in July 2015, including an Airbus E-Fan. French aviator Louis Bleriot who was first to fly across the Channel, in 1909, in a fossil-fuel powered plane.
Electric planes so far have big problems of weight, with bulky batteries and limited ranges. Both Falk-Petersen and Solvik-Olsen said they had been on strict diets before the flight.
"My wife is happy about it," Solvik-Olsen said.
University researchers are using deep neural networks to study wildlife and enhance conservation.
Intel topped a list issued on Monday ranking how well technology companies combat the risk of forced labor in their supply chains, overtaking HP and Apple.
Most of the top 40 global technology companies assessed in the study by KnowTheChain, an online resource for business, had made progress since the last report was published in 2016. But the study found there was still room for improvement.
“The sector needs to advance their efforts further down the supply chain in order to truly protect vulnerable workers,” said Kilian Moote, project director of KnowTheChain, in a statement.
Intel, HP and Apple scored the highest on the list, which looked at factors including purchasing practices, monitoring and auditing processes. China-based BOE Technology Group and Taiwan's Largan Precision came bottom.
Workers who make the components used by technology companies are often migrants vulnerable to exploitative working conditions, the report said.
About 25 million people globally were estimated to be trapped in forced labor in 2016, according to the International Labor Organization and rights group Walk Free Foundation.
Laborers in technology companies’ supply chains are sometimes charged high recruitment fees to get jobs, trapped in debt servitude, or deprived of their passports or other documents, the report said.
It highlighted a failure to give workers a voice through grievance mechanisms and tackle exploitative recruiting practices as the main areas of concern across the sector.
In recent years modern slavery has increasingly come under the global spotlight, putting ever greater regulatory and consumer pressure on firms to ensure their supply chains are free of forced labor, child labor and other forms of slavery.
From cosmetics and clothes to shrimp and smartphones, supply chains are often complex with multiple layers across various countries — whether in sourcing the raw materials or creating the final product — making it hard to identify exploitation.
Overall, large technology companies fared better than smaller ones, suggesting a strong link between size and capacity to take action, the report said. Amazon, which ranked 20th, was a notable exception, it said.
“Top-ranking brands ... are listening to workers in their supply chains and weeding out unscrupulous recruitment processes,” Phil Bloomer, head of the Business & Human Rights Resource Center, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
A spokesman for Amazon said the report drew from old and incomplete information and failed to take into account recently launched anti-slavery commitments and initiatives.
HP said it regularly assessed its supply chain to identify and address any concerns and risks of exploitation.
“We strive to ensure that workers in our supply chain have fair treatment, safe working conditions, and freely chosen employment,” said Annukka Dickens, HP's director for human rights and supply chain responsibility.
Intel, Apple, BOE Technology and Largan Precision did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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Google will invest $550 million in Chinese e-commerce powerhouse JD.com, part of the U.S. internet giant's efforts to expand its presence in fast-growing Asian markets and battle rivals including Amazon.com.
The two companies described the investment announced on Monday as one piece of a broader partnership that will include the promotion of JD.com products on Google's shopping service.
This could help JD.com expand beyond its base in China and Southeast Asia and establish a meaningful presence in U.S. and European markets.
JD.com's U.S.-listed shares rose 1.2 percent to $44.10 on the NASDAQ on Monday.
Company officials said the agreement initially would not involve any major new Google initiatives in China, where the company's main services are blocked over its refusal to censor search results in line with local laws.
JD.com's investors include Chinese social media powerhouse Tencent Holdings, the arch-rival of Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding, and Walmart.
The partnership not only lets Google bolster its retail ambitions in China but also allows it to further tighten its relationship with Walmart. Together, the two companies could challenge the dominance of Amazon and Alibaba in key markets around the world, analysts said.
In the past year, Google has been partnered with Walmart on multiple fronts. In August 2017, the two companies joined forces to offer hundreds of thousands of Walmart items on Google's voice-controlled Google Assistant platform to counter the dominance of Amazon in the voice shopping market.
In March, Reuters reported a new program where Google was teaming up with retailers like Walmart, allowing them to list their products on Google Search, as well as on the Google Express shopping service to better compete with Amazon.
Google is also reportedly pursuing picking up a stake in India's Flipkart, where Walmart picked up a 77 percent stake for $16 billion.
