International

Jeff Bezos offers NASA $2 bn discount for human lunar lander mission

FRESH from his trip to the edge of space, Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos has offered NASA a discount of up to $2 billion to give his space company Blue Origin the human lunar landing system (HLS) contract, won by Elon Musks SpaceX earlier this year. Escalating his space war with Musk, Bezos in an open letter to the NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said on Monday that his company would close US space agency’s near-term budgetary shortfall and producing a safe and sustainable lander that will return Americans ..

Tunisian President sacks PM, freezes Parliament

TUNISIAN President Kais Saied announced that he has removed Hichem Mechichi from the post of Prime Minister and suspended all activities of Parliament or the Assembly of People’s Representatives. The announcement on Sunday night was made in a video broadcast on the official page of the Tunisian Presidency on the Facebook, after an emergency meeting that Saied held with senior security officials, reports Xinhua news agency. ..

Fauci says, US going in ‘wrong direction’ on COVID-19 cases

AS COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalisations continue to increase among the unvaccinated across the US, top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said that the country is “going in the wrong direction”, the media reported. “If you look at the inflection of the curve of new cases, that it is among the unvaccinated. And since we have 50 per cent of the country is not fully vaccinated, that’s a problem,” Fauci was quoted as saying to CNN on Sunday. The majority of deaths could be, thus, among the ..

Bezos completes space trip on own rocket

JEFF Bezos blasted into space on Tuesday on his rocket company’s first flight with people on board, becoming the second billionaire in just over a week to ride his own spacecraft. The Amazon founder was accompanied by a hand-picked group: his brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands and an 82-year-old aviation pioneer from Texas — the youngest and oldest to ever fly in space. “Best day ever!” Bezos said when the capsule touched down on the desert floor at the end of the 10-minute flight...

Afghan Ambassador to Pak called back following daughter’s abduction

FOLLOWING the abduction of the Afghan Ambassador’s daughter in Pakistan, the Afghan leadership has called back the envoy Najibullah Alikhel and senior diplomats from Pakistan until all security threats are addressed, including the arrest and trial of the perpetrators of abduction. An Afghan delegation will visit Pakistan soon to assess and follow up on the case and all related issues and subsequent actions will follow based on the findings...

US Navy hands over MH-60R maritime helicopters to India

IN YET another sign of strengthening India-US defence relationship, the US Navy has handed over the first two MH-60R Multi Role Helicopters (MRH) to the Indian Navy to bolster its capabilities to ward off regional threats and to strengthen homeland defence. The Indian Navy is procuring 24 of these helicopters manufactured by Lockheed Martin under foreign military sales from the US government at an estimated cost of USD2.4 billion. A ceremony was held at the Naval Air Station North Island or NAS North ..

Ghani lashes out at Pak, asks it to convince Taliban to cease violence

AFGHANISTAN President Ashraf Ghani on Friday lambasted Pakistan for not severing its ties with terrorist organisations groups and said that according to Intelligence reports over 10,000 ‘jihadi’ fighters had entered Afghanistan in the last month, while the Imran Khan’s Pakistan Government had failed to convince the Taliban to “negotiate seriously” in the ongoing peace talks. ..

Afghan forces battle Taliban to retake border

AFGHAN Government forces battled Friday to retake a border crossing with Pakistan from Taliban insurgents. The Taliban had overrun the Spin Boldak crossing earlier in the week. On Friday, witnesses on the Pakistan side of the border said they saw intense fighting and reported seeing bodies. The Taliban have overrun dozens of districts in Afghanistan since the start of the final phase of the withdrawal of US and NATO troops, after a 20-year military presence. ..

Death toll in Iraq covid ward blaze 92

THE death toll from a fire that swept through a hospital coronavirus ward in Iraq has climbed to at least 92, the Iraqi state news agency reported on Tuesday. The announcement came as anguished family members buried their loved ones and lashed out at the government over the tragedy. The blaze that erupted on Monday in the city of Nasiriyah was the second catastrophic fire in less than three months to kill hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Iraq, where the health care system has been crippled by ..

