World
US fines French firm for doing business with Cuba
Havana : The US Treasury Department has fined a French firm for doing business in US equipment with Cuba in violation of the United State trade embargo against the Caribbean island nation.
 
CGG Services, a company specialising in geophysical services, was slapped with a fine of $614,250 for using "spare parts and equipment of US origin on oil and gas exploration vessels operating in Cuban territorial waters," Xinhua cited a Cuban daily as reporting.
 
The move came against the background of a diplomatic thaw between Washington and Havana, which announced in December 2014 their intention to normalise ties and just days after the first US company was given the green light to set up a factory in Cuba to make farm tractors.
 
Washington has yet to lift its 55-year-old embargo against Cuba, which calls it a blockade as it prohibits third countries from transacting with Cuba.
 
"The fine is yet another example of the extraterritorial scope of the blockade and its deterrent effect on foreign and even US companies," the report said.
 
The fine is also "inconsistent with the current context of relations between the two countries and demonstrates that in order to make real progress towards the normalisation of bilateral ties, the blockade must be lifted," it added.
 
Since December 2014, the US government has fined seven companies -- four from the US -- more than $2.8 billion for violating its trade embargo.
 
Such fines levied since the start of US President Barack Obama's administration in 2009 amount to $14.4 billion.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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How India can benefit by leapfrogging into Fourth Industrial Revolution
Last month, the major agenda item at the World Economic Forum in Davos was the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR). Since FIR is already under way in some of the advanced economies there are fears that it will be very disruptive and create huge unemployment.
 
The Davos meeting was meant to discuss and allay these fears. I feel FIR for developing countries can, in fact, produce more employment and benefits.
 
What is FIR?
 
Our societies are characterised by various industrial revolutions. The first revolution started in the late 1700s when muscle power was replaced by steam - mostly produced by coal.
 
The second one, which can be traced to early 1900s, was driven by electricity and characterised by big machines and assembly line manufacturing. The third, which began in the early 1960s was based on computers, information technology (IT), electronics and automated production.
 
The present revolution is characterised by the internet of things (IOT) -- 24/7 connectivity, rapid communication, miniaturisation of design and 3D printing which allows for manufacturing and production of goods wherever they are needed. I feel that IOT and 3D printing (or additive manufacturing) have the capability of allowing countries like India to leapfrog into the FIR.
 
India is already a decentralised society where more than 60 percent of its population lives in rural areas and lacks the basic amenities of life. They live in one-room huts with nearly non-existent electricity; cook on primitive biomass stoves that produce tremendous indoor pollution; and lack potable water and toilet facilities.
 
Their lives can be improved drastically by providing livelihood opportunities and amenities for households powered by FIR.
 
Around 80 percent of the rural population is involved in the farming sector. At present, farming is non-remunerative and needs to be completely overhauled to make it attractive.
 
Thus, for increasing income for rural households I foresee the use of high-tech precision farming which could either be land-based or container-based. In container farming, all the inputs of farming are applied in an efficient way in enclosed shipping containers.
 
This container-based farming, as opposed to land-based farming, can grow any food (grain, vegetables or fruits) or fodder with the use of precise levels of light, temperature, humidity and nutrients. All these inputs are controlled by smart sensors and computers. This type of farming requires very few labourers, very little soil and water and is based on the principle of hydroponics or aeroponics.
 
There are claims by the practitioners of container agriculture that it uses 90 percent less water than conventional agriculture and produces several times the yields that would have been obtained from land-based agriculture. Such high-tech farms are coming up in urban areas in western countries and provide a model to be emulated in developing countries like India.
 
Today the biggest crisis in farming in India is the lack of labour, low prices of produce, shortage of water and very poor soils. With precision land-based or container agriculture, powered by solar energy and other renewable energy systems, farming can become very efficient, high yielding and hence remunerative. To my mind this is the future of farming.
 
Land-based agriculture can be used for planting mostly perennial crops like grasses for fodder and trees for fruits, timber and the like. Grasses and trees can bind the soil and stop its erosion.
 
Agricultural containers would eventually be owned by restaurant owners. Hence the A-Z of food production and utilisation would be run and owned by the restaurants and may give rise to a large number of rural and urban restaurants. This will also generate huge employment opportunities.
 
Further, FIR based on 3D or additive manufacturing will also usher in a revolution in its own right. In 3D printing, parts or the product is built layer by layer at any place. The designing can be done anywhere in the world and it can be sent by internet to a 3D printer.
 
Thus the raw material -- metal powders in case of production of metal parts,or plastic wires for plastic products -- together with a suitable glue or solidification of raw material, forms the end product. 3D printing is being used to produce parts of rockets, whole machines and even body parts.
 
The technology of 3D manufacturing is rapidly progressing and is already becoming mainstream technology for small, specialised manufacturing facilities.
 
Use of 3D manufacturing will also reduce the energy consumption in transportation of goods since they will be manufactured and made available wherever they are needed.
 
In most cases, prices would come down. We might therefore see a proliferation of high-tech small scale manufacturing facilities in rural areas. For rural mobility electric vehicles can form the backbone and could be charged by locally produced renewable electricity. And 3D manufacturing may help in production of such vehicles in rural areas.
 
The FIR can usher in a decentralised and democratic society since the control of the means of production and usage will be in the hands of locals.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Plane with 21 aboard missing in Nepal
Kathmandu : An aircraft with 21 people, including two foreigners, on board went missing in Nepal on Wednesday, an official said.
 
"The plane took off from Pokhara at 7.47 a.m. The aircraft lost contact once it reached Goahapani area of Kaski district," Deputy Director of Pokhara Airport Yogendra Kuwar told IANS.
 
The search operation for Tara Viking 9H-AHH Twin Otter aircraft, flying to Jomsom town from Pokhara city, has begun, Xinhua reported.
 
Tara Air said it has received reports of a missing plane. Two helicopters have been sent to find the missing plane, said Chief District Officer of Kaski district, Hari Prasad Mainali.
 
"An army helicopter and a helicopter of Dynasty Air have already been sent for the search operation," said Bhim Raj Rai, Media Officer at Tara Airlines.
 
As many as 18 passengers were on board the plane, two were foreigners. However, the nationalities were yet not known. Three crew members were also on the aircraft.
 
"Weather of both Pokhara and Jomsom is fine today (Wednesday). So we have no clue about what went wrong," Rai said.
 
The aircraft was added to the fleet last September.
 
 

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