News Flash – 29 October 2018

National News



Woman dials 100 after tiff with Security Guard, strips in lift when cops ask her to come to police station


Mumbai: A content writer and an aspiring model partially stripped in the elevator of a housing society in Andheri to drive away a team of cops that had arrived following her altercation with a security guard. Later, she tweeted that the police were insisting that she accompany them to the police station at 3am, despite no female cop being present. She tagged the commissioner of police, chief minister and Prime Minister in her post. Women cannot be called to the police station for interrogation under Section 160 of the Cr PC. This law provides women the right of not being physically present at the police station for interrogation. The police can interrogate a woman at her residence in the presence of a woman constable and family members or friends. Also, according to a SC ruling, a woman cannot be arrested after sunset and before sunrise. In this case, it is not clear why the police wanted the woman to accompany them to the police station. No FIR has been registered yet. Video clips of the incident shot by bystanders have been widely circulated on social media.


The incident took place on October 25 at Lokhandwala Complex where the woman lives as a paying guest. Officials said she had a fight with a guard after he refused to run an errand for her at 1am. She then dialed the police emergency number ‘100’ and said the guard had misbehaved with her. The guard claimed she assaulted him. A team from the Oshiwara police station was dispatched as residents gathered and commotion ensued. In the video, the cops can be seen asking her to accompany them to the police station but she refuses as there is no female cop and it is way past midnight. The clip shows her getting back into the elevator and telling the police to speak to her lawyer. But the police and the guards refuse to let her go and she begins yelling at them. Later, she can be seen undressing to get the police and bystanders to leave. The clips also show her assaulting another guard. After her tweet on Saturday, the police advised her to go to the police station and lodge a complaint. She has recorded her statement.



Season’s worst air day in Delhi; Ghaziabad and Gurgaon in ‘severe’ zone



New Delhi: Diwali is still 10 days away but air quality in the capital has been steadily deteriorating. Delhi had the worst air quality of the season on Sunday, with the AQI at 366 (very poor), while “severe” levels of air pollution were recorded in Gurgaon and Ghaziabad. The steady fall in air quality is bad news ahead of the November 1-10 period, when very high pollution levels have been projected for the region. Experts said changing wind directions, low wind speeds and a drop in temperature were all playing a part in trapping pollutants in the lower atmosphere, while the contribution of stubble-burning taking place in Punjab-Haryana could not be ruled out. Government’s air pollution research body, SAFAR, found stubble-burning contributing as much as 36% of Delhi’s pollution on Friday. Its forecasts, however, showed a reduction in the share of crop fires in the capital’s pollution in the subsequent three days. A SAFAR scientist said wind speeds were likely to reduce in the coming days which could cause pollution levels to rise further. “Wind speeds will drop further and with very little activity, pollutants will not disperse. The pollution levels are likely to be highest on October 31, however it may not touch severe just yet,” the SAFAR scientist said.



Defusing terror: Bomb squad to get more teeth


New Delhi: Delhi Police is adding more teeth to its bomb disposal squads as a part of its anti-terror measures. Bids have been invited to procure sophisticated gear, like advanced explosive ordnance disposal suits, contactless stethoscopes and telescopic manipulators, which will help cops defuse improvised explosive devices (IED) with ease. The shopping list includes a remote-operated vehicle (ROV), bomb baskets, Kevlar blankets and blasting machines. In March last year, TOI had reported about the plan to modernise bomb squads with latest technology and equipment. Every year, bomb disposal teams respond to around 2,500 calls of suspicious objects. While teams of NSG and other agencies are also available, Delhi Police is the first responder in such cases. Officers said strengthening bomb disposal squads is imperative given that terror inputs constantly indicate a possible strike not only by POK- and Pak-based groups like Jaish-e-Muahmmed, Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba, but also by global terror groups like al Qaida and Islamic State. The ROV will be a game changer as it will be able to carry out explosive disposal and surveillance inside aircraft, trains, buildings, buses, metro and railway stations and help cops locate and defuse IEDs without human intervention. “The ROV will be able to climb a staircase/slope of at least 45 degrees with a weight of 8kg. It will have modular mount for weapon system (SMG, MP5 and shotgun), de-armer disrupter and real-time viewing system with X-ray,” said an officer.


