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Biden focused G-7 Summit disappoints

By Asad Mirza

The 3Cs: Covid, China and Climate Change dominated the 47th annual G-7 Summit in Cornwall, UK. But overall the leaders were not able to present a united stand on any major issue.

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wanted the summit to showcase his brand of ‘Global Britain’, after Brexit. But there were terse exchanges between the French, EU and British leaders and officials on the issue. In effect, the summit turned out to be more Biden focused and expectations were raised high on some real agreement taking place on the 3C’s before the summit, though that was not the result ultimately.

Broadly, Biden sought to set a new tone after the unrestrained Trump years. Most G-7 leaders seemed relieved to have a return to a more predictable and traditional US administration. France’s Emmanuel Macron welcomed Biden back to the “club.” But the final Communique showed that even Biden’s expectations to ensure a consensus on many of his promises fell short.

On the issue of Covid-19, the leaders of the seven most affluent western nations seemed united, but there was a difference of opinion on the way forward. Earlier, they had shown commitment to donate 1 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses over the next year to poorer countries. But in reality the bloc fell short of its own goal — 613 million new doses pledged, instead of a billion.

Even so, the vaccine effort gave Biden some help with his China push. Biden has criticised China for a transactional brand of vaccine diplomacy, where the shots are being doled out for geopolitical advantage. Biden called on democracies to counter China and Russia by donating vaccines equally and based on need, without seeking favours in return.

On the second day of the summit, US unveiled plans to counter China through infrastructure funding for poorer nations. Promising to “collectively catalyse” hundreds of billions of infrastructure investment for low- and middle-income countries, the G7 leaders said they would offer a “values-driven, high-standard and transparent” partnership.

G-7s “Build Back Better World” (B3W) project was aimed directly at competing with China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Infrastructure (BRI) initiative.

However, several leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, pushed back over worries about turning the G-7 into an anti-China group, suggesting any infrastructure programme should be framed as a more positive, pro-environment effort.

French President Emmanuel Macron also pushed back publicly, saying that the “G-7 is not a group that is hostile to China.” Macron was one leader who sought the middle ground.

China hit back at these statements dismissively saying that the days when “global decisions” were dictated by a “small group of countries are long gone”.

The final version of the communique skirted B3W, instead creating a task force to study how to spur infrastructure development abroad. It made no mention of BRI, though Biden renewed his call at a press conference, and said that, “I proposed that we have a democratic alternative to the Belt and Road initiative, to build back better.”

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced last month that due to surging Covid cases in India, he’d not travel to the UK, he addressed the summit virtually. He conveyed India’s commitment to “collective” solution to global health challenges, and called for “one earth, one health” approach, which aims for unity and solidarity among the states of the world to deal with the pandemic. He also emphasised the need to keep raw materials for vaccines easily accessible.

The summit’s Communique, which was issued several hours after the end of the summit, promises many things but falls short of what was expected to be achieved before the summit.

(The Op-Ed appeared in IANS)

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India Latest News

Congress needs crisis management strategy and team ASAP

By Asad Mirza

The 3Cs: Covid, China and Climate Change dominated the 47th annual G-7 Summit in Cornwall, UK. But overall the leaders were not able to present a united stand on any major issue.

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wanted the summit to showcase his brand of ‘Global Britain’, after Brexit. But there were terse exchanges between the French, EU and British leaders and officials on the issue. In effect, the summit turned out to be more Biden focused and expectations were raised high on some real agreement taking place on the 3C’s before the summit, though that was not the result ultimately.

Broadly, Biden sought to set a new tone after the unrestrained Trump years. Most G-7 leaders seemed relieved to have a return to a more predictable and traditional US administration. France’s Emmanuel Macron welcomed Biden back to the “club.” But the final Communique showed that even Biden’s expectations to ensure a consensus on many of his promises fell short.

On the issue of Covid-19, the leaders of the seven most affluent western nations seemed united, but there was a difference of opinion on the way forward. Earlier, they had shown commitment to donate 1 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses over the next year to poorer countries. But in reality the bloc fell short of its own goal — 613 million new doses pledged, instead of a billion.

Even so, the vaccine effort gave Biden some help with his China push. Biden has criticised China for a transactional brand of vaccine diplomacy, where the shots are being doled out for geopolitical advantage. Biden called on democracies to counter China and Russia by donating vaccines equally and based on need, without seeking favours in return.

