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News in Short

News in Short - 24-February-2021

Facebook to restore Australian news pages

Date: 24 February 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous
  • Facebook will restore Australian news pages after Canberra offered amendments to a proposed law designed to force tech giants to pay for media content displayed on their platforms.
  • Australia and the social media group have been locked in a standoff for more than a week after the government introduced legislation that challenged Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google’s dominance in the news content market.
  • Facebook last week blocked all news content and several state government and emergency department accounts. But after a series of talks, a concession deal has been struck.
  • Australia will offer four amendments, which includes a change to the mandatory arbitration mechanism used when the tech giants cannot reach a deal with publishers over fair payment for displaying news content.

Predicting Tsunamis with world’s fastest supercomputer

Date: 24 February 2021 Tags: IT, Mobile & Computers
  • Japan’s Fujitsu Laboratories has developed an AI model to predict tsunami flooding in coastal areas in real-time. The technology company used Fugaku, the world’s fastest supercomputer, to develop the model.
  • A team of researchers generated training data for 20,000 possible tsunami scenarios based on high-resolution tsunami simulations, using the supercomputer. They created the AI model using these data sets.
  • In the event of an earthquake, inputting tsunami waveform data observed offshore into the model help predict flooding in coastal areas before the wave makes landfall.
  • This will make it possible to accurately and rapidly obtain flooding forecasts for specific areas and can also offer critical insights into the effects of localised waves on surrounding infrastructure like buildings and roads, according to the company.
  • The model can also be run in seconds on ordinary PCs, making it easier to build practical, real-time systems, which previously required supercomputers.

Microbes from Earth can survive on Mars for short duration

Date: 24 February 2021 Tags: Space
  • Some microbes found on Earth may temporarily survive on the surface of Mars, according to a study that could be vital for the success of future missions to the Red Planet.
  • The researchers from NASA and German Aerospace Centre tested the endurance of microorganisms to Martian conditions by launching them into stratosphere, the second major layer of Earth's atmosphere which closely represents key conditions on Mars.
  • The studypaves the way for understanding not only the threat of microbes to space missions, but also the opportunities for resource independence from Earth.
  • When searching for extra-terrestrial life, the scientists need to be sure that anything that they discover has not just travelled from the Earth.

XiJinping to visit India for BRICS summit

Date: 24 February 2021 Tags: India & World
  • China’s President Xi Jinping may travel to India in the second half of this year to attend the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) leaders’ meeting, if the summit goes ahead in person as is increasingly expected.
  • The visit would come in the aftermath of the most serious border crisis between the neighbours in decades.
  • Expectations are that by the second half of the year, the summit will not have to be held virtually. While the COVID-19 situation will determine whether that is the case, other major summits in Europe and the United Kingdom are likely to take place this summer, before the BRICS meet.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to make his first overseas trip after the pandemic to Bangladesh in March, and is also expected to attend the India-EU meet in Portugal in May and the G7 summit in the U.K. the following month, where India has been invited as a guest country.

Longest serving Saudi oil minister Ahmad Zaki Yamani dies

Date: 24 February 2021 Tags: Obituaries
  • Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, a former energy minister of Saudi Arabia who steered the kingdom's oil policies for nearly 25 years, has died in London. He was 90.
  • Yamani helped Saudi Arabia command a dominating presence in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries from its birth. The kingdom remains a heavyweight in the group even today.
  • Yamani became oil minister in 1962 and would lead the ministry until 1986. He served a crucial role in the nascent oil cartel OPEC as producers around the world began to try to dictate prices to the world market previously dominated by the economic policies of Western nations.
  • Yamani was the first Saudi representative on OPEC's board of governors in 1961. From his position, he became known not for the hysterics that accompanied years of turmoil across the wider Middle East.