Swine flu alert in Jaipur after doctor’s death

first_imgAfter the death of a retired government doctor due to swine flu here, the Rajasthan government’s Medical and Health Department has geared up to check the spread of the disease and issued alert in the State capital.Flu-like symptomsAll government dispensaries, satellite hospitals and other government health centres were asked to pay special attention to patients with swine flu-like symptoms. V.D. Bohra, who retired from Sawai Man Singh Government Hospital here, had visited Hyderabad and some other cities in the southern States, where he felt unwell. His condition deteriorated when he came back to Jaipur last week.Dr. Bohra was admitted to a private hospital, which sent his swab samples to Ahmedabad for swine flu test. After he tested positive, he suffered multiple organ failure and was declared dead on Wednesday.Medical and Health Minister Kali Charan Saraf has instructed doctors and para-medical staff to remain alert to the symptoms of swine flu among the patients of cough, cold, catarrh and high fever and immediately start their treatment.According to the official sources, the Minister asked the Chief Medical and Health Officers in all districts to ensure collection of samples, availability of medicines, referral to specialists and prompt services of intensive care units and isolation wardslast_img read more

Hashimpura evidence mystery deepens

first_imgBut in its affidavit filed this week the police are yet to disclose on whose orders and by whom were the crucial evidence destroyed.Ninteen PAC members allegedly abducted 42 Muslims from the Hashimpura mohalla of Meerut on May 22, 1987 in a truck and took them to a nearby canal in Muradnagar of Ghaziabad, where they were gunned down and their bodies dumped in the canal.In March 21, 2015, the Tis Hazari court acquitted all the accused in the Hashimpura massacre case due to “insufficient evidence.” The UP government challenged the acquittal in the Delhi High Court, which is being heard by the Justice Mittal bench.Contradictory affidavitThe UP police also contradicted its last affidavit and gave a different date and year in which the papers were “weeded out.”In February last year the UP police had said “…all the details of the case were weeded out on April 1, 2006. Hence, it is impossible to make them available.”But in its latest affidavit they declared that the documents were weeded out on April 20, 1993.“That the general diary for the period from January 1, 1987 to December 31, 1987 of the local police contending the information about deployment of police troops within respective police station was weeded out on April 20, 1993 as per procedure, as the same was not required for any investigation or inquiry,” the affidavit said.According to Vrinda Grover, who is representing the National Human Rights Commission, due to the continuous attempts of the State to “protect” those who destroyed evidence of the massacre case, “the honourable court has accepted our submission that police be directed to file a consolidated affidavit making it clear on whose orders and by whom were the crucial case papers destroyed.”Ms Grover said the manner in which the UP government filed the affidavits seemed “an exercise in obfuscation.” Months after the Uttar Pradesh police had declared that they destroyed crucial documents relating to the Hashimpura massacre case while the trial was still going on, the police are yet to disclose on whose orders and by whom were the case papers “weeded out.”Police admit lapseIn an affidavit filed in February last year before the Delhi High Court where the Hashimpura massacre case in going on, the State police accepted that they had destroyed documents “after expiry of their prescribed period.”The papers could have helped prove the involvement of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel in the Hashimpura massacre of 1987.Following the affidavit, the bench headed by Justice Geeta Mittal had asked the police to disclose the details of the “weeding out” process of the crucial case papers.last_img read more

Patnaik flays Centre for stopping welfare schemes

first_imgAs rich tributes were paid to Biju Patnaik on his 101st birth anniversary of Sunday, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik criticised the Narendra Modi government at the Centre for stopping many welfare programmes ignoring the interests of the people living in tribal and backward regions of the State.The State government, however, continues to implement those schemes using its own resources to safeguard the interest of the people, and would continue to do so, said Mr. Patnaik said while addressing a gathering at the Biju Janata Dal headquarters here.Progress in many sectorsWhether one admits or not due to political reasons, but the State has achieved significant progress in various sectors since the BJD started ruling the State in 2000, said Mr. Patnaik. “There is a huge difference between Odisha of 2000 and today’s Odisha,” he said.Besides faring better than the national average in infant mortality rate, Odisha has also seen infrastructure development, investment flow, growth in employment opportunities and increase in food production and people’s income, said Mr. Patnaik. Stating that the BJD has remained No. 1 in the recently held panchayat elections and will remain in the same position in future, Mr. Patnaik urged the gathering of party leaders and workers to stay in touch with the people. Observing that BJD doesn’t believe in slogans, but in service, the Chief Minister called upon his party workers to continue on the path shown by Biju Patnaik to serve Odisha.Birth centenaryMr. Patnaik also attended a function organised at port town of Paradip to mark the closing of the year-long Biju Patnaik birth centenary celebrations. He also flagged off a mini-marathon in Bhubaneswar to mark the occasion.The Chief Minister also highlighted his government’s achievements at a function organised to mark the celebration of the Panchayati Raj Day which is observed on the occasion Biju Patnaik’s birth anniversary every year.last_img read more

