Timeframe: March 4 to March 10, 2022
Contributors: Affan Bin Saber, GM Sifat Iqbal, Safin Mahmood, and Farhan Uddin Ahmed
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Pakistan court suspends arrest warrant for former PM Imran Khan
A high court in Pakistan has suspended arrest warrants in a case related to the alleged illegal purchase and sale of gifts to foreign dignitaries during former prime minister Imran Khan’s tenure.
A single-judge bench of the Islamabad High Court comprising Chief Justice Amer Farooq on Tuesday directed the police not to arrest Khan till March 13.
The court also ordered the former prime minister to appear in the concerned court on March 13 in the foreign gift case.
An Islamabad court last week issued a non-bailable arrest warrant for Khan in the case for consistently skipping hearings.
Police tried to arrest Khan on Sunday but failed amid resistance from his supporters in the northeastern city of Lahore.
Source: TRT World
Senate Rejects Changes to Controversial D.C. Crime Law
The Senate voted on Wednesday to nullify the District of Columbia’s new crime laws, blocking the city government’s attempts to redefine crimes, change criminal justice policies, and reduce maximum penalties for crimes like burglary, carjacking, and robbery. Lawmakers from both parties expressed concern about rising violent crime rates in cities nationwide, and the resolution passed the Senate 81-14 after previously passing the House.
President Joe Biden announced that he will sign the Republican resolution, marking the first time in more than three decades that Congress has overturned D.C.’s laws through the disapproval process. This is also a shift in the long-held Democratic position that the federal government should allow D.C. to govern itself. Criminal justice experts say that the current D.C. criminal code has disproportionately affected Black people, similar to many other cities.
The overhaul of the code was set to take effect in October 2025, but to become law, it had to survive a 60-day review period during which Congress and the president could override it, thanks to the Home Rule Act. The resolution has angered some House Democrats, like Eleanor Holmes Norton, the district’s nonvoting delegate, who had voted against the measure in the House after the White House signaled opposition.
However, Biden’s decision to support the Republican measure was influenced by increasing pressure from Republicans who have made reducing crime a political priority.
Source: ABC News
2. Economics & Business
Bangladesh received $1.56 billion in remittances in February
Using the financial system, Bangladeshi ex-pats sent home more than $1.56 billion in February. According to the most recent information released by the Bangladesh Bank on Wednesday, the amount is roughly 20.3% less than the $1.95 billion received in January.
According to bdnews24.com, the remittances received in February brought the total for the first eight months of the current 2022–23 fiscal year to more than $14 billion, an increase of 4.26 percent year over year. After increasing by more than 36% to $24.78 billion in 2020–21, Bangladesh witnessed inbound remittances decline by 15.12% percent to $21.03 billion year over year in 2021–22. Measures taken in tandem by the central bank and the government helped remittances to grow to some extent as the inflow rose in July and August last year before starting to fall again. The remittances then turned around in November. In recent months, the central bank further eased paperwork requirements for remittances, while the government continued cash incentives on the money sent by expatriates to encourage them to use the legal channels. Remittances climbed in July and August of last year before beginning to decline again. The central bank and the government together implemented measures that helped remittances grow to some extent. Then, in November, the remittances started to increase. While the government continued to offer monetary incentives on the money sent by ex-pats as a means of encouraging them to utilize the legal channels, the central bank has significantly relaxed the documentation requirements for remittances.
Yet, the inward remittances were still impacted by hundi, an unlawful cross-border transaction route. In this illicit scheme, expatriate Bangladeshis pay local agents, known as Hundi, in Bangladeshi taka, and the relatives of the expatriates, known as Hundi, in foreign currencies overseas. The Bangladesh Bank increased its attempts to curb Hundi as the nation’s foreign exchange reserves continued to decrease. The central bank also advised ex-pats to transmit money through banks, warning them of the legal repercussions of carrying out cross-border transactions in an unauthorized manner.
Source: The Financial Express
Iran discovers large lithium deposit
Iran announced the discovery of a large deposit of lithium, a key component of batteries for electric vehicles and electronic devices.
“For the first time in Iran, a lithium deposit has been discovered in Hamedan”, in the west of the country, state television quoted Mohammad Hadi Ahmadi, an official at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade, as saying on Saturday. The reserves are believed to contain “8.5 million tonnes” of lithium, according to the director general.
Dubbed the “oil of the 21st century”, lithium is essential for making electric vehicle batteries, the white metal is an essential component of rechargeable batteries used in cell phones and other electronic devices.
Source: TRT World
3. Science & Technology
New ‘ATAP’ software deployed at airports to prevent dangerous off-runway landings
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has installed new software called ASDE-X Taxiway Arrival Prediction (ATAP) at 43 major airports across the US. The software warns air traffic controllers if an inbound aircraft may be lining up to land on a taxiway rather than a runway, which can be a major safety hazard. Between October 2016 and the end of 2022, there were 1,641 “wrong surface events,” with 83% involving general aviation aircraft rather than commercial planes. ATAP uses radar and other sensors to automatically detect if a plane appears to be lining up to land on a taxiway instead of a runway, alerting controllers to the potential problem, who can then communicate the issue to incoming pilots.
The FAA says that the software has helped prevent over 50 wrong-surface taxiway landings since it was first implemented at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 2018. The system has been installed at Boston Logan International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, and Chicago O’Hare International Airport, among others. There have been eight ATAP alerts so far this year.
