For the first time, Google Street View is offering a virtual walk-through of some of Egypt's main tourist sites. The recently-unveiled views come just as tourism has fallen due to Egypt's three years of unrest.
The Guardian reports that Google has used its special teams and Street View cameras to capture the pyramids of Giza and Saqqara, Saladin's citadel, and the ancient city of Abu Mena. Apparently, the bumpy terrain meant Google couldn't use its usual car-mounted cameras, so it sent its trekkers in to do the job.
The Guardian says Egypt's hotel visitors have dropped by a third in the last four years and revenues have dropped by more than half. Ticket sales are down by 95 percent at the historic sites. So if you don't like crowds, now might actually be the time to visit in the flesh.
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It appears that the North Korean government is in favor of Scottish independence — at least according to the editor of a regime-backed newspaper for Tokyo's Korean expat community.
That editor, Choe Kwan-il of the Choson Sinbo newspaper, told Britain's The Telegraph, "I believe that every person has the right to be a member of an independent nation, to have sovereignty, to live in peace and to enjoy equality." He also mentioned that North Koreans like the taste of scotch, so he expects trade relations would be strong between an independent Scotland and North Korea.
Not content with its sophisticated social media presence, ISIS has branched into a new area for its propaganda offensive: professional video with special effects.
A new wing of the militant group called Al-Hayat Media Center has begun churning out items like music videos, violent action flicks and feel-good infomercials showing how great life can be under ISIS rule. PRI's The World consulted experts who said the videos show evidence of serious editing chops, like the kind you'd find at a Western ad agency.
And not only are the videos well-produced, they're coming thick and fast. One expert called the pace of ISIS video-making "really stunning stuff." Ironically, though, the terrorist group and its videos advocate for a medieval lifestyle even as they use the most modern film techniques available. Some suspect a German rapper-turned-jihadist is behind the video operation.
When ISIS beheaded American journalist James Foley, media outlets that published photos and videos of the act were widely criticized. Many people — including many journalists — believed that doing so gave ISIS exactly the propaganda coup it wanted. Withholding images of war and dead Americans has been viewed, at times, as patriotic and an important way to protect US citizens.
PRI's The World spoke with veteran reporter Peter Maass, who argues that people should see more of these images. He feels that words can never adequately capture the horror of terrorism and war and that people need to understand and witness it. "This stuff is ghastly, it's terrible,” Maass says. “But unless you are confronted with it, I believe, you can't get to the depths of it, and you can't kind of reach the level of understanding and, perhaps, revulsion that one should.”
At some point this weekend, Earth will be affected in some form by an "X-class" solar flare — that's the biggest of three solar flare categories. Scientists aren't sure, but the flare may even have caused a Coronal Mass Ejection, the kind of huge burst of solar particles that blew out telegraph lines across the world in 1859. Such a storm could cause up to $2 trillion in damages today, according to some estimates. So are we running for cover? Turning off the electronics? No. We're livestreaming it, says the National Post of Canada, which gives a link to the Slooh Space Telescope's feed. We give up, Internet. You win.
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