World’s biggest flooded cave found in Mexico; explorers opine it could give insights into ancient Mayan civilisation

Two underwater caverns in eastern Mexico were connected by a group of divers to divulge what is believed to be the world’s biggest flooded cave. This discovery could help shed new light on the ancient Maya civilisation.  

The Gran Acuifero Maya (GAM), a project designed for in-depth study and preservation of the subterranean waters of the Yucatan peninsula, stated the 347-km (216-mile) cave was identified post months of exploring a maze of underwater channels. 

Fourteen years ago, when the cavern was rediscovered it was thought to match the tunnel network of Ox Bel Ha, which measured 167.9 miles. But the GAM team has now found that the cave connects two underwater systems – Sac Actun and Dos Ojos – making it the longest in the world at 216 miles. 

Inside, remnants of thousands of years of Mayan culture, preserved due to the fresh water, have been found by the researchers. 

Based on a statement given by GAM, near the beach resort of Tulum, the cave system known as Sac Actun, once measured at 263 km, communicated with the 83-km Dos Ojos system. Consequently, Sac Actun now absorbs Dos Ojos.  

GAM director and underwater archaeologist Guillermo de Anda said the “amazing” find would aid in comprehending the development of the rich culture of the region, which was dominated by the Maya civilization prior to the Spanish conquest. 

“It allows us to appreciate much more clearly how the rituals, the pilgrimage sites and ultimately the great pre-Hispanic settlements that we know emerged,” he told Reuters. Guillermo added that the cave’s origins can in all probability be traced back to somewhere between the Pleistocene period and the era of the ancient Mayans, indicating it could be over 12,000 years old. 

The Yucatan peninsula is studded with monumental relics of the Mayans, whose cities drew upon an extensive network of sinkholes linked to subterranean waters known as cenotes. Some cenotes acquired particular religious significance to the Mayans, whose descendants continue to inhabit the region. 

Intact human skulls, bones from elephants, bears, tigers along with now-extinct plants were also found. 

Sources –Daily StarIndian Express 

Thailand recommends 7 per cent hike for daily minimum wages

A 7 percent increase to 330 baht ($10.33) in the daily minimum wages has been recommended by Thailand’s Central Wage Committee. This increase has been recommended in two of its most industrialized provinces Chonburi and Rayong.

The committee endorsed increases between 5 to 22 baht across Thailand’s 77 provinces starting April, Jarin Chakkaphark, permanent secretary of the labour ministry, told reporters post the panel meet late on Wednesday.

For Bangkok, the capital, and six nearby provinces, the committee recommended the minimum wage should be increased by 4.8 percent to 325 baht ($10.17) per day.

These increases would place Thailand, along with Malaysia and the Philippines, among the countries with the highest minimum monthly wages in Southeast Asia.

With respect to Vietnam, a regional manufacturing base, the government’s minimum wage range is $113.61-$165.13 per month. In Cambodia, a global garment-making hub, the minimum monthly wage for garment workers is approximately $170.

The committee’s recommendation must be approved by Cabinet prior to being brought into effect. The committee stated that the new wage, once approved by Cabinet – a mere formality – will commence from April 2018.

Thailand ranks among the world’s top automotive export countries and is a regional manufacturing hub, especially for Japanese carmakers. It also features among the world’s top exporters of rice, shrimp, rubber and sugar. ($1 = 31.9600 baht)

Sources – ReutersIndian Express

Virat Kohli Cricketer of the year, Captain of Test and ODI: ICC Awards

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Virat Kohli named ICC Test and ODI Team Captain.

Dubai, January 18: Since the past few years Virat Kohli has been the epitome of consistency in every format he engages in. Simply in 65 tests, he has amassed 5,459 runs, and 9,030 runs in ODIs. Upon assuming captaincy across all formats for the Indian cricket team, the Indian team has reached new heights.

Kohli was on Thursday, named the world cricketer of the year. In addition to that, he also bagged the top honor for ODI players in the ICC annual awards announced here.

During the qualification period -from September 21, 2016 to end 2017- Kohli scored  a total of 2,203 runs in tests at an average of 77.80, including eight centuries, whereas he scored 1,818 runs in ODI matches including seven centuries at 82.63, and 299 T20I runs at a strike rate of 153.

He also captained India, who under his leadership, climbed the ladder to the top of the ICC Test rankings.

“It means a lot to win the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for becoming the ICC Cricketer of the Year 2017 and also the ICC ODI Player of the Year,” Kohli was quoted as saying in an ICC statement.

“I won that back in 2012 also but it’s the first time winning the Garfield Sobers Trophy, and it’s a huge honor for me. It’s probably the biggest of all in world cricket and two Indians getting it back-to-back makes it more special,” he added.

Under Kohli, India has acquired a winning rate of 58.82%, while in ODIs it’s 78.87%. In short, he has emerged as one of the finest leaders in cricket. ICC recognised his achievements and named him as the skipper of both, Test team as well as ODI team of the year. In the recent past, Kohli won the ICC cricketer of the year, and ICC ODI player of the year awards.

Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah in the ODIs, and Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravichandran Ashwin in the Tests are other Indian players to have featured in the list.


Sources: ESPN Cricinfo, News18


Better experience, camera choices and voice in IPL 2018

Image Courtesy: The Indian Express
Not only is the IPL 2018 going to be broadcast in six different languages, but the viewers can now stream the league on Hotstar in Virtual Reality.

New Delhi, January 17: The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 will undergo multiple changes to help engage fans better and have a voice. Not only will it be broadcast in six different languages, but the viewers can also now stream the league on HotStar in Virtual Reality(VR). The decision was taken by Star India in an attempt to make the grandest Indian sporting spectacle more appealing.

