31 July 2021

Marlboro maker Philip Morris could stop selling cigarettes in UK.

Tobacco giant Philip Morris has said it could stop selling cigarettes in the UK in 10 years' time as it focuses on alternatives, such as heated tobacco.

The move would mean that the firm's flagship Marlboro brand would disappear from British shops.

The firm also indicated it would welcome a government ban on cigarettes.

Health charity Ash said it was hard to take such claims seriously from the firm responsible for selling over a tenth of cigarettes globally.

Philip Morris eventually expects the government to ban smoking altogether and said that "strong regulation" was needed to "help solve the problem of cigarette smoking once and for all".

The government has already pledged to end smoking in England by 2030 as part of a range of measures to tackle the causes of preventable ill health.

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US combat forces to leave Iraq by end of year.

President Joe Biden says US forces will end their combat mission in Iraq by the end of this year, but will continue to train and advise the Iraqi military.

The announcement came after Mr Biden held talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi at the White House.

There are currently 2,500 US troops in Iraq helping local forces counter what remains of the Islamic State group.

Numbers of US troops are likely to stay the same but the move is being seen as an attempt to help the Iraqi PM.

The US presence in Iraq has become a major issue since top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and the leader of an Iran-backed Shia Muslim militia were killed in a US drone strike in the capital Baghdad last year.

Political parties aligned to Iran have demanded the withdrawal of all forces from the US-led global coalition against IS, despite the continuing threat posed by the Sunni jihadist group.

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Elon Musk reportedly demanded to become Apple CEO as Part of potential Tesla acquisition.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly once demanded that he be made Apple CEO in a brief discussion of a potential acquisition with Apple's current CEO, Tim Cook. 

The claim comes in a new book titled "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century," as reviewed by The Los Angeles Times.

According to the book, during a 2016 phone call between Musk and Cook that touched on the possibility of Apple purchasing Tesla, Musk told Cook that a purchase of Telsa by Apple could only go forward if he became CEO of the combined company.

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Greenland’s vast ice enough ice melted on single day to cover Florida in two inches of water.

Greenland’s vast ice sheet is undergoing a surge in melting, with the amount of ice vanishing in a single day this week enough to cover the whole of Florida in two inches of water, researchers have found.

The deluge of melting has reached deep into Greenland’s enormous icy interior, with data from the Danish government showing that the ice sheet lost 8.5bn tons of surface mass on Tuesday (27) alone. A further 8.4bn tons was lost on Thursday (29), the Polar Portal monitoring website reported.

The scale of disappearing ice is so large that the losses on Tuesday (27) alone created enough meltwater to drown the entire US state of Florida in two inches, or 5cm, of water. Ice that melts away in Greenland flows as water into the ocean, where it adds to the ongoing increase in global sea level caused by human-induced climate change.

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Bezos' $2bn offer to get back in race to the Moon.

Jeff Bezos has offered to cover $2bn (£1.4bn) of Nasa costs in order to be reconsidered for a key contract to build a Moon landing vehicle.

In April, the space agency awarded the $2.9bn contract to Elon Musk, rejecting a bid from Bezos' company Blue Origin.

The award is for building the landing system that will carry astronauts down to the lunar surface as early as 2024.

NASA could only award the contract to one company, not two as expected because of a funding shortfall.

The space agency had received only $850m of the $3.3bn it requested from Congress to build the Moon lander.

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Maldives’ Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid won the Presidency of the 76th UNGA.

Foreign Minister of Maldives Abdulla Shahid won the Presidency of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). This is for the first time in the history of the United Nations (UN), Maldives will hold the office of President at the UNGA. Abdulla Shahid’s victory at the UNGA Presidential election is a “proud accomplishment” and “a step forward in elevating the country’s stature on the global stage”.

On 30 April this year, Abdulla Shahid declared his vision statement titled “A Presidency of Hope: Delivering for People, Planet and Prosperity” where he outlined his priorities for the UNGA during 2021-22. Minister Shahid talked about five “rays of hope” in his vision statement: Recovering from COVID19, Rebuilding Sustainably, Responding to the Needs of the Planet, Respecting the Rights of All, and Reforming the UN. Abdulla Shahid is committed to delivering the “Presidency of Hope”. In this endeavour, he looked for the support of all the members of the UNGA.

Maldives’ decision to join the UN in 1965, immediately after its independence, sparked a debate on how a “microstate”, could possibly contribute to the organisation. Over the years, Maldives has cleared all the doubts by raising its voice on issues of concern and playing a prominent role in the UN as well as in the other multilateral organisations including the Commonwealth.

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Former England bowler Mike Hendrick passes away.

Former England and Derbyshire bowler, Mike Hendrick has passed away. 

He played a major role in two of England’s Ashes-series victories and took 87 wickets in 30 Tests for his country between 1974 and 1981. Hendrick, who took 770 wickets in 267 first-class matches and 35 wickets in 22 ODIs, was also the first professional coach of Ireland.

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30 July 2021

Delayed Russian Nauka module joins space station.

Russia's troubled Nauka laboratory has docked with the International Space Station (ISS) after an eight-day flight.

