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Oil leases in Alaska’s Arctic refuge will be suspended, according to US President Joe Biden.



According to two people briefed on the administration’s strategy, the Biden administration is suspending oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as it assesses the environmental effects of fracking in the remote area that has been the subject of decades of political debate.

The order from the Interior Department was expected to be released later Tuesday. It comes after President Joe Biden placed a temporary ban on oil and gas lease operations on his first day in office. Biden’s executive order from January 20 indicated that a new environmental analysis was required to correct potential legal loopholes in a fracking policy approved by the Trump administration under a 2017 law passed by Congress.

Since the proposal had not been publicly announced, those briefed on it requested anonymity.

Polar bears, caribou, snowy owls, and other animals, as well as migrating birds from six continents, call the 19.6 million-acre refuge home. Republicans and the oil industry have long sought to drill in the wildlife sanctuary, which the Indigenous Gwich’in regard as sacred. Democrats, environmentalists, and several Alaska Native tribes have all attempted to stop it.

On Jan.6, two weeks before Biden took office, the US Bureau of Land Management, an Interior Department agency, conducted a lease sale for the refuge’s coastal plain. The agency signed leases for nine tracts covering nearly 685 square miles eight days later (1,770 square kilometers). However, former President Donald Trump did not officially disclose the leases’ issuance until January 19.

Biden has spoken out against fracking in the region, and environmentalists have pushed for permanent safeguards, which Biden advocated for during his presidential campaign.

The suspension of the leases comes after administration officials frustrated environmental activists last week when they defended a Trump administration decision to approve a major oil project on Alaska’s North Slope. Critics argue that the decision contradicts Biden’s promises to fix climate change.

In a court filing, the Justice Department claimed that critics of the Willow project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska were attempting to halt construction by “cherry-picking” federal agency documents to report environmental review law violations. The filing defends the assessments that led to the approval of project plans last fall.

A consortium of organisations has filed a lawsuit to overturn Trump’s approval. Earlier this year, an appeals court suspended some building operations, and the parties in the case later decided to hold the restrictions in effect until December 1 while the underlying case was still being heard.

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4 important Indian space exploration milestones in 2022



D V L S Pranathi, Mumbai Uncensored, 3rd January, 2023:

2022 was genuinely a historic one for space exploration. While we witnessed NASA successfully accomplish the Artemis 1 mission to return people to the Moon, we also saw the James Webb Space Telescope give us a treat to the eyes by showing insights into the previously unimaginable views of the cosmos.

Using its Launch Vehicle Mark III (LVM3) rocket, formerly known as the GSLV-MK3, the Indian Space Research Organization launched its first commercial satellite. It also accomplished the pretty underrated Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLVfirst ) ’s flight. Still, it was a sting in the tail because the rocket accidentally injected three satellites into the wrong orbit due to a sensor malfunction, making the mission only a fragmentary success.

2022 was an incredible year for private space technology firms in India. India launched its first privately made satellite vehicle on the Prarambh mission, carried out by Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace. Chennai-based Agnikul Cosmos successfully tested the Agnikul launch vehicle, which has the world’s first single-piece 3D-printed rocket engine. The four most significant events in Indian space exploration in 2022 are listed below.

ISRO SSLV’s Maiden Flight

The launch of the first SSLV satellite was a massive milestone for the organization. The satellite was made keeping the Allied market research in mind, which states that the global small satellite market will reach 13.7 billion dollars by 2023. With the rapid turnaround time necessary for commercial launches, it combines three solid fuel-based stages and a liquid fuel-based velocity-trimming module (VTM) to deploy the satellites in orbit. The vehicle could be integrated and tested in two days, according to ISRO Chairman S Somanath. After that, the launch using the vehicle could be accomplished within a week if rehearsal and launch were completed within the next two days.

The SSLV-D1 mission was successfully launched on August 8 of this year. However, after that, the mission control room was hushed since there had been a few data losses during the mission’s final stages. The satellites were later found to be in an elliptical orbit rather than a circular one leading to them being declared useless.

“SSLV-D1 placed the satellites into 356 km x 76 km elliptical orbit instead of 356 km circular orbit. Satellites are no longer usable. The issue is reasonably identified. Failure of logic to identify a sensor failure and go for a salvage action caused the deviation. A committee would analyze and recommend. With the implementation of the recommendations, ISRO will come back soon with SSLV-D2,” said a statement from ISRO at the time. (sourced from the Indian Express)

Despite all the setbacks, the mission still turned out to be a partial success as it helped ISRO test any new elements and technologies that were incorporated into the rocket, including the hardware and the entire architecture.

LVM3’s first commercial mission

This mission was an absolute skyrocket for ISRO in 2022, quite literally. It was ISRO’s heaviest rocket and successfully injected 36 broadband satellites for the UK-based satellite internet company OneWeb. Since it was the first commercial launch of such a Complex mission, it marked many firsts for ISRO.

Additionally, it was the first time that LVM3 carried several satellites and orbited them. It was also the most significant payload that ISRO has ever launched, at 5.8 tons. On October 23, LVM3 launched after midnight from the second Launchpad of the Sriharikota spaceport, successfully putting 16 satellites into orbit and making sure they wouldn’t collide. Before that, Chandrayaan 2 was launched, and two development flights with LVM3 were successful.

The significance of LVM3’s string of successful launches extends beyond simply establishing India as a competitive competitor in the commercial satellite launch market. The Gaganyaan mission will send Indian astronauts into space, and ISRO is now working to human-rate the launch vehicle. India will become the fourth nation to launch crewed spacecraft thanks to the Gaganyaan mission, following the United States, Russia, and China.

