Scientists Prepare For Five Deeps Expedition To The Deepest Depths Of 5 Oceans

The maker of the submersible vehicle said it is the only one certified to carry humans to 36,000 feet

For the first time, humans will visit the deepest part of each of the five oceans, plunging to the sea floor using a two-person craft designed to withstand the intense pressures more than 5.5 miles (9 km) below the surface.

The project, known as Five Deeps Expedition, will use a special submersible vehicle that took more than three years to build. It is made of titanium and other special materials that can dive to the bottom of the ocean, said Victor Vescovo, an explorer who will pilot the vehicle after it leaves its supporting boat and descends toward the deepest parts of the ocean.

“I’m very much looking forward to pushing not only the limits of the technology and myself and my crew, but also hopefully push humanity forward a little bit in terms of our understanding of our world and showing what we can do as a species,” said Vescovo, who has climbed the world’s seven highest mountain peaks and trekked to both the North and South Poles.

The maker of the submersible vehicle, Triton Submarines LLC of Vero Beach, Florida, said on the company website that it is the only submersible certified to carry humans on dives of 36,000 feet (11,000 meters). Discovery and Science Channel will capture the entire mission for a project known as “Deep Planet” that will air in 2019.

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African Billionaire Abducted In Tanzania Returns Home Safely

Mohammed Dewji, 43-year-old CEO of the METL Group family conglomerate, was kidnapped last week.

Dar es Salaam: 

Africa’s youngest billionaire, snatched a week ago off the street outside a luxury hotel in Tanzania, has returned back home safely, the family company that he runs said on Saturday.

Mohammed Dewji, 43-year-old CEO of the METL Group family conglomerate, was seized as he arrived for a morning workout in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam last week. Forbes estimates his net worth as $1.5 billion, making him Africa’s 17th richest man and its youngest billionaire.

“I have returned home safely'” METL Group quoted him as saying on its Twitter feed, without providing more details about how he was freed or got away from his captors.

The company also quoted him thanking those who had worked for his release, including the police.

The seizure of Dewji, who has also served as member of parliament in the past, had caused consternation in the East African nation as he is one of its most prominent business executives.

January Makamba, the country’s minister of environment and Dewji’s former colleague in parliament, also tweeted on Saturday morning that he had spoken with him and that he was safe.

Makamba said that Dewji had bruises on his hands and feet from being tied up by his kidnappers. He said the kidnappers had freed Dewji by dumping him in a field in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Dewji’s family had offered a reward of 1 billion Tanzania shillings ($440,000) for information leading to his release.

METL Group is involved in a diverse range of manufacturing, farming, transport, infrastructure, agroprocessing and telecoms businesses spanning 11 African countries.

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Remains Of More Than 60 Babies, Fetuses Found Stashed In US Funeral Home

Investigators are working to establish ages and identities of the dead. (File)


The remains of more than 60 infants and fetuses were found stashed in a Detroit funeral home, police said on Friday, calling the discovery “deeply disturbing.”

The incident comes about a week after the badly decomposed bodies of 11 babies were found hidden in a false ceiling at a different funeral home in the Michigan city.

No connection between the two cases has yet been established, Detroit’s police chief said. He added city, state and federal investigators were looking to form a task force to investigate the improper storage of human remains.

Unrefrigerated boxed containing about 36 sets of remains were recovered from the Perry Funeral Home along with another 27 sets of remains in a freezer, police said.

“This is deeply disturbing,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig told reporters on Friday. “I have never seen anything like this in my 41-1/2 years (on the force), ever.”

Investigators are working to establish ages and identities.

An official with Perry Funeral Home, which offers burial and cremation services, declined to comment on the incident.

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has revoked the funeral home’s license and shut the facility for what it said was “negligence and an improper storage of bodies,” according to local TV broadcaster WXYZ.

Police have also launched an investigation into the now defunct Cantrell Funeral Home, where the remains of the 11 babies were uncovered last week after authorities received an anonymous letter leading them to the remains.

Its former operators have not commented to media.

In April, state regulators found “deplorable, unsanitary conditions” at the same premises, including embalmed bodies in an unrefrigerated garage and other badly decomposed remains, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs said in a statement at the time.