The 13m-long, 20-tonne module was driven into the rear of the orbiting platform, linking up with the other major Russian segments on the ISS.

Nauka should have launched in 2007, but the vessel suffered repeated slips in schedule, in part because of budget difficulties but also because engineers encountered a raft of technical problems during development.

Even after it launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan a week ago, it experienced propulsion issues that required workarounds from controllers in Moscow.

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World's first re programmable commercial satellite set to launch.

The European Space Agency (ESA) will on Friday (July 30) launch the world's first commercial fully re-programmable satellite, paving the way for a new era of more flexible communications.

Unlike conventional models that are designed and "hard-wired" on Earth and cannot be repurposed once in orbit, the Eutelsat Quantum is based on so-called software-defined technology that allows users to tailor the communications to their needs - almost in real time.

The Quantum will be part of the payload for an Ariane 5 rocket due to launch from the Guiana Space Centre in Latin America between 2100 and 2230 GMT on Friday (between 5am and 6.30am Singapore time).

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Affordable hepatitis drug offers new hope to millions.

Malaysia has registered the world’s first affordable – and effective – new drug for hepatitis C, offering the hope of accessible treatment to millions of people around the world at risk from a disease that has few early symptoms, is hard to diagnose and is often seen as a “silent killer”.

The drug, ravidasvir, was approved for use with an existing drug, sofosbuvir, in June, five years after the Malaysian government, partnered with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a collaborative, non-profit drug research organisation to develop the drug.

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Six new sports will be at the Tokyo Olympics, the most since 1920.

An amazing six new sports will be contested at the Tokyo Olympics. That’s the most new additions to an Olympics since 1920, when 11 sports entered the mix.

Two of the sports added to the Tokyo Games are the closely related baseball and softball that were featured at the Olympics as recently as 2008, before being dropped in 2012 and 2016. 

But the other four are complete newcomers to the game and they are; karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing. All six will join Olympic favorites like track and field, swimming, and gymnastics.

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International Space Station briefly loses control after new Russian module misfires.

An unusual and potentially dangerous situation unfolded Thursday at the International Space Station, as the newly-docked Russian Nauka module inadvertently fired its thrusters causing a "tug of war" with the space station and briefly pushing it out of position, according to NASA flight controllers.

Nauka — a long-delayed laboratory module that Russian space agency Roscosmos' launched to the International Space Station last week — inadvertently fired its thrusters after docking with the International Space Station Thursday morning.

NASA officials declared it a "spacecraft emergency" as the space station experienced a loss of attitude (the angle at which the ISS is supposed to remain oriented) control for nearly one hour, and ground controllers lost communications with the seven astronauts currently aboard the ISS for 11 minutes during the ordeal. A joint investigation between NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos is now ongoing.

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Tesla releases big, new software update with Disney+, Car Wash Mode, hotspot, and more

Tesla has started to push a new software update to its fleet, and it’s one of the bigger ones with several new features, including Disney+, Car Wash Mode, hotspot capability, and more.

For years now, Tesla has been leading the auto industry when it comes to over-the-air software update capability.

Much like the smartphone industry, the automaker regularly releases software updates with new features and UI improvements to the in-car and ownership experience.

Often, those software updates are quite small and only add a few barely noticeable improvements, but now and again, Tesla does push some bigger updates with many new features, and today we have one of those.

Tesla started pushing a new 2021.24 software update, and it includes:

  • Disney+ - With this Disney+, Tesla has now integrated all of the main streaming services.
  • Car Wash Mode - A new Car Wash Mode to help with the experience at a car wash:
  • Mirror Auto Dim - Tesla is now enabling to activate and deactivate the auto dimming feature.
  • Dashcam improvements - Tesla has an integrated dashcam system that utilize the onboard Autopilot cameras around its vehicles to record events.
  • Range display - Small update to the ways you can display your battery capacity:
  • Remain connected to Wi-Fi in drive - Tesla is enabling the use of Wi-Fi hotspots when driving
  • Languages - Tesla has also added three new language options in this new update: Hungarian, Romanian, and Russian.

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World Day Against Trafficking in Persons - 30 July.

Every year on July 30th, the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons spreads the alarm about the horrible crime of human trafficking. The day also provides an opportunity for governments to reaffirm their commitment to stop criminals from exploiting people for profit.

Human trafficking is considered a modern form of slavery. This illegal act involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain labor or sex. Traffickers use violence, manipulation, or false promises to lure their victims into trafficking situations. Trafficking victims usually experience physical and/or psychological abuse. They might also endure sexual abuse, food and sleep deprivation, threats to family members, and isolation from the outside world. Family members of the victim may also get threatened.

According to the International Labor Organization, there are over 40 million victims of human trafficking around the world. Nearly every country in the world is affected by human trafficking. There are some countries that are worse than others.

In 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking In Persons. The goal of this Global Plan was to urge governments around the world to take coordinated measures to defeat human trafficking. 

Accordingly the World Day against Trafficking in Persons was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/68/192. The Plan helped to create a voluntary Trust Fund for victims of trafficking. In 2013, during a high-level meeting to appraise the Global Plan, the UN adopted a resolution to designate July 30th as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. 