Pansare murder: court grants conditional bail to Dr. Tawde

first_imgIn yet another setback to the Govind Pansare murder case, the Kolhapur sessions court on Tuesday granted conditional bail to Hindutva activist Virendra Tawde, suspected to have played a key role in the killing of the veteran Communist leader.As per the bail conditions, Mr. Tawde’s passport will be impounded and he cannot leave the State.Mr. Tawde, an ENT specialist who worked actively for the radical Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (a splinter group of the Goa-based Sanatan Sanstha) is prime accused in the 2013 murder of rationalist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar in Pune.He is now lodged in the high-security Yerwada Jail after the Additional Sessions Court in Pune quashed his bail plea in October last year.Expressing disappointment at Mr. Tawde being given bail, Megha Pansare, daughter-in-law of the deceased Communist leader, pointed to the slow pace of investigation, as Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar, the two activists of the Sanatan Sanstha suspected to have carried out the actual shooting of Pansare are still to be arrested.“The SIT’s delay in nabbing Akolkar and Pawar is stalling the trial of the accused such as Sameer Gaikwad and Tawde. We urge the State government to have a dedicated team within the SIT to pursue the case, affected by frequent transfers,” Ms. Pansare told The Hindu.In June last year, the court, after three rejections, gave conditional bail to Sanatan Sanstha activist Sameer Gaikwad, prime accused in the Pansare murder case. Gaikwad was picked up from Sangli in September 2015, the first arrest in the Pansare case.The veteran Communist leader, along with his wife Uma, was shot outside their home in Kolhapur’s Sagar Mal locality on February 16, 2015. Mr. Pansare succumbed to his wounds four days later.last_img read more

Assam lynching: woman recounts sister’s phone talk with ‘killer’ of fiancé

first_imgA week after businessman Abhijeet Nath was lynched by a mob in a central Assam village, the sister of his fiancée has recounted how the killers were allegedly casual about having bludgeoned him to death along with his friend, audio engineer Nilotpal Das.Apart from being nonchalant, the people who lynched the duo took pleasure in conveying the news of their gruesome death, Airin Gogoi wrote in a Facebook post.“I was arranging my office desk, shutting down the computer and was about to return from work. It was 8:05 pm, June 8. I received a call from my sister with a shaken and panicked voice. ‘Airin ba (elder sister), someone received Abhijeet’s phone,’ she said,” Ms. Gogoi wrote.“Bhontie (younger sister) told the man to give the phone to Abhijeet. No, the man replied in broken Assamese. Where is he, she asked. Dead, we killed him, he’s lying on the road, the man said. Please don’t speak like that; why did you kill him, she asked. Who are you, he asked. I am his wife-to-be, please don’t kill him, she pleaded. You cannot get your man, we killed him, he said and asked where Abhijeet was from. Guwahati, sister said. He can’t return to Guwahati, read about his death in the newspaper tomorrow,” she wrote.The man on the phone had treated Abhijeet and Nilotpal like some objects and seemed to derive pleasure from killing them, Ms. Gogoi wrote.“I was blank for a moment, called Abhijeet’s dad who was returning home from Morigaon, his workplace, for weekend. I narrated the whole thing, he was totally unaware. Being a father, his response was positive and told me not to worry and to console my sister. He said, ‘I will talk with Abhijeet’s mom whether he went to Karbi Anglong or not’,” she wrote.Ms. Gogoi said Abhijeet and Nilotpal had gone to Karbi Anglong to contact fishermen there for collecting a rare fish known as Channa stewartii. “A Mumbai fish breeder had told Abhijeet the fish is available only in Karbi Anglong. His room is full with aquariums. He was a dog lover. His dogs Spike, Aizen and Zendaya and his fishes don’t know he is no more,” she said.Ms. Gogoi said Abhijeet had called her sister about 6 pm saying they had set off for Guwahati. Abhijeet’s mother called him at 7 pm and someone picked it up. But there were some noises that made her think he was in a marketplace.“My sister called at 8 pm and got that terrible news,” she said.‘Rename waterfalls’Noted Assamese author Rongbong Terang, who belongs to the Karbi tribe, has suggested that the Kangthilangso waterfalls that the lynched duo visited on that fateful day should be renamed after them.“Let’s call the waterfalls Abhi-Neel Jalpropat,” Mr. Terang, former president of Assam Sahitya Sabha, said on Thursday. He rejected the suggestion of Tuliram Ronghang, chief executive member of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, that statues of the two men be erected at the village they were killed.“The statues will only remind people of the gruesome day,” Mr. Terang said.On Wednesday,Director General of Police Kuladhar Saikia said Mr. Das and Mr. Nath were set up by a man named Alphajos Timung, who had an axe to grind. The man had called up members of the lynch mob and sold them the story that the duo were escaping in a black SUV after kidnapping a child.Police said they have so far arrested 28 people for lynching the duo while 35 others have been arrested for spreading rumours and hate-mongering via social media.last_img read more

Assam spends ₹1.6 crore on Deen Dayal Upadhyaya biographies

first_imgThe BJP-led coalition government in Assam has purchased biographies of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyaya worth ₹1.6 crore after coming to power in May 2016.Replying to a question by Congress MLA Debabrata Saikia in the 126-member Assembly on Wednesday, Cultural Affairs Minister Keshab Mahanta said the government bought 4,000 copies of the 15-volume Hindi biography for libraries across the State. The total number of books works out to 60,000. The Directorate of Libraries spent ₹1.6 crore for the purchase on the advice of Cultural Affairs Department, he added.Delhi-based publisher The biography has been brought out by a Delhi-based publisher, the Minister said.“We have not purchased biographies of any iconic person other than Deen Dayal Upadhyaya,” Mr. Mahanta, who represents the BJP’s regional ally Asom Gana Parishad, said.The AGP, ironically, has been vocal about the BJP’s bid to “impose” anything related to RSS and Hindutva on the “people of Assam”. The party had opposed the Sarbananda Sonowal government’s decision to name 12 new colleges in the State after Deen Dayal Upadhyaya in August last year.last_img read more

