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U.S. climate credibility on the line as Biden heads to COP26

President Joe Biden wants to show the U.N. climate conference in Scotland that the United States is back in the fight against global warming. But continued haggling in Congress over legislation to advance his climate goals threatens to undermine that message on the world stage.

Biden leaves for Europe on Thursday for a G20 meeting in Rome followed by a gathering of world leaders in Glasgow aimed at saving the planet from the devastation wreaked by rising temperatures.

Biden had hoped to showcase legislation designed to fulfill a U.S. pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions 50-52% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels, seeking to provide an example that would encourage other nations to take bold, quick action to protect the Earth.

The plan includes hundreds of billions of dollars of investments in clean energy, but some aspects such as a program that would reward electricity companies for investing in renewables and penalize those that did not, have been cut from a bill to fund his social and climate change agenda.

As of Wednesday evening, Biden’s fellow Democrats had still not reached an agreement, forcing him to leave Washington without a deal in hand.

While Democrats are optimistic an agreement will be struck in the coming days, the lack of legislation could make it harder for Biden to convince the world that he can make good on his promises to cut U.S. carbon emissions.

“Being able to follow through is critical to maintaining credibility on the global stage and influencing other countries to take equally ambitious action,” said Tom Damassa, associate director for climate change at Oxfam America.

One of the bills is expected to expand tax credits for certain clean power industries such as wind and solar and could include grants and loans for farmers to shift to clean energy. But a proposed carbon tax and a carbon border tax adjustment that would add costs to imports of goods such as concrete and steel are likely out.

The Biden administration had sought to end longstanding tax breaks for fossil fuels that analysts estimate cost some $15-20 billion per year, but that effort too was all but dead.

STILL TIME FOR A DEAL

White House officials have said world leaders understand that the legislative process is messy and insist that the country can still meet its emissions targets without certain aspects of the bills that were meant to make the world’s largest economy more environmentally friendly.

The U.N. climate change conference known as COP26 takes place from Oct. 31 through Nov. 12, leaving room for a deal to happen even after Biden returns to Washington on Tuesday.

“If there is no agreement and we go all the way through (the COP26) without an agreement, I think that’s really problematic for U.S. credibility,” said John Podesta, a former climate adviser to President Barack Obama.

Biden brought the United States back into the Paris climate accord at the start of his presidency, reversing a decision by Republican President Donald Trump to withdraw. Months later Biden announced the U.S. target for emissions cuts as part of a push to get other countries to set ambitious targets, too.

The White House has pointed to a broad range of policies it says will help meet U.S. targets, including a push for more electric vehicles and initiatives to boost renewable fuel sources.

“Whether there is a deal this week or whether the negotiations continue, there will be a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the effort the president is undertaking right now to make bold, far-reaching investments that will deliver on his commitments,” U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday.

That enthusiasm may be tested in Glasgow.

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry has been traveling the world on Biden’s behalf to press other nations to set ambitious targets to cut their emissions and he, too, was eager to have legislation finished to bolster the U.S. pitch at COP26.

The administration has joined with the EU to organize more than 30 countries including Canada, Germany and Mexico in a pledge to slash methane emissions by 30% by 2030 from 2020 levels. The pact covers 30% of global methane emissions.

But at home a measure in the legislation to place a fee on domestic emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, was at risk of being watered down or cut.

That could leave it up to Biden’s environmental regulators to craft rules to cut the emissions, rules that could be tough to protect from lawsuits.

Macron says up to Australia to repair broken relations

Scott Morrison, Australia's prime minister, removes his protective face mask after arriving for a signing ceremony with Yoshihide Suga, Japan's prime minister at Suga's official residence in Tokyo, Japan

French President Emmanuel Macron told Australia’s prime minister that he had broken the trust between their two countries and that it was up to Canberra to repair relations, the Elysee said.

In the call on Thursday, which came ahead of a U.N. climate change summit, Macron also urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to commit to halting coal mining and the use of coal for power production.

Moscow locks down as Russian COVID-19 deaths surge to new highs

People receive a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a vaccination centre in the State Department Store, GUM, in Moscow, Russia

The Russian capital brought in its strictest COVID-19 related lockdown measures in more than a year on Thursday as nationwide one-day pandemic deaths and infections hit new highs amid slow vaccination take-up across the world’s biggest country.

