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As countries around the world try to cut down on throw-away plastic shopping bags, Bangladesh is hoping to cash in on an alternative: plastic-like bags made from jute, the plant fiber used to produce burlap bags.
Bangladesh is the world’s second biggest producer of jute after India, though the so-called “golden fiber” — named for its color and its once-high price — has lost its sheen as demand has fallen.
Now, however, a Bangladeshi scientist has found a way to turn the fiber into low-cost biodegradable cellulose sheets that can be made into greener throw-away bags that look and feel much like plastic ones.
“The physical properties are quite similar,” said Mubarak Ahmad Khan, a scientific adviser to the state-run Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) and leader of the team that developed the new ‘sonali’ — the Bengali word for golden — bags. He said the sacks are biodegradable after three months buried in soil, and can also be recycled.
Bangladesh is now producing 2,000 of the bags a day on an experimental basis, but plans to scale up commercial production after signing an agreement last October with the British arm of a Japanese green packaging firm.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in March urged those working on the project “to help expedite the wider usage of the golden” bags for both economic and environmental gains. In April, the government approved about $900,000 in funding from Bangladesh’s own climate change trust fund to help pave the way for large-scale production of the bags.
“Once the project is in full swing, we hope to be able to produce the sonali bag commercially within six months,” Mamnur Rashid, the general manager of the BJMC, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Bangladesh was one of the first countries to ban the use of plastic and polythene bags, in 2002, in an effort to stop them collecting in waterways and on land — though the ban has had little success.
Today more than 60 countries — from China to France — have outlawed the bags in at least some regions or cities, Khan said. As the bans widen, more than 100 Bangladeshi and international firms are looking into using the new jute-based shopping sacks, Khan said.
“Every day I am receiving emails or phone calls from buyers from different countries,” he said, including Britain, Australia, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan and France.
The bag is likely to have “huge demand around the world,” said Sabuj Hossain, director of Dhaka-based export firm Eco Bangla Jute Limited. He said his company hopes eventually to export 10 million of the bags each month. Commercial production is expected to start near the end of the year, said Rashid of the BJMC.
Khan said that if all the jute produced in Bangladesh went to make the sacks, the country was still likely to be able to meet just a third of expected demand.
While Bangladesh’s own plastic bag ban is now almost two decades old, million of the bags are still used each year in the South Asian country because of a lack of available alternatives and limited enforcement, officials said.
About 410 million polythene bags are used in the capital Dhaka each month, the government estimates, and in some waterways such as the Buriganga River a three-meter-deep layer of discarded bags has built up.
The new bags should help ease the problem, said Quazi Sarwar Imtiaz Hashmi, a former deputy director general of the Department of Environment. “As jute polymer bags are totally biodegradable and decomposable, it will help check pollution,” he said. (VOA)
Ride-hailing major Uber has introduced a new in-app safety feature that will allow drivers as well as riders to record audio during trips.
Initially, the firm announced a feature called Audio Recording in Latin America as a way to make people using Uber there feel more safe. The feature is now available in more than a dozen countries throughout Latin America, including Brazil and Mexico.
"To help protect privacy, the audio file is encrypted and stored on the rider and driver's devices and by default no one can listen to the audio, including Uber. If either user submits a safety report to Uber, they can attach the audio file to their report," the company said in a statement.
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Once riders and drivers enable this feature, they can choose to record audio by tapping the shield icon on the map screen and selecting "Record Audio".
Riders and drivers can choose to record individual trips, and drivers will also have the option to leave the feature on while they are online.
Throughout Latin America this feature has been a popular way to promote safe, comfortable interactions while on a trip. For instance, nearly 70 per cent of riders and drivers surveyed in Rio de Janeiro told the brand this feature helped them feel safer when using Uber.
In addition, the company has expanded the capabilities of our RideCheck technology to detect when a trip takes an unexpected route or when a trip ends unexpectedly before the rider's final destination.
Uber first introduced RideCheck in 2019, using GPS data and sensors in the driver's smartphone to detect possible crashes or an unusually long stop during a trip.
Also read: Uber Redesignes its Uber Fleet App in India
Based on feedback from drivers, the firm will soon launch a new proactive, audio seat belt alert that reminds riders to buckle up at the start of a trip.
The audio alert will come from the driver's phone and will be accompanied by a push notification to the rider's phone reminding them to buckle up.
"We believe this new feature, which will be available nationally early next year, will increase seat belt use and help drivers ensure a safe environment while on a trip," the company noted.
Uber's new featureUnsplash
Keywords: Uber, Latin America, India
Special Powers For The Armed Forces Act Of 1958 is an act to allow personnel of the armed forces in the states of *[Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura] to be granted certain special powers in troubled regions.
In protest, Nagaland has decided to put the Hornbill Festival on hold. Furthermore, the SIT investigating the event has been given a month to finish its inquiry.
The Nagaland administration has decided to petition the Home Ministry to abolish the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the wake of the killing of 14 people by security forces (AFSPA). On Tuesday, the decision was made during a cabinet meeting presided by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.
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The Special Inquiry Team (SIT) that has been formed to investigate the event, would conclude its investigation within a month, according to the meeting. In response to the innocent fatalities, the government has decided to cancel the current Hornbill Festival. The venue's stalls will stay open, and the tourist bureau will stage a brief closing ceremony.
The 10-day Hornbill Festival, the state's major tourist event, was set to culminate on December 10 at Naga Heritage Village in Kisama, near the state capital. The day's event at the location had been cancelled by the state authorities on Monday.
