Ethereum Island May Soon Exist Off the Coast of Africa – Futurism

In BriefEthereum startup ConsenSys and the nation of Mauritius areexploring a partnership and the creation of Ethereum Island, ablockchain technology hub. This would help transform the localeconomy and bring blockchain to more people around the world. Global Blockchain Hub

Ethereum startup ConsenSys and the African nation of Mauritius are actively exploring a partnership. This collaboration would allow the two to create Ethereum Island, a blockchain technology hub for innovators hoping to extend into Asia, Africa, and elsewhere in the world. ConsenSys founder Joseph Lubin and a team of executives toured Mauritius in early July to meet with the Bank of Mauritius, the countrys Board of Investment, and various authorities in both the public and private sectors.

Located 700 miles east of Madagascar along Africas eastern coast, Mauritius is an established, offshore financial hub. Now the nation is hoping to solidify itself as a leader in blockchain technologies. In 2016, it began the regulatory sandbox license process in order to appeal to blockchain innovators.

Mauritius has also been working to become a center for the migration of tech knowledge from Silicon Valley, and other innovation locations, to the rest of the world. This has been referred to as a Silicon Corridor approach in a local publication. Beyond this, Mauritius offers enthusiasm for blockchain technology, a knowledge of technologies and regulatory issues more generally, and the nimbleness and ability to adopt new tools and technologies quickly that is typically associated with smaller countries.

For this plan to work for ConsenSys, it will need to invest locally in human capital something thats likely to be beneficial for both the company and the local community. The company would present and establish the basics of a blockchain ecosystem as it worked to develop a talent pool within the ecosystem. A ConsenSys Academy based in Mauritius similar to the Dubai version from May 2017 is one possible human capital tactic the company could take.

The presence of a strong blockchain ecosystem will also help Mauritius to accomplish its own economic goals, aside from employing its citizens. We are working to take our economy to another level, and these kinds of technologies are very important in our strategy, Atma Narasiah, head of technology, innovation and services at the Board of Investment Mauritius, told CoinDesk in May.

Lubin and the ConsenSys team appear to have come away from the meetings impressed by the knowledge and enthusiasm for the technology they saw in Mauritius. Lubin emphasized, We expected to encounter significant enthusiasm but we were overwhelmed with the excitement that we felt in every single meeting. If Mauritius puts together a concerted effort to be a world leader, it will be.

Disclaimer: Futurism has a personal affiliation with ConsenSys. This is a piece of editorial content. ConsenSys does not have any review privileges on editorial decisions.

Disclosure: Several members of the Futurism team, including the editors of this piece, are personal investors in cryptocurrency markets. Their personal investment perspectives have no impact on editorial content.

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Ethereum Island May Soon Exist Off the Coast of Africa – Futurism

Flying Cars to AI Feature in Contest to Solve Bangalore Gridlock – Bloomberg

In Bangalore, tech giants and startups typically spend their days fiercely battling each other for customers. Now they are turning their attention to a common enemy: the Indian citys infernal traffic congestion.

Cross-town commutes that can take hours has inspired Gridlock Hackathon, a contest initiated by Flipkart Online Services Pvt. for technology workers to find solutions to the snarled roads that cost the economy billions of dollars. While the prize totals a mere $5,500, its attracting teams from global giants Microsoft Corp., Google and Amazon.com. Inc. to local startups including Ola.

The online contest is crowdsourcing solutions for Bangalore, a city of more than 10 million, as it grapples with inadequate roads, unprecedented growth and overpopulation. The technology industry began booming decades ago and with its base of talent, it continues to attract companies. Just last month, Intel Corp. said it would invest $178 million and add more workers to expand its R&D operations.

The ideas put forward at the hackathon range from using artificial intelligence and big data on traffic flows to true moonshots, such as flying cars.

The gridlock remains a problem for a city dependent on its technology industry and seeking to attract new investment. Bangalore is home to Asian outsourcing giants Infosys Ltd. and Wipro Ltd. along with 800,000 tech workers that account for 38 percent of the countrys $116-billion software outsourcing industry, according to Priyank Kharge, state minister of Information Technology.

Traffic is the only negative Bangalore has, Kharge said, When delegations bring investment proposals to the government, I tell them, The city is fantastic in every way, weather-wise and otherwise.

Yet, so bad is the traffic that Bangalores most infamous logjam at Silk Board Junction has inspired its own Twitter parody account for what it calls Indias largest parking lot.

V. Ravichandar, urban infrastructure expert and chairman at market researcher Feedback Consulting, estimates that traffic jams directly shave about 2 percent from the citys estimated GDP of $30 billion. The opportunity, health care, slackened productivity and other related costs are immense and could take the actual losses into the billions.

Gridlock Hackathon came about as part of the 10-year celebrations of Flipkart, Indias most valuable startup. The Bangalore-based companys 30,000 workers, including hundreds of deliverymen, spend hours stuck in jams.

The city has the potential to become a truly-world class business and social destination if only its traffic were a little less unruly, said Binny Bansal, Flipkarts group chief executive officer. Any solution can only have an impact if it originates from and has the support of citizens the people who use the citys roads and contribute to the traffic problem to begin with.

The contest has drawn more than 1,000 teams with entries from as far afield as Seattle, Atlanta and Dubai with quirky names like NoHonk, RushHour and CitizenCop. Submissions closed last week.

From IT workers stuck in cars and buses to Flipkart and Amazon workers sweating it out in the dust, the cost of Bangalores gridlock is visible everywhere. Drivers for ride-hailing apps Ola and Uber Technologies Inc., who have incentives to hit a certain number of daily trips, end up working ever-longer hours to meet the company-assigned ride targets.

Akshay Rao, a Seattle-based engineer who works on process improvement at Amazon, put in his entry, proposing to reform the driver licensing system by creating incentives for the right road behavior and propagating timely information on public transport for paid users.

Rao, a former officer in the Indian Navy, had plenty of experience on the citys roads when he led the start of Amazon Indias logistics operations in 2013 and subsequent roll out of next-day delivery and same-day delivery.

If we missed distribution schedules, we would run into rush hour traffic, said Rao, who recalled delivering at midnight to angry customers and at 4.30 am to a customer catching a train. To get around choke points, deliverymen on scooters did short relays, memorized the shortcuts and on some occasions carried packages by hand.

Other entries suggested including Internet of Things-powered road dividers that change orientation to handle changing situations. There is also a proposal for a reporting system that tracks vehicles that dont conform to the road rules, a device to track social media to generate traffic reports and a network of smart satellite townships to ease the flow of vehicles.

Then there are the more ambitious. Utkarsh B, a seven-year veteran at Flipkart who is overseeing the competition, said a team suggested building smart roads underneath the city and another has sent in detailed drawings of flying cars.

Among those participating is Harish Mamtani, a former Morgan Stanley banker who splits his time between Atlanta and Hyderabad, where he runs a low-cost school. His idea is an app platform that helps crowdsource and report traffic violations to the cloud that police can use to nab violators and levy penalties.

