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[Newsbits] 22.08.2023

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Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C

Recent research published in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" has unveiled a fascinating discovery: Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C, a type of methanotroph, possesses unique characteristics that make it a potential game-changer in addressing methane emissions. This bacterium's exceptional ability to consume methane, a potent greenhouse gas, even at low concentrations could hold the key to mitigating its harmful effects.

Unveiling the Characteristics

Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C falls into the category of methanotrophs, bacteria that consume methane as their primary energy source. This specific strain exhibits remarkable traits:

  • Optimal Growth Conditions: It thrives in environments with methane concentrations between 5,000-10,000 parts per million (ppm).
  • Exceptional Low-Level Methane Consumption: A standout feature is its capability to consume methane even at concentrations as low as 500 ppm.
  • Proven Versatility: Laboratory tests have demonstrated its growth even at 200 ppm methane concentration.
  • Effective Range: It remains effective within the methane concentration range of 200-1,000 ppm.

Harnessing its Potential

Researchers are exploring two main avenues to harness the potential of Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C for methane mitigation:

  • Biofilters: These vessels house the necessary nutrients for microbial growth, allowing the bacterium to consume methane from the surrounding environment.
  • Genetic Modifications: Researchers are inducing gene mutations and selecting desired strains to enhance the bacterium's methane-consumption efficiency.

Functionality and Applications

Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C plays a critical role in removing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere. Its application sites span diverse areas:

  • Landfills: The bacterium could be used to mitigate methane emissions from waste disposal sites.
  • Paddy Fields: It holds potential for reducing methane emissions from rice paddies.
  • Oil and Gas Wells: These wells are notorious sources of methane emissions, making the bacterium a valuable tool for mitigation.

Advantages and Biomass Production

This bacterium's advantages extend beyond its exceptional methane consumption:

  • Effective at Low Levels: It remains effective even at low methane concentrations, which is crucial for widespread application.
  • Biomass Production: After consuming methane, the bacterium produces biomass that could have various applications.
  • Aquaculture Feed: The biomass could serve as aquaculture feed, contributing to food production.
  • Conversion Value: Remarkably, 1 tonne of methane can be converted to approximately 0.78 tonne of biomass (dry weight), valued at roughly $1,600 per tonne.

Significance for Climate Change

The significance of Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C becomes apparent when considering methane's potency as a greenhouse gas:

  • Methane Potency: Over a 20-year period, methane's warming potential is approximately 85 times greater than that of carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • Global Warming Contribution: Methane contributes to around 30% of the total global warming effect.
  • Large-Scale Benefits: By 2050, the bacterium's use could prevent the emission of 240 million tonnes of methane, leading to a reduction in global temperatures by 0.21-0.22 degrees Celsius if 0.3-1 petagrams of methane are removed.

Norms for SIM Procurement

On August 17, Union Minister for Telecommunications, Ashwini Vaishnaw, introduced two crucial reforms to enhance the security and integrity of the telecom network in India. These reforms focus on revising norms for bulk SIM procurement and final point of sale (PoS) registration, aiming to curb cybercrimes and financial fraud in the telecom sector.

Revisions for Enhanced Security

The introduced reforms bring about significant changes to the norms governing SIM procurement and registration at the final point of sale. These changes are aimed at ensuring that the process is transparent, secure, and closely monitored.

Mandatory Actions for Franchisees, Agents, and Distributors

  • Registration Requirements: Franchisees, agents, and distributors are now required to register with both the licensees and the telecom network operator.
  • Operator Responsibilities: The telecom network operators are responsible for conducting "indisputable" PoS verification and police verification for dealers.
  • Agreement Details: The format of the agreement between PoS and licensees must be in written form.
  • Compliance Period: Existing providers must comply with these norms within a 12-month duration.

Consequences of PoS Illegal Activities

  • Agreement Termination: Illegal activities by a PoS may lead to the termination of their agreement.
  • Blacklist Duration: Any PoS involved in wrongdoing may be blacklisted for a period of three years.
  • Penalty: A penalty of Rs 10 lakh can be imposed on erring PoS.

Department of Telecommunications' Statement

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has highlighted the provisions of these reforms. The primary objectives are to identify, blacklist, and eliminate rogue PoS while encouraging compliant and honest ones. This move is intended to minimize fraudulent SIM issuance to anti-social and anti-national elements.

