International

BAFTAs 2021: Nomadland best film, McDormand best actress, Hopkins best actor

DIRECTOR Chloe Zhao’s meditative drama “Nomadland” emerged as the top winner at the virtual 74th British Academy Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) by bagging four major awards, including the best film. The movie’s lead star Frances McDormand picked up the best actress trophy while the best director award went to Zhao. The film was a winner in the cinematography category as well. Zhao, who became the first woman of colour to win the best director at the BAFTA, dedicated the award to the nomadic community ..

Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin made pioneering spaceflight 60 years ago

CRUSHED into the pilot’s seat by heavy G-forces, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin saw flames outside his spacecraft and prepared to die. His voice broke the tense silence at ground control: “I’m burning. Goodbye, comrades.” Gagarin didn’t know that the blazing inferno he observed through a porthole was a cloud of plasma engulfing Vostok 1 during its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, and he was still on track to return safely. It was his quiet composure under pressure that helped make him the first ..

Alibaba fined USD 2.8 bn on competition charge in China

ALIBABA Group, the world’s biggest e-commerce company, was fined 18.3 billion yuan (USD 2.8 billion) by Chinese regulators on Saturday for anti-competitive tactics, as the ruling Communist Party tightens control over fast-growing tech industries...

N Korea facing its ‘worst-ever situation’, says Kim Jong Un

NORTH Korean leader Kim Jong Un has acknowledged his country was facing the “worst- ever situation” as he addressed thousands of grassroots members of his ruling party during a major political conference in Pyongyang. Experts say Kim is facing perhaps his toughest moment as he approaches a decade in rule, with North Korea’s coronavirus lockdown unleashing further shock on an economy devastated by decades of mismanagement and crippling US-led sanctions over his nuclear weapons programme...

Leaked FB data reveals that Zuckerberg uses Signal

AS FACEBOOK CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s phone number also emerged among the leaked data of 533 million Facebook users, a security expert has revealed that the Facebook CEO uses Signal. According to media reports, the leaked data includes Zuckerberg’s phone number, Facebook user ID, personal details like location, marriage details and birth date. “In another turn of events, Mark Zuckerberg also respects his own privacy, by using a chat app that has end-to-end encryption and isn’t owned by @facebook,” Dave ..

NASA’s Mars helicopter survives first freezing Martian night

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter has survived the first cold Martian night ahead of its maiden flight on the Red Planet scheduled for April 11, the US space agency has said. Surviving that first night after being deployed from where it was attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover on April 3 is a major milestone for the 1.8 kg rotorcraft. This is because evening temperatures at Jezero Crater can plunge as low as minus minus 90 degrees Celsius, which can freeze and crack unprotected electrical ..

Asteroid that eliminated dinosaur gave rise to Amazon rainforest: New study

THE asteroid impact that wiped out dinosaurs from Earth also gave birth to the Amazon rainforest, says a new study. In an analysis of thousands of fossil pollen and leaves, the researchers found that the cataclysmic asteroid impact that resulted in the destruction of nearly 75 per cent of all terrestrial life on Earth drastically restructured tropical forests. It set the stage for the evolution of what has become one of the planet’s most diverse ecosystems -- the neotropical rainforest, according ..

British Indian CEO’s new mobile game turns players into detectives

A NEW mobile game launched by a British Indian CEO behind the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) nominated studio Electric Noir has been creating waves with its unique concept of turning gamers into crime-solving police detectives. Nihal Tharoor and co-founder Benedict Tatham released the murder mystery game ‘Dead Man’s Phone’ worldwide, across iOS and Android platforms, this week after registering over 2,00,000 downloads even in a pre-launch beta version since last year. In the game, designed as ..

Christians mark Good Friday as holy sites gradually reopen

CHRISTIANS in the Holy Land are marking Good Friday this year amid signs the coronavirus crisis is winding down, with religious sites open to limited numbers of faithful but none of the mass pilgrimages usually seen in the Holy Week leading up to Easter. ..

