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The world’s first flying motorcycle

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Jetpack Aviation has announced that its flying motorcycle has successfully completed its maiden test flight and is ready to take pre-orders.

The bike is designed to be able to take off and land vertically.

Known as a “Spider”, the bike can reach speeds of 300 mph with a payload, a height of 5,000 metres, and a maximum thrust of 1,200 pounds.

Spyder’s initial cost is $380,000, but is likely to increase, according to David Maiman, the company’s chief executive.

And according to the British newspaper, “Daily Mail”, the company’s prototype called “P1” has an aluminum chassis, and was attached to the ground during a recent flight test in Southern California.

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Hundreds of migrating songbirds crash into NYC skyscrapers

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Hundreds of birds migrating through New York City this week died after crashing into the city’s glass towers, a mass casualty event spotlighted by a New York City Audubon volunteer’s tweets showing the World Trade Center littered with bird carcasses.

This week’s avian death toll was particularly high, but bird strikes on Manhattan skyscrapers are a persistent problem that NYC Audubon has documented for years, said Kaitlyn Parkins, the group’s associate director of conservation and science.

Stormy weather Monday night into Tuesday contributed to the deaths, she said.

“We had a big storm and sort of weird weather and lots of birds, and that’s sort of the perfect combination that can lead to bird-window collisions,” Parkins said.

“It seems that the storm might have brought the birds in lower than they would have otherwise have been, or just disoriented them,” Parkins added. “The effects of nocturnal light on birds is also quite strong, especially when it’s a cloudy night.”

Volunteers with NYC Audubon document bird deaths at high-risk spots during the spring and fall migrations.

Melissa Breyer, the volunteer who tweeted about finding nearly 300 birds on sidewalks surrounding the new World Trade Center towers, said the experience was “overwhelming.”

“As soon as I got to the buildings, the birds were everywhere on the sidewalk,” Breyer said. “Looking north, covered, south, covered, west, covered, the sidewalks were literally covered with birds.”

NYC Audubon wants the owners of the World Trade Center towers and other buildings to help reduce the number of bird strikes by dimming the lights at night and by treating glass to make it more visible to birds.

“Make it so that they can see it and recognize that it’s a solid barrier that they cannot fly through,” Parkins said.

Jordan Barowitz, a spokesperson for the Durst Organization, co-developer of One World Trade Center, said in an email, “The first 200 feet of One WTC are encased in glass fins that are non-reflective. This design was chosen because it greatly reduces bird strikes which mostly occur below 200 feet and are frequently caused by reflective glass.”

Dara McQuillan, a spokesperson for Silverstein Properties, the developer of three other trade center skyscrapers, said, “We care deeply for wild birds and protecting their habitat in the five boroughs. Understanding that artificial night-time lighting in general can attract and disorient migrating birds, we are actively encouraging our office tenants to turn off their lights at night and lower their blinds wherever possible, especially during the migratory season.”

It wasn’t the last flight for all the birds that crashed. Some survived.

A total of 77 birds were taken to the Wild Bird Fund’s rehab facility on the Upper West Side on Tuesday, the majority of them from the trade center area, director Ritamary McMahon said.

“We knew it was going to be a large migration coming in. They could tell from the radar,” said McMahon, who scheduled extra staff to care for an expected influx of injured birds.

The Wild Bird Fund staff members gave the birds food, fluids and anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling.
Thirty birds recovered and were released in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on Wednesday, McMahon said.

“One of our staff took an Uber down to Prospect Park to release them so they wouldn’t face any more tall buildings on their travels,” she said.

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Cyprus recovers looted 18th century church doors from Japan

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Cyprus’ Orthodox Church formally took charge Thursday of two ornately decorated 18th century doors stolen from a church in the ethnically divided island’s breakaway north and reclaimed from a Japanese art college after a long legal battle.

Communications and Works Minister Yiannis Karousos said the wooden doors — painted with religious scenes, carved and gilded — were discovered at the Kanazawa Art College more than 20 years ago and their return followed “long and intensive efforts.”

No information was provided on how the college acquired them.

The artifacts originally stood in the central gateway of the iconostasis — the ornately decorated screen that separates the sanctuary from the rest of an Orthodox church — of Saint Anastasios in Peristeronopigi village.

Built in 1775, the church sits atop a cave where the saint’s grave is preserved.

The doors were stolen after the island’s ethnic split in 1974, when Turkey invaded in response to a coup aimed at union with Greece. Turkish Cypriots declared independence in the north, that’s recognized only by Turkey.

In what Karousos called “cultural genocide,” hundreds of frescoes, mosaics and other religious works of art were looted from churches in the north after the invasion.

Since 1974, Cypriot government and church authorities have fought long legal battles in the United States, Europe and elsewhere to reclaim them.

Karousos said the doors’ repatriation sends the message to antiquities smugglers and “the international ring of crooks that however many years go by, (Cyprus) will hunt them down, because cultural genocide cannot be tolerated anywhere in the world.”

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French court lowers Bloomberg fine over hoax Vinci statement

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A French appeal court on Thursday upheld a ruling by France’s markets watchdog AMF against US news agency Bloomberg for publishing a hoax press release, French media reported, but lowered its fine to three million euros.

Bloomberg News was originally fined five million euros ($5.9 million) in December 2019 for publishing a hoax press release in November 2016 relating to construction group Vinci, which had filed a legal complaint to the AMF.

The AMF said at the time that Bloomberg should have known the information in the hoax press release was false.

“Our journalists, among others, simply reported on what appeared to be newsworthy information and were the victims of a sophisticated hoax, the perpetrator of which has not yet been found,” a Bloomberg spokesperson said after Thursday’s ruling.

“We hoped that the court would recognize the issues of press freedom at stake. We are disappointed the court has not overturned the original decision and will consider our options on appeal,” they added.

Vinci shares fell as much as 18 percent on Nov. 22, 2016 after the hoax statement, which said that the French group would revise its 2015 and 2016 accounts and fire its chief financial officer.

The AMF had said it had taken action against Bloomberg because it had published the statement without verifying it.

Vinci’s share price recovered after the company denied the Bloomberg report and said that the statement was a hoax.

The appeal court’s ruling was not immediately available on its website or on the AMF’s own site.

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