Facebook announced new cryptocurrency ‘Libra’

Facebook, the online social media and social networking service company has announced a new digital currency called Libra, for simplifying payments. This new digital currency is based on the blockchain technology and allows billions of users to make financial transactions across the globe. It’s a simple digital currency and financial infrastructure that is developed to create a more inclusive financial system. Its three most promising features are:

• It is created on a completely secure, scalable and reliable blockchain.

• It’s backed by a reserve of real assets that are meant for building trust in its intrinsic value.

• It is governed by an independent Libra association that consists of diversified businesses, non-profit and multilateral organizations and academic institutions.

For every Libra created, a cache of bank deposits and short-term government securities is set aside in Libra Reserve. This reserve will be administered by Libra Association that will ensure preserving the value of the currency. The initial members of this association will work for finalizing the association’s charter and become the ‘founding members’ upon its completion. The current members include Mastercard, PayPal, PayU, Visa, Stripe, eBay, Facebook, Lyft, Spotify AB, Uber, Vodafone Group, Bison Trails, Coinbase, Inc., Xapo Holding, Ribbit Capital, Thrive Capital, Kiva, Mercy Corps, Women’s World Banking, etc.

For many banks, payment wallet companies & credit card companies, this could be a real game changer. With more than 2.40 billion worldwide Facebook users, this new digital currency is set to revolutionize the global payments and transfers.

NASA’s Curiosity Rover detect high levels of Methane on Mars

A team of scientists from Nasa’s Mars Science Laboratory Rover, Curiosity, has detected the largest amount of methane on Mars. According to Nasa, the rover has found about 21 parts per billion units (ppbv) by volume of methane, the largest amount of gas ever measured.

The finding came from the rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars tunable laser spectrometer that measured that 21 billionths of the volume of air is methane. According to Ashwin R. Vasavada, the project scientist for the mission, a new set of instructions were sent to the rover to follow up on the readings through mission controllers on Earth.

As per the statement released by NASA, ‘It is exciting because microbial life is an important source of methane on Earth, but methane can also be created through interactions between rocks and water.’ However, due to current technological limitation, the rover is not capable of finding whether the source of methane is biology or geology, or even ancient or modern.

During the course of the mission, the rover has detected methane many times. The curiosity team noted the seasonal fluctuations in the background levels of the gas. However, the team knows little about the sudden spikes of methane or whether how long these transient plumes last.

World’s first Malaria Vaccine launchd in Africa

The World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged the initiative of the Government of Malawi at the launch of the world’s first and only malaria vaccine through a part of a landmark pilot program. After the combined efforts of over 30 years Malawi has made the vaccine available to children in Africa. In the coming weeks, Ghana and Kenya will also introduce the vaccine.

WHO coordinated the pilot program with a collective effort from health ministries of Malawi, Ghana, and Kenya and other partners including non-profit organizations, and GlaxoSmithKline, the vaccine developer.

The vaccine, known as RTS,S, is the only of its kind that has demonstrated positive results in significantly reducing malaria in children. Malaria, is one of the world’s leading killers, and has resulted in the death of 250000+ children in Africa. Children under the age of 5 are most affected due to its life-threatening complications.

Aber a common digital currency for the UAE and Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority and UAE Central Bank announced the launch of common digital currency ‘Aber’ to forge closer financial ties. On 29th Jan 2019, both the apex monetary bodies released a joint statement mentioning that the new digital currency will be used in financial statements between the two countries through Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers technologies.

This new digital currency also serves as an additional medium for financial remittances between the two countries.

In the initial stages, this pilot project concentrates on the technical aspects and focuses on the practical application of the modern technologies and finding out their impact on the reduction of remittance costs and assessment of technical risks involved in it and ways to deal with them.

Initially, the use of this digital currency will be restricted to a limited number of banks in each state. If no technical issues are encountered, economic and legal requirements for future users will be discussed. It is the first time when monetary authorities of both countries are cooperating to use blockchain technology. With the implementation of the project, it is also possible to use the system as an additional reserve system for the settlement of domestic central payments in case of any disruption.

