21 Dec, 2020

News digest for 12/19-20/2020

St. Petersburg softened the law on “liqueurs”

Establishments in residential buildings with halls for visitors of at least 20 square meters will be able to sell alcohol until January 1, 2022. After this period, sales in buildings of 1957-1980 will be allowed if the hall is more than 50 “squares”, for other houses the requirements will not change.

The DPRK’s economy may fall by 10%

According to forecasts of South Korean experts, the country will face a recession comparable to the crisis of 1992, when the DPRK suffered from famine. The fall is accelerated by measures taken by the leadership to protect against the penetration of the coronavirus into North Korea. Due to restrictions on contacts, trade with the PRC fell by 75%.

The lawsuit against Google will not be considered until 2023

The US District Judge proposed September 12, 2023 as the date for the start of the antitrust case. None of the parties objected. Earlier, 38 states and territories of the country have sued the company for dominance in online search and digital advertising.

The draft on the condition of exemption from liability for corruption was submitted to the State Duma

The document establishes cases when officials will not be punished for violating anti-corruption prohibitions, if this happened due to circumstances beyond their control. These include natural disasters, fires, epidemics, or hostilities.

Tobacco companies accused of using child labor

The Leigh Day law firm has accused two large tobacco companies – British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco – of using child labor and keeping workers in hazardous conditions on plantations in Malawi. Reported by The Guardian.

  • Leigh Day filed a lawsuit with the High Court of London following an investigation by The Guardian published in 2018.
  • According to the lawsuit, the firms must pay compensation to 7,020 workers of tobacco farms, including children.
  • According to The Guardian, BAT and Imperial Tobacco had combined revenue of £ 12.5 billion in 2019.

Brazilian rainforests start emitting carbon dioxide

Climatologists found that Amazonian vegetation began emitting more CO2 than absorbing back in 2013. This may be due to a decrease in rainfall in all regions of Brazil and periodic heat waves.

Kiev appoints lawyers for Stalin in the case of deportation of Crimean Tatars

Official suspicion of Joseph Stalin and the People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs of the USSR Lavrenty Beria was announced by the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office in 2017. The criminal proceedings concern the forced resettlement of the Crimean Tatars in 1944. A pre-trial investigation is underway.

Azerbaijan closed land border with Russia until spring

Baku went to an extreme measure because of the sharply increased number of COVID-19 cases. The crossing will reopen on March 1, 2021. The state has already introduced strict quarantine on its territory. Until the end of January, people will be able to leave their homes only with SMS permissions.

The UK has chosen the best cities in Europe for quality of life

The study was conducted by real estate developer Essential Living. Air quality, environmental pollution, the number of green spaces, living conditions and life expectancy were assessed.

Tallinn topped the rating. The capital of Estonia has a low cost of living and a low crime rate. Public transport for citizens is free.

Bucharest and Lisbon are in second and third places, respectively.

The top ten also includes Dublin, Prague, Reykjavik, Paris, London, Helsinki and Zurich.

The capital of France turned out to be the greenest European city. Central highways are turned into promenades, and entire neighborhoods on Sundays become pedestrian zones.

Trump administration decided to close the US Consulate General in Russia

The administration of US President Donald Trump has notified Congress that it intends to close the last two remaining US Consulates General in Russia, the Associated Press reports, citing the text of the notice.

Pompeo called Russia an enemy of the United States

Typically, US officials refer to Russia as an adversary, not an enemy. Pompeo himself earlier this week called Russia a “real challenge” to the United States. The Secretary of State recalled the reports that appeared in the American media that Russia was allegedly involved in the recent cyber attacks

The Belarusian authorities plan to introduce a fee for leaving the country

In Belarus, a fee for crossing the border may be introduced when leaving the country in vehicles with a maximum weight of no more than 5 tons, said Finance Minister Yuri Seliverstov. The amount of the fee will be no more than three basic values ​​(about $ 32), the money will be sent to fight the pandemic

Vessel building Nord Stream 2 has changed ownership

As follows from the updated entry in the Russian International Register of Vessels (RMRS), the owner of the vessel is now KVT-Rus LLC. Previously, the owner of the barge was Universal Transport Group LLC, which acquired the vessel from the Hong Kong Strategic Mileage in early October 2020.