Moscow’s partial lockdown, in which only essential shops like pharmacies and supermarkets are allowed to remain open and schools and state kindergartens are shut, comes ahead of a week-long nationwide workplace shutdown from Oct. 30.

Like Moscow, some regions decided to kick off their partial lockdowns on Thursday or even earlier in an effort to cut infection numbers ahead of the nationwide initiative.

Moscow’s residents are allowed to leave their homes unlike a sweeping lockdown in summer 2020, but the new measures point to rising concern among officials over record numbers of deaths that the Kremlin has blamed on vaccine hesitancy.

Officials on Thursday reported an all-time high of 1,159 COVID-19 nationwide deaths in the past 24 hours, while the number of daily infections broke through the 40,000 barrier for the first time.

At the State Duma lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker, proposed requiring all lawmakers to get vaccinated and suggested that stragglers should have to work remotely.

“Imagine the consequences for the country if parliament stops working,” Volodin told the lower house. “Every day we’re seeing how our … colleagues are ending up in hospital beds,” he said.

His proposal was met by angry shouts from the parliament’s chamber with someone calling out: “What kind of PR is this?”

Many Russians have said they are reluctant to get vaccinated and have spurned the four vaccines Russia has registered, including the flagship Sputnik V vaccine.

Some people say they are hesitant due to mistrust of the authorities, while others cite concerns about the safety of vaccines.

As of Oct. 22, official data showed that 49.1 million Russians were fully vaccinated. The total population, excluding annexed Crimea, is officially estimated at around 144 million.

AD CAMPAIGN RELAUNCH?

The daily Kommersant newspaper reported on Thursday that the Kremlin planned to revamp the troubled public information campaign about the importance of getting vaccinated.

The new campaign would pay closer attention to Russia’s more than 80 regions and strike a less aggressive and negative tone than previously, the report said.

The existing campaign has often highlighted the risk of death for Russians who decline to get vaccinated rather than linking vaccination to the freedom to be exempt from lockdown-style restrictions, it said.

However, the Kremlin denied it planned to relaunch the ad campaign, but said the strategy was constantly being adjusted and that the campaign would be continued.

Many Russians have decided that now is an ideal time to fly off for a foreign beach holiday instead of hunkering down at home.

There were mixed feelings about the lockdown on the streets of Moscow on Thursday. Some residents like Lyubov Machekhina said they thought it would obviously help slow infections.

But others like Mikhail, a Muscovite who did not give his surname, voiced doubts that there would be any real impact without a larger chunk of the population being vaccinated.

“In my opinion, it will change nothing. Perhaps, it will slow down (the spread of cases) a bit, but in fact, without herd immunity – it’s nonsense. I don’t believe it will work.”

Sudanese army faces widening opposition to takeover

Sudanese demonstrators march and chant during a protest against the military takeover, in Atbara, Sudan

The Sudanese army was facing widening opposition on Thursday to this week’s coup, with state officials in Khartoum vowing disobedience and activists mobilising for mass demonstrations later this week.

The takeover led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Monday against a civilian government has brought thousands of people into the streets to reject a return of army rule and demand a transition towards civilian rule be put back on track.

In a statement posted on Facebook overnight, ministries and agencies of Sudan’s most populous state, Khartoum, which includes the capital and twin city Omdurman, said they would not step aside or hand over their duties. They declared a general strike, although they would continue to supply flour, cooking gas, and emergency medical care.

The main market, banks and fuel filling stations in Khartoum were still closed on Thursday. Hospitals were providing only emergency services. Smaller shops were open, but there were long queues for bread.

In a sign of continued Western support for the ousted civilian cabinet, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted overnight that he had spoken by phone to Foreign Minister Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi.

Blinken said he condemned the arrest of civilian leaders in Sudan and discussed with Mahdi “how the U.S. can best support the Sudanese people’s call for a return to civilian-led transition to democracy”.

A source close to ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said he remains committed to a civilian democratic transition and the goals of the revolt that toppled long-serving autocrat Omar al-Bashir two years ago. Hamdok, initially held at Burhan’s residence, was allowed to return home under guard on Tuesday.

