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Russia launches its first Arctic monitoring satellite – Times of India

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MOSCOW: A Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sunday carrying Russia’s first satellite for monitoring the Arctic’s climate, the Roscosmos space agency said.
Video published by the Russian space agency showed the Soyuz blaster launching against grey skies at 0655 GMT, carrying an Arktika-M satellite.
Space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin wrote on Twitter Sunday that the launch was routine.
“The ‘Arktika’ hydrometeorological and climate monitoring space system is designed to monitor the climate and environment in the Arctic region,” Roscosmos said in a statement.

The monitoring system will need at least two satellites to operate properly, the space agency said.
“As part of the system, they will provide round-the-clock all-weather monitoring of the Earth’s surface and the seas of the Arctic Ocean,” it added.
The launch of the second Arktika-M satellite is planned for 2023, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
Economic development of the Arctic is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s key goals.
The Arctic holds huge oil and gas reserves that are being eyed by Russia and other countries including the United States, Canada and Norway.
UK scientists last month reported ice was disappearing across the world at a rate that matched “worst-case climate warming scenarios”.
The team from the universities of Edinburgh and Leeds and University College London found that some of the largest losses in the last three decades were from Arctic Sea ice.





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Israeli-owned ship docked in Dubai after mysterious blast – Times of India

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DUBAI: An Israeli-owned cargo ship that suffered a mysterious explosion in the Gulf of Oman came to Dubai’s port for repairs Sunday, days after the blast that revived security concerns in Mideast waterways amid heightened tensions with Iran.
Associated Press journalists saw the hulking Israeli-owned MV Helios Ray sitting at dry dock facilities at Dubai’s Port Rashid. Although the crew was unharmed in the blast, the vessel sustained two holes on its port side and two on its starboard side just above the waterline, according to American defense officials.
It remains unclear what caused the blast, but the incident comes amid sharply rising tension between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling 2015 nuclear deal. Iran has sought to pressure President Joe Biden‘s administration to grant the sanctions relief it received under the accord with world powers that former President Donald Trump abandoned.
From a distance, Associated Press journalists could not immediately see any damage on the port or starboard sides of the ship, although the dock blocked the view down to the waterline. The ship was anchored near Dubai’s storied floating hotel, the Queen Elizabeth 2. An Emirati coast guard vessel was seen sailing behind the ship, with Dubai police and Emirati armed forces vehicles parked nearby.
Emirati officials did not immediately acknowledge or respond to requests for comment on the vessel docking in the country.
The blast on the ship, a Bahamian-flagged roll-on, roll-off vehicle cargo vessel, recalled a string of attacks on foreign oil tankers in 2019 that the U.S. Navy blamed on Iran. Tehran denied any role in the suspected assaults, which happened near the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil chokepoint.
Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and U.N., Gilad Erdan, told Israel’s Army Radio on Sunday that “it was no secret that the Iranians are trying to harm Israeli targets” and alleged the explosion on the ship bore the hallmarks of other Iranian attacks.
The Helios Ray had discharged cars at various ports in the Persian Gulf before making its way out of the Middle East toward Singapore. The blast hit as the ship was sailing from the Saudi port Dammam out of the Gulf of Oman, forcing it to turn to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, for inspection.
Iranian authorities have not publicly commented on the ship. The country’s hard-line Kayhan daily, whose editor-in-chief was appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, alleged the Helios Ray was “possibly“ on an “espionage” mission in the region, without offering any evidence to support the claim. The Sunday report speculated the ship may have been “trapped in an ambush by a branch of resistance axis,” referring to Iranian proxies in the region.
Iran also has blamed Israel for a recent series of attacks, including a mysterious explosion last summer that destroyed an advanced centrifuge assembly plant at its Natanz nuclear facility and the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top Iranian scientist who founded the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program two decades ago.
Iran’s repeated vows to avenge Fakhrizadeh’s killing have raised alarms in Israel, particularly as the Gulf sees an increase in traffic from Israel following its normalization deals with the UAE and Bahrain.



