Winter Olympics begin with two Koreas unified under one flag

Pyeongchang (S. Korea), February 09: The opening ceremony of the 23rd Winter Olympics saw the athletes from two Koreas marching into the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium under the Korean unification flag. The two delegations walked out in matching uniforms under one flag, offering a hope of a breakthrough in the tense geo-political drama that has stirred global fears of a nuclear conflict.

According to The Guardian, the flag was jointly carried by South Korean bobsledder Won Yun-jong and North Korean ice hockey player Hwang Chung-gum. During the parade of nations, South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

North Korea’s decision to participate in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang came in January when the two countries held high-level official talks for the first time in two years. It was considered a symbolic breakthrough amid rising global nuclear tensions.

Along with Kim Yo-jong, US Vice President Mike Pence was present during the opening ceremony, seated just ahead of the North Korean representative. Only earlier this week, United States had announced plans to impose tough sanctions against Pyongyang (capital of North Korea) for staging a military parade featuring an Inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) only days before the opening of Games.

North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympic Games comes after a gap of eight years. The hermit kingdom had skipped the Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014. This year, they have sent a small delegation of 10 players, along with a unified team with S. Korea for women’s ice hockey.

SOURCE: New York Times, The Guardian


Sensex and NIFTY crash as Dow Jones plunges


Image Caption – Sensex plunged 1.61%, while NIFTY crashed 292 points on February 06 in the wake of US market crash.
Image Source: Reuters


Mumbai, February 06: The Bombay Stock Exchange extended their losses for the sixth successive session with the benchmark Sensex falling by another 561 points to close at a one-month low of 34,195.94. Along with Sensex, NIFTY recorded a loss of over 292 points at the open. This loss comes in the wake of US markets suffering a setback, with Dow Jones losing 1252 points at its opening on February 06.

After opening at 33,753.78, the BSE Sensex continued its slide to hit a low of 33,482.81 as selling gathered momentum in tandem with weak global leads. However, value-buying emerged at several counters during the late trading session. The benchmark finally ended at 34,195.94, down 561.22 points, or 1.61%.

These crashes in the market can be attributed to the crashes in US markets. The Dow suffered its worst point decline in history February 05. It amounted to 4.6% – the biggest decline since August 2011, during the European debt crisis.

However, there were many stocks that braved the situations and recorded as high as 13% rise in the day. SpiceJet rose 13%, followed by Intellect Design Arena – 9% – Polaris Consulting gained 7.3%, while Crompton Greeves went up 7% among the constituents in the S&P BSE 500 index.

Source: CNN, Business Today

Virbhadra Singh, wife accused in disproportionate assets case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a charge sheet in Delhi’s Patiala House Court against the former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Virbhadra Singh in disproportionate assets case. Singh’s wife is also named in the charge sheet which was presented before Special Judge Santosh Snehi Mann.

The ED has named three others apart from the 82-year-old Singh and his wife in their charge sheet: Chunni Lal Chauhan, Prem Raj, and Lawan Kumar Roach under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

In 2015, the ED had filed its first charge sheet based on a CBI FIR against Life Insurance Corporation agent Anand Chauhan, accusing him of investing Virbhadra Singh’s Rs 5.14 crore in LIC policies purchased in his name and those of his family members, including his wife.

A probe had found that Virbahdra Singh had accumulated assets worth Rs 6.03 crore in his name and in the names of his family members, which were disproportionate to his known sources of income, during his tenure as the Union Steel Minister from 2009 to 2011.

The asset viz. a farmhouse in Delhi, worth around Rs 27 crores, was attached under the PMLA. According to ED, the farmhouse was purchased at Rs 6.61 crore by Maple Destinations and Dreambuild Pvt. Ltd., a private firm. As per the company records, Singh’s son, Vikramaditya Singh is listed as one of the directors of the firm.

Special Judge Mann listed the matter for February 12 for further hearing.

Sources: Hindustan Times, NDTV, Business Standard

New Zealand Prime Minister pregnant; due in June

 New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Friday, January 18 that she was expecting her first child in June. She took to Twitter to announce that she and her husband, Clarke Gayford, were expecting a child and that Gayford would be a stay-at-home father.