Mizoram govt. taken to court over liquor losses

first_imgLiquor dealers in Mizoram have taken the Zoramthanga government to court for losses caused by extension of dry days initially meant for the Christmas season.In keeping with its election promise, the Mizo National Front government had banned the sale of liquor from December 21, 2018, to January 14, 2019. The ban was later extended till March 10.On Thursday, the Mizoram Liquor Vendors’ Association and each owner of the State’s three bonded warehouses filed separate lawsuits in the Aizawl Bench of the Gauhati High Court seeking to know how their losses would be recovered and whether the government has any prohibition policy in place.The court has set January 22 as the date of hearing and has asked the State government to produce the proceedings of the Cabinet meetings leading to the imposition of dry days.After the first Cabinet meeting on December 18, 2018, the government closed down nine State-run liquor outlets and declared dry days from December 21, 2018, to January 14, 2019, in view of Christmas and New Year celebrations. Republic Day and the local Chapchar Kut festival were the reasons cited for extending the dry day to March 10 after the second Cabinet meeting on January 10.Mounting expenses“The government has kept us in a limbo by not saying clearly whether we have to wind up. Extension of dry days has hit our business hard. We are maintaining our outlets, paying employees and taking care of other mounting expenses,” said Francis Sailo, an Aizawl-based liquor vendor. The liquor dealers said the State government should have come out with an exit policy with a time-frame to phase out the business. They said the uncertainty has led to piling up of liquor stock since the dealers have to honour their permits for purchase till March this year.Under pressure from the influential church, total prohibition was first imposed via the Mizoram Liquor Total Prohibition Act in 1997 when Lal Thanhawla was the Chief Minister. The move, however, did not help his Congress party win the Assembly election the following year.The Congress replaced total prohibition by controlled prohibition 18 years later through the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) Act of 2014. A few wine shops were accordingly opened in 2015 and the State government recorded around ₹70 crore in annual revenue through the sale of alcohol.Push from church An unhappy church commissioned a study on the effects of alcohol on individuals and the Mizo society. A team of academics concluded in 2018 that the social cost of liquor was higher than the revenue earned.Liquor dealers said the liquor stock unsold since the imposition of the Zoramthanga government’s dry day order was worth more than ₹40 crore. “The government should either buy this stock or compensate us,” a dealer said.last_img read more

Italian Prosecutor: Stem Cell Group Is a ‘Criminal Organization’

first_imgROME—After a 4-year investigation, a public prosecutor in Turin has delivered a withering indictment about a controversial stem cell therapy provided by the Stamina Foundation in Italy. The report, issued on Wednesday, describes Davide Vannoni, who introduced the treatment in Italy, as the head of a criminal organization that has defrauded about a thousand patients since 2006 by administering a dangerous and unapproved treatment in exchange for money.Prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello accuses 19 others as well; they include physicians, members of ethics committees, and directors at three public hospitals where Vannoni treated his patients, as well as the owner of a drug company, two foreign scientists, and the head of the Department of Research and Clinical Trials at AIFA, the Italian Medicines Agency.Vannoni has asked for up to €48,000 per treatment and €10,000 per year to store cells extracted from adults and children, the report says; his treatments exposed patients to serious risks, it concludes, including the risk of infection, severe bleeding, spinal cord injury, cancer, and ischemia. The report identifies a series of problems with the treatment. No preclinical and clinical studies were done, for instance; Vannoni’s team processed, handled, and injected cells under nonsterile conditions; and “bovine serum with no specified origin” was used as a culture medium. Patients “were turned into guinea pigs,” the report states.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)A judge must now decide whether the accusations warrant a trial. ScienceInsider could not reach Vannoni for comment. In the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Vannoni said that he had expected the charges but said they were unfounded. “I have the documents to prove it and I’ll defend my self; 180 civil judges have already proven us right” by ruling that patients have a right to get the treatment, the paper quoted him as saying.Vannoni, who has a degree in philosophy and was a psychology professor at the University of Udine, is now president of the Stamina Foundation in Turin. He rose to national fame in Italy in 2012, when a popular TV show named The Hyenas claimed that he had cured people of neurodegenerative diseases including ALS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s, as well as several rare diseases affecting both adults and children. Soon, patients began seeking out the therapy.The treatments were administered at various locations. In 2011, Vannoni signed an agreement with the Spedali Civili Hospital in Brescia to treat 12 patients there. According to the report, some other patients were secretly treated at the Burlo Garofolo Hospital in Trieste. Vannoni also had patients treated in beauty centers in San Marino, a tiny republic surrounded by Italy, and even in the basement of a house in Turin, Guariniello writes.The 69-page report says Vannoni had a well-developed strategy that aimed to bypass the law on stem cell therapies, take the treatment to public hospitals, get the Italian government to pay for it, and expand the business around the world. In addition, he actively pushed patients to go to court to claim the right to be treated, the report says.Physicians at the hospital in Brescia were in the dark about the details of the treatment administered there; the report says they used to temporarily leave the lab because a Stamina Foundation biologist “had to add a secret ingredient to the stem cells” that supposedly helped the cells develop into neurons. “What the dossier claims is staggering,” says Michele De Luca, director of the Centre for Regenerative Medicine “Stefano Ferrari” in Modena, Italy. “It adds a sense of serious danger to the scientific inconsistency of the Stamina method which we were already aware of. We will wait, however, for justice to take its course.”The report may not be the end for Stamina’s treatment. Italy’s health minister, Beatrice Lorenzin, has already said that a scientific review of the method needs to proceed as planned.The review is the result of a political intervention. In 2012, AIFA and the National Transplant Center shut down Stamina’s activities after an inspection at the Brescia hospital found several serious problems with the lab and treatment. Following public protests, the Italian Parliament in May 2013 adopted a law ordering the government to design and fund a proper clinical trial of Stamina’s method. In September, however, a panel set up to investigate the method said there was no scientific basis for a trial. (The prosecutor’s report says that the documents Vannoni provided to the panel were produced by a medicine student who relied mainly on Wikipedia.)Vannoni successfully appealed the committee’s rejection in court, arguing that some of its members weren’t impartial. Lorenzin then nominated a new committee that is set to review the method soon. That panel could still propose a clinical study.But Amedeo Santosuosso, chair of the European Centre for Law, Science and New Technologies of the University of Pavia and a member of the first panel, hopes the saga will end before then. “At this point the minister should have the moral and political strength to take the right decision and put to a definitive end the whole story,” he says. “This is one of the darkest chapters in the history of medicine of this country.”last_img read more