VIOLENCE FEARED

Several people have been killed in clashes with security forces since the takeover, and opponents fear the army-led authorities could deploy more force. The source close to Hamdok said the prime minister had called for the military to avoid violence against protesters.

Opponents of the coup have been handing out fliers calling for a “march of millions” on Saturday against military rule, falling back on old methods of mobilisation with the authorities restricting the use of internet and phones.

The protest is being called under the slogan “Leave!” used in the protests that brought down Bashir.

Sudan has been in the midst of a deep economic crisis with record inflation and shortages of basic goods, which only recently showed signs of possible improvement helped by aid that major Western donors say will end unless the coup is reversed.

The military takeover brought an end to a shaky transitional set-up intended to lead Sudan to elections in 2023 by sharing power between civilians and the military following Bashir’s fall.

Burhan’s move reasserted the army’s dominant role in Sudan since independence in 1956, after weeks of mounting tension between the military and civilians in the transitional government over issues including whether to hand Bashir and others over to the Hague where they are wanted for war crimes.

Burhan has said he acted to stop the country slipping into civil war and has promised elections in July 2023.

With backing from the United States, the transitional government had won Western debt relief, secured Sudan’s removal from a U.S. list of states that sponsor terrorism, and taken steps to normalise ties with Israel.

The United States has frozen $700 million in aid for Sudan since Monday’s takeover, and on Wednesday the World Bank said it was halting disbursements for operations in the country.

The Friends of Sudan — governments which have supported the transition — condemned the takeover in a statement issued late on Wednesday.

But while signatories included Britain, the United States, France and Germany, there were notable omissions, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, rich Gulf Arab states with whom Burhan has developed ties.

‘End this fraud’, French scallop dredgers demand after British vessel held

Empty scallop shells are seen on beach in Port-en-Bessin, France October 1, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

French scallop fishermen said they were fed up with British vessels enjoying what they called unfair access to shellfish in their waters and demanded local authorities tougher action be taken.

Paris and London are locked in a row over access to British territorial waters for French fishermen in the wake of Brexit. French authorities on Thursday were holding a British scallop boat after it failed to show a permit for dredging off northern France.

“There has to be an end to this fraud,” Pascal Coquet, president of the National Scallop Fishermen’s Committee said. “Our boats don’t have the right to approach English shores because they lack the licenses. We can’t let them carry on like that.”

Britain said the vessel, which had been operating in the Baie de Seine, did have a licence.

The Baie de Seine was the scene for a dispute, dubbed the ‘Scallop Wars’, between French and British vessels in 2018, which saw crews at sea hurling projectiles at one another.

The Kingdom of Kashi – Revisiting History

The Kingdom of Kashi was an ancient Indian kingdom located in the region around its capital Varanasi, the latter bounded by the Varuna and Asi rivers in the north and south and named after them. It has existed since the time of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Its easternmost border was the legendary Son River, which was also the western border of Magadh. It would have covered much of the area of Eastern UP centered around today’s Varanasi and the present southwestern part of Bihar that was Arrah district. Today this area comprises Rohtas, Buxar, and Kaimur districts. 

The Kingdom of Kashi was one of the 16 Mahājanapadas.

The Mahājanapadas (Sanskrit: great realm, from maha, “great,” and janapada “foothold of a people”) were sixteen kingdoms that existed in ancient India. Mahājanapadas were mentioned in Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas and were heavily mentioned in Buddhist and Jaina texts. This means the Kingdom of Kashi existed at least 9000 years ago. Sumitra, one of the wives of Dasaratha and mother to Lakshmana and Shatrugna, was from the Kashi kingdom. 

The Kashi Kingdom – Rulers and Bhagwan Shiva

Kasi was ruled by an Asura named Kshemaka, who Panchala prince Dividosa defeated. Dividosa then became the king of Kashi. The successive rulers were Haryasva and Sudeva. Kashi was later governed by Kuru kings. This was the great Vedic Age where Bhagwan Shiva was worshipped. People since those days have believed that this is the place where one can attain liberation from the Life and Death Maya (trap). For over 3000 years, people have considered that it is here that Bhagwan Shiva gives the Tarak Mantra to the ones who are about to die.

This is a part of the Pre-historic kingdoms series. 