Taliban impose severe restrictions on women

MANY Afghans who hoped that the Taliban would reform their extreme views amid ongoing talks with the Afghan Government and the US troop withdrawal have been disappointed by the new severe restrictions imposed on the local population in some of the districts recently captured by the militant group, a media report said. Several residents of Balkh, a district in Balkh that is located 20 km north of the provincial capital, Mazar-e-Sharif, confirmed to the Voice of America (VOA) that the Taliban have distribute..

UAE’s Hope spacecraft snaps Mars’ glowing auroras

THE United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Hope Mars Mission has snapped the most detailed pictures yet of the ‘discrete nightside auroras’ of the Red Planet, which scientists have struggled to study for decades. The ultraviolet emissions arise when solar wind runs into magnetic fields that emanate from Mars’s crust. Charged particles then collide with oxygen in the upper atmosphere, causing it to glow, Nature reported...

NASA’s self-driving Perseverance Mars Rover ‘takes the wheel’

NASA’s newest six-wheeled robot on Mars, the Perseverance rover, is beginning an epic journey across a crater floor seeking signs of ancient life, the US space agency announced on Thursday. A NASA release said the rover team is deeply engaged with planning navigation routes, drafting instructions to be beamed up, even donning special 3D glasses to help map their course. ..

Pak not to give its bases to US after its troops exit Afghanistan

IN A bold decision, Pakistan has decided and announced that it will not provide any bases on its soil to the US to operate from, after its troops exit Afghanistan. ..

As troops leave, US to keep airstrike option in Afghanistan

THE US military will remain involved in the Afghanistan war into September, keeping the option of launching airstrikes against the Taliban to defend Afghan forces, US officials said on Thursday, even as the final combat troops prepare to leave the country in coming days. ..

Life could exist in clouds of Jupiter, not Venus: Research

JUPITER’S clouds have water conditions that would allow earth-like life to exist, but this isn’t possible in Venus’ clouds, according to the groundbreaking finding of research led by Queen’s University Belfast scientists. For some decades, space exploration missions have looked for evidence of life beyond earth where we know that large bodies of water, such as lakes or oceans, exist or have previously existed...

China deleted COVID-19 data in possible cover-up: Report

AMID the resurgence of lab leak theory of COVID-19, a new report has revealed that China deleted early coronavirus data in a possible bid to conceal its origins -- hence impeding the World Health Organisation’s investigation’s (WHO) probe of the virus. The so-called “lab leak” theory, once dismissed by the mainstream media, has gained traction after a series of revelations. It has become the subject of renewed public debate after several prominent scientists called for a full investigation into the ..

Delta variant ‘greatest threat’ to anti-COVID efforts of US: Dr Fauci

THE highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus is the “greatest threat” to America’s attempt to eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s leading infectious disease expert and White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr Anthony Fauci has warned. The variant, which was first detected in India, is more contagious and causes more severe disease than other circulating variants, he said on Tuesday during a White House COVID-19 response team briefing. Fauci said the Delta variant now makes up more ..

Over 3,000 people perform Yoga at iconic Times Square

OVER 3,000 people spread their mats at the iconic Times Square here and performed Yoga asanas keeping in mind social distancing guidelines to celebrate the International Yoga Day as the city opens up following the COVID-19 pandemic. The Consulate General of India, New York in partnership with Times Square Alliance hosted the 7th International Day of Yoga celebrations on Sunday at the popular city destination, known as the crossroads of the world. The day-long celebration themed as Solstice Event was ..

M K Stalin meets Sonia, Rahul

TAMIL Nadu Chief Minister and DMK President M K Stalin on Friday met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi at her residence, where Rahul Gandhi was also present. This is the first meeting between Stalin and Sonia Gandhi after the DMK-Congress alliance was elected to power in the just-concluded Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu. ..

World’s 3rd largest diamond unearthed in Botswana

ONE of the world’s largest diamonds has been unearthed in Botswana, the country Government said. The CNN reported that the 1,098-carat stone, believed to be the third largest “gem-quality” diamond ever found, was presented to President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday. The discovery was made earlier this month at the Jwaneng mine, around 75 miles from the country’s capital, Gaborone. ..