Following the deaths in Mon district, several tribes from eastern Nagaland and other areas of the state halted all activity at their respective Morungs.
Security forces were in the middle of an ambush when the vehicle approached the location and tried to flee when signaled to stop by the forces. It being suspected of carrying insurgents, the security forces opened fire. Later on it came into light it was a case of mistaken identity and they were civilians who worked as coal mine workers and were coming home in a car. Out of the eight individuals in the vehicle, six died instantly. This sparked additional violence in the region, which resulted in the deaths of eight more individuals (seven on Saturday and one on Sunday) and one security personnel.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah expressed remorse to Parliament on Monday, saying that on December 4 evening, "a squad of 21 para-commandos of the Indian Army planned an ambush" for terrorists in Mon area, but that it "turned out to be a case of mistaken identification." "The Government of India offers its profound condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives," he continued.
The officer in-charge of the Tizit police station in Mon district filed a suo-motu FIR on Sunday alleging that the security forces' "intention" was "to murder and hurt people."
On December 4, the coal mine laborers who were from Oting village had been returning home from Tiru in a Bolero when, "on reaching Longkhao, between Upper Tiru and Oting villages, security forces blankly open fired at the vehicle without any provocation, resulting in the death of many Oting villagers and seriously injuring many others," according to a FIR filed by Ubi Posehu Kezo, the officer in charge of the Tizit police station.
According to the FIR, there was no police guide present at the time of the event, and security personnel did not "submit a demand to the police station to supply police guide for their operation." As a result, it is clear that the security forces' goal is to kill and hurt people."
The Army has expressed great remorse for the occurrence and has convened a Court of Inquiry into it.Unsplash
Also read: World-Famous Hornbill Festival From Nagaland
The Army has expressed great remorse for the occurrence and has convened a Court of Inquiry into it. "The reason for the tragic loss of lives is being probed at the highest level by a Court of Inquiry, and necessary action will be taken in accordance with the law," it stated.
Rio had joined a rising chorus of demands for the repeal of AFSPA, which provides security personnel exceptional powers in "disturbed regions," when attending the funeral of the 14 people in Mon town on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Konyak Union (KU), Nagaland's main tribal organisation, declared a day-long bandh in the Mon district on Tuesday to condemn the deaths, and a seven-day mourning period began the next day.
The KU has advised security troops to refrain from patrolling the Konyak region during the seven-day mourning period, warning that if they do not, they would be held accountable for "any unpleasant occurrence that may occur."
In a letter sent on Monday, the union asked President Ramnath Kovind to form a Special Investigation Team (SIT) "also comprising two members of the Eastern Nagaland People's Organisation (ENPO) in it" to identify the Army personnel involved in the incident and make public the actions taken against them within 30 days.
It asked that the 27 Assam Rifles leave Mon immediately for failing to safeguard residents, as well as the removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from the whole Northeast.
"On Tuesday, we declared a day-long bandh in Mon district. It is proceeding in a calm manner. We've also declared a seven-day mourning period beginning on Wednesday," Howing Konyak, head of the Konyak Union, told PTI.
(Keywords: Hornbill festival, Nagaland, AFSPA)
Samsung Electronics on Tuesday replaced all three CEOs in a surprise move that, the company said, was intended to enhance competitiveness and promote future growth.
Han Jong-hee was promoted to vice chairman and CEO and will be in charge of the newly created SET division, which merged the consumer electronics and IT and mobile communications divisions, previously led by Kim Hyun-suk and Koh Dong-jin, respectively.
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An expert in TV research and development, Han played a key role in bringing the company's TV business to the top position. Samsung said he is expected to "strengthen the synergies among the different businesses in the SET division and help drive new businesses and technologies." The device solutions (DS) division will be led by Kyung Kye-hyun, who has been Samsung Electro-Mechanics CEO.
Kyung is a semiconductor design expert, having previously led the company's flash product and technology team. Samsung said he is expected to "help maintain the company's semiconductor leadership and lead innovation in the components business."
Also Read : Samsung W22 5G was scheduled to Launch on Oct 13
Kim Ki-nam, vice chairman and head of the DS division, was named chairman of Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, reports Yonhap news agency.
The tech giant said in a statement the new appointments were made "for the next phase of the company's future growth and to strengthen its business competitiveness."
The reshuffle came as a surprise as it had been widely expected that the tech giant would keep its current division heads to ensure a stable management environment amid fierce global competition and potential risks associated with the ongoing trial of Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong over his role in controversial merger and accounting fraud allegations.
Lee did not get promoted to chairman of Samsung Electronics -- the crown jewel of Samsung Group. Unsplash
The three CEOs had been considered successful in leading the company to post stellar performances since 2018 and were endorsed to keep their posts during the annual shareholders meeting in Suwon, south of Seoul, in March.
But Lee, the de facto leader of the country's biggest conglomerate, Samsung Group, has hinted at making a sizable change to the company to "create a better Samsung." He also warned of the "harsh reality of the market" amid the global supply crunch and chip shortages.
The management reshuffle came a week after the company overhauled its position system and abolished the seniority-based top-down approach to nurture young talent and create a more flexible corporate culture. It scrapped mandatory years of working at certain positions, a precondition for possible promotion, and incorporated ranks to make the company structure more simplified and nimble.
Lee did not get promoted to chairman of Samsung Electronics -- the crown jewel of Samsung Group. He assumed the vice chairman position in December 2012. The chairman position has been left vacant since his father, Lee Kun-hee, died in October last year. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : Samsung, company, competitiveness, growth, technology, reshuffle, successful, chairman.)
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