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Animals Are “Overengineered” for Navigation

first_imgAnimals outshine us in many ways, but one capability that should humble us is animal navigation.  From spiders to mice, from birds to bees, the ability of animals to find their way around is truly astonishing, and James L. Gould of Princeton has raised our awareness of just how astonishing in a short article in Current Biology (March 23, 2004).1    He starts by explaining that navigation is more than just knowing which way you are pointed: “Nearly all animals move in an oriented way,” he says, “but navigation is something more: the directed movement toward a goal, as opposed to steering toward or away from, say, light or gravity.  Navigation involves the neural processing of sensory inputs to determine a direction and perhaps distance.”  As an example, he mentions how honeybees have to correct for the angle of the sun from morning to afternoon.  This involves much more than orienting at a fixed angle.  The bee has to use changing sensory information to maintain its internal map.    Gould mentions four stumbling blocks that prevented early investigators from appreciating the navigational abilities of animals.  Researchers apparently assumed natural selection was sufficient to explain it all.  He writes, “Several trends reflecting favorably on natural selection and poorly on human imagination characterized early studies of navigation.”  The stumbling blocks investigators have had to get over include:Spectral Breadth:  Early researchers assumed that animals were limited to our own human senses, but found out they can utilize a shopping list of cues invisible to us: ultraviolet light, infrared light, magnetic fields, electric fields, chemical pheromones, ultrasonic sounds and infrasonic sounds.  We were “blind to our own blindness,” he says, “and there is no reason to assume the list is complete.”Complexity: Another “crippling tendency” of early investigators was “what navigation pioneer Donald Griffin called our innate ‘simplicity filter’: the desire to believe that animals do things in the least complex way possible.”  Perhaps it was from our own pride of place, but according to Gould, we should be humbled:Experience, however, tells us that animals whose lives depend on accurate navigation are uniformly overengineered.  Not only do they frequently wring more information out of the cues that surround them than we can, or use more exotic or weaker cues than we find conceivable, they usually come equipped with alternative strategies – a series of backups between which they switch depending on which is providing the most reliable information.Recalibration:  Early studies assumed animals just needed to learn a trick once (a phenomenon called imprinting, true in some short-lived animals.)  Then they found out that some animals are able to recalibrate their instruments.Cognition:  The school of psychology known as behaviorism, which denies instinct, “puts a ceiling on the maximum level of mental activity subject to legitimate investigation,” Gould chides.  As a result of this bias, “most researchers deliberately ignored or denigrated the evidence for cognitive processing in navigating animals.”  Not all animals exhibit cognitive intervention, Gould admits.  But he then makes a very unDarwinian countercharge: “However, the obvious abilities of hunting spiders and honey bees to plan novel routes make it equally clear that phylogenetic distance to humans is no sure guide to the sophistication of a species’ orientation strategies.”    He gives an example: “One of the problems we inherited from behaviorism was the assumption that exploratory behavior must be rewarded.  However, many species examine their surroundings voluntarily and, in fact, do so in detail.”  (See example on mice below.)Let’s look at just a few of the “believe it or not” examples Gould showcases in the article:Honeybees:  Here is an example of switching inputs to get the most reliable information.  “A honey bee, for instance, may set off for a goal using its time-compensated sun compass.  When a cloud covers the sun, it may change to inferring the sun’s position from UV patterns in the sky and opt a minute later for a map-like strategy when it encounters a distinctive landmark.  Lastly, it may ignore all of these cues as it gets close enough to its goal to detect the odors or visual cues provided by the flowers.”Mice:  Here is an example of the “overengineering” Gould spoke of.  Many field animals, like mice, have a strong drive to acquire information about their home range in advance of need, whether or not (as behaviorism would expect) they get an immediate reward.  “Consider mice,” he says,which not only gallop endlessly in running wheels, but actually prefer difficulty, such as square ‘wheels’, or wheels with barriers that must be jumped.  Given a 430 meter long opaque three-dimensional maze of pipes, mice will work out the shortest path within three days, and without reward.Navigation requires determining direction:This can be achieved in two ways, and mice use both: they can use another landmark from their mental map and triangulate the direction of the goal, or they can use a landmark-independent compass like the earth’s magnetic field.–and they never joined the boy scouts.  What’s more, mice “can also navigate perfectly well, even if the habitat fails to provide useful landmarks.  