On the second day of the summit, US unveiled plans to counter China through infrastructure funding for poorer nations. Promising to “collectively catalyse” hundreds of billions of infrastructure investment for low- and middle-income countries, the G7 leaders said they would offer a “values-driven, high-standard and transparent” partnership.

G-7s “Build Back Better World” (B3W) project was aimed directly at competing with China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Infrastructure (BRI) initiative.

However, several leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, pushed back over worries about turning the G-7 into an anti-China group, suggesting any infrastructure programme should be framed as a more positive, pro-environment effort.

French President Emmanuel Macron also pushed back publicly, saying that the “G-7 is not a group that is hostile to China.” Macron was one leader who sought the middle ground.

China hit back at these statements dismissively saying that the days when “global decisions” were dictated by a “small group of countries are long gone”.

The final version of the communique skirted B3W, instead creating a task force to study how to spur infrastructure development abroad. It made no mention of BRI, though Biden renewed his call at a press conference, and said that, “I proposed that we have a democratic alternative to the Belt and Road initiative, to build back better.”

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced last month that due to surging Covid cases in India, he’d not travel to the UK, he addressed the summit virtually. He conveyed India’s commitment to “collective” solution to global health challenges, and called for “one earth, one health” approach, which aims for unity and solidarity among the states of the world to deal with the pandemic. He also emphasised the need to keep raw materials for vaccines easily accessible.

The summit’s Communique, which was issued several hours after the end of the summit, promises many things but falls short of what was expected to be achieved before the summit.

(The Op-Ed appeared in IANS)

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International Latest News Sports

Italy first to enter knockouts in Euro 2020

Rome: Italy became the first side to enter the knockout stages of Euro 2020 thanks to a 3-0 win over Switzerland here.

The result means they will now fight for the top spot in Group A in their final league game against Wales, who beat Turkey earlier in the day.

Manuel Locatelli was Italy’s hero with two goals as Roberto Mancini’s side displayed assured and attacking football, Xinhua reports.

In Group A’s other match at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts scored a goal each for Wales as they won 2-0 against Turkey.

Both sides traded attacks in the first half, but Wales looked more dangerous in front of the goal and scored the opener in the 42nd minute when Ramsey chested Gareth Bale’s chip into the box before tapping the ball past Turkey goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir.

Turkey’s Burak Yilmaz should have restored parity early in the second half, but the captain wasted a golden chance from close range following a corner. At the hour mark, Wales were awarded a penalty but Bale put the spot-kick over the bar.

Bale had a hand in Wales’s second goal though, as the striker danced through Turkey’s penalty box before squaring to Connor Roberts, who sealed the deal in the dying seconds of injury time.

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International Latest News Sports

Euro 2020: Germany defeats defending champions Portugal 4-2

Munich: Germany got their Euro 2020 campaign back on track — and blew Group F wide open — with a 4-2 romp against Portugal in Munich. 

After Cristiano Ronaldo claimed his 107th international goal, leaving him two short of Ali Daei’s all-time record, to give Portugal an early lead, the Germans roared back with four unanswered goals. German pressure forced own goals by Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro to put the hosts 2-1 up at half-time.

A Kai Havertz goal underlined Germany’s dominance before left-back Robin Gosens capped his man-of-the-match display by heading in Germany’s fourth goal to add to his two assists.

Portugal hit back when Diogo Jota tapped in Ronaldo’s hooked volley to make it 4-2 with 23 minutes left.

Germany continued their domination of Portugal, who they have now beaten five consecutive times at World Cup or European Championship finals since Euro 2000.

Germany created a huge amount of chances compared to 1-0 defeat by France, while Portugal lacked the composure of their 3-0 win over Hungary the same day.

This is the first time Portugal have conceded four goals since losing 4-0 to Germany at the 2014 World Cup.

With the result, France (4 points) remained atop the standings in Group F followed by Germany (3 points), Portugal (3 points) and Hungary (1 point).

With a win over Hungary on June 23, Germany can secure their progression, while holders Portugal face a tough task with France.

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India Latest News Sports

Milkha Singh: The ‘Flying Sikh’ no one could catch

New Delhi: A glimpse into the stupendous athletics career of legendary Milkha Singh, who passed away aged 91, can be had from this mind boggling fact: his 400 metres Indian national record stood for 38 years and the 400m Asian record for 26 years. In 1960 in Rome, he came closest to winning an individual Olympic Games medal as an Indian, in 400m, eventually finishing fourth in a photo finish.

