Several new craters found in Siberia

first_img Citation: Several “new” craters found in Siberia (2015, February 25) retrieved 18 August 2019 from © 2015 In addition to debating the cause of the creation of the craters, debate has also begun about the term used to describe them—the term crater is usually associated with surface blasts or even more often with collisions between celestial bodies. For that reason, many researchers have begun referring to the craters as funnels.Thus far, it appears that research regarding the craters is being led by Vasily Bogoyavlensky—a professor affiliated with the Russian Academy of Sciences. In an interview with the Russian press he has indicated that he believes that there are far more craters in and around the Yamal and Taimyr peninsulas and that it appears likely that going forward they may present a health hazard. He claims that residents from one nearby town actually witnessed the creation of one of the craters, from a distance—they say they saw a flash and felt the ground shake.Bogoyavlensky also said that he believes that many of the small lakes in the area likely came about due to the same process as the craters. He added that at one site, a large crater appears to be surrounded by several smaller craters and satellite photos have shown the existence of pingos (mounds that develop on the surface due to ice melting and seeping and then refreezing) in the spots where the craters later formed, suggesting a link. He is calling for more investigation to protect those who may venture into harm’s way. Hampering the investigation is the absence of charred rock on the rim of some of the craters, or even a parapet, which should form if a blast came from below. Some have suggested such examples can be explained by noting that evidence may have been left on ice that has since melted. n 80-meter-wide crater recently discovered in northern Siberia (video screenshot) Amazing impact crater where a triple asteroid smashed into Marslast_img read more

Report outlines predictions regarding changes to wildlife in England over the next

first_imgCredit: Wikipedia Explore further A new report released by Natural England outlines what scientists in that country believe will happen to wildlife in England over the coming years as warming takes place. Warmth-loving creatures in the South are expected to thrive while those that prefer the cold, which live mostly at higher elevations or in the North, will likely suffer, the authors of the report suggest. More information: publications.naturalengland.or … ion/4674414199177216 © 2015 This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. The report is a collaborative effort between Natural England (a governmental institution set up to study wildlife in the country), University of York, British Trust for Ornithology and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and is the largest of its kind ever undertaken. The goal was to try to understand what changes will take place with England’s wildlife in the face of a 2°C rise in global temperatures over the next sixty years.England is uniquely suited to better understanding wildlife changes, regardless of reason, because of its huge civilian reporting system. People all over the country take note of wildlife they see and send it to academic institutions where the information is entered into databases and used to spot changes. The researchers working on the new report were able to use such information regarding 3,000 species, allowing them to see that bees, wasps and ants, for example, were likely to become more common while many birds familiar to those living in the North were likely to be reduced or will disappear altogether. In all the team found that over a quarter of native species were likely to be put at risk, and that just over half of those would be able to find a new place to live in-country that would sustain them.The team also took a closer look at 400 specific species, and then conducted a very extensive study of just 30 species, looking most specifically at possible means of adaptations.By conducting the research and printing the report, Natural England is hoping to identify for the public which species are at risk and whether anything can be done to help them survive, such as opening up new land, or instigating capture and release programs for those that are not able to migrate on their own. The researchers noted also that reducing carbon emissions is still critical to prevent things from growing even worse. Seeking to save Peter Cottontail from extinction Citation: Report outlines predictions regarding changes to wildlife in England over the next half century (2015, July 23) retrieved 18 August 2019 from read more