Runways have unique visual indicators, such as numbers, aiming points, and “piano key” threshold markings, and are lit differently from taxiways at night. However, taxiways often run parallel to runways, and pilots, particularly those unfamiliar with the airport, can mistake the two. There have been several notable taxiway landings by commercial pilots in recent years, including a Continental Airlines 757 landing on a taxiway at Newark Liberty International Airport in 2006, a Delta Air Lines 767 doing the same at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2009, and an Alaska Airlines 737 landing on a taxiway at Seattle-Tacoma in 2015. None of these incidents resulted in injuries, but taxiways are not built to be landing surfaces for heavy jets, and they are often dotted with aircraft about to depart. In 2017, an Air Canada A320 nearly landed on a taxiway at San Francisco International Airport, where four other planes were waiting to take off.
It is important to note that none of the recent headline-grabbing aviation safety incidents in recent months had to do with wrong-surface landings. However, preventing such incidents remains a significant priority for aviation safety officials.
4D printer built for smart materials with magneto- and electro-mechanical properties
Software and hardware for a 4D printer with applications in the biomedical industry have been developed by researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M). This machine also enables the control of other functions, such as programming the material’s reaction to change shape in response to an external magnetic field or its electric characteristics to change in response to mechanical deformation. This makes it possible to create soft robotics, intelligent sensors, and substrates that send signals to various cellular systems, among other things.
This study area focuses on the creation of soft multifunctional structures made of materials whose mechanical characteristics closely resemble those of biological tissues like the skin and the brain. Moreover, they can change their appearance or characteristics in response to outside stimuli like magnetic fields or electric currents.But, they were quite constrained in terms of shape-design and programming of intelligent reactions. Up until recently, this research team has produced a number of improvements in the design and manufacture of these structures. They were able to create a revolutionary 4D printing approach thanks to the work reported in their most recent paper, which was published in the journal Advanced Materials Technologies. One of the researchers, Daniel Garca González, head of the ERC 4D-BIOMAP (GA 947723) project and associate professor in UC3Department M’s of Continuum Mechanics and Structur, says, “This technology allows us to not only control the way we print three-dimensional structures, but also to give them the ability to change their properties or geometry in response to the action of external magnetic fields, or the ability to modify their electric properties when they
As the substance to be extruded changes from a liquid to a solid throughout the printing process, this sort of printing is complicated. So, it is essential to comprehend material dynamics in order to modify the manufacturing process and produce a material that is enough liquid to pass through the printer nozzle yet solid enough to hold a certain form.In order to do this, they have created an interdisciplinary process that combines theoretical and experimental techniques. This methodology enables them to create the printing equipment from scratch, including the hardware and the computer algorithms that manage it (the software).
Study Links Artificial Sweetener to Stroke Risk
Among a group of 1,157 patients undergoing tests at a cardiovascular clinic, physician-scientist Stanley Hazen and colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute found those with the highest levels of organic compounds used as sweeteners, specifically erythritol; had twice the risk of dying from or experiencing a major cardiovascular event in the three years that followed.
This new study found an association that also appeared in two other cohorts of nearly 3,000 people, combined, from the US and Denmark.
To be clear, the study didn’t show that erythritol was coming from artificial sweeteners, or that it was directly causing any of the cardiovascular issues.
But the researchers say their findings are enough to warrant additional investigation.
Artificial sweeteners are thought to be chemically inert, but scientists are finding these low-calorie compounds are not necessarily free from health consequences.
While naturally present in very small amounts in fruit and vegetables, levels of sweeteners like erythritol can be 1,000-fold higher in processed foods.
Part of the problem is that while artificial sweeteners have fewer calories than the sugars they are replacing – and that may help some people cut down their intake – they taste sweeter and encourage our bodies to want even more of the sugary taste.
Source: Science Alert
Nations reach accord to protect marine life on high seas
For the first time, United Nations members have agreed on a unified treaty to protect biodiversity on the high seas – representing a turning point for vast stretches of the planet where conservation has previously been hampered by a confusing patchwork of laws.
An updated framework to protect marine life in the regions outside national boundary waters, known as the high seas, had been in discussions for more than 20 years, but previous efforts to reach an agreement had repeatedly stalled. The unified agreement treaty, which applies to nearly half the planet’s surface, was reached late Saturday.
The treaty will create a new body to manage the conservation of ocean life and establish marine protected areas on the high seas. And Nichola Clark, an oceans expert, said that’s critical to achieve the U.N. Biodiversity Conference’s recent pledge to protect 30% of the planet’s waters, as well as its land, for conservation.
The treaty also establishes ground rules for conducting environmental impact assessments for commercial activities in the oceans.
“It means all activities planned for the high seas need to be looked at, though not all will go through a full assessment,” said Jessica Battle, an oceans governance expert at the Worldwide Fund for Nature.
Several marine species — including dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and many fish — make long annual migrations, crossing national borders and the high seas. Efforts to protect them, along with human communities that rely on fishing or tourism related to marine life, have long proven difficult for international governing bodies.
“This treaty will help to knit together the different regional treaties to be able to address threats and concerns across species’ ranges,” Battle said.
The question now is how well the ambitious treaty will be implemented.
Formal adoption also remains outstanding, with numerous conservationists and environmental groups vowing to watch closely.
Source: The Guardian
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