MediaEye RSS Feedhttps://www.mediaeyenews.comMediaEye news RSS Feeden-usCopyright (C) 2016 mediaeyenews.comRamya Krishnan Queen season 2 to have more action thrilling content

New Delhi, Southern star Ramya Krishnan can't wait to start shooting for the second season of her hit web series "Queen".

Last year when "Queen" released, her character reminded the audience of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa -- from the plain white sarees with black and red stripes and round red bindis that she sported, to the protagonist's character progression from a filmstar who becomes a top politician

"You are free to feel so (that the web series is inspired by Jayalalithaa's life). That's what the director also told me," Ramya told IANS.

But she says it's not her story.

"This is based on a book by Anita Sivakumarannitha. I loved it (web series) because of the similarity (with Jayalalithaa's story), and I loved the late CM for her guts and for being the real queen," said the actress.

"Queen" chronicles the life of Shakti Seshadri, a spirited and determined woman whose vision and sense of resilience made her an epitome of strength for likeminded women. Despite finding herself in several unfavourable circumstances at different stages of life and being let down by many people she held closest to her heart, Shakti puts up a fight to emerge as a winner every time.

Directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon along with Prasath Murugesan, the finite series captures her struggle with her family's adverse financial position, her excelling in academics and rising to the ranks of a state topper and emerging as a leading superstar in the film industry, and eventually becoming the youngest chief minister of her state.

"I just went by what Gautham told me. He wanted me to be myself and that's what I did. I was reacting to the words which I had to speak which were so powerful and so well written," said the actress.

"She (Shakti) is not a politician yet. She is getting there as far as season one goes. I enjoyed doing it, especially the interview portion. I loved the way questions were phrased and answers were written," added Ramya.

"Queen" season 2 is in the works, and she is excited.

"I am just waiting to get there and be a part of it. People can expect more action, more interesting content, thrilling and exciting content," she said.

The shooting is yet to begin owing to the ongoing lockdown.

"We don't have a clarity on when shooting will start. With the quarantine right now, we are yet to know," she said, adding: "Last when I spoke to (writer) Reshma, she was done with the script. It's all ready to go on floors but it all depends on the quarantine phase," she added.

Till then, the audience can watch the first season of "Queen" on Zee TV starting from June 6.

"If a channel has decided to air it, they know that it has done well. This content will really do well on their channel too," said Ramya.

(IANS) 

Sat, 06 Jun 2020 10:23:52 +0530
Black lives matter will address racial injustice Zuckerberg

San Francisco, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Saturday tried to address growing unrest among the employees over the poor handling of controversial posts by US President Donald Trump, saying the company has started a workstream for building products to advance racial justice.

Several current and former Facebook employees have criticized Zuckerberg's inaction over controversial posts from the US President on glorifying violence, calling him to start fact-checking world leaders and labeling harmful posts.

In a memo, the Facebook CEO said that he believes his platforms would help "overcome racial injustice in America and around the world".

"I stand with you. Your lives matter. Black lives matter," he stressed.

The memo comes at a time when Facebook employees have slammed Zuckerberg for not taking action on posts by Trump in the wake of the death of African-American George Floyd. There have been some resignations too at the company over his inaction.

"I know many of you think we should have labeled the President's posts in some way last week. Our current policy is that if content is actually inciting violence, then the right mitigation is to take that content down -- not let people continue seeing it behind a flag," Zuckerberg said, adding that there is no exception to this policy for politicians or newsworthiness.

While Twitter put out a "public interest notice" on Trump tweet for violating the platform's policies about glorifying violence, Facebook refused to take action when the tweet was cross-posted to its platform.

He said that the company is also going to review its existing policies, including how its treats content dealing with the use of police or state force and treats content in countries where there is civil unrest or violent conflicts.

"We're going to review our policies allowing discussion and threats of state use of force to see if there are any amendments we should adopt," he said, adding that given the sensitive history in the US, "this deserves special consideration".

"We already have precedents for imposing greater restrictions during emergencies and when countries are in ongoing states of conflict, so there may be additional policies or integrity measures to consider around discussion or threats of state use of force when a country is in this state," he noted.

Zuckerberg mentioned that the company is going to review its policies around voter suppression to make sure it is taking into account the realities of voting in the midst of a pandemic.

Additionally, he said Facebook is going to work on establishing a clearer and more transparent decision-making process.

"More broadly, we're going to review whether we need to change anything structurally to make sure the right groups and voices are at the table -- not only when decisions affecting a certain group are being made," Zuckerberg said.
 

(IANS) 

Sat, 06 Jun 2020 09:51:28 +0530
Tennis event to be held with fans in Prague next week

Prague, A women's charity tennis tournament with fans will be held in Prague, the Czech Republic next week, the organisers have said.

The tournament, which is scheduled from June 13 to 15, will have two six-member teams, leading by World No.3 Karolina Pliskova and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova respectively, to compete against each other, reports Xinhua news agency.

"We will begin with fewer people. I suppose we will gradually increase the number," tournament promoter Tomas Petera told the Czech news agency CTK on Friday.

The tournament will be held under Czech government's decision to allow events with up to 500 people as of June 8 within an easing of pandemic control measures.

"Don't waste the chance to watch this unique team contest," the tournament statement noted as the ticket sales kicked off on Friday afternoon.

Pliskova's team includes her twin sister Kristyna, Marketa Vondrousova, Karolina Muchova, Tereza Martincova and junior Nikola Bartunkova, while Kvitova's team will comprise Barbora Strycova, Katerina Siniakova, Barbora Krejcikova, Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova and junior Linda Fruhvirtova.
(IANS) 

Sat, 06 Jun 2020 09:46:20 +0530
President promulgates ordinances for agriculture market reforms

New Delhi,  President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday promulgated the ordinances for major agricultural reforms which aim to give freedom to the farmers to sell their agriculture produce anywhere in the country and pave the way for contract farming.

The Union Cabinet had on Wednesday cleared Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Ordinance 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance 2020 which were notified on Friday.

Apart from these two key reforms, the amendment of essential goods act has also been given approval following which the agriculture commodities like onion, potatoes, oilseed, edible oil and cereals have been removed from the list of essential commodities.

After the announcement of the landmark decisions by the Government for reforms in the agricultural sector for raising the income of the farmers as part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, the President has promulgated the two ordinances with the aim of giving a boost to rural India for farmers engaged in agriculture and allied activities, said the Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in a statement.

Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar on Friday wrote to all the Chief Ministers informing them of the Ordinances and solicited their cooperation in implementation of the reforms, said the statement.

He stressed the need for their continued support in the development and growth of the agriculture sector in the new reformed environment.

By recognizing the bottlenecks preventing the holistic development of marketing of the agriculture produce, the Government drafted and circulated the Model Agriculture Produce and Livestock Marketing (APLM) Act 2017, and also the Model Agriculture Produce and Livestock Contract Farming Act of 2018, for adoption by the states, said the statement.

When the whole ecosystem of agriculture and its allied activities was tested during the COVID-19 crises, it reconfirmed the necessity for the Central Government to speed up the reform process and to come up with a national legal facilitative ecosystem to improve intra-state and interstate trade of agriculture produce, said Agriculture Ministry.
(IANS)

Sat, 06 Jun 2020 09:41:30 +0530
Sushmita Sen Aarya represents strength vulnerability in world run by men

Mumbai,  Actress Sushmita Sen has promised an "incredible" comeback with her upcoming web series "Aarya", and says it narrates the story of a mother who is willing to go to any length to protect her children.

The trailer of the show was released on Friday, sharing a glimpse into a tale of family, love, crime and redemption. Sushmita plays the protagonist Aarya.

"Aarya represents strength, determination and above all vulnerability in a world full of crime, a world run by men. For me, personally, it is the story of family, betrayal and a mother who is willing to go to any length to protect her children," Sushmita said.

"It took me a decade to find a role like this to sink into and I'm thrilled to be a part of this incredible story. I am thankful to Ram Madhvani and his team for giving me the role of a lifetime," she added.

The show, by "Neerja" fame filmmaker Ram Madhvani, also stars Chandrachur Singh as Aarya's husband, who is involved in an illegal narcotics business.

Talking about his return to acting, Chandrachur said: "The beauty of digital content is that there is a brave new form of storytelling and I am beyond exhilarated to make my debut with this show. The level of tension and intensity fuelled by several plot twists, and a mystery at its very core will keep the viewers guessing."

"Aarya" delves into how organised crime and betrayal runs deep in a family. The trailer starts by showing Aarya as a loving wife and doting mother, and how she is pulled into the narcotics business when her family is threatened.

"Aarya" is an official adaptation of popular Dutch crime-drama "Penoza". The show is written by Sandeep Srivastav and Anu Singh Choudhary, and also features Namit Das, Sikandar Kher, Jayant Kripalani, Sohaila Kapoor, Sugandha Garg, Maya Sareen, Vishwajeet Pradhan and Manish Chaudhary.

For Ram Madhvani, the world of "Aarya" is a complex web of emotions, twisted family bonds and betrayal.

"It is a bold and strong narrative that takes it beyond the spectrum of a crime drama. Every character has a purpose in Aarya's journey as she goes from being a homemaker to a hardened criminal. I spent many years trying to build this world brick by brick but I didn't do it alone -- 588 others from the cast and crew have built this show from ground up," said Madhvani, who has backed the project with his banner, RMF (Ram Madhvani Films).

Co-produced by Endemol Shine, the series will release on June 19 on Disney+ Hotstar VIP.

(IANS)

Sat, 06 Jun 2020 09:04:51 +0530
Bolsonaro threatens to withdraw Brazil from WHO

Brasilia,  Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has threatened to withdraw his country from the World Health Organization (WHO), accusing the body of being "partisan" and "political".

Addressing the media on Friday, Bolsonaro said Brazil will consider leaving the WHO unless it stops being a "partisan political organization", reports Xinhua news agency.

Earlier in the day, when asked about efforts to ease social-distancing orders in Brazil despite the growing number of COVID-19 deaths and cases, the WHO said a key criteria for lifting lockdowns was slowing transmission.

"The epidemic, the outbreak, in Latin America is deeply, deeply concerning," WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a news conference in Geneva.

She said that among six key criteria for easing quarantines, "one of them is ideally having your transmission declining".

Bolsonaro's threat came the same day Brazil registered 1,005 deaths in a day, a record high.

Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of COVID-19 cases and the third highest deaths in the world.

As of Saturday morning, the total number of cases increased to 614,941, with 34,021 deaths.

Last month, US President Donald Trump had announced that Washington would also end its relationship with the WHO.
 

(IANS)

Sat, 06 Jun 2020 08:55:46 +0530
Wall Street rallies after jobs data

New York, Wall Street's major averages ended sharply higher, buoyed by better-than-anticipated US employment data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Friday soared 829.16 points, or 3.15 per cent, to 27,110.98. The S&P 500 increased 81.58 points, or 2.62 per cent, to 3,193.93. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 198.27 points, or 2.06 per cent, to 9,814.08, Xinhua reported.

All the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors finished higher, with energy up 7.46 per cent, leading the gains.

US employers added 2.5 million jobs in May, and the unemployment rate dropped slightly to 13.3 per cent, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday.

Economists polled by Dow Jones expected a drop of more than 8 million jobs and the unemployment rate to nearly reach 20 per cent.

The improvements reflected a limited resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said the bureau. The unemployment rate previously soared to a record 14.7 per cent in April.

The figures came one day after the Labor Department said US initial jobless claims registered 1.877 million in the week ending May 30, exceeding a Dow Jones estimate of 1.775 million.
 

(IANS) 

Sat, 06 Jun 2020 08:53:37 +0530
Chinese mainland reports no new domestically transmitted COVID 19 cases

Beijing, June 6 (IANS) Chinese health authority said on Saturday that no new domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases were reported on the mainland on Friday.

Three imported cases were reported in Guangdong Province, the National Health Commission said in its daily report, Xinhua reported.

No deaths related to the disease were reported, said the commission, adding that one new suspected case from abroad was reported in Shanghai on Friday.

On Friday, two people were discharged from hospital after recovery, while the number of severe cases remained to be one.

As of Friday, the overall confirmed cases on the mainland had reached 83,030, including 67 patients who were still being treated, and 78,329 people who had been discharged after recovery.

Altogether 4,634 people had died of the disease, the commission said.

By Friday, the mainland had reported a total of 1,771 imported cases. Of the cases, 1,708 had been discharged from hospital after recovery, and 63 remained hospitalized, with no one in severe conditions. No deaths from the imported cases had been reported.

The commission said there were still two cases, both from overseas, suspected of being infected with the virus on Friday.

According to the commission, 3,890 close contacts were still under medical observation after 488 people were discharged from medical observation Friday.

Also on Friday, two new asymptomatic cases were reported on the mainland. No cases were re-categorized as confirmed ones, and 42 asymptomatic cases were discharged from medical observation.

The commission said 257 asymptomatic cases, including 41 from overseas, were still under medical observation.

By Friday, 1,102 confirmed cases including four deaths had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), 45 confirmed cases in the Macao SAR, and 443 in Taiwan including seven deaths.

A total of 1,045 patients in Hong Kong, 45 in Macao, and 429 in Taiwan had been discharged from hospitals after recovery.
 

Sat, 06 Jun 2020 08:50:01 +0530
Ved Marwah ex Delhi top cop and former Guv no more

New Delhi,  Former Delhi Police chief Ved Marwah, who also served as the Governor of Mizoram, Jharkhand and Manipur, died on Friday evening in Goa. He was 87. Goa Police's official Twitter handle confirmed the death of the Director General of National Security Guard.

"We are deeply saddened at the loss of a great leader of the police force. Sh. Ved Marwah, IPS led the force from the front through difficult times and served as a Governor to 3 states. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family," Goa Police said in its tweet.

A family source he was hospitalised since the last 10 days due to age-related ailments. He passed away at 8.30 p.m.

Born in Peshawar in 1934 in undivided India, his family had immigrated to India after partition.

Marwah was the first UT cadre IPS officer to serve as Delhi police Chief from 1985 to 1988.

A thorough professional and recIpient of police medal for meritorious service, president police medal for distinguished services and president medal for gallantry, Marwah had held a number of prestigious and important portfolios in Delhi Police and elsewhere.

Marwah has held assignments in different states in India during his 36-year career. He also served as an Adviser to the Governors in Jammu & Kashmir, and Bihar

He served as Governor from 1999 to 2004, of Manipur, Mizoram, and later Jharkhand

After shifting to India following the partition, his family first settled in Rajendra Nagar in Delhi and he was one of the founding persons of a bookstore in Khan Market which is run by his nephew in the name of Faqir Chand and Sons.

Condolences poured on Twitter as he passed away. Paying tributes, an user described Marwah's demise as "the death of an institution". Another wrote: "May his soul rest in peace."

He also penned the book "Uncivil Wars: Pathology of Terrorism in India."
 

(IANS)

Sat, 06 Jun 2020 08:45:16 +0530
Mumbai Stands Firm in Wave of Cyclone Nisarga Coastal areas in South Hit

Cyclone Nisarga is perhaps one of the worst cyclones on India’s west coast in decades, however, the densely populated city of Mumbai, stood firm in this attack wave, with one casualty being recorded. The storm passed the city and nearby coastal areas to the south bore the brunt. Civic officials moved tens of thousands of people along the coast to higher ground as the cyclone approached. Mumbai, which is home to some 20 million residents is yet to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Camera footage of the storm in Raigad, around 50 kilometres, south of Mumbai, showed huge waves crashing into the shore, with trees being whipped into a frenzy by the strong winds. Authorities had received warnings that Nisarga will trigger big storm surges. One person who was hit by a toppling power transformer died before doctors could treat him while eight people were injured. Mumbai however was more or less calm despite some strong winds blowing.

Winds travelling at more than 100 kilometres per hour intensified on its approach from the Arabian Sea. It began making landfall at around 1.00 p.m. in Alibaug in Raigad district, one of the favourite weekend destination for tourists, which is often touted as the Hamptons of Maharashtra. The state of Gujarat will also being in Nisarga’s path as the winds proceed to the north-east. Northern parts of India are likely to witness some heavy rainfall as the winds travel to strike with the Himalayas and Nepal region.

Yesterday authorities shut down all beaches in Mumbai and police forced the public to stay indoors. Meanwhile today power supply has been hit in four districts of Maharashtra affecting 25 lakh consumers. Malad, Vikhroli, Ghatkopar and Dadar witnessed moderate to heavy rainfall. Impact of Nisarga was felt in Southern districts of Gujarat with light showers, thunderstorms and strong winds, although other parts of the state saw only sporadic drizzles.

Almost two-fifths of Pune City was engulfed by Cyclone Nisarga yesterday afternoon with heavy rainfalls and intense spells of wind late into the night. For the first time in recorded history, a cyclone moved over inland areas of Pune and Ahmednagar in Maharashtra. Ten years ago, Cyclone Phyan had crossed Alibaug and Mumbai and created havoc in Pune district but it was weaker than the current Nisarga.

The present cyclone which intensified into a severe storm around 7.00 a.m. yesterday, journeyed north east up the Maharashtra coast and made landfall in the north of Murud-Janjira town, around 85 kilometres, south of Mumbai, according to IMD officials. This was some 40 kilometres south of Alibaug, the expected landfall zone, and this spared the city of Mumbai.

After Raigad, the cyclone took a north-northeast direction on a track between Alibaug and Mumbai, which is closer to Pune. Several trees, crops and makeshift homes were destroyed by the cyclone in Raigad. Although Mumbai was under red alert, the wind speed wasn’t intense as thought of, the maximum speed recorded at Colaba was 76 kmph while at Santa Cruz it was 22 kmph. Beed, Nasik and Aurangabad, other cities which were in the path of the cyclone saw gales of 55 - 65 kmph and 75 kmph gusts.

Fri, 05 Jun 2020 12:33:17 +0530
Don t bring kids to Chandigarh s Sukhna Lake for excursion

Chandigarh, Chandigarh Advisor Manoj Parida has expressed concern over people bringing their minor children for excursion to the famed Sukhna Lake here.

He has hinted at use of police force to educate them. Take precautions as the fight against the coronavirus is far from over, Punjab Chief Minister amarinder Singh has already cautioned earlier.

"It was sad to see educated people bringing small kids to the Sukhna Lake," Parida tweeted.

"I really don't mind these stupid adults' 'early departure' with smiling eyes through corona, but risking young innocent lives of future generations is criminal," he said.

"Plan to use police to drill sense in their head. What say?" Parida added.

At this, someone responded: "You can't call a parent of a stupid or criminal mind. Every parent knows very well about the safety and wellbeing of their kids while going outside and in home as well. They are not stupid. Sorry, but your statement is not appreciated."

Parida retorted: "Strong sarcastic words are meant to provoke. Due to immunity issues kids and old men must stay indoors. We all must be strict on this."

Two more residents of Chandigarh were tested positive on Friday. Both belonged to the Bapu Dham Colony in Sector 26, the epicentre of the virus.

They were family contacts of the previous positive cases, an official told IANS.

Of the 304 cases, 77 are active, while 222 patients have recovered. The city has recorded five Covid deaths.
 

(IANS) 

Fri, 05 Jun 2020 09:20:26 +0530
Abu Dhabi based Mubadala invests Rs 9 093 cr in Jio Platforms

Mumbai, Reliance Industries Ltd on Friday announced that Mubadala Investment Company (Mubadala), the Abu Dhabi-based sovereign investor, will invest Rs 9,093.60 crore in Jio Platforms at an equity value of Rs 4.91 lakh crore and an enterprise value of Rs 5.16 lakh crore.

With this investment, Jio Platforms has raised Rs 87,655.35 crore from leading global technology and growth investors including Facebook, Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners, General Atlantic, KKR and Mubadala in less than six weeks.

"Through my longstanding ties with Abu Dhabi, I have personally seen the impact of Mubadala's work in diversifying and globally connecting the UAE's knowledge-based economy. We look forward to benefiting from Mubadala's experience and insights from supporting growth journeys across the world," said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries.

With more than 388 million subscribers, Jio Platforms has made significant investments across its digital ecosystem, powered by leading technologies.

Jio's vision is to enable a Digital India for 1.3 billion people and businesses across the country, including small merchants, micro-businesses and farmers so that all of them can enjoy the fruits of inclusive growth, the company said in a statement.

"We have seen how Jio has already transformed communications and connectivity in India, and as an investor and partner, we are committed to supporting India's digital growth journey," said Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Managing Director and Group CEO, Mubadala Investment Company.

"With Jio's network of investors and partners, we believe that the platform company will further the development of the digital economy," he added.
 

(IANS) 

Fri, 05 Jun 2020 09:05:56 +0530
Global COVID 19 cases top 6 6 mn Johns Hopkins

Washington, The total number of global coronavirus has increased to over 6.6 million, while the death toll has topped 389,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Friday morning, the overall number of cases stood at 6,601,349, while the death toll increased to 389,645, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

With 1,872,557 confirmed cases and 108,208 deaths, the US currently accounts for the highest number of infections and fatalities in the world, according to the CSSE.

In terms of cases, Brazil comes in the second place with 584,016 infections.

This was followed by Russia (440,538), the UK (283,079), Spain (240,660), Italy (234,013), India (226,713), France (189,569), Germany (184,472), Peru (183,198), Turkey (167,410), Iran (164,270), Chile (118,292) and Mexico (105,680), the CSSE figures showed.

Regarding fatalities, the UK continues in the second position after the US with 39,987 COVID-19 deaths, which also accounts for the highest fatalities in Europe.

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are Italy (33,689), Brazil (32,548), France (29,068), Spain (27,133) and Mexico (12,545).
 

(IANS) 

Fri, 05 Jun 2020 09:02:24 +0530
Global COVID 19 cases top 6 6 mn Johns Hopkins

Washington, The total number of global coronavirus has increased to over 6.6 million, while the death toll has topped 389,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Friday morning, the overall number of cases stood at 6,601,349, while the death toll increased to 389,645, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

With 1,872,557 confirmed cases and 108,208 deaths, the US currently accounts for the highest number of infections and fatalities in the world, according to the CSSE.

In terms of cases, Brazil comes in the second place with 584,016 infections.

This was followed by Russia (440,538), the UK (283,079), Spain (240,660), Italy (234,013), India (226,713), France (189,569), Germany (184,472), Peru (183,198), Turkey (167,410), Iran (164,270), Chile (118,292) and Mexico (105,680), the CSSE figures showed.

Regarding fatalities, the UK continues in the second position after the US with 39,987 COVID-19 deaths, which also accounts for the highest fatalities in Europe.

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are Italy (33,689), Brazil (32,548), France (29,068), Spain (27,133) and Mexico (12,545).
 

(IANS) 

Fri, 05 Jun 2020 09:02:24 +0530
Lockdown badly hit flower merchants business in Mumbai

Sixty-eight-year-old N.Ramakrishnan of Ramakrishna flower shop, Matunga, in Mumbai came to Mumbai from Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu, five decades ago and started selling flowers, which was their family business. Since then he has been in this business with a shop at Matunga. ‘I have never come across a situation like this. Though the flower business was very dull during the last few years due to heavy rains we were able to survive “ said the vice- president of Matunga Flower Merchants association. All flower merchants are native of Tamil Nadu and came to Mumbai for their living.

 

P.Subbiah  who also settled in Mumbai for more than four decades and now as the association president controls nearly 50 flower shops in the area,  is the most depressed person. He was chocked while talking.  He says “nearly 500 families are depending only on this business”. Irrespective of they open the shops or not they have to pay the workers salary, license fee to BMC and electricity charges. Each shop employs on an average of five to six workers depends on season. And all the families are now practically starving with no money pay rent and to eat as most of the temples in the area are also closed and due to lack of transport flowers are not coming to Mumbai from Chennai, Bengaluru, Vasai and Virar.

 

Secretary of the association Mr S.Arumugam who runs the Ayyappa flower shop says on an average each shop’s loss was Rs.20, 000/- per day and each labourer has to be paid Rs. 500/- daily besides food. Now, most of the workers have left for their village and we are not sure how we will be able to function. During the 10-day Ganesh festival, each worker demands Rs.25 thousand plus food.

 

“For flower shops, no bank gives loan as they do not have any security to give”, It is a day-to-day business. We have to pay money to buy flowers from Dadar market. Now they are not sure there will be a Ganapathy festival due to present restrictions says Subbiah. They believe many Ganesh Mandals have postponed the festival and will be celebrating in February. They have now appealed to BMC to waive the license fee during the lockout period as their business is zero. “We will be also happy if we get Mudra loan or any financial assistance from the centre so that we will be able to start the business once the lockdown is lifted,” says Arumugam.

Fri, 05 Jun 2020 06:40:39 +0530
Governor plants a Chafa sapling on World Environment Day

Mumbai: Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari planted a Chafa sapling on the occasion of World Environment Day at Raj Bhavan, Mumbai.  The Governor has appealed to the people to plant and nurture at least one sapling as their contribution to protecting the environment.

 

Fri, 05 Jun 2020 06:27:58 +0530
Clean tech could cut fossil fuel profits by 2 3 Carbon Tracker

New Delhi, A new international report on Thursday showed how falling demand and rising investment risk is likely to slash the value of oil, gas and coal reserves by nearly two thirds -- from $39 to $14 trillion -- with the countries must plan orderly exit from the fossil fuel.

Energy security is also a big incentive for China and India, which are heavily reliant on fossil fuel imports.

The report by financial think tank Carbon Tracker warns the fossil fuel industry is in terminal decline because of competition from clean tech and climate policy, and the COVID-19 pandemic is now accelerating this.

A collapse in fossil fuel profits could threaten the stability of petro states like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, Iran and Venezuela.

The size of the fossil fuel economy suggests its decline could pose a significant threat to global financial stability.

Companies across the fossil fuel system are worth $18 trillion in listed equity, making up a quarter of the total value of global equity markets, and they account for $8 trillion of corporate bonds, more than half the non-financial corporate bond market.

Unlisted debt -- much of it owed to banks -- may be four times greater.

The World Bank valued future profits from oil, gas and coal at $39 trillion in 2018 , but Carbon Tracker's report finds that if demand falls by two per cent a year in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and discount rates rise in line with increased risk, future profits would collapse by nearly two thirds to just $14 trillion.

It also shows that producers expecting a return to business as usual could be banking on much higher profits -- well in excess of $100 trillion.

Kingsmill Bond, Carbon Tracker Energy Strategist and report author, told IANS in a statement: "We are witnessing the decline and fall of the fossil fuel system. Technological innovation and policy support is driving peak fossil fuel demand in sector after sector and country after country, and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this."

"We may now have seen peak fossil fuel demand as a whole.

"This is a huge opportunity for countries that import fossil fuels which can save trillions of dollars by switching to a clean energy economy in line with the Paris Agreement. Now is the time to plan an orderly wind-down of fossil fuel assets and manage the impact on the global economy rather than try to sustain the unsustainable."

Companies like Exxon are still forecasting continued growth in demand for fossil fuels, and the fossil fuel system as a whole has been investing $5 trillion a year on new supply and demand infrastructure.

But Shell's recent dividend cut, Repsol's decision to write off $4.8 billion of assets last year, and growing bankruptcies in the US shale oil sector are all symptoms of an industry undergoing structural change.

The size and vulnerability of the fossil fuel system sets out how falling demand for fossil fuels leads to overcapacity, driving prices down, and cutting profits and company share prices.

Many companies will be forced to write off assets, cancel investment or even go bust.

Even companies which remain profitable will make far less money than before.

The fossil fuel system is enormous, with physical supply and demand infrastructure worth $32 trillion, and its decline could send shockwaves through the global economy.

It includes: producers of coal, oil and gas; companies which make and run power stations, cars, trucks, planes and ships; the steel, cement, petrochemical and aluminium industries which are heavy users of fossil fuels; and the companies which supply and build their infrastructure.

The collapse in the scale of future fossil fuel profits could threaten the stability of petro states -- countries whose economies rely on oil export income.

The world's biggest earners are Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq and Iran, and countries that are particularly vulnerable include Venezuela, Ecuador, Libya, Algeria, Nigeria and Angola.

Investors will be hit because as returns fall, there will be less capital available for dividends and interest payments.

In Britain, for example, the oil and gas sector generated 24 per cent of dividends from the FTSE Index in 2019.

Markets might sell down stock in anticipation of peak demand long before assets are written down.

Companies worth $6 trillion are particularly vulnerable because they are operating in sectors expanding the fossil fuel system, from builders of LNG facilities and oil pipelines to makers of conventional car engines and gas turbines.

The fossil fuel system is highly vulnerable to disruption.

Even before the Covid crisis growth in fossil fuel demand was below one per cent a year and clean technology is now meeting an increasing share of world energy demand.

Renewables are already the cheapest form of bulk energy production in 85 per cent of the world, and electric vehicle batteries are comparable with the cost of conventional car engines.

Electricity companies are rapidly switching to renewables while carmakers are shifting production to electric vehicles.

This is significant because electricity consumes more than a third of global fossil fuel production and the greatest demand for oil comes from the automotive sector.

Governments are supporting clean technology in order to meet the Paris climate targets and tackle air pollution from fossil fuels, which kills 4.5 million people a year.

The report notes that fossil fuel importing countries -- home to 80 per cent of global population -- also have a financial incentive to back renewables because they have been transferring over $2 trillion a year in profits to the petro states.

The Carbon Tracker warns investors: "There is far more risk inherent in the fossil fuel system than is conventionally priced into financial markets. Investors need to increase discount rates, reduce expected prices, curtail terminal values and account for the clean-up costs."
 

(IANS) 

Thu, 04 Jun 2020 11:05:36 +0530
Amazon Air expands aircraft fleet to help more people in Covid 19 times

Seattle, Amazon has announced to lease 12 additional 767-300 converted cargo aircraft, increasing their fleet to over 80 aircraft as part of its dedicated air cargo network to help people who rely on items they need delivered directly to their doorstep in these unprecedented times.

The ecommerce giant leased the converted cargo aircraft from Air Transport Services Group (ATSG that will join Amazon's existing fleet of 70 aircraf.

One of the new aircraft joined Amazon's air cargo operations in May 2020, with the remaining 11 to be delivered in 2021.

The combined experience in the industry and access to a fleet of 767 cargo aircraft make us an ideal partner to support the growth of Amazon Air's fleet, the company said in a statement late Wednesday.

Amazon Air has played a central role during the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting essential PPE supplies for Amazon associates, frontline health workers and relief organizations across the US.

"Amazon Air is critical to ensuring fast delivery for our customers – both in the current environment we are facing, and beyond," said Sarah Rhoads, Vice President of Amazon Global Air.

"During a time when so many of our customers rely on us to get what they need without leaving their homes, expanding our dedicated air network ensures we have the capacity to deliver what our customers want: great selection, low prices and fast shipping speeds," Rhoads added.
 

(IANS) 

Thu, 04 Jun 2020 10:53:43 +0530
Fight against virus far from over Punjab CM

Chandigarh,  Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday ask everyone to tread with cautioned as the fight against the coronavirus is far from over and advised all to take precautions.

"As of 3rd June, Punjab has a total of 300 active cases out of 2,376 patients that have tested positive so far," the Chief Minister informed in a tweet.

"Yesterday, 34 patients tested positive and 12 patients recovered of Covid19. Our fight is far from over and I want you all to join Mission Fateh by taking full precautions," he added.

As part of the state's battle against Covid-19, Amarinder Singh on Tuesday launched the Mission Fateh song featuring Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor, Gurdass Maan and Harbhajan Singh, besides a star-studded line up of personalities from sports and Punjabi cinema.

Urging everyone to come forward and complement the state's efforts to save precious lives by disseminating information about the preventive measures, the Chief Minister said that with the cooperation from everyone, Punjab has been successful in controlling the spread of the virus to a great extent.

The song, which also features local boy Sonu Sood alongside Punjab Police poster boy ASI Harjit Singh and TikTok sensation Noor, has been sung by Punjabi music director and singer B. Praak.

The song is a unique initiative to give the message of maintaining social distancing, wearing masks while going out and washing hands regularly to achieve Fateh, or victory, over the pandemic.
 

(IANS)

Thu, 04 Jun 2020 10:47:01 +0530
US protesters grievances need to be heard UN rights chief

Geneva, The grievances at the heart of the nationwide protests in the US need to be heard and addressed, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said.

"The voices calling for an end to the killings of unarmed African-Americans need to be heard. The voices calling for an end to police violence need to be heard. And the voices calling for an end to the endemic and structural racism that blights the US society need to be heard," Bachelet said in a statement on Wednesday.

She believed that there were "credible reports of unnecessary and disproportionate use of force by law enforcement officers", including indiscriminate and improper use of less-lethal weapons and ammunition.

Tear gas has been used to disperse peaceful demonstrators and rubber bullets and pepper balls have been fired at demonstrators and journalists who did not pose an imminent threat of serious injury, she said.

According to the UN official, there have been at least 200 reported incidents of journalists covering the protests being physically attacked, intimidated or arbitrarily arrested, despite their press credentials being clearly visible.

"What has been happening is an unprecedented assault on journalists. In some cases they have been attacked or even arrested while on air," Bachelet said.

She also voiced deep concern about statements that have sought to label protesters as terrorists, or to delegitimize the mass outpouring of grief and peaceful protest by pointing to violence or destruction of property that has occurred in many locations.

"The anger we have seen in the US, erupting as COVID-19 exposes glaring inequalities in society, shows why far-reaching reforms and inclusive dialogue are needed there to break the cycle of impunity for unlawful killings by police and racial bias in policing," she said.

Repeating her call to protesters to express their demands for justice peacefully, the UN official also urged the police to take the utmost care not to enflame the situation through the use of excessive force.

The protests, which began in response to the death of an African-American man, George Floyd, while in police custody on May 25, have spread to more than 300 US cities and towns.
 

(IANS) 

Thu, 04 Jun 2020 10:18:53 +0530
Corona creeps into UP s rural areas now

Lucknow,  While the spread of coronavirus has stabilised to a certain extent in the urban and A-class cities of Uttar Pradesh, barring districts bordering Delhi, the infection now seems to be spreading in the rural belt.

The districts like Kannauj, Auraiyya, Farrukhabad, Unnao, Etawah, Sultanpur, Firozabad, Basti and Ayodhya are now reporting more corona cases.

Health experts claim that this is mainly due to the return of migrant workers, especially those who escaped medical screening or were asymptomatic.

In Kannauj, for instance, a mother-daughter duo who had returned from Gurugram, infected ten members of their family in the Galla Mandi area of Chhibramau, which has turned from green to orange zone now. Kannauj had reported 12 cases on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, three more persons tested positive for COVID-19 in Farrukhabad, six positive patients were detected in Auraiyya, five in Unnao and four in Etawah.

Kannauj Chief Medical Officer Krishna Swaroop said, "With this large-scale influx of migrants from urban cities to villages, the rural areas cannot be ignored and need special attention as far as monitoring is concerned. Infected people are being home quarantined or admitted to hospitals with the help of community management."

The district authorities have roped in block development officers, besides village heads and Civil defence volunteers, to take due care to avoid the spread.

A senior health official said that the situation is alarming in rural pockets where the majority of the people use one water sources -- whether a well or a hand pump.

"Migrants who have returned to the villages, are escaping quarantine centres and violating safety protocols. There is no resistance form the local people too, because most cases are asymptomatic," he said.

The official further said that social distancing was an alien concept in rural areas where people tend to collect even at the slightest provocation.

"Besides, the wedding season is beginning and social distancing will be hard to maintain. We can only step up the awareness campaigns and increase testing," he added.
 

(IANS)

Thu, 04 Jun 2020 10:09:31 +0530
Haryana to start school teaching in July

Chandigarh, Haryana has decided to start teaching in schools in July and in colleges and universities in August, state Education Minister Kanwar Pal Gujjar said.

"We will reopen schools in a phased manner by starting teaching work for Classes 10, 11 and 12 from July 1, for Classes VI, VII, VIII and IX after 15 days and for the primary classes in August," he said.

"The classes will be held in shifts so that half the students of a class attend the first shift and the rest come in the second. We are yet to decide on the timings of the shifts," he added.

Meanwhile, the Board of School Education Haryana (BSEH) announced that Class 10 results will be declared on June 8.

Its Chairman Jagbir Singh said Class 12 students will have to appear for their pending exams from July 1 to July 15.
 

(IANS) 

Thu, 04 Jun 2020 10:04:04 +0530
Facebook Google Twitter won t be reined in by Trump order

New York, The world's mighty digital platforms will be reined in only when privacy regulation knocks their business model of "uninhibited data collection" which in turn will erode their margins, and it's unlikely that firestorms over content policy regulation will spark major change, co-director of the Digital Platforms and Democracy Project at Harvard Kennedy School told IANS.

"If you were to institute this privacy regulation that says, no Facebook, no Google, no longer can you take whatever data you want without checking with the user, you will see opt-in rates drop drastically," Dr. Dipayan Ghosh said.

Ghosh's comments come against the backdrop of Donald Trump's recent executive order that escalates his war against digital platforms. Trump's order targets current law that protects internet companies from lawsuits based on user posts.

Trump whipped out his executive order after Twitter put fact checks on two of his tweets. Twitter tagged Trump's tweets with a warning that Trump violated the platform's rules by glorifying violence when he suggested protesters in Minneapolis could be shot. Trump's tweets came in the midst of violent protests over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who was pinned to the pavement and pleaded for air as a white police officer slammed his knee onto Floyd's neck.

Debate is swirling around digital platforms' role in content policing as misinformation on coronavirus rages on, the 2020 US presidential election looms and angry protesters spill out onto America's streets, protesting police brutality.

Content moderation is not the "hill to die ona, according to Ghosh. "Economic regulation is."

"We shouldn't be looking at this at surface level. We shouldn't be reacting to the shiny object out there," Ghosh said.

According to Ghosh, digital platforms' will fall in line only when their business model, "focused on uninhibited data collection towards the end of behavioural profiling", is dented in a material way.

"Facebook does that, Google does that. These companies have millions of data points on a typical user and will use machine learning to get insights from those millions of data points to try and understand the type of people that we are."

For a more lasting solution to the pervasive data collection and profiling on digital platforms, Ghosh recommends that policy makers take "a closer look at this machine, understand how it works, try to identify the ways that it generates these negative externalities in the first place and perhaps curtail some business practices that contributed to those negatives."

Ghosh pushes back against the idea that it's okay for companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter to carry on as if they have "unilateral economic authority to kind of do whatever it pleases to the consumer situation."

Ghosh contends that the right approach is to "rebalance and redistribute the power between the corporate and the consumer."

"That's to say there's information asymmetry between the corporate and the consumer, where Facebook knows very well the value of your data. But you as a consumer, don't necessarily know the value. And you give it away."

Ghosh is the author of a new book 'Terms of Disservice: How Silicon Valley is Destructive by Design', out soon.
 

(IANS) 

Thu, 04 Jun 2020 09:19:13 +0530
S Korea reports 39 more COVID 19 cases 11 629 in total

Seoul, June 4 (IANS) South Korea reported 39 more cases of the COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of 12 a.m. on Thursday, raising the total number of infections to 11,629.

The daily caseload stayed above 30 for four straight days due to small cluster infections from religious gatherings in the metropolitan area, Xinhua reported.

Of the new cases, six were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 1,275.

No more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 273. The total fatality rate stood at 2.35 per cent.

A total of 32 more patients were discharged from quarantine after making full recovery, pulling up the combined number to 10,499. The total recovery rate was 90.3 per cent.

Since Jan. 3, the country has tested more than 973,000 people, among whom 934,030 tested negative for the virus and 28,199 are being checked.
 

 

Thu, 04 Jun 2020 09:14:58 +0530
US stocks rally amid data

New York, US stocks finished noticeably higher on Wednesday as investors pored through a slew of economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 527.24 points, or 2.05 per cent, to 26,269.89. The S&P 500 increased 42.05 points, or 1.36 per cent, to 3,122.87. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 74.54 points, or 0.78 per cent, to 9,682.91, Xinhua reported.



Ten of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors ended higher, with industrials and financials up 3.91 per cent and 3.83 per cent, respectively, leading the gains. Health care dipped 0.2 per cent, the only declining group.



Private companies in the US shed 2.76 million jobs in May as the COVID-19 fallout continues to ripple through the country and weighed on the labor market for another month, US payroll data company Automatic Data Processing (ADP) reported on Wednesday.



The report utilizes data through May 12, and does not reflect the full impact of COVID-19 on the overall employment situation, said ADP.



Meanwhile, economic activity in the US non-manufacturing sector contracted in May for the second consecutive month, said the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The ISM non-manufacturing index registered 45.4 per cent in May, following the April reading of 41.8 per cent.



Wednesday's market rally followed a solid day on Wall Street with the 30-stock average closing up more than 260 points.



"Now, as the US economy endures the recession in real time, the stock market may be looking ahead again -- pricing-in an economic recovery that could take hold in the second half of this year, or later," Mitch Zacks, CEO at Zacks Investment Management, said in a note on Wednesday, while commenting on the recent market rally amid the COVID-19 shock.



Investors also closely monitored nationwide unrest over the death of African-American George Floyd as riots on top of the pandemic could cause lasting economic scars.
 

(IANS) 

Thu, 04 Jun 2020 09:11:38 +0530
Stamped people s entry barred before end of quarantine in K taka

Bengaluru,  All shops, offices, malls, commercial establishments and others in Karnataka must not allow Covid-stamped people to enter their premises before the completion of the prescribed quarantine time, said a top official on Wednesday.

"They should not allow those with quarantine stamp to enter before the end of their quarantine period or till they get current Covid negative test report," ordered Chief Secretary T.M. Vijay Bhaskar.

Bhaskar has also issued the order to all religious places, hotels and others to first check for quarantine stamp on all their customers or visitors before they enter the premises.

"All shops, commercial establishments, offices, factories, malls, religious places, hotels and etc.. are required to check for quarantine stamp on all their customers or visitors before they enter the premises," he said.

In the event of a violation, Bhaskar said the police should be informed at 100.

He issued the same order to the general public and resident welfare associations asking them to be vigilant.

"General public and resident welfare associations are advised to report any violation of the quarantine in their neighbourhood to the police at telephone number 100," said the chief secretary.

The orders came under the head aRole of general public, resident welfare associations and commercial establishments'.

General public, commercial establishments and resident welfare associations have been empowered to report quarantine violations at a time when many activities are set to reopen from June 8 as part of Unlock - 1, after more than two months of lockdown.
 

(IANS)

Thu, 04 Jun 2020 09:06:57 +0530
India China working upon to resolve standoff in Ladakh region

New Delhi, China has made a slight retreat at Galwan Valley, one of the flashpoint leading to standoff with India, in Ladakh region on Wednesday, sources said. In a bid to resolve the issue, the China's People's Liberation Army moved back two kilometres and Indian Army has moved back by one kilometre.

However, at another flashpoint Pangong Tso (lake), troops from both sides are stationed and are camping over there. This would be the main focus of the meeting on June 6 between top military officers of India and China.

The general officer commanding of Leh-based 14 Corps, Lt. Gen. Harinder Singh, is set to represent India at the talks.

Sources said that the Chinese are camping permanently at Finger 4 that has been under Indian control. "This needs to be resolved on urgent note," said a top Indian Army officer.

Further, Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General YK Joshi has reached Ladakh to review the ground situation and he is going to remain till Thursday.

In addition to it on Tuesday, India and China military representatives carried out talks to resolve the ongoing face off in Eastern Ladakh.

Division Commander Level Meeting was held between the Major General rank officers of the two sides on Tuesday afternoon to resolve the issue but in the end it remained "inconclusive".

Another round of talks between Indian and ChineseAmilitary leaders will be held on June 6. Indian Army Chief MM Naravane is confident enough that the stand-off would be resolved at military level talks, sources said.

Indian Army and China's PLA held several meetings to resolve the face off. However, no breakthrough has taken place.

In the meantime, China has sent a large number of troops to the Line of Actual Control as reinforcement. Seeing so, Indian Army has also deployed forces accordingly.

There four places where there is an eye ball to eye ball situation since May 5 at Line of Actual Control. Both sides have deployed over 1,000 troops in eyeball to eyeball situation at all four places.

Indian Army is keeping close watch in the Pangong Tso (lake) sector of Eastern Ladakh and the Galwan Valley region where theAChineseAhave enhanced deployment.

Other than Pangong Tso that is extremely sensitive the other places that are volatile in wake of the recent escalation are Trig Heights, Demchok and Chumar in Ladakh which forms western sector of the India-China frontier.

The trigger for the face-off wasAChina's stiff opposition to India laying a key road in the Finger area around the Pangong Tso (lake) besides construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley.

India and China have expressed confidence that the matter would be resolved trough bilateral talks and both the countries are working upon it.

However, sources said, that the current standoff in Ladakh is not the usual patrolling faceoff but part of the new combative strategy that was rolled out by China after Doklam.

In 2017, there was a 73-day stand-off between Indian and China. The standoff was at the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction Doklam. China's road construction in Bhutanese territory was seen as an attempt to change the status quo by India and finally the road work had to be stopped.
 

(IANS) 

Thu, 04 Jun 2020 08:54:26 +0530
HSBC Standard Chartered back China security law for HK

Hong Kong,  HSBC and Standard Chartered have given their backing to China's controversial national security law for Hong Kong.

On Wednesday, HSBC's Asia Pacific chief executive Peter Wong signed a petition backing the law which has been widely criticised, reports the BBC.

Although it is Europe's largest bank, HSBC has a strong presence in Asia, particularly Hong Kong.

HSBC "respects and supports all laws that stabilise Hong Kong's social order," it said in a post on social media in China.

The bank's full name is the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation and it has its origins in the former British colony.

While HSBC moved its headquarters to London in 1993, Hong Kong is still its biggest market.

Standard Chartered also has a strong presence in Asia, said the BBC.

"We believe the national security law can help maintain the long-term economic and social stability of Hong Kong," it said in a statement.

It added that "the 'one country, two systems' principle is core to the future success of Hong Kong and has always been the bedrock of the business community's confidence".

The two backings come as Japanese bank Nomura said it was "seriously" examining its presence in Hong Kong.

It is unusual for a bank to enter into political debate, particularly one as controversial as China's new security laws which many feel could mark the end of Hong Kong's unique freedoms, the BBC said in the report.
 

(IANS)

Thu, 04 Jun 2020 03:24:47 +0530
UN chief urges countries to protect people on move during COVID 19

United Nations,  UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday asked for protection of people on the move in face of COVID-19.

In a video message for the launch of a policy brief on the impact of coronavirus on people on the move, Guterres asked countries to develop a new mindset on human mobility, Xinhua news agency reported.

"The COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity to re-imagine human mobility. Four core understandings must guide the way," he said.



First, exclusion is costly and inclusion pays. An inclusive public health and socio-economic response will help suppress the virus, restart the economies and advance the Sustainable Development Goals, said Guterres.

Second, human dignity must be upheld in face of the pandemic. Lessons should be learned from the handful of countries that have shown how to implement travel restrictions and border controls while fully respecting human rights and international refugee protection principles, he said.



Third, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Diagnostics, treatment and vaccines must be accessible to all, said the UN chief.



Fourth, people on the move are part of the solution, he noted. "Let us remove unwarranted barriers, explore models to regularize pathways for migrants and reduce transaction costs for remittances."



Guterres expressed gratitude to countries, especially developing countries, that have opened their borders and hearts to refugees and migrants, despite their own social, economic and health challenges.



Those countries offer a moving lesson to others in a period when doors are closed. It is essential that those countries are provided with increased support and full solidarity, he said.

"We all have a vested interest to ensure that the responsibility of protecting the world's refugees is equitably shared and that human mobility remains safe, inclusive, and respects international human rights and refugee law."



People on the move, such as refugees and internally displaced persons who are forced to flee their homes from violence or disaster, or migrants, face three crises rolled into one: a health crisis, a socio-economic crisis, and a protection crisis, said Guterres.

People on the move face a protection crisis as more than 150 countries have imposed border restrictions to contain the spread of the virus. At least 99 states make no exception for people seeking asylum from persecution. At the same time, fear of COVID-19 has led to skyrocketing xenophobia, racism and stigmatization, he said.



And the already precarious situation of women and girls is ever more dire, as they face higher risks of exposure to gender-based violence, abuse and exploitation, the UN chief added.
 

(IANS)

Wed, 03 Jun 2020 12:55:43 +0530
Mallya can be extradited anytime all legalities done

New Delhi,  Indian fugitive business tycoon and founder of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines Vijay Mallya can be extradited to India in the coming days "anytime" as all the "legal process" has been completed, top sources in the government said on Wednesday.

The development comes in the wake of Mallya losing his appeal in the UK top court on May 14 against his extradition to India.

A top Enforcement Department source related to the development told IANS, "We will soon bring back Mallya to India anytime in the coming days."

However, he remained tight-lipped on the date of the extradition.

He said, "As he has lost his appeal in the UK Supreme Court there, we have completed all the legal process for his extradition."

The teams of CBI and the ED are already working on the process of extradition to India.

A CBI source related to the development said that after his extradition, we wil take his custody first as we were the first agency to file a case against him.

A major roadblock in the extradition was cleared on May 14 when Mallya lost the case. Now the Narendra Modi government will have to bring him back in the next 28 days. Since May 14, it has already been more than 20 days since the UK court rejected his plea.

The former parliamentarian, who ran India's largest spirits company, United Spirits, and founded the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines, faces charges of fraud and money laundering worth Rs 9,000 crore. He left India in March 2016 under the pretext of personal reasons.

Mallya has defrauded at least 17 Indian banks, drawing loans which he allegedly routed to gain full or partial stake in about 40 companies abroad.

Mallya after losing an appeal in the London High Court on April 20 against an extradition order to India, filed an appeal in the UK Supreme Court last month.

On May 14, after the court ruling, he once again offered the central government that he will repay 100 per cent of his loan dues provided the case against him was closed. Mallya, however, said that his repeated offers to repay his dues have been ignored by the Modi government.

Earlier, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a statement had said that the UK High Court order to extradite Mallya was a "milestone" in the agency's quest for excellence and a reminder that economic offenders facing probes in large value frauds cannot consider themselves above the process merely because they have changed jurisdictions.

A CBI spokesperson said in a statement: "The decision of the UK High Court to order extradition of Mallya is a milestone in CBI's quest for excellence and a reminder that economic offenders, facing probes in large value frauds, cannot consider themselves above the process merely because they have changed jurisdictions."

The spokesperson said the judgement also vindicated the "painstaking investigation" by the CBI, especially since Mallya had raised various issues with regard to the admissibility of evidence, the fairness of the investigation itself and extraneous consideration with a view to "divert attention" from his own acts.

The CBI official further said that the extradition of Mallya was sought to face trial for offences of cheating, criminal conspiracy and abuse of official position by public servants, wherein Mallya faced allegations of conspiring with public servants and dishonestly defrauding the IDBI Bank to the extent of Rs 900 crore.

The CBI had filed a chargesheet against Mallya and others on January 24, 2017 which was followed by a request for his extradition on January 31 in the same year. Based on the request, Mallya was arrested by the UK authorities on April 20, 2017.

(IANS)

Wed, 03 Jun 2020 12:51:38 +0530
Nisarga may hit Maha coast by afternoon flights curtailed

Mumbai, Maharashtra braced for the onslaught of the Cyclone 'Nisarga' currently hovering around 190 km south-southwest of Mumbai -- which is expected to make a landfall near Harihareshwar in adjoining Raigad district sometime on Wednesday afternoon.

All emergency services, the police, fire brigade, NDRF and SDRF, army, navy, airforce, coast-guard, home-guards and others are fully geared for the anticipated fallout of the cyclone, while the domestic flight operations have been curtailed as a precaution.

Slated to hit Raigad at a dizzying wind speed of 110-120 kmph over the next six hours, it is very likely to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm, the effects will be experienced in the entire Konkan coastal region and adjoining districts of western Maharashtra, said IMD Mumbai.

Presently, the Nisarg is being tracked by the Doppler Weather Radars in Mumbai and Goa as it swirls gradually towards the land.

The Mumbai International Airport Ltd. announced on Wednesday that it will operate only 19 flights -- including 11 outgoing -- instead of the regular 50 daily, in view of the cyclone.

The flights shall be operated by Air India, AirAsia, IndiGo, GoAir and SpiceJet subject to possible last-minute changes in schedules,

Mumbai has been battered by continuous rains since Tuesday evening and this morning, several low lying were inundated in the city and suburbs.

While prohibitory orders are clamped in the city, Mumbai Police and other security forces are out in full swing to ensure people don't step out to the sea fronts, promenades or beaches and other open spaces.

As a precautionary measure, an estimated 2,000 people living in the non-pucca houses have been shifted to safer locations and an estimated 2,000-plus slum-dwellers in low-lying areas have been asked to evacuate.

Earlier Wednesday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued 'Red Alert' for June 3 for Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Palghar, Nashik, Dhule, Nandurbar. It will continue on June 4 for Palghar, Dhule and Nandurbar. Alerts have also been issued for Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts.
 

(IANS) 

Wed, 03 Jun 2020 10:16:20 +0530
Facebook CEO again defends decision on not flagging Trump post

San Francisco,  As outrage grows within the company to take action on a controversial post by US President Donald Trump, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has once again defended his decision to retain the Trump post.

In a virtual town hall with employees on Tuesday, Zuckerberg said that the post "did not constitute a policy violation".

The last-minute town hall was organised to address outrage among employees who staged a "virtual walkout" on Monday in protest against the social networking giant's policies regarding the controversial post - "When the looting begins, the shooting begins," – by Trump that fuelled nationwide anger against the death of African-American George Floyd.

Zuckerberg, however, said he will begin to review moderation processes and change the way the company deals with such harmful content, reports the Wall Street Journal.

"Open and honest discussion has always been a part of Facebook's culture. Mark had an open discussion with employees today, as he has regularly over the years. He's grateful for their feedback," a Facebook spokesperson Liz Bourgeois said in a statement.

Several Facebook employees earlier took to Twitter, publicly announcing their solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter protests that have seized the nation.

Facebook employees came out in the open to protest the social media giant's stand on not taking action on a controversial post from Trump about the Minnesota protests. At least two Facebook employees have resigned against the company's stand.

"I believe Trump's 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts' tweet (cross-posted to FB), encourages extra-judicial violence and stokes racism. Respect to @Twitter's integrity team for making the enforcement call," David Gillis, Director, Product Design at Facebook, said in a tweet.

While Twitter last week put out a "public interest notice" on the tweet for violating the platform's policies about glorifying violence, Facebook refused to take action when the tweet was cross-posted to its platform.

Defending the decision to not take action on the controversial posts, Zuckerberg earlier said that its "policy around incitement of violence allows discussion around state use of force".

"We looked very closely at the post that discussed the protests in Minnesota to evaluate whether it violated our policies," Zuckerberg wrote.

"Our policy around incitement of violence allows discussion around state use of force, although I think today's situation raises important questions about what potential limits of that discussion should be," he said.
 

(IANS)

Wed, 03 Jun 2020 10:09:48 +0530
Markets open on positive note

Mumbai, The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) on Wednesday opened on a positive note.

The Sensex of the BSE opened at 34,185.41 and touched a high of 34,379.53 and a low of 34,177.91 after closing on Tuesday at 33,825.53.

The Sensex is trading at 34,364.69 up by 539.16 points or 1.59 per cent.

On the other hand, the broader 50-scrip Nifty at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened at 10,108.30 after closing at 9,979.10. It is trading at 10,143.50 in the morning.
 

(IANS) C-1-1240487

Wed, 03 Jun 2020 09:58:29 +0530
World acclaimed Pashmina shawls to get boost in Himachal

Shimla, Himachal Pradesh is promoting Pashmina -- globally acclaimed fine luxury fibre cashmere -- by encouraging shepherds settled in high mountains where temperatures plunge to as low as 20 degrees Celsius to breed Himalayan goats, a minister said on Wednesday.

The goat named Changthangi plays an important role in revitalising the economy of the poverty-stricken tribes.

The state is annually producing 1,000 kg Pashmina wool production and it aims to double its production in five years, Animal Husbandry Minister Virender Kanwar told IANS.

These goats provide the wool for Kashmir's famous Pashmina shawls that commands huge demand worldwide.

The state will provide 638 goats of the Changthangi and Chegu breeds to families in the Pashmina producing snow-bound areas in Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur districts and Pangi in Chamba district under the National Livestock Mission, he said.

Under the mission, 29 units, each comprising 10 does and one buck, of both Changthangi and Chegu species will be provided.

Each unit will cost Rs 70,000. Ninety per cent cost will be borne by the Central government, while the state and the beneficiary will share the remaining cost in equal proportion.

The livestock will be provided in this fiscal.

At present, Pashmina is produced predominantly in Darcha, Yochi, Rarik-Chika villages and Mayar valley in Lahaul, besides Kibber, Langza and Hangang in Spiti, Nako, Namgya and Leo in Kinnaur district and certain areas in the Pangi valley of Chamba.

There are around 10 organized shawl manufacturing units working in the state. They are located in Rampur in Shimla district, Sundernagar and Mandi in Mandi district, Shamshi and Hurla in Kullu district and Sangla and Reckong Peo in Kinnaur district.

Around 90 per cent Pashmina wool is used in apparels like shawl, stoles and mufflers and the remaining in other products like high-end coat tweeds.

The Pashmina wool is sold mainly through retail. Predominantly, white and natural grey colour wool is being used in the shawl manufacturing units.

The Pashmina producers are getting remunerative prices. Currently, the raw Pashmina price is approximately Rs 3,500 per kg.

In the organized and unorganized sector, nearly 12,000 artisans are working in the state.

The state is home to 2,500 Changthangi goats.
 

(IANS) /C-1-1240481

Wed, 03 Jun 2020 09:54:27 +0530
Proposed Kashmir Youth Movement march triggered online debate

Srinagar,  A proposed march in support of LGBT community in Srinagar by Kashmir Youth Movement (KYM), a group comprising migrant Kashmiri Pandits, has triggered a fierce debate between the proponents and opponents of the idea on social media.

The group which promotes the interests of the LGBT community is based in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and J&K.

The group had planned to hold the march at Lal Chowk in June but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event has been postponed.

The idea, however, has generated a heated debate on social media between the proponents and the opponents of the idea with both sides trying to aggressively push their stand.

"Khair Mubarak', we welcome you with open arms!" one social media user supporting the move commented. "More power to you! You have a long way to go! This is just the beginning.

"I love the support you show us every day! Thank you for coming to the peace march; we will definitely have a pride march in Kashmir,"

The opponents of the move have been equally vocal.

"If your idea of freedom is in the clutches of oppression of another, we reject that freedom," commented one of them. "Homophobic, this 'lanat' (slur) must not come to Kashmir."

"They are highly brainwashed."

Founder KYM Rahul Vakil, an MBA student, said that Homophobia is a deep-rooted problem in Kashmir and it needs to be tackled.

"We are getting bouquets and brickbats from both the sides," Vakil said ."It's not just the people in Kashmir but responses are coming in from all parts of the country."

He said marches have been taken out in support of LGBT rights in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru but strangely people shy away from giving support to the community in Kashmir.

"They have different standards for Kashmir and for the rest of the country," he said.

He said they are in touch with the LGBT community in Kashmir and trying to convince them to support KYM initiative.

"In Kashmir, those linked to us do not want to come out, we are trying to convince them to put out their messages," he said.
 

(IANS)C-1-1240457

Wed, 03 Jun 2020 09:47:20 +0530
Nushrat Bharucha opens up on her series featuring COVID doctors

Mumbai, Actress Nushrat Bharucha will soon start a virtual series where she will be seen talking to doctors who are working day and night to save patients from the novel coronavirus.

"By talking to them, I want them to feel that they are not alone in this. We all are very thankful for what they are doing for us, and if I can lend support in any way by just telling them this, I would definitely do it. It's terribly difficult for them, they too have families but they are standing there doing their best, so this is my way of giving them back the feeling that we are in support of them," said Nushrat.

"Of course the effort is to have fun, make things a little happier for them and rest of it is up to them. I am just going to put myself out there and talk about anything they want to. I would definitely want to make them feel better in the moment and give them a break from all that they have been going through," she added.

On the work front, Nushrat will star in Hindi remake of Marathi horror movie "Lapachhapi". She will also be seen opposite Rajkummar Rao in "Chhalaang".
(IANS) 

Wed, 03 Jun 2020 09:44:17 +0530
Chuck Robbins postpones flagship Cisco Live donates 5mn to fight racism

San Francisco,  Expressing solidarity with protests against the death of African-American George Floyd, global networking major Cisco on Tuesday announced to postpone its flagship virtual event Cisco Live, along with donating $5 million to NGOs focused on fighting racism.

Delaying Cisco Live that was slated to start from Tuesday with over 60,000 registrations, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said in a video message the company has always aspired to foster an environment of dignity, respect, fairness and equality for all.

"In light of what is going on in the world at this time, we have made the decision to postpone Cisco Live this week," he added, saying a new date for the event in late June would be announced soon.

"We don't believe the time is right to host an event in the middle of this tragic moment in our history," said Robbins.

"As I've said, we need ACTION to eradicate racism, inequality, and injustice. The first step for @Cisco is committing $5M and our own fund for Fighting Racism and Discrimination. This is just the beginning," Robbins tweeted.

Several states in the US are currently observing protests against the death of Floyd. Being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by police officers on May 25, Floyd pleaded for help during the final moments of his life, crying that he could not breathe.

Derek Chauvin, one of the officers, kept kneeling on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes.

All the four officers involved in the incident have been fired, and Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
 

(IANS)

Wed, 03 Jun 2020 09:00:47 +0530
US stocks rise as investors assess economy reopening amid civil unrest

New York,  US stocks ended higher, as Wall Street weighed the possibility of normalizing economic activities amid civil unrest.

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 267.63 points, or 1.05 per cent, to 25,742.65. The S&P 500 was up 25.09 points, or 0.82 per cent, to 3,080.82. The Nasdaq Composite Index increased 56.33 points, or 0.59 per cent, to 9,608.37, Xinhua news agency reported.

All the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors rallied, with energy and materials up 2.65 per cent and 1.76 per cent, respectively, outpacing the rest.

Protests and riots have continued in cities across the United States over the death of African American George Floyd.

Investors closely monitored the nationwide unrest as the combination of riots on top of a pandemic could cause lasting economic scars, experts noted.

"The strength of the economic bounce-back is dependent on keeping fear as low as possible. Fear is likely to remain high across the political spectrum while this unrest continues," said analysts at UBS in a note.
 

(IANS)

Wed, 03 Jun 2020 08:57:14 +0530
It s liquor dealers vs govt in MP

Jabalpur, The government's plans to coerce the liquor traders into opening the vends in the states have recoiled with Madhya Pradesh High Court restraining it from taking any action against the liquor contractors during the pendency of the case till Wednesday.

The liquor contractors filed an application seeking interim protection against the government which took action against some of them.

Rahul Diwakar, the petitioners' lawyer told the court that the authorities are taking action against a few petitioners by imposing penalty and issuing letters to forfeit the bank guarantee.

This was contrary to the state government undertaking in the court that it would refrain from taking action during the hearing. The petitioners pleaded with the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the respondents.

A division bench of the Chief Justice AK Mittal and Justice VK Shukla issued the interim direction during hearing of the petitioners' application, the counsel said.

The Court also issued notices to the respondents - the principal secretary (Excise Department) and the excise commissioner during the hearing.

The court will continue to hear the liquor contractors on Wednesday, the counsel said. The Government went as far as threatening to take over the liquor trade. The cash- strapped MP government is mulling to run the liquor shops in the state as the liquor contractors are unrelenting, sources said.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had said that the state economy has collapsed due to coronavirus.

The court on Tuesday heard the petition filed by 30 liquor contractors from various parts of the state.

The liquor contractors have sought the HC direction to the state government to either revise the terms and conditions of their contract or recall the entire bidding process of liquor sale for the current fiscal due to economic slowdown caused by the Corona pandemic.

A tussle is going on between the state government and the liquor contractors after the majority of the liquor shops were closed in despite the state government's order to re-open them last month.

The liquor retailers said that the contract, 25 per cent higher than the rates of last fiscal, with the state government, will burn a hole in their pocket in the wake of the downturn in the market.
 

(IANS)

Wed, 03 Jun 2020 08:54:37 +0530
Spain reports no new COVID 19 deaths for 2nd consecutive day

Madrid,  Spain registered no death from COVID-19 on Monday, the second consecutive day without new death reports, according to the data published by the Spanish Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare.

The ministry on Tuesday confirmed a total of 27,127 deaths from the virus, no change compared with the number reported on Monday and Sunday. Over the past seven days, altogether 34 people lost their lives to the virus-caused disease, Xinhua news agency reported.

There was an increase in the number of new cases of COVID-19 detected by PCR tests (which discover if the coronavirus is active in the body). The Health Ministry reported 137 new infections, more than the 71 cases registered in the previous 24 hours, bringing the country's total confirmed cases to 239,932.

Madrid and Catalonia remained the worst-hit with 90 of the new cases from these two regions.
 

(IANS)

Wed, 03 Jun 2020 08:50:34 +0530
Railway Police HQ in Lucknow sealed after driver tests positive
Lucknow,  The entire floor of the railway police headquarters in the Signature building in Lucknow has been sealed for 48 hours after the driver of the staff officer of the Additional Director General (ADG) Railways, tested positive for corona.

The floor sealed on Monday evening is now being disinfected and sanitized.

A few hours after the ADG sealed the office premises, four other Railway Police personnel, who were quarantined at the GRP Lines in Charbagh, tested positive for the coronavirus infection.

The ADG Railways, Sanjeev Singhal said that his staff officer had returned from leave on Thursday last and his driver stays in the Police Lines where some policemen had tested positive for corona.

The driver was also sent for the corona test and his samples tested positive.

The driver R. A.Verma had been coming to the Signature building regularly and hence the chances of the other personnel and officers he came in contact with, getting infected was there.
 
(IANS) C-1-1240101
Tue, 02 Jun 2020 10:37:17 +0530
Revised definition will give MSMEs confidence to grow CITI Chairman

New Delhi,  The revised definition will give micro, small and medium Enterprises (MSMEs) confidence to grow and will promote their expansion, Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI) Chairman T. Rajkumary said on Monday.

The industry body welcomed the decisions of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for providing economic support to MSMEs, farmers, street vendors and the agricultural sector.

He said MSMEs, which have a 29 per cent share in the country's GDP and 48 per cent share in the country's exports and provide employment to millions of people, will receive maximum benefits from the change in the definition of MSME under which turnover limit for medium enterprises has been revised upward.

Under the new definition, the distinction between manufacturing and services enterprises has also been eliminated.

The CITI Chairman pointed out that in the revised definition, even small weaving mills may be able to come and because of this, many garment manufacturers will be benefited.

The Centre's revision in the definition of MSMEs will give MSMEs the much-needed confidence to grow and will promote its seamless expansion in the country, he said.

He also welcomed the decision of Distressed Asset Fund of Rs 4,000 crore created to help weaker MSMEs that are struggling through NPA norms due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. This fund will bring them back into the business and they can start the business activities afresh with the help of this fund, he said. Further Rs 20,000 crore subordinated debt for stressed MSMEs is likely to benefit 2 lakh stressed MSMEs.

As per the new definition, businesses with investment of less than Rs 1 crore and turnover of Rs 5 crore would be classified as micro enterprises while, the businesses with investment of Rs 10 crore and the turnover of less than Rs 50 crore will come under small enterprises.

Similarly, companies with investment of Rs 50 crore and turnover of up to Rs 250 crore would be classified as medium enterprises.
 

(IANS)

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 08:41:37 +0530
Paytm Mall moves ops from Noida to Bengaluru to hire 300

Noida, E-commerce platform Paytm Mall, owned by Paytm Ecommerce Private Ltd, on Monday announced to move its operations from Noida to Bengaluru and hire over 300 new members for product and technology roles.

The company also appointed Abhishek Rajan as chief operating officer (COO) who, during the last four years, has built and scaled up Paytm's Travel business driving large revenues for the company at a positive contribution margin.

Paytm Mall said in a statement that the move would help it tap into the rich talent pool available in Bemgaluru's consumer internet and startup ecosystem.

"In the post-COVID world, we want to bring commerce to even more customers and serve the SMEs across the country. We are well-capitalized, have a great team, and a massive network of customers to make our O2O model penetrate further in India," said Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder and CEO, Paytm.

The existing workforce has the flexibility to either shift to Bengaluru or continue working from their current location in various roles.

Additionally, Srinivas Mothey has been elevated to Senior Vice President Merchants Solutions at Paytm who would be working on innovative retail solutions for merchants in his new role.

In his new role as COO, Rajan will set the vision for Mall and oversee the operations across categories, products, technology, supply chain, marketing and finance.

He will specifically focus on strengthening the commerce customer experience and expanding the hyperlocal merchant base, thereby enabling more Kirana stores to be part of the digital commerce journey

"We would like to think of Paytm's e-commerce business as a Series A startup with $200 million cash in the bank, where key technology and operations components required for running a commerce business have already been built," said Rajan.
With a sharp focus on profitability, Paytm Mall has significantly reduced its quarterly cash burn from $17 million to $2 million during the last financial year.

Paytm Mall recently partnered with BigBasket for the supply of groceries on its platform.

In February, the e-commerce platform ventured into exports with the aim of becoming India's largest trading house for "Made in India" products, while targeting Rs 500 crore gross merchandise value (GMV) in the first two years of operations.
 

(IANS) C-1-1239967

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 08:37:26 +0530
Global COVID 19 cases top 6 2 mn Johns Hopkins

Washington, The total number of global coronavirus has increased to over 6.2 million, while the death toll has topped 375,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Tuesday morning, the overall number of cases stood at 6,265,496, while the death toll increased to 375,526, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

With 1,811,370 confirmed cases and 105,165 deaths, the US currently accounts for the highest number of infections and fatalities in the world, according to the CSSE.

In terms of cases, Brazil comes in second place with 526,447 infections.

This was followed by Russia (414,328), the UK (277,736), Spain (239,638), Italy (233,197), India (198,370), France (189,348), Germany (183,594), Peru (170,039), Turkey (164,769), Iran (154,445) and Chile (105,158), the CSSE figures showed.

Regarding fatalities, the UK continues in the second position after the US with 39,127 COVID-19 deaths, which also accounts for the highest fatalities in Europe.

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are Italy (33,475), Brazil (29,937), France (28,836), Spain (27,127) and Mexico (10,167).
 

(IANS) /C-1-1240074

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 08:32:11 +0530
65 new health centres for Bengaluru civic body wards

Bengaluru, As many as 65 new primary health centres (PHCs) will be started in the city civic body, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), wards without such health facilities, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister said on Monday.

"Sixty-five new PHCs will be started soon. Of the 198 wards in BBMP, 65 wards have no PHCs," said C. N. Ashwathnarayan after a BBMP review meeting.

He directed the civic body officials to work towards establishing the health facilities.

"If there is no ready building with the BBMP, start PHCs by renting private buildings," he said.

Considering that several programmes are being run by the central and state governments, Ashwathnarayan directed the officials to collect data on health schemes to bring it onto a single platform.

To create such a platform, a team of techies lead by Prasanth Prakash has come forward to offer the required technology.

Ashwathnarayan expects the platform to be ready in a month's time.

"After collating patient information from all BBMP hospitals, a unified dashboard will be created. This will provide complete data of patients at the click of a mouse button and enables to decide the kind of treatment required to be given," he said.

Linking data from private hospitals as well, Ashwathnarayan said immediate action can be taken in the event of an epidemic or a pandemic breakout.

Likewise, to enable the poor to access quality health, he said five centralized health centres will be set up where online treatment through e-clinics can be offered.
 

(IANS)

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 08:29:12 +0530
US sends Brazil 2 million HCQ doses

Washington, The US has sent 2 million doses of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to Brazil, the two governments have confirmed, days after the World Health Organization (WHO) halted the anti-malaria drug's clinical trials over safety concerns.

"The US will also soon be sending 1,000 ventilators to Brazil," a joint statement said which was released by the White House on Sunday.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said recently that a clinical trial of HCQ on COVID-19 patients came to "a temporary pause" while the safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Lancet medical journal has published an observational study on HCQ and chloroquine, in which the authors of the study reported that among patients receiving either of the drugs, when used alone or with a macrolide, they estimated a higher mortality rate.
 

(IANS)  C-1-1239729

Mon, 01 Jun 2020 12:02:58 +0530
Redmi Note 9 Pro Max A good deal under Rs 20 000

New Delhi,  Xiaomi's Redmi Note series phones have always offered great value for money. Taking a step forward, the company has added a new phone Redmi Note 9 Pro Max in this highly popular mid-price segment series.

The smartphone features a near all-glass body, a large 6.67-inch display with a punch hole cutout, 64MP quad rear cameras, a 32MP front camera, Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 720G processor with ISRO's indigenously developed navigation system (NavIC) support and a massive 5,020mAh battery with 33W fast charging.

The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is available in three variants – 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage priced at Rs 16,499; 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage priced at Rs 17,999 and the 8GB RAM and 128GB of internal storage variant which would cost you Rs 19,999.

In terms of design, the smartphone scored good owing to its punch-hole camera and near all-glass body.

The standards-volume controls are on the right panel, SIM tray on the left, 3.5mm jack along with speaker grill and Type C charging port at the bottom and IF blaster is on the top.

Both front and rear sides have Gorilla Glass 5 protection and P2i coating claims to prevent the device from accidental water damage.

Speaker, headphone jack and the USB Type-C charging port are located at the bottom portion of the device.

The quad-camera setup neatly sits in a square module on the rear that protrudes slightly.

The screen is really big and great for streaming movies, YouTube videos as well as playing games.

The company also claims to have used an anti-oil and anti-fingerprint coating on the top.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G SoC is one of the most effective chipsets at this price point and effectively handled popular games including PUBG Mobile with ease along with multi-tasking.

The device ships with Android 10 OS out-of-the-box with custom MIUI 11 skin on top. However, the OS is filled with third-party apps and most of them cannot be uninstalled.

The device has a massive 5,020 mAh battery which easily lasted for a whole day on moderate usage.

The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max comes with four rear cameras. There's a 64MP main camera, an 8MP ultrawide-angle camera with 119-degree field-of-view, a 5MP macro camera for close ups (up to 2cm), and another 2MP depth sensor.

The camera performed adequately in everyday use and managed to produce decent snaps in the low-light conditions.

Unlike other mid-segment smartphones, the photo is not oversaturated and colours look natural. The portrait mode was highly effective with perfect edge detection.

The 32MP front shooter did a decent job at capturing selfies.

In terms of video capability, the smartphone can shoot videos up to 4K resolution at 30fps or 1080p video at either 60/30fps.

Conclusion: Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is one of the best mid-price segment smartphones out there, which faces stiff competition from Realme 6 Pro, Honor 9X Pro and Poco X2.

Note 9 Pro Max offers refreshing design, powerful processor and good camera.

(IANS)C-1-1239721

Mon, 01 Jun 2020 11:17:26 +0530
Delhi borders witness traffic congestion as curbs ease

New Delhi, Heavy vehicular traffic was witnessed on Monday at the Delhi-Gurugram and Delhi-Noida borders as commuters came out in large numbers on the first day of the Unlock-1.

On Delhi-Noida Direct (DND) way, that connects south Delhi with Noida, heavy traffic was witnessed in the morning.

The vehicular queues went up to over a kilometre as the police deployed at the border checked the passes and the identity cards of the people travelling.

The Delhi Police asked the people to return, those who did not have the passes issued from the authorities.

Even the motorcyclists were asked to turn back.

Speaking to IANS, Praveen Kumar, who resides in Noida said, "I have gone to my office in Delhi in the morning. But while I was returning back to Noida then the police stopped me. And now they are not allowing enter in Noida."

According to the Delhi Traffic police, the vehicular traffic on the roads have increased by over 40 per cent on Monday morning as several office-goers came out to attend their offices.

The traffic in the national capital also witnessed a surge as a number of vehicles were seen on the streets in areas like Jhandewalan, ITO etc.

Similar, scenes were witnessed at the Delhi-Gurugram and Delhi-Ghaziabad borders.

Noida, Ghaziabad and Gurugram have already sealed their borders with the national capital as the number of the Covid-19 cases saw a spike, with majority of the cases linked to those travelling to Delhi.

On Saturday, the Centre took an exit step from the 68-day nationwide lockdown, declaring that the restrictions will be limited only to containment zones up to June 30 and that the prohibited activities will be opened in a phased manner in areas outside these zones, allowing restaurants, malls, religious places and education sectors to open in a phased manner.

Applicable from Monday, June 1, the fresh order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) spoke of the expanded fresh guidelines a day ahead of the end of lockdown 4.0.

"In exercise of powers under section 6(2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has directed the undersigned to issue an order to extend the lockdown in containment zones up to June 30, and reopen prohibited activities in a phased manner in areas outside the containment zones," the order read.

"Therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred under section 10(2)(l) of the Disaster Management Act 2005, it is directed that the guidelines will remain in force up to June 30. With effect from June 1 to June 30, the lockdown 5.0 will be limited only to containment zones and only a elimited number of activities will remain prohibited throughout the country," it added.

As per the order, international air travel, operation of Metro Rail, cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars, auditoriums, assembly halls, and political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural and religious functions, and other large congregations will remain prohibited.
 

(IANS) C-1-1239715

Mon, 01 Jun 2020 11:07:34 +0530
Fuel prices hike by Rs 2 L in Mumbai

Mumbai, Petrol and Diesel prices in the economic capital of the country have been increased by Rs 2 per litre on Monday. Now, petrol will cost Rs 78.32 per litre to Mumbaikars while diesel will be available at Rs 68.21 in the city.

The prices were increased after the Maharashtra government decided to levy a cess of Rs 2 on the vehicular fuel w.e.f. June 1. This increase will be applicable in the entire state.

The Value Added Tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel is 26 per cent and 24 per cent respectively in the state.

Beside, a cess is also applicable on both type of fuels that the state government has increased from Rs 8.12 to Rs 10.12 per litre on petrol and Rs 3 per litre from the earlier Re 1 on diesel.

According to the Indian Oil website, prices of petrol in the four metro cities, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai were Rs 71.26, Rs 73.30, Rs 78.32 and Rs 75.54 per litre, respectively. While the diesel prices were Rs 69.39, Rs 65.62, Rs 68.21 and 68.22 per litre, respectively.
 

(IANS) 

Mon, 01 Jun 2020 11:01:37 +0530
Southeast Asian nations to begin easing COVID 19 lockdowns

Bangkok,  The Southeast Asian nations of Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore are all set to ease their coronavirus lockdowns this week.

There has been at least 2,700 COVID-19 deaths in Southeast Asia, a region that has registered a total of 89,000 cases, reports Efe news.

With the partial opening of restaurants, shops and public parks already in effect, Thailand will from Monday allow cinemas, gyms and massage parlours to resume activities.

The Thai government's PR department tweeted on Sunday: "The third phase of relaxed measures will begin on 1 June, when many establishments will be allowed to resume their services under the strict measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"Inter-provincial travel is also being relaxed to support economic activities."

The Tourism industry accounts for between 12-20 per cent of Thailand's GDP.

Thai health authorities on Sunday said there had been four new cases detected in the country in the last 24 hours, bringing the overall total since the outbreak began to 3,081. A total of 57 people have died.

Authorities in the Philippines were set to ease the lockdown in the capital Manila also from Monday.

In a bid to contain the spread of the virus, the city has been under draconian restrictions for 78 days, two days longer than Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus originated last December.

Deserted for more than two months, traffic will return to the streets of Manila on Monday and residents will be given more freedom to leave their house, although the use of masks in public spaces such as shops will be required.

In the Philippines, there have been 17,000 COVID-19 cases and 950 deaths

In Singapore, schools will partially reopen on Tuesday and restrictions on weddings and funerals will be eased, allowing gatherings of up to 10 people.

The city is also beginning the process of gradually reopening the economy, although workers are still being urged to clock on remotely when possible.

Singapore has registered 34,000 COVID-19 cases with 23 deaths.

Meanwhile, Malaysia and Indonesia are also starting to lift restrictions on the free movement of people but both countries have enforced strict social distancing rules in an effort to prevent a second wave of infections.
(IANS) C-1-1239693

Mon, 01 Jun 2020 10:52:22 +0530
Jeff Bezos to invest in UK logistics startup Beacon

San Francisco, Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is reportedly investing in a British startup Beacon that aims to become a global logistics chain.

According to Sky News, the world's richest man is "taking part in Series A fundraising worth $15 million for the British startup".

Beacon is a digital freight-forwarding and supply chain finance firm.

Launched in 2018, it uses Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud and other technologies to improve operational efficiency for customers organising international trade in their products.

Beacon is understood to have seen strong demand during the Covid-19 crisis from companies in the e-commerce and homewares sector, in particular, the report said.

The company offers a range of services - including global ocean, air freight and truck - which can be accessed and managed on a single platform.

Beacon was founded by two former Uber executives, Fraser Robinson and Dmitri Izmailov.

Beacon's investors include executives from Uber, Google and Amazon, according to its site.

Pierre Martin, the company's chief technology officer, previously worked at Amazon.
 

(IANS)  C-1-1239708

Mon, 01 Jun 2020 10:40:58 +0530
Temples restaurants to open from June 8 Himachal govt

Shimla,  The Himachal Pradesh government on Monday said the temples and restaurants in the state will open from June 8 and not from June 1.

A government spokesman told the media they would open after the standard operating procedure and guidelines were issued by the Centre.

Thereafter, a decision would be taken by the state Department of Language, Art and Culture and the Department of Tourism.

Also, the state government allowed the intrastate movement of roadways and private transport buses for the first time during the curfew relaxation timings from Monday onwards.

The Himachal Road Transport Corp (HRTC) resumed bus services with 60 per cent sitting capacity from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, the curfew has been extended in the state till June 30.

After reviewing the situation at a high-level meeting here, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Sunday announced the curfew relaxation from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
 

(IANS) C-1-1239678

Mon, 01 Jun 2020 09:51:09 +0530
Two Pak HC officials caught spying met defence personnel as businessmen

New Delhi, Two Pakistan High Commission officials were caught spying on Sunday after an operation by Military Intelligence (MI) found the men would visit Indian defence personnel as "businessmen" to secure information for "news reporters", triggering a demarche by the Narendra Modi government.

Both Abid Hussain and Mohammad Tahir have been declared persona non grata and expelled from India.

An official statement of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that two officials of the High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi were apprehended for indulging in espionage activities.

Pakistan's Charge de Affaires was issued a demarche, in which a strong protest was lodged with regard to the activities of the officials of the High Commission of Pakistan against India's national security, the government said.

Sources said that out of the two, Hussain (42), working as an assistant in the Department of Trade in Pakistan High Commission, was an operative of Pakistan's spy agency, ISI and is from Punjab province of Pakistan.

While indulging in espionage activities, he told Indian defence personnel that he was from Amritsar.

His colleague, an upper division clerk in the high commission, Tahir (44), who is from Islamabad, would accompany him on the espionage missions to gather information for "news reporters".

The Indian government has declared both the officials persona non grata "for indulging in activities incompatible with their status as members of a diplomatic mission and asked them to leave the country within twenty four hours".

The two would pay Rs 25,000 for every exchange of information and expensive gifts such as Apple iPhones. They were paid via phone wallet application such as Paytm.

Both were in the commission for the last two years, sources said adding that the duo were driven around by Javed Akhtar (36), a resident of Mianwali in Pakistan's Punjab, who has also been arrested.

The two officials had been on the radar of the Indian agencies for their suspicious activities including attempts to contact and lure service personnel for espionage, sources said.

Delhi Police's Special Cell and the Intelligence Bureau assisted MI in the operations.

The law enforcement agencies, who apprehended the two officials, recovered some incriminating documents, Rs 15,000 and two iPhones from them. Of the two iPhones, they were to give one to their informants.

Sources said after they were caught, both Abid and Tahir admitted to be in communication with many other persons for gathering information.

The Ministry of External Affairs, in its statement,described the activities of the officials "inimical to India" and "incompatible with their diplomatic status".

(IANS) 

Mon, 01 Jun 2020 08:56:49 +0530
With 839 new cases Turkey s COVID 19 tally touches 163 942

Ankara, Turkish health minister on Sunday confirmed 839 new COVID-19 cases, noting that the increase is within predictable margins.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Turkey climbed to 163,942, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported.

In the past 24 hours, 25 people died, taking the death toll to 4,540, the minister stated.

Turkey conducted 35,600 tests for coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the overall number of tests carried out so far to 2,039,194, he said.

The total number of recovered cases stood at 127,973 in Turkey since the outbreak, while 648 patients are being treated at intensive care units.

Turkey reported the first COVID-19 case in the country on March 11.

Turkey and China have supported each other in the fight against COVID-19.

China has facilitated the procurement of medical supplies by Turkey. On April 10, Chinese doctors and medical experts held a video conference with Turkish counterparts to share China's experiences in treating coronavirus patients, protecting medical workers, and controlling the spread of the virus.
 

(IANS) 

Mon, 01 Jun 2020 08:53:38 +0530
Pamela Anderson ready to marry again

Los Angeles,  Actress Pamela Anderson is ready for re-marriage.

In an interview with the New York Times magazine, Pamela spoke about her failed relationships in the past and how she is keen to tie the knot again, reports femalefirst.co.uk.

"Absolutely! Just one more time. Just one more time, please, God. One more time only. Only," Pamela said when she was asked if she wanted to marry again.

Opening up on the past relationships, she added: "Thank God it happened the way it happened, and I'm here and I'm happy. I've been married three times. People think I've been married five times. I don't know why. I've been married three times. I've been married to Tommy Lee, I've been married to Bob Ritchie (Kid Rock) and to Rick Salomon. And that is it. Three marriages. I know that's a lot, but it's less than five."

She spoke about her relationship with Jon Peters, too.

"I wasn't married. No. I'm a romantic. I think I'm an easy target. And I think people just live in fear. I don't know what all that was about, but I think fear really played a lot into it. It was just kind of a little moment.

"A moment that came and went, but there was no wedding, there was no marriage, there was no anything. It's like it never even happened. That sounds bizarre, but that's it," Pamela recalled.
 

(IANS)C-1-1239653

Mon, 01 Jun 2020 08:50:47 +0530
Indore collectorate hit by corona

Indore, Coronavirus has struck the district collector's office in Indore causing panic among the staff. With a computer operator posted at the Indore tehsil office testing positive late on Saturday evening, there was concern in the collectorate on Sunday as the office is functioning all seven days due to the pandemic.

The computer operator has been working both in the tehsil office and the health department due to excessive workload.

As soon as the report came, the computer operator's home in Chhatripura area was located and sanitised. Special District Magistrate Anshul Khare visited the tehsil office, located at the ground floor of the collector office and had the entire office sanitised.

Several officers had come in contact with the computer operator during the past week and his contact history is being traced. All those who came in contact with him are being subjected to corona tests and might be quarantined.
 

(IANS) C-1-1239661

Mon, 01 Jun 2020 08:47:36 +0530
Italy s death toll from coronavirus rises by 75 to 33 415

Rome,  Seventy-five more COVID-19 patients had died in the past 24 hours in Italy, bringing the country's toll to 33,415, out of total infection cases of 233,019, according to fresh figures.

Nationwide, the number of active infections dropped by 1,616 to 42,075, said the Civil Protection Department on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Of those who tested positive for the new coronavirus, 435 are in intensive care, 15 fewer compared to Saturday, and 6,387 are hospitalized with symptoms, down by 293 patients from the previous day.

The rest 35,253 people, or about 84 per cent of those who tested positive, are quarantined at home with no symptoms or only mild symptoms.

Recoveries rose by 1,874 compared to Saturday, bringing the nationwide total to 157,507.
 

(IANS) C-1-1239665

Mon, 01 Jun 2020 08:42:17 +0530
Journalist killed in Kabul blast

Kabul,  A journalist and a studio technician were killed after a TV channel vehicle hit an IED in Kabul, Afghan officials said.

The attack took place on Saturday in the city's PD4 area, TOLO News reported.

Khurshid TV's economic reporter Zamir Amiri and technical staff member Shafiq were killed in the blast.

Rafi Sediqqi, the editor-in-chief of Khurshid TV, said that six staff members of the channel were wounded in the blast and two are in serious condition.

Those wounded in the blast were transferred to Kabul's Emergency Hospital.

Sediqqi said that no group or individual had threatened the TV channel recently.

"Such attacks will not demoralize Afghan journalists and media outlets from reporting the news," said Sediqqi.

The Taliban's spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement denied involvement.

Last August, a magnetic IED blast targeted a bus carrying the employees of Khurshid TV in the fifth street of Taimani in Kabul's Police District 4.
(IANS)

Sun, 31 May 2020 09:26:41 +0530
Playing in front of empty stands won t affect my performance Jhingan

Kolkata, Star India defender Sandesh Jhingan on Saturday said although it is not an ideal situation, he won't have a problem playing behind closed doors if need be when the Indian football season resumes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the world come to a standstill. All sports activity came to a grinding halt across the world and only recently the German Bundesliga restarted its league behind closed doors.

The Indian football season is over with the Indian Super League (ISL) final being played in front of empty stands in March. The I-League had to be called off with matches remaining due to the health crisis.

"There are two sides of it. Yes fans being there makes it great. It makes football more exciting. But it's my job also. The club asks me to play (behind closed doors) and If I say there are no fans I won't play...you always do your job the best way you can regardless of the audience," Jhingan said during a Facebook Live session on All India Football Federation's official page, TheIndianFootballTeam.

"If you're a musician...you go to a place and there is nobody listening to you...still you will give your best. For me, it's not an ideal situation..but for the safety of those people who will later come and watch us when everything gets back to normal..if I have to played behind closed doors I will still do the job the way I do. I don't think it will affect me and I will still do my job as a professional," said Jhingan who recently parted ways with Kerala Blasters.

"It has been my second home, my family. The people of Kerala will always be dear to my heart. They helped me grow. I joined the team when I was 21," said the centre-back of his ISL side where he spent six seasons, helping them reach the ISL final in the first season. The Chandigarh-born 26-year-old made 76 appearances for the club, even as the team around him underwent drastic changes.