System Changes and Observations by Ashwini Vaishnaw

The reforms have brought about changes in the system, replacing bulk SIM procurement with business connections procured by registered entities. Ashwini Vaishnaw observed that around 20% of bulk-procured SIMs were being misused, leading to issues such as automated calls through SIM-boxes and sequential SIM usage.

New Norms and Enhanced Security Measures

The new norms for business SIM procurement entail thorough KYC procedures for all end-users. To prevent misuse of printed Aadhaar documents, demographic information will be captured through QR code scans. SIM replacements will require the completion of the KYC procedure, and a 24-hour SMS restriction will be imposed.

Authentication Methods and Mobile Number Disconnection Policy

In terms of authentication, the new norms include thumb impressions, iris-based recognition, and facial biometrics. The mobile number disconnection policy states that numbers not allocated within 90 days will be disconnected.

Motivation Behind Reforms: Tackling Cybercrimes

The core motivation behind these reforms is to tackle cybercrimes and financial fraud in the telecom sector. By strengthening the norms for SIM procurement and final PoS registration, the government aims to create a more secure telecom environment for both businesses and consumers.

Strengthening the Sanchar Saathi Portal

To further enhance telecom security, the government launched the Sanchar Saathi portal in May this year. This portal enables users to check connections against names, block stolen or lost mobile phones, report fraudulent or unwanted connections, and verify devices using IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity). The portal utilizes modules like the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) and Telecom Analytics for Fraud Management and Consumer Protection (TAFCOP).

Positive Impact of Sanchar Saathi Portal

Since its launch, the Sanchar Saathi portal has had a positive impact:

  • Analyzed: 114 crore active mobile connections
  • Flagged: 66 lakh connections as suspicious
  • Disconnected: 52 lakh connections
  • WhatsApp accounts blocked: 66,000
  • Bank and wallet accounts frozen: 8 lakh

Legal Actions Taken by the DoT

The Department of Telecommunications has taken strong legal actions to enforce these norms:

  • FIRs filed: More than 300
  • Dealers facing action: Over 1,700

Yasuni National Park

In a significant environmental victory, Ecuadorians have cast their votes against oil drilling in the Yasuni National Park, safeguarding one of the Amazon rainforest's most cherished ecological treasures. This national park, located in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, is home to extraordinary biodiversity and cultural heritage.

Discovering Yasuni National Park

Yasuni National Park is a sprawling expanse of untouched natural beauty situated within the Amazon rainforest. This sanctuary boasts a humid tropical rainforest that is a part of the Upper Amazon Basin. A remarkable 99.73% of its original natural vegetation remains intact, showcasing the park's commitment to preserving its pristine state.

A Glimpse into its Rich Features

Situated between the Napo and Curaray Rivers, Yasuni National Park spans over a vast area of more than one million hectares. Its lush landscapes provide refuge to an astonishing array of wildlife, including 610 bird species, 139 amphibian species, and 121 reptile species. Notably, at least three of these species are endemic to the region, underscoring the park's significance in preserving unique biodiversity.

UNESCO Recognition and Biodiversity Bonanza

Yasuni National Park's exceptional biodiversity has earned it the distinction of being a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The park stands as a testament to nature's ingenuity, packing an incredible amount of biodiversity within every square meter.

A Tapestry of Life: Who Calls Yasuni Home?

Yasuni National Park isn't just a sanctuary for animals and plants; it's also a home for human cultures. The park is inhabited by the Huaorani indigenous people, who have lived in harmony with the land for generations. Furthermore, the park is also home to uncontacted tribes such as the Tagaeri and Taromenane, who remain untouched by modern society.

Where Nature and Culture Converge

This incredible national park is nestled in the northern region of Ecuador, a place where nature's grandeur is on full display. The lush landscapes, teeming with life, offer a glimpse into the raw beauty of the Amazon rainforest.

A Resounding Victory for Conservation

Ecuadorians' decision to reject oil drilling within the Yasuni National Park is a resounding victory for conservation and environmental stewardship. By choosing to protect this pristine ecosystem, they are safeguarding not only the rich tapestry of life within the park but also the cultural heritage of its indigenous inhabitants.

India Club in London

In a poignant turn of events, London's iconic India Club is set to shut its doors next month after losing the battle against closure. The club, a historic meeting venue and eatery, holds immense significance as a hub for Indian nationalists during the independence movement. This announcement marks the end of an era and the loss of a cultural landmark.

