Month: August 2020

Modi Lays Temple Foundation Stone Marking Victory for Hindu Nationalist Party 

In a ceremony watched by millions of Indians on television, Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered prayers and laid the foundation stone for a grand Hindu temple to be built in the northern town of Ayodhya on the site of a mosque demolished by Hindu radicals. 
 
The ceremony marks a historic triumph for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, whose rise to political prominence was propelled by the three-decade campaign to build a temple to honor the revered Hindu deity Rama. 
 
“It is an emotional moment for India. A long wait ends today,” Modi said after the ceremony that was held even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in India. 
 
The temple is being built on the exact spot Hindus believe is the birthplace of Lord Rama. The demolition of the 16th century mosque that stood there in 1992 sparked deadly Hindu-Muslim riots and became a deeply divisive issue in the Hindu-majority country, where many Hindus want the temple to be built. 
 
The Supreme Court approved the temple’s construction last November when it handed the bitterly contested plot of land to a Hindu group after a long legal battle.  
 
Modi said the site had been liberated and a “grand house” would be constructed for Lord Rama.  Devotees walk past the pillars that Hindu nationalist group Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) say will be used to build a Ram temple at the disputed religious site in Ayodhya, India, Oct. 22, 2019.Building the temple in Ayodhya has long been a rallying cry of the BJP, which critics accuse of pursuing a Hindu nationalist agenda. Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony coincided with the first anniversary of the scrapping of the special status for Muslim majority Kashmir — another core promise that was made by the party. 
 
The response of the Muslim community to the temple project has been muted with some saying it is time to “move on.” 
 
“Whatever happened are things of the past,” said Iqbal Ansari, one of the Muslim litigants in the Supreme Court case, who was invited to attend the ceremony.   
 
The small, sleepy town of Ayodhya was given a makeover for the ceremony. Saffron flags fluttered in the streets and houses got a splash of yellow paint, both believed to be auspicious colors.Policemen stand guard before the arrival of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the foundation laying ceremony for a Hindu temple in Ayodhya, India, Aug. 5, 2020.Paramilitary soldiers guarded the streets as COVID-19 restrictions kept people indoors. Many, however, stood on rooftops in the pilgrim town dotted with temples.   
 
Wednesday’s ceremony marks the consolidation of Hindu nationalism under the BJP during its six-year rule, say analysts. 
 
“A constellation of forces has allowed them to take advantage now, they have a favorable court judgment and all groups have come to believe that let us resolve the issue,” says Sandeep Shastri, a political analyst and Pro Vice Chancellor of Jain University. “This also seems to be the voice in the minority Muslim community that in order to buy peace if this is what we need to agree to, it is all right.” 
 
The proposed five-domed temple spread over nearly 8,000 square meters, is expected to be completed in three-and-a-half years and could yield political dividends for the BJP when it faces the next general election in 2024. 
 
“This reinforces Modi’s persona, the halo, he is the man who has delivered the temple,” says political analyst Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay. “This is the moment of Hindu supremacy, and Muslims recognize, and there is very little they can do by law after the Supreme Court rejected their petition for a review of its judgment.” 
 
A prominent Muslim lawmaker questioned the prime minister’s attendance, though, at the ceremony, saying that it violated his constitutional oath in India. “Secularism is part of the Basic Structure of Constitution,” Asaduddin Owaisi wrote on Twitter. 
 
There is unease among the Muslim community and some fear the construction of a temple at Ayodhya could pave the way for similar demands in other towns where Hindu groups claim mosques have been built on sites holy to Hindus. 
 
“The larger question would be, would it end here or is this the starting point of other developments. That is the more serious question,” said Shastri.  People watch a live screening of the stone laying ceremony of the Ram Temple by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ayodhya, in New Delhi, India, Aug. 5, 2020.Some questions also have been raised about holding the ceremony during a pandemic in India when there have been repeated warnings by health experts that large gatherings should be avoided. 
 
The venue of the ceremony, attended by about 175 prominent BJP leaders and Hindu priests, was cordoned off and chairs kept at a distance to maintain social distancing.   
 
The ceremony became a moment of celebration across many homes in the country, where the temple campaign turned into a deeply emotive issue. Hindus make up about 80 percent of the population. 
 
Devotees are reported to have sent silver and gold coins to pay for the temple’s construction. 

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India Widens China App Ban to Cover More From Xiaomi, Baidu

India has banned some mobile apps of Chinese companies such as Xiaomi Corp and Baidu Inc, three sources told Reuters on Wednesday, in New Delhi’s latest move to hit Chinese companies following a border clash between the neighbors.
 
India in June outlawed 59 Chinese apps for threatening the country’s “sovereignty and integrity,” including ByteDance’s video-sharing app TikTok, Alibaba’s UC Browser and Xiaomi’s Mi Community app.
 
Another ban was imposed in recent weeks on about 47 apps which mostly contained clones, or simply different versions, of the already banned apps, the sources said.
 