Jhingan also said in the next decade or so there will be more Indian players playing in Europe.

"In next 10-15 years, you will see lot more Indian players playing in Europe," he added.
 

(IANS) C-1-1239372

Sun, 31 May 2020 09:21:55 +0530
SpaceX sends 2 NASA astronauts to ISS in historic mission

Washington, Scripting a historic chapter for the US space programme, Elon Musk-run SpaceX on Saturday sent two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) onboard the reusable Falcon 9 rocket.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley was on its way to the orbiting laboratory in the space and had safely reached orbit, NASA said in a statement.

It is the first time that astronauts have been sent into space from the US soil since 2011.

It is also the first time that US astronauts have been sent into space by a private company, signalling an end to the US dependence on the Russian space technology.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the same site used for the first moon landing in 1969, reports CNN.

"I can't believe it with my own eyes. I'm so grateful they're up there," said SpaceX engineer Lauren Lyons, who frequently hosts SpaceX's mission webcasts.

The journey would take approximately 19 hours and the astronauts should reach the space station at around 10.30 ET (eastern time) on Sunday, according to NASA.

After successfully docking, Behnken and Hurley will be welcomed aboard station and will become members of the Expedition 63 crew.

They will perform tests on Crew Dragon in addition to conducting research and other tasks with the space station crew.

Earlier, NASA and SpaceX postponed historic launch of two astronauts to space from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday due to bad weather.

This is the first-ever crewed mission for SpaceX, nearly a decade after the US government retired the space shuttle programme in 2011.

Although the Crew Dragon being used for this flight test can stay in orbit about 110 days, the specific mission duration will be determined once on station based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch, said NASA.

The operational Crew Dragon spacecraft will be capable of staying in orbit for at least 210 days as a NASA requirement.

Upon conclusion of the mission, Crew Dragon will autonomously undock with the two astronauts on board, depart the space station and re-enter the Earth's atmosphere.

Upon splashdown just off Florida's Atlantic Coast, the crew will be picked up at sea by SpaceX's Go Navigator recovery vessel and return to Cape Canaveral.

This Demo-2 mission is the final major step before NASA's Commercial Crew Programme certifies Crew Dragon for operational, long-duration missions to the space station, laying the groundwork for future exploration of the Moon and Mars starting with the agency's Artemis programme, which will land the first woman and the next man on the lunar surface in 2024.
 

(IANS) C-1-1239410

Sun, 31 May 2020 09:16:04 +0530
After the lockdown B wood gears up to shoot amid New Normal

New Delhi,  With the new normal setting in, Bollywood filmmaking will not be the same. New guidelines and restrictions -- from on-set temperature checks to budget alterations -- are bound to be in vogue if shooting and other production activities are to begin for films, TV and OTT shows once the lockdown is lifted.

Filmmaker Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari told IANS that there will be a change in the way the process of production is looked at.

"We are staying in unknown times of hope. Whenever shoot starts, there will be a change in the way we look at the process of production. A new normal where safety of all is the most important priority will be in place, according to the rule book of the Guild," Tiwari told IANS.

"For all new productions, there may be a schedule revamp, whereby indoor locations with minimum requirement of cast and crew, and production elements will be accomplished first," she added.

"Team management and processes will require special care and planning. This is not going to be easy. It is important to not take chances. Most importantly, everyone is required to be responsible for their team as well as," said Tiwari.

With the economy taking a dip, does she think budgets will have to be reworked?

"I assume budgets will be reworked and the allocation might increase in some areas. It's not easy for production executives and producers, where the supply and demand chain, and managing of operations, will change -- especially on a set which is used to seeing a chain of people on auto mode," Tiwari said.

She added: "To be honest anyone will squirm before they start shooting, especially in Mumbai where the pandemic cases have risen. All of us are human and will be worried about the safety of everyone. Whenever shooting begins, I feel there will be a force of universe to protect everyone. People need to get paid and the river needs to flow with all safety measures in place. It is not going to be easy," she said.

Actress Richa Chadha hopes that shooting will start with proper guidelines in place.

"I really don't know what the shooting scenario will be post the pandemic but I am hoping with proper guidelines shoots can begin. I believe the Producers Guild has already sent a long set of guidelines saying how they plan to restart shoots slowly especially for television," Richa told IANS.

She agrees that there is a fear of uncertainty.

"Of course, there is a fear of uncertainty but that fear exists in every sector. So, I think we are all in this together and definitely there is uncertainty and definitely there is stuff to worry about. But I think we have to be optimistic and just take a pause and wait for stuff to settle down so that more lives are not endangered," she added.

She urged to support the health infrastructure: "We need to support our health infrastructure by also taking due precautions, because there is already a shortage of beds and ventilators, and doctors have succumbed to the disease."

Actress Jacqueline Fernandez feels the changes will take place slowly.

"Post the lockdown, I'm sure there will be change but it will happen gradually. Things will take time to get back to normal for everyone and not just for the entertainment industry. Till then, we should continue to stay safe at home," Jacqueline told IANS.

Acclaimed actor Pankaj Tripathi told IANS that whatever rules are given by the higher authorities have to be followed by actors and workers alike.

"The guidelines given by the government, medical authorities and experts across the world -- those will be the change we will get to see. Any guidelines -- from WHO, the medical fraternity, doctors in India, the Maharashtra government, the film federation, CINTAA and our union -- will be similar for actors as well as workers. We actors are also workers," said Pankaj.

Actress Yami Gautam feels that budgets are going to be adjusted.

"Budgets are going to be reworked. Already, proposed films most of us were to be part of are looking at reworked budgets and mediums, with theatres being shut and with no idea when they will open," Yami

Safety is the key, she feels. "We will have to follow protocols, precautions and the fresh guidelines. We'll have to wait and watch. Safety is the most important thing. I don't think things will be resumed any time soon. Budgets, of course, are going to be curtailed and reworked, knowing that globally the economy is taking a hit. Content-wise, I can hope that this is the time people are using to write films about good subjects and fresh concepts. I hope content-wise we come out stronger," she said.

Actress Purbi Joshi feels that films with big sets will be drained.

"There's going to be a lot of changes in the near future where more precautions are going to be taken. The way we even film -- big sets with many people coming and going might all be drained now

 

(IANS) C-1-1239374

Sun, 31 May 2020 09:11:29 +0530
US equities post weekly gains as economy reopening in focus

New York, US equities posted solid gains during the holiday-shortened week, as investors weighed the possibility of normalizing economic activities.

For the week ending Friday, the Dow advanced 3.8 per cent, the S&P 500 gained 3 percent, and the Nasdaq was up 1.8 per cent. US markets were closed Monday in observance of Memorial Day, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

The S&P US Listed China 50 index, which is designed to track the performance of the 50 largest Chinese companies listed on US exchanges by total market cap, logged a weekly gain of 5.2 per cent.

For the month of May, the Dow notched a 4.3 per cent rise, the S&P 500 climbed 4.5 per cent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq marked a 6.8 per cent return.

"The bottom line is that the worst of the economic crisis may be over - which may help explain the ongoing stock market rally - but no one can know for sure at what pace the economy is likely to recover from here," analysts at Zacks Investment Management said in a note on Saturday.

All 50 US states have eased COVID-19 restrictions to varying degrees, despite fears of a re-acceleration in virus cases.

Signs of life are starting to appear again across the United States, however, the return of economic activity is happening at a much slower pace so far, and plenty of weakness remains - retail sales data for April showed steep declines, and Americans are still losing jobs, albeit at an increasingly slower pace, noted analysts at Zacks Investment Management.

Multiple data released lately showed the pandemic has severely crippled the US economy.

US personal consumption expenditures (PCE) nosedived 13.6 per cent in April month on month amid widespread shutdowns triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak, the US Commerce Department reported on Friday.

The plunge, following a revised 6.9 per cent drop in March, has been the sharpest drop in government records since six decades ago, according to the report released by the department's Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The PCE data came one day after the Commerce Department revised down gross domestic product in the first quarter to a 5.0 per cent annualized contraction in a second estimate, 0.2 percentage point lower than the advance estimate in April.

Meanwhile, US initial jobless claims registered 2.123 million in the week ending May 23, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. Over the past 10 weeks, more than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance.

Wall Street also paid close attention to the latest comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

At a virtual event held by Princeton University on Friday, Powell said he is concerned about a potential second wave of outbreak. "I think a second wave could be what would really undermine public confidence and might make for a significantly longer recovery, weaker recovery."

As of Saturday afternoon, more than 1.76 million confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported in the United States, with over 103,000 deaths, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
(IANS) C-1-1239414

Sun, 31 May 2020 09:06:13 +0530
Over 530 arrested after protests over death of George Floyd turn violent

Los Angeles,  Over 530 people were arrested after protests against police brutality turned violent in downtown Los Angeles, authorities said.

A total of 533 arrests were made related to the protests on Friday night and early Saturday. The charges include burglary, looting, probation violation, battery on police officer, attempt murder and failure to disperse. All but 18 of the arrestees have been released on their own recognizance, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

The department said it would continue to assess the full extent of property damage from last night's protest activities.

Several police vehicles were vandalized, and numerous downtown businesses were damaged and looted, the department noted.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles Friday night during a third day of demonstrations against police brutality.

Protesters marched in the streets, shouting slogans such as "I can't breathe" to express their anger over the killing of the unarmed Minnesota black man by police. A group of protesters briefly blocked a major north-south freeway in downtown Los Angeles.

Authorities had to make so many arrests because those on the street refused repeated orders to leave, including an unlawful assembly order for all of downtown issued Friday night, according to the Los Angeles Times, adding it marked one of the largest mass arrests by the Los Angeles Police Department in recent years.

Local TV channel footage showed protesters clashing with police and some store windows were smashed.

The Target store at Seventh and Figueroa streets, a Rite Aid store at Seventh and Hope streets, the Sixth Street Market, the Starbucks on Sixth Street between Broadway and Main Street, and jewelry stores near Sixth Street and Broadway were among the businesses looted before midnight, according to the local news outlet City News Service.

Police set up skirmish lines throughout the downtown area and, in at least one instance, fired non-lethal ammunition as they pushed a crowd out of the area, City News Service reported.

Six police officers were injured in confrontations with protesters. Los Angeles Police Department said that those injured officers sustained non-life-threatening injuries ranging from lacerations to impact wounds.

"I believe in our city. L.A. is strong enough to stand for justice and walk in love," tweeted Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Friday.

"We respect every Angeleno's right to protest, but violence and vandalism hurts all," he noted.

Los Angeles police Chief Michel Moore tweeted Saturday morning that "last night was a dark reminder of the perils of a society in turmoil."

"As of this morning, all restrictions in the downtown area have been lifted. While more protests are slated for various locations throughout the city today, we remain hopeful those demonstrations will be peaceful," tweeted the Los Angeles Police Department Saturday morning, adding that the department would be deploying additional resources to maintain order and ensure the safety and security of people.

Demonstrations and riots have spread to cities across the United States after a video went viral of George Floyd being suffocated to death by a white police officer in the mid-western US state of Minnesota on Monday.
 

(IANS) C-1-1239415

Sun, 31 May 2020 09:00:28 +0530
Over 530 arrested after protests over death of George Floyd turn violent

Los Angeles,  Over 530 people were arrested after protests against police brutality turned violent in downtown Los Angeles, authorities said.

A total of 533 arrests were made related to the protests on Friday night and early Saturday. The charges include burglary, looting, probation violation, battery on police officer, attempt murder and failure to disperse. All but 18 of the arrestees have been released on their own recognizance, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

The department said it would continue to assess the full extent of property damage from last night's protest activities.

Several police vehicles were vandalized, and numerous downtown businesses were damaged and looted, the department noted.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles Friday night during a third day of demonstrations against police brutality.

Protesters marched in the streets, shouting slogans such as "I can't breathe" to express their anger over the killing of the unarmed Minnesota black man by police. A group of protesters briefly blocked a major north-south freeway in downtown Los Angeles.

Authorities had to make so many arrests because those on the street refused repeated orders to leave, including an unlawful assembly order for all of downtown issued Friday night, according to the Los Angeles Times, adding it marked one of the largest mass arrests by the Los Angeles Police Department in recent years.

Local TV channel footage showed protesters clashing with police and some store windows were smashed.

The Target store at Seventh and Figueroa streets, a Rite Aid store at Seventh and Hope streets, the Sixth Street Market, the Starbucks on Sixth Street between Broadway and Main Street, and jewelry stores near Sixth Street and Broadway were among the businesses looted before midnight, according to the local news outlet City News Service.

Police set up skirmish lines throughout the downtown area and, in at least one instance, fired non-lethal ammunition as they pushed a crowd out of the area, City News Service reported.

Six police officers were injured in confrontations with protesters. Los Angeles Police Department said that those injured officers sustained non-life-threatening injuries ranging from lacerations to impact wounds.

"I believe in our city. L.A. is strong enough to stand for justice and walk in love," tweeted Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Friday.

"We respect every Angeleno's right to protest, but violence and vandalism hurts all," he noted.

Los Angeles police Chief Michel Moore tweeted Saturday morning that "last night was a dark reminder of the perils of a society in turmoil."

"As of this morning, all restrictions in the downtown area have been lifted. While more protests are slated for various locations throughout the city today, we remain hopeful those demonstrations will be peaceful," tweeted the Los Angeles Police Department Saturday morning, adding that the department would be deploying additional resources to maintain order and ensure the safety and security of people.

Demonstrations and riots have spread to cities across the United States after a video went viral of George Floyd being suffocated to death by a white police officer in the mid-western US state of Minnesota on Monday.
 

(IANS) C-1-1239415

Sun, 31 May 2020 09:00:28 +0530
Police arrest 3 terrorist associates in Kashmir

Srinagar, The Jammu and Kashmir Police along with security forces have arrested three terrorist associates of proscribed terror outfit LeT from Sopore in North Kashmir and recovered arms and ammunition from their possession.

According to a police statement Sopore Police along with 22 Rashtriya Rifles unit of the army and CRPF 179 Battaliom have arrested three terrorist associates in a joint operation at Shangergund area of Sopore.

They have been identified as Mushtaq Ahmad Mir, Mudasir Ahmad Mir and Athar Shamas Mir, all residents of Sopore.

Police said incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from their possession.

An FIR has been filed and further investigation has been initiated by the police.
 

(IANS) C-1-1239405

Sun, 31 May 2020 08:54:23 +0530
Google responds to European Commission s call for responsible AI

San Francisco, Google has responded to European Commissions white paper on artificial intelligence (AI) on how to regulate and accelerate the adoption of responsible and ethical AI.

In February this year, the European Commission launched a consultation on Artificial Intelligence and asked citizens and stakeholders to provide their feedback by June 14.

Google said on Friday that it supports the Commission's plans to help businesses develop the AI skills they need to thrive in the new digital economy.

"Next month, we'll contribute to those efforts by extending our machine learning check-up tool to 11 European countries to help small businesses implement AI and grow their businesses," the tech giant said in a statement.

Google Cloud already works closely with scores of businesses across Europe to help them innovate using AI.

Google has partnered with several European universities via its machine learning research hubs in Zurich, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and London, and many of their students go on to make important contributions to European businesses.

"We also support the Commission's goal of building a framework for AI innovation that will create trust and guide ethical development and use of this widely applicable technology. We appreciate the Commission's proportionate, risk-based approach," said Kent Walker SVP, Global Affairs at Google.

The ‘White Paper on Artificial Intelligence - A European Approach' aims to foster a European ecosystem of excellence and trust in AI.

Google said that AI has a broad range of current and future applications, including some that involve significant benefits and risks.

"We think any future regulation would benefit from a more carefully nuanced definition of ‘high-risk' applications of AI. We agree that some uses warrant extra scrutiny and safeguards to address genuine and complex challenges around safety, fairness, explainability, accountability, and human interactions," the company explained.

While AI won't always be perfect, it has great potential to help us improve over the performance of existing systems and processes.

"But the development process for AI must give people confidence that the AI system they're using is reliable and safe," said Google.

That's true for applications like new medical diagnostic techniques, which potentially allow skilled medical practitioners to offer more accurate diagnoses, earlier interventions, and better patient outcomes.

The Commission's proposal suggests "ex ante" assessment of AI applications (upfront assessment, based on forecasted rather than actual use cases).

"Our contribution recommends having established due diligence and regulatory review processes expand to include the assessment of AI applications," said Google.

Responsible development of AI presents new challenges and critical questions for all of us.

In 2018, Google published its own AI Principles to help guide ethical development and use of AI, and also established internal review processes to help avoid bias, test rigorously for safety, design with privacy top of mind.

"AI is an important part of Google's business and our aspirations for the future. We share a common goal with policymakers—a desire to build trust in AI through responsible innovation and thoughtful regulation," Google noted.
 

(IANS) 

Sat, 30 May 2020 10:37:42 +0530
India It s Time to Move Away From Meat

New Delhi, As the world continues to experience the deadly effects of COVID-19, PETA India has urged everyone to help stop another pandemic saying "India: It's Time to Move Away From Meat".

In a statement, the animal rights organisation said it is overwhelmingly believed that coronavirus has jumped the species barrier from infected animals to humans at a live-animal market in China.

"The PETA India is urging everyone to help stop another pandemic by running ads in newspapers that proclaim 'India: It's Time to Move Away From Meat'," it said on Friday.

The advertisement points out that India's live-animal markets, factory farms, and slaughterhouses are as filthy as China's "wet markets", their floors covered with blood, urine, faeces, and offal and that no one needs to eat meat.

"Consuming It not only causes animal suffering but also comes back to bite consumers in the form of heart disease, cancer, strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. The ads, which feature a sickly chicken lying face down on an Indian Poultry farm, urge, "Eat as if Everyone's Life Depends on It, Because It Does."

Veterinarian and PETA India CEO Manilal Valliyate said many people feel powerless in the face of this health crisis, but everyone has control over what, or who, is on their plates.

"PETA India stands ready with free vegan starter kits, tips, and recipes to help people stay healthy and try to prevent the next pandemic," Valliyate said.

At the Chinese market where the novel coronavirus is believed to have first infected humans through bats or possibly pangolins, live and dead animals were sold for human consumption, PETA India said.

"SARS first infected humans at a similar Chinese live-animal market. Swine flu, which killed up to 5,75,000 people worldwide in the first year it circulated alone, is considered to have originated in US factory farms. Meanwhile, bird flu, which has a 60 per cent mortality rate, routinely plagues chicken farms.

"The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that approximately 75 per cent of recently emerged infectious diseases affecting humans originated in other animals."

The ads features a chicken because chickens used for meat in India and around the world are now purposely bred to grow so large so fast that they often have trouble standing and walking and even have heart failure when they're just a few weeks old.

"On today's factory farms, they're confined to crowded, filthy sheds amidst their own waste. The ammonia from their combined waste often causes sores, burns, and ulcers on their bodies, and when combined with the dust from their feathers and skin, the birds regularly experience respiratory and eye problems."
 

(IANS) C-1-1239018

Sat, 30 May 2020 09:17:35 +0530
US stocks end mixed amid data

New York, US stocks closed mixed as Wall Street pored through a slew of economic data.

On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 17.53 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 25,383.11. The S&P 500 increased 14.58 points, or 0.48 per cent, to 3,044.31. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 120.88 points, or 1.29 per cent, to 9,489.87, Xinhua news agency reported.

Seven of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors finished higher, with health care and technology up 1.27 per cent and 1.18 per cent, respectively, outpacing the rest. Financials sank 1.21 per cent, the worst-performing group.

The moves came after data showed US consumer spending suffered another record decline in April amid the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

US consumer spending plunged 13.6 per cent in April after a 6.9 per cent drop in March, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis said on Friday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast consumer spending would plummet 12.6 per cent in April.

Multiple data released lately showed the pandemic has severely crippled the U.S. economy.

US initial jobless claims registered 2.123 million in the week ending May 23, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. Over the past 10 weeks, more than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance.

US economic activity in the first quarter contracted at an annual rate of 5.0 per cent in a second estimate, 0.2 percentage point lower than the advance estimate, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

As of Friday afternoon, more than 1.73 million confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported in the United States, with over 102,000 deaths, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
(IANS) C-1-1239107

Sat, 30 May 2020 09:10:45 +0530
TikTok app needs to be regulated Orissa HC

Cuttack, The Orissa High Court has said that the popular TikTok mobile app needs to be properly regulated as it often demonstrates a degrading culture and encourages pornography.

"Tik Tok mobile app which often demonstrates a degrading culture and encourages pornography besides paedophiles and explicit disturbing content is required to be properly regulated so as to save the teens from its negative impact," observed Justice S.K. Panigrahi.

The observation of the High Court came on Thursday while disposing of a bail petition involving a suicide case in Sambalpur district.

The court said the appropriate government has the social responsibility to put some fair regulatory burden on those companies which are proliferating such applications.

The allegation against the accused was that she along with the co-accused have inflicted direct and indirect mental torture on the deceased who was her husband.

The victim's husband hailing from Dhanupali area in Sambalpur district ended his life on July 13 last year by hanging himself from the ceiling fan of his bedroom.

The accused had married the deceased on February 21 last year. However, prior to her marriage, she was alleged to have been in a relationship with the co-accused.

The co-accused had sent some of the intimate and private TikTok videos with the woman to the deceased which were also alleged to have been streamed on social media.
 

(IANS) C-1-1239051

Sat, 30 May 2020 09:05:05 +0530
India s forex reserves rise by over 3 bn

Mumbai, India's foreign exchange reserves rose by over $3 billion during the week ended May 22.

According to the RBI's weekly statistical supplement, the overall forex reserves increased to $490.044 billion from $487.039 billion reported for the week ended May 15.

India's forex reserves comprise foreign currency assets (FCAs), gold reserves, special drawing rights (SDRs) and India's reserve position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

On a weekly basis, FCAs, the largest component of the forex reserves, edged higher by $3.035 billion to $451.706 billion.

However, the value of the country's gold reserves decreased by $127 million to $32.779 billion.

Besides, the SDR value inched up by $8 million to $1.432 billion.

The country's reserve position with the IMF increased by $89 million to $4.12 billion.
 

(IANS) C-1-1239098

Sat, 30 May 2020 08:59:52 +0530
Pakistan resumes int l flight operations

Islamabad,  Pakistan has resumed its international flight operations after the government eased some of the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to a notification issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

"As per decision of the Federal Government, the outbound international flights (scheduled, non scheduled and charter flights) operation has been allowed with effect from 11.59 p.m., tonight," The Express Tribunes quoted spokesperson Aviation Division Abdul Sattar Khokhar as saying on Friday.

In a statement, the spokesperson added that both national and foreign airlines will be allowed to operate from all international airports of Pakistan except Gwadar and Turbat.

"SOPs for outbound international flights have already been issued according to which airlines will be required to follow the SOPs of the destination country."

Keeping in view the current situation, the statement said that congestion at airports will not be allowed and planes will be disinfected.

The country had resumed partial domestic flight operations on May 16.

In March, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suspended all international flights in the wake of the novel coronavirus.

A month later, the government extended the suspension of international and domestic flight operations till April 30 in line with the national strategy to stem the spread of novel coronavirus.

However, during that period, PIA resumed its relief flights to repatriate stranded Pakistani nationals.
 

(IANS) C-1-1239116 

Sat, 30 May 2020 08:56:26 +0530
No crisis can determine India s future

A year ago, a golden chapter was added to the history of Indian democracy. After decades, the people of the country gave a second opportunity to a government elected with a full majority. You have played a major role in writing this chapter. Today presents an opportunity for me to bow to you and honour you for your commitment to India and Indian democracy.

Had the situation been normal, I would have been blessed to be in your midst. However, the circumstances brought about by the global coronavirus pandemic have led me to write this letter and seek your blessings. In the past one year, your affection, blessings and active participation have given me fresh energy and inspiration. During this period, you have shown to the world democracy's collective strength, which has become an example before the entire world.

In the year 2014, the people voted for a big change; you voted to change the policy and system (niti & reeti). In those five years, the country saw extricating itself from the quagmire of inertia and corruption. In those five years, the country inspired by Antyodaya has seen the change in governance in easing the lives of the poor.

In that tenure, on the one hand, the country's prestige before the world grew, and on the other, we raised the dignity of the poor by opening their bank accounts, making available free cooking gas and electricity connection for them; and by building homes and toilets for them. In that tenure, whereas there were surgical and air strikes, there were also works for one-rank-one-pension, one-nation-one-tax GST and fulfillment of decades' old demands involving procurement of crops under MSP for farmers. That tenure was dedicated to meeting several needs of the country.

In 2019, your blessings meant dreaming big for the country, for high hopes and for meeting the aspirations. The decisions taken in the last one year are the reflections of those big dreams. The people's power fuelled by the common man is effulgently shining as the nation's strength. In the past one year, the country had many dreams, many resolves as it also continuously took several steps towards realizing those goals.

In this historic journey, each community, each section and each individual has played one's part responsibly. 'Sabka sath, sabka vikas' with this mantra, the country is forging ahead in all directions -- social, economic, global or internal.

in the last one year, some important decisions have been in discussion, and that is why it is natural to for these achievements to linger on in our memory. Whether it was the topic of Article 370 for national unity and integrity, or the happy outcome of age-old conflict over the Ram temple construction, or the factor disrupting the modern social system, the 'triple talaq' or the symbol of India's compassion, the citizenship law – all these achievements you remember.

Amid these decisions which came in quick succession, there are many other decisions and changes that have given new momentum to India's development journey, have given us new objectives as we have strived to fulfill many expectations of the people. The constitution of the post of Chief of Defence Staff has led to increased coordination among armed forces. At the same time, India has accelerated its preparations for Mission Gaganyaan.

In this period, our priority has been to empower the poor, farmers, women and the youth.

Today, each farmer has been covered under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi. In the last one year, under this scheme, over Rs 72,000 crore have been deposited in the bank accounts of more 9.5 crore farmers.

To make available piped drinking water for the country's over 15 crore rural population, the 'Jal Jeevan Mission' has been initiated.

To ensure better health care for our more than 50 crore cattle, a massive campaign for livestock vaccination is under way.

For the first time in the nation's history, the government has decided to offer the facility of Rs 3,000 monthly pension for farmers, farm labourers, small shopkeepers and workers belonging to the unorganized sector after the age of 60 years.

A separate department has been formed to strengthen 'blue economy' and increase the facilities for fishermen. Similarly, it has been decided to constitute National Traders Board to timely resolve issues concerning business enterprises. About 7 crore sisters associated with self-help groups have been given more financial assistance. Recently, the loan amount available without guarantee for self-help groups has been doubled to Rs 20 lakh from Rs 10 lakh.

Keeping the education of tribals' children in mind, a campaign is under way to build more than 450 Eklavya Model Residential Schools.

The government has also worked expeditiously towards making better laws linked with common man's welfare. Our Parliament has broken decades' old record in conducting legislative business. That's why several laws – the Consumer Protection Act, amendment to Chit fund law, and laws concerning more security for women and children – have been quickly enacted.

The government policies have led to bridging the gulf between the urban and rural lives. For the first time, the internet users in rural areas have outnumbered the urban counterparts by 10 per cent.

The list of historic works and decisions is very long. It is not possible to elaborate on all of them in this letter. But I would surely say that in the last one year, each day round the clock, the government has worked with full awareness, sensitivity, and has taken decisions.

just when we were moving quickly towards realizing our country's aspirations, the corona pandemic surrounded India too.

On the one hand, there are countries with massive economies and most modern health services, and on the other, there is India with its huge population and so many challenges. Many people had expressed their apprehensions that when corona would attack India, the country itself would become a trouble for the world. Today, all countrymen have changed the way they look at India. You have proved that your collective capability and capacity are unprecedented in comparison with other more resourceful and prosperous countries.

You have shown that India alone holds the guarantee for a greater and better India – whether it was collective clapping or thali-beating or lighting the lamps, whether it was honouring of corona warriors by the armed forces, or following the Janata curfew or following the lockdown rules with sincerity.

In this crisis, no one can claim that nobody has been put to trouble or inconvenience. Our workers, migrant brother and sister labourers, those working in small industries, cart pushers and vendors, our shopkeeper brothers and sisters and those having small businesses have suffered immensely. We all are working together in an attempt to sort out their problems.

But we have to be careful that these inconveniences should not transform into a crisis of life. For that, each Indian has to follow all directives. We have to move forward with the same patience and courage that we shown so far. This is the reason why the situation in India has so far been manageable in comparison with other countries.

This battle will stretch on, but we are on way to victory and, to be victorious is our common resolve.

We can draw inspiration from those people who recently faced the Cyclone Amphan boldly. They worked hard to reduce the damage caused by the cyclone.

under the given circumstances, there have been discussions as to how economies of India along with other nations will emerge out of the crisis. At the same time, there is this belief that the way India has surprised the world in facing coronavirus with its unity, the country can present the same example in the economic field -- 130 crore Indians can not only surprise the world but can also inspire it.

Today, the time demands that we must stand on our feet, and we will have to move on our own strength. And for this, there is only one path: a self-reliant India (atmanirbhar Bharat). The recent economic package of Rs 20 lakh crore is a big step towards 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' campaign. This campaign will usher in a new trend of opportunities for every countryman – our farmers, workers and labourers, medium enterprises and the youth associated with startups. India will reduce its dependence on imports with the sweat of its citizens, with their hard work and skills, thus becoming self-dependent.

you have continued to bless me with your affection in the past six years. The country has moved ahead with unprecedented pace with historic decisions and development. But I know there is so much left to be done. The country has many challenges and problems before it. I am making all efforts day and night. I may have some deficiency, but the country does not have any. That is why I place more confidence in you, in your strength and in your capacity. You, your support and your blessings are the energy behind my resolve.

The global pandemic has brought about a crisis situation, but at the same time, for us Indians, this is also the time for determination. We have to remember that no calamity, no crisis can determine the present or future of 130 crore Indians. We will decide our present and, the future too.

We will move ahead, we will race ahead to progress and we will be victorious. It is said in our country: "Kritam me dakshine haste, jayo me savya ahita-h" – meaning, in one hand we carry our deeds and duties and in the other, sure success.

I bow before you yet again with a wish for our country's success forever. Best wishes for you and your family. Be healthy, be safe. Be aware and be conscious.

Your Pradhan Sevak
 IANS C-1-1239109

Sat, 30 May 2020 08:52:51 +0530
We are terminating relationship with WHO Trump

Washington,  While addressing the briefing in the White House Rose Garden, US President Donald Trump said the US will be terminating the relationship with the World Health Organisation (WHO) right away.

In his today's briefing, he also attacked China on several issues like origin of the coronavirus, recent development in Hong Kong, border disputes in the South China Sea and human rights abuses. He also announced measures aimed at punishing China, the BBC reported.

We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organisation and directing those funds" to other global public health charities, Trump said.

"The world is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government," he says, adding that China "instigated a global pandemic that has cost over 100,000 American lives".

China, he said, "pressured the World Health Organisation to mislead the world" about the virus.

"Countless lives have been taken and profound economic hardship has been inflicted all around the globe," he adds.

Trump's criticism of the WHO started last month when he threatened to permanently withdraw US funding if the body did not "commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days".

"It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world," Trump wrote in a letter to the WHO director-general on May 18.

"The only way forward for the World Health Organisation is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China."

In today's White House speech, Trump said "China has total control over the World Health Organization", despite paying the organisation a fraction of what the US does.

China has accused the US of being responsible for the spread of the virus on its own soil, attributing the outbreak to American "politicians who lie".
(IANS)

Sat, 30 May 2020 08:48:28 +0530
India records highest single day spike surpasses China toll

New Delhi,  India on Friday not only recorded its largest jump in new cases as it added 7,466 new Covid patients in 24 hours, emerging as the ninth worst-hit country in the world by pandemic, but it also surpassed China's toll of 4,638 so far as it recorded 4,706 deaths.

While China was the first country to report disease last December and recorded over 84,000 total cases so far, India that reported its first case in January end, now has 1,65,799 cases that is more than Turkey's (1,60,979).

The only good news for India is that it has shown a 42.88 per cent recovery with 71,105 of the patients who contacted the disease being cured and sent back home. In the past one day, 175 deaths were also reported.

Delhi and Tamil Nadu showed jump of around 1,000 cases as Maharashtra continued to contribute a lion's share, it was still the worst hit state that reported 59,546 cases so far. Tamil Nadu now has 19,372 and Delhi 16,281 cases.

Gujarat reported 15,562 cases, Rajasthan 8,067, Madhya Pradesh 7,453 and Uttar Pradesh 7,170.

Kerala which had almost flatten the curve, is witnessing a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, there are now 1,088.

Number of cases have spiked in the North East, with Assam having 856 cases.

Other States and UTs have also reported steady increase and West Bengal now has 4,536 cases, Telangana (2,256), Punjab (2,158), Jammu and Kashmir (2,036), Bihar (3,296) and Andhra Pradesh(3,251).

India is currently in the fourth phase of lockdown which is till May 31. Cases spiked at record rate during the lockdown 4.0 that allowed much relaxation.
(IANS)

Fri, 29 May 2020 10:57:46 +0530
No domestic cricket to be played before August 1 ECB

London, The suspension of England's domestic cricket season has been extended to at least August 1, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Thursday. The previous suspension was scheduled to end on July 1.

"The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) can today confirm a further delay to the start of the professional domestic cricket season, with no domestic cricket to be played before 1 August.

"The specifics of the season remain subject to ongoing advice from UK Government and health experts, but the ambition remains to host domestic men's and women's cricket across England and Wales later this summer," said the ECB in its statement.

"The Professional Game Group (PGG) will look to outline a number of opportunities for domestic play, which will be presented to the ECB Board in June."

"Naturally we want to see cricket being played at every level," said ECB Chief Executive Officer, Tom Harrison. "We remain hopeful of seeing both domestic and recreational cricket this season and planning with the PGG has allowed us to map a number of potential scenarios for domestic play.

"While traditional formats of our competitions are the preference, we are not against exploring the unorthodox to ensure that we can return our players to the field. That can only happen though when it is safe, and we have said throughout this crisis that the safety and well-being of everyone involved in the game is our key priority."

The statement did not talk about the scheduled international series against Ireland and West Indies which are scheduled to take place in July.
(IANS) 

Fri, 29 May 2020 03:20:30 +0530
Facebook to verify users whose posts go viral rapidly

San Francisco,  Facebook said on Thursday that it will now verify the identity of people who have a pattern of inauthentic behaviour on its platform and whose posts start to go viral rapidly.

In 2018, Facebook had first started to verify the identity of people managing Pages with large audiences.

"Now we're extending ID verification to some profiles with large audiences in the US," the social networking giant said in a statement.

If someone chooses not to verify their identity or the ID provided does not match the linked Facebook account, the distribution of their viral posts will remain reduced so that fewer people see them.

"In addition, if the person posting is a Page admin, they'll need to complete Page Publishing Authorisation and will not be able to post from their Page until their account is verified through our existing Page Publisher Authorisation process," said Facebook.

The company said that IDs will be stored securely and won't be shared on the person's profile.

"We want people to feel confident that they understand who's behind the content they're seeing on Facebook," the company added.
(IANS)

Fri, 29 May 2020 03:17:25 +0530
S Korea reports 58 more COVID 19 cases 11 402 in total

Seoul,  South Korea reported 58 more cases of the COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of 12 midnight on Friday (local time), raising the total number of infections to 11,402.

The daily caseload rose sharply for the past three days, recording 79 on Thursday and 40 on Wednesday each.



A new cluster infection was found at a logistics centre of local e-commerce operator Coupang in Bucheon, just west of the capital Seoul, Xinhua reported.



At least 90 patients have been traceable to the distribution centre in just five days since the first relevant case was confirmed on May 23.



Of the new cases, three were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 1,235.



No more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 269. The total fatality rate stood at 2.36 per cent.



A total of 23 more patients were discharged from quarantine after making full recovery, pulling up the combined number to 10,363. The total recovery rate was 90.9 per cent.



Since January 3, the country has tested more than 885,000 people, among whom 849,161 tested negative for the virus and 24,557 are being checked.
(IANS)

Fri, 29 May 2020 03:15:02 +0530
Adah Sharma on pandemic Hope we come out of this as kinder people

New Delhi, Actress Adah Sharma has no idea about how or when shooting will resume amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and is hoping that once they go on sets everyone acts responsibly and take necessary precautions to ensure the safety of all.

At present, a lot of plans are being explored to find a way to restart shoots soon, as the entertainment industry continues to reel under the ongoing lockdown.

Asked how she feels things things will change, Adah told IANS: "Honestly I have no idea. I just hope we all come out of this as more grateful , kinder people who are conscious about the environment."

"I think once we begin shooting, all of us will be responsible and take the necessary precautions ensuring safety of oneself and the people around us," the actress said while talking about if she is wary about going on sets as of now," she added.

Talking about her lockdown period, the "Commando" star said: "From slicing watermelons to doing cartwheels, reading scripts and learning to mimic all the bird whistles -- this lockdown has been quite productive."

The actress started her Bollywood journey with horror film "1920", and went on to do "Hasee Toh Phasee", "Bypass Road", "Commando 2" and "Commando 3".

Adah is confident that the "Commando" series, which also stars Vidyut Jammwal, will continue further.

"Till there is evil , the commando franchise will go on. We will fight crime and go on different missions and take down the bad guys," she said.

"Commando 3" will air on Zee Cinema on May 31.
(IANS) 

Fri, 29 May 2020 03:12:34 +0530
US dollar slips amid rallying euro

New York,  The US dollar weakened in late trading on Thursday amid strong momentum in the euro.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, was down 0.69 per cent at 98.3887.

The euro rallied after the European Commission on Wednesday proposed a recovery fund to help the world's largest trading bloc recover from a coronavirus-prompted recession.

In late New York trading, the euro increased to $1.1089 from $1.0989 in the previous session, and the British pound increased to $1.2340 from $1.2253 in the previous session. The Australian dollar was up to $0.6658 from $0.6605, Xinhua reported.

The US dollar bought 107.64 Japanese yen, lower than 107.70 Japanese yen of the previous session. The US dollar decreased to 0.9634 Swiss franc from 0.9688 Swiss franc, and it decreased to 1.3760 Canadian dollars from 1.3779 Canadian dollars.
(IANS)

Fri, 29 May 2020 03:10:23 +0530
Global COVID 19 cases top 5 8 mn Johns Hopkins

Washington,  The overall number of global coronavirus cases has topped 5.8 million, while the deaths have increased to more than 360,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Friday morning, the total number of cases stood at 5,808,672, while the death toll increased to 360,289, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

Currently, the US has 1,721,479 confirmed cases and 101,573 deaths, both tallies account for the highest in the world, according to the CSSE.

Meanwhile in terms of cases, Brazil comes in the second place with 438,238 infections.

This was followed by Russia (379,051), the UK (270,508), Spain (237,906), Italy (231,906), France (186,384), Germany (182,196), India (165,386), Turkey (160,979), Iran (143,849), and Peru (141,779), the CSSE figures showed.

Regarding fatalities, the UK continues in the second position after the US with 37,919 COVID-19 deaths, the highest fatalities in Europe.

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are Italy (33,142), France (28,665), Spain (27,119), and Brazil (26,754).
(IANS)

Fri, 29 May 2020 03:08:25 +0530
18 more areas in Gurugram added to containment zones

Gurugram, As the corona positive cases rose in Gurugram, the administration has added 18 more areas to the containment zones, taking the total number to 63.

The decision was taken on Thursday in a review meeting headed by Gurugram DM Amit Khatri.

The areas included in the containment zones are Gali Number 1 and 7 in Sarhaul village, Om Nagar, Police station road Dundehera, Shakti Nagar gali number 2, Shivaji park gali number 1,2,3 and 4, Anand Garden gali number 2, Ashok garden gali number 3, Rattan Garden gali number 5, Swaroop Garden gali number 6, Krishna Nagar gali number 2, Jyoti Park, Khandsa village near Shyam public school, Khandsa road near HSM school, Palam Vihar extension near RBS school, Rajiv colony gali number 2, Dadawas in Pataudi village and Shikohpur village.

"As per the guidelines of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, we have declared same number of buffer zones along every containment zone. The review of these containment zones will take place only after no case is reported in next 28 days," said Khatri.

Ashok Vihar, Dev Jewelery Shop, Nandi Dhm and Chotu Raam Chowk were declared containment free zones as no new case has been reported from there in the last 28 days.
(IANS) 

Fri, 29 May 2020 03:04:54 +0530
Legendary socialist press baron M P Veerendra Kumar passes away

Thiruvananthapuram, One of Kerala's tallest socialist leaders M.P. Veerendra Kumar passed away at a private hospital here on Thursday, said family sources. He was 83.

Veerendra Kumar, a sitting Rajya Sabha member, succumbed to a cardiac arrest.

His last political appearance was when he took part in the meeting, via video conference, called by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to discuss COVID 19 issues with all lawmakers from Kerala two days back.

Member of the Loktantrik Janata Dal and President of its Kerala state unit, Veerendra Kumar was also the Managing Director of the second-largest circulated Malayalam daily 'Mathrubhumi'.

A voracious reader and also an award-winning writer, he was a highly respected politician not just in Kerala but also in Delhi.

He was in the Kerala Assembly from 1987-1991 and was sworn in as Forest Minister in the cabinet of Left Democratic Front leader E.K. Nayanar but resigned after five days due to differences in his party.

He later contested the Lok Sabha polls and won the Kozhikode Lok Sabha seat in 1996 and became Union Minister of State for Finance and later of Parliamentary Affairs from 1997 to 1998.

Winning the Lok Sabha polls again in 2004, Veerendra Kumar and his then party Janata Dal-United remained part of the LDF till 2009 but shifted to the Congress-led UDF camp after he was denied a chance to recontest the Kozhikode LS seat in the general elections that year.

A nominee of his party was given a Cabinet post when the Oommen Chandy-led UDF government assumed office in 2011.

Veerendra Kumar lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls by over one lakh votes and since then he was unhappy with the UDF. However, the UDF kept him happy by offering him a Rajya Sabha seat in 2016 and when he had decided to quit it late next year, he put in his resignation from the Upper House.

Later, he rejoined the CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front, who allowed him to contest the Rajya Sabha polls and he became a member again in 2018.

Former Defence Minister A.K. Antony said he has lost a close friend and a "teacher".

"When I was the President of the Kerala Students Union in 1964, I met him first and thus began a long journey with him, even though we belonged to different parties. It was just two days back I spoke to him and he looked cheerful. Now the reality is he is no more, I have lost a close friend," said Antony.

Chandy said that Veerendra Kumar was a multifaceted personality and excelled in whatever roles he played.

"He had several caps and in every field, he was a shining star and was a hugely successful person.. We, in our political journey, at times were together and at times, we were in the opposite camps, but I had the highest regards for him always," he added.

Veerendra Kumar's son M.P.Shreyams Kumar, a former two-time legislator, is the joint Managing Director of the Mathrubhumi Group.

Kumar hailed from the hilly district of Wayanad and was a Jain by religion.
 

(IANS)

Fri, 29 May 2020 02:25:57 +0530
194 deaths in single day India reports 1 58L cases

New Delhi, With 6,566 new cases and 194 new deaths India's total tally of COVID-19 reached 1,58,333 on Thursday, the Health Ministry data revealed. This is the second-highest number of deaths reported in 24 hours, it was on May 5 when India had reported 195 deaths in a day.

Of the total cases, at least 86,110 are active cases and 4,531 people lost their lives while a total of 67,691 people have recovered taking the recovery rate to 42.75 per cent. The deaths rate hovers at 2.86 per cent which was 2.85 per cent on Wednesday. India continues to maintain the plateau of over 6,000 cases per day.

Maharashtra's position remained the same with the highest number of total cases -- 56,948 -- which is 35.96 per cent of the total number of cases in the country, followed by Tamil Nadu with 18,545 cases and Delhi with 15,257 cases. The national capital surpassed Gujarat's total cases which were the third worst-hit state till now. The state of Gujarat reported 15,195 cases.

The infection is witnessing a surge in Bihar (3,061) and Uttar Pradesh (6,991) mostly due to the migrant exodus from urban areas to rural one in these states.

According to ICMR, a total of 33,62,136 samples have been tested so far and 1,19,976 samples in a day.

On the world front there over 5.7 million cases of novel coronavirus and more than 3 lakh deaths have been reported. India is a few cases behind Turkey (1,59,797) which is the 9th worst-hit country Globally from the pandemic. India has already surpassed Iran and China in terms of total cases and is the tenth worst-hit country due to the pandemic worldwide.

 

(IANS) C-1-1238343

Thu, 28 May 2020 05:38:27 +0530
Little Kashmir in Telangana Tribal farmer harvests maiden apple crop

Hyderabad, Four years of hard work of a young tribal farmer in Telangana have literally borne fruit.

Balaji Kendre has proved that with innovative thinking, determination and hard work any goal can be achieved.

Growing apples in the arid lands of Telangana is no mean achievement.

The 37-year-old knew that the hilly rugged terrain of Komaram Bheem Asifabad district is no Kashmir Valley but he was determined to prove that anything can be grown in the soil of Telangana.

After four years of untiring efforts, Balaji has succeeded in replicating famed apple orchards of Kashmir on a three acre field in the remote village of Dhanora in Kerameri area of K.M. Asifabad district, earlier a part of Adilabad district bordering Maharashtra.

Balaji, whose parents had migrated to Telangana from the neighbouring state, is not a traditional farmer. A Class 12 dropout, he always wants to try new things.

"Four years ago, a thought came to my mind. Why not grow apples here. People laughed at me but I started working on it and found that a variety of apples is grown in a region in Himachal Pradesh where the maximum temperature touches 40 degrees," said Balaji, who also received the best farmer award from the Telangana government in 2017.

He started with few plants and encouraged by the results got in touch with farmers in Himachal Pradesh. He was convinced that he could grow apples in Keriameri, located at an altitude of 220 m above sea level. He found that with its hilly terrain, cooler climes and streams, the region is suitable to cultivate apples.

The farmer placed an order of 50 saplings and after transporting it to Dhanora, he began seriously pursuing his dreams with organic farming. As the saplings grew and bore the flowers and then fruits, he informed the officials in the Agriculture Department.

The experts told him to wait for a couple of years and advised him to grow some other trees in the vicinity for the right climate and protection of the apple crop.

He also received the help and guidance from agriculture scientists of Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular Molecular Biology (CCMB).

Meanwhile, the number of trees grew to 400 and this year he had his first crop of HR-99 variety apples.

He is keen to present fruits from the first crop to Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao who is impressed with his achievement and has invited him for a meeting.

Minister for Forests and Environment Indrakaran Reddy on Tuesday visited Balaji's field and interacted with him about the crop. The minister praised the farmers for his innovative approach.

Balaji's success has raised hopes among many farmers in Dhanora and surrounding villages. Some have even started cultivation and are taking the help from Balaji.
 

(IANS) C-1-1238231

Thu, 28 May 2020 03:51:38 +0530
Rani Hum Tum will always be memorable for Chintu uncle

Mumbai, Kunal Kohli's 2004 romantic comedy film "Hum Tum" was released in Hindi cinema 16 years ago on this day, and actress Rani Mukerji remembered her shooting experience with veteran actor Rishi Kapoor, who recently passed away.

" 'Hum Tum' will always be memorable for me because it was the film that Chintu uncle was part of, and I fondly remember our shoot in Amsterdam. Recently, when I met him before his untimely demise, we were chatting about the 'Hum Tum' shoot and we were recalling the days of how much fun we had during the Amsterdam schedule," Rani said.

She recalled that Rishi Kapoor took a leap of faith and played actor Saif Ali Khan's father in the movie.

"I remember very clearly that, for Chintu uncle, it was one of the first films in which he had started playing key character roles. He took a leap of faith and he agreed to play Saif's dad because till then he was always the leading star. Somehow he did this and he was just brilliant as usual and made our film truly special!" she said.

Rani shared that she was a huge fan of Rishi Kapoor.

She narrates her memories of acting with him in "Hum Tum", saying: "Chintu uncle belonged to the era when actors never did sync sound and 'Hum Tum' was a sync-sound film. We were shooting in a house in Amsterdam that had wooden flooring and Dilip Subramaniam was the sound recordist."

She added: "He kept telling Chintu uncle that each time he would take a step in the house, the floor would creak and create sound. Chintu uncle invariably moved and Dilip would say cut, we will need one more!"

But Rishi Kapoor was not used to more takes, recalled Rani.

"Chintu uncle was just not used to one more take and we used to all crack up because he used to fire him. He used to say what the hell is this, why is the take not getting okayed and why is the floor creaking. He was hilarious. It was quite a first for him because he had to actually understand what this sync sound is all about, because they used to dub for their films back in the day, and these things never mattered," she said

Rani says Rishi Kapoor's demise is a double loss.

"It was a first and we used to have lots of chats and laughs about this. I have always been a huge fan of Chintu uncle, and his demise has been a double loss for me, as somebody whom I knew very well and also as a fan," she said.

Rani feels the film was definitely ahead of the curve by showing progressive portrayal of women in cinema.

"'Hum Tum' was a very, very special subject, a very modern subject. It was definitely ahead of its time. The way my character Rhea reacts at the end and walks away from Saif's character's (Karan) life when he just randomly suggests to get married because they had physical intimacy, it was bold."

"I think that was way ahead of its time for a woman to do this in a Hindi film. For a girl to actually walk away from a man and break stereotypes and notions of how a woman should react, it was new but it was also much needed to show in cinema."

She feels that the film spoke about a new emerging woman.

"Before 'Hum Tum', we hadn't seen many roles where women were strong and self-reliant like that. They would hardly take a stand like that. So, it kind of spoke about the new emerging woman," she said.

Rani says her character Rhea stood for the modern Indian woman of the time.
 

(IANS) C-1-1238264

Thu, 28 May 2020 03:46:07 +0530
Most MP liquor shops shut HC restrains govt from action

Jabalpur,  The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Wednesday restrained the state government from taking any action against the liquor vendors who are on warpath over the existing terms of excise policy that cripples their business and have shut down their vends.

The vendors had moved the court against government's pressure to reopen liquor vends without revising the terms of business.

Hearing the matter, the court on Wednesday granted three days' time to the state government to furnish terms of the excise policy and other documents related to agreements with the licensees (liquor contractors or sellers).

The HC division bench comprising Chief Justice A.K. Mittal and Justice V.K. Shukla allowed the state Advocate General to file the affidavit furnishing these details by May 30, the petitioners' counsel Rahul Diwakar said.

The petition is listed for hearing on June 2.

The court heard 30 liquor contractors from various parts of the state seeking direction for either revision of the terms and conditions of their contract or recalling of the entire bidding process of liquor sale for the current fiscal due to economic slowdown caused by the Covid pandemic.

The government had announced conditional reopening the liquor and hemp (Bhang) vends in 49 out of 52 districts in Madhya Pradesh a fortnight ago, as it was keen to get the excise revenue.

However, liquor retail contractors opposed the government order, fearing heavy losses they would incur if the vends were opened under the fresh terms laid down post-lockout.

The contractors, who have invested high amounts for vending licenses, said that they would not be able to recover even a fraction under the present stipulations. Before the start of the lockdown, they could keep the shops open for more than 12 hours.

"We are opposed to the reopening of the liquor shops now as it would cause heavy losses to us. The sale will be high for initial two or three days after that it will nosedive due to the lock down," a liquor retailer had said.

Sales would be minimal given that the bars and other drinking vends are closed, the liquor vendors believed.

The government had insisted that the vends must be opened first before the Finance Department revisits the terms. The terms were not revised subsequently.
 

(IANS)C-1-1238287

Thu, 28 May 2020 03:39:19 +0530
Passengers on SpiceJet flight to Guwahati test Covid positive

New Delhi, Airline major SpiceJet has confirmed that two passengers, who had travelled from Ahmedabad to Guwahati via Delhi on May 25 have tested Covid-19 positive.

The passengers had travelled on SG-8194 (Ahmedabad-Delhi) and SG-8152 (Delhi-Guwahati).

"COVID tests were conducted at Guwahati after landing and the passengers were quarantined. The test reports came on May 27," a SpiceJet spokesperson said in a statement on late Wednesday evening.

"The operating crew has been quarantined and SpiceJet is coordinating with government agencies in notifying other passengers who had travelled with them."

The airline said it has been strictly adhering to all SoPs and social distancing norms laid down by the government.

"All passengers are being provided face masks, face shields and sanitizers by the airline and the operating crew has been taking all necessary precautions and wearing Personal Protective Equipment to ensure a clean and sanitised flying experience," the statement said.

Earlier, a passenger each on IndiGo and Alliance Air flights were found to be Covid-19 positive in the last few days.

The Centre has allowed limited passenger flights -- about one-third of the summer schedule -- to operate between metros and other destinations from May 25.

Passenger air services were suspended on March 25 due to the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19.
 

(IANS) 

Thu, 28 May 2020 03:35:00 +0530
NASA SpaceX postpone historic astronauts launch

Washington, NASA and SpaceX postponed historic launch of two astronauts to space from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday due to bad weather.

"Due to the weather conditions, the launch is scrubbing," NASA tweeted, Xinhua reported.

The crewed mission will be the first time since 2011 that American astronauts launch on an American rocket from American soil to the International Space Station (ISS).

SpaceX said the launch was delayed due to unfavorable weather in the flight path.

The next launch opportunity is scheduled on Saturday, May 30 at 15:22 Eastern Time.

"No launch for today - safety for our crew members is our top priority," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted.

The countdown was halted less than 17 minutes before the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was due to lift off from historic Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.

Later the propellant has been offloaded from the rocket, the launch escape system has been disarmed, and the two astronauts safely exited the vehicle, according to NASA.

"As the egress team assists astronauts out of the capsule, we are looking at a 50 percent chance of favorable weather for Saturday's launch," NASA tweeted.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry the Crew Dragon spacecraft and veteran NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to orbit.

The spacecraft is scheduled to dock to the ISS about 24 hours after launch.

After successfully docking, Behnken and Hurley will be welcomed aboard station and will become members of the Expedition 63 crew. They will perform tests on Crew Dragon in addition to conducting research and other tasks with the space station crew.

This is SpaceX's final test flight for NASA's Commercial Crew Program and will provide critical data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, and landing operations.

The test flight also will provide valuable data toward certification of SpaceX's crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station.
 

(IANS) C-1-1238305

Thu, 28 May 2020 03:31:40 +0530
COVID 19 2nd wave in US not inevitable Fauci

Washington,  A second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US "could happen" but it was "not inevitable", America's top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said.

The US can prevent another wave of COVID-19 as long as states reopen "correctly", Xinhua news agency quoted Fauci as saying in a CNN interview on Wednesday.

"Don't start leapfrogging over the recommendations of some of the guidelines because that's really tempting fate and asking for trouble."

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has previously warned that Americans need to prepare for the possibility of a second wave of the coronavirus in the fall, which would run alongside the flu season.

Stay-at-home orders intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus could end up causing "irreparable damage" if imposed for too long, Fauci said last week.

"I don't want people to think that any of us feel that staying locked down for a prolonged period of time is the way to go."

Fauci's remarks came as the US hit a grim milestone of over 100,000 COVID-19 deaths.

As of Thursday morning, the number of coronavirus deaths in the country stood at 100,418, while the overall cases surged to 1,699,126, both tallies account for the highest in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

New York, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, reported 364,965 cases and 29,370 deaths.

New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Illinois each reported over 5,000 deaths.
(IANS)

Thu, 28 May 2020 03:27:21 +0530
Trump offers to mediate between India China

New York, Despite his tensions with Beijing, US President Donald Trump has offered to "mediate or arbitrate" the border dispute between India and China as the situation heated up with threats from both Beijing and Islamabad.

He tweeted on Wednesday: "We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute. Thank you!"

The offer came as tensions between the US and China are rising with high-level diplomats of both countries exchanging Cold War-style rhetoric making Trump's offer political showmanship rather than a realistic one.

Though China has been aggressive against India at the border in the eastern sector in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, its latest offensive at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western sector in Ladakh has resulted in Indian and Chinese soldiers locked in a face-off in Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie.

Trump's diplomacy came a day after both China and Pakistan issued open threats of war on India's both fronts. The Pakistan Army also initiated an unprovoked ceasefire violation with intense mortar-shelling along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Balakote sector of Poonch district in Jammu & Kashmir early Tuesday.

Posturing as an international statesman Trump has been keen to bring his style of diplomacy to India and has repeatedly offered to mediate between India and Pakistan.

Last year he made the dubious claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to "mediate or arbitrate" between India and Pakistan.

India has denied that such a request was ever made and pointed out that it holds that disputes between India and Pakistan are bilateral issues under the 1972 Simla Agreement between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and then Pakistan President, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

Trump did not know that India and China shared a border, according to a book published earlier this year by two journalists from The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

The authors, Phillip Rucker and Carol Leonning, claimed in their book "A Very Stable Genius" that Trump told Modi, "It's not like you've got China on your border."

"Modi's expression gradually shifted, from shock and concern to resignation," they wrote.

On Tuesday, China's President Xi Jinping was quoted by state news agency Xinhua, as saying: "It is necessary to explore ways of training and preparing for war" and "to step up preparations for armed combat, to flexibly carry out actual combat military training, and to improve our military's ability to perform military missions." His statement was preceded by a decision to increase the budget for the Chinese military by 6.6 per cent.

China's close ally, Pakistan expressed similar views threatening war. Pakistan's army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa during his second visit in a month, to the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) on Sunday, said "Kashmir is a disputed territory and any attempt to challenge disputed status, including any political-cum-military thought related to aggression will be responded with full national resolve and military might," threatening that "disturbing strategic stability matrix in South Asia can lead to dire consequences".

"Pakistan Army is fully alive to the threat spectrum and will remain ever ready to perform its part in line with national aspirations," he warned.Both China and Pakistan which have occupied portions of the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir have aggressively opposed India's bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories last year.

Though China has already built heavy infrastructure on the occupied territory, it is now suddenly objecting to the infrastructure development work that India has been carrying out on its side of the LAC.
 

(IANS) C-1-1238280

Thu, 28 May 2020 03:22:58 +0530
Pvt public partnership is working to bring Covid vaccine in India Dr Harsh Vardhan

New Delhi, The governments point man on the gravest health emergency confronting the world and India is Dr Harsh Vardhan, our very own Health Minister, a Chandni Chowk MP. A doctor himself and in the main an Otorhinolaryngologist, he has risen from a doctor to a well-regarded politician. Extremely soft-spoken, he has been a minister in the Delhi government and headed the Delhi BJP and was its CM candidate. Prime Minister has a special bonding with him. And as such he heads what has turned out to be the most sensitive ministry in these challenging times.

He also heads the Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Ministry. With the world witnessing the worst ever pandemic, Dr Harsh Vardhan has now been elected to head the WHO executive board. Arguably one of the busiest persons in the country currently, he took time off to speak extensively with IANS. Here is everything that you wanted to know about the corona virus, but were afraid to ask. Excerpts:

Q: What is the situation of the COVID-19 cases in India compared to other countries like US, UK and China? Some research is showing that deaths in tropical climes is only 6 per cent, will rising temperatures kill this virus?

A: In India, definitely, due to the timely decisions taken by our government under able guidance of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji, the situation is better. As on May 26, in terms of confirmed cases per lakh population, India has so far about 10.7 cases per lakh population as against global average 69.9 cases per lakh population, 486 cases per lakh population in USA, 390 cases per lakh population in UK and 5.8 cases per lakh population in China. Further, in terms of case mortality per lakh population, India has so far about 0.3 deaths per lakh population as against a global average of 4.4 deaths per lakh population; 29.3 deaths per lakh population in USA; 55.3 deaths per lakh population in UK and 0.3 deaths per lakh population in China.

As I have been saying all along and which has also been informed by various studies, there does not appear to be any correlation between the rate of infection and atmospheric temperature. The spread of COVID-19 outbreak around the world does suggest a preference for cool and dry conditions; although it is worth noting that the virus has appeared in countries with a wide range of climates, including hot-humid ones. The low death rate of COVID-19 in tropical countries compared with the Western world could be due to various reasons such as lower population density, younger average age of people, and lesser number of international travels in tropical countries as compared to Western countries.

Q: You have been saying that people have to learn to live with the virus. How is it possible for the government to implement the task of distancing and yet continue the process of opening up? Is it Catch-22?

A: I say that with my experience. This new virus, SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID- 19, has an incredibly fast rate of spread, but at the same time, it has a low fatality rate. In fact, in India it is due to complete lockdown as well as focus on augmenting public health infrastructure that has placed us in a good stead and helped contain the fatality rate. However, it is too early to say when the virus will be completely eliminated. Just like any other virus which remains in populations and ebbs over time, this virus may also become part of our lives in times to come.

Given this uncertainty, we have to find ways and means to enable us to restart our social and economic activities that have been brought to a standstill due to the lockdown. We should remember that lockdown has not been an easy decision. This is because socio-economic and psychological costs are associated with it. Despite this our Hon'ble Prime Minister took the decision of complete lockdown as we had to prioritize lives of our citizens. Today, when we are fully prepared to tackle the spread and have made our best efforts to tackle the disease, we are mindful of the fact that this lockdown, this fight has impacted the livelihoods of a large number of our people. We cannot let our economy slow down as it would be catastrophic in the long run. That is why to reboot our economy, our Prime Minister has brought this economic package of Rs 20 lakh crore.

Moreover, with every new phase of lockdown, we have been opening up the economy. We are starting activities in such a way that the relaxation allowed does not interfere with the containment measures and a balance is achieved between containment measures and the activities allowed.

Moreover, unlike previous viruses, we need to remember that this corona virus spreads through lack of observance of personal hygiene and maintaining physical distancing. So, these should become part of our lives to check not only the spread of this virus but other similar infections in future. In fact, this would spur us further to develop innovative and safer ways of interaction with each other in the society.

The onus of maintaining this balance also falls on all of us. Each one of us has to follow all necessary guidelines and advisories issued by the government from time to time in true spirit -- use of face covers, regular hand washing, cough etiquettes and use of sanitizers both at home and workplace regularly is essential. Crowded places and gatherings need to be avoided. Let us follow our Prime Minister's clarion call of �Jaan Bhi Jahan Bhi'.

Q: Do you think that the cause of worry is asymptomatic patients who are potential virus carriers and they may take the virus deeper and deeper into rural India?

A: I am aware about WHO's mention of some laboratory-confirmed cases that are truly asymptomatic. It is equally true, that as on date, there has been no documented asymptomatic transmission. Recently, more symptoms like headache, muscle pain, pink eye, loss of smell, or loss of taste, intense chills, rigors and sore throat have been included in the list of COVID-19 symptoms by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA. It will require more studies before these symptoms are finally included in our list in India.

As you will notice, these are very subjective and vague symptoms which may go unnoticed, may not be remembered by the patient and, thus, may not even be reported.

Even today, in almost 80% of the cases of COVID-19, which are being reported in India, the patients tend to exhibit either nil or mild symptoms. These patients are mostly contacts of confirmed cases. Interestingly, had it not been for our contact tracing efforts, and if left to their own in isolation, these patients may not have even remembered or reported their infection.

Moreover, if for a moment we talk of testing such asymptotic patients, identification of all these asymptomatic cases will require repeated testing of 1.3 billion population which is a resource expensive exercise for any country and is neither possible nor recommended because of its feasibility.

Q: What do you think about worsening situation in Delhi, Mumbai, Agra, West Bengal, Indore and Ahmedabad?

A: I have been in regular touch with the Health Ministers of Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat. States have been trying their best to contain the disease. In the absence of drugs or vaccine for treatment of COVID-19, our emphasis has been on early detection of cases especially through meticulous contact tracing of confirmed cases and active case search through house-to-house survey as well as on provision of optimized care to patients.

You would appreciate that effective containment of COVID-19 depends on the successful collective outcome of the various interventions taken to contain the outbreak. It also depends on the level of community ownership and dedication in discharging the social responsibility by its members. Any deficiency in efforts may result in worsening of the situation.

Q: What is the status of testing and can more testing curb the disease?

A: The current testing strategy is need-based and gives priority to individuals who are primarily at risk or have symptoms. It is revised regularly according to the evolving situation.

From one laboratory at NIV, Pune in the first week of February 2020, the number of facilities has increased to a total of 624 which include 435 government labs and 189 NABL-accredited private laboratories are involved in testing at present.

As on May 27, our testing capacity is 1,60,000 per day and we have done 32,44,884 tests to date. On May 26, itself, we have conducted 1,15,229 tests. As I said earlier, if for a moment, we talk of repeated testing of 1.3 billion population to curb the disease, you would appreciate that this is not only a resource expensive exercise but also neither possible nor feasible.

Therefore, I am still of the view that priority-based and targeted testing will be helpful in detecting more cases for COVID-19 and curbing the disease. With our efforts at sustained and quality assured scaling up of the testing facilities, I am sure, we shall be better placed for maximum case detection.

Q: When do you expect the curve to flatten since AIIMS Director Guleria has said that the situation may worsen in the next two months?

A: Right now, we have a steady curve. It has never shown any exponential rise. We are now trying to bend the curve downwards. The trajectory of the outbreak is decided by a number of factors such as pathogenicity and transmissibility of virus; availability of specific treatment or vaccine; as well as collective performance of all public health interventions undertaken to contain the outbreak such as testing and early case detection, isolation, quarantine, contact-tracing, optimum care of cases and surveillance.

As you know that COVID-19 is a new disease and the behaviour of this virus in evolving outbreak is unknown. We have isolated the virus and our scientists and epidemiologists are studying it with the help of gene sequencing. Not much data about the virus and the disease is available at the moment.

Further as far as the issue of predictions of the further spread of the disease is concerned, let me tell you that I keep on hearing about one mathematical prediction model or the other. There are so many such models giving so many predictions round-the-clock that it is difficult to track them or justify them. But just like any mathematical model, these models are based on a number of assumptions and presumptions which may or may not match with real ground data because the data is still being generated each day and the disease has not matured across the world.

Therefore, it beats me as to with so much uncertainties, whether it is possible to make accurate predictions about future scenario of the disease.

Q: What is the status of vaccine in our country, how is the government coordinating the research with the private sector and by when can we expect something positive on this front? The CSIR is also working in this as are others?

A: As far as India is concerned, it is among the largest manufacturers of vaccines in the world. About half-a-dozen major vaccine makers are in India and make doses against polio, meningitis, pneumonia, rotavirus, BCG, measles, mumps and rubella, among other diseases.

Since the onset of COVID-19 in India, scientific community and the vaccine manufactures are working closely to bring out an effective vaccine against the viral infection. Government of India through the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Department of Biotechnology, Department of Science and Technology, CSIR, and through their Autonomous Institutes and agencies like BIRAC, TDB and SERB have been supporting academia and vaccine industries to develop an efficacious vaccine against SARS-COV-2.

A multifaceted approach is being adopted to ensure that vaccine candidates utilizing different platforms and at different stages of development are fast-tracked through the COVID-19 Research Consortium under funding from Department of Biotechnology, BIRAC and National Biopharma Mission. Both, repurposing of existing vaccine candidates for immediate protection of high-risk groups and novel vaccine candidate development have been considered.

Currently over 14 vaccine candidates are in different stages of development. More than 4 are in an advanced stage of preclinical. Nearly 10 have been recommended for funding support by Department of Biotechnology.

Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd is being funded for a Phase-III human clinical trial of a recombinant BCG vaccine candidate. Cadila Healthcare is being funded for a DNA vaccine candidate, Bharat Biotech International Ltd for a safe inactivated rabies vector platform while Gennova Biopharma Ltd for an m-RNA vaccine candidate. Besides these, the National Institute of Immunology is developing a novel vaccine evaluation platform to support SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development in resource-limiting settings.

The CSIR has funded Monoclonal antibody program through NCCS, Pune in collaboration with IIT, Indore and Bharat Biotech.

Q: What is the preparation in the country vis-a-vis beds, ventilator and PPE kits? Are we adequately fortified against the inordinate rise in cases?

A: Yes, the country is well prepared to face the challenge of inordinate rise in cases with the available infrastructure. As on May 27, the number of beds in dedicated COVID hospitals is 2,49,636, and dedicated COVID health centers is 1,75,982, making a total of 4,25,618. Further, we have identified 6,50,173 beds in 7,202 COVID care centres and 5,09,690 beds in 10,345 quarantine centres. Several domestic manufacturers for ventilators have been identified and orders for 60,848 ventilators have been placed which will be received in a phased manner in this month and June.

Many hospitals and medical colleges are increasing the number of ventilator beds. Several hospital owners in the private sector are also coming forward to dedicate their facilities for the cause of the nation.

As regards PPE, as on date 32.54 lakhs PPEs are available with states &UTs. With the help of Ministry of Textile, 109 domestic manufacturers have been identified and orders have been placed for 2.23 crore of which 89.84 lakh have already been supplied. Today we are manufacturing 3 lakh PPEs every day and distributing to states.

49.06 lakh N 95 masks are available with states, the order for 2.29 crore is placed and 114.02 lakh have already been received. Further ten domestic manufacturers have been identified for in-house production.

As regards sufficiency of the infrastructure, I have said time and again that this virus, even though having a faster spread rate, has a low fatality rate. Normally, 80% of the infections of COVID-19 are mild or asymptomatic, 15% are severe infections requiring oxygen and only a maximum of 5% are critical infections requiring ventilator support. Moreover, analysis of recovery data, as on May 27 indicates that about 1.9% of all active cases under management require oxygen support; about 2.3% of the active cases under management require ICU support and 0.41% of the active cases under management require ventilator support.

Q: Being a doctor yourself, how do you think people should contain the disease and which are the most vulnerable sections? For most part PM Modi's resorting to old style Indic shut down has saved India?

A: As I told you earlier, the complete nationwide lockdown was a great success in containing the spread of the COVID-19 but at the same time, it is also important to note that lockdown has socio-economic costs and needs to be used very judiciously. You already quoted me earlier and I say again: We must learn to live with the virus while continuing with our economic and social activities. Employers should provide a safe environment and make arrangement as per the prescribed guidelines to prevent the spread of disease at workplace while it is incumbent on the employees to ensure that they follow the physical distancing measures and personal hygiene. With these measures in place, it will be reasonably safe to go for work. I have said it time and again that social and physical distancing is the most potent social vaccine available to us.

Talking of the most vulnerable sections, I must say, these include the industrial and construction workers, in addition to people living in slums and other overcrowded areas where observance of personal hygiene and physical distancing measures is not satisfactory.

Q. Was the government blindsided by the migrant issue? Did the sheer numbers overwhelm the government machinery?

A: Migrants are not foreigners. They are our people. Why would their numbers overwhelm the government? Shri Narendra Modi ji's government works for the last man in the society. We have been aware of the costs that lockdown has imposed on us but lives of our people are far more precious.

The government has been aware of their plight right from the first day when we imposed lockdown. With lockdown, their livelihoods have been affected. From time to time it was ensured that they had access to food, medicines and basic amenities. Orders were also issued to ensure that they were not evicted from their residential premises or from their places of work. During the lockdown, our government announced economic package of Rs 1.70 lakh crore to distribute food-grains and pulses to them through fair price ration shops apart from disbursement of cash in their accounts. The new Rs. 20 lakh-crore economic package also has a component to alleviate their sufferings.

We have also tried to ensure smooth movement of migrants from their places of work to their place of residence while at the same time ensuring observance of social distancing guidelines. Instructions have also been issued for not allowing migrants to travel on foot or other unsafe mode of transport. In such cases they should be lodged at suitable places with arrangement of food and other essential facilities and register for the next train available from the place.

We have tried to ensure that the migrants are kept under watch with periodic health check-ups. When all hygiene and physical distancing measures are undertaken by migrants properly and the public health procedures are followed by all concerned, risk of spread of disease is reduced and the situation does not worsen in the near future.

Q: The curve had more or less been flattened till the Tablighi Jamaat carriers created a brand-new challenge?

A: You are right that the curve of emerging cases had started to flatten when the Tablighi Jamaat incident happened. While 1.35 billion Indians had been placed under a three-week lockdown, large numbers of attendees at the Tablighi Markaz, with a history of foreign travel, defied social distancing norms and continued to stay there despite appearance of symptoms among few of the members. Many of these participants later travelled to various states and became a key source of transmission and spread of COVID-19 across the country.

This no doubt had serious implications on the spread of the disease in the country across 24 states including Andaman and Nicobar, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. There was an increase in cases over the weeks following the event.

Intensive tracking of Tablighi Jamaat participants and their contact-tracing across the country and appropriate care to affected persons remained the most important issue to contain the disease and was undertaken on a war footing. This is an example of how negligence on the part of a few persons can undo the praiseworthy national efforts in no time and destroy the containment achievements.
 

(IANS) C-1-1238313

Thu, 28 May 2020 03:17:53 +0530
Dow jumps over 550 points closing above 25 000

New York, US stocks ended higher on Wednesday as investors weighed the possibility of normalizing economic activities.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 553.16 points, or 2.21 per cent, to 25,548.27. The S&P 500 rose 44.36 points, or 1.48 per cent, to 3,036.13. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 72.14 points, or 0.77 per cent, to 9,412.36, Xinhua reported.

The 30-stock average popped back above the 25,000 level for the first time since March, while the S&P 500 ended above the 3,000 mark

All the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors finished higher, with financials and industrials up 4.34 per cent and 3.34 per cent, respectively, leading the gains.

The moves followed a massive rally on Wall Street in the previous session with the Dow closing up more than 500 points.

All 50 states in the United States have reopened in some way.

More than 1.69 million confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported in the United States as of Wednesday afternoon, with nearly 100,000 deaths, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
(IANS) 

Thu, 28 May 2020 03:11:57 +0530
Global COVID 19 cases near 5 7 mn Johns Hopkins

Washington, The overall number of global coronavirus cases was nearing the 5.7 million mark, while the deaths have increased to more than 355,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Thursday morning, the total number of cases stood at 5,690,951, while the death toll increased to 355,615, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US has also reached a grim milestone of over 100,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Currently, the country has 1,699,126 confirmed cases and 100,418 deaths, both tallies account for the highest in the world, according to the CSSE.

Meanwhile in terms of cases, Brazil comes in the second place with 411,821 infections.

This was followed by Russia (370,680), the UK (268,619), Spain (236,259), Italy (231,139), France (183,038), Germany (181,524), Turkey (159,797), India (158,086), Iran (141,591), and Peru (135,905), the CSSE figures showed.

Regarding fatalities, the UK continues in the second position after the US with 37,542 COVID-19 deaths, the highest fatalities in Europe.

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are Italy (33,072), France (28,599), Spain (27,117), and Brazil (25,598).
 

(IANS) 

Thu, 28 May 2020 03:08:18 +0530
Domestic passenger numbers flights continue to rise

New Delhi; Air passenger numbers along with domestic flight operations continued to increase on Wednesday, the third day after services were resumed.

Till 5 p.m. on Wednesday, 354 departures and 288 arrivals were reported, ferrying almost 48,000 people.

On Twitter, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said: "People who were stranded in different parts of the country are now able to fly to be with their loved ones."

"Till 5pm on day 3 today, there have already been 354 departures & 288 arrivals with a total of 47,917 people at various airports."

"The numbers continue to grow."

On Tuesday till 5 p.m., airports had handled 325 departures and 283 arrivals with 41,673 passengers.

As per Wednesday's schedule, 129 scheduled departures and arrivals were planned from Terminal 3 in the national capital.

Similarly, Mumbai's CSMIA saw a total of 50 scheduled flights, which included 25 departures and the rest arrivals.

"Operations are going on smoothly. Almost no flight cancellations. The passenger numbers and flights will increase from tomorrow with the addition of West Bengal," Nishant Pitti, CEO and co-founder of EaseMyTrip.c om, told IANS.

"Plus the fact that some airlines like IndiGo and AirAsia India have started giving full refunds has started to restore passenger confidence."

At present, barring West Bengal, domestic flight services have been resumed to all states.

The first flight to and from the state will be operated on Thursday.

The Centre has allowed limited passenger flights -- about one-third of the summer schedule -- to operate between metros and other destinations from May 25.

Passenger air services were suspended on March 25 due to the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19.
(IANS) 

Thu, 28 May 2020 03:05:23 +0530
The Divine Teaching By Poojaneeya Sri Madhava Chaitanya Ji

In the scenic Himalayan mountains live three friends tending dairy cows and sheep and doing horticulture for their sustenance.

They used to serve priests and their interactions with them sparked a desire to gain knowledge on otherworldly wisdom.

They were elated to know that in days of yore numerous otherworldly Rishis used to stay in the mountains especially at the tall pinnacle. The priests also revealed to the youth that right at the top there was an exceptional cave and when someone entered it they could stay alive without any heartbeat.

Priests also informed them that at the tallest top there was an unadulterated smooth cascade and one who drinks that wonderful water will gain outright satisfaction. Other priests revealed to them that the highest point of the pinnacle had a view point and when somebody arrives at that view point then they can understand the entire universe for what it’s worth.

The youths were highly enthralled on hearing these stories and began dreaming about exploring the pinnacle. Their interests became deeper the longer they took part in discussions and made their minds to climb the hill top to explore more.

For several years in history no one had successfully climbed the mountain top and no one knew the journey to the peak, how hazardous the journey was, and so on. Even the priests couldn’t give a clear picture and yet the youths decided to move ahead with their plan.

One rainy day they were with their cow in the valley. To escape from the rain they ran into a cave. They saw a monk meditating in the cave. They were scared to disturb the monk but their desire urged them to try and they went to the monk and bowed to him and saying “Pranam Guru”.

The monk opened his eyes and blessed them. The friends served the monk with love and respect. They succeeded in drawing attention to them, and then the monk suddenly asked them: “What is your desire? I’ll fulfil that.” They became very happy and expressed their wish to the monk.

The monk meditated for a while and told them that it will take 32 days of continuous walk to reach that peak and daily they have to walk 15 hours. He also told them to take one more person with them who knew mountain climbing, and could serve them. Saying this the monk blessed them and gave some dry plant which they could eat along with some water to gain energy when they get tired during the journey, and the friends returned to their village.

They began searching for a fourth person who could accompany them in the journey, it wasn’t easy as none of the people in the village will put their life in trouble.

When they realized it wasn’t possible to get a person from their own village they went to the neighbouring village, where they got a half-crazy but healthy man. Once he heard their idea he started to sing and dance and without any objection he agreed to be with them to climb the peak. They fixed a date with him and returned to their village and started preparations.

On an auspicious day they started their journey to the mountain peak. It was extremely hard and dangerous. Many times they felt that they should return to the village and live their peaceful life. They were afraid to die in the mountains but through the monk's blessings and with the fourth man's unstoppable energy and entertainment they overcame all the difficulties. Strictly they followed the wise monk's instructions and continued climbing.

After 31 days of continuous climbing they got very close to the peak. Suddenly the impulses of their personal desires increased and unity was broken. They began to think of their personal aims to achieve once they reach the peak.

On the 32nd day they almost touched the peak. They saw sunshine reflecting on the cloud and millions of colours in the blue sky. Suddenly each of them got confused, they started to doubt that soon they were reaching the destination. Also they thought once they reach maybe the information they got from different monks was wrong, and they could not find their aim, or even if they find the aim the result would not match with their dreams.

The real fear of each was that I wouldn’t reach my destination and if others reach there, then it will be a disaster. They were highly emotional once reached very close to the top of the peak. The fourth person however was very much relaxed, he didn't have any aim for himself, he just was serving them, singing and dancing for them, and he wanted to return as soon as possible to his village.

In the evening, at the closing time of the day which means sandhya, they put their final foot on the top of the peak. Daylight was ending and moonlight was beginning. They made fire and with cressets in the hands even before taking rest in that fire light and began to search for their own destinations.

They separated suddenly, and each one was very surprised to discover that what they heard from the monks was exactly similar to what they were finding at the peak. They got happy and confident, they left the fourth one and went to their own destiny.

Without any difficulty they found their destinations. Milky water flows were there. The first person’s heart pulse became calm. With full of devotion he touched the water and his whole body got electrified. He carried a special copper vessel with him, so he took it out and filled the vessel full with water. Without any doubts, with full trust he drank that water from the vessel.

Suddenly his past, present and future related thoughts disappeared, and unlimited flow of bliss entered his mind so that he became immovable, even he forgot to breathe.

The third person went to search for the viewpoint. With the help of the fire which he carried in his hand he also found the way easily and reached the bottom of the viewpoint. It looked like a triangular shape building, with a very narrow way to climb to the top.

Only one human body could enter it was that narrow, impossible to turn around or return in that path. It seemed extremely difficult for him to climb, but his deep desire did not allow him to return. He was standing and looking at the sky. Suddenly he noticed thousands of stars in the sky, and he felt that all that stars were blessing him, as if he received a message “come as soon”!

Fears disappeared, he remembered all the monks he met in his life, and he prayed to them for his safe reach. He prayed to the thousands of the stars, to full moon, and to the sun which was hiding. In his prayers, he prayed to his father and mother, he prayed to the fire which he was holding in his hand and very carefully started to climb through the narrow way to the top of that viewpoint. He didn't make any hurry, slowly he reached the top of the view point.

He felt he was in the sky, just 12 steps away from the viewpoint all his life memories awakened, he saw everything in a flashback. At the end of that he came back to present life.

His foot touched the last step and his form disappeared, his sound disappeared, he became the universal sound, the sound which was before creation.

His consciousness rounded with billions of quantum, purest light without any shadow, purest sound without any variation. He realized the point as the place where the sound and self-illumination existed, he realized the wholeness of the universe.

Wed, 27 May 2020 14:07:19 +0530
The Divine Teaching By Poojaneeya Sri Madhava Chaitanya Ji

Years ago in the delightful Himalayan valley there lived three companions who had dairy cattle, sheep, etc. and used to do horticulture for their sustenance. They were quite intrigued to serve the priests and in their interactions with them further sparked their desire about otherworldly wisdom. They were elated to know that in days of yore numerous otherworldly Rishis used to stay in the mountains especially at the tall pinnacle. The priests also revealed to the youth that right at the top there was an exceptional cave and when someone entered it they could stay alive without any heartbeat. This implies that all sense organs got dormant and the psyche and insight became void and the individual could understand the awareness of wisdom.

Some other priests also informed them that at the tallest top there was an unadulterated smooth cascade and one who drinks that wonderful water will gain outright satisfaction. Other priests revealed to them that the highest point of the pinnacle had a view point and when somebody arrives at that view point then they can understand the entire universe for what it’s worth. The youths were highly enthralled on hearing these stories and began dreaming about exploring the pinnacle. Their interests became deeper the longer they took part in discussions and made their minds to climb the hill top to explore more.

For several years in history no one had successfully climbed the mountain top and no one knew the journey to the peak, how hazardous the journey was, and so on. Even the priests couldn’t give a clear picture and yet the youths decided to move ahead with their plan.

One rainy day they were with their cow in the valley. To escape from the rain they ran to a cave. They saw a monk meditating in the cave. They were scared to disturb the monk but their desire urged them to try and they went to the monk and bowed to him and saying “Pranam Guru”. The monk opened his eyes and blessed them. The friends served the monk with love and respect. They succeeded in drawing attention to them, and then the monk suddenly asked them: “What is your desire? I’ll fulfil that.” They became very happy and expressed their wish to the monk.

The monk meditated for a while and told them that it will take 32 days of continuous walk to reach that peak and daily they have to walk 15 hours. He also told them to take one more person with them who knew mountain climbing, and could serve them. Saying this the monk blessed them and gave some dry plant which they could eat along with some water to gain energy when they get tired during the journey, and the friends returned to their village. They began searching for a fourth person who could accompany them in the journey, it wasn’t easy as none of the people in the village will put their life in trouble.

When they realized it wasn’t possible to get a person from their own village they went to the neighbouring village, where they got a half-crazy but healthy man. Once he heard their idea he started to sing and dance and without any objection he agreed to be with them to climb the peak. They fixed a date with him and returned to their village and started preparations.

On an auspicious day they started their journey to the mountain peak. It was extremely hard and dangerous. Many times they felt that they should return to the village and live their peaceful life. They were afraid to die in the mountains but with the monk's blessings and the fourth man's unstoppable energy and entertainment they overcame all the circumstances.

On the way they tried to convince each other to follow their perspective aim but it was not happening. Each one got stuck with their own personal desire but the fourth one didn't have any personal aim so he made entertainment to the friends. Strictly they followed the wise monk's instructions and continued climbing.

After 31 days of continuous climbing they got very close to the peak. Suddenly the impulses of their personal desires increased and unity was broken. They began to think of their personal aims to achieve once they reach the peak.

On the 32nd day they almost touched the peak. They saw sunshine reflecting on the cloud and millions of colours in the blue sky. Suddenly each of them got confused, they started to doubt that soon they were reaching the destination. Also they thought once they reach maybe the information they got from different monks was wrong, and they could not find their aim, or even if they find the aim the result would not match with their dreams. The real fear of each was that I wouldn’t reach my destination and if others reach there, then it will be a disaster. They were highly emotional once reached very close to the top of the peak. However the fourth person was very much relaxed, he didn't have any aim for himself, he just was serving them, singing and dancing for them, and he wanted to return as soon as possible to his village.

In the evening, at the closing time of the day which means sandhya, they put their final foot on the top of the peak. Daylight was ending and moonlight was beginning. They made fire and with cressets in the hands even before taking rest in that fire light and began to search for their own destinations. They separated suddenly, and each one was very surprised to discover that what they heard from the monks was exactly similar to what they were finding at the peak. They got happy and confident, they left the fourth one and went to their own destiny.

Without any difficulty they found their destinations. Milky water flows were there. The first person’s heart pulse became calm. With full of devotion he touched the water and his whole body got electrified. He carried a special copper vessel with him, so he took it out and filled the vessel full with water. Without any doubts, with full trust he drank that water from the vessel. Suddenly his past, present and future related thoughts disappeared, and unlimited flow of bliss entered his mind so that he became immovable, even he forgot to breathe.

The third person went to search for the viewpoint. With the help of the fire which he carried in his hand he also found the way easily and reached the bottom of the viewpoint. It looked like a triangular shape building, with a very narrow way to climb to the top. Only one human body could enter it was that narrow, impossible to turn around or return in that path. It seemed extremely difficult for him to climb, but his deep desire did not allow him to return. He was standing and looking at the sky. Suddenly he noticed thousands of stars in the sky, and he felt that all that stars were blessing him, as if he received a message “come as soon”!

Fears disappeared, he remembered all the monks he met in his life, and he prayed to them for his safe reach. He prayed to the thousands of the stars, to full moon, and to the sun which was hiding. In his prayers, he prayed to his father and mother, he prayed to the fire which he was holding in his hand and very carefully started to climb through the narrow way to the top of that viewpoint. He didn't make any hurry, slowly he reached the top of the view point.

He felt he was in the sky, just 12 steps away from the viewpoint all his life memories awakened, he saw everything in a flashback. At the end of that he came back to present life. No past or future thoughts were left in him. Without his knowing his feet began climbing the steps, with each step he realized all the names and forms knowledge in his memory was erasing. As he was passing the last steps nothing was left in him, he became pure and empty.

His foot touched the last step and his form disappeared, his sound disappeared, he became the universal sound, the sound which was before creation. His consciousness rounded with billions of quantum, purest light without any shadow, purest sound without any variation. He realized the point as the place where the sound and self-illumination existed, he realized the wholeness of the universe.

Wed, 27 May 2020 13:53:00 +0530
The Divine Teaching By Poojaneeya Sri Madhava Chaitanya Ji

Years ago in the delightful Himalayan valley there lived three companions who had dairy cattle, sheep, etc. and used to do horticulture for their sustenance. They were quite intrigued to serve the priests and in their interactions with them further sparked their desire about otherworldly wisdom. They were elated to know that in days of yore numerous otherworldly Rishis used to stay in the mountains especially at the tall pinnacle. The priests also revealed to the youth that right at the top there was an exceptional cave and when someone entered it they could stay alive without any heartbeat. This implies that all sense organs got dormant and the psyche and insight became void and the individual could understand the awareness of wisdom.

Some other priests also informed them that at the tallest top there was an unadulterated smooth cascade and one who drinks that wonderful water will gain outright satisfaction. Other priests revealed to them that the highest point of the pinnacle had a view point and when somebody arrives at that view point then they can understand the entire universe for what it’s worth. The youths were highly enthralled on hearing these stories and began dreaming about exploring the pinnacle. Their interests became deeper the longer they took part in discussions and made their minds to climb the hill top to explore more.

For several years in history no one had successfully climbed the mountain top and no one knew the journey to the peak, how hazardous the journey was, and so on. Even the priests couldn’t give a clear picture and yet the youths decided to move ahead with their plan.

One rainy day they were with their cow in the valley. To escape from the rain they ran to a cave. They saw a monk meditating in the cave. They were scared to disturb the monk but their desire urged them to try and they went to the monk and bowed to him and saying “Pranam Guru”. The monk opened his eyes and blessed them. The friends served the monk with love and respect. They succeeded in drawing attention to them, and then the monk suddenly asked them: “What is your desire? I’ll fulfil that.” They became very happy and expressed their wish to the monk.

The monk meditated for a while and told them that it will take 32 days of continuous walk to reach that peak and daily they have to walk 15 hours. He also told them to take one more person with them who knew mountain climbing, and could serve them. Saying this the monk blessed them and gave some dry plant which they could eat along with some water to gain energy when they get tired during the journey, and the friends returned to their village. They began searching for a fourth person who could accompany them in the journey, it wasn’t easy as none of the people in the village will put their life in trouble.

When they realized it wasn’t possible to get a person from their own village they went to the neighbouring village, where they got a half-crazy but healthy man. Once he heard their idea he started to sing and dance and without any objection he agreed to be with them to climb the peak. They fixed a date with him and returned to their village and started preparations.

On an auspicious day they started their journey to the mountain peak. It was extremely hard and dangerous. Many times they felt that they should return to the village and live their peaceful life. They were afraid to die in the mountains but with the monk's blessings and the fourth man's unstoppable energy and entertainment they overcame all the circumstances.

