UK former PM Johnson edited out of business secretary space launch photo

UK former PM Johnson edited out of business secretary space launch photo
The original photo was taken in June and included then-PM Johnson. (Flickr/Sourced)
Short Url
Updated 10 January 2023

UK former PM Johnson edited out of business secretary space launch photo

UK former PM Johnson edited out of business secretary space launch photo
  • A source close to Shapps said the latter wasn’t aware anyone had edited the picture

LONDON: Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared to have been cut out of a rocket launch photo tweeted, Sunday, by Business Secretary Grant Shapps.

The photo, which showed Shapps when he was transport secretary, was taken at Spaceport Cornwall during the attempt to launch a rocket into orbit from UK soil for the first time, reported The Times.

In his tweet, Shapps wrote that the government was “delighted to be backing” the launch.

The original photo taken in June, however, also included Johnson, who was prime minister at the time.

In the photo, which has been deleted, Johnson seems to have been clumsily edited out, with his right elbow still partially visible.

The body of the LauncherOne vehicle also looks blurred.

The original photo, which, according to The Times, is still on the No. 10 Flickr account, shows Johnson with his brow furrowed and arm raised, wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words “prime minister.”

A source close to Shapps said: “Grant wasn’t aware anyone had edited the picture. He removed it as soon as it was pointed out.

“Obviously he wouldn’t endorse anyone rewriting history by removing the former PM from a picture. He was proud to serve in (Johnson’s) government.”

The UK’s first-ever space mission failed on Tuesday morning after suffering an “anomaly” during the flight. After taking off from Cornwall, the Virgin Orbit plane flew to 35,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, where it jettisoned the rocket containing nine small satellites toward space.

Egypt bans Dutch archaeologists after museum casts Beyonce as Queen Nefertiti

Egypt bans Dutch archaeologists after museum casts Beyonce as Queen Nefertiti
Updated 07 June 2023

Egypt bans Dutch archaeologists after museum casts Beyonce as Queen Nefertiti

Egypt bans Dutch archaeologists after museum casts Beyonce as Queen Nefertiti
  • An exhibition by the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden depicts Black American singers and other performers as Egyptian pharaohs and queens
  • Egypt’s Al-Fagr newspaper described the exhibition as ‘highly provocative’ and said it ‘requires an explanation’

DUBAI: An exhibition at a museum in the Netherlands that depicts Black American singers and other performers, including Beyonce and Rihanna, as the rulers of ancient Egypt has sparked a culture war.

In response to the display at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, Egyptian officials have banned Dutch archaeologists from the country, The Times newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Organizers said the exhibition “Kemet,” which translates as “Black Land,” explores the “significance of ancient Egypt and Nubia in the work of musicians from the African diaspora.” In addition to depicting Beyonce and Rihanna as Queen Nefertiti, it casts American rapper Nas as Tutankhamun and actor Eddie Murphy as Ramesses.

The Times quoted the museum as saying: “In Egyptology, the science that deals with ancient Egypt, Egypt has long been studied primarily as part of the Mediterranean region … but many musicians with African roots emphasize that ancient Egypt is an African culture.”

Hossam Zidan, the archaeology correspondent for Egyptian newspaper Al-Fagr, wrote: “Should they have made it clear that the exhibition is about non-Egyptian, African musicians? This is consistent with history, reality and logic, as they were not and will not be Egyptians.”

The newspaper described the exhibition as “highly provocative” and said it “requires an explanation” in the face of charges that it supports “Afrocentric ideas that try to rob the ancient Egyptian civilization of its people.”

According to The Times, the accusations of “falsifying history” and adopting an “Afrocentric” approach prompted Egypt’s antiquities authorities to ban Dutch archaeologists from the important Saqqara burial ground near Cairo, site of the earliest pyramids.

However, the museum’s director, Wim Weijland, said that no Egyptian official has even visited the exhibition.

“The accusation of falsifying history is inappropriate,” he told the NRC Handelsblad newspaper. “This exhibition has been made with great care. As scientists, you don’t accuse each other like this. I want that qualification to be withdrawn.”

The museum has played an active role in excavations in Sakkara, near Cairo, since 1975 and the ban could affect a major dig there.

Egyptian authorities previously criticized a musician who dressed as Nefertiti at the Coachella Festival in 2018 and sold merchandise inspired by the ancient queen.