The Kashi Kingdom – Wealth and Human Development

Prosperity and opulence were everywhere in the Kashi Kingdom. It was the center of Vedic and education par excellence. In the Rigveda, an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns, the city is referred to as Kāśī (काशी: Kashi) from the Sanskrit verbal root kaś- “to shine”, making Varanasi known as “City of Light”, the “luminous city as an eminent seat of learning.” It was widely known for its military prowess. It is still regarded as one of seven holy cities (Sapta Puri) which can provide Moksha, Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Kashi, Kanchi, Avanti, and Dvārakā are the seven cities known as the givers of liberation. No wonder Kashi is considered one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited regions. 

“Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”

Uber aims for 50,000 Teslas on its platform by 2023

(IANS) Ride-hailing company Uber is acquiring 50,000 Tesla vehicles to rent to its drivers as part of an ambitious plan to electrify its fleet in the US by 2030.

The ride-hailing company is working with US-based rental car company Hertz, which announced that it had ordered 100,000 Tesla vehicles.

The move comes as car companies and transportation providers around the world are coming under regulatory pressure to phase out gas-powered vehicles in favour of those that produce zero emissions, reports The Verge.

California, the largest auto market in the US, set in place rules for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft, requiring that 90 per cent of their fleets be electric by 2030.

Uber has long offered discounts on car rentals to drivers who don’t own their own vehicle, with Uber and Hertz working together on such a programme since 2016.

But they have never collaborated to rent out one specific vehicle to drivers until now, the report said.

Starting November 1, Uber drivers who live in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Washington, DC can rent a Tesla Model 3 through Hertz at a rate of $334 a week, including maintenance and insurance.

The weekly rate will fall to $299 or lower as the programme gets underway, Uber says. And the programme will expand nationwide in the weeks to come — to have all 50,000 Teslas on Uber’s platform by 2023.

It may be difficult to attract drivers to the programme with a weekly rate of $334, but Uber is confident that drivers will see the benefit in fuel savings and less maintenance.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk-run electric car company has hit the $1 trillion market cap for the first time.

Tesla becomes the fifth US company to join the $1 trillion club, after Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet.

Its stock soared to a new record-high after it crossed $950 during the trading — up more than 9 per cent.

The rally came after the US-based rental car company Hertz said it has ordered 100,000 Tesla vehicles (worth at least $4.2 billion) by the end of 2022 as part of an ambitious plan to electrify its fleet.

The move includes a new EV charging infrastructure across the company’s global operations.

Samsung’s One UI design to come on Windows laptops

(IANS) South Korean tech giant Samsung is reportedly bringing its One UI 4 mobile interface design to its Galaxy Book series of Windows laptops.

The new design changes will appear inside Samsung’s Windows apps like Samsung Notes, Samsung Gallery and Samsung Settings, reports The Verge.

The changes are designed to match the mobile interface that Samsung’s bringing to its latest Android phones, to make it easier to switch between the two.

The main Samsung Settings app has been overhauled to better fit the design changes in Windows 11, with new app icons, menu layouts and more.

Samsung’s Notes app also has a new menu layout, updated icons, and refreshed folders.

The Samsung Gallery app is the final app that has been updated with One UI 4 changes and it includes a dark mode to match Windows 11’s themes.

While Microsoft has also overhauled its design language with Windows 11, Samsung’s changes here bring a more mobile-like UI to its Windows apps.

Samsung is calling this One UI Book 4, and it will be available on the Galaxy Book Pro 360, Galaxy Book Pro, Galaxy Book Flex2, Galaxy Book, and Galaxy Book Odyssey.

Samsung’s design effort on Windows comes after years of a close partnership between Microsoft and Samsung, the report said.

The pair originally partnered to bring Android and Windows closer together, resulting in a lot of exclusive Your Phone integration for Samsung devices.

Google to let you request to remove images from search results

(IANS) Tech giant Google has launched a new safety feature that lets under-18s request the removal of images of themselves from the company’s search results.

According to The Verge, the feature was originally announced in August (along with new restrictions of ad targeting of minors) but is now widely available.

Anyone can start the removal process from this help page, the report said.

Applicants will need to supply the URLs of images they want to be removed from search results, the search terms that surface those images, the name and age of the minor and the name and relationship of the individual that might be acting on their behalf — a parent or guardian, for example.

