The gap in travel freedom is its biggest in decades and disparities in vaccination access between countries could make the situation even worse, says a new report.


The Henley Passport Index, which has been regularly monitoring the world's most travel-friendly passports since 2006, has released its latest rankings and analysis.


As the index doesn't take temporary restrictions into account, Japan is once again top of the leaderboard, with its passport offering visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 193 destinations around the world.


"With extensive travel restrictions still in place globally, any level of international travel freedom remains theoretical," says Henley & Partners, the UK-based citizenship consultancy behind the index, in a statement.


"It is somewhat ironic that Japan is ranked first, yet recently made the difficult decision to bar spectators from abroad from the rescheduled Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, now planned to commence in July."


Japanese passport holders have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 167 more destinations than citizens of Afghanistan, who are at the bottom of the ranking as they can only visit 26 places without needing a visa in advance. That's the biggest gap between countries since the index began, says Henley & Partners.


China and UAE are highest climbers


Singapore remains in second place (with a score of 192) and South Korea ties with Germany in third place (with a score of 191).


As usual, most of the remaining top 10 spots are held by EU countries.

The UK and the US shared the No. 1 spot back in 2014, but their passport strengths have steadily eroded in the years since. They're currently in joint seventh place, alongside Switzerland, Belgium and New Zealand.



In terms of travel freedom, the big success stories of the past decade have been China and the United Arab Emirates.


Since 2011, China has climbed 22 places -- from 90th position to 68th -- while the UAE has gone all the way from No. 65 to No. 15. Its work on strengthening diplomatic ties around the world now means that its citizens are allowed easy access to 174 destinations, compared to the 67 destinations of a decade ago.


"With the roll out of mass vaccination programs in certain wealthy and advanced economies such as the EU, the UAE, the UK, and the US, global mobility will soon be a possibility again for some," says Henley & Partners.


"For citizens of developing and emerging economies, where vaccine roll outs are much slower, and where passports tend to offer far less travel freedom in general -- the future looks decidedly less rosy."


'Permission to roam'

Political science researchers Uur Altundal and mer Zarpli of Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh, respectively, point out in the report some of the dangers of the vaccine passport model as a solution to reopening international travel.


"Given that people will likely need to be vaccinated every year, developed countries might seek to secure vaccine supplies for future use. Ultimately, this could prolong the pandemic and raise the risk of further mutations."



Mehari Taddele Maru, a professor at the Migration Policy Centre and a Fellow at the United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies in Belgium, says that "countries able to vaccinate their populations relatively rapidly will also facilitate their citizens' higher mobility and attract visitors for business and leisure, while countries that are facing conflicts and those that lack funding to ensure adequate storage and efficient distribution of vaccines will lag behind in easing mobility restrictions."


Remote working visas have been a big trend in the past year, as the pandemic has forced businesses worldwide to adopt more flexible working arrangements.


Greg Lindsay, director of Applied Research at NewCities, writes in the report that "destinations ranging from Helsinki to Dubai are already drafting programs and policies targeting footloose talent whose employers have given them permission to roam." He goes on to warn that "any global destination without one is at risk of being left behind when the world opens up again."


The best passports to hold in 2021 are:


1. Japan (193 destinations)

2. Singapore (192)

3. Germany, South Korea (191)

4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain (190)

5. Austria, Denmark (189)

6. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden (188)

7. Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States (187)

8. Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Norway (186)

9. Australia, Canada (185)

10. Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia (183)



The worst passports to hold


Several countries around the world have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to fewer than 40 countries. These include:


102. North Korea (39 destinations)

103. Nepal (38)

104. Palestinian territories (37)

105. Somalia (34)

106. Yemen (33)

107. Pakistan (32)

108. Syria (29)

109. Iraq (28)

110. Afghanistan (26)


Other indexes


Henley & Partner's list is one of several indexes created by financial firms to rank global passports according to the access they provide to their citizens.


The Henley Passport Index is based on data provided by the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) and covers 199 passports and 227 travel destinations. It is updated in real time throughout the year, as and when visa policy changes come into effect.


Arton Capital's Passport Index takes into consideration the passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories -- ROC ,, Macau (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory and the Vatican. Territories annexed to other countries are excluded.


Its 2021 index has Germany, Finland, Spain and Switzerland sharing the top spot, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 134.



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The world's most powerful passports for 2021



Babies born to mothers who have recovered from COVID-19 infection have antibodies against the virus, according to a study of the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Friday.


The Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the university's Faculty of Medicine recruited pregnant women from local public hospitals with infection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, between March 2020 and January 2021, and analyzed data from 20 subjects who had delivered their babies by Jan. 31, 2021.


The results showed that 12 of 13 neonates born to mothers with recovered infection tested positive for anti-SARS-CoV-2 Immunoglobulin G (IgG), confirming the mother-to-child transfer of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.


The study also found that a negative relationship was observed between IgG concentration in cord and maternal sera with infection-to-delivery interval, meaning the longer the interval the lower the IgG concentrations. There was a significant negative relationship between the transplacental IgG transfer ratio with viral load.



Liona Poon, the key investigator of the study and professor from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the university, said that the findings raised the question of the potential impact of vaccine-induced immune response on mother-to-baby transfer of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG.


"There is an urgent need to generate clinical data on efficacy and safety of the various COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women as well as to determine the vaccine technology and timing of vaccination which can best deliver maximum potential benefits to pregnant women and their babies," she added.


The study has been published in an international journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology. 



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Study confirms mother-to-child transfer of COVID-19 antibodies



Babies born to mothers who have recovered from COVID-19 infection have antibodies against the virus, according to a study of the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Friday.


The Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the university's Faculty of Medicine recruited pregnant women from local public hospitals with infection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, between March 2020 and January 2021, and analyzed data from 20 subjects who had delivered their babies by Jan. 31, 2021.


The results showed that 12 of 13 neonates born to mothers with recovered infection tested positive for anti-SARS-CoV-2 Immunoglobulin G (IgG), confirming the mother-to-child transfer of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.


The study also found that a negative relationship was observed between IgG concentration in cord and maternal sera with infection-to-delivery interval, meaning the longer the interval the lower the IgG concentrations. There was a significant negative relationship between the transplacental IgG transfer ratio with viral load.



Liona Poon, the key investigator of the study and professor from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the university, said that the findings raised the question of the potential impact of vaccine-induced immune response on mother-to-baby transfer of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG.


"There is an urgent need to generate clinical data on efficacy and safety of the various COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women as well as to determine the vaccine technology and timing of vaccination which can best deliver maximum potential benefits to pregnant women and their babies," she added.


The study has been published in an international journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology. 



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Study confirms mother-to-child transfer of COVID-19 antibodies

 


 

Bitcoin

The dirty truth

Totting up the cryptocurrencys environmental costs

 




Apr 10th 2021 | words 423

 

 

 

 

AS COINBASES IPO shows, cryptocurrencies have many fans. But they have detractors, too. Environmentalists, in particular, fret about how much energy bitcoin uses. In a paper in Nature Communications, a group of academics led by Dabo Guan of Tsinghua University and Shouyang Wang at the Chinese Academy of Sciences examine bitcoins energy use in China. They conclude that, in the absence of legal curbs, bitcoin could by 2024 become a non-negligible barrier to Chinas efforts to decarbonise its economy.

 

Bitcoins hunger for energy stems from its design. It forgoes centralised record-keeping in favour of a blockchain, a transaction database that is distributed among users. The blockchain is maintained by miners, who validate transactions by competing to crack mathematical puzzles with solutions that are hard to find but easy to check. Each successfully mined block of transactions generates a reward, currently 6.25 bitcoins ($357,000).

 

The system varies the difficulty of the puzzles to ensure that one new block is created, on average, every ten minutes. High bitcoin prices make it worthwhile to spend more computing powerand therefore electricitychasing mining rewards. But bitcoins automatic stabilisers will ramp up the mathematical difficulty in response. Like the Red Queen in Through the Looking-Glass, competing miners find themselves running faster simply to stand still.

 

Despite the currencys democratic ambitions, mining is concentrated among a handful of professional operators. About 70% takes place in China. The researchers use economic modelling to try to work out how much carbon all this make-work produces. They conclude that, without regulation, Chinese bitcoin mining could consume around as much energy as Italy or Saudi Arabia by 2024. Annual carbon emissions, at 130m tonnes, would approach those of Nigeria.

 

Such numbers should be taken with a good deal of salt. Bitcoins energy use depends crucially on its price, which swings wildly. The authors assume that the long-term trend will be upward, because the rate at which new bitcoins are created is designed to halve every four years. Reality will doubtless prove more complicated. But the general picturethat bitcoin is a dirty businessfits with other research. One oft-cited model, which uses publicly available blockchain data, reckons its global energy consumption is already equal to that of Kazakhstan, and that its carbon footprint matches Hong Kongs.