Three Chinese astronauts enter new space station successfully

THREE Chinese astronauts on Thursday entered the country’s new space station after their spaceship successfully docked with it, just over seven hours after the launch from the Gobi Desert, in a major milestone for the Communist giant’s space exploration plans and its bid to become a leading space power. According to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), Shenzhou-12 manned spaceship successfully docked with the space station core module Tianhe on Thursday and entered the orbital capsule from the return ..

China all set to launch mission with 3 astronauts for its space station today

CHINA is all set to send on Thursday the first three crew members to its under-construction space station which is expected to be Beijing’s eye in the sky and will rival the aging International Space Station (ISS). The spaceship, Shenzhou-12, will take Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo into space for the construction of China’s space station, Ji Qiming, assistant to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) director, said at a nationally televised press conference held at the launch centre on Wednesday...

Biden, Putin conclude summit between ‘two great powers’

US PRESIDENT Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin concluded their summit meeting on Wednesday between what the American leader called “two great powers,” wrapping up more quickly than expected. The pair’s second sit-down, with aides present on both sides, lasted about 65 minutes. That session was to be divided into two parts with a break in between, but concluded without a second part...

Naftali Bennett sworn in as Israel’s new Prime Minister

NAFTALI Bennett was on Sunday sworn in as Israel’s new Prime Minister, ending Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year hold on power and the political uncertainty that gripped the Jewish nation for months after inconclusive elections. Bennett, the 49-year-old leader of the Right-wing Yamina party, took oath of office after the Knesset (Parliament) elected him as the 13th Prime Minister of Israel by approved with a razor-thin majority of 60-59 in the 120-member House. One lawmaker abstained...

Biden urges G-7 leaders to call out and compete with China

LEADERS of the world’s largest economies unveiled an infrastructure plan on Sunday for the developing world to compete with China’s global initiatives, but they were searching for a consensus on how to forcefully call out Beijing over human rights abuses. Citing China for its forced labour practices is part of President Joe Biden’s campaign to persuade fellow democratic leaders to present a more unified front to compete economically with Beijing. But while they agreed to work toward competing against ..

Pulitzer to Indian-origin scribe for Uyghur Muslim story

MEGHA Rajagopalan, an Indian-origin journalist, along with two contributors has won the Pulitzer Prize for innovative investigative reports that exposed a vast infrastructure of prisons and mass internment camps secretly built by China for detaining hundreds of thousands of Muslims in its restive Xinjiang region. Rajagopalan from BuzzFeed News is among two Indian-origin journalists who won the US’ top journalism award on Friday. ‘Tampa Bay Times’ Neil Bedi won for local reporting. Bedi along with ..

Bezos plans to go to space aboard Blue Origin flight in July

JEFF Bezos will be aboard for Blue Origin’s first human space flight next month. In an Instagram post on Monday, Bezos said he, his brother, and the winner of an ongoing auction, will be aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft during it’s scheduled launch on July 20. July 20 is the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The trip will be a brief hop to space from Texas. Bezos said in early February that he was stepping down as CEO of Amazon to spend more time, among other things, focused ..

G7 sets global tax rate of at least 15%

THE G7 group of leading economies have reached “a historic agreement” to reform the global tax system to make it fit for the global digital age. Speaking outside Winfield House in London’s Regents Park on Saturday, the US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the minimum rate of at least 15 per cent would end “the race to the bottom in corporate taxation”. In a tweet later, she added that global minimum tax would end the race-to-the-bottom in corporate taxation, and help the global economy thrive, ..

Wuhan Institute of Virology got $6,00,000 in ‘gain-of-function’ research from US: Report

AMID the leaked Anthony S Fauci emails and independent investigations into the Wuhan lab secrets, reports have emerged again that the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China was funded by the US Government and the virology lab, headed by Shi Zhengli, received nearly $6,00,000 in ‘gain-of-function’ research. At a US Senate hearing on May 11, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) said that scientists in the US have long known how to mutate animal viruses to infect humans. “For years, Dr Ralph Baric, a virologist in ..