Scientists of the Russian Academy of Sciences have found out where the dirt comes from in large cities

Poor janitorial work, curbs collapsing, chaotic landscaping, and lawn parking are conditions for dirt to form in large cities. Such conclusions are contained in the study of ecologists of the Ural branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who studied mud in six large cities of Russia.

Scientists for a presidential grant have been studying residential areas in Yekaterinburg, Tyumen, Chelyabinsk, Murmansk, Nizhny Novgorod and Rostov-on-Don, writes Kommersant.

Chilean President fined for violation of mask regime

Chilean President Sebastian Piñera was fined $ 3.5 thousand for violating the mask regime in the country, Reuters reported. The Chilean leader reportedly posed for a picture on the beach with a passerby, removing his medical mask.

Limit the share of foreigners in online cinemas

A bill has been introduced to the State Duma prohibiting foreigners from owning a share of more than 20% in audiovisual services with a predominantly Russian audience, TASS reports. The initiative was initiated by the State Duma deputy Anton Gorelkin.

Charge for damage to roads from vehicles with temporary license plates

The Ministry of Transport proposed to finalize the rules for charging 12-ton trucks for road damage (Platon system) and specify that trucks with transit and foreign numbers must also pay. Now, according to the department, this provision is not specified enough. The draft resolution proposed to register such transport in the register of the Platon system on the basis of a vehicle registration certificate, an electronic passport or an extract, a document certifying the right to a car, an identification number.

Beethoven misused the metronome

Studies by Spanish scientists have shown that the great Ludwig van Beethoven could incorrectly read the metronome readings and, as a result, incorrectly indicate the pace of performance of his compositions. RIA Novosti drew attention to the unexpected publication in PLOS ONE magazine.

Warming Arctic could be caused by a series of earthquakes

Leopold Lobkovsky, head of the laboratory for geophysical research of the Arctic and continental margins of the world ocean at MIPT, suggested that these jumps could be caused by geodynamic factors – a series of mega-earthquakes in the Aleutian arc, which is the closest seismically active zone to the Arctic region.

Scientists have developed a technology to simulate touch for robots

This is reported by Science magazine. As an example, scientists have created a glove with which it was possible to accurately register the application of force when the operator pressed objects. Also, the glove was able to recognize the flexion of the operator’s fingers

The technology is based on the use of two fiber optic waveguides. One of them is painted. By measuring the intensity of the color change at the output with sensors, it is possible to track the extent to which the force is exerted on the waveguides.

Revealed a cellular connection between the nervous and immune systems

American scientists from the Harvard School of Medicine, the Broad Institute, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Ragon Institute found that in mice pain-sensitive neurons – structural and functional units of the nervous system – surround lymph nodes that act as a filter and cleanse the body of harmful compounds, and can regulate their activity

Formation of a collective of particles from almost nothing

Using a specially designed ultracold laser trap, physicists at the University of Heidelberg observed the quantum precursor of the transition from the normal to the superfluid phase, which made it possible to study the emergence of collective behavior of atoms and the limits of macroscopic systems

The surprising result of our experiment is that only six atoms show all the signs of the phase transition expected for a system of many particles, – said physicist Marvin Holten.

The degree of control gained by the researchers, they say, will be useful in the future for other studies, such as studying the thermalization process in quantum systems.

Astronomers have caught a radio signal from a planet near another star

An international team of scientists recorded a signal from the constellation Bootes. According to astronomers, if the data is confirmed, then the source of radio waves for the first time will be a planet orbiting another star. This is reported in an article published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics

NASA approves Bezos rocket for space launches

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has selected Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket as a potential candidate for space launches.

Robot dogs to explore the underground caves of Mars

Engineers have proposed exploring Mars with several dog-like robots. Their design is based on the Spot Mini robots, but each of the group members will be different from the others, have a role to play and help others. The main goal of the Mars Dogs project is to explore the rocks and caves of Mars, where robots with a wheeled chassis cannot access. The concept was presented at the AGU Fall Meeting.

