Petrol touches new high of Rs 84.45 in Delhi, crosses Rs 91 mark in Mumbai

Agencies
January 13, 2021

Petrol touches new high of Rs 84.45 in Delhi, crosses Rs 91 mark in Mumbai  - cnbctv18.com

New Delhi, Jan 13: Petrol price on Wednesday touched a new high of Rs 84.45 per litre in the national capital after state-owned fuel retailers hiked prices after a five-day hiatus.

Petrol and diesel prices were hiked by 25 paise per litre each, according to a price notification from oil marketing companies.

In Delhi, petrol now costs Rs 84.45 per litre and diesel is priced at Rs 74.63. In Mumbai, petrol comes for Rs 91.07 a litre and diesel for Rs 81.34.

This is the highest ever price of petrol in Delhi, while diesel is at a record high in Mumbai.

State-owned fuel retailers -- Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) -- had on January 6, resumed daily price revision after nearly a month-long hiatus.

Rates were hiked on two consecutive days - totalling 49 paise for petrol and 51 paise for diesel - before they hit a pause button again.

The price increase cycle resumed after international oil prices rose for the seventh day. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was up 1.3 per cent at USD 53.88 a barrel, while Brent crude was up 79 cents at USD 57.37.

Both benchmarks are trading at the highest since February, before the coronavirus outbreak in China began spreading across the world, forcing lockdowns that shaved off demand.

Petrol price had scaled to an all-time high of Rs 84.20 per litre on January 7.

The previous highest ever rate of Rs 84 a litre for petrol in Delhi was touched on October 4, 2018. On that day, diesel too had scaled to an all-time high of Rs 75.45 a litre.

The government had responded to that situation by cutting excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 1.50 per litre in a bid to ease inflationary pressure and boost consumer confidence. Alongside, state-owned fuel retailers cut prices by another Re 1 a litre, which they recouped later.

The highest level for petrol in Mumbai was on October 4, 2018, when it was Rs 91.34.

Though petrol and diesel rates are to be revised on a daily basis in line with benchmark international price and foreign exchange, government-controlled fuel retailers have been moderating rates since the pandemic broke out.

This after they adjusted a Rs 13 per litre hike in excise duty on petrol and Rs 15 a litre on diesel, against a decrease in the retail selling price that was warranted by crude oil prices falling to an average of USD 19 per barrel in April.

Excise duty totals Rs 32.98 per litre in petrol and Rs 31.83 in diesel. VAT in Delhi totals to Rs 19.32 a litre on petrol and Rs 10.85 on diesel.

Since May 2020, petrol price has risen by Rs 14.79 per litre and diesel by Rs 12.34 a litre, price notifications of oil companies showed.

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Agencies
January 15,2021

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Washington, Jan 15: The US government has blacklisted Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. and China's third-largest national oil company for alleged military links, heaping pressure on Beijing in President Donald Trumps last week in office.

The Department of Defense added nine companies to its list of Chinese companies with military links, including Xiaomi and state-owned plane manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (Comac).

US investors will have to divest their stakes in Chinese companies on the military list by November this year, according to an executive order signed by Trump in November.

Xiaomi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Xiaomi Corp. overtook Apple Inc. as the worlds No. 3 smartphone maker by sales in the third quarter of 2020, according to data by Gartner. Xiaomis market share has grown as Huaweis sales have suffered after it was blacklisted by the U.S. and its smartphones were cut off from essential services from Google.

Separately, the Commerce Department put China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) on the entity list, an economic blacklist that forbids U.S. firms from exporting or transferring technology with the companies named unless permission has been obtained from the U.S. government. The move comes after about 60 Chinese companies were added to the list in December, including drone maker DJI and semiconductor firm SMIC.

CNOOC has been involved in offshore drilling in the disputed waters South China Sea, where Beijing has overlapping territorial claims with other countries including Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

China's reckless and belligerent actions in the South China Sea and its aggressive push to acquire sensitive intellectual property and technology for its militarisation efforts are a threat to U.S. national security and the security of the international community, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

CNOOC acts as a bully for the Peoples Liberation Army to intimidate Chinas neighbors, and the Chinese military continues to benefit from government civil-military fusion policies for malign purposes, Ross said.

CNOOC did not immediately comment.

Chinese state-owned company Skyrizon was also added to the economic blacklist, for its push to acquire and indigenise foreign military technologies, Ross said.

Beijing Skyrizon Aviation, founded by tycoon Wang Jing, drew U.S. criticism for an attempt to take over Ukraines military aircraft engine maker Motor Sich in 2017. The concern was that advanced aerospace technology would end up being used for military purposes.

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News Network
January 10,2021

Wuhan, Jan 10: It is the world’s most pressing scientific puzzle, but experts warn there may never be conclusive answers over the source of the coronavirus, after an investigative effort marked from the start by disarray, Chinese secrecy and international rancour.

January 11 marks the anniversary of China confirming its first death from Covid-19, a 61-year-old man who was a regular at the now-notorious Wuhan wet market.

Nearly two million deaths later, the pandemic is out of control across much of the world, leaving tens of millions ill, a pulverised global economy and recriminations flying between nations.

Yet China, which has broadly controlled the pandemic on its soil, is still frustrating independent attempts to trace the virus’ origins and the central question of how it jumped from animals to humans.

There is little dispute that the virus which brought the world to its knees sparked its first known outbreak in late 2019 at a wet market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan where wildlife was sold as food, and the pathogen is believed to have originated in an undetermined bat species.

But the trail ends there, clouded by a mishmash of subsequent clues that suggest its origins may predate Wuhan as well as conspiracy theories — amplified by US President Donald Trump — that it leaked from a Wuhan lab.