2021 Theme of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons:  Victims’ Voices Lead the Way.

This year’s theme puts victims of human trafficking at the centre of the campaign and will highlight the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking. 

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International Day of Friendship - 30 July.

International Day of Friendship on July 30th encourages forging friends near and far. Core to developing strong friendships worldwide is the hope of a growing spirit of human solidarity.

The day encourages making friends and building relationships with people outside of your own culture, country, or background. Through these relationships, a culture of peaceful and mutual understanding develops.

In 1919, Friendship Day began as a greeting card promotion. By 1940, it had disappeared. The United Nations proposed a worldwide initiative in 1997 to establish an International Friendship Day. The International Day of Friendship was proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.

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29 July 2021

Chankillo awarded Unesco world heritage status.

The oldest solar observatory in the Americas has been awarded Unesco world heritage status and dubbed “a masterpiece of human creative genius”.

The 2,300-year-old archaeological ruin Chankillo which lies in a desert valley in northern Peru was one of 13 new global sites added to the list of cultural monuments.

Thirteen towers that align on a ridge are the best-known feature of the ancient site which dates between 250 and 200 BCE. The towers functioned as a calendar using the rising and setting arcs of the sun to mark not only equinoxes and solstices but even to define the precise time of year to within one or two days. The site also includes an imposing triple-walled hilltop complex, known as the Fortified Temple set in the barren landscape of the Casma river valley.

Iván Ghezzi, the Chankillo programme director, told the Guardian that while he was “truly overwhelmed” by the recognition he was not surprised that the UN agency found Chankillo worthy of inclusion in the list.

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Turkmenistan takes home the nation's first ever Olympic Medal.

Turkmenistan is the newest nation to join the all-time Olympic medal count, following a standout performance in the women's 59kg weightlifting competition at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Polina Guryeva, 28, lifted 96 in the snatch, combined with a 121 in clean and jerk for a total score of 217.

That score was enough to pull ahead of all but one of her 14 opponents, earning Guryeva the silver medal and Turkmenistan's first podium finish in the nation's history.

The gold medal went to Chinese Taipei's Kuo Hsing-chun, who set Olympic records in all three categories; snatch (103), clean and jerk (133) and total (236).

This is the seventh Olympic Games that Turkmenistan has competed in as its own independent nation. Prior to 1996, Turkmen athletes competed on teams with the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the 1992 Unified Team.

Prior to Guryeva's trailblazing accomplishment, the last country to win its first Olympic medal was Jordan, following Ahmad Abughaush's taekwondo tournament victory in 2016.

Source: www.kadn.com

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Judo legend Clarisse Agbegnenou wins gold for France in women’s -63kg.

France’s Clarisse Agbegnenou is one of the greatest champions in the history of judo and she proved that again when she beat the reigning Olympic title holder in the women’s -63kg class at Tokyo 2020. It was arguably her sweetest victory.

In a re-run of the Rio 2016 final, the five-time world champion and three-time European champion took sweet revenge on Slovenia’s Tina Trstenjak, who beat her five years earlier into silver.

The 28-year-old came out fighting from the start and did not relent until the judo -63kg crown was hers at the Nippon Budokan in Japan’s capital on 27 July.

But Trstenjak did not give up without a fight. The bout went to a golden score and it took a waza-ari for Agbegnenou to take down the 30-year-old, who is also reigning European champion.

The French judoka screamed and wept with delight at the end of the bout and even lifted her opponent in the air as her monumental achievement sunk in: she had now won every major title in her class.

In the bronze medal matches Italy’s Maria Centracchio, 26, beat the Nederland’s Juul Franssen. It was a tough battle which went to a golden score before Centracchio overpowered the 31-year-old with an ippon.

The second bronze was awarded to 2020 Pan-American champion Canada’s Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard, 27, who beat silver medallist in that Games, Venezuela’s Anriquelis Barrios, 27. It was another golden score, but this time it ended in a waza-ari.

Source: https://olympics.com

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Brazil landscape garden Sitio Burle Marx receives UNESCO World Heritage status.

The Sitio Burle Marx site, a landscape garden in Brazilian city Rio de Janeiro has been added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites. The garden features more than 3,500 species of plants native to Rio and is considered a laboratory for botanical and landscape experimentation.

The site has been named after Burle Marx, a Brazilian landscape architect whose designs of parks and gardens made him world-famous. The Sitio Burle Marx site was his home until 1985.

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Hubble Finds First Evidence of Water Vapor at Jupiter’s Moon Ganymede.

For the first time, astronomers have uncovered evidence of water vapour in the atmosphere of Jupiter's moon Ganymede. This water vapour forms when ice from the moon's surface sublimates that turns from solid to gas. Scientists used new and archival datasets from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to make the discovery, published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

In 1998, Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph took the first ultraviolet (UV) images of Ganymede, which revealed colourful ribbons of electrified gas called auroral bands, and provided further evidence that Ganymede has a weak magnetic field. The similarities in these UV observations were explained by the presence of molecular oxygen (O2). But some observed features did not match the expected emissions from a pure O2 atmosphere. At the same time, scientists concluded this discrepancy was likely related to higher concentrations of atomic oxygen (O).