The company notes it will remove images of any minors “with the exception of cases of compelling public interest or newsworthiness”.

It also seems from Google’s language that it won’t comply with requests unless the person in the image is currently under 18.

So, if you’re 30, you can’t apply to remove pictures of you when you were 15, the report said.

That limits the scope of the tool to prevent abuse or harassment, but it presumably makes the process of verification much easier. It’s hard to prove what age you are in any given photo as opposed to proving how old you are right now.

Google also stresses that removing an image from its search results does not, of course, remove it from the web.

In addition to these new removal options for images of minors, Google already offers other avenues for requesting the removal of specific types of harmful content.

These include non-consensual explicit imagery, fake pornography, financial or medical information, and “doxxing” information including home addresses and phone numbers.

Resumption of India marketing initiatives helps Spotify reach 381 mn users

(IANS) Riding on its India performance and resumption of marketing activity in the country, Swedish music streaming app Spotify on Wednesday said it has reached 381 million monthly active users (MAUs) in its third quarter (Q3), a 19 per cent growth (on-year).

The company has experienced double-digit growth in all regions.

The growth was “aided by the resumption of marketing activity in India along with above-plan growth in the Philippines and Indonesia,” the company said in a statement.

“Audio is our right to win. While we have been relentless in our pursuit of being the world’s largest audio platform, it’s still early days and we are just getting started,” said Spotify CEO and Founder, Daniel Ek.

This quarter, Spotify added several major promotional partnerships, including OnePlus (Spotify preloads on OnePlus mobile devices in India with 3 or 6 month trials and a limited offer of 12 month trials to OnePlus Red Cable Club members).

At the end of Q3, it had 3.2 million podcasts on the platform (up from 2.9 million at the end of Q2).

“Internationally, we released 76 new O&E (owned and exclusive) podcasts, with notable traction in India and Latin America where Originals have been helpful in stimulating new user acquisition,” the company informed.

Premium subscribers grew 19 per cent to 172 million in the quarter. Revenue grew 27 per cent to 2,501 million euros.

Among MAUs that engaged with podcasts in Q3, consumption trends remained strong (up 20 per cent Y/Y on a per user basis) while month-over-month retention rates continued to trend positively.

“Podcast share of overall consumption hours on our platform also reached an all-time high during the quarter,” the company said.

7 Most Common Workers’ Compensation Injuries (And Their Causes)

When workplace injuries happen, they can derail your life and career. Not all workplace accidents will need the insight of a workers’ compensation attorney, but some individuals may want to call a professional right away. 

If you’ve recently sustained an on-the-clock injury, hiring a lawyer may be in your best interest. 

Signs you need to hire a workers’ compensation attorney

Dealing with increasing medical costs, lost wages, and completing the required accident report paperwork can be overwhelming. If you feel like you’re drowning in post-injury obligations, you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney through a firm like Schwartzapfel Lawyers (www.fightingforyou.com/) to handle your claim.  

Here are some additional scenarios wherein you could use an attorney’s help: 

  • The employer or workers’ compensation board denies your accident claim
  • You are not receiving a response 
  • You have a pre-existing health condition 
  • The medical costs exceed the settlement payment

In these cases, an attorney can help set you back on your feet and win you the compensation you deserve for your damages. 

Now that you know whether it’s time to hire a lawyer, here are seven common examples of injuries that result in workers’ compensation claims. 

The seven most common workers’ compensation injuries 

Knowing the most common workplace injuries can help you determine if you need help from a professional. 

Slips, trips, and falls 

Slipping on wet surfaces or tripping over items can cause employees to fall and injure themselves. When these accidents happen, the worker can suffer broken bones or fractures, contusions, and even concussions. 

Sprains or strains 

Sprains or strains can happen when a person overexerts their body to perform movements like lifting and pulling. Often repetitive actions can also create strains on muscles, causing injury over time. 

Eye injuries

Without proper eye protection, an employee risks chemical splashes or other debris entering the eye, causing irritation, injury, or blindness. 

Motor vehicle or heavy equipment accidents 

Jobs where driving is required increase the chances for motor vehicle or heavy equipment accidents. Traffic incidents are common for many drivers who work under time pressure. At the same time, heavy equipment accidents will arise when there is no backup spotter or the driver does not follow current safety procedures. 