For a first, Star India is targeting an unprecedented reach of 700 million fans across TV and Digital by broadcasting live matches in six different languages.

In addition to the aforementioned novelties, the viewers will be able to select camera angles and commentary language based on their choice, through the ‘Super-fan feed.’ Also, fans will get to enjoy a social experience on Hotstar with cricket emojis to enhance the viewing and sharing experience. This interplay of TV and Digital offers advertisers a unique opportunity to showcase brands across varied platforms.

IPL 2018 will six-month instead of a two-month long fiesta – starting with the retention event which was viewed by 8.1 million viewers. It immediately became the most talked about topic on social media. With respect to the upcoming auctions, fans for the first time will voice their opinion by voting for their favourite players at ‘’ for ‘Election se Selection’ campaign on the network.

Sanjay Gupta, Star India Managing Director, said, “Over its 10-year journey, the IPL has grown into the single biggest property by far on Indian television. And now that it is on the Star India network across both, television and digital, we are set to use the confluence of technology, consumer insight, and experience in cricket coverage, to broaden the outreach and experience even further.”


Source: Scroll, The Indian Express

Will apply for Coach next year: Andrew Flintoff

Image Courtesy: Indian Express Archive
Andrew Flintoff has once again entered the ring for the position of the England Cricket team.

London, January 16:  Andrew Flintoff, Former England captain and legendary all-rounder, has tossed his hat in the ring for the position of coach for England’s team. Current coach Trevor Bayliss recently had announced that 2019 would mark his resignation from his duties. Following the former coach’s announcement, Flintoff has proclaimed that he will apply for the position next year.

Speaking on his podcast Flintoff, Savage and The Ping Pong Guy, he said, “I’m talking with my heart, yes (I’ll apply), I want to do it one day … if they want me to do it, I’ll do it.”

This is not a first time that Flintoff will be applying for this position. Earlier, in 2014, when Peter Moores was selected, Flintoff was one of the contenders. “I knew I wouldn’t be better than Peter Moores, so after a half an hour conversation I withdrew, but also said if Moores doesn’t get it, put me back in the hat. I thought you can bang on about it and put players down, or actually do something about it, so I thought that I would have a crack at this, I wrote an email, three weeks past and no reply,” Flintoff said before adding, “I found out the ECB thought it wasn’t me despite me having one email all my life.”

Flintoff also described about how he would specifically emphasize on the mental aspect of the game if given a chance to coach the team rather than laying sole focus on the skills of the game.

“A coach’s job now is to get players feeling the best they can be to perform, as a coach or mentor, that’d be my greatest asset,” he said. In conclusion, he also mentioned that in retrospect, he should have spent additional time on his mental state; he had spent all his time focusing on the physical health and he now realised the significance of focusing on mental health.

Source: The Indian Express, SportsKeeda


LeBron James accuses Donald Trump of emboldening racism

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LeBron James (right, pictured with Steph Curry) praised Martin Luther King Jr. and said that all that he fought for could not be overlooked; Americans must stand united.

Cleveland, Ohio (U.S.), January 16: LeBron James, basketball star of the Cleveland Cavaliers, on Monday accused President Donald Trump of emboldening racists in the United States while on the flipside prompting the country to disallow itself from being divided along racial lines.

“The guy in control has given people and racism … an opportunity to be out and outspoken without fear,” James, a frequent Trump critic, told reporters prior to the Cavaliers’ game against the Golden State Warriors on the U.S. holiday honouring civil rights activist Martin Luther King.

“And that’s the fearful thing for us because it’s with you and it’s around every day but he’s allowed people to come out and just feel confident about doing negative things.”

During a White House meeting with lawmakers, over discussions pertaining to U.S. immigration policy, Trump reportedly called some African nations “shithole countries”.
He denied using such derogatory language, which has drawn contempt from many African leaders and international rights organizations. He also told reporters he was “the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s murder. James said he was highly appreciative of the leader’s sacrifice. “He took a bullet for all of us. And for us to stand here even though we’re trying to be divided right now by somebody, today is a great day for people to realize how America was built and how we all have to stand united in order to be at one.”

Four-time winner of the National Basketball Association’s most valuable player award, James, in August, slammed Trump for saying there were “some very fine people on both sides” of protests spearheaded by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one counter-protester dead.

In September, James called Trump a “bum” on Twitter after the latter withdrew a White House invitation to Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who had stated that he did not wish to meet with Trump in order to celebrate the Warriors NBA 2016-2017 Championship.


Sources: The Guardian, News18

Playing the National Anthem henceforth not mandatory in cinema halls: SC

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stated that henceforth, playing the national anthem before a film is screened will no longer be mandatory for cinema halls. On Monday, the government filed an affidavit asking the Supreme Court to reconsider its November 2016 order which made it mandatory for cinema halls across the country to play the national anthem before screening a film. It also stated that an inter-ministerial committee was being set up to look into modifications in the existing rules- Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, if required.

The apex court, permitting the request, iterated that citizens ought to show respect to the national anthem and that the committee must look into all aspects. The government also let petitioner Shyam Narayan Chouksey take up his prayers with the committee. The top court added that the earlier order which granted disabled persons an exemption from standing during the anthem would still stand valid.

“We are happy. Part of our demands has been met. We will give our suggestions to the panel,” Abinav Shrivastav, lawyer for the petitioner said.

According to the court’s initial order in November 2016, the audience must “stand up in respect” till the anthem is finished playing. That, in its opinion, would “instill a feeling within one, a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism,” the bench had ordered; led by Justice Dipak Misra, who later became the Chief Justice of India.

Based on the affidavit, the committee will be headed by Additional Secretary (Border Management), Ministry of Home Affairs, with representatives from the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Department of Legal Affairs, Department of School Education and Literacy and the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disability.