The traffic police in Indian cities probably have no inkling what a cloud is, they cannot be expected to come up with technology solutions, said Mamtani, who was spurred to think up a fix when he was hit by an autorickshaw going the wrong way only to be abused by the driver. His proposal aims to help police tackle the sheer volume of violators and is customizable across cities.

While much is made of Bangalores traffic woes, other Indian cities are no better, said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and managing director of Indian biotechnology company, Bangalore-based Biocon Ltd. She spoke from Mumbai where she had just missed a flight after being stuck in a 1.5-hour, 4 mile-traffic jam en route to the airport.

Gridlock Hackathon is the kind of contest that Indian cities desperately need, she said. Only innovative thinkers can come up with technology solutions for the problems that plague cities nationwide, said Mazumdar-Shaw. Age-old solutions will no longer work.

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Flying Cars to AI Feature in Contest to Solve Bangalore Gridlock – Bloomberg

Posted in Ai

The risks and rewards of automation – The National

Amazon’s Alexa AI. Robots have the potential to both enrich human society and polarise wealth distribution. Rick Wilking : Reuters

As robots and automated services increase in number globally, scholars have been quick to point to the potential threat such developments pose to a harmonious society.

Are these concerns reasonable and do Arabian Gulf economies’ unique features generate distinct dynamics?

Before discussing the threats, one must first acknowledge that labour-saving and productivity-enhancing technological innovations are fundamentally beneficial. If you are concerned about discoveries that diminish the need for human handsthen recall that once upon a time, in the days of hunter-gatherer societies, including the Gulf Bedouin civilisation, unemployment was zero, because everyone spent all day eking out a living. Labour-saving technology is a key reason why you can consume so much today, starting with farming, which allows society to feed itself while only dedicating a small percentage of the population to the task. The labour hours saved by replacing hunting and gathering with farming have ended up being used to produce more advanced commodities, such as clothes, carsand mobile telephones.

Therefore, when a fast-food restaurant introduces automated order-delivery stations, your first impulse should be: Great! Society can now produce more in total, as the people previously taking customer orders can now perform other jobs. A good illustration is ATMs. Prior to their invention, most bank employees were cashiers, leading to big restrictions on the speed and availability of cash withdrawal services. Today, most bank employees are able to deliver advanced services at a low cost, such as investment advice or help with managing a small business, precisely because technology has freed them up to perform such tasks.

However, technological progress is not unambiguously desirableand it carries two risks.

The first is unfavourable changes in the distribution of wealth and income. While innovation increases the total size of the economic pie, it may also modify the sizes of the slices that people earnand, in particular, certain groups may lose even if society as a whole gains, or inequality might become very acute. For example, when Japan developed cultured pearls in the early 20th century, the world instantly became able to produce more pearlsbut pearl divers in Bahrain lost their livelihoods. The younger ones may have been mentally nimble enough to pursue alternative professionsbut the older ones were essentially doomed to a lower standard of living.

Why not just compensate those losing out, possibly by taxing those benefiting from the improvement? Many people think that is the best way to deal with technological progress, including the rise of robots, but practical implementation can be challenging. In particular, correctly identifying winners and losers in a dynamic economy is nearly impossibleand so any rule will inevitably encourage fictitious claims of being a loser rather than a beneficiary, in an attempt to secure handouts and avoid taxes. This is why some favour restrictions on a the roll out of a technology, most famously the Luddites of the British Industrial Revolution, who destroyed the textile weaving machines that threatened their livelihoods.

The second risk associated with technological progress is that it might change our culture and norms in an undesirable way, independently of concerns relating to inequity. For example, many Gulf citizens today complain that smartphones have stunted peoples ability to engage in sustained, meaningful conversations, be they at the dinner table or in the majlises that constitute the backbone of social relations. In the case of robots, there is a fear that society's more modestly skilled workers will suffer a crisis of self-esteem if technology leaves them unable to hold down a regular job, even if they are compensated financially. Most would agree it would be unhealthy to have 20 per centof a labour force catatonically staringat the TV out of sheer boredom.

In the case of the GCC, I recently asked my University of Bahrain students (MA public policy) to predict any GCC-specific threats or opportunities relating to robots and automation. A popular response reflected the uneasy relationship that Gulf nationals sometimes have with migrant workers. While the economic benefits accruing to citizens and migrants from the abundance of foreign workers are evident to most observers, Gulf citizens tend to fixate on the fact that they have become minorities in their own countriesand feel that their cultural norms are threatened. For example, in The Dubai Mall, the operator ofthe establishment has arranged for signs reminding patrons to refrain from wearing revealing clothing or physical displays of affectionbecause nationals are too small in number to set an effective example.

Since migrant workers in the Gulf are concentrated in low-skilled jobs, some Gulf citizens welcome the opportunity to displace these workers with robots, perceiving it as an opportunity to reaffirm traditional Islamic and Gulf values.

Whatever ones inclination, it is worth bearing in mind two maxims regarding technological progress. First, as the Luddite example indicates, people have been fearing innovation for centuries. Yet, the world is a better placeand so we should ease our concerns. Second, since the middle of the 18th century, nobody has had much success stopping progress.

We welcome economics questions from our readers through email on omar@omar.ecor on twitter via@omareconomics

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The risks and rewards of automation – The National

Why the future of this world is reserved for the UAE – The National

Abdullah Ali Ameri, 14, programs a robot at the Higher Colleges of Technology Men’s College in Abu Dhabi designed to encourage more youngsters into a career in the sciences. Silvia Razgova / The National

The UAE will never accept being just an observer to development, especially in the fields of science and technology. The country meticulously plans and maps its way.

The UAE is fully aware that to ensure a leading position in the world, it should be more creative, innovative and productive. Such achievements do not come out of the blue, but instead are a result of planning, determination, ambition and willpower, in addition to having highly qualified human capital equipped with skills and capabilities to compete in the field of progress.

When Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, launched the National Innovation Strategy in October 2014 and declared 2015 to be the Year of Innovation, he reflected on the correlation between innovation and the future and existence itself, which characterises the insightful vision of our wise leadership.

Within this context, the National Innovation Strategy has been launched in order to ensure that the UAE ranks among the most innovative countries of the world in the coming years. Hence, a comprehensive strategy in an institutional framework has been adopted to ensure the implementation and the achievement of the countrys goals. Such endeavours are an integral part of UAE Vision 2021.

Innovation and creativity can never be achieved without providing an excellent and modern education system, establishing adequate infrastructure and institutions, encouraging all social sectors to contribute to innovative efforts and promoting creative people and fostering their ideas and skills.

This also requires the transformation of the prevailing national culture. Accordingly, the UAE has taken major steps to improve education, promote scientific research and prioritise innovation at all national institutions.