Earth Scientists React to Possible Loss of Russian GPS Stations

first_imgA Russian government threat to disconnect 11 GPS receivers used for geophysical research and to fine-tune the satellite navigation system is drawing concern from scientists—and questions from the country’s minister for industry.The threat is just one element of the tit-for-tat diplomatic and rhetorical firefight that has broken out between Russia and the United States in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in Ukraine. Last week, senior Russian officials said they were considering an array of moves aimed at U.S. space programs, including pulling out of the International Space Station in 2020 and barring the use of Russian rocket motors by U.S. firms. Officials also threatened to turn off 11 land-based GPS receivers on Russian soil by 1 June unless the United States agreed to install similar units for Russia’s GLONASS satellite navigation system on U.S. territory.Experts say the shutdown—if carried out—would have little impact on GPS. The passive stations, which only receive GPS signals, are primarily used to ensure correct tracking of GPS satellites. “As these stations are very few, their impact on the accuracy of the positional measurements is insignificant,” says Konstantin Kuimov, head of the Moscow State University department of astrometry and time service. “The accuracy of the positioning at present is the question of decimeters. Now, it would worsen a little bit.” GPS users won’t notice any change, he says.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The impact on science, however, could be a bit greater. That’s because earth scientists use data from the receivers to track the slow, subtle movements of continents and land surfaces. “The situation with geophysical measurement is much worse” because the receivers are vital to providing “a serious set of statistical data,” Kuimov says. “The statistical data makes it even possible to measure the variations in the rotation of the Earth and the seismic activity of the planet. It is only the positioning satellites that make it possible to measure the [movements] of the surface in millimeters.” Researchers use both navigation systems—GPS and GLONASS—to make such measurements, Kuimov notes. So he and other researchers would like to see GLONASS stations on U.S. territory (a move that has been under negotiation). Ideally, he says, such stations ultimately would be evenly spaced around the world.If Russia follows through with the threat, the impact will depend on how long the base stations remain inaccessible, says Jeffrey Freymueller, a geophysicist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. “If the Russians eventually share the data, we’ll be able to reprocess everything and eventually recover full precision results, but if they actually remove the equipment for the long term then over time it will become an increasing problem, as it will compromise the global coverage,” Freymueller says. “Before there were these stations in Russia, for example, it was difficult to do large-scale tectonic studies in China because we could not define what was the stable Eurasian plate well enough to express motions relative to stable Eurasia. Eventually, we will slip back toward that situation if there is no continuing data from Russia, although we still have the past data so it will never be as bad as it was.”The threat to turn off the receivers “is a purely political decision,” Kuimov says. “No one needs it except politicians. In fact, it just demonstrates Russia’s disloyal attitude [toward] the U.S., in response to the disloyal attitude of the U.S. [toward] Russia.”The threat also appears to have sown discord within the Russian government. On 13 May, the day after the threat surfaced, Denis Manturov, Russia’s minister of industry and trade, suggested that it didn’t make sense. “Technically, it can be done,” he said. “But what is the purpose of that?”With reporting by Vladimir Pokrovsky, Andrey Allakhverdov, and Yudhijit Bhattacharjee.last_img read more

