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News seen on the web and about the web. From Monday to Friday at 8.20 am Paris time.

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Latest update : 2013-09-02

USA: online tools to monitor Yosemite wildfire

Today on the net: online tools monitoring the Yosemite wildfire in the US; Zimbabwe’s "Disneyland" project sparks lively debate; and a British man helps a teddy bear beat the skydiving record.

USA: online tools to monitor Yosemite wildfire

These images are both terrifying and captivating: we see the rapid growth of the massive wildfire, the so called “Rim Fire”, which began over two weeks ago in California. The time-lapse video was produced by officials at Yosemite, stitched together from webcam footage around the national park.

Information on how the fire is spreading is available online. Local radio station KPCC has put together this web page which updates figures on a daily basis detailing the scale of damage as well as information on what is being done to contain the flames, with some 5,000 firefighters and 30 or so helicopters battling the blaze on Sunday.

This interactive map, created by the site Esri.com compiles this data in real time so viewers can visualize how the fire is progressing, shown here in red, and also the areas under threat, like the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, which provides San Francisco’s water supply.

But as we can see from these photos posted to social networks, tourists and visitors have not been deterred by the wildfire and have continued to come to the park, as only some parts had been closed off to the public. Up until this weekend that is when smoke blanketed Yosemite Valley, the park’s main tourist area.

The Yosemite National Park has posted a message to its website urging visitors to be extremely careful, and advising them to avoid physical activities outdoors.

Zimbabwe’s "Disneyland" project stirs online controversy

Is Mickey Mouse on his way to Africa? This is what web users after wondering following an announcement made last week by Zimbabwe’s Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi, outlining a scheme to build a “Disneyland” style park near to Victoria Falls. The monumental project, designed to boost tourism in the region, has been met with mixed reactions on social networks.

Although some web users think it’s a great idea and that it can only have a positive impact on Zimbabwe by creating thousands of jobs for example, many are far more dubious.

A lot of people think it’s an aberration, given the country’s dire economic conditions and the estimated 300 million dollar cost of the project. They say there are more pressing concerns in Zimbabwe, which is ruled by Robert Mugabe with an iron fist, like education or healthcare.

As Africa Tourism expert Chris McIntyre says in an interview with British daily "The Telegraph", even if the complex does end up being built, it won’t necessarily attract tourists. He says most people visit Zimbabwe to make the most of the country’s exceptional natural beauty and landscapes. He wonders how popular the park will prove as he doesn’t think many holidaymakers will make the journey to Zimbabwe just to see Mickey and co…

Canadian blogger living off social media handouts

Canadian blogger Zach Bussey has been more of less been living off online handouts since the 1st of January: promotional gifts he has been given by companies in exchange for reviews on his blog or on social networks. Food, clothes, entertainment, he lives off this online marketing. He is hoping to continue the experiment until the end of the year, after which time all gifts will be given to charity. 

How many people are in space right now?

How many astronauts are in space right now? This regularly updated site answers that very question. It also provides the name, nationality and the length of mission of those currently in orbit around earth. And at the moment we have three Russians, two Americans and one Italian... 

Video of the day

Babbage the Teddy Bear has beaten Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner’s record set in October 2012 by some thirty meters. The cuddly toy plummeted to earth from more than 39,000 meters. The fall was orchestrated by British software programmer David Akerman who replaced Babbage’s fluffy insides with a low-cost Raspberry Pi computer to shoot photos of the flight and transmit his position, and web users can see the fall in its entirety on all good video sharing platforms...

By Electron Libre

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