The electronic stethoscope will be able to detect sound through solid materials, like bricks, walls glass and wood, packing materials, etc. “The contactless stethoscope would help technicians detect fuses, circuits, quartz watches and cellphones used in IEDs these days. We are planning to procure 24 of these devices,” said an officer. The Kevlar blanket would offer protection against blasts, thermal and fragmentation effect resulting out of a blast of 2kg of trinitrotoluene (TNT) equivalent explosives along with minimum 100 grams of nails or nuts used as fragments. The bomb basket will have the capacity to withstand a blast of a minimum of 220gm of TNT with splinters. It will be used to transport the bomb away from populated areas where it can be safely defused. Explaining the feature of explosive ordnance disposal suits (bomb suits), officers said that it would provide a high impact backbone protection arrangement for the technician’s safety. It will be designed in such a manner that it won’t take more than 10 minutes to wear the suit with all accessories. “The suit’s helmet will have a built-in microphone for the operator to hear all conversations taking place in the vicinity. It will also have two-way communication up to a range of 100 meters. A video camera will be fitted to the visor of the helmet for live transmission to a command post located at a distance of up to 200 meters,” an officer said. Other items on the list include devices like thermal cutters, which are used by bomb disposal engineers to gain access to the inside of the soft skin of an IED and remote car opening kit to help disable vehicle-borne IEDs.



Air quality dips after rain, will worsen with the chill


Hyderabad: Post-monsoon, air quality in most parts of the city has come down but experts say the worst is yet to come. As per Telangana State Pollution Control Board (TSPCB) data, air quality is showing signs of deterioration and officials said the situation could worsen in the winter. Air Quality Index values in areas like Balanagar, Jubilee Hills, Charminar, Paradise and Jeedimetla showed signs of deterioration in September compared with previous months. Pollutants such as PM10 and PM2.5, the particulate matter which are tiny particles and can penetrate lungs and enter the bloodstream, was recorded more than prescribed standards in many areas. For instance, the PM 10 levels at Balanagar were recorded at 85 ug/m3 in July. But the same shot up to 101 ug/m3 in August and 134ug/m3 in September against the prescribed standard of 100 ug/m3. PCB officials said: “Pollution levels dip during monsoon as most pollutants get washed away in rains. The gradual worsening is due to temperature inversion during winter”. Medical experts say rise in PM10 levels cause health problems. “People with asthma and heart diseases are more susceptible to dust pollution. It may aggravate existing heart and lung diseases and damage lung tissue as well as air way irritation,” said V V Ramana Prasad, senior consultant pulmonologist at KIMS Hospital. Environmental experts, too, said pollution levels would worsen with onset of winter. “This happens in mornings when there is fall in minimum temperatures. It leaves pollutants trapped close to the surface, leading to smog cover,” said N Raveender, former environmental scientist at TSPCB.



Engineless Train-18 may link Howrah and Delhi


Kolkata: A high-speed train journey between Howrah and New Delhi is in the offing with Indian Railways planning to introduce a Train-18 trainset on this route. The train, the first of its kind in Indian Railways, is expected to roll out of Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai on Monday. It will be introduced after necessary trials. Later, a similar trainset will be introduced on the Howrah-New Delhi route, Rajesh Agrawal, member/rolling stock, Railway Board, said in Kolkata on Sunday. Capable of running at 160km per hour, the engineless train will cover the nearly 1,400km journey between Howrah and New Delhi in approximately 12 hours. The Rajdhani Express takes 16 hours to cover the distance. Train-18 is much like an electric multiple unit (EMU) rake though much sleeker and more luxurious. As all coaches have traction and the wheels start rolling by themselves when the loco-pilot sets the train in motion, creating greater acceleration. Brakes can also be applied more easily, making the trains safer than conventional ones. The semi-high speed train, with 16 air-conditioned coaches, will undergo short runs near ICF for five days to test its braking and air-conditioning systems and familiarize the crew with the on-board systems before being moved to New Delhi.


Train-18 will then undergo speed trials of 150 km/hr in the Moradabad-Bareilly section before shifting to the Kota-Sawai Madhopur stretch for final trials at 160 km/hr. All tests will be monitored by a special team from the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO). The first trainset has only seating arrangements, but orders have been placed with ICF for two with berths. ICF is building six such trainsets. According to Agrawal, the next series will be called Train-20 and will be capable of achieving 200 km/hr. The first train has several imported components that gives it special features. Of the 16 coaches, two will be executive class with 52 seats each. The remaining will have 78 seats each. The plush seats can be swiveled towards the direction in which the train is moving. In the executive class, they can also be moved to face the windows, which are continuous. All doors are sliding and coaches have vacuum toilets like on aeroplanes. Onboard infotainment and continuous Wi-Fi have also been planned. On the issue of new rakes for the Metro Railway, Agrawal said: “Four rakes from ICF have already undergone trials and clearance is now awaited. The Metro will introduce them very soon. Other rakes have also been ordered. As soon as they arrive, the existing ones will be replaced”.