On the way they tried to convince each other to follow their perspective aim but it was not happening. Each one got stuck with their own personal desire but the fourth one didn't have any personal aim so he made entertainment to the friends. Strictly they followed the wise monk's instructions and continued climbing.

After 31 days of continuous climbing they got very close to the peak. Suddenly the impulses of their personal desires increased and unity was broken. They began to think of their personal aims to achieve once they reach the peak.

On the 32nd day they almost touched the peak. They saw sunshine reflecting on the cloud and millions of colours in the blue sky. Suddenly each of them got confused, they started to doubt that soon they were reaching the destination. Also they thought once they reach maybe the information they got from different monks was wrong, and they could not find their aim, or even if they find the aim the result would not match with their dreams. The real fear of each was that I wouldn’t reach my destination and if others reach there, then it will be a disaster. They were highly emotional once reached very close to the top of the peak. However the fourth person was very much relaxed, he didn't have any aim for himself, he just was serving them, singing and dancing for them, and he wanted to return as soon as possible to his village.

In the evening, at the closing time of the day which means sandhya, they put their final foot on the top of the peak. Daylight was ending and moonlight was beginning. They made fire and with cressets in the hands even before taking rest in that fire light and began to search for their own destinations. They separated suddenly, and each one was very surprised to discover that what they heard from the monks was exactly similar to what they were finding at the peak. They got happy and confident, they left the fourth one and went to their own destiny.

Without any difficulty they found their destinations. Milky water flows were there. The first person’s heart pulse became calm. With full of devotion he touched the water and his whole body got electrified. He carried a special copper vessel with him, so he took it out and filled the vessel full with water. Without any doubts, with full trust he drank that water from the vessel. Suddenly his past, present and future related thoughts disappeared, and unlimited flow of bliss entered his mind so that he became immovable, even he forgot to breathe.

The third person went to search for the viewpoint. With the help of the fire which he carried in his hand he also found the way easily and reached the bottom of the viewpoint. It looked like a triangular shape building, with a very narrow way to climb to the top. Only one human body could enter it was that narrow, impossible to turn around or return in that path. It seemed extremely difficult for him to climb, but his deep desire did not allow him to return. He was standing and looking at the sky. Suddenly he noticed thousands of stars in the sky, and he felt that all that stars were blessing him, as if he received a message “come as soon”!

Fears disappeared, he remembered all the monks he met in his life, and he prayed to them for his safe reach. He prayed to the thousands of the stars, to full moon, and to the sun which was hiding. In his prayers, he prayed to his father and mother, he prayed to the fire which he was holding in his hand and very carefully started to climb through the narrow way to the top of that viewpoint. He didn't make any hurry, slowly he reached the top of the view point.

He felt he was in the sky, just 12 steps away from the viewpoint all his life memories awakened, he saw everything in a flashback. At the end of that he came back to present life. No past or future thoughts were left in him. Without his knowing his feet began climbing the steps, with each step he realized all the names and forms knowledge in his memory was erasing. As he was passing the last steps nothing was left in him, he became pure and empty.

His foot touched the last step and his form disappeared, his sound disappeared, he became the universal sound, the sound which was before creation. His consciousness rounded with billions of quantum, purest light without any shadow, purest sound without any variation. He realized the point as the place where the sound and self-illumination existed, he realized the wholeness of the universe.

Wed, 27 May 2020 13:45:26 +0530
NCLT approves IL FS stake sale in GIFT City to Guj Govt

New Delhi, The Principal Bench of National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has approved the stake sale of IL&FS in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City Company Limited (GIFTCL) to the Government of Gujarat.

The crisis-ridden IL&FS holds 50 per cent stake in GIFTCL. Notwithstanding the liability of GIFTCL, the Gujarat Government has agreed to pay positive equity value of 100 per cent of the IL&FS stake in GIFTCL, by which, the positive equity value of over Rs 32.70 crore will come to IL&FS.

In its order, the tribunal said that the applicant, IL&FS had submitted that the sale resolution has been conducted to ensure a fair resolution upholding the key principles of the value maximisation, commercial viability and financial stability for all stakeholders.

IL&FS also submitted in order to facilitate and implement the sale or resolution process of GIFTCL, an amount of Rs 61,84,403 is excluded as resolution process costs incurred for meeting various expenditures, other applicable taxes from the sale proceeds of its shareholding in GIFTCL to the state government.

"In view of the relief sought by the applicant, this bench hereby approved that sale of shares of GIFTCL held by IL&FS to Governor of State of Gujarat/Gujarat Urban Development Company Limited shall be free and clear from all encumbrances, liens, security interest and third-party claims (including any statutory or tax claims) upon receipt of sale consideration from GUDC," it said.

That sale consideration payable to IL&FS excluding resolution process costs shall be credited into a designated escrow account intimated to the infrastructure lending group and such funds shall be maintained as interest-bearing fixed deposits.

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) had permitted green entities to continue in accordance with the resolution framework subject to the supervision of the Justice (Retd.) D.K. Jain. Since GIFTCL has been classified as a "Green" entity, IL&FS has commenced the resolution process of GIFTCL.

The principal bench of NCLT also permitted IL&FS to withdraw a sum of Rs 3 crore from the escrow account opened to keep sale consideration for meeting the additional process resolution costs that may arise, after approval by the Board of Directors appointed by the tribunal.

"The distribution of the remaining purchase consideration is hereby subjected to further orders of this Bench," it said.
 

Wed, 27 May 2020 08:38:22 +0530
90 illegal immigrants rescued off Libyan coast IOM

Tripoli, The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said that another 90 illegal immigrants were rescued off the Libyan coast.

"Last night, 90 migrants were rescued by a commercial vessel and returned to Libya. They spent the night onboard the ship and are awaiting clarity on disembarkation," IOM tweeted.

IOM reiterated that "Libya is not a safe port" for disembarkation of rescued migrants, Xinhua news agency reported.

IOM said earlier on Monday that at least five boats carrying nearly 400 people attempted to flee Libya during the previous 48 hours.

After the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's government in 2011, Libya has become a preferred point of departure for thousands of illegal immigrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean towards European shores.

Immigrant shelters in Libya are crowded with thousands of immigrants either rescued from the sea or arrested by Libyan security forces, despite international calls to close them.
 

(IANS) 

Wed, 27 May 2020 08:32:22 +0530
Delhi HC awards Rs 30 lakh as damages to 3 software giants

New Delhi,  The Delhi High Court has awarded Rs 30 lakh as damages to tech giant Microsoft Inc, Adobe Systems and another firm after a company based in the national capital's Nehru Place used pirated software of the three companies.

"This Court is of the view, in the absence of any defence of the defendants and the magnitude of the violation carried out by the defendants, the plaintiffs shall also be entitled to damages. Accordingly, this Court awards damages to the tune of Rs 30 lakhs in favour of the plaintiffs to be shared equally by all of them," said a single-judge bench of the High Court presided by Justice V. Kameshwar Rao.

The court also restricted Chetu, the Delhi based company from using any software of the three companies (Plaintiffs) illegally. "The defendants, their principal officers, directors, agents, franchisees, servants, and all others acting for and on their behalf are restrained from directly or indirectly using for any kind of computer-related activities or otherwise, pirated/counterfeit/unlicensed software of the Plaintiffs," the court said.

Microsoft Corporation, Adobe Systems and Quest Software (Plaintiffs) had moved the High Court against the Defendant, a company named 'Chetu' which provided IT services and solutions to its clients, and its related parties, after it came to its knowledge that the Defendant was using unlicensed/pirated software programs of the Plaintiffs on its computers.

The plaintiffs had hired an independent investigator to determine the activities of Chetu and its related clients. During the investigation, it was found that there are approximately 300 computer systems at Chetu, which are operating software programs such as Microsoft Office. It is also stated that there is no installation of Open Office on any of the computer systems.

It was further revealed that 40 to 50 employees at Chetu work on software programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Flash, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe CS3 and Adobe Reader.

"There are approximately 200 computer systems in use at Chetu and that all the computer systems operate Microsoft Windows Operating System and have software programs such as Microsoft Office installed upon them. He also divulged the use of software programs such as Adobe Reader 9.0, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash by approximately 60 employees working on computer systems at Chetu," the petitioner told the court.

The plaintiffs claim that in September and October 2010 it conducted a license check within their database which revealed that there were no substantial licenses purchased in the name of the defendants.
 

(IANS)- C-1-1238019

Wed, 27 May 2020 08:20:49 +0530
After row over paid quarantine Kerala mulls changes

Thiruvananthapuram, The row that began on Tuesday when Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced that with the number of Covid-19 cases witnessing an upswing with arrival of Keralaites from abroad, and they will now have to pay for the quarantine, intensified on Wednesday with more top leaders coming against it.

It now appears that this outburst has made Vijayan have a re-think.

According to the quarantine rules, that Vijayan announced on Tuesday, from now on all those who return from abroad have to go for paid institutional quarantine for a week and then remain at their home for another week.

On Wednesday, two times former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said Vijayan's somersault is an inhuman act.

"This is a shame to Kerala and a deep insult to our diaspora, who for long have been the backbone of the state's economy. They are arriving, buying their own ticket and then adding insult to the injury, they are asked to pay for the quarantine, is simply not acceptable and it has to be reconsidered," said Chandy.

Senior Indian Union Muslim League leader and Lok Sabha member P.K. Kunhalikutty said under no circumstances this new rule should be effected.

"If the state government cannot afford it for whatever reasons, we (the UDF) can take it up. If not, there are so many organisations who are willing to bear the cost of quarantine. A huge majority of the people who are coming are those who have lost their jobs and have no money. They will have nothing left with them at this juncture and they should no longer be taxed," said Kunhalikutty.

Since Tuesday this issue has been raging in the state and numerous diaspora have condemned this.

The Vijayan government for long has been saying that all arrangements are ready and they have created over 1.50 lakh beds for quarantine besides setting up 9000 rooms including houseboats which will be used for paid quarantine.

Following the outburst from several quarters the weekly cabinet meeting chaired by Vijayan on Wednesday morning is understood to have taken this stiff resistance and an announcement is expected to be made by him, when he meets the media, later in the evening.

Things have gone haywire after the arrangements made for institutional quarantine came under fire from some sections of the diaspora.

There has been a spike in the number of cases and of the present 415 cases, 231 have been registered in the past four days, including 67 on Tuesday, the highest recorded in a day. Of these, 133 have come from abroad and 178 from other states.

By now just 11,189 of the 1.35 lakh registered from abroad have returned.
 

(IANS) C-1-1238009

Wed, 27 May 2020 08:10:11 +0530
Four labourers dead 15 missing as boat sinks in Bangladesh

Dhaka, At least four labourers were dead and 15 remained missing after a boat capsized in the river of Jamuna in Bangladesh's Sirajganj district, a senior police official said on Wednesday.

The district's police chief Hasibul Alam told Xinhua over the phone that the boat carrying some 70 people, mostly day labourers, sank at about 11:30 a.m. (local time) on Tuesday amid inclement weather.

"The bodies of three labourers were recovered Tuesday night," he said.

Masud Parvez, officer-in-charge of Sirajganj's police station of Enayetpur where the accident happened, said: "The body of another ill-fated labourer of the boat was recovered this (Wednesday) morning."

He said divers of the fire service and civil defence and local people resumed search and rescue operations from Wednesday morning.

"At least 15 people are still missing," he said.

Officials said at least 50 people swam to shore as the boat capsized in a strong current and choppy river waters.

They said rescuers have been struggling against a strong current and choppy waters of Jamuna, one of the three main rivers in Bangladesh.

Parvez said the boat has not been salvaged and brought to shore yet.
 

(IANS) 

Wed, 27 May 2020 08:04:53 +0530
IMD issues advisory to fishermen over rough Arabian sea

New Delhi,The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Wednesday said that a low-pressure area was likely to form over the southeast Arabian Sea and adjoining areas around May 31 and advised fishermen not to venture into the deep-sea fishing till June 4.

"The situation is being monitored and accordingly a daily update will be provided," the weather bureau said.

Adam H. Sobel, Atmospheric scientist at the Columbia University has also anticipated a cyclone over the Arabian Sea, early next week.

"Possible landfalls all over the map: Oman, Pakistan, etc.; most recent ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) takes it just north of Mumbai, bad for storm surge there. It is very early days, no huge deal just yet, but bears watching closely."

Besides this, the red-colour coded warning will persist for Assam and Meghalaya on Wednesday, with the IMD asserting that the states are likely to receive heavy to extremely heavy rainfall for the next four to five days.

Parts of Assam and neighbouring states have been receiving heavy rains since the super cyclone Amphan weakened last week. The IMD warning has come at a time when rivers in the states have crossed danger levels.

The weather bureau added that isolated places over Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, and Tripura will also receive heavy to very heavy rainfall during the next five days. Heavy rainfall is also expected over parts of south peninsular India during May 27 and 30.

At least three people died and over 2,50,000 people of over 350 villages were affected due to floods and landslides in three Northeastern states -- Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, officials said on Tuesday.

The Assam State Disaster Management Authority has said that a total of seven districts including Goalpara, Tinsukia, Nalbari, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur, Darrang and Dhemaji are affected by the flood situation.

The Authority officials said that the National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force teams have already been deployed at 40 locations with equipment.

It is a double whammy for the states as they have already been battling the COVID-19 crisis.

Besides this, due to prevailing dry northwesterly winds over plains of northwest India, Central India and adjoining interior parts of eastern India, present heat wave conditions are very likely to continue to prevail mainly during next 24 hours.

Churu in Rajasthan recorded 50 degree Celsius temperature on Tuesday, while mercury in the national capital crossed the 47 degree Celsius mark.
(IANS) 

Wed, 27 May 2020 07:39:45 +0530
Corona cases cross 1 5L mark in India with 42 44 recovery

New Delhi, Maintaining the plateau of over 6,000 cases, India on Wednesday crossed the psychological 1.5 lakh mark of total Covid-19 cases so far. However, it also posted a strong recovery rate of 42.44 per cent as at least 3,935 people were also cured during the day.

A total of 6,387 new cases took the nationwide tally to 1,51,767, a Health Ministry data revealed on Wednesday. There were also 170 new deaths in the past 24 hours, 97 of them in Maharashtra where there were over four deaths each hour.

It took the country just four days to reach the over 1.5 lakh figure from 1,25,101 on May 23. With this, India continues to remain as the tenth worst-hit country by the pandemic globally.

Of the total cases so far, 83,004 are active, while 64,425 people have been cured and 4,337 have died.

Maharashtra continues to have the lion's share of the COVID-19 cases, with at least 54,758 which is 36.08 per cent of the total cases across the country. The state has reported 1,792 fatalities so far, as per the health ministry data.

The situation in Tamil Nadu was also worsening as a total number of cases reported there hover at 17,728, followed by Gujarat with 14,821 cases and Delhi with 14,465 cases.

The rising number of cases in the country doesn't seem to get any respite even with the rising temperature as some experts had opined. Globally the cases of COVID-19 topped at 5.6 million and over three lakh fatalities.
(IANS) 

Wed, 27 May 2020 05:51:18 +0530
How is that Kerala could effectively combat COVID 19

How is it that Kerala could in actual fact productively combat COVID-19 when the world at large appeared not well prepared to respond to this health emergency?

The Kerala Left Democratic govt. Under the leadership of CM Pinarayi Vijayan in close collaboration with his team and people has managed to successfully curtail the human and economic losses whether due to the floods, the Nipah Virus, outbreak and now the covid19 pandemic which has surprisingly made Kerala a role model and topic of discussion worldwide.

 

 In Kerala, the congress being in the opposition has been in working together and playing a role in living aside all the political differences in creating success towards the fight against covid19.

The credit also goes to our Hon. Prime Minister Narendra having won accolades for the bold, timely decision of imposing a nationwide lockdown on 24 th March to fight the coronavirus crisis and the subsequent implementation by the left govt. religiously played a crucial role in flattening the curve

This becomes more evident that the Governor Arif Mohammed Khan appreciating the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and health minister  K. K Shailaja along with the entire team for doing a wonderful job in flattening the curve of coronavirus in Kerala is noteworthy. Finally, a lesson to learn from the pandemic grappled by the entire world Kerala has shown that being a gods own country we are all protected and governed by nature. A healthy environment provides nutrients that flow up the food chain, from plants to animals, to provide energy. ... By preserving nature, the planet and all its inhabitants are guaranteed a constant supply of clean water and fresh air resulting in building a strong immune system which is the need of the hour to fight against the coronavirus menace by protecting and preserving the ecological balance.

The government under the leadership of Pinarayi Vijayan did not lose any time when it was alerted to Covid-19’s dangers and proceeded to raise people’s awareness even as first world leaders like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson continued to overlook the urgency of the situation in the initial months.

Kerala was the first state in India to have the first case of corona positive on 30th January with topping the charts alarmingly with more cases than elsewhere in the country before WHO declaring it as a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. The population of Kerala is 33 million with 667 confirmed positive cases and only four deaths reported till date. On the other hand, Italy and Spain too had confirmed the first case of COVID positive on 31st January on par with Kerala. Today as on 22nd May 2020 Italy has a population of 66 million has 2,28,000 confirmed positive cases and the death toll has reached 32,486, whereas Spain with a population of 41.1

 million people coronavirus cases have touched 2,33,037 and the death toll figure is 27,940.

For example, if we look into the third case study of New York the most developed state of U.S and Kerala as compared to highlight and understand the severe difference in the approach of two states. The population of Kerala is 33 million while that of New York is 19 million. The per capita income of Kerala is $2,937 while that of New York state is $88,981. There are 1.8 hospital beds for every 1,000 people in Kerala whereas the corresponding figure for New York is 3.1 beds. Kerala has 1.7 doctors per 1,000 persons, New York is credited with 3.8 doctors. However, the total corona positive cases in Kerala as on May 20 was 667 people of which the state had reported just four deaths while 12 had returned recently to the state from abroad and 12 from the opening of interstate boundaries.161 people in the state are still undergoing treatment and 502 having recovered out of a total of 667. On the subsequent date, New York state had over 3,57,757  corona positive cases with more than 28,437deaths as per New York times official report updated May20,2020,8:37A.M

Kerala has the lowest mortality rate as well as the highest recovery rate with respect to coronavirus infections having half the population size compared to entire Italy or double the population of New York State. The initial statistical projection of cases and deaths became outmoded due to the organic method adopted by Kerala. The number of tests conducted in Kerala is just 10 per cent of the figures for countries such as the US, Italy and Spain. The real but aggressive contact tracing and keeping a large number of people under observation helped Kerala in preventing community spread. Ninety per cent of the positive cases were detected among people who were kept under observation.

The credit should go to Kerala’s strong local governance, effective social structure and well-knit multi-layered public health formation. The state may be way behind in industrial production, but its human development indices are the best foundation of social equality. Kerala is well known for its heavy dose of politics which is prevalent in all aspects of life in the state. A positive feature of this is that there is a close interconnect between the layers of administration and people. Larger civil society is quite familiar with the links between citizens’ health and good governance, consider health equality as one of the foundational prerequisites for social equality.

Kerala is known for the welfare measures it has taken for the people of the state and is considered a welfare state. The state has initiated many social security schemes for the poor and the needy as the concept of a welfare state pre-supposes careful planning and effective implementation of welfare services for the weaker sections of the community which becomes handier during any crisis.

The presence of multiple voices expects both people and government to help each other, connecting network till the micro-level in building a strong public health system with utmost belief and trust being the main reason for the success of any disaster striking Kerala.

 One can argue that Kerala’s success is intrinsically connected to its vibrant public sphere in which the ideas of rights and citizenship are debated constantly.

The success of the current government in battling the pandemic lies in its judicious realization of the political and civic sensibilities of its people and its ability to extract solutions based on these factors.

And for the rest of us Indians, we need to figure out...Finally, what matters??? Communal supremacy, ideological pride, retrospecting history or a system that promises us a good, healthy, respectable quality of life for us and our family...Think about it!

Tue, 26 May 2020 18:50:36 +0530
Covid 19 corollaries on the dairy sector CRISIL

New Delhi, Supply chain disruptions in the early weeks of the nationwide lockdown, and bread-and-butter issues for hotels, restaurants and cafes, have materially reduced demand for dairy products.

This is despite supply of most dairy products continuing during the lockdown, since they are categorised as essentials.

The shuttering of hotels and dine-ins has also dried up off-take of skimmed milk powder and khoya.

According to report by CRISIL Research on the state of dairy industry and supply chains, products that can't be made at home easily - such as cheese, flavoured milk and also khoya - haven't found their way back to the dining table in the same quantities as before the lockdown.

Demand for ice creams, which usually peaks in summer (accounting for 40 per cent of annual sales) has just melted away. Rural areas, which are feeling the income pinch more, seem to be staying off butter and ghee, the report by global analytics firm has said.

To be sure, since the third week of April, supply chains have turned smoother, so demand for staples such as milk, curd, paneer and yogurt are expected to see a quick rebound, leading to on-year expansion in sales, CRISIL said.

The pandemic, however, may sour the business for unorganised dairies because of pervasive contamination fears.

Conversely, as consumers shift, revenues of organised dairies and packaged products should fatten.

Overall, demand for milk and dairy products would be lukewarm in the near term, so prices are unlikely to boil over, according to the report.

Large brands such as Amul and Mother Dairy had already hiked retail milk prices by 4-5 per cent last fiscal. They may not serve an encore.
(IANS)

Tue, 26 May 2020 12:54:12 +0530
Amitabh Bachchan is in a state of confusion

Mumbai, Amitabh Bachchan's new post is all about his confusion.

The veteran actor took to Instagram, where he shared a video of himself in slow motion. He then asked a funny question to fans and followers in the caption.

"I don't know why it hurts when we bite our tongue mistakenly. But it didn't hurt when we bite it intentionally. And I still don't understand why you are biting your tongue now," he captioned the video.

On the film front, the veteran actor will be seen sharing screen space with Ayushmann Khurrana in Shoojit Sircar's "Gulabo Sitabo", which will release on Amazon Prime Video on June 12.

The film was slated for a theatrical release earlier this year before the COVID-19 pandemic led to a complete lockdown of the nation.
(IANS) 

Tue, 26 May 2020 12:01:18 +0530
Afghan govt releases another 900 Taliban inmates

Kabul,  The Afghan government on Tuesday released another batch of 900 Taliban inmates in the latest move to further advance the intra-Afghan peace talks with the militant group, a spokesperson for the Office of the National Security Council confirmed.

"The government released 900 Taliban prisoners today to further advance peace efforts, including an extended ceasefire and the immediate start of intra-Afghan peace talks," spokesman Javid Faisal tweeted.

The move came after Taliban militants announced a three-day ceasefire during Eid al-Fitr festival, which started on from Sunday, reports Xinhua news agency.

Taliban militants have reportedly agreed to extend the ceasefire for another four days or more.

On Monday, the second day of the festival, the government released 100 Taliban from Bagram prison in eastern Parwan province.

Around 1,100 Taliban prisoners have been released in smaller groups in the past few weeks, but Tuesday batch was the biggest to be released at once.

In response to the government's gesture, Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban's political office in Qatar, said it was a good step but added that the process of releasing 5,000 prisoners should be completed to create a suitable environment for confidence building.

On March 11, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani issued a decree to release 5,000 Taliban inmates on parole and Taliban agreed to release 1,000 soldiers but the exchange of prisoners was repeatedly delayed.

As of May 10, some 1,000 Taliban fighters and 200 Afghan government soldiers had been freed by the two sides, but the exchange process had been suspended over some disputes.

The release of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners was included as part of the US-Taliban deal signed in Doha on February 29.

However, the Afghan government was not a signatory of the deal.
(IANS)

Tue, 26 May 2020 08:15:11 +0530
SAP brings business Cloud to India data centre

Mumbai, Software solutions major SAP on Tuesday announced the launch of SAP Commerce Cloud and S/4 HANA Cloud on their India data centre to help Indian enterprises meet end-to-end customer demands, make commerce frictionless while ensuring compliance with the Personal Data Protection Bill.

As enterprises go digital in the Covid-19 era, SAP Commerce Cloud will offer a comprehensive, end-to-end commerce solution powering real-time, intelligent customer engagement with personalised experiences.

"Adoption of agility like that of a ‘Digital Native' model across the business landscape can lead India Inc to quicker recovery as well as push the demand of a digital buying mindset (electronic commerce)," said Debdeep Sengupta, President and Managing Director, SAP Indian Subcontinent.

"With SAP's locally available Business Cloud, we are easing Indian enterprises transition to be a digital business," he said in a statement.

SAP brings together core technologies into one "stack" to deliver a high level of scalability and flexibility in the country while adhering to localisation of the data policy.

SAP S/4HANA Cloud will simplify and redefine processes, improve modern user experience

Companies now gain ultimate business advantages with an intelligent, next-generation ERP system that consolidates financial, managerial, and operational data in one unified in-memory system.

SAP's end-to-end suite of applications and services are currently enabling more than 437,000 business and public customers.
(IANS) 

Tue, 26 May 2020 08:09:01 +0530
Ghavri defends Team India s trophy drought since 2013

New Delhi,  Former fast-bowler Karsan Ghavri has praised Team India for their consistency in multi-national events despite them failing to lift any such trophy since 2013. Ghavri feels people of the country are so used to winning trophies that a semi-final or a final berth just doesn't work with them anymore.

After winning the Champions Trophy in 2013, India have gone on to lose the final of 2014 WT20 and semi-final of 2016 WT20. The 'Men in Blue' also tasted defeat in the semi-finals of 2015 World Cup and 2019 World Cup respectively. They were also defeated by Pakistan in the Champions Trophy 2017 final as well.

"But the Indian team is reaching the knockouts, right? See, over the years, right since 1983, we have entered so many finals, so many trophies we have won," Ghavri was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.

"I think it's the habit of winning trophies which we have developed over the years, because of which we are not content as long as we do not have a trophy in hand - even if that means we tend to overlook the fact that the Indian team has done so well to reach the final four or final two.

"Playing all nine teams and topping the group in a World Cup is no mean feat," he added.

Ghavri also heaped praise on former India opener Sunil Gavaskar and stated he played during a very tough era for batsmen when fast-bowlers used to rule the roost.

"He (Gavaskar) played all his cricket on uncovered pitches and there were no restrictions on bouncers. Against all of that, he's scored 34 centuries and 10000 runs, batting against brilliant attacks," Ghavri said.

"When he was playing, every team had a quality fast bowler - genuine and express. Australia had Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson; West Indies had five of them. England had Bob Willis. Pakistan had Imran and Sarfraz. New Zealand had Sir Richard Hadlee. As an opening batsman, he scored all those runs."
(IANS)

Tue, 26 May 2020 07:47:27 +0530
Glenmark to start trial combining 2 anti viral drugs on India Covid patients

New Delhi, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals announced on Tuesday that it will commence another new Phase 3 clinical trial on a combination of two anti-viral drugs Favipiravir and Umifenovir in hospitalized patients of moderate COVID-19 in India.

Glenmark has received approval from the Indian regulator to initiate the study.

The combination study which will be called the FAITH trial will look to enrol 158 hospitalized patients of moderate COVID-19 in India.

Early treatment with combination therapy will be evaluated for safety and efficacy as it is emerging as an effective approach in shortening duration of virus shedding, decreasing cytokine response, and facilitating early discharge of patients.

Glenmark said the antivirals with different mechanisms of action could complement and enhance efficacy against COVID-19.

Glenmark also continues its Phase 3 clinical trials on antiviral Favipiravir monotherapy for COVID-19 patients in India.

The company has announced a new randomized, open-label study to test the combined efficacy of two antiviral drugs Favipiravir and Umifenovir as a potential COVID-19 treatment strategy.

The two antiviral drugs have different mechanism of action, and their combination may demonstrate improved treatment efficacy by effectively tackling high viral loads in patients during early stage of disease.

Early administration of a combination of antiviral medications acting by different mechanisms is desirable for the treatment of COVID-19, since the viral load of SARS-CoV-2 peaks around the time of symptom onset.

Thus combining antiviral drugs could result in greater clinical effectiveness and could also prevent, or delay, the emergence of resistance.

Favipiravir is an oral antiviral drug approved in Japan since 2014 for the treatment of novel or re-emerging influenza virus infections. It has a unique mechanism of action by which it inhibits viral replication.

It is converted into an active phosphoribosylated form (favipiravir-RTP) in cells and recognized as a substrate by viral RNA polymerase, thereby inhibiting RNA polymerase activity that is required for viral replication.

Umifenovir is another oral antiviral drug licensed for the treatment and prophylaxis of influenza A and B infections in Russia and China.

Umifenovir impedes the viral attachment to cells and acts as a viral entry inhibitor. Additionally it exhibits modulatory effects on the immune system and induces interferon-production.

Hence a combined use of Favipiravir and Umifenovir acting on different mechanisms offers a comprehensive antiviral cover on pre-entry and post-entry life-cycle ofthe SARS-CoV-2virus.

Both Favipiravir and Umifenovir inhibitedvirus infection invitro6and have shown efficacy in COVID-19 clinical trials.

The current Glenmark study will examine whether early administration of a combination of Favipiravir and Umifenovir, both acting by different mechanisms, enhances antiviral efficacy on COVID-19patients.

Commenting on this development, Vice President & Head Clinical Development Global Specialty/Branded Portfolio, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Monika Tandon, said: " Combining antiviral agents that have a good safety profile and act on different stages of viral life-cycle is an effective treatment approach to rapidly suppress initial high viral load and lead to overall improvement in clinical parameters. We consider Glenmark's study will be pivotal in leading to identification of highly effective and safe treatments against COVID-19 in India. Beyond its many potential patient treatment benefits, we also hope the combination therapy will reduce infection risk amongst medical professionals and healthcare workers by reducing the duration of virus shedding from treated patients."

Further, Sujesh Vasudevan, President, India Formulations, Middle East and Africa business, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd. mentioned "This is another step in our effort is to launch a treatment for COVID-19 patients and we are looking at every possibility. We will do all it takes to ensure accessibility of the product across the country if the clinical trials are successful."

The new combination clinical trial will be called FAITH-(FAvipiravir plus Um Ifenovir (efficacy& safety) Trial in IndianHospitalsetting). A total of 158 hospitalized patients of moderate COVID-19 infection will be enrolled in the combination study and randomized in two groups : one group receiving Favipiravir and Umifenovir (with standard supportive care); and one group receiving Favipiravir along with standard supportive care.

Patients in the arm receiving the drug will receive Faviprivir 1800mg bid and Umifenovir 800 mg bid on Day1. Thereafter patients would receive Faviprivir 800mg bid and Unifenovir 800mgbid for the remaining course of the treatment.

Duration of treatment will be 14 days and patients will be discharged after clinical cure and two consecutive negative tests for COVID-19 based on RT-PCR.

Simultaneously Glenmark is also conducting phase 3 clinical trials of Favipiravir asa COVID-19monotherapy option with 150 patients, enrolled from 9 leading government and private hospitals across the country.

So far 30 patients have been randomised. The monotherapy phase3 clinical trial results are expected by July/August 2020. Glenmark was the first pharmaceutical company to receive approval from drug regulator DCGI to conduct Favipiravir clinical trials against COVID-19 in India.
(IANS) 

Tue, 26 May 2020 07:23:55 +0530
Galaxy Watch Active 2 gets approval for ECG BP monitoring

Seoul, South Korea's Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has granted approval to Samsung to use the Electrocardiogram (ECG) feature for measuring heart rhythms on the Galaxy Watch Active 2. The feature is already available on Apple Watch globally.

The Samsung Health Monitor app also received clearance for blood pressure measurement and users will be able to conveniently measure both ECG and BP, giving them a better picture of their overall health.

"When you pair the advanced hardware of Galaxy watches with innovative software solutions, you can create unmatched experiences – such as in this case, convenient and accessible health check-ins for millions of users across the world," TaeJong Jay Yang, Corporate SVP and Head of Health Team, Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronics said in a statement.

The ECG feature uses advanced sensor technology on the Galaxy Watch Active2 and will enable users to measure and analyze their heart rhythm for irregularities indicating Atrial Fibrillation (AFib).

To measure the ECG, a user just need to open the app and place his smartwatch arm on a flat surface, and then place his fingertip of the other hand on the top button of the smartwatch for about 30 seconds.

The Samsung Health Monitor app will be available on the Galaxy Watch Active2 within the third quarter and will progressively expand to upcoming Galaxy Watch devices.

"This marks just one way in which Samsung is pioneering to give everyone a simple, convenient and informed picture of their overall health and wellness," said Jay Yang.
(IANS)

Tue, 26 May 2020 06:29:41 +0530
Annual fishing ban days reduced to 47

Chennai, The Central government on Monday has reduced the annual fishing ban days to 47 from the earlier 61 days, said a top official of the National Fisherfolk Forum (NFF).

In a statement issued, M. Ilango, Chairperson, NFF said: "Accepting the demands of various coastal state Fisheries Department and the National Fisher Organisations, including National Fisherfolk Forum, the Govt. of India Ministry of Fisheries today issued an order reducing the 61 days annual fishing ban to 47 days."

As per the revised order issued by the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, the fishing ban on the East Coast will from April 15 to May 31 (both days inclusive 47 days) and on the West Coast from June 15 to July 31 (both days inclusive 47 days).

The amendment in the period of uniform fishing ban is applicable only for the current year and would not set any precedent for the future.
(IANS)

Tue, 26 May 2020 06:24:22 +0530
No slowing down As 6 535 cases take India tally to 1 45 380

New Delhi, The spread of the novel Coronavirus has shown no indication of slowing down with the increased mercury, in fact in the last 15 days it has steadily climbed the graph adding in two weeks more cases than it did in the first 100 days. On Tuesday, the Health Ministry Data revealed that there were 6,535 new cases added in 24 hours which also witnessed 146 new fatalities.

As the total tally of Covid-19 cases in India touched 1,45,380, it also showed a week of continued spurt in the cases hovering close to 6,000 before almost touching the 7,000 marks. On Monday (6,977), Sunday (6,767), Saturday (6,654), Friday (6,088) and Thursday (5,614).

While in the first 100 days of the disease being reported in the country since January 30, there were around 60,000 cases, now with a steady plateau of cases the fortnight alone saw some 70,000 cases. On May 9, India was inching towards the 60,000-mark and between April 12 and May 26, we have recorded 70,657 cases, even as the mercury remained in the range between 38 and 46 degrees Celsius in the last seven days.

Of the total cases so far 80,722 are active, while 60,490 people have been cured and 4,167 have died. In the past 24 hours at least 2,769 people have also been cured.

Maharashtra alone has 36 per cent caseload of the total confirmed cases in the entire country. It has reported 52,667 cases and 1,695 fatalities, followed by Tamil Nadu with 17,082 cases and Gujarat with 14,460 cases.

After Maharashtra, the highest fatality numbers are reported from Gujarat (888) and Madhya Pradesh (300).

The national capital according to Health Ministry data has reported 14,053 cases and 276 mortalities.

States and UTs that have reported more than 6,000 cases are Rajasthan (7,300), Madhya Pradesh (6,859), Uttar Pradesh (6,532).

West Bengal now has 3,816 cases, Andhra Pradesh (3,110), Bihar (2,730), Haryana (1,184), Jammu and Kashmir (1,668), Karnataka (2,182), Punjab (2,060), Telangana (1,920) and Odisha (1,438),

India is now among the ten countries worst hit by the pandemic that has over 5 million cases worldwide.
(IANS) 

Tue, 26 May 2020 06:18:20 +0530
Raj govt allows opening of parks cab and auto services

Jaipur,  Amending the guidelines announced during Lockdown 4.0 on May 18, the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan allowed the restoration of taxi, auto and cab services in the Red Zone and also permitted the public parks to open from 7 a.m. to 6.45 p.m.

Permitting the sale of pan, gutkha and tobacco products in the state, removing them from the prohibited commodities to be sold under lockdown-4, the Home department clarified that no person will be able to use such products in public places.

According to the order, spitting in public places still remains a punishable offence.

Amending the guidelines of Lockdown 4.0, the state government allowed plying of taxis, autos and cabs in the Red Zone by ensuring social distancing and sanitation conditions.

The modified order said that a cab can carry three people including driver while in auto rickshaw only two persons are permitted to travel. The driver will have to wear mask and ensure sanitisation of seats.

The government has also permitted for opening of public parks in the Red Zone areas from 7 a.m. to 6.45 p.m.

These activities, earlier, were allowed in the areas falling in the Orange and Green zones.

Meanwhile, ban on public gathering continues as before.

Further, it was also clarified in the revised order that hand rickshaws, kiosks, small food shops, juice, tea and other shops have been given approval to operate but on the condition that cleanliness and hygiene protocol will have to be taken care of.

Additional chief secretary Rajeev Swaroop said that municipal authorities shall ensure compliance of these orders.
(IANS)

Tue, 26 May 2020 05:05:58 +0530
Neha Kakkar Important for singers to be seen

New Delhi,  Neha Kakkar says singers do get their due credit but stressed that it is important for them to be seen these days.

"Wherever there are singers, they get mentioned whenever the credits come," Neha told IANS, referring to singers being given credit, but she added: "It has become important to be seen also."

The "Garmi" hitmaker says singers are not known if they are not visually present.

"When they don't see you, they don't know you. So, it has become very important for singers to be seen. As (far as) singer credit (goes), we of course get it. Now, social media is very important," she added.

On the work front, Neha recently featured in a song with rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh titled "Moscow suka". The number is a mix of Punjabi and Russian languages.
(IANS)

Tue, 26 May 2020 04:44:05 +0530
Human trials for COVID 19 vaccine may begin in at least 6 months

New Delhi, May 26 As India ranked 10th in the global infection list, overtaking Iran, which was an early hotspot of coronavirus, India's top medical body has said the human trials of COVID-19 vaccine may begin at least in six months.

Speaking to IANS, Dr. Rajni Kant, Director Regional Medical Research Centre and Head at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said, "The virus strain isolated at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) laboratory in Pune will be used to develop the vaccine, and this strain has been successfully transferred to the Bharat Biotech International Ltd. (BBIL). It is expected that the human trials of the vaccine will begin in at least six months."

Queried on the focus areas as India inches closer to 1.4 lakh COVID-19 cases, Kant said we should not get anxious about the rapid increase in numbers, especially in the past week, which saw 5,000 Covid-19 cases daily, instead focus on protecting the most vulnerable group.

"We should not fear from increasing Covid-19 cases. The elderly and people with comorbidities need protection. This is the highly vulnerable group, and we need to deploy resources and develop strategies to keep the mortality rate as low as possible in this group," said Kant.

Initially, it was assumed that the country would require thousands of ventilators, but last week, the health ministry said only 0.45 per cent of COVID-19 cases need ventilator support.

Kant insisted the focus should be on five per cent to 10 per cent serious patients. "We are testing more than one lakh daily and our case fatality rate is already one of the lowest in the world. In absence of vaccine, people should follow social distancing guidelines," he added

On the significance of the recovery rate, Kant said the increasing recovery rate of the COVID-19 patients, which is at 41 per cent, is a bright spot in India's fight against deadly viral infection.

Queried on large scale COVID-19 cases in Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad, Kant said the population density in these regions is very high, which proves to be the just right environment for the viral infection.

He insisted on developing robust cluster management strategies in the hard-hit coronavirus spots, and the movement of people should be curtailed in these areas.

"Currently, a lot of people are moving around easily and avoiding social distancing norms. The first phase of the lockdown was very effective, but now things have changed," added Kant.

Tue, 26 May 2020 04:43:06 +0530
Japan s Abe lifts state of emergency

Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday lifted the countrys nationwide state of emergency, ending restrictions in the remaining areas where the order was still in effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We had very stringent criteria for lifting the state of emergency. We have judged that we have met this criteria," the BBC quoted Abe as saying said in a televised address to the nation on Monday.

He said the country had managed to control the spread of COVID-19 since issuing the order in some areas on April 7, then later extending it nationwide.

Japan has been easing restrictions since mid-May, but kept several areas, Tokyo included, under watch to ensure the outbreak had been contained.

Unlike other major economies, Japan has endured a relatively limited outbreak of OVID-19, recording 820 coronavirus-related deaths and 16,550 infections as of Monday.

Initially, Japan was criticised for its handling of the pandemic, prompting the prime minister to declare a state of emergency in metropolitan areas on April 7, later expanding it nationwide.

Monday's decision came after the number of infections and the situation of the health system in Tokyo, the three neighbouring prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama and the northern Hokkaido, the only ones where the state of emergency remained in effect, reports Efe news.

The group of experts advising the government appreciated the efforts made by citizens to comply with the recommendations to achieve the target of reducing interpersonal contact by 80 per cent, top government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference on Monday.

The recommendation for citizens to avoid unnecessary trips outside and the request for non-essential businesses to close were not mandatory nor accompanied by fines or other penalties for non-compliance, unlike the stricter containment measures implemented in other countries.

The government had already decided to lift the emergency in 39 prefectures on May 14 after they reported a marked decrease in the number of infections, leaving out the more populated regions such as Tokyo and Osaka.

To avoid new outbreaks of the virus, Abe has urged people to become accustomed to a "new lifestyle" that includes maintaining social distancing, the use of masks outside as well as a series of guidelines for the reopening of shops, restaurants and public facilities.
(IANS) 

Mon, 25 May 2020 12:28:20 +0530
Apple to begin reopening stores in Japan this week

Tokyo,  With the nation-wide state of emergency lifting in Japan, Apple is all set to begin reopening its retail stores in the country.

Apple kept all the 10 retail stores in the country closed for months due to health risks rising out of the coronavirus pandemic.

The iPhone maker's stores located in Fukuoka and Nagoya Sakae will reopen on Wednesday.

The company is yet to reveal the reopening dates for other eight retail stores in the country.

"Our commitment is to only move forward with a reopening once we're confident we can safely return to serving customers from our stores," Apple said in a statement last week.

"We look at every available piece of data -- including local cases, near and long-term trends, and guidance from national and local health officials. These are not decisions we rush into -- and a store opening in no way means that we won't take the preventative step of closing it again should local conditions warrant," it added.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday lifted the country's nationwide state of emergency, ending restrictions in the remaining areas where the order was still in effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the country had managed to control the spread of COVID-19 since issuing the order in some areas on April 7, then later extending it nationwide, according to a report in BBC.

While Apple closed nearly all of its retail stores worldwide in response to Covid-19, nearly 100 of its stores globally have now reopened.
(IANS)

Mon, 25 May 2020 12:21:26 +0530
Malls lose Rs 90k cr in 2 months SCAI seeks adequate relief

New Delhi, The Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) on Monday said the sector has lost over Rs 90,000 crore in the last two months, owing to the lockdown, and market players need much more than the repo rate cut and the loan moratorium extended by the RBI.

In a statement, the industry body said that the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) relief measures are not adequate to support the liquidity needs of the industry.

According to the SCAI, there is a common misconception that the shopping centres' industry is centred around metros and large cities with investments only from large developers, private equity players and foreign investors.

"However, the fact is that most malls are part of the SMEs or standalone developers. i.e. more than 550 are single owned by standalone developers out of the 650-odd organised shopping centres across the country and there are 1,000+ small centres in smaller cities," it said.

Amitabh Taneja, Chairman of SCAI said: "The organised retail industry is in distress and has not earned anything since the lockdown and their survival is at stake. While the extension of the loan moratorium talks about some relief on repayment but won't help the industry in liquidity."

He said that a long term beneficial plan from the government is much required to revive the sector.

"Being the most safe, accountable, and controlled environment, unfortunately, malls have not been permitted to open which will lead to job losses and might even shut shops for a lot of mall developers," Taneja said.

In its representations to the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India, the association has also pointed out that, in absence of financial package and stimulus from the RBI, over 500 shopping centres may go bankrupt, that may lead to the banking industry staring at NPAs of Rs 25,000 crore.

The industry body has put forward its recommendations and requests to the government. It had sought moratorium till March 2021 at the least in terms of repayment of bank loans, interest, EMI and so on, without levy of any penalties or penal interest.

It has also sought a one-time loan restructuring with lower rates of interest, permitted for shopping centres and a facilitative and forward-looking support provision of short-term financing options for a period of six to 12 months, at lower interest rates, to meet the increased working capital requirements.

Among other relaxations it had also appealed for GST rebates to offset the losses on account of and for the period of closure of business.

It also said that interest rates should be brought down to "manageable levels" of 5-6 per cent in view of the precarious financial situation.
(IANS) 

Mon, 25 May 2020 12:18:47 +0530
Since childhood I have always dreamt to become an actor Aaira Dwivedi

Debutante Aaira Dwivedi featured in a music video titled Judaai sung by hairstylist turned singer Moin Sabri. Popular actor and anchor Gunjan Utreja also featured in the song. Speaking about her dreams, Dwivedi said, “Since childhood, I have always dreamt to become an actor and worked all these years towards fulfilling that dream. The fact that my first song has been shot like a movie is nothing short of a dream coming true.”

 

Elaborating further on the shoot, she said, “It was exceptionally challenging for me as an actor to shoot in the picturesque locations of Kyrgyzstan. In real life I am a fun loving person always chit chatting and laughing and for this video I had to step into the shoes of a character which was totally opposite to my real life self. It was emotionally draining.”

Speaking about the location of the song, the actress said, “It was quite daunting to shoot in the harsh temperatures of -20 degrees in Kyrgyzstan but I am elated that the efforts were fruitful and is manifested in the final product.”

The song was shot in Kyrgyzstan for the first time and the beauty of the location has been captured adroitly in the video. Speaking of that Aaira said, “This is the first time this location has been used and a song has been shot on this scale. I can’t recall any other song which comes in closer to this. It looks like an action film filled with emotions.”

Commenting further on the project, Aaira added, “Working with Gunjan was a fruitful experience. This was the first time we shared screen space. For the story and emotions to come out like this we both had to work extremely hard.”

Praising her co-star Dwivedi said, “Gunjan is a hardworking, dedicated and extremely cooperative. After working with him for seven days in challenging conditions I can vouch for the fact that he is one of the finest actors we have today and this video will prove that. People have showered us with great praises and compliments for our chemistry. I look forward to work with him soon.”

Today is a big day, as I soak in the love and compliments; I cannot help but remember the days I had been rejected at auditions. I am glad I never gave up on my dreams. This video is my first step towards achieving my dreams. One thing that I learnt with this shooting is that in order for you to succeed you will have to work harder than you did yesterday. 

Elaborating on how she bagged the project, Aaira said, “I and Moin know each other since several years. The director wanted to cast a girl who could enact the right emotions. I accidentally bumped into him at Moin’s salon. That's where they asked me whether I could audition for the role. There is a saying: the best things in your life can happen at the most unexpected places. I now believe in this phrase.

Aaira Dwivedi was born in Mehsana in Gujarat and did her schooling from the city initially. Her father used to work in oil field industry while her mother was a housewife and when she was in eighth standard her father got a transfer to Ahmedabad. The aspiring actress completed the rest of her education from Ahmedabad.

Mon, 25 May 2020 08:08:41 +0530
Domestic flights resume from Bengaluru airport cautiously

Bengaluru, Domestic flights of a few airlines resumed from this tech city on a cautious note after they were grounded for over 2 months due to Covid-19 induced extended lockdown, an official said on Monday.

"The first flight of Air Asia took off at 5.35 a.m. to Ranchi in Jharkhand with 173 passengers and an Indigo flight from Chennai was the first to land at 7.30 a.m.," the airport operator official told IANS here.

Till 9.00 a.m., 17 flights departed to various destinations and 5 landed from other cities.

"About 60 departures and 54 arrivals are scheduled for the first day of domestic operations by different airlines from the Kempegowda international airport," the official said.

With the Karnataka government making 7-day institutional quarantine mandatory for passengers flying from the 6 most Covid-hit states, many fliers are learnt to be wary of rushing to the city, as they don't want to be 'stranded' again in a hotel or hostel booked for a week-long compulsory stay.

The 6 most Covid-hit states are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

Passengers from low Covid prevalence cities or states will have to be in 14-day home quarantine.

In the first five hours of operations since 5 a.m., delays in departures and arrivals occurred due to teething troubles and in following the stringent standard operating procedures stipulated by the state-run Airport Authority of India.

Some flights, including an Air India service to Hyderabad were suddenly cancelled without prior notice to the passengers.

The airport operator - Bangalore International Airline Ltd (BIAL) has geared up to handle around 215 air traffic movements a day, including 108 departures and 107 arrivals.

"Airlines have been allotted slots to depart every 10 minutes," said an official of a budget carrier.

Air India, Indigo, SpiceJet, Vistara and Air Asia are among the airlines allowed to operate one-third of their services under the new guidelines, including social distancing, wearing of mask and washing hands with sanitizers.

As the third busiest airport after Mumbai and New Delhi in normal times, the country's first greenfield airport under the public-private partnership has been functional even during the extended lockdown, with cargo services by domestic and international airlines and inbound/outbound evacuation flights since March-end.

"As per standard operating procedure, only asymptomatic passengers who have downloaded the Aarogya Setu app and booked the air ticket online will be allowed into the airport on showing an e-boarding pass or its printed version at the entrance and after thermal screening and hand washing with sanitiser, asserted the official.

For the first time, the movement of passengers for departure from parking to boarding will be contactless to maintain physical distancing and avoid risk of touching any surface in the airport.

"Even sanitiser-dispensers will be touch-free in the airport terminal. So also food and beverage service and retail sales in the departure lounge.
(IANS)

Mon, 25 May 2020 06:57:30 +0530
Australian students return to classrooms

Canberra,Tens of thousands of Australian school students returned to their classrooms on Monday to resume full-time face-to-face classes, as the country plans to normalize its economic activity in July after curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Preschool, primary and secondary students in the state of New South Wales, the most populous in Australia, as well as those in Queensland and Tasmania, returned to school under strict hygiene measures, but will not yet be able to participate in excursions or competitions, reports Efe news.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said Monday morning that it was an "exciting day for lots of parents and teachers and students" and that "by all accounts, this morning things are going very well".

The state of Victoria will allow the return of its eldest and youngest students on Tuesday, while the others will do so on June 9.

The remaining four states and territories, which are responsible for managing education in their regions, have already standardized school classes or will do so progressively until early next month.

The return of schoolchildren has put pressure on public transport, which has been restricted in New South Wales.

Despite the fact that the government's health ministry has assured that children are not at risk of contracting the coronavirus by returning to school, more than 7,000 parents have signed a petition on Change.org to demand that New South Wales authorities deem that going back to class is not compulsory.

Meanwhile, universities were continuing to analyze how to resume face-to-face classes, mainly in laboratories, although the decision will depend on each tertiary institution and each state and territory.

International students, many of whom are still outside the country due to the closure of borders, contributed about A$37.6 billion ($24.5 billion) last fiscal year.

Australian states and territories have begun to implement Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government plan at different speeds, with a view to resuming all activities in July, although the country's borders will remain closed indefinitely.

Australia, which has carried out more than 1.2 million tests to detect the novel coronavirus, has recorded some 7,100 cases of COVID-19, including 102 deaths, and since May 17 has registered fewer than 14 new infections per day.
(IANS) 

Mon, 25 May 2020 06:04:48 +0530
India resumes passenger flight services

New Delhi, After many anxious moments India resumed civil passenger flight services on Monday, exactly two months after it had suspended these operations due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

Accordingly, IndiGo operated its Delhi-Pune service early on Monday.

The IGI Airport will receive a SpiceJet flight from Ahmedabad later.

Similarly, two flights operated at the CSMIA, while one departed from Mumbai for Patna, the first arrival was from Lucknow as the domestic flights' operations resumed. Both operated by IndiGo, the first service to Patna flew out at around 6.45 a.m., while the incoming flight landed around 8.20 a.m., said, airport officials.

Several other incoming and outgoing flights are scheduled during the day as the Maharashtra government late on Sunday permitted restricted operations in view of the Covid-19 pandemic that has gripped the state in a big way. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport authorities and the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation, state government and other agencies have deployed full Covid-19 protocols to handle the incoming and outgoing flight passengers.

Flights are so expected to resume at Pune, Nagpur -- both international airports -- besides smaller state airports like Nashik, Shirdi, Kolhapur etc.

The re-commencement of services comes a day after massive spike in ticket cancellations, along with a drop in bookings, was reported by the aviation industry for Monday's flights as several states had moved to limit air operations.

Consequently, in order to calm nervous passengers Centre said that barring just two states rest of the country is open to accept domestic flights.

On Sunday evening, Union Civil Aviation Minister, on Sunday evening tweeted that states across the country will resume domestic flight services on Monday except Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.

Airports in Andhra Pradesh will resume services on Tuesday and West Bengal will restart on Thursday.

"It has been a long day of hard negotiations with various state govts to recommence civil aviation operations in the country. Except Andhra Pradesh which will start on 26/5 & West Bengal on 28/5, domestic flights will recommence across the country from tomorrow," Puri tweeted.

Sources said that starting May 28, Kolkata and Bagdogra airports will each handle 10 arrivals and 10 departures per day.

Further, according to people in the know, both Vijayawada and Vizag airports in Andhra Pradesh will operate 20 per cent of both arrivals and departures as planned under the Summer Schedule. Hyderabad will resume services on Monday with 15 arrivals and 15 departures, sources said.

In another tweet, the minister said that starting Monday, there will be limited flights from Mumbai and as per approved one-third schedule from other airports in the state.

For Tamil Nadu, he said that there will be maximum 25 daily arrivals in Chennai, but there would be no limit on number of departures.

"As per request of state govt, operations in Andhra Pradesh will recommence on limited scale from 26 May. For Tamil Nadu there will be max 25 arrivals in Chennai but there's no limit on number of departures. For other airports in TN flights will operate as in other parts of country," Puri said.

Consequently, passengers, who had booked for flights on these and other inter-metro route segment for May 25, rushed to cancel their tickets.

Industry insiders had pointed out that majority of bookings received were for flights between metro cities, due to the "pent-up demand", but now with limited operations and quarantine norms, a large number of queries have been received from passengers travelling to these cities.

Even airline executives were left in lurch on Sunday evening as state after state came out with new norms for accepting flights, thereby, distorting their network planning.

Another daunting confusion was over the quarantine norm which many states said they will enforce on air travellers.

This led to a cascade of calls at the customer care centres of online travel agents.

Nevertheless, many passengers still wanted to travel, if they were provided with a choice for 'Home Quarantine'.

Earlier, air passengers gave an overwhelming response to the re-commencement of passenger flight services from May 25, as healthy demand was witnessed for tickets on all metro routes.

The Centre had only allowed limited passenger flight operations of about one-third capacity of the summer schedule to operate between metro cities and other destinations from May 25, adding that this capacity might be ramped up in the coming period.

Passenger air services were suspended for both scheduled domestic and international flights since March 25, due to the imposition of the nationwide lockdown in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
(IANS) 

Mon, 25 May 2020 05:51:18 +0530
Apple TV promotes kid friendly content as summer vacation begins

San Francisco, Apple has released a 30-second ad on YouTube and other channels to promote child-friendly movies and shows on its Apple TV+ streaming service as summer vacation begins in most countries including in India.

The 30-second ad spot titled 'The Next Generation' showcases content like 'Ghost Writer,' 'Helpsters,' 'Snoopy in Space' and ‘Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth,' among others.

The video that was released on Sunday describes the streaming service as offering "original series and films to inspire the next generation of dreamers, explorers, and believers".

"Here We Are" is the latest show to become available within the group, landing on the service on April 17, reports Apple Insider.

The film is adapted from the best-selling children's book by Oliver Jeffers and created by animation firm Studio AKA.

Meanwhile, WarnerMedia has announced its new streaming service HBO Max will be available from May 27 on Apple devices, fully integrated with the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TVs.

Customers who are billed through the App Store or through Apple TV Channels for HBO Now will be upgraded automatically to HBO Max at no additional charge.
(IANS) 

Mon, 25 May 2020 05:20:20 +0530
India records over 6K cases for 4th day straight tally crosses 1 38L

New Delhi,  India witnessed a spike of more than 6,000 cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) for the fourth consecutive day and also recorded 154 fresh fatalities in 24 hours, country's tally climbed to 1,38,845 with 4,021 people losing their lives to the pandemic.

According to the Union Health and Family Welfare department data, India witnessed a surge of 6,977 new cases in the last 24 hours. Of the total 1,38,845 cases, 77,103 are active cases while 57,720 people have been cured, including 3,280 cured in the last 24 hours.

Maharashtra continued to be the worst-hit state with 50,231 cases. 3,041 new cases and 58 deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours the took the tally of fatalities to 1,635. Of the 50,231 cases a total of 14,600 have been cured.

Tamil Nadu stood second with 16,277 cases, and Gujarat third with 14,056 cases. The death toll was 111 in Tamil Nadu and 858 in Gujarat.

Delhi reported 13,418 cases and 261 casualties, while 6,412 patients have been cured here.

States/UTs with more than 5,000 COVID-19 cases are Rajasthan (7,028), Madhya Pradesh (6,665) and Uttar Pradesh (6,268). Others with more than 1,000 cases are West Bengal (3,667), Andhra Pradesh (2,823), Punjab (2,060), Telangana (1,854), Bihar (2,587), Jammu and Kashmir (1,621), Karnataka (2,089), Odisha (1,336) and Haryana (1,184). States and UTs with significant number of cases are Kerala (847), Jharkhand (370), Chandigarh (238), Assam (378), Tripura (191), Chhattisgarh (252) and Uttarakhand (317).

Sikkim and Dadra and Nagar Haveli did not report any fresh incident in the last 24 hours, as per ministry data. Goa has reported 66 cases so far. A spurt has been observed in Pudducherry which now has 41 cases. There are now 52 cases in Ladakh.
(IANS)

Mon, 25 May 2020 05:06:24 +0530
Since childhood I have always dreamt to become an actor Aaira Dwivedi

Debutante Aaira Dwivedi featured in a music video titled Judaai sung by hairstylist turned singer Moin Sabri. Popular actor and anchor Gunjan Utreja also featured in the song. Speaking about her dreams, Dwivedi said, “Since childhood, I have always dreamt of becoming an actor and worked all these years towards fulfilling that dream. The fact that my first song has been shot like a movie is nothing short of a dream coming true.”

 

 

 

Elaborating further on the shoot, she said, “It was exceptionally challenging for me as an actor to shoot in the picturesque locations of Kyrgyzstan. In real life I am a fun-loving person always chit-chatting and laughing, and for this video, I had to step into the shoes of a character which was totally opposite to my real-life self. It was emotionally draining.”

Speaking about the location of the song, the actress said, “It was quite daunting to shoot in the harsh temperatures of -20 degrees in Kyrgyzstan but I am elated that the efforts were fruitful and is manifested in the final product.”

The song was shot in Kyrgyzstan for the first time and the beauty of the location has been captured adroitly in the video. Speaking of that Aaira said, “This is the first time this location has been used and a song has been shot on this scale. I can’t recall any other song which comes in closer to this. It looks like an action film filled with emotions.”

Commenting further on the project, Aaira added, “Working with Gunjan was a fruitful experience. This was the first time we shared screen space. For the story and emotions to come out like this, we both had to work extremely hard.”

Praising her co-star, Dwivedi said, “Gunjan is a hardworking, dedicated and extremely cooperative. After working with him for seven days in challenging conditions, I can vouch for the fact that he is one of the finest actors we have today and this video will prove that. People have showered us with great praises and compliments for our chemistry. I look forward to working with him soon.”

Today is a big day, as I soak in the love and compliments; I cannot help but remember the days I had been rejected at auditions. I am glad I never gave up on my dreams. This video is my first step towards achieving my dreams. One thing that I learnt with this shooting is that in order for you to succeed, you will have to work harder than you did yesterday. 

Elaborating on how she bagged the project, Aaira said, “Moin and I know each other for several years. The director wanted to cast a girl who could enact the right emotions. I accidentally bumped into him at Moin’s salon. That's where they asked me whether I could audition for the role. There is a saying: the best things in your life can happen at the most unexpected places. I now believe in this phrase.

Aaira Dwivedi was born in Mehsana in Gujarat and did her schooling from the city initially. Her father used to work in the oil field industry while her mother was a housewife, and when she was in the eighth standard, her father got a transfer to Ahmedabad. The aspiring actress completed the rest of her education from Ahmedabad.

Sun, 24 May 2020 11:12:55 +0530
AAP MLA tests negative for COVID to donate plasma

New Delhi, Aam Aadmi Party MLA from the Karol Bagh, Vishesh Ravi after being tested negative for COVID-19 after 22 days of quarantine said he will donate plasma after he recovers fully from the infection.

"I want to inform you all on the twenty second day of quarantine my Corona Test has come Negative. However, I still have a little cough, so according to the advice given by the doctor after taking rest for a few more days, I will be ready to donate plasma and return back to work," the MLA tweeted.

On May 1, Ravi along with his brother tested positive for COVID-19.

(IANS) 

Sun, 24 May 2020 10:16:08 +0530
AWS driving Netflix Fortnite Zoom entertain and empower millions at home

New Delhi, As you stream your favourite movies or TV series on Netflix, Disney Plus or Hulu, or connect with your team via video meet app Zoom, leading Cloud service provider Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the backdrop is ensuring seamless, scalable and secure connectivity to help people at home and organisations function while they can't operate normally at work.

According to AWS CEO Andy Jassy, a lot of things that are allowing humanity to deal with the global health crisis run on top of AWS which is Amazon's Cloud arm and topped $10 billion in quarterly revenue for the first time in the January-March period.

"We're just trying to help our customers in various areas. If you look at Netflix, it runs completely on top of AWS. So does Disney Plus. Hulu runs on AWS. Prime Video runs on AWS. All those entertainment pieces have kind of made time go by," Jassy said during a fireside chat at AWS Online Summit recently.

"Fortnite runs on top of AWS, and so does Sony PlayStation. A lot of other popular games too," he infomed.

The popular Battle Royale game Fortnite has gained 350 million registered players, who in April collectively spent over 3.2 billion hours in the game.

According to Jassy, AWS has its own video-conferencing service in Chime.

"But a lot of people use Zoom, and the vast majority of Zoom's cloud infrastructure runs on AWS and will for the foreseeable future," he said.

Amazon Chime Voice Connector is a service that enables enterprises to migrate their telephony workloads to AWS.

If you have kids at home, you also realise they're all doing e-learning at the moment.

"If you just look at companies like Blackboard and Instructure's Canvas, which run on top of AWS. A lot of the things that are allowing us to deal with the crisis run on top of AWS. So we're just trying to help our customers in various areas," Jassy emphasised.

AWS today offers 15 purpose-built database engines including relational, key-value, document, in-memory, graph, time series, and ledger databases.

"We have an unmatched number of those purpose-built databases that people are getting real value from and are changing the way they build applications. So (for us), it's just the way that people are rethinking how they build in this unprecedented era of data growth," informed Jassy.

It is interesting to see how manufacturing and industrial organisations are changing in these Covid-19 times.

"In these industrial organizations, they have all of these assets that function in their facilities and their factories, and they collect really important data. And today they're largely sending that data, through AWS IoT, to the cloud to store it and to analyze it," said Jassy.

Amazon AWS IoT has done well in terms of completeness benefiting from a robust Cloud IoT and Application Enablement capabilities. Further, AWS has been building its edge capabilities via AWS Greengrass.

AWS has grown into a behemoth in itself, raking in $10 billion in sales in the first quarter this year, with a super annual run rate of more than $40 billion.

The cloud computing service logged $10.2 billion in sales in the March quarter, up from $7.7 billion from the year-ago quarter - a growth rate of 33 per cent.

According to Amazon, AWS now spans 76 Availability Zones within 24 geographic regions, with announced plans for nine more Availability Zones and three more AWS Regions in Indonesia, Japan, and Spain.
(IANS)

Sun, 24 May 2020 09:05:10 +0530
Canadian provinces to ease restrictions despite concerns

Ottawa, Ontario and Quebec were among the Canadian provinces going ahead with plans to ease COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, despite concerns about their capacity for testing and tracking the spread of the virus, a media report said.

Health officials in Ontario on Saturday released data showing the province has added 412 cases, a number not as high as the 441 counted on Friday — the most on a single day since May 8 — but it's still in line with an upward trend seen in the past week and a half, CBC Canada said in the news report.

Matthew Oughton, an infectious diseases expert and professor at McGill University, told CBC News: "We should be monitoring much more, even than what we currently are, and we should certainly have more capacity in our hospital system to absorb new cases than we do right now.

"If we are lucky and everything goes smoothly, everyone would be thrilled with that. But if things don't go smoothly, we need to have surplus capacity, not already be at capacity in hospitals. That's really a setting for potential problems."

Earlier in the week, the Quebec government began allowing people to gather outdoors in groups of up to 10, from a maximum of three households.

There were 646 new cases of COVID-19 in the province on Friday and 65 more deaths.

Ontario, meanwhile, entered Stage 1 of its framework to reopen the economy on May 19, giving the green light for retail stores outside of shopping malls with street entrances to reopen with physical distancing measures, the CBC News report said.

Golf courses, marinas and private parks were also allowed to reopen.

As of Saturday, labs across Canada have tested 1,429,000 people for COVID-19, with about 5 per cent of these testing positive, according to Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam.

Currently, Canada has 83,621 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 6,447 deaths.
(IANS)

Sun, 24 May 2020 08:39:29 +0530
This optical chip can help download 1 000 HD movies in a split second

Sydney, A team of researchers has recorded world's fastest Internet speed from a single chip that can help download 1,000 high-definition movies in a split second, at a data speed of 44.2 Terabits per second from a single light source.

The research has the potential to become a game-changer at a time when billions of people are working from home and the Internet is under tremendous load.

Researchers from Monash, Swinburne and RMIT universities successfully tested and recorded the fastest internet data speed from a single optical chip.

Published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, the findings have the potential to fast-track telecommunications capacity worldwide.

The technology has the capacity to support the high-speed internet connections of 1.8 million households in Melbourne, Australia, at the same time, and billions across the world during peak periods.

Such demonstrations are usually confined to a laboratory but, for this study, researchers achieved such data speed using existing communications infrastructure, where they were able to efficiently load-test the network.

They used a new device that replaces 80 lasers with one single piece of equipment known as a micro-comb, which is smaller and lighter than existing telecommunications hardware.

It is the first time any micro-comb has been used in a field trial and possesses the highest amount of data produced from a single optical chip.

"We're currently getting a sneak-peak of how the infrastructure for the internet will hold up in two to three years' time, due to the unprecedented number of people using the internet for remote work, socialising and streaming," said Dr Bill Corcoran, co-lead author and lecturer in electrical and computer systems engineering at Monash University.

And it's not just Netflix the researchers are talking about here.

"It's the broader scale of what we use our communication networks for. This data can be used for self-driving cars and future transportation and it can help the medicine, education, finance and e-commerce industries, as well as enable us to read with our grandchildren from kilometres away," explained Corcoran.

The future ambition of the project is to scale up the current transmitters from hundreds of gigabytes per second towards tens of terabytes per second without increasing size, weight or cost.

"Long-term, we hope to create integrated photonic chips that could enable this sort of data rate to be achieved across existing optical fibre links with minimal cost," said Distinguished Professor Arnan Mitchell from RMIT.

Initially, these would be attractive for ultra-high-speed communications between data centres.

"However, we could imagine this technology becoming sufficiently low cost and compact that it could be deployed for commercial use by the general public in cities across the world," Mitchell added.
(IANS)

Sun, 24 May 2020 08:26:34 +0530
How is that Kerala could effectively combat COVID 19

The Kerala Left Democratic govt. Under the leadership of CM Pinarayi Vijayan in close collaboration with his team and people has managed to successfully curtail the human and economic losses whether due to the floods, the Nipa Virus, outbreak and now the covid19 pandemic which has surprisingly made Kerala a role model and topic of discussion worldwide.

 

 

 

How is it that Kerala could in actual fact productively combat COVID-19 when the world at large appeared not well prepared to respond to this health emergency? Kerala was the first state in India to have the first case of corona positive on January 30 with topping the charts alarmingly with more cases than elsewhere in the country before WHO declaring it as a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. The population of Kerala is 33 million, with 667 confirmed positive cases and only four deaths reported till date. On the other hand, Italy and Spain too had confirmed the first case of COVID positive on January 31 on par with Kerala. Today as on May 22 2020 Italy has a population of 66 million has 2,28,000 confirmed positive cases and the death toll has reached 32,486, whereas Spain with a population of 41.1

 million people coronavirus cases have touched 2,33,037, and the death toll figure is 27,940.

For example, if we look into the third case study of New York, the most developed state of U.S. and Kerala as compared to highlight and understand the severe difference in the approach of two states. The population of Kerala is 33 million, while that of New York is 19 million. The per capita income of Kerala is $2,937 while that of New York state is $88,981. There are 1.8 hospital beds for every 1,000 people in Kerala, whereas the corresponding figure for New York is 3.1 beds. Kerala has 1.7 doctors per 1,000 persons; New York is credited with 3.8 doctors. However, the total corona positive cases in Kerala as on May 20 was 667 people of which the state had reported just four deaths while 12 had returned recently to the state from abroad and 12 from the opening of interstate boundaries. One hundred sixty-one people in the state are still undergoing treatment, and 502 having recovered out of a total of 667. On the subsequent date, New York state had over 3,57,757  corona positive cases with more than 28,437deaths as per New York times official report updated May20,2020,8:37A.M

Kerala has the lowest mortality rate as well as the highest recovery rate with respect to coronavirus infections having half the population size compared to entire Italy or double the population of New York State. The initial statistical projection of cases and deaths became outmoded due to the organic method adopted by Kerala. The number of tests conducted in Kerala is just 10 per cent of the figures for countries such as the U.S., Italy and Spain. The real but aggressive contact tracing and keeping a large number of people under observation helped Kerala in preventing community spread. Ninety per cent of the positive cases were detected among people who were kept under observation.

 

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan stressed the need for a strict vigil, and quarantine pointing out that the number of cases has spiked recently due to people coming from abroad and opening of the interstate borders.  The credit should go to Kerala’s strong local governance, effective social structure and well-knit multi-layered public health formation. The state may be way behind in industrial production, but its human development indices are the best foundation of social equality. Kerala is well known for its heavy dose of politics which is prevalent in all aspects of life in the state. A positive feature of this is that there is a close interconnect between the layers of administration and people. Larger civil society is quite familiar with the links between citizens’ health and good governance. These multiple publics, with their strong participatory ethics, engage with the right to equal health. They thus forced the larger civil society and successive governments to consider health equality as one of the foundational prerequisites for social equality. The presence of multiple voices expect both people and government to help each other, even though the parties in power use the inter connecting network till the micro level of the people in building a strong public health system with utmost belief and trust has been the main reason for the success of any disaster striking Kerala. The management of top to bottom Government functionaries

effectively handled with the active participation of people interface, which becomes handy during any crisis. One can argue that Kerala’s success is intrinsically connected to its vibrant public sphere in which the ideas of rights and citizenship are debated constantly.

The success of the current government in battling the pandemic lies in its judicious realization of the political and civic sensibilities of its people and its ability to extract solutions based on these factors. Consequently, the government under the leadership of Pinarayi Vijayan did not lose any time when it was alerted to Covid-19’s dangers and proceeded to raise people’s awareness even as first world leaders like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson continued to overlook the urgency of the situation in the initial months

And for the rest of us Indians, we need to figure out. Finally, what matters??? Communal supremacy, ideological pride, retrospecting history or a system that promises us a good, healthy, respectable quality of life for our family and us.Think about it!

Sun, 24 May 2020 07:54:12 +0530
How is that Kerala could effectively combat COVID 19

The Kerala Left Democratic govt. Under the leadership of CM Pinarayi Vijayan in close collaboration with his team and people has managed to successfully curtail the human and economic losses whether due to the floods, the Nipa Virus, outbreak and now the covid19 pandemic which has surprisingly made Kerala a role model and topic of discussion worldwide.

How is it that Kerala could productively combat COVID-19 when the world at large appeared not well prepared to respond to this health emergency? Kerala was the first state in India to have the first case of corona positive on January 30 with topping the charts alarmingly with more cases than elsewhere in the country before WHO declaring it as a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. The population of Kerala is 33 million, with 667 confirmed positive cases and only four deaths reported till date. On the other hand, Italy and Spain too had confirmed the first case of COVID positive on January 31 on par with Kerala. Today as on May 22 2020 Italy has a population of 66 million has 2,28,000 confirmed positive cases and the death toll has reached 32,486, whereas Spain with a population of 41.1

 

 

 million people coronavirus cases have touched 2,33,037, and the death toll figure is 27,940.

For example, if we look into the third case study of New York, the most developed state of U.S. and Kerala as compared to highlight and understand the severe difference in the approach of two states. The population of Kerala is 33 million, while that of New York is 19 million. The per capita income of Kerala is $2,937 while that of New York state is $88,981. There are 1.8 hospital beds for every 1,000 people in Kerala, whereas the corresponding figure for New York is 3.1 beds. Kerala has 1.7 doctors per 1,000 persons; New York is credited with 3.8 doctors. However, the total corona positive cases in Kerala as on May 20 was 667 people of which the state had reported just four deaths while 12 had returned recently to the state from abroad and 12 from the opening of interstate boundaries. One hundred sixty-one people in the state are still undergoing treatment, and 502 having recovered out of a total of 667. On the subsequent date, New York state had over 3,57,757  corona positive cases with more than 28,437deaths as per New York times official report updated May20,2020,8:37A.M

Kerala has the lowest mortality rate as well as the highest recovery rate with respect to coronavirus infections having half the population size compared to entire Italy or double the population of New York State. The initial statistical projection of cases and deaths became outmoded due to the organic method adopted by Kerala. The number of tests conducted in Kerala is just 10 per cent of the figures for countries such as the U.S., Italy and Spain. The real but aggressive contact tracing and keeping a large number of people under observation helped Kerala in preventing community spread. Ninety per cent of the positive cases were detected among people who were kept under observation.

 

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan stressed the need for a strict vigil, and quarantine pointing out that the number of cases has spiked recently due to people coming from abroad and opening of the interstate borders.  The credit should go to Kerala’s strong local governance, effective social structure and well-knit multi-layered public health formation. The state may be way behind in industrial production, but its human development indices are the best foundation of social equality. Kerala is well known for its heavy dose of politics which is prevalent in all aspects of life in the state. A positive feature of this is that there is a close interconnect between the layers of administration and people. Larger civil society is quite familiar with the links between citizens’ health and good governance. These multiple publics, with their strong participatory ethics, engage with the right to equal health. They thus forced the larger civil society and successive governments to consider health equality as one of the foundational prerequisites for social equality. The presence of multiple voices expect both people and government to help each other, even though the parties in power use the inter connecting network till the micro level of the people in building a strong public health system with utmost belief and trust has been the main reason for the success of any disaster striking Kerala. The management of top to bottom Government functionaries

effectively handled with the active participation of people interface, which becomes handy during any crisis. One can argue that Kerala’s success is intrinsically connected to its vibrant public sphere in which the ideas of rights and citizenship are debated constantly.

The success of the current government in battling the pandemic lies in its judicious realization of the political and civic sensibilities of its people and its ability to extract solutions based on these factors. Consequently, the government under the leadership of Pinarayi Vijayan did not lose any time when it was alerted to Covid-19’s dangers and proceeded to raise people’s awareness even as first world leaders like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson continued to overlook the urgency of the situation in the initial months

And for the rest of us Indians, we need to figure out. Finally, what matters??? Communal supremacy, ideological pride, retrospecting history or a system that promises us a good, healthy, respectable quality of life for our family and us... Think about it!

Sun, 24 May 2020 07:44:38 +0530
2 9 crore Indian job seekers data leaked on Dark Web

New Delhi,  In a startling revelation, cybersecurity researchers have claimed that a hacker has posted personal details of nearly 2.9 crore Indian job seekers at one of the hacking forums on the Dark Web for free.

As part of the regular sweep over the Deep Web and Dark Web, researchers from cybersecurity firm Cyble came across an interesting item, where a threat actor posted 2.3GB (zipped) file on one of the hacking forums.

"The leak actually has a lot of personal details of millions of Indians Job seekers from different states," Cyble said in its blog on Friday.

This breach includes sensitive information such as email, phone, home address, qualification and work experience etc from job seekers spanning across states, from New Delhi to Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for such personal information to conduct various nefarious activities such as identity thefts, scams, and corporate espionage.

"It appears to have originated from a resume aggregator service given the sheer volume and detailed information," it added.

Cyble indexed this information at ‘AmIbreached.com; – Cyble's data breach monitoring and notification platform.

"Cyble researchers have identified a sensitive data breach on the darkweb where an actor has leaked personal details of nearly 29 million Indian job seekers from various states.

"Cyble's team is still investigating this further and will be updating their article as they bring more facts to the surface,' it said in a statement.

Cyble said it has acquired the leaked data.

The same cyber security firm earlier exposed that Bengaluru-based edtech firm Unacademy was hacked.

According to Cyble researchers, nearly 22 million Unacademy user accounts were affected and the data was dumped and sold on Dark Web.

'We would like to assure our users that no sensitive information such as financial data or location has been breached," said Hemesh Singh, Co- Founder and CTO, Unacademy, in a statement.

In April, hackers sold personal data of a whopping 267 million Facebook users for just Rs 41,500 (approximately 500 Euros) that includes email addresses, names, Facebook IDs, dates of birth and phone numbers.

No passwords of the 267 million Facebook users were exposed by the hacker, according to Cyble.
(IANS)

Sun, 24 May 2020 07:20:35 +0530
Tomatoes selling below Re 1 per kg in Delhi wholesale markets

New Delhi, In the wholesale markets of the national capital, the prices of all vegetables, including tomatoes, onions have come down drastically this month. In Asia's largest wholesale market for fruits and vegetables -- Azadpur Mandi, tomatoes have started selling at less than Re 1 per kg.

Mandi traders and agents say that the number of vegetable retailers has decreased in the market, due to which the demand is less.

The auditor of Okhla Mandi, Vijay Ahuja told IANS that not only tomatoes but other green vegetables are also being sold at a quarter to one price.

Ahuja said that the wholesale price of 'Ghiya or louki' (Bottle Gourd) has increased from two to three rupees per kg and the 'Turai' (Ridge Gourd) is being sold for Rs six per kg.

Similarly, the prices of other vegetables have also come down. The average price of onion has dropped by one and a half rupees so far this month.

Ahuja said that the price has come down due to the migration of millions of people from Delhi.

Rajendra Sharma, a businessman at the Azadpur Mandi and president of the Indian Merchant Association, said that the prices of all vegetables, including tomatoes, have come down due to reduced demand in the market.

He said that the restaurants, dhabas are closed which has reduced the consumption.

Besides the reduced demand, Sharma said that because of the token system, customers have to wait longer, which is also dissuading them from coming to the market.

Another trader from Mandi said that lakhs of labourers have migrated from Delhi, so the consumption of vegetables has reduced, but the demand for fruits has not reduced, so the price of fruits has not come down.

According to the rate of Azadpur Mandi APMC, where the wholesale price of tomato was Rs 6-15.25 per kg on May 1, the cost is Rs 0.75-5.25 per kg for the last three days.

Similarly, where the wholesale price of onion was Rs 4.50-11.25 per kg on May 1, it was Rs 2.50-8.50 per kg on Saturday.

However, in various colonies of Delhi and surrounding areas, vegetable vendors are selling tomatoes for Rs 15-20 per kg.

Similarly, the prices of other vegetables are also moving higher than the wholesale price. Asked the reason for this, Shivpal, who is selling fruits and vegetables in Delhi's R.K. Puram, said that some of the vegetables or fruits that he brings from the wholesale market in the mandi, gets spoiled. Apart from this, the fare of transporting is higher, so they have to sell at a higher price than the wholesale market.

(IANS)

Sun, 24 May 2020 07:11:31 +0530
Yogi performs rudrabhishek for safety from corona

Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh), Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath performed 'Rudrabhishek' (a ritual to appease Lord Shiva) at the Gorakhnath temple, of which he is the head priest, for the safety of mankind from the Corona pandemic.

The ritual was held on Saturday and lasted two hours, according to temple officials.

The Chief Minister had reached Gorakhpur on Friday evening after almost two months, and returned to the state capital on Saturday.

"The Chief Minister also visited the Gaushala in the temple complex and took stock of sanitation in the area. He also held a review meeting with officials on the Corona situation and also the pace of developmental projects," said the official.

He held meetings with doctors at the Guru Gorakshnath hospital before returning to the state capital.

The Chief Minister had not visited Gorakhpur since the lockdown began and this was one of his longest periods of absence from his home town.
(IANS) 

Sun, 24 May 2020 07:08:47 +0530
Over 6k cases for 3rd day India s corona tally above 1 30 lakh

New Delhi, With 6,768 new coronavirus cases -- denoting over 6,000 new cases for the third day in a row -- India's total tally climbed to 1,31,868 on Sunday, the Health Ministry data revealed. At least 147 more corona fatalities have been recorded since Saturday, the Ministry said.

Of the total cases, 73,560 are active whereas 3,867 people lost their lives to the highly contagious disease. A total of 54,441 people have been cured so far, including 2,658 in the last 24 hours.

Maharashtra continued to be the worst-hit state with 47,190 corona cases, 1,577 deaths but also 13,404 recovered patients.

Tamil Nadu came second with 15,512 cases, and Gujarat third with 13,664 cases. The death toll was 103 in Tamil Nadu and 829 in Gujarat. Delhi reported 12,910 cases and 231 casualties, while 6,267 patients have been cured here.

States/UTs with more than 5k cases are Rajasthan (6,742), Madhya Pradesh (6,371) and Uttar Pradesh (6,017). Others with more than 1,000 cases are West Bengal (3,459), Andhra Pradesh (2,757), Punjab (2,045), Telangana (1,813), Bihar (2,380), Jammu and Kashmir (1,569), Karnataka (1,959), Odisha (1,269) and Haryana (1,131). States and UTs with significant number of corona cases are Kerala (795), Jharkhand (350), Chandigarh (225), Assam (329), Tripura (189), Chhattisgarh (225) and Uttarakhand (244).

Sikkim has reported its first case, as per ministry data, while in Dadar Nagar Haveli one more case has emerged, taking its tally to two. Goa has reported 55 cases so far. A spurt has been observed in Pudducherry which now has 26 cases. There are now 49 cases in Ladakh.
IANS

Sun, 24 May 2020 07:02:23 +0530
Over 6k cases for 3rd day India s corona tally above 1 30 lakh

New Delhi, With 6,768 new coronavirus cases -- denoting over 6,000 new cases for the third day in a row -- India's total tally climbed to 1,31,868 on Sunday, the Health Ministry data revealed. At least 147 more corona fatalities have been recorded since Saturday, the Ministry said.

Of the total cases, 73,560 are active whereas 3,867 people lost their lives to the highly contagious disease. A total of 54,441 people have been cured so far, including 2,658 in the last 24 hours.

Maharashtra continued to be the worst-hit state with 47,190 corona cases, 1,577 deaths but also 13,404 recovered patients.

Tamil Nadu came second with 15,512 cases, and Gujarat third with 13,664 cases. The death toll was 103 in Tamil Nadu and 829 in Gujarat. Delhi reported 12,910 cases and 231 casualties, while 6,267 patients have been cured here.

States/UTs with more than 5k cases are Rajasthan (6,742), Madhya Pradesh (6,371) and Uttar Pradesh (6,017). Others with more than 1,000 cases are West Bengal (3,459), Andhra Pradesh (2,757), Punjab (2,045), Telangana (1,813), Bihar (2,380), Jammu and Kashmir (1,569), Karnataka (1,959), Odisha (1,269) and Haryana (1,131). States and UTs with significant number of corona cases are Kerala (795), Jharkhand (350), Chandigarh (225), Assam (329), Tripura (189), Chhattisgarh (225) and Uttarakhand (244).

Sikkim has reported its first case, as per ministry data, while in Dadar Nagar Haveli one more case has emerged, taking its tally to two. Goa has reported 55 cases so far. A spurt has been observed in Pudducherry which now has 26 cases. There are now 49 cases in Ladakh.
(IANS) 

Sun, 24 May 2020 06:55:51 +0530
Outraged China asks India to refrain from supporting Taiwan

New Delhi/Beijing, May 23 Outraged by the subtle support that the ruling BJP extended to the democratically elected government of Taiwan, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime has asked India to "refrain from such acts."

On Wednesday, in an unprecedented move, two parliamentarians of the BJP, Meenakshi Lekhi and Rahul Kaswan, 'virtually attended' the swearing-in ceremony of Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen and sent her congratulations. Tsai was sworn in for her second term.

As most of the international travel remains suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic which originated in Wuhan city of Hubei province in China, Lekhi and Kaswan were among the 92 dignitaries, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, representing 41 countries, who virtually participated in the ceremony.

Though the Indian government did not officially participate in the event, the presence of two well-known BJP MPs miffed China so much that its Foreign Ministry without naming anyone on the same day objected and hoped everyone would "support the just cause of Chinese people to oppose the secessionist activities for 'Taiwan independence' and realise national reunification."

Now a counsellor (parliament) of the embassy of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in New Delhi, Liu Bing has registered CCP's protest against India's participation in the ceremony by writing to both Lekhi and Kaswan. Liu Bing shared a copy of the letter with the IANS.

In his complaint, Liu called Lekhi and Kaswan's congratulatory message to President Tsai "utterly wrong" which needs to be "corrected".

"The one-China principle, enshrined by the UN Charter and its relevant resolutions, is a generally recognized norm in international relations and a general consensus of the international community," he claimed.

Liu Bing reminded the parliamentarians that "the Indian governments have pledged to adhere to one-China principle since the bilateral ties were established seventy years ago."

"Any wrong signals" including the message of congratulation to President Tsai, Liu warned, "will encourage those separatists to go even farther on the wrong and dangerous track, which would ultimately undermine the peace and prosperity of the region."

He strongly urged the BJP parliamentarians to "refrain from such acts and instead do good to support China's great cause of unification."

Describing President Tsai as "the locally elected leader in China's Taiwan Province", Liu said that "unfortunately, the authority led by her in Taiwan province has refused to accept the '1992 consensus' that both sides of the Taiwan Straits belong to one China and will work together towards national unification."

"On the contrary, Madam Tsai has never renounced to seek 'Taiwan Independence' and kept engaged in separatist activities in one way or the other," he wrote in the letter.

Since the Communist Party of China gained control of the mainland China in 1949, pushing out the Republic of China (ROC) government to the island state of Taiwan, the political status of Taiwan has remained uncertain. The ROC was replaced by the PRC's membership at the UN in 1971. The PRC refuses diplomatic ties with countries that recognize Taiwan as an independent state.

Source : IANS

Sun, 24 May 2020 06:49:24 +0530
Trump could form panel to probe anticonservative bias online

San Francisco, US President Donald Trump wants to form a panel that would examine complaints of anticonservative bias and censorship on social media platforms, said a media report.

Trump has on many occasions alleged that the platforms like Facebook and Twitter do not give equal weightage to conservative views.

"The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google," he tweeted last week.

The US President added that the administration is "working to remedy this illegal situation."

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal on Saturday, it now seems that the US President actually has an action plan to address his concerns.

The scope and authority of the panel is still under the clouds, but sources of the outlet said that the plans may include a "White House-created commission" that would work in tandem with other agencies like the Federal Elections Commission and Federal Communications Commission.

In a White House meeting last year, Trump, who is a prolific Twitter user, complained to the company's CEO Jack Dorsey that he was losing followers.

On one occasion, Trump even accused Twitter of playing "political games."

Social media platforms have said that its rules are impartial.

A Twitter spokesperson told The Verge on Saturday that the platform enforces "the Twitter Rules impartially for all users, regardless of their background or political affiliation."

Twitter is also in regular touch with elected officials in efforts to improve the platform, the spokesperson added.
(IANS) 

Sun, 24 May 2020 06:47:41 +0530
testSun, 24 May 2020 06:43:19 +0530testSun, 24 May 2020 06:39:54 +0530testSun, 24 May 2020 06:37:09 +0530testSun, 24 May 2020 06:13:47 +0530testSun, 24 May 2020 06:07:15 +0530Over 6k cases for 2nd consecutive day India tally crosses 1 30L

New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) With 6,768 new cases on the second day in a row, the total case count of the novel coronavirus in the country crossed 1.30 lakh mark and docked at 1,31,868 on Sunday, the Health Ministry data revealed.

At least 147 fatalities have also been recorded since Saturday, said the Health Ministry.

Of the total cases, 73,560 are active cases, while at least 3,867 people lost their lives due to this highly contagious disease. However, a total of 54,441 people have been cured so far, at least 2,658 in the last 24 hours from the disease.

The worst hit state continued to be Maharashtra with 47,190 cases, 1,577 deaths while 13,404 people have recovered.

Tamil Nadu after Maharashtra has reported the most cases with at least 15,512 cases, while Gujarat is on the third spot with 13,664 cases. At least 829 deaths have been reported from Gujarat and a total of 103 from Tamil Nadu.

The national capital reported 12,910 cases and 231 casualties, while 6,267 have been cured here. The states and UTs that have reported more than 5,000, cases are Rajasthan (6742), Madhya Pradesh (6,371) Uttar Pradesh (6,017).

Other major states and UTs that have reported more than 1,000 cases are West Bengal (3,459), Andhra Pradesh (2,757), Punjab (2,045), Telangana (1,813), Bihar (2,380), Jammu and Kashmir (1,569), Karnataka (1,959), Odisha (1,269) and Haryana (1,131).

The states and UTs that have reported a significant number of corona cases are Kerala (795), Jharkhand (350), Chandigarh (225), Assam (329), Tripura (189), Chhattisgarh (225) and Uttarakhand (244).

Sikkim has reported its first case as per the health ministry data, while in Dadar Nagar Haveli one more case has emerged and now there are two.

Goa continues to see the resurgence and reported 55 cases so far. A spurt has also been observed in Puducherry, which has now 26 cases. There are now 49 cases in Ladakh.
 

Sun, 24 May 2020 05:06:00 +0530
Over 6k cases for 2nd consecutive day India tally crosses 1 30L

New Delhi,  With 6,768 new cases on the second day in a row, the total case count of the novel coronavirus in the country crossed 1.30 lakh mark and docked at 1,31,868 on Sunday, the Health Ministry data revealed.

