Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 05 July 2023

Environmental friendly cremation

GS Paper - 2 (Environment)

UK’s largest cremation provider Co-operative Funeralcare has come out with a plan to offer its customers water cremation or resomation. It is quite popular in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa. South African archbishop and Nobel Laureate for Peace, Desmond Tutu was resomated. Now a U.K. provider has floated this idea in Britain.

What is water cremation?

  • Water cremation is a process of cremation in which the body of the deceased is put in a biodegradable pouch, which is put in a container with pressurized water and potassium hydroxide.
  • The tissues and cells of the body are converted into a watery solution. The bonesdental implantsprosthetics, and other hard things are left in sterile water.
  • These remnants are dried, crushed, and reduced to a powder that can be taken by the relatives in an urn.

Why is it Environment Friendly?

  • Water cremation is also called hydro cremationbio cremationalkaline hydrolysisresomation, or ‘boiled in the bag’.
  • It is eco-friendly as it does not release toxic gases in the air, or pollute water.
  • In traditional cremation in which bodies are burnt to ashes, carbon dioxide and toxic gases are released into the air, when a body is buried in the ground, there is a possibility of water contamination. No space or coffin is needed in water cremation.


Carbon molecules detected in space matters

GS Paper - 2 (Science and Technology)

The CH3+ molecule, which is also known as methyl cation, has been detected in space for the first time by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The preliminary unedited results were published on 26 June 2023, in the journal Nature. Organic molecules are carbon based. They contain carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms but can also bond to other elements, such as oxygennitrogen or phosphorus. Everything that makes us and all life on Earth is carbon based.

Why is it Important?

  • One of the most important unsolved problems of modern science is: How did life arise from non-living matter?
  • We still don’t know but we have a good idea of what the required steps are, for instance, the formations of complex organic molecules, like amino acids, from simpler ones, like CH3+, or methylium.
  • CH3+ is a very simple organic molecule just one carbon atom and 3 hydrogen atoms. But it reacts with other molecules to form more complex ones. Its presence in space tells us that basic building blocks for life are out there.
  • This CH3+ is an initiator of a lot of very interesting more complex reactions,” said Stephan Schlemmer, a professor of experimental physics at Cologne University in Germany. Schlemmer was part of an international team that worked on the latest findings.

Looking for molecular fingerprints in space

  • Scientists found the fingerprints of the CH3+ molecule in light coming from a swirling disk of dust and gas around a young star. The disk is in the Orion Nebula1,350 light years from Earth.
  • The Orion Nebula is visible to the naked eye although you may only see a dot on Orion’s sword slightly below the belt.
  • Visible light is just a fraction of the whole picture. But every atom and molecule absorbs or emits light uniquely, with its own specific color palette.
  • For example, hydrogen, the simplest of atoms, when excited, emits a red glow, and if you view it through a prism, you will see four characteristic lines that make up its spectrum.
  • Scientists call this technique spectroscopy and in space they use the James Webb Space Telescope to do it.


France’s street violence

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

After the police killed a teenager in a Parisian suburb on 27 June 2023, protests — often violent — spread across France. Protesters demanded justice for Nahel, the 17-year old of Algerian descent who was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop. Almost 50,000 police personnel were deployed in the streets over the weekend, and police have so far arrested close to 3,000 alleged rioters.

Discrimination despite diversity

  • The protesters allege Nahel’s death is symptomatic of the systemic racismin French policing..
  • According to The Defender of Rights, an advocacy group in France, young men who are Blackor perceived to be of North African descent, are 20 times more likely to be subjected to police identity checks than the rest of the population.
  • Since a 2017 law allowed police to use firearmsin case of non-compliance during traffic stops, fatal shootings by officers have shot up, with 2022 witnessing a record 13 such shootings. The majority of victims of these shootings since 2017 have been black or of Arab origin, Reuters reported.
  • This is despite France being one of the most racially and ethnically diverse countriesin Europe.
  • While exact information on France’s ethnic compositionis unavailable due to a 1978 law which prevents the state from collecting such data in its censuses, a 2022 study by Ined, France’s state-run institute for demographic studies, said at least 32 percent of France’s population under 60 has at least one immigrant ancestor.
  • The study also said that 83 per cent of people under 18who have at least one immigrant parent trace their origins to countries outside Europe, especially Africa.
  • Algeria, the North African nationto which Nahel’s family traces its roots, was once a prized French colony.

The French African colonies

  • The formal French presence in Africabegan with the capture of Madagascar in 1642 and establishment of a port at Saint-Louis (present-day Senegal) in 1659.
  • This was primarily fuelled by France’s desire to secure access to commoditiessuch as gum arabic and groundnuts, and for a share in the spoils of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
  • Over the next century and a half, French Africanholdings remained largely restricted to the west coast and some islands.
  • France’s global empire, which at one time stretched from parts of present-day United States and Canadaand the Caribbean (Haiti) to parts of India’s east coast, suffered a setback with defeats at the hands of the British in the early 19th century.
  • second phase of French colonisation beganwith the invasion of Algiers in 1830 — and was largely focussed on Africa (French Indo-china or present-day Vietnam being the most notable exception).
  • Over the following century, France expanded its footprintacross the continent and, by the early years of the twentieth century, held present day AlgeriaMoroccoSenegalMaliBurkina FasoBeninGuineaIvory Coast and Niger.
  • After the end of World War II, nationalist movements swept through the colonies. After a phase of political instabilityviolence, and bloodshed in the 1950s, almost all of France’s African colonies achieved independence by 1962.

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