Over 25 world leaders have called for pandemic treaty: WHO chief

OVER 25 leaders from “the G20, G7 and from every region” have unanimously called for an international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response, the World Health Organisation (WHO) chief said. ..

48 killed, over 100 hurt in Taiwan train mishap

A TRAIN partially derailed in eastern Taiwan on Friday after being hit by an unmanned vehicle that had rolled down a hill, killing 48 people. With the train still partly in a tunnel, survivors climbed out of windows and walked along the train’s roof to reach safety after the country’s deadliest railway disaster. ..

Biden nominates Indian American Puttagunta as Washington judge

UNITED States President Joe Biden has nominated an Indian American to be a judge in the local court system of the nation’s capital after having withdrawn another’s nomination made by his predecessor Donald Trump. The White House announced on Tuesday that Biden was nominating Rupa Ranga Puttagunta to be a judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, which is a local court for Washington. Last month, he withdrew the nomination of Vijay Shankar to a higher local court, the District of Columbia ..

Biden invites 40 world leaders for virtual climate summit

US PRESIDENT Joe Biden has invited 40 world leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to the Leaders’ Summit on Climate to underscore the urgency and the economic benefits of stronger climate action, the White House said. The two-day summit will be held virtually on April 22-23 and will be telecasted live for public viewing...

Top US, Chinese diplomats clash publicly at first in-person talks under Biden presidency

US SECRETARY of State Tony Blinken has bluntly told China’s top diplomats that Beijing’s actions have threatened the rules-based order that maintains global stability, as the two sides exchanged sharp rebukes in public during their first in-person high-level meeting since President Joe Biden took office. ..

Taliban warns US of reaction if troops not withdrawn from Afghanistan by May 1

THE Taliban warned Washington on Friday against defying a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of American and NATO troops from Afghanistan, promising a “reaction,” which could mean increased attacks by the insurgent group. ..

NASA’s Artemis Moon rocket passes key test

NASA has completed a crucial hot fire test of the core stage of Space Launch System (SLS) rocket which is designed to power future Moon missions under the agency’s Artemis programme. ..

US Defence Secy on 3-day India visit, meets Modi

IN THE first visit by a top Biden administration official, US Defence Secretary Lloyd J Austin arrived in India on Friday on a three-day visit and called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. ..

Women power rules at Grammys 2021 as Beyonce, Swift and others win big

WOMEN artists were the big winners in the usually male-dominated top categories at the 63rd Grammy Awards as Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Billie Ellish made history with their trophy haul. The pandemic may have dimmed some of the lustre of the ceremony, held in a hybrid manner at the Los Angeles Convention Center with COVID-19 protocols in place, winners and performers ensured entertaining evening...

A year on, WHO still struggling to manage pandemic response

WHEN the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic one year ago Thursday, it did so only after weeks of resisting the term and maintaining that the highly infectious virus could still be stopped. A year later, the UN agency is still struggling to keep on top of the evolving science of COVID-19, to persuade countries to abandon their nationalistic tendencies and help get vaccines where they’re needed most. The agency made some costly missteps along the way: It adviced people against ..

Indonesia bus plunges into a ravine, killing 27 pilgrims

A TOURIST bus plunged into a ravine on Indonesia’s main island of Java after its brakes apparently malfunctioned, killing at least 27 people and injuring 39 others, police and rescuers said on Thursday. The bus was carrying a group of Islamic junior high school students, teachers and parents from the West Java province town of Subang when the accident happened late Wednesday on a winding road, said local police chief Eko Prasetyo Robbyanto. He said the bus was on its way back to Subang from a pilgrimage ..

‘Palace taking Harry, Meghan’s race issues very seriously’

BREAKING its silence over Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, the Buckingham Palace on Tuesday said it has taken “very seriously” their revelations and those will be addressed by the family privately. On the couple’s reference to unnamed royals raising concerns over their son Archie’s mixed-race heritage, the palace said the concerning issues of race would be addressed privately as a family matter...

