Dec 9, 2011

World Bank in brief

The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. Its mission is to fight poverty with passion and professionalism for lasting results and to help people help themselves and their environment by providing resources, sharing knowledge, building capacity and forging partnerships in the public and private sectors.

WB is not a bank in the common sense; it is made up of two unique development institutions owned by 187 member countries: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). 

Each institution plays a different but collaborative role in advancing the vision of inclusive and sustainable globalization. The IBRD aims to reduce poverty in middle-income and creditworthy poorer countries, while IDA focuses on the world's poorest countries.

Their work is complemented by that of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Together, the two institutions provide low-interest loans, interest-free credits and grants to developing countries for a wide array of purposes that include investments in education, health, public administration, infrastructure, financial and private sector development, agriculture and environmental and natural resource management. 

The World Bank, established in 1944, is headquartered in Washington, D.C. They have more than 10,000 employees in more than 100 offices worldwide.

UN Development Motto: 8 MDGs by 2015

These are challenges to poor countries to demonstrate good governance and a commitment to poverty reduction. And these are challenges to wealthy countries to make good on their promise to support economic and social development of the world.

The Millennium Development Goals have captured the world's attention, in part because they can be measured.  

In September 2000, leaders from 189 nations agreed on a vision for the future: a world with less poverty, hunger, and disease; greater survival prospects for mothers and their infants; better-educated children; equal opportunities for women; and a healthier environment—a world in which developed and developing countries worked in partnership for the betterment of all. 

This vision took the shape of eight Millennium Development Goals, which provide a framework for development planning for countries around the world, and time-bound targets by which progress can be measured. 

To help track progress on the commitment made in 2000 in the United Nations Millennium Declaration, international and national statistical experts selected relevant indicators to be used to assess progress over the period from 1990 to 2015, when targets are expected to be met. 

Each year the Secretary-General presents a report to the UN General Assembly on progress achieved toward implementing the Declaration, based on data on the 48 selected indicators, aggregated at global and regional levels. 

The eight MDGs are: (1) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; (2) Achieve universal primary education; (3) Promote gender equality and empower women; (4) Reduce child mortality; (5) Improve maternal health; (6) Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; (7) Ensure environmental sustainability and  (8) Develop a global partnership for development.

89 died in Indian Hospital fire

At least 89 killed so far in the massive fire at AMRI private hospital in Kolkata, at West Bengal of India. 

Nearly, 160 patients were admitted in the Hopital, The Times Of India said quoting hospital sources. 

Additional director general, Fire Services, D Biswas was quoted as saying that patients who died were admitted in the critical care and orthopaedic units and were unable to move. 

The private nursing home said a "sudden fire was detected in the basement" of an annex around 3:30am.

Among the dead, there are 70 patients and three staff of the multi-storeyed private hospital which turned into a towering inferno in the early morning. The bodies of the other victims are being identified.

The fire spread fast from the basement of the hospital, engulfing one ward after the other and trapping hundreds of people. While many patients died of burns, several others died due to suffocation.

Kolkata police said 60 patients were rescued and shifted to other parts of the same hospital and some were transferred to other city hospitals.

The annex where the fire started was used for storing cylinders of chemical gases and other medical equipment.

Police said the West Bengal government has cancelled the hospital's license following the incident. Police also said government forensic and disaster response teams arrived at the site Friday afternoon to check for any radioactive leakages or evidence of sabotage.

A director of the West Bengal government's fire department said that by Friday afternoon the rescue operation was over. He said the fire brigade was dispatched to the site after receiving a call from the hospital at 4am .

He said aerial ladders were used to pull out the patients through windows. He denied Indian media reports that firefighters arrived at the site two hours later.

Many victims' relatives were shown Friday on Indian news channels blaming the hospital for being unhelpful and negligent.

Meanwhile, the Times of India said fire department lodged an FIR against the hospital authorities, saying that they did not have the adequate fire-preventive mechanism and emergency evacuation system in place.

Hundreds of family members of patients, aggrieved that no list of the dead and injured was provided, smashed glass panes at the reception and threw away hospital registers

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters on the spot the licence of the hospital had been cancelled. Hospital authorities have declared to give Rs 500,000 to each of the deceased people's family. 

