Partial results suggest runoff
Former minister of foreign affairs Abdullah Abdullah’s lead increased slightly in the partial results for the presidential election released on Sunday, but he and rival Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a former finance minister and World Bank official, still seem to be heading for a runoff next month. The winner will replace President Hamid Karzai and will oversee a tumultuous period as the US and NATO are expected to withdraw most of their troops from the country by the end of the year. The latest numbers show Abdullah with 44 percent of the votes tallied so far and Ahmadzai with 33.2 percent. Both Abdullah and Ahmadzai have promised a fresh start with the West amid deteriorating ties and vowed to move ahead with a security pact with the US that Karzai has refused to sign. The partial results represent about half of the estimated 7 million ballots cast in the April 5 poll, with the final count due by May 14.
Online porn purge continues
The government has shut down 110 Web sites carrying pornography, canceled more than 3,300 “obscene” accounts on social media sites and deleted 200,000 items deemed pornographic since January in a renewed effort to clean up the Internet, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday. The “Cleaning the Web 2014” campaign was launched in response to the spread of online pornography despite repeated bans, according to a circular issued by the National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications. Pornography is illegal in the country, but some critics fear the crackdown on material deemed obscene is the government’s latest attempt to tighten its grip on the Web and will be used in broader censorship. The campaign is set to last until November.
Scientist invents digital eyes
For those who cannot be bothered to show what they are thinking, scientist Hirotaka Osawa has the answer: “AgencyGlass,” a pair of digital eyes that can express delight, anger or even feign boredom. “I wanted to build a system that is capable of carrying out social behaviors for humans,” Osawa told reporters. Just as robots can reduce the burden of physical labor, the AgencyGlass — which looks like two small TV screens set in glasses frames — aims to cut down its user’s emotional demands by carrying out their eye movements for them. The two screens are connected to motion sensors and an external camera, showing a pair of eyeballs that can appear to be making eye contact while the wearer is looking away. The wearer has to choose their emotion in advance and switch to that mode before putting the glasses on. Osawa, of Tsukuba University, said possible applications include for flight attendants dealing with irritating passengers. “As the service sector grows and becomes more sophisticated, it becomes increasingly important that we behave by showing understanding to others,” he said. “That requires us to behave differently from our true feelings.” Such “emotional labor” can lead some to develop emotional illnesses, Osawa said, adding that his technology could help them.
Man dies after bus falls 10m
A bus plunged into a ravine in Pahang State, killing a British man and injuring 40 others, mostly foreigners, police said yesterday. The bus bound for Singapore fell into the 10m-deep ravine on Sunday, district police chief Yahaya Othman said. A British man, 32, died of head injuries at the scene, he said. The other 37 passengers were hospitalized, along with two Malaysian drivers and a tour guide.