BSNL Launches Special SIM Cards for Amarnath Pilgrims

BSNL Launches Special SIM Cards for Amarnath PilgrimsBharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) J&K has launched “special Yatra SIM Cards” for pilgrims of annual Amarnath yatra beginning from July 2 in south Kashmir.

“BSNL has launched special Yatra SIM Cards taking care of communication requirements of pilgrims,” a PIB spokesman said.

He said that BSNL has launched special initiatives for pilgrims in view of Amarnath yatra and there will be seamless mobile connectivity from Baltal and Chandanwari to holy cave.

The Special Yatra SIM cards will be available at Lakhanpur Border and at Base Camp Bhagwati Nagar in addition to already existing outlets at Baltal and Chandanwari, he said.

The spokesman said that the SIM card comes with a bundle of benefits including free talk time, attractive call charges and free data with a validity period of seven days.

“A special Customer service centre has been established at Base Camp Bhagwati Nagar Jammu to assist the pilgrims round the clock via Helpline No.0191-2555556,” he said.

Supreme Court Seeks Centre’s Response on Mobile and Tower Radiation Plea

Supreme Court Seeks Centre's Response on Mobile and Tower Radiation Plea

Supreme Court today sought the Centre’s response on a plea seeking protection of citizens from “deleterious” effects of radiation emanating from cell phones and mobile towers.

A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A M Khanwilkar issued notices to Department of Telecommunications (DoT), New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (Noida) and M/s Indus Towers Ltd, the firm which has installed some mobile towers in Noida, and tagged the PIL for hearing with another similar pending plea.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Noida resident Naresh Chand Gupta who has filed the PIL, referred to the deleterious effects of radiation, emanating from mobile towers and cell phones.

“There is a huge chunk of scientific data linking radiation from cell phones and towers to adverse health effects in people and animals.

“The adverse health effects range from headaches, sleep disturbances, dizziness and other neurophysiological disturbances to life-threatening brain tumours radiation from cell phones and towers has also been linked to sweeping decline in population of honey bees, sparrows and other birds and animals,” the petition said.

The plea has sought a direction to DoT to “drastically reduce the exposure limit from cell towers and … cell phones keeping in line with stricter norms followed in other countries and recommendations of scientific studies”.

“Prohibit installation of cell towers within a distance of 500 metres from residential areas, schools, hospitals, markets and other places with dense human population, and wildlife habitation, and direct removal of towers already so installed,” it said.

The plea has also sought creation of a mechanism for “continuous monitoring of radiation from cell towers and putting the data in public domain”.

Besides, the PIL has sought setting aside of the permission granted by the Noida authority to Indus Towers Ltd to install cell phone towers upon the building of community club of Sector 15 A in Noida and shift them out into a green belt area.

Bengaluru’s Team Indus Launches Competition for Space Enthusiasts

Bengaluru's Team Indus Launches Competition for Space EnthusiastsBengaluru-based space technology startup Team Indus has launched a competition to challenge the brightest young minds globally to create an experiment to fly on board its spacecraft to the Moon scheduled for next year, a company statement said on Wednesday.

As part of the competition Lab2Moon, youngsters between ages 14-25 years will have to imagine, design and build a project that would catalyse the evolution of mankind as a sustainable multi-planetary species, the statement added.

“The Team Indus mission is designed to be democratic, inclusive and driven by the people. Lab2Moon reflects that ethos,” said Rahul Narayan, Team Indus Fleet Commander.

The registration for the competition opened on June 28 and closes on August 20.

To participate, teams of up to three members will be required to write a 300-word overview of their project, share drawings and upload a two-minute video explaining why it should go to the Moon.

Team Indus is the only Indian team competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE. For demonstrating its landing technology, Team Indus has already won a $1 million (roughly Rs. 6.7 crores) milestone prize, the statement added.

Created in 2007, the mission of the Google Lunar XPRIZE is to incentivise space entrepreneurs to create a new era of affordable access to the Moon and beyond, states an overview of the programme on its official website.