The funeral home was also accused of several licensing and financial violations, the agency said.

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Who Wants To Be A Billionaire? US Crosses Fingers For Record Lottery

The prize for Friday’s Mega Millions contest in the United States has soared to $1 billion (Reuters)

New York: 

The prize for Friday’s Mega Millions contest in the United States has soared to $1 billion, representing the largest jackpot in global lottery history if claimed by a single winner.

Lines were forming Friday morning at gas stations and 7-11s across the 44 states, the federal capital Washington and the US Virgin Islands where the lottery is held, with the draw to take place at 11:00pm local time (0300 GMT).

The previous largest single jackpot of $758.7 million was won last year by Mavis Wanczyk, a 53-year-old mother of two from Massachusetts.

In 2016, a $1.6 billion Powerball prize was split three ways by ticket holders from California, Florida and Tennessee. Each took home $528.8 million.

The game, which was created in 2002, has seen changes over the years that have reduced the chances of winning, meaning bigger and bigger jackpots.

If someone picks the winning six numbers, they can either claim the jackpot in 30 payments over 30 years — the so-called annuity option — or take a reduced amount in a lump sum.

On Friday, that would be a total of $565 million — before taxes, according to the Mega Millions website.

The likelihood of that happening? One in 302.5 million.

US lottery winnings are taxable at the federal level, unlike in many other countries, while some states also impose local taxes.

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Saudi Arabia Confirms Jamal Khashoggi Was Killed In Turkish Consulate

Saudi Arabia on Saturday admitted that dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi had been killed

Saudi Arabia on Saturday admitted that dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate in Istanbul, state media said, two weeks after his disappearance sparked global furore.

The kingdom also announced the sacking of a top intelligence official Ahmad al-Assiri and royal court media advisor Saud al-Qahtani, both top aides to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who has faced mounting pressure over the Khashoggi affair.

Saudi journalist Khashoggi, a critic of the kingdom’s leadership and a Washington Post contributor, was last seen on October 2 entering his country’s consulate in Istanbul.

His disappearance had been shrouded in mystery and triggered an international crisis, with Turkish officials accusing Saudi Arabia of a state-sponsored killing.

“The discussions between Jamal Khashoggi and those he met at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul… devolved into a fistfight, leading to his death,” the Saudi Press Agency said, citing the public prosecutor.

The kingdom announced that 18 people had been arrested in the ongoing probe.

The Saudi king also ordered the setting up of ministerial committee under the chairmanship of the crown prince to restructure the kingdom’s intelligence agency and “define its powers accurately”, state media said.

Shortly before Riyadh confirmed that Khashoggi had been killed, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi King Salman agreed in telephone talks to continue cooperation in the investigation into the Khashoggi affair.

Erdogan and Salman “emphasised the importance of continuing to work together with complete cooperation”, said a Turkish presidential source, who asked not to be named.

The United States warned Friday of a “wide range” of responses should it determine that Saudi Arabia is behind the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as Turkey widened its investigation into the scandal.

President Donald Trump said the United States, which is Saudi Arabia’s biggest backer, could impose sanctions over the feared murder of Khashoggi.

His top diplomat Mike Pompeo told Voice of America Radio: “We’ll certainly consider a wide range of potential responses.”

The Trump administration has been notably slow to criticise Saudi Arabia, despite mounting evidence that Khashoggi, a critic of the Islamic petro-state’s powerful crown prince, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The Khashoggi case has presented Trump with one of the most acute foreign policy crises of his nearly two-year-old presidency.

Pro-government Turkish media have repeatedly claimed that Khashoggi was tortured and decapitated by a Saudi hit squad inside the diplomatic mission, although Turkey has yet to divulge details about the investigation.

The controversy has put the kingdom — for decades a key Western ally and bulwark against Iran in the Middle East — under unprecedented pressure to offer an explanation to take the heat off its rulers.