Jio Leading the Game

Offering India’s first-ever Platinum 4G service, Reliance Jio is becoming the spearhead of the telecommunications industry as the best 4G network with the lowest data rate. It is offering nationwide free voice calls to any network without any roaming charges.

In addition to its several feats, Reliance Jio has also become the Indian ‘4G-only’ network which is witnessing data usage of 16,000TB per day which is by far the largest data usage any carrier handles on a typical day at a global level. The company has an extensive network of 250,000 km of fiber optic cables across India and aims to accelerate the Digital movement in the country.

After taking the telecom sector with a storm by its recent launch, Reliance Jio is emerging as the winner in apps arena too. The new entrant in the communications sector has left once leading WhatsApp and Facebook behind in its first stride itself with 7 of the top 10 apps downloaded from the Google Play store in India being from Jio family. It has exclusive apps such as JioPlay, JioOn Demand, JioChatMessenger, MyJio, etc. on Google Play, which enable users to enjoy various exciting services, for instance, instant messaging, live TV, movies on demand, news, streaming music, and so on. It also gives extra discounts to the students.

Recently, the company also announced that it is offering an additional 12 months of Jio Digital Services with the purchase of all Apple iPhone models. According to a recent report, the company is also planning to launch 4G VoLTE ready phones priced as low as Rs. 1000.

Google Trips App

This application is a one-stop-shop that makes planning, organization and management of trips easier. Just select the destination and create a trip by assigning dates. With Google Trips App booking of tickets and hotel rooms will be done with a few clicks. This application is not just for collecting information – it can also make suggestions. Through the ‘To Do’ tab one can get the best suggestions about what can be explored during the trip.

This app serves as a perfect trip planner and travel guide for every person who is fond of exploring places. Available on Android, this free app offers editorial guides for more than 200 cities, and makes personalized recommendations on the basis of one’s Google history. Users will be required to log into their Google accounts for the app to work.

One of the most attractive features of this app is that it works offline as well and one can download everything to his/her phone before leaving for any destination. The app includes maps and walking directions which scraps the compulsion of using an expensive international data plan for people.

Richard Holden, Vice President of Product Management at Google Trips stated in one of his interviews that the Google’s Trips App is a culmination of more than two years of work in the process of improving Google’s travel products. The focal aim of this new travel app is to take away all the pain of planning for a vacation. Also, in the recent months Google has introduced Destinations, a travel-planning feature inside mobile search, and revamped its hotel and flight search features.

Emmy Awards 2016

A night filled with cinematic stars and heartfelt speeches, the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards 2016 reflected the landscape of television industry. Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the event was held on September 18, 2016 at the Microsoft Theater in Downtown Los Angeles, California and was broadcast in the U.S. by ABC. In the event, 68th Primetime Emmy Awards felicitated some of the best television programmes of the United States from June 1, 2015 until May 31, 2016, as chosen by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

On July 14, 2016, the nominations were declared by Anthony Anderson and Lauren Graham. The limited series, The People V. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story was the most nominated program at the ceremony with 22 appearances in the nominations. Overall, Game of Thrones received the most nominations that year with a number of 23 and was the most nominated drama series also.

Crime anthology The People V. O. J. Simpson, an American Crime Story bagged five major awards at the glittering night. Besides, fantasy drama, Game of Thrones won three awards including Outstanding Drama Series and the most promising fictional television program with 38 wins at the event. The political satire series Veep won Outstanding Comedy Series for the second time in a row as well, while its producer and leading female star Julia Louis-Dreyfus set a new record by winning award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. As far as the series is concerned, it was her fifth consecutive award for it.

In the acting categories, Rami Malek and Tatiana Maslany won awards for their brilliant performance in Mr. Robot and Orphan Black respectively. Jeffrey Tambor won main comedic acting awards for the second time for Transparent. Interestingly, this year major winners were The People V.O.J. Simpson and Game of Thrones, which won nine and twelve awards, respectively.

