Issues related to Health & Education
- Limit harmful trans fats to less than 1% of dietary calories: WHO
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- First record of invasive aphid in Kashmir Valley
- Western Ghats forest cover vital for Tamil Nadu’s South-West monsoon rainfall
Defence & Security Issues
- 58th Raising Day celebration of Border Roads Organisation (BRO)
Science & Technology
- NASA’s first mission to study the interior of Mars launched
- A RAT that spies on computers
- Water ice hidden on the moon
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Issues related to Health & Education
Limit harmful trans fats to less than 1% of dietary calories: WHO
WHO has released draft recommendations on limiting the intake of trans fats.
- Saturated fatty acids should not comprise more than 10% of your daily calorie intake.
- Trans fatty acids should not comprise more than 1% of your daily calorie intake.
- Use heart-healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) as replacement.
- The recommendations are applicable to both adults and children.
- These draft recommendations, the first since 2002, are aimed at controlling non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which are responsible for an estimated 39.5 million death (72%) of the 54.7 million deaths worldwide in 2016.
Where do you find saturated fatty acids?
- Saturated fatty acids are found in foods from animal sources such as butter, milk, meat, salmon, and egg yolks, and some plant-derived products such as chocolate and cocoa butter, coconut, palm and palm kernel oils.
What are Trans fats?
- Trans fatty acids (TFAs) or Trans fats are the most harmful type of fats which can have much more adverse effects on our body than any other dietary constituent.
- These fats are largely produced artificially but a small amount also occurs naturally. Thus, in our diet, these may be present as Artificial TFAs and/ or Natural TFAs.
- Artificial TFAs are formed when hydrogen is made to react with the oil to produce fats resembling pure ghee/butter.
- In our diet the major sources of artificial TFAs are the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO)/vanaspati/ margarine while the natural TFAs are present in meats and dairy products, though in small amounts.
- TFA containing oils can be preserved longer, they give the food the desired shape and texture and can easily substitute ‘Pure ghee’. These are comparatively far lower in cost and thus add to profit/saving.
Harmful effects of TFAs:
- TFAs pose a higher risk of heart disease than saturated fats. While saturated fats raise total cholesterol levels, TFAs not only raise total cholesterol levels but also reduce the good cholesterol (HDL), which helps to protect us against heart disease. Trans fats consumption increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
- It is also associated with a higher risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, infertility, certain types of cancers and can also lead to compromised fetal development causing harm to the yet to be born baby.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
First record of invasive aphid in Kashmir Valley
The brown peach aphid – an insect that attacks temperate fruit trees – has been recorded for the first time in Kashmir Valley, the fruit bowl of India.
About Brown peach aphid:
- Aphids feed on the saps of plants, attacking plant tissues that transport food to all different plant parts. The brown peach aphid Pterochloroides persicae is a notorious pest of peach and almond trees in the Mediterranean regions. In India, the aphid was recorded for the first time in the 1970s from Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
- The tiny (nearly 3 mm long) aphids thrived best during the months of April, May, September and October.
- The spread of the aphid could affect the local economy which is dependant on fruit trees to a large extent. But if the infestation is not controlled, the invasive aphid can spread fast.
Western Ghats forest cover vital for Tamil Nadu’s South-West monsoon rainfall
Researchers have found that dense vegetation in Western Ghats determines amount of rainfall that Tamil Nadu gets during the summer monsoon.
- The study highlights importance of urgent need to stop deforestation in the Western Ghats.
Key Highlights of Study:
- The study found that dense forests of Western Ghats contribute as much as 40% of moisture to southwest monsoon rainfall over Tamil Nadu during normal monsoon years. The average contribution is 25-30%, but during monsoon deficit years, contribution increases to as high as 50%.
- The forests of Western Ghats contribute as much as 3 mm per day of rainfall during August and September over majority of locations in Tamil Nadu and 1 mm per day during June and July. But when vegetation cover is removed from Western Ghats, there is significant drop in rainfall in range of 1-2.5 mm per day. This translates to average of 25% of total monsoon rainfall over Tamil Nadu.
- The deforestation of forests in Western Ghats has led to 0.25 degree C increase in surface temperature across state. It has reduced rainfall over the State by 40-50% during all three years. If there is no vegetation in Ghats then Tamil Nadu will be severely impacted especially during the monsoon-deficit years.
- The study shows that Western Ghats acts as capacitor and forest land and vegetation gets recharged with water during wet spell and during break periods moisture is released and which contributes to rainfall to state.
Defence & Security Issues
58th Raising Day celebration of Border Roads Organisation (BRO)
Border Roads Organisation (BRO) celebrated its 58th Raising Day on 7 May 2018.
- BRO is leading government organisation in arena of infrastructural development in the border areas of the country. Since its inception in 1960, it has grown from 02 to 19 projects.
- The works executed by it have ensured territorial integrity and socio-economic upliftment of most inaccessible regions of country
About the BRO:
Works under Ministry of Defence, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is one of the premier road construction agencies of the country.
- It develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and friendly neighbouring countries.
- It is staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Military Police and army personnel on extra regimental employment.