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Imran Khan To Attend Saudi Investment Conference After Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s Disappearance

Imran Khan’s visit comes as Pakistan continues to court “friendly” nations for funds. (File)

Islamabad, Pakistan: 

Pakistan’s foreign ministry announced Friday that Prime Minister Imran Khan will attend a Saudi Arabian investment conference, despite a string of cancellations from leading policy-makers and corporate chiefs over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The decision comes a day after US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and senior ministers from Europe announced plans to skip the conference. 

The move by the White House intensified the kingdom’s mounting isolation amid an uproar over the mysterious disappearance of Khashoggi after he entered a Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.

Khan’s visit comes as Pakistan continues to court “friendly” nations in search of billions of dollars to shore up its deteriorating finances as it faces a balance of payment crisis and upcoming talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a potential bailout.

Khan’s participation in the conference “signifies our solidarity with the kingdom in its efforts to become an emerging hub of international business and investment,” the foreign ministry said in the statement.

“The conference provides an opportunity to interact with important business leaders who are interested in investing in Pakistan.”

The conference is being touted as a high-powered showcase for the economic reforms of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — who has been widely accused of having links to Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Pakistan briefly weighed in on the incident earlier this month, calling on Turkey and Saudi Arabia “to jointly address the matter”. 

Khan made his maiden foreign visit as premier to Saudi Arabia in September as Islamabad explored alternative avenues to financing before approaching the IMF.

Since taking power in August Khan has sought loans from allies such as China and Saudi Arabia, promised to recover funds stolen by corrupt officials, and embarked on a series of high-profile populist austerity measures.

But help has been in short supply and economists’ warnings have grown increasingly urgent.

The visit also comes as Pakistan’s central bank warned this week that inflation would likely double in the coming year — hitting 7.5 percent — while the country’s growth target rate of 6.2 percent would likely be missed.

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China Plans To Launch Artificial Moon By 2020. Will Be 8 Times Brighter

By reflecting light from the sun, the satellites could replace streetlamps (Representational)


China is planning to launch its own ‘artificial moon’ by 2020 to replace streetlamps and lower electricity costs in urban areas, state media reported Friday.

Chengdu, a city in southwestern Sichuan province, is developing “illumination satellites” which will shine in tandem with the real moon, but are eight times brighter, according to China Daily.

The first man-made moon will launch from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan, with three more to follow in 2022 if the first test goes well, said Wu Chunfeng, head of Tian Fu New Area Science Society, the organization responsible for the project.

Though the first launch will be experimental, the 2022 satellites “will be the real deal with great civic and commercial potential,” he said in an interview with China Daily.

By reflecting light from the sun, the satellites could replace streetlamps in urban areas, saving an estimated 1.2 billion yuan ($170 million) a year in electricity costs for Chengdu, if the man-made moons illuminate an area of 50 square kilometers.

The extraterrestrial source of light could also help rescue efforts in disaster zones during blackouts, he added.

AFP was not able to contact Wu nor the Tian Fu New Area Science Society to confirm the reports.

As China’s space programme races to catch up with that of the United States and Russia, a number of ambitious projects are in the pipeline, including the Chang’e-4 lunar probe — named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology — which aims to launch later this year. If it succeeds, it will be the first rover to explore the “dark side” of the moon.

China is not the first country to try beaming sunlight back to Earth. In the 1990s, Russian scientists reportedly used giant mirrors to reflect light from space in an experimental project called Znamya or Banner.

Chengdu’s artificial moon project was announced by Wu at an innovation and entrepreneurship conference in Chengdu on October 10.

In addition to Tian Fu New Area Science Society, other universities and institutes, including the Harbin Institute of Technology and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, are involved in developing Chengdu’s illumination satellites.

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Don’t Have Any Kind Of Audio Tape, Says Turkey

The existence of the tape has never been confirmed on the record by Turkish officials. (File)


Turkey on Friday denied giving “any kind of audio tape” from the investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or any American official.

“It is out of the question for Turkey to give any kind of audio tape to Pompeo or any other US official,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, two days after meeting with the US’s top diplomat for talks in Ankara.

Turkey’s pro-government press has reported that Turkey has an audio recording that proves the alleged murder of Khashoggi at the consulate and that he was tortured before his death.

The existence of the tape has never been confirmed on the record by Turkish officials.

