Emergency Hotlines: LANDLINE (+63) 2 911 – 8688

EU calls for independent probe into oil tanker attack in Gulf of Oman

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Fire burning on oil tanker at sea | Courtesy: Image grabbed from a Reuters video

The European Union (EU) Monday called for an independent investigation into two oil tanker attacks in the waters of the Gulf of Oman to avoid any military tension escalations.

It was reported that two oil tankers, identified as Marshall Islands-flagged Front Altair and the Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous, had burst into flames after being attacked by underwater weapons in the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz last Thursday.

The United States blamed Iran for the attacks but failed to submit any evidence while Iran said the U.S. accusations groundless.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last Thursday condemned the attacks on two oil carriers, calling for the establishment of facts.

The foreign ministers and defense ministers of the EU member states said at the EU Foreign Affairs and Security meeting in Luxembourg Monday that they supported Guterres’ call for independent probe to find out who should take responsibilities for the incidents. They said before any conclusion is drawn, solid evidence should be presented.

High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said all the members will focus their diplomatic work on trying to avoid any escalation of tensions.

“What I found among the ministers beyond the assessment and the intelligence sharing, is a very strong element of concern for the risk of miscalculation or unintentional escalations that could occur in a region that is already to the limits of the stress test, I would say, and a common approach that all the member states expressed that of trying to focus all our action, all our diplomatic work to try to avoid an escalation, and actually help de-escalating, because what we would not like to see is a military escalation in the region. We think that would be extremely dangerous, definitely not positive neither for anyone in the region nor for Europe, neither for the rest of the world,” she said.

Tensions in the Gulf have been close to boiling point for weeks as the U.S. puts pressure on Iran in an attempt to force Tehran to reopen talks about the 2015 nuclear deal, which the U.S. pulled out of last year.

In May, four tankers were attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

The U.S. blamed those attacks on Iran — an accusation Tehran has denied. (REUTERS)

Tags: , , , ,

Over 21,000 evacuated after torrential rain in Guangxi, China

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

Rescuers evacuate residents @Daxu Town, Lingchuan County, Guilin City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, south China | Courtesy: Reuters

Over 21,000 people have been evacuated Wednesday following continuous torrential rain in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to the provincial emergency management department.

In the region, a total of 47 counties and districts in nine cities, including Nanning, Liuzhou, Guilin, and Baise, suffered floods which affected 65,000 hectares of crops and destroyed 1,250 houses.

The local government activated contingency plans for rescue and relief work.

Both rescue and relief efforts are still currently underway. (REUTERS)

Tags: , , , ,

Chip allowing brain-computer communication to come ‘before the end of next year’ — Elon Musk

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Graphics showing implantation of threads and chips | Courtesy: Neuralink/ Reuters

Elon Musk’s start-up Neuralink is aiming to connect the human brain with a machine interface “before the end of next year,” the CEO announced on Tuesday (July 16).

Speaking at a conference in San Francisco, Musk presented ‘version one” of his neuron-sized threads and microprocessor chips that he claims will help people with severe brain injuries and eventually grow to allow humans to connect with advancing artificial intelligence (A.I.) technology.

The implantation of the threads, which Musk said are a tenth the size of a human hair, require the use of a special robot, but a minimally invasive surgery.

Once the threads are implanted into the brain, their connecting chip would wirelessly connect with a device worn outside the body.

Neuralink is seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval and while Musk said his preliminary task is to help people with disabilities interface with computers using their minds, the end goal is to keep up with A.I.

Tuesday’s conference was designed as a marketing tool – Musk told the crowd gathered at the California Academy of Sciences that Neuralink was actively seeking out potential employees to join their team. (REUTERS)

(Production: Bob Mezan)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Several feared dead in fire at Japan animation studio

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, July 18th, 2019

A large plume of smoke is seen coming out of the animation studio that caught fire in Kyoto, Japan. | Courtesy: Reuters

Several people are feared dead after a fire at an animation studio in the Japanese city of Kyoto on Thursday (July 18) and police are investigating a possible arson attack, authorities and local media reported.

The fire at the Kyoto Animation studio injured more than 30 people, 10 of them seriously, and one person has been confirmed dead, a spokesman for the Kyoto City Fire Department said.

Several people were confirmed dead at the site, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing police. A Kyoto police spokesman was unable to immediately confirm the report when contacted by Reuters.

Police have taken into custody a man who poured what appeared to be gasoline around the studio, NHK said.

The studio produces the “Sound! Euphonium” series and its “Free! Road to the World – The Dream” movie is due for release this month. (REUTERS)

(Production: Akiko Okamoto, Yiming Woo)

Tags: , , , , ,