Samsung's legal victory on Apple in Australia

Samsung Electronics' tablet computer, the Galaxy Tab, will be available to consumers in Australia in the coming days, after the South Korean electronics giant scored a victory against Apple in a legal battle that had blocked the product from going on sale.

Samsung welcomed the court's decision and said the Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be ready for sale in Australia in time for the Christmas shopping season.

The Australian High Court denied Apple's appeal to an earlier court ruling that overturned an injunction placed on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 citing violation of its patent. 

The recent ruling is expected to give Samsung a stronger footing in a legal battle it is involved in with Apple in several countries across the world, including the United States. 

"The Full Court of Australia decision on November 30 clearly affirmed our view that Apple's claims lack merit and that an injunction should not have been imposed on the Galaxy Tab 10.1," Samsung said in a news release, referring to the earlier ruling that lifted the injunction. 

Apple claims that Samsung's newer Galaxy Tab 10.1 copies the iPad's look and infringes upon its design patents. Samsung offers $2 smartphone.

"It is no coincidence that Samsung's latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging. This kind of blatant copying is wrong and, as we have said many times before, we need to protect Apple's intellectual property when companies steal our ideas," according to a statement from Apple. 

Apple recently was denied a preliminary injunction on several of Samsung's mobile phones and tablets in America by a San Jose court. The South Korean electronics giant said it is confident that it can prove the distinctiveness of its mobile products when the two companies battle it out in court next year. 

Samsung separately filed a complaint back in June with the United States International Trade Commission claiming Apple has violated five patents related to wireless communications standards and mobile device user interface. The South Korean company requested a permanent exclusion order that would block the entry of all Apple products in question, including the iPad and iPhone series, into the United States.

Dec 6, 2011

How NASA discovered second Earth

Researchers find planets by examining the brightness of stars as a function of time; brightness drops when a potential planet crosses the star.

Three transits are required for a planet confirmation. The period of the transit of the newly discovered second earth 'Kepler 22-b' was 7.4 hours. It did not appear to give off its own light, indicating it is a planet and not a star.

Scientists do not yet have a measurement of the mass of Kepler 22-b, which would tell them more about the composition of the planet. This summer, when the planet's star will be high in the sky, ground-based telescopes can attempt to get its mass.

The planet is even more mysterious because its radius is between that of Earth and Uranus and Neptune, both of which have radii about four times the size of Earth's. So we don't know what a planet in this size range typically looks like.

Is life restricted to Earth, or could it exist somewhere like Kepler 22-b? It may be that the characteristics of Earth, with its particular position in the solar system, particular magnetic field strength and presence of larger planets like Jupiter make Earth very rare in having life. But it's also possible that life in the universe is common, and we're only one example.
"As soon as we find an independent example of life somewhere else, we'll know it's ubiquitous throughout the universe. We're all looking for No. 2," said Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute.

NASA discovers second habitable Earth !

NASA's Kepler mission has discovered 'a new Earth' for the first time in the history of science of the world.  The newly discovered 'Kepler-22b' is the first confirmed planet in the "habitable zone," the area around a star where a planet could exist with liquid water on its surface.

The planet's radius is about 2.4 times that of the Earth. It is located about 600 light years away. Its orbital period is shorter than that of the Earth: a "year" on Kepler-22b is 290 days instead of 365.

There were two other planets confirmed this year by other projects in the habitable zone, but their stars are much cooler than our Sun, and their orbits are more like that of Venus or Mars, scientists say.

Kepler-22b is 15% closer to its star and we are to the Sun. But since Kepler-22b's star is dimmer, lower in temperature and smaller than our Sun, researchers' modeling suggests it is a similar temperature to the Earth, said Bill Borucki, Kepler principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center.

"If the greenhouse warming were similar on this planet and had a surface, its surface temperature would be something like 72 Fahrenheit, a very pleasant temperature here on Earth."

The warmer a planet, the more evaporation of water there would be, Borucki said. A planet can't have a surface temperature that's very hot without losing all of the surface water.

The Kepler mission reported in February that it had found 54 planet candidates in the habitable zone; Kepler-22b is the first of these to be confirmed, and those results will be published in The Astrophysical Journal. There are still 48 potential planets from that batch.