At least 147 fatalities have also been recorded since Saturday, said the Health Ministry.

Of the total cases, 73,560 are active cases, while at least 3,867 people lost their lives due to this highly contagious disease. However, a total of 54,441 people have been cured so far, at least 2,658 in the last 24 hours from the disease.

The worst-hit state continued to be Maharashtra with 47,190 cases, 1,577 deaths while 13,404 people have recovered.



Tamil Nadu after Maharashtra has reported the most cases with at least 15,512 cases, while Gujarat is on the third spot with 13,664 cases. At least 829 deaths have been reported from Gujarat and a total of 103 from Tamil Nadu.

The national capital reported 12,910 cases and 231 casualties, while 6,267 have been cured here. The states and UTs that have reported more than 5,000, cases are Rajasthan (6742), Madhya Pradesh (6,371) Uttar Pradesh (6,017).

Other major states and UTs that have reported more than 1,000 cases are West Bengal (3,459), Andhra Pradesh (2,757), Punjab (2,045), Telangana (1,813), Bihar (2,380), Jammu and Kashmir (1,569), Karnataka (1,959), Odisha (1,269) and Haryana (1,131).

The states and UTs that have reported a significant number of corona cases are Kerala (795), Jharkhand (350), Chandigarh (225), Assam (329), Tripura (189), Chhattisgarh (225) and Uttarakhand (244).

Sikkim has reported its first case as per the health ministry data, while in Dadar Nagar Haveli one more case has emerged and now there are two.

Goa continues to see the resurgence and reported 55 cases so far. A spurt has also been observed in Puducherry, which has now 26 cases. There are now 49 cases in Ladakh.
 

Sun, 24 May 2020 05:03:50 +0530
Over 6k cases for 2nd consecutive day India tally crosses 1 30L

New Delhi,  With 6,768 new cases on the second day in a row, the total case count of the novel coronavirus in the country crossed 1.30 lakh mark and docked at 1,31,868 on Sunday, the Health Ministry data revealed.

At least 147 fatalities have also been recorded since Saturday, said the Health Ministry.

Of the total cases, 73,560 are active cases, while at least 3,867 people lost their lives due to this highly contagious disease. However, a total of 54,441 people have been cured so far, at least 2,658 in the last 24 hours from the disease.

The worst-hit state continued to be Maharashtra with 47,190 cases, 1,577 deaths while 13,404 people have recovered.


Tamil Nadu after Maharashtra has reported the most cases with at least 15,512 cases, while Gujarat is on the third spot with 13,664 cases. At least 829 deaths have been reported from Gujarat and a total of 103 from Tamil Nadu.

The national capital reported 12,910 cases and 231 casualties, while 6,267 have been cured here. The states and UTs that have reported more than 5,000, cases are Rajasthan (6742), Madhya Pradesh (6,371) Uttar Pradesh (6,017).

Other major states and UTs that have reported more than 1,000 cases are West Bengal (3,459), Andhra Pradesh (2,757), Punjab (2,045), Telangana (1,813), Bihar (2,380), Jammu and Kashmir (1,569), Karnataka (1,959), Odisha (1,269) and Haryana (1,131).

The states and UTs that have reported a significant number of corona cases are Kerala (795), Jharkhand (350), Chandigarh (225), Assam (329), Tripura (189), Chhattisgarh (225) and Uttarakhand (244).

Sikkim has reported its first case as per the health ministry data, while in Dadar Nagar Haveli one more case has emerged and now there are two.

Goa continues to see the resurgence and reported 55 cases so far. A spurt has also been observed in Puducherry, which has now 26 cases. There are now 49 cases in Ladakh.
(IANS)

Sun, 24 May 2020 05:00:40 +0530
Over 6k cases for 2nd consecutive day India tally crosses 1 30L

New Delhi, With 6,768 new cases on the second day in a row, the total case count of the novel coronavirus in the country crossed 1.30 lakh mark and docked at 1,31,868 on Sunday, the Health Ministry data revealed.

At least 147 fatalities have also been recorded since Saturday, said the Health Ministry.

Of the total cases, 73,560 are active cases, while at least 3,867 people lost their lives due to this highly contagious disease. However, a total of 54,441 people have been cured so far, at least 2,658 in the last 24 hours from the disease.



The worst hit state continued to be Maharashtra with 47,190 cases, 1,577 deaths while 13,404 people have recovered.

Tamil Nadu after Maharashtra has reported the most cases with at least 15,512 cases, while Gujarat is on the third spot with 13,664 cases. At least 829 deaths have been reported from Gujarat and a total of 103 from Tamil Nadu.

The national capital reported 12,910 cases and 231 casualties, while 6,267 have been cured here. The states and UTs that have reported more than 5,000, cases are Rajasthan (6742), Madhya Pradesh (6,371) Uttar Pradesh (6,017).

Other major states and UTs that have reported more than 1,000 cases are West Bengal (3,459), Andhra Pradesh (2,757), Punjab (2,045), Telangana (1,813), Bihar (2,380), Jammu and Kashmir (1,569), Karnataka (1,959), Odisha (1,269) and Haryana (1,131).

The states and UTs that have reported a significant number of corona cases are Kerala (795), Jharkhand (350), Chandigarh (225), Assam (329), Tripura (189), Chhattisgarh (225) and Uttarakhand (244).

Sikkim has reported its first case as per the health ministry data, while in Dadar Nagar Haveli one more case has emerged and now there are two.

Goa continues to see the resurgence and reported 55 cases so far. A spurt has also been observed in Puducherry, which has now 26 cases. There are now 49 cases in Ladakh.
(IANS) 

Sun, 24 May 2020 04:51:18 +0530
Pregnant women with Covid 19 show placenta injury Study

New York, The placentas from 16 women who tested positive for Covid-19 while pregnant showed evidence of injury, the organ that acts as the gut, kidneys, liver and lungs for a fetus during pregnancy, say researchers.

According to the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, pathological exams completed directly following birth found evidence of insufficient blood flow from the mother to the fetus and blood clots in the placenta. The type of injury seen in the placentas shows abnormal blood flow between the mothers and their babies in utero, pointing to a new complication of Covid-19. The findings could help inform how pregnant women should be clinically monitored during the pandemic.

"Most of these babies were delivered full-term after otherwise normal pregnancies, so you wouldn't expect to find anything wrong with the placentas, but this virus appears to be inducing some injury in the placenta," said study senior author Dr Jeffrey Goldstein, assistant professor of pathology at Northwestern University in the US.

"Not to paint a scary picture, but these findings worry me," said study researcher Emily Miller.

"This preliminary glimpse into how Covid-19 might cause changes in the placenta carries some pretty significant implications for the health of a pregnancy. We must discuss whether we should change how we monitor pregnant women right now," Miller stressed.

According to the researchers, examining a woman's placenta allows a pathologist to follow a retroactive roadmap of a woman's pregnancy to learn what happened to the baby in utero or what could happen to both the mother and the infant after birth.

"The placenta acts as a ventilator for the fetus, and if it gets damaged, there can be dire outcomes," Miller said.

"In this very limited study, these findings provide some signs that the ventilator might not work as well for as long as we'd like it to if the mother tests positive for SARS-CoV2," Miller added.

The placentas in these patients had two common abnormalities: insufficient blood flow from the mother to the fetus with abnormal blood vessels called maternal vascular malperfusion (MVM) and blood clots in the placenta, called intervillous thrombi.

"Our finding support that there might be something clot-forming about coronavirus, and it's happening in the placenta," Goldstein added.

The 16 women in the study delivered their babies at Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women's Hospital. All tested positive for Covid-19. Four patients came in with flu-like symptoms three to five weeks before delivery and tested positive for the virus. The remaining patients all tested positive when they came in to deliver.

Five patients never developed symptoms, others were symptomatic at delivery. The team began testing placentas of Covid-19 positive mothers in early April. "They were healthy, full-term, beautifully normal babies, but our findings indicate a lot of the blood flow was blocked off and many of the placentas were smaller than they should have been," Miller said.

"Placentas get built with an enormous amount of redundancy. Even with only half of it working, babies are often completely fine. Still, while most babies will be fine, there's a risk that some pregnancies could be compromised," Miller noted.
(IANS) 

Sat, 23 May 2020 11:42:22 +0530
IBM lays off thousands of employees as Covid 19 hits business

San Francisco,  Arvind Krishna-led tech giant IBM has joined the league of companies who have started firing employees in tough Covid-19 times.
The company confirmed the lay offs in a statement given to the media late Friday.

"Recognizing the unique and difficult situation this business decision may create for some of our employees, IBM is offering subsidized medical coverage to all affected US employees through June 2021," said a company spokesperson.

"While we always consider the current environment, IBM's workforce decisions are in the interest of the long-term health of our business," said the company, adding that the "highly competitive marketplace requires flexibility to constantly remix high-value skills".

Both Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) and IBM have announced significant cost-cutting measures, including pay cuts and significant job losses, reports Ars Technica.

IBM, however, did not disclose how many workers are affected but media reports said thousands of employees are set to lose jobs in at least five

HPE also announced its cost-cutting plans "as part of its more recent quarterly earnings report".

The company will cut some salaries through October 31, with executives taking pay cuts of 20 to 25 per cent.

According to Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, he is hearing it's a balancing act between business units.

"IBM is moving as many resources as it can to the cloud. Essentially, you lay off some of the people without the skills you need and who can't be re-educated and you bring in people with certain skill sets. So not a net reduction in headcount," Moorhead told TechCrunch.

The company acquired Red Hat for $34 billion in 2018.
 

Sat, 23 May 2020 10:04:09 +0530
American billionaires richer by 434 billion during the pandemic

New York, As millions of US citizens lost their jobs in the Covid-19 pandemic, nations billionaires saw their net worth jump $434 billion in the first two months of pandemic, led by Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos ($34.6 billion) and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ($25 billion).

The top five US billionaires - Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett and Oracle's Larry Ellison - saw their wealth grow by a total of $75.5 billion, or 19 per cent.

"America's billionaires bound far ahead financially even as the rest of America was locked down during the first two months of the coronavirus pandemic," according to the report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies – Programme on Inequality (IPS).

"The surge in billionaire wealth during a global pandemic underscores the grotesque nature of unequal sacrifice," said Chuck Collins, director of the IPS Program on Inequality and co-author of the ‘Billionaire Bonanza 2020' report.

"While millions risk their lives and livelihoods as first responders and front line workers, these billionaires benefit from an economy and tax system that is wired to funnel wealth to the top," Collins added.

Between March 18 and May 19, the total net worth of the 600-plus US billionaires jumped by $434 billion or 15 per cent, based on the group's analysis of Forbes data.

During that same approximate period, more than 38 million working Americans lost their jobs, nearly 1.5 million Americans fell ill with the virus and almost 90,000 died from it.

The billionaires' worth rose from $2.948 trillion to $3.382 trillion in the period.

"Together, the top five captured 21 per cent of the total wealth growth of all 600-plus billionaires in the last two months. The fortunes of Bezos and Zuckerberg together grew by nearly $60 billion, or 14 per cent of the $434 billion total," said the report.

In March there were 614 billionaires on the Forbes list, and 630 two months later, including newcomer Kanye West at $1.3 billion.

Among other Covid-19 victims are the more than 16 million Americans who have likely lost employer-provided healthcare coverage.

"Low-wage workers, people of color and women have suffered disproportionately in the combined medical and economic crises. Billionaires are overwhelmingly white men," the report mentioned.

Decades of tax cuts for the rich have fueled the growth of billionaires and their wealth.

"The pandemic has revealed the deadly consequences of America's yawning wealth gap, and billionaires are the glaring symbol of that economic inequality," said Frank Clemente, ATF's executive director.
(IANS)

Sat, 23 May 2020 09:59:00 +0530
Delhi govt allows reopening of 66 private liquor shops

New Delhi, The Delhi government's excise department has allowed reopening of 66 private liquor shops in the national capital from Saturday, but the shop owners have been asked to strictly adhere to the odd-even rule.

According to the department, the shops can operate between 9 a.m. and 6.30 p.m. on alternate days. The L-7/L-9 shops were only allowed to resume sale subject to certain conditions.

"They shall deposit 70 per cent special corona fee on total sales daily, which will be deducted from their ledger account linked with their Vend-ID in ESCIMS. They should, therefore, maintain the requisite balance in their ledger account," the excise department said on Friday.

The department also asked the shop owners to strictly abide by the National Directives for COVID-19 Management and to take all possible measures including deployment of adequate number of guards, proper barricading, marking to ensure social distancing, in coordination with Delhi Police and local administration.

"In case of any un-scanned sale, the MSR Gap generated shall be treated as the stock sold and 70 per cent special corona fee shall be levied and payable at the same," it added.

The department further said that in case the shops which were allowed to operate comes under the containment zone in future, the same shall be closed immediately.
(IANS)

Sat, 23 May 2020 08:54:40 +0530
Chidambaram slams govt asks why RBI is infusing liquidity

New Delhi, Former Union Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram, on Saturday, slammed the central government and questioned why the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is infusing more liquidity as the growth in the financial year 2020-21 is headed towards negative territory.

In a series of tweets, Chidambaram said, "RBI Governor says demand has collapsed, growth in 2020-21 headed toward negative territory. Why is he then infusing more liquidity?"

The former Minister in next tweet also said that Shaktikanta Das should bluntly tell the government -- "Do your duty, take fiscal measures".

"Even after RBI's statement, is the Government or Finance Minister (Nirmala Sitharaman) lauding themselves for a package that has fiscal stimulus of less than 1 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP)?" he said.

Slamming the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), Chidambaram said, "RSS should be ashamed of how the government has dragged the economy into negative growth territory."

His remarks came a day after the RBI delivered an emergency rate cut for the second time in as many months on Friday as it judged that the Covid-19 pandemic poses a grave threat to the country and will lead to the first economic contraction in 40 years.

Das on Friday announced a 40 basis points (bps) cut in the repo and reverse repo rates, while markedly pivoting the central bank's focus from inflation control to fostering growth. Das pledged to take whatever "measures are necessary" to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic.

He also said that India's GDP growth rate for the financial year 2020-21 is likely to be in the negative territory.
(IANS) 

Sat, 23 May 2020 07:49:44 +0530
HCQ ups death risk warns Indian origin researcher in Lancet study

New York, A significant observational study led by Professor Mandeep R. Mehra, executive director of the Brigham and Women's Hospital Center for Advanced Heart Disease in Boston, has claimed that treatment with antimalarial drug chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine (taken with or without antibiotics azithromycin or clarithromycin) offers no benefit for patients with Covid-19.

The study, published in the prestigious journal The Lancet, comes after US President Donald Trump said he is taking hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus, even though health officials have warned it may be unsafe.

"This is the first large scale study to find statistically robust evidence that treatment with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine does not benefit patients with Covid-19," said Mehra.

"Instead, our findings suggest it may be associated with an increased risk of serious heart problems and increased risk of death,a he warned.

The study analysed data from nearly 15,000 patients with Covid-19, receiving a combination of any of the four drug regimens and 81,000 controls.

Treatment with these medications among patients with COVID-19, either alone or in combination with macrolide antibiotics, was linked to an increased risk of serious heart rhythm complications in these patients.

Researchers suggest these treatment regimens should not be used to treat COVID-19 outside of clinical trials until results from randomised clinical trials are available to confirm the safety and efficacy of these medications for COVID-19 patients.

"Randomised clinical trials are essential to confirm any harms or benefits associated with these agents. In the meantime, we suggest these drugs should not be used as treatments for COVID-19 outside of clinical trials," said Mehra.

Chloroquine is an antimalarial drug and its analogue, hydroxychloroquine, is used to treat autoimmune diseases including lupus and arthritis.

Both drugs have a good safety profile as treatments for those specific conditions, and the findings do not imply patients should stop taking these drugs if they are prescribed for approved conditions.

In the study, researchers analysed data from 96,032 patients hospitalised between December 20 2019 and April 14 2020 with laboratory confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection from 671 hospitals.

All of the patients included in the study had either been discharged or had died by April 21.

The team compared outcomes from patients treated with chloroquine alone (1,868), hydroxychloroquine alone (3,016), chloroquine in combination with a macrolide (3,783) or hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide (6,221). Patients from these four groups were compared with the remaining control group of 81,144 patients.

At the end of the study period, around one in 11 patients in the control group had died in hospital.

All four of the treatments were associated with a higher risk of dying in hospital.

The team also found that serious cardiac arrhythmias, which cause the lower chamber of the heart to beat rapidly and irregularly, were more common in the groups receiving either of the four treatment regimens.

The biggest increase was seen in the group treated with hydroxychloroquine in combination with a macrolide, where 8 per cent of patients developed a heart arrhythmia compared with 0.3 per cent patients in the control group (226/81144).

Several countries have advocated use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, either alone or in combination, as potential treatments for Covid-19.

"Justification for repurposing these medicines in this way is based on a small number of anecdotal experiences that suggest they may have ," said Professor Dr Frank Ruschitzka, Director of the Heart Center at University Hospital Zurich who also co-authored the study.

"However, previous small-scale studies have failed to identify robust evidence of a benefit and larger, randomised controlled trials are not yet completed. However, we now know from our study that the chance that these medications improve outcomes in COVID-19 is quite low," he elaborated.
(IANS)

Sat, 23 May 2020 06:41:21 +0530
PCGS for NBFCs operational Rs 3 lakh cr credit line for MSMEs soon

New Delhi,  The Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme (PCGS) for NBFCs has become operational and the Rs 3 lakh crore collateral-free credit line for MSMEs is expected to be operational soon, according to the Department of Financial Service (DFS).

In a tweet, post the meeting of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with chiefs of public sector banks (PSBs) on Friday, the DFS said that the formalities for the government-guaranteed credit for MSMEs are underway.

"PCGS scheme operational! Ensuring liquidity to #MSME! 100% Govt. Guaranteed Rs. 3 Lakh Cr credit line expected to be operational very soon. Formalities underway," said the DFS tweet.

In another tweet, the department further said that PSBs will prioritise sanctions under emergency credit, reassessment of working capital and guaranteed credit line in tier-II cities in each state and Union Territory by June 1.

The government and the PSBs have aimed for fully digital loan documentation process of all the liquidity measures under the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package.

The DFS also said that the PSBs remain at the forefront in fight against the pandemic and 97 per cent bank branches and 80 per cent ATMs were operational throughout the lockdown.

"Helping nation tide over the economic distress caused due to #Covid19! PSBs sanctioned Rs. 1.22 Lakh cr to 92 per cent of eligible MSMEs & corp. loan accounts of PSBs. under COVID-19 related emergency credit products & enhanced working capital," said a tweet.

The details of the schemes and the loans sanctioned by the PSBS have came after Sitharaman on Friday met heads of public sector banks (PSB) through video conference for the operationalisation of the economic package under the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' initiative.

She also reviewed loan sanction pace, concerns of borrowers and bankers, interest rate transmission.

The DFS said that everyone attending the conference was aligned on the need to quickly address the needs of MSMEs and other customers.
(IANS)

Sat, 23 May 2020 06:16:27 +0530
DMK will not be cowed down by falses cases Stalin

Chennai, The Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam (DMK) President M.K.Stalin on Saturday condemned the arrest of the party's Organising Secretary and MP R.S.Bharathi, saying that DMK will not be cowed down by false cases.

In a statement issued here, Stalin said Bharathi had given an explanation to his speech made at a party office and also expressed regret.

Stalin said there are two cases in the Madras High Court to quash the First Information Report (FIR) registered pertaining to the case.

Without taking that into account the AIADMK government led by Chief Minister K.Palaniswami has arrested Bharathi which is nothing but shameful, the DMP President said.

The Leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly Stalin said Bharathi had complained against corruption in the government and hence his arrest was to divert the attention.
(IANS)

Sat, 23 May 2020 06:10:11 +0530
Karachi plane crash toll increases to over 90

Karachi, More than 90 people have been confirmed dead after a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane crashed into a residential area in Karachi near the city's airport, while a search and rescue operation continued on Saturday, according to authorities.

Sindh health officials have said that 97 people have been confirmed dead, while two survived the crash on Friday that took place in the densely populated Model Colony near the Jinnah International Airport, reports Dawn news.

According to PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez, the A320 Airbus was carrying 91 passengers and eight crew members from Lahore to Karachi.

Eyewitnesses said the flight PK 8303 appeared to attempt to land two or three times before crashing.

Meeran Yousuf, the media coordinator for the Sindh Health Minister, told Dawn news that two passengers had survived and were brought to hospitals.

She identified the survivors as Zubair and Zafar Masood, who is the President of Bank of Punjab.

"Zubair has 35 per cent burns and is being treated at the (Dr Ruth Pfau) Civil Hospital Karachi, while Masood has four fractures and is being treated at the Darul Sehat Hospital," said Yousuf, adding that both were in stable condition.


Moreover, she said that 19 victims had been identified so far.

A third person, who had earlier been identified as a survivor from the plane, was later confirmed to be a resident of the area where the plane crashed.

She was among the 11 persons who were injured on the ground.

Meanwhile, PIA's Chief Executive Officer Air Marshal Arshad Malik has ruled any possibility that the plane had any technical or any other issue.

"All standard operating procedures were followed before the plane's takeoff," The Express Tribune quoted him as saying in a news conference on Friday night.

He said the inquiry will be held to ascertain the cause of crash.

But Pakistan Airlines Pilots' Association spokesperson Tariq Yahya, while speaking on Geo News, said that the plane seemed to be gliding at the end.

"Communications show that the plane did not have power at the end and was gliding and couldn't make it to the runway," said Yahya, adding that it didn't have power when it was asked to climb to 3,000 feet.

The crash came just days after Pakistan allowed the domestic flights to resume operations after being grounded for days due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has offered condolences to the families of the departed and has ensured an immediate inquiry is instituted.

Federal Minister for Aviation, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, expressed his grief and sorrow over the tragedy and has instructed the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board to come up with a prompt inquiry report for the incident.

In Pakistan's most recent deadly crash, a PIA plane in 2016 burst into flames after one of its two turboprop engines failed while flying from the remote north to Islamabad, killing more than 40 people.

The deadliest air disaster on Pakistani soil was in 2010, when an Airbus A321 operated by private airline Airblue and flying from Karachi crashed into the hills outside Islamabad as it came into land, killing all 152 people on board.

(IANS) 

Sat, 23 May 2020 06:01:49 +0530
Democrats denounce US withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty

Washington, Democrats have denounced US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, saying it was illegal and demanded an explanation for the move.

In a letter on Friday to State Secretary Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said that the withdrawal from the treaty without consultation with Congress violates Section 1234 of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, reports Xinhua news agency.

"This provision of law stipulates that you must notify Congress not later than 120 days before the intent to withdraw from the treaty is presented to either treaty depository... To date, this requirement has not been fulfilled," the two Democrats said in the letter, demanding an explanation for this "intended illegal action".

Engel and Smith also said that they strongly oppose the withdrawal decision, which they believe would "specifically negatively impact US leadership in NATO and the transatlantic relationship with its allies and partners".

"It appears that short-sighted interests and partisan politics prevailed over reason and good foreign policy. This is a regrettable decision that will have lasting consequences," they added.

Trump on Thursday announced that he was withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty, saying that "Russia didn't adhere to the treaty. Until they adhere we will pull out"

.He also said that there was a "very good chance we'll reach a new agreement" with Russia.

Also on Thursday, Pompeo announced that the US would submit the notice of its decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty to all other state parties on Friday, citing Russian non-compliance as a motivating factor for its decision.

The withdrawal would formally take place in six months, based on the treaty's withdrawal terms. Pompeo said Washington might reconsider its decision if Moscow returns to "full compliance with the Treaty".

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday that the country was open to dialogue with the US on the Open Skies Treaty, but only if it is based on equal rights and aimed at mutual consideration of interests and concerns.

The US and Russia have blamed each other for noncompliance with the treaty.

The Treaty on Open Skies, the implementation of which is monitored by the Vienna-based Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, has been in force since 2002 and allows its 34 signatory nations to fly over any part of one another's territory, photographing from the air, with the aim of ensuring that other countries or rivals were not preparing military attacks.

The official notification of Washington's withdrawal from the pact will be presented on Friday, which implies that within six months, which is by November 22, the US will no longer be a party to the agreement.

Over 1,500 Open Skies flights have been conducted since the deal entered into force in 2002, according to media reports.

Ten European nations on Friday issued a joint statement regretting the US' withdrawal.

"We regret the announcement by the government of the United States of its intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, although we share its concerns regarding the implementation of treaty provisions by Russia," said the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, and Sweden in the statement.

"We will continue to implement the Open Skies Treaty which has obvious added value for our conventional arms control architecture and our common security," said the statement.

It was the latest in a string of moves by the Trump administration to withdraw from major international treaties.

Washington abandoned the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Moscow last year.

The pullout of the Open Skies Treaty further raised doubts over whether the Trump administration would extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty in force between Washington and Moscow.

The New START, which expires next February, can be extended for at most five years with the consent of the two countries.

Russia has expressed willingness to extend the treaty, while the Trump administration has yet to officially reply.
(IANS) 

Sat, 23 May 2020 05:52:02 +0530
India s COVID tally crosses 1 25 lakh mark 3 720 deaths

New Delhi, As Lockdown-4 brought in the easing of restrictions across the country, India crossed the 1.25 lakh mark coronavirus cases with the total number rising to 1,25,101, the Union Health Ministry data revealed on Saturday.

Of the total cases, 69,597 are active, 51,783 have recovered while 3,720 people have lost their lives due to the deadly virus.

The worst-hit state continued to be Maharashtra with 44,582 cases, 1,517 people deaths while 12,583 people have recovered. Next is Tamil Nadu with 14,753 cases and 98 deaths while Gujarat is at the third spot with 13,268 cases and 802 deaths.

Delhi has so far reported 12,319 cases with 208 fatalities and 5,897 people recovering from the disease. States with more than 5,000 cases are Rajasthan (6,494), Madhya Pradesh (6,170) and Uttar Pradesh (5,735)



Other major states and Union Territories that have reported more than 1,000 cases are West Bengal (3,332), Andhra Pradesh (2,709), Punjab (2,029), Telangana (1,761), Bihar (2,177), Jammu and Kashmir (1,489), Karnataka (1,743), Odisha (1,189) and Haryana (1,067).

States and UTs that have reported a significant number of corona cases are Kerala (732), Jharkhand (308), Chandigarh (218), Assam (259), Tripura (175), Chhattisgarh (172) and Uttarakhand (153).
(IANS)

Sat, 23 May 2020 05:41:04 +0530
How is that Kerala could effectively combat COVID 19

How is it that Kerala could in actual fact productively combat COVID-19 when the world at large appeared not well prepared to respond to this health emergency?

The Kerala Left Democratic govt. Under the leadership of CM Pinarayi Vijayan in close collaboration with his team and people have managed to successfully curtail the human and economic losses whether due to the floods, the Nipah Virus, outbreak and now the covid19 pandemic which has surprisingly made Kerala a role model and topic of discussion worldwide.

 In Kerala the congress being in the opposition has been in working together and playing a role in living aside all the political differences in creating success towards the fight against covid19.

The credit also goes to our Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi having won accolades for the bold, timely decision of imposing a nationwide lockdown on 24 th March to fight the corona virus crisis,  and the  subsequent implementation by the left govt.religiously played a crucial role in flattening the curve

This becomes more evident that the Governor Arif Mohammed Khan appreciating the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and health minister  K. K Shailaja along with the entire team for doing a wonderful job in flattening the curve of corona virus in Kerala is note worthy. Finally a lesson to learn from the pandemic grappled by the entire world Kerala has shown that being a Gods own country  we are all protected and governed by nature. A healthy environment provides nutrients that flow up the food chain, from plants to animals, to provide energy. ... By preserving nature, the planet and all its inhabitants are guaranteed a constant supply of clean water and fresh air resulting in building a strong immune system which is the need of the hour to fight against the corona virus menace  by protecting and preserving the ecological balance.

The government under the leadership of Pinarayi Vijayan did not lose any time when it was alerted to Covid-19’s dangers and proceeded to raise people’s awareness even as first world leaders like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson continued to overlook the urgency of the situation in the initial months.

Kerala was the first state in India to have the first case of corona positive on 30th January with topping the charts alarmingly with more cases than elsewhere in the country before WHO declaring it as a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. The population of Kerala is 33 million with 667 confirmed positive cases and only four deaths reported till date. On the other hand Italy and Spain too had confirmed the first case of covid positive on 31st January on par with Kerala.Today as on 22nd May 2020 Italy having a population of 66 million has 2,28,000 confirmed positive cases and the death toll has reached 32,486, whereas Spain with a population of 41.1

 million people corona virus cases have touched 2,33,037 and the death toll figure is 27,940.

For example if we look into the third case study of New York the most developed state of U.S and Kerala as compared to highlight and understand the severe difference in the approach of two states. The population of Kerala is 33 million while that of New York is 19 million. The per capita income of Kerala is $2,937 while that of New York state is $88,981. There are 1.8 hospital beds for every 1,000 people in Kerala whereas the corresponding figure for New York is 3.1 beds. Kerala has 1.7 doctors per 1,000 persons, New York is credited with 3.8 doctors. However, the total corona positive cases in Kerala as on May 20 was 667 people of which the state had reported just four deaths while 12 had returned recently to the state from abroad and 12 from opening of inter state boundaries.161 people in the state are still undergoing treatment and 502 having recovered out of a total of 667.On the subsequent date, New York state had over 3,57,757  corona positive cases with more than 28,437deaths as per New York times official report updated May20,2020,8:37A.M

Kerala has the lowest mortality rate as well as the highest recovery rate with respect to corona virus infections having half the population size  compared to entire Italy or double the population of New York State. The initial statistical projection of cases and deaths became outmoded due to the organic method adopted by Kerala. The number of tests conducted in Kerala is just 10 per cent of the figures for countries such as the US , Italy and spain. The real but aggressive contact tracing and keeping a large number of people under observation helped Kerala in preventing community spread. Ninety per cent of the positive cases were detected among people who were kept under observation.

The credit should go to Kerala’s strong local governance, effective social structure and well-knit multi-layered public health formation. The state may be way behind in industrial production, but its human development indices are the best foundation of social equality. Kerala is well known for its heavy dose of politics which is prevalent in all aspects of life in the state.A positive feature of this is that there is a close interconnect between the layers of administration and people. Larger civil society is quite familiar with the links between citizens’ health and good governance, consider health equality as one of the foundational prerequisites for social equality.

Kerala is known for the welfare measures it has taken for the people of the state and is considered a welfare state. The state has initiated many social security schemes for the poor and the needy as the concept of a welfare state pre-supposes careful planning and effective implementation of welfare services for the weaker sections of the community which becomes more handy during any crisis.

The presence of multiple voices expect both people and government to help each other, connecting network till the micro level  in building a strong public health system with utmost belief and trust being the main reason for the success of any disaster striking Kerala.

 One can argue that Kerala’s success is intrinsically connected to its vibrant public sphere in which the ideas of rights and citizenship are debated constantly.

The success of the current government in battling the pandemic lies in its judicious realization of the political and civic sensibilities of its people and its ability to extract solutions based on these factors.

And for the rest of us Indians, we need to figure out...Finally what matters??? Communal supremacy, ideological pride, retrospecting  history or a system that promises us a good, healthy, respectable quality of life for us and our family....Think about it!

Fri, 22 May 2020 15:08:20 +0530
Pak COVID 19 cases tally over 50 000

Islamabad, The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan has increased to 50,694 with 1,067 deaths, the Health Ministry said in its latest update on Friday.

A total of 2,603 new cases and 50 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, Xinhua news agency quoted the Ministry as saying.

Overall, 34,426 patients are under treatment in hospitals, while 15,201 have recovered completely, which is 30 per cent of the total confirmed cases.

Sindh province is the most affected region with 19,924 cases followed by Punjab province with 18,455 cases.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province reported 7,155 cases, with 365 deaths.

At least 3,074 cases have been reported in southwestern Balochistan province, 1,326 in the capital city Islamabad, and 602 in northern Gilgit-Baltistan region.

Sindh recorded 336 deaths, followed by Punjab where 310 infected people have lost their lives, the Ministry said, adding that Pakistan has conducted 445,987 tests officially so far.

The Pakistani government started to ease the lockdown from May 9, aiming at mitigating the influence of the COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdown on the labour class and the poor in the country.

Domestic flight operations and train services in Pakistan have also been resumed partially.
 

(IANS) 

Fri, 22 May 2020 11:13:44 +0530
Several Indian Americans added to Biden s unity taskforces

Washington, Several prominent Indian-American leaders have been added to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' joint task forces which will promote party unity by hammering out consensus on top policy issues.

On May 13, it was announced that Biden and Sanders put together six of the "unity task forces" to handle policy in the areas of economy, education, immigration, health care, climate change, and criminal justice reform, India-West reported on Friday.

Two Indian-Americans had already been named as co-chairs of the Health panel: former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and US Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington.

On Thursday, South Asians for Biden said that additional Indian-Americans have also been named members of the Unity Taskforce.

Chiraag Bains, director of Legal Strategies for the think tank Demos and former Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, now president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, will serve on the Criminal Justice Reform group.

Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, a leading organization focused on climate change among young people, will be a part of the Climate Change group.

Sonal Shah, policy director for former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg's 2020 presidential campaign, will serve on the Economy group.

"We are thrilled to see that a number of South Asian leaders have been selected to serve on the Unity Taskforce, which will have an impact on the Democratic Party platform for years to come," India-West quoted Neha Dewan, National Director of South Asians for Biden, as saying.

"South Asians represent the second-most rapidly growing demographic group in America. In this critical election year, the South Asian community has a stake in key policy questions that affect our communities, and are deeply impacted by issues spanning immigration, civil rights, and healthcare.

"Such a robust representation of South Asians on the Unity Taskforce reflects the growing voting strength of the community," said Ritu Pancholy, a member of the communications team for South Asians for Biden.

South Asians for Biden is a national, grassroots organization that is dedicated to engaging, educating, and mobilizing the South Asian community to help elect the former Vice President to the White House this year.
(IANS) 

Fri, 22 May 2020 08:55:18 +0530
Congress reiterates CBI probe into controversial Sprinklr deal

Thiruvananthapuram, May 22 (IANS) A day after the Pinarayi Vijayan government in an affidavit informed the Kerala High Court, that US-based PR and marketing firm -- Sprinklr will have no more role in COVID-19 data analysis, the Congress on Friday reiterated its demand for a CBI probe into the deal, that was kept as a closely guarded secret.

Speaking to the media here, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said his and the opposition's position on this deal right from the start has turned to be true and the fresh affidavit submitted makes it complete.

"The case is still in the court, but we wish to reiterate our earlier position that the entire truth on this controversial deal has to be probed by the CBI. Vijayan was ridiculing us each time we raised this matter, but in the affidavit that was submitted on Thursday, shows a clear somersault if you compare, the government's first affidavit on this issue," said Chennithala.

"Had I not raised this issue on April 10 for the first time, not a soul would have known of this deal with Sprinklr. Vijayan ever since Covid surfaced has been meeting the media practically every day and barring this, he said everything. A CBI probe will reveal , on how and why this Sprinklr was selected. Then Vijayan said, only Sprinklr would be able to do this, now they say everything can be done by C-DIT ( the state agency) . Everything is fishy and contradictory. Let the truth come out," added Chennithala.

Last month, the Kerala High Court after hearing various petitioners in the controversial transfer of COVID-19 patients data by the Kerala government, while refusing to stay the agreement, gave a number of directions to the state government, saying all safeguards regarding data privacy be maintained and posted the case, which is soon coming up and hence the new affidavit was filed.

The main demand of the Opposition (both Congress and BJP) was to stay and cancel the agreement.

"We will pursue this issue seriously as none knows about the data of five lakhs people which this company collected between March 27th and April 3rd. This amounts to data of around five lakhs people in our state. Yesterday in the affidavit , the state government has said they will be asking Sprinklr to destroy all the data. But, how will we know if they do that. We will pursue this case in the court also," added Chennithala.
 

Fri, 22 May 2020 08:24:55 +0530
RBI s Moratorium extension may be negative for NBFCs Report

New Delhi,  The RBI decision to further extend moratorium period to end borrowers may be negative for all NBFCs (including the ones with strong liability franchises) as this would further delay the overall collection and recovery procedure, and stretch the total liquidity cycle for all, a report from a brokerage said on Friday.

According to a quick analysis of RBI decisions done by Emkay Global, the extension of the moratorium would further damage financial discipline, especially for small-ticket borrowers and MFIs and may result in bigger problems for the sector ahead.

While NBFC may face pressure from delays in recovery of loans, there is no clarity yet over moratorium extension for NBFCs from banks. Most of the large NBFCs stayed away from opting for a moratorium; however, they also need to change stance over this. Hence, confusion multiplies now, the brokerage said.

Another worry, the report added, remains over absence of clarity over asset reclassification standstill which is expected to expire on May 31. In the absence of an extension, there could be a large chunk of NPA additions, along with sizeable increase in provision requirement for all lenders.

The RBI, though has clarified that asset classification standstill will continue during the moratorium/deferment period from March 1 to August 31. Thereafter, the normal ageing norms shall apply.

Although the 40bps cut in policy rate cut would support margins, especially for better NBFCs, further moratorium extension would be a bigger trouble for large ones now, Emkay said.

"We have been reiterating that HFCs are better placed in comparison with AFCs. However, near-term pressure for all is inevitable. BAF, CIFC and MMFS could be a little more vulnerable now," the brokerage said.
(IANS)

Fri, 22 May 2020 08:15:32 +0530
Economic damage for India from lockdown to be significant Moody s

New Delhi, Moody's Investors Service said on Friday that economic damage as a result of India's coronavirus lockdown will likely be extensive and reflect the country's inherent economic vulnerability and fiscal constraints.

The report pointed out that this will have wide-ranging effects on both public and private sectors.

Moody's Investors Service has released a report titled "Coronavirus - India: Lockdown compounds economic challenges as credit risks rise in many sectors".

"We expect the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak to weigh on the already fragile household consumption which, coupled with sluggish business activity, will result in a sharp decline in India's economic growth in fiscal 2020-21," says Deborah Tan, a Moody's Assistant Vice President and Analyst.

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, the economy had already been growing at its slowest pace in six years.

Adding the impact from the outbreak, Moody's now expects India's real GDP to contract in the fiscal year ending March 2021 (fiscal 2020-21) compared with an earlier projection of zero growth.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das in his monetary policy review statement projected that the economy will contract in FY21.

Moody's estimates that economy is also expected to recover somewhat more strongly in fiscal 2021-22 relative to an earlier forecast of 6.6% growth.

Among corporates, the auto, oil & gas and mining sectors will bear the brunt of the downturn, given their sensitivity to consumer demand, sentiment and supply chain disruptions.

The economic slowdown will also hit the performance of commercial vehicle and MSME loans, with the effects more significant if the outbreak spreads and suspension of business activity is prolonged.

"Moreover, we expect the economic shock from the coronavirus to result in significant slippage from the central government's budgeted deficit target for fiscal 2020-21," added Tan.

While the announced stimulus will bring a degree of relief to rural households and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), the measures are unlikely to offset lower activity resulting from the extended lockdown.

Banks and finance companies accordingly will see a broad-based deterioration in asset quality, while finance companies and smaller private banks will also face funding and liquidity issues, Moody's Investors Service said.

Slowing premiums, increasing medical claims and liquidity pressures will pose risks for insurers. While general and health insurers will see some surge in medical premiums, the sector's challenges will continue, it added.
IANS)

Fri, 22 May 2020 08:11:42 +0530
3 women killed in SL stampede over COVID 19 aid

Colombo, At least three women were killed and nine others injured in a stampede during the distribution of coronavirus-related aid in the Sri Lankan capital, police said.

Police said the incident took place on Thursday in the Maligawatta area of Colombo, where a businessperson had organized an event to distribute cash donations of 1,500 Sri Lankan rupees ($8) to the poor, reports Efe news.

The island country is under a nationwide lockdown that has pushed the economy to the brink amid no tourism, with millions losing their livelihood.

Police superintendent Jaliya Senaratne said six people who had organized the charity event were arrested following the incident.

"Everything happened within five or 10 minutes. Over 1,000 people had gathered to get the donation. Three were killed and nine others injured," Senaratne told reporters.

The police rushed the injured to a hospital.

Senaratne said the businessperson and five of his associates had organized the event near a mosque on the eve of the last Friday before the end of Ramzan, the holy Muslim month of fasting.

"The people had gathered at a road near the mosque where they were given cash donations. We were told people were given 1500 rupees each," a police officer told Efe news.

The accused face charges of violating social distancing regulations by organizing a public event without informing police, at a time when the government has prohibited large gatherings to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Senaratne said the arrested also face charges "related to the origin of the stampede".

The charity event was organized to help those who have been hit hardest by the weeks-long curfew.

The restrictions were eased last week as the country has so far reported just over 1,000 positive cases and nine deaths. The relaxations have allowed many people to return to work.

In a bid to aid poverty-hit people, the government had initiated a scheme to distribute a monthly grant of 5,000 Sri Lankan rupees to each family from March onwards.

However, the government discontinued the program after a National Election Commission request, as it could be considered a violation of the code of conduct before the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The poll body had fixed elections for April 25, but due to the pandemic they will now be held on June 20.
(IANS)

Fri, 22 May 2020 06:02:18 +0530
Rahul Gandhi disturbed over Amphan mayhem

New Delhi, Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's to West Bengal and Odisha for taking the stock of the devastation caused by cyclone Amphan, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi too expressed his concern over the loss of lives.

"The widespread devastation caused by #CycloneAmphan in West Bengal & Odisha is disturbing. My condolences to the families of those who have perished & I pray the injured make a speedy recovery. I offer my support to the brave people of these two states in this time of crisis," Gandhi tweeted.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said the storm left at least 72 people dead and many homeless besides snapping electricity, internet connection and other communication tools in large parts of the state.

"I have requested the Prime Minister to pay a visit to the affected areas of the state, mainly the coastal districts situated along the Bay of Bengal and its surrounding areas," she said, adding that everything has been ruined by the cyclone.

The super Cyclone has been the deadliest one since 1999, to make a landfall in the bay of Bengal area.
(IANS)

Fri, 22 May 2020 05:54:32 +0530
Samsung launches its first outdoor TV The Terrace

San Francisco, South Korean tech giant Samsung has launched its first outdoor 4K QLED TV called 'The Terrace' with an IP55 dust and water resistance rating.

According to the Verge, The Terrace QLED 4K Smart TV comes in 55-inch, 65-inch and 75-inch models. The 55-inch model is available at $3,455, the 65-inch is at $4,999, and the 75-inch display for $6,499.

Currently, the product is available in US and Canada and will come to Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and other regions later this year.

"With the introduction of The Terrace, we are thrilled to transcend the connected living room experience to the outdoors by delivering on engineering feats and content experiences that only Samsung can achieve," Jonghee Han, President of Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics, said in a statement.

On ‘The Terrace', Samsung increased the brightness to a maximum of 2,000 nits, so the picture will be brighter and reduce the reflection rate.

‘The Terrace' boasts a 4K QLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate, full-array local dimming, and Samsung's Quantum processor for upscaling HD images to 4K.

It features three HDMI ports, a LAN port, a Toslink optical audio output, and a USB port.

Meanwhile, Samsung has also introduced the Terrace Soundbar.

The Soundbar can sync with the Terrace TV's audio via Bluetooth, in keeping with Samsung's "no wires but the power cord" pitch for its new outdoor Terrace products.

The Terrace Soundbar will cost $1,200 and is slated to ship at the end of May.
(IANS) 

Fri, 22 May 2020 05:44:51 +0530
How is that Kerala could effectively combat COVID 19

How is it that Kerala could in actual fact productively combat COVID-19 when the world at large appeared not well prepared to respond to this health emergency?

The Kerala Left Democratic govt. Under the leadership of CM Pinarayi Vijayan in close collaboration with his team and people have managed to successfully curtail the human and economic losses whether due to the floods, the Nipah Virus, outbreak and now the covid19 pandemic which has surprisingly made Kerala a role model and topic of discussion worldwide.

In Kerala, the congress being in the opposition has been in working together and playing a role in living aside all the political differences in creating success towards the fight against covid19.

The credit also goes to our Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won accolades for the bold, timely decision of imposing a nationwide lockdown on 24 th March to fight the coronavirus crisis and the subsequent implementation by the left Govt. religiously played a crucial role in flattening the curve

This becomes more evident that the Governor Arif Mohammed Khan appreciating the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and health minister  K. K Shailaja along with the entire team for doing a wonderful job in flattening the curve of coronavirus in Kerala is noteworthy. Finally, a lesson to learn from the pandemic grappled by the entire world Kerala has shown that being a Gods own country we are all protected and governed by nature. A healthy environment provides nutrients that flow up the food chain, from plants to animals, to provide energy. ... By preserving nature, the planet and all its inhabitants are guaranteed a constant supply of clean water and fresh air resulting in building a strong immune system which is the need of the hour to fight against the coronavirus menace by protecting and preserving the ecological balance.

The government under the leadership of Pinarayi Vijayan did not lose any time when it was alerted to Covid-19’s dangers and proceeded to raise people’s awareness even as first world leaders like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson continued to overlook the urgency of the situation in the initial months.

Kerala was the first state in India to have the first case of corona positive on 30th January with topping the charts alarmingly with more cases than elsewhere in the country before WHO declaring it as a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. The population of Kerala is 33 million, with 667 confirmed positive cases and only four deaths reported till date. On the other hand, Italy and Spain too had confirmed the first case of COVID positive on 31st January on par with Kerala. Today as on 22nd May 2020 Italy has a population of 66 million has 2,28,000 confirmed positive cases and the death toll has reached 32,486, whereas Spain with a population of 41.1

 million people coronavirus cases have touched 2,33,037, and the death toll figure is 27,940.

For example, if we look into the third case study of New York, the most developed state of U.S. and Kerala as compared to highlight and understand the severe difference in the approach of two states. The population of Kerala is 33 million, while that of New York is 19 million. The per capita income of Kerala is $2,937 while that of New York state is $88,981. There are 1.8 hospital beds for every 1,000 people in Kerala, whereas the corresponding figure for New York is 3.1 beds. Kerala has 1.7 doctors per 1,000 persons, NewYork is credited with 3.8 doctors. However, the total corona positive cases in Kerala as on May 20 was 667 people of which the state had reported just four deaths while 12 had returned recently to the state from abroad and 12 from the opening of interstate boundaries.161 people in the state are still undergoing treatment, and 502 having recovered out of a total of 667. On the subsequent date, New York state had over 3,57,757  corona positive cases with more than 28,437deaths as per New York times official report updated May20,2020,8:37A.M

Kerala has the lowest mortality rate as well as the highest recovery rate with respect to coronavirus infections having half the population size compared to entire Italy or double the population of New York State. The initial statistical projection of cases and deaths became outmoded due to the organic method adopted by Kerala. The number of tests conducted in Kerala is just 10 per cent of the figures for countries such as the U.S., Italy and Spain. The real but aggressive contact tracing and keeping a large number of people under observation helped Kerala in preventing community spread. Ninety per cent of the positive cases were detected among people who were kept under observation.

The credit should go to Kerala’s strong local governance, effective social structure and well-knit multi-layered public health formation. The state may be way behind in industrial production, but its human development indices are the best foundation of social equality. Kerala is well known for its heavy dose of politics which is prevalent in all aspects of life in the state.A positive feature of this is that there is a close interconnect between the layers of administration and people. Larger civil society is quite familiar with the links between citizens’ health and good governance, consider health equality as one of the foundational prerequisites for social equality.

Kerala is known for the welfare measures it has taken for the people of the state and is considered a welfare state. The state has initiated many social security schemes for the poor and the needy as the concept of a welfare state pre-supposes careful planning and effective implementation of welfare services for the weaker sections of the community which becomes handier during any crisis.

The presence of multiple voices expects both people and government to help each other, connecting network till the micro-level in building a strong public health system with utmost belief and trust being the main reason for the success of any disaster striking Kerala.

 One can argue that Kerala’s success is intrinsically connected to its vibrant public sphere in which the ideas of rights and citizenship are debated constantly.

The success of the current government in battling the pandemic lies in its judicious realization of the political and civic sensibilities of its people and its ability to extract solutions based on these factors.

And for the rest of us Indians, we need to figure out. Finally, what matters??? Communal supremacy, ideological pride, retrospecting history or a system that promises us a good, healthy, respectable quality of life for our family and us...Think about it!

Fri, 22 May 2020 05:27:57 +0530
Unicef warns of dangers for migrant kids forcibly returned

United Nations, May 22 (IANS) The Unicef has warned of the dangers for migrant children who are being forcibly returned during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since early March, at least 1,000 unaccompanied migrant children have been returned from the US to Mexico and El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras despite serious protection risks in their communities of origin aggravated by COVID-19, reports Xinhua news agency.

Over the same period, at least 447 migrant children were returned from Mexico to Guatemala and Honduras, the Unicef said on Thurday.

It warned that acts of violence and discrimination are being perpetrated against returnees perceived to have been infected with the disease and that they face major protection risks during their reintegration.

"For children on the move across the region, COVID-19 is making a bad situation even worse. Discrimination and attacks are now added to existing threats like gang violence that drove these children to leave in the first place," said Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

"This means many returned children are now doubly at risk and in even greater peril than when they left their communities. It is never in a child's best interest to be sent back to an unsafe situation."

Limited public information about COVID-19 testing, treatment and containment protocols in the region is causing confusion and fear among returnees and the general population.

In some communities, there are worries that children and families returned from the US and Mexico could be carrying the virus. This has led to further stigmatization of migrants, said the agency.

It has received reports of communities in Guatemala and Honduras barring physical entry to outside groups or strangers, including returnees, to prevent local transmission of the disease.

Unicef is calling on all governments to end pushbacks and deportations of unaccompanied or separated children, as well as children with their families without prior adequate protection and health screenings.
 

Fri, 22 May 2020 05:06:23 +0530
KKR to acquire 2 32 stake in Jio Platforms for Rs 11 367 crore

Mumbai, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and Jio Platforms Limited, India's leading digital services platform, announced on Friday that US private equity fund, KKR will invest Rs 11,367 crore into Jio Platforms.

This transaction values Jio Platforms at an equity value of Rs 4.91 lakh crore and an enterprise value of Rs 5.16 lakh crore.

This is KKR's largest investment in Asia and will translate into a 2.32 per cent equity stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis.

Over the last month, leading technology investors, such as, Facebook, Silver Lake, Vista, General Atlantic and KKR have announced aggregate investments of Rs 78,562 crore into Jio Platforms.

Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, said: "I am delighted to welcome KKR, one of the world's most respected financial investors, as a valued partner in our onward march to growing and transforming the Indian digital ecosystem for the benefit of all Indians."

"KKR shares our ambitious goal of building a premier Digital Society in India. KKR has a proven track record of being a valuable partner to industry-leading franchises and has been committed to India for many years. We are looking forward to leveraging KKR's global platform, industry knowledge and operational expertise to further grow Jio," Ambani said.

Henry Kravis, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of KKR, said: "Few companies have the potential to transform a country's digital ecosystem in the way that Jio Platforms is doing in India, and potentially worldwide. Jio Platforms is a true homegrown next generation technology leader in India that is unmatched in its ability to deliver technology solutions and services to a country that is experiencing a digital revolution."

"We are investing behind Jio Platforms' impressive momentum, world-class innovation and strong leadership team, and we view this landmark investment as a strong indicator of KKR's commitment to supporting leading technology companies in India and Asia Pacific," Kravis said.

Jio Platforms, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries, is a next-generation technology platform focused on providing high-quality and affordable digital services across India, with more than 388 million subscribers. Jio Platforms has made significant investments across its digital ecosystem, powered by leading technologies spanning broadband connectivity, smart devices, cloud and edge computing, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, augmented and mixed reality and blockchain.

Jio's vision is to enable a Digital India for 1.3 billion people and businesses across the country, including small merchants, micro-businesses and farmers so that all of them can enjoy the fruits of inclusive growth.

Founded in 1976, KKR has a long history of building leading global enterprises and successfully investing in businesses in the technology sector, including BMC Software, ByteDance and GoJek through its private equity and technology growth funds.

Since inception, KKR has invested over $30 billion (total enterprise value) in tech companies, and today the firm's technology portfolio has more than 20 companies across the Technology, Media and Telecom sectors. In addition, India has been a key strategic market for KKR with a history of investing in the country since 2006.

KKR is making the investment from its Asia private equity and growth technology funds. The transaction is subject to regulatory and other customary approvals.

Morgan Stanley acted as financial advisor to Reliance Industries, and AZB & Partners and Davis Polk & Wardwell acted as legal counsel. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP acted as financial advisor to KKR.

Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP acted as legal counsel to KKR.
(IANS) 

Fri, 22 May 2020 04:48:19 +0530
Pak violates ceasefire on LoC for 5th consecutive day

Jammu,  Pakistan continued violating the ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) for the fifth consecutive day on Friday by using small arms and mortars in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch and Rajouri districts.

For the fifth consecutive day, the Pakistan army used small arms and was shelling with mortars to target the Indian positions on the LoC in the two districts.

defence ministry spokesman, Colonel Devender Anand told IANS, "On May 22, 2020, at about 3.30 a.m., Pakistan initiated the unprovoked ceasefire violation by firing with small arms and shelling with mortars along Line of Control in Krishna Ghati Sector, District Poonch (J&K).

"Indian army is retaliating befittingly," he said.

The force said that again at about 7.20 a.m., Pakistan initiated the unprovoked ceasefire violation in the Nowshera Sector in Rajouri District in Jammu. The Indian Army was giving the befitting reply to this also, said the army.

Pakistan has been frequently violating the bilateral ceasefire agreement signed between the two countries in October 2003.

Senior army officers believe these ceasefire violations are a deliberate attempt by the Pakistan army to give fire cover to terrorists so that they can sneak into the Indian side of the LoC.

The Pakistani Army has been continuously targeting the Keran Valley, Poonch, Uri Sector, Krishna Ghati and Akhnoor sectors in the Union Territory.

In 2019, a total 3,200 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistan across the LoC were reported as compared to 1,629 incidents in 2018, the Ministry of Defence had stated.
(IANS)

Fri, 22 May 2020 04:43:13 +0530
China pushes out 90 000 tweets since April in COVID 19 offensive

San Francisco,  In the ongoing COVID-19 information war on Twitter which is often fought with the launch of new conspiracy theories, China has now gone on the offensive with about 90,000 tweets since the start of April.

Twitter is blocked in China so most of the tweets are churned out by diplomatic accounts as well as state media accounts.

According to a report in NBC News on Wednesday, the number of tweets from China's official handles on the microblogging platform has almost doubled since January.

Similarly, there has been a huge surge in the number of China's diplomatic Twitter accounts. From just 40 such accounts a year ago, their numbers have now reached to 135, said the report on the basis of an analysis by Bret Schafer, the digital disinformation fellow at Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

The alliance in late March announced the expansion of the Hamilton 2.0 dashboard to include the tracking of Chinese government-backed information operations on social media, state-sponsored information websites, YouTube, and via official diplomatic channels.

Collecting data since November 2019, the China section of the dashboard has captured official government messaging on topics like the Hong Kong protests, Xinjiang, the trade war with the United States, the implementation of Huawei technology in Europe, and, most notably, the global outbreak of COVID-19.

In recent days, China has used Twitter to spread a conspiracy theory that the COVID-19 leaked from a US government lab, the NBC News report said.

"The #US keeps calling for transparency & investigation. Why not open up Fort Detrick & other bio-labs for international review? Why not invite #WHO & int'l experts to the US to look into #COVI19 source & response?" the spokesperson for China's Foreign Affairs Ministry wrote in a tweet on May 8.

The tweet refers to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

In fact, China has been pushing this conspiracy theory for quite some time now, said the report.

According to the Alliance for Securing Democracy, official Chinese diplomatic and state-run media accounts tweeted the Fort Detrick conspiracy theory more than 30 times in the past two months.

China's more confrontational posture on COVID-19 represents a clear departure from its past behaviour, according to an analysis by the alliance.

In the early stages of the outbreak, official Chinese messaging largely focused on human-interest stories and reporting on the Chinese government's efforts to control the virus.

But from February 27, as the virus spread rapidly to Europe and the US, website data indicates that four of the top 10 most engaged articles on Facebook from Chinese state media outlets featured content that was critical of the Trump administration's response to COVID-19, the analysis showed.

On Twitter, Chinese diplomatic and embassy accounts promoted conspiracy theories from fringe websites, it added.
(IANS)

Thu, 21 May 2020 08:24:18 +0530
GST council may extend compensation cess levy beyond 5 years

New Delhi, Faced with a sharp decline in GST collections due lockdown and disruptions in economic activities across the country, the government is looking at paying GST compensation to states using a portion of its borrowings and repaying it by collecting cess in the sixth or further subsequent years.

Under the GST law, states are guaranteed full compensation for any revenue loss for the first five years after the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) in July 2017.

The compensation is a gap between actual revenue collected and projected revenue. The projected revenue is revenue growth of 14 per cent for states per year over base year 2015-16.

As per the GST Act, full compensation to the states has to be paid for a period of five years till FY22 only through the compensation fund that gets its funds through a levy of GST compensation cess on few items. However, with funds not getting enough collections since August 2019, the GST compensation to states have been delayed with Centre now looking at getting the GST Council nod for extending the levy of compensation cess at least a couple of years beyond the cut-off fifth year to make good the gap in cess collection actual compensation payment to states.

"This (extending the duration of GST compensation cess) has been discussed in the past to ensure states are paid full compensation for any loss of revenue in first five years of the implementation of the new indirect tax regime while the Centre repays its liabilities through cess collections in subsequent years. The GST Council may explore the option again at its next meeting," government sources privy to the development said.

In case the amount in the GST Compensation Fund fell short of the compensation payable in any bimonthly period, the GST Council shall decide the mode of raising additional resources, including borrowing from the market, which could be repaid by a collection of cess in the sixth year or further subsequent years, sources added.

The situation on GST revenue has worsened in the month of April, with several states indicating a shortfall in collections to the tune 80-90 per cent of average monthly collections during this time of the year. In fact, Delhi has said its GST collections may end up at a mere Rs 300 crore in April against a collection of Rs 3,500 crore in the same month previous year. Other states like Tamil Nadu, Assam, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh also facing severe revenue decline due to shrinking economic activities during the Covid-19 induced lockdown.

With economic activity and GDP growth projected to remain subdued for the most part of FY21, the Centre is looking at all possible means, how it could meet its constitutional obligation of compensating the states for their revenue loss.

After February, when Centre released GST compensation of Rs 19,950 crore for the months of October and November, 2019, it is only now that the government has released Rs 15,340 crore despite insignificant tax collections due to the relief provided for filing of returns and payment of taxes owing to lockdown. This amount includes the second instalment of GST compensation for October and November to states of over Rs 14,100 crore leaving compensation dues for December-January period still unpaid.

The monthly compensation requirement for states in 2020-21 is being pegged at Rs 20,250 crore, government sources said leaving a big gap between what needs to be paid and what is being collected. Even in FY21, monthly cess collections could be a low of Rs 7,000-8,000 crore or lower.

In 2019-20, the Centre had released Rs 120,498 crore GST compensation to states while it had collected only about Rs 95,000 crore in the form of compensation cess.

According to previous releases of the Finance Ministry, in the FY 2017-18 a total GST compensation cess of Rs 62,611 crore was collected, out of which a sum of Rs 41,146 crore was released to the States/UTs as GST compensation. After that, in the FY 2018-19, Rs 95,081 crore were collected as GST compensation cess out of which Rs 69,275 crore were released to the States and UTs as GST compensation. As per the releases of the finance ministry, as on March 31, 2019 an amount of Rs 47,271 crore GST compensation cess collected had remained unutilized after the release of GST compensation to the States and UTs in the FYs 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Since the end of August 2019, the Central government has started realising the impending precarious position in paying GST compensation to the States and UTs as the compensation cess requirement was being double of the average monthly cess collection.

Sources said that though GST Council also has the option to either bring more items under the cess base by expanding the base of GST cess items or to increase cess rates on the existing items, any increase in compensation cess on few items could only yield about Rs 2000-3000 crore a year.

Therefore, Council in its earlier meeting also discussed other options to either forego full cess compensation which was increasing at 14 per cent per annum or to go ahead with whatever compensation is available. One more option looked was to raise the tax rate on items by rationalisation of rates by shuffling slab rates.

(IANS)

Thu, 21 May 2020 07:44:59 +0530
Not just sins Ganga water can end corona

Varanasi, Eminent river engineer and former professor of civil engineering at IIT in the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Prof. U.K. Choudhary has said that the judicious use of river technology can help resolve the Coronavirus crisis as well as the plight of Ganga river.

Choudhary, who is also founder of Ganga Research Centre at IIT (BHU), said: "The Ganga water contains a significantly higher proportion of bacteriophages - a kind of virus that kill bacteria. Our ancient scriptures like Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads say that Ganga jal is medicinal water. Scientists later found that Ganga water has bacteriophages capable of killing pathogens."

Explaining further, he said, "Let us analyze the source of bacteriophages. If we take three rivers of Himalayan origin having sources at different heights -the Ganga (Gomukh), Yamuna (Yamunotri) and the Sone river, we find the colours of waters are different. The whitish colour of Ganga water, greenish colour of Yamuna water and the brownish colour of Sone water is also indicative. As Gomukh is the highest among the three, its water comes from lowest depth of aquifer as compared to Yamunotri and Sone river," he explained.

Thus, the quality of river water is proportional to height of origin point. This defines the genetic character of Ganga water. The balanced flow of this water in entire length of the Ganga defines the medicinal property of Ganga water," he stated.

Prof Chaudhary said that the bacteriophages in the Ganga can curb the spread of coronavirus through soil, water and air.

He suggested that the idea is to preserve the medicinal value of Ganga water and to use it to fight Corona. He said that this can be done by opening the gates of all the dams and barrages in a way that the discharge through each is similar to the water at Gomukh. In this way, the concentration of bacteriophage will be enhanced in Ganga water making it more effective against pathogens.

"With increasing diffusion of bacteriophages in water and soil, the spread of Coronavirus will be impacted and reduced. This methodology and technique can also help maintain the quality of Ganga water later when the problem of Corona ends," he said.
(IANS)

Thu, 21 May 2020 07:27:27 +0530
Savage cyclone Amphan leaves death destruction in its trail

Kolkata, Scenes of large uprooted trees, damaged houses and flown off roofs were just the beginning when Super Cyclone Amphan made its appearance less that 24 hours back, as it pummelled through the night over Kolkata and large parts of West Bengal it left behind a trail of deaths as at least 12 people were killed.

Scenes from Kolkata airport showed the damage left behind as large airliners stood in a river of water with facilities damaged. This is the most devastating cyclone that struck the city in centuries, some wondered since the 1737 when the Calcutta cyclone killed many, while others said nothing like this have they crossed in the past few decades. Houses were flattened, massive number of trees uprooted as many feared damage to iconic structures in the city as well, and reports still pour in

Amitav Ghosh, the renowned author, who along with many others tweeted concern for their old parents stuck alone in the city amid the covid-induced lockdown. Ghosh said: "The terror they have been through is evident in their voices," as he was finally able to touch base with his folks.

With landlines severed and no electricity for hours as the people managed through the raging storm, many tweeted photos of destruction to property, waterlogging right inside their kitchen as they paddled through pools of water. A taxi stand in Maniktala was completely submerged. End of Days-kind of scenes were witnessed as wind at 185 kmph blew through the railings of the iconic Howrah Bridge.

The severe cyclonic storm on Thursday weakened and lay centered over Bangladesh about 270 north-northeastwards of Kolkata with a wind speed of 27 kmph.

The super cyclonic storm Amphan (pronounced as UM-PUN) moved "north-northeastwards with a speed of 27 kmph during the past six hours, further weakened into a cyclonic storm and lay centered at 5.30 a.m. on Thursday over Bangladesh near latitude 24.7eN and Longitude 89.5eE about 270 km north-northeast of Kolkata, 150 km south of Dhubri and 110 km south-southeast of Rangpur (Bangladesh)", the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

"It is very likely to continue to move north-northeastwards and weaken further into a deep depression during the next three hours and into a depression during subsequent six hours," the IMD said.

It said that the Cyclone is now centred over Bangladesh and it will have no adverse impact over West Bengal and Odisha -- a good sign as it cut a swathe through northern Odisha before bearing down on West Bengal where it claimed 10-12 lives, flattened houses and cast aside trees and electricity poles like matchsticks in six-and-a-half hours of monstrous fury that left Kolkata and most of south Bengal pulverised.

While Odisha was spared the worst of Amphan, the Sunderbans region and six south Bengal districts felt the full impact of winds gusting at 155-165 kmph along with torrential rain after the cyclone made landfall near Sagar Island around 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday and entered Kolkata, about a 100 km north, around 5 p.m.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said, "We are not getting proper reports as the connections have been completely cut off due to the storm. But the total losses are likely to amount to thousands of crores. It will take at least 3-4 days to do an initial assessment of the losses. Many bridges and kutcha houses have been completely ravaged."

Heavy rains and huge gush of wind storms damaged the roofs of several buildings and uprooted a massive number of trees across Kolkata and its adjoining Howrah district. Among the dead, were a girl in Howrah who died after a wall collapsed on her at Shalimar locality. In North 24 Parganas districts, a 56-year-old woman in Minakhan and another youth in Basirhat were killed by uprooted trees. In Kolkata, a mother and her son died at the Regent Park area in south Kolkata.

In the first few hours Amphan already destroyed over 5,000 houses in Minakhan, Haroa, Basirhat Hingalgunj and Hasnabad areas of North 24 Parganas district. Most of the areas in Howrah and North 24 Parganas faced massive power cuts due to heavy rainfall. Roofs of several houses also collapsed as a result of the strong winds during the cyclonic spell. There have been damages inside the state secretariat building Nabanna as well.

Two teams of NDRF have already started road clearance work at Shyampur Block in Howrah district, sources said. "We will ask the Centre to look at the extent of damages with a humane face. As per our initial estimates, 10-12 people have died. We feel the loss of lives could even surpass that caused by the Covid-19 pandemic," Banerjee said.

Amphan, a Thai name means sky, is the most severe storm in the Bay of Bengal since the Odisha super cyclone of 1999.
(IANS)

Thu, 21 May 2020 07:12:37 +0530
YouTube adds bedtime reminders for Android and iOS

San Francisco, Google-owned YouTube has announced to roll out a new feature called bedtime reminders to help late-night surfers to sleep on time.

YouTube's bedtime reminders joins the list of Digital WellBeing features the app has to help users cut down on their screen time.

"Bedtime reminders let you set reminders at specific times to stop watching videos and (you guessed it!) go to bed.

"You set start and end times in your Settings, including whether or not you want the prompt to interrupt a video or wait until the video is over. You'll also be able to dismiss or snooze the reminder," the company said in a statement.

The new feature by YouTube is already for both Android and iOS users and it will be rolled out gradually for all users soon.

As part of Digital WellBeing features the app has a Take a Break feature that lets users set reminders to take a break from watching videos. These reminders can be set to appear every 15, 30, 60, 90 or 180 minutes.

YouTube also has a Scheduled notification digest feature that allows users to combine all of the daily push notifications into a single combined notification.

Additionally, the app also has a Disable notification sounds and vibrations feature.

This feature ensures that notifications from the YouTube app are sent silently to users' phone during a specified time period each day.
(IANS) 

Thu, 21 May 2020 07:01:50 +0530
Apple may delay iPhone 12 announcements until October

San Francisco, Cupertino based tech giant Apple may push the September "iPhone 12" event into early October due to global coronavirus pandemic.

Apple is considering pushing the announcement into October to avoid a gap between the event and handsets reaching store shelves and the iPhone maker will have more stores reopened by that point as well, according to Jon Prosser, a reliable Apple insider.

Prosser, who correctly reported the release date of the iPhone SE said that there is also the possibility that a later iPhone 12 launch event could allow more reporters and analysts to attend in person.

According to Posser, 5.4-inch and 6.1-inch iPhone 12 models will be available with 128GB or 256GB of storage and that 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro models will have 128GB, 256GB and 512GB storage options.

Prosser has claimed that the upcoming 5.4-inch iPhone 12 may start from $649 while 6.1-inch iPhone 12 may come with a price tag of $749.

Like the 5.4-inch iPhone, the 6.1-inch device will sport 5G connectivity and a dual-camera setup at the rear.

The only difference is that it would come with a bigger 6.1-inch OLED display, said Prosser.

There will be two 'pro' iPhone 12 models as well.
(IANS) 

Thu, 21 May 2020 06:16:35 +0530
Sensex up 280 points banking finance stocks rise

New Delhi, The key Indian equity indices rose on Thursday with the BSE Sensex gaining over 280 points.

Buying activity in banking, finance and auto stocks supported the indices.

At 10.46 a.m., Sensex was trading at 31,105.46, higher by 286.85 points or 0.93 per cent from the previous close of 30,818.61.

It had opened at 30,904.29 and has so far touched an intra-day high of 31,107.52 and low of 30,765.32.

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading at 9,138.25, higher by 71.70 points or 0.79 per cent from the previous close.
(IANS) 

Thu, 21 May 2020 05:50:20 +0530
Heat kills thousands of Australians yearly Study

Canberra, Australian researchers have called to add climate change as an official cause of death after a study published on Thursday found that heat-related deaths have been under-reported in the country.

The study, published by Australian National University (ANU), found that excessive natural heat has been responsible for at least 50 times more fatalities than recorded on death certificates, reports Xinhua news agency.

A statistical analysis found that 36,765 deaths in Australia over the past 11 years could have been attributed to heat, but there were only 340.

"Climate change is a killer, but we don't acknowledge it on death certificates," Arnagretta Hunter, a co-author of the study from the ANU Medical School, said in a media release.

"If you have an asthma attack and die during heavy smoke exposure from bushfires, the death certificate should include that information.

"We can make a diagnosis of disease like coronavirus, but we are less literate in environmental determinants like hot weather or bushfire smoke," Hunter said, adding that heat is the most dominant risk posed from climate change in Australia.

According to the study, excessive natural heat was responsible for approximately 2 per cent of all deaths in Australia.

Hunter said the country's death certificates must be modernized to capture the impact of global warming.

"Climate change is the single greatest health threat that we face globally even after we recover from the coronavirus.

"We know the summer bushfires were a consequence of extraordinary heat and drought and people who died during the bushfires were not just those fighting fires - many Australians had early deaths due to smoke exposure," she said.
(IANS)

Thu, 21 May 2020 05:44:57 +0530
Modi remembers Rajiv Gandhi on his death anniversary

New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday paid tribute to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on his death anniversary.

Modi tweeted: "On his death anniversary, tributes to former PM Shri Rajiv Gandhi."

Gandhi was assassinated on this day in 1991 during a late-night election rally in Sriperumbudur village of Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu ahead of the Lok Sabha polls when a suicide bomber struck. He was the youngest Prime Minister, who took oath at 40, following the assassination of mother and another former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
 

(IANS)

Thu, 21 May 2020 05:37:15 +0530
Savage cyclone Amphan weakens centres over B Desh

New Delhi, A day of killing 12 people after barrelling in from the Bay of Bengal with wind speeds up to 185 kmph, severe cyclonic storm Amphan on Thursday weakened and lay centered over Bangladesh about 270 north-northeastwards of Kolkata with a wind speed of 27 kmph.

The super cyclonic storm Amphan (pronounced as UM-PUN) moved "north-northeastwards with a speed of 27 kmph during the past six hours, further weakened into a cyclonic storm and lay centered at 5.30 a.m. on Thursday over Bangladesh near latitude 24.7 degrees N and Longitude 89.5 degrees E about 270 km north-northeast of Kolkata, 150 km south of Dhubri and 110 km south-southeast of Rangpur (Bangladesh)", the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

"It is very likely to continue to move north-northeastwards and weaken further into a deep depression during the next three hours and into a depression during subsequent six hours," the IMD said.

It said that the Cyclone is now centred over Bangladesh and it will have no adverse impact over West Bengal and Odisha -- a good sign as it cut a swathe through northern Odisha before bearing down on West Bengal where it claimed 10-12 lives, flattened houses and cast aside trees and electricity poles like matchsticks in six-and-a-half hours of monstrous fury that left Kolkata and most of south Bengal pulverised.

While Odisha was spared the worst of Amphan, the Suderbans region and six south Bengal districts felt the full impact of winds gusting at 155-165 kmph along with torrential rain after the cyclone made landfall near Sagar Island around 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday and entered Kolkata, about a 100 km north, around 5 p.m.

Amphan, a Thai name that means sky, is the most severe storm in the Bay of Bengal since the Odisha super cyclone of 1999.
(IANS) 

Thu, 21 May 2020 05:28:07 +0530
Corona tally in India reaches 1 12 359 death toll 3 435

New Delhi,  With ,5609 new novel coronavirus cases and 132 new fatalities in the last 24 hours, the total tally of such infections in India stood at 1,12,359 on Thursday the Health Ministry data revealed.

The total includes 63,624 active cases, 3,435 fatalities, and 45,300 patients cured of the disease, the Ministry said.

At least 3,002 patients recovered in the last 24 hours.

In Maharashtra, coronavirus cases climbed to 39,297, followed by Tamil Nadu with 13,191 cases and Gujarat with 12,537 cases so far.

Maharashtra has the highest number of deaths at 1,390, followed by Gujarat's 749 and Madhya Pradesh's 267.

In Delhi, the total tally rose to 11,088.

States with more than 5,000 cases each are Rajasthan (6,015), Madhya Pradesh (5,735) and Uttar Pradesh (5,175).

Other major states and Union Territories that have reported more than 1,000 cases each are West Bengal (3,103), Andhra Pradesh (2,602), Punjab (2,005), Telangana (1,661), Bihar (1,674), Jammu and Kashmir (1,390), Karnataka (1,462) and Odisha (1,052).

Other states and UTs that have reported a significant number of corona cases are Haryana (993), Kerala (666), Jharkhand (231), Chandigarh (202), Tripura (173), Assam (170), Chhattisgarh (115) and Uttarakhand (122).
(IANS)

Thu, 21 May 2020 05:22:41 +0530
15 Karnataka special trains transport 19 690 migrants home

Bengaluru,  The South Western Railway (SWR) zone has run 15 Shramik special trains to transport 19,690 migrants back home to seven states in north and east India, an official said on Wednesday.

"First Shramik special train of SWR on Wednesday left Bengaluru Cantonment to New Jalpaiguri (in West Bengal) at 12.20 a.m. with 1,200 passengers," said a SWR spokesperson.

Wednesday's second special train departed from KSR Bengaluru to Bettaiah in Bihar at 1.27 a.m. with 1,526 migrants.

Both the first and second trains were scheduled for Tuesday but got delayed and overran their time schedules to be counted on Wednesday.

"Third Shramik special train left Hubballi at noon with 1,564 passengers on board to Madhubani (Bihar)," said the official.

The fourth special train departed from Bengaluru Cantonment station at 2.47 p.m. with 1,530 migrants, including 26 children to Darbhanga in Bihar.

Wednesday's fifth special train left Hubballi for Samastipur in Bihar at 4 p.m. with 1,541 migrants.

Overall, Wednesday's fifth special train was SWR's 100th Shramik special train.

"SWR on Wednesday ran its 100th Shramik special train carrying 1,40,473 passengers, mostly migrant workers, students and families to their hometowns," said an official statement.

Similarly, the sixth special train departed from Bengaluru Cantonment to Purnia in Bihar at 4:40 p.m. with 1,515 passengers, including 15 children.

Wednesday's seventh special train left from KSR Bengaluru to Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh at 5:50 p.m. with 1,541 migrants.

The eighth special train departed from Bengaluru Cantonment to Chapra in Bihar at 6.35 p.m. with 1,550 migrants, including 30 children.

Wednesday's ninth special train left Chikka Bannavara to Mau in UP at 7.10 p.m. with 1,500 migrants.

The 10th special train departed from Hubballi to Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh at 8 p.m. with 1,488 migrants.

"Wednesday's 11th Shramik special train left from Chikka Bannavara to Basti at 8.40 p.m. with 1,495 passengers," the official said.

The 12th special train left Bengaluru Cantonment station to Darbhanga at 8.45 p.m. with 1,534 migrants, including 12 children.

SWR's 13th special train and Wednesday's last one departed from Chikka Bannavara to Haridwar in Uttarakhand at 10 p.m. with 1,076 migrants.

This was SWR's 107th Shramik special train.

The special trains are being run following the Ministry of Home Affairs' permission for the movement of stranded migrant labourers, workers, students, tourists and others.
(IANS)

Thu, 21 May 2020 05:17:25 +0530
OnePlus hires ex Apple executive in key India role

New Delhi,  OnePlus on Wednesday announced the appointment of Navnit Nakra as Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer for its India operations.

Prior to OnePlus, Nakra worked with Apple as the Head of Affordability in India for over three years.

In new role, Nakra will lead the strategic operations on the Red Cable Club, OnePlus marquee digital lifestyle membership initiative and drive key strategic partnerships.

According to the company, Nakra led the strategic initiatives on devising effective consumer and enterprise finance offers across categories ranging from smartphones, tablets, and laptops, to watches and accessories.

Nakra previously worked with Citibank for nearly 15 years, where he held a variety of leadership roles across consumer and institutional banking.

Nakra holds an MBA degree from the Faculty of Management Studies - University of Delhi. He is also an alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Business School where he pursued his Program for Leadership Development.
(IANS)

Wed, 20 May 2020 11:40:11 +0530
2nd generation of VMware Cloud on Dell EMC now available

San Francisco, Enterprise software major VMware has announced the availability of second generation of VMware Cloud on Dell EMC that will enable IT teams to transform operation, management and protection of their on-premises infrastructure to a cloud model.

Jointly developed with Dell Technologies, this VMware service delivers simple, more secure and scalable infrastructure as-a-service to customers' on-premises data centre and edge locations.

"Organisations can migrate existing VMware-based workloads immediately to this cloud service, eliminating any re-development, re-factoring, or architectural rework and related costs," said Fidelma Russo, senior vice president and general manager, VMware Cloud on Dell EMC.

Additionally, it maximizes the value from existing IT investments—eliminating the potential need for point IT tools and related processes.

Now available in the US, the second generation of VMware Cloud on Dell EMC introduces several new key capabilities like business continuity support as virtual desktops are a critical capability for enabling business continuity as more people work from home.

VMware Horizon enables enterprises to offer their remote workforces more secure access to their desktops and applications - especially valuable in highly regulated industries such as healthcare and financial services.

VMware Cloud on Dell EMC is now fully certified for VMware Horizon to deliver virtual desktops at the edge or in the data centre, said the company.

VMware Cloud on Dell EMC now offers support for backup and recovery with certification of ‘Dell EMC PowerProtect Data Manager' to protect customers' workloads.

Additionally, the service supports other leading backup and recovery solutions.

"With the second generation of VMware Cloud on Dell EMC, we are extending this cloud service capability to a broader set of enterprise use cases," said Deepak Patil, senior vice president and general manager, Cloud Platforms and Solutions, Dell Technologies.
(IANS)

Wed, 20 May 2020 11:27:00 +0530
Odisha woman delivers baby in fire service vehicle during cyclone

Bhubaneswar, A woman gave birth to a girl inside a fire service vehicle in Odisha's Kendrapara district amidst gusty winds and heavy rainfall during cyclone Amphan on Wednesday, said an official.

The woman delivered the baby in the vehicle while being rescued by the fire service personnel in the morning.

Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Pradeep Kumar Jena said both the mother and the newborn have been shifted to a government hospital in Mahakalapada in the district and both are fine.

A pregnant woman Janaki Sethi (20) of Janhara village under Mahakalapada police limits started having labour pains during the cyclone in the morning.

Kendrapara District Fire Officer P.K. Dash said that when they received a SOS from the distressed family in the morning, the fire brigade personnel proceeded towards the village.

They cleared the road of 22 uprooted trees despite strong winds and torrential rain and ferried the woman in the service vehicle.

The woman delivered a baby girl midway in the vehicle while being taken to the Mahakalapada Community Health Centre (CHC).

Jena said over 1800 pregnant women have been shifted to hospitals in the affected districts in view of cyclone Amphan.
(IANS) 

Wed, 20 May 2020 10:55:11 +0530
Cyclone Amphan Landfall begins to continue for 4 hours

New Delhi, The landfall process of cyclone 'Amphan' commenced at 2.30 p.m. and will continue for four hours, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Wednesday afternoon.

As per 3 p.m. update by the weather agency, "Landfall process commenced since 2.30 p.m. The forward sectors of the wall cloud region are entering into land in West Bengal and the landfall process will continue for four hours."

The Cyclone is 190 km east-northeast of Odisha's Paradip, 65 km east-southeast of West Bengal's Digha, 35 km from Sagar island and 225 km south-southwest of Khepupara in Bangladesh.

Amphan will move north-northeastwards and cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coast between Digha and Hatiya Islands close to Sundarbans around Sagar Island. During landfall, the intensity of the cyclone is likely to be 155 to 165 kmph gusting to 185 kmph.

Storm surge during the landfall in West Bengal is expected to be four to six meters above astronomical tide. The surge is expected to inundate low lying areas of South and North 24 Parganas and parts of East Medinipur district.

The wind speed in Kolkata, Hooghly and Howrah is likely to range between 110 kmph to 120 kmph gusting to 130 kmph, which may cause extensive damage in the urban areas also.

In coastal Odisha, gale wind of 100 to 100 kmph gusting to 125 kmph will also impact Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore.

The weather condition would result in uprooting of trees, communications and power transmission poles, bending of telephone lines and extensive damage to the 'kutcha' and even 'pucca' houses and crops and plantations.

The NDRF has positioned over 41 teams to carry out evacuation and relief, Director General S.N. Pradhan had said on Tuesday.
(IANS)

Wed, 20 May 2020 10:44:29 +0530
Bharat Biotech Thomas Jefferson varsity to work on Covid vaccine

Hyderabad,  Leading vaccine maker Bharat Biotech on Wednesday announced that it has signed an exclusive deal with Thomas Jefferson University of Philadelphia to develop a new vaccine candidate for Covid-19 invented at Jefferson.

The novel vaccine was developed using an existing deactivated rabies vaccine as a vehicle for coronavirus proteins. This is in part because this vehicle or carrier vaccine is known to produce a strong immune response, and is approved for the whole population including children and pregnant women, Bharat Biotech said in a statement.

Infectious Diseases expert Professor Matthias Schnell's lab developed the vaccine in January this year, and has recently completed preliminary tests in animal models.

The vaccine showed a strong antibody response in mice receiving the vaccine. The researchers are currently testing whether vaccinated animals are protected from SARS-CoV-2 infection with results expected the next month.

"Our partnership with Bharat Biotech will accelerate our vaccine candidate through the next phases of development," says Prof Schnell - a coronavirus expert who directs The Jefferson Vaccine Institute and chairs Jefferson's Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

"We are particularly excited about this technology since the basic proof of concept has been established while using it for other pandemic infectious diseases. Bharat Biotech is committed to global public health and will be involved in an end to end development of the vaccine including comprehensive clinical trials to achieve commercial licensure," said Dr Krishna Mohan, Chief Executive Officer of Bharat Biotech.

Under the license agreement, Bharat Biotech gains exclusive rights to develop, market and deliver Jefferson's vaccine across the world excluding countries such as USA, Europe, Japan etc, where Jefferson continues to seek partners.

With support from the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, Bharat Biotech aims to get into human trials as soon as December 2020.

Of the 90 or so coronavirus vaccines in development, about 25 per cent use an established vaccine to act as a carrier or vector for the target virus, in this case, the coronavirus SARS-COV-2 spike protein.

"Since we know the immune system reacts to the rabies vaccine with a strong response when we add the coronavirus component, we expect to see that level of protection, and immune memory, carry over to the SARS-CoV-2 viral protein as well," says Prof Schnell.
(IANS)

Wed, 20 May 2020 10:38:19 +0530
2 56 lakh ferried in 204 Shramik trains on Tuesday

New Delhi, The Indian Railways on Wednesday said that it transported 2.56 lakh passengers on 204 Shramik Special trains on Tuesday across the country, the maximum on a single day since May 1.

Railway and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted: "Yesterday, the Railways promised to run 200 special trains for migrant workers; beyond that we have run a record 204 trains in the service of passengers.

"So far, 1,773 Shramik trains have been operated by the Railways to send migrant workers to their home states," Goyal added.

The railways started Shramik trains from May 1, transporting over 23 lakh migrant workers to their native places till date.

It suspended passenger, mail and express train services from March 25 amid the novel cornavirus outbreak.

The railways is also running 15 pairs of special air-conditioned trains from May 12 and 200 more non-AC special trains from June 1.
(IANS)

Wed, 20 May 2020 09:39:07 +0530
Cyclone Amphan 1 4 mn people evacuated in Bangladesh

Dhaka, At least 1.4 million people in the coastal areas of Bangladesh have taken refuge in storm shelters as super cyclone Amphan moved closer to the coast on Wednesday

Authorities are continuing to shift the local people to the shelters, said Kazi Tasmin Ara Ajmiri, Deputy Secretary in the National Disaster Response Coordination Centre.

Some people who came to the centres on Tuesday left for home as the storm has not hit the coast yet; they are being brought back to the shelters, she said.

"There are 1,364,000 people in the shelters as of 9 a.m. on Wednesday," said the Deputy Secretary.

The Bangladesh Meteorological Department elevated the storm alert to great danger signal 9 for Chattogram and Cox's Bazar ports as the cyclone was just 345 km from the country's coastline, bdnews24 reported.

Mongla and Payra ports have been asked to keep hoisted great danger signal number 10.

The storm is expected to cut its path through the Bangladesh-West Bengal coast near the Sundarbans by Wednesday evening, according to the Met Office.

Last year, 1.8 million people were taken to the shelters ahead of cyclone Fani while another 2.2 million were moved to safety from the imminent dangers of cyclone Bulbul.

In Jhalakathi, almost 10,000 riverside inhabitants of Sugandha Char, Rajapur, Bishkhali and Nalchhiti have been evacuated to cyclone shelters.

Bagerhat, another coastal district, had more than 90,000 of its residents including children, senior citizens and specially-abled persons moved to 977 cyclone shelters as of Wednesday morning, said Additional Deputy Commissioner Md Kamrul Islam.

About 12,000 volunteers are working at the shelters where special emphasis is being placed on maintaining social distancing amid the coronavirus crisis.

The local authorities and the Red Crescent Society supplied food, safe drinking water and candles to the people taking refuge at the shelter homes.

Around 13,000 livestock have also been moved to safety as the storm approaches the coastline, said the additional deputy commissioner.
(IANS)

Wed, 20 May 2020 09:22:33 +0530
Unregistered migrants throng Mumbai terminus to catch train

MUMBAI; The Western Railway and security agencies made some frightening memories as many on edge transients swarmed outside the Bandra Terminus here on Tuesday early daytime planning to get a train to Bihar, authorities said. 
A Shramik Special train was scheduled to leave for Punia in Bihar at 12 p.m., however an enormous number of unregistered and unauthorized migrants with their and luggage were seen on the road and bridge outside the terminus building.
"In any case, the bonafide travelers were checked and permitted to enter the station premises by the state government authorities. The train left Bandra at 12 early afternoon with 1,700 registered migrants and their families who were qualified for movement on it," said Western Railway Chief Spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar. 
Later, after the train departed, the abundance swarms which had gathered outside were cleared from the region by the police and other security personnel without any untoward episodes reported

Wed, 20 May 2020 09:10:36 +0530
SARS antibody found to neutralise COVID 19 virus

San Francisco,  An antibody first identified in a blood sample from a patient who recovered from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 has demonstrated ability to prevent SARS-CoV-2 live virus infection of cells in laboratory, says a study, raising new hope in the fight against COVID-19.

The antibody, called S309, is now on a fast-track development and testing path at San Francisco-headquartered Vir Biotechnology in the next step toward possible clinical trials.

The initial results, published in the journal Nature, could ultimately pave the way for using the S309 antibody, alone or in a mixture, as a preventive measure for people at high-risk of exposure to the COVID-19 coronavirus or as post-exposure therapy to limit or treat severe illness, according to the scientists.

"We still need to show that this antibody is protective in living systems, which has not yet been done," said study co-author David Veesler, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

"Right now there are no approved tools or licensed therapeutics proven to fight against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19," he added.

Vir Biotechnology in a separate statement said it is advancing two clinical development candidates based on the S309 antibody as potential therapeutics for COVID-19 -- VIR-7831 and VIR-7832 -- in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline plc.

The research showed that the S309 antibody is particularly potent at targeting and disabling the spike protein that promotes the coronavirus entry into cells.

It was able to neutralise SARS CoV-2 by engaging with a section of the spike protein near the attachment site to the host cell.

Through their cryo-electronmicroscopy studies and binding assays, the researchers learned that the S309 antibody recognises a binding site on the coronavirus that is conserved across many sarbocoviruses, not just the SARS and COVID-19 viruses.

That is probably why this antibody, instead of being single-minded, is able to act against related coronaviruses.

Combining the S309 antibody with other, though weaker, antibodies identified in the recovered SARS patient enhanced the neutralisation of the COVID-19 coronavirus, said the study.

This multiple antibody cocktail approach might help limit the coronavirus' ability to form mutants capable of escaping a single-ingredient antibody treatment, according to the researchers.

"Remarkably, we believe S309 likely covers the entire family of related coronaviruses, which suggests that, even as SARS-CoV-2 continues to evolve, it may be quite challenging for it to become resistant to the neutralizing activity of S309," Herbert "Skip" Virgin, Chief Scientific Officer, Vir, said in a statement.

"In addition, S309 exhibits potent effector function in vitro, potentially allowing the antibody to engage and recruit the rest of the immune system to kill off already infected cells."
(IANS)

Wed, 20 May 2020 08:29:21 +0530
Childhood obesity may increase bladder cancer risk

London, Adults who were overweight in childhood may be at greater risk of developing bladder cancer, according to a new study.