Ardern informed in a statement that the Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters will act on her behalf for a period of six weeks after delivery. She also informed that she intended to be “fully contactable and available” during her maternity leave. “I will make arrangements for appropriate ministers to act in my other portfolios over the six weeks I am away from Parliament,” she said. She will resume her duties post six weeks to birth.

In August last year, when Ardern was elected to lead the Labor Party in upcoming national elections, she was grilled by the media about her ‘baby plans’. The AM Show represent, Mark Richardson questioned her whether it was acceptable for the country’s leader to take maternity leave while in office. Although she answered the question, Ardern gave a stern statement: “For other women, it is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace,” she responded while pointing her finger at Richardson. “That is unacceptable.”

At the age of 37, Jacinda Ardern is the world’s youngest female head of state. She assumed the office in October 2017. In 1990, Benazir Bhutto became the first head of a state to deliver while being in office.

Sources – Associated Press, The Guardian

Hasselblad – taking cameras to newer heights

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. He climbed down the ladder of the Lunar Module Eagle and proclaimed: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for a mankind”. Buzz Aldrin, the second human to land on moon marveled at its beauty, and called it a “magnificent desolation”. Sometime later, Aldrin posed for a picture on the lunar surface, and Armstrong takes his snapshot. The camera that used by Armstrong was Hasselblad 550EL.

The same Hasselblad, a Swedish manufacturer that has been bringing to the world classic medium-format cameras, has brought out yet another masterpiece: Hasselblad H6D-400C MS. It is capable of capturing a mind-blowing 400 mega-pixel image output, capturing every subtle nuance of a subject. It is coupled with real RGB color data for each pixel, enhancing the image quality and experience.

The recently released H6D-400C comes with multi-shot (pixel-shift) technology. It works on a simple technique: it captures four 100-megapixel images, and with several detailed maneuvers, it comes out with six stills; it then combines these stills, resulting in a 400-megapixel (23200×17400 pixels; the screen that you are reading this on will generally have a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels). This feature is generally for capturing still pictures with utmost detail in quality and resolving power.

At the core of the H6D-400C MS is a 100MP CMOS sensor that measures 53.4×40.0mm. It has a 15-stop dynamic range and an ISO range of 64-12800. The resultant output image of this camera will be a 16-bit TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) image with a size of 2.4GB. Therefore, due to large output size of its images, the camera needs to be tethered to a computer during multi-shot shooting.

Hasselblad H6D-400C will be start shipping from March 2018, and will cost $47,995 (around INR 30,66,688). The company also allows people to rent it for as much as €399/ 1 day to €199 for ten days and up.

Göran Liljeberg, a globally renowned photographer of small insects took a picture of a bug with this camera, demonstrating the quality and power of the camera. Have a look at this picture.

Welcome to the Super Blue Blood Moon

In 2017, the world witnessed one of nature’s most awe-inspiring phenomena – a total solar eclipse. It became the subject of curiosity and anticipation for stargazers globally. On August 21, 2017, after nearly 99 years, all of North America was covered by this eclipse from coast to coast, making it one of the rare celestial events.

This year, however, is bringing in its first month another such rare event that will be experienced by the entire planet: The Super Blue Blood Moon. This celestial event – which will be occurring on January 31st – last occurred on March 31, 1886, nearly 136 years ago. It is a rare convergence of a blue moon, super moon, and a total lunar eclipse.

Super Moon:

The orbit of the moon is shaped like an oval. This allows for the moon twice during its revolution to come to closest to the earth. When the moon is closer to the earth, it looks a lot brighter and larger. According to NASA, it appears 14% larger than usual, and 30% brighter than usual.

Such a moon is called ‘Super Moon’.

Blue Moon:

Blue moons are another rare phenomenon, occurring once in 2-3 years. A blue moon is simply the second full moon within a month. The term blue moon does not in any way signify the change in color reflection of the moon, but simply means the second full moon of the month.