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Najib Mikati picked as new Lebanon’s prime minister.

Billionaire businessman Najib Mikati was appointed as Lebanon’s new prime minister-designate on Monday following binding parliamentary consultations with President Michel Aoun.

Mikati ran virtually unopposed, receiving 72 votes, with former ambassador Nawaf Salam receiving just one vote. Forty-two MPs voted blank, and three MPs did not vote at all.

His appointment comes just 11 days after Saad Hariri resigned as prime minister-designate, following nine months of political deadlock and dispute with President Aoun and his son-in-law MP Gebran Bassil.

Lebanon’s economy continues to crumble with half the population living below the poverty line and a spiralling local currency that lost more than 90 per cent of its value. The country has been without a full-fledged government for almost one year and is struggling to reform its economy to unlock international aid.

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International Tiger Day - 29 July.

International Tiger Day on July 29th raises awareness about the dwindling numbers of the biggest of the big cats. Global leaders focus on the tiger during meetings designed to promote a system for protecting and enhancing their natural habitat.

A hundred years ago,100,000 tigers roamed Asia. Today, the estimated number brings the tiger population to fewer than 4,000 tigers in the wild. One of the goals of the day is to double that number by 2022. It’s called the Tx2 Initiative.

The Tx2 Initiative collects about $350 million every year to help save tigers. The money is spent on investigators and rangers who patrol for poachers. The fund also pays for protection of tiger habitat, studies of their populations and movements, and even sets up thousands of wildlife trail cameras.

This year marks the 11th International Tiger Day. The theme for the 2021 International Tiger Day celebration is “Their Survival is in our hands”.

The Global Tiger Day came into being during the signing of the Saint Petersburg declaration by 13 tiger range countries in 2010 in Russia. The governments of these tiger range countries had resolved to encourage the conservation, protecting natural habitats and double the number of tigers by 2022. 

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28 July 2021

World Nature Conservation Day - 28 July.

Every year on July 28th, World Nature Conservation Day acknowledges that the foundation for a healthy society is a healthy environment. It’s also a day to increase awareness about the importance of protecting our natural resources.

Our planet’s natural resources consist of air, sunlight, soil, minerals, fuels and water. All of these things are found in nature and used by people. Currently, there are nearly 8 billion people that populate the Earth. This number is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2037. All of these people use the earth’s natural resources every day. Because these resources are getting used up so rapidly, many people are concerned they will become depleted. For this reason, many individuals and organizations stress the importance of conserving our natural resources.

World Nature Conservation Day began in India by those who were concerned about protecting the Earth’s natural resources. The Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Center in New Delhi promotes the day. The Department of Environment, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, and the Government of India sponsor ENVIS. Many countries have joined India in observing this important day for our planet.

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International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem - 26 July.

The International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem (or World Mangrove Day) is celebrated annually on 26 July. The day is celebrated to raise awareness of the importance of mangrove ecosystems as “a unique, special and vulnerable ecosystem” and to promote solutions for their sustainable management, conservation and uses.

The day was adopted by the General Conference of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2015. It was on this day in 1998, that a Greenpeace activist Hayhow Daniel Nanoto, died of a heart attack during a massive protest to re-establish the mangrove wetlands in Muisne, Ecuador.

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Dholavira inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List.

A Harappan-era metropolis, Dholavira in Gujarat has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Now Gujarat has three world heritage sites, Champaner near Pavagadh, Rani ki Vav in Patan and the historic city of Ahmedabad. Dholavira is now the 40th treasure in India to be given.

The ongoing 44th session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has already given India a new world heritage site in the form of the Rudreswara/ Ramappa Temple in Telangana, which dates back to the 13th century. This session of the World Heritage Committee is being chaired from Fuzhou in China.

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Uzbekistan hosts 'Central-South Asia conference 2021.

Uzbekistan has hosted a high-level International Conference titled “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity. Challenges and Opportunities” at Tashkent on 15 - 16 July 2021. The conference was an initiative of the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev. It was attended by President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, Ministers from Central Asian, West Asian and South Asian countries.

Delegates from over 40 countries and about 30 international organizations, and heads of think tanks participated in the conference.

President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani underlined the historical proximity of two regions and the importance of strengthening it on the basis of mutual trust and interests.

President Mirziyoyev said the world has entered an era of global geopolitical transformations and that the ‘revival of mutual ties between Central and South Asia, where about two billion people live today, is becoming an ever more demanding and objective process’.

The international conference was also addressed online by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. 

Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar said that for Central Asian countries, the Chabahar port in Iran provides a ‘secure, viable and unhindered access to the sea.

The port has been proposed to be included in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). It may be added that an India-Uzbekistan-Iran-Afghanistan Quadrilateral Working Group has been formed on the joint use of Chabahar port.

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Hidilyn Diaz wins Philippines' first Olympic gold medal for weightlifting.

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz made history Monday 26 July 2021 becoming the first athlete from the Philippines to win gold at the Olympics.

