International

Iran kicks off drill on coast of Gulf of Oman

IRAN’S military kicked off a ground forces drill on Tuesday along the coast of the Gulf of Oman, state TV reported, the latest in a series of snap exercises that the country is holding amid escalating tensions over its nuclear programme and Washington’s pressure campaign against Tehran. According to the report, commando units and airborne infantry were participating in the annual exercise, along with fighter jets, helicopters and military transport aircraft. Iran’s National Army chief Abdolrahim ..

Heavily fortified US Statehouses see small protests by Trump supporters

SMALL groups of Right-wing protesters — some of them carrying rifles — gathered outside heavily fortified Statehouses around the country, outnumbered by National Guard troops and police brought in to prevent a repeat of the violence that erupted at the US Capitol. As darkness fell, there were no reports of any clashes. Security was stepped up in recent days after the FBI warned of the potential for armed protests in Washington and at all 50 State Capitol buildings ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s ..

Boris invites PM Modi to UK for G7 summit in June

UK PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has invited his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for the G7 summit as he confirmed details on Sunday for the high-level meeting to be presided over by Britain in the coastal region of Cornwall between June 11 and 13. Johnson had extended an invitation to Modi during a phone call last year when India was chosen alongside South Korea and Australia as guest countries of the multilateral summit...

Norway probes death of 23 elderly patients after Pfizer vaccination

AFTER the news broke that 23 elderly patients died in Norway following their immunisation with the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine against COVID-19, the country has launched a detailed investigation into the reported fatalities that has shocked the world. Doctors in Norway have been asked to conduct more thorough evaluations of very frail elderly patients in line to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, following the reported deaths, the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ) reported late Friday...

At 18 million, India has largest diaspora in the world, says UN

THE Indian diaspora, one of the most “vibrant and dynamic”, is the largest in the world, with 18 million people from the country living outside their homeland in 2020, the UN has said. The United Arab Emirates, the US and Saudi Arabia host the largest numbers of migrants from India, it said...

US blacklists Xiaomi, CNOOC, Skyrizon, raising heat on China

THE US Government has blacklisted Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp and China’s third-largest national oil company for alleged military links, heaping pressure on Beijing in President Donald Trump’s last week in office. ..

Biden announces $1.9 tn COVID-19 stimulus plan to revive US economy

US President-elect Joe Biden has announced a USD 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to tackle the economic fallout from the pandemic, including direct financial aid to average Americans, support to businesses and to provide a boost to the national vaccination programme. ..

In a first, NASA’s rover to capture sounds from Mars

WHEN the NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover lands on the Red Planet on February 18, it will not only collect stunning images and rock samples, the data it returns may also include some recorded sounds from Mars which will the first-ever sound clips from any planet, NASA has revealed. The rover carries a pair of microphones which -- if all goes as planned -- will provide interesting and historic audio of the arrival and landing at Mars, along with sounds of the rover at work and of wind and other ambient ..

In France, life stops at 6 pm

AS THE wan winter Sun sets over France’s Champagne region, countdown clock kicks in. Labourers stop pruning the vines as the light fades at about 4:30 pm, leaving them 90 minutes to come in from the cold, change out of their work clothes, hop in their cars and zoom home before a 6 pm coronavirus curfew. Forget about any after-work socialising with friends, after-school clubs for children or doing any evening shopping beyond quick trips for essentials. Police on patrol demand valid reasons from ..

Trump impeached for 2nd time

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump has been impeached for a historic second time, just days before leaving office by the House of Representatives for inciting last week’s deadly Capitol Hill riot. The House on Wednesday impeached Trump by 232 to 197 votes. Ten Republican Congressmen also joined the Democrats to vote in favour of an article of impeachment that charged Trump with a count of “incitement of insurrection” for his actions on January 6, when he delivered a speech inciting his supporters to storm ..

SpaceX cargo Dragon heads towards Earth with key science experiments

AN UPGRADED SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft has successfully undocked from the International Space Station (ISS), heading for splashdown on Earth on Thursday morning with key science experiments, including mice. It is the first undocking of a US commercial cargo craft from the International Docking Adapter on the station’s space-facing port of the Harmony module. Previous cargo Dragon spacecraft were attached and removed from the space station using the station’s robotic Canadarm2...

Trump declares emergency in Washington DC ahead of Biden inauguration

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency in Washington DC ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, the White House said on Monday. The declaration of emergency comes after riots broke out at the US Capitol where pro-Trump supporters wreaked havoc on January 6...

Atmospheric CO2 to pass iconic threshold in 2021: UK Met Office

CARBON dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere this year will reach levels 50 per cent higher than before the Industrial Revolution due to human-caused emissions, according to the annual forecast of the UK Met Office. The increase is driven by emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation, but will be slightly smaller than usual due to a temporary strengthening of natural carbon sinks, Xinhua news agency quoted the British national weather service as saying in the forecast released Friday...