They will remember the direction and length of each leg of their outward journey and integrate the result when they are ready to return and set off home,” even without a trail of bread crumbs. Pigeons:  Daytime provides celestial cues.  “…once the relationship between azimuth and time of day is memorized,” Gould says, “the animal has a highly accurate compass.”  We’ve all heard about the navigational feats of homing pigeons.  They can discern ultraviolet (UV) light, which accentuates polarization patterns of scattered sunlight, for drawing their mental map, and add to it individual data points like “the average of a night’s attempts to escape from a cage, or some other directional measure.”  The cues help them derive a mean vector, with direction pointing to the goal, and length representing scatter.  When all the cues line up, they’ve got their bearing.Migratory birds:  Birds who migrate between nesting grounds and wintering grounds can use sun cues, star cues, magnetic fields and landmarks to find their way.  Not only that, they can recalibrate the cues for seasonal changes, latitude, and longitude.  This requires recalibration:To infer the pole point through broken clouds, the animal’s map of the sky must be updated.  And as the migrants move south in the fall, new sets of stars in the southern sky appear, while northern stars slip below the horizon.  Clearly, changes in both season and latitude make relearning the stars essential.  Only fairly recently has this constant updating been demonstrated.”In fact, for unknown reasons, “nocturnal migrants calibrate their star pole to the magnetic pole.  Instead of simply taking the pole point as the true guide, the birds constantly recalibrate the magnetic pole to the geographic pole, and then the geographic pole to the magnetic pole.”Latitude: Fish, turtles, lobsters, and birds all determine their latitude by the angle of the magnetic field.  “In theory,” Gould says, “animals could obtain the same information from the sun’s noon elevation, but I know of no case in which this traditional human solution is used.”  The critters must know something we don’t.Longitude: house wrens, pigeons, sharks, salmon, sea turtles and spiny lobsters have all conquered a navigational problem that “bedeviled human navigators until very recently,” the problem of determining longitude.  How do they know distance east from west?  How can house wrens find their way back, unerringly, to the same nest box after a long flight at a different time of year from when they left?  “The apparent answer to this conundrum is provided by a map sense,” Gould answers.  The earth’s magnetic field provides both a map and a compass – just the tools you would need if released in an unfamiliar area. Pigeons again:  When homing pigeons circle around before heading home, they are reading the local map of magnetic gradients and extrapolating it from the one they learned at home.  How do pigeons detect the earth’s magnetic field?  They actually have magnetite grains in their heads, in the ethymoid sinus.  Experiments have shown that magnetic anomalies make the birds disoriented.  A sharp pulse of magnetism can severely impair their compass.  But remagnetize the organ by putting it into a magnetic field, and the bird is back to normalGould ends by pointing out two of the biggest challenges to researchers studying animal navigation: (1) the nature of the map sense, and (2) the issue of recalibration, which is still puzzling.  “The interaction of these specific learning programs,” he promises, “doubtlessly holds many magnificent secrets.” 1James L. Gould, “Magazine: Animal Navigation,” Current BiologyVol 14, R221-R224, 23 March 2004.Wow.  Thank you, Dr. Gould.  This article contains absolutely no hints about how such abilities could have evolved; in fact, it contains a couple of off-handed swipes at the notion that natural selection could explain them, or that skill correlates with “phylogenetic distance.”  This is surprising, considering that James L. Gould is a member of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton.  It could just as well have been written by Dr. Gary Parker at the Institute for Creation Research.  It’s a wonder the editors of Current Biology let this one get by without the required pinch of incense to Emperor Charlie.    Notice that these highly refined and accurate navigational skills are possessed by a wide variety of animals: mammals (e.g., mice), insects (e.g., Monarch butterflies — see 05/23/2003 and 07/09/2002 headlines), birds (e.g., Pacific golden plovers, which can navigate over open sea to the Hawaiian islands without having ever seen them), reptiles (e.g., sea turtles), crustaceans (e.g., lobsters), and fish (e.g., salmon).  Skill does not scale with presumed evolutionary advancement: for instance, the spiny lobster wins the prize for magnetic mapping (see 01/06/2003 headline).  Even bacteria and plants can orient themselves with respect to environmental cues.  Humans were given ability to build tools that can navigate a spacecraft to Saturn, but we must surely stand in awe of a God who could put technology that outperforms NASA into a bird brain.  This article goes to show that the film “Incredible Creatures That Defy Evolution” could become an infinite series.  Click your way back through the “Amazing” chain links for many more examples.(Visited 22 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