India flays one-sided false assertions in UK parliamentary debate

THE High Commission of India in London has condemned false assertions in a “distinctly one-sided discussion” among a group of British parliamentarians on Monday on the issue of peaceful protests and press freedoms in India, amidst the ongoing farmers’ stir against three new laws on agricultural reforms. The Indian mission pointed out that foreign media, including British media, had been present and witnessed the events surrounding the farmers’ protests in India first-hand and therefore any “question ..

Attack on Saudi oil facilities fuels upward march for crude prices

BANGKOK OIL prices rose on Monday as Saudi Arabian oil facilities were targeted by drone strikes just days after the largest crude exporting nations in the world said they would not increase output. Brent crude, the international standard, surpassed $70 per barrel for the first time in over a year, gaining $1.14 to $70.47 a barrel. It surged $2.62 on Friday...

Pak PM Imran wins trust vote

PAKISTAN Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday comfortably won a trust vote in the National Assembly amid Opposition boycott, bolstering his Government’s position after an embarrassing defeat in this week’s hotly-contested Senate elections. Prime Minister Khan secured 178 votes in the 342-member Lower House of Parliament during a special session convened on the directives of President Arif Alvi. He required 172 votes for a simple majority. The floor test took place without Opposition as the Pakistan ..

Chinese hackers hit 30K US organisations in new attack

IN yet another big cyber-attack after SolarWinds, at least 30,000 organisations across the US, including Government and commercial firms, have been hacked by China-based threat actors who used Microsoft’s Exchange Server software to enter their networks. According to KrebsOnSecurity, the China-based espionage group exploited four vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server email software...

Indian-Americans ‘taking over US’: Biden

INDIAN-AMERICANS are “taking over the country”, US President Joe Biden said on Thursday, referring to the large number of “incredible” professionals from the community holding key positions in his administration. In less than 50 days of his presidency, Biden has appointed at least 55 Indian-Americans to key leadership positions in his administration ranging from his speech writer to the NASA, to almost every wing of the Government. ..

Billionaire in Japan seeks 8 people for free Moon ride

JAPANESE billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has invited eight people to join him for a free Moon voyage on SpaceX Starship rocket sometime in 2023. In a video, Maezawa who is the founder of Japan’s largest online fashion retailer Zozotown, said that he wants people from all backgrounds to join. “It will be 10 to 12 people in all, but I will be inviting 8 people to come along on the ride,” he said in the YouTube video...

Delivery guy catches baby falling from 12th storey in Vietnam

A DELIVERY driver in Vietnam has been hailed a hero for springing into action to save a toddler who fell from the 12th storey balcony of her building. Nguyen Ngoc Manh, 31, was sitting in his truck waiting to deliver a package in Hanoi when he heard a girl crying, reports Daily Mail. The incident occurred on Sunday at around 4.30 PM. Manh initially thought it was a child having a tantrum, until he heard other people screaming. He rolled down the window and saw that the two-year-old girl was dangling ..

‘Nomadland’, ‘Borat 2’ win top awards at 2021 Golden Globes

“NOMADLAND”, director Chloe Zhao’s moving drama about van dwellers and Sacha Baron Cohen’s satire “Borat 2” won top movie honours at a scaled-down virtual ceremony at the Golden Globes, which was held bi-coastally due to the coronavirus pandemic. Zhao, a Chinese-American filmmaker, also won the best director trophy, becoming the only second woman director and the first woman director of Asian descent to win at the Globes. Her film “Nomadland”, starring Frances McDormand as a widow who hits the road ..

India’s Anjali Bharadwaj among 12 people named for US award

ANJALI Bharadwaj, an Indian social activist working on issues of transparency and accountability, is one of the 12 “courageous” individuals named by the Biden administration for the newly-instituted International Anti-Corruption Champions Award. According to the State Department, Bhardwaj, 48, has served as an active member of the Right to Information Movement in India for over two decades. “The Biden administration recognises that we will only be successful in combating these issues by working in ..