Trump supporters storm US Capitol; 4 killed in violence

IN AN unprecedented assault on democracy in the US, thousands of supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building here and clashed with police, resulting in four deaths and interrupting a constitutional process by Congress to affirm the victory of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the election...

‘Total 73 tested positive for new UK virus strain’

THE number of people who have tested positive for the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the country has climbed to 73, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday. These 73 cases include the 58 which were announced by the Ministry till Tuesday. “The total number of cases infected with the new strain of the novel coronavirus first reported in the UK now stands at 73,” the Ministry said...

Pak SC orders reconstruction of vandalised Hindu temple

PAKISTAN’S Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Evacuee Property Trust Board (EPTB) to start reconstruction of a century-old Hindu temple that was vandalised and set on fire by a mob in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province last week, saying the attack has caused “international embarrassment” to the country...

Tanya Roberts was mistakenly announced dead: Representative

ACTOR Tanya Roberts, best known for James Bond movie “A View to a Kill” and TV series “That ‘70s Show”, was mistakenly announced as dead late Sunday night, her representative Mike Pingel said a day after he confirmed her demise to multiple outlets. Pingel told ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ that although her partner, Lance O’Brien, originally thought she had died, the hospital called on Monday morning to report she was still alive...

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma suspected to be missing

CHINESE billionaire and Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma is suspected to be missing following his mysterious disappearance from the public eye for over two months after Beijing’s aggressive crackdown on his business empire. The country’s third-richest man was slated to appear as a star judge on the season finale of Africa’s Business Heroes, a reality TV show created by his own philanthropic organisation. However, he dropped out of the appearance and the show’s broadcast was postponed, reported Hollywood ..

WHO welcomes India’s COVID-19 vaccine approval

THE World Health Organisation on Sunday welcomed India’s decision giving emergency use authorisation to COVID-19 vaccines, saying it will help “intensify” and “strengthen” its fight against the ongoing pandemic. India’s drugs regulator has approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country. It paves the way for the roll out of at least two vaccines in the country in the coming ..

Indian IT professionals to be hit as Trump extends freeze on H-1B visas until Mar 31

US President Donald Trump has extended the freeze on the most sought-after H-1B visas by Indian IT professionals, along with other types of foreign work visas and green cards through March 31 to protect American workers, saying that the reasons for which he had imposed such restrictions amidst the pandemic has not changed. The freeze on various categories of work visas was ordered by Trump through two proclamations on April 22 and June 22 last year. Hours before the freeze was set to expire on December ..

General Naravane holds talks with South Korean counterpart on boosting military ties

CHIEF of Army Staff General M M Naravane held extensive talks with his South Korean counterpart General Nam Yeong Shin on ways to boost bilateral military ties, and visited several key installations, including the heavily fortified Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), during his tour of the East Asian nation, officials said on Thursday. The Chief of Army Staff also visited the Headquarters of the South Korean Army at Gyeryong city where he was given a guard of honour, they said. ..

30 arrested over attack on Hindu temple in Pakistan

OVER 30 people, mostly members of a radical Islamist party, were arrested after a Hindu temple was vandalised and set on fire by a mob protesting against its expansion work in north-west Pakistan, officials said on Thursday. The attack on the temple in Terri village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) Karak district on Wednesday drew strong condemnation from human rights activists and Hindu community leaders. On Thursday, the provincial Government ordered authorities to reconstruct the damaged temple as ..

61% of Biden’s White House appointees are women, 54% people of colour

SIXTY-ONE per cent of the new White House appointees are women and 54 per cent are people of colour, President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team has said, asserting that the Biden-Harris administration will prioritise diversity of ideology and background, and foster talent to address the country’s most complex challenges. On Wednesday, President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris surpassed their goal of naming 100 members of their incoming administration. ..

Subdued New Year’s festivities worldwide this time

IF EVER a year’s end seemed like cause for celebration, 2020 might be it. Yet the coronavirus scourge that dominated the year is also looming over New Year’s festivities and forcing officials worldwide to tone them down. From New York’s Times Square to Sydney Harbour, big public blowouts are being turned into TV-only shows and digital events. Fireworks displays have been cancelled from the Las Vegas Strip to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Even private parties in some places are restricted...

B’desh sends second group of Rohingya to isolated island

OFFICIALS in Bangladesh sent a second group of Rohingya refugees to an isolated island in the Bay of Bengal on Monday despite calls by human rights groups for a halt to the process. More than 30 buses carrying about 1,500 refugees left their camps in Cox’s Bazar district on the way to the island, a Government official said. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media, said that the refugees will stay overnight in a temporary shelter in the south-east..