Lacerations and punctures 

Using sharp equipment without the proper protective equipment to perform job duties can result in lacerations and punctures to the skin. Other incidents can occur when an employee is rushing and does not use the tools correctly. 

Struck by an object 

Falling objects can strike a person and significantly injure them. For example, stock shelves piled too high or unsecured loads can topple over and hit workers, causing severe harm. Other incidents can include falling tools that are left unattended during the workday. 

Machinery accidents 

Industries wherein heavy operating machinery is the standard may see snagged clothing, crushed fingers, or other injuries such as burns. In addition, when employees do not follow proper procedures or wear the appropriate safety gear, workplace accidents become more devastating and more likely.

Before you go 

Knowledge of workplace injuries is the first step in prevention, and you should never feel like your job is more important than your physical wellbeing. 

If you hurt yourself at work, you should seek immediate medical attention and contact a workers’ compensation attorney to help manage your claim. Be safe, and don’t forget your lock-out tag-out procedures. 

Sudan’s Burhan says army ousted government to avoid civil war

Protesters block a road during what the information ministry calls a military coup in Khartoum, Sudan

Sudan’s armed forces chief defended the military’s seizure of power, saying he had ousted the government to avoid civil war, while protesters took to the streets on Tuesday to demonstrate against the takeover after a day of deadly clashes.

The military takeover on Monday brought a halt to Sudan’s transition to democracy, two years after a popular uprising toppled long-ruling Islamist autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

On Tuesday evening, the Sudanese Professionals Association group of trade unions said it had “reports of retaliatory attacks by coup forces on protesters’ gathering sites” in the capital Khartoum and other cities, “using bullets, and attempts to break through barricades”.

The Facebook page for the office of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, apparently still under the control of Hamdok loyalists, said a number of ministers and civilian politicians were still detained in unknown locations. Witnesses said unidentified people arrested Faiz al-Salik, a former media adviser to Hamdok.

Speaking at his first news conference since announcing the takeover, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said the army had no choice but to sideline politicians who were inciting against the armed forces.

“The dangers we witnessed last week could have led the country into civil war,” he said, an apparent reference to demonstrations against the prospect of a coup.

Hamdok, who was arrested on Monday along with other members of his Cabinet, had not been harmed and had been brought to Burhan’s own home, the general said. “The prime minister was in his house. However, we were afraid that he’d be in danger so he has been placed with me in my home.”

Later on Tuesday, a source close to Hamdok said he and his wife were at their home and under tight security. Family sources said they were unable to reach Hamdok or his wife by phone.

Burhan had appeared on TV on Monday to announce the dissolution of the Sovereign Council, a body set up after Bashir’s overthrow to share power between the military and civilians and lead Sudan to free elections.

Siddig Alsadig Almahdi of the Umma Party, which had a representative on the Sovereign Council, was arrested at his home, and activist Ismail Al-Tag, a lawyer who was active in the 2019 anti-Bashir protests, was also arrested, Foreign Minister Mariam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi told Al Jazeera TV.

Hamdok remains “the executive authority recognised by the Sudanese people and the world”, the Facebook post said, adding that there was no alternative other than protests, strikes and civil disobedience.

Sudanese ambassadors to 12 countries, including the United States, United Arab Emirates, China, and France, have rejected the military takeover, a diplomatic source said on Tuesday.

Ambassadors to Belgium and the European Union, Geneva and U.N. agencies, China, South Africa, Qatar, Kuwait, Turkey, Sweden and Canada also signed on to the statement, which said the envoys backed popular resistance to the coup.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is looking at a full range of economic tools to respond to the military takeover and has been in close contact with Gulf countries, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Western countries have denounced the coup, called for the detained Cabinet ministers to be freed and said they will cut off vital aid if the military does not restore power-sharing with civilians. The German mission to the United Nations said on Twitter that it was suspending aid until further notice.

The U.N. Security Council met on Sudan but there was no immediate statement, diplomats said. U.N. chief Antonio Guterres on Tuesday decried “an epidemic of coup d’états” as Sudan is the latest in a series of military takeovers in Myanmar, Mali and Guinea and attempted coups in several other countries.

SHOPS SHUT, PROTESTS FLARE IN CAPITAL

A health ministry official said seven people had been killed in clashes between protesters and the security forces on Monday.

Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman across the Nile River were partly locked down on Tuesday with shops shut and plumes of smoke rising from where protesters burned tyres. Calls for a general strike were played over mosque loudspeakers. Streets and bridges were blocked by soldiers or protester barricades.

The only people in the streets apart from protesters were security forces heavily deployed around the presidential palace and ministry of defence.

Banks and cash machines were also closed. Mobile phone apps widely used for money transfers could not be used.

“We are paying the price for this crisis,” a man in his 50s looking for medicine at one of the pharmacies where stocks have been running low said angrily. “We can’t work, we can’t find bread, there are no services, no money.”

A group of neighbourhood resistance committees in Khartoum announced a schedule of further barricades and protests leading to what it said would be a “march of millions” on Saturday.

Images on social media showed renewed street protests on Tuesday in the cities of Atbara, Dongola, Elobeid and Port Sudan.

The military appeared to have underestimated civilian opposition on the street, according to Jonas Horner of the International Crisis Group.

“They haven’t learned their lesson,” he said. “As we saw post the revolution and post-Bashir, the streets were determined and civilians were willing to die for this.”

Burhan said the military’s action did not amount to a coup.

“We only wanted to correct the course to a transition,” he said. “We had promised the people of Sudan and the entire world. We will protect this transition.” He said a new government would be formed that would contain no typical politicians.

Soon prepare your artwork as an NFT on Adobe Photoshop

(IANS) Software major Adobe is set to soon launch Photoshop with an option to prepare your artwork as an non-fungible token (NFT) which the creators can link it to their crypto wallet and help tackle NFT art theft.

Called ‘Content Credentials’, NFT sellers will be able to link the Adobe ID with their crypto wallet, allowing compatible NFT marketplaces to show that the art’s source is authentic, The Verge reported on Tuesday.

According to Adobe’s chief product officer Scott Belsky, this functionality will be built into Photoshop with a “prepare as NFT” option.

The functionality will be launched as a preview by the end of this month.

Adobe said that NFT marketplaces like OpenSea, Rarible, KnownOrigin, and SuperRare will be able to integrate with ‘Content Credentials’ to show Adobe’s attribution information.

NFTs are digital assets that have existed for years, but the last few months have given a fresh lease of life to cryptocurrency and crypto-art.

NFTs allow people to buy and sell ownership of unique digital items in cryptocurrencies, and keep track of who owns them using the Blockchain. NFTs can technically contain anything digital, including drawings, artworks, tweets, animated GIFs, songs, or even video games.

Cisco boosts its enterprise meet platform Webex to address hybrid work

(IANS) Networking giant Cisco on Tuesday announced significant new innovations across its meeting and collaboration platform Webex, the industry’s first and most comprehensive end-to-end hybrid work solution.

Cisco has launched more than 1,000 Webex innovations in the last 12 months and the new features spans advancements for the hybrid workforce, workplace, events, and IT teams.

“Our new Webex innovations mark a significant step forward in helping our customers unlock the potential of their hybrid workforces – enabling them to collaborate in new ways and drive inclusive experience,” said Jeetu Patel, EVP and GM, Cisco Security and Collaboration at ‘WebexOne 2021’.

Webex by Cisco is the leading enterprise solution for video conferencing, online meetings, screen share and webinars.

The Webex interoperability with Zoom, Microsoft and Google video communications platforms will ensure seamless collaboration with customers’ preferred platforms and devices.

Webex has also been optimised to ensure all participants can be heard, regardless of how far they are from a conference phone device.

“Speaker selectivity now differentiates intended speech from background noise to remove distracting sounds,” Cisco said.

New ‘People Focus’ camera capabilities, available in December, will provide better clarity and optimised visuals of in-room attendees’ facial gestures and body language.

Webex device camera intelligence enhancements in early 2022 are expected to further improve the view of people in meeting rooms, including showing conference room participants in individual boxes onscreen, regardless of meeting service.

The new Webex Desk Mini enables workers to easily create a workspace anywhere. It features a 15.6-inch interactive 1080p display, 64-degree HD camera, full-range speaker and background noise removal mic array.

“New Webex interoperability with other video technologies ensures seamless collaboration across customers’ preferred platforms and devices,” the company said.

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