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Extreme poverty to fall below 10 percent: World Bank

Extreme poverty will this year fall to less than 10 percent of the global population for the first time, although there is still "great concern" for millions in Africa, a World Bank report said Sunday.

"This is the best story in the world today -- these projections show us that we are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty," said Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, which holds its annual meetings October 9-11 in Lima, along with the IMF.

According to World Bank projections, about 702 million people, or 9.6 percent of the world population, will live below the poverty line this year, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

In 2012, that number stood at 902 million, or about 13 percent of the world population.

It stood at 29 percent in 1999.

According to Kim, the continuing decline in extreme poverty is the result of dynamic economic growth in developing nations and investment in health and education, as well as social safety nets that prevented millions of people from falling back into poverty.

Microsoft picks Melghat village under Digital India plan

Harisal, a tribal hamlet in Melghat, is all set to become the first digital village in India in the next 100 days. On the assurance given by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis during the latter's US tour, the software giant has chosen Harisal for developing it as the first ideal digital village in India.

With Microsoft providing all technological assistance in developing the tribal hamlet, a 14-member committee with BDO as nodal officer has been set up.

Microsoft will offer skill development training to village youth, and agro-based processing units and self-help groups will be established while soil testing, dairy development, vegetable production will be undertaken. Display boards concerning sale of forest produce, weather information, cropping pattern and crop management will be put up.

Online registration of all children at the anganwadi will be done while record of their weight and improvement will be maintained. All bank customers will be provided with ATM-cum-debit cards and mobile banking services will be increased. ATM facility will be provided at different locations while solar lamps will be installed through banks' CSR budget.

On the lines of soil card, health cards will also be issued while telemedicine facility will be opened at Harisal and Semadoh to bring down malnutrition and provide good health facilities.

Ecuador sets World Record For Reforestation!

Ecuador broke a world record for reforestation this year, as thousands of people pitched in to plant 647,250 trees of more than 200 species.

On May 16, 2015, thousands of people gathered to volunteer and reforest the Earth. They planted 220 different species of flora on almost 5,000 acres of land, setting a new Guinness World Record.

As Ecuador has set a national target to conserve and restore more land than what is deforested between 2008 and 2017, such a project will no doubt help the country maintain its vision.

As noted by the country’s environment department, since 2008, deforestation has been reduced by more than 50% of the historical rate, protecting 4.3% of the total land area (which equates to about 840 million trees).

Interestingly enough, Ecuador holds another world record for the most plastic bottles recycled in one week, according to Guinness. Go Ecuador!

New mobile app to help people with autism

British researchers have developed a new mobile app that could involve people with autism in the development of new technologies for their own use.

The app called “ASCmeI.T.” enables people with autism spectrum conditions — as well as families, teachers, professionals and anyone who supports someone with autism — to share their ideas on what kind of new technology would best help.

“If you have ever had a moment where you wished there was a useful technology out there to help you, or someone else, with something related to autism, this is the chance to get your idea heard,” said one of the researchers, Sarah Parsons from University of Southampton.

“We want to use this new app to crowdsource ideas which we can blend with latest research and development,” she noted in an official statement.

Through the app, users can upload a one-minute video explaining their idea, which will be shared with researchers, so that new developments in digital technologies for autism can be matched to support the needs of users.

“This project is totally unique and encourages ‘citizen science’ ASCmeI.T is a simple yet highly effective way to enable people with autism to get their voices heard and to allow the creativity of a previously neglected group to be realised,” co-investigator on the project Mark Brosnan from the University of Bath pointed out.

This free mobile app can be downloaded for both Android and Apple devices.

Evidence of flowing water on Mars, says NASA

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) sent the most significant evidence so far that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars. Since this finding scientists are perplexed about any possibility of life being present on Mars.

The source of this water on Mars is not known yet. Researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet, using an imaging spectrometer on MRO. They figured that the darkish streaks appear to be water streaks that flow over time.

CRISM (Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars) searches for the residue of minerals that form in the presence of water, perhaps in association with ancient hot springs, thermal vents, lakes, or ponds that may have existed on the surface of Mars.

They darken and appear to flow down steep slopes during warm seasons, and then fade in cooler seasons. They appear in several locations on Mars when temperatures are above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 Celsius), and disappear at colder times.

“Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water — albeit briny — is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”

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