Apple unveils sleek, $3,500 ‘Vision Pro’ goggles. Will they be what VR has been looking for?

Apple unveils sleek, $3,500 ‘Vision Pro’ goggles. Will they be what VR has been looking for?
Updated 05 June 2023

Apple unveils sleek, $3,500 ‘Vision Pro’ goggles. Will they be what VR has been looking for?

Apple unveils sleek, $3,500 ‘Vision Pro’ goggles. Will they be what VR has been looking for?
  • Headset will test the technology trendsetter’s ability to popularize new-fangled devices after others failed to capture the public’s imagination

CUPERTINO: Apple on Monday unveiled a long-rumored headset that will place its users between the virtual and real world, while also testing the technology trendsetter’s ability to popularize new-fangled devices after others failed to capture the public’s imagination.
After years of speculation, Apple CEO Tim Cook hailed the arrival of the sleek goggles — dubbed “Vision Pro” — at the the company’s annual developers conference held on a park-like campus in Cupertino, California, that Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs helped design.
“This marks the beginning of a journey that will bring a new dimension to powerful personal technology,” Cook told the crowd.
Although Apple executives provided an extensive preview of the headset’s capabilities during the final half hour of Monday’s event, consumers will have to wait before they can get their hands on the device and prepare to pay a hefty price to boot. Vision Pro will sell for $3,500 once it’s released in stores early next year.
The headset could become another milestone in Apple’s lore of releasing game-changing technology, even though the company hasn’t always been the first to try its hand at making a particular device.
Apple’s lineage of breakthroughs date back to a bow-tied Jobs peddling the first Mac in 1984 — a tradition that continued with the iPod in 2001, the iPhone in 2007, the iPad in 2010, the Apple Watch in 2014 and its AirPods in 2016.
The company emphasized that it drew upon its past decades of product design during the years it spent working on the Vision Pro, which Apple said involved more than 5,000 different patents. The goggles will be equipped with 12 cameras, six microphones and variety of sensors that will allow users to control it and various apps with just their eyes and hands. Apple also developed a technology to create three-dimensional digital version of each user to display during video conferencing.
If the new device turns out to be a niche product, it would leave Apple in the same bind as other major tech companies and startups that have tried selling headsets or glasses equipped with technology that either thrusts people into artificial worlds or projects digital images with scenery and things that are actually in front of them — a format known as “augmented reality.”
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been describing these alternate three-dimensional realities as the “metaverse.” It’s a geeky concept that he tried to push into the mainstream by changing the name of his social networking company to Meta Platforms in 2021 and then pouring billions of dollars into improving the virtual technology.
But the metaverse largely remains a digital ghost town, although Meta’s virtual reality headset, the Quest, remains the top-selling device in a category that so far has mostly appealed to video game players looking for even more immersive experiences. Cook and other Apple executives avoided referring to the metaverse in their presentations, describing the Vision Pro as the company’s first leap into “spatial computing” instead.
The response to virtual, augmented and mixed reality has been decidedly ho-hum so far. Some of the gadgets deploying the technology have even been derisively mocked, with the most notable example being Google’s Internet-connected glasses released more than a decade ago.
After Google co-founder Sergey Brin initially drummed up excitement about the device by demonstrating an early model’s potential “wow factor” with a skydiving stunt staged during a San Francisco tech conference, consumers quickly became turned off to a product that allowed its users to surreptitiously take pictures and video. The backlash became so intense that people who wore the gear became known as “Glassholes,” leading Google to withdraw the product a few years after its debut.
Microsoft also has had limited success with HoloLens, a mixed-reality headset released in 2016, although the software maker earlier this year insisted it remains committed to the technology.
Magic Leap, a startup that stirred excitement with previews of a mixed-reality technology that could conjure the spectacle of a whale breaching through a gymnasium floor, had so much trouble marketing its first headset to consumers in 2018 that it has since shifted its focus to industrial, health care and emergency uses.
Daniel Diez, Magic Leap’s chief transformation officer, said there are four major questions Apple’s goggles will have to answer: “What can people do with it? What does this thing look and feel like? Is it comfortable to wear? And how much is it going to cost?”
The anticipation that Apple’s goggles are going to sell for several thousand dollars already has dampened expectations for the product. Although he expects Apple’s goggles to boast “jaw dropping” technology, Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said he expects the company to sell just 150,000 units during the device’s first year on the market — a mere speck in the company’s portfolio. By comparison, Apple sells more than 200 million of its marquee iPhones a year. But the iPhone wasn’t an immediate sensation, with sales of fewer than 12 million units in its first full year on the market.
Since 2016, the average annual shipments of virtual- and augmented-reality devices have averaged 8.6 million units, according to the research firm CCS Insight. The firm expects sales to remain sluggish this year, with a sales projection of about 11 million of the devices before gradually climbing to 67 million in 2026.
Before taking the wraps of its new goggles, Apple kicked off the event by announcing that the latest models of two high-end computer lines, the Mac Studio and Mac Pro, will be powered by a company-designed chip that has already been available in less expensive Macs.
The Mac Studio will sell for $2,000 and the Mac Pro will be priced at $7,000. As it typically does at this conference, Apple provided a peek at the next iPhone operating system, iOS 17. That software, which will include more personalization and location-sharing tools for phone calls and texting, is expected to be released as a free update in September.

