Date: 3 Jumada al-Ula 1444   Saturday 26 November 2022

  • Last Update: Tuesday 22 November 2022، 13:33:06.

A Nasa rover has found possible signs of ancient life on Mars from rock samples it collected from a geologically rich area.

The Perseverance rover collected two samples from an ancient river delta in the Jezero Crater, a site scientists believe was full of life billions of years ago.

Nasa hopes to bring these samples back to Earth on a return mission it plans to carry out later this decade in partnership with the European Space Agency.

The rocks may have organic matter, or building blocks of life, with a wide variety of compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms.

“We picked the Jezero Crater for Perseverance to explore because we thought it had the best chance of providing scientifically excellent samples ― and now we know we sent the rover to the right location,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Nasa’s associate administrator for science.

“These first two science campaigns have yielded an amazing diversity of samples to bring back to Earth by the Mars Sample Return campaign.”

The rover landed on Mars early last year and has been collecting rocks from various locations. So far, it has collected 12 samples.

It has been carrying out its science campaign at the Jezero Crater, which features a delta that formed about 3.5 billion years ago at the convergence of a Martian river and a lake.

Perseverance is currently investigating the delta’s sedimentary rocks, formed when particles of various sizes settled in the once-watery environment.

During its first science campaign, the rover explored the crater’s floor, finding igneous rock, which forms deep underground from magma or during volcanic activity at the surface.

Ken Farley, a Perseverance project scientist, said that the campaign is helping scientists study the geological history of Mars.

“The delta, with its diverse sedimentary rocks, contrasts beautifully with the igneous rocks ― formed from the crystallisation of magma ― discovered on the crater floor,” he said.

“This juxtaposition provides us with a rich understanding of the geological history after the crater formed and a diverse sample suite."

This is not the first time a Nasa rover has found evidence of organic matter on Mars.

In 2013, the Curiosity Mars rover found evidence in rock samples, and Perseverance detected organics in the Jezero Crater before.

This time, however, the rover made the discovery in an area where sediment and salts were deposited into a lake under conditions in which life could potentially have existed./agencies 

Daily power walks may provide greater health benefits than simply the number of steps covered, according to new research.

The idea of 10,000 steps a day was also challenged by a study, which claimed an average of 7,000 may be enough when it was published in March.

While the new report, released by teams from the University of Sydney and the University of Southern Denmark this week, maintains 10,000 steps is still the “ideal” number for “protective health benefits”, it also adds that people should “aim to walk faster”.

Doing so could reduce the risk of premature death by 8 per cent even if a person only covered 2,000 steps a day; as well as the risk of dementia, cancer and cardiovascular issues by 25 per cent for those taking 3,800 brisk steps a day.

We ask three UAE experts to expound on this theory.

The right posture is important: the eyes should be looking forward, shoulders back, with back and head upright

Dr Ajay Kaul, chair of cardiovascular, RAK Hospital

“If you're not very active to start with, just walking 10,000 steps can be greatly beneficial,” says Dr Ruhil Badiani from Cornerstone Clinic. “However, if you already do this, consider upping the pace.

“Getting your heart beating faster while exercising improves your stamina, aids weight loss and reduces bad cholesterol. So, as the study finds, it would make sense that walking faster is more beneficial as it gets your blood flowing.”

Dr Ajay Kaul, a consultant, surgeon and chair of cardiovascular at RAK Hospital, says: “Power walking is a form of exercise in which, besides brisk steps, we need to add movements of other parts of the body, such as the arms. As such, a good walking technique is essential to maximise benefits and reduce injuries.

“The right posture is important: the eyes should be looking forward, shoulders back, with back and head upright. Keep your arms bent at a 90-degree angle, and swing them gently up and backwards, such that the opposite arm and leg are moving at the same time.”

Kaul recommends power walking three kilometres in a span of 30 minutes at least five times a week, which he says “is the best form of exercise for all ages”.

“It is amazing that power walking requires no expensive equipment or technology or gym membership, yet is the best form of exercise to keep fit," he says.