Study of crabs suggests they are capable of feeling pain

first_img(—A pair of researchers with Queen’s University in the U.K. has found via testing, that contrary to conventional thinking, crabs appear to be capable of feeling pain. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, Robert Elwood and Laura Adams describe how they subjected a group of crabs to jolts of electricity and the ways they tested them to see if the shocks elicited a pain response. ‘Shell-shocked’ crabs can feel pain This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. In humans and a host of other vertebrates, demonstrations of pain are obvious, from cries and moans to activities related to escape to avoidance behavior afterwards. But do invertebrates and/or fish feel pain? It is a reasonable question because of the way that some invertebrates are treated by humans—dunking them, while still alive, into a pot of boiling water, for instance. Doing so to a cow, pig or chicken would be unthinkable, yet it is done routinely with crabs and lobsters, which do generally attempt to escape their fate. The conventional view is that such creatures are not able to experience pain, at least in the sense that humans feel it, because they do not have brain parts that would appear to be able to process it. But, that may be oversimplifying things—to better define if a creature experiences pain, scientists have begun to establish rules or guidelines to help, such as noting types or degree of reactionary behavior or changes in hormone levels—if such guidelines are met, the creature can be said to feel pain, in whatever form.In this new study, Elwood and Adams set out to determine if common crabs experience pain. To find out they obtained 40 specimens and put them in plastic tanks—all had wires attached but only 20 were actually given shocks—for 200-milliseconds every 10 seconds for a two minute period. All of the crabs were watched to observe their behavior, before, during and after the shocks were applied.The researchers report that the shocked crabs displayed more vigorous behavior than those in the control group, which included walking around, taking a threatened posture or trying to climb out of the tank. Even more tellingly, they noted that the shocked crabs experienced spiked levels of lactic acid in their haemolymph—a fluid in crabs that is analogous to blood in humans. Taken together the evidence indicates very clearly, the team claims, that crabs do indeed feel pain. Journal information: Biology Letters A hermit crab.center_img Explore further Citation: Study of crabs suggests they are capable of feeling pain (2015, November 11) retrieved 18 August 2019 from © 2015 More information: Electric shock causes physiological stress responses in shore crabs, consistent with prediction of pain, Biology Letters, Published 11 November 2015.DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0800AbstractAnimal pain is defined by a series of expectations or criteria, one of which is that there should be a physiological stress response associated with noxious stimuli. While crustacean stress responses have been demonstrated they are typically preceded by escape behaviour and thus the physiological change might be attributed to the behaviour rather than a pain experience. We found higher levels of stress as measured by lactate in shore crabs exposed to brief electric shock than non-shocked controls. However, shocked crabs showed more vigorous behaviour than controls. We then matched crabs with the same level of behaviour and still found that shocked crabs had stronger stress response compared with controls. The finding of the stress response, coupled with previous findings of long-term motivational change and avoidance learning, fulfils the criteria expected of a pain experience.last_img read more

Time to secure Digital India

first_imgPrime minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India campaign has the potential to be one of the most transformative programmes in recent times. It includes creation of ICT infrastructure like high-speed internet at gram panchayat level, on-demand availability of government services like health, education, and digital empowerment of citizens. The Digital India vision is in sync with the several other IT initiatives the government has been taking.The implementation of several e-governance projects across different departments and domains, both at the central and state levels, has led to an increase in the government’s IT spending. Recently, the government also allocated Rs 10,000 crore to support the development of technology start-ups. Industry experts believe that Digital India vision along with ongoing e-governance initiatives could provide the much needed impetus to India’s economic growth. About a third of India’s 252 million internet users and a fourth of mobile internet users live in rural areas. Also Read – Gateway of criminal justiceBut internet penetration in villages at 8.6 percent, compared to 37.4 percent in cities, has a long way to go, and this is what Digital India hopes to change. A World Bank report says a 10 percent increase in a country’s broadband connections can lead to a 1.38 percent rise in its GDP. Rising need for cyber security Increased connectivity and greater use of technology would undoubtedly benefit the masses, but at the same time it could throw up a new set of vulnerabilities and security challenges. Past incidents have shown that cyber security is one area where India is clearly lacking. Also Read – Turning a blind eyeAs per the cyber-crime data maintained by the national crime records bureau (NCRB), a total of 1,791 cases were registered in 2011, which grew to 2,876 cases in 2012 and to 4,356 cases in 2013. Hacking formed close to 60 percent of all cyber offences. The Indian computer emergency response team (CERT-In) reported 13,301 incidents of web security breach in 2011, which grew to 22,060 in 2012, and to 71,780 in 2013. In the first half of this year, 62,189 incidents had been reported, including cases of phishing, scanning, spam, malicious code and website intrusions. Apart from domestic cyber attacks, India also faces tough cyber threats from outside. Given the increasing security challenges in digital space, using secure software, applications and portals becomes extremely important. With vast amounts of personal data of citizens residing on the government’s IT systems, protection of people’s privacy is very critical. It is necessary to have mature software procurement practices, with required focus on security considerations. Are we doing enough? To counter this alarming increase in cyber crimes, the government has allocated Rs 800 crore to set up a centre to help people to check and clean their computer systems of viruses and other malware. The programme intends to build capability to not only track malware in the system but also clean the infection.The national cyber security and coordination centre (NCSC) will conduct real-time assessment of internet traffic data and generate actionable reports for various agencies. As a multi-agency body under the department of electronics and information technology (DeitY), the NCSC will include the national security council secretariat, the intelligence bureau, the research and analysis wing (RAW), CERT-In, the national technical research organisation (NTRO), the three armed forces and the department of telecommunications. It is expected to subsume the work done by CERT-In as well as issue alerts in the event of a cyber attack.The Modi government has certainly done a good job by announcing such promising programmes that have potential to transform the lives of many Indians. However, programmes like Digital India cannot succeed in achieving their objectives unless collective action is taken by all government departments to ensure real e-governance. E-security has to be a critical element of this drive. So far, cyber security in India has not received the attention it deserves. The national cyber security policy announced in 2013 has also not been properly implemented. Under these circumstances, the PM may need to take more concrete steps to safeguard his vision of Digital India. GOVERNANCE NOWlast_img read more

