3 12 19

first_imgAmid the raging debate over triple talaq, a woman uttered the three words to “divorce” her husband and free herself from dowry harassment. Amreen Bano said ‘talaq’ thrice at the Inspector General of Police’s office in the presence of media. However, chief Qazi of Meerut, Jenur Rashideen, said there was no such provision for women to divorce husbands in Islam. PTIlast_img

3 12 19

first_imgSixteen months after the brutal rape-murder of a minor girl in Ahmednagar’s remote Kopardi village sent shockwaves across the State, a special court on Wednesday pronounced a death sentence for the three accused in the crime.The proceedings began at around 11.25 a.m. as the district and State awaited the quantum of sentence with bated breath. A massive crowd of onlookers gathered outside the court, keenly anticipating the final judgement amid a massive security shield.The tension was palpable in the courtroom as the three accused — Jitendra Shinde (25), Santosh Bhaval (36) and Nitin Bhailume (26) — were produced. All three stood with impassive faces as Judge Kevale awarded the death sentence to each of them.Following the pronouncement of the Additional Special Judge Suvarna Kevale, a roar of acclamation was heard outside the courtroom.“I had full confidence in the court and knew that justice would be served…we have waited every single day for nearly one-and-a-half years for this judgement,” said the victim’s father . Speaking after the judgement, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said that all three accused were sentenced to death for the rape and murder of the minor, and hatching a conspiracy for the crime.All three convicts can appeal the judgement before the Bombay High Court.Earlier, a high security alert was pronounced by district administration before the commencement of the proceedings, with flying squads of police personnel stationed at every possible pocket in Kopardi as well as in various parts of the Ahmednagar district. Nearly 1,000 policemen were deployed with entry restricted to the courtroom. During the concluding arguments on the verdict on Wednesday last week, Advocate Nikam, representing the State, had urged the Special Court to award maximum punishment to the three offenders, given the particularly brutal nature of the crime, which occurred on July 13 last year.Advocate Nikam, who had earlier dubbed the murder as “extremely cold-blooded”, touched upon 13 points in the crime to argue that the accused deserved capital punishment. He had further argued that the convicted trio “remained unrepentant of their crime” before and after the tragedy, showing no contrition, while stating that a criminal conspiracy was hatched by the trio to rape and murder the victim between July 11 and 13. Advocate Nikam had further urged for the capital penalty, remarking that “society would get a wrong message if the death sentence was not awarded in so gory a case”.The defence counsels for the accused trio, while pleading for mitigation of their sentences, had said that a death sentence judgement could intensify social tensions between communities.The victim as well as the three accused hail from the same area.The case, which has been closely tracked by political parties and social outfits, had acquired a peculiar urgency owing to the potentially explosive nature of the crime in creating acute social divisions.The incident has been likened to the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case in the extent of its brutality, with medical reports suggesting that violence of a particularly feral nature was wreaked on the minor victim.last_img read more

3 12 19

first_imgA Class 10 girl was gang-raped allegedly by fellow students at a boarding school in Sahaspur in Dehradun district and the matter was kept under wraps by the school authorities for over two weeks, according to the police.Nine persons — four students accused of perpetrating the crime and five members of the school staff, including its director, principal and administrative officer — have been arrested, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Ashok Kumar said on Tuesday.The matter came to light on Monday, over a month after it took place on August 14, he said. The survivor first confided her ordeal to her elder sister when she realised that she might be pregnant.Threat to throw victim, sister out of schoolHer elder sister, who studies in the same school, drew the attention of the school authorities to the incident but instead of reporting the matter to the police, they tried to hush it up, Mr. Kumar said. They threatened to throw the two girls out of the school if they disclosed it to anyone. The school authorities are even accused of trying to abort her pregnancy, the police officer added.However, the elder sister later shared ithe information with a relative who informed the police about it. The arrested school staff are its director Lata Gupta, Principal Jitendra Sharma, administrative officer Deepak Malhotra, his wife Tanu Malhotra, and a maid named Manju.Police said that on August 14, the victim was taken to the backyard of the hostel by a classmate on the pretext that a teacher was calling her. When she reached there she found another classmate and two seniors waiting for her. They forcibly took her behind the bushes and raped her, the police said.last_img read more

3 12 19

first_imgKeeping the window open for government formation in Jammu and Kashmir, Governor Satya Pal Malik has said he will not dissolve the Assembly in December.“There is no issue with the Assembly. I don’t want to unnecessarily tinker with it. There is a reason for it. The elected people are still members of legislative assembly. They have been provided with funds to serve the people. So, even though there is not an elected government in place, the political process is going on, as the process includes political activity as well. Keeping this in mind, the Assembly will not be dissolved,” Mr. Malik told a local newspaper, Greater Kashmir, in an interview on Friday.This assumes significance after Bharatiya Janata Party State secretary Ashok Koul said his party was ready to form the government “if the required number of 19 MLAs come to us.”The Governor’s rule will complete six months in Kashmir in the third week of December. Suspended animationGovernor Malik could have dissolved the Assembly, which was put in a suspended animation as per the constitutional requirement by then Governor N.N. Vohra. The BJP decided to pull out of the ruling alliance with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on June 19, paving the way for Governor’s rule in the troubled State.With the Centre failing to hold elections within the stipulated six months, Mr. Malik said, “Yes, of course, J&K is heading towards President’s rule. It is a normal legal procedure according to the Constitution.”The Governor said both the regional parties, the National Conference and the PDP boycotted “but a lot of their people did contest the elections.” He invited the regional parties to participate in the panchayat polls.last_img read more