"The recent report aside, various studies have found power walking reduces blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes; and that one hour of this moderately intense exercise prevents serious joint problems, while walking for four hours a week reduces the incidence of fifth fractures. Just ensure you get good shoes and follow traffic rules.”

Yasir Khan, a transformational mentor and personal trainer to Indian tennis player Sania Mirza and Emirati content creator Khalid Al Ameri, says the reason power walking is more effective is because it increases the overall number of steps you take per minute.

“It’s one of the most effective ways to increase activity levels, especially for those who haven’t followed a fitness regimen for a long time," he says.

"Brisk walking is also beneficial for people who are prone to injuries or are overweight. Just like any exercise, this method helps with strengthening the immune system, reducing stress and anxiety levels, improving the quality of sleep, muscle endurance and energy levels.

"By having the right gear, setting goals and monitoring your progress, you will be able to make walking a habit, and notice positive changes, physically and mentally.”/agencies

Schneider Electric, a France-based company specialised in digital automation and digital energy management, opened its new regional headquarters (HQ) in Egypt on 14 September 2022.

Located in New Cairo, the headquarters will test tech products to offer more efficient and sustainable energy to serve Egypt, North East Africa, and Levant (NEAL), according to a recent press release.

The inauguration comes in line with Schneider Electric’s efforts to follow its 2025 sustainability goals.

Marc Baréty, the French Ambassador to Cairo, said: “I am certain that the innovation hub will create a paradigm shift towards achieving more sustainable practices and technologies, aiming to enhance the global efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals locally, regionally, and internationally.”

Sebastien Riez, North East Africa and Levant Cluster President at Schneider Electric, noted: “With the continued ramp-up of our operations and in line with the national strategy and our continuous efforts we plan to continue investing in the NEAL cluster, with it being one of the largest regions for Schneider Electric in terms of presence, number of employees, and people.”

Last April, Schneider Electric announced digital plans to transform Sharm El-Sheikh into a sustainable and green city in line with Egypt’s hosting of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in November 2022.

Agencies

At least seven people were killed and seven others injured on Friday after a minibus collided with a heavy truck in northern Egypt's Behaira province, said a source from Egyptian ambulance authority.

The minibus hit the truck from behind when the minibus driver changed his course from left to right in the same lane to take a U-turn. There were 14 people on the minibus when the accident occurred, said the source who required anonymity.

Ambulances were sent to the scene of the accident on the Cairo-Alexandria road and the injured people were transferred to a nearby hospital, he said.

In Egypt, traffic accidents are common and claim thousands of lives every year. Most of the accidents are caused by speeding, poor maintenance of roads, and lax enforcement of traffic laws.

Over the past few years, Egypt has been upgrading its road network by building new roads and bridges and repairing old ones to reduce traffic accidents./ Xinhua

Oil exports are gradually resuming from the Port of Basra, also known as Al-Maqal Port, as of Sept. 16 after an oil spill prompted authorities to suspend oil exports from the terminal late Sept. 15. Basra Oil Company officials have confirmed that the spill has been contained. The Port of Basra is equipped with four tanker berths and can process 3.3 million barrels per day (bpd).

Lingering disruptions to port operations are likely as the gradual resumption of oil exports continues. Localized transport and business disruptions are possible near the Port of Basra as long as port disruptions persist. Protest activity is possible near the port over the short term in response to the spill.

Friday, 16 September 2022 05:28

Seasonal floods leave scores dead in Sudan

Flooding in Sudan has killed at least 134 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes in the northeast African country's ongoing wet season, police said.

The National Council for Civil Defence said on Thursday the floods have killed a total of 134 people, left 120 others injured, and damaged or destroyed more than 128,000 homes so far this wet season.

Heavy rains usually fall between May and October in Sudan, which faces severe flooding each year, wrecking property, infrastructure and crops.

Water can be seen engulfing villages and roads in footage of the flooding aired on state television.

People have taken shelter under makeshift tents made from tattered fabrics after the floodwaters washed away mud-brick homes.

Last month, the government declared a state of emergency due to flooding in six of Sudan's 18 states.