Century-old drug reverses signs of autism in mice

first_imgA single dose of a century-old drug has eliminated autism symptoms in adult mice with an experimental form of the disorder. Originally developed to treat African sleeping sickness, the compound, called suramin, quells a heightened stress response in neurons that researchers believe may underlie some traits of autism. The finding raises the hope that some hallmarks of the disorder may not be permanent, but could be correctable even in adulthood.That hope is bolstered by reports from parents who describe their autistic children as being caught behind a veil. “Sometimes the veil parts, and the children are able to speak and play more normally and use words that didn’t seem to be there before, if only for a short time during a fever or other stress” says Robert Naviaux, a geneticist at the University of California, San Diego, who specializes in metabolic disorders.Research also shows that the veil can be parted. In 2007, scientists found that 83% of children with autism disorders showed temporary improvement during a high fever. The timing of a fever is crucial, however: A fever in the mother can confer a higher risk for the disorder in the unborn child.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)As a specialist in the cell’s life-sustaining metabolic processes, Naviaux was intrigued. Autism is generally thought to result from scrambled signals at synapses, the points of contact between nerve cells. But given the specific effects of something as general as a fever, Naviaux wondered if the problem lay “higher up” in the cell’s metabolism.To test the idea, he and colleagues focused on a process called the cell danger response, by which the cell protects itself from threats like infection, temperature changes, and toxins. As part of this strategy, Naviaux explains, “the cells behave like countries at war. They harden their borders. They don’t trust their neighbors.” If the cells in question are neurons, he says, disrupted communication could result—perhaps underlying the social difficulties; heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, and sensations; and intolerance for anything new that often afflict patients with autism.The key player may be ATP, the chief carrier of energy within a cell, which can also relay messages to other nearby cells. When too much ATP is released for too long, it can induce a hair-trigger cell danger response in neighboring neurons. In 2013, Naviaux spelled out his hypothesis that autism involves a prolonged, heightened cell danger response, disrupting pathways within and between neurons and contributing to the symptoms of the disorder.The same year, he and his colleagues homed in on the drug suramin as a way to call off the response. The medication has been in use since the early 20th century to kill the organisms that cause African sleeping sickness. In 1988, it was found to block the so-called purinergic receptors, which bind to compounds called purines and pyrimidines—including ATP. These receptors are found on every cell in the body; on neurons, they help orchestrate many of the processes impaired in autism—such as brain development, the production of new synapses, inflammation, and motor coordination.To determine if suramin could protect these receptors from overstimulation by ATP, Naviaux’s team worked with mice that developed an autism-like disorder after their mothers had been exposed to a simulated viral infection (and heightened cell danger responses) during pregnancy. Like children with autism, the mice born after these pregnancies were less social and did not seek novelty; they avoided unfamiliar mice and passed up the chance to explore new runs of a maze. In the 2013 paper, the researchers reported that these traits vanished after weekly injections of suramin begun when the mice were 6 weeks old (equivalent to 15-year-old humans). Many consequences of altered metabolism—including the structure of synapses, body temperature, the production of key receptors, and energy transport within neurons—were either corrected or improved.In the new study, published online today in Translational Psychiatry, the researchers found equally compelling results after a single injection of suramin given to 6-month-old mice (equivalent to 30-year-old humans) with the same autism-like condition. Once again, previously reclusive animals approached unknown mice and investigated unfamiliar parts of a maze, suggesting that the animals had overcome the aversion to novelty that’s a hallmark of autism in children. After the single injection, the team lowered the levels of suramin by half each week. Within 5 weeks most, but not all, of the benefits of treatment had been lost. The drug also corrected 17 of 18 metabolic pathways that are disrupted in mice with autism-like symptoms.Naviaux cautions that mice aren’t people, and therapies that are promising in rodents have a track record of not panning out in humans. He also says that prolonged treatment with suramin is not an option for children, because it can have side effects such as anemia with long-term use. He notes that there are 19 different kinds of purinergic receptors; if suramin does prove to be helpful in humans, newer drugs could be developed that would target only one or a few key receptors. The researchers are beginning a small clinical trial in humans of a single dose of suramin that they hope will be completed by the end of the year.The study is exciting, says Bruce Cohen, a pediatric neurologist at Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio. “The authors have come up with a novel idea, tested it thoroughly, and got a very positive response after one dose.” He notes, however, that the mice with a few characteristics of autism don’t necessarily reflect the entire condition in humans. “Autism isn’t a disease. It’s a set of behaviors contributing to hundreds of conditions and resulting from multiple genes and environmental effects. Great work starts with a single study like this one, but there’s more work to be done.”last_img read more

Antarctic icebergs decimating seafloor life

first_imgA decade ago, the sea floor off the coast of the west Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) was a patchwork quilt of different colors and species. But now, icebergs are increasingly scouring the sea floor as they drift close to shore, fundamentally altering that rich ecosystem in the process. That’s the conclusion of a study reported this week in Current Biology. Each winter, the WAP sea surface freezes over, forming a skin of “fast ice” that holds back the bergs. But with climate change, the WAP is experiencing rapid regional warming, with fewer days each year of fast ice—letting the icebergs into the shallows more often, where they carve huge gashes through the habitat of the colorful, tentacled invertebrate animals carpeting the sea floor. The team examined the spatial distribution, diversity, and interactions between and within species from 1997 to 2013, along with scours from the ice each year. What it found was sobering: Most species weren’t able to recover from the increasingly frequent pounding by the ice. Instead, one species—a nondescript white mosslike animal encrusted on the rocks—emerged as an all-conquering winner, edging out the rest by its sheer ability to take a beating. It now has a near-monopoly in the area, the study found—and that could make the whole region more vulnerable to invading species.last_img read more

Why do humans grow up so slowly? Blame the brain

first_imgHumans are late bloomers when compared with other primates—they spend almost twice as long in childhood and adolescence as chimps, gibbons, or macaques do. But why? One widely accepted but hard-to-test theory is that children’s brains consume so much energy that they divert glucose from the rest of the body, slowing growth. Now, a clever study of glucose uptake and body growth in children confirms this “expensive tissue” hypothesis.Previous studies have shown that our brains guzzle between 44% and 87% of the total energy consumed by our resting bodies during infancy and childhood. Could that be why we take so long to grow up? One way to find out is with more precise studies of brain metabolism throughout childhood, but those studies don’t exist yet. However, a new study published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) spliced together three older data sets to provide a test of this hypothesis.First, the researchers used a 1987 study of PET scans of 36 people between infancy and 30 years of age to estimate age trends in glucose uptake by three major sections of the brain. Then, to calculate how uptake varied for the entire brain, they combined that data with the brain volumes and ages of more than 400 individuals between 4.5 years of age and adulthood, gathered from a National Institutes of Health study and others. Finally, to link age and brain glucose uptake to body size, they used an age series of brain and body weights of more than 1000 individuals from birth to adulthood, gathered in 1978.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The researchers, led by Christopher Kuzawa, an anthropologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, found that when the brain demands lots of energy, body growth slows. For example, the period of highest brain glucose uptake—between 4.5 and 5 years of age—coincides with the period of lowest weight gain. This strongly suggested that the brain’s high energy needs during childhood are compensated for by slower growth.“This is a very, very cool paper,” says Karin Isler, a biological anthropologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. “It very convincingly shows that the conflicting demands of the brain’s and the body’s energy requirements for growth are met, in humans, by a temporal sequence of delayed growth.”The expensive tissue hypothesis was first proposed in 1995 by anthropologists Leslie Aiello of New York’s Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and Peter Wheeler of the United Kingdom’s Liverpool John Moores University. Although it was initially thought that bigger brains were supported by smaller digestive systems, later studies revealed that other mechanisms could also be at work. Isler and primatologist Carel Van Schaik from the University of Zurich suggested that energy-rich diets, delayed growth and reproduction, and energy-efficient locomotion could also help feed the energy-hungry brain. Humans show signs of all three: We cook our food and eat meat, boosting caloric intake; we grow up more slowly and reproduce later; and we walk on two feet, saving energy compared with quadrupedal chimpanzees. The PNAS study supports the trade-off between delayed growth and larger brains, Isler says.The ideal next step would be to see if a similar trade-off with growth happens in other primates, too. But that will hard, Kuzawa says. “Obtaining PET data on brain glucose use across the full growing years in other closely related primates would be fascinating but difficult, and likely impossible for the more relevant comparative species like chimpanzees,” he says.*Correction, 26 August, 11:56 a.m.: An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated that the study sample sizes were 400 and 1000, although they were higher. The article has been amended to reflect this.last_img read more