It is believed that the promotion of education will make it possible to celebrate the moment that the last barrel of oil is exported in 50 years time, as stated by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, in a speech he delivered in 2015.

Innovation is the main source of wealth and income in the age of a knowledge-based, rather than a resource-based, economy. A country that possesses creative ideas and is capable of transforming them into reality will retain wealth, strength and influence over its surrounding area and the worldregardless of its size, demography or geography.

Secondly, innovation has no limits. It is actually an endless line stretching towards the horizon. Some countries have made great steps ahead of us along this pathway, yet there is always enough space for those who possess the will to excel and adopt the means to reach the predefined goalbecause progress is not an exclusive preserve of a certain state or a group of states, but is available to whoever conscientiously and knowledgeably works and plans for it.

Thirdly, innovation is not a luxury, but rather it is the backbone of life, and those who are not engaged in the innovation process in the coming years will condemn themselves to obsolescence in the margins of history.

In February 2014, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said that countries are faced with a simple choice: either to innovate, or become irrelevant, adding that 65 per cent of children in primary school will grow up to work in jobs that do not exist today and 47 per cent of job categories are at high risk of ceasing to exist because they can be automated.

The world has already gone through three industrial revolutions. The first was based on the invention of the steam engine in the 18thcentury. The second, which began in the late 19thcentury and continued until the First World War, was related to the development of electricity and manufacturingand the third, which began in the late 20thcentury, was triggered by information technology and computerisation. Nowadays, the world is heading towards the fourth industrial revolution, revolving around artificial intelligence and all the related advancements in the field of robotics, 3D printing and the likes.

The UAE seeks, through its ambitious innovation strategies, to lead the region in the preparation phase to enter this fourth industrial revolution, which is likely to witness major shifts. In this context, during proceedings at Global Future Councilsin November 2016 in Dubai, the UAE declared that the country was about to establish the worlds first council for the fourth industrial revolution. This reflects the leading role the country plays in this regard, as well as the countrys readiness to embrace the new global technological and scientific developments, relying on tangible actions, plans and self-esteemrather than empty slogans.

Many in the Arab world talk about the importance of knowledge and Arab underdevelopment in the field of technology, discussing the reasons behind such a situation and even suggesting solutions for emancipation from the shackles of this abject condition. Few, however, translate words into actions.

In this regard, the region can extract lessons from the UAE, which is strongly committed to fully engaging in the field of innovation and creativity as a source of inspiration for Arab countries.

Many underdeveloped countries have moved up the progress ladder thanks to the special attention accorded to science and knowledge, while Arabs lagged behind because of their neglectof knowledge and scientific research. Now, it is high time Arabs realised that the future path, status and even the existence of their nations essentially depends on science, innovation and creativity, rather than relapsing into the past and identifying with delusional plans propagated by forces of political Islam. The future of the world is exclusively reserved for creative nations.

Dr Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi is the director general of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research

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Why the future of this world is reserved for the UAE – The National

Owners of China’s Traffic Hopping Bus Project Arrested – Futurism

In Brief The quirky bus that went viral last year when videos appeared showing it straddling two lanes of traffic is no more. Reports have emerged that, in light of the company’s illegal investments, the project has ground to a halt and the tracks have been dismantled. Bus Bust

Chinese officials in Qinghuangdao have stated that the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) which made headlines after it conducted its first road test in August 2016 was probably a scam, along with the platform it used to attractinvestment. The officials have made over 30 arrests in connection to the hoax, including Bai Zhiming CEO of the company and patent owner of the bus.

Specifically, the company behind the TEB isbeing investigated for illegal fundraising on Huaying Kailai, an online fundraising platform, which was using private investment opportunities to finance the development of the bus, promising investorsthat they would see a 12 percent return. Law suits against the company are already being filed by 72 individual investors, and Autek, the company that designed the bus, is still owed money.

The 300-meter (985-foot) stretch of track that the bus traveled on has started to be dismantled, and any investors in the project have been advised to approach authorities with any complaints or queries.

While this is sad news for what appeared to be a promising solution to Chinas traffic congestion crisis, it is a small failure in the much wider field of innovative transportation which is currently booming. There are still numerous viable options fordealing with congestion: most of which, like the TEB, seek to make use of developing transports for spaces other than on roads.

Dubai has targeted the skies as the next arena for transportation by developing autonomous flying taxis that will follow set routes: they are rumored to begin testing later this year. In a sense, this is the extreme version of the TEB, travelling hundreds of meters above traffic instead of two or three.

In the U.S., we can see the emergence of the inverse of the TEB: Elon Musks boring tunnels, which opt for traveling under traffic rather than over it. The tunnel system will contain a hyperloop, sleds, and elevator shafts, as well as roads for the cars of the future to travel.

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Owners of China’s Traffic Hopping Bus Project Arrested – Futurism

Please ignore the robots – The Verge

Welcome to First Click, a daily essay written by The Verge staff in which we opine on lives lived in the near future.

Its just a ruin in a field now, but in 15th-century England, Boxley Abbey was a hotspot for the faithful. Pilgrims would travel from across the land to see a statue of Christ on the cross that was housed in the monastery and known as the Rood of Grace. On holy days, the Christ would come alive, with a contemporary account describing how the figure hypnotized crowds with its ability to:

shake and stirre the hands and feete, to nod the head, to rolle the eies, to wag the chaps, to bende the browes [] shewing a most milde, amiable, and smyling cheere and countenance. 1

During Henry VIIIs Dissolution of the Monasteries, when the riches of the Church were being confiscated in the name of religious conformity, the Rood was removed and its secrets laid bare. Inspectors discovered that protruding from Christs back was a mess of wire [and] old rotten sticks, which the monks had used to operate it from afar. The statue was taken to London and, during a sermon outside St Pauls Cathedral, broken into pieces by an angry crowd, to put an end its great idolatrie once and for all.

Stories like this are strange and familiar. They show that robots have been shocking society for far longer than we usually think. To us they seem a modern phenomenon, but for centuries, the rich and powerful have been building automata to amuse themselves and awe the masses. Sometimes, though, we forget about the strings that are being pulled.

Look at the news from last month that the police force of Dubai has hired its first robotic cop. The bot in question is about the size and shape of a human, but with wheels for legs, cameras for eyes, and a tablet embedded in the middle of its chest. During press events, the robot was pictured shaking hands and saluting dutifully. One officer commented: These kinds of robots can work 24/7. They won’t ask you for leave, sick leave or maternity leave. It can work around the clock.

Its all rubbish of course. Dubais robot an off-the-shelf model built by Spains Pal Robotics wont be doing any real work. Its a tablet on wheels, designed to trundle around tourist centers and dole out directions. The same can be said of many other high-profile bots like Pepper, or various home hub robots. The work they do is usually just that of a mobile phone or a security camera. Occasionally, if theyre big enough, theyll knock over a child, just to break up the routine.

