News Flash (14th May 2020): Top 12 News Stories Of The Day

JNU, testing device
Image Credits: The Indian Express

1. JNU To Develop Low-cost, Portable Coronavirus Testing Device

The Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) has begun developing a low-cost, portable and battery-operated device for testing coronavirus. According to the university, the device can complete testing in just 50 minutes while it takes 120-180 minutes through the conventional method. This testing technology costs Rs 60,000 to Rs 1 lakh while the conventional real-time PCR costs Rs 10-15 lakh. A team led by Jaydeep Bhattacharya from the School of Biotechnology at JNU is working on building the device. The vice-chancellor of the university has said that the device can be expected within four months.

2. Law firm providing servicers to global celebrities hacked

Hackers have hacked the website of top Law firm Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks and have claimed to possess 756 gigabytes of data including contracts and personal emails. It is a law firm that handles the accounts of A-list clients, most of which are celebrities as well. Some of the popular celebrity clients handled by the firm include Madonna, Drake, Barry Manilow, The Weeknd, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Priyanka Chopra. As reported by BBC, the hackers have released images of Madonna’s contract and are said to be demanding payment. 

3. Facebook launches $100,000 challenge to develop AI to detect hateful memes

Facebook has opened its floor for developers to accept a new online $100,000 challenge named ‘Hateful Memes Challenge’ to create AI models that can recognize hateful images and memes. Facebook is going to provide the developers a database of 10,000 memes to help them develop improved algorithms to detect hate-driven messages. “These efforts will spur the broader AI research community to test new methods, compare their work, and benchmark their results in order to accelerate work on detecting multimodal hate speech,” the company said in one of its blogposts. 

4. Recycled battery metals being tested for their use as crop fertilizers

Though a bizarre ingredient for plant fertilizer, as per the research carried out by Lithium Australia, metal dust from spent household batteries can be a potential crop nutrient. Further studies are being carried out to come out with much more concrete findings and evidence. Lithium Australia NL, conducted short-term trials by testing the dust from the collected alkaline batteries consisting of valuable trace element nutrients such as zinc and manganese and shredding them on pots of wheat in glasshouses. These tests showed a “significant uptake” of the metals in wheat on local low-quality soil.  

5. Former ISRO chief says: Technology must be used for society upliftment

Former Chairman of ISRO and eminent scientist G. Madhavan Nair has said that technology must be used for the upliftment of society. Speaking at a webinar, Nair said that ‘India has advanced manifold in technology and that the nuclear testing conducted at Pokhran on May 11, 1998 was a milestone in the country’s technological advancement.’ Further he said, “The country has gone ahead in agriculture production following the advancement of technology. The whole of India was connected to television following the development of satellite technology.” 

6. New Development Bank of BRICS to aid India fight COVID-19 with $1 bn loan

The New Development Bank of the BRICS countries has decided to expend entire $1 billion emergency assistance loan to India for the purpose of helping the country to battle with and contain the spread of COVID-19 and reduce losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Shanghai-based New Development Bank (NDB) was established by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries in 2014. It is currently headed by veteran Indian banker K.V. Kamath.

7. Ian Bell says ‘It’s not ideal to play without fans but have to get used to it’

Former England batsman Ian Bell has said that playing cricket without an audience is “hard to imagine” and “not ideal” but players will have to get used to it for the foreseeable future. England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have suspended all cricket activities till July 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The governing body is now looking to resume the game this summer behind closed doors. 

8. WHO: Coronavirus may never go away 

Top officials at WHO (World Health Organisation) have warned that Coronavirus may never go away. “It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away,” Dr Mike Ryan WHO emergencies director told the virtual press conference from Geneva. The pandemic till now has killed around 3 lakh people and  4.3 million cases have been recorded across the globe. Just like we have come to terms with diseases like HIV. we will have to come to terms with Coronavirus as well, stated Dr. Ryan.

9. French firm Sanofi confirms that US would be 1st to get its COVID-19 vaccine

Pharmaceutical giant Sanofi has said that it would reserve the first developed COVID-19 vaccine for the United States. The reason behind allowing the US to have a higher edge on acquiring the vaccine is because the US government is funding the company in the development of the vaccine. “The US government has the right to the largest pre-order because it’s invested in taking the risk,” company chief executive Paul Hudson Bloomberg News. This, however, hasn’t gone down well with the French government. 

10. Indian Railway cancels  tickets booked before 25th March for travel till June 30

The Indian Railway has canceled the bookings made before and during the lockdown period for journeys till June 30 on regular trains and has assured a full refund of the ticket price to passengers. However, the bookings for Shramik Special trains which commenced from May 1 and the special trains which started operating from May 12 will continue to run. 

11. We must invest in our own innovativeness in COVID-19 time: Ratan Tata

Veteran industrialist and Tata Sons’ Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata compared the current challenging times to World War ll and said that now is the best time to “to support “our own innovativeness” and invest in it and not “dismiss” something.” He further added, “I think we have to look back and say where so and so innovativeness has its roots. Quite often it has its roots at the time of crisis and we have a crisis on our hands today and so there is an issue of throw your hands up, you have this crisis and then there is our own innovativeness, it comes to play, that is a time we need to support to invest, to not dismiss something as being too far out but being something we should look at.” during an interview on business news channel CNBC-TV18.

12. Actress Vaani Kapoor says, ‘Dancing with Hrithik in ‘Ghungroo’ was stressful’

Actress Vaani Kapoor, in an interview with Rajeev Masand, said that dancing with Hrithik Roshan in the song ‘Ghungroo’ was “stressful”. She said, “That one step gave me a lot of stress and anxiety.” Further, she said “It is really funny. People think I am a dancer and I have had some training in dancing. I don’t.”


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