The competition’s $30 million (roughly Rs. 200 crores) prize purse will be awarded to teams who are able to land a privately funded rover on the moon, travel 500 metres, and transmit back high definition video and images.

Indian, New Zealand Researchers to Study Health Impacts of 5G Networks

Indian, New Zealand Researchers to Study Health Impacts of 5G NetworksResearchers from New Zealand and India will jointly investigate the possibilities of adverse effects of electromagnetic radiation on human health caused by the next generation of telecommunication networks called 5G, a New Zealand researcher said in a statement on Wednesday.

Massey University will collaborate with India’s Birla Institute of Technology and Auckland University of Technology on the project ‘Analysing Harmful Electromagnetic Exposure due to Future Millimeter Wave Transmissions’ over 2016-2017.

“If the future wireless signals are found to be harmless to the human health, this project would build consumer confidence in the future telecommunication services. However, if this project shows that the 5G network leads to, or potentially may lead to adverse health impacts, the industry would be required to modify the underlying wireless technology to ensure the human well being,” principal investigator Faraz Hasan, School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, Massey University, said in the statement.

This project seeks to develop new techniques that allow the assessment of 5G wireless signals and their electromagnetic exposure to human beings. The findings will be compared against the existing thresholds that have been set aside by a number of regulatory bodies.

“With some industry giants predicting 50 billion connected devices by 2020 and with the employment of much higher transmission frequencies proposed for the 5G rollout, it is essential to determine how the future of telecommunications will affect the health of its user,” Hasan said.

This research is one of the externally funded projects currently being carried out by the Telecommunication and Network Engineering research group under the Electronics Cluster at Massey University

PayPal Launches Programme to Protect Online Sellers From Fraud

PayPal Launches Programme to Protect Online Sellers From FraudDigital payments platform PayPal on Wednesday announced the launch of its “Seller Protection Programme for Intangibles” – an expansion of its existing seller protection programme that earlier only covered merchants selling tangible goods like handicrafts, fashion and art.

“Growing instances of online fraud act as a barrier for sellers selling online services and other intangible goods to clients abroad,” said Anupam Pahuja, Country Manager and Managing Director, PayPal India.

“With our Seller Protection Programme for Intangibles, we aim to empower freelancers and merchants in India to sell with confidence and assure them that they have our support to grow,” he added.

The Seller Protection Programme for Intangibles will cover two types of buyer complaints – “unauthorised transaction”, when a buyer claims that he or she didn’t authorise the payment and “item not received”, when a buyer pays for the service but claims that he or she did not receive the service, a company statement said.

The PayPal Resolution Centre will investigate issues and work with the sellers to ensure that they are protected against this type of fraud in genuine cases.

Sony’s Vue Web TV Service Said to Surpass 100,000 Subscribers

Sony's Vue Web TV Service Said to Surpass 100,000 SubscribersPlayStation Vue, the web-TV service for owners of Sony Corp.’s video-game consoles, has signed up more than 100,000 subscribers since its March 2015 debut, people with knowledge of the matter said, good news for entertainment companies that are losing pay-TV subscribers.

The service has been adding customers at a faster rate since Sony began a nationwide rollout in the US three months ago, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private figures. Sony, based in Tokyo, declined to comment on the number. One person put the total near 120,000.

Media companies like Walt Disney Co. and Time Warner Inc. are looking to internet services to counter or slow the decline in traditional pay-TV subscribers for channels like ESPN and TNT. Shrinking audiences have sapped growth at many cable networks, which are the primary contributors to sales and profit at most major media companies.

Sony created Vue to give owners of its PlayStation consoles the option to watch live and on-demand TV without switching away from their gaming systems, an effort to make the device the centerpiece of the living room. Sony sells different programming plans nationally, in part depending on the availability of the major broadcast networks. Where they are provided on Vue, prices range from $40 a month for about 60 channels to $55 for about 100.

The company also recently began offering the service on other devices, including Roku players, Amazon.com Inc. products, and iPhones and iPads.