Published in the journal Annals of Human Biology, the study based on more than 315,000 children in Denmark, shows body size is associated with getting the disease later in life. A body mass index (BMI) increase above average during childhood, high/low birth weight and below-average height also increase the odds. Identifying causes that arise early on could lead to a new understanding of the disease which is the 9th most common cancer in the world, has high recurrence rates and is more likely to affect men aged over 65, the study said.

"These results suggest that the higher levels of overweight and obesity in children today may contribute to an increased burden of bladder cancer in future," said lead author Dr Kathrine K Sorensen from Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital in Denmark.

"Our study contributes to the understanding of how body size early in life may indicate a risk for bladder cancer," Sorensen added.

The link between bladder cancer and lifestyle factors such as obesity is already established. However, little is known about whether this association has its origin in childhood.The findings were based on information relating to 315,763 children born between1930 and 1989, and aged from seven to 13.

This data from the Copenhagen School Health Records Register included BMI, birth weight and height, and was cross-referenced with the Danish Cancer Registry.The number of individuals diagnosed with bladder cancer as adults were 1,145, including 839 men.

The risk of developing the disease later in life was, for example, 10 per cent higher for a 13-year-old boy of average height (154.5 cm or 5ft) whose BMI increased 5.9kg above normal (the equivalent of 42.5kg). Conversely, a boy the same age and 8cm taller than average (162.5 cm or 5ft 3ins) had a six per cent lower risk of being diagnosed, according to the research.

"To put our results in perspective, for two 13-year-old boys of average height (154.5 cm), moving from a weight of 42.5 kg to 48.4kg equates to a 10 per cnet higher risk of bladder cancer in the heavier boy," said senior author Dr Jennifer L Baker.
(IANS) 

Wed, 20 May 2020 08:23:19 +0530
Binge worthy books to sail through Lockdown 4 0

New Delhi, Life in the lockdown has not been easy for most of us. Were isolated and there's no sign of things changing anytime soon.

Well, books can come to your rescue and what better way to spend the last two weeks in home-sheltering than by reading. Reading is not only a great form of escapism, but it also helps to stimulate creativity and enrich language skills, making it a great idea for all ages.

Here is a list of must-read books which can transport you to another time and place:

'The Hunger Games Series-The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new Hunger Games book is on its way, the first since 2010; it's not only for teens but also for all sci-fi lovers. A prequel to the "Hunger Games" series by Suzanne Collins, "A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" was first announced in June last year, and - as revealed in an extract published by Entertainment Weekly - 'will focus on Coriolanus Snow.'

'Hunted by the Sky' by Tanaz Bhatena (Penguin Random House India)

From the author of 'A Girl Like That', the YA fantasy explores identity, class inequality, alongside a high-stakes romance story, 'Hunted by the Sky' is set in the Kingdom of Ambar - a world inspired by medieval India-- a world of deadly, dark secrets and adventures.

'A Thousand Cranes for India: Reclaiming Plurality Amid Hatred' edited by Pallavi Aiyar (Seagull Books)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This anthology - comprising 23 pieces of reportage, stories, poems, memoir and polemic - uses the mythology, history, and symbolism of Japanese Origami paper cranes as a pathway for some of India's best-known writers, poets and artists to pave a "shared, civic space for a conversation about the fault lines in India at a time of darkness".

'Shameless' by Taslima Nasreen, translated from Bengali by Arunava Sinha (HarperCollins India)

'Shameless', the sequel to the controversial and best-selling 'Lajja', had never been published in Bengali, or any other language, until very recently, when a Hindi translation was printed. This "timely, topical and outspoken novel about communal tensions in India" is, according to its author, "not a political novel - and instead about what the politics of religion does to human beings and their relationships: a ruthless, uncompromising, heartbreaking tale of ordinary people's lives in our times".

'A Burning' by Megha Majumdar (Knopf; Penguin Random House India)

"For readers of Tommy Orange, Yaa Gyasi, and Jhumpa Lahiri" (!), Majumdar's debut, a thriller-like epic, centres around three characters who find their lives criss-crossing in the aftermath of a catastrophe. 'Of A Burning', Amitav Ghosh has said: it's "the best debut novel I have come across in a long timee In telling the story of a young Muslim girl whose life is undone by a single social media post, it creates a kaleidoscope of contemporary urban India, with its internet-driven hysteria, religious fanaticism, rampant corruption, poisoned air, random violence, enraged mobs and pervasive misogyny."
 

Wed, 20 May 2020 08:14:58 +0530
Bike taxi booking app Rapido resumes operations in 39 cities

New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Bike-taxi service provider Rapido on Wednesday said it has resumed normal operations in 39 cities across 11 states, following the new guidelines announced by the government for lockdown 4.0.

"For now, our bike taxi services will be operational in the green and orange zones as the services cannot be extended to the containment zones as per the lockdown guidelines," the company said in a statement.

The company said it will keep updating customers on the status of various cities and safety instructions via in-app notifications.

According to the company, ‘captains' or drivers need to install the Aarogya Setu app before they go on-duty to start accepting orders and have been asked to wear a mask at all times as well as carry sanitizers, hair net in addition to the mandatory helmets.

Captains are also asked to maintain personal hygiene and sanitise their bikes at regular intervals, especially sanitise the pillion seat before on boarding customers.

Meanwhile, after every ride, customers can give feedback about wearing a mask or captains not using sanitizer.
 

Wed, 20 May 2020 07:54:02 +0530
Xiaomi launches secure MIUI 12 for global markets

Beijing,  Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has released the latest version of in-house Android-based skin MIUI 12 for the global markets.

The new version comes with several new features and improvements to existing features.

According to GSMArena, MIUI 12 gets massive upgrades in the privacy section.

The OS will now notify everytime an app is accessing a sensitive feature such as the cameras, microphone, contacts, location and more.

MIUI 12 also brings stock Android 10 navigation gestures, new quick reply feature, floating windows and a new universal casting feature that supports Miracast standard.

Xiaomi plans to start releasing the update to its phone by the end of June.

(IANS)

Wed, 20 May 2020 07:49:20 +0530
Villagers pelt cops with stones on Delhi Gurugram border

Gurugram, Hundreds of residents of a village on the Delhi-Gurugram border pelted police with stones on Wednesday morning after the latter denied them entry into the Haryana city. There was no report of any injury on both sides.

The incident took place on the Palam Vihar border connected to Bijwasan in Delhi.

According to a district official, residents of Salahpur Khera village adjoining the Gurugram border tried to enter Gurugram forcibly even though the border was sealed on the direction of the Gurugram District Magistrate.

As nearly 1,000 villagers who had gathered at the spot were stopped from moving into Gurugram around 9am, it led to a fracas between the two sides, following which the villagers threw stones at police.

"Keeping in view the stone-pelting incident, we have deployed additional police to tackle the situation," said Gurugram Police PRO Subhash Bokan.

After the Delhi government allowed shops to reopen subject to certain conditions, residents on both sides of the Delhi-Gurugram border move between the two cities for trade and other jobs. They have demanded smooth passage on the inter-state border.

The Gurugram authorities have claimed that number of coronavirus-infected persons in the district had increased due to people moving in from Delhi.

Gurugram has so far reported 220 positive cases, including 102 active and admitted in different hospitals.
(IANS) 

Wed, 20 May 2020 07:30:25 +0530
COVID 19 UN calls for international help in Africa

United Nations, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for international action to help Africa deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

"These are still early days for the pandemic in Africa, and disruption could escalate quickly. Global solidarity with Africa is an imperative -- now and for recovering better," said Guterres in a video message for the launch of a policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on Africa, according to Xinhua news agency.

Ending the pandemic in Africa is essential for ending it across the world, he said.

"We are calling for international action to strengthen Africa's health systems, maintain food supplies, avoid a financial crisis, support education, protect jobs, keep households and businesses afloat, and cushion the continent against lost income and export earnings," said Guterres.

African countries should also have quick, equal and affordable access to any eventual vaccine and treatment, that must be considered global public goods, he added.

He repeated his call for a global response package amounting to at least 10 percent of the world's gross domestic product. For Africa, that means more than 200 billion US dollars as additional support from the international community, he said.

Guterres reiterated his call for a comprehensive debt framework, starting with an across-the-board debt standstill for countries unable to service their debt, followed by targeted debt relief and a comprehensive approach to structural issues in the international debt architecture to prevent defaults.

African countries should work to silence the guns and address violent extremism. Political processes and elections in the coming months offer potential milestones for stability and peace. Women and youth must be empowered, said the UN chief.

He warned that the pandemic threatens African progress. "It will aggravate long-standing inequalities and heighten hunger, malnutrition and vulnerability to disease. Already, demand for Africa's commodities, tourism and remittances are declining. The opening of the trade zone has been pushed back, and millions could be pushed into extreme poverty."

The virus has taken more than 2,500 African lives. Vigilance and preparedness are critical, he said.
(IANS)

Wed, 20 May 2020 07:02:53 +0530
Strong winds heavy rain in south Bengal districts

Kolkata,  Cyclone Amphan, which has weakened from a super cyclone to an 'extremely severe cyclonic storm', is likely to make a landfall in Bengal between Wednesday afternoon and evening even as strong winds accompanied by heavy rain lashed different south Bengal districts since morning.

Amphan (pronounced UM-PUN) lay 155-km south-southeast of Paradip in Odisha, 177-km south of Digha and 260 km from West Bengal capital Kolkata. It has moved towards north-northeast with a speed of 22 km/hour during the past 6 hours.

According to MeT Department sources, Amphan will move towards north-northeast and pass through the West Bengal-Bangladesh coastline between Digha and Hatiya Island, located close to Sunderbans region, with a wind speed of 155-165 km/hour gusting to 185 km/hour.

Over 3 lakh people have already been evacuated from the coastal districts of West Bengal, including East Midnapore, South 24-Parganas, and North 24-Parganas.

Other south Bengal districts like West Midnapore, Howrah, Hooghly, and Kolkata will also experience heavy rain during the cyclonic spell -- one of the worst storms over the Bay of Bengal since 1999.

Meanwhile, the departure of 02301 Howrah-New Delhi AC Special Express has been cancelled in view of cyclone Amphan on Wednesday, eastern Railway (ER) sources said. Similarly, 02302 New Delhi-Howrah AC Special Express on May 21 will also remain cancelled.

West Bengal disaster management authorities are keeping a close watch on the situation. A control room has been opened at the state Secretariat Nabanno.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has formed a task force spearheaded by Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha, which will monitor relief-and-rescue operations during cyclone Amphan.

Sources said that at least seven National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been deployed in six West Bengal districts including East Midnapore, West Midnapore, South 24-Parganas, North 24-Parganas, Hooghly and Howrah.

At least 12 NDRF teams have also been kept on stand-by as the cyclonic storm is likely to hit a large part of the coastal districts with "very heavy rainfall".

Besides West Bengal, a warning has also been issued for Odisha, Sikkim, and Meghalaya till Thursday.
(IANS)

Wed, 20 May 2020 06:36:17 +0530
Dia Mirza I have never believed in competition

Mumbai, Actress Dia Mirza shot to fame with the Miss India pageant back in 2000, but says she never believed in competition.

"It feels almost surreal to look back 20 years. I was so young when it all happened," she reminisced on an experience that made the young Hyderabad girl a household name.

"The year 2000 marked a new millennium, bringing with it a sense of hope, promise and excitement", she added.

Interestingly, Dia was never one who dreamt of winning a beauty pageant.

"I happened to be spotted by a modelling agent who offered me a part-time job at 16. Everything happened very quickly after that -- advertising campaigns, fashion shows, editorial shoots. One thing led to another and I was selected from Hyderabad for the Miss India pageant," she recalled.

"I remember my mother being really surprised that I wanted to take part!"

Dia, who had never left Hyderabad before in her life, vividly remembers adapting to life in Mumbai.

"It was a journey that brought love and encouragement, but was still very daunting to be go through alone. As an individual, I have never believed in competition, so for me it was about putting my best foot forward, enjoying myself and learning as much as I could," she said.

Dia was the second runner-up at Miss India 2000 and later won Miss Asia Pacific.

She still remembers the feeling and chaos of that winning moment.

"We were announced the winners, crowned, wore our sashes, took that final walk, and had thousands of lights and cameras flashing in front of us - through all of that, I remember thinking 'where are my parents? I want to meet them'! In that moment I truly realised how happiness can be truly cherished when you have your family to share it with."

But as a winner just crowned, she found herself whisked away for the Femina cover photo-shoot with actor Shah Rukh Khan. "That was a whole experience in itself, as the camera caught me looking at him in complete awe and love!" she added.

Another iconic moment Dia remembers fondly was when she got a chance to share the stage for a big group picture with all the previous international title winners from India -- Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen, Diana Hayden and Yukta Mookhey -- along with the year's two other winners, Lara Dutta and Priyanka Chopra.

On the one thing that has stayed with her through since then, she shared: "Be yourself. Staying authentic and speaking my truth was what set me apart then and continues to define me even now."
(IANS) 

Wed, 20 May 2020 06:27:38 +0530
Bidita Bag Making a film at home is fun challenging

Mumbai, Bollywood actress Bidita Bag has been utilising her quarantine days making short films at home. The actress has shot two short films during the ongoing lockdown, titled "Happy Quarantine" and "We Need To Talk", both of which have released.



"I was feeling bored sitting at home and wanted to do something creative. I was looking for ideas. My friend Mithun Debnath, who was also my co-actor, pitched me the idea (for 'Happy Quarantine'). The second film 'We Need To Talk' was suggested by my sister-in-law Suja K. Menon. I loved both the ideas and wanted to do the films," Bidita told IANS.

"However, I stay alone and have nobody to help me with the camera and light. It is very difficult to shoot a film alone, but luckily, I have a tripod and two phones. Also, I think I have a good sense of framing, so I managed somehow. While sitting idle, I look at my house from different angles, which helped me to find interesting locations for the shoot," she added.

"We Need To Talk" deals with the story of two friends who realise amid the pandemic that they have deeper feelings for each other, which is more than just friendship. "Happy Quarantine" on the other hand, shows Jasmine and Aladdin in a futuristic way. The film while having a humorous touch, delivers a message.

When quizzed what are the challenges of shooting a film at home, the actress replied: "After doing all the household chores, I felt exhausted before the shoot. Also, doing my own makeup, taking care of lights, camera etc., setting up the house for the shoot and then act while imagining the other actors' lines, these are too many things to do all by yourself. While making films sitting at home is fun, it is challenging at the same time."

The "Bhaukaal" actress also opened up on what keeps her busy apart from making short films during the ongoing lockdown.

"Everyday I am performing household chores like laundry, washing clothes, cleaning the house et cetera. I have also started cooking and preparing different types of Bengali sweets at home. I think I am becoming a specialist in Bengali sweets like rossogolla, kalakand, milk cake, kheer kadam et cetera. Also, I have taken out my harmonium, cleaned it and have started singing once again," she shared.
(IANS) 

Wed, 20 May 2020 06:22:00 +0530
Bus service begins in Kerala with restricted time schedule

Thiruvananthapuram, Fifty six days after operations came to a complete standstill the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) on Wednesday morning commenced its bus and water services. The state government had cleared the operation of only intra district services, which is available between 7 to 11 a.m. and then again from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

At all the depots police keep a strong vigil and ensure all maintain social distancing and use masks.

The strict guidelines include a maximum number of passengers of 24 to 28 depending on the seating capacity of a bus, and no standing passengers are allowed.

The KSRTC has been operating special services since May 11 for employees of the State Secretariat from the city depots in the capital district.

The fares have been increased by 50 per cent and this increased fare is applicable to all including those having concessions.

According to the KSRTC on Wednesday around 1,850 buses will be on the roads across the state.

However, the private sector has opposed the 50 per cent increase in the fare. They have decided not be operate and hence the private buses continue to be off the road.

At Alappuzha, where the KSRTC operates motor boats in the Vembanad lake, services commenced, and here too all the norms were being followed.

"Since today being the first day and people do not know the schedules. In the coming days, we are sure more people will be using our service. Moreover, opening of shops and offices have just started. A seat, which can accommodate three people, will have only two people sitting now," said a KSRTC boat conductor operating on the Alappuzha-Nedumudy sector.
(IANS) 

Wed, 20 May 2020 06:04:53 +0530
Microsoft opens Azure quantum platform for developers

San Francisco, Microsoft has announced to make its Azure platform for quantum computing available for select developers and enterprises as a limited preview.

At its Build developer conference, the company said on Tuesday that developers will be able to take advantage of nearly two decades of quantum research infused into every layer of the Azure Quantum stack.

The developers will get access to an open ecosystem of diverse quantum software, hardware and solutions from Microsoft and its partners 1QBit, Honeywell, IonQ, and QCI.

They will have an ability to have a quantum impact with pre-built solutions that run on classical computers (what Microsoft refers to as quantum-inspired solutions).

While Microsoft is yet to publically announce a quantum supercomputer, Google has built a quantum computer that is way ahead than world's top supercomputers in the calculation - solving tasks in nearly three minutes that would otherwise take current supercomputers 10,000 years to achieve.

Researchers at Microsoft are currently busy writing the software to build a scalable computer that will help humanity unlock solutions to problems in areas such as clean energy, global warming, materials design and much more - including solving the mysteries of our universe.

If all goes well, Microsoft is confident about having one such scalable super machine within the next five years.

Based on quantum bits, the computer will not use classical bits but qubits which are not limited to binary and can have properties of 0 and 1 simultaneously, thus trying every possible number and sequence simultaneously to unlock vast amounts of data.

The current bits in computers store information as either 1 or 0, thus limiting the potential to make sense when faced with gigantic volumes of data.
(IANS) 

Wed, 20 May 2020 05:58:39 +0530
Cyclone Amphan Heavy rain strong winds in coastal Odisha

Bhubaneswar, The Odisha government has evacuated over 1.37 lakh people to safer places as extremely severe cyclone Amphan hurtled towards the coast triggering heavy rain and strong wind on Wednesday morning.

Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Pradeep Kumar Jena informed that over 1.37 lakh people have been evacuated to cyclone shelters till morning and the figure may go up.

According to reports, trees were uprooted and power infrastructure suffered damage following strong winds in the coastal districts.

Paradip recorded the highest wind speed of 102 kmph followed by Chandbali with 74 kmph, Balasore 61 kmph, and Bhubaneswar 56kmph.

Paradip also registered highest 197.1 mm rainfall.

As many 16 units of the National Disaster Response Force, 15 teams of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), 75 teams of Odisha Forest Development Corporation (OFDC) and 217 fire service team have been deployed in the affected districts.
(IANS) 

Wed, 20 May 2020 05:52:31 +0530
Facebook Shops now open for small businesses coming on Instagram soon

San Francisco,  In a bid to help struggling small businesses in Covid-19 times, Facebook has introduced Shops to help set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram.

While Facebook Shops is being rolled out from Wednesday, the company will introduce Instagram Shop, a new way to discover and buy products in Instagram Explore, this summer, starting in the US.

The social networking giant also announced to invest in features across its family of apps to inspire people to shop and make buying and selling online easier.

"Creating a Facebook Shop is free and simple. Businesses can choose the products they want to feature from their catalog and then customise the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colours that showcase their brand," Facebook said in a statement late Tuesday.

Any seller, no matter their size or budget, can bring their business online and connect with customers wherever and whenever it's convenient for them.

People can find Facebook Shops on a business' Facebook Page or Instagram profile, or discover them through stories or ads.

"From there, you can browse the full collection, save products you're interested in and place an order — either on the business' website or without leaving the app if the business has enabled checkout in the US," informed the company.

Last month, Facebook announced $40 million in grants for 10,000 small businesses in the US to help them get through these challenging time.

The grants will go to small businesses in 34 locations where Facebook employees live and work.

The company said that in Facebook Shops, users will be able to message a business through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions, get support, track deliveries and more.

In the future, they will be able to view a business' shop and make purchases right within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct.

Later this year, Facebook will add a new shop tab in the navigation bar, so people can get to Instagram Shop in just one tap.

Facebook said it is making it easier to shop for products in real time.

Soon, sellers, brands and creators will be able to tag products from their Facebook Shop or catalog before going live and those products will be shown at the bottom of the video so people can easily tap to learn more and purchase.

"We're starting to test this with businesses on Facebook and Instagram, and we'll roll it out more broadly in the coming months," said the company.

Facebook is also working with partners like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics to support small businesses.
(IANS)

Wed, 20 May 2020 05:46:54 +0530
Australia announces emergency financial aid to Pacific Island nations

Canberra, The Australian government has announced: "quick financial support" for 10 Pacific countries hit by Cyclone Harold and the coronavirus pandemic.

Cyclone Harold swept through the Pacific in April, causing widespread damage that exacerbated the economic impacts of COVID-19.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) committed 100 million Australian dollars (65.4 million US dollars) to nations struggling with the basic costs of running their countries, Xinhua news agency reported.

Papua New Guinea (PNG) will receive the most assistance at 20.5 million Australian dollars (13.4 million US dollars), followed by the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu at 13 million Australian dollars (8.5 million US dollars) each.

"To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in our region, Australia has been working in partnership with Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste to provide quick financial support, drawing on our existing aid program," a DFAT spokesperson said.

"Australia is providing separate support packages for Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Nauru, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Tuvalu and Timor-Leste.

"This immediate funding will provide respite."

The government in November 2019 provided PNG with a 440 million Australian dollars (287.7 million US dollars) short-term loan, repayments on which have been postponed amid the pandemic.

Marise Payne, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, told the parliament earlier in May that Australia's Pacific neighbours had kept the spread of COVID-19 "to a very low rate" on account of "very swift action."

However, she said Cyclone Harold "compounded the impact of COVID-19 in the Solomon Islands, in Tonga, in Vanuatu and in Fiji", saying it prompted a "pivot" in foreign aid priorities.

(IANS) 

Wed, 20 May 2020 05:37:59 +0530
Super cyclone Amphan to hit coastal areas from afternoon IMD

New Delhi, Heavy rains lashed Digha in West Bengal and Paradip Coast in Odisha on Wednesday morning as Super cyclone Amphan was expected to hit the coastal areas of both the Indian states and also of the neighbouring country Bangladesh in the afternoon.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that the Super cyclone Amphan was about 120 km east-southeast of Paradip in Odisha at 8.30 a.m. "It is to cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Digh (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) close to Sunderbans. The Landfall process to commence from the afternoon," the IMD stated.

The department also pointed that Super cyclone Amphan centred at 7.30 a.m. on May 20, 2020, as an extremely severe cyclonic storm over northwest Bay of Bengal about, 125 km nearly east-southeast of Paradip, 225 km south of Digha and 380 km southwest of Khepupara in Bangladesh.

The department stated that the current intensity of Super cyclone Amphan near the centre is 170-180 kilometre per hour and gusting to 200 kilometres per hour.

According to the observations from the coast, the IMD said that wind speed at Paradip was 102 kilometre per hour, at Chandbali 74 kilometre per hour, at Bhubaneshwar, it was 37 kilometre per hour, at Balasore 61 kilometre per hour and in Puri, the speed was 41 kilometre per hour.

As super cyclone Amphan barrels towards the Indian shores, the government had evacuated lakhs of people from vulnerable areas and shifted to safety.

On Tuesday, IMD Director General M. Mohapatra had warned that there will be extensive damage to buildings, and uprooting of trees and electric and communication lines. "Amphan is very intense and has the potential to wreak large scale damage," Mohapatra had said.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Director General S.N. Pradhan had said that Amphan is a 'super cyclone' and it is a serious issue. "The only other cyclone of this magnitude hit Odisha in 1999 and it was very deadly," Pradhan had stated.

The Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla also spoke to Chief Secretaries of West Bengal and Odisha to make necessary arrangements and preparedness against the cyclone.
(IANS) 

Wed, 20 May 2020 05:30:21 +0530
Tripura scientist makes robot to take care of Corona patients

Agartala,  A scientist of Tripura University has made a robot from locally available and scrap materials to assist the front-line health workers, including doctors, to take care of the coronavirus patients from a distant place. The remote-controlled robot can carry 10-15 kilograms of materials, has an operational range of 15-20 metres, and can deliver food, medicines and other essential items to the COVID-19 patients.

"I have just spent Rs 25,000 and took a week's time to make the robot. Due to the ongoing lockdown, I could not collect the latest and modern devices and tools from outside Tripura, hence I have to depend on the local and scrap materials. I used the vital receiver of the robot from an old toy of a son of my relative," scientist Harjeet Nath told IANS on Tuesday.

Nath, who received the prestigious young scientist award in 2018, said that the robot can be of enormous help to the doctors, nurses and other health workers to deal with the patients of the highly contagious nCoV.

An assistant professor of the Chemical and Polymer Engineering Department of the Tripura University, a central varsity, the 32-year-old scientist said that the robot, regulated by a transmitter and a receiver, can work for around 90 minutes after the lad acid rechargeable battery (135 watts) is given five hour's charge.

In the robot, Nath has installed a two-way communication device of a Wi-Fi-controlled camera with inbuilt microphone and speaker to help both the doctors or nurses and patients to communicate directly with each other maintaining a safest distance.

A resident of southern Assam, the enterprising researcher had earlier developed the first of its kind portable water purifier in the country, which can benefit people during calamities like flood and also reduce pollution.

He said that as the frontline health workers including the doctors and nurses are at the risk of getting infected with the highly infectious virus as they have to closely take care of the COVID-19 patients.

"In India and abroad many doctors, nurses and health workers were already infected by the dreaded virus. The robot would reduce the risk for the frontline warriors to a large extent," he said.

Nath, who was a research scholar at the IIT-Guwahati, said that he can add many more skills including thermal screening of suspected patients, sanitizing the hospital floors to the existing robot to make the machine many more other health-related jobs besides purposeful.

(IANS)

Wed, 20 May 2020 05:22:09 +0530
COVID 19 Total tally in India mounts to 1 06 750 death toll 3 303

New Delhi, With 5,611 new novel coronavirus cases and 140 new fatalities in the last 24 hours, the total tally of such infections in India stood at 1,06,750 on Wednesday, the Health Ministry data revealed.

The total includes 61,149 active cases, 3,303 fatalities, and 42,298 patients cured of the disease, the Ministry said.

In Maharashtra, coronavirus cases climbed to 3,37,136, followed by Tamil Nadu with 12,448 cases and Gujarat with 12,140 cases so far.

Maharashtra has the highest number of deaths at 1,249, followed by Gujarat's 719 and Madhya Pradesh's 258.

In Delhi, the total tally rose to 10,554.

States with more than 4,000 cases each are Rajasthan (5,845), Madhya Pradesh (5,465) and Uttar Pradesh (4,926).

Other major states and Union Territories that have reported more than 1,000 cases each are West Bengal (2,961), Andhra Pradesh (2,532), Punjab (2,002), Telangana (1,634), Bihar (1,498), Jammu and Kashmir (1,317), and Karnataka (1,397).

Other states and UTs that have reported a significant number of corona cases are Haryana (964), Kerala (642), Odisha (978), Jharkhand (231), Chandigarh (200), Tripura (173), Assam (142), Chhattisgarh (101) and Uttarakhand (111).

While Goa is witnessing a resurgence of cases with at least 46 patients, Ladakh became COVID-19 free as all 43 patients were cured and no mortality reported.

Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram have zero active cases as their lone patients have since been cured. In Meghalaya, 12 of the 13 coronavirus patients were cured whereas one died. All 33 patients in the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been cured.
(IANS) 

Wed, 20 May 2020 04:25:45 +0530
2 Kerala Congress lawmakers begin 24 hour fast in isolation

Trissur (Kerala),  Two Congress lawmakers -- T.N. Prathapan (MP) and Anil Akkara (MLA) on Tuesday morning began a 24-hour fast to protest the way laws were used to confine them in isolation, while the same rule was not made applicable to State Local Self Government Minister A.C. Moideen.

Trouble broke out last week when five Congress lawmakers -- three MPs and two MLAs -- who visited the Walayar check-post in Palakkad on May 9 were asked to go for a two-week isolation, after a person who arrived from outside Kerala turned coronavirus positive.

Of the five, Prathapan and Akkara belong to Trissur, while the other three, Remya Haridas, V.K. Sreekantan (both MPs) and Shafi Parambil (MLA) belong to Palakkad district.

The Congress was up in arms after it came to light that Moideen had interacted with two persons, who have now turned Covid-19 positive, but the Trissur medical authorities did not ask him to go into isolation.

While Prathapan is on a 24-hour fast at his house, Akkara is in his office.

"I am extremely happy from the responses that I have got on the way how people have realised that the CPI-M is playing Covid politics by keeping us in isolation, when Moideen is not asked to undergo the isolation," said Akkara.

While the two are on fast sitting in isolation, top district Congress party leaders are on a protest before the Trissur collectorate.

"Now it has come to light that the person who later turned positive after entering Kerala at Walayar had come only at 10.30 a.m., while all these lawmakers had left that place by 10 a.m. So this is petty politics that's being played by the CPI-M," said Congress leaders on protest.

The Youth Congress leader, here had shown visuals of Moideen interacting with those who had arrived in Guruvayoor, where they were put in isolation, after arriving at Kochi on May 7 in the first evacuation flight from Abu Dhabi.
(IANS)

Tue, 19 May 2020 08:14:39 +0530
Another Indian expat in UAE fired for Islamophobic post

Abu Dhabi, Another United Arab Emirates (UAE)-Indian has joined a list of expats that have either been fired or suspended over their Islamophobic posts on social media, a media report said.

Originally from Chapra, Bihar, Brajkishore Gupta was fired without notice for his post on Facebook by employer Stevin Rock, a mining company headquartered in Ras Al Khaimah, said the Gulf News report on Monday.

"This isolated incident involving a junior employee was investigated and dealt with immediately resulting in the termination without notice of this person's employment with Stevin Rock," the company's business development and exploration manager Jean-Francois Milian told Gulf News on Sunday.

"Our company policy supports the direction of the UAE Government in promoting tolerance and equality and strongly renouncing racism and discrimination and we have sent communications to all of our employees irrespective of their religious or ethnic background reminding them that any such behaviour is unacceptable and will lead to immediate dismissal," said Milian.

Both the former and current Indian Ambassadors to the UAE have warned their countrymen about the consequences of violating the UAE's strict hate speech laws.

In May, at least three Indian expats were fired or suspended in the UAE over such hate posts, said the Gulf News report.
(IANS) 

Tue, 19 May 2020 08:07:36 +0530
370mn indigenous people in 90 countries lack Covid 19 health efforts

New York, As the world scrambles to fight coronavirus pandemic that has affected more than 4.6 million people, little attention has been paid to indigenous populations worldwide who may be especially vulnerable to Covid-19 but are largely excluded from most national or regional efforts to curb the spread of the disease, according to new research.

According to the World Bank, over 370 million indigenous people inhabit over 90 countries, in both rural and urban areas.

Even in high-income countries, indigenous groups like the Navajo have been hit hard by COVID-19, with per capita infection rates rivaling those of New York and New Jersey.

To address this, a team of anthropologists, physicians and tribal leaders has developed a strategy for mitigating the impact of COVID-19 among the Tsimane, an indigenous population in the Bolivian Amazon.

Led by University of California-Santa Barbara's Michael Gurven and Hillard Kaplan of Chapman University, their plan brings together relevant stakeholders to best serve Tsmane interests.

"They hope to provide a general template that can be applied to other indigenous groups, and to promote a wider discussion on how to adapt strategies to local circumstances, with the goal of minimizing harm to indigenous populations due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic," said the study published in the journal The Lancet.

"In Bolivia, most attention is focused in the cities, where the pandemic first appeared. Indigenous communities have not been part of any organizational plan," said Daniel Eid Rodriguez, the paper's co-author and a physician working with the Tsimane Health and Life History Project since 2005.

To reach a wider audience, the authors have published their paper not only in English, but also in Spanish, Portuguese and French -- languages spoken in countries where many indigenous people reside.

"We've been working with the Tsimane and other indigenous groups in Bolivia for almost two decades," said Gurven.

While every individual around the world is vulnerable to COVID-19 because it is new and no one has developed any immunity, many indigenous communities are at additional risk because of widespread respiratory illness, including prior history of tuberculosis, bronchitis and lower respiratory tract infections and compromised immune function.

Though health clinics may be present in rural areas, access and resources such as medication, portable oxygen and other treatments may be very limited.

The potential for higher mortality among infected individuals makes COVID-19 more salient for indigenous populations, Gurven noted, for reasons different from those typically considered.

"Indigenous elders are at greater risk because of their age and comorbidity, yet they are crucial for helping to pass on long-standing traditions. They are 'walking libraries,' the ones who transmit cultural practices, native language and rituals that are crucial to indigenous identity".

The authors hope their paper will serve to affect policy and call for action.

"Our article is directed toward the heads of state in countries with indigenous peoples, tribal leaders, scientists, health care workers, missionaries and non-governmental organizations that work with tribal peoples," said Kaplan.
(IANS) 

Tue, 19 May 2020 06:52:28 +0530
Yoga for holistic health

New Delhi, Yoga can play a big role in restoring health, and bringing you numerous physical, mental and spiritual benefits. Yoga is a one size fits all solution to stress, and when combined with a sensible diet it can help in balancing out your blood pressure levels.

Yoga can have a calming restorative effect on the mind, and body. Yoga asanas, pranayama and meditation are particularly useful to control your stress levels naturally. This can help prevent lifestyle diseases such as blood pressure. Holistic practises such as yoga can drastically improve the quality of your life.

Yoga improves the functioning of your organs, strengthens your immunity, uplifts your mood and brings a plethora of additional benefits. To support a healthy lifestyle, you can adopt a healthy diet, cut down on your salt intake, and get quality sleep in order to feel refreshed and energetic each morning, says yoga expert Grand Master Akhsar.

In a fast-paced and results-driven world such as ours, success is measured not by health, but wealth. And this has become one of the biggest reasons why lifestyle disorders such as hypertension, hypotension, diabetes etc are rampant. With a severe imbalance in work-life routines, people are leading desk-bound sedentary lives.

Hypertension is caused by stress, excess alcohol consumption, excess weight and excess salt/sugar within the diet and dehydration etc. High blood pressure can lead to life-threatening conditions like heart attacks, strokes, renal disorder and vascular dementia.

Along with early detection for prevention, regular exercise through asanas, pranayama and meditation can put you on the path to holistic well-being. Ensure to consult with your medical physician before you start yoga. Follow these yogic techniques to alleviate the condition of High blood pressure.

Ensure to consult with your medical physician before you start yoga. Follow these yogic techniques to alleviate the condition of High blood pressure. Pay attention to your breath in each pose. Try to repeat 3 sets of every posture and hold each asana for up to 30 seconds.

Tadasana

Formation of the posture

Stand tall with your feet together

Keep your spine aligned and posture erect

Relax your shoulders

Interlock your fingers, inhale and come on your toes

Exhale and bring your heels down



Vajrasana - This is the only pose that can be done on a full stomach. In fact, it should be done right after having a meal.

Formation

Drop your knees down on your mat

Place your pelvis on your heels and point your toes outward

Here, your thighs should press your calf muscles

Keep your heels close to each other, and big toes together

Place your palms on your knees facing upward

Straighten your back and look forward



Padamasana

Formation of the posture

Sit in Ardha Padmasana with your right foot over your left thigh

Lift your left foot and place it on your right thigh facing up

Pull your feet closer to your hips

Drop your knees to the floor

Place your palms on your knees facing up

Hold the asana for a while

Repeat with the other leg
IANS

Tue, 19 May 2020 06:00:13 +0530
FBI says it accessed terrorist s iPhone without Apple s help

Washington, The US government has accessed an iPhone of a terrorist involved in December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, without any help from Apple despite repeated requests.

In a media briefing, US Attorney General William Barr said that Mohammed Alshamrani, the Saudi air force officer accused of killing three classmates and injuring eight others at Florida Naval Air Station on December 6 was affiliated with Al Qaeda.

Alshamrani shot one of his two iPhones, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) wanted to examine but Apple refused once again, reports NBCNews.

"Apple's decision has dangerous consequences for public safety and national security and is, in my judgment, unacceptable," Barr said on Monday.

The FBI director Chris Wray credited technical skill of the agency in accessing the iPhone

"We received effectively no help from Apple," said Wray.

According to Forbes, the FBI has spent $72,150 on GrayKey technology in April that can break through Apple encryption and get data.

The agency has spent over $1 million on the technology that costs $15,000-$30,000 for a license.

Apple earlier defended its stance on hardware encryption, as the FBI asked the Cupertino-based giant to unlock two iPhones owned by the Florida shooter.

"Building back doors into encryption is not the way we are going to solve those issues," Jane Horvath, Apple's Senior Director of Global Privacy, said in January this year.

Apple also denied FBI access to an iPhone belonging to the shooter in San Bernardino terror attack in 2016. The FBI had to pay professional hackers to break into the device.
(IANS) 

Tue, 19 May 2020 05:51:35 +0530
Time wasted in US response against pandemic Biden

Washington, Former US Vice President Joe Biden said Monday that time had been wasted in Washington's response against the coronavirus pandemic.

Addressing a virtual event on Monday, Biden said the scale of the loss from the global health crisis, which has infected 1,508,291 people and killed 90,340 in the US, was "staggering" and "infuriating", reports Xinhua news agency.

"But more than that, it's heartbreaking to think how much fear, how much loss, how much agony could have been avoided if the president hadn't wasted so much time and taken responsibility," he said.

"We got denials, delays, distraction -- many of which were openly xenophobic."

Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, along with other party members, has ramped up criticism of President Donald Trump over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Barack Obama, Trump's predecessor, also took a shot.

"More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they're doing," Obama said during a virtual commencement speech on May 16.

"A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge."

Trump fired back at Obama and Biden on Sunday, claiming that the former administration "is turning out to be one of the most corrupt and incompetent in US history".

(IANS)

Tue, 19 May 2020 05:32:26 +0530
Sensex up 500 points on positive global cues

Mumbai, The key Indian equity indices opened on a positive note on Tuesday with the BSE Sensex rising over 500 points.

The rise in the domestic market was in line with the gains in the global markets.

Around 9.55 am, Sensex was trading at 30,536.97, higher by 507.99 or 1.69 per cent from the previous close of 30,028.98 points.

It had opened at 30,450.74 and touched an intra-day high of 30,554.18 and a low of 30,187.77 points.

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading at 8,949.85, higher by 126.60 points or 1.43 per cent from the previous close.
(IANS)

Tue, 19 May 2020 05:16:03 +0530
WHO chief warns of long road to travel as COVID 19 risk remains high

Geneva, The majority of the world's population remains susceptible to COVID-19 and there is a long road to travel as the risk remains high, the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

"This is a dangerous enemy, with a dangerous combination of features: this virus is efficient, fast, and fatal," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Even in the worst-affected regions, the proportion of the population with the tell-tale antibodies is no more than 20 per cent, and in most places, less than 10 per cent, Tedros said.

"In other words: the majority of the world's population remains susceptible to this virus," he said. "The risk remains high and we have a long road to travel."

There have been over 4.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported to the WHO, with more than 300,000 people having lost their lives.

Its health impacts extend far beyond the sickness and death caused by the virus itself, said Tedros, adding that it is also more than a health crisis, as the global economy is headed for its sharpest contraction since the Great Depression.

"All countries have faced challenges in coming to grips with this virus, rich and poor, large and small," he said.

Tedros said the WHO had sounded the alarm early, noting that when the Geneva-based organization declared a global health emergency on January 30, there were less than 100 cases and no deaths outside China.

"We all have lessons to learn from the pandemic," he said. "Every country and every organization must examine its response and learn from its experience."

Tedros said he will initiate an independent evaluation at the earliest appropriate moment to review experience gained and lessons learned, and to make recommendations to improve national and global pandemic preparedness and response.

He urged member states to strengthen the WHO.

"The world doesn't need another plan, another system, another mechanism, another committee or another organization," he said. "It needs to strengthen, implement and finance the systems and organisations it has -- including WHO."

Citing the example of nations coming together under the banner of the WHO 40 years ago to rid the world of smallpox, Tedros proclaimed that "when solidarity triumphs over ideology, anything is possible," as COVID-19 has tested, strengthened and strained the bonds of fellowship between nations.

The 73rd World Health Assembly kicked off on Monday for an unprecedented two-day online discussion focusing on future response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(IANS) 

Tue, 19 May 2020 05:12:40 +0530
Trump taking HCQ as COVID 19 preventive despite US controversy

New York,  US President Donald Trump has said that he is taking hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a preventive for COVID-19 and dismissed controversies in the US around its use saying, "I'm still here".

"A couple of weeks ago, I started taking it. I've heard a lot of good stories," he told reporters on Monday in Washington.

With the media rife with stories about what are said to be its dangers and criticism of Trump for advocating the drug's use, he said: "I was just waiting to see your eyes light up when I said this. When I announced this. Yeah, I've taken it for 1 and a half weeks now. And I'm still here. I'm still here."

HCQ has been caught in the vortex of political polarisation because Trump had advocated it and Democratic Party leaders immediately criticised him for taking it.

Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Party leader in the Senate accused him on MSNBC of giving false hopes and said: "It is just dangerous what he did."

Trump said that he had asked the White House doctor to prescribe it for him to ward off the coronavirus and the physician said in a statement that they agreed "the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks".

He is tested daily for COVID-19 and has repeatedly shown to be free of it.

"I've heard a lot of good stories. And if it is not good, I will tell you right. I'm not going to get hurt by it. It has been around for 40 years for malaria, for lupus, for other things. I take it," the President said.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) National Task Force on COVID-19 has recommended that healthcare workers and others caring for coronavirus patients use HCQ as a preventive.

ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava said early last month: "Hydroxychloroquine is recommended only for a healthcare worker who is treating a COVID-19 patient.

"Secondly, it's recommended only for persons staying with and caring for a household patient who has been tested positive. They can take that only for prophylaxis - only for prevention."

HCQ is widely used in India to both prevent and treat malaria.

Trump began promoting HCQ on March 19 and later he tweeted about a combination of HCQ and azithromycin to treat COVID-19.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave emergency authorisation for HCQ use.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, obtained the drug for use in the state, which is the epicentre of the pandemic in the US.

On Monday night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, told CNN about Trump: "I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group, morbidly obese, they say."

Apparently Bhargava is not considered a scientist.

Trump had personally requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to relax the ban on HCQ export and allow India to export doses ordered before the COVID-19 pandemic.

India agreed and sent the US 3.5 million tablets and nine tonnes of ingredients to manufacture it.

The controversy in the US is over HCQ's side effect of abnormal heart rhythms and dangerously rapid heart rate in some patients. Doctors prescribe it only after considering the heart condition of the patient.

The FDA has directed that it should, therefore, be used only under medical supervision.

HCQ's risks received further attention from a study by University of Virginia researcher Jayakrishna Ambati that the risk of death was found to be higher in former servicemen suffering from COVID-19 who were treated with it compared to those who were not.

Other studies like one in France have shown that HCQ helped patients with COVID-19.

In Kiryas Joel in New York State a doctor has reported that if patients are treated in the early stages with a combination of HCQ, zinc and an anti-biotic, according to CBS New York

Vladimir Zelenko told the station that only two of the 400 patients he treated with the combination had died.

Cardiologist Avni Thakore is now leading a study of Zelenko's prescription.

She told CBS: "What we know about the mechanism of action of the drugs suggests they could be helpful early in the course of a viral infection."
(IANS)

Tue, 19 May 2020 05:04:55 +0530
Yogi allows relaxations in lockdown 4 0 in UP

Lucknow, After hours of brainstorming sessions, the Yogi Adityanath government has decided to allow opening of markets, shops, offices and industrial activity with pre-conditions in lockdown 4.0.

The decision that came past midnight said that the movement of all persons and vehicles will remain prohibited under section 144 of the IPC between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

According to an order issued by Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary R. K. Tiwari, restrictions will continue in the containment zones. In urban areas, a containment zone will be within a 250-metre radius around a single infected person or the colony, whichever is smaller or a radius of 500 metres around a cluster of infected persons with a 250-metre radius buffer zone.

Lockdown-4 will be applicable till May 31 and largely follows the guidelines issued by the Centre on Saturday.

The state government has allowed opening up of all shops and establishments like the printing press and dry cleaners outside the containment areas.

Markets will also open, though on fixed days to ensure that not all of them open together. The schedule would be decided by each district administration in consultation with the local traders' bodies on Tuesday.

The vendors and hawkers have also been allowed to start their work though weekly will remain suspended till the end of lockdown.

The guidelines further say that no shop should sell goods to any customer who does not wear a face mask. All other safety precautions like social distancing, use of sanitizers and masks should be observed by all shop owners and vendors.

Restaurants have been allowed to function for home delivery of food but will not be able to serve food on the premises. Bars will also remain closed during the lockdown 4 period.

Sweet shops, however, have been allowed to open on the condition that they will not serve food in the shop.

Weddings have also allowed as banquet halls can open with prior permission form the district authorities. Not more than 20 people can attend the event. No other social, religious, cultural or sports event can be held till the end of the lockdown.

Temples will also remain closed during this period.

All kinds of industrial activity outside containment zones have been allowed. For this, permission has also been given for the movement of goods vehicles.

With permission from the health department, nursing homes and the private hospital can restart their emergency services and essential surgeries.

The main wholesale vegetable and fruit mandi will remain open from 4 a.m to 7 a.m while retail sale can take place between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Air travel, Metro rail services, schools, colleges, coaching centres, restaurants for dine-in services, cinema halls, shopping malls, gyms, swimming pools and bars will remain shut in lockdown 4. Air ambulances have been exempted from this.

The state government has also stated that persons above the age of 65 years, those with co-morbidity, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years should remain indoors unless there is a medical emergency.

One person can ride a two-wheeler though women are allowed as pillion riders if they wear helmets.
(IANS) 

Tue, 19 May 2020 04:55:12 +0530
CBI court to hold Babri trial through video conferencing

Lucknow, The special CBI court in Lucknow that is hearing the Babri Masjid demolition case, directed its office to ask the UP chief secretary to ensure video conferencing facility in the courtroom to facilitate trial proceedings in the case.

In its order on Monday, special judge S.K. Yadav said the Supreme Court had, on May 8, directed the special court to continue trial proceedings through video conferencing as it was difficult to ensure physical presence of witnesses and accused in view of the lockdown.

"For compliance of the Supreme Court directive, it is incumbent upon the chief secretary to provide video conferencing facility in the courtroom for which he was already intimated on May 14, 2020, but nothing has been done so far," the special court said.

The special court had to conclude the trial by April 20 in pursuance of the apex court's earlier directives but it could not be done due to the lockdown.

Following an application by the special court, the Supreme Court extended the deadline till August 31.

The special court has recorded the prosecution evidence and has to record the statements of accused persons under Section 313 of the CrPC.

Meanwhile, the special court allowed cross-examination of three prosecution witnesses this week and asked the CBI as to how it would ensure the presence of witnesses through video conferencing.

The proceedings of the trial are going on a daily basis.

(IANS) 

Tue, 19 May 2020 04:26:39 +0530
Priyanka Gandhi accuses UP govt of politicising over migrants

New Delhi, After giving the list of buses to be plied for the migrants' labourers Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi shot a letter to the Additional Chief Secretary Avneesh Kumar Awasthi and had alleged that the whole episode emanating from the Chief Minister's office is nothing but politics and lacks the intention of helping the poor migrants who are stranded at UP border.

The letter written early Tuesday at 2.10 a.m. alleged that a letter was received from the Additional Chief Secretary Avneesh Awasthi's office at 11.40 p.m. on late Monday night said that all the buses should report in Lucknow by 10 a.m. on Tuesday is nothing but politics.

The letter written by Sandeep Singh personal aide of Priyanka Gandhi said that "when people are stranded at UP border in Ghaziabad and Noida or various state entry points to register themselves it is waste of resources to ask the buses to be sent to Lucknow. Sorry to say there is no intention to help the brothers and sisters who are walking on foot. The government is indulging in pure politics. As the Chief Minister is saying in a TV program that we are asking list from three days while your communication was received on Monday at 4.01 p.m."

Earlier on Monday after a political row ensued over Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi extending an offer to run 1,000 buses for migrants to Uttar Pradesh, her personal secretary has given details of the buses and its drivers to the UP government.

UP government has asked the list of buses from the Congress. In a letter, Gandhi's personal secretary Sandeep Singh said, "All details of the 1,000 buses are attached with this e-mail. Out of them, few drivers will be reverified and those details will also be mailed to you in a few hours. I hope you will give permission for those buses to ply as soon as possible."

Making a political point, Singh added that many labourers who are "the backbone of the country" are forced to walk hungry in the summer heat. Singh, however, asserted that the move by Congress is an effort to play a "positive role".

Earlier, the UP Congress claimed to have submitted the list of 1,000 buses to the Yogi Adityanath government following which the state government sought details of the buses and drivers.

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had slammed the Congress for not submitting the list of buses and playing 'petty politics' on the migrant workers' issue
(IANS)

Tue, 19 May 2020 04:07:27 +0530
Cyclone alert for Bengal Odisha as Amphan intensifies

New Delhi, The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday issued a fresh cyclone alert for West Bengal and north Odisha coasts as an extremely severe cyclonic storm 'Amphan' was over the central parts of the South Bay of Bengal and adjoining the central Bay of Bengal.

In a statement, the IMD said the super cyclonic storm Amphan (pronounced as UM-PUN) over Westcentral and adjoining East-central Bay of Bengal moved nearly north-northeastwards with a speed of 14 kmph during the past six hours.

"It lay centred at 0530 hrs IST of 19th May 2020 near latitude 15.6°N and longitude 86.7°E over Westcentral Bay of Bengal about 520 km nearly south of Paradip (Odisha), 670 km south-southwest of Digha (West Bengal) and 800 km south-southwest of Khepupara (Bangladesh).

"It is very likely to weaken into an Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm during the next six hours. And, is very likely to move north-northeastwards across the northwest Bay of Bengal and cross West Bengal – Bangladesh coasts between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) close to Sundarbans during the Afternoon / Evening of 20th May 2020 as a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm with maximum sustained wind speed of 155-165 kmph gusting to 180 kmph," said the IMD statement.

The super cyclone Amphan is now being continuously tracked by the Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) at Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh).

Addressing a press on Monday, IMD chief Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said that Amphan was expected to make the biggest impact in South and North 24 Parganas and East Medinipur districts of West Bengal.

Keeping in view the conditions, the IMD has advised a complete shutdown of shipping and boating activities in the vulnerable parts of West Bengal and Odisha till May 20. Rerouting or shutting down of rail and road traffic is also advised in the areas which the super cyclone is expected to hit.

To provide instant help in West Bengal, a total of 19 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are deployed, and four teams are on standby. In Odisha, 13 teams are deployed and 17 are on standby. While some NDRF teams are in the area, some are in transit.

The weather agency has issued an orange alert for coastal West Bengal and Odisha, where it said widespread damage is expected.
(IANS) 

Tue, 19 May 2020 04:00:33 +0530
India s sugar production falls nearly 19 till May 15

New Delhi, India's sugar production declined by nearly 19 per cent as on May 15, however, 63 mills are still in operation in the ongoing sugar season 2019-20 (October-September).

As per the production data released by the apex sugar Industry body Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), sugar mills across the country produced 264.65 lakh tonnes of sugar till May 15, 2020, down by 61.54 lakh tonnes or 18.86 per cent from 326.19 lakh tonnes produced during the same period last year. However, 63 sugar mills are still in operation as compared to 38 sugar mills which were crushing sugarcane on May 15, 2019.

Sugar mills in UP have produced 122.28 lakh tonnes of sugar as on May 15, 2020, which is 5.48 lakh tonnes higher than the production of 116.80 lakh tonnes produced by them last year on the corresponding date. This production is the highest ever sugar production in the state, surpassing 120.45 lakh tonnes produced in 2017-18. Out of 119 mills operated this year, 73 mills have ended their crushing and 46 mills continue their operations, compared to 28 mills which were operating on May 15, 2019, last year.

In Maharashtra, sugar production till May 15, 2020, was 60.87 lakh tonnes, compared with 107.15 lakh tonnes produced in 2018-19 SS, almost 46.3 lakh tonnes less than last year. In the current 2019-20 SS, 145 mills have already closed their crushing operations in the state and only one sugar mill is operating, while last year on the corresponding date, the crushing season had already concluded by April 30, 2019.

All the operating sugar mills in Karnataka had closed their crushing operations by April 30, 2020, and have produced 33.82 lakh tonnes of sugar. However, a few mills might operate in the special season commencing July 2020. Last year during the special season, Karnataka mills had produced 1.05 lakh tonnes of sugar. As compared to the above, 43.25 lakh tonnes was produced in 2018-19 SS on the corresponding date.

As on date, in Tamil Nadu, 9 mills are in operation, out of 24 sugar mills which operated this season. Till May 15, 2020, sugar production in the state was 5.65 lakh tonnes, compared with 7.16 lakh tonnes produced on the corresponding date last year. Of the 32 sugar mills, 30 mills had ended their operations and only 2 mills were in operation as on May 15, 2019, last year. Last year, during the special season, 2.13 lakh tonnes were produced by mills in Tamil Nadu.

All the factories in Gujarat have closed their crushing operations for the current season and have produced 9.28 lakh tonnes of sugar as compared to 11.21 lakh tonnes of sugar produced in the 2018-19 SS.

The remaining states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Odisha have collectively produced 32.75 lakh tonnes till May 15, 2020. As on date, 5 mills are operating in Haryana, while one mill is operating in Uttarakhand, which are expected to close their crushing operations shortly.

As per market sources, contracts for export of 42 lakh tonnes have been signed till the beginning of May 2020. As per reports available from mills and ports, about 36 lakh tonnes of sugar have been moved/dispatched from the mills for export.

Contracts for export of sugar are being signed for various destinations, with major quantities being signed for exports to Indonesia and Iran. Shipments are also happening and are expected to normalize in the days to come.
(IANS) 

Mon, 18 May 2020 11:16:48 +0530
States cannot dilute restrictions MHA on Lockdown 4 0

New Delhi,  The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has come up with a fresh order for the states and Union Territories (UTs) instructing them "not to dilute" its guidelines issued for the lockdown 4.0 that began from Monday for two more weeks till May 31. The guidelines were about the opening up of the red zones to boost the economic activities and permit transportation to balance the fight against COVID-19 thereby limiting the economic damage.

In the order, issued by the Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla to the Chief Secretaries of all states and UTs, it is mentioned that states and UTs cannot dilute restrictions imposed in the MHA guidelines and can only make them stricter based on the local level assessment and the Health Ministry guidelines.

The order was issued on Sunday, soon after the MHA issued the guidelines for lockdown 4.0 to lower the spread of the deadly pandemic which so far has claimed 3,029 deaths and infected over 96,000 people across the country.

The MHA on Sunday issued revised guidelines regarding the lockdown restrictions, to contain the COVID-19 virus with "widespread relaxations given in the restrictions".

Under the new guidelines effective from Monday, states and UTs would now "delineate the red, orange and green zones, taking into consideration the revised guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on Sunday".

Inside the red and orange zones, containment and buffer zones would be identified by the local authorities, based on local level technical inputs and Health Ministry guidelines, the MHA guidelines mentioned.

Within the containment zones, the guidelines said, strict perimeter would be maintained as earlier and only essential activities would be allowed.

Limited activities would continue to be prohibited throughout the country but "all other activities would be permitted except the ones that are specifically prohibited under the MHA guidelines".

In view of these points, the MHA has reiterated to the states and UTs that despite widespread relaxations given in the lockdown restrictions under revised guidelines, they "cannot dilute the restrictions imposed in the MHA guidelines".

They may prohibit "certain other activities or impose restrictions, as deemed necessary on the basis of ground level analysis of the situation", the order said.

Further, it has been communicated that states and UTs must take into consideration the benchmarks and thresholds indicated in the revised guidelines issued by the MoHFW, while delineating zones at local level.

"It has also been urged to give wide publicity to the Centre and respective state guidelines at local level for the convenience of the public," the order issued by the Home Secretary reads.

The lockdown since March 25, which entered its 55th day on Monday, has battered the economy and dealt a severe blow to daily wagers and the poor, posing a serious challenge for the Narendra Modi-led Central government.

The new nationwide lockdown guidelines got extension for the third time on Sunday, which was first imposed from March 25 and then extended from April 15 and May 4.
(IANS)

Mon, 18 May 2020 10:30:40 +0530
Railways earns over Rs 76 cr from sale of 2 05 lakh tickets

New Delhi, The Indian Railways, which started bookings for 15 pairs of Special Rajdhani Express, has earned Rs 76.22 crore from the sale of 2.05 lakh tickets in a week, officials said on Monday.

On May 10, the national transporter had announced the running of Rajdhani trains from May 12 and started ticket bookings a day later.

The officials said tickets for 3.80 lakh passengers were booked in a week's time.

On Monday, over 26,830 passengers will travel by Special Rajdhani Express trains, as against 30,039 passengers on Sunday.

The railways have suspended passenger, mail and express train services since March 25 amid the nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of novel coronavirus.

Besides Special Rajdhani Express trains, the Railways is also running Shramik Special trains from May 1 to transport stranded migrant workers, pilgrims, students and tourists.

Till Sunday night, over 1,300 Shramik Specials had ferried more than 17 lakh people to different parts of the country.

The railways have also been running freight and special parcel trains to ensure the supply of essential items across the country.
 

(IANS)

Mon, 18 May 2020 09:57:12 +0530
Amphan might cross B desh between Tuesday Wednesday

Dhaka, The severe cyclonic storm 'Amphan' may cross Bangladesh coast between late Tuesday night and Wednesday evening, the country's Met Department said on Monday.

The storm moved northwards and currently lies over the west-central Bay and adjoining south Bay, The Daily Star newspaper quoted the latest special weather bulletin of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department as saying.

It was centred, at 6 a.m. on Monday, about 1,150 km south-southwest of Chattogram Port, 1,090 km south-southwest of Cox's Bazar Port, 1,070 km south-southwest of Mongla Port and 1,050 km south-southwest of Payra port, the bulletin said.

It is likely to intensify further and move in a north-northwesterly direction and then re-curve north-northeast wards, it said.

Maximum sustained wind speed within 74 km of the storm centre is about 110 kph rising to 130 kph in gusts/squalls.

Sea will remain very high near the cyclone centre, the bulletin said.

Maritime ports of Chattogram, Cox's Bazar, Mongla and Payra have been advised to keep hoisted local warning signal No. 4.

All fishing boats and trawlers over North Bay and deep sea have been advised to remain close to the coast and proceed with caution till further notice so that they can take shelter within a short notice.

They are also advised not to venture into the deep sea.

The India Meteorological Department on Monday issued a cyclone alert for West Bengal and north Odisha coasts as the extremely severe cyclonic storm were over the central parts of the South Bay of Bengal and adjoining the central Bay of Bengal.
 

(IANS) 

Mon, 18 May 2020 08:44:51 +0530
Neutralizing antibodies against COVID 19 identified

Beijing, Chinese researchers have successfully identified multiple highly potent neutralizing antibodies against COVID-19 from convalescent plasma by high-throughput single-cell sequencing, according to a new study.

Generated by the human immune system, neutralizing antibodies can effectively prevent viruses from infecting cells, Xinhua news agency quoted the study as saying which was published on Sunday.

New results from animal studies showed that neutralizing antibodies provide a potential cure for COVID-19 as well as a means for short-term prevention, which marks a major milestone in the fight against the pandemic.

According to the research team, led by Sunney Xie, director of the Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics at Peking University, antibody drugs, as a kind of biologics, have been successfully applied to treat viruses like AIDS, Ebola, and MERS.

However, it is often time-consuming to develop neutralizing antibodies suitable for clinical use, taking months or even years.

By using their expertise in single-cell genomics, the team collaborated with researchers at Beijing YouAn Hospital to collect blood samples from over 60 convalescent patients, among which 14 highly potent neutralizing antibodies were selected from 8,558 antigen-binding IgG1+ clonotypes.

Their animal experiments showed that the most potent antibody, BD-368-2, could provide strong therapeutic efficacy and prophylactic protection against COVID-19.

According to the study, when the BD-368-2 antibody was injected into infected mice, the virus load was decreased by 2,400 times, and when uninfected mice were injected with BD-368-2, they were protected from being infected by the virus.

The potent neutralizing antibody could be used to develop drugs for both therapeutic intervention and prophylactic protection against COVID-19, Xie told Xinhua in an email interview.

He said clinical trials were underway, and the research team have strong confidence in finding a cure.

"If the COVID-19 pandemic reappears in the winter, our neutralizing antibody might be available by that time," Xie added.
(IANS) 

Mon, 18 May 2020 07:45:23 +0530
IIT Madras startup developing wearable tracker to fast detect COVID 19

Chennai, An Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras-incubated startup Muse Wearables is developing a wrist-based tracker with skin temperature, heart rate and SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation) sensing which can continuously track these body vitals remotely that will help in early diagnosis of COVID-19 symptoms.

The tracker is Bluetooth-enabled and can be connected to the mobile phone via an app called the 'Muse Health App'. The user vitals and activity data are stored on the phone as well as a remote server.

Priced at around Rs 3,500, the new wearable product will soon be deployed in the market for consumers across all the 70 countries that the startup currently sells in.

The startup hopes to be able to bring out the first batch of finalised products in the next 20 days.

The tracker can get notifications from the Aarogya Setu App and raise an alert to the user when he enters a COVID containment zone.

According to the Institute, Muse Wearables has already completed product design for the tracker and are now working on finalizing and fabricating the product.

Muse Wearables was incubated by IIT Madras Incubation Cell.

"They have quickly mobilised and repurposed their offerings in response to the situation and are striving to make a positive contribution to the nation's anti-virus efforts," Dr Tamaswati Ghosh, Chief Executive Officer, IIT Madras Incubation Cell, said in a statement.

The wearable tracker's major objective is to enable remote detection of COVID-19 and Monitoring of COVID-19 patients by providing a low-cost solution that is accessible to everyone.

The unique features of the product include remote monitoring of patient vitals by doctors and experts, automatic alerts and emergency response system if a user's vitals are out of range,

It also includes automatic activity tracking (steps, calories, distance), automatic sleep tracking and long battery life (up to 4 weeks on a single charge).

Users can raise an Emergency Alert (SOS) in case of any difficulty and the alert raised when body temperature is higher than the threshold. Alerts are also raised when SpO2 levels are too low or when the user is entering into a COVID containment area.
(IANS) 

Mon, 18 May 2020 07:43:42 +0530
Manali Leh highway reopens after winter break

Manali, Closed for over five months due to heavy snowfall, the Manali-Leh highway was reopened to motorists on Monday with the completion of the snow-clearing operations amid the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

The route is strategic for the movement of the armed forces and their supplies and wares to the areas in Ladakh.

"Traffic between Manali and Leh was resumed. This time it was reopened much earlier," a Border Roads Organisation (BRO) official told IANS here.

He said the snow was 30-35 feet high in some stretches close to the Baralacha Pass, posing a big challenge to those clearing the snow.

The work to repair the entire 475-km stretch, which links the Himachal Pradesh tourist city with Leh in Jammu and Kashmir, was completed.

The Manali-Leh highway winds its way through the Rohtang Pass (13,050 feet), Baralacha Pass (16,020 feet), Lachlungla Pass (16,620 feet) and Tanglangla (17,480 feet).

The BRO maintains the strategic highways in the country.

The BRO's 'Project Deepak' is responsible for clearing snow on the 222-km Sarchu-Manali highway while 'Project Himank' takes care of the 253-km Leh-Sarchu highway.

The idyllic settings of the Himalayas draw an increasing number of backpackers, especially foreigners, for adventure activities like mountain biking, rock climbing and jungle trekking.
(IANS)

Mon, 18 May 2020 06:43:34 +0530
Surge in traffic on Delhi borders as curbs ease

New Delhi, As the nationwide lockdown has been extended for two more weeks till May 31, heavy vehicular traffic was witnessed on Monday at the Delhi-Gurugram and Delhi-Noida borders as people came out to attend their offices.

On Delhi-Noida Direct (DND) way, that connects south Delhi with Noida, heavy traffic was witnessed on Monday morning.

Long queues of vehicles were seen at the check posts as many people willing to attend their offices arrived at the borders on early Monday morning. The vehicular queue went up to over a kilometre as the police deployed at the border checked the passes and the identity cards of the people travelling.

Similar scenes were witnessed at the Delhi-Gurugram borders as people arrived on way to their offices. The traffic in the national capital also witnessed a surge as a number of vehicles were seen on the streets in areas like Income Tax Office (ITO) and others.

Later in the day, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is set to release a detailed plan on restrictions and relaxations for the city based on the Centre's guidelines.

The nationwide lockdown has been in place since March 25. The lockdown has been extended thrice earlier.
(IANS) 

Mon, 18 May 2020 06:26:51 +0530
Apple reopens 100 retail stores globally more to follow

San Jose, Apple has managed to reopen 100 retail stores out of more than 500 worldwide, as it aims to safely restart operations.

Apple closed all its retail stores outside Greater China in March as COVID-19 pandemic spread. All the Apple stores in Greater China are now open.

The company plans to reopen 25 more stores in the US, 12 in Canada and 10 in Italy over the next week. Apple has reopened some stores in the US, starting with Idaho, South Carolina, Alabama, and Alaska.

"In China, and later around the world, we were one of the first companies to close our stores. In Greater China, we saw the importance of swift action — and the critical importance of social distance — to slow the virus' spread," said Apple's head of retail Deidre O'Brien in a statement on Sunday.

"As time has gone on, we've continued to refine and expand our in-store health and safety measures, which have proven so effective in places like Greater China, where our stores have been safely open for months," he added.

Apple said it looks at every available piece of data — including local cases, near and long-term trends, and guidance from national and local health officials, before it reopens stores.

"These are not decisions we rush into — and a store opening in no way means that we won't take the preventative step of closing it again should local conditions warrant," according to O'Brien.

Apple is taking some additional steps in most places.

"Face coverings will be required for all of our teams and customers, and we will provide them to customers who don't bring their own. Temperature checks will be conducted at the door, and posted health questions will screen for those with symptoms — like cough or fever — or who have had recent exposure to someone infected with COVID-19," O'Brien elaborated.

Throughout the day, Apple is conducting enhanced deep cleanings that place special emphasis on all surfaces, display products, and highly trafficked areas.

"We've also taken this time to consider how we can serve our customers' needs even more effectively, whether online or in our stores. For many stores, that will mean curb-side pick-up and drop off. If you choose to buy online, we can ship to your home or make your new items available for convenient pick-up at our stores," informed the Apple executive.
(IANS)

Mon, 18 May 2020 06:21:54 +0530
Microsoft to invest 75mn in creating 1 500 jobs in AI Cloud

San Francisco, Tech giant Microsoft has announced to invest $75 million to build a new office at Atlanta, Georgia, by next year that will create 1,500 new jobs in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cloud space.

The Satya Nadella-run enterprise will expand operations in the city's midtown area in a 523,000 square-foot facility in the popular Atlantic Station district.

The facility, which will include a retail area, is slated to open in the summer of 2021.

"We are excited that a global leader like Microsoft Corp. is expanding its investment in Georgia with tech jobs that will be truly beneficial to the company and our state," said Governor Brian P. Kemp.

Microsoft's new facility will be a client-facing workplace that will focus on AI and cloud services, including retail space for engaging directly with customers.

"Atlanta has a rich culture and history of innovation, making it a unique place for tech growth," said Terrell Cox, general manager, Microsoft.

"We are excited to expand our presence and further engage with the community and surrounding region, contributing positively to technical opportunity, digital fluency, and economic development," Cox added.

Midtown Atlanta has become a top innovation district and a hub for tech companies.

Microsoft currently operates a cloud computing engineering centre in the Coda Building at Technology Square and maintains offices in Alpharetta and Buckhead in the state.
(IANS)

Mon, 18 May 2020 06:13:25 +0530
Wuhan won t charge residents for expanded nucleic acid tests

Wuhan, Wuhan, the capital of China's Hubei province where the COVID-19 pandemic originated last December, will not charge residents as the city moves to expand its nucleic acid tests to cover every individual who has not been tested for the novel coronavirus.

The city's health commission said in a statement on Monday that the costs of the tests will be borne by the district and municipal governments, and no personal payment was required, reports Xinhua news agency.

Last week, the provincial capital had announced its plan to expand nucleic acid tests in order to detect asymptomatic cases, or people who show no clear symptoms despite carrying the virus.

The decision was made as the city continued to report daily increases of asymptomatic infections, raising public concerns as Wuhan reopened factories, businesses and schools.

The testing will give priority to residential compounds that had previously reported infections, as well as old and densely populated buildings.

Children under six were not required to take the tests.

To minimize cross-infection risks, the commission said they will set up open-air testing sites in residential compounds and remind residents to maintain distance when lining up for the tests.

Door-to-door sampling can be arranged for those who have trouble visiting the testing sites, it said.

Earlier this month, Wuhan reported six new COVID-19 cases, ending the zero-increase record it had held since April 4.

All of the new infections were previously asymptomatic cases from one old residential compound.
(IANS)

Mon, 18 May 2020 06:06:53 +0530
Sensex slips over 700 points Nifty below 9 000

Mumbai,  The key Indian equity indices plunged on Monday with the BSE Sensex falling over 700 points. The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) also fell over 200 points, below the psychological 9,000 marks.

The fall can be attributed to the extension of the nationwide lockdown till May 31 and the disappointment in several quarters over the economic package.

Around 10 a.m., the Sensex was trading at 30,359.56. lower by 738.17 points or 2.37 per cent from the previous close of 31,097.73.

It had opened at 31,248.26 and has so far touched an intra-day high of 31,248.26 and a low of 30,265.67.

The Nifty50 was trading at 8,916.70, lower by 220.15 points or 2.41 per cent from the previous close.
(IANS)

Mon, 18 May 2020 05:57:15 +0530
With over 5K new cases India Covid tally jumps to 96 169

New Delhi,  With the sharpest spike of 5,242 new cases in 24 hours, India's total case count of coronavirus jumped to 96,169, the Union Health Ministry data revealed on Monday.

According to the Health Ministry, of the total, 56,316 are active cases while at least 36,823 people have been cured from the disease.

At least 157 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, taking the total fatality count to 3,029.

In Maharashtra, the Covid-19 cases climbed to 33,053, followed by Gujarat which has 11,379 cases and Tamil Nadu 11,224 cases so far.

Maharashtra has also reported the highest number of deaths, 1198, followed by 659 in Gujarat and 248 in Madhya Pradesh.

National capital's total tally crossed the 10,000-mark on Monday and stood at 10,054, according to the Health Ministry data.

States which have reported more than 4000 cases are Rajasthan (5,202), Madhya Pradesh (4,977) and Uttar Pradesh (4,259).

Other major states and Union Territories that have reported more than 1,000 cases are West Bengal (2,677), Andhra Pradesh (2,407), Punjab (1,964), Telangana (1,551), Bihar (1,262), Jammu and Kashmir (1,183) and Karnataka (1,147).

Among other states and UTs that have reported a significant number of cases are Haryana (910), Kerala (601), Odisha (828), Tripura (167), Jharkhand (223), Assam (101), Uttarakhand (92), Himachal Pradesh (80) and Chandigarh (191).

Goa which had maintained Corona Free status for quite a long time and had few resurged cases recently, reported at least 15 new cases, taking the total tally there at 29, said the Health Ministry.
(IANS)

Mon, 18 May 2020 04:51:27 +0530
Combination of zinc HCQ azithromycin helps in recovery from COVID 19 Shanghai based Indian Doc

New Delhi, China, where the novel coronavirus originated, has reported 111 cases since beginning of May, which shows the infection rate has dipped, and 3 deaths since April 27, according to the WHO. A Shanghai-based Noida doctor says China is close to winning the battle against Covid-19, and the combination of zinc, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and antibiotic azithromycin has been able to save the lives of coronavirus patients. Dr Sanjeev Choubey, Medical Director Internal Medicine at St. Michael Hospital said this combination has been adopted as a line of treatment for patients infected with coronavirus, and as a result patients are recovering, decreasing their need for intensive care.

Q1) What is the line of treatment for COVID-19 patients, which also include asymptomatic patients?

A) The combination of zinc, hydroxychloroquine and antibiotic azithromycin has produced positive results, and it helped in the recovery of many COVID-19 patients. The combination -- Ascorbic Acid, B-complex, Zinc, Selenium, L-carnitine, Vitamin B-12 and Glutathione normal saline – should be administered on patients twice a week for at least 6 weeks. This is COVID-19 treatment protocol for prophylaxis, and it implies both asymptomatic and symptomatic along with other medicine support.

Q2) Based on your experience on COVID-19 in China, after how many tests, is it safe to call a person coronavirus free?

A) The coronavirus should be performed at least 9 times, before terming a patient COVID-19 free. It is a standard in China. This procedure has worked in China and it will also work in India. Minimum five tests should be mandatory through RT-PCR.

Q3) Does coronavirus majorly attack the respiratory system or it could lead to organ failure too?

A) Line of treatment should not be just looking at the respiratory system, as the problem lies somewhere else. COVID-19 attacks many vital organs in the body. In China, a coronavirus patient died from a stroke. In the autopsy it was found that the innermost layer in the arteries was swollen. It was concluded that coronavirus had inflamed the layer of the arteries leading to clotting, which was a factor in generating a heart attack. Therefore, COVID-19 is not just a respiratory problem.

Q4) Amid the coronavirus pandemic, should autopsy be made mandatory in the case of unpredictable death or where reasons for death are not unknown?

A) Patients below 50 years, who die suddenly and the reasons are not known, then it should be mandatory to conduct the autopsy. After death, coronavirus is active in the body for five days, and it fades away on day 6. Therefore, if an autopsy is done then it will help in understanding this disease. In China, we have seen young COVID-19 patients, aged 22 and 28, succumbed to strokes.

Q5) Since the beginning of May, India has recorded more than 2,000 cases everyday in the first week, then it jumped past 3,000 mark in the second week. Finally, the tally is 4,987 on May 17. At 90,927 cases, has India progressed into community transmission or Stage3?

A) Yes, India has moved into Stage 3. The data suggest that 3,000 to 4,000 active COVID-19 cases, who are asymptomatic, are moving around and spreading the infection. The research has indicated that COVID-19 from an infected person spreads in 30 minutes to non-infected persons. The relaxation on the lockdown will certainly contribute to a high infection rate.

Q6) Do you think India has reached its peak in COVID-19 cases, or the sharp rise will continue till July end?

A) It seems India has already reached its peak and cases will begin to come down from June end or beginning of July first week. If social distancing norms are followed then certainly things can improve, but if not followed then it may get worse. High population density is a major contributor to the increase in cases. The government should continue to focus on finding hotspots, and urge people to follow the rules, eventually, it is for people's own benefit.

Q7) Has China won the battle against Covid-19?

A) It seems China has won the battle by not opening up Wuhan. The Chinese are following a COVID-19 patient's engagement program, where the authorities continuously interact with people infected with the disease. The Government of India should reward people who follow the guidelines; it will help in setting up a positive trend in the society.

(IANS) 

Mon, 18 May 2020 04:42:35 +0530
India among 58 nations questioning WHO on COVID 19 response

New Delhi, India is among 58 nations, including 27 European Union members, who have moved a draft resolution demanding evaluation of the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s response towards the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The European Union-led draft resolution on global COVID-19 response is set to be tabled at the upcoming World Health Assembly on Monday.

The draft resolution demands initiation "at the earliest appropriate moment to review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19".

"We are deeply concerned by the morbidity and mortality caused by COVID-19 pandemic, the negative impacts on physical and mental health and social well-being, the negative impacts on economy and society and the consequent exacerbation of inequalities within and between countries," read the draft.

"We express solidarity to all countries affected by the pandemic, as well as condolences and sympathy to all the families of the victims of COVID-19," it added.

The resolution says timelines are to be evaluated regarding "recommendations the WHO made to improve global pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response capacity".

The WHO on January 23 declare a global health emergency, but did not declare it and waited for a week for its director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to return from China.

By that time, COVID-19 cases increased 10 times and the virus entered 18 countries.

According to Health Policy Watch, till as late as February, the WHO did not support countries for imposing travel restrictions to China.

"When countries began evacuating their citizens from Wuhan, the COVID-19 epicentre, the WHO said it did not favour this step".

The WHO finally declared it a pandemic on March 11.

The global health body has come under criticism not just from the US for its response being "China-centric".
(IANS)

Mon, 18 May 2020 04:29:26 +0530
Samsung unveil 5G smartphone with quantum safe crypto solution

Seoul,  South Korea's largest mobile carrier SK Telecom has introduced a 5G smartphone called Galaxy A Quantum, highlighting quantum-safe cryptography solution in cooperation with Samsung Electronics.

The price of the handset has been set at 649,000 won ($530) in South Korea.

According to the company, the Galaxy A Quantum will be the world's first 5G smartphone with a quantum random number generator (QRNG) chipset that ensures better mobile communication security.

The QRNG chip, developed by SK Telecom's Switzerland-based subsidiary ID Quantique, generates random numbers based on quantum crypto technology, which creates strong keys that are not biased and cannot be predicted, the company said, thus strengthening the security of data transmission.

SK Telecom said Galaxy A Quantum users will be able to experience its quantum crypto solution in services that require identification and certification, which includes mobile payment application.

The Galaxy A Quantum comes with a quad-rear camera setup with a 6.7-inch display and a 4,500mAh battery.
(IANS)

Sun, 17 May 2020 13:05:19 +0530
2 Pak girls killed for honour over leaked mobile video

Islamabad,  Two teenage girls were killed in the name of 'honour' allegedly by a family member in a village located on the border of Pakistan's North and South Waziristan tribal districts after a short mobile video of them with a young man surfaced on social media, police said.

The Razmak police station in North Waziristan, in whose jurisdiction the murders were reported, on Friday, registered an FIR of the incident with the state as the complainant and started an investigation, Dawn news said in a report on Sunday.

According to the FIR, the incident took place on May 14 at the border village of Shaam Plain Garyom.

"A confirmed report was received that two girls aged 16 and 18 were killed in the name of honour by their paternal cousin, whose name and address is not known, in Shaam Plain Garyom," the FIR said.

It said the reason behind the killings was believed to be a video which shows a young man recording himself with three young girls in a secluded area outdoors.

A senior police officer in Waziristan told Dawn news that two of the three girls seen in the 52-second mobile clip have been killed.

He said police were collecting information about the third girl and the man seen in the video.

According to the police official, it appeared that the video in question was shot nearly a year ago and most probably went viral on social media only a few weeks ago.

The area where the incident took place is far-flung and considered risky in terms of security, the police official said, adding: "At the moment, our topmost priority is to secure the life of the third girl and the man before taking any action."

The incident comes nearly eight years after the 2012 Kohistan video scandal, in which three women were killed for the honour after a grainy video showing them singing and clapping while two boys danced had gone viral in the ultra-conservative and remote district.
(IANS)

Sun, 17 May 2020 12:26:40 +0530
Pak backing plan for another 9 11 type attack Ex Afghan spy chief

New Delhi/Islamabad, Afghanistan's former spy chief has warned that the Pakistan-backed Haqqani network (HQN) is helping banned Islamist terror group al-Qaeda to plan another 9/11-style terror attack against the West.

In a series of tweets posted on Sunday, the former director of Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS), Rahmatullah Nabil revealed that al-Qaeda continues to be backed by the HQN based in Pakistan.

"If state sponsors of terrorism in the region are not stopped we will see another 9/11-style attack in future. Al-Qaeda's al-Zawahiri, Abu Muhammad Al Masri and Saif ul Adel are still planning attacks in the West with the backing of the HQN which is based in Pakistan," he tweeted.

An offshoot of the Taliban, the HQN headed by Maulvi Jalaluddin's son Sirajuddin Haqqani, is an Afghan Islamist terror group fighting against the US-led NATO forces and the democratically elected government of Afghanistan. The network in the 1980s was backed by the CIA during the Ronald Reagan administration to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Jalaluddin Haqqani for his network recruited Arab national Osama bin Laden who later founded al-Qaeda with a pan-Islamic objective. Al-Qaeda remains closely associated with the HQN whose objective of establishing Islamic rule is restricted to Afghanistan.

The former director of NDS in a series of tweets on Sunday said, "Sirajuddin Haqqani and his senior commanders are running the commission responsible for overlooking the foreign fighters."

Yahya Haqqani is the overall liaison for the HQN with foreign fighters, Nabil said.

"From ETIP (East Turkistan Islamic Movement), AQIS (Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent) to AQC (Al-Qaeda Central) all these are the strongest allies of HQN leadership, in particular Sirajuddin Haqqani and his hard boys which gives HQN leverage and control over the wider Taliban movement thus striking fear in those who oppose them in the movement," the Afghan security expert said.

Nabil revealed that Abdul Rauf Zakir also known as Qari Zakir, the chief of suicide operations of HQN with a bounty of five million dollars on his head, had been killed in a drone strike along with Hamza bin Laden (Osama's son) in Ghuzguri area of Kurram Agency.

"The death of Hamza bin Laden was confirmed in September 2019 by US President Donald Trump. But no one talked about the place of his death and that he was together with Qari Zakir in Kurram Agency! Hamza bin laden was killed with Qari Zakir in the same drone strike," he tweeted.

The Taliban particularly HQN have never denounced al-Qaeda, the former NDS director pointed out.

"From the materials seized in Abbottabad to sheltering Farooq Al Qahtani in Kunar the intelligence communities know this very well. Intel sources are aware that the presence of AQIS and AQC is only strong in areas where HQN is present/active and these agencies are sitting on piles of evidence. We cannot ignore the elephant in the room," Nabil wrote while tagging US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US President Donald Trump.
(IANS)

Sun, 17 May 2020 12:13:12 +0530
2 Maha cops killed in Maoist encounter

Gadchiroli (Maharashtra),  At least two policemen of the crack Quick Response Team were killed in an encounter with Maoists early on Sunday, officials said here.

According to a Gadchiroli police spokesperson, the incident occurred around 6 am when the security forces were carrying out a combing operation in the Koparshi forests of the Maoist-infested Bhamragad region.

In the fierce gun battle with some Maoists hiding in the jungle, Gadchiroli Police staffers Dhanaji Honmane and Kishore Atram were martyred.

The police said the security forces may have succeeded in inflicting heavy damage on the Maoists, including at least 4-5 fatalities.

Search and combing operations are currently underway and the entire region is in a state of high alert.
(IANS)

Sun, 17 May 2020 11:53:33 +0530
FM calls Rahul s meeting with migrants a dramabaazi

New Delhi,  Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday termed the meeting of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with the migrants in Delhi a "dramabaazi" and said the Congress should "be more responsible" and work together with the Centre in the current scenario.

Sitharaman, while addressing the media here, also said that whatever one can do in the current coronavirus crisis is less.

"Not just me, but anyone doing anything is less. I don't want to be involved in any discussion if I have done less or more. I don't see anything can be adequate. No matter how much you do, it will not be enough (in the current situation)," she said in Hindi.

The Finance Minister also said that many solutions can be offered and the Central government has taken on board all the suggestions that have come.

"We worked on something which we think will have an impact."

Saying that nothing will be enough in the situation, she said that is why she believes that these issues should not be politicised.

"We should have this sympathy in our hearts that how we all can work together to get over this situation. We should plan to deal with the situation with dignity and not indulge in fights," she said without taking names.

The Finance Minister also said that the Prime Minister first urged all to stay where they are and asked the states to arrange their food and accommodation.

"All who could help in this provided help. Later, a time came when the Centre and the states decided that the migrants should be allowed to move and so trains were being arranged. If migrants are ready to go, they are given food in trains. It feels sad to see that the migrants are walking on roads to their homes."

Sitharaman also said that if the Congress is feeling so much sad about the picture, "why the state government ruled by Congress or their allies is not demanding more trains for the migrants to ensure all reach home."

Instead of doing that, she added, "They are wasting time in talking to the migrants who are headed home. Better would have been if they carried their children and suitcases instead of just talking," referring to Rahul Gandhi's meeting to the migrants.

The Finance Minister said she is very sad to say, but she is "now using their words and call them "dramabaz". What happened on Saturday was not dramabazi? They wasted the time of the migrants in just talking," she added.

Saying that it is time to join hands, Sitharaman added that she is "requesting the Congress to work together in this situation. It feels sad to see the picture of the migrants."

"Let us speak responsibly, let us deal with our migrants responsibly," Sitharaman urged Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The remarks came a day after Rahul Gandhi on Saturday evening went to meet migrant workers camped out near a flyover in Delhi's southeast.
 

Sun, 17 May 2020 10:12:51 +0530
State borrowing ceiling raised to prove more resources for corona fight

New Delhi, The government has decided to provide more money in the hands of state governments to help them in their fight against coronavirus and resurrect the faltering economic activity.

Accordingly, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday raised the borrowing limits of states from 3 per cent to 5 per cent of GDP, for financial year 2020-21, acceding to the demand of the states.

The handholding measure of the Centre will give states extra resources of Rs 4.28 lakh crore this year. This would come handy at a time when states' tax resources have fallen sharply during lockdown while the expenditure need has risen to combat the virus crisis.

Announcing the last set of measures as part of mega Rs 20 lakh-crore economic package on Saturday, Finance Minister Sitharaman said that part of the additional borrowing by states will be linked to specific reforms (including recommendations of the Finance Commission) to ensure sustainability of the additional debt through higher future GSDP growth and lower deficits.

"Reform linkage (to get additional borrowing by states) will be in four areas: universalisation of 'One Nation One Ration card', Ease of Doing Business, Power distribution and urban local body revenues," the Finance Minister said.

It has been decided that a specific scheme will be notified by the Department of Expenditure to allow extra borrowing by the states. Under this, there will be unconditional increase in borrowing by states by up to 0.50 per cent while the remaining 1 per cent increase will be in four tranches of 0.25 per cent each, with each tranche linked to clearly specified, measurable and feasible reform actions.

Further 0.50 per cent borrowing limit will be available to states milestones are achieved in at least three out of four reform areas.

Asked whether additional borrowing limit to states means that the Centre has allowed them to expand their deficit beyond 3 per cent of GDP, Sitharaman said that states have to decide what level of deficit they have to maintain.

According to an analysis done by Motilal Oswal of the fiscal position of 18 states earlier, eight states have already budgeted for a 3 per cent fiscal deficit of the GSDP or higher for FY21, another five states have budgeted for a fiscal deficit of 2.5-2.9 per cent of their respective GSDPs. Only five states have budgeted for a fiscal deficit of less than 2.5 per cent of GSDP in FY21.

States net borrowing ceiling for 2020-21 is Rs 6.41 lakh crore, based on 3 per cent of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). About 75 per cent thereof was authorised to them in March 2020 itself and timing is left to the states. States have so far borrowed only 14% of the limit authorised while 86 per cent of the authorised borrowing remains unutilized.

The Centre has been taking steps in the past few weeks to address the issue of state finances that like Centre are facing a sharp decline in revenues. Devolution of taxes (Rs 46,038 cr) in April was given fully to states if Budget Estimates were valid, even though actual revenue shows unprecedented decline from Budget Estimates.

In addition, Revenue Deficit Grants to states (Rs 12,390 cr) was given on time in April and May, despite Centre's stressed resources

Also, advance release of SDRF (Rs 11,092 cr) funds was given in the first week of April. Release of over Rs. 4,113 crore from Health Ministry for direct anti-Covid activities. At Centre's request, RBI has increased the Ways & Means Advance limits of States by 60 per cent.

Moreover, the number of days state can be in continuous overdraft has been raised from 14 days to 21 days. Number of days states can be in overdraft in a quarter was also increased from 32 to 50 days.
(IANS) 

Sun, 17 May 2020 09:31:11 +0530
Centre to allocate Rs 40 000 crores more for MGNREGS

New Delhi, The Centre has decided to allocate an additional Rs 40,000 crore for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

In the Union Budget 2020-21, the government had allocated Rs 61,500 crore for MGNREGS, and the Rs 40,000 crore allocation will be over and above this budget estimate (BE), Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said while speaking to the media here on Sunday.

The decision comes as the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide lockdown has wiped out the livelihoods of several poor and underprivileged people, and scores of migrant workers have moved back or are still on the way to their villages from the urban areas.

Sitharaman said that the additional allocation will help generate nearly 300 person-days of employment in total.

It will address the need for more work, including returning migrant workers in the Monsoon season as well.

Along with the boost for the rural economy through higher production, the decision will also create a larger number of durable and livelihood assets including water conservation assets.

(IANS)

Sun, 17 May 2020 07:12:50 +0530
Terrorist killed army jawan martyred in Doda encounter

Srinagar,  One terrorist has been killed and one army jawan died in action in an encounter in Doda in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday.

Speaking to IANS, DG Police J&K said the encounter is underway in a built-up area, one terrorist was killed and one soldier lost his life.

The encounter broke out in Doda after security forces had a specific input about the presence of terrorists in the area.

A cordon was laid and as the security forces zeroed in on the built-up area where terrorists were hiding, the terrorists fired upon them triggering the encounter.
(IANS)

Sun, 17 May 2020 06:55:33 +0530
Apple s 500 mn deal over iPhone throttling gets preliminary nod

San Francisco,  Apples up to $500 million deal to end several lawsuits accusing the company of slowing down certain older iPhone models with software updates has received a preliminary nod, but the deadline for final approval got extended by a few weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to a report in Law360, US District Judge Edward J. Davila during a hearing held on Friday via video conferencing told both the parties to discuss a new date for a final settlement approval hearing that would take place sometime in December.

Apple in 2017 had admitted that it occasionally slowed down certain iPhone models with older batteries to avoid unexpected shutdowns.

The suits generally accuse the iPhone maker of diminishing the battery life of older devices with software updates, just as it launched new models.

Apple denied any wrongdoing but agreed for the settlement.

The $500 million settlement meant for affected iPhone owners is equivalent to $25 per impacted iPhone.

The lawsuit covers current and former owners of the iPhone SE, 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7 and 7 Plus, who were running the iOS 10.2.1 operating system, 9to5Mac reported.