A little too pink? ‘Barbie’ causes a global paint shortage

A little too pink? ‘Barbie’ causes a global paint shortage
Updated 06 June 2023

A little too pink? ‘Barbie’ causes a global paint shortage

A little too pink? ‘Barbie’ causes a global paint shortage
  • Whimsical Barbie-world utilized so much pink paint that the globe ran out, production designer claimed
  • Company clarifies shortage was due to global supply issues, extreme weather

LONDON: Who knew a Barbie movie could cause such chaos? Greta Gerwig’s upcoming film about the iconic doll required a staggering amount of pink paint, so much so that it wiped out an entire company’s global supply.

In a recent interview with the American design magazine Architectural Digest, the director, together with production designer Sarah Greenwood and set decorator Katie Spencer, spoke about the construction of “Barbieland,” a whimsical world where everything, from roads to lampposts, is covered in fluorescent pink.

During the interview, Greenwood, a six-time Oscar nominee, revealed that “Barbie” caused an international pink paint shortage.

“The world ran out of pink,” she declared.

While some media outlets ran with the story, Lauren Proud, vice president of global marketing at Rosco, the paint company used by the film, offered some perspective to the Los Angeles Times.

Proud confirmed that the film “used as much paint as we had,” but explained that the “Barbie” production coincided with global supply chain issues during COVID-19 and extreme weather in Texas, which impacted the materials needed for the paint.

“There was this shortage and then we gave them everything we could — I don’t know they can claim credit,” Proud said, but admitted: “They did clean us out on paint.”

Gerwig told Architectural Digest that the eye-popping pink was key to “maintaining the ‘kid-ness’” of the film’s aesthetic.

The “Barbieland” design drew inspiration from the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, Wayne Thiebaud paintings, movie “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” and “An American in Paris.”

Gerwig said: “I wanted the pinks to be very bright, and everything to be almost too much,” emphasizing her desire to capture the essence of what made her fall in love with Barbie as a child.

“Why walk down stairs when you can slide into your pool? Why trudge up stairs when you take an elevator that matches your dress?” said Gerwig.

Thankfully, the set designers managed to secure just enough paint for production, which mostly took place at Warner Bros Studios Leavesden in the UK.

The star-studded “Barbie” movie features an A-list cast including Margot Robbie as Barbie, Ryan Gosling as Ken, and an ensemble cast including Will Ferrell, Simu Liu, Dua Lipa, Helen Mirren, Issa Rae, America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Michael Cera, and Ncuti Gatwa.

After initial rumors of a possible ban in the Middle East and North Africa region, the production house confirmed that one of the most anticipated films of the year would be released in cinemas worldwide on July 21.