The 30-year-old set an Olympic record, lifting a combined weight of 224 kilograms, to clinch the top spot in the women's 55-kg class in Tokyo.

Prior to Diaz's gold, the South East Asian nation of roughly 108 million had claimed just 10 Olympic medals -- 3 silvers and 7 bronzes.

Diaz, who won silver at the 2016 Games in Rio, achieved a personal best to beat off strong competition from world record holder Liao Qiuyun of China, who took silver with 223 kg, and Kazakhstan's Zulfiya Chinshanlo, who won bronze with 213 kg.

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China launches 6-month campaign to clean up apps

China’s industry ministry has announced a 6-month campaign to clean up what it says are serious problems with internet apps violating consumer rights, cyber security and “disturbing market order.” 

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in an online notice that companies must fix pop-ups on apps that deceive and mislead users or force them to use services they might not want. 

The order is part of a wider effort to crack down on tech industries and police use of personal information. Authorities have ordered fines and other penalties for some of China’s biggest tech companies.

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North and South Korea agree to restore communication channels, improve ties.

The leaders of North and South Korea have agreed to resume suspended communication lines and enhance ties.

President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un achieved such an agreement, according to the presidential office in Seoul.

On June 16 last year, the North vowed to cut off all contact links with the South and even blew up an inter-Korean liaison office in its border city of Kaesong in outrage over anti-Pyongyang propaganda pamphlets coming from the South. 

Source: www.wionews.com

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Sri Lanka proposes to hold BIMSTEC Summit in December 2021.

Sri Lanka has proposed to hold the BIMSTEC summit in early December this year. This will be the 5th such summit of the grouping. Sri Lanka is the chair of the grouping and had earlier proposed holding the summit in the month of August.

BIMSTEC or Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation has 7 members- India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. The grouping was formed in the year 1997.

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China is gearing up to activate the world's first 'clean' commercial nuclear reactor.

Chinese government scientists have unveiled plans for a first-of-its-kind, experimental nuclear reactor that does not need water for cooling.

The molten-salt nuclear reactor, which runs on liquid thorium rather than uranium, is expected to be safer than traditional reactors because the molten salt cools and solidifies quickly when exposed to the air, insulating the thorium, so that any potential leak would spill much less radiation into the surrounding environment compared with leaks from traditional reactors. 

The prototype reactor is expected to be completed next month, with the first tests beginning as early as September. This will pave the way for the building of the first commercial reactor, slated for construction by 2030.

As this type of reactor doesn't require water, it will be able to operate in desert regions. The location of the first commercial reactor will be in the desert city of Wuwei, and the Chinese government has plans to build more across the sparsely populated deserts and plains of western China, as well as up to 30 in countries involved in China's "Belt and Road" initiative — a global investment program that will see China invest in the infrastructure of 70 countries.

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Baurs to bring expert team to study Sri Lanka’s agriculture ecosystem

One of the pioneers in agriculture fertilizer and a leading diversified business group, A. Baur & Co. (Pvt.) Ltd., also known as Baurs, will be bringing down a team of renowned experts from Switzerland to study the country’s agriculture ecosystem with the purpose of providing scientific and practical solutions to converse into an organic approach.

Scheduled to arrive on the 01st of August, the 10-day visit will include meetings and diverse interactions with all key stakeholders, including visits to sites and facilities that influence organic agriculture. The expert team will also conduct first-hand training in composting and organic farming, the need of the hour.

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BCCI announces schedule for IPL 2021 Phase 2.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has confirmed the timetable for the remainder of the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL), which will be held in the UAE later this year.

The 14th season of the leading franchise Twenty20 cricket competition, which was postponed in May this year due to the pandemic’s surge across India, will resume on the 19th September in Dubai with a clash between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians.

The IPL will then shift to Abu Dhabi where the Kolkata Knight Riders will play Royal Challengers Bangalore. Sharjah will host its first game on the 24th September when Royal Challengers Bangalore take on Chennai Super Kings.

A total number of 31 matches will be played over 27 days, 13 matches will be held in Dubai, ten in Sharjah and eight in Abu Dhabi. Dubai will host the IPL final on 15th October.

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UNESCO has added Madrid's Historic Paseo Del Prado Boulevard and Retiro Park to its List of World Heritage Sites.

Madrid’s famous Retiro Park and Paseo del Prado boulevard have been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The decision, made on Sunday (25), brings the total number of World Heritage Sites in Spain to 49 – the third-highest in the world after Italy and China.

Up until Sunday, none of these sites were located in the Spanish capital. The Madrid region, however, was home to four: El Escorial Monastery in El Escorial, the historic precint of Alcalá de Henares, the historical center of Aranjuez and the Montejo beech forest in Montejo de la Sierra.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez celebrated the news on Twitter, saying it was a “deserved recognition of a space in the capital that enriches our historical, artistic and cultural legacy.”

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COVID-19 vaccine Spikevax approved for children aged 12 to 17 years.