Maverick French designer Pierre Cardin dies at 98

PIERRE Cardin, the French designer whose famous name embossed everything from wristwatches to bedsheets after his iconic Space Age styles shot him into the fashion stratosphere in the 1960s, has died, the French Academy of Fine Arts said Tuesday. He was 98. A licensing maverick, Cardins name went on thousands of products and in the brands heyday in the 1970s and 80s, while goods bearing his fancy cursive signature were sold at some 1,00,000 outlets worldwide. That number dwindled dramatically in later ..

Each year 1,000 Pak girls forcibly converted to Islam

NEHA loved the hymns that filled her church with music. But she lost the chance to sing them last year when, at the age of 14, she was forcibly converted from Christianity to Islam and married to a 45-year-old man with children twice her age. She tells her story in a voice so low it occasionally fades away. She all but disappears as she wraps a blue scarf tightly around her face and head. Neha’s husband is in jail now facing charges of rape for the underage marriage, but she is in hiding, afraid after ..

Thailand is top emerging market pick for 2021; India ranks 11th

THAILAND and Malaysia, among the top emerging markets in Southeast Asia, are likely to outperform expectations among 17 developing markets surveyed by Bloomberg. This according to a report published in December by Bloomberg investment strategist Simon Flint and co-authored by Michelle Jamrisko. The report, which is not intended as investment advice, studied a total of 17 emerging markets and forecasts their potential for 2021 based on 11 indicators of economic and financial performance. The study ..

Soil samples from asteroid hardly disappointing: Japan

THEY resemble small fragments of charcoal, but the soil samples collected from an asteroid and returned to Earth by a Japanese spacecraft were hardly disappointing. The samples Japanese space officials described on Thursday that the big 1 centimeter (0.4 inch) and rock hard samples are not breaking when picked up or poured into another container. Smaller black, sandy granules the spacecraft collected and returned separately were described last week...

Pakistan court orders release of Al-Qaeda leader, his 3 aide charged in murder case of US journalist

IN A surprise move, a Pakistani court on Thursday ordered the release of British-born Al-Qaeda leader Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and his three aides, who were convicted and sentenced in the abduction and murder case of US journalist Daniel Pearl. A two-judge bench of the Sindh High Court, presided over by Justice K K Agha, directed security agencies not to keep Sheikh and other accused under “any sort of detention” and declared all notifications of the Sindh Government related to their detention “null ..

Customer leaves $5,600 tip at US restaurant

A CUSTOMER left a whopping $5,600 tip at a restaurant in the US State of Ohio, which allowed the establishment’s 28-person staff to take home $200 each, a media report said. In a Facebook post, Moussa Salloukh, the owner of Souk Mediterranean Kitchen & Bar in Toledo, said the generosity left staffers cry tears of joy, the ‘Daily Mail’ said in its report published on Monday...

Astronomer discovers rare comet during total solar eclipse in Dec

AN ASTRONOMER has spotted a little tiny speck flying past the Sun which is a recently discovered rare comet, as the world witnessed the total solar eclipse this month. This comet was first spotted in satellite data by Thai amateur astronomer Worachate Boonplod on the NASA-funded Sungrazer Project, as Chile and Argentina witnessed the total solar eclipse on December 14, reports NASA. Around the time the eclipse image was taken, the comet was travelling at roughly 7,24,205 kms per hour, about 4.3 million ..

Aus to fund ‘ecological arks’ to save Great Barrier Reef

THE Australian Government has announced a plan to save islands in the Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of Queensland State, from the effects of climate change. According to the report from ‘News Corp Australia’ on Sunday, the Government will spend A..

Russia launches rocket with 36 satellites successfully

RUSSIA has successfully launched its Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket, delivering 36 satellites from the UK-based OneWeb company into space. The rocket blasted off from the Vostochny cosmodrome in the country’s Far East at 3.26 p.m. on Friday, Xinhua news agency quoted the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos as saying in a statement. The upper stage, which houses the satellites, separated from the third stage of the rocket normally, it said...

Electoral College confirms Biden’s victory

UNITED States President-elect Joe Biden has told election-weary Americans that it is time to “turn the page”, after the Electoral College affirmed his triumph over President Donald Trump, who has refused to concede and filed a litany of legal challenges to overturn the poll results. The 538-member Electoral College on Monday pushed Biden past the 270-vote threshold to win the bitterly-contested race for the White House. It was one of the crucial steps required for the 78-year-old Democrat to take ..

Indian-American Raja Chari picked by NASA for Artemis Moon missions

NASA has selected an initial team of 18 astronauts, including Indian-American astronaut Raja Chari, to form the Artemis Team and help pave the way for the next lunar missions, including sending the first woman and next man to walk on the lunar surface in 2024. Vice President of the US Mike Pence introduced the members of the Artemis Team on Wednesday during the eighth National Space Council meeting at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. “I give you the heroes who will carry us to the Moon and ..