Launch of Vikram S

Vikram S rocket was Skyroot Aerospace’s first private rocket launch in the country. It was launched from the Launchpad at Sriharikota at 11:30 am on November 18. It was a sub-orbital launch with the spacecraft traveling slower than the orbital velocity. This indicates that the spacecraft reached outer space but did not remain in orbit around the earth lasting lesser than five minutes. This series of rockets has been named after Vikram Sarabhai, the founder of the Indian Space program.

The engine launch pays homage to another great Indian scientist, APJ Abdul Kalam, and is named “Kalam-80”. The core structure of the satellite was made using carbon composites, and the thrusters used for spin stability were 3-D printed. Vikram S’s launch opened the door for Indian private space enterprises to take over some of the historical work done by ISRO, such as satellite launches.

First 3D-printed single-piece rocket engine:
Even though Skyroot is a groundbreaking Indian Tech startup, Agnikul, a Chennai- based startup, managed to overpower it by successfully test-firing Agnilet. This was its 3-D printed rocket engine at Thiruvananthapuram’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. It is the world’s first single-piece 3-D printed rocket engine. It is intended to launch payloads up to 300 kg into low-Earth orbit along with the company’s proposed small satellite launch vehicle, Agnibaan, which is now in development. Agnilet is a “semi-cryogenic” rocket engine powered by a mixture of liquid kerosene at room temperature and super cold liquid oxygen.

At the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, the startup also inaugurated India’s first private Launchpad and mission control center in November. The Launchpad is four kilometers from the mission control center and is built to allow and assist liquid-stage controlled launches. Shortly, Agnikul intends to use this facility to launch the Agnibaan rocket.

India has once again succeeded in spellbinding the globe with its impressive technology and all the geniuses who sacrificed their time and energy and put in every drop of their sweat and blood to accomplish each of these milestones.


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Gunman shot dead after killing three in Indiana Mall



Khushi Thapa, 18th July 2022:

Three people were killed after a gunman began firing in the food court of a mall near Indianapolis on Sunday, according to Greenwood Police Chief Jim Ison. The shooter was then shot and killed by a bystander.

The attack happened in the early evening at Greenwood Park Mall, according to the Indianapolis Star, and two other people were hurt.

“The real hero of the day is the citizen that was lawfully carrying a firearm in that food court and was able to stop the shooter almost as soon as he began,” Ison told reporters. He identified the armed bystander as a 22-year-old male.

According to the newspaper, the gunman was alone and had a firearm and numerous magazines of ammunition.

The names of the victims, the shooter, and the bystander were withheld by the police. At the sound of gunfire, shoppers and mall personnel fled or concealed themselves.

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Why Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has suddenly decided to resign?



Tista Karmakar, Mumbai Uncensored, 16th July 2022:

The Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has announced that he will resign from his position after the Five Star Movement (M5S) on Thursday July 14 hinting at a political crisis paving its way for early elections. 

To his statement Mr. Draghi said, “The pact of trust underlying the government has failed. In recent days there has been the utmost commitment on my part to continue on the common path, also trying to meet the needs that have been advanced to me by the political forces. As is evident from today’s debate and vote in parliament, this effort was not enough. From my inauguration speech I have always said that this executive would only go forward if there was a clear prospect of being able to carry out the government programme on which the political forces had voted their confidence. This compactness was fundamental to face the challenges of these months. These conditions no longer exist.” 

In 2021 a surge of political change happened in response to the previous year’s COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The whole nation went through a state of emergency forced by the government of Guiseppe Conte, supported by the M5S, the Democratic Party (PD), a small left party, and Italia Viva. However, after the pandemic hit Italy, Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva distanced itself from the government in December 2020 leading to its fall in February, 2021. 

The former governor of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi led the establishment of a national unity government and was widely supported by all major party members except a post-fascist and a small left party. 

The former European Central Bank chief Draghi has met the president, Sergio Mattarella over the issue of his resignation. However, Mr. Mattarella rejected Draghi’s resignation on Thursday night and at the same time advised him to address the parliament in order to get the support he needed.   

Mr. Draghi has announced his resignation on Thursday after the populist coalition ally the M5S refused to support a key bill of the government. Reportedly the Draghi government formed in allyship of this populist, the left, the right, and the central parties in February 2021 right after Italy stumbled into the corona virus crisis. 

Draghi and his government won a confidence vote of 172-39 to pass the bill in the Senate despite the M5S’s refusal. The bill provides support of 26 billion euros to the consumer and industries struggling with the energy crisis. The bill also included a provision for allowing the construction of a huge incinerator for Rome’s rubbish management project which was highly opposed by the M5S. 

Mr. Draghi addressed the issue of the populist M5S’s disinterest in the bill by saying, “The majority of national unity that has sustained this government from its creation doesn’t exist any more.” To which the president advised Mr. Draghi to reach parliament in order to get the solid support he needs the most. 

However, if Mr. Draghi fails to gain support from the parliament to carry out his economic reform, president Mattarella can call for an early election in late September since the current parliament’s term expires on 2023. 

The M5S has lost its significance in the recent local elections and strolled in opinion polls. The populist party has also cleared their stance by being in opposition to the economic reform bill. A pro-Europe party leader said criticizing the M5S’s opposition, “is not like picking up a menu and deciding, antipasto, no, gelato, yes.” Whereas the Draghi government has been efficiently performing throughout the pandemic via the virtual medium. So, the Draghi government has become a pivotal figure in Europe amid the Russia-Ukraine war and the economic crisis. Some politicians say that Draghi’s decision to resign or not is important following the unfortunate departure of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The whole of Europe will be looking after Italy in the coming weeks.

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