Mauritius’ ex-President, six times PM Sir Anerood Jugnauth passes away at 91

SIR Anerood Jugnauth, the former President and Prime Minister of Mauritius, has passed away. He was 91. Jugnauth, who served as Mauritius’ President twice and Prime Minister six times, was accorded with India’s second highest civilian honour Padma Vibhushan in 2020..

Iran warship catches fire, sinks in Gulf of Oman

THE largest warship in the Iranian Navy caught fire and later sank on Wednesday in the Gulf of Oman under unclear circumstances, the latest calamity to strike one of the country’s vessels in recent years amid tensions with the West. The blaze began around 2:25 am and firefighters tried to contain it, the Fars news agency reported, but their efforts failed to save the 207-metre (679-foot) Kharg, which was used to resupply other ships in the fleet at sea and conduct training exercises. State media reported ..

7-yr-old boy swims for an hour to rescue dad, sister

A 7-YEAR-OLD boy is being credited for helping to save his father and 4-year-old sister by swimming to shore and calling for help after they got caught in a strong current during a holiday weekend boating trip on Florida’s St. Johns River. The father, Steven Poust, told Jax4 television station that he anchored his boat in the river while he fished and his children played on Friday. Chase Puost said the current was too strong for her sister Abigail to hold onto the boat, and he also let go to stay ..

Chinese climber becomes 1st blind Asian to scale Everest

A CHINESE climber who became the first blind Asian to scale Mount Everest says he aims to climb the highest peaks on all seven continents and then travel to the North and South Poles. Zhang Hong, 44, is also the third blind climber internationally to reach the world’s highest peak. Following his guides and Sherpas, he reached the summit on May 24 and returned safely to Kathmandu...

COVID-19 has no credible natural ancestor, claims new study

AMID calls for a fresh probe into the origins of COVID-19, an explosive new study has found that Chinese scientists created the virus in a lab in Wuhan, then tried to cover their tracks by reverse-engineering versions of the virus to make it look like it evolved naturally from bats. The novel coronavirus SARSCoV-2 virus has no “credible natural ancestor” and was created by Chinese scientists who were working on a ‘Gain of Function’ project in aWuhan lab, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported on Sunday, citing ..

India supports calls for detailed studies on origins of virus

INDIA on Friday supported renewed global calls for a comprehensive investigation by the WHO into the origins of COVID-19, days after US President Joe Biden asked American Intelligence agencies to find out how coronavirus emerged in China. ..

China amassing weapons systems at Indian border

BEIJING is amassing new weapons systems in its border with India complicating efforts towards a peaceful solution to the border stand-off. ..

NATO troops conduct massive war games across Atlantic, Black Sea

AS TENSIONS with Russia simmer, thousands of NATO troops, several warships and dozens of aircraft are taking part in military exercises stretching across the Atlantic, through Europe and into the Black Sea region. ..

Jaishankar meets US NSA; discusses Indo-Pacific region, climate change

EXTERNAL Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan during which they held wide-ranging discussions and agreed that people-to-people ties and shared values are the foundation of the US-India strategic partnership that is helping to end the pandemic, supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific and providing global leadership on climate change. Jaishankar, the first Indian Cabinet Minister to visit the United States under the Biden administration, met Sullivan on Thursday. ..

B.1.617 COVID-19 variant now found in 53 countries: WHO

THE B.1.617 COVID-19 variant, first detected in India, has now been found in 53 countries, according to the WHO, which noted that India recorded 23 pc decrease in number of new cases in the last seven days but they were still highest in the world. World Health Organisation’s Weekly Epidemiological Update, published on May 25, said that over the past week, the number of new cases and deaths continued to decrease globally, with over 4.1 million new cases and 84,000 new deaths reported, a 14 per cent ..

New drugs developed by Aus scientists can prevent, cure COVID-19

SCIENTISTS from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia’s Queensland have developed two new drugs to both prevent SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19 infection, and also treat people who have been exposed to the virus so they do not develop severe disease. The two early intervention drugs target how human cells respond to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, instead of the virus itself, according to the findings published in the journal Nature Cell Discovery. The first peptide-based drug would be ..