How COVID-19 vaccines developed in less than a year

HOW could scientists race out COVID-19 vaccines so fast without cutting corners? A head start helped -- over a decade of behind-the-scenes research that had new vaccine technology poised for a challenge just as the coronavirus erupted. “The speed is a reflection of years of work that went before,” Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, told ‘The Associated Press’. “That’s what the public has to understand.” Creating vaccines and having results from rigorous studies less than a ..

UK’s 90-yr-old is world’s first to get anti-COVID jab

THE UK kicked off its biggest-ever vaccine campaign in history on Tuesday, as 90-year-old grandmother Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech jab against COVID-19. At 6:31 am GMT early riser Maggie was given the life-saving jab by nurse May Parsons at her local hospital in Coventry to mark what the National Health Service (NHS) has dubbed a “landmark moment” on V-Day or Vaccine Day in the fight against the deadly virus. “I feel so privileged to be the first ..

Japan capsule with asteroid samples retrieved in Australia

JAPAN’S space agency said its helicopter search team has retrieved a capsule, which is carrying asteroid samples that could explain the origin of life, that landed on a remote area in southern Australia as planned on Sunday. “The capsule collection work at the landing site was completed,” the space agency said in a tweet about four hours after the capsule landed. “We practiced a lot for today... It ended safe.” Hayabusa2 had successfully released the small capsule on Saturday and sent it toward Earth ..

China develops 1st light-based quantum computer

CHINESE scientists claim to have created the world’s first light-based quantum computer which can solve problems far faster than a classical supercomputer, an advance hailed by experts as a “major achievement” that provides a fundamentally different approach to designing such powerful machines, the official media reported on Saturday. Jiuzhang, the quantum computer, can reliably demonstrate “quantum computational advantage”, a milestone in computing, state-run ‘China Daily’ quoted a study published ..

US imposes visa restrictions on more Chinese citizens

THE US on Friday imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials and individuals engaged in overseas influence operations, the latest punitive measures against China by the outgoing Trump administration. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the restrictions would apply to Chinese Communist Party officials or any individual taking part in propaganda or influence campaigns linked to the United Front Work Department. The Chinese C..

Dawoodi Bohras celebrate 77th birthday of His Holiness Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin

DAWOODI Bohra community members across the world are celebrating the 77th birthday of their leader, the 53rd al-Dai al-Mutlaq, His Holiness Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin. Syedna Saifuddin has chosen to have his birthday celebrated on the same day as the birthday of his respected father and predecessor, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin. ..

China turns on nuclear-powered ‘artificial Sun’

CHINA successfully powered up its “artificial Sun” nuclear fusion reactor for the first time, State media reported on Friday, marking a great advance in the country’s nuclear power research capabilities. The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device, and scientists hope that the device can potentially unlock a powerful clean energy source. ..

Chinese spacecraft lands on Moon

A CHINESE spacecraft landed on the Moon to bring back lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s, the Government announced. The China National Space Administration said that Chang’e 5 “successfully landed” at its designated site shortly after 11 pm. (1500 GMT) on Tuesday after making a powered descent from its orbiter. It published images of the barren scene at the landing site, including where the lander’s shadow can be seen. The lander was launched on November 24 from the tropical southern ..

UK approves Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine

THE UK on Wednesday became the first country to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19, paving the way for mass vaccinations against the deadly novel coronavirus from as early as next week. The British regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA), says, the jab, which claims to offer up to 95 per cent protection against COVID-19 illness, is safe for roll out. The UK Government said that the approval follows a “rigorous” analysis of the data, conducted at ..

34 killed in separate suicide bombings in Afghanistan

AFGHAN officials said on Sunday at least 34 people were killed in two separate suicide bombings that targeted a military base and a provincial chief. In eastern Ghazni province, officials said 31 soldiers were killed and 24 others wounded when the attacker drove a military humvee full of explosives onto an Army commando base before detonating the car bomb...

Indian-origin MP in NZ takes oath in Sanskrit

DOCTOR Gaurav Sharma, one of the youngest and newly-elected MPs in New Zealand, on Wednesday took oath in Sanskrit in the country’s Parliament. Sharma, 33, hailing from Himachal Pradesh’s Hamirpur, was recently elected as the Member of Parliament from the Labour Party for Hamilton West in New Zealand. India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand and Samoa, Muktes..

Russia says, Sputnik V vaccine over 95 pc effective

RUSSIA on Tuesday said that the efficacy of its Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine is over 95 per cent and the cost of one dose of the shot for international markets will be less than USD 10 (around Rs 740). Preliminary data from volunteers obtained 42 days after the first dose (corresponds with 21 days after the second dose) indicates the efficacy of the vaccine above 95 per cent, the Gamelya National Centre and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said in a joint statement...