African nations seeks ways to stop flow of refugees to South Africa

first_img10 November 2014A three-day Migration Dialogue conference was organised by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Tanzania from 7 November 2014, to respond to the ever-evolving and complex dynamics of migration flows from the Horn of Africa, through Kenya and Tanzania to South Africa.Some 24 senior representatives from the governments of Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Ethiopia, and from IOM and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), met in Zanzibar to discuss the migration challenges facing the region and how to address them. The event was funded by Japan, as part of IOM’s Voluntary Return Assistance to Migrants in Tanzania project.International migratory movements in Africa have become more complex and mixed in recent years, with flows comprising asylum seekers, refugees and irregular migrants. The exodus of migrants from the Horn of Africa (mainly Ethiopia) to South Africa is a central issue.Each year, thousands of mainly young Ethiopians risk their lives in an attempt to reach South Africa, where they hope to establish better lives for themselves and their families. Migrants often sacrifice their life savings to pay smugglers amounts of up to $4 000 (about R45 000) to facilitate the journey.Human smuggling has become a thriving multi-billion dollar industry, which feeds off people’s desperation to improve their lives. Migrants are loaded into trucks by smugglers or left in “safe” houses in the jungle in Tanzania for days or weeks without food or water. Kenya and Tanzania are significant transit countries and many migrants are intercepted by the authorities en route.“Migrants are above all human beings and have the same human rights as anyone else. They should not be exposed to situations in which their lives are threatened. But the root causes of migration from the Horn to South Africa must be addressed by the governments concerned in order to come up with sustainable solutions to this migration crisis,” said Damien Thuriaux, IOM’s chief of mission in Tanzania.The meeting followed a 2010 regional conference on refugee protection and international migration, during which 13 African states met to discuss mixed movements and irregular migration from the East, Horn and Great Lakes sub-regions to Southern Africa.IOM’s Voluntary Return Assistance to Migrants in Tanzania project has returned over 220 detained Ethiopian migrants this year so far, and is planning to return a total of up to 800 by the end of the year. Since 2009, IOM Tanzania has helped over 2 500 Ethiopian detainees to return home.Source: APOlast_img read more