But as in 15th-century England, these particular robots are serving another, more important purpose. Historical accounts of the Rood of Grace are divided over whether or not pilgrims were actually fooled by the mechanical Christ. Did they believe they were witnessing a miracle, or were they just impressed by the technology and what it represented: the power and wealth of the Church.

the robots that will actually take our jobs are far less exciting

Similarly, although the practical uses of Dubais new robot are limited, as a symbol its potent. The government of the United Arab Emirates is currently pursuing its Vision 2021 strategy a plan to shift the countrys economy away from oil-dependence to a diverse mix of technologically advanced industries. Part of this involves embracing automation, from artificial intelligence to driverless cars and drones. And, yes, that will include robots working for the police, but they wont be humanoid because thats not practical. Theyll be like this CCTV-equipped self-driving car; one that Dubais police force is also testing just with less fanfare.

Many robots we see today are simply avatars of larger economic and technological forces. It is absolutely certain that in the years to come, the tools of automation (including the robots we dont see; hidden away in factories and warehouses) will destroy some jobs, create others, and dramatically reshape societies around the world. Whether or not governments can stop these changes harming workers is another question. Although lots of news coverage of robots and AI veers between wild apocalyptic predictions and a sort of bemused wonderment, we need to split the difference and consider the real, unexciting challenges ahead most of which will have political, not technological, solutions.

Just like the congregants in Boxley Abbey, the questions we should be asking when we see these marvels are: who is pulling the strings here, and what is it they want from us?

1The Restless Clock: A History of the Centuries-Long Argument Over What Makes Living Things Tick, Jessica Riskin

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Please ignore the robots – The Verge

Fancy a vitamin infusion? – EsquireMe

We hate to break it to you but it looks like all those superfood salads youve been putting yourself through have been a bit of a waste. Actually eating your fruits and vegetables? That is so 2016. The hottest new way to get your vitamins is via an Intravenous Vitamin Infusion.

Dont worry if you arent exactly sure what that involves yet as The Elixir Clinic, a leading clinic specialising in Intravenous Vitamin Infusions, has only just opened a Dubai branch in order to match its Harrods outlet. A space where clients can indulge in a range of aesthetic and holistic treatments, The Elixir Clinic is set to become the ultimate health and wellbeing destination for the same set of people youve seen shilling Bootea on Instagram.

Described as an effective, natural and safe way to sustain long-term wellbeing, the patented VitaDrip is perhaps the most unique treatment The Elixir Clinic has on offer. The range of VitaDrips available at the clinic include drips that specialise in: Adrenal Fatigue, Anti-ageing, Antioxidant, Diet and Detox, Fitness, Hairgrowth, Immunity, Jet Lag, and Mood support. If an IV drip that adjusts your mood still doesnt sound Orwellian enough then you can always try out the VIP Elixir. Exclusive to Harrods, this Harrods VIP Exclusive infusion features a custom blend of essential vitamins and minerals along with a combination of anti-ageing, anti-stress, antioxidant and beauty properties to help combat the very passing of time itself.

Other than intravenous vitamin infusions, The Elixir Clinic also offers clients the option to pamper themselves with Intra-Muscular Injections or an Oligoscan. Gathering accurate and precise information on aspects such as anti-oxidants, heavy metal accumulation and mineral deficiencies, the Oligoscan can probably pinpoint the exact number of minutes that last doughnut you ate took off your life-span.

If you do fancy having a go at living forever, the Elixir Clinic have a local branch on the 33rd floor of the Al Habtoor Business Towers. Theyre open 9:00AM to 7:00PM Saturday Thursday (not that time will exactly matter once you obtain immortality).

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Fancy a vitamin infusion? – EsquireMe

Forget Flying Cars, the Future Is Driving Drones – Singularity Hub

Flying car concepts have been around nearly as long as their earthbound cousins, but no one has yet made them a commercial success. MIT engineers think weve been coming at the problem from the wrong direction; rather than putting wings on cars, we should be helping drones to drive.

The team from the universitys Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) added wheels to a fleet of eight mini-quadcopters and tested driving and flying them around a tiny toy town made out of cardboard and fabric.

Adding the ability to drive reduced the distance the drone could fly by 14 percent compared to a wheel-less version. But while driving was slower, the drone could travel 150 percent further than when flying. The result is a vehicle that combines the speed and mobility of flying with the energy-efficiency of driving.

CSAIL director Daniela Rus told MIT News their work suggested that when looking to create flying cars, it might make more sense to build on years of research into drones rather than trying to simply put wings on cars.

Historically, flying car concepts have looked like someone took apart a Cessna light aircraft and a family sedan, mixed all the parts up, and bolted them back together again. Not everyone has abandoned this approachtwo of the most developed flying car designs from Terrafugia and AeroMobil are cars with folding wings that need an airstrip to take off.

But flying car concepts are looking increasingly drone-like these days, with multiple small rotors, electric propulsion and vertical take-off abilities. Take the eHang 184autonomous aerial vehicle being developed in China, theKitty Hawk all-electric aircraft backed by Google founder Larry Page, which is little more than a quadcopter with a seat, the AirQuadOne designed by UK consortium Neva Aerospace, or Lilium Aviations Jet.

The attraction is obvious. Electric-powered drones are more compact, maneuverable, and environmentally friendly, making them suitable for urban environments.

Most of these vehicles are not quite the same as those proposed by the MIT engineers, as theyre pure flying machines. But a recent Airbus concept builds on the same principle that the future of urban mobility is vehicles that can both fly and drive. Its Pop.Up design is a two-passenger pod that can either be clipped to a set of wheels or hang under a quadcopter.

Importantly, they envisage their creation being autonomous in both flight and driving modes. And theyre not the only ones who think the future of flying cars is driverless. Uber has committed to developing a network of autonomous air taxis within a decade. This spring, Dubai announced it would launch a pilotless passenger drone serviceusing the Ehang 184as early as next month (July).

While integrating fully-fledged autonomous flying cars into urban environments will be far more complex, the study by Rus and her colleagues provides a good starting point for the kind of 3D route-planning and collision avoidance capabilities this would require.

The team developed multi-robot path planning algorithms that were able to control all eight drones as they flew and drove around their mock up city, while also making sure they didnt crash into each other and avoided no-fly zones.

This work provides an algorithmic solution for large-scale, mixed-mode transportation and shows its applicability to real-world problems, Jingjin Yu, a computer science professor at Rutgers University who was not involved in the research, told MIT News.

This vision of a driverless future for flying cars might be a bit of a disappointment for those whod envisaged themselves one day piloting their own hover car just like George Jetson. But autonomy and Uber-like ride-hailing business models are likely to be attractive, as they offer potential solutions to three of the biggest hurdles drone-like passenger vehicles face.

Firstly, it makes the vehicles accessible to anyone by removing the need to learn how to safely pilot an aircraft. Secondly, battery life still limits most electric vehicles to flight times measured in minutes. For personal vehicles this could be frustrating, but if youre just hopping in a driverless air taxi for a five minute trip across town its unlikely to become apparent to you.