Charli D’Amelio 1st to hit 100 mn TikTok followers

AMERICAN social media personality and dancer Charli D’Amelio has become the first creator to hit 100 million followers on the Chinese short-video making app TikTok. To date, only two other TikTok creators have reached 50 million folllowers. On TikTok, that makes her more than twice as big as Will Smith, three times as big as The Rock, four times as big as Selena Gomez, and five times as big as Kylie Jenner and Ariana Grande...

COVID biggest challenge after WW-II: Modi at G-20

THE COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge the world is facing since World War-II and is an important turning point in the history of humanity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the G-20 summit on Saturday, as he offered India’s IT prowess for efficient functioning of the grouping. Modi also said that “Work from Anywhere” is a new normal in the post-COVID world and suggested creation of a virtual G-20 Secretariat. The Prime Minister also ..

India will send Bhutan satellite in space next year: Modi to Tshering

LAUNCHING the second phase of RuPay card, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced that India will soon be sending Bhutanese satellite to space. “India opened its space sector for private enterprises. It will boost innovation, capacity and skills. ISRO will be sending Bhutan’s satellite next year and work on that is progressing fast,” he said. “Like other Indians I have great love and friendship with Bhutan, when I meet you all its like meeting our own,” Prime Minister told the Bhutanese audience ..

Scientists solve 16-year-old Blue Ring Nebula mystery

AFTER studying the mysterious Blue Ring Nebula with multiple Earth- and space-based telescopes for 16 years, scientists may have finally discovered what led to its formation...

ISS gets ready for new module after six-hour 48-minute spacewalk

TWO Russian cosmonauts have conducted a six-hour 48-minute spacewalk to prepare the International Space Station for a new module. “The main task of the exit was to prepare the station for the arrival of the Nauka module: for this, the cosmonauts switched the Transit-B antenna of the telemetry system from the Pirs module to Poisk,” Russian space agency Roscosmos said in a tweet...

Modi, Biden discuss COVID-19, climate change, Indo-Pacific

PRIME Minister Narendra Modi spoke with US President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday, as the two leaders discussed the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, while reiterating firm commitment to strategic bilateral partnership. This was the first interaction between the two leaders after Democrat Biden defeated incumbent President Donald Trump in the US presidential election. “Spoke to US President-elect Joe Biden on phone to congratulate him...

Microsoft to develop over 500 mn new apps in next 5 years

WITH the COVID-19 pandemic leading to digital transformation at a speed never seen before, software giant Microsoft expects to develop more than 500 million new applications over the next five years. With every business organisation turning into a technology entity during the current pandemic, the world is expected to see the development of more and more applications. The majority of the apps are expected to be developed on low-code platform, said Rajiv Sodhi, Chief Operating Officer, Microsoft India...

People magazine names Michael B Jordan as Sexiest Man Alive

ACTOR Michael B Jordan has been crowned as 2020’s Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. Jordan, known for his critically-acclaimed performances in “Fruitvale Station,” “Creed” and “Black Panther,” was revealed as this year’s winner Tuesday night on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” The actor tells the magazine in an issue out Friday that the honour is a “cool feeling.”..

Bezos to give $791 mn to protect environment

AMAZON founder Jeff Bezos announced on Monday in an Instagram post that he will give USD 791 million in grants as part of his Bezos Earth Fund to 16 organisations that are working to protect the environment, CNN reported. “I’ve spent the past several months learning from a group of incredibly smart people who’ve made it their life’s work to fig..

Nations sponsoring terror need to be held guilty: Modi

ASSERTING that terrorism is the “biggest problem” facing the world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said there was a need to ensure that countries supporting and assisting terrorists are held guilty, in an oblique reference to Pakistan. Addressing the summit of five-nation grouping BRICS via video conferencing, the Prime Minister also said there was a need to tackle the problem of terrorism in an organised manner. The 12th BR..

15 Asia-Pacific nations sign world’s biggest trade pact sans India

FIFTEEN Asia-Pacific nations, including China, on Sunday signed the world’s biggest trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), sans India with hopes that it will help recover from the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic. The RCEP was signed after eight years of negotiations at the conclusion of annual summit of Southeast Asian leaders and their regional partners, held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic...

Referendum on Trump shatters turnout records in US presidential elections

WITH votes still being counted, turnout in the 2020 presidential election has hit a 50-year high, exceeding the record set by the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama — an extraordinary engagement in what amounted to a referendum on President Donald Trump’s leadership. As of Sunday, the tallied votes accounted for 62 per cent of the eligible voting-age population in the US. That’s a 0.4 percentage point increase so far over the rate hit in ..

It’s a victory for ‘We the People’ of America: Biden

PLEDGING to be the President of all Americans, Joe Biden has sought an immediate end to the “grim era of demonisation” in the deeply-polarised nation, as he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris celebrated their historic triumph over Donald Trump in a bitter and closely-fought presidential election. “I pledge to be a President who seeks not..