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‘You were on vacation then’: Amit Shah slams Rahul Gandhi for fisheries ministry remark | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Union home minister Amit Shah on Sunday attacked Rahul Gandhi for his comments on the fisheries ministry, saying the Congress leader does not know that a department of fisheries has been in existence since 2019.
While addressing a rally in Puducherry‘s Karaikal, Shah said, “Some days ago, Rahul Gandhi had asked why there is no fisheries department. I want to know from people whether they want a leader who doesn’t know that Department of Fisheries has been in existence for 2 years.”
He took a swipe at the Wayanad MP saying “you were on vacation (then).”
Rahul Gandhi had earlier demanded the setting up of a separate ministry for fisheries at a meeting in Puducherry and had promised doing so if his party comes to power at Centre.
He was slammed for his comments by PM Modi, Giriraj Singh, Smriti Irani and other BJP leaders.
In a clarification on his comment, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi later on Thursday tweeted “Fisherfolk need an independent fisheries ministry and not just a department within a ministry.”
Lambasting the erstwhile Congress government in Puducherry, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday alleged V Narayansamy, who headed it, gave “cut money” to the “Gandhi family” from Rs 15,000 crore Central funds.
Amit Shah also slammed the previous Puducherry government for the rising unemployment, saying the NDA government will reduce the unemployment rate to less than 40% if voted to power.
“About 75% of Puducherry youth is unemployed. If you vote for NDA government, we will reduce the unemployment rate to less than 40%,” said Shah.
(With inputs from agencies)



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India correctly calculated England’s ‘ineptitude against spin’, says Ian Chappell | Cricket News – Times of India

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LONDON: Former Australia skipper Ian Chappell feels that India correctly calculated England batsmen’s ineptitude against spin and used it to their advantage.
Riding on brilliant spells of spin bowling from Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin, India registered a comprehensive 10-wicket win over England in the pink-ball Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday to go 2-1 up in the four-match series.
Axar finished with 11 wickets in the game (six in the first innings and five in the second). Senior partner Ashwin wasn’t to be left too far behind as he picked four wickets to finish with 7 in the game.
Virat Kohli described the day-night third Test, in Ahmedabad, as ‘bizarre’, a word that aptly describes the England batsmen’s attempts to cope with India’s spinners. India’s decision to select three spinners for the Test was prompted by England’s batting on a tricky Chennai pitch, where their batsmen – Joe Root excepted – displayed a distinct ineptitude against spin. India correctly calculated that would result in mental scarring and used it to their advantage,” Chappell wrote in his column for ESPNcricinfo.
“From the moment Axar Patel conjured up the ultimate thimble-and-pea trick to dismiss Jonny Bairstow with a straight delivery, England were in a spin. Is the ball over there? No, it’s here. When faced with a serious spin challenge, the England batsmen didn’t trust their defence, which eventually resulted in panicked attempts to attack the Indian spinners. Their choice to reverse-sweep rather than to leave their crease to change the bowler’s length is a classic example,” he added.
Chappell also said that shrewd use of footwork can help negate the spin and it also puts a batsman in a position to direct the ball where he wants, rather than where the bowler would prefer it to be hit.
The former captain said Ollie Pope had the right idea to use his feet against Indian spinners but had the wrong execution.
“Back in Ahmedabad, Ollie Pope decided to use his feet against the Indian spinners. He had the right idea but the wrong execution. Firstly, he jumped rather than glided out of the crease. Secondly, his front foot pressed forward but the back one lingered, as if searching for the safety of the crease. I was told two crucial things about footwork when I was very young: ‘Get stumped by three yards not three inches,’ my coach said, ‘and never think about the keeper when you leave the crease.’,” he wrote.
“Pope was conscious of the keeper as he tentatively ventured out of his crease, which meant he was worried he would miss the delivery. That results in footwork that hinders rather than helps. It’s never easy against good spinners on a challenging surface, but it is possible to play well; just not the way England are going about it,” Chappell added.