Panchayat polls Nomination filing shows signs of CPM exodus to BJP

first_imgKolkata: The flight of CPI-M supporters to BJP is evident from the pattern that has been followed in filing nomination of candidates in the three-tier Panchayat election in Bankura.Bankura was a stronghold of CPI-M since Independence. The villages were under control of the party and the party used to lead the Panchayat election. From 1978, when the Panchayat election was held in Bengal for the first time, the Opposition was not allowed to file nomination. The CPI-M had unleashed a reign of terror and this continued till 2003. In 2008, Trinamool Congress won the Zilla Parishad in East Midnapore and South 24-Parganas. It was for the first time that the erosion of CPI-M’s vote bank had become evident. But because of the party’s terror, Trinamool Congress had fielded only 35,000 candidates for 58,000 seats in 2008. Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsIn the 46 member Zilla Parishad, CPI-M has fielded only 14 candidates, followed by Congress, which had fielded only 9 candidates. BJP has fielded 18 candidates, while Trinamool Congress has fielded 65 candidates. In Panchayat Samity there are 535 seats. Of these seats, CPI-M and Congress have fielded 119 and 6 candidates respectively, while BJP has fielded 189 candidates. Trinamool Congress has fielded 743 candidates in Panchayat Samity.In Gram Panchayat, there are 2,505 seats. BJP has fielded 859 candidates, while CPI-M and Congress have fielded 427 candidates and 18 candidates respectively. Trinamool Congress has nominated 2,991 candidates. Trinamool Congress has won 530 seats in Gram Panchayat, 175 seats in Panchayat Samity and 26 seats in Zilla Parishad uncontested. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedIn Bankura blocks I and II, Barjora, Bishnupur and Gangajalghanti, which were once CPI-M strongholds, the party has fielded 25, 0, 3, 6 and 1 candidates in Gram Panchayat. In these seats, BJP has fielded 81, 90, 3, and 69 candidates. In Panchayat Samity in Saltora, Sarenga, Simlipal and Sonamukhi blocks, CPI-M has fielded 0, 19, 21 and 0 candidates. In Zilla Parishad in Bankura Sadar, Bishnupur and Khatra seats, CPI-M has fielded 0, 0 and 14 candidates, while BJP has fielded 0, 0 and 18 candidates.Political experts said that until recently, BJP did not have any organisation in these rural belts. CPI-M supporters have joined BJP around six months ago. Mamata Banerjee has criticised CPI-M for its failure to boost up the rank and file of the party, who have shifted to the BJP camp.last_img read more