This season's death toll has risen from 112 given earlier this month.

In the latest figures, the highest number of fatalities occurred in the central state of North Kordofan, while the largest figure of home collapses was recorded in southern White Nile state.

Widespread destruction

The main causes of death were collapsing homes, drowning and electrocution.

The official SUNA news agency said a hospital was heavily damaged due to flooding in a village in the eastern state of Kassala.

The United Nations, citing government figures, said this week that the flooding has so far affected 286,400 people.

The eastern states of Gedaref and Kassala, North and South Kordofan state, River Nile state, and the region of Darfur were among the worst affected, according to the UN children's agency, UNICEF.

The UN has warned that flooding this year could affect up to 460,000 people – far higher than the average 388,600 people affected annually between 2017 and 2021.

The disaster comes as Sudan reels from deepening political unrest and a spiralling economic crisis exacerbated by last year's military coup.

Source: AFP

A Russian pipeline to China will replace the Nord Stream 2 gas link to Europe, abandoned amid the Ukraine conflict, Moscow's Energy Minister Alexander Novak has said.

Asked in an interview with Russian television channel Rossiya-1 on Thursday if Russia would replace the European Nord Stream 2 with the Asian Power of Siberia 2, Novak said: "Yes."

Earlier in the day, the minister, on the sidelines of a visit to Uzbekistan, said Russia and China would soon sign agreements on the delivery of "50 billion cubic metres of gas" per year via the future Power 2 pipeline in Siberia.

This volume will almost represent the maximum capacity of Nord Stream 1 — 55 billion cubic metres in total — which has been shut down since September 2.

A third of Russian gas supplies to the European Union had passed through the strategic pipeline, which links Russia to Germany.

Power of Siberia 2 will fuel China's energy-guzzling economy, partly via Mongolia.

Construction is due to start in 2024.

It will therefore replace the Nord Stream 2 project, long backed by Germany but which Washington viewed dimly, and which the West has scrapped since the Russian offensive in Ukraine began in late February.

Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh said he supports the construction of such projects via his landlocked country.

Speaking via a translator at a trilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in the Uzbek city of Samarkand, Khurelsukh backed the plans, proposing studies of their economic feasibility.

Khurelsukh said: "We also support the construction of oil and gas pipelines to supply natural gas from Russia to China through the territory of Mongolia and propose to study this issue from the viewpoint of technical and economic justification".

New transit route

Russian gas exports to the EU "will drop by around 50 billion cubic metres" in 2022, Novak said.

At the same time, the Russian minister said that Gazprom, operator of the Power of Siberia 1 gas pipeline that has linked the Chaiandina field to northeastern China since the end of 2019, would "increase its deliveries" to reach "20 billion cubic metres of gas" each year.

The linking of the Kovytka field, near Lake Baikal, to the pipeline in early 2023 will help achieve the increase.

By 2025, when it reaches its maximum capacity, the pipeline will produce 61 billion cubic metres of gas per year, more than Nord Stream 1, of which 38 billion cubic metres will go to China under a 2014 contract signed between Gazprom and its Chinese counterpart CNPC.

The two sides also signed agreements to build a new transit route from Vladivostok in Russia's Far East to northern China, bringing in an additional 10 billion cubic metres of gas, the Energy Ministry said on Thursday.

Source: AFP

The global economy could soon face a recession due to central banks' monetary tightening and rising interest rates, the World Bank said in a report on Thursday.

"Experience from earlier recessions suggests that at least two developments -- which either have already materialized in recent months or may be underway -- heighten the likelihood of a global recession in the near future," said the report titled 'Is a Global Recession Imminent?'

The World Bank said every global recession since 1970 was preceded by a significant weakening of global growth in the previous year, which has happened recently, while all previous global recessions coincided with sharp slowdowns or outright recessions in several major economies.

"Despite the current slowdown in global growth, inflation has risen to multi-decade highs in many countries ... many countries are withdrawing monetary and fiscal support. As a result, the global economy is in the midst of one of the most internationally synchronous episodes of monetary and fiscal policy tightening of the past five decades," said the report authored by Justin Damien Guenette, M. Ayhan Kose and Naotaka Sugawara.