World’s first man to get COVID-19 vaccine dies of unrelated illness in UK

AN 81-year-old pensioner in the UK who made history when he became the first man in the world to have the COVID-19 vaccination has died of an unrelated illness, the British media reported on Tuesday. William Shakespeare hit global headlines on December 8 last year when he became the first man to have the jab to fight against the coronavirus at the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire. Shakespeare received his first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the same hospital shortly after 91-year-old ..

WHO scientists likely to reconsider China lab origin theory of COVID-19

WORLD Health Organisation (WHO) is expected to restudy the “dominant theory” that the SARS-CoV-2 probably originated and spread across the world from China’s Wuhan lab, according to reports. According to CNN, previously overlooked Chinese data on extensive screening of animals for coronavirus around the time the pandemic erupted is among several areas identified for further study by WHO scientists investigating the origins of the virus, as per a source...

China develops UAV with plateau ops capabilities, to deploy at LAC

CHINA has developed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with plateau operations capabilities and plans to deploy it at Line of Actual Control with India in Kailash mountain range, sources said. The UAV has been developed in Shaanxi and completed its first flying and control task at Gar Gunsa in Tibet Autonomous Region, the sources said. The flight was undertaken by the Hailan Aviation team. “The UAV took off from an elevation of 4,700 metre -- Baga Township -- and completed its task of patrolling, control ..

‘Largest afloat Antarctic iceberg could drift through ocean for several years’

A VAST iceberg that broke off Antarctica earlier this month could drift through the ocean for several years before it breaks up and melts away, a scientist from the European Space Agency said on Friday. The iceberg, dubbed A-76, is more than 40 times the size of Paris, or about 73 times as big as Manhattan, making it the largest currently afloat. It was first spotted by scientists at the British Antarctic Survey and confirmed by the US National Ice Center using images taken by the European Space ..

RBI to transfer Rs 99,122 cr as dividend to Centre

  THE Reserve Bank on Friday decided to transfer Rs 99,122 crore as surplus to the exchequer, a move that will help the Government to channelise more resources to combat the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to transfer the surplus amount for the accounting period of nine months ended March 31, 2021 was taken at a meeting of the central board of the RBI, held through video conferencing, under the chairmanship of Governor Shaktikanta Das. The surplus is commonly called ‘div..

Israel unleashes strikes as expectations for truce rise

ISRAEL unleashed another wave of airstrikes across the Gaza Strip early on Thursday, killing at least one Palestinian and wounding several, and Hamas fired more rockets, even as expectations rose that a ceasefire could be coming. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed back against calls from the US to wind down the Gaza offensive, appearing determined to inflict maximum damage on Hamas in a war that could help save his political career. Still, officials close to the negotiations say they expect ..

Estimated 4,000-6,000 refugees from Myanmar sought safety in India: UN

AN estimated 4,000 to 6,000 refugees from Myanmar have sought safety in India, a spokesperson for the UN chief has said, as the world body voiced concern over the rising levels of displacement of people since the military coup in the country in February. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said that in Myanmar, as of last week, approximately 60,700 women, children and men have been internally displaced...

China offers to host Afghan peace talks, backs leading role for Ghani-led Govt

CHINA, which has stepped up its diplomacy between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the wake of the US troops withdrawal from the war-torn country, has offered to host peace talks between the Afghan Government and the Taliban. Significantly, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who in the last two-days held telephone talks with his Pakistani and Afghan counterparts, said that China will back the Afghan Government headed by Ashraf Ghani in playing a leading role...

Strike from Gaza kills 2 as Israel topples 6-story building

A STRIKE launched from Gaza killed two Thai workers in southern Israel on Tuesday, police said, hours after Israeli airstrikes toppled a six-story building in the Palestinian territory that housed bookstores and educational centres. With the war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers showing no sign of abating and truce efforts apparently stalled, Palestinians across Israel and the occupied territories went on strike in a rare collective action against Israel’s policies. Violence erupted at one protest ..