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65% low, lower-middle income countries slashed education budgets after Covid-19 outbreak: Report | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Education budgets were cut by 65 per cent of low and lower-middle income countries after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic while only 33 per cent of high and upper-middle income countries did so, according to a report by the World Bank.
The report, compiled in collaboration with UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, said the current levels of government spending in low and lower-middle income countries fall short of those required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“In order to understand the short-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on education budgets, information was collected for a sample of 29 countries across all regions. The sample represents about 54 per cent of the world’s school and university aged population. The information collected was then verified with World Bank country teams,” the report said.
“Responding to the Covid-19 crisis requires additional spending to adapt schools for compliance with the necessary measures to control contagion and to fund programs to make up for the losses in learning students experienced while schools were closed,” it added.
The sample includes three low-income countries (Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Uganda); 14 lower-middle income countries (Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Tanzania, Ukraine, Uzbekistan); 10 upper-middle income nations (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Jordan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Turkey); and two high-income countries (Chile, Panama).
“The following countries have education shares below 10 per cent and therefore are likely to have other main financing sources besides budget assigned by the central government: Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, India, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Russia,” the report stated.
“It is not clear that countries that have seen a decline in their education budget will be able to cover these costs increased during the pandemic alongside the regular increases in funding needed to support growing school-age populations.
“Despite the urgent need for adequate funding to allow school systems to reopen safely, about half of the countries in the sample cut their education budgets. This scarcely bodes well for the future, when macroeconomic conditions are expected to worsen,” it said.
On the other hand, households in low and lower-middle income countries tend to contribute a greater share of the total education spending than those in upper-middle and high-income countries, the report pointed out.
“While data is limited, household education spending as a share of GDP has increased in low-income countries and households still contribute significantly to the costs of education. The pandemic has resulted in a large and negative income and health shock for many households,” it said.
So far, Covid-19 has infected over 11.43 crore people across the globe and claimed over 25.37 lakh lives.



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We have defeated a much more powerful enemy than Narendra Modi: Rahul Gandhi | India News – Times of India

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TIRUNELVELI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday continued his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said, “we have defeated a much bigger enemy than this.”
Interacting with academicians in Tirunelveli, Rahul said, “We are fighting a formidable enemy that is dominating money in the country and crushing the opponents. But we have done this before. We have defeated a much bigger enemy than this. Seventy years ago, British was much more powerful than how Narendra Modi will ever be. Who is he when compared to the British Empire?”
Rahul made this statement to a question if there was a possibility for his ideas to be implemented.
“People of the country sent the British back. The same way we will send him back to Nagpur… We will do it without any hatred, anger and violence. They can do whatever on us. Abuse, kick and spit on our face. We will not do it back,” he said.
Rahul insisted on dreaming big. The Congress MP said he wouldn’t have come here and spoken to them if he had not thought that change was possible. He said change could be brought about with the help of people.
“I am trying to put across that you are powerful and valuable in the equation. We have to dream big. May be everything will not be a reality but 60 to 80% will be. It is our duty to dream big,” he added.
Stating that education, agriculture and healthcare are not financial commodities unlike the way the Union government now sees it, he added that India is heading to a situation wherein nothing is available without money.
“There is a place for business, but business cannot dominate education and healthcare as the poor won’t have access to it. Private players are welcome but a large part should be free, high quality and easily accessible,” he said.
On the New Education Policy, Rahul emphasised on consultation with students and teachers. “Unfortunately, it is not done. The right product has not come. Centralising too much power into the Centre is going to damage our education system,” he said.
Education should be a weapon of empowerment, he said and stressed on decentralising education to make it accessible to all corners of the country.
The Congress leader is on a three-day election campaign in south Tamil Nadu.



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AITA asks age-fraud suspects to produce TW3 tests ahead of Nationals | Tennis News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: In an attempt to prevent the over-aged players from competing at the upcoming national championships, the national tennis federation has begun scrutinising the documents of the suspects and also asked them to undergo TW3 test for age verification.
A group of parents had recently approached the All India Tennis Association (AITA), requesting it to stop over-aged players from competing in lower age categories.
The AITA then asked for names of the suspects from the complainants and has now shot mails to them.
“We won’t let elder players compete in lower age categories. We have already sent mail to four players in the Under-12 category. We have demanded documents from them and also asked them to undergo TW3 test,” AITA secretary general Anil Dhupar told PTI.
“We are framing rules to end this mess but unfortunately the Executive Committee meeting that was to be held in New Delhi today has been cancelled due to fresh travel conditions imposed.
“But we will do it when we meet next. It will be done in 10-15 days. Every state will have a designated laboratory where TW3 test will be conducted. It will definitely be done,” he said.
It has been learnt that the suspected players are from Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi.
Not only a group of parents met AITA officials in Delhi but many of them wrote e-mails to Dhupar in the last few days, pleading for action.
The 2020 Nationals could not be held due to coronavirus pandemic, so MSLTA, MPTA and HLTA are hosting the event next month.
Mumbai will host the Under-12 (March 8-14) and Under-16 competitions (May, 2021) while the Under-14 (March 14-22) event will be held in Aurangabad.
Indore will organise the Under-18 event from March 29. The men’s and women’s championships will be held in Gurugram from March 15.
The TW3 method uses X-Rays of the left hand and wrist to examine the skeletal maturity of a person to determine their bone age.
In wrist scans, age is estimated by looking at 20 or so bones initially separated by cartilage, but which progressively move closer to one another until they fuse in the mature wrist.
One of the reasons for using left hand and wrist radiographs is that most people are right-handed, and therefore, the right hand is more likely to be injured than the left hand.