Unlike its June move, the government did not make its latest decision public, but there are a few new apps that have made it to that list, including Xiaomi’s Mi Browser Pro and Baidu’s search apps, the sources said.
 
It wasn’t immediately clear how many new apps have been affected.
 
India’s IT Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi did not respond to a request for comment. China has previously criticized India’s decision to ban the apps.
 
A spokesman for Xiaomi in India said the company was trying to understand the development and will take appropriate measures. Baidu declined to comment.
 
A ban on the Mi Browser, which comes pre-loaded on most Xiaomi smartphones, could potentially mean the Chinese firm will need to stop installing it on new devices it sells in India.
 
Xiaomi is India’s No.1 smartphone seller with close to 90 million users, according to Hong Kong-based tech researcher Counterpoint.
 
The bans are part of India’s moves to counter China’s dominant presence in the country’s internet services market following a border clash in June between the two nuclear-armed neighbors in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
 
India has also made approval processes more stringent for Chinese companies wanting to invest in the country, and also tightened norms for Chinese companies wanting to participate in government tenders.

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Penguin Poop Spotted from Space Reveals Hidden Colonies

British scientists say there are more emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica than previously thought based on evidence of bird droppings spotted from space.  
 
A study published Wednesday by scientists at the British Antarctic Survey counted 61 emperor penguin colonies dotted around the southernmost continent, 11 more than the number previously confirmed.  
 
Scientists used images from Europe’s Sentinel-2 satellite mission to look for smudges on the ice that indicated large amounts of guano, or penguin poop.Markings points to a patch of penguin guano on an image captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite mission Nov. 7, 2016. 
The majestic emperor penguin breeds in remote areas where temperatures can drop as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius (minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit). Researchers have long relied on aerial photographs and satellites to spot colonies of the flightless marine birds.  
 
Peter Fretwell, a British Antarctic Survey geographer and the study’s lead author, called the latest count “good news” but noted that the newly spotted colonies were small.  
 
“(They) only take the overall population count up by 5-10% to just over half a million penguins or around 265,500 – 278,500 breeding pairs,” he said.  
 
Emperor penguins are vulnerable to the loss of sea ice predicted to occur because of man-made global warming. Some researchers suggest the number of colonies could drop by more than 30% by the end of the century.  
 
Some of the newly discovered colonies are located far offshore, on sea ice that has formed around grounded icebergs and which is particularly at risk of disappearing.

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Горіла сосна, палала. Палає і зелений карлик. Рейтинги політиків по Києву та Україні

Горіла сосна, палала. Палає і зелений карлик. Рейтинги політиків по Києву та Україні
 

 
 
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Хабаровские десантники выступили против обиженного карлика пукина

Хабаровские десантники выступили против обиженного карлика пукина
 

 
 
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«Темний демон» єрмак, «теплі почуття» до крадуна авакова і «вагітна» хвойда мендель

«Темний демон» єрмак, «теплі почуття» до крадуна авакова і «вагітна» шльондра мендель.

На початку квітня у команді Офісу президента відбулося поповнення: політтехнолог Михайло Подоляк, який ще не так давно критикував політику ОП, «слуг народу» і зеленого карлика, став антикризовим радником голови Офісу президента єрмака.

Які саме кризи він вирішує? Чи справді єрмак є «темним демоном» за спиною зеленого карлика, про що Подоляк писав раніше? Чи правильно зробив президент, коли не звільним голову ОП після скандалу з «плівками Лероса»? Чи становить загрозу для президента міністр МВС крадун аваков, якого Подоляк ще не так давно називав «неформальним президентом»? Та для чого Подоляк порадив прес-секретарці зеленого карлика хвойді мендель публічно спростовувати чутки про свою «вагітність»?
 

 
 
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Обкурений зе-прокурор євген дудко із сокирою напав на сусідів і “спалив” котедж в Козині

Обкурений зе-прокурор євген дудко із сокирою напав на сусідів і “спалив” котедж в Козині.

Увірватись на барбекю з сокирою? Ні, це не герой фільму жахів, це звичайний київський прокурор євген дудко. І хоч в його декларації лише квартира на 30 квадратів в Києві, завдяки нападу на сусідів ми з’ясували – живе прокурор в маєтку в елітному Козині. Офіційно маєток належить батьку, який нібито доларовий мільйонер з 90-х, але насправді не отримував прибутків вже років 10
 

 
 
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Истерика в бункере обиженного карлика: турецкие F-16 готовят подарки пукинским оркам

Истерика в бункере обиженного карлика: турецкие F-16 готовят подарки пукинским оркам.

Раньше Анкара ограничивалась помощью Азербайджану в виде материальной части, но в этот раз все пошло по другому сценарию. Турция ввела именно свои войска и в частности, были развернуты турецкие истребители F-16, а также многоцелевые вертолеты С-129 и С-70 Black Hawk
 

 
 
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Study: Heatwaves May Force Fish to Flee Huge Distances

Fish and other marine life may have to flee thousands of kilometers to escape damaging heatwaves, according to research published Wednesday, highlighting the scale of disruption caused by these increasing surges in ocean temperatures.  
 