Why are these massive planets so close to their suns?

first_imgThe huge gas-swaddled planet 51 Pegasi b orbits just 7.5 million kilometers from its parent star (a distance about one-eighth the size of Mercury’s orbit)—so close, in fact, that its “year” lasts just 4 Earth days or so. Other such “hot Jupiters” orbit their suns even closer than that. Ever since this odd class of planets was first discovered about 2 decades ago, scientists have wondered how gas giants, a type of planet found only in our outer solar system, end up in orbits so exceedingly close to their parent stars? Previous studies have suggested that gravitational interactions with other large planets in their solar systems created orbital chaos that drove them inward from a more distant orbit. A new analysis supports that notion. Researchers used software to simulate the planetary motions within a two-planet system: one being a Jupiter-sized planet (depicted in the artist’s concept above) orbiting its parent star at about the same distance Earth orbits the sun, and the other a large planet in a highly tilted orbit that was slightly larger. Over a simulated interval of 200 million years, the inner planet slowly migrated even farther inward to become a “warm Jupiter” orbiting its parent star at about the same distance Mercury does in our solar system, the researchers report online today in Science. (Previous studies have identified six distant solar systems that include both a warm Jupiter and a large companion planet in a highly tilted orbit, the researchers note.) Over the life of a star, which can last billions of years, continued gravitational interactions with the other large planet in the system could drive a warm Jupiter even closer to its parent star, converting it into a hot Jupiter.last_img read more

Teen Vogue Names Indian American Samhita Mukhopadhyay its First Executive Editor

first_img“I am deeply impressed with Teen Vogue’s coverage of the most important issues impacting young women’s lives today, as well as with (chief content officer Phillip Picardi’s) leadership,” Mukhopadhyay said in a statement. “I am honored and excited to help lead this vibrant and inspired team to expand and deepen their coverage on everything from body positivity, fashion, pop culture, Black Lives Matter, college sexual assault and more,” the Indian American journalist added.Read it at Indiawest Related Itemslast_img read more

Paisa Pheko Tamasha Dekho!!

first_imgShocking! Unthinkable! Unbelievable! The older generation is either reaching for the smelling salts, jumping out of its skin or frothing in righteous indignation. The younger generation just can’t have enough. The TV channels are freaking out beaming it. The entertainment media are splashing it in color, big time. And the subjects (objects?) under discussion openly confess that they haven’t had so much fun — with their clothes on, at least — ever, while bogeying their way to the bank. Yup, guys, we are talking about the sudden blitz n’ boom of A-listers in B-town shakin’ it up, big time, at any event or happening anywhere on planet Earth — for the right bag of Big Bucks. King Khan reportedly slung one out when this trend was a toddler with “I am a Bhand (street entertainer). Anyone can hire me for a price!” With that, he led by example to dance away merrily at hi-profile weddings and events across the globe. Very soon others followed and today almost every star is busy dancing away to glory — to the offer of cool moolah — from Borivali to Boston!  Karina KapoorIt wasn’t always like this. Says one veteran Bolly-tracker, Siddeshwar Dayal: “My God, what’s going on today would be considered sacrilege, blasphemous and downright cheap by the earlier generation. This sentiment was shared by the stars too and they considered it unthinkable — infra dig — and totally inappropriate to mix art with public entertainment — of the dhin-chak kind.” He recalls the interesting case of the diva, Vyjantimala, “the first screen heroine to dance at the Filmfare Awards function — but with the firm condition and proviso that it remains totally classical.” Later, when Hema Malini and Asha Parekh came into this scene, he adds, they too insisted on these ground rules, strictly art. Once, in 1970 in the West Indies, when enthusiastic fans urged Vyjantimala to do her racy “Buddha Mil Gaya” number from Sangam on stage, she stormed off in a huff. Ditto Hema, two years later in Trinidad.Today, the diametrically opposite seems to be true. In a fan-driven, sponsor-led and money-mad universe, stars pretty much dance to the checks. Why? While some point to the recession and believe the quick bucks are comfort when no movies are on the kitty, others are convinced it’s a sign of the times when everything — even stars — are up for sale. As always, the candid Mahesh Bhatt has no problem with the dance-for-cash routine whatsoever and says it’s a fall-out of the consumerist and brand-driven times we live in. The world is a mall and guys with the money and inclination are free to pick up big-buck brands of their choice, for their own reasons. It has nothing to do with ethics or morality for christ’s sake! Others believe that if a Shah Rukh Khan, Bipasha Basu, Aishwarya Rai, Kareena Kapoor, Akshay Kumar or Salman Khan, by dancing and performing, brings joy and happiness to a set of people, what’s wrong? And so what if the clientele comprise Gutka-kings, hot-shot exporters, stinking-rich business tycoons or fat-cat jewellers c’mon guys, they are entitled to their version of fun and exhibitionism, right? As a perceptive trend-watcher, Patha Chatterjee comments: “Earlier you had royal patronage. Today corporates have taken that place with events, fashion shows, product launches, et. al. blitzing the scene. In this totally commercial space, what’s wrong if weddings, anniversaries, sangeets, birthdays, engagements or special events join in? It’s a personal thing between Mr. Big Shot Industrialist and the Star. Where does Mr. Virtuous with the whole conscience, morality and ethics crap come in, anyway?” Social Commentator Achal Singh however begs to differ: “We all know how incredibly popular B-town stars are and the impact they have on the collective, popular imagination of one and all. The leading lights bring with them image, persona and brand equity. This suggests that along with the glamour and entertainment quotient, they also have a basic sense of dignity with which they conduct their public life. To dance at the drop of a hat wherever the money is good (birthdays, weddings, parties, events of the super rich) is to devalue and trivialize their ‘aura,’ downsizing them to nothing more than a performer-on-sale. This cheapens both the star and the profession, completely ruins the mystique and charisma of stardom and eliminates any sense of respect fans have for them.”  Malaika Arora Khan We all have heard of the obscene amounts that Katrina Kaif, Malaika Arora Khan and Priyanka Chopra were offered to do jigs at recent New Year bashes … should they have accepted and done it? Frankly, it’s a real tough call. In today’s uncertain Showbiz scene where each Friday is a chilling story of the luck of the draw, getting more for less shouldn’t be considered a sin, say one section of the crowd. However, the older gen flash big toothless grins when they hear that some of today’s hottest golden kids of B-town, Ranbir Kapoor, Imran Khan and Sonakshi Sinha will never ever go that route. As the local wit said, “From cricketers to cattle (thanks to the IPL Auction) is bad enough. From Big Screen Stars to Nautankis and Cabaret Girls is tooooo much yaar!”  Related Itemslast_img read more