Blood Moon:

A Blood Moon is a phenomenon when the moon is undergoing a total lunar eclipse. Total lunar eclipse occurs when Earth’s shadow falls entirely on the moon, and is completely blocked by the sun’s spotlight.

This phenomenon is known as Blood Moon.

Super Blue Blood Moon:

When all of the aforementioned phenomena take place simultaneously, the resultant is the Super Blue Blood moon: a moon at its closest to the earth, experiencing total lunar eclipse, and at the full moon phase for the second time in a month. An extremely rare phenomenon, this is said to be occurring once in 150 years.

The total duration of the event is 77 minutes; in India, the eclipse is expected to last for an hour, beginning at 6:21 PM on January 31. According to Australian Astronomical Observatory, Australia and Pacific will best experience this phenomenon. In Western Australia, it will be followed by a Black Moon – lack of a full moon in a calendar month – with no full moons until March 2.

When a Donkey is your President: story of a ‘Shithole’ mouth

Any sane American at this particular moment would not object to President Donald Trump being called a donkey. Some might even say it’s an insult of the donkeys to equate them with the silliest and the most moronic leader on the face of earth. And I fear I might not disagree.

On January 11, Trump was discussing a potential legislation regarding the “dreamers”, immigrant children protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). While discussing the issue with members of Congress in the Roosevelt Room in White House, Trump learned of Haitians being one of the beneficiaries of the proposed plan. Surprising the Congresspersons, he asked if Haitians could be left out of the plan. “Why do we need people from Haiti here?”

Subsequently, when the dialogue moved towards African nations, Trump asked, “why are we having all these people from shit hole countries?” – the Washington Post quoted him as saying. He further added that the United States should admit more people from places like Norway. Trump had just met Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg a day before these comments; around 83% of the population in Norway is racially white. Never mind that Norwegians rejected Trump’s ‘generous’ offer outright, flooding Twitter with “thanks, but no thanks” messages.

Democrat Senator Dick Durbin, who was at the meeting in White House, during a press conference said that, “In the course of his comments, (Trump) said things which were hate-filled, vile, and racist. You have seen the comments from the press. I have not read one of them that is inaccurate,” said Durbin, who has been serving as US Senator from Illinois since 1997. In response to Trump’s denial (through Twitter of course), Durbin thrashed them as lies, and said, “It is not true. He said those things, and he said them repeatedly.”

The vulgarity and insolence in Trump’s comments did not distress Norway as much as it did the people of Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations, who Trump equated as shithole countries without thinking for ‘hole’ amount of time. The African Union Mission in Washington D.C. expressed its “shock, dismay and outrage”, and demanded Trump’s apology. The African group of Ambassadors to the United Nations issued a statement “condemned the outrageous statements” made by Trump, and demanded a retraction and an apology.

This is not the first time that Trump has been so racially vocal. His special love for Mexicans and Muslims came out during his Presidential campaign during the better part of 2016, and continued even after he assumed office. It is amazing how exhausting the list is of Trump’s racial comments, never mind his comments on women and their physique. His comments range from calling the Haitians who “all have AIDS”, to asserting Nigerian immigrants “would never go back to their huts”, from blaming both the sides for violence in Charlottesville, to calling a District Judge from the Southern District of California ‘unfair’ in hearing out Trump University case simply because he was Mexican. These are just the shit ones that Trump spat out from his hole after becoming the President.

The US President is the perfect example of an extremist pushing the agenda of white supremacy, inadvertently nurturing the racist elements like the ones in Charlottesville, Virginia. He comes from the world of white dunderheads who built their empires on the blood and bones of black immigrants. He is the modern-day image of those vampire lords and ladies who in the days gone by sucked the blood out of African nations, and rendered them ensanguined, fractured, down in the drains.

Not only is Trump a bad President, but a worse human being. It is impossible to imagine how America, a country that seemed to be looking ahead of its brutal racial history, chose a person who is the sickest, most demented, and most unfit to be the ‘champion of this free world’. The full list of his racial, sexist, and vulgar comments would make for an inexhaustible Wikipedia page, and unfortunately for the world, that page would never go dead at least for the next three years