The iPhone maker in 2017 said that the update was necessary to prevent an unexpected shutdown and preserve the life of the devices.

However, it also apologised for not communicating to users properly and offered affected customers cut-price iPhone battery replacements.
(IANS)

Sun, 17 May 2020 06:40:00 +0530
Congress arranges bus for migrants but waits for UP nod

New Delhi, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has arranged 500 buses to take migrants from Rajasthan's Alwar and Bharatpur to other parts of the country, but the congress says they did not get permission from the UP government to enter into the state.

The buses have to reach Bahaj Goverdhan border on way to Mathura and it is said that migrant labourers are in the bus.

On Saturday, Priyanka Gandhi wrote to chief minister Yogi Adityanath for permission to ply 1000 buses for the migrants after tragic accident in Auriyya in which 24 migrants lost their lives.

Priyanka Gandhi, who is also in charge of party affairs in eastern Uttar Pradesh, said that the Congress will bear the cost of these chartered buses at a time when the migrants are finding it tough to return home safely.

"Lakhs of workers are trying to get back to their homes while walking from various parts of the country and there are not enough arrangements made for them. We wish to operate 500 buses each from Ghazipur and Noida borders," Priyanka Gandhi said in the letter to Yogi Adityanath.

She asserted that the "nation-builders cannot be left to fend for themselves in such times".
(IANS)

Sun, 17 May 2020 06:27:39 +0530
Taliban killed 120 civilians since past 3 weeks

Kabul,  Over 120 Afghan civilians were killed and 350 others injured in Taliban attacks over the past three weeks, said a spokesman for the Office of National Security Council (ONSC).

"The attacks launched by the Taliban and their supporters show a 33 per cent increase compared with the second week of the holy month of Ramzan," TOLO News quoted ONSC spokesman Jawed Faisal as saying on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry said that the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) have returned to "offence mode" following an order by President Ashraf Ghani.

"Over the past few days we managed to conduct a series of powerful attacks on the enemy position and dealt major human fatalities on them," said Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai.

Ghani on Wednesday ordered the ANDSF to return to "offence mode" against the insurgents due to the increasing number of attacks.

Ghani made the statement in the wake of Tuesday's deadly attacks in Kabul and Nangarhar.

At least 24 people, among them two newborn babies, were killed in an attack on the Dash-e-Barchi 100-bed hospital, which is home to a maternity clinic run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

On Friday, Ghani defended his new military stance against the insurgents, saying that his administration will never oppose efforts for peace and reconciliation, but warned that the Afghan armed forces had the right to defend the nation against threats.

Nevertheless, a number of political commentators and former Taliban members have said that both the Afghan government and the militant should swiftly end the hostilities and engage in dialogue, TOLO News reported.

"Both sides (Taliban and the Afghan govt) should agree on an Islamic solution and move forward," said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.

The Taliban have also claimed to have inflicted massive human casualties on the ANDSF.

The Afghan government insists on military supremacy at a time when foreign parties have warned that Kabul's harsher military action could pose devastating blows to the country's peace process.

However, the peace deal between the US and the Taliban in Doha had raised some new hopes among the Afghan people and their international partners that this time more concrete steps for a negotiated settlement between the Taliban and the Afghan factions too, will be taken.

But with the passage of time, attacks increased and both the Afghan government and the Taliban have accused each other of attempts to sabotage the peace process.

On April 25, ONSC figures provided indicated that the Taliban had conducted an average of 55 attacks per day since the signing of the peace deal with the US in Doha on February 29.

It said that the Taliban conducted 2,804 attacks from the beginning of March to April 19, adding the group "does not remain committed to the reconciliation process that will help the country to end decades of war".
(IANS)

Sun, 17 May 2020 06:19:40 +0530
20 cancer patients cured of corona in Chennai hospital

Chennai, Cancer per se is a deadly disease. And when coronavirus infects a cancer patient, then certainly it is all the more worrisome as the combine can be fatal. For the 20 cancer patients in the city based Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital, the fight was a success.

Twenty out of the 29 cancer patients (different types and stages of cancer) who were admitted for Covid-19 infection in the hospital have been successfully cured of the corona, said a top official.

Seven cancer-cum-corona patients are still under treatment in the hospital while two, unfortunately, passed away.

Curing a healthy individual infected with coronavirus does not pose a great challenge. But when a person already suffering from a serious disease gets infected with coronavirus, then treatment for Covid-19 turns challenging.

"Such persons were already undergoing a psychological challenge. As a result, complexities in treatment are high,"

Jayanthi Rangarajan, Dean, Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital told IANS.

Further, the immunity levels of the persons suffering from cancer are low and hence there is a higher risk of the coronavirus infection.

She said cancer specialist doctors at the hospital advised the Covid-19 team on the issues faced by the cancer patients.

According to her, there was no interaction between the Covid-19 and the cancer drugs.

A special diet was prepared for cancer patients, which were high in calories and protein. For those who were suffering from mouth or throat cancer, the food for them was made in a manner that was easy for the patients to consume.

According to Rangarajan, the youngest cancer patient was a 13-year old girl and the oldest was a 73-year old male.

The various types of cancer patients, who were admitted for Covid-19 treatment in Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital include - oral and throat cancer, blood, uterine, rectal and sarcoma.
(IANS) 

Sun, 17 May 2020 06:05:19 +0530
2 killed 9 injured after landslide hits Jammu Srinagar national highway

Jammu, Two-person was killed, nine were rescued and four went missing on Sunday when a massive landslide hit the Jammu-Srinagar national highway in J&K's Ramban district.

A police officer told IANS a massive landslide washed away an earth-moving machine and a truck along with their operators in Seri sector of Jammu-Srinagar national highway in Ramban district.

"One dead body has been recovered so far, four others have been rescued while two persons are still missing in this accident.

"The landslide was so massive that nine vehicles were buried under it.

"The four rescued persons have been shifted to the hospital while rescue and recovery operation is still going on", the officer told IANS.

The over 40-kilometre long Ramban-Ramsoo stretch of the nearly 300-Kilometre long highway has become infamous for landslides and shooting stones triggered by rainfall those often cause accidents on this road.

All essentials of life are routed into the landlocked Valley through this highway which is known as the lifeline of Kashmir.
(IANS) 

Sun, 17 May 2020 05:52:34 +0530
Facebook Gaming sees 238 growth in April Twitch leads viewership

San Francisco, Facebook Gaming saw a massive 238 per cent growth in hours watched in the month of April (year-over-year) when people stayed home owing to Covid-19 pandemic, followed by the live game streaming platform Twitch that saw 101 per cent growth in hours watched while YouTube gaming logged 65 per cent rise in viewership globally.

At the top when it comes to hours watched, Twitch saw a record 1.65 billion watch hours of gaming while YouTube saw 461 million hours watched and Facebook Gaming saw 291 hours watched (from just 86 million in April 2019), according to the data provided by live-streaming data analytics platforms StreamElements and Arsenal.gg.

While Microsoft Mixer had the least amount of growth (just 0.2 per cent in gaming hours watched), it still has a potential ace in its pocket depending on "how they marry Ninja with Xbox Series X and Halo Infinite".

Facebook saw the most significant leap in terms of personal growth, benefiting greatly from the release of their standalone gaming app and hosting several successful celebrity tournaments.

In the first quarter (January-March period) this year, Facebook's game streaming platform received almost 554 million hours of viewing time, compared to 1.1 billion for YouTube and 3.1 billion for Twitch, according to the latest data from live-streaming software service Streamlabs.

Facebook last month launched its own gaming app on Google Play Store for Android. Facebook Gaming app is free and will allow millions of users to watch and stream live games from their smartphones.

"There is no question that live streaming has been on the rise for a while, but the pandemic-driven shelter-in-place mandates have supersized the industry. In addition to more people watching and playing games, there's been a huge influx of non-gaming context," the companies in a statement.

This has ranged from big music events to dance classes and fitness streams as individuals and organizations look for new means to generate revenue for themselves or others.

From March to April, every major live streaming platform experienced growth with 45 per cent more hours being collectively watched.

"Riot's closed beta launch of Valorant was a thing of beauty when they leveraged select members of the streaming community to be primary destinations for others to visit in order to get their own beta keys via drops," said StreamElements and Arsenal.gg.

"Fortnite also continues to impress this year. It has grown month-over-month since January which is usually not the case for titles of its size that have been out for over a year," they added.

While gaming categories rise and fall depending on new updates and events, Just Chatting, which boasted a whopping 138 per cent year-over-year increase in hours watched, has turned our infographics into steps that keep on ascending.

While many have turned to Twitch as a way to make money in lieu of being able to tour and perform, others have used Twitch as a vehicle to raise money for those in need.

Twitch even hosted their own celebrity-packed Stream Aid charity event that showcased the power of their platform.
(IANS) 

Sun, 17 May 2020 05:44:27 +0530
Multiple firefighters injured in Los Angeles explosion

Los Angeles,  Multiple firefighters were injured by an explosion in downtown Los Angeles, leaving several buildings on fire, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

The fire inside a one-storey commercial building was reported at 6.26 p.m. on Saturday, Xinhua news agency quoted the Department as saying.

"Over 230 firefighters are responding. Firefighters have moved to a defensive posture for fire attack, and a medical branch has been created for treating and transporting injured firefighters," it said in a fire update later.

TV footage showed raging flames and black smoke.

The conditions of the injured firefighters were still unknown.

"My thoughts are with our brave @LAFD firefighters. Closely tracking this situation as we continue to get more information," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted.
(IANS)

Sun, 17 May 2020 05:38:07 +0530
CRPF jawan kills family commits suicide in UP

Prayagraj (UP),  In a shocking incident, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawan, working as a driver, shot dead his wife and two kids and then committed suicide by hanging himself in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj district. However, a bullet injury was also found at his neck, an official said.

The incident took place on Saturday at CRPF Group Centre in Padilla under Tharwai police station.

ADG Prem Prakash said: "Vinod Kumar Yadav (41) was a driver in 224th Battalion of the CRPF. He hailed from Sirsa area of Meja tehsil in Prayagraj and lived in a quarter of the CRPF Group Centre in Padila with his family."

"On Saturday, Yadav first shot dead his wife Vimla (36) his 14-year old son Sandeep and 12-year old daughter Simran. He then committed suicide by hanging himself. The door of the house was locked from inside," the ADG added.

Senior police and CRPF officials rushed to the spot on getting the news.

"It is also learnt that Yadav used to get drunk and pass objectionable comments on a woman living in the opposite quarter. The woman, whose husband is posted outside, had reported the matter to senior officials and the Deputy Commandant of the centre had summoned Yadav on Friday in this regard," said ADG.

"On Friday night, Yadav started quarrelling in his house. When neighbours tried to intervene, he warned them to stay away.

The bodies were sent for post-mortem and the relatives of Yadav have been informed.
(IANS)

Sun, 17 May 2020 05:20:41 +0530
Cyclone alert for West Bengal Bangladesh coasts

New Delhi, The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Sunday issued a cyclone alert for West Bengal and Bangladesh coasts after Cyclone Amphan intensified over the Bay of Bengal.

A deep depression in the ocean had intensified into the cyclonic storm last night and is likely to make landfall on the West Bengal coast on May 20. Its trajectory, however, is still being studied by the scientists.

Since last night, it has intensified slightly and is lying centred about 990 km south of Odisha's Paradip, 1140 km of south-southwest of West Bengal's Digha and 1260 km south-southwest of Bangladesh's Khepupara.

"Cyclone Alert for West Bengal and Bangladesh Coasts: Yellow Message," stated the weather department.

The cyclonic storm is very likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the next six hours and into a very severe cyclonic storm during the subsequent 12 hours.

Pursuant to that, it is very likely to move nearly northwards during next 24 hours and then re-curve north-northeast wards across the northwest Bay of Bengal and cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between the Sagar Islands in West Bengal and the Hatiya Islands in Bangladesh during the afternoon or evening of May 20 as a very severe cyclonic storm.

The fishermen are advised not to venture into the South Bay of Bengal till May 17, to the central Bay of Bengal during May 17 and 18 and the North Bay of Bengal during May 19 and 20.

"Also, fishermen are advised not to venture into North Bay of Bengal along and off North Odisha, West Bengal and adjoining Bangladesh coasts during 18th to 20th May 2020," the weather department stated.

In the wake of the impending cyclone, Union Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Saturday held a meeting with the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) to review the preparations.

During the meeting, officers of the concerned state governments confirmed their preparedness to deal with any emerging situation arising out of the cyclonic storm.

The NDRF, Armed Forces and the Indian Coast Guard have been put on alert and are coordinating with the state government authorities.
(IANS) 

Sun, 17 May 2020 05:00:05 +0530
23 migrant workers were killed and 20 truly harmed in a crash

In a grisly episode, 23 migrant workers were killed and 20 truly harmed in a crash between the mini-truck and a trolley in Aurraiyya locale, early on Saturday morning 

The incident occurred on the national highway at Mihauli under Kotwali police circle when the trolley smashed into a stationary mini-truck. 

The trolley, sources said, was conveying 81 migrant labourers who were on their way from Faridabad to Gorakhpur. 

Senior authorities have arrived at the spot and the harmed have been moved to the emergency clinic for treatment. 

Area justice Abhisek Singh said that 15 people who have been critically injured are being moved to the PGI in Sefai in Etawah.

Sun, 17 May 2020 04:33:01 +0530
Migrant couple killed in mishap in UP minor son survives

Unnao (Uttar Pradesh),  A migrant couple, heading to Bihar from Haryana, was killed when a pickup loader hit them in the Unnao district on the Agra-Lucknow expressway, police said.

The accident happened on Saturday when the couple along with their minor son was on the way to their home in Bihar's Darbhanga.

The victims were identified as Ashok Chaudhary,45, an auto driver, and his wife Chhoti, 36. Both are residents of the Makanpur village in Darbhanga.

Their minor child, who was relieving himself by the roadside, survived the mishap.

According to the Bangarmau police, Ashok along with his wife Chhoti, and their six-year-old son Krishna, had migrated to Haryana a few years ago to work as an auto-rickshaw driver.

Because of the lockdown, Ashok had not been getting any work in Haryana and on Friday, he left for his native village with his wife and minor son in an auto-rickshaw.

As they reached near a culvert in Bangarmau in Unnao on Agra-Lucknow Expressway, they stopped to refuel the tank of the auto.

A speeding pickup loader coming from Agra side hit Ashok and his wife. The two suffered critical injuries and died at the spot. A passerby who saw the accident immediately alerted the police that reached the spot.

Circle Officer Bangarmau Gaurav Tripathi said, "We have informed the family members of the couple in the Makanpur village in Darbhanga about the tragedy and registered a case.

"We are trying to locate the loader and the driver responsible for the accident and further investigation are underway," he said.
(IANS)

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Sun, 17 May 2020 04:26:05 +0530
Paytm temporarily adjusts employee leaves for smoother ops

New Delhi,  Digital payments major Paytm on Saturday said it has requested all its employees to contribute some of their leaves to ensure that its operations run smoothly as the government eases restrictions through parts of the country under lockdown 4.0.

Under the new rules, employees will be able to contribute their Privilege Leave (PL) accumulated up to 35 days and all currently accumulated Casual Leave (CL).

Paytm said this move will not only have a positive impact on the balance-sheet but will also help the company ensure that it continues with its growth drive.

"Ensuring that our employees are safeguarded from the current global crisis is of utmost importance to us," Rohit Thakur, Chief Human Resources Officer, Paytm said in a statement.

"We believe that this is the right step to effectively accommodate the short term impact and the long term interests of our company and all employees," Thakur said.

This decision, Paytm said, was taken after due discussions and it was agreed that in the post-COVID world it would be important to have all hands on deck so that the company can go on supporting citizens who will rely even more on the digital economy and payments.

This is a temporary measure as employees would be again entitled to collect PL and CL going forward, Paytm added.

The company believes that this move will help the company keep its costs under check without adversely affecting employee morale.

Amid widespread layoffs across industries due to the COVID-19 induced economic downturn, these cost-saving measures are designed to ensure that Paytm's workforce is cushioned from the current crisis, the company said.
(IANS)

Sat, 16 May 2020 11:23:05 +0530
Pak to resume limited domestic flight operations

Islamabad, Domestic flight operations will resume in Pakistan from Saturday after a nearly two-month-long suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a Minister said.

In a video message on Friday, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said that the decision was taken during a National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) meeting while keeping "the difficulties of people in mind", Dawn news reported.

However, he added that only Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Serene Air would be allowed to resume flight operations between five cities — Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta.

"Twenty per cent of pre-coronavirus flights will be allowed to operate and the seat occupancy in planes will be limited to 50 per cent," he said.

Khan added that proper screening of all passengers would be done at airports and their temperatures would be checked before boarding the flight.

A statement from the Aviation Department stated that every passenger would have to fill a health declaration form before boarding, which would include details about their travel history for the last two weeks, current health state and an undertaking to follow the standard operating procedures.

According to a notification from the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA), private aircraft and cargo flights will be allowed to operate from all airports across the country.

The government had suspended the operation of all types of domestic scheduled and non-scheduled chartered and private aircraft passenger flights from March 21, reports Dawn news.

The suspension was initially until April 29 but was later extended.

Meanwhile, the suspension of international flights has been extended by 16 days to May 31, according to a PCAA notification.

The suspension is not applicable to special flights of the national flag carrier announced by the government to repatriate Pakistanis stranded abroad.
(IANS)

Sat, 16 May 2020 11:04:55 +0530
23 migrants killed 20 injured in UP accident

Aurraiyya (UP),  In a gruesome incident, 23 migrant workers were killed and 20 seriously injured in a collision between the mini-truck and a trolley in Aurraiyya district, early on Saturday morning.

The incident took place on the national highway at Mihauli under Kotwali police circle when the trolley rammed into a stationary mini-truck.

The trolley, sources said, was carrying 81 migrant workers who were on their way from Faridabad to Gorakhpur.

Senior officials have reached the spot and the injured have been shifted to the hospital for treatment.

District magistrate Abhisek Singh said that 15 persons who have been critically injured are being shifted to the PGI in Sefai in Etawah.

Rescue operations are continuing at the time of writing this report.
(IANS)

Sat, 16 May 2020 09:00:47 +0530
Global production cut demand picks raising hope for steady crude oil prices

New Delhi,  The bigger global effort to stabilise oil prices involving all major oil producers, including the US has started showing its impact with global crude oil prices remaining steady since the big fall in April.

Benchmark Brent crude is hovering over $32 a barrel now while US crude WTI, which fell to the historically low level of minus -- $37.63 a barrel, is now at over $29 a barrel. The price have been steady for last couple of weeks largely on account of a slight pick up in demand owing to the gradual opening of the economies across the world facing Covid-19 lockdown. Also, the sustained efforts of big oil producers to cut production to stabilise the oversupplied market is now being results.

According to a report by ICICI Securities, Iraq and Kazakhstan have finally begun output cuts and it now appears OPEC+ output would be down 9.4 million barrels of oil per day (mbpd) month-on-month in May. Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait have announced additional cuts of 1.18 mbpd suggesting OPEC+ output may be down 1.7 Mbpd in June 2020. US oil output last week at 11.6m b/d is down 1.44m b/d from the recent peak. US oil rig count is down by 57 per cent over the last eight weeks suggesting output decline would continue.

Moreover, US crude inventory was down by 0.7m b/d last week after rising by 104m bbls over the preceding 15 weeks. US oil demand last week was up to 3m b/d (22 per cent) from the recent lows and down just 14 per cent YoY.

"Thus, recent data suggest that output cuts and demand recovery are gathering pace. It augurs well for oil price and ONGC's share price outlook," the brokerage said in its report.

The International Energy Association (IEA) has also raised its CY20 and Q2 demand estimates by 0.7-3.2m b/d due to better-than-estimated mobility in OECD countries and likely fall in the population under the lockdown to 2.8bn by end-May from 4bn at peak.

Moreover, global demand is expected to recover by 3.9m b/d month-on-month and supply to reduce by 12m b/d month-on-month in May 2020. IEA has said that this indicates that supply surplus may contract to 10.4m b/d in May 2020 from 26.3m b/d in Apr'20. Further, supply surplus should contract in June 2020 as OPEC+ output declines by 1.7m b/d MoM and there is a further recovery in global demand.
(IANS)

Sat, 16 May 2020 07:52:10 +0530
US Federal Reserve warns of financial vulnerabilities amid pandemic

Washington, The US Federal Reserve (warned of significant vulnerabilities in the financial sector as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep the nation.

The financial system "amplified the shock" associated with COVID-19 and financial sector vulnerabilities are "likely to be significant" in the near term, the Fed said in its semi-annual financial stability report on Friday.

"The strains on household and business balance sheets from the economic and financial shocks since March will likely create fragilities that last for some time," Xinhua news agency quoted the report as saying, adding the banking sector and other financial institutions "may experience strains" as a result.

The report also warned that asset prices "remain vulnerable to significant price declines" should the pandemic take an unexpected course, the economic fallout proves more adverse, or financial system strains re-emerge.

"Forceful early interventions have been effective in resolving liquidity stresses, but we will be monitoring closely for solvency stresses among highly leveraged business borrowers, which could increase the longer the COVID-19 pandemic persists," Fed Governor Lael Brainard said on Friday in a statement.

In the near term, risks associated with the course of COVID-19 and its effect on the US and global economies "remain high", according to the report.

Earlier this week, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell had said the COVID-19 crisis raises "long-term concerns", warning that a prolonged recession and weak recovery could lead to an extended period of low productivity growth and stagnant incomes.

"The scope and speed of this downturn are without modern precedent, significantly worse than any recession since World War II," Powell said.

The central bank chief said while the economic response has been "both timely and appropriately large", it may not be the final chapter, given that the path ahead is both "highly uncertain" and subject to "significant downside risks".
(IANS)

Sat, 16 May 2020 07:35:27 +0530
US ready to sue Google for monopolising online ads

Washington, The US government is reportedly preparing to sue Google for its anti-market ad practices where it allegedly monopolized online ads.

The Justice Department and a group of state attorneys general are likely to file antitrust lawsuits against Alphabet-owned Google, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Friday that cited people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department is moving toward bringing a case as soon as this summer.

"Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican is likely to file a case, probably in the fall," according to the report.

On a call with the media, Paxton said the primary focus of the investigation was the broad reach of Google's online advertising network.

"We think Google has 7,000 data points on just about every human being alive. They control the buy-side (of online advertising), the sell-side and the market which we are concerned gives them way too much power," Paxton was quoted as saying.

In a statement to The Verge, Google said: "We continue to engage with the ongoing investigations led by the Department of Justice and Attorney General Paxton and we don't have any updates or comments on speculation".

Google has turned over more than 100,000 documents to investigators as part of the ongoing anti-trust probe.

The case, if filed, would be the first major US antitrust action against a tech giant since the Bill Clinton administration's pursuit of Microsoft in the 1990s.

In September last year, Attorneys General of 50 US states, led by Texas, announced a probe into Google's anti-trust practices, focusing on whether the tech giant is overly dominant in the online advertising market and in internet searches.

"This is a company that dominates all aspects of advertising on the internet, as they dominate the buyer, seller and auction side," said Paxton.

"If advertising costs are higher, advertisers pay more, and ultimately that's passed on to consumers" he added.

The European Union's antitrust regulators last year fined Google 1.49 billion euros ($1.7 billion) for abusing its dominance in the online search market by blocking rivals.

In 2013, Google said it would change some practices after it agreed to a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission. The FTC had been concerned that some of Google's business practices could stifle competition.

In 2010, the company received an anti-trust complaint from the European Commission regarding ranking of shopping search results and ads, which resulted in Google being fined $2.7 billion in 2017.
(IANS) 

Sat, 16 May 2020 07:25:48 +0530
Neha Kakkar I m number 1 that s why people talk about me

New Delhi: She currently rules the Bollywood playback roost with an array of superhit songs including "Aankh marey", "Dilbar", "O saki saki" and "Garmi". Singer Neha Kakkar is not much bothered by negative comments coming her way as she says people criticise her because she is number one.

"Of course, I am a human being and I do feel bad about it, but after feeling bad I bounce back. I feel these people who are writing bad (things) about me are nothing but jealous people. They feel why is Neha here?' Jo number one singer hai uske hi baare main likhengay log (they will write about the singer who is number one)," Neha told IANS.

"So, I understand that -- I am number one that is why people talk about me and get jealous," the "Manali Trance" hitmaker claimed, adding she doesn't worry much about the haters as they are limited in number.

"Jealous people are few, and lovers are like in crores," she said.

In a short time, Neha has become a queen of remixes. She has recorded superhit recreations like "Aankh marey", "O saki saki", "Ek toh kum zindagani", "Kala chashma" and "Tum par hum hai atke" among many others.

"I feel if it's a good remix then (there is) no problem, because it's done with permission. What happens is, initially people behave negatively and say, �gaane ko barbaad kar diya (they have destroyed the song)'. Later, they enjoy listening and dancing to my song," she claimed.

Neha, who was born in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, feels that she is in the right path when it comes to her skills.

"So, initially the response is negative but later on it's the �woh itna kamaal ka ho jaata hai' response' that you hear for those songs. I switch on the radio and I get to hear my own songs, so I feel good and then I know that I am on the right path, and people want to hear me all the time," she said.

On the work front, Neha recently featured in a song with rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh titled "Moscow suka". The number is a mix of Punjabi and Russian languages. The track currently has garnered a whopping 27,129,364 views since release in April.

(IANS)

 

Sat, 16 May 2020 07:11:17 +0530
Tipplers wait in Kerala set to end soon

Thiruvananthapuram,  The wait for tipplers in Kerala is all set to end in the coming week as the State Excise department has given nod to an IT firm at Kochi to develop an app, which has already begun its work to link about 1,200 liquor vends where beer, wine and liquor would be sold virtually.

The IT firm Faircode is now having a trial run and by Tuesday according to sources, in the know of things it is likely to set all the bugs to make it a fool proof one.

Once ready, tipplers can book their purchase of their favourite drink on the app and come and collect it from the outlet.

The bottles will be available from around 301 state-owned existing liquor outlets, besides for the first time it would also be available at the same price from all the bars and beer and wine shops in the state, which are presently closed due to the lockdown.

In all there will be over 1000 outlets from where tipplers can source their drink.

In this new set up, however the state government has not given permission to numerous licensed clubs across the state.

Even though the Congress led opposition has screamed that allowing bars to sell liquor bottles is a corrupt deal between the CPI-M and the bar owners, but, State Excise Minister T.P. Ramakrishnan has denied any foul play and said this is only a temporary arrangement and would end when the lockdown norms are lifted.

"Fail to understand what the priorities are for the Pinarayi Vijayan government. Is selling liquor the main agenda for them. The excuse given is there will be overcrowding as was seen in other state, if this is sold only through the state owned outlets. It's wrong, was there any crowding when people waited to buy their food items from shops. There are other things behind this deal," lamented former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

The state exchequer has been reeling under revenue shortfall. Last month, the state government collected a mere Rs 250 crore from various sources.

Sale of liquor and beer is one of the biggest revenue earners in Kerala. In the last fiscal, the southern state garnered Rs 14,504.67 crore on this count.

An earlier study conducted in Kerala revealed that around 32.9 lakh people - 29.8 lakh men and 3.1 lakh women - out of the state's 3.34 crore population consume liquor. Around five lakh people consume liquor daily. Of these, 83,851 people, including 1,043 women, are addicted to alcohol.

However State Finance Minister Thomas Issac who is finding it tough to make both ends meet said through this new arrangement he expects to rake in an additional Rs 2,000 crores.

In all likelihood, supplies is expected to begin towards the middle of next week.
(IANS)

Sat, 16 May 2020 07:02:45 +0530
Amazon not to send Jeff Bezos to testify in US Congress

Seattle,  Amazon has declined to send its founder and CEO Jeff Bezos to testify before the US House of Representatives Committee as part of an ongoing antitrust probe, saying it will "make the appropriate executive available" to testify.

In a reply to the panel, Amazon's vice president of public policy Brian Huseman said on Friday that they have been working with the Committee in good faith for nearly a year to provide answers and information, and "remain prepared to make the appropriate Amazon executive available to the Committee to address these issues".

Earlier this month, the Committee called on Bezos to testify after Democratic leaders accused Amazon officials of providing misleading statements to Congress.

The House Judiciary Committee, which is investigating Amazon's role in the digital marketplace, even threatened to subpoena Bezos in case he fails to comply.

Huseman said Amazon "disagree strongly with any suggestion that we have attempted to mislead the Committee or not been cooperative with the investigation".

The committee also requested documents and communications related to Amazon's relationship with sellers, including Amazon's use of third-party sellers' data.

A sensational investigation by the Wall Street Journal found that Amazon is allegedly using data from its vast network of third-party sellers to help develop its own private-label products, an allegation the e-commerce behemoth vehemently denied.

"We appreciate the opportunity to address questions about Amazon's policy on seller data, which, like other retailers, we use to improve the customer experience in our stores. Use of store data is the norm across retail, were Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Kroger, and Costco use store data to develop and sell private brands," said the Amazon executive.

As even the former employee quoted in the Wall Street Journal made clear, "our seller data protection policy is well known to our employees, and using individual seller data to aid the private label business would be a clear violation of that policy".

That article confirms that any employee alleged to have accessed non-public data of an individual seller would have done so only with full knowledge that doing so would violate the policy.

"The article also conflates broader product pricing and top-seller data readily available to all and the individual seller data our policy protects. Even in that light, however, we too were deeply troubled to learn of the claims that employees intentionally violated our policy. We are investigating those claims thoroughly now, and we look forward to sharing the results of that investigation with you," explained Huseman.

The eCommerce giant has long asserted that when it makes and sells its own products and it doesn't use the information it collects from the site's individual third-party sellers.
 

Sat, 16 May 2020 06:52:06 +0530
This antiviral drug can speed up recovery of COVID 19 patients

Toronto,  An international team of researchers has found that an antiviral drug -- interferon(IFN)-a2b -- can help speed up the recovery of COVID-19 patients.

Published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, the study revealed that treatment with interferon(IFN)-a2b may significantly accelerate virus clearance and reduce levels of inflammatory proteins in COVID-19 patients.

"Rather than developing a virus-specific antiviral for each new virus outbreak, we should consider interferons as the 'first responders' in terms of treatment," said study lead researcher Dr Eleanor Fish professor in the University of Toronto, Canada.

The research team considered IFN-a therapy for COVID-19 after they demonstrated interferon provided therapeutic benefit during the SARS outbreak of 2002 and 2003.

They found that treatment with this drug, which has been used clinically for many years, significantly reduced the duration of detectable virus in the upper respiratory tract, on average by about seven days.

It also reduced blood levels of interleukin(IL)-6 and C-reactive protein (CRP), two inflammatory proteins found in COVID-19 patients.

For the findings, the researchers conducted this exploratory study on a group of 77 patients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China.

They represented moderate cases of the disease as none of the patients required intensive care or prolonged oxygen supplementation or intubation.

According to the researchers, he work provides several important and novel insights into COVID-19 disease, notably that treatment with IFN-a2b can accelerate viral clearance from the upper respiratory tract and also reduce circulating levels of inflammatory factors that are associated with severe COVID-19.

Dr Fish said a randomised clinical trial is a crucial next step. According to her, a clinical trial with a larger group of infected patients who are randomised to treatment or placebo would further this research.

Another study, published in the journal The Lancet, stated that the two-week course of antiviral therapy that combines the power of three antiviral drugs has shown promise in treating hospitalised patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 virus.

The drug combination tested in the trial included -- interferon beta-1b which was developed to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), lopinavir-ritonavir which is normally used to treat HIV and ribavirin, an oral hepatitis C virus drug.
(IANS)

Sat, 16 May 2020 06:43:08 +0530
RIL rights issue opens on May 20

New Delhi, The Rs 53,125 crore rights issue of Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) will open for subscription on May 20.

In a filing with the stock exchanges, RIL said the issue opening date is May 20 and the closing date is June 3.

This was approved by the Rights Issue Committee of the board of directors at a meeting held on Friday. The letter of offer will be filed with BSE, NSE and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

The abridged letter of offer, application form of the rights issue and rights entitlement letter will be sent to the eligible equity shareholders of the company.

This is the first rights issue by RIL in nearly three decades. The rights issue of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) will be priced at Rs 1,257 per share with a share ratio at 1:15. The issue amount is Rs 53,125 crore.

The payment terms will be 25 per cent on application and balance in or more calls.

On application, the shareholders will pay Rs 2.50 on face value and Rs 311.75 on premium, totalling to Rs 314.25 per rights equity share.

The remaining Rs 942.75 will be payable in one or more subsequent calls as determined by the board of directors from time to time.

"New Reliance for a New India" is the pitch for Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) in a corporate presentation sent to stock exchanges on Friday in the run-up to its mega rights issue.

The new messaging follows RIL's new positioning now as a technology/consumer company with Jio at the forefront of attracting marquee investors like Facebook.

RIL is now at the beginning of a new and unprecedented wave of wealth creation for India by harnessing the power of new technologies to fire its diverse growth engines, the presentation said.

The "New Reliance" story has a combination of ideas including the pitch that RIL is the best proxy for India's consumption-driven and tech-propelled growth story.

It has highlighted the fact that there is hyper-growth of consumer businesses along with a strong O2C platform, robust and high-quality balance sheet to be sustained by strong cash flow generation and its track record of significant value creation for shareholders and ongoing re-rating of the stock.

RIL has attracted significant recent investments from leading global strategic and financial investors and tech-led growth to drive next phase of value New India.
(IANS)

Sat, 16 May 2020 06:29:37 +0530
5 US sailors test COVID 19 positive again

Washington, The US Navy announced that five sailors who had returned to the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt after a coronavirus quarantine, have tested positive for the virus again.

"This week, five USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors who previously tested COVID-19 positive and met rigorous recovery criteria, exceeding CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, have re-tested positive," the US Navy said in a statement on Friday.

The sailors, the statement said, developed flu-like symptoms and "did the right thing reporting to medical for evaluation", reports Xinhua news agency

"The sailors were immediately removed from the ship and placed back in isolation, their close contacts were mapped, and they are receiving the required medical care," it added.

"A small number of other sailors who came in close contact with these individuals were also removed from the ship and tested. They will remain in quarantine pending retest results."

In a Pentagon briefing on Friday, chief spokesman Jonathan Hoffman called the outbreak on USS Theodore Roosevelt a "learning process".

"It's a stubborn disease. We're learning a lot. We're taking every step possible to get the ship fully clean and fully ready," he said.

The outbreak on the aircraft carrier, in which more than 1,000 sailors were reported to have infected with the coronavirus, came under spotlight after Brett Crozier, then commander of the ship, wrote a letter in March pleading for help evacuating the ship, when dozens on board had tested positive for the virus.

In doing so, Crozier was relieved of his command by then-acting Secretary of the US Navy Thomas Modly, who himself resigned later after his remarks lashing out at the captain backfired.

More than 4,000 sailors from USS Theodore Roosevelt's nearly 5,000-person crew were taken off the ship to quarantine after arriving in Guam on March 27, according to the US Navy.

In late April, the US Navy began returning sailors to the aircraft carrier.

Returning to the ship required testing negative two consecutive times.

The US Navy has been conducting an investigation into the situation on USS Theodore Roosevelt.

A Pentagon official has also announced that it would also investigate the Navy's response to the pandemic on its ships.
(IANS) 

Sat, 16 May 2020 06:20:23 +0530
India surpasses China in COVID tally total nears 86K

New Delhi, With India's total tally rising to 85,940, the world's largest democracy has now surpassed China with a total of 53,035 active cases and 2,752 deaths while 30,152 people have recovered so far, the union health ministry said on Saturday.

With the steady rise in novel coronavirus cases, India has risen to 11th spot among countries with the highest number of confirmed infection. Goa and Manipur, which were declared COVID-19 free, have reported fresh corona positive cases.

After being COVID-19 free for many days, Goa reported total cases to 15 while seven people have been cured. Similarly, in Manipur's total remained three active cases while 2 people were cured and discharged.

In Maharashtra, the Covid-19 cases climbed to 29,100 followed by Tamil Nadu, which has reported 10,108 cases and Gujarat 9,931 cases so far.

Maharashtra has also reported the highest number of deaths, 1068, followed by 606 in Gujarat and 239 in Madhya Pradesh.

At least 8,895 people in the national capital have been infected with the highly contagious coronavirus.

Other states which have reported more than 3,000 cases are Rajasthan (4,742), Madhya Pradesh (4,595) and Uttar Pradesh (4,057).

Other major states and Union Territories that have reported more than 1,000 cases are West Bengal (2,461), Andhra Pradesh (2,307), Punjab (1,935), Telangana (1,454), Bihar (1,018), Jammu and Kashmir (1,013) and Karnataka (1,056).

Among other major states and UTs that have reported a significant number of cases are, Haryana (818, Kerala (576), Odisha (672), Tripura (156) and Chandigarh (191).
(IANS)

Sat, 16 May 2020 06:11:45 +0530
FM unveils Rs 10K cr scheme to formalise micro food enterprises

New Delhi, May 15 (IANS) Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that the Centre will launch a Rs 10,000 crore scheme for the formalisation of micro food enterprises (MFEs).

Addressing the media here, Sitharaman said that the scheme is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call of 'Vocal for Local' with global outreach.

The scheme will help 2 lakh MFEs attain FSSAI gold standards, build brands and boost marketing.

Under the scheme, the cluster-based approach would be taken up for products such as mangos in Uttar Pradesh, saffron in Jammu & Kashmir among others.

As per the government, the decision will lead to improved health and safety standards, integration with retail markets, and improved incomes.

It is also likely to help in reaching untapped export markets in view of the improved health consciousness.

The minister has also announced that the Centre will set up a Rs 1 lakh crore agri infrastructure fund for farm-gate infrastructure for farmers, to provide the impetus for development for farm-gate and aggregation points, affordable and financially viable post-harvest management infrastructure.

The announcements are part of the third tranche of the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
 

Fri, 15 May 2020 12:23:56 +0530
Case Fatality Rate reduced recovery rate improved Health Minister

New Delhi, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday said the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of COVID-19 has come down in the country.

During the 15th meeting of the High-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 held here, the minister said "The Case Fatality Rate (CFR) has come down from 3.2 per cent in the pre-lockdown period to 2.1 per cent during the last week."

Reading the COVID situation globally and in the country, the minister said, "total number of COVID-19 positive cases worldwide stand at 42,48,389 with 2,94,046 deaths and the fatality rate pegged at 6.92 per cent, whereas in India, the total number of COVID-19 positive cases stand at 81,970 with 2,649 deaths and the fatality rate pegged at 3.23 per cent. So far, a total of 27,920 people have been cured.

"And if seen in the last 24 hours, 1,685 patients were found cured. This takes the total recovery rate at 34.06 per cent. It was also highlighted that the impact of lockdown was seen on the Doubling Rate which improved from 3.4 days in the pre-lockdown week to 12.9 days in the last week."

The Group of Ministers (GoM) had in-depth deliberation on containment strategy and management aspects of COVID-19, as well as the measures being taken by the Centre and various states. The GoM was informed by the officials that there are 30 municipal areas which constitute 79 per cent of India's caseload.

GoM discussed that the focus of COVID-19 management strategy needs to be on the states with the highest number of confirmed cases and highest number of fatalities, and on treatment and case fatality management, for which timely detection of infection and contact tracing was the best way forward. They also discussed the challenges before various states/UTs arising from the returning migrant labourers and the returnees from abroad.

The minister told the GoM that a total of 8,694 facilities comprising of 919 dedicated COVID hospitals, 2,036 COVID Health Centres and 5,739 COVID Care Centres with a total of 2,77,429 beds for severe and critical cases, 29,701 ICU beds and 5,15,250 isolation beds in care centres, are available. Also, as on date, 18,855 ventilators are now available to combat COVID-19 in the country. The Centre has also provided 84.22 lakh N95 masks and 47.98 lakh Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) to the states, UTs and Central institutions.

He said that the domestic manufacturers have the capacity to produce nearly 3 lakh PPEs and N-95 masks each, per day. Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General of ICMR informed about COBAS 6800, a fully automated, high-end machine, installed at the NCDC for performing real-time PCR testing COVID-19 to perform 1,200 samples in 24 hours.

The GoM attendees included Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, MoS Home Nityananda Rai and others.
 

Fri, 15 May 2020 11:36:14 +0530
We could cut off whole relationship Trump on China

Washington, US President Donald Trump has said that he "could cut off the whole relationship" with China, in one of his strongest comments against Beijing in the wake of the Asian giant's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the media reported.

"There are many things we could do," Trump told Fox Business on Thursday, adding: "We could cut off the whole relationship."

The Trump administration has been mulling avenues to possibly punish or seek financial compensation from China for what it sees as withholding information about the virus, which originated in the city of Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, last December.

On Monday, the administration cut investment ties between US federal retirement funds and Chinese equities.

Speaking exclusively to Fox Business, the President raised the impact of ending relations, saying: "Now, if you did, what would happen? You'd save $500 billion if you cut off the whole relationship."

Trump also said "right now I don't want to speak to" his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

"They should have never let this happen," Trump said. "So I make a great trade deal and now I say this doesn't feel the same to me.

"The ink was barely dry and the plague came over. And it doesn't feel the same to me."

Although the pandemic originated in China, the US currently accounts for the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the number of COVID-19 cases increased to 1,417,889 on Friday, with 85,906 deaths.

(IANS)

Fri, 15 May 2020 11:19:36 +0530
Urge PMO to amend Act to restart mining Goa industry to Guv

Panaji, Amending the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act (MMDR) by the Union cabinet could help to restart the mining industry in Goa at the earliest, the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry said in a petition to Governor Satya Pal Malik on Friday. They urged the Governor to take up the issue with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in order to bring them relief.

After meeting Malik, head of the GCCI, Manoj Caculo also told reporters, that the trade body had urged the Governor to press upon the PMO and the Union Cabinet to amend the Act and subsequently issue an ordinance to restart the state's mining industry, which would help boost the local economy.

"We want the Governor to press upon the PMO and Central cabinet to take a decision to amend the MMDRA or whatever has to be done to revive the mining industry in Goa. The Goan economic situation is such that no industry is functional, tourism is shut so mining has to start," Caculo told reporters outside the Governor's residence.

Caculo also said that while Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has been talking to the top leaders and officials in the Central government to get the banned industry back on its feet in Goa, the "Governor's word will have weight".

The mining issue has been hanging fire in Goa, ever since the apex court banned extraction and transportation of iron ore from 88 mining leases from February 2018, while also directing the state government to reissue mining leases.

The Goa government has also filed a revision petition in the apex court, urging a relook at the order.

It was the second time in less than a decade that all mining in the state has come to a standstill. It was banned the first time in 2012 after a judicial commission exposed a Rs 35,000 crore illegal mining scam, indicting top mining companies as well as politicians and bureaucrats.

Till some months back, the state government had been actively contemplating the formation of a state-run mining corporation as a nodal body to relaunch and oversee mining operations in the state.

While the MMDRA, which was amended by the Central government in 2015, made it mandatory for auctioning of major mineral resources, mining magnates in Goa have argued, that a further amendment allowing for a renewal of the mining leases in case of Goa, followed by an ordinance to the effect, would put the mining industry back on track in the coastal state soon.
(IANS) 

Fri, 15 May 2020 11:03:46 +0530
GDP growth rate for FY21 seen at 0 9 1 02 Crediwatch

New Delhi, India's GDP for the financial year 2020-21 is likely to grow in the range of 0.9 per cent to 1.02 per cent, according to a report by Crediwatch.

"In case the lockdown gets extended till May end (which is a more likely scenario in some states), we will only be able to see any green shoots of recovery towards the end of Q3, the GDP will range from 0.9 per cent to 1.02 per cent," it said.

Several states have extended the lockdown and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on Tuesday hinted at a relaxed a lockdown 4.0'.

The third phase of the nationwide lockdown ends on May 17, Sunday.

On the economic package being announced by the government, Meghna Suryakumar, CEO of Crediwatch said: "If the stimulus works it will be between 1 to 1.02 per cent, I believe 1 per cent GDP growth is what everybody is looking at."

The coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide lockdown has brought the Indian economy to almost a halt and industry bodies and economists have anticipated huge job losses, shutting down of businesses in case adequate government support does not come in.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a Rs 20 lakh crore economic package and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been laying out details of the package in tranches.

So far, she has announced liquidity measures for MSMEs, NBFCs, migrant workers, farmers and street vendors. At 4 p.m. on Friday, the minister will announce the third tranche of the economic package.
(IANS) 

Fri, 15 May 2020 09:41:16 +0530
Mexico at peak moment of COVID 19 crisis

Mexico City,  Mexico has reached "the peak moment" of the coronavirus pandemic, officials said, as the country recorded its largest one-day rise in confirmed cases so far.


More than 2,409 new cases of the virus were confirmed on Thursday - the first time this figure has exceeded 2,000, taking the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 42,595, the BBC reported.

The deaths toll currently stood at 4,477.

The grim milestone comes amid preparations to ease lockdown measures and reopen the economy, particularly factories near the border with the US.

In a statement on Thursday, Assistant Health Secretary Hugo Lopez-Gatell described this as "the most difficult moment of the first wave of the epidemic".

He said that the country "could not relax measures" in place to stem the spread of the virus, and instead needs to embrace a "new normal" to avoid another wave of infections.

On Monday, some key industries, including mining, construction and automobile assembly, were scheduled to partially reopen.

In the statement, Lopez-Gatell stressed that the re-opening of these industries will be largely preparatory, with a broader restart of businesses not scheduled until June 1.

Government data released on Thursday also showed more than half of hospitals in the capital, Mexico City, were at capacity with coronavirus patients.

(IANS)

Fri, 15 May 2020 08:38:10 +0530
Migrant workers march through Agra compounds problems

Agra, The long march back to their homes by hordes of migrant workers through Agra, has put additional pressure on the district administration battling Covid-19 community spread, in the 44 hot zones.

On Thursday, the focus was on providing relief to unending streams of migrant workers on the national highways and expressways. The Indian Medical Association helped organise a thermal screening and health check-ups at the Rainbow Hospital on the Agra-Delhi highway. A team led by Dr Narendra Malhotra screened and provided basic essentials to sustain and support their onward march. "It is such a human tragedy to watch these hapless men, women and children trudging along in such scorching heat."

District magistrate PN Singh said there had been two deaths and the total number of cases was now 789. Till late Thursday evening, there were four new cases. The number of fatalities was 27. A BJP youth leader from Maharashtra Parmesh Rao Maratha succumbed to Covid-19.

Till date, 10,171 samples have been tested. After a special team of senior bureaucrats took over the reins five days ago, the number of cases has shown a remarkable decline, health officials claimed. However, accusations continued to fly regarding the actual numbers and the authenticity of test reports.

But the general feeling here was that there had been a discernible change in the management of government hospitals and the services provided to those in the isolation wards and the quarantine centres, in the past one week, after the elected representatives made a hue and cry.

Many NGOs have demanded nationalisation of the health services and medicare, after the alleged failure of the private sector hospitals and medical practitioners to join the battle against Covid-19. The IMA, however, does not share this perception. Its members were providing teleconsultations and were actively involved in strategising operational modes, according to the IMA.

Meanwhile, the state government on Friday directed all medical stores to keep a record of customers buying cold and cough medicines.
(IANS)

Fri, 15 May 2020 08:31:13 +0530
Badrinath temple opens first prayers held on Modi s behalf

Chamoli (Uttarakhand), The gates of the Badrinath temple in Uttarakhand were opened at 4.30 a.m. on Friday and the first prayers to Lord Badri Vishal were performed on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

During this time, a very limited number of people, including the chief priest were present there in keeping with the social distancing norms. This is for the first time in history, that devotees were not present at the Dham when the gates were opened.

First, the gates of the Sinhdawar were opened amid chanting of the Vedic mantras. The key to the door lock was opened by the Devasthanam board chief. After this, the gates of the sanctum sanctorum were opened and the few people present there worshipped Lord Badri Vishal and prayed to liberate the world from the coronavirus soon.

As soon as the gates of the sanctum sanctorum were opened, Rawal Ishwari Prasad Namboodri entered. He removed the woollen blanket that was offered to God during the winter season. After this, Rawal bathed the Lord with holy water and performed a grand puja. The Dharmadhikari and the Additional Dharmadhikari Ved Pathi continued to chant the mantras during the process.

Harish Gaur, media in-charge of Uttarakhand Chardham Devasthanam Board, said the government advisory, including social distancing, was followed in view of the corona lockdown. Masks were worn and cleanliness was taken care of.

He said, "After the opening of the doors, the sound of Veda mantras made Badrishpuri resonant and the temple was shining with electric lights with flower decorations. The Char Dham Yatra could not begin in view of the corona epidemic this year. Only the doors have been opened. Devasthanam Board had completed the preparations for the opening of the valve.

District Magistrate Swati S. Bhadauria said: "The social distance in the Dham campus will be completely followed. Everyone must wear a mask. Instructions have been issued that priests arriving in the Dham till the lockdown period will not be allowed to go elsewhere from the Badrinath area without the permission of the administration."

On this occasion, Rawal Ishwari Prasad Namboodri along with Devasthanam Board in-charge officer B.D. Singh, Naib Tehsildar Pradeep Negi, Dharmadhikari Bhuvan Chandra Uniyal, Additional Dharmadhikari Satyaprasad Chamola, Thana Satyendra Singh, Information Inspector Surya Prakash Shah, etc., were present during the puja. All of them wearing masks.

Special pujas of deities -- "Kuberaji", "Uddhavji" and "Garudaji" were also held at the Yoga Dhyan Badri temple, Pandukeshwar.

The date of opening of the gates of the Dham was fixed on April 30. But due to corona crisis, the date of opening of the doors was shifted to May 15.

The doors of Kedarnath Dham were opened on April 29 after rituals and worship. At the same time, the valleys of the world-famous Gangotri and Yamunotri Dham were opened on Sunday on the occasion of the Akshaya Tritiya -- the doors of the Gangotri Dham opened at 12.35 p.m. and Yamunotri at 12.41 p.m.
(IANS) 

Fri, 15 May 2020 07:51:52 +0530
Vidya Balan starrer Shakuntala Devi to premiere on OTT platform

Mumbai,  "Shakuntala Devi", which will see actress Vidya Balan as math genius Shakuntala Devi, will premiere on Amazon Prime Video next month.

The film is based on the life of Shakuntala, who is widely revered as the human-computer for her innate ability to make incredibly complex calculations within seconds.

The film also stars Sanya Malhotra, who will be seen playing the role of Shakuntala's daughter Anupama. The movie also stars Amit Sadh and Jisshu Sengupta in pivotal roles.

Helmed and written by Anu Menon, the film has been produced by Sony Pictures Networks Productions and Vikram Malhotra. The screenplay is penned by Menon along with Nayanika Mahtani, while the dialogues are penned by Ishita Moitra.

"Shakuntala Devi's passion for maths and her determination to spread its joy to the world was unparalleled. She lived ahead of her times and on her own terms -- and as we all strive to change the narrative of the female protagonist on-screen, her story is one that calls out to be told," said Menon.

"And there's no one better than Vidya Balan to capture Shakuntala's wit and wisdom. I'm so excited that the film will have its world premiere on Amazon Prime Video and everyone will get to experience Shakuntala's incredible journey and Vidya's magical portrayal of her soon," she added.

The announcement comes a day after film director Shoojit Sircar along with actors Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana confirmed that their upcoming film, "Gulabo Sitabo", will directly release on the OTT streaming platform instead of going to the big screen first.
(IANS)

Fri, 15 May 2020 07:41:36 +0530
S Korea at critical juncture to stem COVID 19 after cluster

Seoul, South Korean health authorities said on Friday that this weekend will be a critical juncture in the country's efforts to stem the further spread of the COVID-19 following cluster infections in a night-life zone in Seoul.

Twenty-seven new cases of COVID-19 were detected on Thursday, with 22 of them being local infections, bringing the nation's total number to 11,018, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Of the newly added cases, 17 were connected to bars and clubs in Seoul's popular nightlife district of Itaewon between April 24 and May 6, reports Yonhap News Agency citing the KCDC as saying.

As of Friday, a total of 153 people have tested positive in connection with the Itaewon outbreak, including 90 clubgoers and 63 of their family members, co-workers and contacts, indicating that secondary and tertiary infections from the nightclub cases have already emerged, the KCDC said.

In an effort to prevent the Itaewon infection cluster from expanding into a mass outbreak, health authorities said they will disinfect nightclubs and bars this weekend.

Besides the Itaewon cluster, the KCDC said a total of 15 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in connection with a private academy instructor from Incheon.

The instructor has come under fire after lying about his occupation following his recent visit to an Itaewon club, Yonhap News Agency reported.

South Korea's virus deaths remained the same at 260, according to the KCDC, with the mortality rate reaching 2.37 per cent.

On May 6, the country switched to an "everyday life quarantine" and the normalization of public facilities and other business establishments, under the condition they follow basic sanitation measures.

However, due to the cluster cases, the country has decided to push back the reopening of schools by one week.
 

(IANS) 

Fri, 15 May 2020 07:10:16 +0530
Richa makes educational videos about COVID 19 for her staff

Mumbai, Actress Richa Chadha felt the need to educate her staff about dos and dots of COVID-19 that she herself has been following diligently for the last two months.

She has now made easy-to-understand videos for her staff in order to educate them about issues related to COVID-19 and how maintaining basic hygiene can help people from falling prey to it.

"I made videos on my phone and just forwarded them to my staff because I want them to be safe and healthy throughout this period. Obviously, taking care of them financially is my duty, but I wanted them to know the proper guidelines to follow social distancing when they step out to buy their groceries and other essentials," she said.

"We may not realise, but in a country like India, social distancing is also a privilege. When you are sharing a small room with five people, everybody is vulnerable to the disease if social distancing is not practised stringently outside," she added.

Meanwhile, ever since the lockdown was announced, the actress has taken to gardening with greater interest. She feels at a stressful time like this, an activity like gardening could be therapeutic.
(IANS)

Fri, 15 May 2020 07:03:24 +0530
Over 11 lakh migrants ferried since May 1 in Shramik trains

New Delhi, Amid the nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Indian Railways on Friday said that it has ferried more than 11.5 lakh stranded people since May 1 in over 999 Shramik Special trains.

Railway and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday took to Twitter and wrote, "Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 1,000 Shramik Special trains have been approved for ferrying migrant workers to their homes."

The Minister further said, "Yesterday 145 Shramik trains ran for the migrant labours. 75 per cent of the total Shramik Special trains are running for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar."

The Rail Minister slammed the state governments of states like West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, and said, "The Railways is ready to ferry workers to their homes by running 300 Shramik special trains daily, but sadly a few states like West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are not allowing these trains due to which migrant workers are suffering and are away from home."

A railway spokesperson said that till May 15, a total of 999 Shramik Special trains have been operationalized from various states across the country.

"More than 11.5 lakh passengers have reached their home states. Trains are being run by the railways only after concurrence is given both by the state, which is sending the passengers, and the state, which is receiving them," he said.

The official also said these special trains were terminated in various states like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Mizoram, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.

The official further said that proper screening of passengers is ensured before boarding the train. "During the journey, passengers are given free meals and water," he said.

The Indian Railways started to run the Shramik Special train from May 1 to transport the stranded migrant workers, students, pilgrims and tourists across the country.
(IANS) 

Fri, 15 May 2020 06:54:20 +0530
Amazon goes after scammers in US India who lured Alexa users via fake apps

Seattle/New Delhi, Amazon has filed a lawsuit against an international ring in Washington State and India that developed a tech support scheme to con people via fake Amazon apps who were looking to set up newly-bought Alexa-enabled Echo smart speakers at home, charging $150 for device protection plans.

Amazon alleged that the scam was being run by two tech support companies - Robojap Technologies based in Covington, Washington State, and Quantic Software Solutions based in Zirakpur, Punjab.

In a civil lawsuit filed in the federal court in Seattle, the e-commerce giant said that once customers downloaded the fake Amazon-branded apps, "they were prompted to contact a customer support number and could be charged $150 for useless protection plans", reports CNET.

"Amazon works hard to protect our customers, and the blatant misuse of our brand to deceive unsuspecting customers setting up their new device is appalling," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement.

The company said it has received "a number of complaints about Robojap misleading victims into believing they are affiliated with Amazon and selling them unwanted services".

According to Amazon's lawsuit, the defendants developed fake websites and mobile apps that claimed to help people set up new Alexa devices.

Quantic's website listed is no longer online, but the suit says Robojap manages Quantic.

"Setup Guide for Echo" and "Echo Setup Instructions & Guide," two mobile apps on Google Play Store that these companies allegedly used to lure in customers, have been deactivated too.

According to Tim Mackey, Principal Security Strategist at Synopsys Software Integrity Group, fake customer support calls are nothing new.

"So are questionable websites purporting to have the download, driver, or patch that you're searching for but can't find on the vendor's website. These scams all prey on the fact that modern technology is often more complicated than the user would prefer," Mackey said in a statement.

"In this case, it's in Amazon's best interest for new Alexa users to have a positive first impression. Charging $150 for a tech support call goes against that goal, so it's likely a scam. So too is any requirement to use any third-party app to setup an Alexa," he added.

Amazon provides Alexa device setup for free, primarily through its own Alexa mobile app.
(IANS) 

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Fri, 15 May 2020 06:48:56 +0530
Equity indices fall Sensex below 31 000 mark

Mumbai,  The key Indian equity indices fell on Friday morning with the BSE Sensex falling below the psychological 31,000 marks.

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange also was trading below the 9,100 level.

The indices were dragged down selling in banking, auto and finance stocks.

At 10.16 a.m., the Sensex was at 30,864.33, lower by 258.56 points or 0.83 per cent from its previous close of 31,122.89.

It had opened at 31,296.28 and has so far touched a high of 31,296.28 and a low of 30,828.89 points.

The Nifty50 was trading at 9,082.45, lower by 60.30 points or 0.66 per cent from the previous close.

IANS

RELATED:

https://www.mediaeyenews.com/news/business/sensex-jumps-500-points-trades-over-32000mark/61819.html
 

Fri, 15 May 2020 06:35:05 +0530
Jeff Bezos could be world s first trillionaire by 2026

San Francisco, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos could potentially become the worlds first trillionaire as early as 2026, at which point he will be aged 62, says a study.

Despite losing an estimated $38 billion as part of his recent divorce, Bezos is still by far the world's richest person and his net worth has grown by 34 per cent on average over the last five years, said the study, by Comparison, a company which helps organisations compare different business products.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg could gain trillionaire status almost a decade later than Bezos. But Zuckerberg's current rate growth would see him worth $1 trillion aged 51, said the study.

India's Mukesh Ambani could become a trillionaire in 2033 when he will be aged 75, according to the research which said that Chinese real estate tycoon Xu Jiayin will follow Bezos to become the second trillionaire in the world in 2027.

Alibaba's Jack Ma could become a trillionaire in 2030 when he will be aged 65.

Of the 25 individuals the company analysed, only eleven realistically have a chance of becoming a trillionaire during their lifetime, based on their recent rate of wealth growth.

The other individuals in the list are Ma Huateng, Chairman and CEO of Tencent Holdings; Bernard Arnault, CEO of Moet Hennessy parent LVMH; former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer; Dell Technologies Founder Michael Dell; and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

For the study, Comparison analysed the market capitalisation of the 25 highest valued companies on the New York Stock Exchange according to Macrotrends, as well as the net worth of the richest 25 people in the world, according to Forbes, in both cases taking the last five years of data.

(IANS)

Fri, 15 May 2020 06:26:32 +0530
Who is the lender Chidambaram on MSME loan

New Delhi, The Congress on Friday took a sarcastic dig at union ministers after different statements were issued on the MSME sector by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharman and her Road Transport colleague Nitin Gadkari.

P. Chidambaram said: "Minister Nitin Gadkari says that governments and PSUs owe Rs 5 lakh crore as unpaid dues to MSMEs and Minister Sitharaman says she will offer collateral-free loan of Rs 3 lakh crore to MSMEs (numbering 45 lakhs)."

He questioned, "So, who is the lender and who is the borrower?"

Slamming both, the former Finance Minister said: "Will the two ministers 'settle their accounts' first and let MSMEs save themselves without government's 'help'?"

Sitharaman on Wednesday announced collateral-free automatic loans for businesses, including MSMEs of up to Rs 3 lakh crore.

Under the measure, borrowers with up to Rs 25 crore outstanding and Rs 100 crore turnover would be eligible for the special collateral-free loan. The loan will have a 4 year tenor with a moratorium of 12 months on principal repayment and the interest will be capped. There will be a 100 per cent credit guarantee cover to banks and NBFCs on principal and interest. The initiative can be availed till October 31, 2020, and no guarantee fee and fresh collateral would be required.

On the back of the scheme, 45 lakh units can resume business activity and safeguard jobs. The move is part of the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday evening.
 

Fri, 15 May 2020 06:20:36 +0530
Now Haryana to run special buses from Delhi

Chandigarh, In a major relief to those stranded in the national capital owing to the imposition of nationwide lockdown, the Haryana government has now decided to run special buses from May 18, an official said on Friday.

For this online ticket booking is a must.

Also, the buses will take the passengers from the state to the railway station in New Delhi.

From Friday, the state started special intrastate roadways bus services on selected routes.

Haryana Transport Minister Moolchand Sharma said the government has decided to ply state transport buses between the state and New Delhi for the convenience of people.

Online booking can be done through the portal hartrans.gov.in and the passengers with confirmed booking will be allowed to enter the bus stand.

Sharma said the buses would operate from the railway station in New Delhi to the scheduled bus stand of Haryana Roadways and no passenger will be allowed to board or get off from the bus en route.

Buses passing through coronavirus-affected districts will take the bypass or flyover route.

He said taking special care of social distancing norms only 30 passengers will be accommodated in a bus.

Thermal screening of passengers will be done before entering the bus stands and it will be necessary for every passenger to wear a mask and follow social distancing norms.

Passengers without masks will not be allowed to enter the bus.

The minister said if bus operations on any route would not be possible due to any reason, it will be cancelled and information will be given two hours before to its departure.

Accordingly, the fare will be refunded if the bus is cancelled.
(IANS)

Fri, 15 May 2020 06:10:18 +0530
VMware to acquire Kubernetes security startup Octarine

Enterprise software major VMware has announced to acquire early-stage Kubernetes security startup Octarine for an undisclosed sum, which the company will fit in with another security company Carbon Black it bought for $2.1 billion last year.

Patrick Morley, general manager and senior vice president at VMware's Security Business Unit, said that Octarine's innovative security platform for Kubernetes applications helps simplify DevSecOps and enables cloud native environments to be more secure, from development through runtime.

"Protecting workloads is critical to the security of applications and data inside every organisation. Building Octarine's innovation into the VMware security portfolio will present a major opportunity for our team to further simplify and improve security for our customers," Morley said in a statement on Wednesday.

Just over seven months ago, VMware acquired Carbon Black and announced plans to be a major security provider with its "intrinsic security strategy" – protecting any application, running on any cloud, on any device.

Acquiring Octarine will enable VMware advance intrinsic security for containers (and Kubernetes environments), by embedding the Octarine technology into the VMware Carbon Black Cloud, and via deep hooks and integrations with the VMware Tanzu platform.

In an effort to empower modern SOC teams with the capabilities and context they need to greatly improve both their efficiency and efficacy, VMware also launched a ‘Next-Gen SOC Alliance'.

The alliance features Splunk, IBM Security, Google Cloud's Chronicle, Exabeam, and Sumo Logic integrations with the VMware Carbon Black Cloud to deliver key XDR capabilities.

"The Next-Gen SOC Alliance brings a critical mass of XDR context and capabilities to SOCs in a fully intrinsic way – one that can uniquely leverage the VMware fabric," said Tom Barsi, Vice President of Alliances for VMware Carbon Black.
source:ians

Thu, 14 May 2020 07:13:40 +0530
Peshawar HC closed as COVID 19 infects staff members

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has been closed until May 31 as some of its staff members have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

However, two single-member benches will hear bail pleas only during the period, Dawn news reported on Wednesday.

While announcing its closure, the PHC also made it mandatory for all staffers to submit an affidavit saying neither they nor their immediate relatives, including spouse, children, siblings and parents, and neighbours were diagnosed with or suspected of suffering from COVID-19.

According to a notification issued by PHC registrar Khawaja Wajihuddin, if employees fail to file the affidavit or those filed are found to be false, disciplinary proceedings would be initiated against them.

Though there was no official word on how many staff members are affected by the virus, official sources put the number at 11.

The sources added that the COVID-19 test results of seven staffers remained ‘inconclusive', so they all would undergo test yet again.

Initially, in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, the PHC had ordered closure of all courts in the province on March 24, while only few judges and essential staff was assigned duties to handle the cases of urgent nature, Dawn news reported.

From April 20, all high court judges resumed work at the principal seat and circuit benches.

A month ago, the high court had temporarily closed its writ branch after one of its staff members tested positive for the virus.

The branch hadreopened after the premises and all the files and documents were disinfected.
source:ians

Thu, 14 May 2020 07:10:06 +0530
Mallya pleads Indian govt to accept loan repayment close case

Fugitive Indian businessman Vijay Mallya again urged the central government on Thursday to unconditionally accept his offer of bank loan repayment and close the case against him.

In a tweet, the embattled liquor baron alleged that his offer of 100 per cent payback to a consortium of public sector banks is being constantly ignored.

"Congratulations to the government for a Covid-19 relief package. They can print as much currency as they want BUT should a small contributor like me who offers 100 per cent payback of state-owned bank loans be constantly ignored? Please take my money unconditionally and close," Mallya tweeted.

Mallya is in the midst of a legal battle in the UK, with the Indian government trying to get him extradited to India to face enforcement authorities in connection with a Rs 9,000-crore bank fraud and money laundering case involving his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

The latest offer from him comes 10 days after he filed an application in the UK Supreme Court to prevent implementation of an earlier order that made his return to India imminent.

In the past also, Mallya had tweeted that he had offered to pay in full the money borrowed by Kingfisher Airlines to the banks concerned but neither the banks were willing to take the money nor the Enforcement Directorate was willing to release his attached assets.

The ED has attached many properties of Mallya in the last few years under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Mallya is being investigated by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the loan fraud case.

He was arrested by the UK authorities on April 20, 2017 on the request of the Indian investigative agencies.
source:ians

Thu, 14 May 2020 07:05:24 +0530
Two more test positive for COVID 19 in Himachal tally 69

Two new COVID-19 cases were detected in Himachal Pradesh, taking the tally of positive cases in the state to 69.

The new patients -- a 30-year-old woman and her seven-year-old daughter -- have tested positive for coronavirus in Paonta Sahib in Sirmaur district.

The duo was in home quarantine.

The woman's husband would also be tested, while her two-and-a-half-year old son tested negative.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has said that with one lakh people returning to Himachal Pradesh from across the country, the number of active COVID-19 cases has spiked in the state.
source:ians

Thu, 14 May 2020 06:58:02 +0530
Helping migrants at CST helps Valmiki keep focus away from hockey

Central Railway employees living near Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) got messages to report for duty last week when special trains were announced for ferrying migrant labourers stranded in the city to their respective home states amid the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. One of these employees was hockey player Anup Valmiki who has been working since May 9.

"Today was my fourth day," Valmiki, who is employed as a ticket collector, told IANS on Wednesday. "I worked for three days continuously and then I got an off yesterday."

The 25-year-old stays in Churchgate and it takes him about 10 minutes to reach the station on his motorbike.

"Now we have shifts but before that, it was really hectic. There was once when I worked from 9am all the way to around midnight. The timing was completely based on the schedule of the trains and on the people who were coming in," he said. "But now, I work about eight to nine hours and then someone else takes over."

"It's difficult but its a good thing because there are lakhs of migrants who want to go back home. You see them and you know how desperate they are. The government might be providing everything but they obviously feel safer at home. I mean, those who stay in the slums, they don't even have their own toilets, they are using one that thousands of others may have used."

The implementation of shifts have only made things relatively easy for Valmiki and other Railways employees. However, Mumbai's humidity and heat is one that doesn't allow too many layers of clothing but in this case, the officials have to wear masks and gloves while walking up and down the platforms in order to stay safe.

"We are entirely wet to be honest throughout the day, from top to bottom," he said. "We have to wear the face shield also and around half an hour or an hour of wearing, my head starts aching. We are wearing gloves and the mask and we can't drink water again and again. Every time we drink water, we have to sanitise the hands because you don't know how many people touched that water bottle."

In a way, however, Valmiki -- who last played for India in 2016 -- said the experience is good for him as it keeps his mind away from the uncertainty around his sporting career. He does his basic workout whenever he gets time at home, something which he says he cannot live without. More than anything else though, the work gives him satisfaction.

"After finally you are done and the train leaves, you hear the people cheering for us, for Maharashtra Police and for Indian Railways. They chant 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai.'"

"We can see their happy faces and you feel great. Everyone is smiling at the end. They would be thanking us. These people are the backbone of our societies. They are the ones that make our society. I myself know what poverty is and what desperation that brings, so you do what you can to help out," he said with a sense of satisfaction.
source:ians

Thu, 14 May 2020 06:51:36 +0530
Faf suggests isolation for players before after T20 WC

Veteran South Africa cricketer Faf du Plessis has proposed isolation for players in order for the T20 World Cup to go ahead risk free later this year.

All cricket has been suspended in the wake of coronavirus pandemic and dark clouds are circling over the fate of the showpiece event -- scheduled to take place in October-November Down Under -- as well.

du Plessis suggested that players travelling to Australia can go into two weeks isolation after reaching the country and then after the conclusion of the tournament should again go into two weeks isolation again before returning to their respective home nations.

"I am not sure... reading that travelling is going to be an issue for lots of countries and they are talking about December or January," Du Plessis told Bangladesh cricketer Tamim Iqbal during a Facebook live session as per Cricbuzz.

"But even if Australia is not affected like other countries, to get people from Bangladesh, South Africa or India where there is more danger, obviously it's a health risk to them," du Plessis said.

"But you can go in before the tournament (for) two weeks isolation and then play the tournament and afterwards two weeks isolation. But I don't know when South Africa will open their travel ban because we can't go there like old days on boats," he added.

The 35-year-old had stepped down as South Africa captain earlier this year and in an interview later, he had stated he is a natural leader and is enjoying his new leadership role of mentoring the youngsters with an eye on the future of the national team.

"I love captaincy, it is a part of who I am. I have captained since the age of 13. I still look at myself as a leader before a player, so I enjoy that more than anything else.

"I will always miss it, but I do think that the time has come for me to move on to a position of growing other leaders, something that I feel is lacking in our system," du Plessis had said in an interview released by Cricket South Africa.
source:ians

Thu, 14 May 2020 06:41:06 +0530
Dell refreshes XPS line up with 2 new laptops

PC and laptop major Dell has announced a fresh XPS laptop series line-up, showcasing new XPS 15 and XPS 17 devices that come with virtually borderless and four-sided 16:10 edge-to-edge display while ditching legacy ports in favour of USB-C.

XPS 15 starts at $1,299.99, available in the US and Canada now and will be available and in European and Asian countries throughout this week.

XPS 17 begins at $1,499.99 and is available in the US, Canada and European and Asian countries this summer.

After a nearly 10-year hiatus, the XPS 17 has returned as the smallest 17-inch laptop ever. It features the latest 10th Gen Intel Core processors and up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics with Max-Q design.

"Packing this much performance into a laptop of this size requires engineering ingenuity to keep the system performing smoothly. Under the hood, we've packed a unique thermal design for increased fan airflow to fuel demanding projects," said Donnie Oliphant, Senior Director, XPS Product Marketing, Dell Technologies.

The redesigned XPS 15 is the smallest 15.6-inch performance class laptop, giving an immersive audio-visual experience thanks to a larger 16:10 display and new up-firing speakers.

"With the latest 10th Gen Intel Core processors, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti graphics with Max-Q design and up to 25-hour battery life6, you can easily stream your favourite shows, edits photos for Instagram, render 4K videos or create original sounds and textures," informed Oliphant.

The XPS 15 and 17 are crafted from two pieces of machined aluminum, so they're lightweight, yet strong and durable. Optional 4K Ultra HD+ (3840 x 2400) resolution provides pinpoint accuracy, precise detail and sharp images.

The smallest ever HD webcam is discretely hidden at the top of the display for video meet-ups and virtual get-togethers in these COVID-19 times.

XPS 15 and 17 are the first-ever laptops featuring Waves Nx 3D audio for speakers tuned by multi-Grammy Award winning producer, Jack Joseph Puig, said the company.
source:ians

Thu, 14 May 2020 06:39:30 +0530
2 Spl Police Commissioners to oversee treatment of corona positive men

Over 140 Delhi Police personnel testing coronavirus positive in the around two months, authorities have deputed two Special Commissioners of Police to oversee necessary treatment to infected personnel.

The cases of corona positive officers and jawans will now be directly handled by Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Taj Hassan. He will take care of the needs of the infected jawans and their families.

In addition, Special Police Commissioner (Women Safety) Nuzhat Hasan too will work for immediately arranging for admission of corono-infected jawans in Delhi hospitals.

Most patients are Delhi Police personnel in the ranks of Constables, Inspectors and Station House Officers. A 2015-batch IPS officer of Additional DCP rank and posted in Shahdara district too tested corona positive. So far, Delhi Police has lost a jawan posted at Bharat Nagar police station to the virus.

Most corona infections were reported in personnel posted in the Central Delhi District. In the Chandni Mahal police station located here, several contables tested positive. However, some of these jawans have since returned to duty after recovery.

Delhi Police has said it is taking steps to protect its personnel from coronavirus infection. Six special vehicles have been deployed to ferry corona-infected personnel.

On Wednesday, Delhi Police Headquarters also listed out the names of all government hospitals in which special arrangements have been made to treat corona-infected personnel.

Prominent among these are Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narayan Hospital, Ram Manohar Lohia, AIIMS, Safdarjung, Max Hospital Saket, Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty, AIIMS Jhajjar, PGI Sonipat, ESIC Sahibabad (Uttar Pradesh) etc.

In all these hospitals, some beds are earmarked to treat Delhi Police personnel in emergency.
source:ians

Thu, 14 May 2020 06:36:31 +0530
Have a bad habit to release film as soon as it is ready Shoojit Sircar

As cinemas remain shut amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Shoojit Sircar has decided to take the digital route to release his Amitabh Bachchan-Ayushmann Khurrana starrer "Gulabo Sitabo". The Bollywood director says he has an experience of his movie remaining unreleased, and believes it is better to release it as soon it is ready.

Gulabo Sitabo" will be released digitally on June 12.

"We had made the film and it was supposed to release in April. Normally when my film is ready, I have a very bad habit -- I have to serve it to the audience right then. So that was there and then this crisis (COVID-19 pandemic) came upon us," Sircarexplained his decision to take the film directly to OTT.

"Ronnie (Ronnie Lahiri) discussed with me that if this (digital release) happens, 'what's your view?'. And my view was very clear. I wanted to reach out as much and he told me this will simultaneously be released in some 200 countries. I never had this kind of release. And this is a platform where I have never experimented," he added.

Reflecting upon his decision to release digitally, Sircar said: "I thought that since the film is ready -- and I don't know when cinemas will open -- it was a very (apt decision). Digital is going to be co-existing with cinema. It is already the future."

"I had seen few films, especially 'Roma', which hit me. I was anyway quite excited about the platform. I am going to experiment with the platform with this film," added the director, who has often found success at the box office by narrating realistic stories of human interest.

In the past, Sircar has picked up his camera to capture gritty political drama in "Yahaan" and "Madras Cafe", and has explored the slice-of-life canvas with "Vicky Donor" and "Piku". Now, he is ready to narrate a realistic dramedy with Big B and Ayushmann with "Gulabo Sitabo".

Asked how Big B and Ayushmann had reacted to the decision to release the film digitally, Sircar said: "They are very positive about it."

"We discussed things -- the pros and cons -- and how we would move in. I think more or less it was the reach, because the film is finally going to be presented. Nowadays, the technical quality of the digital platform is also very good. It was a mutual decision, and we are here."

"Me and Bachchan sahab already have an experience of our film 'Shoebite', which didn't release. So, it is better to release the film as soon as it is done, and that's what we wanted to do," he added.

The film will release on Amazon Prime Video on June 12. "Gulabo Sitabo" is being described as "quirky tale of two slimy scheming foxes in a game of one upmanship, each one attracting other members to their clan and each one with an agenda of his own".

A Rising Sun Films production, "Gulabo Sitabo" is produced by Ronnie Lahiri and Sheel Kumar.

source:ians

Thu, 14 May 2020 06:34:53 +0530
Bookings for regular trains till June 30 cancelled Specials to ply

Indian Railways on Thursday said that it has cancelled all bookings for train tickets made till June 30 and given full refunds, adding that Special and Shramik trains will ply as usual.

Regular train services, including Mail, Express, Passenger, and Suburban have been cancelled, said a notification issued by Director, Passenger Marketing, Railway Board.

"The competent authority has desired that all tickets booked for trains for the period up to June 30, 2020 may be cancelled and full refund generated," it added.

The Railways started 15 pairs of Special Rajdhani trains from Tuesday. Shramik Special trains to transport stranded migrant workers, students, pilgrims and tourists were resumed from May 1.

The railways has suspended Passenger, Mail and Express trains since March 24. Only freight and special parcel trains are in operation to ensure supply of essential commdities across the country.
source:ians

Thu, 14 May 2020 05:39:11 +0530
Parliamentary panel seeks info from UP MP Punjab on dilution of labour law

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour has sought information from a slew of states which have diluted all major provisions of the labour laws. Recently, many states have passed ordinances in order to woo new businesses in their states in the aftermath of the pan-India lockdown to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Senior Biju Janata Dal MP and Chairman of the Committee, Bhartruhari Mahtab, confirmed the news to IANS. However, he declined that any report has been sought from the respective states.

While BJP ruled Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Goa and Gujarat have been asked to share 'information' on what provisions have been diluted and why, Congress ruled Rajasthan and Punjab too have received similar demands from the Parliamentary panel.

What's interesting is that he hasn't spared Odisha either, where his own party Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is in power.

Mahtab told IANS that the reason for demanding the information from concerned states is to understand the correlation between booming of industry and dilution of labour rights.

However, it came as a surprise to many as Mahtab had batted for the industry a few weeks ago, saying that industries cannot be forced to pay during the lockdown.

Mahtab, in one of his reports, had recommended that "in case of natural calamities, payment of wages to the workers until the re-establishment of the industry may be unjustifiable".
source:ians

Thu, 14 May 2020 05:37:13 +0530
Number of positive cases in TN high due to more testing

The higher rate of corona testing has resulted in an increased number of Covid-19 positive cases being recorded in Tamil Nadu and its capital city Chennai, said officials.

As of Tuesday, a total of over 2.66 lakh samples have been taken and sent for testing, said the state Health Department.

For the past several days, Tamil Nadu has been testing over 11,000 persons per day.

Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar had said Tamil Nadu tests the highest number of persons per day in the country.

However, the question how the virus has spread to a large extent despite the lockdown, quarantining infected suspects, and hospitalisation of Covid-19 patients pops up.

"It is not possible to prevent the spread of a contagious virus. What is possible is to delay its rapid spread. If that is done diligently, hitting the peak could be further delayed or the peak may not be achieved," K. Kolanda Swamy, who recently retired as Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, told IANS.

On Tuesday, as many as 716 persons tested positive for coronavirus in Tamil Nadu and the previous day it was 798 persons.

A total of 8,718 persons have tested positive in Tamil Nadu as on Tuesday and the total number of Covid-19 related deaths in the state was 61.

Officials said the death rate is lower and the general population has been advised to take immunity enhancing healthy food and drinks like Kabasura Kudineer.

Out of the state total of 8,718, Chennai as on Tuesday accounted for 4,882 cases. The total number of active cases in Chennai was 4,093 after factoring the number of people cured and those who are dead.

All the 12 zones of Greater Chennai Corporation have coronavirus infected persons.

Officials said the virus has spread and it is showing up in the number of coronavirus positive cases.

Health Department officials and even Chief Minister K. Palaniswamy had said the higher density of population in Chennai is the major reason for spread of virus in the city.

Officials also said there are other risk factors like floating population, coronavirus clusters and people's negligence in taking precautions.

J. Radhakrishnan, Principal Secretary/Commissioner, Revenue Administration, Disaster Management and Mitigation, and Special Nodal Officer for Greater Chennai Corporation for Covid-19 matters said for some more days the infection rate here will be high but it is not a cause for concern.

According to the Health Department, the spike in number of Covid-19 cases outside Chennai is attributed to 'Koyambedu Cluster' - those who had business/worked in/visited the vegetable market or their contacts.

Several districts like Ariyalur (active cases 334), Chengalpattu (320), Cuddalore (367), Kancheepuram (129), Perambalur (124). Tiruvallur (398) and Villupuram (244) are linked to Koyambedu.

To a query when the infection would touch its peak, Swamy pointed out two possibilities - the peak may be attained in July or if precautionary measures against the virus spread are taken then there may not be a peak but it would continue at the same level in Tamil Nadu and also in Chennai.

According to him, contagious diseases like this can come under control if a sizable population gets infected. That sizeable population should be young and healthy without comorbidities.

Health Department officials insist that washing hands regularly, wearing masks and confining old people to home are the only ways to delay spread and peaking of the infection.

They said creating necessary bed facilities is not a major issue.

Swamy said instead of going into definitions of first stage, second stage and community spread, what should be realised is that there is risk of virus infection for all.

"Steps should be taken by all sectors - government and private- in creating the necessary infrastructure for people to wash their hands with soap at public and other places.

"The isolation and quarantining are strategies for delaying the spread of virus. Tamil Nadu has a major achievement in delaying the spread," he said.

Swamy also said people's habits of popping up a pill and attending office/college/school should change. They should test themselves if they suffer from fever and be at home.

Another suggestion is to designate some number of hospitals, health centres to treat only fevers which in turn would prevent cross contamination.
source:ians

Wed, 13 May 2020 11:27:51 +0530
Azhar to lead Pak in Tests Babar named captain for ODIs T20Is

Azhar Ali has been retained as Pakistan Test skipper while Babar Azam has been appointed to lead the national team in both ODIs and T20 internationals in the 2020-21 season.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) made the announcement while disclosing the list of centrally contracted players on Wednesday.

Babar replaces wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed at the helm which was expected after the latter was axed from the team across formats following his poor form with the bat.

Azhar so far has witnessed a mixed bag of results in his short captaincy career, which includes a 0-2 loss in Australia, followed by a 1-0 win over Sri Lanka at home and a comprehensive victory over Sri Lanka in the first Test at Rawalpindi before the series was called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I want to congratulate Azhar Ali and Babar Azam for getting captaincy extensions. This is absolutely the right decision as they also require certainty and clarity on their future roles," chief selector and Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said as per a PCB media release.

"I am sure they will now start looking to the future and start planning so that they can build sides that can perform at the expected levels," he added.

Pakistan are scheduled to play two T20Is in Ireland in July and after that they are slated to travel to England to play three Tests and as many T20Is.

However, a decision on the England tour will be made by mid-June amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, PCB chief executive Wasim Khan has said.

The officials of both the PCB and England and Wales Cricket Board will be having an online meeting on Friday.

source:ians

Wed, 13 May 2020 11:25:45 +0530
Twitter India launches gratitude emoji

Micro-blogging platform Twitter India on Wednesday launched a new gratitude emoji that can be triggered with '#thankful', #gratitude' and other variations of the words.

Since March 15, there have been over 250 million tweets worldwide expressing gratitude and thanks - a 26 per cent increase from February's average.

"Who do we see people expressing that gratitude for? The most common word is ‘everyone'. Everyone who is an essential worker. Everyone who has helped. Everyone in healthcare. Everyone who has reached out. Everyone," the company tweeted.

"To give you another way to show your gratitude, we've created an emoji that will appear when you use #thankful or other hashtags for #gratitude (in various languages)," it added.

Earlier in April, on WorldHealthDay, Twitter had also sent out a token of appreciation for healthcare workers by tweeting with ‘clap'.

The platform recently onboarded the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (@MoHFW_INDIA) to Twitter Seva to help Indians with a speedy resolution to their health-related queries.

source:ians

Wed, 13 May 2020 11:23:22 +0530
1 162 new COVID 19 cases takes tally to 17 822 in Bangladesh

The number of novel coronavirus cases in Bangladesh soared to 17,822 after 1,162 people, in the steepest single-day jump, tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, according to government data on Wednesday.

Another 214 patients were discharged from hospitals in the same period, bringing the tally of recoveries to 3,361, DGHS Additional Director General Nasima Sultana said in a media briefing.

Globally, over 4.26 million people have been infected by the novel coronavirus and 291,981 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019, Bdnews 24 reported.
source:ians

Wed, 13 May 2020 11:19:41 +0530
New study to explore long term mental health effects of COVID 19

A global team led University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney aims to track the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on the mental health of thousands of people - from the womb to old age.

The team will explore for the first time what they describe as this pandemic's toxic combination of two extreme psychological stressors: existential threat and social isolation.

They are hoping to recruit around 3,000 people from Australia, the UK and US to evaluate their mood before and after the onset of the pandemic, and to track their cognitive function and social networks over the coming months.

It has a special focus on two subgroups thought to be especially vulnerable to the shock of enforced isolation: adolescents and pregnant women.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has changed people's lives so drastically that it is difficult to know how protracted the effects may be," said study's chief investigator Dr Susanne Schweizer from UNSW's School of Psychology.

"We're particularly interested in younger people because they are at a time of social reorientation away from the family towards their peers which is all of a sudden being disrupted by social distancing," Schweizer added.

The research team are concerned that the longer-term effects of social isolation in this group may come at a cost to their cognitive development due to schools being closed as they are in the US and the UK, or drastically changed as in the case of Australia.

According to the researchers, initially, participants will be asked to complete an hour-long survey online in a laptop or smartphone browser to assess mood before and after the pandemic.

They will be asked to evaluate their connections to people in their social network and will also be invited to complete tasks that assess working memory – the ability to store information in memory for short amounts of time.

After three months – and then again after six – participants will again be asked to fill in a shorter survey to track progress in mood, cognitive function and social network.

"We hope that by the end of the study, we will have reliable and accurate data so that we can qualify the longer-term effects of this pandemic," Schweizer said.

"By working together with other research teams at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge in the UK and Oregon and Pittsburgh in the US, we are able to ask these questions across different populations," Schweizer added.

"By investigating the impact of the pandemic on mental health and what happens when the protection of a social support network suddenly disappears, we will be much better positioned to respond to the future health care needs of our national and global populations," she noted.
source:ians

Wed, 13 May 2020 11:17:35 +0530
Manisha Koirala Pandemic has changed my sleep pattern

Manisha Koirala tweeted on Wednesday that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed her sleep pattern, and that she finds herself wide awake even after midnight.

"This pandemic has changed my sleep pattern.. even after midnight I m wide awake.. almost like a child who is unwilling to go to sleep," tweeted the actress.

Reacting to her tweet, netizens offered her a few suggestions.

One user requested her to explain the same to his mom because he gets scolded for getting up late every day. Manisha responded saying that she also gets scolded by her mom for waking up late!

Another user enquired whether the actress is on keto diet, which maybe a reason behind the sleeplessness, to which she replied with a "no".

Several users agreed with the actress that their sleep has also "gone for a toss" amid the lockdown.

Another user suggested the actress how she can get a good night's sleep. "Lack of sleep can cause you irritable as well as drag down your immune system too. Sleep is critical to health. So, I must say stay active in this crisis."

"Need to read a book so Ur eyes get tired and want to sleep," recommended another user.
source:ians

Wed, 13 May 2020 11:15:59 +0530
Lockdown4 0 PM to hold meeting to discuss modalities

A day after announcing the mega Rs 20 lakh crore economic package, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday is busy with another important assignment. Modi will be holding a meeting of a high-powered group of secretaries on COVID-19 to discuss modalities ahead of Lockdown4.0 which will begin on May 18.
In his address to the nation on Tuesday, PM Modi said that for Lockdown4.0 entirely new norms would be set up.

He said that before May 18, the norms would be made public. Sources said that the government is focussing primarily on restarting the industries especially the small and medium enterprises.

The empowered committee would soon redefine a new set of rules for the fourth phase of the nationwide lockdown. Inputs from various Chief Ministers would also be considered before releasing the new norms.

The Modi government has set up 11 empowered groups for ensuring a comprehensive and integrated response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These groups have been set up under Disaster Management Act.

According to officials in the know, each group has a senior representative from the PMO and the Cabinet Secretariat to ensure seamless coordination. The groups have been empowered to formulate plans and to take all steps for their time-bound implementation.
source:ians

Wed, 13 May 2020 11:14:09 +0530
Yediyurappa hails Rs 20L cr package to make India self reliant

Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Rs 20 lakh crore package to boost the Covid-hit economy, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, here on Wednesday, said it would transform India into a self-reliant nation.

"Thank you PM@narendramodiji for this historic economic package of Rs 20L crore package. This is destined to make India a leader in the 21st century," the Chief Minister tweeted.

The package, about 10 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), aims to transform the virus-hit economy by reforming land and labour laws and making entrepreneurs, industry, farmers and migrant workers stakeholders in making the country self-reliant.

"The #Atma Nirbhar Bharart Abhiyan will transform India into a strong, vibrant and self-reliant nation," said Yediyurappa in another tweet.

Karnataka Health Minister B.R. Sriramulu said the package would revive the industrial sector and benefit the poor, middle/working class and farmers, devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. "A heartfelt thank you on behalf of people," tweeted Sriramulu.

Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar, also in-charge of the fight against Covid-19, tweeted, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Thank you PM@narendramodi for announcing the package to reboot the economy."

Tejasvi Surya, BJP Lok Sabha member from Bangalore South, said the package would have institutional reforms, technology-driven governance. "The revolutionary package will facilitate global supply chain domination, local to global MSME's strengthening, wealth creation and poverty to prosperity crisis as an opportunity," Surya tweeted.

"Self reliance mantra. Let's build a #NewIndia! #atmanirbharbharat," said Surya in anther tweet.