The report analyzed three scenarios for the global economy for the 2022-24 period.

The first scenario includes the current monetary policy tightening cycle may not be enough to restore low inflation, while the second scenario assumes additional monetary policy tightening by major central banks, in which the global economy would escape a recession in 2023 but would experience a sharp downturn.

And, the third scenario indicates that additional increases in interest rates would trigger higher risk in global financial markets and result in a global recession next year.

"Policymakers need to navigate a narrow path that requires a comprehensive set of demand- and supply-side measures," the report said.

"On the demand side, monetary policy must be employed consistently to restore, in a timely manner, price stability ... On the supply-side, they need to put in place measures to ease the constraints that confront labor markets, energy markets and trade networks," it added.

AA

The founder of outdoor retailer Patagonia, known for his environmental stances, has announced he has given away his US company in an effort to do even more for the planet.

Yvon Chouinard, 83, could have sold the brand –– valued at $3 billion, according to The New York Times –– or taken it public.

"Earth is now our only shareholder," Chouinard wrote in an open letter posted to Patagonia's websiteon Wednesday.

"I never wanted to be a businessman," he explained. "I started as a craftsman, making climbing gear for my friends and myself, then got into apparel."

He added: "As we began to witness the extent of global warming and ecological destruction, and our own contribution to it, Patagonia committed to using our company to change the way business was done."

He, his wife and their two children agreed to transfer all of Patagonia's voting shares, or stock that gives the holder voting rights, in the company to a trust in charge of ensuring the brand's environmental values are respected.

All of Patagonia's nonvoting shares have been transferred to a nonprofit dedicated to fighting against climate change and for nature protection and conservation. Company profits will also be donated to the nonprofit.

Chouinard family to stay on Patagonia board

Founded almost 50 years ago, Patagonia quickly became committed to conserving nature, by carefully choosing its raw materials and donating one percent of its sales each year to environmental NGOs.

But Chouinard has decided this is no longer enough.

One option was to sell Patagonia and donate the money.

"But we couldn't be sure a new owner would maintain our values or keep our team of people around the world employed," he said in the letter.

Taking the company public would have been a "disaster," he said: "Even public companies with good intentions are under too much pressure to create short-term gain at the expense of long-term vitality andresponsibility."

Patagonia will remain a company, which cares about its financial health and will operate with a board of directors and CEO.

The Chouinard family will no longer get any money from the company but will stay on the board, as well as oversee the trust and guide the nonprofit's philanthropic work.

Source: AFP

Thursday, 15 September 2022 06:23

EU seeks $140B to cope with energy crisis

The European Union's executive has outlined plans for raising more than $140 billion to cope with an energy crisis that has increased the prospect of winter fuel rationing, corporate insolvencies and economic recession.

"EU Member States have already invested billions of euros to assist vulnerable households. But we know this will not be enough," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told members of the European Parliament on Wednesday.

She unveiled plans to cap revenues from those electricity generators that have gained from surging power prices but do not rely on costly gas. 

She also outlined plans to force fossil fuel firms to share windfall profits from energy sales.

"In these times it is wrong to receive extraordinary record revenues and profits benefiting from war and on the back of our consumers," von der Leyen said.

She said the plan should raise more than $140 billion for the EU's 27 members to support households and businesses.

But her announcement did not include an earlier EU idea to cap Russian gas prices. That idea has divided member states, after Russia warned it could cut of all fuel supplies. Von der Leyen said the Commission was still discussing the idea.

Europe's benchmark gas price rose to about $208 per megawatt hour (MWh) on the comments, well below an August record above $343 but more than 200 percent up on a year ago.

A draft of the proposals did not include broader gas price caps.

Refilling Reserves

Europe has been racing to refill its storage facilities and has already met target to have them 80 percent full by November. 

But Russia's moves to cut supplies, including via the major Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany, makes the winter outlook uncertain. 

Moscow blames sanctions for hindering pipeline maintenance. European politicians say that is a pretext.

Source: Reuters

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