 

 

 






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Economist | The dirty truth

Amazon's Kindle devices are great e-book readers, there's not much arguing over that. But Amazon isn't the most agile company when it comes to introducing new software features to its Kindles. 


One simple feature in particular has been high on users' wishlists for years: having the cover of a book you're currently reading on the device's lock screen. Until now, the display would show some automatically chosen wallpapers when the device was sleeping. There was a way to have the Kindle show the cover art of your current book, but it involved jailbreaking the Kindle (which some people actually did). 


Now, according to GoodEReader, the feature has become available to Kindle e-readers running the latest firmware (5.13.5). The feature already started rolling out in India and Mexico, but Amazon has confirmed to the outlet that it will be available globally "in a couple of weeks." We've tried it on a device in the UK and the feature was there. 

To enable it, go to Settings - Device Options and switch on the "Display Cover" option. 


Being able to see which book you're currently reading when your Kindle is asleep may sound like a tiny feature, but it's actually really natural if for no other reason, then because it's similar to reading a physical book. 


The feature will be available on the Kindle 8th gen and up, Kindle Paperwhite 7th gen and up, Kindle Oasis 8th gen and up, and Kindle Voyage's 7th gen. One caveat is that the Kindle has to be a no-ads variant for this feature to work, as those devices show advertisements on the display when it's asleep.


Resource: mashable.com


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Kindle finally got a feature users have been wanting forever

Do you want a speaker that blends into your home environment so well that no one will notice it? Bang & Olufsen might have a solution. 


The new Beosound Emerge speaker is designed to look pretty much like a book. I say "pretty much" because the speaker does get wider on the back, but you'll probably still be able to squeeze it amongst the actual books on your shelf. 

The cool thing about such placement is that it should actually work sonically, because the higher sound frequencies come through the front, via a 14-millimetre tweeter. The lower frequencies are pushed by a 100-millimetre, side-firing woofer which is guided to the back (it's harder to hear where the lower frequencies are coming from, which is why subwoofers can be placed pretty much anywhere, while main speakers have to face the listener). Bang & Olufsen says the combo creates a sound dispersion "wide enough to fill the room with sound."


Beosound Emerge can also be paired to get a stereo sound, or combined with other Bang & Olufsen Connected Speakers. AirPlay 2 and Chromecast are supported, and the speaker can be voice-controlled via Google Assistant. 

In typical B&O style, the Beosound Emerge is crafted from premium materials, including oak, pearl-blasted aluminum, and woven textile. It's controlled via soft touch buttons on top, while the volume adjustment is done via a circular motion. 


Bang & Olufsen Beosound Emerge costs 599 EUR ($717) in Black Anthracite color and 749 EUR ($897) in Gold Tone. It will be available in Bang & Olufsen stores in "selected European markets" from April 15, 2021, with global availability starting in autumn 2021.


Resource: mashable.com


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Bang & Olufsen's latest speaker is as thin as a book

Fitbit appears to be close to releasing its first device since Google closed its acquisition but it's not a Wear OS smartwatch. If anything, the company might go back to its roots. WinFuture has shared what it says are leaked details of the Fitbit Luxe, a 'luxury' fitness tracker (via 9to5Google). The device reportedly centers around a stainless steel case with an OLED screen, and the interchangeable straps appear to be a cut above the no-frills bands you usually see with these trackers. Fitbit is reportedly promising "balanced health in an elegant design."Accordingly, the Luxe would include GPS, a heart rate monitor and swim-friendly water resistance.


It's not certain when Fitbit might release the upscale tracker, although the depth of the leak suggests it's coming soon. Fitbit's biggest challenge may be price. While it's clearly hoping to reach a premium audience, it also has to compete against a wave of low-cost but powerful fitness wearables that may be good enough for many people. We also wouldn't count on this representing the long-term future of Fitbit given Google's integration hopes, even if it's not necessarily the last hurrah for Fitbit's simpler wearables.


Resource: engadget.com


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Fitbit is reportedly working on a 'luxury' fitness tracker

ZTE has launched the Axon 30 Ultra 5G smartphone, which it indicates removes any indecision out of which camera to use when taking a photo, as it has a "take photos first and zoom later" feature. The company says the phone will take full-focus long, medium, and close-up photos with one tap of the shutter button, unlike most other smartphone cameras which require you to take each photo separately.