ABC News, quoting a senior Turkish official, reported Thursday that during his visit to Turkey this week Pompeo heard this audio and was shown a transcript of the recording. But Pompeo denied the report.

“I’ve seen no tape. I’ve seen no — or I’ve heard no tape. I’ve seen no transcript,” he told reporters during a trip to Latin America.

Cavusoglu, like other Turkish officials, stopped short of revealing details of the investigation but vowed they would be shared in due course.

“We will share the results to emerge with the entire world. It is out of the question for us to share this or that information with any country,” he said, quoted by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

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China’s Ex-Internet Tsar Lu Wei Says Accepted USD 4.6 Million In Bribes

Lu Wei headed China’s powerful internet regulator Cyberspace Administration of China.


China’s former internet tsar Lu Wei on Friday pleaded guilty to accepting USD 4.6 million in bribes as the ruling Communist party initiated action against several officials for graft.

Lu, who headed China’s powerful internet regulator Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), was accused of taking advantage of his positions to seek profits for others on matters such as network management and promotions.

He appeared in the Intermediate People’s Court of Ningbo in eastern Zhejiang province and admitted to the charges of accepting USD 4.6 million in bribes, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

The court heard Lu’s crimes that spanned in his decades-long career at the state news agency Xinhua, the Beijing municipal party committee and government, the CAC and the party’s Central Publicity Department.

Lu pleaded guilty to the charges and “expressed repentance”, the court said, without setting a date for the sentencing.

As Lu pleaded guilty to the charges, the ruling Communist party announced action against several officials in its continued campaign against corruption.

Over a million officials have been punished in China since President Xi Jinping took over power in 2012.

Zhang Shaochun, a former vice minister of finance, was arrested on Friday on the suspicion of bribery, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) as saying.

Zhang’s case has been handed over to the procuratorial organ for review and prosecution, it said.

In another case, Bai Xiangqun, former vice chairman of north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, was expelled from the party and dismissed from office over serious violations of discipline and laws, the agency reported.

“Bai’s illegal gains will be confiscated, and the case will be transferred to the judiciary,” an official statement said.

Wang Xiaoguang, a former vice governor of China’s Guizhou Province, was arrested for allegedly taking bribes and embezzlement, the SPP said.

Ai Wenli, former vice chairman of the Hebei Provincial Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, has been expelled from the party over serious violations of discipline and allegations of accepting bribes, the Xinhua reported.

Meanwhile, Grace Meng, the wife of former Interpol President Meng Hongwei, has alleged political persecution by the Chinese government.

On October 8, China said that Meng, also Vice Minister of China’s Public Security, was detained in Beijing for investigations into corruption.

He was detained while he was on a visit to China.

Grace, who is still in France where the Interpol is based, told the BBC in an interview that she had no news about Meng and she had been told that she is now the target.

“It is a political persecution. I am not sure whether he is alive. They are cruel. They are dirty,” she said.

Grace also alleged that she has been receiving anonymous phone calls stating that two teams have been formed to target her in France. 

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Typhoons Trick Japan Blossoms Into Blooming Six Months Early

Cherry blossoms bloom in the autumn season at the site of Sendai Castle in Sendai, Japan. (Reuters)


Cherry blossoms across Japan have bloomed six months early after two powerful typhoons pummelled the country in September, stripping leaves, bringing a warm snap and turning the trees unseasonably pink.

“We get reports every year of cherry blossom blooming early, but those are confined to specific areas,” Toru Koyama, a senior official with the Flower Association of Japan, told Reuters.

“This time we are hearing about it from all over the country.”

The two typhoons, including the most powerful storm to hit Japan in 25 years, weakened chemicals that suppress the pink and white blooms by stripping the leaves or covering them in salt water, Koyama said.

Air sucked up by the storms from the tropics then brought warm weather followed by colder temperatures that mimicked the spring weather that signals the right time to bloom.

As yet, the number of flowers blooming early is still small, so people who go to view the cherry blossoms in spring, a huge draw for families and tourists alike, are unlikely to notice much difference, he added.

The unexpected bloom comes amid growing concern around the world about global warming and summer heat waves that are triggering intense forest fires and powerful super storms fuelled by rising sea temperatures.

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