Establishing the source is vital for extinguishing future outbreaks early, leading virologists say, providing clues that can guide policy decisions on whether to cull animal populations, quarantine affected persons, or limit wildlife hunting and other human-animal interactions.

“If we can identify why they (viruses) keep emerging, we can reduce those underlying drivers,” said Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a global NGO focused on infectious disease prevention.

China won early kudos for reporting the virus and releasing its gene sequence in a timely manner, compared with its cover-up of the 2002-03 SARS outbreak.

But there has also been secrecy and shifting stories.

Wuhan authorities initially tried to cover up the outbreak and later spent precious weeks denying human-to-human transmission.

Early on, Chinese officials declared flatly that the outbreak began at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan.

But Chinese data in January 2020 showed that several of the first cases had no known links to the now-shuttered market, suggesting a source elsewhere.

China’s story morphed again last March when top Chinese disease control official Gao Fu said the market was not the source, but a “victim”, a place where the pathogen was merely amplified.

But China has since failed to publicly connect any dots, releasing scant information on animal and environmental samples taken at the market that could aid investigators, experts say.

And it has kept foreign experts at arm’s length, with a planned mission by World Health Organization virus sleuths now in limbo after China denied them entry.

On Saturday, a top Chinese health official said the country was now “ready” for the 10-strong team and opened the door to a visit to Wuhan.

Yet “the specific time is being determined”, National Health Commission vice minister Zeng Yixin told reporters.

What the scientists will be allowed to see or may expect to find a year on is also in doubt. Experts say authorities may have destroyed or scrubbed away crucial evidence in a panicked initial response.

“Every outbreak goes the same way. It’s chaotic and dysfunctional,” said Daszak.

“They didn’t do a great job on the animal investigation early on,” he added.

“In some ways, they were quite open, in others they were less than open.”

The reasons for China’s secrecy are unclear, but the ruling Communist Party has a history of suppressing politically damaging information.

Whistleblowers and citizen reporters who shared details of the terrifying early weeks of the virus on the internet have since been muzzled or jailed.

Beijing may want to hide regulatory or investigative lapses to avoid domestic embarrassment or global “blowback”, said Daniel Lucey, a Georgetown University epidemiologist who closely tracks global outbreaks.

The Wuhan market might not even be the issue, Lucey adds.

He notes that the virus was already spreading rapidly in Wuhan by December 2019, indicating that it was in circulation much earlier.

That’s because it may take months or even years for a virus to develop the necessary mutations to become highly contagious among humans.

The market-origin theory is “just not plausible whatsoever”, Lucey said.

“It occurred naturally and it had to have been many months earlier, perhaps a year, perhaps more than a year.”

Augmenting the doubt, in December China said the number of coronavirus cases circulating in Wuhan may have been 10 times higher early in the epidemic than revealed by official figures at the time.

The trail has now gone cold, with the drip of subsequent clues only adding to the confusion, including findings that the virus may have existed in Europe and Brazil before Wuhan’s outbreak, unconfirmed suggestions which China has seized upon to deflect blame.

Daszak remains hopeful the source can be found, especially after US President Donald Trump’s re-election loss.

He blames Trump for killing cooperation with China by politicising the virus — typified by his “China virus” label — and his administration’s promotion of the conspiracy theory that China created it in a lab, which scientists reject.

“I’m confident we will eventually find out the bat species it came from and the likely pathway,” Daszak said.

Others are less certain.

Diana Bell, a wildlife disease expert at the University of East Anglia who has studied the SARS virus, Ebola and other pathogens, said focusing on a particular origin species is misguided.

She says the overarching threat has already been exposed: a global wildlife trade that fosters a “combustible mix” of trafficked species, a known breeding ground for disease outbreaks.

“(The species) actually doesn’t matter. We don’t need to know the source, we just need to stop that sodding mixing of animals in markets,” she said.

“We need to stop the wildlife trade for human consumption.”

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News Network
January 20,2021

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Bengaluru, Jan 20: Senior Congress leaders Siddaramaiah and D K Shivakumar were detained along with scores of others when they attempted to proceed to Raj Bhavan to lay siege to it on Wednesday protesting the contentious farm laws of the Centre.

Several congress workers and farmers from across the state descended on the city following a call given the state unit of the national party to lay siege to Raj Bhavan in protest against the new agri laws and condemn the hike in fuel prices.

Raising slogans, holding the party flag, banners and posters, the protesters took out a march from Freedom Park to the Governor's official residence, but were stopped on the way by police.

Speaking to reporters from inside a police vehicle in which he was taken away from the protest site, Siddaramaiah said, "The Yediyurappa government and the police are trying to disrupt the peaceful protests, which I strongly condemn."

He hit out at the BJP saying the saffron party never had faith in the democratic setup.

Elaborate security arrangements were made in view of the anti-farmers law protests and roads barricaded. Commuters faced a harrowing time due to traffic snarls caused by agitations at various places.

Earlier in the day, Congress state chief D K Shivakumar accused the state government of stopping the protesters from reaching the state capital.

"I have been receiving calls saying the police have been stopping farmers and Congress workers since last night," Shivakumar alleged in a video message. He appealed to those who were prevented from proceeding to the city, to hold protest by blocking the highways.

"Reach the Bengaluru Railway station and we all shall go and lay siege to the Raj Bhavan," he added. Meanwhile, the BJP ridiculed the protests and alleged that the Congress, which had been responsible for the farmers' suicide throughout its regime, was staging a drama by opposing the pro-farmer laws introduced by the Centre.

"Farmer suicides would not have escalated if you had been pro-farmer, isn't it?" the saffron party asked in a tweet. 

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