Entire Earth vibrating less due to COVID-19 lockdowns says study

Agencies
July 25, 2020

In a study conducted in 117 countries, researchers have found that the world is experiencing the most dramatic reduction in the seismic noise (the hum of vibrations in the planet's crust) in recorded history due to global COVID-19 lockdowns.

Measured by instruments called seismometers, seismic noise is caused by vibrations within the Earth, which travel like waves and the waves can be triggered by earthquakes, volcanoes, and bombs - but also by daily human activity like travel and industry.

This quiet period was likely caused by the total global effect of social distancing measures, closure of services and industry, and drops in tourism and travel, the study published in the journal Science, reported.

The new research, led by the Royal Observatory of Belgium and five other institutions around the world including Imperial College London (ICL), showed that the dampening of 'seismic noise' caused by humans was more pronounced in more densely populated areas.

"Our study uniquely highlights just how much human activities impact the solid Earth, and could let us see more clearly than ever what differentiates human and natural noise," said study co-author Stephen Hicks from ICL in the UK.

For the findings, the research team looked at seismic data from a global network of 268 seismic stations in 117 countries and found significant noise reductions compared to before any lockdown at 185 of those stations.

Researchers tracked the 'wave' of quietening between March and May as worldwide lockdown measures took hold.

The largest drops in vibrations were seen in the most densely populated areas, like Singapore and New York City, but drops were also seen in remote areas like Germany's the Black Forest and Rundu in Namibia.

Citizen-owned seismometers, which tend to measure more localised noise, noted large drops around universities and schools around Cornwall, UK and Boston, US - a drop in noise 20 per cent larger than seen during school holidays.

The findings showed that countries like Barbados, where lockdown coincided with the tourist season, saw a 50 per cent decrease in noise.

"The changes have also given us the opportunity to listen in to the Earth's natural vibrations without the distortions of human input," the study authors wrote.

Earlier in April, a study published in the journal Nature, reported at least a 30 per cent reduction in that amount of ambient human noise since lockdown began in Belgium.

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News Network
September 21,2020

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Noida, Sept 21: Financial services app Paytm has accused Google of making policies that are over and above the laws of India after it was briefly delisted from the Playstore last week.

"As a startup, we are running law-abiding businesses and building for India. Google and its employees are making policies which are over and above the laws of our country, and are arbitrarily implementing them," it said in a blogpost.

Paytm said Google owns Android which is the operating system on which over 95 per cent of smartphones in India run. Google, as a result, has enormous control over which apps you download through its Playstore policies.

"It also makes billions of dollars in advertising revenues from the Indian startups that make these apps. In many cases like maps, email, payments, shopping and cloud storage, Google also has apps that compete with other apps, including, of course, the apps that are made by Indian startups."

Paytm said it had launched a campaign where users could collect cricket stickers and scratch cards to earn UPI cashback. The offer was applicable on recharges, utility payments, UPI money transfers and adding money to Paytm wallet.

On September 18, it got an email from Google Play Support informing that the Paytm Android app had been delisted.

This was the first time that Google was sending it a notification regarding its UPI cashback and scratch cards campaign.

"Contrary to accepted practise, we were not given any opportunity to respond to their concerns or put forth our views. We maintain that our cashback campaign was within guidelines, as well as all laws of the land. We did not break any rules and there was no violation. It is not related to gambling in any manner whatsoever," said Paytm.

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Agencies
September 14,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 14: Domestic equity benchmark Sensex jumped over 300 points in early trade on Monday tracking gains in index majors Reliance Industries, HDFC twins and HCL Tech amid positive global cues and fresh foreign fund inflow. The 30-share BSE index was trading 340.10 points or 0.88 per cent higher at 39,194.65; while the NSE Nifty rose 89.15 points or 0.78 per cent to 11,553.60.

HCL Tech was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, surging around 5 per cent, followed by Tech Mahindra, HDFC duo, Reliance Industries, TCS, SBI and IndusInd Bank. On the other hand, HUL, Asian Paints, Maruti, Bajaj Auto and Nestle India were among the laggards.

In the previous session, Sensex ended 14.23 points or 0.04 per cent higher at 38,854.55, while the broader Nifty rose 15.20 points or 0.13 per cent to close at 11,464.45. Exchange data showed that foreign institutional investors bought equities worth Rs 1,175.81 crore on a net basis on Friday. Domestic equities opened on a positive note tracking positive cues from global markets and persistent foreign fund inflow, traders said.

Bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo were trading with gains in mid-day deals after Biopharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford on Saturday resumed trials for their coronavirus vaccine in the UK after the Medicines Health Regulatory Authority's approval. The human trials resumed days after a pause was announced in the trials after an adverse reaction in one of the participants. Meanwhile, global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 0.35 per cent lower at USD 39.97 per barrel. 

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Agencies
September 25,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 25: Vodafone Group Plc has won an international arbitration case against the Indian government in a ₹14,200 crore retrospective tax dispute, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

The tribunal ruled that the Indian government's imposition of a tax liability on Vodafone is in breach of the investment treaty agreement between India and the Netherlands, one of the sources said.

The British telecom giant moved the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2016.

Vodafone in 2013 had invoked India-Netherlands bilateral investment treaty seeking resolution to the tax demand imposed on it by enacting a tax law with retrospective effect to sidestep a Supreme Court judgement that went in the company’s favour.

Conciliatory proceedings were initiated to resolve the dispute but differences led to a breakdown following which arbitration was initiated.

The government had initially slapped a tax demand of ₹7,990 crore on Vodafone for failing to deduct tax on capital gains made over its $11-billion acquisition of 67% stake in the mobile phone business owned by Hutchison Whampoa in 2007.

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