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Active case count hits zero, Arunachal turns coronavirus-free | India News – Times of India

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ITANAGAR: Arunachal Pradesh became a coronavirus-free state on Sunday with the three active cases recovering from the disease, a senior health official said.
The total caseload in the northeastern state remained at 16,836, while the number of recoveries stood at 16,780, State Surveillance Officer Lobsang Jampa said.
No fresh Covid-19 case was reported in the past 24 hours, he said, A total of 56 people have so far died due to the contagion in the state.
Arunachal Pradesh’s recovery rate and positivity rate are at 99.66 per cent and zero per cent, respectively, the official said.
Altogether, 4,05,647 samples have been tested, including 312 on Saturday, Jampa said.
Meanwhile, State Immunisation Officer (SIO) Dimong Padung said 32,325 health and frontline workers have received vaccine shots in the state thus far.
The health department has been carrying out the inoculation drive four days a week – Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.



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Tiger Woods: Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas to dress in red and black in honour of Tiger Woods | Golf News – Times of India

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Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas are among the golfers set to don Tiger Woods‘ signature Sunday red and black during the final round of the World Golf Championships (WGC) event in Florida to honour the 15-time major winner, who had a car accident.
Woods, considered one of the greatest golfers of his generation, was being treated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after Tuesday’s crash left him with a fractured right leg and shattered ankle.
The 45-year-old is recovering and in “good spirits”.
An 82-time PGA Tour winner, Woods famously wears a red shirt and black trousers on Sundays.
Collin Morikawa, who leads by two shots over Brooks Koepka at the Concession Golf Club, will wear the same colour combination, along with Patrick Reed, according to Golf Channel.
American Max Homa endorsed the idea but said he would be unable to participate as he did not pack the colours required.
Ten-time major champion Annika Sorenstam, who is playing her first LPGA Tour tournament in 13 years, will also wear red and black in the final round of the Gainbridge LPGA event in Orlando.



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Mann Ki Baat: PM Narendra Modi calls for 100-day campaign to clean up water bodies, harvest rain water | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Underlining the importance of collective responsibility towards water conservation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called for a 100-day campaign to clean up all water bodies and prepare them for rain water harvesting before the monsoon season starts.
In his monthly ‘Mann Ki Baat‘ broadcast, Modi said water has been crucial for the development of humankind for centuries.
“We have to understand our collective responsibility towards water conservation,” he said.
The prime minister also said that when people feel proud of indigenous products then Aatmanirbhar Bharat does not just remain an economic programme but becomes a national spirit.
Noting that monsoon will begin in many parts of the country by around May-June, the prime minister asked can there be a 100-day public campaign to clean up all nearby water bodies and prepare those for rain water conservation.
In this regard, the Union Jal Shakti Ministry is also launching “Catch the rain” campaign and its main theme is “catch the rain, where it falls, when it falls”, he said.
“This is the best time to think about water conservation in the summer months ahead,” Modi said.
He also said there is a need to make science more popular across the country and asserted that science cannot be limited to physics-chemistry and labs. Modi called for expanding science with a mantra of ‘lab to land’.
During the broadcast, the prime minister also rued not being able to make enough efforts to learn the world’s oldest language, Tamil.
“In run up to Mann Ki Baat, I was asked if there was something I missed out on during these long years as chief minister and prime minister. I feel — it is a regret of sorts that I could not make enough efforts to learn the world’s oldest language Tamil. Tamil literature is beautiful,” Modi said.



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