Israel claims, Gaza tunnels destroyed in heavy airstrikes

THE Israeli military unleashed a wave of heavy airstrikes on the Gaza Strip early on Monday, saying it destroyed 15 kilometres (nine miles) of militant tunnels and the homes of nine Hamas commanders. Residents of Gaza awakened by the overnight barrage described it as the heaviest since the war began a week ago, and even more powerful than a wave of airstrikes in Gaza City the day before that left 42 dead and flattened three buildings...

Israeli strikes kill 42 people, topple 3 buildings in Gaza City

ISRAELI air strikes on Gaza City flattened three buildings and killed at least 42 people on Sunday, medics said, making it the deadliest single attack since heavy fighting broke out between Israel and the territory’s militant Hamas rulers nearly a week ago. The Gaza Health Ministry said 10 women and eight children were among those killed, with another 50 people wounded in the attack. A rescuer could be seen shouting into a hole in the rubble...

Israeli airstrike on Gaza home kills 10

AN ISRAELI air raid in Gaza City killed at least 10 Palestinians, mostly children, early Saturday in the deadliest single strike since the battle with Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers erupted. Both sides pressed for an advantage as truce efforts gathered strength. Israel also bombed the home of Khalil al-Hayeh, a top leader of Gaza’s ruling militant Hamas group. The latest outburst of violence began in Jerusalem and has spread across the region, with Jewish-Arab clashes and rioting in mixed cities ..

China lands its rover ‘Zhurong’ on Mars

CHINA has successfully landed a spacecraft on Mars after surviving “nine minutes of terror”, the official media announced on Saturday, becoming the second country in history to have a rover on the red planet. The rover, Zhurong, named after a god of fire and war in Chinese mythology, landed at the pre-selected area in Utopia Planitia on Mars, the State-run ‘Xinhua news agency’ reported. The six-wheel solar-powered Zhurong rover weighs about 240 kilogrammes and carries six scientific instruments. ..

Penpa Tsering is new Tibetan Govt-in-exile President

FORMER speaker of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile and experienced administrator Penpa Tsering will be the next President of Tibetan Government-in-exile, it was announced on Friday. Tsering, 53, who won the post of Central Tibetan Administration’s Sikyong (President) with 5,417 votes, succeeded Lobsang Sangay, who completes two terms as president this month. CTA chief election commissioner Wangdu Tsering declared the result here for the second and final round, polling for which was held on April 11. ..

Palestinians flee as Israel pounds

PALESTINIANS grabbed their children and belongings and fled neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Gaza City on Friday as Israel unleashed a heavy barrage of artillery fire and airstrikes, killing a family of 6 in their home. Israel said it was clearing a network of militant tunnels ahead of a possible ground invasion. ..

Hamas, Israel fighting escalates even amid Egypt’s truce efforts

HAMAS sent a heavy barrage of rockets deep into Israel in a matter of minutes on Thursday and Israel pounded Gaza with more airstrikes. The relentless escalation of hostilities came even as Egyptian negotiators held in-person talks with the two sides, intensifying efforts at mediation. Previous fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, including a devastating 2014 war, was largely confined to the impoverished and blockaded Palestinian territory and Israeli communities on the frontier...

World’s largest cooling stations installed in Grand Mosque

AS PARTof SaudiArabia’s efforts to provide high-quality services to visitors and pilgrims of the Holy Mosques using the latest technologies, the world’s largest coolingplantofitskindhasbeen installed in Makkah’s Grand Mosque to ensure that worshipers perform their rituals in the cool and fresh atmosphere inside Al-Haram. TheGeneralPresidencyforthe Affairs of theTwo Holy Mosques worksonensuringfreshairinside the Grand Mosque using ultraviolet light air purification technology...

Escalating violence in Gaza bears hallmarks of 50-day war in 2014

ROCKETS streamed out of Gaza and Israel pounded the territory with airstrikes early on Wednesday as the most severe outbreak of violence since the 2014 war took on many hallmarks of that devastating 50-day conflict, with no endgame in sight. Gaza’s Hamas rulers and other militant groups have fired barrages of hundreds of rockets that at times have overwhelmed Israel’s missile defences, causing air raid sirens and explosions to echo across Tel Aviv, Israel’s biggest metropolitan area, and other cities...