EMA’s human medicines committee (CHMP) has recommended granting an extension of indication for the COVID-19 vaccine Spikevax (previously COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna) to include use in children aged 12 to 17 years. The vaccine is already authorised for use in people aged 18 and above.

The use of the Spikevax vaccine in children from 12 to 17 years of age will be the same as in people aged 18 and above. It is given as two injections in the muscles of the upper arm, four weeks apart.

The effects of Spikevax have been investigated in a study involving 3,732 children aged 12 to 17 years. This ongoing study is being carried out in accordance with Spikevax’s paediatric investigation plan (PIP), which was agreed by EMA's Paediatric Committee (PDCO).

The study showed that Spikevax produced a comparable antibody response in 12- to 17-year-olds to that seen in young adults aged 18 to 25 years (as measured by the level of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2). In addition, none of 2,163 children receiving the vaccine developed COVID-19 compared with four of 1,073 children given a dummy injection. These results allowed the CHMP to conclude that the efficacy of Spikevax in 12- to 17-year-olds is similar to that in adults.

The most common side effects in children aged 12 to 17 are similar to those in people aged 18 and above. They include pain and swelling at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle and joint pain, enlarged lymph nodes, chills, nausea, vomiting and fever. These effects are usually mild or moderate and improve within a few days from the vaccination.

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Health authorities concerned over spread of ’’TINEA’’.

Health authorities expressed concern about a skin disease spreading in several areas including the North Central Province.

Dr, Hema Weerakoon of the Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital said the disease identified as TINEA caused by a fungus was spreading fast.

She pointed out that the environmental effects, allergy to medicines, self-medication and community activities could result in the infection. The Doctor said that men, women and children of all ages had contracted the disease.

She stressed the need to obtain treatment under medical advice for about six months to recover from the disease or else the infection could worsen. She was of opinion that the use of steroid or drugs containing steroid could result in adverse effects.

Source: www.newsfirst.lk

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First Floating Solar Power System will be established near Diyawanna Lake.

Power Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said in Parliament yesterday that steps will be taken to establish the first Floating Solar Power System near Diyawanna Lake. The Minister said that solar panels would be installed on roofs of Government Offices to generate electricity. Minister Alahapperuma also said that a project worth USD 100 million is being implemented under the Indian Loan Scheme and 80 per cent of it will be allocated for the Project. The Minister said that solutions should be found to the problems through renewable energy and that the Government led by the President has paid special attention in this regard.

A floating solar power plant with a capacity of 1.5 MW is to be built in Diyawanna Oya to meet the daily electricity requirement of Parliament. This will be constructed with a loan from the Government of India.

This will be the first project under a programme to build floating solar systems, according to Minister of Power Dullas Alahapperuma.

Minister Dullas Alahapperuma emphasizes that the construction of the floating solar power plant in Diyawanna will be carried out at the earliest and that Parliament will set a precedent for the entire country regarding the concept of floating solar power plants.

The programme will be carried out jointly by the Ministry of Power and Energy, the State Ministry of Solar, Wind and Hydro Generation Projects Development, the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), the Mahaweli Authority and the Sustainable Energy Authority. Already several reservoirs and tanks have been identified for the second phase of this innovative project concept.

The CEB is to conduct feasibility studies focusing on the relevant reservoirs and will select the maximum capacity reservoirs. It has been suggested that the minimum capacity should be 100 MW.

The Power Ministry has initiated a number of renewable energy projects covering the entire island to provide uninterrupted, quality and affordable sustainable electricity services to electricity consumers, for achieving the objective of increasing the renewable energy contribution to the power sector to 70% by 2030.

Source: www.dailynews.lk

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World Hepatitis Day (WHD) - 28 July.


World Hepatitis Day (WHD) takes places every year on 28 July bringing the world together under a single theme to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and to influence real change. 

In 2021 the theme is ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait’.

On World Hepatitis Day, 28 July, we call on people from across the world to take action and raise awareness of hepatitis because Hepatitis Can’t Wait.

To mark the day, WHO is hosting a Global talk show providing a platform for global, regional and national leaders, policy makers, communities and other stakeholders to discuss opportunities for accelerating the hepatitis response to achieve elimination by 2030. Contributions and stories from countries from different WHO regions will be showcased at the event. More information on speakers and registration/connectivity information will be made available shortly.

World Hepatitis Day History.

2004 – First International Hepatitis C Awareness Day set as October 01. 

2008 – First World Hepatitis Day set as May 19

2010 – The idea of World Hepatitis Day originated in Cuttack, Odisha. July 28 was proposed as the day to in honor of Nobel Laureate Baruch Samuel Blumberg, discoverer of the hepatitis B virus, whose birthday on that date.

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27 July 2021

Nearly two thirds of global drowning deaths occur in Asia Pacific.

Nearly two-thirds of global drowning deaths occur in the Asia Pacific, said a World Health Organization (WHO) report. WHO on launched its first Regional Status Report on Drowning Prevention in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions.

During the launch of the report, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, South-East Asia, WHO said, "Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7 per cent of all injury-related deaths."

Low and middle-income countries account for more than 90 per cent of unintentional drowning deaths, and over half of the world's drownings occur in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions, according to WHO.