Google declined to comment on the rumored Flipkart deal.
Stepping Up Investments in ASIA
Google is stepping up its investments across Asia, where a rapidly growing middle class and a lack of infrastructure in retail, finance and other areas have made it a battleground for U.S. and Chinese internet heavyweights. Google recently took a stake in Indonesian ride-hailing firm Go-Jek.
The JD.com investment is being made by the operating unit of Google rather than one of parent company Alphabet's investment vehicles.
Google will get 27.1 million newly issued JD.com Class A ordinary shares as part of the deal. This will give them less than a 1 percent stake in JD, a spokesman for JD said.
For JD.com, the Google deal shows its determination to build a set of global alliances as it seeks to counter Alibaba, which has been more focused on forging domestic retail tie-ups.
Japan's SoftBank Group, which is making big internet investments around the globe, is a major investor in Alibaba.
Morningstar analyst Chelsey Tam said the investment will help JD.com expand into developed markets such as the United States and Europe, where it has lesser exposure compared to Google.
"This partnership with Google opens up a broad range of possibilities to offer a superior retail experience to consumers throughout the world," said Jianwen Liao, JD.com's chief strategy officer, in a statement.
Company officials said the deal would marry Google's market reach and strength in analytics with JD.com's expertise in logistics and inventory management.
The investment may give Google access to more consumer data, which can be used to boost usage of Google Shopping, said Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi.
Apple is trying to drag the U.S.'s antiquated system for handling 911 calls into the 21st century.
If it lives up to Apple's promise, the next iPhone operating system coming out in September will automatically deliver quicker and more reliable information pinpointing the location of 911 calls to about 6,300 emergency response centers in the U.S.
Apple is trying to solve a problem caused by the technological mismatch between a system built for landlines 50 years ago and today's increasingly sophisticated smartphones that make most emergency calls in the U.S.
The analog system often struggles to decipher the precise location of calls coming from digital devices, resulting in emergency responders sometimes being sent a mile or more from people pleading for help.
Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to create a US "space force", which he said would become the sixth branch of the American military.
The platform will charge a fee for an ad-free experience with the ability to download content.
The Chinese telecoms company says worries about who controls it are "ill informed".
Virtual reality game Transference presents the memories of a "traumatised mental patient"."
The change means children will no longer see ads for scopes, holsters and other gun accessories.
Gaming addiction is listed as a mental health condition for the first time by the World Health Organisation.
It's happened to many of us. You fumble for your camera to record a precious moment but you're a little too late. A delayed touch of the button, an opportunity missed forever. But now entrepreneurs in the Netherlands are hoping to change that dynamic with a new camera that can capture events even before you hit the record button. VOA's Julie Taboh has more.
Urban spaces are congested and polluted, so do we all need to get on our bikes?
In Manchester bikes are feeding back data to the city about where they go.
A major upgrade to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is under way, with scientists hoping to produce four times more "God particles" a year and unlock further secrets about the universe's existence.
CD Projekt Red's quest designer Patrick Mills explains how he's created a disturbing city setting for the much-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 game.
Among the millions of fans watching the World Cup are amateur football players who have dreams of being as good as their heroes, Now, they have a new way to compare their performance to the best professionals in the game, so they can build their skills. The help comes from a new wearable device that uses GPS and other sensors to track their movements. Faiza Elmasry has the story. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Sky News has been given an exclusive ride on the first self-driving motorbike.
Federal prosecutors have indicted Elizabeth Holmes on criminal fraud charges for allegedly defrauding investors, doctors and the public as the head of the once-heralded blood-testing startup Theranos. Federal prosecutors also brought charges against the company’s former second-in-command.
Holmes, who was once considered a wunderkind of Silicon Valley, and her former Chief Operating Officer Ramesh Balwani, are charged with two counts conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California said late Friday. If convicted, they could face prison sentences that would keep them behind bars for the rest of their lives, and total fines of $2.75 million each.
Technology a fraud
Prosecutors allege that Holmes and Balwani deliberately misled investors, policymakers and the public about the accuracy of Theranos’ blood-testing technologies. Holmes, 34, founded Theranos in Palo Alto, California, in 2003, pitching its technology as a cheaper way to run dozens of blood tests. Once considered the nation’s youngest female billionaire, Holmes said she was inspired to start the company in response to her fear of needles.
