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Myanmar: Plane lands on its nose after landing gear fails

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A Myanmar pilot safely landed a passenger jet without its front wheels on Sunday, after landing gear on the Myanmar National Airlines plane failed to deploy, the airline and an official said.

It was the second aviation incident in Myanmar this week, after a Biman Bangladesh Airlines plane skidded off the runway during strong wind in Yangon on Wednesday, injuring at least 17 of those on board.

An official praised the pilot for bringing the Embraer 190 aircraft in to land at Mandalay airport on Sunday morning despite the technical failure. No one was hurt.

“The pilot did a great job,” said Win Khant, permanent secretary of transportation and telecommunication ministry, adding the incident was being investigated.

Myanmar National Airlines, the state-run carrier, said in a statement the aircraft had departed from the city of Yangon and was approaching the airport serving the central city of Mandalay when the pilot was unable to extend the front landing gear.

The pilot, Captain Myat Moe Aung, flew past the airport twice so that air traffic controllers could check if the landing gear was down, the airline said.

“Then the captain followed emergency procedures and did the fuel burn out to reduce the landing weight,” it said.

Video of the landing shows the plane touching down on its rear wheels before lowering its nose. The aircraft travels some distance along the runway on its nose, kicking up smoke, before coming to a halt.

The crew then performed an emergency evacuation.

The airline did not say how many people were on board but Embraer said on its website the aircraft has a typical capacity of between 96 and 114 seats.

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Facebook disables billions of accounts

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Facebook on Thursday said it recently disabled billions of bogus accounts set up by “bad actors” and that five per cent of active accounts is likely fakes.

An estimate of how many of the online social networks accounts are fake and actions was taken against the creation of more during the first three months of this year was disclosed in Facebook’s latest report on enforcement activity.

Facebook disabled 2.19 billion accounts in the first quarter of this year, nearly double the number of accounts nixed in the prior three-month period, according to vice president of integrity Guy Rosen.

“The number of accounts we took action on increased due to automated attacks by bad actors who attempt to create large volumes of accounts at one time,” Rosen said.

Facebook apparently disabled the accounts as automated imposters were trying to establish them. The leading social network, meanwhile, estimated that five per cent of its 2.4 billion monthly active users were fake accounts yet to be uncovered.

The California-based company also said it has made progress in battling hate speech, automatically detecting 65 per cent of the content removed instead of needing to wait for users to report it.

Facebook took down four million posts considered hate speech in the first quarter of this year and continues to invest in technology to better detect such material in various languages and regions, according to Rosen.

AFP

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Government Kicks Against Cow-Kissing Challenge

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The Austrian government Thursday warned internet users to shun an online cow-kissing challenge, calling it a “dangerous nuisance”.

A Swiss app called Castl launched the #KuhKussChallenge (“Cow Kiss Challenge”) on Wednesday, encouraging users in Switzerland and other German-speaking countries to kiss cows — “with or without tongues” — to raise money for charity.

But Austrian Agriculture Minister Elisabeth Koestinger branded the challenge a “dangerous nuisance” in a statement on Thursday.

“Pastures and meadows are not petting zoos — actions like these could have serious consequences,” she added, pointing out that cows could become aggressive when defending their calves.

Balancing the activities of tourists and cattle farmers is a sensitive topic in Austria’s mountain regions, with both being key pillars of the region’s economy.

In February, a court in the Tyrol region caused uproar after ordering a farmer to pay 490,000 euros ($555,000) in compensation to the widower of a woman who was trampled to death by a herd of his cows in 2014.

The farmer is appealing the verdict and is being supported by Austria’s farmers’ federation, which has warned of the “end of our mountain pastures” if the verdict is allowed to stand.

The government has tried to prevent such incidents by publishing a “code of conduct” for mountain walkers and hikers, advising them to avoid herds of cows wherever possible.

“Actions like this challenge fly in the face of our efforts to promote co-existence on the pastures. I simply can’t understand it,” said Koestinger.

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Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky To Be Sworn In As Ukraine’s President On Monday

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Ukraine’s parliament voted on Thursday to hold the inauguration of newly elected president Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday after he wrangled with lawmakers over the date.

Zelensky had wanted to hold the inauguration on Sunday, but those plans were controversial because that is a day of mourning for victims of Stalin-era repressions in the former-Soviet country.

The 41-year-old comedy actor, whose only previous experience in politics was playing the president in a television series, crushed the incumbent Petro Poroshenko in a runoff vote on April 21, in which he took 73.2 percent of the vote.

He repeatedly accused MPs of deliberately postponing the inauguration. But they defeated him and voted in favour of holding it on Monday, with 315 backing the date and two opposing.

The long and rancorous wrangling over the date suggest that Zelensky may struggle to impose his will over a parliament in which he does not command a majority despite his decisive victory in the presidential poll.

Following the vote, Zelensky on Facebook slammed the lawmakers as “petty crooks.”

His advisor Dmytro Razumkov told Ukrainian news agency Interfax that some lawmakers voted for a Monday inauguration “simply in order not to support the proposal of the country’s president.”

But pro-Western MP Serguiy Vysotsky wrote on Facebook that “the language of ultimatums is not politics,”  accusing Zelensky of behaving “like a child who wants everything to go the way he wants.”

Zelensky’s team has suggested that the lawmakers’ decision to delay the inauguration could affect the president’s ability to call snap elections to take advantage of his current popularity instead of waiting until October.

Zelensky has promised to eradicate Ukraine’s widespread corruption and end the war with Russia-backed separatists in the east of the country, accusing the outgoing president of doing nothing to improve living standards and reduce poverty.

Yet beyond continuing Ukraine’s pro-Western course, his programme remains unclear and his team largely unknown, raising questions over how he will run a country battling pro-Russian separatists in the east and an unprecedented crisis in relations with Moscow as well economic woes.

AFP

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