Biden bid wins favour with 273 against Trump’s 214

DEMOCRAT Joe Biden on Saturday defeated incumbent Republican US President Donald Trump in the closely-fought presidential election, according to American media projections. The 77-year-old former US Vice President will become the 46th President of the United States, CNN reported, after a victory in Pennsylvania, the State where he was born put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to win. With Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, Biden now has a total of 273 electoral votes. Before becoming the Democratic ..

WhatsApp starts payment service in India

WHATSAPP on Friday said it is rolling out its payments services in India after receiving nod from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). In 2018, the Facebook-owned company had started testing its UPI-based payments service in India, which allows users to utilise the messaging platform to send and receive money. The testing was limited to about a million users as it waited for regulatory approvals to come in. ..

First phase of Malabar exercise concludes

PHASE I of the 24th edition of the four-nation naval exercise Malabar 2020 in the Bay of Bengal concluded on Friday. Indian Navy, United States Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force, and Royal Australian Navy are participating in the naval exercise that started on November 3. The 24th edition of the Malabar naval exercise is scheduled in two phases this month. ..

Greta mocks Trump in his own words

AMID ongoing tensions over the results of the US presidential election, Swedish environment activist Greta Thunberg has mocked US President Donald Trump in his own words in the ultimate social media revenge. ..

Talks will solve problems: Oli assures General Naravane

PROBLEMS between Nepal and India would be resolved through dialogue, Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli said on Friday during a meeting with Indian Army chief General M M Naravane who paid a courtesy call on him. General Naravane’s three-day visit to Nepal was largely aimed at resetting bilateral ties that came under severe strain following a bitter border row between the two countries. ..

Biden a step away from US presidency

DEMOCRATIC presidential candidate Joe Biden on Friday took crucial leads over US President Donald Trump in the key battleground States of Georgia and Pennsylvania, bringing him on the cusp of a historic victory in the closely-fought election. ..

Biden nearing magical figure; Trump says, ‘stop the count’

WEARY Americans will have to wait for some more time to know the clear winner of the closely-fought election between Republican President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden, as the final outcome hinged on a few States on Thursday where a flood of mail-in ballots triggered by the coronavirus pandemic were still being counted. Two days after the presidential election, Biden is nearing the magical figure of 270 electoral votes to win the race to the White House, with the former US Vice President ..

India seeks expeditious extradition of Mallya, Nirav during Shringla’s UK visit

FOREIGN Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla held talks with British Home Secretary Priti Patel in London during which he strongly underlined India’s interest in the expeditious extradition of former Kingfisher Airlines chief Vijay Mallya, who has completed all the legal processes related to extradition from the UK, and fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi...

Cabinet nod to MoU between India-Israel in health sector

THE Union Cabinet has approved the signing of an MoU between India and Israel for cooperation in the field of health and medicine, according to an official statement issued on Wednesday. The MoU covers areas of cooperation such as exchange and training of medical doctors and other health professionals, assistance in development of human resources and setting up of health care facilities and exchange of information regarding regulation of pharmaceutical, medical devices and cosmetics, the statement ..

PM to chair global investor meet today

TO attract investment into the country, PM Modi will on Thursday chair the Virtual Global Investor Roundtable (VGIR) 2020, which will be attended by heads of 20 top institutional investors from various parts of the world. VGIR 2020 will focus on discussions around India’s economic and investment outlook, structural reforms and the Government’s vision for making the country a USD 5-trillion economy...

US presidency dangles on knife’s edge

THE closely-fought US presidential election appeared to be headed into an uncertain phase with Republican incumbent Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden fighting it out in the key battleground States. When reports last came in, Biden had earned 220 electoral college votes, with Trump following closely with 213 votes. As per Fox News, Biden has 238 of the 538 electoral college seats, while Trump has 213. On the other hand, CNN has projected 220 electoral college votes to Biden and 213 ..

Hindu temple vandalised in Pak, Hindu families saved by Muslims from angry attackers

A HINDU temple in Pakistan’s Sindh province was vandalised by an angry mob that also attempted to attack over 300 Hindu families, but were stopped by Muslims from entering the century-old neighbourhood, a media report said on Wednesday...

TN village prays for Kamala Harris’ victory in US polls

AS MILLIONS of US citizens queue up to vote for their next President and his Deputy, the people of Thulasenthirapuram in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday prayed for the success of Kamala Harris, Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee, who has a connect to this small village...

‘Priyanca Radhakrishnan becomes NZ’s first-ever Indian-origin minister’

PRIYANCA Radhakrishnan on Monday became New Zealand’s first-ever Indian-origin minister after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern brought five new ministers into her executive. Born in India, Radhakrishnan, 41, went to school in Singapore before moving to New Zealand to further her education...