The Congress, however, slammed the package, saying, "they (BJP) are happy announcing the special grant, but not in implementing it."

"They (BJP leaders) are happy Modi announcing the special grant, which includes measures the Union Finance Ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had taken in March after the pandemic outbreak and spread," it said.

"The Rs 1,610 crore special package Yeddiurappa announced on May 6 to provide succour to Covide-hit people, including farmers, growers, auto-rickshaw drivers, barbers and washermen is yet to reach them," tweeted Karnataka Congress chief D.K. Shivakumar.

Mocking at the ruling BJP's promises and assurances, Shivakumar said the state government was yet to transfer the relief into the bank accounts of beneficiaries.
source:ians

Wed, 13 May 2020 11:12:17 +0530
We must use modern technology for online education Prof Kuhad

Amid the coronavirus crisis that has affected academic studies across all universities, an expert committee of the UGC has come out with solutions to various issues such as how to conduct exams in universities, how to facilitate higher learning and how to begin the new academic sessions. Prof R.C. Kuhad is Vice-Chancellor of Central University of Haryana and heads the expert committee.

Prof Kuhad speaks to IANS in an exclusive interview.

Q What will be the immediate and long-term impact of the corona pandemic on academic studies of students in various universities?

A It is known that face-to-face teaching in universities has been suspended due to the pandemic. Despite this, studies have been continuing with the help of technology. The question of continuing teaching and learning came before the committee, which I headed, and we were of the opinion that technology can help us in the academic activities. That is why the committee in its recommendations emphasized that 25 per cent of the studies should be online we should take technology's help in conducting viva-voce tests, in practical demonstrations and other such assignments. Putting technology to good use is not as difficult as many people think.

Q: Which form of education is better -- online or traditional system?

A I think at present it would be too early to conclude as to which system is better because we are used to the traditional system. But the present situation requires online education.

Q. The responsibility for the future of lakhs of students rests on you. In what way are you helping the students in this difficult phase?

A. When this was brought before the UGC committee, it was felt that education institutes will have to move forward in that direction. Being the Chancellor of Central University, I have implemented the Learning Management System with the help of INFLIBNET. With this system, we are helping the students with study material as well as giving them an opportunity to interact with teachers. We are making around 6,000 books available in the library and around 94 teachers are busy preparing video-lectures. I am regularly in touch with the teachers and students.

Q. As the head of the committee, what were the key challenges you faced?

A. The first challenge was: how long will the corona-inspired lockdown continue, then how can we facilitate entry of students into classes and their stay inside the university compounds and also their entry to exam centres while ensuring social distancing? So, we made a plan as per the requirement of the time so that exams are conducted quickly, the results are announced and new sessions are not disrupted for long. Such a system had to be acceptable to all stakeholders at the national level.

Q What have been the recommendations to promote online education?

A We have recommended that from the next session, at least 25 per cent component of syllabus should be taken up through online system. All education institutes should set up adequate ICT structure, arrange training for teachers and prepare e-learning material so that online education could be made meaningful. Besides, the institutes where the ICT structure already exists, they are free to conduct online exams.

Q Do you think India is ready for online education? Is India capable technology-wise?

A. Yes, of course, India is ready for online education. As far as technological development is concerned, here too, India is capable and is continuously working towards strengthening those capabilities. We can further improve our resources by evaluating the present situation. Education institutes with cooperation from within and other private groups can further help in making successful the mission of online education.

Q. What are the challenges in the facilitation of online education?

A We need to substantially improve the ICT infrastructure so as to be able to ensure good internet connectivity in remote and hilly, rural areas of the country. Besides, we should also improve the basic infrastructure so that in future, the management of universities and exam-related systems are completely online

Q Do you think the education system needs substantial change?

A See, we move ahead in bringing about a meaningful change by a well-thought out strategy. Therefore, change in education system is a continuous process because education has to be capable of facing present challenges and tackling international competition. I would like to share some of the questions persisting in my mind; for example, how to expand online education in a phased manner, which exams should be offline or line, and whether we can conduct online practical tests and from which standard should we begin online in schools? There are various provisions in the draft of our education policy that can help us in becoming 'vishva guru'.

Q Education institutes are shut because of coronavirus pandemic. From education point of view, how difficult are the circumstances?

A We have started a helpline offering psychological counselling for students. I am sure we will not only be able to help the students in overcoming this crisis, but also pave the way for their bright future. By doing this, we will be successful in absorbing and giving shape to the Union HRD Ministry's initiative 'Bharat Padhe Online'.
source:ians

Wed, 13 May 2020 11:07:44 +0530
Digital payments fraud concerns up in India amid COVID 19

New Delhi,  Almost half of Indian consumers are more concerned about digital payments fraud now than when COVID-19 first emerged, said a survey on Wednesday.

Nearly one third have been recent victims of card or digital payments fraud or know someone among their immediate family or friends who has, said the study conducted by YouGov and US-based electronic payments company ACI Worldwide.

Vulnerability to fraud remains the biggest consumer concern when it comes to digital transactions (54 per cent), followed by risk of failed transactions (42 per cent).

Insufficient internet connectivity and concerns about data privacy were also cited as significant concerns, by 38 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively.

When asked about digital payment fraud risks, fake apps and websites are the biggest, according to 52 per cent of respondents, followed by compromised password/credential information (43 per cent) and spyware/malware (39 per cent).

Card cloning is the most common concern when it comes to debit or credit card fraud, with 1 in 3 seeing this as the biggest risk.

Approximately 1 in 5 cited stolen/lost cards or eCommerce/mobile channel fraud as their top card fraud threat.

When using digital payment methods, 28 percent of respondents are also now exercising greater caution.

If impacted by fraud, about 60 per cent of respondents would first call their bank to block their account, indicating that -- during this time of heightened awareness -- consumers consider their bank the first line of defence.

"The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic provides another opportunity for fraudsters to dupe unsuspecting consumers," Kaushik Roy, Vice President & Country Leader - South Asia, ACI Worldwide, said in a statement.

"However, it is encouraging that consumers are showing heightened awareness of digital payments fraud and a willingness to adapt behaviours," he added.

The online survey carried out between April 21-27 involved over 1,000 adults.
(IANS)

Wed, 13 May 2020 10:37:32 +0530
Nepal s COVID 19 cases cross 200 mark with largest single day spike

Kathmandu,  COVID-19 cases in Nepal crossed 200 mark after the Ministry of Health and Population has reported 83 new cases, in the largest single day spike in cases.

The Himalayan country reported 57 cases in the afternoon and additional 26 cases at night on Tuesday, increasing the total count of the COVID-19 to 217, Xinhua news agency reported.

With the rising number of cases in recent days, the COVID-19 cases in Nepal more than doubled in less than a week, according to the statistics of the Ministry of Health and Population.

Last Thursday, the COVID-19 cases in Nepal had reached 101, crossing the mark of 100.

According to the ministry, among the new cases, 57 persons reside in southern Parsa district, nine live in south-western Rupandehi district and eight in the neighbouring Kapilvastu district.

"Most of persons who are newly infected with novel coronavirus are those who were in quarantine after visiting India. Some are infected due to frequent movement within the country," Sameer Kumar Adhikari, joint spokesperson at the Ministry of Health and Population told Xinhua on Wednesday morning.

"Contact tracing of those who had contact with the newly infected people has begun."

According to the ministry, a health worker stationed at Taulihawa hospital in Kapilvastu has contracted with the novel coronavirus, which is the first case of a health worker being infected.

As the number of cases is rising sharply in recent days, Nepal's Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday announced more stringent measures to discourage movement of people from one district to another by making it harder for people to get vehicle passes.

The Himalayan country has been enforcing a nationwide lockdown since March 24, suspending ground and air travels, closing borders for cross border movement of people, sitting down most businesses and industries, except essential ones.
(IANS)

Wed, 13 May 2020 09:41:21 +0530
Pankaj Tripathi Social media has its pros too

Mumbai, May 13 (IANS) Actor Pankaj Tripathi, who remained elusive on social media for the longest time, says during the lockdown he realised the medium has its pros, too.

"It's difficult to not get taken in by the hustle-bustle of social media. But during the lockdown, I realised it has its pros too. I was always wary that being too active on social media will occupy too much of my mind space and I will start focusing on things that don't add value to my craft as an actor," Pankaj said.

The actor, who has kickstarted a Facebook Live series where he narrates slice-of-life stories based on his experiences, says he has discovered the wonders of social media.

"After I started my series, I discovered the many wonders of social media. It's a library brimming with cinephiles just like myself. Interacting with them has been such pure joy because this is a one-on-one discussion about stories, movies and art," he said.

Pankaj has always believed that learning is boundless.

"Through technology I have realised how small the world is. I have discovered a brand new audience through my live sessions who are just like me, eager to learn. I have now come to realise, it's not at all bad. Talking to people from all walks of life has reiterated to me that art unites all. It makes me want to strive harder, explore my range to say different stories, which leave an impression on people," he added.

On the acting front, he will next be seen in Kabir Khan's "83".
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="hi" dir="ltr">गुरु<a href="https://twitter.com/irrfank?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@irrfank</a> का हाथ जब शिष्य के कंधे पर हो तो चेले के नयन में भाव देख सकते हैं। ये प्रेम है जिससे बढ़ के कुछ भी नही संसार में। <a href="https://t.co/3rx4ktCNAE">pic.twitter.com/3rx4ktCNAE</a></p>&mdash; पंकज त्रिपाठी (@TripathiiPankaj) <a href="https://twitter.com/TripathiiPankaj/status/1232623806163890176?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 26, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

 

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font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:550; line-height:18px;"> View this post on Instagram</div></div><div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"><div> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"></div> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"></div></div><div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"></div> <div style=" width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg)"></div></div><div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style=" width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"></div> <div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"></div> <div style=" width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"></div></div></div></a> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B_juMF8pyPb/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_blank">कभी कभी भावनाओं को बता पाना सम्भव नही होता , वही हो रहा है इरफ़ान दा।Wed, 13 May 2020 09:07:13 +0530Huawei FreeBuds 3 launched for Rs 12 990 in India

New Delhi,  Chinese tech giant Huawei on Wednesday launched its true wireless stereo Freebuds 3 for Rs 12,990 in India.

The earbuds will be available on Amazon starting May 20. Customers will get HUAWEI CP61 wireless charger with earbuds and can avail no-cost EMI option, starting from Rs 18 a day.

FreeBuds 3 is the first open-fit TWS earbuds that both support call noise reduction and accurate real-time active noise cancellation.

"We are glad to bring to India the world's only open fit active-noise cancellation earbuds. The idea is to make noise cancellation devices more portable. We are certain that this device will be a game-changer in the audio device industry in India," the company said in a statement.

Based on the simulation of the ear canal, the output frequency and intensity of the noise reduction signal are adjusted for different ear canal shapes, thus achieving active noise reduction effect, with open-fit wearing.

By double-tapping the left earbud to turn on/off ANC function, a user can get crystal clear music even in the crowded metro or a noisy restaurant.

The Huawei FreeBuds 3 are powered by Kirin A1 chipset. The FreeBuds 3 case is equipped with wireless charging capabilities and can be charged by both wireless chargers and reverse wireless charged by smartphones.

The earbuds aim to provide four hours of playback on a single charge and can deliver up to 20 hours of playback with the help of the charging case, said the company.
(IANS)

Wed, 13 May 2020 08:54:55 +0530
Private bus transport to begin in Goa soon Minister

Panaji,  Private buses will soon start operating in Goa, a corona-free 'green' zone, Transport Mauvin Godinho said on Wednesday, even as videos of overcrowded state transport corporation buses have gone viral over the last few days.

Speaking to reporters outside the State Secretariat, Godinho also said that his ministry was in talks with private bus operators, urging them to restart operations.

"The number of buses will increase. Private buses will also be allowed. Private bus operators are not ready yet, but we will initiate talks with them soon," Godinho told reporters. Citing health hazards private bus operators have stayed off the roads in Goa, ever since the first lockdown in March.

Government offices have already started functioning to half capacity in the state, even as standalone stores selling essential and non-essential goods have opened in Goa, which was declared a green zone two weeks back with no active Covid-19 case reported.

Most manufacturing and industrial units, as well as the pharmaceutical sector, is also functioning, albeit not to 100 per cent capacity, due to inter-state travel restrictions and the flight of migrant labour out of the state.

Asked to comment on the regular overcrowding of the state government-run Kadamba Transport Corporation buses, which are plying on the state's roads, Godinho said: "For quite some time now, everything was at a standstill. Now we are streamlining. It will take a little time".

"Whatever government regulates, it is for the people also. If people themselves do not want to follow, then what can one do. We are telling them don't pack (yourselves) like sardines, still, they want to rush. They want to go by that bus only. What can we do?".
(IANS)

Wed, 13 May 2020 08:42:36 +0530
Restrictions on all cargo flights at Beijing airports lifted

Beijing,  China's civil aviation regulator has lifted restrictions on the operation of all-cargo flights at Beijing Capital International Airport and Beijing Daxing International Airport.

All airlines can now operate all-cargo flights at both airports, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) told Xinhua on Wednesday.

Previously, only China Postal Airlines was allowed to operate at both airports, while other airlines could choose only one of the two.

The CAAC cited the growing needs of cargo transportation and the handling capacity of the two airports as factors behind its decision to lift restrictions. Beijing Daxing International Airport opened to flights in September 2019.

Data shows that China maintains regular all-cargo flights to 102 overseas destinations in 49 countries. In April, the weekly average of regular all-cargo flights operated by Chinese and foreign airlines stood at 1,574.
(IANS)

Wed, 13 May 2020 08:32:10 +0530
Significant advantages for Aramco to conclude investment in O2C biz of RIL Report

New Delhi,  Even though coronavirus pandemic has expanded the unattractiveness of the oil sector for investments, a report has suggested that this may be the most opportune time for the worlds largest oil producer Aramco to conclude its investment in the oil-to-chemical business of India's largest private sector company Reliance Industries (RIL).

RIL had last August announced plan to sell 20 per cent stake in its refining and petrochemicals business for $15 billion to the Saudi Aramco, as part of his plan to deleverage RIL's balance sheet.

In its report on the deal, HSBC equities research has said that it sees enough reasons for Aramco to acquire a stake in RIL as it will give the Saudi company not just a stake in one of the world's best refineries and largest integrated petrochemical complex but also access to one of the fastest-growing markets - a ready-made market for 500kbpd (thousand barrels per day) of its Arabian crude and offering a potentially bigger downstream role in future.

The report has come at a time when scepticism about the early conclusion of the deal had risen due to Covid-19 outbreak and lockdowns. But in a statement given as part of its earnings announcement recently, RIL has said that the due diligence by Saudi Aramco for the planned investment in O2C business is on track as both the parties are "committed and actively engaged".

The brokerage said that while the timing may be far from ideal, RIL might be a better fit for Aramco than Saudi O2C. Aramco (which we expect to generate free cash flows from operations of $ 69 billion for CY20e and $ 116 billion for CY21e, assuming an oil price of $ 25/bbl for 2Q CY20 and rising to $ 40/bbl for 4Q CY20 and to $ 50/bbl for CY21) expects to decide by 1H20 whether to complete its joint venture with SABIC for a home-grown oil-to-chemicals (OTC) project at a guided price of at least $ 20bn.

"However, Aramco has struggled in the past to profitably execute organic downstream projects in the chemicals space. In fact, with Rabigh, Sadara and Saudi Kayan, there is no history of a chemical plant in Saudi Arabia built at a cost of over $10 billion that has generated an economic return. We believe that if it comes down to capital discipline, it would be the Saudi OTC project that could be scrapped in favour of an investment in RIL," the HSBC report said.

It further said that the deal would provide substantial financial muscle for the RIL. Besides creating a benchmark valuation for RIL's OTC business of $75 billion, which we value at $65 billion, the deal would provide $15 billion in additional cash flow, shifting RIL into a strong net cash position from net debt, the brokerage said.

Once the money from the rest of its announced transactions flows into RIL, we believe that combined with its treasury shares, RIL will have $34 billion in assets that should allow it to expand in the competitive omnichannel retail space, the report added.
(IANS)

Wed, 13 May 2020 08:15:04 +0530
Gilead inks pact with 3 Indian drugmakers to produce sell Remdesivir

New Delhi, US drug-maker Gilead Sciences has signed non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements with three Indian pharmaceutical companies -- Mumbai-headquartered Cipla, Hyderabad-based Hetero Labs and Noida-based Jubilant Life Sciences -- who will manufacture and sell the anti-viral drug to treat severe COVID-19 patients.

Gilead's Remdesivir has received emergency use authorisation (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of hospitalised patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Two other drug manufacturers -- US-based Mylan which has a strong base in India and a Pakistan-based Ferozsons Laboratories -- have also signed licensing agreements with Gilead, which negotiated long-term voluntary licenses with several generic drugmakers in India and Pakistan to produce Remdesivir for developing countries.

Gilead would provide technology transfers to the five drug manufacturers to facilitate production.

Hetero which has been working with the ICMR for necessary approvals said Remdesivir would be manufactured at its formulation facility in Hyderabad.

As part of the agreement, Cipla will be permitted to manufacture the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) and finished product and market it in 127 countries, including India and South Africa under Cipla's own brand name.

"At Cipla, it is our continuous endeavour to ensure that no patient is denied access to life-saving treatments. Our partnership with Gilead represents this unwavering commitment and is a significant step towards saving millions of lives impacted by the pandemic," Umang Vohra, MD and Global CEO, Cipla Limited, said in a statement.

"As the world is faced with the COVID-19 crisis, it is imperative that we collaborate and fight this virus together. We are pleased to partner with Gilead for this cause and take this treatment to patients across countries after the required regulatory approvals," Vohra added.

Cipla will receive the manufacturing know-how from Gilead Sciences to manufacture the drug at a commercial scale.

The Health Ministry recently said that it is examining Remdesivir, which was used during the Ebola outbreak, as one protocol in the treatment for Covid-19 in the country.

In a statement, Jubilant whose subsidiary Jubilant Generics Ltd inked a pact with Gilead Sciences, said they are very happy to strengthen its partnership with the US giant to license redeliver, "which, based on initial data, shows promise to be a potential therapy for COVID-19, a pandemic creating unprecedented health and economic crisis globally".

"We will be monitoring the clinical trials and regulatory approvals very closely and would be ready to launch the drug shortly after the required regulatory approvals. We also plan to produce the drug's Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) in-house helping its cost-effectiveness and consistent availability," said Jubilant Life Sciences in a stock exchange filing on Tuesday.

Remdesivir is given to patients intravenous one time each day for up to 10 days depending on recommendations of healthcare providers, according to the FDA.

The drug may help decrease the amount of the coronavirus in bodies and help patients get better faster, said the agency.

Possible side effects of Remdesivir include infusion-related reactions and increases in levels of liver enzymes.

"These are not all the possible side effects of Remdesivir. Remdesivir is still being studied so it is possible that all of the risks are not known at this time," said the FDA.
(IANS) 

Wed, 13 May 2020 07:56:15 +0530
Markets open on a positive note

Mumbai,  The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) on Wednesday opened on a positive note.

The Sensex of the BSE opened at 31,841.87, touched a high of 32,845.58 and a low of 32,334.81.

The Sensex is trading at 32,379.49 up by 1,008.37 points or 3.21 per cent from its Tuesday's close at 31,371.12.

On the other hand, the broader 50-scrip Nifty at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened at 9,584.20 after closing at 9,196.55.

The Nifty is trading at 9,463.65 points.
(IANS)

Check Out Some Other Interesting News About Sensex In These days

Equity indices in green, Sensex up over 400 points

Markets to remain range-bound but volatile

Sensex up 800 points tracking gains in Asian markets

Wed, 13 May 2020 06:26:52 +0530
China s Hubei reports no increase in COVID 19 cases

Wuhan, No new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were reported in central China's Hubei Province on Tuesday, the provincial health commission said on Wednesday.

As of Tuesday, the province had 598 asymptomatic cases under medical observation, after six such cases were added and 14 released from quarantine Tuesday, Xinhua reported.

Six patients remained in hospital in the province, with one in severe and one in critical condition.

A total of 283,260 close contacts of COVID-19 patients in the province had been tracked by Tuesday, 932 of whom were still under medical observation.

By Tuesday, death toll from the virus in the province stood at 4,512, including 3,869 in Wuhan.

Hubei had so far reported 68,134 confirmed COVID-19 cases in total, including 50,339 in Wuhan.
(IANS) 

Wed, 13 May 2020 06:11:31 +0530
Facebook agrees to pay 52 million to traumatised content moderators

San Francisco,  Facebook has agreed to pay $52 million to third-party content moderators who developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues as they scanned scores of disturbing images of rape, murder and suicide to curb those on the platform.

According to a report in The Verge, in a preliminary settlement in San Mateo Superior Court, the social networking giant agreed to pay damages to 11,250 US-based moderators and provide more counseling to them.

Facebook hired several firms like Accenture, Cognizant, Genpact and ProUnlimited to help it moderate and remove harmful content in the aftermath of the 2016 US presidential election and Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

As per the compensation, each moderator will receive a minimum of $1,000 and will be eligible for additional compensation if they are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or related conditions.

Anyone who is diagnosed with a mental health condition is eligible for an additional $1,500, and people who are diagnosed with PTSD and depression may be eligible for up to $6,000.

"We are so pleased that Facebook worked with us to create an unprecedented programme to help people performing work that was unimaginable even a few years ago," Steve Williams, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement late Tuesday.

In 2018, Selena Scola who was a former content moderator at Facebook sued the company alleging that moderators who face mental trauma after reviewing distressing images on the platform are not being properly protected by the social networking giant.

Scola sued Facebook for allegedly 'ignoring its duty' to protect moderators who deal with mental trauma after seeing disturbing imagery and were "bombarded" with thousands of videos, images and livestreamed broadcasts of child sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide and murder.

Last year, several moderators told The Verge that they had been diagnosed with PTSD after working for Facebook.

Facebook had more than 30,000 employees working on safety and security -- about half of whom were content moderators.

Cognizant later announced that it would quit eave the content moderation business and shut down its sites earlier this year. The company also developed "the next generation of wellness practices" for affected content moderators.

"In addition to payment for treatment, moderators with a qualifying diagnosis will be eligible to submit evidence of other injuries they suffered for their time at Facebook and could receive up to $50,000 in damages," said the report.
(IANS)

Wed, 13 May 2020 05:58:43 +0530
With 3 525 new cases corona tally in India reaches 74 281

New Delhi,  With 3,525 new cases reported in the last 24 hours, the COVID-19 tally in India reached 74,281, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

Of the total cases, 47480 are active and 2,415 are fatalities so far while at least 24,385 people have recovered from the disease.

In Maharashtra, the Covid-19 cases climbed to 24,427 followed by Gujarat that has 8,903 cases and Tamil Nadu has reported 8,718 cases so far.

Maharashtra has also reported the highest number of deaths, 921, followed by Gujarat (537) and Madhya Pradesh (225).

At least 7,639 people in the national capital have been infected with the highly contagious coronavirus.

Other states which have reported more than 3,000 cases are Rajasthan (4,126), Madhya Pradesh (3,986) and Uttar Pradesh (3,664).

Other major states and Union Territories that have reported more than 1,000 cases are Andhra Pradesh (2,090), West Bengal (2,173), Punjab (1,914) and Telangana (1,326).

Among other major states and UTs that have reported a significant number of cases are, Bihar (831), Haryana (780), Jammu and Kashmir (934), Karnataka (925), Kerala (524), Odisha (437), Tripura (154) and Chandigarh (187).

States/UTs that have zero coronavirus cases are Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Mizoram and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. All individuals have been cured in these states/UTs and no casualty has been reported from here so far.
(IANS)

Wed, 13 May 2020 05:03:06 +0530
Huawei Y9s launched in India for Rs 19 990

New Delhi, Chinese smartphone maker Huawei on Tuesday launched mid-range 'Huawei Y9s' for Rs 19,990 in India.

The device will be available on Amazon from May 19 and customers can buy the device with a nine-month no-cost EMI and Rs 1,000 cashback.

The smartphone features 6.59-inch Ultra FullView Display with 91 per cent screen-to-body ratio delivers an ultra-wide horizon without a notch.

The device is powered by Kirin 710F octa-core chipset provides powerful on-the-go gaming and an enhanced live stream viewing experience.

The smartphone is available with 6GB of RAM with 128GB storage, expandable via SD card to 512GB, along with the UFS2.1 storage technology and Huawei's advanced Extendable Read-Only File System (EROFS) technology.

The phone houses a triple camera setup at the back consists of 48MP main camera, along with an 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera and a 2MP depth camera. The device also houses a 16MP front camera.

The smartphone is equipped with a 4000mAh battery, which aims to support continuous calling for 40 hours, music playback for 80 hours and video playback for 9 hours.
(IANS)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ya esta Disponible el Nuevo Huawei Y9 Prime #HuaweiY9Prime

A post shared by Huawei Y9 Prime (@huaweiy9prime) on Jul 12, 2019 at 8:04am PDT

Tue, 12 May 2020 08:40:30 +0530
Manmohan Singh discharged from AIIMS

New Delhi,  Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been discharged from Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Tuesday, a source said.

Singh was brought to the AIIMS on Sunday at 8.45 p.m.

According to the AIIMS sources, Singh was admitted for observation, investigation after he developed a febrile reaction to the new medication and complained of chest pain and breathlessness, sources said.

The senior Congress leader was under the supervision of doctor Nitish Nayak and was kept under observation at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

He was also tested for COVID-19 and fortunately he was shifted out of an intensive care unit (ICU) to a private ward, while his Covid-19 test result came negative on Monday.

In 2009, Singh underwent a successful coronary by-pass surgery at AIIMS, a complex beating-heart operation that took nearly 14 hours.
(IANS)

Tue, 12 May 2020 08:29:50 +0530
Kejriwal seeks suggestions for lockdown 4 0 relaxations

New Delhi, May 12 (IANS) Asserting that the ongoing lockdown cannot be lifted completely after May 17, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday sought suggestions from the city residents on lockdown relaxations after that date.

Kejriwal said though the lockdown, the third phase of which ends on May 17, cannot be lifted totally, there could be relaxations.

"This third (phase of the) lockdown is till May 17. On Monday, the Prime Minister asked all the Chief Ministers on what all we should do after that. He also asked each state what it demands were and what relaxations it needed. The Prime Minister gave us time till May 15 for giving the suggestions," Kejriwal said.

He said he is now asking people what they feel about the relaxations, where all is needed and what all things need to be restarted from May 17.

Kejriwal asked the people of Delhi to send him suggestions and ideas on what kind of lockdown relaxations should be provided in the national capital post May 17.

The Chief Minister said that the Delhi government will consider these suggestions and forward them to the Centre on Thursday.

"Should we start buses, metros, auto, taxis, schools or markets? We want suggestions on what all should start and what all should be kept under the lockdown. It is obvious that the social distancing should be maintained," he said.

Not just the public, he said, he will also solicit suggestions from experts and doctors.

People can send their suggestions on the lockdown relaxation by 5 pm on Wednesday in three ways -- dial 1031 and record their message; on WhatsApp at 8800007722; and email to delhicm.suggestions@gmail.com.

"Waiting for your suggestions. The Centre will decide on whether the lockdown should continue or not, or how much it will be there," Kejriwal said.

It is pertinent to mention here that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation at 8 pm on Tuesday.
 

Tue, 12 May 2020 08:22:02 +0530
Rahul lauds nurses says they are first line of defence against COVID 19 virus

New Delhi, Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi has lauded the nurses who are acting as the first line of defence against COVID-19.

In a tweet on International Nurses Day, Gandhi said, "Across India our nurses are working tirelessly, around the clock, to help save lives. They are our unsung heroes, our first line of defence against the Covid19 virus. On #InternationalNursesDay I thank & salute each & every one of them for their hard work & dedication".

International Nurses Day is being observed today with "Nursing the world to Health" as the theme by the WHO.

Acknowledging the hard work done by the healthcare warriors, BD India has launched a digital campaign "With You For You", a campaign dedicated to celebrating the heroism of nurses and doctors. Through this platform, experiences and untold stories of nurses and doctors in the form of videos and collage during the pandemic will be shared with the country and worldwide, thanking them for their selfless work.

Binu Sharma, President-Infusion Nurses Society, India speaking on the occasion said that healthcare staff are at risk and need to take precautions with the emergence of COVID 19.

Sharma said that thousands of patients in the country along with hundreds of healthcare staff are already at risk and, therefore, it is of utmost importance for medical professionals to adhere to precautionary measures to fight the ravages of this virus, while treating the patients.

Sharma added that compromise in following proper guidelines may lead to serious problems. Apart from a potential increase in the likelihood of exposure to infection leading to greater anxiety, it will cause a shortage of nurses and panic among the caregivers.

Listing out the regimen for nurses, Sharma said, "Hence, it becomes very essential for the nurses to not only follow safety protocols by using protective gears, masks, PPE but also ensure appropriate staffing, power breaks, focus on a balanced diet, continued training on dynamically changing protocols and engagement with mentors and coaches".

Sunil Rao, Group Medical Director, Sahyadri Hospitals, Pune said without nurses, managing this disease would have been very difficult. Since nurses risk their lives while treating the patients, they must follow various safety protocols and guidelines like IPC precautions, no reuse of single-use devices and implementation of latest technologies like auto-disable syringes.

Rao said that nurses should follow protocols on needleless IV connection devices and follow a safe injection, specimen collection and surface disinfection procedures to contain the spread of the virus.
(IANS) 

Tue, 12 May 2020 08:02:36 +0530
Air India flight with 331 returnees from UK lands in Hyderabad

Hyderabad,  An Air India flight with 331 passengers from Britain landed at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport here early Tuesday.

It later took off with another 87 passengers for Delhi, from where they will be airlifted to the US.

Air India flight AI 1839, a Boeing 773 aircraft, arrived via Delhi at the Hyderabad airport at 2.21 am, an airport spokesman said.

The same aircraft departed at 5.31 am with 87 US-bound passengers from Hyderabad to Delhi.

The flight from Britain was the fourth to land in Hyderabad under 'Vande Bharat Mission', the biggest-ever exercise to bring home Indians stranded in various countries due to Covid-19 lockdown.

After the completion of immigration and other formalities, the passengers were transported to designated locations in the city for mandatory 14-day quarantine as per the rules framed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Telangana government in coordination with the Ministry of External Affairs, various central agencies and the airport authorities made special arrangements to handle the arrivals as per the Standard Operating Protocol issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, airport sources said.

All passengers and aircraft crew were brought out from the aircraft in batches of 20-25. Each passenger was screened by the thermal cameras positioned at the aerobridge exit by airport health officials prior to completion of immigration formalities.

Every baggage was sanitized by a disinfection tunnel integrated to the baggage belt.

Glass shields were provided at each manned immigration counter to avoid any personal contact between the passengers and immigration officers.

The Hyderabad airport has so far handled four evacuation flights from the US, the UK, Kuwait and the UAE that evacuated over 750 Indian citizens stranded off-shore.

Air India flight from Abu Dhabi with 170 evacuees had landed on Monday night while the one from the US (San Francisco) via Mumbai arrived on Monday morning with 118 passengers.

The first flight with 163 evacuees from Kuwait had reached here on Saturday.

A total of seven evacuation flights are scheduled to land at Hyderabad Airport, bringing 2,350 stranded Indians from six countries.

The airport has also handled 12 international outgoing flights with around 1,000 foreigners who were sent to the UK, the UAE, the US, Kenya and Germany.
(IANS)

Tue, 12 May 2020 07:56:43 +0530
Economists warn of costly COVID 19 resurgence if US reopens hastily

Washington, As more US states have started to partially reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many economists have warned that moving too fast might risk the second wave of infections, which could have grave financial impacts.

"If we get a second wave, it will be a depression," Xinhua news agency quoted Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, as saying in a CNBC interview, defining the depression as 12 months or more of double-digit unemployment.

"We may not shut down again, but certainly it will scare people and spook people and weigh on the economy," Zandi said.

Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Patrick Harker warned that reopening the economy too quickly would not only bring a "health catastrophe" but also "reverse the economic recovery".

"In this less hopeful scenario, I project a similar growth path to the baseline for 2020, followed by a painful economic contraction of GDP (gross domestic product) in 2021 as shutdowns are reintroduced," he said at an event hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University in Indiana, recently told Xinhua on Monday that the second wave of infections would be "very damaging to the economy".

Data released on May 8 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that US employers cut a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April, erasing a decade of job gains since the global financial crisis and pushing the unemployment rate to a record 14.7 per cent.

While this marks the highest level of unemployment since the Great Depression in the 1930s, analysts said the figure does not capture the full scale of the COVID-19-induced job crisis, and the worst was yet to come.

Zandi said that jobs would start to come back by Memorial Day weekend in late May, as businesses gradually reopen.

If there would be no second wave, he said the job growth would continue in the summer and early fall.

"After that, I think we're going to be in quicksand because of the uncertainty around the virus and the impact that it's going to have on consumers and businesses," Zandi said.

The US currently accounts for the world's highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths at 1,347,388 and 80,397, respectively, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
(IANS) 

Tue, 12 May 2020 07:35:50 +0530
China s inflation eases but grew 3 3 in April

Beijing,  China's Consumer Price Index (CPI), the main inflation indicator, grew 3.3 per cent year-on-year in April against the 4.3 per cent growth it posted in the previous month, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Tuesday.

The figure is below analysts' forecasts, which had predicted an increase in inflation of around 3.7 per cent in April, reports Efe news.

This is the lowest data since September 2019 (inflation reached 5.4 per cent in January) and comes amid government control to contain the coronavirus pandemic and economic stimulus measures to revive the economy after the halt caused by the virus.

The agency's data showed that, as in previous months, the main driver behind the inter-annual increase in the CPI was rising food prices that increased 14.8 per cent as compared to 18.3 per cent in March.

The price of pork, one of the most sought-after products by Chinese consumers, continued to rise and increased by 96.9 per cent year-on-year last month (it rose 116.4 per cent year-on-year in March and 135 per cent in February) as its production has been affected by an outbreak of African swine fever that has decimated the pig population in the Asian country.

Prices of vegetables increased by 3.7 per cent while those of fresh fruit decreased by 10.5 per cent and of eggs fell by 2.7 per cent.

On the other hand, the NBS said that prices of non-food items increased by 0.4 per cent - they rose by 0.7 per cent in the previous month - while those of consumer goods increased by 4.7 per cent and of services by 0.9 per cent.

The cost of healthcare rose 2.2 per cent year-on-year in April while that of education, culture and entertainment increased by 2 per cent.

However, prices in the transport and communications sector fell by 4.9 per cent while prices of clothing and homes decreased by 0.4 per cent and 0.3 per cent, respectively.

The NBS also announced that the Production Price Index (PPI), which measures wholesale inflation, decreased by 3.1 per cent year-on-year in April after falling by 1.5 per cent in March and 0.4 per cent in February.
(IANS)

Tue, 12 May 2020 07:24:07 +0530
Kejriwal announces Rs 1 cr to kin of teacher who died of Covid

New Delhi,  The Delhi government on Tuesday announced that it will provide Rs 1 crore to the family of the contract teacher who was working with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and died due to Covid-19.

Kejriwal, while addressing the media, said she was helping in serving food to the poor.

"She was a contractual teacher and she served the food to the poor. She passed away on May 4. She got the infection while serving food. We are proud of our corona warriors. We will give Rs 1 crore to her family. This will be a help from us to the family even as this is no money which can equate the loss," Kejriwal said.

The contract teacher was working with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and died due to Covid-19, the MCD announced on Sunday.

The woman died on the night of May 4 in a hospital where she was admitted since May 2.
(IANS)

Tue, 12 May 2020 07:18:04 +0530
Woman migrant delivers baby under tree after 500 km on foot

Lalitpur (Uttar Pradesh), A woman migrant gave birth to a baby girl under a tree by the roadside in Uttar Pradesh's Lalitpur district after covering over 500 km journey on foot from Madhya Pradesh.

The woman, along with a dozen others, had been marching for days from Dhar in Madhya Pradesh and after covering a distance of 520 kilometres, she developed labour pains in Balabheat village on Monday.

She was eight and a half months pregnant when she set out on the journey.

Tantu, her husband, said that his wife Rajabeti was preparing food during the short break when she went into labour and later delivered a baby girl under the tree. She was assisted by her husband and some other women in the group.

He said that the group was walking on foot towards their village in Lalitpur from Pritampur area of Dhar district after the factory where they were working was closed because of the nationwide lockdown imposed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

When the head of Balabheat village came to know about the woman, he summoned a medical team from nearby primary health centre (PHC). The team provided immediate medical aid to the mother and the newborn and then took them to the hospital from where they were later discharged.

Chief Medical Officer of Lalitpur, Pratap Singh said: "The woman had delivered a healthy baby girl before our medical team reached the site. Later, both the mother and the newborn were given medical assistance on the spot and shifted to the Primary Health Centre. Both are safe and have been sent to their destination in an ambulance.
(IANS) 

Tue, 12 May 2020 06:52:26 +0530
Indian Railways earns Rs 16 crore on day 1 of booking

New Delhi, The Indian Railways, which started the booking for the 15 pairs of Special trains almost two months after suspending the passenger, mail and express train services, have earned Rs 16.15 crore from over 45,500 tickets booked on Monday, officials said.

The railways have started taking booking for the 15 pair of Special air-conditioned train on Monday at 6 p.m. online on its IRCTC website. A senior railway ministry official said that on Monday tickets valued at Rs 16.15 crore were sold with 45,533 PNR generated.

He said, for 45,533 PNRs a total of 82,317 passengers will be travelling in the first week from these Special AC trains. The railways have on Sunday announced to partially operate 15 pairs of Special trains from May 12.

The railways has asked the passengers to arrive at the railway station 90 minutes prior to the departure of the train. Thermal screening of passengers will be done before they will be allowed to enter the station premises. The official said that wearing masks has been made mandatory. Passengers have been encouraged to carry their own blankets, water and food for the travel.

The national transporter has set special norms for air-conditioning inside the coaches and temperatures will be kept slightly higher than the usual. The official said that the Special trains will run at full capacity, but railway zones have been instructed to ensure that there are separate entry and exit gates at stations to the extent feasible so that there is no face-to-face movement or contact of passengers.

For now, the Indian Railways have issued a timetable for trains to be run between May 12 and May 20. They will run as daily, weekly or bi-weekly trains.

These trains will run between New Delhi and all major cities across the country: Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad and Jammu Tawi.
(IANS) 

Tue, 12 May 2020 06:41:14 +0530
With 3 604 new cases India s Covid tally surges past 70K

New Delhi, The COVID-19 tally in India surged past 70 thousand cases, with 3,604 new cases reported in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

According to the morning update provided by the ministry, the total number of cases now stands at 70,756.

Of the total cases, 46,008 are active and 2,293 are fatalities so far while at least 22,454 people have recovered from the disease.

In Maharashtra, the Covid-19 cases climbed to 22,171, followed by Gujarat that has 8,194 cases and Tamil Nadu reporting 7,204 cases so far.

The state of Maharashtra has also reported the highest number of deaths, at least 868, which is followed by Gujarat (513) and Madhya Pradesh (221).

At least 7,233 people in the national capital have been infected with the highly contagious Coronavirus.

Other states which have reported more than 3,000 cases are Tamil Nadu (8,002), Rajasthan (3,988), Madhya Pradesh(3,785) and Uttar Pradesh (3,573).

Other major states and Union Territories that have reported more than 1,000 cases are Andhra Pradesh (2,018), West Bengal (2,063), Punjab (1,877) and Telangana (1,275).

Among other major states and UTs that have reported a significant number of cases are, Bihar (747), Haryana (730), Jammu and Kashmir (879), Karnataka (862), Kerala (519), Odisha (414), Tripura (152) and Chandigarh (174).

States/UTs that have zero coronavirus cases are Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Mizoram and Andaman and the Nicobar Islands. All individuals have been cured in these states/UTs and no casualty has been reported from here so far.
(IANS) 

Tue, 12 May 2020 05:25:16 +0530
Delhi govt to again pay Rs 5 000 to construction workers

New Delhi,  The Delhi government, here on Monday, announced another Rs 5,000 financial assistance for construction workers in the city to help them tide over the extended loc
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Delhi Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, headed by Labour Minister Gopal Rai.

"From Tuesday, the second instalment of Rs 5,000 will be credited to their bank accounts," Rai said and added, around 40,000 construction workers, registered with the board, received the assistance in March-April.

To help unregistered construction workers get registered, Rai said, "From May 15, online registration will be started. Verification will be done after May 25.

"We plan to call 50 people at a time through SMS for verification at the labour office to maintain social distancing norms."

The first financial assistance to construction workers had cost the Delhi government around Rs 20 crore.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had tweeted the government would make another payment of Rs 5,000 to construction workers.

On May 4, the Delhi government allowed construction. But the workers need to stay at the construction site.
(IANS)

Mon, 11 May 2020 12:07:55 +0530
Heavy traffic crashes IRCTC website booking to restart at 6 p m

New Delhi, Within minutes after the Indian Railways on Monday started taking bookings at 4 p.m. for the 15 pairs of the Special trains to be operational in the first phase of lockdown ease, the IRCTC website crashed due to heavy online traffic as passengers waiting for over a month and a half immediately started logging in.

Just when the IRCTC was supposed to start functioning after an unprecedented hold on train movement in the country due to the pandemic, users started facing difficulty in booking reservations or even logging in.

The Railway Ministry instantly issued a statement and said: "Data pertaining to special trains is being fed in the IRCTC website. Train ticket bookings will be available in a short while. Please wait. Inconvenience is regretted."

As users faced glitches many took to Twitter and slammed the railways.

Sumit Kashyap, who tried booking tickets but failed, tweeted, "Saw media reports last night that trains would start from 12th... But I tried booking tickets at IRCTC official App, they aren't allowing train booking.... How to book tickets then?"

Another Twitter user Raviteja YS, said: "Its been 15 Mins post 4 p.m. Not yet Opened Web itself. Waiting to Open #IRCTC. Irctc server might have crashed due to heavy web traffic."

On Sunday, the Indian Railways announced that 15 pairs of the Special Air Conditioned trains will depart from New Delhi to several parts of the country. It also said that the tickets for these trains can be bought from the IRCTC website and no tickets will be sold on any stations or ticket counters.

The railways have suspended the passenger, mail and express train services on March 25 amid the nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24.

Since then railways has been running the freight and special parcel trains to ensure the supply of essential items. The railways have started to run Shramik Special trains from May 1 onwards to transport the stranded migrant workers, students, pilgrims and tourists.
(IANS) 

Mon, 11 May 2020 11:59:18 +0530
Ireland captain Balbirnie not sure if T20 WC will take place

Dublin,  Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie has a strong "gut feeling" that this year's T20 World Cup in Australia will not take place due to the global COVID-19 crisis.

"I'd be worried the tournament wouldn't go ahead," Balbirnie told BBC Radio Ulster's Sportsound Extra Time.

"You have to look at it logistically -- there would be 16 teams flying into the country.

"The way this pandemic has panned out, a lot can happen in a couple of days, so we really don't know yet. It's tricky, but we're battling on."

He also said the lack of match practice will be an issue.

"It's going to be a unique situation," said the batsman.

"There won't have been any international cricket this summer at all, so there will be a lot of people going in undercooked.

"When we get back training, we will have to be really specific as to what we want to do."

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is still confident of hosting the T20 World Cup slated to be held in Australia in October-November.

Speaking to IANS, an ICC official kept it short and said that no meeting has taken place between the international body and Cricket Australia over the last week and contingency planning continues.
(IANS)

Mon, 11 May 2020 11:51:02 +0530
Airtel selects IBM Red Hat to build next gen telco Cloud network

New Delhi, In an effort to boost network performance for the upcoming 5G and edge computing era, Bharti Airtel on Monday said it has chosen global software giant IBM and Red Hat to build a new telco network Cloud.

Using IBM and Red Hat's portfolio of Hybrid Cloud and cognitive enterprise capabilities, Airtel aims to adopt an open cloud architecture that uses Red Hat OpenStack Platform for all network workloads and Red Hat OpenShift for newer containerized workloads, the company said in a statement.

Red Hat's industry-leading open source technology became part of IBM last year after completion of a $34 billion deal.

"As part of our endeavour to build a 5G ready network for India's requirements, we are pleased to collaborate with IBM and Red Hat in our cloud journey," said Randeep Sekhon, CTO, Bharti Airtel.

"The Hybrid Cloud architecture will resonate with our customer-obsession by providing improved flexibility, network stability and performance and bringing agility and automation in our network operations," Sekhon added.

In another bid to strengthen its 4G network and enhance 5G capabilities in India, Bharti Airtel last month inked a $1 billion (nearly Rs 7,636 crore), multi-year deal with Nokia to deploy the Finnish majors 5G-ready solutions across nine circles in the country.

Nokia will help lay the foundation for providing 5G connectivity in the future by deploying 300,000 radio units across several spectrum bands in those circles, expected to be completed by 2022.

With IBM-Red Hat technology, Airtel will be able to deliver a better customer experience by reducing latency and improve bandwidth availability and automation, thereby strengthening the overall quality of the network.

By embracing IBM and Red Hat's hybrid cloud technology all the way to the network edge, Airtel said it aims to achieve improvement in time-to-market of services, reduction in operating expenses and reduced capital expenses.

"Through its collaboration with IBM and Red Hat, Airtel will be building a modern, innovative and more responsive network infused with automation and AI, that will provide the consistency and agility needed for today's rapidly changing marketplace," said Steve Canepa, Global Managing Director, Communications Sector and Worldwide Head of Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment Industry, IBM.

The global software giant IBM last week announced several multi-cloud offerings that run on Red Hat OpenShift, a leading enterprise Kubernetes platform.

"Red Hat is providing innovative open source solutions to help Airtel improve flexibility and reduce development time, so they can stay competitive in the rapidly evolving telecommunications market," said Darrell Jordan-Smith, global vice president, vertical industries and accounts, Red Hat.
(IANS) 

Mon, 11 May 2020 11:43:50 +0530
Economic activities resume in Colombo

Colombo ,  Colombo resumed economic activities on Monday after Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced that public and private sector employees could re-start work after over a month since a curfew was declared on March 20 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Police said although a curfew would continue in Colombo and on the outskirt of Gampaha, the public could re-start work in order to get the economy back on track, reports Xinhua news agency.

Thousands of police and military personnel were deployed in Colombo and on the outskirts to ensure health guidelines were maintained while public transport such as trains and buses are available only to transport employees to work.

Police said employees had to produce some proof of employment to the law officers and to transport workers before boarding trains and buses.

Offices were also urged to maintain strict health guidelines and operate under limited staff while the others were told to remain indoors due to the curfew.

Supermarkets and grocery stores also re-opened to the public for them to purchase essential items while restaurants, cinemas and shopping malls would remain closed until further notice.

Banks also resumed normal operations, police said.

In several areas across Colombo, medical workers were seen checking body temperatures and urging employees to wash their hands before entering their workplaces.

Offices would operate under limited working hours with public sector employees urged to travel back home between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., while private sector employees will be allowed to travel back home between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to avoid traffic congestion on the roads, police said.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said that while the government and private sector institutions have begun functioning with a limited number of employees, the number of passengers on trains and buses will be limited.

However, schools and tuition classes will remain closed until further notice.

Mahinda Rajapaksa urged people to maintain social distancing rules when commencing work in this phased manner.

"We should all be aware that even though the spread of coronavirus has been brought under control, it has not been eradicated completely. Random sample testing among members of the public will continue to be carried out. The quarantine centres will be kept open," he added.

Sri Lanka has so far recorded over 850 COVID-19 cases, with nine deaths.
(IANS)

Mon, 11 May 2020 11:35:22 +0530
Smriti Irani says JCT is not the only company contributing in PPE manufacturing

New Delhi, Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani on Monday took exception to only one company, JCT being hyped by a section of the media for the manufacture of PPE kits and leading the corona effort.

Responding to tweets featuring JCT as a major player in the effort to make India self-reliant in PPE, Irani responded by saying the collective efforts have been "reduced to PR for one company is extremely unfortunate".

"As the usual half-hearted understanding of all the efforts undertaken by industry across the Nation. Efforts of GOI and industry reduced to PR for one company is extremely unfortunate," the Minister said.

The Textiles Minister also named JCT and said it is not the only company and it would be unfair to more than a hundred companies who are contributing.

JCT is not the only company. Would be unfair to 100 plus companies who have stepped up to the challenge," she added.
(IANS) 

Mon, 11 May 2020 11:26:37 +0530
Women held for various crimes in Delhi amid lockdown

New Delhi, Even as police is busy enforcing the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, Delhi continues to witness crimes in which women too have a fair share.



Many women arrested for criminal activities were working on the instructions of their male accomplices. Foreign nationals were among women held for various crimes.

In Delhi, South District Police arrested three Iranians, including one woman and two men, on a charge of robbing a person out to deliver cooking gas cylinder on May 8 afternoon. Police claimed that arrested woman had engaged the victim in a conversation, whereas her accomplices waylaid him and committed the crime.

According to DCP Southern District Atul Kumar Thakur: "A case was registered on the complaint of victim Satish Pathak at the Hauz Khas police station. The crime took place near Chirag Delhi metro station. The police arrested all three snatchers -- including a couple."

They had arrived in India on tourist visas. Police have recovered the robbed money and the car used in the crime.

On May 8, Delhi Police arrested another woman on a charge of selling drugs and other intoxicants online to minors belonging to rich families. The well-educated English- speaking woman was running the racket on a WhatsApp group, police said. She was arrested while out to deliver drugs to clients. Interestingly, her husband is a businessman. Police is now investigating her possible links with peddling gangs.

In another incident, a newly married couple was arrested by Central District police. While the man is a known criminal of Paharganj area, his wife is a tattoo artist.

Central District DCP Sanjay Bhatiya told IANS on Sunday that 31 cases have been lodged against Arjun aka Chhanga (25) and Vaishali Kaushal (30), including robbery, snatching, and theft.

In Chhawla police station area of Dwarka on April 24-25 night, a retired Municipal Corporation worker and his wife were fatally stabbed with a knife multiple times. The son and daughter-in-law of the deceased couple were held, though the woman later allegedly hanged herself in jail.

Similarly, a woman was arrested in Jahangirpuri on the charge of killing her husband with the help of her paramour, who was also arrested.

(IANS) 

Mon, 11 May 2020 09:20:26 +0530
UK PM to reveal more details on lockdown changes

London,  UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will reveal more details on his plans to reopen society, after unveiling the "first sketch" of his "road map" out of the coronavirus lockdown, a media report said on Monday.

On Monday, Johnson will answer questions from MPs and is also set to give a statement, with more information expected on the new COVID-19 Alert System, use of face masks, and the return of professional football, said the BBC report.

He will take the questions from the public in the evening.

This development comes hours after Johnson addressed the nation on Sunday night about the ongoing lockdown measures which were imposed in the country in the wake of the pandemic.

In his address, Johnson announced a "conditional plan" to reopen society, allowing people in England to spend more time outdoors from Wednesday.

He also said people who could not work from home, including those in the manufacturing and construction industries, should return to the workplace from Monday but avoid public transport.

Johnson said the government would "modify" lockdown measures over three "careful" steps through to July.

The COVID-19 Alert System with five levels will influence how quickly the lockdown could be changed. Level five is the most critical, and the UK is currently ready to move from level four to three.

The first step will allow people to take unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise, sit or sunbathe in parks and play sports with household members from Wednesday.

The changes in guidelines will also allow two people from different households to meet in a park if they stay two metres apart.

Johnson hoped by the second step - "at the earliest by June 1" - there could be a phased reopening of shops and some primary aged pupils could return to school, the BBC reported.

The third step could see some hospitality businesses and other public places reopen - "if the numbers support it" - but not earlier than July 1.

The Prime Minister stressed this was all "conditional" on a series of "big ifs" and he would not hesitate to "put on the brakes" if there are further outbreaks of the virus.

Johnson als said that he had consulted "across the political spectrum, across all four nations of the UK" and that his plan was a "a general consensus on what we could do".

But the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - which have their own powers over lockdown measures - have refused to adopt England's new message of "stay alert, control the virus, save lives", said the BBC report.

Also, union leaders and business groups have criticised the plans, and called for further clarity.

The National Education Union (NEU) said the idea that some schools could reopen from June 1 was "nothing short of reckless" as the infection rate is still "far too great".

As of Monday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the UK has increased to 220,449, with 31,930 deaths, the highest fatalities across Europe.
(IANS)

Mon, 11 May 2020 09:13:08 +0530
CORONAVIRUS CRISIS Confusion rumbles as migrant workers in Mumbai struggle to get home

On April 29, the Central government made an announcement that filled with hope. After 40 days of a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus that left millions of migrant workers stranded, jobless and hungry, the government would finally allow them to return home.Ever since Prime Minister Modi announced a nationwide lockdown on 25 March to contain the spread of coronavirus, lakhs of migrant labourers have been stranded across India. With no work, no money and depending on charity for food, a helpless workforce has been trying to find a way back to their villages through all possible means. They want to be with their families at this time of the crisis.

 

On 29 April, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order allowing the movement of stranded migrant labourers. Early in May, Indian Railways launched special "Shramik" trains to ferry them home. In order to secure passage, migrants in Maharashtra are required to collect a form from the local police station, fill it up with their details and destination.

The initial order also mandated that the workers get a health certificate stating they do not have influenza-like symptoms. But when that led to confusion, the state government said workers would instead be screened before the journey. Once they submitted their details, they were to await a call from the police station. However, migrant workers across the country have been running out of patience, and have little faith in the authorities.

Those crushed by the goods train in Aurangabad were no different.

The situation encapsulates the cruel dilemma that migrant labourers across India face today, as huge number of migrants have  started walking 1000 kms. with their small kids and families without money and food. 

In the first week of the lockdown, with no transport available, thousands of migrants took to the highways on foot, walking across states to get home.
 
It took five weeks and two lockdown extensions for the government to finally announce measures to send migrant workers home.

But the announcement has been followed by a slew of confusing orders, leading to more distress on the ground. 

Conversations with migrants revealed that there is also a wide communication gap between the government and the people, leading to confusion over the process of registration and the need for a medical clearances. 
No clear communication. 

 Migrants across India are facing a tough situation since the lockdown.The nationwide lockdown has brought with it countless stories of migrant labourers’ plight.

Mon, 11 May 2020 08:33:56 +0530
5G iPhone 12 Pro may feature 120Hz ProMotion display

San Francisco,  Apple iPhone 12 Pro, one of the premium upcoming models, may feature a 120Hz ProMotion Display, a 3x rear camera zoom, and improved Face ID.

Apple is expected to launch four new iPhones under the iPhone 12 series in September which would include two premium variants.

iPhone 12 Pro will come in 6.1-inch or 6.7-inch sizes and may feature a high refresh-rate 120Hz ProMotion display, as presently seen on iPad Pro.

The rear camera module on the device will house four sensors with a LiDAR scanner which was introduced in the recently launched Apple iPad Pro.

The telephoto lens may have an increased magnification, moving from 2x to 3x, providing a greater level of zoom and Face ID will be able to work with a wider field of view, according to a report in EverythingApplePro.

All four iPhone models are expected to feature OLED displays and 5G support, as famed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously claimed.
(IANS)

Mon, 11 May 2020 05:48:02 +0530
Sharad Kelkar People accepting me as an actor is biggest compliment

Sharad Kelkar is more than happy that the audience has accepted him as an actor and calls it the biggest compliment.

Sharad, who is an accomplished dubbing artist, has in the past lent his deep voice to Prabhas' starring role in the dubbed version of the "Baahubali" series, after ventured into acting in 2004 with the Doordarshan show, "Aakrosh".

He was later seen in shows like "Saat Phere: Saloni Ka Safar", "Bairi Piya" and "Kuch Toh Log Kahenge".

Sharad ventured into Bollywood in 2012 with the film "1920: Evil Returns", where he was seen playing the evil spirit. He then worked in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela".

He was then seen in films like "Mohenjo Daro", "Bhoomi", "Housefull 4" and "Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior".

Talking about being loved for portraying character with shades, Sharad told IANS: "It feels nice. I played a negative guy. I was the blue-eyed boy for every household for around four years. To change that image and become a grey-shade guy in films -- the acceptance was a question mark. Would people accept me as a negative guy? But they accepted me. I played some positive roles also, and there too was a fear and question marks arose. But people accepted me and praised me."

Sharad says the audience's love keeps him motivated: "I don't think as a grey shade guy or a positive guy. The most important thing which I am happy about is people accepting me as an actor. That is the biggest compliment for me. That is one hing that keeps me going."

On the acting front, Sharad will next be seen in the Akshay Kumar-starrer "Laxmmi Bomb" and the Ajay Devgn-starrer "Bhuj: The Pride Of India".

"Laxmmi Bomb" is a remake of the superhit Tamil horror comedy "Muni 2: Kanchana". It revolves around Raghava, a cowardly man who gets possessed by the ghost of a transgender woman, who takes revenge on the ones who destroyed her life.

"Bhuj: The Pride Of India" tells the tale of Indian Air Force pilot Vijay Karnik. The period drama looks back into the journey of 300 women of Madhapar village in Gujarat's Kutch district, who played a pivotal role in helping India win the 1971 Indo-Pak war. The women came together to rebuild and repair the only runway in Bhuj, which was crucial for the war.
source:ians

Mon, 11 May 2020 05:31:32 +0530
Manmohan Singh stable had developed reaction to medication Sources

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was admitted to Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) after he developed a reaction to new medication and is stable, sources said on Monday.

Singh was brought to the AIIMS on Sunday at 8.45 p.m. According to the AIIMS sources, Singh was admitted for observation, investigation after he developed a febrile reaction to the new medication.

"He is being investigated to rule out other causes of fever and is being provided care as needed. He is stable and under care of a team of doctors at AIIMS," the source said.

The senior Congress leader is under the supervision of doctor Nitish Nayak. Singh has been kept under observation at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

In 2009, Singh underwent a successful coronary bypass surgery at the AIIMS, a complex beating-heart operation that took nearly 14 hours.
source:ians

Mon, 11 May 2020 05:27:55 +0530
Sensex jumps 500 points trades over 32 000 mark

The key Indian equity indices opened on a positive note on Monday, with the BSE Sensex increasing over 500 points, to trade over the psychological 32,000-mark.

The surge in the domestic market was in line with the Asian indices. Market sentiments have been boosted on hopes of reopening of the global economies.

At 10.09 am, Sensex was trading at 32,155.16, higher by 512.46 points or 1.62 per cent from the previous close of 31,642.70.

It had opened at 32,030.34 and so far touched a high of 32,301.58 and low of 31,960.82 points.

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading at 9,400.65, higher by 149.15 points or 1.61 per cent from the previous close.
source:ians

Mon, 11 May 2020 05:22:47 +0530
India records over 4K Covid cases in a day tally touches 67 152

New Delhi, India saw the highest spike of 4,213 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours taking the total tally up to 67,152, the Union Health Ministry said on Monday. At least 97 new fatalities were also reported in a day.

Of the total cases, 44,029 are active and 2,206 are fatalities so far while at least 20,916 people have recovered from the disease.

In Maharashtra, the Covid-19 cases mounted to 22,171, followed by Gujarat that has 8,194 cases and Tamil Nadu reporting 7,204 cases so far.

The state of Maharashtra has also reported the highest number of deaths, at least 832, which is followed by Gujarat (493) and Madhya Pradesh (215).

At least 6,923 people in the national capital have been infected with the highly contagious Coronavirus.

States which have reported more than 3,000 cases are Rajasthan (3,814), Madhya Pradesh(3,614) and Uttar Pradesh (3,467).

Other major states and Union Territories that have reported more than 1,000 cases are Andhra Pradesh (19,80), West Bengal (1,939), Punjab (1,823) and Telangana (1,196).

Among other major states and UTs that have reported a significant number of cases are, Bihar (696), Haryana (703), Jammu and Kashmir (861), Karnataka (848), Kerala (512), Odisha (377), Tripura (150) and Chandigarh (169).

States/UTs that have zero coronavirus cases are Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Mizoram and Andaman and the Nicobar Islands. All individuals have been cured in these states/UTs and no casualty reported from here so far.
(IANS) 

Mon, 11 May 2020 05:03:34 +0530
UK wasn t ready for worst case pandemic scenario Leaked report

London,  The UK was not ready to deal with a worst-case pandemic scenario, according to a recently leaked secret Whitehall document produced years before the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The analysis, codenamed Exercise Cygnus, was based on a 2016 simulation of a flu pandemic involving all levels of national, regional and local government, police and other organisations, Xinhua news agency quoted the Evening Standard newspaper as saying on Sunday.

The 57-page Public Health England report, identified a "lack of joint tactical-level plans" for a public health emergency, with demand for services outstripping local capacity, said the newspaper.

It also identified concerns about the expectation the social care system would be able to provide the level of support needed in the event of a serious outbreak, said the Evening Standard.

"The UK's preparedness and response, in terms of its plans, policies and capability, is currently not sufficient to cope with the extreme demands of a severe pandemic that will have a nationwide impact across all sectors," the Cygnus document said.

The document, which analysed the efficacy of the simulation, identified four key lessons, including to be more prepared for a pandemic by better understanding how the public would react to a worst-case scenario health crisis, said the newspaper.

The report comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in the UK has increased to 220,449, with 31,930 deaths, currently the highest in Europe.
(IANS)

Mon, 11 May 2020 04:56:00 +0530
US Fed official says worst is yet to come on job front

Washington, A US Federal Reserve official said that the worst was yet to come on the employment front after a staggering 20.5 million jobs were slashed in April amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I mean the worst is yet to come on the job front, unfortunately. And that it really is going to be, you know, as these states start to reopen and as businesses start to reopen, obviously we need them to reopen safely," Xinhua news agency quoted Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, as saying on ABC News on Sunday

"We may be in an environment of gradual relaxing and then having to clamp back down again around the country as the virus continues to spread," he said.

"To solve the economy, we must solve the virus. Let's never lose sight of that fact."

"What I've learned in the last few months, unfortunately, this is more likely to be a slow, more gradual recovery," Kashkari said, throwing cold water on White House officials' optimistic expectation about a very strong second half of 2020 and a roaring 2021.

"When we look around the world, there's evidence that when countries relax their economic controls, the virus tends to flare back up again. And the longer this goes on, unfortunately, the more gradual the recovery is likely to be," he said.

The Fed official noted that a "robust economy" would require a breakthrough in vaccines, widespread testing and therapies to give people confidence that it is safe to go back.

"I don't know when we're going to have that confidence," he said.

Kashkari's remarks came after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News earlier on Sunday that the unemployment numbers were probably "going to get worse before they get better", acknowledging that the current jobless rate may have already hit 25 per cent.

The US economy is going to experience "a very, very bad second quarter", but the nation is focusing on reopening the economy, so a rebound is expected in the third quarter, Mnuchin was quoted as saying.

Data released on May 8 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that US employers cut a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April, erasing a decade of job gains since the global financial crisis and pushing the unemployment rate to a record 14.7 per cent.

The record unemployment figure, however, might not capture the full scale of the COVID-19-induced job crisis, due to the survey's timing and the traditional definition of unemployment, among other things.

About 7 million Americans filed for jobless claims since the BLS's household survey reference period, in this case, April 12 through April 18.

Millions more might have been laid off or left a job and are not looking for a new one amid the pandemic, and thus might not be defined as unemployed.
 

(IANS) 

Mon, 11 May 2020 04:47:21 +0530
PM lauds researchers highlights importance of tech in battling COVID 19 crisis

New Delhi, As the world continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asserted the importance of technology in the fight against the Coronavirus as Technology Day was observed.

"Today, technology is helping many in the efforts to make the world free from COVID-19. I salute all those at the forefront of research and innovation on ways to defeat Coronavirus. May we keep harnessing technology in order to create a healthier and better planet," he said in a tweet.

Technology Day is observed to mark the successful testing of nuclear missiles in 1998 under the leadership of Vajpayee and scientist and former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

It was after the successful completion of these tests that Vajpayee declared India as a nuclear state.

Modi recalling the Pokhran nuclear tests, tweeted: "On National Technology Day, our nation salutes all those who are leveraging technology to bring a positive difference in the lives of others. We remember the exceptional achievement of our scientists on this day in 1998. It was a landmark moment in India's history."

The Prime Minister also shared an old video from his Mann Ki Baat programme where once he had spoken about the Indian scientists and the tests. "Here is what I had said about Pokhran, India's scientists and Atalji's remarkable leadership during one of the Mann Ki Baat programmes."

Modi also asserted that the tests in Pokhran showed the "difference a strong political leadership can make."
 

(IANS) 

Mon, 11 May 2020 04:36:20 +0530
Air India s first evacuation flight to K taka lands in B luru

Bengaluru, National carrier Air India's first evacuation flight to Karnataka from London landed in this tech city, with 326 passengers who are citizens of the southern state," an official said on early Monday.

"The A-I 1803 Boeing-777-337 (ER) from London landed at the Kempegowda international airport at 4.41 a.m., with 326 passengers, including 3 infants," a state government official told IANS here.

The flight was over 101 minutes behind schedule, as it flew via New Delhi where it took off at 2.23 a.m.

All passengers were seen wearing the mask and maintaining physical distance while coming out of the aircraft through the aero-bridge and till exiting the airport after the thermal screening, testing and filling the self-declaration form about their travel history, health status and other details for contact tracing.

Nearly an hour after landing, the passengers were ferried in special buses to star hotels for the mandatory 14-day quarantine amid the lockdown enforced on March 25 and extended twice up to May 17 to contain the coronavirus spread in the country.

State Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar, a doctor by profession, was at the airport in the wee hours to receive the returnees and guide them in completing the formalities.

As part of the Indian government's evacuation programme Vande Bharat Missiona¿, three more repatriation A-I flights are due to land in Bengaluru from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, San Francisco in the US and Singapore on May 13-15 with over 600 state citizens.

Two A-I Express flights are slated to land at Mangaluru airport on the state's west coast on May 13-14, with about 350-400 returnees from Gulf region.
 

Mon, 11 May 2020 04:29:35 +0530
I just want the IPL to get started DC s Alex Carey

Australia wicket-keeper-batsman Alex Carey said that he can't wait to join Delhi Capitals for the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Carey was bought by DC for Rs 2.4 crore at the auction prior to the 13th edition of the glitzy T20 league.

"I was really delighted to have been picked up by the Delhi Capitals during the IPL Auction. I was over the moon, and I couldn't stop smiling for 24 hours when I heard the news", said Carey in an Instagram Live video chat on the franchise's official handle.

Carey revealed he had met the DC hierarchy earlier and he also expressed his excitement over the prospect of playing in Delhi.

"I was fortunate enough to have met some of the staff from the team including our owner Parth Jindal. All the people I've met are amazing, and it made me really excited coming over to Delhi, and playing some cricket," said the 28-year-old.

"At this moment, I just want the IPL to get started, and I can't wait for our team to build on last season's result. I believe we have an amazing group of players in all departments and we will play some brilliant cricket when we get the chance," Carey said.

IPL 2020 was originally slated to begin from March 29 but due to coronavirus pandemic, the start date was shifted to April 15. The tournament was subsequently postponed indefinitely by the BCCI as a precautionary measure against the spread of the virus.
source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 12:52:02 +0530
More Covid deaths than being reported by Delhi govt Manoj Tiwari

Delhi BJP President Manoj Tiwari on Sunday claimed there were more Covid deaths in the national capital than are being reported by the city government, while accusing Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of not conducting enough tests.

Speaking to IANS, Tiwari accused the government of hiding data of those who died due to the infection.

"They are hiding data on deaths. We have the information that there are more deaths happening than being reported by the government."

On the AAP government hiking the VAT on petrol and diesel, Tiwari said the Centre ensured that while it hiked the taxes, the burden is not on the public.

"What Delhi has done is an injustice. We know people are stepping out only in case of emergency in the lockdown. However, despite this, Delhi was the first state to hike the taxes on fuel and put the burden on the public."

Tiwari also said Delhi is not the only state which is suffering due to revenue loss.

"All the governments across the country are suffering due to revenue loss. While all are looking for ways to generate revenue, 70 per cent fee on alcohol is too much. No other state has increased so much tax," Tiwari said while referring to the 'Special Corona fee' on alcohol, which is 70 per cent of the MRP.

He slammed the Delhi government, saying it is trying to hide its failures.

"This (coronavirus crisis) was a test if they know how to run a government. They will not be able to say what they have actually done for their people. Advertisement is one thing but the real picture is before everyone."

Tiwari said all the arrangements done by the city government in Delhi amid the coronavirus crisis are not up to the mark.

"All the arrangements are in bad shape. People are not ready to go to the city government hospitals. People in the city are preferring the Central government hospitals."

Tiwari also hit out at the Kejriwal government over tests, saying that people are asking for tests and are running from hospitals to hospitals for getting them done.

"People are asking for testing but they are not being tested. Even the police constable who died of Covid had to run from hospital to hospital. If there are not enough hospitals, they should make more arrangements. Makeshift arrangement can also be done. But letting people die because you don't have enough arrangement is highly inhuman."

Tiwari also slammed the Aam Aadmi Party government for doing "nothing" for the corona warriors.

He said at least six doctors from the Jag Parvesh Chander Hospital tested Covid positive. "Their contacts are waiting for tests. They are not being tested. Even if they were to stay at home, there should be some doctor suggesting this. But they are still waiting for the tests."

Even the condition in the quarantine centres are bad, Tiwari said, adding while somewhere there are no fans, somewhere there is no water supply. "We need to take special care of the patients amid the coronavirus crisis. They (Delhi government) only speak, but no arrangement has been done on the ground."
source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 12:44:43 +0530
Aarogya Setu scores positively on collection of user data Report

Researchers at MIT Technology Review have given 2 out of 5 points to Aarogya Setu app on its COVID-19 app tracker index, saying it scores positively on the timely deletion of user data and collection of only useful data.

The Aarogya Setu app which has nearly 100 million users was compared with COVID-19 apps of 25 other countries.

The findings of contact-tracing apps were based on their enforcement, handling of data, privacy and transparency dynamics across the world.

The tracker, documented 25 such tools after analysing "what they are, how they work, and what policies and processes have been put in place around them".

Aarogya Setu scored positively on the timely deletion of user data and collection of only useful data but "failed to score on voluntary use, limitations of data usage, and transparency", said MIT Technology Review.

MIT Technology Review's database shows that India's app is unique in a number of other ways, too.

"Many countries are developing limited services that use Bluetooth or GPS to give ‘exposure notifications' to people who have interacted with someone found to have covid-19. India's app, though, is a massive all-in-one undertaking that far exceeds what most other countries are building," said the report.

Aarogya Setu also offers access to telemedicine, an e-pharmacy, and diagnostic services. It's whitelisted by all Indian telecom companies, so using it does not count against mobile data limits.

On May 6, reacting to an ethical hacker's claim that a security issue has been found in the app, the Aarogya Setu team said the app is completely safe.

The Aarogya Setu team said the app fetches a user's location by design and store the location data on the server in a secure, encrypted and anonymised manner, "when users submit their contact tracing data voluntary through the app of when we fetch tracing data of a user after they have turned COVID-19 positive."

"All this information is already public for all locations and, hence, does not compromise on any personal or sensitive data," said the app team.

On Saturday, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said that Aarogya Setu has alerted the government about more than 650 hotspots across the country which could have been missed otherwise.

Kant also claimed that the app, which has now been made mandatory for all government employees, alerted about over 300 emerging hotspots which helped the government take swift action.

Aarogya Setu is a COVID-19 tracking mobile application developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) that comes under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

This app is designed to help control the spread of coronavirus and make its information accessible to the common people. This special app also helps in finding out corona positive people present nearby.
source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 12:41:01 +0530
Sidharth Shukla Whatever my mom cooks is special

Actor Sidharth Shukla says food cooked by his mom is his all-time favourite.

On Mother's Day on Sunday, Sidharth spoke about why his mom's homemade food is what he loves eating the most.

"'Ghar ka khana' made by mom is my all-time favourite food to eat. Be it something simple or elaborate, whatever my mom cooks is special because the emotion with which she makes it for me is filled with love. I can't specifically name a favourite dish of mine, because her cooking is so amazing that everything she makes always tastes good," he said.

The "Bigg Boss 13" winner also took to social media to post a photo of the mother-son duo enjoying a beverage. Through the post, Sidharth said his mother is the one who keeps him grounded.

source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 12:28:42 +0530
Air India Express flight to evacuate Indians from Doha postponed

The Air India Express flight that was scheduled to fly out with 181 passengers from Doha on Sunday has been called off for now, an airport official said.

Speaking to IANS, a top airport official here said the flight was to travel to Doha from Kozhikode around 1 p.m. and land here around 10.45 p.m.

"There have been some technical issues as Doha has not given the permission for this flight to land. What we are given to understand is that this flight has been called off. Now it will have to operate under a new schedule. We were fully ready to receive the flight later in the night," said the official who did not wish to be identified.

According to reports, about 50 passengers booked to travel from Doha had reached the airport there.

Kerala will thus see only one flight on Sunday, and that is the one bringing stranded Indians from Malaysia to Kochi in the night.

Meanwhile, the Thiruvananthapuram District Collector told the media here that this flight has now been rescheduled for Tuesday.
source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 12:25:10 +0530
PM Modi s 5th meeting with CMs over economy on Monday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a meeting with all Chief Ministers on Monday to discuss the next stage in the exit from the nationwide lockdown enforced to contain novel coronavirus outbreak and various issues comprising the economy, officials said on Sunday.

The Prime Minister's Office took to Twitter to share the information that he would hold the meeting via video-conference at around 3 p.m.

"PM Narendra Modi to hold the 5th meeting via video-conference with state Chief Ministers tomorrow (Monday) afternoon at 3 p.m.," PMO India tweeted.

Sources said the focus of the meeting will be on further increasing the economic activities and on tackling the pandemic in containment zones as the lockdown 3.0 is to end on May 17.

The announcement comes after Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired a meeting with Chief Secretaries and Health Secretaries of all states and Union Territories (UTs) to review their status of novel coronavirus or COVID-19 management. As the Chief Secretaries informed Gauba about the situation in their states and also said that while protection is required from COVID, the economic activities also needed to be stepped up in a calibrated manner, the Prime Minister also want to take stock of situation in one-on-one discussion with the Chief Ministers of these states.

The lockdown, enforced on March 25, was originally supposed to end on April 14. It was then extended to May 3, and then again to May 17.

According to sources familiar with the matter, there will definitely be more concessions in terms of what's allowed, but that there will likely be no changes in Covid-19 hotspots and containment zones.
source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 12:17:48 +0530
Shruti Haasan My dad never punished yelled at me

Chennai,  Actress Shruti Haasan says her father and actor-politician Kamal Haasan has never punished or yelled at her.

Shruti was treating her fans with a question-and-answer session, where one user asked the "worst punishment" she has got from her father.

Shruti replied: "My dad never punished, yelled at me. He wasn't like that. He was always using reason and logic, but I think I once made a mistake and he was like 'I am so disappointed'."

A second fan asked about Kamal, to which Shruti said: "He's very well. He's in Chennai isolating himself and doing well."

The actress, who is also known for her vocal prowess, said if given a choice between heavy metal and grunge rock, she would choose "heavy metal".

She added: "If I had to listen every day... yeah... probably... without a doubt actually."

What's the first thing you would do when the lockdown ends, one asked.

"I would definitely go back to work. I miss working and I will go to work only when it's safe," she said.

Talking about her Telugu film "Gabbar Singh" completing eight years, Shruti said she feels lucky to be a part of such a super hit movie.

"It feels so good. I feel really lucky and blessed to have been part of such a big superhit movie... it changed a lot of things for me," she said.

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Sun, 10 May 2020 11:17:09 +0530
Nasscom develops end to end COVID 19 platform for Telangana

New Delhi,  IT industrys apex body Nasscom on Sunday said it has delivered an end-to-end COVID-19 platform to the Telangana government that brings together solutions from multiple technology leaders and delivers more than 100 dashboards, across 30 plus government and public datasets, with hundreds of thousands of data points.

Working closely with the state government, the platform developed by NASSCOM's Task Force with its various technology-led models, will assist the government in sustainable industry recovery and will help them in making an informed decision in managing lockdown and phased release across the state.

According to Nasscom, the IT industry has time and again show its commitment to helping India and even more so through these exceptional times, by assembling the greatest tech minds in the country to collaborate and develop solutions.

"India has the capacity to quickly develop tech solutions for the post-lockdown world and we are glad that NASSCOM taskforce has collaborated with Government of Telangana and prepared an end to end COVID platform to manage the crisis," KT Rama Rao, Minister of IT, Telangana, said in a statement.

As part of the platform, NASSCOM Taskforce has developed a COVID-19 India 'Vulnerability Map', which will provide real-time streaming of data about the Pandemic, across regions and states in the country.

The platform will source data from public sources that includes select social channels, websites, blogs, forums and public data sets to create actionable reporting dashboards and will allow the government to project insights sourced from the information with public datasets display on command centre screens.

The external citizen-facing dashboard will allow the government to project critical information to the public for transparency, awareness, and guidance.

In addition to the above tech solutions, NASSCOM Task Force will continue its work on the T-COVID app and track align the same with the government's Aarogya Setu app.
IANS

Sun, 10 May 2020 10:20:33 +0530
COVID 19 Our role has never been more critical says Twitter India

As disinformation related to COVID-19 is spreading faster than the virus itself, micro -blogging platform Twitter feels that its work has never been more critical and its service has never been in higher demand than ever before globally, including in India.

The power of a uniquely open service during a public health emergency is crystal clear, says Mahima Kaul, Director, Public Policy, India and South Asia at Twitter, adding that they are continuing to review the rules in the context of COVID-19 and considering ways in which they may need to evolve to account for new behaviours.

Since introducing its updated policies on March 18, Twitter has removed more than 2,400 tweets containing misleading and potentially harmful content.

"Our automated systems have challenged more than 3.4 million accounts targeting manipulative discussions around COVID-19. We will continue to use both technology and our teams to help us identify and stop spammy behaviour and accounts," Kaul told IANS.

Twitter has received positive response to its efforts in curbing COVID-19 related fake news and misinformation in India.

The efforts include an events page dedicated to COVID-19 information called "Coronavirus Tweets from Indian authorities", which is essentially a timeline of tweets from verified Indian officials and bodies such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi (@narendramodi), Health Minister Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan), the official Citizen Engagement Platform of the Government of Indian (@mygovindia, Press Information Bureau (@PIB_India) and other state and Central ministers, as well as public health agencies.

"Every account holder in India can see this page on the top of their home timeline. If someone has their settings set to Hindi, then they will see the same page with Hindi Tweets. The timeline also lets people track developments around the latest social distancing and healthcare information," informed Kaul.

The platform recently onboarded the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (@MoHFW_INDIA) to Twitter Seva to help Indians with a speedy resolution to their health-related queries.

"This public service is allowing the Ministry to communicate effectively and at scale with the public, especially in crisis situations like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The dedicated account @CovidIndiaSeva establishes a direct channel between the Government and citizens to provide access to authoritative health and public information," Kaul elaborated.

She said that Twitter India is regularly working with trusted partners, including public health authorities, researchers, NGOs, and governments to keep improving its fight against COVID-19.

"To tackle misinformation related to COVID-19, we have broadened our definition of harm and expanded our safety rules to address content that goes directly against guidance from authoritative sources with the intent to influence people into acting against recommended guidance," said Kaul.

The company has also increased its use of machine learning and automation to take a wide range of actions on potentially abusive and manipulative content.

"Additionally, we're continuing to review and require the removal of Tweets that do not follow the Twitter Rules - half of which we catch before they're ever reported to us. We continue to remain vigilant," Kaul added.

Twitter is releasing a new endpoint into Twitter Developer Labs to enable approved developers and researchers to study the public conversation about COVID-19 in real-time.

Tweets by people on the service will be made available to researchers and developers for free.

According to Kaul, the data will help research the spread of the disease, understand the spread of misinformation, crisis management, emergency response, and communication within communities.

"As we've said on many occasions, our approach to protecting the public conversation is never static. That's particularly relevant in these unprecedented times. We intend to review our thinking daily and will ensure we're sharing updates on any new clarifications to our rules or major changes to how we're enforcing them," Kaul told IANS.
source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 07:40:01 +0530
Can t wait to put in practice the tips Yousuf Younus gave Babar

The series of online sessions of cricket greats with current and emerging red and white-ball cricketers to help them remain focused and make optimum use of their time in the wake of Covid-19 lockdown ended on Saturday.

The lectures began on April 27 and lasted two weeks; they were conducted by the legends of Pakistan cricket who won international acclaim with their consistent performances. The list of cricketers who delivered the lectures included Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Rashid Latif, Mushtaq Ahmed, Mohammad Yousuf, Moin Khan, Younus Khan and Shoaib Akhtar.

The greats of Pakistan and world cricket spoke at length about their cricketing journey and gave some very useful tips to Pakistan's current and emerging players. Batting, fast and spin bowling and wicketkeeping departments were widely covered by players who all spoke about their relevant specialisations in the lectures.

A total of 45 current and emerging players took part in the lectures.

Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq said: "I am thankful to all the greats who took time out and spoke to the players. These lectures have proven to be a wonderful experience for the players especially in these unprecedented and challenging times.

"Life and cricketing experiences shared by the likes of Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Mushtaq Ahmed and Younus Khan will encourage the players. I also found the sessions very rewarding as a student of the game. Such interactive sessions between the players of the past and present provide a rare opportunity in narrowing the gap between different generations of players.

"The greats spoke about various productive ways of spending the time in isolation while giving important tips for the tour of England including advice for mental strengthening of the players."

Batting mainstay Babar Azam, said: "The online sessions were very rewarding, wonderful and have helped in increasing the confidence of the players. From the start of my career I have tried to model my game and seek inspiration from Mohammad Yousuf and Younus Khan.

"Listening to them has further increased my confidence and I can't wait to put in practice the tips they gave during the lectures. If the lockdown prevails for long, I would strive to stay in contact with these players and seek their guidance on a long term basis."

Former captain and wicketkeeper batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed said: "I consider myself fortunate to belong to a city which is famous for producing top notch wicketkeepers, including Rashid Latif and Moin Khan. Since I also live in Karachi, I keep interacting with both from time to time yet each and every session with these greats provides some valuable lessons and these lectures were no different.

"Moin Khan and Rashid Latif improved my confidence; tips by these wicketkeeping greats are very useful for me."

Test leg-spinner Yasir Shah, said: "Mushtaq Ahmed has always been a supporter of mine especially in tough situations and during bad patches.

"His lecture was very useful for me as I received some invaluable insights on English conditions based on Mushtaq's rich experience of playing and coaching in England."

Test fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi said: "These lectures were very useful for me as I learned a lot about various aspects of the game, including both skill and the mental side. I consider myself fortunate to have been a part of Wasim Akram's online session.

"Wasim told us to bowl without fear and with confidence, he remains my ideal and I strive to emulate his success by continuing to work hard on my game in the years ahead."

source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 07:08:27 +0530
Samsung second in global smartwatch market in Q1 Apple leads

Samsung Electronics became the second-largest vendor of smartwatches in the first quarter of the year, amid rising popularity of the wearable device.

Samsung, which makes the Galaxy Watch, shipped 1.9 million smartwatches in the January-March period, up from 1.7 million a year earlier, according to data from market research firm Strategy Analytics.

However, its market share declined slightly from 14.9 per cent to 13.9 per cent over the cited period.

"Samsung remains the world's number two smartwatch vendor, but its growth was slowed by the coronavirus lockdown at home in South Korea and renewed competition from hungry competitors like Garmin," said Steven Waltzer, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics.

Apple continued to expand its dominant presence in the smartwatch market.

The tech giant shipped 7.6 million units of the Apple Watch in the first three months of the year, up from 6.2 million units a year earlier.

Its market share also increased from 54.4 per cent to 55.5 per cent.

Garmin was third with an 8 per cent market share after shipping 1.1 million smartwatches.

Despite the novel coronavirus pandemic, global smartwatch shipments grew 20 per cent on-year to 14 million units in the first quarter.

However, it is predicted that the shipments would decline in the second quarter.

"Sales in Europe and the US have inevitably been hit by the virus lockdown in recent months," said Woody Oh, director at Strategy Analytics.

source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 07:03:08 +0530
Coronavirus deaths in India cross 2K mark 62 939 cases

3277 new cases and 128 new fatalities, total case count of novel Coronavirus rose to 62,939 and total deaths getting past the 2000 mark, the health ministry said on Sunday.

The Health Ministry said of the total, 41,472 are active cases, 19,357 people have recovered, and 2109 people have succumbed to the disease.

Maharashtra remained the worst hit state with a total number of cases rising to 20,228, followed by Gujarat which has reported 7796 cases.

Delhi has reported 6542 cases and Tamil Nadu 6535 cases, according to the Health Ministry data.

Maharashtra has also recorded 779 deaths so far, the highest number of casualties among all the states.

Other states which have jumped the 3,000 mark are Madhya Pradesh (3614), Rajasthan (3708) and Uttar Pradesh (3373).

Among other major states and UTs, Andhra Pradesh has reported 1930 and 44 deaths, Punjab reported 1762 cases and 31 deaths, Bihar stood at 591 cases and five deaths, Haryana at 675 and nine deaths, Jammu and Kashmir at 836 cases and nine deaths, Karnataka at 794 and 30 deaths and Kerala docked at 505 and four deaths.

Tripura saw a major spike in cases with confirmed cases crossing 100 mark and stood at 134 cases. Other northeast states which have reported COVID-19 cases are Assam (63), Meghalaya (13), Manipur (2), Mizoram (1) and Arunachal Pradesh (1).

source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 06:59:09 +0530
Indian Chinese soldiers face off in Sikkim

Indian and Chinese soldiers were injured during a face-off along the boundary in north Sikkim, sources said.

Four Indian soldiers and half a dozen of Chinese troops were injured during the confrontation on Saturday which took place at Naku La sector, ahead of Muguthang, a pass at a height of more than 5,000 metres, the sources added.

In total, 150 soldiers were present when the confrontation took place, which was later resolved at the local level.

The sources said that temporary and short duration face offs occur as boundaries are not resolved.

"Incidents of face off article took place. Aggressive behaviour and minor injuries took place from both sides. They were disengaged after dialogue and interaction at local level," they added.

Troops resolve such issues mutually as per established protocols.

This is not the first time Indian and Chinese soldiers have exchanged blows along the border.

In August 2017, Indian and Chinese soldiers threw stones at each other and exchanged blows near Pangong Lake in Ladakh.

The clash had aggravated tensions between the two countries as it happened at a time when they were locked in a stand-off in the disputed territory of Doklam in Sikkim.

It took two months to end the stand-off between the forces.
source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 06:54:16 +0530
819 evacuees from Maldives Lakshadweep arrive in Kerala

A total of 698 people who were evacuated from Maldives on INS Jalashwa, arrived here on Sunday around 9.30 a.m., said the Cochin Port officials. This operation is part of Indian Navy's 'Operation Samudra Setu'.

Another 121 from Lakshadweep also arrived at Mattanchery, near here. on MV Arabian Sea -- a passenger/cargo ship sailing under the Indian Flag.

Samudrika Cruise Terminal has been opened up for handling the expatriates and Port has taken up necessary refurbishments consistent with the medical protocols.

The Cochin Port Trust officials said the first group of 698 persons evacuated from Maldives comprises 595 males and 103 females. Of this, 14 are children below 10 years and 19 pregnant women.

Among the 698 passengers, 440 are from Kerala, 156 from Tamil Nadu and the rest are from various states in the country.

Ernakulam district collector S. Suhas said all those from Tamil Nadu will be sent to their state in the bus.

The ship is berthed at BTP Jetty and the disembarkation procedures are being carried out at Samudrika Cruise Terminal. It will take around three hours for all the passengers to be cleared.

According to the protocols, all the Keralaites will be sent for 14 days institutional quarantine at their respective home districts.

Those who are having exemption from institutional quarantine have to be at home isolation.

Among the 121 who arrived on MV Arabian Sea from Lakshadweep include students and those Keralaites who work in the island.

The protocol for these 121 passengers is that since they have been checked there, all these people can go to their homes and be in isolation for 14 days.

The general guideline is if any one shows any symptoms of Covid-19, all such people will be directly sent to Covid hospitals, here.

The distance between Male and Kochi is 493 nautical miles and it began its voyage to Kochi on Friday evening.

INS Jalashwa is an Indian naval ship attached to the Eastern Naval Command. It was acquired from the United States and was commissioned in 2007.

INS Jalashwa has the capacity to accommodate 1000 troops, and comes equipped with extensive medical facilities, including four operation theatres, and a 12-bed ward facility.

source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 06:50:24 +0530
Keep your food fresh for longer

The Covid-19 pandemic has got the country home sheltering while in lockdown.

While it was assured that the supply of essentials will continue as before, however, the apprehension resulted in panic buying, hoarding and stocking hoarding and stocking. Several stores ran out of a number of food items and the prices of vegetables and fruit became higher.

Now that you're overstocked, one should get smarter about what they have. We must learn the art of storing food with an extended shelf life and minimise food waste.

"Different food types come with different shelf lives. While some have the capacity to go for longer, others may not", states Luve Oberoi, Marketing Manager, Asahi Kasei Pvt Ltd, listing below a few ways which can help you keep your food fresh for an extended period of time:

Use of premium wraps

Premium (plastic) wraps are considered extremely helpful when it comes to preserving food. Plastic wraps are made of different materials and hence, can be found in the variety of PVDC Cling film, PVC or PE cling film. These were introduced in the mid-20th century and owing to capabilities to preserve food, it gained popularity.

However, if one has to choose the best amongst these, PVDC cling is considered to top the list of preference. These plastic wraps help in keeping the food fresh for a longer amount of time by avoiding moisture and smells from seeping through. It is considered ideal for storing raw vegetables, fruits, poultry, seafood, roti dough without any fear of discolouration or oxidization and thus eliminates any wastage of food.