The India Club: A Gathering Place with Historical Roots

The India Club, a venue that has played host to numerous historic meetings and cultural interactions, holds deep historical and cultural significance. It served as a prominent hub for Indian nationalists in the United Kingdom during the 1930s and 40s, a pivotal time in India's struggle for independence.

The Key Figures and Founding

The India Club was not just a space but an embodiment of the aspirations of many. The establishment was led by visionary leaders like Krishna Menon, who served as the first Indian High Commissioner to the UK. Founding members included notable figures such as Lady Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru, who recognized the importance of a space that facilitated discussions and camaraderie.

Establishment and Location

The India Club was established in the year 1951 and is located in close proximity to India House, which houses the Indian High Commission in the UK. This strategic location made it accessible to a community eager to engage in meaningful dialogue.

A Link to India's Struggle for Independence

The India Club's significance transcends its role as an eatery and meeting place. It is intrinsically tied to the India League, an organization that passionately campaigned for India's independence. Its contemporary incarnation was a revival of the India League originally established by Annie Besant in 1921, which was further rejuvenated by Krishna Menon in 1929.

A Place of Gathering and Exchange

The India Club's functions extended beyond being an Indian restaurant. It became a social and intellectual hangout, fostering connections among Indian journalists, intellectuals, and individuals interested in India's evolving narrative. Since 1946, it provided a haven for those seeking a sense of community away from their homeland.

Luna 25

In recent news, Russia's lunar exploration mission, Luna 25, has encountered a setback as it crashed onto the moon's surface. The mission's failure, announced by Roscosmos on August 20, has raised questions about Russia's endeavors in space exploration and its implications on international space collaboration.

Background: Decades in the Making

The Luna 25 mission's roots extend over two decades, highlighting Russia's enduring commitment to lunar exploration. Initially known as Luna-Glob, the mission underwent a name change to Luna 25 as part of the longstanding Luna series. The decision was influenced by the historical significance of the Luna series and its previous edition, Luna 24, which took place in 1976.

The Luna 25 Mission: A Scientific Endeavor

Luna 25, also known as Luna-Glob-Lander, represents Russia's attempt at a lunar landing mission, equipped with eight sophisticated science instruments aimed at unraveling the moon's mysteries:

  • ADRON-LR: A gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer designed to study the composition of the moon's surface regolith.
  • ARIES-L: A particle detector geared towards detecting charged particles and neutrals in the polar exosphere.
  • LIS-TV-RPM: An infra-red spectrometer mounted on the Lander Retroreflector Array (LRA) to measure surface water and OH.
  • LASMA-LR Mass Spectrometer: This instrument employs laser ablation to analyze regolith samples' composition.
  • PML Detector: Designed to study dust in the lunar polar exosphere.
  • STS-L: A comprehensive imaging system for panoramic and local imaging.
  • THERMO-L: An instrument tasked with studying the thermal properties of the lunar regolith.
  • Additional Instrument: A laser retroreflector panel.

The Quest: Why Luna 25?

The Luna 25 mission serves as a technology assessment for moon landings and a strategic move to ensure Russia's guaranteed access to the moon's surface. This endeavor is pivotal in evaluating lunar landing capabilities and advancing Russia's presence in space exploration.

Significance and Aspirations

Luna 25 embarked on two key milestones: it aimed to become the first mission to explore the moon's south pole and marked Russia's first lunar landing attempt since the 1970s. These ambitious goals underscore Russia's renewed interest in lunar exploration and its determination to contribute to our understanding of the moon's terrain and composition.

Mission Objectives: Unveiling Lunar Mysteries

The primary goals of Luna 25 included the in-depth study of the lunar polar regolith composition and the analysis of plasma and dust within the moon's polar exosphere. These objectives were aimed at uncovering insights into the moon's geological and atmospheric properties.

The Driving Force: Roscosmos

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, is the driving force behind the Luna 25 mission. With a history of space exploration, Roscosmos has taken the lead in this lunar exploration endeavor.

Mission Timeline: Dates and Destinations

Luna 25's journey began on August 11 with its launch and successfully entered lunar orbit on August 16. The mission's target destination was the south polar region of the moon, an area of great scientific interest.