NASA’s spacecraft begins home journey with asteroid rubble

WITH rubble from an asteroid tucked inside, a NASA spacecraft fired its engines and began the long journey back to Earth on Monday, leaving the ancient space rock in its rearview mirror. The trip home for the robotic prospector, Osiris-Rex, will take two years. Osiris-Rex reached asteroid Bennu in 2018 and spent two years flying near and around it, before collecting rubble from the surface last fall. The University of Arizona’s Dante Lauretta, the principal scientist, estimates the spacecraft holds ..

China to draw ‘separation line’ on Mt Everest to stop COVID spread

CHINA will draw a “separation line” atop Mount Everest to prevent the coronavirus from being spread by climbers ascending Nepal’s side of the mountain, Chinese state media reported on Monday. A team of Tibetan mountaineering guides will set up the separation line at the peak before climbers attempt to reach the summit from the Chinese side, state-owned Xinhua News Agency said. It is not clear what the separation line will be made of. The climbers ascending the north side of the mountain from China ..

Indian diaspora in US protests post-poll violence in W Bengal

NON-RESIDENT Indians, including the Bengali diaspora, have staged protests in more than 30 American cities, condemning the post-poll result violence in West Bengal. Several incidents of violence were reported in West Bengal after the announcement of Assembly poll results on May 2. The BJP has alleged that its several workers were killed and many were injured by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the aftermath of the elections. TMC supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee led the party to a massive ..

‘Chinese scientists discussed using coronavirus as bioweapon in 2015’

A DOCUMENT written by Chinese scientists and health officials before the pandemic in 2015 states that SARS coronaviruses were a “new era of genetic weapons” that could be “artificially manipulated into an emerging human disease virus, then weaponised and unleashed, reported ‘Weekend Australian’. The paper titled The Unnatural Origin of SARS and New Species of Man-Made Viruses as Genetic Bioweapons suggested that World War Three would be fought with biological weapons. The document revealed that Chinese ..

NASA shares humming of chopper blades in thin Martian air

FIRST came the amazing pictures, then the video. Now NASA is sharing sounds of its little helicopter humming through the thin Martian air. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California released this first-ever audio on Friday, just before Ingenuity made its fifth test flight, a short one-way trip to a new airfield. During the fourth flight a week earlier, the low hum from the helicopter blades spinning at more than 2,500 revolutions per minute is barely audible. It almost sounds like a low-pitched, ..

Oxygen Express trains delivered 2,067 tonnes of oxygen across India

THE Railways’ Oxygen Express trains have delivered around 2,067 tonnes of medical oxygen across the country over the last 16 days with Delhi getting the highest 707 tonnes, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 641 tonnes. Currently, trains carrying 344 tonnes of liquid medical oxygen are on the run. “The Railways have delivered liquid medical oxygen to various States across the country. So far, Indian Railways has delivered around 2,067 Tonnes of liquid medical oxygen in 137 tankers to various States across ..

World’s largest airplane will be used to launch space vehicles

IN 1941, the US Government hired billionaire entrepreneur Howard Hughes to build a massive airplane to take some 700 American soldiers into combat. Hughes’ legendary “Spruce Goose” had a wingspan of 97.5 metred. Last week, 80 years later, an even bigger aircraft, the “Stratolaunch,” took to the skies over southern California’s Mojave Desert, in a second successful test flight that awed onlookers marvelling at its wingspan of 117.3 metres and six Boeing engines that roared in synchronicity, Xinhua ..

Bill, Melinda Gates divorcing after 27 yrs of marriage

BILLIONAIRE philanthropists Bill and Melinda French Gates have announced they are divorcing after 27 years of marriage, saying they no longer believe “we can grow together as a couple”, but will continue to work together at their foundation that has an endowment of USD 50 billion. In a joint statement posted on Twitter by both, they said: “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage.” They said, that over the last 27 years they ..

China successfully launches core module of its space station

CHINA’S ambitious space programme got a major boost on Thursday when it successfully launched the core module of its space station as part of its aim to complete the construction of the facility by the end of next year. The Long March-5B Y2 rocket, carrying the Tianhe module, blasted off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the coast of the southern island province of Hainan. Encased in the extra-large fairing of the country’s state-of-the-art Long March-5B launch vehicle, Tianhe meaning Harmony ..