Nepal PM not to resign after SC verdict: Official

NEPAL Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli will not resign immediately and implement the Supreme Court’s verdict against him by facing Parliament that is due to convene within two weeks, an official representing the embattled Premier said on Wednesday. In a landmark ruling, a five-member constitutional bench led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher on Tuesday annulled the Oli Government’s “unconstitutional” decision to dissolve the 275-member Lower House of Parliament. Court also ordered Government to summon ..

NASA releases video of Perseverance’s landing on Mars

NASA on Monday released first high-quality video of a spacecraft landing on Mars, a three-minute trailer showing the enormous orange and white parachute hurtling open and the red dust kicking up as rocket engines lowered the rover to the surface. The footage was so good — and the images so breathtaking — that members of the rover team said that they felt like they were riding along. “It gives me goose bumps every time I see it, just amazing,” said Dave Gruel, head of the entry and descent camera team...

Nepal’s Supreme Court reinstates dissolved House of Representatives

NEPAL’S Supreme Court in a historic verdict on Tuesday reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives, in a setback to embattled Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli who was preparing for snap polls. A five-member Constitutional bench led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher annulled the Government’s decision to dissolve the 275-member Lower House of Parliament, according to a notice issued by the apex court...

Bezos back as world’s richest man as Musk loses $4.6 bn

AMAZON Founder Jeff Bezos is back as the world’s richest person after Tesla shares fell, resulting in a slight erosion in Elon Musk’ wealth. Tesla shares were down 2.4 per cent on Tuesday and Musk lost $4.6 billion, slipping to the second position on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s 500 wealthiest people. Bezos returned as the world’s richest man with a net worth of $191.2 billion. Last month, Musk became the world’s richest person, as his net worth crossed $185 billion after ..

200 Indian-origin people occupy leadership positions in 15 nations; 60 hold Cabinet ranks

MORE than 200 Indian-origin people occupy leadership positions in as many as 15 countries, including the US and the UK, building a legacy for future generations, according to a first-of-its-kind list by a US-based organisation working among the Indian diaspora. The 2021 Indiaspora Government Leaders List, which was released on Monday, had drawn from Government websites and other publicly-available resources to prepare the report to showcase the achievements of the community leaders across different ..

Govt slams foreign celebrities for hasty remarks

INDIA on Wednesday slammed the remarks made by American singer Rihanna and other celebrities and activists on farmer protests, saying the facts on the issue must be ascertained before rushing to comment on it, and asserted that the “temptation” of sensationalist social media hashtags and views is “neither accurate nor responsible”. The strong reaction by the Ministry of External Affairs came after Rihanna, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, American actress Amanda Cerni, US Vice President ..

Myanmar military frees regional, State Chief Ministers after coup

A DAY after seizing control of the country, the military in Myanmar on Tuesday released a majority of the detained regional and State Chief Ministers, but there was no word on Nobel Laureate and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint. Confirming the development to Xinhua news agency, a military official said: “There may be a reshuffle among Chief Ministers by appointing qualified ones.”..

Military stages coup in Myanmar, detains Aung San Suu Kyi

MYANMAR’S military staged a coup on Monday and detained senior politicians including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi — a sharp reversal of the significant, if uneven, progress toward democracy the Southeast Asian nation has made following five decades of military rule. An announcement read on military-owned Myawaddy TV said Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing would be in charge of the country for one year. It said the seizure was necessary because the Government had..

US economy suffers worst contraction in 74 years

THE US economy contracted 3.5 per cent in 2020 amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the worst annual decline of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) since 1946, according to data released by the Commerce Department. ..