International Collaborations and Competitions

Russia's collaboration with China in leading the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) highlights the potential for international partnerships in lunar exploration. This effort stands in contrast to the U.S.-led Artemis Accords, emphasizing diverse pathways for global lunar cooperation. Russia's track record in interplanetary missions has been marked by challenges, with no successful mission accomplished in the past 34 years.

Pakistan’s National Security Bills

In recent news, Pakistan's President Arif Alvi's refusal to sign two crucial national security bills has sparked significant discussions about the nation's constitutional history and power dynamics. These bills, passed by both houses, have far-reaching implications for the distribution of authority within Pakistan's political and military framework.

What Are the National Security Bills?

Two national security bills, namely the Official Secrets Amendment Bill 2023 and the Pakistan Army Amendment Bill 2023, have been approved by both houses of the Pakistani Parliament. These bills are designed to augment the power of the authorities in prosecuting individuals involved in acts against the state and acts against the military.

Highlights of the Bills

The passage of these bills marks a significant shift in the distribution of power and authority within Pakistan's governance structure. Key highlights include:

  • Increased Authority: The bills provide the authorities with increased power to identify and prosecute individuals engaged in activities deemed detrimental to the state or the military.
  • Prosecution: The bills aim to enable the prosecution of individuals who are involved in actions against the state's interests or actions that undermine the military's integrity.

The Constitutional Context

Pakistan's constitutional history is marked by various iterations, amendments, and power struggles that have shaped the nation's political landscape. Understanding this history is essential to comprehend the context within which these bills have emerged.

President's Role and Constitutional Iterations (1954-1973)

  • President's Role: According to Pakistan's constitution, a draft bill must be signed by the President or returned within 10 days after passing through both houses of Parliament. Failure to do so results in the bill becoming law.
  • Historical Iterations: Pakistan's constitutional history from 1954 to 1973 saw multiple iterations and amendments as the nation struggled to find a stable governance structure.
  • Jinnah's Vision: Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan's founder, envisioned a democratic constitution embodying Islamic principles.

Objectives Resolution and Controversy (1949)

  • Aims of the Resolution: The Objectives Resolution of 1949 aimed to reconcile traditionalist and modernist factions by creating an Islamic Republic that respected democratic principles and basic freedoms.
  • Controversy: The resolution sparked controversy among non-Muslim government members, particularly in East Pakistan, due to concerns about its alignment with Jinnah's views and influence by religious leaders.

Road to the First Constitution (1956)

  • Prolonged Process: Pakistan's first constitution was established in 1956 after a complex and prolonged process involving multiple Governors-General, Prime Ministers, and Constituent Assemblies over nine years.

Power Imbalances and East-West Divide

  • Opposition to 1956 Constitution: Parties in East Pakistan and Hindu majority parties opposed the 1956 Constitution, leading to perceptions that it favored West Pakistan.
  • One Unit Scheme: The One Unit Scheme aimed to unify West Pakistan's states but was seen as a counterbalance to East Pakistan's influence.

Military Coups and Constitutional Changes

  • First Military Coup: The first military coup in 1958 led to constitutional alterations by Ayub Khan, including a shift to the presidential system and increased power disparities.
  • Six-Point Plan and Political Unrest: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's six-point plan for East Pakistan's autonomy resulted in political unrest and protests against Ayub Khan's leadership.

Transition to Democracy and LFO (1970)

  • Yahya Khan's Martial Law: After Ayub Khan's resignation, General Yahya Khan imposed martial law.
  • Legal Framework Order (LFO): Yahya's LFO aimed to facilitate a future constitution but raised concerns about West Pakistan's power.

Election and Independence

  • Awami League's Victory: The Awami League's victory in East Pakistan's majority seats advocated for autonomy, a crucial step toward the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.
  • Bangladesh's Independence: The conflict between East and West culminated in the Bangladesh Liberation War and the formation of Bangladesh as an independent country.

Challenges in Constitutional History

  • Adoption of 1973 Constitution: The adoption of the 1973 Constitution followed Bangladesh's independence and was marked by conflicts between provinces and power imbalances.
  • Provincial Conflicts: Dominance by Punjab led to conflicts that shaped Pakistani politics, including military coups and interruptions to the constitutional process.

Bangladesh's Constitution

  • Post-Independence Adoption: Bangladesh's constitution, adopted in 1972 after independence, emphasized equality, human dignity, and social justice.
  • Political Turbulence: Bangladesh faced political turbulence, including military coups and the restoration of the parliamentary system in 1991.

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