Hot spells can cause dramatic changes to ocean ecosystems, devastating coral habitats, killing large numbers of seabirds and forcing species like fish, whales and turtles into colder waters.    
 
Researchers said the increasing number of marine heatwaves are a sudden shock to local ecosystems whose effects can last months or in some cases years.  
 
They are an additional stress on oceans that are also seeing long-term warming, says the study published in the journal Nature.  
 
The researchers looked at how far a species caught in a marine heatwave would have to travel to get back to a normal water temperature, in what they term “thermal displacement”.   
 
Previous research focused on measuring the intensity of the temperature change at the location of the heatwave and the effects on static habitats, like kelp forests and coral reefs, researchers said.    
 
Thermal displacement “adds a new dimension” to our understanding of these heatwaves, lead author Michael Jacox of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told AFP.  
 
“It’s important because we know that many marine species can quickly move long distances to find favorable habitat. They won’t just stay in place when the water is too hot, so the question is how far must they go to find cooler water?” he said.   
 37 years of heatwaves 
 
To answer this, researchers analyzed data of marine heatwaves from 1982 to 2019 and looked at the species displacement associated with these events.  
 
In some areas, cooler water would not be far away, such as where different regions of the ocean meet.   
 
But in tropical waters, where variations in temperatures are relatively small, the study found that species would have to travel more than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) to find suitable habitat.  
 
This fast-moving displacement of sea life has broad implications, Jacox said.     
 
“Some of the most mobile species — many fish, whales, and turtles — hold great value for humans, whether it’s for fisheries, tourism, or from a conservation perspective,” he said.   
‘The Blob’
 
In 2011, a 10-week ocean heatwave off western Australia shattered the local underwater ecosystem and pushed commercial fish species into colder waters.  
 
At the end of 2013 an unusually warm patch of water that became known as “The Blob” appeared near Alaska and began to expand, stretching all the way to Baja California around 4,000 kilometers away by late 2015.  
 
This vast marine heatwave caused mass strandings of marine mammals and seabirds along the west coast of the United States and Canada and killed off swathes of seagrass meadows and kelp forests.  
 
“Warm-water species such as thresher sharks, hammerhead sharks, and mahi mahi [aka dolphinfish] were sighted farther north than ever before,” said a 2016 report on “The Blob” in the peer-reviewed magazine Oceanography.   
 
Mark Payne of the Technical University of Denmark said marine heatwaves were some “of the most visible signs of an ocean under stress”, in a commentary in Nature.   
 
He noted that species may not always be able to find a suitable habitat to relocate to, or are unable or unwilling to move, such as parents guarding young.   
 
But he said that the study by Jacox and colleagues — which he was not involved in — “expands our perspectives” of these heating events.  
 
These are “expected to increase dramatically in the future, given that the increases are linked to climate change”.  
 
Last year, research published in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences calculated that climate change would empty the ocean of nearly a fifth of all living creatures, measured by mass, by the end of the century.

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Instagram Launches Reels to Rival TikTok

Facebook launched a short-film product similar to the popular TikTok app in the United States and dozens of other countries Wednesday.The new product, called Reels, is embedded in the Instagram app and permits users to create 15-second videos set to music from a predetermined music library.The feature has been in production for at least two years, having undergone trials in Brazil in 2018. The addition comes two days after President Donald Trump gave Microsoft 45 days to acquire the U.S. division of the Chinese-owned TikTok over security concerns.FILE – The logo of the TikTok application seen on a mobile phone, Feb. 21, 2019.After the Brazil trials, Facebook tested the product in France, Germany and India, trying to grapple with some of TikTok’s biggest user concentrations. A stand-alone app, Lasso, made it to market but was not successful.TikTok Chief Executive Officer Kevin Mayer called Reels a “copycat product” that would unfairly employ Instagram’s existing user base of more than 1 billion after “their other copycat Lasso failed quickly.”Vishal Shah, Instagram’s vice president of product, acknowledged the similarities in a video conference call Tuesday with reporters and said, “Inspiration for products comes from everywhere,” including Facebook’s teams and “the ecosystem more broadly.”Instagram’s current Stories feature allows users to share a photo or video that disappears after 24 hours, like the popular social media app Snapchat.Reels differs from TikTok in that it employs Instagram’s preexisting augmented reality effects, which let users overlay images and filters onto their videos.Reels’s algorithm reportedly is similar to TikTok’s, maintaining the platform’s draw for unknown creatives to go viral through being featured on the Explore page or sharing content with friends through reposts or personal messages. Content creators will be able to appear on the Explore page if their profiles are set to public.According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook is pursuing TikTok’s creators by offering them financial incentives to move over to Reels. In response to the report, a Facebook spokesperson said in certain cases, it may help cover production costs for influencers’ “creative ideas.”Instagram said it does not have plans to monetize Reels content in the near future.“We’re experimenting with different monetization options (for creators),” Shah said. 
 

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