Media companies are banking on web services to attract younger viewers, those less likely to have cable or satellite TV, and are encouraged by the early results from Sony and Dish Network Corp.’s Sling. Sling has more than 700,000 subscribers, according to one of the people. The company declined to comment.

That means participating media companies are close to reaching 1 million new customers with their web services. While that doesn’t make up for the subscribers lost over the past few years, it may quiet some of those more pessimistic about the future of TV.

“They haven’t been public with their numbers, so I can’t be specific. But what we’ve been told is that their numbers in terms of sub-adoption has gone up tremendously,” Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said of Vue at an investor conference in May.

AT&T, owner of DirecTV and the largest US pay-TV service, has said it plans to have three web-based services operating later this year. Hulu has said it is working on such a product, while Apple,Amazon.com and YouTube are all exploring the idea as well.

Vue rolled out more slowly than Sling TV. Sony introduced Vue in three markets, adding a few more last summer before making it available in more than 200 markets around the country in March. Live feeds of broadcast networks are only available on Vue in select markets for now

Clinton Tech Agenda Would Forgive Student Debt, Expand Broadband

Clinton Tech Agenda Would Forgive Student Debt, Expand BroadbandAll US households would have access to high-speed Internet within Hillary Clinton’s first term in office and young entrepreneurs could defer their college loans while launching startups, under a broad technology agenda she released Tuesday.

Putting off loan payments for up to three years would allow greater latitude for some of those most likely to drive the innovation economy, Clinton said after a tour of a technology hub here.

“I do plead guilty to being a policy wonk,” Clinton said to laughter from a crowd of mostly young tech entrepreneurs. “It really matters what we do and how we do it if we’re going to build the economy of the future.”

She took a shot at Republican opponent Donald Trump for inviting Americans to look backward, she charged, rather than forward.

“I am on a mission to find out what works,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s plan would also forgive up to $17,500 in student loans for some entrepreneurs who develop businesses with measurable public benefit or launch initiatives in economically struggling or underserved areas.

Clinton’s campaign did not estimate the cost or detail how she would pay for these goals.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also wants to ensure that every student has access to computer science education, a goal she would achieve partly by asking the private sector to help train 50,000 new computer science education teachers over the next decade.

She would expand Internet service to more public spaces, such as airports and train stations, with the goal of offering more free Wi-Fi, a statement from Clinton’s campaign said. She would encourage the deployment of 5G networks across the country to provide faster wireless service and promote the connected system of Internet-enabled devices and buildings, known in tech-speak as the Internet of Things.

The goal of universal high-quality Internet long predates Clinton, and has proved difficult to achieve in areas for reasons mostly related to geography and poverty. President Barack Obama speaks frequently of closing the “digital divide” and has pledged to connect 99 percent of students to high-speech Internet in their schools by 2018, a year after he leaves office.

“Every year we waste means we leave people behind,” Clinton said.

A body of research shows student debt is holding back small business creation. A study out of Penn State concluded that fewer businesses were started in areas of the country where people carry the highest levels of college debt, while the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said large student loan obligations significantly hinder the creation of startups.

Higher education policy experts, nevertheless, remain skeptical about a link between the two, especially given the wealth of generous repayment options afforded to borrowers. The White House has given Americans more options for repaying their loans so they can avoid default, expanding programs that cap monthly payments to a percentage of earnings, known as income-based repayment plans. People can already defer their payments or pay nothing under income-based repayment plans, said Jason Delisle, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank.

“Someone starting a business generally wouldn’t be showing any income on their tax return, so they wouldn’t need to make any payments if they’re enrolled in an income-based plan,” he said. “So what would this [proposal] add? Yet another complicated option to achieve the same thing that the income-based program already does?

Delisle also finds Clinton’s debt forgiveness plan for entrepreneurs puzzling at a time when the Obama administration has been dialing back its existing forgiveness plans. Under the newest repayment plan, anyone who borrowed for graduate school will have to make payments for 25 years, five years longer than everyone else, to have their remaining balance forgiven. That change addresses growing concern that the government could sink the program if it continues to offer grad students, who tend to borrow and earn more, generous debt forgiveness.

