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Food giant Nestle is planning to
hire 1000 robots as sales clerks at
stores across Japan.
The first batch of the chatty
humanoid called Pepper will report to
work by the end of the year at outlets
that sell coffee capsules and home
“From December, they will start
selling coffee machines for us at
big retail stores,” Nestle Japan
spokeswoman Miki Kano said
“ We are sure that our customers will
enjoy shopping and being entertained
Pepper — which has already
been at work, chatting with
customers at wireless giant Soft
Bank’s outlets — has proved an
effective marketing tool for the
Japanese mobile carrier, delighting
managers who put it to work
collecting customer opinions.
The 1.2m tall robot, which moves
on rollers and has what looks like a
tablet computer strapped to its chest,
was unveiled in June by Soft Bank
president Masayoshi Son.
He billed it as an “emotional” robot
that understands “70% to 80% of
Pepper is set to go on the market
from February for about $US2000
($NZ2550) a piece. — AFP
Masayoshi Son, head of Japan’s Soft Bank telecommunication company, with Pepper the robot.
Nestle to ‘hire’ 1000 robots
Elton John has called Pope Francis
“my hero” for his compassion and push
to accept gays in the Catholic church.
Hosting his annual Aids foundation
benefit in New York yesterday, John
said Francis was pushing boundaries
in the church and told the crowd:
“Make this man a saint now,
“ Ten years ago one of the biggest
obstacles in the fight against Aids
was the Catholic Church. Today we
have a Pope that speaks out about
it,” John said, earning cheers from
the attendees at Cipraini’s on Wall
Catholic bishops scrapped their
landmark welcome to gays earlier this
month, showing deep divisions at the
end of a two-week meeting sought
by Francis to chart a more merciful
approach to ministering to Catholic
An earlier draft of the document
offered a welcoming tone of acceptance,
but that was stripped away after the
bishops failed to reach consensus on a
watered-down section on ministering
“He is a compassionate, loving man
who wants everybody to be included
in the love of God,” John said of the
“It is formidable what he is trying to
do against many, many people in the
church that opposes.
“He is courageous and he is fearless,
and that ’s what we need in the world
today.” — AP
Nobel Peace Prize laureate
Malala Yousafzai said she is
giving her entire winnings from
a children’s rights award to help
rebuild schools in war-ravaged
The UN Palestinian refugee
agency UNRWA, which has
launched a massive $US1.6 billion
($NZ2.04b) appeal for aid for
Gaza, said she would be donating
all $US50,000 of her World’s
“This money will totally go
to the rebuilding of schools for
children in Gaza, so I think it will
definitely help those children to
continue their education, to get
quality education,” the 17-year-old
Pakistani told a press conference in
Sweden at the awards ceremony.
“ We already know how children
have suffered in Gaza from
conflicts and war, so those children
need our support right now,
because they are going through
many difficult situations.”
The money will be donated
via UNRWA to help rebuild 65
schools in the Gaza Strip.
The tiny Palestinian territory
was devastated in the July-August
conflict this year between Israel
and Hamas-led Gaza militants.
Nearly 2000 Palestinians were
killed, most of them civilians, as
well as 73 people on the Israeli
side, mostly soldiers.
The conflict also destroyed tens
of thousands of houses in the
impoverished strip, as well as
key infrastructure, and left some
100,000 Gazans homeless.
Malala, the youngest ever Nobel
Peace Prize winner, is also the first
child to win the World’s Children’s
Prize — apart from Anne Frank
who was honoured posthumously.
She was shot in the head in 2012
by the Taleban near her home in
Pakistan’s Swat Valley for her
advocacy of girls’ right to go to
Organisers of the Worlds’
Children’s Prize said she was
honoured for her “courageous and
dangerous fight for girls’ right to
Honorary awards this year also
went to former Microsoft executive
John Wood, founder of the Room
to Read literacy group, and Indira
Ranamagar from Nepal, for her
work for the children of prisoners.
Teen Nobel winner
to Gaza schools
Two men who were shot with a nailgun
at a Buddhist temple in Sydney ’s south-
west remain in critical conditions.
The men, aged 29 and 59, were each
shot once in the head in the attack at the
Vat Ketanak Khmer Kampuchea Krom
temple in Rossmore yesterday afternoon.