But an investigation by The Wall Street Journal two years ago found that Theranos’ technology was a fraud, and that the company was using routine blood-testing equipment for the vast majority of its tests. The story raised concerns about the accuracy of Theranos’ blood testing technology, which put patients at risk of having conditions either misdiagnosed or ignored.
“CEO Elizabeth Holmes and COO Sunny Balwani not only defrauded investors, but also consumers who trusted and relied upon their allegedly-revolutionary blood-testing technology,” Acting U.S. Attorney Alex Tse said in a statement.
The Securities and Exchange Commission brought civil fraud charges against Holmes and Balwani three months ago. Holmes settled with the SEC, agreeing to pay $500,000 in fines and penalties. Balwani, 53, is fighting the charges.
As the charges were announced Friday, Theranos said Holmes would step down as CEO of the company and its general counsel, David Taylor, would become the company’s next CEO. Theranos laid off most of its staff earlier this year and is widely expected to file for bankruptcy. Holmes remains the company’s chairman.
The company did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Friday’s indictments.
Apple Inc on Friday announced a multiyear deal with Oprah Winfrey to create original programming, a coup in the battle for A-list talent and projects in the booming digital entertainment market.
"Together, Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world," Apple said in a statement.
Apple gave no details of the type of programming that Winfrey would create, the value of the deal, or when it might be released. Winfrey had no immediate comment.
Winfrey, 64, an influential movie and TV producer who also publishes a magazine, is expected to appear on screen, a source familiar with the deal said.
Apple has not said how it plans to distribute its programming, to which it has committed an initial $1 billion. The partnership is the biggest original content deal struck by Apple so far as it aims to compete with Netflix Inc,
Amazon.com Inc and Time Warner Inc's HBO. Netflix, which has said it will spend up to $8 billion on programming this year, in May struck a multiyear deal with former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle to produce films, documentaries and other content.
Netflix, the world's leading streaming entertainment provider, has also lured prolific television producers Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes away from broadcast television.
Amazon said in November it had bought the global television rights to "The Lord of the Rings" and would produce a multi-season series that explores new storylines preceding author J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Fellowship of the Ring." Earlier this week, Amazon also announced a development deal with
Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman's production company for movies and television.
For its part, Apple in November ordered two seasons of a dramatic series with Hollywood stars Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, looking at the lives of people working on a morning television show.
Other projects Apple has announced include a remake of Steven Spielberg's 1980s science fiction anthology series "Amazing Stories," based on Isaac Asimov's influential "Foundation" science fiction novels, and a drama from "La La Land" movie director Damian Chazelle.
Under the deal with Winfrey, she will remain chief executive of cable channel OWN, which she launched in 2011 in partnership with Discovery Inc. Winfrey in December extended her contract with OWN through 2025, OWN and Apple said.
Under her contract with OWN, Winfrey can appear on camera on other platforms on a limited basis.
Known in the United States by millions on a first-name basis, Winfrey rose to fame as the host of her own television talk show, using it to build a media empire that spans magazine publishing, movie and television production, cable TV and satellite radio.
Born into poverty, she is one of the world's wealthiest women and has been nominated for two Academy Awards.
A rousing speech by Winfrey at the Golden Globes awards ceremony in January triggered an online campaign to persuade her to run for U.S. president in 2020.
She dismissed the notion, telling InStyle magazine in an interview, "It's not something that interests me."
The security firm halted the work after questions were asked in the European Parliament about its software.
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The tech giant's new reports reveals that fewer than 30% of its global staff are women.
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Google's collection of NHS patients' data has prompted an independent panel to call for the company to address concerns about how it might monetise this access in the future.
For the first time, astronomers have directly imaged the jet of material ejected when a black hole eats a star.
In the film Jurassic Park, dinosaur DNA is extracted from mosquitoes which had been preserved in amber.
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BBC Click's Lara Lewington looks at some of the best technology news stories of the week.
A start-up has recreated classic video game cabinets but at a much smaller size than the originals.
A huge dust storm is raging on Mars and has knocked out NASA's Opportunity rover as harsh conditions overwhelm the planet and blocks out the sun.
China's Didi Chuxing will compete with India's Ola and Uber when it launches in Melbourne on 25 June.
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