Winter Soldiers: How The Ice Stupa Team Is Saving Glaciers The World Over

first_imgWhen Sonam Wangchuk, an education activist and engineer, invited crowd-funding on the internet for his Ice Stupa project back in 2014, he wrote in his usual cheeky flair: “It only makes sense to invite global contribution to help solve the problems we are facing here in the mountains, since whether we like it or not, we receive more than our fair share of the impact of your other global (warming) contributions.”The good-natured jibe aside, he is right. The beginnings of climate change are experienced clearly in the mountainous regions. It is seen in their receding glaciers, erratic run-off streams that local communities depend on, and meltwater lakes, which are dammed precariously by moraines and lead to flooding when the compressed sediments are unable to hold back the huge volume of water. The flooding of glacial meltwater lakes is a real threat all over the world — from the Himalayas to the Andes in Peru.The alarming receding of glaciers that was causing a water crisis in the desert mountains of Ladakh made Sonam Wangchuk step in with his Ice Stupa project. Wangchuk, like most inhabitants of the region, realized that there was too much water in winter when they don’t need it, and too little during the farming season when the farmers rely on melting snow to grow wheat, barley and vegetables.The Ice Stupa ProjectThe ice stupa, Wangchuk had told a group of volunteers, which the author was a part of, is a thing of “functional beauty”. “Ice stupas are important in more ways than one,” Wangchuk said. “They can be used to green mountain deserts, mitigate disaster, and restore livelihood of mountain communities. They also work as a tourist attraction.”Shaped like a Buddhist stupa, the ice stupa is a structure built to combat the mountain desert’s water crisis. The ice structure, adorned with sea buckthorn bushes and prayer flags, and dominating the Ladakhi village of Phyang, can store up to 1.7 million liters of water. The idea is that the water released by the glaciers in the pre-farming season can be stored in the form of an ice structure and released during the summer months when the farmers need it. With the ice structure’s capacity to store water, the water can not only be used for farming but also to effectively green the deserts. As of now, 5,000 willow trees are growing under the patronage of the ice stupa.The idea came from a civil engineer, Chewang Norphel, who wanted to store the glacial run-off water by grafting ice terraces. Norphel diverted the water from the main glacial streams via canals to catchment areas that are shaded from the sun. Ice terraces, however, came with limitations. They needed to be higher in altitude, and villagers were required to regularly climb up the mountain to maintain it. Also, come summer and they would have little control over the melting of water.Wangchuk merely sought ways to improve Norphel’s artificial glacier design. The engineer, on whom the character of Aamir Khan was based in the hit Hindi film, 3 Iditos, realized that by reducing the surface area exposed to the sun and warm winds, the ice structure can last longer — even at lower altitudes. How an ice stupa works is simple.“Water maintains its level. If, say, water is piped 30 m upstream, it would rise 30 m from the ground when it reaches the village. Since the pipe is upstream, the water flows down to the village because of gravity,” Wangchuk’s video uploaded on his YouTube page explains. As the water jets out from the pipe, which is narrower at the opening (picture a hose) in Ladakh’s winter nights with temperatures close to -40 degree Celsius, the water freezes by the time it reaches the ground.The sea buckthorn plants help scatter the droplets, making it easier for water to freeze as it comes down. The ice forms layer by layer on the dome structure built by volunteers who come to work on the project during Ladakh’s harsh winters. The dome structure which has plastic sheets, distributes the weight evenly, as the ice rises to the sky, taking the natural shape of a cone.True to his blithe demeanor, Wangchuk admitted candidly that the prayer flags on the ice stupa have less to do with religion and more with the fact that it breaks warm wind. At 78.4 feet, the ice stupa made this year is one of the tallest man-made ice structures.Tackling Glacial Meltwater Lakes — From Sikkim to PeruLike the Lake Palcacocha in Peru, the Lhonak Lake in Sikkim was considered dangerous for years. In 2013, scientists from the National Remote Sensing Centre published a report in the Current Science journal, saying that the meltwater lake formed, dammed by loose soil and glacial debris, in northern Sikkim could cause devastation downstream.In 2016, the Sikkim government approached Wangchuk for help with Lhonak Lake. Around that time, Wangchuk had publicly criticized the handling of the Phugtal flash floods in Zanskar region by the National Disaster Management Authority. He had asked the government agencies not to blast the debris holding the lake formed in Phugtal and instead siphon the water off to drain the lake. His advice was ignored, and while people downstream were evacuated, the eventual flash flood caused by blasting the debris destroyed 12 bridges and fields of villagers.The Sikkim government wanted Wangchuk to use the siphon technique to drain the water from Lhonak lake to make the threat of flash floods in the state impotent.In September 2016, Wangchuk and his Ice Stupa team, along with help from the military, embarked on a three-week expedition and installed three pipes to drain the Lhonak lake. The idea then struck him that the water that has been siphoned off can be used to re-glaciate the region by making ice stupas. The team hopes to implement it in Sikkim, and in Andes, Peru, as well.The initial groundwork was done in Phinaya, Peru, in August this year. Surya Balasubramanium and Darren Thomas Clark, from the Ice Stupa team, went on a recce, and tested the capabilities of water cannon for ice formation and the capability of the ice to survive the hot days in Peru. They came back from the recce, flushed with success. Clark wrote about it on his Facebook page: “Despite the unfavorably warm conditions near Phinaya, Peru (Altitude 5000 meters, 17,000 ft.), we were able to build 2 glacier bases in two nights. We proved that our techniques for building glaciers can work in the Andes, and we will be back next year for a full scale build in the best location possible.”Peru will have a full scale ice stupa next year to mitigate the risks of glacial meltwater lakes.The MortAlive ProjectMorteratsch Glacier, one of Switzerland’s prime attractions, is seeing a yearly loss of 15 million tonnes of ice. This is where the MortAlive Project, which started independently under Prof Hans Oerlemans, comes in. The project creates an artificial snow cover for the glacier in summer to delay the retreat of the glacier. “Our studies show that in 20 years we can build back the glacier to how it is now,” Balasubramanium, who is now part of the project, says.The artificial snow-making and ice stupas are being used in conjunction so that the team can do more than slow down the glacier’s retreat. “This winter, it will be built near the Morteratsch Bahnhof, one of the stops of the Glacier Express train,” Balasubramanium told Little India.The first ice stupa of Switzerland was built in Van Rosel last winter. The design from Ladakh was adapted slightly in Switzerland, with the team using live twigs. “As expected, the twigs were alive and growing again when the ice started melting,” Balasubramanium added.Not just for tourism, ice stupas are being planned in the country as a water solution for alpine huts.This winter, the ice stupa built in Ladakh is expected to have an additional snow cover to delay its melting and to make it more attractive as a tourist spot.As climate change bares its teeth as a reality, the world is coming together to fight the effects, one ice stupa at a time. Related Itemsartificial glacierglacier graftingIce stupaice stupa Ladakhice stupa Switzerlandice stupa Van RoselLittle IndiaMortAlive projectSonam Wangchuklast_img read more

