Week 11 of 2023 – YPF Around the Globe (English)

Timeframe: March 11 to March 18, 2022

Contributors: Affan Bin Saber, Anika Bushra, GM Sifat Iqbal, and Safin Mahmood

To read Bangla, click here.

1. Politics

North Korea fires long range missile ahead of Japan-South Korea talks

North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) just hours before the leaders of South Korea and Japan were due to meet for landmark talks.

Both Japanese and South Korean officials confirmed the long-range missile’s launch on Thursday morning.

It flew about 1,000km (620 miles) landing in waters west of Japan.

It is Pyongyang’s fourth missile launch in a week and comes as the US and South Korea hold joint navy drills.

The other missiles launched – last Thursday, on Saturday and on Monday – had been short-range ballistic missiles.

Source: BBC

Biden Administration Faces Backlash from Environmental Groups Over Approval of ConocoPhillips’ Willow Oil and Gas Project in Alaska

Six environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration over its approval of ConocoPhillips’ Willow oil and gas project in Alaska. The groups claim that the project, which was approved despite acknowledging “known harms” to Arctic communities, public health, wildlife and climate, could lead to further development in ecologically sensitive areas.

The administration is accused of failing to consider the cumulative effects of the project and ignoring elements of its new climate consideration guidelines. The approval of the project conflicts with President Joe Biden’s efforts to fight climate change and transition off fossil fuels. The Interior Department approved three drill pads for Willow after initially expressing concerns over greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: Reuters

2. Economics & Business

NBR seeks for large property owners in districts to expand the tax base

Chairman of the National Board of Revenue (NBR), Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem, stated on Tuesday that the revenue board has taken a number of actions to quickly raise the number of taxpayers in the nation by identifying the capable and potential taxpayers. According to him, a procedure to identify the owners of large homes and apartments at the district level has already begun.

According to BSS, the NBR chairman made this statement while speaking to a pre-budget gathering of businesspeople at the NBR Bhaban in the capital’s Agargaon district. He stated that lists were being compiled of possible taxpayers, including members of the rich segment of society as well as representatives from the medical, legal, and engineering fields. It will be simpler for us to discover potential taxpayers who are still outside the tax net through this method, he continued. The heads of the Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA), the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), PWC and ERG, Snehashish and Mahmud Company, and the SME Foundation were present at the pre-budget conference. The NBR chairman stated that it would be wiser to rectify the situation gradually rather than taking a severe position against those potential taxpayers who are still outside the tax net.He stated that the revenue board intends to establish a tax museum in order to raise public knowledge. After it is constructed, young people in the nation will be able to visit the museum and educate their parents about the need of paying taxes.

The NBR chairman stated that it would be wiser to rectify the situation gradually rather than taking a severe position against those potential taxpayers who are still outside the tax net. He stated that the revenue board intends to establish a tax museum in order to raise public knowledge. After it is constructed, young people in the nation will be able to visit the museum and educate their parents about the need of paying taxes.

Source: The Financial Express

Saudi Arabia announces launch of new national flag carrier

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has officially announced the creation of a new national airline, Riyadh Air, with industry veteran Tony Douglas as its chief executive, as the kingdom moves to compete with regional transport and travel hubs.

Riyadh Air will serve more than 100 destinations around the world by 2030, using the kingdom’s location between Asia, Africa and Europe, state news agency SPA reported on Sunday.

The new airline is expected to add $20 billion to Saudi Arabia’s non-oil GDP growth and create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs, it said.

The announcement could lead to an uphill battle for passengers, with regional giants Turkish Airlines, Emirates and Qatar Airways facing off as the travel industry recovers from the pandemic.

Riyadh Air is wholly owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which has more than $600 billion in assets and is a key driver of the kingdom’s efforts to diversify its economy and wean off oil.

In October, Saudi Arabia was in advanced talks to order about 40 A350 jets from Airbus, with Boeing Co lobbying for a share of the kingdom’s transport expansion, industry sources told Reuters.

Source: TRT World

Argentina’s ‘unprecedented’ drought pummels farmers and economy

An unprecedented drought in Argentina affects the agricultural sector as it largely exports grains, soy, corn and wheat. The crisis is especially detrimental to the farmers as they faced losses of $14 billion from the underproduction of soy, corn and wheat.

It adds to its ongoing economic crisis, where they have 99% inflation and have accumulated local and international debt as the exports gather significant revenue.

Moreover, the chance to rebuild the depleted foreign currency reserves is stalling; as a result, they are considering asking IMF to ease reserve accumulation targets for the year.

High temperatures caused by climate change worsened the drought. At least eight heat waves affected the country in the 2022 and 2023 seasons. If the country does not receive enough rain, the production of corn and soy could fall further.

Source: Reuters

3. Science & Technology

Real-world environment explorer robot

During the past ten years or more, roboticists have created a large number of sophisticated systems, yet the majority of these systems still require some level of human supervision. Future robots should autonomously and freely explore uncharted regions while continually gathering data and learning from it.

ALAN is a robotic agent developed by Carnegie Mellon University researchers that can explore new settings on its own. After a limited number of exploratory experiments, it was discovered that this robot, which was described in a paper that was pre-published on arXiv and is scheduled to be presented at the International Conference of Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2023), can effectively execute tasks in the real-world. The main goal of the team’s most recent research was to develop a framework that could be used by real-world robots to enhance their capacity for exploration and job completion. The system they develop, called ALAN, learns to investigate its surroundings on its own, without assistance from human agents or rewards. It may then apply what it has learnt in the past to solve new issues or tasks. According to Mendonca, “ALAN develops a world model to guide its behaviors and guides itself using environment-centric and agent-centric objectives. Using commercially available, pre-trained detectors, it also condenses the workspace to the region of interest. Following exploration, the robot may combine the learned abilities to carry out simple and complex tasks that are described by target pictures. The study team’s robot has a vision module that can infer the motions of nearby objects. Next, in order to maximize the change in the items and urge the robot to engage with them, this module uses these estimates of how the objects have moved.

The behavior of the robot might be structured using other priors, such as recordings of humans carrying out tasks and linguistic descriptions, according to Mendonca. “Systems that can successfully build on this data and operate in organized environments will be better equipped to independently explore. Moreover, multi-robot systems that may pool their expertise to continuously learn are of interest to us.”

Source: Techxplore

4. Environment

Brazilian researchers find ‘terrifying’ plastic rocks on remote island

Trindade Island in Brazil is a remote area that is an important conservation spot for green turtles, as they lay eggs on the island every year. The discovery by a group of researchers found plastic debris in the rock of the remote areas hosting green turtles alarming. It demonstrates humans’ extended influence on the earth’s geological cycles.

The point source of the pollution is fishing nets that accumulate on the beaches. With temperature increase, the plastic melts and settles with the natural material of the beach. Incorrect waste disposal and dumping in the seas and oceans become intertwined with the geological material preserved in Earth’s geological records.

Source: CNN

Disclaimer: The information provided here is obtained solely from the aforementioned third parties. Youth Policy Forum (YPF) is not responsible for any misinformation or misrepresentation.

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