Centre and RBI must join hands

first_imgThe reassuring remarks made by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on March 22,stating that everything is honky-dory between the Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), inadvertently implied that the mutual relationship continues to be tense. The denial of ‘disconnect’ between the two institutions said this in ample measure! Though the Governor of the central bank is chosen and appointed by the government, with past precedents showing that by and large they seldom embarrassed their benefactor, there were occasions in the past when some had chosen not to go in tandem with the government in following loose monetary policy when the authorities showed predilection for loose fiscal policy. Also Read – Gateway of criminal justiceIn fact, during the two tenures of the UPA government, the then Finance Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram had to concede that he would have to walk alone on the path of growth if the apex bank was reluctant to go along with him, by following an accommodating monetary policy ;i.e. softening the monetary policy rates. When things went out of control in the summer of May 2012, with the abrupt announcement of a likely exit of quantitative easing; in other words what economists had dubbed unconventional monetary policy by the U.S Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, all hell broke loose in emerging economies; with India suffering the worst in terms of flight of capital, volatile exchange rate and a perilous spike in the current account deficit. It was at this juncture, that the UPA government sent its Chief Economic Adviser, Dr. Raghuram G Rajan to Mint Street in Mumbai to preside over the affairs of the country’s central bank-the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). What he did in subsequent, post his appointment went into the economic history books of this country, with the Indian economy ably steered back to normalcy. Also Read – Turning a blind eyeIncidentally, Rajan himself acknowledged the gravitas and the greatness of the institution he had been chosen to helm, at the First State Bank ‘Banking and Economic Conclave’ in Mumbai in June17, 2014. He stated that “the RBI, despite the general deterioration in the probity of public institutions, has maintained a reputation for integrity” and must perforce have to “work on maintaining a culture, as well as service conditions, that encourage integrity”. This frank assessment about an 80-year old institution, that he had only taken over recently needs to be seen in a historical context: the apex bank’s well-earned functional autonomy and independence down the decades is the result of being ably steered by many distinguished helmsmen like Rajan. Be that as it may, there are two areas on which most of the issues of differences in perceptions seem to be assailing both the Ministry of Finance and the RBI. Recently a momentous agreement on Monetary Policy Framework (MPF) has been signed between the apex bank and the Ministry of Finance, committing the RBI to bring inflation below 6 per cent by January 2016; with a target of 4 per cent with a band of plus/minus 2 per cent for 2016-17 and all the ensuing years. The accord also provides for the constitution of a Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) as in the United Kingdom and other European Countries, this committee will be tasked with setting the monetary policy, instead of the extant practice where the RBI Governor and his deputies set the monetary policy; after taking due account of all the factors that operate in the economy. Reports are rife that there are differences with the government over the formation of the MPC with both of them not on the same page over the precise nature and composition of the proposed Committee. It needs to be noted that this major pact of binding the government to a monetary strategy through inflation-setting follows a universal trend at other major central banks.Here a caveat is in order. Most of the developed economies which embraced inflation-targeting two decades ago were at their wits’ end in recent years as inflation rate and interest rates were in the negative zone or on the wane, in the wake of quantitative easing that flooded economies with cheap money flow, making a travesty of any attempt at targeting inflation; with too much money chasing few takers resulting in asset booms which triggered undesirable consequences. The emerging economy of Brazil has continuously missed its midpoint inflation target of 4.5 per cent for two years, thanks to a distinct lack of fiscal discipline. India has several unenviable parallels with Brazil on this score as the authorities have not shown any seriousness in quality fiscal consolidation up till now and the primary objective seems to be stoking public investment and public demand, the implied consequences of which, especially on inflation is too visible to be vaporized by the wishful-thinking that a growth-crazy government is keen on persisting with out of sheer compulsion. The onus on delivering inflation target on the apex bank alone is disproportionate to the clout and heft of the apex bank. The authorities in the saddle should not swerve from the quality fiscal consolidation path, in order to bring a measure of stability to the fundamentals of the economy and the proper macro-economic milieu to ensure non-inflationary quality growth. Between the Congress penchant for inclusive growth through imprudent spending on welfare policies without ensuring the wherewithal to fund the spend and the BJP-led NDA’s façade of fiscal responsibility by spending on infrastructure, the bottom line remains that the central bank has to be vigilant about any vulnerability to the larger financial stability. Leaving aside this vital issue, the composition and voting rights or veto power to the RBI governor are equally thorny issues where both the parties would not like to cede ground-particularly the political leadership which has the indispensable remit to run the economy while the institutional regulator has only the dispensable moral authority!On the issue of carving out a separate Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA), the RBI Governor appears to have yielded ground albeit with a qualifier in place, he stated that “a public debt management agency as a professional organization, independent of the central bank, independent of the government, is something that is desirable”. RBI had reconciled itself to abrogating its public debt management remit because of the dichotomy in that role: as the government’s sole debt manager it had to ensure money could be raised at low interest rates, whereas as a central bank, battling inflation in a permanently supply-constrained nation, it is compelled to increase interest rates. This dichotomy was too difficult to sustain any longer.All said and done, despite Jaitley’s supposedly ‘candid’ confession that there is no “disconnect” with the apex bank over the recent functional overhauls, the need of the hour is for both institutions to respect each other’s functional space, keeping in mind the best interests of running the world’s third largest economy. IPAlast_img read more