India’s vaccine production capacity is best asset world has today: UN

CALLING for India to play a major role in global vaccination campaign, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday termed the vaccine production capacity of India as the “best asset” that the world has today. Addressing reporters here, the UN chief said, “I know that in India there is a very high level of production of Indian developed vaccines. We are in contact with Indian institutions for that. We strongly hope that India will have all the instruments that are necessary to play ..

UK scientists finalise nasal spray that blocks out COVID-19: Report

A NASAL spray which can prevent a coronavirus infection for up to two days is being prepped for mass production by scientists at the University of Birmingham with the hope of having them available over-the-counter in pharmacies in a few months, a UK newspaper report said on Sunday. Dr Richard Moakes, the study’s lead researcher, told ‘The Sunday Telegraph’ that he is confident in the spray’s formula to help unlock society from social distancing restrictions and “get schools going again”...

Brazil President invokes Lord Hanuman as he thanks PM for vaccines

BRAZILIAN President Jair Bolsonaro has thanked India for supplying COVID-19 vaccines to his country and shared on social media an illustration of Lord Hanuman bringing ‘Sanjivani booti’ from India to Brazil. Responding to Bolsonaro on Twitter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “The honour is ours, President @jairbolsonaro to be a trusted partner of Brazil in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic together...

AstroSat spots rare ultraviolet-bright stars

ASTRONOMERS, with the help of India’s first multi-wavelength space satellite AstroSat, have spotted a massive intriguing globular cluster in the Milky Way galaxy with rare hot UV-bright stars in it, the Department of Science and Technology said on Thursday. These stars whose inner core is almost exposed, making them very hot, exist in the late stages of evolution of a Sun-like star. It is not clear how these stars end their lives as not many of them are detected in these fast-evolving phases, ..

Biden signs 15 executive orders reversing Trump’s key policies

ON DAY One in office, US President Joe Biden has signed 15 executive orders, reversing some of the key foreign policies and national security decisions of his predecessor Donald Trump. The executive orders ranged from rejoining the Paris agreement on climate change, halting America’s withdrawal from the World Health Organisation, revoking Muslim travel ban and stopping immediate construction of Mexico border wall. “I’m proud of today’s executive actions, and I’m going to start by keeping the promises ..

At least 32 killed as twin suicide bombings rock central Baghdad

TWIN suicide bombings ripped through a busy market in the Iraqi capital on Thursday, killing at least 32 people and wounding dozens, officials said. The rare suicide bombing attack hit the Bab al-Sharqi commercial area in central Baghdad amid heightened political tensions over planned early elections and a severe economic crisis. Blood smeared the floors of the busy market amid piles of clothes and shoes as survivors took stock of the disarray in the aftermath. No one immediately took responsibility ..

92 countries post request for Made-in-India vaccines

NINETY-TWO countries have approached India for COVID-19 vaccines, bolstering New Delhi’s credentials as the vaccine hub of the world. Highly placed sources said that scores of countries are approaching India, as the word spreads that Indian vaccines are showing negligible side-effects, since the immunisation drive in the country began on Saturday. India is sending its domestically developed vaccines to several neighbouring countries including Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar. In a letter to PM Modi on Tuesday, ..

Jack Ma resurfaces

CHINA’S highest-profile entrepreneur, Jack Ma, appeared on Wednesday in an online video, ending a 2 1/2-month absence from public view that prompted speculation about the future of the e-commerce billionaire and his Alibaba Group. In the 50-second video, Ma congratulated teachers supported by his foundation and made no mention of his disappearance or official efforts to tighten control over Alibaba and other Internet companies over the past six months. The video appeared on Chinese business news and ..

Joe Biden takes oath as 46th US President With a promise to lead America by power of example

JOE BIDEN was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States and Kamala Harris took oath as first woman Vice President on Wednesday in a historic but scaled down ceremony under the unprecedented security umbrella of thousands of security personnel, who transformed the Capitol into a fortress to prevent any breach by pro-Trump extremists. The 78-year-old veteran Democrat leader was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice John Roberts at the West Front of the Capitol - the traditional ..

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...