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To revive economic growth, while battling the world’s second-worst covid-19 outbreak, India is reopening its borders to international visitors
To revive economic growth, while battling the world’s second-worst covid-19 outbreak, India is reopening its borders to international visitors

Mint Lite | International flights, Ex-Google CEO, festive cheers

Stories, views, opinions and talking points that matter, from around the world

The Jammu and Kashmir administration has extended its ban on high-speed internet in 18 of 20 districts of the Union territory till 12 November. In an order issued Wednesday evening, the administration said the restrictions were “felt absolutely necessary in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India". High-speed internet services were discontinued in the region last year, when the Centre revoked Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated the state into two Union territories. For more updates, here’s Mint Lite.

India reopens doors for foreigners

To revive economic growth, while battling the world’s second-worst covid-19 outbreak, India is reopening its borders to international visitors. Regular, scheduled commercial flights remain off limits for the time being, but people can use other options, including flights under a government repatriation programme, the air-bubble agreements, and private charters, the home affairs ministry said Thursday. Ships will also be permitted, it added. All existing visas, except electronic, tourist and medical ones, will be restored immediately, reports Bloomberg. People holding expired visas can apply again and foreigners wishing to visit for business, conferences, work, study, research or medical reasons will be allowed to apply.The decision comes after the number of daily infections in the country dipped to around 55,000 versus almost 100,000 last month.

Ex-Google CEO slams social media

Eric Schmidt, who left the board of Google’s parent Alphabet Inc. in 2019 but is still one of its largest shareholders, has called social networks “amplifiers for idiots". At a virtual conference hosted by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, the former Google CEO said the antitrust lawsuit the US government filed against the company on Tuesday was misplaced, but that more regulation may be in order for social networks in general, reports Bloomberg. “The context of social networks serving as amplifiers for idiots and crazy people is not what we intended. Unless the industry gets its act together in a really clever way, there will be regulation," he said. Schmidt also argued Google’s massive search business—the target of the US Department of Justice’s antitrust suit—continues to be so successful because people choose it over competitors, not because it uses its size to block smaller rivals.

Festive cheer spoils recovery

West Bengal is witnessing a rise in covid-19 cases ahead of Durga Puja, even as the virus spread is slowing down in most parts of India. The state added over 4,000 new active cases this week, the highest in India. On Thursday, India had 715,812 active cases, a 10% drop since last week, shows official data. Among the states with the most active cases, Delhi and Kerala have conducted the most tests per million population in the past two weeks, and West Bengal and Maharashtra, the fewest. The positivity rate, or the likelihood of a positive virus test, has risen in Kerala and West Bengal, but has declined in other states. Covid-related deaths in the country reached 116,616 on Thursday. West Bengal beat Delhi to report the sixth highest toll.

Source: Covid19india.org, health ministry, Mint calculations
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Source: Covid19india.org, health ministry, Mint calculations

A map to track methane emissions

Want to know the levels of atmospheric methane emissions across the world? There’s a map for it. Montreal firm GHGSat Inc. has released a new tool, Pulse, which uses data from its two satellites and can detect methane, one of the most powerful drivers of global warning, emitted by oil and gas wells, coal mines, power plants, farms and factories. The map can help hold nations and firms accountable for meeting targets to reduce planet-warming pollution, reports Bloomberg. The time-lapse map identifies concentration of methane across the troposhere, where naturally occurring emissions such as from wetlands mingle with those caused by humans. Mountains can be seen trapping methane, such as in southern California or in south Asia below the Himalayas. Methane is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, although its greenhouse impact fades much faster.

Ancient cat found lounging in Peru

A huge figure of a cat carved into a hillside more than 2,000 years ago has been discovered in southern Peru, its culture ministry has said. The 37m geoglyph is part of the Nazca Lines, a collection of hundreds of line artworks—which people have said resemble everything, from humming birds to orca to a pelican—etched on to a hillside in Peru’s Pampas de Jumana region. The discovery was made during routine maintenance work. Archaeologists uncovered a series of lines of varying width, which they say could have been created between 200 BC and 100 BC. The Nazca Lines, a Unesco World Heritage site since 1994, covers around 450sq. km and were created between 500 BC and 500 AD by people from pre-Hispanic societies. The first lines were discovered in the 1920s, and in 2019, researchers from Japan’s Yamagata University discovered more than 140 geoglyphs in the region with the help of 3D imaging.

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