Nepali guide rescues climber from Everest death zone

Nepali guide rescues climber from Everest death zone
Updated 04 June 2023

Nepali guide rescues climber from Everest death zone

Nepali guide rescues climber from Everest death zone

Katmandu: A Nepali guide abandoned his client’s Everest summit bid to rescue a Malaysian climber in a deadly mountaineering season that has seen at least twelve deaths.
Gelje Sherpa was guiding a Chinese client to the 8,849-meter (29,032-feet) peak and planned to assist him to paraglide down.
Instead, only a few hundred meters from the summit, they came across a lone man clinging to a rope and shivering in the area known as the “death zone.”
The area above 8,000 meters has earned its name because of its thin air, freezing temperatures and low oxygen levels that heighten the risk of altitude sickness. It is also notorious for its difficult terrain.
“When I found him in that state, my heart did not let me leave him there,” Sherpa told AFP.
Many other climbers had walked past the man that day, but he declined to criticize them.
“It is a place where you have to think of your survival first,” he said.
Sherpa told his client — who will have paid at least $45,000 to attempt Everest, including a permit fee of $11,000 — to return without a summit.
“When I decided to go down, my client did not agree at first. Of course, he was there after spending a lot of money, it must have been his dream for years and he had to find time to come here to climb.
“He got angry and said he wanted to go to the summit.
“I had to scold him and tell him that he has to descend because he was my responsibility and I couldn’t send him to the summit on his own. He got upset.”
He explained that he wanted to take the sick man down the mountain.
“Then he realized that by ‘rescue’ I meant that I wanted to save him. He understood and then he apologized later.”
Sherpa, 30, fitted the ailing climber with his supplemental oxygen supply, improving some of his symptoms, but he was still unable to walk.
The rocky uneven terrain meant that Sherpa, who is about 1.6 meters tall (five feet and three inches) and weighs 55 kilograms, had to carry the Malaysian in some sections.
“It is a very difficult task to carry someone and bring them down from there. But some sections are very rocky, I couldn’t drag him,” said Sherpa.
“If I did that, he could have broken his bones, he was already not doing well.”
Sherpa hauled the man down nearly 700 meters for almost six hours to Camp 4 by himself.
“I’ve been a part of many search and rescue missions, but this was very challenging,” he said.
Joined by another guide, the pair wrapped the climber in sleeping mats and secured him with ropes, dragging him on snowy slopes and carrying him on their backs when necessary.
Finally, they arrived at Camp 3 at 7,162 meters (23,500 feet) and a helicopter using a long line lifted the stricken climber down to the base camp.
Sherpa was not able to meet the Malaysian climber again but received a message thanking him.
“He wrote me ‘You saved my life, you are god to me’,” Sherpa said.
Nepali guides, usually ethnic Sherpas from the valleys around Everest, are considered the backbone of the climbing industry and bear huge risks to carry equipment and food, fix ropes and repair ladders.
Sherpa’s video of the rescue two weeks ago has been liked on his Instagram more than 35,000 times and shared widely over social media, many applauding his selfless decision.
“As a guide you feel a sense of responsibility for others on the mountain and you have to make tough decisions,” said Ang Norbu Sherpa, president of Nepal National Mountain Guide Association.
“What he has done is commendable.”
Nepal issued a record 478 permits for Everest to foreign climbers this season and about 600 climbers and guides reached the top.
Twelve climbers have been confirmed dead, and five more are still missing.
Gelje Sherpa has reached the world’s highest point six times and did not regret his decision to turn back that day.
“People just focus on the summit, but everyone can do that,” he said. “To bring someone from higher than 8,000 meters is a lot more difficult than to summit.”

Cairo mega sandstorm topples billboard, killing 1

Cairo mega sandstorm topples billboard, killing 1
Updated 03 June 2023

Cairo mega sandstorm topples billboard, killing 1

Cairo mega sandstorm topples billboard, killing 1
  • Falling debris injures 5 others 
  • Authorities close several Red Sea ports, suspend maritime activities

LONDON: A severe sandstorm that engulfed Egypt’s capital Cairo on Thursday toppled a billboard on to traffic, killing one person and injuring five others.

Local traffic authorities rushed to remove the debris and restore traffic movement as the cloud of orange sand made it difficult for drivers to see, Al-Ahram newspaper reported.

Egyptian authorities also closed the ports of Suez, Sokhna and Adabiya on the Red Sea, citing bad weather conditions, while the Red Sea Ports Authority suspended all maritime navigation as waves rose to over four meters in height.

The country’s Meteorological Authority said that extreme weather conditions are expected to continue, urging the public to wear face masks and avoid sunlight when outdoors for the next two days as temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celsius.

Sandstorms, known as khamsin, are an annual occurrence in Egypt, but rarely reach the size and speed of Thursday’s weather event in Cairo.