Tata Steel, Thyssenkrupp Finalize European Joint Venture

first_imgIndia’s Tata Steel has signed a deal with the German group Thyssenkrupp for a joint venture that will create Europe’s second largest steel-maker. The 50-50 joint venture, which will be named Thyssenkrupp Tata Steel, will employ about 48,000 workers, Reuters reported.The agreement follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in September 2017. The new firm firm will have annual sales of about £13 billion, and the group expects to make costs savings of between £350m and £440m a year, according to the BBC.The company, based in the Netherlands, will form Europe’s second-largest steelmaker after ArcelorMittal, which was created when Mittal took over Arcelor in 2006.“The joint venture will create a strong pan-European steel company that is structurally robust and competitive,” Natarajan Chandrasekaran, the chairman of Tata Steel, said in a statement.We’ve signed definitive Joint Venture agreements with @thyssenkrupp_en to create a new steel champion in Europe. Thyssenkrupp Tata Steel BV will be positioned as a leading pan European high quality flat steel producer. #FutureOfSteel https://t.co/fwgerFewn6 pic.twitter.com/gxFn3dymbG— Tata Steel (@TataSteelLtd) June 30, 2018“We will create a highly competitive European steel player – based on a strong industrial logic and strategic rationale. We will secure jobs and contribute to maintaining value chains in European core industries,” Thyssenkrupp CEO Heinrich Hiesinger said. “The joint venture with Tata Steel is an important milestone for the transformation of Thyssenkrupp to an industrials and service group and will lead to a significant improvement of the financial figures of Thyssenkrupp, effective with closing,” Thyssenkrupp said in a statement. The definite agreement would be signed shortly, it added.The merger was earlier feared to result in 4,000 job cuts, the BBC report said, adding that workers had been asking for protection of the future of Tata’s UK plant at Port Talbot in south Wales, which employs 4,000 people.The two companies will now jointly invest in Tata’s Port Talbot facility, according to Bloomberg. All job agreements have been extended till Oct.1, 2026, the report added.The transaction is subject to merger control clearance in several jurisdictions, including the European Union.The announcement comes as the European steel makers are facing 25 percent tariff on exports to the United States, which is their biggest market.The merger, which has been in the works for about a year, had earlier faced criticism in Germany over the decision to move the company headquarters to the Netherlands, and fear of job losses. Thyssenkrupp was also under pressure from some investors like Elliott Management Corp. and Cevian, which wanted the German firm to seek better terms in the deal, since Tata recorded low profits from its European steel ventures. Related ItemsEuropetata steelThyssenkrupplast_img read more