In 48 of the 85 countries with serviceable data on drowning, drowning is among the top five causes of death for children under the age of 15 years. Drowning accounts for 75 per cent of all deaths in flood disasters, which many countries in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions are particularly vulnerable to, the report says.

For the first time ever, these reports provide knowledge on the status of drowning prevention and water safety in each of the regions, giving a snapshot of the scale of the problem, efforts that are underway to take action, and opportunities to address what is an entirely preventable cause of mortality and morbidity.

"In both regions, communities and individuals interact with water on a daily basis: when swimming at beaches or in pools; when travelling long distances over water in boats; when using rivers and ponds for collecting water and sustaining livelihoods; and when facing exposure to floodwaters caused by seasonal weather events such as monsoons, or extreme weather events such as cyclones and typhoons," the report specifies.

"To reduce the risk of each of these hazards and more, policymakers can leverage a range of evidence-based and low-cost interventions, which should be integrated into regional and national agendas, including on mitigating the health impacts of climate change," said Dr Khetrapal.

Through multisectoral coordination, strong leadership, and ongoing planning, monitoring and evaluation, together we can reduce the burden of drowning in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions, for a safer, fairer and healthier future for all.

In 2019, over 1,44,000 people drowned in the Asia Pacific region, accounting for 61 per cent of global drowning deaths, according to the first World Health Organization (WHO) regional assessments on drowning prevention released on Friday ahead of World Drowning Prevention Day. Drowning claimed the lives of an estimated 70,000 and 74,000 people in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions, respectively.

The two WHO reports, Regional Status Report on Drowning in the Western Pacific and Regional Status Report on Drowning in South-East Asia, also warn that climate change, to which the Asia Pacific region is particularly vulnerable, places already vulnerable communities and individuals at increased drowning risk.

More frequent and extreme weather events can lead to more regular and intense floods, increasing populations' exposure to potentially hazardous interactions with water.

Of the 70,000 drowning deaths in the WHO South-East Asia Region in 2019, more than 33 per cent were among children aged under 15 years. On average, men were three to four times more likely to drown than women.

Twenty of the Region's 37 countries and areas participated in the report, of which eight reported having either national or subnational strategies, policies or plans to reduce drowning. Additionally, 15 countries reported having systems in place to capture national data on drowning and implementing mass media campaigns on drowning prevention.

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Earth Networks Releases 2020 South Asia Lightning Report.

Over 14 million strikes detected in Sri Lanka in 2020 by Earth Networks Total Lightning Network

Highest number of lightning strikes in Uva, North Central, Eastern, Sabaragamuwa, and North Western Province

Earth Networks, operator of a nationwide lightning detection network in Sri Lanka, released its first ever 2020 South Asia Lightning Report today, covering India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. For all of 2020, there were 14,462,297 lightning strikes in Sri Lanka recorded by Earth 

Networks’ Total Lightning Network, 572,729 of which were dangerous cloud-to ground strikes. The top 5 provinces with the most lightning strikes in 2020 were Uva, North Central, Eastern, Sabaragamuwa, and North Western Province.

In 2020, Sri Lanka saw the highest concentration of lightning in April of 2020. There were 1,835 Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts issued in Siri Lanka in 2020, correlating with the large volume of lightning strikes recorded.

Sri Lanka is an island country in the Indian Ocean near the equator, causing it to experience extreme amounts of heat and moisture. As a result, the population of Sri Lanka is highly vulnerable to severe weather and the effects of lightning strikes.

With Earth Networks’ presence in Sri Lanka comes real-time lightning detection, alerting, and storm-tracking technology needed to minimize lightning-related deaths, injuries, and property damage. These weather safety awareness and lightning warning tools help build resilience and reduce risk for those exposed to severe weather.

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13-year-old Momiji Nishiya becomes Japan’s youngest Olympic champion.

Momiji Nishiya made history at the age of just 13 on Monday 26 July 2021 as she became the first women’s Olympic street skateboarding champion.

A day after Yuto Horigome won the men’s competition for the host nation, Nishiya doubled up for Japan as she triumphed ahead of Brazil’s Rayssa Leal, also 13.

The sport, making its Olympic debut, has already taken these Games by storm and the sight of these two youngster battling it out for gold only added to the drama at the Ariake Urban Sports Park.

Nishiya finished with a score of 15.26 compared to 14.64 for Leal, who was looking to become the youngest ever Olympic champion but instead had to settle for being the youngest medallist in 85 years.

Japan’s Funa Nakayama, 16, completed an all-teenage podium with a score of 14.64.

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26 July 2021

World Drowning Prevention Day - 25 July.

World Drowning Prevention Day, declared through the April 2021 UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/75/273 “Global drowning prevention”, is held annually on 25 July.

This global advocacy event serves as an opportunity to highlight the tragic and profound impact of drowning on families and communities and offer life-saving solutions to prevent it. An estimated 236,000 people drown every year, and drowning is among the ten leading causes of death for children and youth aged 1-24 years. More than 90% of drowning deaths occur in rivers, lakes, wells and domestic water storage vessels in low- and middle-income countries, with children and adolescents in rural areas disproportionately affected.