Store your fruits and vegetables separately

Every food type has its own properties. It is advised that we must not store our fruit and vegetables together because a good number of fruit send forth a gas called ethylene glycol as they hit maturity. This gas speeds up the ripening of the fruit, often premature ripening of vegetables. Consequently, this can lead to the damage of fruit as well as vegetables that are kept with it.

Also, some fruit, on the absorption of odours from vegetables, become unpalatable. Hence, fruit and vegetables must not be put together.

Get creative and experiment with your food

What better time than this lockdown to nurture your cooking skills and bring out the inner chef! Most of us are taking cooking classes on YouTube and experimenting with new dishes which is causing some amount of food wastage too.

However, in times like this, what we really need is to get creative and experimentative with the leftover food. There are so many things which could be produced out of left-over food. For example, rice. Rice is an item which can be used in multiple ways. If you had cooked plain white rice in the afternoon for lunch and got some extra, you can re-cook them again in night by adding spices and onions to it, adding a different flavour to it.

Keep it up with expiry dates of pantry items

We often have food items at home but because we are unaware of its expiry date, it lead its way to dustbin. We must be aware what we have in our pantries and its shelf life. This will help in consciously using items and avoiding wastage of those food items.

Use fridge freezer shelves for different foods

Your fridge's freezer shelves are very helpful when it comes to storing food items like ready to eat products such as dairy, cooked meats, raw meat, poultry and fish, salad, fruit and vegetables. However, since they have different properties, they are stores in different shelves of the fridge.

Raw meat, fish and seafood should be kept between 0°C and 3°C in order to lock in freshness and prevent harmful bacteria from tucking in. That means they should be kept on the bottom shelf or, if your fridge has one, a chill compartment that's specially designed for this purpose.

Butter and cheese are less perishable, so they're best kept near the top of your fridge where it's warmer.
 

Sun, 10 May 2020 06:46:30 +0530
Chhattisgarh demands Rs 4140 21 cr levy on coal from Centre

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has written to Union Minister of Coal and Mines Pralhad Joshi, requesting for the share of additional levy collected from coal block allottees to enable the state government to work effectively towards prevention of Covid-19 infection.

In the letter, Chief Minister said that, "additional levy of Rs 4,140.21 crore deposited to the coal ministry by the eight companies, which have been allotted coal blocks in the state, should be made available to the state government immediately for effective implementation of measures being taken to curb the spread of coronavirus amid lockdown."

"As per Constitution, the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, the rules of the Mines and Minerals Act 1951, Mineral Concession Rules 2016 and the Chhattisgarh Land Revenue Code, the state government has the ownership and also there is a provision in favour of the state government to collect royalty, levy and other taxes on minerals," he said.

The Chief Minister said that Chhattisgarh is also under lockdown for the last one and a half months to prevent the spread of the virus. Several protective measures have been implemented in the state for prevention of the infection. As a result, only 59 corona positive cases have been detected in the state so far. Out of which 38 people have recovered and 21 are currently under treatment.
source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 06:41:26 +0530
Allu Sirish Lockdown reignited my interest in Yoga

South actor Allu Sirish says he had lost touch with Yoga, but the lockdown reignited his interest in it.

Sirish took to Instagram, where he shared a photograph of himself doing 'chakrasna'. He is seen in dark blue T-shirt paired with black yoga pants.

He captioned the image: "Life's turned upside down, I thought may be I should too! Lost touch with yoga as I got busy with life. But the lockdown reignited my interest in it. No equipment, can do anywhere. And fun! #GettingBackOnTheMat #Chakrasana."

Sirish had earlier shared a photograph of himself posing in front of the camera. In the image, he is seen dressed in a brown turtleneck T-shirt paired with a black overcoat and jeans.

"When life comes to a standstill like this," he captioned the image.

On the work front, the actor was last seen on screen in the Telugu film "ABC-American Born Confused Desi". It also stars Rukshar Dhillon and is directed by Sanjeev Reddy.
source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 06:39:33 +0530
Two girls drown in Ganga in Prayagraj

Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh), Two teenage girls, who had gone for a swim in the Ganga on Saturday, drowned in river at Nehra Ghat, under Nawabganj police station in Prayagraj district.

Sapna (14) and Neha (23) were cousins.

Nawabganj station house officer (SHO), Suresh Singh, said that the two sisters were accompanied by their mother. While the three were taking bath in the river, the girls waded into the deep water and started drowning.

When they cried for help, a local youth, who was also bathing at a distance rushed towards them and managed to save the mother.

However, by the time he jumped again in the river to save the two girls, they drowned in the strong currents of the river.

"On getting the news, we immediately rushed to the spot and helped in the rescue operations. Expert divers of Jal police were called in who flushed out the bodies of the drowned girls. The bodies have been sent for post-mortem", said the SHO.
(IANS) 

Sun, 10 May 2020 05:29:12 +0530
3 000 Afghans return home as Pakistan opens border

Pakistan has opened its border with Afghanistan at Chaman to allow return of Afghans to their country.

Last month, Pakistan sent back over 37,000 Afghan families after it opened the Pak-Afghan friendship gate at Chaman on the special request of the Afghan government, reports Dawn news.

Official sources said that the friendship gate opened from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on on Saturday and 2,977 Afghan citizens stranded in different areas of Balochistan crossed into Afghanistan.

Majority of these Afghan citizens had entered Pakistan without travelling documents.

They crossed into Pakistan through the Chaman border and other entering points between Pakistan and Afghanistan on the basis of Afghan national identity cards only.

"The border had opened for crossing Afghans and Pakistanis into their respective countries," a senior official of the Chaman administration told Dawn news.

He said that so far 488 Pakistanis stranded in Afghanistan had also returned.

Majority of these Pakistani belonged to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while some are from Balochistan and Punjab, he said.

He said the Pakistanis who arrived from Afghanistan on Saturday would be quarantined at a centre near the Pak-Afghan border.

"Those Pakistanis who are not willing to spend 14 days in quarantine will be sent back to Afghanistan," an official of health department said.

source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 05:23:16 +0530
Two girls drown in Ganga in Prayagraj

Two teenage girls, who had gone for a swim in the Ganga on Saturday, drowned in river at Nehra Ghat, under Nawabganj police station in Prayagraj district.

Sapna (14) and Neha (23) were cousins.

Nawabganj station house officer (SHO), Suresh Singh, said that the two sisters were accompanied by their mother. While the three were taking bath in the river, the girls waded into the deep water and started drowning.

When they cried for help, a local youth, who was also bathing at a distance rushed towards them and managed to save the mother.

However, by the time he jumped again in the river to save the two girls, they drowned in the strong currents of the river.

"On getting the news, we immediately rushed to the spot and helped in the rescue operations. Expert divers of Jal police were called in who flushed out the bodies of the drowned girls. The bodies have been sent for post-mortem", said the SHO.

source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 05:20:37 +0530
Centre issues guidelines for manufacturing units post lockdown

As the restrictions are being gradually eased in some zones to bring the economy back on track, the Centre has issued fresh "guidelines for restarting manufacturing industries after lockdown", advising them not to try to achieve high production targets.

In order to minimize the risk and to encourage a successful restart of industrial units, the guidelines advised the industries to consider the first week as the trial or test run period while starting the units and ensure all safety protocols.

The guidelines were issued on Saturday to all Chief Secretaries and administrators of Union Territories (UTs) as the 14-day lockdown 3.0 is on and will end on May 17.

To minimize the risk, the Ministry has advised that employees who work on specific equipment are sensitised and made aware of the need to identify abnormalities like strange sounds or smell, exposed wires, vibrations, leaks, smoke, abnormal wobbling, irregular grinding, or other potentially hazardous signs which indicate the need for an immediate maintenance or if required shutdown.

"Especially during the COVID-19 times, ensure all lockout and tagout procedures are in place on a daily basis (not applicable for units running 24 hours)," the generic guidelines mentioned.

The guidelines suggest inspection of all equipment as per the safety protocols during the restart phase. In case the industry has any difficulty in managing crucial backward linkages that may be critical for their safe functioning, they should approach the local district administration for specific assistance, the guidelines suggest.

District Magistrate, as per the guideline, may be instructed to ensure that in such instance, the industries unit may be facilitated to run their end to end operations, in the overall interests of all industrial security, it said.

The guidelines were issued considering that some of the operators might not have followed the established Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) due to the closure of industrial units during several weeks of lockdown and it may result in some of the manufacturing units, pipelines, valves may have residual chemicals, which may pose risk.

The same is true for the storage facilities with hazardous chemicals and flammable materials, the guidelines mention. Combustible liquids, containing gaseous substances, open wires, conveyor belts and automated vehicles make manufacturing facilities a high-risk environment. "Improper enforcement of safety codes and improperly labelled chemicals can further pose serious health hazards," it said.

While issuing the guidelines, the Ministry said, "All the responsible officers of the district shall ensure the Industrial on-site Disaster Management Plans are also in place and cover Standard Operating Procedures for safe re-starting of the industries during and after COVID-19 lockdown."

In early response to novel coronavirus pandemic, the Centre imposed nationwide lockdown with effect from March 25. The lockdown is being gradually released in some zones and certain economic activities are being permitted as per National Disaster Management order.

source:ians

Sun, 10 May 2020 05:18:50 +0530
Air India flight brings 329 Indians from London to Mumbai

Mumbai,  An Air India flight from London with 329 passengers landed at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, here on Sunday morning, officials said.

The flight AI-130 repatriated the 329 Indians stranded in London during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

Two more flights are expected later on Sunday - one from Singapore and another from the Philippines.
(IANS)

Sun, 10 May 2020 04:56:37 +0530
Coronavirus deaths in India cross 2K mark 62 939 cases

New Delhi, With 3277 new cases and 128 new fatalities, total case count of novel Coronavirus rose to 62,939 and total deaths getting past the 2000 mark, the health ministry said on Sunday.

The Health Ministry said of the total, 41,472 are active cases, 19,357 people have recovered, and 2109 people have succumbed to the disease.

Maharashtra remained the worst-hit state with a total number of cases rising to 20,228, followed by Gujarat which has reported 7796 cases.

Delhi has reported 6542 cases and Tamil Nadu 6535 cases, according to the Health Ministry data.

Maharashtra has also recorded 779 deaths so far, the highest number of casualties among all the states.

Other states which have jumped the 3,000 marks are Madhya Pradesh (3614), Rajasthan (3708) and Uttar Pradesh (3373).

Among other major states and UTs, Andhra Pradesh has reported 1930 and 44 deaths, Punjab reported 1762 cases and 31 deaths, Bihar stood at 591 cases and five deaths, Haryana at 675 and nine deaths, Jammu and Kashmir at 836 cases and nine deaths, Karnataka at 794 and 30 deaths and Kerala docked at 505 and four deaths.

Tripura saw a major spike in cases with confirmed cases crossing 100 marks and stood at 134 cases. Other northeast states which have reported COVID-19 cases are Assam (63), Meghalaya (13), Manipur (2), Mizoram (1) and Arunachal Pradesh (1).
(IANS) 

Sun, 10 May 2020 04:50:32 +0530
India series behind closed doors might work for Oz feels Khawaja

Australia batsman Usman Khawaja on Saturday said that playing India behind closed doors at the end of the year might end up working in favour of the hosts. India are set to tour Australia for three ODIs and four Tests in December and January.

"It's definitely an advantage," he told Fox Sports News. "I remember the last time they came over for a one-day series, the roar for India was much bigger."

India, under Virat Kohli in the 2018/19 series, became the first Asian side to beat Australia in a Test series in their own den. The series featured stellar performances from batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant and Kohli and the fast bowling battery featuring Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma. The significant support that the Indian team garnered in each of the venues was also a feature of the series.

"Especially in Melbourne, the amount of expats they have over there, they flock in. And when India's on top they really let you know it," said Khawaja.

"It's a really weird feeling. When you're in India, you expect to be outnumbered massively but you can be outnumbered in Melbourne, as well as Sydney to some extent also."

Australia were without talismanic duo David Warner and Steve Smith in that series and were still in the process of recovering from the 2018 ball tampering scandal. Khawaja admitted that India were the better team in the series.

"They were clearly the better team last time, we hung in there but (Cheteshwar) Pujara was outstanding and Kohli led from the front as a captain," he said.

"Their bowling unit was as good as I've ever seen an Indian bowling unit, they really went toe-to-toe with our bowlers.

"Our bowlers are still in great form, though, and this time Steve Smith and Davy Warner will be in the side too, so a little bit of difference in the batting line-up."

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are doubts over the much-anticipated series between India and Australia.
source:ians

Sat, 09 May 2020 11:57:04 +0530
3 4 lakh workers ferried in 302 Shramik trains since May 1

The Indian Railways has since May 1 operated 302 Shramik special trains to transported over 3.4 lakh migrant workers, students, pilgrims and tourists stuck across India due to the nationwide lockdown to their home states.

A senior Railway Ministry official said that 34 trains were run on Saturday, 53 on Friday and 61 on Thursday from different parts of the city.

Shramik special trains were run from May 1 on the request of different state governments.

The railways has suspended passenger, mail and express trains to combat the spread of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) since March 24.

Only freight and special parcel trains are in operation to ensure supply of essential commdities across the country.
source:ians

Sat, 09 May 2020 11:54:51 +0530
60 kids horrified as hacker streams sex abuse video during Zoom call

In a shocking tale of zoombombing, a hacker streamed child sex abuse footage when about 60 children were participating in a fitness class over video meet app Zoom in Plymouth in southwest England.

The incident occurred when the class was being hosted this week by a sports club in Plymouth, Devon, and suddenly, the young participants were exposed to the "extremely distressing" material, reports BBC.

According to local police, the hacker which was yet to be identified gained access after the Zoom call's details were published on online forums.

"We are working closely with Plymouth Safeguarding Children's Partnership and I request that, if you have been affected by this, then you come forward and let us know who you are so we can provide the necessary advice and support," detective officer Lesley Bulley was quoted as saying.

The police officers urged people to understand their device's security settings.

The NSPCC children's charity told the media there was a worrying pattern of meetings held on Zoom being "bombed" with images of child sexual abuse.

According to The Guardian, Other Zoom meetings that have been targeted with similar zoombombing include a wine-tasting event in Manchester that left some participants in tears.

Last month, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned people about porn material being popped up during the Zoom video meetings.

The Boston branch of the law enforcement agency said it has received multiple reports of conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language.

In late March, a Massachusetts-based high school reported that while a teacher was conducting an online class using the teleconferencing software Zoom, an unidentified individual(s) dialed into the classroom.
source:ians

Sat, 09 May 2020 11:51:20 +0530
Ranveer Singh flaunts his abs

After "hibernating for very long", Ranveer Singh returned among fans to show off perfectly toned abs during a recent live session on Instagram. Clearly, he has been staying in shape during the lockdown.

Ranveer returned to interact with fans after almost a month, and tried to lift the morale of his fans during the session. He had no pre-planned agenda, and went live as he simply wanted to say "Hello!" and send out positive vibes.

"After hibernating for very long, I am back," he said, adding that the lockdown has been "emotionally challenging" as he didn't anticipate it to go on this long.

Actors Varun Dhawan and Saqib Saleem tuned in, and they teased Ranveer by asking him to take his shirt off. He did give a sneak-peek by lifting his T-shirt a bit.

On a serious note, Ranveer said: "It's been a very difficult couple of weeks, emotionally difficult. Turbulent times with everything that is going on in the world. To all my friends and fans stay safe, hang in there, stay healthy. Sending you love, positive vibes and good energy."

"I'm always an optimist, I like to look at the bright side of things. I always like to stay positive in any situation that life throws up. To be honest, this is unprecedented. We all are in this together and I believe that on the other side of this we'll come out with more compassion," he added.

The live session was a short one, and the actor ended it with a promise to be back for another round soon.

Ranveer, is sporting a thick bear lately, is spending lockdown with his wife, actress Deepika Padukone, who keeps posting videos of their life in the time of quarantine for fans.
source:ians

Sat, 09 May 2020 11:48:20 +0530
RIL s first rights issue in 3 decades likely to open on May 22

The rights issue of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is expected to open on May 22. It will be priced at Rs 1,257 per share with a share ratio at 1:15. The issue amount is Rs 53,125 crore.

As per the payment terms, 25 per cent of the amount will be on application and the balance on more calls.

Market sources said there is a strong repositioning of RIL as consumer/technology company with Jio and retail platforms.

As new strategic investors participate in growth engines, the rights issue will reward existing shareholders by enabling them to participate in consumer/technology business value creation.

The rights issue ensures minority shareholders' participate in next wave of value creation.

The price of "Right" shares to maintain the earnings per share (EPS) is Rs 1,077. At 8 per cent discount on the market price of Rs 1,427, the rights issue will be at Rs 1,314 with a total size of Rs 55,533 crore.

If the discount is 10 per cent, the price will be Rs 1,284 at a total size of Rs 54,265 crore. If the discount is 12 per cent, the rights issue price will be Rs 1,257 with a total issue size of Rs 53,124 crore.

Market sources said that RIL is well-positioned to navigate the macro headwinds and diversified earning streams but with conservative gearing. It has a robust and resilient business model, as 35 per cent of EBITDA is coming from consumer businesses.

In addition, the investment cycle has been completed and it has stronger cost positions across products and reduced Capex intensity. Sources point out that new business models create disproportionate value and the golden decade of value creation lies ahead.

They point out that asset light technology companies have created more value over the last decade than the aggregate market capital of energy companies in the S&P.

They cite the examples of Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google.

The strategic investments in digital services and organized retail platforms underpin RIL's participation in the next leg of value creation in India.

There has been a significant re-rating of the stock with the launch of Jio in September 2016, with growth in the consumer business visibility. Sources say the re-rating will continue with increasing share of consumer businesses in earnings.

Giving the rationale for the rights issue, market sources said the global pandemic is reshaping the way the world lives and works.

There is a visible acceleration in digital services, heightened need for robust supply chain-led new commerce model.

Market sources say this is a value accretive rights issue and the first rights issue by RIL in three decades. The rights issue will ensure all investors get to participate at the same level as promoters in upcoming opportunities.

The promoters will take up their entitlement and all of the unsubscribed portion. The promoter contribution demonstrates deep conviction in Reliance's future. Market sources said this is a rare opportunity for existing shareholders to participate in new issuances by Reliance.

The timing of the issue is right as the RIL stock is around 12 per cent lower than the 52-week high, reflecting market confidence in Reliance. On the trajectory of the stock price, on March 24 when the lockdown was announced, RIL stock was pegged at Rs 943. On April 20, when oil prices crashed and went negative for the first time ever, the stock was at Rs 1,243.8.

On April 22, when the Facebook-Jio deal was announced, the stock was at Rs 1,237.4 but on April 27, it had climbed up to Rs 1,429.8 on the day of the announcement of board meeting for rights issue.

On an average, Nifty 50 stocks are 35 per cent below their 52-week high. Only 5 stocks are within 10 per cent of their 52-week high. There has been a sharp recovery in the RIL stock as investors reassess growth prospects in the post-pandemic scenario.

Market sources said that the rights issue is accretive for RIL shareholders from FY21 with a potential for significant investor returns.
source:ians

Sat, 09 May 2020 11:46:02 +0530
SL govt aims at total relaxation of curfew by June

Colombo,  The Sri Lankan government aims at total relaxation of the curfew restrictions imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic by June, a Minister said.

The Minister said on Friday that the government was targeting the total lifting of all restrictions by early June depending on the progress after May 11 when it will partially relax few curbs, reports the Daily Mirror newspaper/

Basic guidelines were now being worked out for people to follow when carrying out their routine activities, despite the pandemic, once such the restrictions werelifted partially on May 11.

The government imposed curfew restrictions in March after the corona cases escalated.

The first Sri Lankan national infected with the disease was reported on March 11.

As of Saturday, there were 835 COVID-19 cases in the country, with nine deaths.
(IANS)

Sat, 09 May 2020 11:33:09 +0530
In 60 days Maha Covid 19 cases zoom from 2 to nearly 20K

Two months after Covid-19 sneaked into Maharashtra on March 9 through a Pune-based couple arriving from Dubai, the Coronavirus has spread like a wildfire to infect a whopping 19,063 persons in only 60 days.

Just nine days later, (on March 17), Covid-19 claimed its first victim in Mumbai, but over the next 60 days, the insatiable virus had devoured 731 people in the state, including 462 in the country's commercial capital, now enjoying the dubious distinction of being "country's Corona capital".

Since the past five days despite a one-and a half months into a nationwide lockdown in place, Mumbai has notched Covid-19 deaths at the stupendous rate of one/hour, leaving the state health authorities alarmed.

Despite climbing onto Covid-19 bandwagon belatedly -- India's first case was recorded on January 30 in Kerala, Maharashtra's first case came only on the 38th day, on March 9 -- but thereafter, this state quickly broke all records to grab the top slot in the country now.

In fact, for several days -- around April 10 -- the state had notched the highest "mortality rate" in the world, as per official figures, in terms of the number of the deaths per hundred infections. (IANS reported on April 14).

What started innocuously in Pune on March 9, followed by Mumbai on March 10 and Nagpur the following day -- each of the three cities having an international airport -- the Coronavirus has today spread to more than 30 of the 36 districts in the state, classified (on May 1) as Red Zone (14), Orange Zone (16) and Green Zone (06).

Starting with just two cases on March 9, on March 31 the state shot upto 302 patients and 10 deaths, even as Maharashtra lapsed into a partial lockdown from March 15 and a full lockdown on March 24 followed by the countrywide shutdown from March 25.

Mumbai showed an early promise of the grim days to come when it recorded 151 cases and 7 fatalities on the same day -- March 31 -- with the lockdown playing havoc with the Indian economy.

At the end of 30 days (from March 9) on April 9, Maharashtra shot up to 1,364 patients with 97 deaths, while Mumbai soared with 876 cases and 54 fatalities.

By April 30, the state had crossed 10,000 cases to rest at 10,498 with 459 deaths, and of these Mumbai cornered the lion's share -- 7,061 cases and 290 fatalities.

As on May 8, on completion of the 60-day period (from March 9), Maharashtra and Mumbai continued to surpass all expectations.

While the state has logged a staggering 19,063 cases and 731 deaths, Mumbai presents an equally grim scenario with 12,142 patients and 462 fatalities till date.

Mumbai Congress Vice-President V.P. Singh said that if India had acted by stopping all international flights after the first positive case was detected in Kerala on January 30, there would have been no need for the ongoing long lockdown.

"In the lockdown, only the poor and middle-class are suffering with little or no help from the authorities. The affluent classes get all benefits even during the shutdown, but the rest stare at grim prospects of their very survival in the post-lockdown future,a Singh told IANS.

The virus has spared none in the state -- commoners to Bollywood celebs and even a Cabinet Minister -- as it gallops at full speed and the global scientific community trudges to develop basic vaccines or medicines.

There have been some silver linings, too, with 3,470 patients fully recovering and going home to a grand welcome by the neighbourhood.

At the same time, a whopping 253,025 people are quarantined in 1,139 containment zones across the state.

After 60 days, a fresh challenge looms ahead for the already overburdened health fraternity, as thousands of people from the state stranded around the country and different parts of the world are expected to arrive here shortly.

source:ians

Sat, 09 May 2020 10:51:11 +0530
Air India brings back 129 evacuees from Dhaka to Delhi

New Delhi, National carrier Air India on Saturday brought back 129 evacuees from Dhaka to the national capital's IGI Airport.

The flight was operated under the - Vande Bharat Mission - organised to evacuate stranded Indians from abroad.

The Dhaka-Delhi flight ferried back 129 passengers at 3.06 p.m. While another Kuwait-Hyderabad is expected to arrive at 9.00 p.m. Meanwhile, Air India Express operated two evacuation flights earlier in the day. These landed in Chennai from Dubai with 356 passengers and three infants in the wee hours of Saturday.

According to an official of Air India Express, the first flight IX 612 landed safely with 179 passengers and three infants at about 1.10 a.m. The second flight (IX 540) with 177 passengers landed at about 2 a.m.

Additionally, both these airlines have operated these flights under India's massive 'Vande Bharat Mission' which has been organised to bring back stranded Indians from abroad.
(IANS) 

Sat, 09 May 2020 10:49:22 +0530
Debina recalls how her mother stitched Kajol s Baazigar outfit for her

Ahead of Mother's Day on Sunday, actress Debina Bonnerjee has recalled her cherished moments spent with her mom, sharing how her mother used to fulfill her wishes and how she played an important role behind her successful career.

"She played an important part in developing and fuelling the seed of being an actress in me. I was always a very filmy kid and wanted to wear the classic outfits worn by the Bollywood actresses during that time. I remember I wanted to wear the halter neck outfit worn by Kajol in 'Baazigar' and my mother went out of her way to get the same material and even stitch it for me.

" I think I have been fortunate to wear all the classic Bollywood outfits growing up. It is only because of my mother and her support that I could explore my passion of being in artist," she said.

Debina also shared that she wants to take her mom to Maldives after lockdown.

" She has been with me in Mumbai for last 6 years now but with such a fast paced and demanding work life we couldn't
spend quality time together. So, this phase when we are at home has been the perfect opportunity that made us all go back in time and rebuild the traditions that we had as a family. Once we are all out of this
testing phase, I would love to take my mother to Maldives," she added.

Debina is currently seen in Sony SAB's show "Aladdin: Naam Toh Suna Hoga".

source:ians

Sat, 09 May 2020 10:48:33 +0530
UP Board results to be out by June Dy CM Dinesh Sharma

The results of the UP board high school and intermediate examinations will be declared by the end of June, Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma has said.

He said the evaluation of UP Board answer sheets, the work of which was badly affected and was delayed in view of the Sars-Cov-2 outbreak, has started again. The process of evaluation of answer sheets has already resumed in the green zones from May 5, said Sharma, who is also the state's education minister, adding that in orange zones comprising of 36 districts the evaluation process will restart from May 12. He said the work of evaluation of copies in red zones will be taken up last and the results will be declared by the end of June.

In an exclusive interview with IANS, Dinesh Sharma said, "It is very difficult to run educational activities during the lockdown period. We have started online learning system in schools, colleges and institutions of higher studies from April itself; virtual classes are also being held. This will streamline the calendar for academic year. The whole process has helped develop a new concept of online teaching in India. This is a positive development."

On the question of the problems being faced by children in online teaching, Sharma said, "Some schools have used this as an excuse. Actually children enjoy online learning."

When asked who is behind the spread of infection of coronavirus in Uttar Pradesh, Sharma said no group of people can be held responsible for it. "Negligence and not following social distancing led to the spread of the virus in the state. However, we have been able to control its spread."

On the question of the migrant labourers coming home, Sharma said, the UP government has played pro-active role in bringing the labourers back home. "We are giving them food, shelter and bearing all their expenses," he said.

Praising chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Sharma said the UP government works as a team and everyone complements each other with no malice towards anyone. "We take directions from the chief minister and work as a team to contribute in the final output of the government," he said.

source:ians

Sat, 09 May 2020 10:39:33 +0530
S Korea on alert for possible COVID 19 spread by club goers

Seoul, South Korea was on alert Saturday as more than a dozen people infected with the coronavirus from clubs in Seoul could spread the virus across the country amid eased social distancing.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 17 out of 18 new COVID-19 cases were linked to a person who visited clubs and bars in Seoul's popular multicultural neighbourhood of Itaewon last weekend, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The 29-year-old whom health authorities consider to be the first patient in the cluster infection visited five clubs and bars in Itaewon from the night of May 1 to the early hours of the following morning.

On Saturday, Vice Health Minister Kim Ganglip said the health authorities are in the process of identifying people who visited the clubs, and family members and acquaintances of those who have been infected with the virus from the clubs, to make sure the virus does not spread in local communities.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-Kyun instructed officials to find those who visited clubs in Itaewon last week and test them for the novel coronavirus.

Also Saturday, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon imposed an administrative order to effectively suspend business at clubs, bars and other nightlife establishments in the capital city, said the Yonhap News Agency report.

The precautionary measure will remain in place until further notice, without specifying a date.

On Saturday, South Korea reported 18 more cases, raising the country's total to 10,840.

The nation's death toll remained unchanged at 256, according to the KCDC.
(IANS) 

Sat, 09 May 2020 10:33:25 +0530
Vizag gas victims stage protest at plant with dead bodies

Visakhapatnam,  Two days after gas leakage from LG Polymers claimed 12 lives and affected hundreds of others, people of Venkatapuram village staged a protest on Saturday with three dead bodies at the chemical plant, demanding justice.

Tension prevailed at the plant as the villagers staged a sit-in at the plant's gate with three dead bodies when Director General of Police Gautam Sawang was visiting the plant.

The DGP, Police Commissioner R.K. Meena and other officials were inside the plant when the protesters blocked the main gate, raising slogans demanding the plant's closure and re-location.

Some protesters barged into the plant premises. The police had a tough time in clearing them and providing safe passage to the top officials.

Some local police officials were trying to pacify the protesters and persuade them to end the sit-in agitation.

Earlier, residents of Gopalapuram, the worst affected among five villages surrounding the plant, staged a sit-in, raising slogans against the company. Police detained and removed them from there.

Several other villagers including women also reached there and demanded that the government come to their rescue by shutting down the plant.

They voiced apprehensions over the long-term impact of Styrene leaked from the plant on the environment and on their health. "The government should immediately shut down the plant and shift it to some other place," demanded a protester.

The villagers also demanded that a high-power committee constituted by the government to probe the gas leak should hold talks with the people of the five villages surrounding the plant and not the company's management.

They also wanted the authorities to improve the oxygen level in the villages to ensure their early return. They said the government should come out with the details about the level of Styrene in the air and whether it is safe for their return to the villages.

"The gas leak has badly affected the health of many of us. There could be long-term impact. The government should conduct regular health camps to check our health status," demanded another villager.

Many protesters demanded strong action against the company management for not following the safety norms. They said had the siren blared from the plant many lives could have been saved.

Styrene had leaked from the plant around 3.45 a.m. on Thursday. The incident claimed 12 lives while over 400 were taken ill and had to be hospitalized.

District officials said 10,000 people from five villages were shifted to relief camps. They have been asked to stay in the camps till they are declared safe for return to the villages.
(IANS)

Sat, 09 May 2020 09:18:42 +0530
Triple antiviral drug combo shows promise for treating COVID 19

A two-week course of antiviral therapy that combines the power of three drugs has shown promise in treating hospitalised patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 in a carefully undertaken phase 2 clinical trial.

The results of the trial, published in the journal The Lancet, involved 127 adults from six public hospitals in Hong Kong.

The drug combination tested in the trial included -- interferon beta-1b which was developed to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), lopinavir-ritonavir which is normally used to treat HIV and ribavirin, an oral hepatitis C virus drug.

The findings of the phase 2 trial provided evidence that early treatment with triple antiviral therapy alongside standard care is safe and shortens duration of viral shedding (when the virus is detectable and potentially transmissible) compared to lopinavir-ritonavir alone -- average 7 days vs 12 days -- in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19.

People in the triple combination group spent 5.5 days less in hospital on average compared to those in the control group who received the lopinavir-ritonavir treatment alone.

"Our trial demonstrates that early treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 with a triple combination of antiviral drugs may rapidly suppress the amount of virus in a patient's body, relieve symptoms, and reduce the risk to health-care workers by reducing the duration and quantity of viral shedding," said Professor Kwok-Yung Yuen from the University of Hong Kong who led the research.

"Furthermore, the treatment combination appeared safe and well tolerated by patients," Yuen said.

Previous research found that a combination of oral lopinavir-ritonavir and ribavirin significantly reduced respiratory failure and death in patients hospitalised with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) during the 2003 outbreak.

Interferon beta-1b has been shown to reduce viral load and improve lung problems in animal studies of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus infection.

The new study involving COVID-19 patients enrolled 127 adults admitted to one of six public hospitals with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for COVID-19) infection between February 10 and March 20 of this year.

Participants were randomly assigned to 14 days of either the triple combination of oral lopinavir-ritonavir (400mg/100mg) and ribavirin (400mg) every 12 hours, plus up to three doses of injectable interferon beta-1b (8 million international units) on alternate days for patients admitted to hospital less than seven days from symptom onset (86 patients; combination group); or lopinavir-ritonavir alone every 12 hours (41 patients; control group).

In the trial, all patients received standard care including ventilation support, dialysis support, antibiotics, and corticosteroids.

Treatment with the triple drug combination effectively suppressed viral load (with no detectable virus) in the nasopharyngeal swab within an average 7 days of starting treatment, which was significantly shorter than the average 12 days in the control group, treated with lopinavir-ritonavir alone.

Secondary outcomes supported the findings, indicating that clinical improvement was significantly better in the triple combination group -- with the triple therapy halving the time to complete alleviation of symptoms (average 4 days vs 8 days) and resulting in significantly shorter average hospital stay (9 days vs 14.5 days).

"These findings suggest that interferon beta 1-b may be a key component of the combination treatment and is worth further investigation for the treatment of COVID-19," said study co-author Jenny Lo from Ruttonjee Hospital in Hong Kong.

"Interferons are naturally occurring proteins, produced in response to viral infection, and the hope is that interferon beta-1b will boost the body's ability to fight SARS-CoV-2. Future phase 3 trials will soon confirm or refute the usefulness of this candidate drug as a backbone treatment for COVID-19." [1]

There was no difference in adverse events between the treatment groups, and none of the side effects in the combination group were severe.

No patients died during the study.

However, the researchers stressed the need for larger phase 3 trials to examine the effectiveness of this triple combination in critically ill patients.
source:ians

Sat, 09 May 2020 08:23:28 +0530
Hacking attacks on educational portal tripled in Q1 amid online learning

The overall number of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks during the first three months of this year have seen a significant spike in attacks on educational websites as millions joined online classes during the pandemic, a new report claimed on Saturday.

The increased demand in online resources was noted by cyber attackers, who conducted attacks on the most vital digital services or those that are growing in popularity.

"This can be due to the fact that Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) actors are taking advantage of the current situation when people are locked down in their homes and are heavily reliant on digital resources," according to the report from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.

The coronavirus pandemic, beginning in the first quarter of 2020, has caused almost all activities – be it learning, work, or leisure – to shift online.

Previously most attacks were conducted against the public-facing resources of companies.

"We now see that DDoS attacks target internal infrastructure elements, for example, corporate VPN gateways or email servers," said Alexey Kiselev, Business Development Manager on the Kaspersky DDoS Protection team.

The US government's Department of Health and Human Services, a group of hospitals in Paris, and servers of an online game were all targets of DDoS attacks in February and March.

Kaspersky's Q1 2020 DDoS attacks report also revealed notable growth in attacks on educational resources and cities' official websites.

In Q1 2020, this number tripled compared to the same period in 2019.

The share of such attacks amounted to 19 per cent of the total number of incidents in Q1 2020.

In general, the total amount of DDoS attacks in Q1 2020 has increased as well.

During this period, Kaspersky DDoS Protection detected and blocked double the amount of attacks than in Q4 2019, and 80 per cent more in comparison with Q1 2019.

The average duration of attacks also grew as in Q1 this year, a DDoS attack lasted 25 per cent longer than in Q1 2019.
source:ians

Sat, 09 May 2020 08:20:00 +0530
We have to register outright win against COVID 19 says Kumble

Bengaluru, Former India skipper Anil Kumble on Saturday said that the ongoing fight against the coronavirus pandemic is like a Test match which all the citizens of the country have to play together and emerge victoriously.

"If we have to fight this coronavirus pandemic, we have to be in this together. It's like a Test match, cricket Test matches are of five days. But this has been longer," Kumble said in a video posted on his Twitter handle.

"Cricket Test matches consist of two innings each, but this can be even more. So don't be complacent that we had a slender lead in the first innings because the second innings can be really rough.

"We have to win this battle, it cannot be won just by a first-innings lead, we need to win this battle by registering an outright victory," he added.

Over 1,900 people have so far lost their lives in India due to the coronavirus pandemic. The nation has been in lockdown since March 24 and it is now slated to end to May 17.

The former leg-spinner also urged people to diligently follow the instructions given by the authorities and be responsible in their behaviour so that the corona warriors, who have been at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, are not burdened.

"I take this opportunity to thank all the corona warriors, be it the doctors, nurses, the attenders, the sanitation workers, volunteers, the government workers, police. All of you have been doing a great job," Kumble said.

"They have been great, selfless. They are at risk-taking care of patients, so hats off to them," he added.
 

(IANS) 

Sat, 09 May 2020 08:18:58 +0530
Triple antiviral drug combo shows promise for treating COVID 19

A two-week course of antiviral therapy that combines the power of three drugs has shown promise in treating hospitalised patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 in a carefully undertaken phase 2 clinical trial.

The results of the trial, published in the journal The Lancet, involved 127 adults from six public hospitals in Hong Kong.

The drug combination tested in the trial included -- interferon beta-1b which was developed to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), lopinavir-ritonavir which is normally used to treat HIV and ribavirin, an oral hepatitis C virus drug.

The findings of the phase 2 trial provided evidence that early treatment with triple antiviral therapy alongside standard care is safe and shortens duration of viral shedding (when the virus is detectable and potentially transmissible) compared to lopinavir-ritonavir alone -- average 7 days vs 12 days -- in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19.

People in the triple combination group spent 5.5 days less in hospital on average compared to those in the control group who received the lopinavir-ritonavir treatment alone.

"Our trial demonstrates that early treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 with a triple combination of antiviral drugs may rapidly suppress the amount of virus in a patient's body, relieve symptoms, and reduce the risk to health-care workers by reducing the duration and quantity of viral shedding," said Professor Kwok-Yung Yuen from the University of Hong Kong who led the research.

"Furthermore, the treatment combination appeared safe and well tolerated by patients," Yuen said.

Previous research found that a combination of oral lopinavir-ritonavir and ribavirin significantly reduced respiratory failure and death in patients hospitalised with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) during the 2003 outbreak.

Interferon beta-1b has been shown to reduce viral load and improve lung problems in animal studies of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus infection.

The new study involving COVID-19 patients enrolled 127 adults admitted to one of six public hospitals with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for COVID-19) infection between February 10 and March 20 of this year.

Participants were randomly assigned to 14 days of either the triple combination of oral lopinavir-ritonavir (400mg/100mg) and ribavirin (400mg) every 12 hours, plus up to three doses of injectable interferon beta-1b (8 million international units) on alternate days for patients admitted to hospital less than seven days from symptom onset (86 patients; combination group); or lopinavir-ritonavir alone every 12 hours (41 patients; control group).

In the trial, all patients received standard care including ventilation support, dialysis support, antibiotics, and corticosteroids.

Treatment with the triple drug combination effectively suppressed viral load (with no detectable virus) in the nasopharyngeal swab within an average 7 days of starting treatment, which was significantly shorter than the average 12 days in the control group, treated with lopinavir-ritonavir alone.

Secondary outcomes supported the findings, indicating that clinical improvement was significantly better in the triple combination group -- with the triple therapy halving the time to complete alleviation of symptoms (average 4 days vs 8 days) and resulting in significantly shorter average hospital stay (9 days vs 14.5 days).

"These findings suggest that interferon beta 1-b may be a key component of the combination treatment and is worth further investigation for the treatment of COVID-19," said study co-author Jenny Lo from Ruttonjee Hospital in Hong Kong.

"Interferons are naturally occurring proteins, produced in response to viral infection, and the hope is that interferon beta-1b will boost the body's ability to fight SARS-CoV-2. Future phase 3 trials will soon confirm or refute the usefulness of this candidate drug as a backbone treatment for COVID-19." [1]

There was no difference in adverse events between the treatment groups, and none of the side effects in the combination group were severe.

No patients died during the study.

However, the researchers stressed the need for larger phase 3 trials to examine the effectiveness of this triple combination in critically ill patients.
source:ians

Sat, 09 May 2020 08:18:10 +0530
Ayushmann ready with song tribute for all moms on Mother s Day

The world celebrates Mother's Day on Sunday, and actor-singer Ayushmann Khurrana is set to come up with a tribute song for all moms, titled "Ma".

"Though every single day should be called Mother's Day, given the sacrifices she makes and the unconditional love that she showers on her child, it is quite sweet that we can all celebrate our mothers on a special day especially dedicated to them. On this Mother's Day, I will be posting a really special song, titled 'Ma', which we are dedicating to all the mothers out there. The spirit of motherhood has always amazed me and I will be humbly singing in praise of this ever-caring, ever-nurturing force," Ayushmann said.

Rochak Kohli has composed the song on lyrics by Gurpeet Saini.

"I'm collaborating with my dear friend Rochak, who had composed this beautiful track that celebrates mothers. Rochak and I will be singing this track together. It is an absolute honour for me to sing this song for all the mothers who constantly and selflessly shape our lives and our world," Ayushmann added.

Once the lockdown opens, Ayushmann will be seen in "Vicky Donor" director Shoojit Sircar's next, "Gulabo Sitabo", co-starring Amitabh Bachchan.
source:ians

Sat, 09 May 2020 08:16:12 +0530
India witnesses 40 increase in peak Internet traffic Report

The Internet peak traffic saw 40 per cent rise in March in India and there was significant spike in downloads and uploads per user, owing to the high volume of work and streaming content across all major cities including tier II markets, says a new report.

While the average downloads increased by 66 per cent per user per month, the average uploads surged at 37 per cent per user per month, according to ‘State of Internet Traffic Trend' report by ACT Fibernet, one of India's largest wired Internet Service Provider.

The data is based on overall traffic data measured from February-April 2020 from 19 cities.

One of the most interesting revelations was that on a particular day in March, 98.7 per cent of entire ACT Fibernet subscriber base was concurrently online.

"In the last two months, we have seen a significant shift in data consumption across cities as people moved to working from home, spending more time streaming content, indulging in online gaming, taking online classes/course, video conferencing etc," said Bala Malladi, CEO, Atria Convergence Technologies Ltd.

While there has been an overall surge of 55 per cent in streaming traffic, there was no significant difference between weekday and weekend streaming and/or traffic now.

There was an overall traffic increase by 73 per cent on weekdays and 65 per cent increase on weekends, said the report.

India now has 504 million active Internet users, out of which about 14 per cent are in the age bracket of 5-11 years, according to a new report from the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

Based on data from the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) 2019, the research also found that nearly 70 per cent of the active Internet population in India is daily users.

The time spent on the Internet continues to be higher in urban India compared to rural India.
source:ians

Sat, 09 May 2020 08:13:53 +0530
Ghani tasks team to probe deaths of Afghan migrants

Afghanistans President Ashraf Ghani has tasked a 10-member team to probe reports that said Afghan migrants were "abused, tortured and drowned" by Iranian border guards to prevent their illegal entry.

Mohammad Hamid Tahmasbi will lead the probe team, TOLO News quoted Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman to Ashraf Ghani, as saying on Friday.

According to the Foreign Ministry, initial assessments suggested that at least 70 Afghans who were trying to enter Iran from bordering Herat province were beaten and pushed into the Harirud river.

The Harirud river basin is shared by Afghanistan, Iran and Turkmenistan.

An Afghan official on Wednesday said that so far 16 of the Afghan nationals have been rescued, 18 to 20 were missing, and 16 bodies have been found.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he was "appalled" by the reports and called on the Afghan government to open a "full investigation".

But Iranian Foreign Affairs Ministry rejected Pompeo's remarks, saying some people were trying to disrupt Kabul-Tehran ties by making conspiracies.
source:ians

Sat, 09 May 2020 08:11:56 +0530
Proposed amendments to Electricity Act take away state powers TN CM

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K.Palaniswami on Saturday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the proposed amendments to the Electricity Act take away the power of State governments and also have a direct bearing on the independent functioning of the power sector in the state.

Palaniswami also urged Modi to prevail upon the Ministry of Power to put the proposed amendments to the Electricity Act in abeyance till they are thoroughly discussed with the state governments after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

In a letter to Modi, text of which was released to the media here, Palaniswami said that the proposed amendments have a direct bearing on the independent functioning of the power sector in the state.

Palaniswami referring to his letter dated November 12, 2018, where he had said the proposed Electricity Amendment Bill takes away certain powers of the state government while bringing changes in the Electricity Act, like separating carriage and content in the distribution sector making the public sector power utilities totally unviable.

"The proposed new draft bill seeks to privatise not just the supply of power to the end consumer through franchisees but to also privatise the entire distribution network, which would be highly detrimental to the state utilities and against public interest," Palaniswami said.

He also said implementing direct benefit transfer in the power sector would work against the interest of farmers and domestic consumers.

Further, despite our strong reservations, the new draft Bill continues to have provisions for the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of subsidy provided to consumers, particularly in the agricultural and domestic sector.

"It has been the consistent policy of my Government that our farmers should receive free power and it should be left with the State Government to decide the mode of payment of such subsidy," Palaniswami said.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister also said the proposed amendment bill seeks to take away the power of the State Government in deciding the constitution of the State Electricity Regulatory Commission, which is against the federal principles of the Constitution.

According to Palaniswami, the proposal to set up a parallel authority namely Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority at the Central level to handle all contractual issues, needs to be deleted as it dilutes the authority of the Electricity Regulatory Commission.

source:ians

Sat, 09 May 2020 08:06:30 +0530
Twitter disagree that China Russia spreading COVID 19 misinformation

Washington, Twitter has somewhat disputed the US governments claim that thousands of accounts on its platform that were disseminating misinformation related to coronavirus pandemic originated in China in coordination with Russia.

The US state department on Friday accused China of colluding with Russia to manipulate social media platforms to spread fake news around coronavirus.

According to a CNN report, Lea Gabrielle who is head of the State Department's Global Engagement Center (GEC), the US "has uncovered a new network of inauthentic Twitter accounts, which we assess were created with the intent to amplify Chinese propaganda and disinformation".

Twitter reviewed such accounts and found that several of those belong to government entities, NGOs and journalists.

The review was ongoing, said Twitter, adding that it planned to follow up with the GEC on its findings.

A State Department spokesperson told CNN that "the GEC provided Twitter with a small sample of the overall dataset that included nearly 250,000 accounts".

Gabrielle said in a statement that "the GEC looks forward to further collaboration with Twitter on this latest example of inauthentic activity, as well as on future cases".

The US State Department has led an aggressive campaign "aimed at calling out Beijing for a lack of transparency and pushing disinformation".

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said there is "enormous evidence" that the novel coronavirus originated in a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic erupted last December

Pompeo went to suggest that it was man-made, saying that "the best experts so far seem to think it was man-made".

"China has a history of infecting the world," Pompeo said earlier last week, adding that Beijing's laboratories were "substandard" in terms of their cleanliness and their security procedures.

Twitter said that it welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with the government agencies and build on joint efforts to address a shared threat.

"Twitter will continue its zero-tolerance approach to platform manipulation and any other attempts to undermine the integrity of our service," said a Twitter spokesperson.
(IANS) 

Sat, 09 May 2020 07:31:25 +0530
Sea levels can rise more than 1 metre by 2100 Study

Singapore,  An international team of researchers has revealed that the global mean sea-level rise could exceed 1 metre by 2100 and 5 metres by 2300 if global targets on emissions are not achieved.

The study used projections by more than 100 international experts for the global mean sea-level changes under two climate scenarios - low and high emissions.

By surveying a wide range of leaders in the field, the research, published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science, offers broader assurance about its projections for the ranges of future sea-level rise.

In a scenario where global warming is limited to 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the experts estimated a rise of 0.5 metres by 2100 and 0.5 to 2 metres by 2300.

In a high-emissions scenario with 4.5 degree Celsius of warming, the experts estimated a larger rise of 0.6 to 1.3 metres by 2100 and 1.7 to 5.6 metres by 2300.

Professor Benjamin Horton from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, who led the survey, said that sea-level rise projections and knowledge of their uncertainties are vital to make informed mitigation and adaptation decisions.

"We know that the planet will see an additional sea-level rise in the future," said study co-author Dr Andra Garner, Assistant Professor at Rowan University in the US.

"But there are stark differences in the amount of sea-level rise experts project for low emissions compared to high emissions. This provides a great deal of hope for the future, as well as a strong motivation to act now to avoid the more severe impacts of rising sea levels," Garner added.

This international study is based on the informed opinions of 106 sea-level experts and underlines the critical importance of pursuing a low emissions policy to limit sea-level rise.

The 106 experts who participated in the survey were chosen as they were among the most active publishers of scientific sea-level studies identified from a leading publication database.

In response to open-ended questions, the climate change experts identified the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets as the greatest sources of uncertainty.

These ice sheets are an important indicator of climate change and driver of sea-level rise. Satellite-based measurements show the ice sheets are melting at an accelerating rate.

However, the experts also noted that the magnitude and impact of sea-level rise can be limited by successfully reducing emissions.
(IANS)

Sat, 09 May 2020 06:02:30 +0530
Samsung working on smart debit cards to take on Apple Card

San Francisco,  After witnessing the success of Apple credit card, Samsung is now working on its own physical and virtual smart debit cards that will allow customers to buy things online as well as in retail stores.

In 2020, Samsung Pay will be expanding its service from being a rewarding way to shop and pay, to also be a rewarding way to manage money, according to the company.

"As a first step to this broader vision, this summer Samsung in partnership with SoFi will introduce a new Samsung Pay experience with an innovative debit card backed by a cash management account. We are excited to share more details in the coming weeks," Sang Ahn, Vice President and GM of Samsung Pay, North America Service Business, Samsung Electronics, said in a statement on Friday.

Samsung already offers the "Samsung Pay" service to its consumers. The service has now completed five years.

The upcoming service will help Samsung Pay customers take control of their everyday finances.

Samsung has reportedly been working on a 'mobile-first money management platform' for a year.

While the South Korean tech giant has not revealed much about its debit card, the card will be backed by a cash management account based on smartphones.

Google is also reportedly working on its own physical and virtual smart debit cards.

The Google smart debit card will connect to a Google app with features that "let users easily monitor purchases, check their balance or lock their account".

The card will be co-branded with different bank partners, including CITI and Stanford Federal Credit Union.
(IANS)

Sat, 09 May 2020 05:46:32 +0530
PM Modi Italy PM discuss health economic impact of COVID 19

New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the measures required to address the health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte over a phone call.

Over a phone call on Friday, PM Modi also conveyed his condolences for the loss of lives in Italy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He commended the fortitude shown by citizens of Italy during the crisis.

Both the leaders expressed solidarity with each other and appreciated the mutual cooperation extended towards each other's stranded nationals.

Modi assured Conte of India's unstinted support to Italy in the provision of essential medicines and other items.

The leaders agreed to continue active consultation and cooperation between India and Italy, to further strengthen bilateral relations.

Conte reiterated his invitation to the Prime Minister to visit Italy at a suitable time.
(IANS) 

Sat, 09 May 2020 04:59:06 +0530
India inches towards 60 000 COVID 19 cases

New Delhi, The Total number of Covid-19 cases in the country mounted to 59,662 on Saturday, with 3,320 cases and 95 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry said.

Of the total, 39,834 are active cases, 17,846 people have recovered, and 1,981 people have succumbed to the disease.

Maharashtra remained the worst-hit state with a total number of cases rising to 19,063, followed by Gujarat which has reported 7,402 cases. Delhi has reported 6,318 cases and Tamil Nadu 6,009 cases, according to the Health Ministry data.

Maharashtra has also recorded 731 deaths so far, the highest number of casualties among all the states.

Other states which have jumped the 3,000 marks are Madhya Pradesh (3,341), Rajasthan (3,579), Tamil Nadu (6,009) and Uttar Pradesh (3,214).

Among other major cities, Andhra Pradesh has reported 1,887 and 41 deaths, Bihar stood at 571 cases and five deaths, Haryana at 647 and eight deaths, Jammu and Kashmir at 823 cases and nine deaths, Karnataka at 753 and 30 deaths and Kerala was docked at 503 and four deaths.

States which have reported less than 10 cases are -- Tripura, Mizoram, Puducherry, Manipur, Goa and Arunachal Pradesh.

On the global front, the total number of cases is about to touch four million mark and over two lakh people have died due to coronavirus till now.
IANS

Sat, 09 May 2020 04:34:50 +0530
35 CISF men among 526 CAPF troops test COVID 19 positive

New Delhi,  As many as 35 CISF personnel are among 526 Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) troops who have been tested positive for novel coronavirus till Friday across the country.

Of the 35 in the CISF, 15 are in Mumbai, 14 in Delhi, four in Kolkata and two in Greater Noida.

Out of 15 infected Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel, 11 were disputed at the Mumbai airport, two at Mumbai port, and one each at the government mint -- one of the four mints in the country for the production of coins -- as well as Hindustan Petroleum/Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL).

Among those infected in Delhi, three were deputed at the Delhi airport and 11 at Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

In Kolkata, three CISF personnel were performing duties at Kolkata Port Trust and one at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd.

Of the CISF personnel deputed in Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh, one was deputed at the force's 11 Battalion and other at its Special Security Group (SSF) Control Room in Noida.

The over 1.62-lakh CISF paramilitary force is mandated to provide security to major critical infrastructure in diverse areas. It provides security to nuclear installations, space establishments, airports, seaports, power plants, sensitive government buildings and heritage monuments.

Among the important responsibilities entrusted to the CISF are the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, VIP security, disaster management and establishment of a Formed Police Unit (FPU) of the UN at Haiti.

In total, Border Security Force Personnel (BSF) is on the top with a total of 225 COVID-19 cases reported in the border guarding force so far followed by 163 in Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), 86 in Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP), 35 in Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and 17 in Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
 

(IANS)

Fri, 08 May 2020 13:24:27 +0530
COVID 19 could kill 190 000 in Africa in a year WHO

Geneva, As many as 190,000 people across Africa could die in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic if crucial containment measures fail, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Friday.

The WHO warning comes as the continent's most populous nation, Nigeria, with others including South Africa and Ivory Coast, have begun relaxing some of their lockdown measures, reports the BBC.

The UN health body's estimates were based on prediction modelling, and focus on 47 countries in the WHO African region - Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia and Djibouti are not included.

Across the whole of the African continent more than 2,000 coronavirus deaths have been recorded by Africa's Centre for Disease Control.

By comparison, 140,000 have died in Western Europe, where the virus took hold several weeks earlier.

"It likely will smoulder in transmission hot spots," the BBC quoted WHO Africa head Matshidiso Moeti as saying in a statement.

"COVID-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the region.

"We need to test, trace, isolate and treat," Moeti added.

(IANS) 

Fri, 08 May 2020 11:11:42 +0530
Moeen feels he has only 2 or 3 more years left at top level

London, England all-rounder Moeen Ali feels he can play at the highest level for 2-3 more years and that is why he wants to play as much as possible. Moeen hasn't featured for England in the longest format since being dropped from the second Ashes Test last year.

Moeen has now expressed his desire to play all three formats for 'The Three Lions' considering he doesn't have too much time left on the international arena.

"Since the whole pandemic thing I want to play as much as I can," Moeen said during a Doosra podcast.

"Cricket at the highest level will probably finish for me in two or three years.

"I want to make the most of it and play as much as I can. I only did it (stepping away from international cricket) for a bit of a break, and I've had that now."

Moeen also spoke about being part of the England team that lifted the ICC World Cup last year. He gave an insight into the minds of players who were under immense pressure to end their trophy drought in front of home support.

"It was an amazing time," Moeen said about England historic victory last year.

"I think the whole emotion of four years build up to it and so much went into it... so much pressure for us to win it at home.

"It took us couple of seconds to think we have won the game (final). I wasn't playing the game but it didn't feel like I wasn't playing.

"I can't describe the feeling but just to see all the guys celebrating and to be part of that journey was simply unbelievable," he said.
(IANS) 

Fri, 08 May 2020 10:53:06 +0530
Up to 15 000 UK pubs may never reopen Report

London, Pubs are among UK businesses that have been hardest hit during the coronavirus pandemic and as many as 15,000 might not survive until the lockdown is lifted, an industry expert warned on Friday.

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said the coronavirus crisis was "devastating" for the sector financially and that if pubs weren't allowed to reopen until the end of September, they might have to close for good, the Metro newspaper reported.

"We could be losing 40 per cent of our businesses if they do not open by the end of September. That equates to about 15,000 pubs and breweries," she said.

Pubs will face a "double hit" when they do reopen because people who have been warned off socialising during lockdown may fear going out in groups or to stay out for lengthy periods.

The perceived vision of people cramming into pubs once they eventually reopen was "something of the past", she warned.

"There are going to be much fewer people inside our pubs and that is part of the reality going forward.

"In the current situation, people are nervous about going out, but they are definitely nervous about socialising in the way they used to and it will take time to build that consumer confidence," the Metro newspaper quoted McClarkin as saying.

She further said that the two-metre distancing rule would also limit indoor capacity by about 70 per cent.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to reveal the government's "road map" on how the UK's lockdown measures will be eased.

But McClarkin said that while it was important for pubs to start trading again, opening in the wrong conditions would not be in "anyone's interests".

"A fatal blow for many pubs would be a secondary closure" if a second wave of the pandemic hits the UK, she said.
(IANS) 

Fri, 08 May 2020 10:44:29 +0530
KVIC turnover touches nearly Rs 90k crore on PM Modi s appeal

New Delhi, The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has announced that its turnover for 2019-20 reached Rs 88,887 crore, "which no FMCG company can match", powered by the appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This is the biggest success story of KVIC ever scripted, it said.

"The last five years under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has seen the widest acceptance of "brand Khadi" in India", it added.

"The total Khadi and village industries turnover in the year 2019-20, has reached whopping Rs 88,887 crore, which no FMCG company can match", KVIC said.

While the production of Khadi, the most eco-friendly product of sustainable development, has more than doubled in the last five years, since 2015-16; the sale of khadi has gone up by nearly three times during the same period.

Similarly, the village industry (VI) sector has also seen a phenomenal growth in the Modi era with production and sale going up by nearly 100 % in the last five years.

Looking at the performance in the last one year, the turnover of Khadi registered a growth of 31% from Rs 3,215.13 crore in 2018-19, to Rs 4,211.26 crore in 2019-20. The turnover of Village Industries products reached to Rs 84,675.39 crore in 2019-20, registering a growth of over 19% from the previous year, i.e. 2018-19, which was at Rs 71,077 crores.

Khadi's unprecedented growth during the Modi era can also be gauged by the fact that Khadi production since 2015-16, has grown at the average of 19.45% per annum which was merely 6.25% during the previous government from 2004 to 2014.

Similarly, Khadi's sales grew exponentially during the Modi government at the annual rate of 27.6% which remained as low as 6.65% from 2004-2014.

KVIC Chairman, Vinai Kumar Saxena attributed Khadi's phenomenal growth to the sustained efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, creative marketing ideas of Minister for MSME, Nitin Gadkari and the active support from various ministries.


"As a result of government's sustained efforts to revive the Khadi industry and the Prime Minister's repeated appeals from various platforms including his radio address "Mann ki Baat", to adopt Khadi as a necessity of daily life, the KVIC has been continuously going up the growth trajectory," Saxena said.

KVIC's performance in the year 2019-20, assumes greater significance. As compared to the previous year, i.e. 2018-19, it registered an increase of 31% in the sale of Khadi and over 19% rise in the sale of village industry products despite facing odds like nationwide lockdown in wake of Covid-19 and pan-India anti-CAA/NRC protests in February-March 2020.

Saxena said: "He was expecting higher results; however, due to these agitations and lockdown, several Khadi exhibitions, planned in the months of February and March were cancelled and the year-end clearance sale could not happen".

While the Village Industries (VI) products worth Rs 33,425 crore were produced in 2015-16; production went up by 96 % to Rs 65,393.40 crore in 2019-20. It also recorded an increase in sale of products by nearly 110% from Rs 40,385 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 84,675.39 crore in 2019-20.

Besides the Khadi apparels, a wide range of village industry products like cosmetics, soaps & shampoos, Ayurvedic medicines, honey, oils, tea, pickles, papads, hand sanitizers, confectionery, food items and leather items too has attracted a large number of consumers across the country and abroad. This resulted in increasing the production and sale of village industry products by nearly two times in five years.

Notably, KVIC has also made sustained strides to garner support from various state governments, PSUs like Air India, IOC, ONGC, REC and others, colleges, universities, Indian Railways and Ministry of Health among others. Further, in the village industry sector, KVIC boasts of over 150 products with an in-house capacity of excellence in fields like bee-keeping, pottery and bakery, KVIC said.

(IANS) 

Fri, 08 May 2020 10:23:54 +0530
Mi 10 5G with 108MP quad camera starts from Rs 49 999 in India

Bengaluru, Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi on Friday launched its latest flagship smartphone 'Mi 10 5G' with a 108MP quad-camera setup, UHD 8K video recording and fastest 30W wireless charging in India.

The smartphone is being offered in two storage variants with 8GB RAM--128GB and 8GB+256GB. The base variant is priced at Rs 49,999 while the 256GB model will be available for Rs 54,999.

The devices will be available for pre-orders from Friday on Amazon India as well as Mi India Store.

"This device is a pinnacle of smartphone design and engineering, pushing the boundaries of what's possible on a handheld device. With its flagship OIS enabled 108MP Quad Camera setup, UHD 8K video recording, world's fastest 30W wireless charging, we hope our users can create content in a way never thought possible before, with Mi 10," said Manu Kumar Jain, Vice President, Xiaomi, and Managing Director, Xiaomi India.

Launch offers on Mi 10 5G include cashback worth up to Rs 3,000 on transactions made through HDFC Bank cards.

Customers pre-ordering the new smartphone will also get the 10000mAh Mi WJiireless Power Bank worth Rs 2,499.

The smartphone features 6.67-inch Curved E3 AMOLED display with 19.5:9 aspect ratio and 90Hz refresh rate. The device is powered by the 2.84GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoC with Adreno 650 GPU.

The quad-rear camera setup has a combination of 108MP main camera, 13MP wide-angle lens and a pair of 2MP cameras.

For selfies, the Mi 10 5G has 20MP camera sensor at the front.

"The Mi brand is known for its flagship devices across the world and stands for (a) latest, cutting edge technology and (b) premium design. This year, we plan to bring multiple Mi devices to India for our Mi Fans," said Jain.

The device houses a 4,780 mAh battery which supports 10W reverse wireless charging support as well.

The company also launched Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 with ENC for noise cancellation and it comes with an optical sensor for in-ear detection.

Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 price is set at Rs 4,499. However, for a limited period, the company will sell the earphones at Rs 3,999 that will go on sale starting May 12.

Xiaomi also launched the Mi Box 4K streaming device in India, priced at Rs 3,499, that will be available starting May 10.

The device comes with built-in Chromecast that allows users to cast up to 4K Ultra-HD across mobile, tablet or laptops (Windows/macOS).
(IANS) 

Fri, 08 May 2020 10:01:59 +0530
Realme to resume smartphone production with 2 000 employees

New Delhi,  Chinese smartphone brand Realme on Friday confirmed it is resuming operations with 25 per cent of its production capacity, and looks forward to bring back close to 2,000 employees at its Greater Noida facility.

Madhav Sheth, Vice President, realme and CEO, Realme India said the company has received required permission to reopen the factory in Greater Noida.

"As realme believes in ensuring its employees' utmost safety, the company will arrange transportation facilities to pick up all outstation employees and arrange accommodation. We will ensure employees to go through blood tests before they resume work at the factory," Sheth told IANS.

Following the government directives of social distancing, realme will also ensure that the employees maintain distance at the workstations and common area while working in plants with adequate safety measures and sanitization, he added.

South Korean giant Samsung, OPPO and Vivo have also started limited operations at their respective plants in Noida-Greater Noida area.

OPPO said it will restart manufacturing operations with 30 per cent workforce, with around 3,000 employees working in rotation out of more than 10,000-strong staff at the facility. The company has also commenced sales of its devices for consumers in the permitted zones through Amazon and Flipkart.

Vivo also confirmed it has got approval to resume production at its production facility with about 30 per cent of its workforce capacity.

With this, the Noida-Greater Noida smartphone manufacturing belt has begun to see the movement as India observes lockdown 3.0 with some relaxation.
(IANS)

Fri, 08 May 2020 08:52:02 +0530
Economic activity at 49 57 during lockdown 143 186 mn non farm workers inactive McKinsey

New Delhi,  Only 49 to 57 per cent of India's economic activity has operated during the lockdown so far, with 143 million to 186 million inactive non-farm workers, according to a research by McKinsey and Company.

In the past six weeks, India's economy has functioned at 49 to 57 per cent of its full activity level, by our estimates, McKinsey said in a report.

That economic cost, though unavoidable in the early stages of a lockdown, might not be sustainable in the longer term. It is becoming increasingly clear that COVID-19 will not disappear immediately; the economy will need to be managed alongside persistent infection risks, possibly for a prolonged period. After reopening, some countries have needed to resume lockdowns in response to rising infection rates, and India may be no exception, the report said.

India's intertwined supply chains need a sharply targeted lockdown to approach India's manufacturing, labour, and distribution chains are intertwined across sectors and geographies, particularly in the wake of the Goods and Services Tax, McKinsey said.

Six states (including Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu, which account for 30 percent of construction activity) rely heavily on migrant construction workers from other states. Bottlenecks in the return of migrants would affect building activity in such states.

The report estimates that half of all drivers engaged in freight movement across the country come from just 14 districts. Restrictions on the movement of people from these districts could affect the ramping up of national logistics activity.

It is pointed out that economic activity is concentrated in red-zone districts that are critical centres of production and consumption The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has classified districts into red, orange, and green zones, based on multiple criteria.

The 130 districts classified as red-zone districts are some of the most urbanized and industrialized parts of the country. They account for some 41 percent of national economic activity, 38 percent of industrial output, 40 percent of nonfarm employment, and more than half of India's consuming-class households.

Within this set of red-zone districts, 27 districts that have relatively higher infection rates and are more urbanized account for roughly one-third of the economic activity. Finding methods of keeping these red-zone districts operational and safe would be critical in keeping economic activity sustainable.

On the potential reopening implications for economic activity and workers, the report says that based on district-level data on employment for more than 700 districts across 19 sectors, we estimate that only 49 to 57 per cent of India's economic activity has operated during the lockdown so far, with 143 million to 186 million inactive non-farm workers.

Economic activity on the ground may rise going forward, although reaching full potential would require considerable effort to boost local confidence in large swathes of the country.

On looking ahead and planning for contingencies, McKinsey said, "The future remains uncertain, and India will need to be ready for all sorts of eventualities. It would be wise at all levels of government to develop contingency plans based on scenarios of potential COVID-19 impacts".

India's economy will need to function alongside COVID-19 for a prolonged period. A well-implemented, granular, dynamic, and locally-driven lockdown- and restart-management capability while managing health risks is required. There is much at stake for Indian both lives and livelihoods in getting this right, McKinsey said.
(IANS)

Fri, 08 May 2020 08:42:54 +0530
US stocks gain despite grim jobless report

Wall Street's major averages closed higher as investors digested the newly-released weekly report on US jobless claims.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 211.25 points, or 0.89 per cent, to 23,875.89. The S&P 500 increased 32.77 points, or 1.15 per cent, to 2,881.19. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 125.27 points, or 1.41 per cent, to 8,979.66, Xninhua news agency reported.

Nine of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors ended higher, with energy and financials up 2.47 per cent and 2.22 per cent, respectively, outpacing the rest. Consumer staples and health care, however, struggled.

The moves came after more data showed the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the US economy.

Another 3.169 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 2, the US Department of Labor reported Thursday. That brought the seven-week total to about 33.5 million.

Investors also gauged the possibility of normalizing economic activities as a growing number of US states planned to relax coronavirus-driven lockdowns.

"The main areas of interest will be seeing if there are any hot spots or flare ups after businesses reopen," Kevin Matras, an analyst at Zacks Investment Research, said in a note on Thursday.
source:ians

Fri, 08 May 2020 06:13:58 +0530
Train crushes migrants in Maha toll rises to 15

Fifteen migrant labourers have died after a goods train ran over a group of 16 labourers asleep on the railway tracks early on Friday in Maharashtra. The home-bound exhausted lot were run over between Jalna and Aurangabad.

A Railway Ministry official told IANS, "At least 14 people died on the spot and two injured in the incident." When the injured were shifted to a government hospital in Ghati, one of them succumbed to his injuries, he added.

A senior railway official confirmed that the migrant group was run over by the goods train running in the Nanded Division of South Central Railway. The incident happened around 5.30 a.m. when the migrants, who were on their way back to their homes fell asleep on the railway tracks.

The official said that an empty petroleum tanker train was proceeding from Cherlapalli in Telangana to Paniwadi, near Manmad in Maharashtra. "After passing Badnapur station, the locopilot saw some people on the tracks and tried to control it and sounded the horn also, but by the time he could do, it was too late," South Central spokesperson Rakesh told IANS.

According to information the workers were walking to Bhusawal from Jalna, and further onward to Madhya Pradesh. rakesh said these people were lying on the tracks. An enquiry has been ordered by the Commissioner, Railway Safety.

A senior railway ministry official in Delhi said that those run over by train are labourers and residents of Madhya Pradesh's Umarya and Shahdol and worked in SRG Company in Maharashtra's Jalna.

He said, as per the statements of the survivors, the group had left Jalna on Thursday at 7 p.m. on foot initially on road upto Badnapore and later on the track towards Aurangabad.

"After walking for about 36 km, they became tired and sat on the track for taking some rest and gradually fell asleep," he said, adding that 14 people sat on the track, two members adjacent to the track and three members away from track.

He said that senior officials of the Nanded division and the Government Rail Police (GRP) and local police had rushed to the accident site.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths on Twitter: "Extremely anguished by the loss of lives due to the rail accident in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Have spoken to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and he is closely monitoring the situation. All possible assistance required is being provided."

Railway Minister also tweeted: "Today received a saddening news of labourers sleeping on railway tracks run over by a goods train at 5.22 a.m. in Nanded division between Karnad and Badnapur railway station. Relief work is on and an enquiry has been ordered. I pray for the those who lost their lives."

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each for the kin of the dead.

Amid the nationwide lockdown that has entered its third phase since coming into effect from March 24, thousands of migrant workers stranded in several cities have been on an unending toil to return to their native places on foot.

The interstate bus service, passenger, mail and express train services have been suspended since March 24. The Railways has started running Shramik Special trains to transport the stranded migrants to their native places since May 1. Till Thursday railways has run 201 Shramik Special trains.
source:ians

Fri, 08 May 2020 06:07:21 +0530
Another gas leakage at LG Polymers in Vizag triggers panic

Another gas leakage from LG Polymers in Visakhapatnam late Thursday triggered panic in areas near the plant and forced people to move to safe places.

Fumes were seen billowing out of the chemical plant, where the gas leakage in the early hours of the day claimed 11 lives and affected over 300 others.

People from Gopalpatnam, Simhachalam and Pinagadi areas, which are four km away from the plant, were seen moving to safe places.

The gas smell sent panic in certain areas late Thursday night. Many people rushed out of their houses and were seen heading to safer places by their vehicles.

Local police at few places advised people to move to safe places as a precautionary measure.

Officials, however, said the gas emission was continuing since the major leakage around 3.45 a.m. on Thursday.

Visakhapatnam Police Commissioner R K Meena said there was no need for panic. "Efforts are going on to neutralize the gas leak. There is no danger," he said.

The police commissioner hoped that the work to plug the emissions will be completed in a couple of hours.

About 12,000 people from RR Venkatapuram and four other villages were evacuated after the leakage early Thursday.

Visakhapatnam District Fire Officer Sandeep Anand said 10 fire engines and two foam fighters were kept ready in the plant. He said some ambulances were also on standby as a precautionary measure.

Meanwhile, a cargo flight carrying a team of experts and PTBC inhibitor, an antidote for styrene, landed in Visakhapatnam late Thursday.

The experts in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) disaster are likely to begin the operation to plug the emissions after assessing the situation at the plant.
source:ians

Fri, 08 May 2020 06:04:44 +0530
TV star Arun Mandola s lockdown effect Now I am self dependent

Actor Arun Mandola says the lockdown has made him self-dependent.

"I used to wonder how foreigners work like -- they wash utensils, they clean their houses, cook. This is how our lives have also become after the lockdown. Actually, the coronavirus lockdown has made me more punctual and more hardworking. Now, I am self-dependent. I am washing utensils, cleaning my house. I am doing everything without complaints. Now, I am more understanding to other people and have become more sensitive towards society. I also talk to my family every day and strengthen my relationship with them," he said.

He also keeps himself entertained.

Arun, who played Lakshman in the shows "Sankat Mochan Mahabali Hanuman" and "Vighnaharta Ganesh", said watching "Ramayan" on the screen once again reminds him of his childhood days.

"Old television shows are back today because of the lockdown and I feel that these old shows like 'Ramayan' or other TV shows remind me of my past. I remember when I was a child, 'Shaktiman', 'Ramayan', 'Chandrakanta', 'Shriman Shrimati', 'Hum Paanch'; these types of shows would come. People used to vanish from the streets when these shows were on," he recalled.

"Because of the lockdown again, people are watching these shows and the roads are silent. So this reminds me of my childhood. I feel these are my golden days. Somewhere we all are facing difficulties but I am positive and I see positivity behind this," he added.

However, he has plans in place for once the lockdown is over. "I want to go to the temple and I want to thank God that I am alive. The second thing that I will do is go home and spend time with my family," he said.

Meanwhile, the actor is making sure to make the most of his time at home. "During these quarantine days, my focus is to learn things and make future plans and strategies. I work-out, pray, clean the house and watch motivational videos," he said.

source:ians

Fri, 08 May 2020 06:03:00 +0530
Miroslav Klose appointed Bayern Munich assistant coach

Bundesliga club Bayern Munich have appointed Miroslav Klose as their new assistant coach. Klose, 41, will be head coach Hansi Flick's new assistant coach from July 1.

The former Germany striker's contract will run until June 30, 2021. Furthermore, 31-year-old Danny Rohl's contract as assistant coach has been extended to June 30 2023.

"It feels very good, I'm very much looking forward to the task. Hansi Flick and I have known each other very well since our years together in the German national team. We trust each other, both professionally and personally.

"For me this is the next step in my career as a coach. I hope that I can use my experience to make an important contribution in helping FC Bayern achieve our sporting goals," said Klose in an official statement.

Klose will be on the Bayern bench when the Bundesliga restarts on May 16 after having been suspended since mid-March due to the coronavirus.

Klose scored 71 goals in 137 international matches for Germany.

"With his experience as a former professional at the highest international level, Miro is the perfect addition to our coaching team," said Flick.

"We have known and appreciated each other for a very long time and were able to celebrate great successes together with the national team," he added.

Klose, 2014 World Cup winner and the leading World Cup goalscorer of all time, has coached the German record champions' U17 juniors for the past two years and won the U17 Bundesliga South/Southwest regular season championship with his team in 2019.

From June onwards, Klose will also attend the DFB Academy's A-licence training course. The 41-year-old played for FC Bayern from 2007 to 2011.
source:ians

Fri, 08 May 2020 06:01:04 +0530
MediaTek unveils improved 5G integrated chip for smartphones

Taiwanese fabless semiconductor company MediaTek has unveiled an improved version of its flagship 5G chipset called Dimensity 1000+ with upgraded features for gaming, video and power efficiency.

The Dimensity 1000+ is based on the same core hardware as the Dimensity 1000 and showcases an incredible, flagship-grade user experience for smartphone users globally.
"The single chip integrates in a suite of world-leading innovations in 5G connectivity and power-efficiency, plus unique display, video and gaming technologies that make it stand out," Yenchi Lee, Assistant General Manager of MediaTek's wireless communications business unit said in a statement.

The MediaTek Dimensity 1000+ supports 144Hz refresh rate screens with resolution maxing out at 1080p+ and up to a 21:9 aspect ratio.

It uses the latest MiraVision technologies to improve per frame picture quality.

Similar to its predecessor, the Dimensity 1000+ is built on a 7nm process and features an identical 5G modem.

MediaTek has added something called "5G UltraSave", a built-in power saving mechanism that can dynamically switch between different power states to maximize the battery life.

There are also new technology additions to HyperEngine 2.0 to optimise the phone for a more fluid and immersive gaming experience.

It comes with a Resource Management Engine to intelligently manage CPU, GPU and memory resources, an upgraded Networking Engine for call and data concurrency, an intelligent switch between 5G and 4G networks based on application needs.
source:ians

Fri, 08 May 2020 05:59:04 +0530
Kim congratulates Xi on COVID 19 containment

Seoul, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has sent a congratulatory message to Chinese President Xi Jinping for successfully containing the novel coronavirus, Pyongyang's state media reported on Friday.

In a "verbal message", Kim said that Xi "is seizing a chance of victory in the war against the unprecedented epidemic and strategically and tactically controlling the overall situation while leading the Chinese party and people", Efe news quoted Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) as saying in a report.

Kim also wished te President "good health" and expressed conviction that "the Chinese party and people would cement the successes made so far and steadily expand them and thus win a final victory under the wise guidance of Xi Jinping", KCNA added, without specifying when the message was delivered to Beijing.

Kim has on several occasions praised the efforts of the Chinese government in controlling the pandemic, the real extent of which is unknown in North Korea since Pyongyang completely sealed its borders at the end of January in the face of the spread of the disease in the neighbouring country.

Kim's latest words of praise for Xi came after he reappeared in a state media report on May 2 following a 21-day absence from the public eye.

During this period, the leader missed several important regime events, including the commemoration of the birth of the country's founder and Kim's grandfather Kim Il-sung, on the main national holiday on April 15.

Given the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic and the traditional secretiveness of the North Korean government, Kim's disappearance had been accompanied by anonymously sourced reports in foreign media suggesting that he was gravely ill after undergoing cardiac surgery, or even dead.

The speculation was also fueled by the state media reporting that during his last public event, Kim named his sister as a member of the powerful Workers' Party of Korea political bureau, a move interpreted by some commentators as a succession plan.

However, South Korean intelligence agencies refuted the speculations and later the North Korean leader's reappearance ruled out the possibility that he could have undergone any medical procedure of this kind.

South Korea's National Intelligence Service said that even a simple cardiovascular procedure would have required four or five weeks of recovery, whereas Kim was absent for three weeks.
(IANS) 

Fri, 08 May 2020 05:57:50 +0530
Lockdown hits production by Telangana s bulk drug manufacturers

Despite being exempted from lockdown, the bulk drug manufacturers in Telangana are operating at only 50 per cent of their capacity, struggling to meet the demand for critical drugs including anti-viral drugs for treating COVID-19 patients in sufficient quantities.

Ever since the lockdown began in March, the bulk drug manufacturers in Hyderabad and surrounding districts have not been able to operate their units at full capacity to meet the domestic and global demand.

The pharma companies rue lack of proper coordination among police in four commissionerates which cover these districts. The frequent checking of the buses carrying their employees and the seizure of the vehicles carrying the materials are hampering their efforts to operate at full capacity to ensure proper supply of essential drugs during the lockdown period.

"We are operating our units at 50 per cent of the capacity due to problems for movement of our employees and materials, P. Eshwar Reddy, executive director, Bulk Drug Manufacturers' Association (BDMA) told IANS.

"Most of the time police stop our buses and trucks despite showing them the passes. There is not much coordination among the police in four commissionerates. Police personnel in one commissionerate say the pass issued by the other commissionerate is not valid. I can't take passes from all four commissionerates," he said.

The operations are also affected due to interruptions in the movement of vehicles carrying the material.

"Our raw materials and various chemicals have to come from outside. The transport movement is not smooth. There are various issues with regard to availability of vehicles, labour and checkposts formed for enforcing the lockdown."

Accounting for 40 per cent of the total bulk drug production in India, Telangana is known as the bulk drug capital of India.

The bulk drug and pharmaceutical production mainly takes place in Hyderabad and surrounding districts of Rangareddy, Medchal, and Sangareddy.

Officials said during the lockdown the companies successfully supplied azithromycin and other anti-viral drugs used for treating COVID-19 patients in sufficient quantities.

The Telangana State Pollution Control Board also recently gave its consent to pharma companies to establish and operate industries to produce life-saving drugs such as Hydroxychloroquine or its intermediates, to check the Covid-19 outbreak.

Some existing bulk drug/drug intermediate manufacturing industries are coming forward to manufacture Hydroxychloroquine and other life saving bulk drugs or their intermediates to meet the global demand.

Hyderabad and surrounding districts form the largest pharmaceutical hub with more than 800 life sciences companies employing about 1.20 lakh people.

Facing a totally new situation, the companies are taking all precautions like health of the employees, hygiene and social distancing while continuing the production.

Leading vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech, for instance, had to deploy additional buses for their employees.

"A bus with 40-50 seating capacity is today carrying only 20 people because of the social distancing guidelines issued by the authorities. We are following all the guidelines," said Suchitra Ella, Joint Managing Director, Bharat Biotech.

As the company is located in Genome Valley, the employees have to travel 80-100 km every day.

She said the company had to divide all its employees into three shifts to continue the operations. "Ours is a continuous process operation. All our freezers work at -20 to -70 degrees. Certain systems in production technical block can't be turned off. They have to run 24X7," explained Suchitra.

The vaccine maker is ensuring supplies of vaccines including polio and rabies vaccines to the government of India and the state government.

The bulk drug companies are also trying to maintain the supplies for exports. On Wednesday, a commercial B777 Passenger to Cargo (P to C) flight of Aeroflot Airlines of Russia with about 50 tonnes of medicines and vaccines took off for Moscow from Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi International Airport.

source:ians

Fri, 08 May 2020 05:57:39 +0530
Ankur Tewari on composing for the web show REJCTX2

The musical thriller web show "REJCTX2" is about to stream, and composer-singer Ankur Tewari has opened up on the process of creating its songs.

"The idea was to compose catchy songs for 'REJCTX2', that are easily hummable, while retaining a feel that they are made in dorm rooms and not in a professional hi-tech studio. The music resonates with the eight kids in the show. We wanted the songs to be an extension to the characters they play in the show," said Ankur, referring to the show's young protagonists.

"The music and the lyrics had to be for the young and by the young. So we decided to collaborate with students from a music school, to write sketches of melodies and words. We then ended up polishing the rough edges retaining the raw ideas that these students brought in," he said.

Directed by Goldie Behl, the second season stars Esha Gupta, Sumeet Vyas, Masi Wali, Anisha Victor, Saadhika Syal, Ayush Khurana, Ridhi Khakhar and Prabhneet Singh.

"REJCTX2" is a teen musical thriller and a coming of age story that revolves around the lives of seven Indian students studying in The Jefferson World School. The show will soon stream on ZEE5.
source:ians

Fri, 08 May 2020 05:53:38 +0530
Equity indices in green Sensex up over 400 points

The key Indian equity indices opened on a positive note on Friday tracking gains in the Asian markets.

Around 10.10 a.m., the BSE Sensex was trading at 31,875.44, higher by 432.06 points or 1.37 per cent from the previous close of 31,443.38.

It had opened at 32,083.32 at and has so far touched an intra-day high of 32,088.51 and a low of 31,792.62 points.

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading at 9,330.70, higher by 131.65 points or 1.43 per cent from the previous close.

Stocks of Reliance Industries on the BSE surged over 2 per cent on Friday after the company announced that Vista Equity Partners will invest Rs 11,367 crore into Jio Platforms.

Currently, shares of RIL are trading at Rs 1,542.05, higher by Rs 34.80 or 2.31 per cent from its previous close.

source:ians

Fri, 08 May 2020 05:51:43 +0530
UK govt will apply maximum caution when lifting lockdown

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that his government will use "maximum caution" when considering lifting the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Johnson is due to announce plans to ease restrictions in the country on Sunday, which would come into force from Monday, reports Efe news.

A spokesman for the leader said he told his Ministers in a cabinet meeting: "We are not going to do anything that risks a second peak. We will advance with maximum caution in order to protect the NHS and to save lives.

"We will be guided at every step by the science and the data and we will closely track the impact of any easing of the social distancing measures and will not hesitate to tighten the rules if required."

The government is due to re-evaluate the containment measures, which have been in place since March 23, and is likely to extend them for another three weeks.

There have been numerous reports in the British press speculating about how the restrictions might be relaxed.

Some media reports have said that Johnson could announce that some economic sectors will be allowed to resume their activity and citizens will be allowed to go out more than once a day for exercise.

Downing Street has acknowledged that the lockdown, in place to help slow the spread of infections, is having a big impact on the economy but that this effect could be even worse if there is another rise in infections.

The UK's economy could shrink by 14 per cent this year, the worst recession on record, and unemployment levels could reach eight per cent, according to estimates by the Bank of England on Thursday.

It was also announced on Thursday that Notting Hill Carnival will be cancelled this year for the first time since it began in 1966.

The annual celebration in west London usually takes place at the end of August and is the biggest street festival in Europe with more than one million attendees.

The UK currently accounts for the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in Europe and second-highest in the world behind the US.

As of Friday, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country stood at 207,977, with 30,689 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
source:ians

Fri, 08 May 2020 05:49:37 +0530
Man kills wife for refusing money to buy liquor

A man allegedly killed his wife when she refused to give him her jewellery to buy liquor.

The incident took place in the Bamruliya village in the Farrukhabad district on Thursday.

A case has been registered with the Nawabganj police station and a hunt has been launched to arrest the accused.

According to the police, Prashant was married to Lakshmi Devi, 26, for six years and the couple has a five-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter.

"Prashant is a liquor addict. He would usually beat his wife in an inebriated condition. Prashant would frequently demand money from his wife for liquor. This time when she refused to give him money, he hit her with a wooden stick till she fainted and then escaped with her gold earrings," said Station House Officer (SHO) Rakesh Kumar Sharma.

"Lakshmi bled profusely and succumbed to her injuries.

Her parents have lodged a complaint at the Nawabganj police station.

"We have booked Prashant under section 302 (murder) of the IPC. Raids are on to arrest him," the SHO said.

source:ians

Fri, 08 May 2020 05:47:49 +0530
All possible help being provided PM on Maharashtra train mishap

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday expressed condolence over the death of 14 migrant workers in a train accident in Maharashtra's Aurangabad.

The Prime Minister also took stock of the situation after the tragic incident in a telephonic conversation with Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and said that the minister was closely monitoring the situation.

"Extremely anguished by the loss of lives due to the rail accident in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Have spoken to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and he is closely monitoring the situation," the Prime Minister tweeted.

"All possible assistance required is being provided."

All the 14 migrant labourers were crushed to death early on Friday by a goods train in Maharashtra after they fell asleep on the tracks. The home-bound exhausted lot of workers were run over between Jalna and Aurangabad.

It is yet not clear from where this group hailed and where they were going.

Amid the nationwide lockdown, thousands of migrant workers stranded in several other cities have started their journey to return to their native places on foot.

The interstate bus service, passenger, mail and express train services have been suspended since March 24.

The railways has started running Shramik Special trains to transport the stranded migrants to their native places since May 1.
 

Source:ians

Fri, 08 May 2020 05:45:23 +0530
Train crushes 14 migrants in Maharashtra

Aurangabad (Maharashtra), Fourteen migrant labourers were crushed to death early on Friday by a goods train in Maharashtra after they fell asleep on the tracks. The home-bound exhausted lot of workers were run over between Jalna and Aurangabad.

A Railway Ministry official told IANS, "At least 14 people have died and two injured in the incident."

A senior railway official confirmed that 17 migrant labourers were run over by the goods train running in the Nanded Division of South Central Railway.

The incident happened around 5.30 a.m. when the migrants, who were on their way back to their homes fell asleep on the railway tracks.

The official said that an empty petroleum tanker train was proceeding from Cherlapalli in Telangana to Paniwadi, near Manmad in Maharashtra. "After passing Badnapur station, the locopilot saw some people on the tracks and tried to control it and sounded the horn also, but by the time he could do, it was too late," South Central spokesperson Rakesh told IANS.

According to information the workers were walking to Bhusawal from Jalna and further onward to Madhya Pradesh. Rakesh said these people were lying on the tracks. An enquiry has been ordered by the Commissioner, Railway Safety.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths on Twitter: "Extremely anguished by the loss of lives due to the rail accident in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Have spoken to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and he is closely monitoring the situation. All possible assistance required is being provided."

Railway Minister also tweeted: "Today received saddening news of labourers sleeping on railway tracks run over by a goods train at 5.22 a.m. in Nanded division between Karnad and Badnapur railway station. Relief work is on and an enquiry has been ordered. I pray for those who lost their lives."

Amid the nationwide lockdown, thousands of migrant workers stranded in several other cities have been on an unending toil to return to their native places on foot.

The interstate bus service, passenger, mail and express train services have been suspended since March 24.

The Railways has started running Shramik Special trains to transport the stranded migrants to their native places since May 1. Till Thursday railways have run 201 Shramik Special trains.
(IANS) 

Fri, 08 May 2020 04:45:38 +0530
India tally at 56 342 with 3 390 cases 103 deaths in 24 hrs

New Delhi,  With a surge of 3,390 new cases and 103 new fatalities, the total tally of novel Coronavirus cases in India stood at 56,342 on Friday, the Union Health Ministry said.

Of the total cases, 37,916 are active while 1,886 people have lost their lives.

A total of 16,593 though have recovered as India undergoes the third-phase of the nation-wide lockdown. The total tally also includes 111 foreign nationals and one migrated patient, said the Health Ministry.

Maharashtra continues at the top of the tally with 17,974 cases and 694 fatalities, while 3,301 people were cured in the state. It is followed by Gujarat with 7,012 cases and 425 deaths and 1,709 recovered.

There are at least 5,980 cases in the national capital with 1,931 recoveries and 66 deaths. Other states which saw an increased number of cases are Tamil Nadu (5,409), Rajasthan (3,427), Madhya Pradesh (3,252) and Uttar Pradesh (3,071).

States which have reported more than thousand cases are Andhra Pradesh (1,847), Punjab (1,644), West Bengal (1,548) and Telangana (1,123).

While Goa continues to be Corona-free, in the Northeast it is Tripura that surpassed Assam and now has 65 cases as Assam reported 54 cases. Other NE states that have reported COVID-19 cases are Meghalaya (12) Manipur (2), Mizoram (1) and Arunachal Pradesh (1).
 

(IANS)

Fri, 08 May 2020 04:34:23 +0530
Over 9000 pregnant women on list of Keralites ready to return

Thiruvananthapuram,  In an affidavit filed by the Kera