Koala fixed to post

sparks Australia anger

 

 

AFP

SYDNEY

A dead koala has been found screwed to a pole in Australia in a “sickening” act that sparked outrage Thursday on social media. Koala Rescue Queensland (KRQ) responded to a report of one of the furry animals climbing a picnic shelter at Brooloo Park Lookout near Gympie, 175 kilometres (around 100 miles) north of Brisbane, on Wednesday. But on closer inspection it was found to be dead and screwed in place. “This poor koala has been screwed to the pole with building screws,” it said on Facebook. “He is deceased, but whether or not he was when cruelly attached to the structure is unknown.”

KRQ president Murray Chambers said he thought he was hearing things when told about the incident.

“We’ve had koalas shot a few times. We’ve had them deliberately run over, but this is the first time some nutcase has actually screwed a koala to a building,” he told broadcaster ABC.

“You know, I mean, what’s wrong with society? Just makes you feel sick in the guts.”

The gruesome find sparked outrage on the KRQ Facebook page, with hundreds of comments slamming the “sickening” act.

“Hard to imagine that anyone could stoop so low,” said Tim Siggs, while Elly Bunting added: “Absolutely horrendous. I really hope these grubs are caught and are dealt with and NOT with a slap on the hand.”

The much-loved koala has been under increasing threat across Australia in recent decades, particularly from habitat loss, disease, dog attacks and bushfires.

A 2012 national count placed total numbers at 330,000, though their tree-top habitat makes accurate assessment difficult.

It is not the first time a koala has been mistreated.

In November, one was found dead in Victoria state with both its ears cut off, the latest in a spate of animal mutilations around the town of Warrnambool.

Police said at the time it followed a series of kangaroo and wallaby mutilations in the area.

Earlier last year, a kangaroo was found shot dead, dressed in leopard-print, and tied to a chair holding a bottle of ouzo, also in Victoria state.

 

 

Yakuza boss caught

after tattoos go viral

 

 

AFP

BANGKOK

A retired Japanese crime boss has been arrested in Thailand ending more than 14 years on the run after photos of his ‘yakuza’ tattoos and a missing little finger went viral. The fugitive, Shigeharu Shirai, 72, was arrested by a SWAT team on Wednesday in the sleepy central Thai market town of Lopburi while he was out shopping. Japanese authorities have called for his arrest over an alleged role in the shooting of a rival in Japan in 2003, after which he fled to Thailand, married a Thai woman and drifted into a seemingly peaceful retirement. That was until a Thai local posted some photos of the diminutive, frail-looking retiree playing a streetside checkers game with his intricate gang tattoos.

 

 

Champagne box-sized satellite to probe planet

 

 

AFP

PARIS

France is set to launch a champagne box-sized mini satellite into Earth orbit on Friday to study a mysterious, juvenile planet system in our Milky Way galaxy, mission controllers said.

The PicSat orbiter’s target is the massive star Beta Pictoris, some 60 light years from Earth in the southern constellation of Pictor (The Painter’s Easel), and its planet Beta Pictoris b - a gassy giant. Built at the Paris Observatory’s LESIA laboratory, with European backing, PicSat is due to be launched in the early-morning hours of Friday on an Indian PSLV rocket. It will orbit our planet at an altitude of some 500 kilometres (310 miles), hoping to learn more about Beta Pictoris b by observing the next time it transits its host star.

 

 

Forget self-driving car, meet the self-driving suitcase

 

 

AFP

LAS VEGAS

Self-driving cars may take a while to arrive, but the self-driving suitcase is here now. Some of the technologies used in autonomous cars have been adapted in products unveiled at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, to help travelers with the weighty problem of dealing with baggage. The “robot suitcase” from California-based startup Travelmate can be controlled with a smartphone app and can roll alongside its owner at speeds up to 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) per hour, navigating around obstacles. “This is really a robot which follows you around,” said Travelmate founder and president Maximillian Kovtun.

 

Travelmate designed the device - which integrates elements of artificial intelligence - to roll at a pace that matches that of the user, or it can be directed with the smartphone app in the same manner as a drone.

Priced at around $1,100, it is slated to roll out in February for the US market, and later in Europe and Japan.

A competing offering from ForwardX, a Chinese startup with offices in California, is designed to be used with facial recognition, without need for a smartphone application.

“It uses computer vision and a driving algorithm to have a clear path,” said founder Nicholas Chee, who showed a prototype at CES.

The ForwardX suitcase also has gesture control technology and can be immobilized to protect against theft.

Chee said he expects the launch in mid-2018 at a price under $1,000.

Both Travelmate and ForwardX say their devices comply with US safety regulations because their lithium-ion batteries, banned in checked luggage, can be removed.

Also shown at CES was an auto-following suitcase from China-based 90FUN, which has been available in the Chinese market and is soon coming to America. It uses self-balancing technology from the personal transport maker Segway.

And finally for the weariest of travelers, a luggage product called the Modobag, which lacks artificial intelligence but offers a sizeable perk instead: as a ride-on suitcase which can carry its owner along with their clothes.

 

 

 

YouTube punishes star

over suicide video

 

 

afp

NEW YORK

YouTube on Wednesday punished one of its stars, American Logan Paul, over a video that showed a suicide victim in a forest near Mount Fuji - by scrapping two projects and lowering his advertising profile. The video shows the 22-year-old discovering a body in Aokigahara, a dense woodland at the foot of the mountain known as “the Japanese Suicide Forest,” in a country that has long struggled with some of the highest suicide rates in the developed world.

Japanese social media erupted with indignation over the film, which showed a man who had hanged himself. Outtakes showing Paul laughing and joking about the incident also stirred anger.