White dwarfs help solve the “lithium problem” of cosmology

Scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Montreal were able to detect lithium in the atmosphere of a white dwarf using the spectrograph of the European Southern Observatory, as well as measure the content of this difficult to detect element. The discovery sheds light on the so-called “cosmological problem of lithium”, which consists in the discrepancy between the amount of lithium formed together with hydrogen and helium as a result of the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago, and the observed content of this element in the Universe, which is several times less than the theoretical … The article was published in the journal Science.

Scientists have solved the riddle of a giant structure near the Milky Way

German scientists have solved the mystery of the origin of the unusual cosmic structure, which is located above and below the Milky Way. This structure is called eROSITA bubbles, reports the journal Nature.

The eROSITA bubbles were detected by the eROSITA X-ray telescope of the same name. He recorded a huge accumulation of hot gas, which occupied most of the space in the southern hemisphere of the Earth. The structure resembles an hourglass in shape. Scientists at the University of Tübingen in Germany suggest that these bubbles may indicate the high activity of a supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy.

The largest intergalactic thread found

Matter is lacking in the usual nasm of the Universe. Scientists recently discovered where she might be hiding. These places turned out to be gas “bridges”, similar to filaments, which stretch for thousands and millions of light years between neighboring galaxies. These bridges consist of a very hot and rarefied gas. According to calculations, such filaments contain more than half of all baryonic matter in the Universe.

Astronomers have examined the object Abell 3391/95, which consists of three galaxy clusters and is located about 700 million light-years away. The eROSITA images show not only clusters and numerous individual galaxies, but also gas filaments connecting these structures. Their length turned out to be equal to 50 million light years.

WhatsApp will launch the function of voice and video calls on computers

Messenger WhatsApp will introduce voice and video calls to the desktop version of the app next year, Reuters reported, citing a company spokesman.

Porsche prints first electric motor housing on 3D printer

Porsche Corp. unveiled the first ever electric motor and transmission case using a 3D printer. Thanks to 3D printing technology, the engine is lighter yet stronger.

Microsoft plans to drop passwords

Microsoft plans to phase out passwords in its products in 2021 in favor of an interface that recognizes a fingerprint or a user’s face, and is working on new APIs for managing security keys based on the FIDO2 standard.

Microsoft said about 80 percent of cyber attacks are aimed at stealing passwords. In May 2020, 150 million people used the company’s technologies for passwordless login. People are ready to abandon the outdated protection model, Microsoft representatives expressed confidence.

Bank employee has access to confidential files

The specialists of the Varonis company studied cyber risks in the organizations of the financial sector. For this, experts analyzed 4 billion files in 56 financial institutions around the world. The list includes banks, insurance and investment companies based on a random sample of the results of a cyber risk audit (Data Risk Assessment).

Even employees in small organizations have unlimited freedom to view, copy, move, modify, and delete data on over 500,000 files — including nearly 20% of all files containing sensitive employee and customer data.

Paul McCartney released quarantined album

Musician Paul McCartney on Friday, December 18, presented to the public his new album “McCartney III”, which includes 11 tracks. The novelty is presented on all major streaming services. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the artist settled in his home studio in Sussex with his family.

Ringo Starr announced new music album featuring Paul McCartney

Former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr has released a fresh album featuring Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl and Finnias O’Connor. Ringo Starr worked on a new five-track “Zoom In” LP from April to October this year

Swiss parliament approves same-sex marriage

The Swiss parliament has approved a bill to allow same-sex marriage, according to La Tribune de Geneve. The final decision on the bill will be made by the Swiss themselves in a referendum.

Japanese Premier Apologizes For Suspending Go To Travel

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has apologized for his decision to suspend the Go To Travel domestic tourism support program from December 28 to January 11 due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Russia deployed MiG-31 fighters in Chukotka to control the Arctic

At the airfields of Chukotka, the MiG-31 interceptor fighters took over on duty. The Pacific Fleet of the Russian Federation reported that groups of MiG-31 aircraft of the naval aviation of the fleet took up combat duty in the Arctic from December 1.

We clearly understand the importance of this region for Russia, and that is why the appropriate infrastructure has been deployed at the Anadyr airfield, which will allow our forces to carry out continuous air defense duty.

US Air Force ramping up its latest F-35 fighter jets in Alaska

As reported by the Interfax agency with reference to the US Air Force, the number of the latest fifth-generation F-35A Lightning II multirole fighters deployed at Eilson Air Force Base in Alaska has reached 20 units.