Trump hints at legal battle against prolonged vote count

Just before the US election on Tuesday, the nation is bracing itself for possible unrest that could arise from the country’s sharp political polarization. With just a day left for the much-anticipated US presidential election, security measures have been heightened all across the country in the wake of poll-related violence...

ISS marks 20 yrs of people living in orbit

NOVEMBER 2 marks 20 years since the first residents arrived on the International Space Station (ISS). The orbiting habitat has been continuously occupied ever since. Twenty straight years of life in space makes the ISS the ideal “natural laboratory” to understand how societies function beyond Earth. NASA has said the orbiting laboratory has turned into a world-class facility for research which has conducted thousands of investigations from over 100 different countries...

Earth-sized rogue planet found floating in the Milky Way

SCIENTISTS have discovered in the Milky Way an Earth-sized free-floating rogue planet which does not orbit any star. Rogue planets are a bit uncommon as although many of the known exoplanets discovered so far do not resemble those in our solar system, they have one thing in common -- they all orbit a star. However, theories of planet formation and evolution predict the existence of free-floating (rogue) planets, gravitationally unattached to any star...

Iconic James Bond star Sean Connery no more

LEGENDARY Scottish star Sean Connery, who became a global sensation as the first James Bond and featured in a string of cult hits in his five-decade-long career, has died. He was 90. According to BBC, the actor passed away overnight in his sleep while in the Bahamas. He had been unwell for quite some time. In the career spanning half a century, the actor featured in many critically-acclaimed and commercial blockbusters such as “The Hunt for Red October”, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, “Murder ..

NASA spacecraft stows asteroid sample successfully

NASA on Friday said that its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has completed the most challenging phases of its mission after it successfully stowed samples of asteroid Bennu. The mission team sent commands to the spacecraft on Wednesday, instructing it to close the Sample Return Capsule (SRC)...

US court asks Antrix to pay $1.2 bn compensation to Bengaluru start-up

A US court has asked Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), to pay compensation of USD 1.2 billion to a Bengaluru-based startup, Devas Multimedia, for cancelling a satellite deal in 2005. As per the agreement in January 2005, Antrix agreed to build, launch and operate two satellites and to make available 70 MHz of S-band spectrum to Devas, which the latter planned to use to offer hybrid satellite and terrestrial communication services throughout India. ..

Jewels from Maharaja Ranjit

JEWELS that once belonged to Maharani Jindan Kaur, the last wife of Sikh Empire ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and which were later inherited by her granddaughter, Princess Bamba Sutherland, were among the highlights of an auction in London. ..

US’ vision on Lanka very different from ‘predator’ China: Pompeo

AMERICA’S vision on Sri Lanka is “very different” from that of “predator” China, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said here on Tuesday as he met the leadership here and reaffirmed US’ commitment to the island nation’s sovereignty and security...

Saudi Arabia removes PoK, Gilgit-Baltistan from Pak map

SAUDI Arabia has removed Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan from Pakistan’s map, said PoK activist Amjad Ayub Mirza on Wednesday. “Saudi Arab removes Pakistani occupied Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan from Pakistan’s map!!!!,” he tweeted. He also tweeted a picture that was captioned, “Saudi Arabia’s Diwali gift to India-- removes Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir from Pakistan’s map,” the picture’s text read. According to the media reports, Saudi Arabia released a 20 Riyal banknote to commemorate ..

NASA finds ‘unexpected’ molecule around Titan

NASA scientists have discovered a molecule in Saturn moon Titan’s atmosphere that has never been detected in any other atmosphere. In fact, many chemists have probably barely heard of this molecule called cyclopropenylidene, or C3H2...

Scientists find water on sunlit surface of Moon

SCIENTISTS have confirmed, for the first time, the presence of water on the sunlit surface of the Moon, a discovery which indicates that water molecules may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to the cold, shadowed places as previously thought. Using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), the researchers, including those from the University of Hawaii in the US, detected water molecules (H2O) in Clavius Crater -- one of the largest craters visible from ..

Maryam Nawaz refuses to ‘back down’ against Imran Khan Govt

AMID the nation-wide anti-Government movement, Opposition party leader and PML-N Vice President, Maryam Nawaz has refused to “back down”, saying that the ongoing demonstrations in the country are about principles. In an interview with ‘Khaleej Times’, Maryam said the only thing the Imran Khan Government is interested in is ‘political victimisation’. She said, “No way, I will never back down!” “This is about principles and outside forces have no business to meddle in politics. It’s time to let politicians ..