All stakeholders are invited to mark World Drowning Prevention Day – governments, UN agencies, civil society organizations, the private sector, academia and individuals – by highlighting the need for urgent, coordinated and multi-sectoral action on proven measures such as:   

  • Installing barriers controlling access to water
  • Providing safe places away from water such as crèches for pre-school children with capable childcare
  • Teaching swimming, water safety and safe rescue skills
  • Training bystanders in safe rescue and resuscitation
  • Setting and enforcing safe boating, shipping and ferry regulations
  • Improving flood risk management

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The U.N. General Assembly has approved its first-ever resolution on vision.

The U.N. General Assembly has approved its first-ever resolution on vision. It calls on the assembly’s 193 member nations to ensure access to eye care for everyone in their countries, which would contribute to a global effort to help at least 1.1 billion people with vision impairment by 2030. 

The “Vision for Everyone” resolution, sponsored by Bangladesh, Antigua and Ireland, and co-sponsored by over 100 countries, was adopted Friday by consensus by the world body. According to the resolution, “at least 2 billion people are living with vision impairment or blindness” and 1.1 billion people have unaddressed vision impairment.

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World’s largest Floating Solar Farm proposed for Indonesia.

Sunseap Group is a solar energy system developer, owner, and operator in Singapore, with over 2000 megawatts (peak) of solar energy projects contracted across Asia. 

This week, Frank Phuan, co-founder and chief executive of Sunseap told that, his company plans to build the world’s largest floating solar farm near the city of Batam in Indonesia, about 50 kilometers southeast of Singapore.

The floating photovoltaic system is expected to have a capacity of 2.2 gigawatts (peak). It will cover 1600 hectares (4000 acres) of the Duriangkang Reservoir on Batam Island and cost about $2 billion to construct. An agreement between Sundeap and the Batam Indonesia free zone authority (BP Batam) to move forward with the project was signed on July 19.

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Asteroid the size of Giza pyramid, Taj Mahal to pass 'close' to Earth.

A massive asteroid is set to pass "close" to Earth on Sunday (01 August 2021), NASA said. 

The 2008 GO20 asteroid is between 318 and 720 feet tall (220 meters) and has drawn comparisons to a number of famous world structures to convey just how big it is, including the Taj Mahal and the Great Pyramid of Giza. 

The asteroid is hurtling through space at 18,000 miles an hour and may come as close as 2.8 million miles to Earth, which places it in the "Apollo," which is a near-Earth designation. NASA is closely monitoring the asteroid’s progress. 

For comparison, the Earth’s moon is 238,855 miles away from the planet, while Venus is 126.11 million miles away and Mars is 236.5 million miles away, according to NASA.   

The distance is not much to worry about, though: An asteroid passed some 1,830 miles over the Indian Ocean in Aug. 2020.

The distance could shrink, though, due to the gravitational pull of planets as the asteroid passes through the solar system. The concern would, however, lay with a future collision rather than any worry over Sunday’s passage. 

The 2008 GO20 asteroid has passed through the system before, passing within 1 million miles of Earth on Aug. 4, 1901 and just over 1 million miles on July 13, 1935.

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Who are the youngest and oldest athletes at Tokyo, and who has been to the most Olympics?

Who is the oldest Olympian?

Australian Mary Hanna, 66, is the oldest athlete to compete at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

This is Hanna's seventh Olympics, competing in dressage.

She has represented Australia at five previous Games, starting in Atlanta in 1996.

The oldest Olympian ever was Sweden's Oscar Swahn, who was 72 when he competed in shooting at the 1920 Olympics in Belgium.

Who is the youngest Olympian?

Syria's Hend Zaza is the youngest competitor of the Tokyo Olympic Games at just 12 years old.

The table tennis prodigy is the youngest Olympian since 11-year-old figure skater Beatrice Hustiu competed at the 1968 Winter Olympics.

The youngest Olympian ever was 10-year-old gymnast Dimitrios Loundras, who won bronze in a team event at the birth of the modern Olympics in Athens in 1896.

Who has been to the most Olympic Games?

Nino Salukvadze, 52, from Georgia will have been to the most Olympic Games out of all the athletes at Tokyo.

A gold, silver and bronze medal-winning shooter, Salukvadze has competed in eight Olympic Games — this will be her ninth.

Salukvadze has competed in every Olympics since Seoul in 1988.

She and her son Tsotne Machavariani were the first mother and son to compete at the same Olympics when they represented Georgia in the pistol events at Rio in 2016.

The athlete who has been to the most Olympics is Canadian equestrian Ian Millar with an unmatched 10 games between 1972 and 2012.

Who has won the most Olympic medals?

Germany's "dressage queen" Isabell Werth, 52, is the most decorated Olympian to attend the Tokyo Games.

Werth has won six gold and four silver medals and holds the most Olympic medals for an equestrian athlete.

She will be riding Bella Rose 2 at Tokyo.

The Olympian with the most medals in history is US swimmer Michael Phelps with a total of 28, of which 23 are gold.


Source: https://www.abc.net.au

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