IAF airlifts nine cryogenic oxygen containers from Dubai, Singapore

THE Indian Air Force (IAF) airlifted nine cryogenic oxygen containers from Dubai and Singapore and has brought them to the Panagarh air base in West Bengal, according to an official statement issued on Wednesday. These containers were brought on Tuesday, it said. In addition, the IAF’s C-17 aircraft on Tuesday also airlifted two cryogenic oxygen containers from Indore to Jamnagar, two from Jodhpur and Udaipur to Jamnagar and two from Hindon to Ranchi, it said. “IAF’s C-17s have airlifted six cryogenic ..

Biden Govt removes all bureaucratic hurdles

THE Biden administration seems to have adopted a mission mode approach and removed all bureaucratic hurdles to help India in its fight against deadly COVID-19 pandemic that has spread like wildfire across the country with more than 3,00,000 daily new coronavirus cases being reported in the past few days, and hospitals in several States are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds. Various wings of the US Government, including the Department of Defence, Department of Health and Human Resources, ..

Vital medical supplies arrive from UK

THE shipment of vital medical supplies from the United Kingdom, including 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators as part of COVID-19 assistance, arrived in India earlier on Tuesday, said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)...

NASA’s Hubble images show giant star on edge of destruction

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a brilliant “celebrity star,” one of the brightest stars seen in our galaxy, surrounded by a glowing halo of gas and dust and living on the edge of destruction. The star, called AG Carinae, is a few million years old and resides 20,000 light-years away inside our Milky Way galaxy. It is estimated to be up to 70 times more massive than our Sun and shines with the blinding brilliance of one million Suns. The price for its opulence is “living on the edge.”..

I really didn’t expect this: Anthony Hopkins on his best actor Oscar win

VETERAN Hollywood star Anthony Hopkins says he did not expect to win best actor Oscar at the 93rd Academy Awards but felt “very privileged and honoured” to get recognised at 83 years of age. The actor was nominated for his role in “The Father” but many had believed that the honour would go to Boseman, who was posthumously nominated for his role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”...

Irrfan Khan, Bhanu Athaiya remembered at Oscar Awards

“MY OCTOPUS Teacher”, which has Indian filmmaker Swati Thiyagarajan as associate producer and production manager, won the best documentary feature at the Oscars, which also honoured actor Irrfan Khan and costume designer Bhanu in its ‘In Memoriam’ segment. Indian echoes at the 93rd Academy Awards, a social distancing event held in the shadow of the pandemic, were faint but distinct. “We won!!! Best documentary feature Oscar!!!,” Thiyagarajan, who has also written “Born Wild: Journey into the Wild ..

82 killed in Baghdad hospital fire

IRAQ’S Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 82 people died and 110 were injured in a catastrophic fire that broke out in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a Baghdad hospital tending to severe coronavirus patients. Negligence on the part of hospital authorities has been blamed for the Saturday night fire, which initial reports suggest was caused when an oxygen cylinder exploded in the ward of Ibn al- Khatib hospital. Iraq’s Prime Minister fired key hospital officials hours after the catastrophic ..

‘Perseverance’ extracts oxygen from Mars

THE growing list of “firsts” for Perseverance, NASA’s newest six-wheeled robot on the Martian surface, includes converting some of the Red Planet’s thin, carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere into oxygen. In a press release, NASA said that a toaster-size, experimental instrument aboard Perseverance called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) accomplished the task. The test took place April 20, the 60th Martian day, or sol, since the mission landed on February 18. “While the technology ..

NASA creates history, flies helicopter on Mars, first for another planet CAPE

NASA’S experimental Mars helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. The triumph was hailed as a Wright Brothers moment. The mini 4-pound (1.8-kg) copter named Ingenuity, in fact, carried a bit of wing fabric from the 1903 Wright Flyer, which made similar history at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. “We can now say that human beings have flown a rotorcraft on another planet,” project manager MiMi Aung announced to ..

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 ..