Add a Side of Geocaching to Your Other Hobby

first_imgShare with your Friends:More “I was very happy when GEOCACHE beat the word BITCOIN; I was thrilled when GEOCACHE trounced COSPLAY… I cannot put into words (!) how ecstatic I was when ZEN took second place and GEOCACHE won the prize.Everywhere I went, there was a Scrabble and GEOCACHE story – CNN, Good Morning America, CBC here in Canada… everywhere!” RCA777Have you spotted a Scrabble Trackable in the wild?The Scrabble success story isn’t the only example of a geocacher who combined their favorite hobbies. That’s what happened when Geocaching HQ heard about the popularity of Airstream RV’s with the Geocachers who love to explore and camp along the way.Geocachers have been known to travel long distances in their RV’s for the perfect story worthy geocaching moment. Airstream and Geocaching were a perfect fit.When we asked longtime Geocacher and Airstream enthusiast, FluteFace, about her favorite hobbies she said, “When we’re on a trip in the Airstream, geocaching is almost always involved. Most geocachers cache when they travel – what better way to travel than in an Airstream.”During the Summer of 2014 Airstream and Geocaching HQ worked together to create 2,000 Trackables tags to be passed out at Geocaching events across the United States. Geocachers swarmed the events closest to their home location in the hopes of receiving an Airstream tag.FluteFace parks her Airstream for the night near one of her favorite caches GC3VN6Y – Buttermilk, placed at what probably is a historical building (of sorts) and may be why the area is called Buttermilk.Nancy aka “yukionna” hosted the event Silver Bullet Launch Party in New Hampshire where her newly renovated 1964 Airstream Bambi II trailer made an appearance.“My husband, Brian, and I have owned Airstream trailers since 2002 and we started geocaching in 2008.  One of our favorite things to do is to travel in our Airstream while geocaching along the way.  Each summer we plan a couple of camping adventures to different destinations which include finding interesting caches during our trip.  When I saw the promotion last year between Airstream and Groundspeak, it was a dream come true for me and I wanted to become involved.” – yukionna SharePrint RelatedFive reminders about trackablesAugust 28, 2018In “News”5 Geocaching Etiquette TipsFebruary 24, 2014In “Community”5 Tips to Achieve Geocaching StardomFebruary 4, 2013In “Community” With ten geocacher appreciation events and over 750 attendees geocachers were literally happy campers. What hobbies do you think would be a geocaching match made in heaven?Group photo from the Silver Bullet geocaching event in front of the renovateda 1964 Airstream Bambi II trailer Photo caption: the official Scrabble Dictionary including the word Geocache can now be found in stores throughout North AmericaOne simple question spin up into a first in the world of Scrabble. It all started when long time geocacher Roy Alexander, RCA777 was playing a game of Scrabble with a friend. He asked whether they would accept the word “geocache” in the game if it were played. They said, no. But Roy wasn’t about to take no for an answer.At the time the word geocache was considered unplayable because it was not yet an official word in the Scrabble Dictionary. Roy jumped at the opportunity when he saw Hasbro announce the #ScrabbleWordShowDown contest on the Hasbro Game Night Facebook page. On March 12th, 2014, RCA77 suggested the word geocache to Hasbro.“I posted a screenshot of my suggestion in geocaching groups on Facebook – and the response was remarkable. Geocachers spread the word and supported the cause; things snowballed very quickly. Hasbro announced that GEOCACHE had made it to list of the final 16 words.” said RCA777.“Geocache” quickly beat out the competition and moved up the charts to the final round knocking out the word “zen”. It was officially announced as the winner on April 10th, 2014, landing it’s appearance in the Official Scrabble Dictionary later that year.Due to the interest from the fanatic geocaching community, Geocaching HQ reached out to Scrabble to create a partnership. Hasbro had 800 trackable tags made and distributed at the 2014 Geocaching Block Party in Seattle. Copies of the new dictionary were also given away as prizes to lucky geocachers. The tags were hot items and geocachers couldn’t wait to get their hands on them!Photo of two lucky geocachers who won the Scrabble board game and Scrabble Dictionary at the 2014 Geocaching Block Partylast_img read more

India vs Pakistan highlights: India beat Pakistan, set up final clash with Sri Lanka