Sindh Police rise in defiance against Army in Pak

IN A MAJOR show of open defiance against Pakistan Army, police officers in Karachi have threatened to go on mass leave after the Sindh Police chief was allegedly kidnapped and coerced to act against PML(N) Vice President Marayam Nawaz Sharif. Sources in Islamabad said that Pakistan is rapidly slipping into a civil war-like situation with the ongoing tussle between the Opposition parties and the Army. In Karachi in Sindh province, headed by Chief Minister Syed M..

NASA spacecraft collects samples on asteroid Bennu

AFTER a four-year-long journey, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully touched down on the rugged surface of asteroid Bennu on Tuesday, and unfurled its robotic arm to collect a sample of rocks dating back to the birth of our solar system to bring back to Earth, the US space agency said. The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft briefly touched the near-Earth asteroid to collect dust and pebbles from its surface for delivery ..

SRK, Kajol’s statue from ‘DDLJ’ to be unveiled in London

A BRONZE statue of Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol will be unveiled in London’s Leicester Square in 2021 to celebrate the silver jubilee of one of Hindi cinema’s most iconic love stories, “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” (“DDLJ”). “DDLJ”, starring Khan and Kajoj as lovers Raj and Simran, released on October 20, 1995. The film, which marked Aditya Chopra’s foray into direction, was produced by Yash Raj Films. In an announcement shared on Monday, Heart of London Business All..

Pak fails to fulfill 6 key mandates of FATF; likely to remain in ‘grey list’

PAKISTAN’S failure to fulfill six key obligations of the FATF, including action against two of India’s most wanted terrorists Maulana Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed, and the sudden disappearance of more than 4,000 terrorists from its official list will most likely lead to its continuation in the ‘grey list’ of the Global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, officials said on Sunday. The virtual plenary of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), to be held on October 21-23, will take the ..

Climate change spells disasters: UN

IN THE wake of heat waves, global warming, forest fires, storms, droughts and a rising number of hurricanes, the UN weather agency is warning that the number of people who need international humanitarian help could rise 50 per cent by 2030 compared to the 108 million who needed it worldwide in 2018. In a new report released with partners on Tuesday, the World Meteorological Agency says more disasters attributed to weather are taking place each year...

COVID-19 school closure may cost over $400 bn to India: World Bank

THE prolonged closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic in India may cause a loss of over USD 400 billion in the country’s future earnings, besides substantial learning losses, according to a World Bank report. South Asia region stands to lose USD 622 billion from the school closures in the present scenario or up to USD 880 billion in a more pessimistic scenario, it said, adding while the regional loss is largely driven by India, all countries will lose substantial shares of their GDP...

Americans Milgrom, Wilson win Nobel prize in Economics

AMERICANS Paul R Milgrom and Robert B Wilson have won the Nobel Prize in Economics for “improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats.” The winners were announced on Monday in Stockholm by Goran Hansson, secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The award caps a week of Nobel Prizes at a time when much of the world is experiencing the worst recession since World War II because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic...

Scientists record top speed of sound at 36 km/second

THE fastest possible speed of sound has been recorded for the first time which is about 36 km per second. The result is around twice as fast as the speed of sound in diamond, the hardest known material in the world, said the researchers from Queen Mary University of London, the University of Cambridge and the Institute for High Pressure Physics in Troitsk, Moscow...

N Korea displays new ballistic missile at military parade

NORTH Korea displayed a new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) and other weapons during a massive military parade to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party, state-media reported on Sunday. Besides the night-time parade on Saturday, there was also fireworks display, a car parade and other celebratory events to mark the occassion, Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency said. The new ICBM was carried on a transporter erector launcher (TEL) with 22 wheels, indicating that ..

‘China to pay a big price for spreading COVID-19 globally’

WASHINGTON, US President Donald Trump has warned that China will have to “pay a big price” for the spread of coronavirus globally. Less than 50 hours after he returned to the White House from a military hospital where he was treated for the deadly virus, Trump in a video posted on Twitter from the Rose Garden outside the Oval Office blamed China for the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The deadly coronavirus originated from th..

American poet Louise Glück wins Nobel literature prize

AMERICAN poet Louise Glück won the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday for her “candid and uncompromising” work, becoming the first US winner since Bob Dylan in 2016. The Nobel Committee praised the writer “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.”..

India, Japan to cooperate in 5G tech, AI

INDIA and Japan have finalised an ambitious agreement that provides for cooperation in 5G technology, Artificial Intelligence and an array of other critical areas as the two strategic partners vowed to further broadbase their ties including in the Indo-Pacific region. After a meeting between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Japanese coun..

2 women scientists win Nobel Chemistry Prize for genome editing method

TWO scientists won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for developing a method of genome editing likened to “molecular scissors” that offer promise of one day curing inherited diseases and even cancer. Working on opposite sides of the Atlantic, Frenchwoman Emmanuelle Charpentier and American Jennifer A Doudna developed a method known as CRISPR/Cas9 that can be used to change the DNA of animals, plants and micr..