- Officers from the Border Roads Engineering Service and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation.
- Currently, the organisation maintains operations in twenty-one states, one UT (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), and neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
- The BRO operates and maintains over 32,885 kilometres of roads and about 12,200 meters of permanent bridges in the country.
- With the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) far behind schedule in constructing 73 approved “Indo-China Border Roads” along the northern borders, the defence ministry, in 2017, empowered BRO officials with enhanced financial powers.
Significance of BRO:
- The Border Roads Organization has played a very important role in both maintenance of security and in the development of border areas. Most of the development in the North Eastern states of India can be attributed to the relentless work done by the BRO. Socio economic development in the most inaccessible nooks and corners of our country are a result of the infrastructural work undertaken by the BRO.
- Apart from its work in India, the BRO has undertaken work in numerous countries thus having contributed immensely towards maintaining friendly and diplomatic relations. The highly-skilled BRO personnel undertook and successfully completed construction of the Delaram-Zaranj Highway in Afghanistan in 2008. The Farkhor and Ayni air bases of Tajikistan were also restored and repaired by the BRO.
- The BRO works in close association with the Indian Army in cases of natural disasters. It is the brave men of the BRO who were responsible for much of the reconstruction work undertaken as a result of the 2004 Tsunami in Tamil Nadu, the 2010 Ladakh flash floods and even during the 2014 Jammu and Kashmir Floods.
Science & Technology
NASA’s first mission to study the interior of Mars launched
NASA launched first-ever InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) lander dedicated to exploring the deep interior of Mars.
- It was launched aboard United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V.
- The rocket also launched two mini-spacecraft called Mars Cube One (MarCO) — MarCO-A and MarCO-B.
- InSight is solar and battery-powered terrestrial planet explorer (robotic lander) that aims to address one of most fundamental issues of planetary and solar system science.
- It will help in understanding processes that shaped rocky planets of inner solar system (including Earth) more than four billion years ago. The lander is expected to land on Mars in November 2018.
- The mission was envisaged as part of NASA’s Discovery Program mission that aims to place stationary lander equipped with seismometer and heat transfer probe on surface of Mars to study red planet’s early geological evolution. The lander is designed to operate for 26 Earth months, or one year on Mars.
- The robotic lander will perform a radio science experiment to study internal structure of Mars by deploying Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (seismometer) and Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (burrowing heat probe).
- It will measure Mar’s vital signs such as pulse (seismology), temperature (heat flow probe) and reflexes (precision tracking). It will let scientists understand how different its crust, mantle and core are from Earth.
- MarCO consists of two briefcase-sized CubeSats that will fly on their own path to Mars behind InSight lander but is independent of InSight mission. They are first test of CubeSat technology in deep space or at another planet.
- They are designed to test new communications and navigation capabilities for future missions and may aid InSight communications. If successful, MarCOs will offer new kind of communication capability to deep space missions to Earth.
A RAT that spies on computers
According to Maharashtra cybercrime department officials, GravityRAT, a malware allegedly designed by Pakistani hackers has recently been updated further and equipped with anti-malware evasion capabilities.
What is GravityRAT?
GravityRAT was first detected by Indian Computer Emergency Response (CERT-In), on various computers in 2017.
- RAT (Remote Access Trojan) is a program capable of being controlled remotely and thus difficult to trace.
- GravityRAT is designed to infliltrate computers and steal data of users, and relay stolen data to Command and Control centres in other countries.
- It infiltrates system in the form of innocuous looking email attachment, which can be in any format, including MS Word, MS Excel, MS Powerpoint, Adobe Acrobat or even audio and video files.
- Unlike most malware, which are designed to inflict short term damage, GravityRat lies hidden in the system that it takes over and keeps penetrating deeper.
- Its latest update enables this malware to function as Advanced Persistent Threat (APT), which, once it infiltrates system, silently evolves and does long-term damage.
- The updates also have made malware self-aware and evade several commonly used malware detection techniques. One such technique is ‘sandboxing’, to isolate malware from critical programs on infected devices and provide extra layer of security. GravityRAT now has the ability to mask its presence evade its detection before it can be sandboxed.
- GravityRAT is able to work silently on the system it attacks as compared to other malware whose activity can be detected by noise it causes inside Central Processing Unit (CPU).
- It can also gauge temperature of CPU and ascertain if device is carrying out high intensity activity, like malware search, and act to evade detection
- GravityRAT sends data to Command and Control servers based in several countries sent in encrypted format, making it difficult to detect exactly what is leaked.
Water ice hidden on the moon
Scientists from Japan have found mineral called moganite in lunar meteorite that point to presence of abundant hidden reserves of water ice under the surface of the moon.
- The mineral discovered in a desert in northwest Africa could be potentially useful for future human exploration of moon.
- Researchers believe that mineral formed on surface of moon in area called Procellarum Terrane as water which was originally present in lunar dirt that had evaporated due to exposure to strong sunlight. But in the subsurface, abundant water remains in the form of ice.
- Moganite is a crystal of silicon dioxide (SiO₂). It is known to form on earth in specific circumstances in sedimentary settings from alkaline fluids. It was so far never detected in samples of lunar rock.