first_imgThe battle of all battles lived up to its top billing. This was the blockbuster India-Pakistan semi-final that everyone had anticipated – in many ways the final before the final in the ICC World Cup.At the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Wednesday, over 28,000 watched the action from the edge of their seats while millions followed the action on television and radio. The bare-knuckled slugfest eventually saw India pack off Pakistan by 29 runs and charge into the summit clash in Mumbai, where they will face Sri Lanka on Saturday.The drama, passion and inyour-face brand of cricket made it almost sad that one side had to bow out but ultimately, India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s straightforward gameplan and insistence on taking it as just a cricket match and not a political occasion took India to their third World Cup final. Sadly for his counterpart Shahid Afridi, despite playing superb cricket so far, his team failed to come good against India.India batted first and scored 260 for nine with Sachin Tendulkar scoring a lucky yet adroit 85, missing his 100th international century, and the bowlers then hunted in packs, something never seen in the tournament till Wednesday, as Pakistan were bowled out for 231.With Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his Pakistan counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani at the venue, all eyes were on the 22 players and the quality of cricket justified the billing the match got.At the end, when Virat Kohli caught Misbah ul-Haq off Zaheer Khan to wrap up the Pak innings, India were able to maintain their unblemished record of never losing to Pakistan in a World Cup match.advertisementPakistan’s chase never got off the ground. Mohammad Hafeez and Kamran Akmal put on 44 for the first wicket in nine overs but all the Indian bowlers kept the batsmen in check. It was only a matter of time that someone blinked and it was Kamran, who was deceived by a Zaheer slower ball, caught by Yuvraj at point.Hafeez played some delectable shots but his attempt to paddle-scoop Munaf Patel, who was bowling consistently close to 140 kmph on Wednesday night, waseasily caught by keeper Dhoni as he departed for 43.The lack of boundaries started to take its toll. Attempting to target the least-recognised bowler of the side – Yuvraj Singh – Pakistan lost the plot. First, youngster Asad Shafiq missed a straight delivery and then Younis Khan checkdrove the left-arm spinner to Suresh Raina at covers.The escalating required rate meant that all the bowlers needed was to bowl straight. Umar Akmal smote a six and a four to end the 77-ball boundary drought but Harbhajan Singh ensured that the 29-run knock was just a flash in the pan, knocking back his off-stump.Misbah kept the chase on track with a sensible 56 as they required 62 off the last six overs. In the end, despite his heroics, it was a bridge too far.Earlier, Dhoni called right and India chose to bat first. The decent pace and bounce in the wicket was enough for left-arm pacer Wahab Riaz to come into his own as he restricted India to 260 for nine and walked away with five wickets for 46 runs, his best effort in ODIs.India began in the fifth gear with Virender Sehwag tearing into pace spearhead Umar Gul as only he can, dispatching the Pakistan speedster for five boundaries in the third over of the match. An on-drive and upper cut in Gul’s next over took India’s score to 47 for no loss after just five overs.Afridi then called Riaz and he struck right away, catching Sehwag on the crease and trapping him leg before. The opener was sent back for 38 off 25 balls.Tendulkar was batting without much hassle but the introduction of Saeed Ajmal tied him in knots.But it was one of the most lucky and scrappy innings played by Tendulkar for some time. Every time he gave a chance, a Pakistani fielder found a way to prolong his stay. The maestro was dropped thrice more – on 45, 70 and 81.At the other end, Gambhir was cut open by Mohammad Hafeez, as he was drawn forward and stumped by Kamran for 27. India were 116 for two in the 19th over. He added 64 for the second wicket with Tendulkar.Riaz then came back to change the flow of the innings. Skipper Dhoni, under pressure to score, was trapped leg before by Riaz, for a 42-ball 25. But SureshRaina (36 not out off 39 balls) made sure that India batted out the overs.last_img read more

Ferraris next hybrid will debut this year EV coming after 2022

first_imgEven a company as committed to the internal-combustion engine as Ferrari can see the writing on the wall, and we’re about to see a big shift in the company’s offerings as we enter the next decade.Ferrari’s next-generation hybrid will be unveiled this year, Automotive News reports, citing comments made by Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri during its latest quarterly earnings call. It won’t debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March, but rather at a different event later in the year. It’ll make its way to buyers in early 2020.The unnamed hybrid supercar will sport the automaker’s second-generation hybrid system. The first generation found use in Formula One, in addition to Ferrari’s own LaFerrari hybrid hypercar. Unlike the V12-toting LaFerrari, though, this new car will reportedly make do with a V8, and it’s believed to make more power than the 710-horsepower 488 Pista. Furthermore, Ferrari’s CEO said on the call that 60 percent of the automaker’s lineup will carry hybrid variants by 2022.2022 is going to be a very important turning point for Ferrari. Not only will it offer a number of hybrids at that point, it’ll be the earliest point at which Ferrari unveils its first battery-electric supercar. Camilleri didn’t commit to any specific date, saying only that it would arrive after 2022.But Ferrari isn’t done with standalone internal-combustion cars by any measure. Two limited-edition models, the Monza SP1 and SP2, will start reaching customers in the fourth quarter of 2019. There’s also the matter of the “Purosangue,” the current name for Ferrari’s first SUV, which will be available in both gas-only and hybrid variants. 0 Preview • 2018 Ferrari 812 Superfast: Super in more ways than one Exotic Cars Hybrids Electric Cars Future Cars Performance Cars 2020 Hyundai Palisade review: Posh enough to make Genesis jealous More From Roadshow 2020 BMW M340i review: A dash of M makes everything better Tags 75 Photoscenter_img Ferrari’s Monza SP1 and SP2 don’t need no stinkin’ windshields 2020 Kia Telluride review: Kia’s new SUV has big style and bigger value Share your voice Ferrari More about 2018 Ferrari 812 Superfast Post a comment Ferrarilast_img read more

