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Trump wins key climate, trade concessions at stormy G20



Donald Trump

Hamburg : – US President Donald Trump won key concessions on climate and trade Saturday from world leaders at the most fractious G20 summit to date, in exchange for preserving the unity of the club of major industrialised and emerging economies.

In a final statement agreed by all 20 economies, 19 members including Russia, China and the European Union acknowledged Trump’s decision to go his own way on taking the US out of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

But they also accommodated Washington’s wish to “work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently”.

While renewing a key anti-protectionist pledge, the communique for the first time underlined the right of countries to protect their markets with “legitimate trade defence instruments”.

Such wording gives room for Trump to push on with his “America First” policy.

Carried on a wave of public fury over deindustrialisation in vast areas of the United States, Trump had promised to “Buy American” and “Hire American”.

But that stance had set him against many of America’s allies, who warned Trump against an isolationist path.

Nevertheless, the wording of the final agreement marked the group of top economies’ decision to finally close ranks despite bitter differences.

– Trail of destruction –

Just behind the tightly secured G20 summit venue, charred road barricades, trashed shops and stones, debris and shattered glass bore testimony to an anarchic night, when police commandoes with semi-automatic weapons detained militants who hurled rocks from rooftops.

The clashes had blocked US First Lady Melania Trump at her residence on Friday, forcing her to miss a tour of Hamburg harbour, and for G20 organisers to completely alter a programme for spouses of visiting leaders.

On Saturday, thousands of anti-riot cops were on standby and helicopters hovered overhead, as some 70,000 people were on the march again, according to organisers.

– Trump vs. Putin –

Within the summit walls, meetings have also been anything but harmonious.

All eyes were also on Trump’s diplomatic waltz during the billionaire’s first outing to the summit.

His most eagerly awaited encounter was a head-to-head with Russia’s strongman President Vladimir Putin — their first — which lasted two and a quarter hours on Friday.

A day after Trump slammed Moscow’s actions in Ukraine and Syria, the two men had a “robust and lengthy exchange” about allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

But Tillerson, who was present at the marathon meeting, also said the two alpha-male leaders “connected very quickly” with “very clear positive chemistry”.

Trump said Saturday that the tete-a-tete was “tremendous”.

Further driving a wedge between the UK and the European Union, Trump met Saturday with British Prime Minister Theresa May and said he was looking forward to a “very powerful” trade deal “very, very quickly”.

His comments came despite the EU warning London against negotiating any separate agreement before Britain’s divorce from the bloc is complete.

But Trump faced another thorny meeting later, when he is due to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

North Korea’s first inter-continental ballistic missile test is expected to top the discussions, with Trump warning Thursday that Pyongyang’s military sabre-rattling would bear “consequences”.

Trump had also said he is considering a “severe” response to its “very, very bad behaviour”.

Ahead of the talks with Xi, Tillerson said the US would continue to press China to do more to rein in Pyongyang.

“Our engagement is unchanged with China and our expectations are unchanged. We have not given up hope,” he added.



Can dogs predict earthquakes? Probably not : Study




London, April 18: The long-held belief that strange behavior by cats, dogs, and even cows can predict an imminent earthquake is not backed by evidence, a new study revealed. 

Such claims are often based on single observations and anecdotes that cannot be tested rigorously, showed the research published in the journal Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

To explore the link between the animal behaviour and earthquake, the researchers studied 729 reports of abnormal animal behaviour related to 160 earthquakes.

“Many review papers on the potential of animals as earthquake precursors exist, but to the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that a statistical approach was used to evaluate the data,” said researcher Heiko Woith from GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences.

The researchers collected reports on potential earthquake predictions across a variety of animals, from elephants to silkworms.

Most reports were anecdotes rather than experimental studies, and the majority of the reports came from three events — the 2010 Darfield earthquake in New Zealand, the 1984 Nagano-ken Seibu earthquake in Japan, and the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake in Italy, the researchers found.

The unusual behaviours occurred anywhere from seconds to months prior to the earthquakes, and at distances from a few to hundreds of kilometres from the earthquake origins.

These weaknesses in the data make it difficult to confirm that these behaviours are predictive – meaning they signal an earthquake event before the event begins – rather than random occurrences or behaviours linked to the initial stages of an earthquake, such as foreshocks, the study said.

The animals may sense seismic waves generated by foreshocks, Woith suggested.

“Another option could be secondary effects triggered by the foreshocks, like changes in groundwater or release of gases from the ground which might be sensed by the animals,” he added.

One of the biggest problems with the animal data, Woith said, is the lack of continuous, long-term observations of animals experiencing earthquakes.

“Up to now, only very few time series with animal behaviour exist at all, the longest being just one year,” he said.


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ICHR not to conduct, fund study on whether Ram Setu natural or man made




The Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) will not conduct or fund any study to determine whether the Ram Setu was a man-made or a natural structure, its newly appointed chairperson Arvind Jamkhedkar has said, dismissing the project earlier announced by the HRD body.

The Council had last year in March said it would conduct an underwater exploration study to see whether the Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge was a natural or an artificial phenomenon.

“There was a proposal by one historian to take up such a project and the council members are against supporting it. In fact, they are very angry about it. We are not going to conduct any such study or even fund one,” Jamkhedkar told PTI.

Jamkhedkar assumed charge of the ICHR on March 5.

“It is not the work of historians to carry out excavations and work like that. For that, there are apt agencies such as the Archaeological Survey of India. The maximum the ICHR can do is to recommend it to the agency concerned,” he said in an interview.

His predecessor, Y Sudershan Rao, had announced that “theoretical training” under a pilot project would begin and exploration would be conducted later.

“One of the major projects that we are going to initiate is the Ram Setu pilot project which will seek to ascertain or find out if these structures were the results of natural phenomenon or man-made,” he had said.

Indian mythology states that the Ram Setu, between what is now India and Sri Lanka, was built by an army of monkeys for Lord Rama and his warriors to cross over to Lanka.

Rao, contacted by PTI, did not comment on the project being scrapped.

“I had initiated the project but by the time we could do any work on it, my term was over,” he said.

The bridge has been at the centre of a controversy, especially since the Sethusamudram shipping canal project was mooted by the UPA government. The project triggered widespread protests, with a section of people holding that it would destroy the Ram Setu.

The ICHR is a flagship research-based institution that functions under the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

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Jammu and Kashmir: Have a Glimpse of Tulip Garden



Srinagar: April 4: The beauteous Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden in Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar has been opened for the public from Wednesday.

The garden, located at Siraj Bagh Cheshmashahi, is the largest tulip garden in Asia and was the first key landscaping project undertaken in the valley since the Mughal times.

Image: Twitter, Jammu Tourism

Since 2007, during time every year, the garden is opened for visitors.

It is flooded with rows of red, orange, yellow, purple and mauve tulips.

The flowers bloom for about 15 -30 days in a year, between the end of March and early April.

This garden has often used the background for a score of Bollywood and other movies.


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