Earth to FEDOR: Russia launches humanoid robot into space

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019   •   2078

Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft lifting off (left) Russian Semi-Autonomous Robot Skybot F-850 (right)| Courtesy: Reuters

A Russian humanoid robot was making its way on Thursday (August 22) to the International Space Station after blasting off on a two-week mission to support the crew and test his skills.

Known as FEDOR, which stands for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research, the Skybot F-850 is the first humanoid robot to be sent to space by Russia. NASA sent humanoid robot Robonaut 2 to space in 2011 to work in hazardous environments.

“The robot’s main purpose it to be used in operations that are especially dangerous for humans onboard spacecraft and in outer space,” Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Thursday after the launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

The ISS is a joint project of the space agencies of the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada.

Travelling in an unmanned Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft, FEDOR is expected to dock at the ISS on Saturday with 1,450 pounds (660 kg) of cargo including medical supplies and food rations for the crew waiting at the station, NASA said.

FEDOR, who is the size an adult and can emulate movements of the human body, has apparently embraced his mission, describing himself as “an assistant to the ISS crew” on his Twitter page, which has 4,600 followers.

“Everything is normal,” a tweet posted on his account said a few hours into his flight. (Reuters)

(Production: Maria Vasilyeva, Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber)

Philippines eyes deal with Russia on tax data capture

Robie de Guzman   •   February 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and Russia are exploring possible cooperation that could further improve the country’s tax administration and compliance, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the DOF said officials from the country’s Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Russia’s Federal Tax Service (FTS) met to discuss the latter’s best practices that could be applied in the Philippines’ revenue agencies.

During an online meeting with FTS deputy commissioner Dmitry Volvach last January 13, both countries explored a possible bilateral agreement between the revenue agencies of the two nations.

In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez during a recent executive committee (Execom) meeting, BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa commended Russia’s tax administration system, which, he said, uses artificial intelligence and data analytics to capture taxpayers’ information.

“We had an initial meeting with the Federal Tax Service of Russia, represented by their Deputy Commissioner Dmitry Volvach. They have good tax administration. They started their digitalization in 2016 and, after 5 years, they are now into capturing almost all the data of taxpayers,” said Guballa in his report.

Guballa said they learned from the FTS that it now audits only 1 out of 7,000 taxpayers as a result of Russia’s well-placed and efficient system that encourages people to comply with tax laws.

Last January 15, the BIR launched its Internal Revenue Integrated System (IRIS), which will serve as the agency’s central tool and repository to process taxpayers’ information.

It is expected to be rolled out nationwide in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to Guballa.

The IRIS launching forms part of the deliverables this year under the BIR’s long-term Digital Transformation Program, he added.

Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine yields 92% efficacy in clinical trial

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 3, 2021

Phase 3 clinical trials of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine has yielded 92% efficacy rate.

Based on experts’ data published in the Lancet International Medical Journal, Sputnik V of Russian Gamaleya Institute is 92% effective against COVID-19.

Ian Jones of the University of Reading Professor and Polly Roy of London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Professor said Sputnik V received criticisms for its lack of transparency and so-called premature rollout of vaccines. However, both professors agreed on Russsia’s previous decision to rollout the vaccine despite its lack of final data.

“The development of the Sputnik V vaccine has been criticized for unseemly haste, corner cutting, and an absence of transparency, but the outcome reported here is clear and the scientific principle of vaccination is demonstrated. Another vaccine can now join the fight to reduce the incidence of COVID-19,” their statement reads. AAC

6th Wish Music Awards pioneers a groundbreaking new normal for PH music industry

Marje Pelayo   •   January 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s top FM station Wish 107.5 staged another milestone in the Philippine music industry with a concert inside not just any venue but at the Big Dome on Sunday (January 17).

The radio station of the famed Wish Bus, once again proved that it is truly “breaking boundaries”, that despite the pandemic it was able to pull off a grand concert for a cause and gathered some of the top Filipino artists at the 6th Wish Music Awards hosted by celebrity-athlete Gretchen Ho and “Asia’s Romantic Balladeer,” Christian Bautista. 

“It’s so nice to see people get a chance again to perform for their fans live, to just have a feel of the stage again,” said Ho.

Attendees underwent swab testing, while health protocols and proper sanitation procedures were strictly observed.

Each of the hosts and performing artists was given a microphone for their exclusive use throughout the event.

For the RT-PCR and antigen tests, Wish 107.5 partnered with Maxicare Health Corporation.

Only attendees with negative results were allowed to enter the venue.

The entire Big Dome also underwent massive disinfection for the safety of the attendees.

All productions and technical crew were required to use face masks and face shield throughout the event and floor markings were placed to guide them of the proper social distance.

The event at the Big Dome was not opened to the public, but fans and supporters were still able to enjoy the show as it was streamed live through Wish 107.5’s official YouTube channel.

Viewers on Sunday night reached to over 40,000 and the event hashtag #WishMusicAwards trended on Twitter with almost 200,000 tweets.

This year, the station gave two prestigious awards to individuals who made major contributions to the Philippine music industry, starting off with OPM legend and renowned lyricist, Rey Valera and Journey frontman and singer-philanthropist, Arnel Pineda.

“It is an honor to be bestowed this prestigious award; the prize money you’re going to give to us will definitely make a difference to the lives of our beneficiaries,” Pineda said, receiving the KDR Icon of Music and Philanthropy award.

“Salamat sa Kuya Daniel. Natutuwa ako puro kabataan ang nakikita ko. Nakikita ko ang kinabukasan ng OPM. Napakinggan ko ang mga lyrics nila. Importante sa akin iyon. Gusto kong mangyari kung ano ang mangyayari bukas,” Valera said receiving the KDR Icon of Musical Excellence award.

Winners in this year’s Wish Music Awards received P25,000 each while their chosen charities received P100, 000 each.

Among the highlights at Sunday’s event was the debut performance at the Wish Awards of OPM royalty, ‘Parokya ni Edgar’ and the award-winning Australian singer-songwriter Guy Sebastian.

Wish 107.5’s creator and innovator Kuya Daniel Razon, who on Sunday graced the event inside the Wish Bus, expressed his gratitude to all OPM artists for keeping their music alive to heal, to inspire and to give hope in the face of a pandemic. 

“I wish to tell all of you, that your endeavors are very much appreciated,” noted Kuya Daniel, President and CEO of BMPI-UNTV which manages Wish 107.5.

“Ang inyong mga awitin at musika ay nanatili para patuloy na umaliw, patuloy na dumamay, sa bawat lumbay, sa bawat pangamba at sa bawat takot. Mayroon pong mga titik, mayroong tinig at tunog na palaging nagbibigay buhay at kahulugan sa mga damdaming ito. I would like to thank you all for being our hidden heroes during this difficult time,” he added.

Kuya Daniel vows to continue helping more Filipino artists by providing an avenue for the promotion of their music and an opportunity to spread goodwill through Wish 107.5. MNP (with reports from Mirasol Abogadil)

READ: 6th Wish 107.5 Music Awards: Complete List of Winners

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