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News in Short

News in Short - 20-December-2020

India to introduce E20 fuel to cut vehicular emissions

Date: 20 December 2020 Tags: Environment
  • The government has proposed the adoption of E20 fuel which is a blend of 20% of ethanol and gasoline, as an automobile fuel in order to reduce vehicular emissions as well as the country’s oil import bill.
  • The current permissible level of blending is 10% of ethanol though India reached only 5.6% of blending in 2019.
  • The compatibility of vehicles with the percentage of ethanol in the blend would be defined by the vehicle manufacturer, which would have to be displayed on the vehicle with a sticker.
  • Ethanol is a biofuel and a common by-product of biomass left by agricultural feedstock such as corn, sugarcane, hemp, potato, etc.

Indian American Vedant Patel appointed White House Assistant Press secretary

Date: 20 December 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous
  • U.S. President Elect Joe Biden has announced additional members of the White House communications and press team including India-born Vedant Patel, who was appointed to the role of Assistant Press Secretary.
  • Mr. Patel was a key member of the Biden-Harris campaign and is currently a senior spokesperson for the Biden-Harris presidential Inaugural Committee.
  • Prior to this he was on the Biden team during the Democratic primaries, leading communications for Nevada and other Western states.
  • Mr. Patel was born in India and raised in California. He will work on the team of White House Press Secretary designate Jen Psaki.

Pakistan Cricketer Mohammad Amir retires

Date: 20 December 2020 Tags: Sports
  • Fast bowler Mohammad Amir has conveyed to the Pakistan Cricket Board his decision to retire from international cricket.
  • Amir has played 30 Tests, 61 ODIs, and 50 T20Is in his international career, picking up a total of 259 international wickets. His last appearance for Pakistan came in the T20I series against England in August earlier this year.
  • After a sparkling start, his career went downhill after he was found guilty of spot-fixing and was banned for five years.
  • He made his international comeback in 2016 and went on to play an instrumental role in Pakistan's Champions Trophy triumph of 2017.

Sharks, rays and chimaeras face high risk of extinction

Date: 20 December 2020 Tags: Biodiversity
  • A recent assessment of sharks, rays and chimaeras by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has revealed that of the 170 species found across the oceans of the country, 19 (about 11%) are facing high risk of extinction.
  • Of the 19 species that have been assessed as critically endangered, there are seven species of sharks, five species of guitar fishes, two sawfishes, four wedge fishes and one species of stingray, the Maculabatis arabica, a recently discovered species.
  • In the last assessment, only 3% sharks, rays and chimaeras were Critically Endangered (CE), which increased to 11% in 2020. Similarly, for the Endangered (EN) category, the number of the species increased from 5% in 2014 to 18% in 2020.

Potential radio signal from exoplanet detected

Date: 20 December 2020 Tags: Space
  • An international team of scientists has collected the first possible radio signal from a planet beyond our solar system, emanating from an exoplanet system about 51 light-years away.
  • Using the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR), a radio telescope in the Netherlands, the researchers uncovered emission bursts from the Tau Bootes star-system hosting a so-called hot Jupiter, a gaseous giant planet that is very close to its own sun.
  • This radio detection opens up a new window on exoplanets and provides a novel way to examine alien worlds that are tens of light-years away.
  • Observing an exoplanet’s magnetic field helps astronomers decipher a planet’s interior and atmospheric properties, as well as the physics of star-planet interactions.