Milkha was one of the favorites to win the 400m gold in Rome. It was probably natural, too, as going into the Olympics, he is said to have won 77 out of 80 races, including the 1958 Commonwealth Games gold in 440 yards.

But one shortcoming probably cost Milkha an Olympic medal. He had a habit of looking at his opponents over his shoulder while running races, and when he did the same in Rome it was decisive, though he had led the race until 200m. Later he admitted that he had paid a heavy price for his habit.

Interestingly, Milkha broke the existing world record of 45.9 sec in Rome, and so the three who finished ahead of him. He finished fourth with a time of 45.6 seconds, as per a hand-held device, while an unofficial electronic timer at the games clocked him at 45.73 sec. This has been a point of contention, though.

Whatever the reality, Milkha emerged from Rome as the ‘Flying Sikh’. A legend was born.

Until Rome 1960, no Indian had come so close to winning an individual Olympic medal; in hockey, though, India had been a dominant force.

Milkha’s 400m Asian record of 45.63 seconds stood for 26 years, before being broken by Susumu Takona of Japan.

Milkha was born in Layalpur, in the undivided India, and now in Pakistan. His love for athletics began after he enrolled himself with the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) of the Indian Army in Delhi.

His talent blossomed while being with the Army. Fortunately for him, his officers encouraged him, and that would have played a role in him winning the 200m and 400m races at a Services Athletics Meet in 1955.

Milkha practiced on his own while with the Army and clinched gold medals in both 200m and 400m at the 1956 National Games in Patiala, and two years later at the Cuttack Nationals, setting national records in both races.

His sporting achievements won him kudos from the Army, and the Indian government awarded him the Padma Shri in 1959. The same year, he was awarded the prestigious Helms Award.

Milkha took premature retirement from the Army and took up the post of Deputy Director of Sports with the Punjab government.

Decades later, a Bollywood film was made on Milkha Singh, starring Farhan Akhtar.

Milkha died at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research in Chandigarh, where he was being treated for Covid-related complications. 

Six days before he passed away, his wife, Nirmal, had died on June 13. A former India volleyball captain, she was 85, and she too succumbed to Covid and related complications.

Milkha Singh was cremated with full state honors at the Sector 25 cremation ground in Chandigarh with a police contingent according gun salute by reversing arms and sounding the last post to the legendary athlete, who held the 400m national record for 38 years, while his Asian record in the same event remained unmatched for 26 years.

The Punjab government had earlier declared one-day state mourning and a public holiday as a mark of respect to the legendary athlete.

The legendary athlete Milkha Singh. (khelnow and DNA)
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Latest News USA

Indian-American chemist Sumita Mitra wins European Inventor Award

Indian-American chemist Sumita Mitra has won one of Europe’s most prestigious innovation prizes for her pioneering use of nanotechnology in dentistry to produce stronger and more aesthetically pleasing fillings which are now used by dentists around the world.

Mitra won European Inventor Award 2021 in the “Non-EPO countries” category.

This researcher found that nanoclusters could be used in dentistry, resulting in robust, durable, and aesthetically pleasing fillings, the European Patent Office (EPO) said in a statement.

Her material overcomes many limitations of previous dental composites, which were either too weak to be used on biting surfaces or quickly lost their polish. These tiny clusters have been used in one billion dental restorations worldwide, it said.

EPO President António Campinos said, “Sumita Mitra took an entirely new path in her field and demonstrated how technological innovation, protected by patents, can transform a sector, and in this case bring benefits to millions of dental patients. Her invention remains commercially successful nearly 20 years after its launch, another reason why she is an inspiration to the next generation of scientists.”

Until the late 1990s, dentists struggled to find an optimal material to secure fillings in place to repair decayed or broken teeth. Commonly used options (composite microfills and hybrid composites) were either too weak for biting surfaces or became dull and unattractive over time.

While working in the Oral Care Division of the American multinational 3M, Mitra became determined to find an alternative.

Mitra’s ground-breaking filler FiltekTM Supreme universal restorative was commercialized by 3M and launched in 2002.

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Latest News USA

Pramila Jayapal introduces legislation to ban facial recognition tech by govt

Led by Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a group of US lawmakers has introduced a bicameral legislation to stop government use of biometric technology, including facial recognition tools, which they said violates the privacy of citizens and “deepens racial bias” in policing.

The Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act, introduced on Tuesday, responds to reports that hundreds of local, state and federal entities, including law enforcement agencies, have used unregulated facial recognition technologies and research showing that roughly half of US adults are already in facial recognition databases.

While Jayapal along with Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib introduced the legislation in the House of Representatives, Senators Edward J Markey, Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden introduced it in the Senate.

The Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act would place a prohibition on the use of facial recognition technology by federal entities, which can only be lifted with an act of Congress. It also prohibits use of other biometric technologies, including voice recognition, gate recognition and recognition of other immutable physical characteristics by federal entities, which can only be lifted with an act of Congress.

The Act imposes conditions on federal grant funding to state and local entities, including law enforcement, on those entities enacting their own moratoria on the use of facial recognition and biometric technology and prohibit the use of federal dollars for biometric surveillance systems. It prohibits the use of information collected via biometric technology in violation of the Act in any judicial proceedings.

Facial recognition technology is not only invasive, inaccurate and unregulated, but it has also been unapologetically weaponized by law enforcement against Black people across this country. That’s why I have long called on companies like Amazon to stop selling this technology, and it’s why we need to immediately take additional steps to rein in its use, Jayapal said.

This legislation will not only protect civil liberties but aggressively fight back against racial injustice by stopping federal entities from using facial recognition and biometric surveillance tools while stripping support for state and local law enforcement departments that continue its use, she added.

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Latest News USA

US Senate confirms Indian-American Radhika Fox to lead EPA’s water office

The US Senate has confirmed Indian-American water issues expert Radhika Fox as head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water.

The Senate, bitterly divided on party lines, confirmed Fox’s nomination on Wednesday by 55 to 43 votes after seven Republican Senators supported her candidature. Two Democratic Senators did not cast their votes.

“Ms Fox brings with her an impressive professional record of service and accomplishment, spanning over two decades, working on water issues at the local, state and federal level,” Senator Tom Carper, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), said.

“We have the opportunity today to confirm a truly gifted leader and put her to work serving our country right away,” he added.

On April 14, President Joe Biden nominated Fox for the post of Assistant Administrator for Water, Environmental Protection Agency.

Fox currently serves as the Acting Assistant Administer for Water. The EPA’s Office of Water works to ensure that drinking water is safe, waste water is safely returned to the environment, and surface waters are properly managed and protected.

Prior to joining EPA, Fox served as the Chief Executive Officer for the US Water Alliance, where she established herself as a widely recognized national thought leader on complex water issues, from equitable water management to investing in the nation’s water infrastructure.

Fox holds a Bachelors of Arts degree from Columbia University and a Masters in City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley where she was a HUD Community Development Fellow.

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Latest News USA

Indian American founded MyYogaTeacher raises $3M seed to connect US Yogis with experts in India

MyYogaTeacher closed on $3 million in seed funding to tap into the in-home fitness industry that gained traction in the past year.

The seed round was led by TSVC with participation from Leonis Partners, Weekend Fund, All Access Fund and Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments.

Jitendra Gupta, co-founder of restaurant loyalty program provider Punchh — which was sold to PAR Technology for $500 M in April — founded the Cupertino, California-based company in 2018 to provide on-demand group and one-on-one yoga lessons taught by expert instructors.

“It started with Punchh, where the job was often stressful,” Gupta told Crunchbase News. “People would be talking to me about their day, and I would be a zombie. Yoga helped me be present, but I needed a live teacher for that human connection.”

MyYogaTeacher’s app streams interactive lessons directly to students in the US from more than 120 experienced teachers in India. Nearly every type of yoga is offered, as well as personal classes where a long-term relationship can be built with a teacher, while also tracking progress.

The funding comes as MyYogaTeacher experienced massive membership growth that drove a 15x increase in revenue over the last year, Gupta said. He estimates that in addition to the 35 million that practice yoga, there is opportunity to reach another 40 million Americans with chronic neck and back pain, as well as those who may have tried a studio, but found it to be too awkward or embarrassing.

“We’ve doubled our team in the last five months,” Gupta said. “There is a massive opportunity to reach people with that human connection, and the new funding will help us execute and build out that vision.”

He expects to triple his growth metrics by the end of the year. (Source: crunchbase.com)

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