2020 VW Golf debut delayed because of software setbacks report says

first_img Tags More about 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review • 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI: The daily-driver hot hatch 1 2020 Mini JCW Clubman first drive: A fast alternative for the crossover-averse 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class first drive: If it ain’t broke… More From Roadshow Share your voice 2020 Bentley Continental GT: Concept looks with a surprise inside Comment Volkswagen Originally, it was believed that Volkswagen would introduce the eighth generation of its venerable Golf at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Now, it appears that won’t be the case, as delays have beset VW’s compact car.Software issues have pushed back the unveiling of the eighth-generation VW Golf, Automotive News Europe reports, citing an interview with board member Jürgen Stackmann at the Shanghai Motor Show. “We’ve never hid the fact that software, an area of extreme importance for products in the future, is a serious challenge for us,” Stackmann told ANE. “We have our homework ahead of us, and the teams are under heavy pressure.”Specifically, ANE’s report highlights one area where it’s taking some time to get the software right — over-the-air (OTA) updates. This new kind of vehicle update allows an automaker to beam patches and possibly even new features directly to a vehicle, instead of requiring it to return to the dealer for a physical update. Stackmann specifically pointed to OTA security and homologation requirements in various markets when ANE asked about specific instances causing the delay.Enlarge ImageIt’s not the newest compact on the block, but the seventh-generation Golf is still a compelling buy in the US, offering solid build quality on a platform that’s rewarding to drive. Volkswagen “You’re adding content to a vehicle afterwards, and this is an area where we are working together with the type approval agencies to define these processes. It is new for them as well,” Stackmann told ANE.The issues will allegedly affect the beginning of the eighth-gen Golf’s production, too. Germany’s Der Spiegel reported earlier this month that, instead of building 80,000 Golfs this year as planned, VW will build about 10,000. VW confirmed this move to Der Spiegel, but nevertheless, the automaker remains on target to have the cars on sale in Germany on or around Feb. 24 of next year, with the rest of Europe to follow. The US generally receives a new Golf about a year after the Europeans do, so hopefully VW hammers out all those bumps well ahead of its stateside debut.In lieu of a new Golf to display in Frankfurt, Volkswagen will instead reveal the production version of the ID electric hatchback, which ANE first reported this March. The ID hatch, which might be called the ID Neo, will be Europe’s first foray into Volkswagen’s new all-electric lineup. In the US, that honor will go to the ID Crozz crossover. Hatchbacks Future Carslast_img read more

More like a Mac iPadOS supports SD cards and external drives

first_img Jun 14 • Apple Music vs. Apple Podcast vs. Apple TV: What’s the difference? WWDC 2019 Aug 19 • iOS 13 and iPadOS: How to join the beta, use the best new features on your iPhone and iPad Now playing: Watch this: reading • iPadOS will let you plug flash drives, memory cards into your iPad Tags 4 Jul 5 • RIP, iTunes. This is what happens to your Apple music now • iPads are getting more and more like Macs. Stephen Shankland/CNET With the upcoming iPadOS, you’ll be able to plug external drives and SD cards into your iPad the way you already can with your Mac or Windows PC.”iPadOS … supports external drives, allowing users to easily plug in USB drives, SD cards or log into an SMB file server, all from within the Files app,” Apple said in a statement Monday at its Worldwide Developer Conference, aka WWDC, in San Jose, California.The new feature reflects how much closer iPads and Macs are becoming. iPads and Macs remain separate product lines, but with software tools like Project Catalyst — formerly called Marzipan — Apple is breaking down the barriers.Another big step: iPadOS also will support mouse pointers, early tests of the beta software indicate.Follow all of today’s Apple news. Jun 30 • iOS 13 and iPadOS public betas: How to download and install them now Apple Share your voice Apple is bringing iPad apps to your Mac Comments 4:32 Mobile See All WWDC 2019last_img read more