Operators of the service simply need to make sure they have a big enough fleet to ensure a charged vehicle is never too far away, or theyll need a way to swap out batteries easily, such as the one suggested by the makers of the Volocopter electric helicopter.

Finally, there has already been significant progress in developing technology and regulations needed to integrate autonomous drones into our airspace that future driverless flying cars can most likely piggyback off of.

Safety requirements will inevitably be more stringent, but adding more predictable and controllable autonomous drones to the skies is likely to be more attractive to regulators than trying to license and police thousands of new amateur pilots.

Image Credit: Lilium

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Forget Flying Cars, the Future Is Driving Drones – Singularity Hub

A golden crypto currency you can invest in for as little as $45 – Sun … – The National

Ibrahim Mohammed is the founder and chief executive and OneGram, a new digital currency, at the company’s offices in Emirates Financial Towers in the DIFC area of Dubai. OneGram is partnering with GoldGuard, a Dubai-based online gold trading platform to build one of worlds largest gold vaults inside the Dubai Airport Free Zone. Christopher Pike / The National

As the founder and chief executive of OneGram the Dubai-based technology company behind the first digital currency completely backed by gold – Ibrahim Mohammed is confident his cryptocurrency will be a success, even as competition in the digital currency sphere hots up.

He says with 100s of new coins releasing every day, it is OneGrams unique selling point – the fact that the currency is fully Sharia-compliant – that will set it apart.

The company has already launched an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) offering, which aims to raise more than US$500 million in capital; the tokens were launched on May 21 and will be available to buy until September 22.

OneGram has partnered with GoldGuard, a Dubai-based online gold trading platform, for the offering, with each token backed by one gram of gold, held in a vault at Dubai Airport Free Zone. Only 12.5 million tokens are available to buy in total.

The OneGram currency was created using blockchain technology, a digital method of recording data that underpins the digital currency bitcoin.

While one bitcoin today is currently worth about US$2,500 (or $2,438 at the time of writing), to buy a OneGramCoin would set you back $45 at current market prices.

Almost six weeks after the OneGram coin first went on sale, Mr Mohammed, a British Dubai resident with 10 years of experience running companies whose specialisms have included debt collection and business formation, explains how the new digital currency works and how investors can get on board:

Why did you set up OneGram?

Because of the ruling that happened in November 2016 from the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) with regards to the gold standard. It was the first time gold was deemed to be a sharia-compliant product and it got us thinking. It evolved into digitisation ofgold but then having bigger returns rather than just waiting for the market to go up – so we combined it with a digital currency.

How does OneGram work?

Its like bitcoin; its a digital currency but the major difference to any other crypto is that its backed with physical gold. Putting it very simply, if you have one bitcoin today thats worth about US$2,500 and if it crashes and went to zero youd lose all your money. With OneGram, if you buy today you pay about $45; $41 of that is in physical gold but $4 is in the coin, so if OneGram crashed you would potentially lose $4 and still have $41. Essentially its a digital token – a digital form of payment.

So how can you use this form of payment?

Globally, these kinds of tokens are mainly used in the crypto community by people that believe in [the concept] and are willing to hold it. What we are trying to develop over the next 12 months or so is a payment solution that retailers can adopt to accept payment. At this stage (until the OneGram coin is listed in September), its like holding stocks or shares. The demand is there and the prices are increasing; if you follow the crypto market at all it was worth $20 billion in 2016 and this year its worth $100bn as we speak. Most of that jump has happened in the last five months.

What is driving that?

People see the potential in it. Most governments now are talking about how to regulate the market and control it and bring it into mainstream. The growth is phenomenal. I dont think investors are risk takers because the model of crypto currencies has been proven. Japan has legalised bitcoin; its inevitable that others will follow suit.

How does OneGram work?

Register at GoldGuard.com and where you go to buy you will see the live spot price of gold and it will be a live spot buy. Underneath it you will see the coin value of $4 – thats 10 per cent of the actual transaction and thats the coin fee. You will see a total price of $45; its approximate on the site as its linked to the Allocated BullionExchange’s live gold fee. You can transfer funds or buy through bitcoin but we wont accept bitcoin directly as we dont know the source of funds, so we use a company called BitPay in the United States. They do all the verifications, as they are regulated by the US government and they will accept the bitcoin and wire us US dollars.

Is the $4 a fee then?

Its a kind of administration fee because typically in crypto currencies you are paying the whole amount – so if we didnt have gold youd be paying $45 and wed have all money. But we only take 10 per cent which covers operations, staffing, support, marketing, development, blockchain etc. With typical cryptos, if they are selling at $45 they may pay 30 to 40 per cent commission on transactions and theyll sell out in a day or two. Weve adopted a real business model as opposed to a “lets loot type of crypto.” So there is a 10 per cent mark up on the price to give our investors the best possible chance of higher returns and that 10 per cent will cover our costs to operate.

What happens when you list?

Then you will have your own wallet and you will hold it on your own iPad, phone or desktop. The coin will be listed on a few digital currency platforms, so any buying or selling happens through those platforms and it goes into the secondary market. In terms of where the price can be at launch and where it can be in 24 months is completely beyond our control. Some analysts have said OneGram is the closest coin that has ever come to knocking bitcoin off its pedestal.

Who are your investors?

As well as crypto tech investors, were getting people that have never invested in cryptoor digital currencies before but because of the gold aspect and the sharia regulatory aspect they are very comfortable. We get customers buying for $100 and in the same day someone will buy $200,000. There is massive interest from Africa and Pakistan, countries we never expected. We now have 4,000 to 5,000 registered users and the majority are non-Muslims;another surprise.

What happens if you dont sell all the 12.5 million coins?

Anything that is left will be burnt wiped away. If we dont sell all of them then it’s likely the price will go up as there will be less in circulation. We left the first month open for anyone to buy. Now we have our affiliates, partners that will also sell the coin. The first affiliate is $100m, there are a couple more after that. We are not in any doubt that the coin will sell out.

How many have you sold so far?

Twenty-two per cent of the ICO has already been assigned thats about 2 million coins.

Once the coin is listed what happens to OneGram?

Our ongoing role is to maintain the blockchain and security of it so that the coins can trade. And we make 1 per cent of every trade, the typical fee within blockchain.

Who are you licensed by?

Cyptos are not licensed but the part that needs licensing is GoldGuard, which is a gold trading platform. That is licensed by Dubai Airport Free Zone so we are licensed to trade gold.

Can investors see the gold?

Our vaulting partner may have security issues with that but once we have our own vaulting systems we will be open to anyone that wants to inspect. For verification that the gold exists, our auditors PwC have to physically go and count the gold along with our sharia advisers so I think the investors can rest assured that the gold exists. We buy through ABX and within three days they physically store it for us.

How could it all go wrong?

