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Nasa’s mars rover Perseverance, the most advanced robotic astrobiology lab ever flown to another world, neared the end of its seven-month, 472-million-km journey on Wednesday, hours away from a daredevil landing attempt on the Red Planet. With almost 600,000km left to travel, Perseverance was hurtling through space on track for a bull’s eye touchdown on Thursday inside a vast basin called Jezero Crater—site of a long-vanished Martian lake bed and river delta. The mission’s objective is a search for evidence that microbial organisms may have flourished on Mars some 3 billion years ago.

Rapper’s arrest sparks protest

Rapper’s arrest sparks protest
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Rapper’s arrest sparks protest

Police in Spain say 14 people were arrested in violent street protests in several cities following the arrest of Spanish rap artist Pablo Hasel, who had barricaded himself at a university with dozens of supporters to avoid prison and defend his fight for free speech, reports PTI. In the northeastern city of Barcelona, thousands of protestors set trash cans on fire and threw rocks at the police. Several stores and a bank were damaged amid chaotic scenes on one of the city’s main streets. Spanish National Television cited city authorities as estimating the damages at €70,000. Smaller demonstrations took place in other Spanish cities. A 24-hour standoff between police and Hasél ended early Tuesday when anti-riot officers arrested him in northeastern Lleida University. He was taken to prison to serve a 9-month sentence for insulting the monarchy and glorifying terrorism in a song about former King Juan Carlos I.

Kidnappers strike Nigerian school

Kidnappers strike Nigerian school
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Kidnappers strike Nigerian school

Gunmen believed to belong to a criminal gang have kidnapped hundreds of schoolboys from their hostels, along with some of teachers, in central Nigeria, an official and a security source told AFP Wednesday. The attackers wearing military uniforms stormed the Government Science College in the town of Kagara in Niger state late on Tuesday, herding the students into a nearby forest. One student was dead during the kidnapping, the official said. Northwest and central Nigeria have increasingly been targeted by criminal gangs known locally as “bandits" who kidnap for ransom, rape and pillage across the region. The school has around 1,000 students and it was not immediately clear how many were taken. The Niger kidnapping came two months after hundreds of schoolboys were abducted in northwestern Katsina state and then released days later following negotiations with the government.

FIIs wary about Indian equities

FIIs wary about Indian equities
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FIIs wary about Indian equities

Asian investors are turning cautious about the Indian markets due to concerns over high valuations, a Swiss brokerage told PTI on Wednesday. Citing its conversation with 50 foreign institutional investors (FIIs) based in Hong Kong, Singapore, the US and the UK in the past three weeks, UBS Securities India said investors in the UK and the US remain optimistic about India. The report comes at a time when concerns are being expressed about the long rally in equities since April last year, which has seen gains of over 80% on the benchmarks. RBI has said these gains may be due to liquidity glut overseas and warned of risks to financial sector stability. The rally in the indices has happened even as the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in an economic contraction.

Tokyo Olympics to get new chief



Tokyo Olympics to get new chief
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Tokyo Olympics to get new chief

Seiko Hashimoto is set to be selected as the new head of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, public broadcaster NHK said Wednesday, after her predecessor stepped down last week over sexist remarks, reports Bloomberg. Hashimoto is a former Olympic speed skater and track cyclist. She is currently the minister for the Olympics, as well as gender equality, and one of only two women in the cabinet. While the selection panel has decided to ask her to take on the post, it’s unclear whether she will accept, NHK said, citing a person connected with the matter. The committee is scrambling to replace Yoshiro Mori, who was forced to resign last week after saying that women talk too much in board meetings. The next president will be faced with the task of restoring enthusiasm for the delayed games, amid a deadly pandemic in a country that only began its vaccine rollout on Wednesday.

A recruitment drive for diversity

A recruitment drive for diversity
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A recruitment drive for diversity

The European Space Agency (Esa) says it wants to recruit someone with a disability as part of its call for new astronauts. Esa will be accepting applications in March to fill four-to-six vacancies in its astro corps but it wants this draft process to be as inclusive as possible. The search for a potential flier with additional functional needs will be run in parallel to the main call. The agency has asked the International Paralympic Committee to advise it on selection. Individuals with a lower limb deficiency or who have restricted growth—circumstances that have always been a bar in the past—are encouraged to apply. At this stage, the selected individual would be part of a feasibility project to understand the requirements, such as on safety and technical support. But the clear intention is to make “para-astronauts" a reality at some point in future, even if this takes some time, reports BBC.

Curated by Sohini Sen. Have something to share with us? Write to us at feedback@livemint or tweet to @shohinisen



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