NATO shows Russia its military might

first_imgMap of Europe showing the areas in Norway where NATO will conduct the `Trident Juncture` military manoeuvres which start on Thursday. Photo: AFPNorway hosts NATO’s biggest exercises since the end of the Cold War from Thursday, to remind Russia the Alliance stands united despite seeds of doubt planted by US President Donald Trump.Some 50,000 soldiers, 10,000 vehicles, 65 ships and 250 aircraft from 31 countries are taking part in Trident Juncture 18, which is aimed at training the Atlantic Alliance to defend a member state after an aggression.”In recent years, Europe’s security environment has significantly deteriorated,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, of Norway, said.”Trident Juncture sends a clear message to our nations and to any potential adversary. NATO does not seek confrontation but we stand ready to defend all Allies against any threat,” he told reporters on Wednesday.While the “potential adversary” has not been officially identified, Russia is on everybody’s minds.The country, which shares a 198-kilometre (123-mile) border with Norway in the Far North, has repeatedly flaunted its military strength in recent years.The Russian army has annexed Crimea, helped destabilise eastern Ukraine, beefed up its military capabilities in the Arctic, and conducted its biggest ever exercises in the Far East in September.- ‘Anti-Russian’ exercise -The Russian embassy in Oslo said it considered Trident Juncture an “anti-Russian” exercise.”Such activity … comes across as provocative, even if you try to justify it as being of a purely defensive nature,” it said.For months, Moscow has been annoyed by the growing Western military presence in the region. The United States and Britain have been increasing their deployments in Norway to accustom their troops to cold weather combat.Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, speaking in early October, condemned what she termed as NATO’s “sabre-rattling”, and vowed Moscow would take “retaliatory measures”.”The main NATO countries are increasing their military presence in the region, near Russia’s borders,” she said.”Such irresponsible actions are bound to lead to a destabilisation of the political situation in the North, to heighten tensions,” she added.Tensions already flared on Saturday after Trump announced he was abandoning a Cold War-era nuclear treaty, a move which Russia warned could cripple global security.Accusing Russia of developing a new missile, the SSC-8, Trump threatened to increase the US nuclear weapons arsenal.- Article 5 secured? -Despite concerns about Trump’s commitment to the Alliance — particularly regarding the “Article 5″ mutual defence clause — the US military is contributing the biggest contingent to Trident Juncture, with more than 14,000 troops, including an aircraft carrier.”We exercise in Norway but of course the lessons … from Trident Juncture are also relevant for other countries,” Stoltenberg said.On Tuesday, four US soldiers were lightly injured when trucks delivering material were involved in a pile-up.In addition to NATO’s 29 member countries, Norway’s neighbours Sweden and Finland will join the exercises, which run through 7 November.Two Russian and two Belarus military observers have been invited to watch the manoeuvres.Stoltenberg said he hoped Russia would “avoid dangerous behaviour”.last_img

Three sentenced to life imprisonment for murder

first_imgKolkata: Three persons were sentenced to life imprisonment in a murder case on Friday. The main accused in the case is undergoing trial in a separate court as he was minor at the time of the murder. After he turned 18, the trial was shifted from the juvenile court.According to police, on July 22, 2016, officers of New Town police station found a body of a man near Tin Kanya Mor, on the outskirts of Kadampukur village. The face of the body was smashed to hide the identity of the deceased. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataDuring preliminary investigation, ligature marks was seen around his neck. Later, a suo moto case was initiated against unknown persons on charges of murder. The person was later identified as Nepal Ghosh (40) of Baranagar in North 24-Parganas. During the probe, cops came to know that a youth identified as Jaydeb Das, who was then 17-year-old, had borrowed Rs 10,000 from Ghosh. After the stipulated time to repay the loan was over, Ghosh asked for his money but Das did not return the money and kept on promising that he would repay it soon. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in stateLater Das, along with his three friends, hatched a plan to murder Ghosh. They planned to kill and rob him so that Das could be exempted from the loan. As per the plan on July 22 of 2016, Das called up Ghosh and asked him to meet at Dunlop. He said he would repay the loan. When Ghosh arrived, Das told him that he would give him the money after he gets it from another person. He called up one of his friend identified as Surajit Karmakar. They boarded Karmakar’s SUV, where two more youths identified as Tridip Biswas and Raju Sil were already present. Later, they drove to New Town and strangled Ghosh inside the car. After Ghosh died, they smashed his face and placed the body beside the road. During investigation, all four of them were arrested. On Friday, 1st Additional District Judge (ADJ), in Barasat Srimayi Kundu sentenced Karmakar, Biswas and Sil to life imprisonment. Trial against Das is still going on at the 2nd ADJ Barasat Court.last_img read more