May 3-10 Weekly News


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Researchers find most 'instagrammable' bird  

We put photos online of everything, from our breakfast to the new shoes we buy. Researchers have published a study about what kinds of bird photos we like on the social media site Instagram. This is a photo-sharing social networking service where uploaded images are viewable for just 24 hours. The researchers are from a university in Germany. They looked into the question: "What makes a great bird photo?" They tried to find the most 'instagrammable' bird. They found that the frogmouth is the best. This is a nocturnal bird that lives in India, Southeast Asia and Australia.

The researchers looked at nearly 30,000 bird photos from nine popular photography accounts. They created an algorithm to find which photos got the most "likes". Bird expert Tim Snyder said the frogmouth was the most liked because of its large eyes and wide beak. He said that most birds' eyes are positioned on the sides of their head, but the frogmouth's eyes are more in the centre of its face. This makes it look more "humanlike". A wildlife photographer said: "Anything cute and cuddly [creates] something in human nature - and particularly anything with big eyes."

Rome's Colosseum to get new hi-tech floor  

Rome has the green light to refurbish the ancient Colosseum. The iconic site is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It is the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built. It was completed over two millennia ago. A new floor will give visitors the chance to stand where Roman gladiators once fought for their lives. Gladiators entertained audiences during the Roman Empire by fighting to the death with swords against other gladiators and wild animals.

Italy said the project will open to the public by 2023 and will cost around $22.2 million. The Colosseum has no floor. Archaeologists removed the original one in the 19th Century to expose a network of underground tunnels. The new floor will allow visitors to see "the majesty of the Colosseum". A spokesperson said the project would, "aid the conservation of the archaeological structures while getting back to the original image of the Colosseum".

Farmer accidentally moves Belgium-France border 

Governments spend months, years or even decades making borders between countries. A farmer in Belgium did not need so long. He took just a few minutes to change the border between Belgium and France. He made Belgium about 1,000 square meters bigger and France about 1,000 square meters smaller. He moved a 150-kilogram border stone 2.29 metres inside France. A border stone shows where the border is between two countries. The stone the farmer moved was put there in 1819. The farmer moved it to make it easier to drive his tractor around his field.

Moving a border between two countries can lead to war. Luckily, diplomats in Belgium and France saw the funny side of this. They avoided a crisis in a friendly way. The mayor of the Belgian town said: "The stone was placed there in 1819 following the defeat of Napoleon....We will find the person who moved the stone so we can avoid any troubles. I still have to verify who [he] is." The mayor added: "We know exactly where the stone was before. It was right next to a tree." The mayor of the border town in France said: "I fully trust the Belgian mayor, who did what was necessary."

Broadway Prepares to Reopen in Fall

New York state and city leaders have given permission to reopen Broadway theaters this fall at full capacity. Many Broadway productions are rushing to sell tickets in the coming days to welcome back theater-goers. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says Broadway theaters can reopen September 14. They will be able to decide their own entry requirements, such as whether people must show proof of vaccination to attend a show. Robert Mujica is Governor Cuomo's budget director. He said that selling tickets will permit theaters to find out, before the shows open, how many people want to return to in-person events.

Charlotte St. Martin is president of the Broadway League. She said in a statement that the group’s members are hopeful “about Broadway's ability to resume performances this fall and are happy that fans can start buying tickets again." Phantom of the Opera, Broadway's longest-running show, announced it planned to resume selling tickets for performances set to start October 22. More shows are expected to announce return dates in the coming weeks.

Famous Cookies Delivered by Unusual Method

The Girl Scouts organization, founded in 1912, is well known for teaching important life and survival skills to girls. Part of their goal, as stated on their website, is “to improve their corner of the world.” One way they do that has become a beloved tradition. They sell Girl Scout cookies! Many people look forward to Girl Scout cookie season and have a favorite cookie. Girl Scouts usually sell their cookies in person: door-to-door, in offices and businesses, on busy street corners and sidewalks. But the coronavirus pandemic has made selling the cookies harder. There are simply less people out in public.

Well, this year in one U.S. state some Girl Scouts will get around that face-to-face problem. Their cookies will be delivered by drones. Google is using drones to deliver Girl Scout cookies to people’s homes in a Virginia community. The town of Christiansburg has been a testing ground for delivery drones. The tests are operated by Wing, a division of Google’s corporate parent Alphabet.

Myanmar’s Military Seizes Young Men to Crush Uprising

Myanmar’s security forces are arresting thousands of people. Most are boys and young men. But many families of those taken do not know where they are. UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency, says it has reports of 1,000 cases of children or young people being arrested and jailed. Many do not have lawyers and cannot see their families. UNICEF says the majority of those taken are boys.

The military has used arrests and imprisonment to make people afraid and to stop the pro-democracy movement in the country. Some are taken overnight and some in the middle of the day. People are taken from their homes or from the street. Some have been found dead. Many are imprisoned and sometimes tortured. Many more are missing. Mee is a 27-year-old villager living in the northern area of Mandalay. She watched as children on motorbikes rode by her house toward the woods. Not long after, the village elders had a warning: All the boys must leave and get somewhere safe. The soldiers might be coming.

World’s Glaciers Melting Faster than Ever

The world’s glaciers are melting quickly. Scientists from the magazine Nature looked at 20 years of satellite data of the world’s 220,000 mountain glaciers. They found that since 2015, glaciers have lost 298 billion metric tons of ice and snow per year. That is 31 percent more than 15 years ago, and enough ice melt to put Switzerland under 7.2 meters of water each year. Scientists say the melting is caused by climate change. They have long warned that warming temperatures are shrinking glaciers around the world.

Romain Hugonnet studies glaciers at ETH Zurich and the University of Toulouse in France. He led the report. The thinning rate of glaciers is twice as high as it was 20 years ago, and “that’s enormous,” he said. Half of the world’s glacier melt is in the United States and Canada. Alaska’s melt rates are “among the highest on the planet,” Hugonnet said. Alaska’s Columbia Glacier is losing about 35 meters a year, he added. Almost all of the world’s glaciers are melting. Even glaciers that used to be solid are now melting, such as ones in Tibet.

More Support Easing Vaccine Patent Rules, But Problems Remain

France joined the United States on Thursday in support of easing patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines. The action could help poorer countries get more shots and quicken the end of the pandemic. On Wednesday, the U.S. government changed its own position and supported removing the protections. It brought cheers from health activists and complaints from drug companies. During a visit to a vaccine center on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron added, “I completely favor this opening up of the intellectual property.”

Despite his support for removing protections, Macron also said it would not solve the problem of getting more vaccines to more people around the world. He noted that places like Africa were not equipped to make COVID-19 vaccines. He said vaccine donation should be most important. While the backing from two countries with big drug making companies is important, many problems remain to be solved. The idea of removing patent protections was first floated by India and South Africa in October.

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