Its very difficult to go wrong because the exposure is very limited its 90 per cent in gold, 10 per cent in the coin. The demand is there and the market is there so unless someone turns the internet off

Whats next?

Were in discussions about ATM machines. You could have an ATM machine in Dubai, Hong Kong or London where OneGram can be bought and sold across the globe.

ahaine@thenational.ae

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A golden crypto currency you can invest in for as little as $45 – Sun … – The National

Dubai’s Autonomous Flying Taxi Service Will Be Ready for Takeoff This Year – Futurism

In Brief Dubai is set to shake up the taxi and travel sector at the end of the year by introducing an autonomous airborne taxi service that will transport passengers along set routes. Given the growing population, innovative transportation solutions like Dubai’s will be an integral part of future society.

As part of Dubais bid to be a city of the future, they plan to have 25 percent of their public transport autonomously controlled by 2030. An exciting aspect of this is the autonomous aerial taxi (AAT) service they announced in February.

Now, theyve provided an updated timeline for the services implementation, announcing that testing will begin toward the end of this year. It will continue for approximately five years until legislation is in place to facilitate a larger expansion.

The goal of the AAT is to eliminate the growing problem of traffic within the city. The service was due to launch at the end of Julywith the single-seater EHang 184, but theplan now it to use the two-seater Volocopter. Implementation has been delayedto ensure the technology is as safe as it possibly can be.

Dubai will be the first city to use air taxis, and its experiment will have a profound effect on the future of transport, as other cities and companies will be judging the applicability of the idea based on Dubais successes or failures. A particularly interested party will be Uber, which is planning to develop an autonomous airborne taxi service of its own.

A key question the transportation industry currently faces is how to deal with the congestion caused by an ever-increasing demand on infrastructure. Although air taxis are one solution, Elon Musk has been boring tunnels under cities, Dubai is developing a hyperloop, and autonomous cars are being programmed specifically to prevent traffic jams.

Whether one of these approaches proves better than the others or we end up using some combination of two or more, well need to be innovative when planning the transportation of the future.

Disclosure: The Dubai Future Foundation works in collaboration with Futurism as a sponsor and does not hold a seat on our editorial board.

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Dubai’s Autonomous Flying Taxi Service Will Be Ready for Takeoff This Year – Futurism

ONGC, Aqualis Offshore match rig move record offshore India – WorldOil (subscription)

6/23/2017

HOUSTON — The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC), with the support of Aqualis Offshore, has matched its own pre-monsoon rig move record set last year offshore India. Aqualis Offshore has also secured a new contract extension to support ONGC.

ONGC executed a total of 33 jack-up rig moves in April, May and June this year. Most the rigs were located on the west coast of India with one jack-up on the east coast. Aqualis Offshore, working together with the ONGC Rigmove cell, assisted with most of these moves, placing each rig on its respective monsoon location before the onset of the seasonal adverse weather conditions.

Aqualis Offshore conducted the work with mariners from the companys Dubai office and with engineering support from London, UK.

Last year I commented that ONGCs pre-monsoon rig move was an impressive milestone in Indian offshore operations. This years achievement is just as remarkable. It is a huge logistics challenge that has been solved safely and effectively by everyone involved, says Rodger Dickson, group marine director at Aqualis Offshore.

In May this year, following last years successfully executed rig moving campaigns, United India Insurance Company once again reappointed Aqualis Offshore to provide marine warranty services to the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limiteds (ONGC) assets offshore India.

Under the agreement, Aqualis Offshore will continue to provide marine warranty services to ONGCs fleet of jack-up rigs and mobile offshore production units (MOPU) in Indian waters.

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ONGC, Aqualis Offshore match rig move record offshore India – WorldOil (subscription)

Traveling Taylor back in Virgin Islands – Greenville Daily Reflector

ITiana Taylors transition from NCAA to professional volleyball was far from seamless at first, but she relied on her excellent leaping ability, and the tenacity and intensity she mainly honed while playing basketball at East Carolina to guide her through her first pro volleyball season in Dubai.

It was in Dubai where Taylor, who played two seasons of hoops for the Pirates and one year of volleyball, progressed on the court with the Sharjah Ladies Club and that helped her recently land a spot on the U.S. Virgin Islands national team. She is in the Virgin Islands to practice with the squad, which will travel to Jamaica in July for international competition, as Taylor and her agent also look at options for a second pro season somewhere.

You learn (how to be a pro) day by day and practice by practice, Taylor said during a phone interview a few days before Mondays trip from Texas to the Virgin Islands. Thats what Ive been doing, and I still have my mental toughness from basketball and thats never going to go away.

I think that helps me out a little bit with the volleyball IQ, because if you are aggressive then its all right.

Taylor played in Dubai for two months this spring, ending in May, and it was during her trek back home to Pflugerville, Texas, when she got an invite to play for the Virgin Islands team. That invitation means Taylor will soon get to explore another part of the world while representing the Virgin Islands in Jamaica.

Her dad and two grandparents were born in the Virgin Islands, and Taylor said she has been there a handful of times.

In Dubai, her team first asked her to play in the middle before eventually switching her back to her more natural position as an outside hitter. Taylor said going through that brought about some of her learning curve.

It was very different than the U.S. and I was kind of shocked a little bit, but I had a great time and it made me realize that you have to do whatever it takes, she said. I still communicate with the girls and made so many friends out there. It also helped me make a lot of connections with other countries and everything, so it was kind of like a blessing.

It has been an eventful few years for Taylor, who said she hopes to play pro volleyball as long as possible and enjoy the experience.

She was the Pirates best post player in basketball from 2014-16, including averaging a double-double of 14.1 points and 10.0 rebounds per game in her final season. She then joined the volleyball team in the offseason and led the Pirates with 292 kills last year as ECU finished 15-15 for its first non-losing season since 2006.

With her pro career now beginning to hit full stride, Taylor said she is thankful for all of the coaches who helped her at ECU and set her up for success.

I wouldnt be able to travel the world like I just did in two months, so I am very grateful for it and thankful and happy, Taylor said. Especially at a young age. Its been like a dream come true.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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Traveling Taylor back in Virgin Islands – Greenville Daily Reflector

Saudi Arabia claims arrest of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard – ABC News

Saudi Arabia said Monday its forces had captured and were questioning three members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard who were intending to carry out an attack on a major offshore oilfield in the Persian Gulf.

Saudi Arabia’s Information Ministry said in a statement the three were onboard a boat carrying a large number of explosives headed toward the Marjan oil field, located off the kingdom’s eastern shores between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The statement said the three were detained on Friday and accused them of intending to carry out a terrorist operation in Saudi territorial waters.

Earlier in the day, a statement published on the state-run Saudi Press Agency said Saudi naval forces had disrupted a planned attack by three boats “bearing red and white flags” that raced toward its Marjan offshore oil field. It said sailors fired warning shots and captured one of the boats while two others escaped in the assault. It said the captured boat “was loaded with weapons for (a) subversive purpose.”