Both have undergone surgery and
remain in critical conditions, police said
A police search at the temple’s grounds
uncovered a nailgun, which is to be
forensically examined. — A AP
Men shot with nailgun
in Buddhist temple
A Finnish brewery has re-created a
Belgian beer from bottles that sank
170 years ago on a merchant ship in
the Baltic Sea.
The brew was reproduced thanks
to elaborate research by Finnish and
Belgian scientists who teamed up
after the wreckage was discovered off
Finland’s Aaland Islands in 2010.
Divers exploring 12m down found
only five bottles of beer next to 145
champagne bottles — confirmed as
the world’s oldest drinkable bubbly —
in the long-lost wreck. “Contrary to
the champagne, the beer seemed not
to be drinkable,” a team of scientists
from Belgium’s Louvain University
said in a statement yesterday.
In fact, with the help of modern
chemistry and a bit of ingenuity they
were proved wrong.
The result “gives us a notion how a
luxury beer tasted in the early 1800s”,
Jan Wennstroem, chief executive of
Finland’s Stallhagen brewery, said.
required serious detective work.
It was assumed that the ship had
sunk sometime in the 1840s but
no one knew its name nor where it
sailed from — meaning the beer’s
provenance was a mystery.
Technicians at Finland’s VTT
Technical Research Centre in Espoo,
outside Helsinki, concluded that it
most probably had been brewed in
Enter a Belgian team of scientists
from the University of Louvain,
tasked with finding the exact
ingredients and determining how the
ancient beer had been brewed.
“The biggest challenge has been to
decide what type of microorganisms
to use to make this type of beer,”
microbiologist Guido Aerts said.
The Finnish brewery has produced
120,000 bottles of what it has aptly
named Stallhagen 1843. — Reuters
170-year-old beer from shipwreck re-brewed
Hopes are fading of finding alive 18
Turkish coal miners trapped when their
shaft was engulfed by water, as rescue
workers made last-ditch efforts to find
Yesterday ’s accident in southern Turkey
was the latest to hit the country’s disaster-
prone mining industry after 301 workers
were killed in a coalmine explosion in
Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said
divers had entered the flooded mine in
the province of Karaman but visibility
was poor and they were unable to go
more than a few metres deep.
“Every moment that goes by is bad for
our (trapped) workers. Time is working
against us. With every passing minute, our
hopes are reduced,” he said in comments
broadcast by Turkish television.
He said an estimated 10-12 tonnes of
water had filled the shaft at the privately-
owned mine in the village of Pamuklu.
In a poignant development, Turkish
media reported that the wife of one of
the trapped miners, named as Huseyin
Gultekin, had given birth to his baby son
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said
he would be travelling to the scene, and
insisted there was still a chance of finding
the miners alive.
“Our expectations and our hopes have
not been lost. O ur friends and ministers
are continuing to work and make efforts
there,” he said in comments broadcast by
The miners are believed to be trapped
in a flooded shaft more than 300m
At least 34 workers were underground
at the time of the accident yesterday but
16 escaped unscathed. — AP
Hope fades for Turkish coalminers
Jihadists from the Islamic State group
have executed more than 40 members of
a tribe that fought against them in Iraq’s
Anbar province, sources say.
The men from the Albu Nimr tribe
were killed in the Heet area, north-west
of Baghdad, which was overrun by the
militants earlier this month, a local leader
and a doctor said overnight.
A police colonel and a leader from the
anti-jihadist Sahwa forces confirmed the
killings. Sources differed on the exact
number of dead, with some saying as
many as 48 were killed.
IS has overrun large areas of Anbar,
and the killings are likely aimed at
discouraging resistance from powerful
local tribes, who will be key to any
successful bid to retake the province.
Pro-government forces have suffered
a string of setbacks in Anbar in recent
weeks, prompting warnings that the
province could fall entirely.
Images said to show the aftermath
of the public execution circulated on
Twitter, but their authenticity could not
be independently confirmed.
One picture shows a line of more than
30 men in civilian clothes lying in the
middle of a street with streams of blood
running over the dusty ground, as young
men and children look on.
The victims are barefoot and many
blindfolded, their hands bound behind
their backs. — AFP
IS executes 40 Iraqis Jerusalem
Israeli drinks firm Soda Stream, hit
by international boycott calls, says it
is shutting a controversial factory in a
West Bank settlement as it announced
a 9% fall in sales.