“Here we have the Obama administration who has basically admitted they went too far in their efforts to provide loan forgiveness. But here you have Clinton driving right by that, saying no, what we need is more,” Delisle said. “So which is it?”

Clinton spoke Tuesday at “Galvanize,” an incubator housed in a sleek renovated building where tech entrepreneurs share office space and a barrista whips up lattes in the lobby. Later on Tuesday, Clinton was meeting with “digital content creators” in Los Angeles.

Hackers Spying on US Presidential Campaigns: Official

Hackers Spying on US Presidential Campaigns: OfficialThe United States sees evidence of hackers, possibly working for foreign governments, snooping on the presidential candidates, the nation’s intelligence chief said Wednesday. Government officials are assisting the campaigns to tighten security as the race for the White House intensifies.

The activity follows the pattern set in the last two presidential elections. Hacking was rampant in 2008, according to US intelligence officials, and both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were targets of Chinesecyber-attacks four years later. Nevertheless, cyber experts say Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s campaign networks aren’t secure enough to eliminate the risk.

“We’ve already had some indications” of hacking, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, said Wednesday at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. He said the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were helping educate the campaigns.

Of the attacks, Clapper predicted, “we’ll probably have more.”

The revelation comes after Clapper’s office released a document this month saying foreign intelligence services tracked the 2008 presidential election cycle “like no other.” The document was in a slide show used to warn incoming Obama administration officials that their new jobs could make them prey for spies.

Eight years ago, foreign intelligence services “met with campaign contacts and staff, used human source networks for policy insights, exploited technology to get otherwise sensitive data, engaged in perception management to influence policy,” it said. “This exceeded traditional lobbying and public diplomacy.”

Jonathan Lampe with InfoSec Institute, a private information security company in Chicago, said security hasn’t improved significantly since then.

In October, he evaluated the security of 16 candidates’ websites and wrote a pair of reports. Using the reconnaissance skills of a casual hacker, Lampe pulled full lists of site user names and technologies used on most sites. In some cases, he discovered which directories were accessible from the Internet and which weren’t. He learned the software products Clinton’s campaign used from a job posting soliciting a computer-wise staffer.

“Everybody was sitting with their pants down and by the time we looked at the sites in March, everybody had made fixes,” Lampe said.

But countries are probably still snooping, he said: “The sites were open enough back in October that anyone who grabbed the information then and wanted to use it, could still use it now.”

Some threats are publicly known.

The international group of activists and hackers known as Anonymous has declared cyberwar on Donald Trump, urging supporters to take down his website and expose private information. Weeks ago, a masked figure appeared on YouTube, saying, “Dear Donald Trump, we have been watching you for a long time and what we see is deeply disturbing.”

The New York billionaire probably has the largest “attack surface” of the candidates, said John Dickson of the Denim Group, a San Antonio developer of secure software. “If it’s the Bernie Sanders campaign, it’s probably one website. If it’s Donald Trump, it’s his entire empire.”

Dickson and other experts said they weren’t privy to any incidents of foreign hacking of the campaigns. But as the political conventions and general election near, they worry about a well-timed, sophisticated attack by a government to help a candidate.

“Think of the Chinese. Think of the Iranians. They have the intelligence capabilities, obviously, and maybe even the desire to disrupt elections,” Dickson said.

At the least, he said it must be taken for granted that foreign governments are trying to learn more about the candidates. “You would hope that the CIA is doing the same thing,” he said. Indeed, the US spies on allies and adversaries for political and commercial information.

The Clinton and Trump campaigns didn’t respond to questions about cyber-security.

Dickson said the campaigns focused more on computer security because of the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, and a breach of voter data at the Democratic National Committee. Last year, Sanders apologized after his campaign improperly gained access to the campaign data of his Democratic rival, and he fired a data director.

V. Newton Miller, chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based PKWARE, which provides encryption software and advises federal agencies on data security, said foreign spying on campaign sites was inevitable.