The announcement comes after Iranian state television accused Saudi Arabia’s coast guard of killing an Iranian fisherman on Friday. Several Iranian news websites also reported that two Iranian boats were shot at over the weekend as they approached a Saudi oil rig.

Majid Aghababaei, an Interior Ministry official in Iran, said the three men detained are fishermen from Iran’s port city of Bushehr and blamed choppy Gulf waters for the boat’s divergence. In remarks to Iran’s ILNA news agency, he said there is no proof they are military personnel.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have long been strained with each country backing opposing sides of the war in Syria and other conflicts in the region.

Saudi Arabia and Iran broke off diplomatic ties with one another last year after the kingdom executed a prominent Saudi Shiite cleric, sparking backlash among Iranians who ransacked the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.

More recently, a pair of deadly attacks in Tehran claimed by the Islamic State group further inflamed tensions between the regional rivals. Iran has indirectly blamed Saudi Arabia for the attacks and has vowed revenge. On Sunday evening, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard launched ballistic missiles at IS targets in Syria for the first time in that country’s six-year-long war.

Batrawy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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Saudi Arabia claims arrest of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard – ABC News

Dubai Aerospace to consider jet order after AWAS deal closes – Reuters

DUBAI Government-controlled Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) will consider ordering more than 20 new aircraft after it acquires Dublin-based lessor AWAS, a deal it expects to close in the “early part of the third quarter,” its chief executive said.

DAE, the aircraft leasing and maintenance company controlled by the government of Dubai, previously said the deal, announced in April, would finalize sometime in the third quarter. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval.

“I think it is fair to say after the close we will seriously consider placing a large order so that we have proper line of sight on … growth for our company for the next several years,” DAE CEO Firoz Tarapore told Reuters.

The order would be “bigger than” the 23 new Airbus aircraft AWAS has on order, he said.

The AWAS acquisition would more than double DAE’s fleet from 131 owned, managed and committed aircraft to 394 worth over $14 billion by the end of 2018. That will make DAE one of the world’s top aircraft lessors behind the likes of General Electric (GE.N) and AerCap (AER.N).

DAE is interested in buying narrow and wide-body jets from Airbus (AIR.PA) and Boeing (BA.N), and turboprop aircraft from ATR which is co-owned by Airbus and Italy’s Leonardo LDOF.PA with deliveries to start from late 2019 – subject to availability.

Tarapore said the firm would look at the Airbus A320neo and A350-900, Boeing’s 737 MAX, 787-9 and 777 freighter, and ATR’s 72-600.

“Narrow-bodies of course are the first preference but we believe that there are a few wide-body types that are quite appropriate to have on a leasing company books,” he said.

The ATR 72-600 fleet could grow to the “top end” of the 60-to-100 spectrum, he added. DAE currently has 57 owned and committed ATR 72-600s.

DAE believes the AWAS acquisition will give it the benefits of scale – it will have more than 110 airline customers spread across 55 countries.

Reuters reported on Monday that DAE plans to raise up to $2 billion in July with the proceeds to be used towards financing the AWAS acquisition.

It is acquiring AWAS from private equity firm Terra Firma Capital Partners [TERA.UL] and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).

(Editing by Mark Potter)

LONDON Rupert Murdoch will find out by June 29 whether he is closer to securing takeover target Sky after Britain set out a timetable to rule on whether the media mogul is a suitable owner of Europe’s biggest broadcaster.

SYDNEY/LONDON Rio Tinto selected Yancoal on Tuesday to buy its Coal & Allied division in Australia for $2.45 billion, surprising commodities trading giant Glencore, which had put in a higher bid.

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Dubai Aerospace to consider jet order after AWAS deal closes – Reuters

Dubai’s Newest Addition to the Police Force: A Robot – Futurism

In Brief Dubai is introducing a robot to their police force to interact with citizens. Dubai’s goal is to have their police force consist of 25% robots by 2030.

Disclosure: The Dubai Future Foundation works in collaboration with Futurism and is one of our sponsors.

Dubai is set to introduce the newest member of their police force:a 5-foot, 5-inch [165.1 cm], 222-pound [100.698 kg] robot whichwill be equipped with facial recognition technology and have the ability to broadcast live video feeds.The first model, which will begin patrolling the streets of thefuturistic city today, will not be on the front lines making arrests, but will be interacting with the community. Residents of Dubai will be able to report crimes, pay fines, and ask the robot questions (though what sort of questions is unclear).

The head of Dubais Police Tech divisiontold reporters at the Gulf Information Security Expo and Conference that by 2030, [Dubai is] keen to make robots around 25% of the total police force. Thoughthis may sound like the beginning of a dystopian novel, this is not the first robot in use by a police force.

Police departments in the United States use robots for training purposes and also utilize bomb-diffusing robots that were first created for the American military. In 2016, the Cleveland Police used robots to patrol the Republican National Convention, while police in Dallas outfitted a robot with a bomb to kill a sniper after losing numerous police lives. South Korea has robot prison guards, and Israeli police use robots in their counter-terrorism unit.

While this is not the first robot to be put into use by police, it is the first that will be ever present on the streets of a city that will eventually be able to make arrests and have all of the responsibilities of a regular cop. The rollout will happen over the next decade, so hopefully that will be enough time to work out any kinks including robots lack of human empathy. And, as these robots have recording capabilities, make sure none of them document any PDA on video.

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Dubai’s Newest Addition to the Police Force: A Robot – Futurism

Myanmar journalists take fight for freedom of speech to court | Reuters – Reuters

YANGON More than 100 reporters in Myanmar are preparing to protest against laws seen as curbing free speech when two senior journalists go on trial on Thursday, after the military sued them for defamation over a satirical article in their journal.

The rare campaign, in which journalists will wear armbands reading “Freedom of the Press”, underscores growing public unease at the laws, after the courts recently took up a raft of similar cases.

Despite pressure from human rights bodies and Western diplomats, the government of Aung San Suu Kyi has retained a broadly worded law that prohibits use of the telecoms network to “extort, threaten, obstruct, defame, disturb, inappropriately influence or intimidate”.

The law was adopted by the semi-civilian administration of former generals led by former president Thein Sein which navigated Myanmar’s opening to the outside world from 2011 to 2016.

Arrests of social media users whose posts are deemed distasteful have continued under the administration of Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi.

These include the case that sparked the protest, after the chief editor and a columnist of the Voice, one of Myanmar’s largest dailies, were arrested for publishing their take on a film on the army’s fight with ethnic rebels.

Myanmar journalists have urged authorities to release the reporters and have set up a Protection Committee for Myanmar Journalists.

“The 66 (d) law should be terminated, because the government and the military have used it to cause trouble for the media and the people,” said Thar Lon Zaung Htet, a former editor of the domestic Irrawaddy journal who organized the meeting, referring to a controversial clause in the telecoms law.