The advantage, presumably, is in editing. You can zoom in and out of the photo to find exactly the right look for you, without sacrificing quality. It's a little bit like Portrait modes where you can alter the focal point after you've taken the shot. It'll be interesting to see how the software performs, and whether the feature is useful or not. 


The Axon 30 Ultra does this with three 64-megapixel main cameras and an 8MP telephoto camera. We know the main 64MP camera is a Sony IMX686 sensor with optical image stabilization and an f/1.6 aperture, but we don't know the sensor used for the other two 64MP cameras. If they're different, we can forget about the camera matching the Oppo Find X3 Pro's wonderful consistency across all its cameras.


Aside from the three main cameras, the 8MP telephoto takes 5x optical zoom shots and 10x hybrid photos, while the phone can also record 8K video. ZTE has added in a video guidance mode showing you how to best frame scenes, along with some artificial intelligence (A.I.) driven modes to make your movies look even more creative. Finally, there are various A.I. scene recognition modes, optical and electronic image stabilization, a Night mode, and a Super Moon mode too.


ZTE faces considerable competition in high-end camera phones. This year the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has seriously impressed, as has the Oppo Find X3 Pro, and the Hasselblad-tuned OnePlus 9 Pro. The Apple iPhone 12 Pro may have been released last year, but it still out-performs most rivals. It seems the Axon 30 Ultra has plenty of features, but it needs to back them up with serious ability to impress in 2021.

What else? On the front is a 6.67-inch AMOLED screen with a 144Hz refresh rate, and the phone uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor with 5G connectivity, plus either 8GB or 12GB of RAM. The glass body weighs 188 grams, is 8mm thick, and has Axon branding etched into the back. A 4,600mAh battery provides energy and is recharged using a 66W fast charging system. ZTE's own MyOS11 user interface is placed over the Android 11 operating system.


While the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G has so far only been announced for China, it will be released globally at a later date, and that includes the U.S. and Canada where it'll be sold online. It will be released on April 19 in China, but the price has not yet been confirmed.


Resource: digitaltrends.com


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ZTE unveils Axon 30 Ultra with triple 64MP camera and periscope

Tesla has settled with a former employee that it sued for downloading data related to its Autopilot feature, Reuters has reported. Tesla filed the lawsuit against Cao Guangzhi back in 2019, accusing its former engineer of copying data to an iCloud account and taking it to his new employer, China's XMotors (owned by Xpeng). 


Cao reportedly made a monetary payment to Tesla as part of the terms of settlement, but the amount and other details were not disclosed. Cao's legal representative confirmed the settlement, saying he never provided Tesla information to XMotors or any other company. XMotors was not a party in the case, and said it developed its own self-driving technology in-house and respected intellectual property rights. 


In its original filing, Tesla said that its Autopilot feature was the "crown jewel of Tesla's intellectual property portfolio." The company recently released its Full Self-Driving update, offering new features like automatic lane-changing, auto-parking, summon and more. An NTSB board recently said in a series of tweets that the Full Self-Driving name was "deceptive," as it's "not true... that the vehicle can drive itself right now." 


Resource: engadget.com


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Tesla settles with ex-employee over code theft accusations



Baklava is a rich dessert pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and held together with syrup. 


Our Baklava is tasty. Dry and not so sweet. 


It's made by Syrian chefs who live in China.  


All components used are Halal. 


We can ship the baklava to all Chinese cities via SF courrier ( SF Airplane). 



Our Menu


1.Small box of Baklava 110 RMB


2. Big box of Baklava 245 RMB


3. Baklava Bird nest 110 RMB


4. Luxury Baklava 380 RMB


5. Baklava with nuts 120 RMB


6. Baklava and Bird nest 200 RMB


7. Baklava with Pistachio 230 RMB


8. Bird nest with Pistachio ( Small box ) = 130 RMB


9. Maamoul with walnut and dates & Ghreba 100 RMB


10. Maamoul with dates & Ghreba & Sesame cookies 100 RMB


11. Maamoul with dates 100 RMB


12. Ghreba 100 RMB


13.Sesame cookies 90 RMB


14. Maamoul with walnuts 100 RMB


15. Nawashif with dates 100 RMB



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Baklava For Ramadan (Fresh & & Vegan)