Twoday strike to affect banking operations in Bengal

first_imgKolkata: The two-day nationwide bank strike called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) on May 30 and 31 to press for higher wage revision is likely to hit banking operations in West Bengal. The Indian Banks Association (IBA) has proposed a two per cent revision in wages for employees of public sector banks, which the unions had refused to accept. West Bengal convenor of UFBU (the umbrella unit of seven banking trade unions) Siddhartha Khan said that in the last wage revision in 2012, employees had received a wage rise of 15 per cent. There are nearly 10,000 branches and 21,000 ATMs with 70,000 employees of public sector banks in the state. Khan also said that the RBI should publish the list of wilful defaulters and conduct forensic audit of stressed assets.last_img

Nilesh Parekh case ED probing activities of jewellery firm

first_imgKolkata: In a bid to ascertain the money trail in connection with the Nilesh Parekh case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is probing the “activities” of his jewellery firm with the “dummy and shell companies at Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai”.On Friday, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) arrested Nilesh Parekh, promotor of Shree Ganesh Jewellery House Limited, from Kolkata on charges of fraud in diversion of over 1,700 kg of primary gold and non-realisation of remittance on account of export of gems and jewelleries to the tune of Rs 7,500 crore. He was also remanded in judicial custody for eight days in this connection when produced before the court on Friday. Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsWith business activities between the jewellery firm that has several units at Manikanchan Special Economic Zone in Kolkata and the shell companies abroad has come to light, the ED had initiated a probe under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) and Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The firm has also failed to realise export proceeds of Rs 7,450 crore to the shell companies mainly in Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai.Now, to ascertain the money trail completely, the ED is working to get further details of the jewellery firms and the documents that show the firm’s annual turnover as well as transaction details. This comes when there was allegation against the firm of non-payment of loan to the tune of Rs 2,672 crore to a State Bank of India-led consortium. It may be mentioned that Parekh was arrested by the CBI in this connection in 2017 and was later released on bail. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedAs the investigation of the DRI has revealed Parekh’s involvement in the fraud of diversion of more than 1700 kg primary gold, the ED and other agencies probing the case are trying to dig further deep to ascertain all the dealings of the company for the past few years. As Parekh’s firm was involved in diversion of gold imported duty-free and also enjoyed the benefits as an unit in the SEZ, the investigating agencies are also looking into its role as a nominated agency to import primary gold.last_img read more

Lack of GST auto verification system has hurt exports

first_imgKolkata: State Finance minister Amit Mitra said that overall exports from the country has gone down due to the non-implementation of auto verification system in the sphere of GST network introduced by the Centre.While addressing the media on the sidelines of a workshop on the promotion of exports at a city hotel on Monday, Mitra said that the exports are not getting refunds, which in turn is affecting the working capital of various small-scale exporters across the country. Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsNearly one year after the GST was introduced in the country, the Centre is yet to come up with an auto verification system, through which the exporters can upload various information and submit their taxes. In reality, they have to do all the processes manually.Other than submitting application and closure, no other activities are done online. The small-scale exporters have been greatly affected.”Around 3 lakh applications from across the country have been filed by the exporters, seeking refunds worth Rs 25,000 crore from the GST council. But they are yet to get any refund. It has not only been affecting the working capital of the small-scale exporters, but also leading to a sharp dip in the overall exports from the country,” Mitra said. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedEarlier, before the introduction of GST, the exporters had to fill up a form called ‘M’ but now the Centre is receiving taxes from the exporters with a promise that they would be refunded with the money paid in excess. But the Centre has stopped the refunds, thereby affecting the working capital of these small-scale exporters, which is also having a huge impact on employment generation.This is despite the fact that Bengal has done significant improvement by increasing the growth rate in exports in the last two years, Mitra reminded.Before the introduction of the GST, the Centre had promised that all the procedures would be done online, but all the verifications are now performed manually due to the want of an auto verification system.The Finance minister also said that the state government would take up the issue with the GST council, so that it could be resolved.”We would take up the issue with the Centre on behalf of the exporters from the state, who are not getting their refunds after paying taxes due to due a lack of auto verification system in the GST network. This has an adverse effect on the overall exports from the state,” Mitra maintained.last_img read more