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Chinese rocket falls to Earth, NASA says Beijing did not share information

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(Last Updated On: July 31, 2022)

A Chinese rocket fell back to Earth on Saturday over the Indian Ocean but NASA said Beijing had not shared the “specific trajectory information” needed to know where possible debris might fall.

US Space Command said the Long March 5B rocket re-entered over the Indian Ocean at approximately 16:45 GMT, but referred questions about “reentry’s technical aspects such as potential debris dispersal impact location” to China, Reuters reported.

“All spacefaring nations should follow established best practices and do their part to share this type of information in advance to allow reliable predictions of potential debris impact risk,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. 

“Doing so is critical to the responsible use of space and to ensure the safety of people here on Earth.”

Social media users in Malaysia posted videos of what appeared to be rocket debris, Reuters reported.

Aerospace Corp, a government funded nonprofit research center near Los Angeles, said it was reckless to allow the rocket’s entire main-core stage – which weighs 22.5 tons – to return to Earth in an uncontrolled reentry.

Earlier this week, analysts said the rocket body would disintegrate as it plunged through the atmosphere but is large enough that numerous chunks will likely survive a fiery re-entry to rain debris over an area some 2,000 km long by about 70 km wide, Reuters reported.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately comment. China said earlier this week it would closely track the debris but said it posed little risk to anyone on the ground.

The Long March 5B blasted off July 24 to deliver a laboratory module to the new Chinese space station under construction in orbit, marking the third flight of China’s most powerful rocket since its maiden launch in 2020.

Fragments of another Chinese Long March 5B landed on the Ivory Coast in 2020, damaging several buildings in that West African nation, though no injuries were reported.

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European drought dries up rivers, kills fish, shrivels crops

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(Last Updated On: August 14, 2022)

Once, a river ran through it. Now, white dust and thousands of dead fish cover the wide trench that winds amid rows of trees in France’s Burgundy region in what was the Tille River in the village of Lux.

From dry and cracked reservoirs in Spain to falling water levels on major arteries like the Danube, the Rhine and the Po, an unprecedented drought is afflicting nearly half of Europe. It is damaging farm economies, forcing water restrictions, causing wildfires and threatening aquatic species, AP reported.

There has been no significant rainfall for almost two months in the continent’s western, central and southern regions. In typically rainy Britain, the government officially declared a drought across southern and central England on Friday amid one of the hottest and driest summers on record.

And Europe’s dry period is expected to continue in what experts say could be the worst drought in 500 years.

Climate change is exacerbating conditions as hotter temperatures speed up evaporation, thirsty plants take in more moisture and reduced snowfall in the winter limits supplies of fresh water available for irrigation in the summer. Europe isn’t alone in the crisis, with drought conditions also reported in East Africa, the western United States and northern Mexico.

As he walked in the 15-meter wide riverbed in Lux, Jean-Philippe Couasné, chief technician at the local Federation for Fishing and Protection of the Aquatic Environment, listed the species of fish that had died in the Tille.

“It’s heartbreaking,” he said. “On average, about 8,000 liters per second are flowing. … And now, zero liters.”

In areas upstream, some trout and other freshwater species can take shelter in pools via fish ladders. But such systems aren’t available everywhere.

Without rain, the river “will continue to empty. And yes, all fish will die. … They are trapped upstream and downstream, there’s no water coming in, so the oxygen level will keep decreasing as the (water) volume goes down,” Couasné said. “These are species that will gradually disappear.”

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Elon Musk sells $7 billion in Tesla shares ahead of Twitter fight

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2022)

Elon Musk has sold nearly $7 billion worth of shares in Tesla as the billionaire gets his finances in order ahead of his court battle with Twitter.

Musk disclosed in a series of regulatory filings that he unloaded about 8 million shares of his company Tesla Inc. in recent days, AP reported.

“In the (hopefully unlikely) event that Twitter forces this deal to close and some equity partners don’t come through, it is important to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock,” Musk tweeted.

Musk is by far the largest individual shareholder in both Tesla and Twitter.

Shares of Tesla rose 4% to close Wednesday at $883.07. Shares of Twitter Inc. jumped 3.7% to close at $44.43, and are up 36% since July 11, with most believing Musk faces long-shot odds of success in court.

Musk countersued Twitter last week, accusing the company of fraud over his aborted $44 billion acquisition. He claimed that Twitter held back critical information and misled his team about the size of its user base.

Musk alleges that Twitter committed fraud, breach of contract and violation of a securities law in Texas, where Musk lives.

Musk offered to buy Twitter earlier this year, then tried to back out of the deal claiming the social platform was infested with a larger numbers of “spam bots” and fake accounts than Twitter had disclosed.

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Australian court orders Google to pay $43 mln for misleading users

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2022)

Australia’s competition watchdog said on Friday that Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google unit was ordered by the country’s Federal Court to pay A$60 million ($42.7 million) in penalties for misleading users on collection of their personal location data.

The court found Google misled some customers about personal location data collected through their Android mobile devices between January 2017 and December 2018, Reuters reported on Friday. 

Google misled users into believing “location history” setting on their android phones was the only way location data could be collected by it, when a feature to monitor web and applications activity also allowed local data collection and storage, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) said.

The watchdog, which estimates that 1.3 million Google account users in Australia may have been affected, had started the proceedings against the company and its local unit in October 2019.

Google took remedial measures in 2018, the regulator said.

In an emailed statement, Google said it had settled the matter and added it has made location information simple to manage and easy to understand.

The search engine giant has been embroiled in legal action in Australia over the past year as the government mulled and passed a law to make Google and Meta Platforms’ (META.O) Facebook pay media companies for content on their platforms.

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