He said the journalists would gather in front of the court and march to the Voice office wearing the armbands. The panel will also gather signatures for a petition to abolish the law, to be sent to Suu Kyi’s office, the army chief and parliament.

Other recent cases include last weekend’s arrest of a man publicly accusing an assistant of Yangon’s chief minister, Phyo Min Thein, of corruption, and charges against several people over a student play critical of the military.

Phyo Min Thein’s assistant has rejected the accusations in a subsequent media interview.

Besides repressive laws, journalists often face threats and intimidation in Myanmar. One recently received threats after speaking out against nationalist Buddhists. In December, a reporter covering illegal logging and crime in the rugged northwest was beaten to death.

“This law is totally against human rights,” said Tun Tun Oo, a land rights activists who was charged for live-streaming the student play via his Facebook account. “The government should think about terminating it as it restores democracy and we will fight until the law is abolished.”

(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

BEIRUT A military alliance fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad threatened on Wednesday to hit U.S. positions in Syria, warning its “self-restraint” over U.S. air strikes would end if Washington crossed “red lines”.

DUBAI/DOHA U.S. President Donald Trump offered on Wednesday to help resolve a worsening diplomatic crisis between Qatar and other Arab powers as the United Arab Emirates invoked the possibility of an economic embargo on Doha over its alleged support of terrorism.

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Myanmar journalists take fight for freedom of speech to court | Reuters – Reuters

Paris Air Show: French aerospace industry sees event as chance to lobby new president – DefenseNews.com

PARISThe Paris Air Show comes at a timely juncture as French aerospace leaders seek to lobby a newly elected head of state and government for support of the high-tech industry in a tough world market.

We have a new government and new ministers, said Eric Trappier, vice chairman of Groupement des Industries Franaises Aronautiques et Spatiales, or Gifas, the trade body backing the air show. It is for us a very special time to address the new government and, above all, the new president, he told a June 6 news conference.

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to visit June 19, the first day of the show, while Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is due June 23. Some 12 ministers are expected, including Sylvie Goulard, the armed forces minister, and Jean-Yves Le Drian, Europe and foreign affairs minister. The latter was the previous defense minister and was widely seen as the super salesman for the Rafale fighter jet, helping to win orders from Egypt, India and Qatar.

There is plenty of government support in the U.S. and other countries for their own aerospace industries, Trappier said. For France, one of the key factors is whether the government will boost the defense budget to 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2022, he added.

Political backing is viewed as a necessity, as the Ministry for the Economy and Finance has reportedly lopped off more than 2.6 billion (U.S. $2.9 billion) from the 2017 defense budget, prompting protest from Patricia Adam, head of the National Assembly’s defense committee.

The members of parliament adopted on April 6, 2016, a 700 million increase for the 2017 defense budget, particularly to support equipment spending, she said in a June 6, 2017, statement. A budget cut would threaten our defense and security in a time of severe strategic instability and terrorist threat, she said.

The largest cut in the budgetary reduction is 675 million for equipment, business website La Tribune reported.

At the show, the French procurement office, Direction Gnrale de lArmement, will display the future of weapon systems from 2017 to 2022, including the Talios laser targeting pod and Meteor long-range, air-to-air missile for the upgraded Rafale F3-R, said DGA official Thierry Sanchez. Other themes include command systems, refueling, intelligence gathering and surface-to-air defense.

There will also be a display of systems beyond 2025, with an immersion in studies for future weapons, pointing up the cooperative work between government and industry. Innovative technology to be shown include intelligent sensors, artificial intelligence, and virtual and augmented reality.

On display, there will be two Rafalesone from the Air Force and one from the Navya Tiger attack helicopter, an NH90 transport helicopter and a special forces Caracal.

French Air Force pilots dont rest, said Trappier, sparking much laughter at the news conference.

An Antonov An-132 military transport plane from Ukraine will make its first appearance at the show, as will the Embraer KC-390 and Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft.

U.S. companies make up the second-largest regional presence at the show, with 15.21 percent of the exhibitors, after 57.21 percent from Europe. The third-largest region is East Asia, with 8.5 percent. Russian firms account for 3.48 percent. French companies make up about half of the total 2,370 exhibitors.

The Paris Air Show charges the lowest rate among world exhibitions, with a tariff of 355 compared to 415 at the British Farnborough International Airshow, 562 at the Dubai Airshow and 951 at the Singapore Airshow, said Gilles Fournier, the Paris Air Show’s managing director.

Some 140 aircraft will be on display. France will receive 296 official delegations, including 146 military teams.

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Dubai to Build $1.7B Man-Made Islands – Hospitality Net – Hospitality Net

Press Release 6 June 2017

In the last 20 years, Dubai has seemingly grown from the desert in the United Arab Emirates, rising up to become arguably the most luxurious and high end travel destination on the face of the planet. Now, the hotel and leisure industry in the city is helping it to grow outward, into the sea nearby.

The global investment holding company Dubai Holding has recently announced its plans for Marsa Al Arab, a four million square feet pair of man made islands that will be located on either side of the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, which is the city’s iconic hotel that is shaped like a sail.

Estimates place the cost for this project at $1.72 billion, and when it is complete it is slated to add as much as 1.4 miles of beach to the coastline that runs along the city. The ground breaking is currently scheduled for June, but given the extensive nature of this project, Dubai Holding officials have said that none of the islands will be complete until late 2020.

This construction, like much of Dubai, will be geared toward tourists and other leisure seeking visitors. One of the islands will include family friendly resorts, a 2.5 million square foot marine park and a custom built 1,700 seat theater, which will be home to the first Cirque de Soleil show in the Middle East region. This island will also house 300 sea facing apartments.

The second private island comprising the Marsa Al Arab project will host 14 luxury villas and marina areas for residents, along with a chic boutique hotel. Once all of this work has been completed, Marsa Al Arab will add a total of 2,400 hotel rooms to the Jumeirah Group’s portfolio. This group is part of Dubai Holding, and the majority owner for Dubai Holding is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is the Ruler of Dubai.

This is not the first time that the Jumeriah Group has been involved with the construction of man made islands. That group is also the manager of the Burj Al Arab, which is itself located about 280 meters from Jumeriah Beach, atop a tract of artificial land that was first built back in 1994.

In recent years there have been other attempts to build islands along with the Burj, and the levels of success of these projects has tended to vary.

Another appealing hotel proejct in Dubai will be the Oyster Resort Dubai, a 5-star new-build resort with a key count of 1,748. The resort consists of a two spiralling towers that anchor a set of radiating fins that sit in the lagoon in front and house a series of villas looking onto the lagoon, each with a private garden and beach.

More information on hotel construction in Dubai can be found on TOPHOTELPROJECTS, the specialized service provider in the exchange of cutting-edge information of hotel construction in the international hospitality industry.

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Dubai to Build $1.7B Man-Made Islands – Hospitality Net – Hospitality Net