Dodon returned the official status to the Russian language in Moldova

The current President of Moldova Igor Dodon signed a law that returned the status of a language of interethnic communication to Russian. In addition, the head of the republic lifted restrictions on the broadcasting of Russian channels. Dodon wrote about this on his Facebook page.

Bulgarian Foreign Ministry expels Russian diplomat on espionage charges

Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry expels a Russian diplomat from the country on charges of espionage. Military attache Vasily Sazanovich was given 72 hours to leave the country, otherwise the prosecutor’s office is ready to bring charges against him.

Lukashenko thanked the KGB for the development and stability of Belarus

The successful development of the country, harmony and stability in society largely depend on your daily strenuous activities to combat external military-political pressure, international terrorism and extremism, the head of Belarus said.

At risk when concluding loan agreements with banks

Half of the Russians are at risk when concluding loan agreements with banks according to different criteria, experts from the NAFI analytical center found out.

It turned out that 7% of the respondents signed the documents without reading the text at all, and 10% read the agreement, but put their signature under it, despite the fact that there were points they did not understand. The majority of respondents – 53% – usually read the loan agreement before signing it. If they do not understand something, then they turn to the employees of the same financial organization for advice. 15% in this case turn to other people or sources with questions.

With the assessment of the profitability of the loan, the situation is much worse – half of Russians said that they do not evaluate the proposals of different banks, but are content with one. The researchers note that such people run the risk of taking out a loan on the most unfavorable terms. 39%, when applying for a loan, did not study loan offers from other organizations, and 9% reported that at the time of issuing a loan there were no other offers.

Reducing the population of Russia

The total population of Russia from January 1 to the end of October 2020 decreased by 381.8 thousand people, or 0.3%, said Rosstat. The natural decline in the population (that is, the excess of the number of deaths over those born) in January-October reached 468 thousand people, which is almost twice the natural decline for the same period last year (259.6 thousand people).

The migration inflow compensated for the natural population decline in Russia by 18.4%. In January-October 2020, it amounted to 86.1 thousand people (for comparison: in January-October 2019, migration growth was 222.7 thousand).

Head of Roskosmos promised to “cure” the problems of the International Space Station

He suggested that problems at the station could be associated with micrometeorites that affect the hull, fatigue processes. “We will cure it, of course. But nevertheless I say again: the question will still arise that everything has its time. <…> The station in its old models begins to slowly tell us:” It’s time for me to retire. – said the head of the state corporation

SpaceX launches Falcon 9 launch vehicle with NROL-108 spacecraft

Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 launch vehicle with the NROL-108 spacecraft of the US National Defense and Space Intelligence Agency. The Falcon 9 rocket was launched from the Cape Canaveral Cosmodrome in Florida. Some time after takeoff, the first stage of the rocket returned to Earth.

The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation built a water pipeline in Sevastopol

As the ministry said, the water pipeline was built in 68 days, 10 thousand meters of pipes were laid from the Kadykovsky reservoir to the Chernaya river. Water supply will allow watering of adjacent vineyards and water supply of the respective enterprises, if necessary.

In Moscow, FSB officers detained an investigator of the Investigative Committee

The Investigative Committee, with the support of the FSB, detained employee Levon Aghajanyan, who was investigating a shootout in the Oko tower in the Moscow City complex in 2017. The investigator is suspected of changing the cartridge cases at the crime scene.

Miss Belarus-2008 Olga Khizhinkova was released

Olga Khizhinkova was detained on November 8 at an opposition rally in Minsk. She spent 42 days in custody and met her 34th birthday in custody.

Kyrgyzstan to receive free aid from Russia

Russia in 2021-2022 will allocate 623.4 million rubles to Kyrgyzstan to create a system for labeling goods. The corresponding order was signed by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. The website of the Cabinet notes that it is about “free technical assistance.”

A student from the United States violated quarantine abroad and for this she was sent to prison.

An 18-year-old college student from Georgia was sentenced to four months in prison in the Cayman Islands for violating the COVID-19 protocol.

Microsoft is working on creating its own chips

Microsoft is working to create its own processors for use in server computers that run the company’s cloud services, which will reduce dependence on Intel Corp. chips, Bloomberg writes.