Oyo Ventures in China

OYO rooms, more commonly known as OYO, have extended its presence in the Chinese economy.
This expansion is the third overseas expansion after Malaysia and Nepal for the Gurugram-based startup.
OYO is an Indian hospitality service and budget hotel network, founded by Ritesh Agarwal in 2013 and is exploring the two big markets of India and China, alongside other Eastern countries like Indonesia. It is also set to take its enterprise in United Arab Emirates. In September 2017, OYO had signed a 5 year MoU with the China Lodging Group to facilitate and strengthen collaboration in order to build a worldwide market leading hospitality business. The MoU signed is for both parties to explore opportunities for mutual collaboration in fields like knowledge and technology sharing, strategic alliances – including but not limited to local sourcing and procurement and joint loyalty programs and investments. The multi brand hotel group had made a $10 million equity investment in OYO to become a minority shareholder (less than 5 per cent). Currently, the chain comprises of over 11,000 exclusive or franchised rooms in 26 cities including Hangzhou, Xian, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xiamen and Kunming among others.

It has also launched its services in Shenzhen, also called the silicon valley of China, and is considered one of the busiest and fastest growing ports in the world. It has covered 8 hotels with a room count of around 400.
AsiaOne believes that the reason behind this move is the massive prosperity China’s tourism Industry is witnessing. It enjoys an influx of both domestic and International tourists and their market is considered as fragmented as the Indian hotel market.

The firm has reportedly hired around 60-70 employees to run its operations in China.
Furthermore, a substantial rise in the number of hotels and headcounts is expected in the near future.

First Emirati Astronauts to travel in Space

United Arab Emirates is planning to expand its horizons and fly its first astronaut into space by the year 2021, when it completes 50 years of its foundation. By the end of 2018, Emirates will have its first astronaut titled, recruited and trained to make history.

This is the first ever space programme to be launched by the UAE and a realization of UAE’s pledge to become a global leader in space exploration over the next 50 years. The recruitment process is rigorous and detailed. Citizens first fill out an online form, the required additional information and supporting documents to the UAE Astronaut programme at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC). Men and Women aged above 18 are welcomed and have to go through a screening process which involves basic psychometric tests and medical examinations to determine the fitness of the candidate. Once shortlisted, more advanced and elaborate psychometric examinations will be taken, followed by a final interview round.

The qualified 4 candidates will be sent to the International Space Station (ISS) to carry out vital experiments and work that will contribute to the scientific community’s understanding of human space flight to meet future challenges as a part of their training. The selected candidates will be a part of the Astronaut Corp of 2019.
Currently, there are over 2,000 applications received from people aged 18 to 60. This is a very exciting phase for the citizens of the country and their enthusiasm will accelerate the Prime Minister Mohammad Bin Rashid’s goal of launching the first unmanned Arab probe to Mars in July 2020. The orbiter will be called “Amal” or “Hope”. In the far future, UAE also has plans to builds what it calls a “Science City” to replicate life on Mars and aims to create the first human settlement on the red planet.

A new online portal, called the I-Shuttle, has also been launched by the UAE Space Agency for the citizens to engage with and drive their interests in space.

Uber Arrives in Uganda

The global online taxi firm, Uber has made its debut in Uganda by starting its services in the city of Kampala. After its immense success in other African cities, the online platform was launched in Uganda in the first week of June.

Now, if one is heading to the airport, doing some shopping at Acacia Mall, watching a game at Mandela National Stadium or going out for some late night partying, the affordable ride is just one click away. Celebrating its launch in the capital city of Uganda, Uber provided free rides to the city people for four days.

The city’s rapidly growing infrastructure inspired the company to start its services in the heart of Kampala. “Kampala is a growing city in the heart of Uganda, a country with a fast-growing economy.” Uber said in its official announcement which further read “With its people, energy, innovation, entrepreneurial and rapidly growing economy, Kampala is an exciting place for Uber to bring its services.”

During the official launch in Kampala, Alon Lits, general manager Uber Sub Saharan African stated, “By offering a friendly and reliable complement to existing transport options, we can help improve urban mobility in Kampala.” He further added, “We are mindful of the city’s current traffic congestion, and we aim to be part of the solution in improving it, while creating new, fruitful opportunities for drivers.”

The San-Francisco based taxi hailing service- Uber is already operating in 462 cities across 71 countries. It has been a revolutionizing force in the transport arena of the cities it operates in. It makes driving across the city an easy, affordable and pleasant experience with just one click connecting the driver and the customer. With Uber, riders can also share the costs of their ride with a tap of a button.