Miscellany

Miscellany

Blockchain guarantee for diamond’s purity

Anglo American’s diamond unit De Beers aims to launch the first industry-wide blockchain this year to track gems each time they change hands starting from the moment they are dug from the ground, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond producer by the value of its gems, has led industry efforts to verify the authenticity of diamonds and ensure they are not from conflict zones where gems could be used to finance violence.

New licencing system for contract staffing firms on cards

The government is in the process of bringing in licensing system for contract staffing companies by amending the Contract Labour Act. This would pave for the growth of the organised temporary staffing companies, which currently account for less than 10 per cent of the staffing activity.

The labour ministry has been conducting discussions with trade unions, contract staffing companies and industry bodies on this. The industry expects a licensing system to be introduced in a quarter or two. 

NRI Yusuffali acquires iconic Scottish hotel

Leading NRI businessman Yusuffali MA has acquired an iconic Scottish hotel based in Edinburgh in a $120 million deal clinched by Twenty14 Holdings (T14H), the hospitality investment arm of his Abu Dhabi headquartered Lulu Group International. The Caledonian, a grand Edwardian hotel overlooking Edinburgh Castle, joins his portfolio of $650 million worth of luxury properties across the UK, the Middle East and India.

America’s fastest spy plane may be back – and hypersonic

For years, Lockheed Martin Corp. has been developing a successor to one of the fastest aircraft the world has ever seen, the SR-71 Blackbird, the Cold War reconnaissance craft that the US Air Force retired almost three decades ago. Lockheed officials have said the hypersonic SR-72—dubbed the “Son of Blackbird” by one trade journal—could fly by 2030.

End of a chip boom?

After a blistering year-and-a-half long surge, a sudden drop in some memory prices, followed by Samsung Electronics Co’s disappointing profit estimate, is causing jitters among investors who had bet the chip boom would last at least another year.

Amid news that the market has started losing some steam-prices of high-end flash memory chips, which are widely used in smartphones, dropped nearly five per cent in the fourth quarter-some analysts now expect the industry’s growth rate will fall by more than half this year to 30 per cent.

China is winning its war on air pollution, at least in Beijing

Concentrations of PM2.5 -- the tiny particles that pose the greatest health risks -- plunged 33 per cent from a year earlier in the fourth quarter across Beijing, Tianjin and 26 surrounding cities, Greenpeace East Asia said in a report Thursday. Levels in the capital alone tumbled 54 per cent. The drops come after government policies last year forced millions of homes and businesses to switch from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas.

Speeding caused 67% of road accidents in 2016

In India, more than 150,000 people are killed each year in traffic accidents. That’s about 400 fatalities a day and far higher than developed auto markets like the US, which in 2016 logged about 40,000.

Young India’s new aspiration: Exploring Planet Earth

A three-night stay in an ice house in Greenland; a fortnight’s expedition to the Himalayas; deep sea diving in Costa Rica or a visit to Great Barrier Reef in Australia to explore coral reef; watching the spectacular Northern Lights in Norway; signing up for a shepherding job in a rural French village for a week; a week-long green-bathing on a coffee plantation in Chikmagalur or joining a tribal in wild honey hunt in the Wynad forests.

Young India’s new aspiration: Exploring Planet Earth

A three-night stay in an ice house in Greenland; a fortnight’s expedition to the Himalayas; deep sea diving in Costa Rica or a visit to Great Barrier Reef in Australia to explore coral reef; watching the spectacular Northern Lights in Norway; signing up for a shepherding job in a rural French village for a week; a week-long green-bathing on a coffee plantation in Chikmagalur or joining a tribal in wild honey hunt in the Wynad forests.

Digital assistants duel for dominance at CES

Virtual aides battled to rule “smart homes” on the eve of the official opening of the Consumer Electronics show gadget gala here. Samsung, LG Electronics, Panasonic and others touted a future in which homes, cars and pockets brim with technology that collaborates to make lives easier.

Google and Amazon are key players in the trend, with their rival Assistant and Alexa voice-commanded virtual aides being woven deeper into consumer electronics and vehicles. Samsung meanwhile is playing catch-up with its Bixby assistant.

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