New VHF installations to boost pilot-airport communication


Chennai: In a bid to cover blind spots in voice communication between air traffic controllers (ATC) and pilots, Airports Authority of India (AAI) is gearing up to install very high frequency (VHF) transmitters in three places falling under air routes from Chennai airport. Though radar is used to track planes, pilots radio altitude, speed and direction of the aircraft to ATC officials of the nearest airport when they cross pre-determined wayside points on an air route. The pilots and ATC use voice communication when a plane is handed over to another airport’s air space and pilots speak to controllers when the plane nears an airport or starts descent kilometres away for landing. A pilot said clear and static-free communication was essential to listen to the instructions of ATC officials. “We are planning to install a transmitter near Madurai, Ooty and Bellary. These machines will eliminate blind spots in these areas. We recently installed a transmitter on the Pallavaram hills to erase a blind spot on Chennai-Trichy and Chennai-Vizag routes,” a senior AAI official said. These transmitters will enhance the range and strength of signals for planes when they fly along those areas. He said studies were conducted and a report had been sent to AAI headquarters in New Delhi for consideration. “We are planning to conduct a few more studies,” the official said. The blind spot near Madurai affects voice communication between pilots and controllers on the Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram route while the one in Bellary is on the route planes take to fly west and north from Chennai. VHF communication gets interrupted because of barriers like hills and mountains and buildings.


The voice will not be clear when the planes fly low, especially while descending from cruising altitude to approach an airport for landing. The new transmitters will enhance signals for planes that fly below 25,000 feet. A pilot said in an area over Coimbatore it was difficult to communicate with controllers in Chennai, Bengaluru or Thiruvananthapuram. The new transmitter near Ooty is expected to solve this hassle. An official said the VHF transmitter in the Pallavaram hills has enhanced the range of VHF coverage. “It is usually spread over a range of 200 to 250 miles but we are getting the signals at 300 miles also. This has removed a communication blind spot on Chennai-Trichy route and Chennai-Vizag route,” he said. Enhancing VHF coverage for low-flying planes was crucial because the government is promoting regional connectivity scheme and commence operations at smaller airports. Airlines have started to bring in small planes such as ATRs and Bombardiers and a new airline is planning to operate a 20-seater to Vellore and Neyveli. “These planes fly at less than 25,000 feet. As the number of such flights is bound to increase, AAI is looking at improving voice connectivity between pilots and controllers to enhance safety. Small planes need to be tracked efficiently because they fly low and may need guidance from controllers to change course or to steer clear of a turbulence,” said an official.



International News



On trial: Serial killer nurse who murdered 100



Berlin: German nurse Niels Hoegel, already serving a lengthy term for previous killings, will go on trial before anguished relatives on Tuesday over the murders of around 100 more people — a spree prosecutors say is unprecedented in the post-war period. The 41-year-old is accused of intentionally administering medical overdoses to patients in his care in order to be able to bring them back to life at the last moment. He rarely succeeded. Prosecutors say at least 35 patients were killed at a hospital in the city of Oldenburg where he worked, and about 64 more in Delmenhorst, between 2000 and 2005.



Next AI frontier: Predicting Earthquakes



San Francisco: Countless dollars and entire scientific careers have been dedicated to predicting where and when the next big earthquake will strike. But unlike weather forecasting, which has significantly improved with the use of better satellites and more powerful mathematical models, earthquake prediction has been marred by repeated failure. Some of the world’s most destructive earthquakes — China in 2008, Haiti in 2010 and Japan in 2011, among them — occurred in areas that seismic hazard maps had deemed relatively safe. The last large earthquake to strike Los Angeles, Northridge in 1994, occurred on a fault that did not appear on seismic maps. Now, with the help of artificial intelligence, a growing number of scientists say changes in the way they can analyse massive amounts of seismic data can help them better understand earthquakes, anticipate how they will behave, and provide quicker and more accurate early warnings. “I am actually hopeful for the first time in my career that we will make progress on this problem,” said Paul Johnson, a fellow at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who is among those at the forefront of this research. Well aware of past earthquake prediction failures, scientists are cautious when asked how much progress they have made using AI. Some in the field refer to prediction as “the P word”, because they do not even want to imply it is possible. But one important goal, they say, is to be able to provide reliable forecasts. The earthquake probabilities that are provided on seismic hazard maps, for example, have crucial consequences, most notably in instructing engineers how they should construct buildings. Critics say these maps are remarkably inexact.


A study led by Katherine M Scharer, a geologist with the US Geological Survey, estimated dates for nine previous earthquakes along the Southern California portion of the San Andreas fault dating back to the eighth century. The last big earthquake on the San Andreas was in 1857. Since the average interval between these big earthquakes was 135 years, a common interpretation is that the region is due for a big earthquake. Yet the intervals between earthquakes are so varied — ranging from 44 years to 305 years — that taking the average is not a very useful prediction tool. A big temblor could come tomorrow, or it could come in a century and a half or more. The new AI-related quake research is leaning on neural networks, the same technology that accelerated the progress of everything from talking digital assistants to driverless cars. Loosely modeled on the web of neurons in the human brain, a neural network is a complex mathematical system that can learn tasks on its own. Scientists say seismic data is remarkably similar to audio data companies like Google and Amazon use in training neural networks to recognize spoken commands on coffee-table assistants like Alexa. When studying earthquakes, it is the computer looking for patterns in mountains of data rather than relying on the weary eyes of a scientist.

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