The firm, which manufactures a
device for making fizzy drinks at home
and which was embroiled in a row
earlier this year involving Hollywood
actress Scarlett Johansson, said it would
relocate the factory by the end of 2015.
Soda Stream said the plant closure
would “improve the operational
efficiency ” of a group that has been
listed on the New York stock exchange
Another factory in northern Israel
would also close, the group said on its
The manufacturer claims its factory
in the Jewish settlement of Mishor
Adumim in the occupied West Bank,
is a “model of integration” employing
500 Palestinians, 450 Arab Israelis and
350 Israeli Jews on the same salaries
and with the same social security
Palestinian employees “receive salaries
four or five times that of the average
wage in the territories controlled by
Palestinian authorities”, it has said.
But the factory has been the focus
of calls by Palestinian activists for a
worldwide boycott of the firm.
The row hit the headlines in January
when Johansson quit as an ambassador
for charity Oxfam following a dispute
over her ad campaign for Soda Stream.
Soda Stream shuts West Bank factory
A major mudslide at a tea plantation
in Sri Lanka has killed about 100
people, with the victims buried alive, the
country’s disaster management minister
“I went to the spot. What I gathered is
that about 100 people have been buried
alive,” Disaster Management Minister
Mahinda Amaraweera said after visiting
the site in the eastern Koslanda region.
“There is no chance they could have
The minister said the search and rescue
mission led by troops had now turned
into a recovery operation, which they
hope to resume at first light today.
He said using heavy machinery
had to be done carefully because the
surrounding hills were unstable.
“Initially we estimated the missing
number at 300, but most of them were at
school or work,” the minister said.
“ We have already started relief
operations to provide them with shelter
and food. Even the office where records
were kept had been damaged,” the
The region’s top military official Major
General Mano Perera said 302 people,
including 75 school children, whose
homes were destroyed in the mudslide
were being looked after at two schools in
the area. — Reuters
100 buried alive in
Sri Lankan mudslide
A sacred tunnel discovered in the
ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan is
filled with thousands of ritual objects
and may lead to royal tombs, the lead
Mexican archaeologist on the project
The entrance to the 1800-year-old
tunnel was first discovered in 2003,
and its contents came to light thanks
to excavations by remote-control robots
and then human researchers, archeologist
Sergio Gomez told reporters.
The site is located about 50km north-
east of Mexico City. The ruins have long
been shrouded in mystery because its
inhabitants did not leave behind written
The artifacts found inside the tunnel,
located below the Temple of the Plumed
Serpent, include finely car ved stone
sculptures, jewelry and shells.
An estimated 50,000 objects, 4,000
made of wood as well as scores of
obsidian blades and arrow heads, provide
clues into how the city’s priests and
rulers conceived the underworld.
“D ue to the magnitude of the offerings
that we’ve found, it can’t be in any
other place,” said Gomez, who works
for Mexico’s national anthropology
and history institute, referring to the
possibility of finding royal tombs.
One of Mexico’s most-visited ancient
sites, Teotihuacan is home to massive
pyramids, temples and elite residences
including many adorned with colourful
The city reached its peak between
100BC and 650BC with a population
as large as 200,000, growing rich from
a wide-ranging trade in obsidian that in
pre-Colombian times was used to make
knives and other weapons.
The city had long been abandoned by
the time the Aztecs came to power in
the Valley of Mexico in the 14th century.
Tunnel could lead to ancient city treasures
You Tube says viewers may soon get
the option of paid subscriptions for
A streaming music ser vice is
another facility the popular on-line
video-sharing site is considering
offering, You Tube chief Susan Wojcicki
“ You Tube right now is ad-supported,
which is really great in the sense that
it has enabled us to scale to a billion
users; anyone can access the content,”
Wojcicki says in an on-line video clip
of her appearance on Tuesday at a
technology conference in California.
“But there are going to be cases where
people will say, ‘I don’t want to see
the ads,’ or, ‘I want to have a different
Wojcicki also confirmed rumours You
Tube is working on a streaming music
and video ser vice that could compete
with the likes of Pandora and Spotify.
She provided few details but said she
was optimistic the music ser vice would
debut soon. — AFP
You Tube considers paid
subscriptions, music service
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