“These campaigns are not working on encrypted platforms,” he said. “It’s a matter of when and how serious of an impact it is going to have on this election.”

Foreign hackers are more interested in sensitive, revealing emails and reports, especially with the unprecedented mudslinging of this campaign, rather than acts of cyber vandalism, Miller and other experts said.

“If they shut down a candidate’s website,” Miller said, “so what? It impacts fundraising for 24 to 48 hours.”

Hackers sabotaged a website for Romney’s presidential campaign for a few hours in 2012, costing the campaign potential donations.

In the 2008 race, Obama and the Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain, were targeted.

One letter obtained by hackers showed McCain expressing support for Taiwan. China’s government presumably backed the hack. A Chinese diplomat called the campaign to complain about the letter – before it was even sent.

Vegetables Grown on Mars-Like Soil Found Safe for Humans: Study

Vegetables Grown on Mars-Like Soil Found Safe for Humans: StudyFour vegetables grown on soil similar to that on Mars have been found safe for human consumption, Dutch scientists say.

In greenhouses at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, scientists have worked on growing crops on Mars and Moon soil simulants since 2013.

The first experiment demonstrated that crops could grow on the soil simulants. Last year, the researchers mixed inedible parts of the 2013 plants into the simulant and succeeded to grow ten different crops, of which several were harvested.

One remaining uncertainty was that heavy metals such as cadmium, copper and lead, which are present in the soils, could contaminate the crops.

If too high levels of heavy metals from the soil are absorbed in the edible parts of the plants, the crops become poisonous.

The researchers have now tested four of the ten grown crops for heavy metals: radishes, peas, rye, and tomatoes. No dangerous levels of aluminium, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, arsenic, cadmium, chrome, nickel and lead were found, meaning the four crops are safe to eat.

“These remarkable results are very promising,” said senior ecologist Wieger Wamelink.

“We can actually eat the radishes, peas, rye, and tomatoes and I am very curious what they will taste like,” Wamelink said.

For some of the heavy metals the concentrations in the plants were even lower than in the crops grown in potting soil.

“It’s important to test as many crops as possible, to make sure that settlers on Mars have access to a broad variety of different food sources,” he said.

The crops are not only tested for heavy metals, but also for vitamins, flavonoids and alkaloids.

BSNL to Install 2000 New Mobile Towers in Chhattisgarh: Prasad

BSNL to Install 2000 New Mobile Towers in Chhattisgarh: PrasadState-run telecom operator BSNL will expand its network in Chhattisgarh by installing 2,000 new mobile towers in the next two years, Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Sunday.

“BSNL will set up new 2000 towers in next two years in Chhattisgarh which will be a historical step to strengthen mobile connectivity in the state,” Prasad said at a press conference Raipur.

Prasad held a meeting with Chief Minister Raman Singh and BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd) officials at CM’s official residence this afternoon.

“CM Singh had urged to install 1,600 mobiles towers in the state to improve telecom connectivity. I have spoken to BSNL officials and they have agreed to install as many as 2000 towers,” he said.

Earlier, the Union minister and Singh dedicated 146 newly set-up mobile towers in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) areas of the state, particularly in Bastar.

“Maoists want to cause damage to roads, electricity supply, health and education facilities but through the communication medium, we are doing the job of connecting people. Today, 146 BSNL towers were dedicated in Maoist-hit areas of the state. 35 more towers will soon be installed in these areas,” Prasad said.

In an effort to boost ‘digital drive’, 220 new Wi-Fi spots will be set up in the state, mainly at tourist spots.

“The state presently has 27 Wi-Fi spots. In next one-and-half years, this facility will be extended to 220 more places. I have asked to cover prominent tourist places, including temples and waterfalls under the facility,” he said.

On digital governance, Prasad said the government had set the target to connect 2.5 lakh gram panchayats through Bharat Net optical fibre network.

“I had earlier said that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was known for four-lane, six-lane and national highway and Narendra Modi government will be known for information highway,” he said.