Mint Lite | Trump, US ends Taiwan curbs, Dec premiums, Nasa and more4 min read . Updated: 10 Jan 2021, 10:36 PM IST
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While news of Twitter blocking Donald Trump has already made the rounds, now Apple Inc and Amazon.com have decided to remove Parler from their services, part of a growing backlash after the social media network was among those used to organize Wednesday’s riots at the Capitol. Apple dropped Parler from its App Store, while Amazon’s cloud unit decided to stop hosting the social media company starting Sunday night. They joined Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which removed the app from its Google Play store on Friday, saying that it created an “ongoing and urgent public safety threat."
US ends curbs on Taiwan contacts
The United States is ending restrictions governing official contacts with Taiwan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said over the weekend, a move hailed by Taipei as ending “decades of discrimination", reports AFP. Pompeo said the “complex internal restrictions" on contacts with Taipei by diplomats, service members and others had been imposed “in an attempt to appease the Communist regime in Beijing." The declaration may be more symbolic, but it nonetheless appears certain to anger China, which sees Taiwan as its own territory. Taiwan’s government welcomed the move. It comes in the final weeks of the Donald Trump administration, and at a time of already heightened tensions between Beijing and both Washington and Taipei. It was not clear what the change means in practice, with Pompeo saying executive branch communications with Taiwan will be handled by the American Institute in Taiwan.
Cuba to test covid vaccine in Iran
Cuba will test its most advanced covid vaccine candidate, in Iran, the research center that developed it announced on Saturday, reports AFP. State-run Finlay Vaccine Institute (IFV) and the Pasteur Institute of Iran signed an agreement in Havana that will see a Phase-3 clinical trial in Iran, to “move forward faster in immunization against covid-19 in both countries," the IFV announced on Twitter. The news came on the heels of Iran’s supreme leader banning the import of American and British-produced vaccines against covid-19, saying they were “completely untrustworthy." Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a tweet, accompanied by the hashtag #CoronaVaccine: “It’s not unlikely they would want to contaminate other nations." The Sovereign 02 is Cuba’s most advanced vaccine candidate, showing “an early immune response (at 14 days)," IFV director Vicente Verez said.
Dec premium dips in insurance
The new business premium of life insurance industry contracted by 3% year-on-year to ₹24,383.42 crore in December, reports PTI. The new business or the first-year premium of 24 life insurance companies was ₹25,079.89 crore in the same month of 2019. The country’s largest life insurer LIC contributed ₹14,345.70 crore or 58% to the total premium generated during the month, showed data from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai). LIC’s new business premium declined by 15% from ₹16,861.98 crore in December 2019. Private sector comprising of 23 players registered a growth 22% by earning new premium of ₹10,037.72 crore in December, as compared to ₹8,217.91 crore in the year-ago period.
Nasa to study Sun’s atmosphere
Nasa has approved a large contribution to Japan’s Extreme Ultraviolet High-Through put Spectroscopic Telescope (EUVST) mission, reports the Guardian. Led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the mission involves a solar telescope that will study the way the sun’s atmosphere detaches to become the solar wind. This is a constant sleet of particles that flows through the solar system creating “space weather" that sparks the polar lights on Earth, and disrupts technology. Along with other solar missions, such as the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter and Nasa’s Parker Solar Probe, EUVST will help provide a comprehensive investigation into space weather. EUVST will study the sun in precise detail at ultraviolet wavelengths. Also known as Solar-C, it is targeted for launch in the mid-2020s. Japan’s previous solar mission, Hinode or Solar-B, was launched in 2006.
The future of clean flying
Airbus has spent months testing a radical looking plane. At 10ft wide, it is only small, but it could be the start of something very big in the aerospace industry, reports the BBC. Airbus calls the remote-controlled aircraft Maveric and is keen to emphasise that, at the moment, it is only exploring how the configuration works. But it says the design has “great potential". Maveric is one of several initiatives from Airbus, and there are many by other aerospace firms, to meet an industry target to halve emissions from air travel by 2050, compared to 2005 levels. An equally radical idea is being explored at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Researchers there are working on a design known as the “Flying-V". It is a new concept for a long-haul aircraft, which they claim would be up to 20% more efficient than a state-of-the-art modern plane such as the Airbus A350.
Curated by Sohini Sen. Have something to share with us? Write to us at feedback@livemint or tweet to @shohinisen