3 12 19

first_imgPlaying the soft-Hindutva card, the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh has decided to create a separate department to woo Hindu voters, who are traditionally seen as the vote bank of the BJP, ahead of the crucial general election in 2019. The new Spiritual Department will be created by merging the Religious Trusts and Endowments Department and the Happiness Department, the two popular departments of the previous BJP government led by Shivraj Singh Chouhan that ruled the State for 15 years.The Directorate of Religious Trusts and Endowments, Pilgrimage and Fair Authority; Directorate of Mukhyamantri Teerth Darshan Yojana and the Rajya Anand Sansthan will also be included in the new department, an official said on Monday.Official sources said the main objective of the formation of the Spiritual Department is to strengthen inter-communal harmony in the State.The other objectives of the proposed department include proper conservation and development of religious places; scientific evaluation of places of worship; encourage religious tourism in coordination with the Tourism Department; arrangement of honorarium to priests; formation of welfare schemes, and revival of temple gardens in collaboration with the Department of Horticulture and temple tanks in collaboration with the Rural Development Department.‘Nothing wrong’Meanwhile, Union Minister and BJP leader Uma Bharti has said that there was nothing wrong in the Congress government forming the Spiritual Department, saying it was the prerogative of the incumbent government to take certain decisions.last_img read more

3 12 19

first_imgKolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar on Monday told the Supreme Court that the CBI tried to forcefully enter his residence on February 3 without valid papers.In separate affidavits, West Bengal Chief secretary Malay Kumar De, DGP Virendera Kumar and Mr. Kumar refuted the allegations levelled at them by the CBI of obstructing the apex court-ordered probe into ponzi scams including the mutli-crore Saradha chit fund case.However, in case the court prima facie felt that their action was contemptuous as alleged by the CBI, the three officials said they were tendering an “unconditional and unambiguous apology.” The officials from West Bengal also accused the CBI of levelling vague allegations against them without cogent evidence to back them up. For instance, they submitted that no police officer was part of the protests organised by the Trinamool Congress Party and led by State Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee.The CBI, represented by Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, had argued before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi that uniformed police officers had participated in the protest.Mr. Kumar said “his presence, adjacent to the site of dharna” was to “discharge his duties”. He said both the Director General of Police and Inspector General of Police, West Bengal, had come to the protest site, which had also served as a makeshift secretariat/camp office of the Chief Minister.The police official said he had been at the location to ensure that no unforeseen situation arose in a ‘volatile and evolving situation’, adding that 76 cases had been lodged in connection with the chit fund scam.Mr. Kumar is walking a tightrope as the apex court had on February 4 said that “if the police commissioner is even remotely trying to destroy evidence, we will come down so heavily on him that he will regret.” Mr. Kumar was also questioned by the CBI in Shillong on the apex court’s orders.In his affidavit, Mr. Kumar denied having acted in any manner so as to protect the ruling party’s leaders involved in the scam. He said he did not possess exclusively any evidence against them. Nor had he done anything to subvert the orders of the apex court.“Materials have either been in the exclusive custody of the various Investigating Officers as part of the investigative units under their supervisory officers across the State and/or the appropriate courts in accordance with applicable law,” Mr. Kumar submitted.On his role as part of West Bengal’s Special Investigation Team (SIT), which had probed the ponzi scams before it was transferred to the CBI by the apex court, Mr. Kumar said he was only acting as an “administrative and logistic coordinator” in the team.Mr. Kumar said there were Assistant Commissioner of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Police and Joint Commissioner of Police rank officers for closer and direct supervision of the investigation of cases in Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate, where the deponent was posted as Commissioner of Police.Mr. Kumar also asserted that it was “very intriguing” as to why the CBI chose the last working day of then interim CBI Director M. Nageswara Rao to question him.“It seems very intriguing as to why such a major decision could not wait even for a single day for the new Director CBI to join, especially when the last notice was issued to the answering respondent, after a gap of more than a year,” he said in the affidavit.Mr. Kumar contended that the CBI’s bid to question him was against the Calcutta High Court’s order of abeyance.The apex court is scheduled to hear the case on February 20.last_img read more

3 12 19

first_imgNuclear physicists in the United States are one step closer to building their next dream machine. But numerous obstacles remain.On 1 August, the Department of Energy (DOE) approved the “baseline” cost and schedule for construction of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), a straight-shot linear accelerator in the works at Michigan State University in East Lansing. The accelerator would be used to generate rare, highly unstable nuclei not now seen outside of stellar explosions for a wide variety of nuclear physics experiments. The DOE review fixes the cost of the experiment at $730 million, $94.5 million of which will be provided by Michigan State, and the completion date for construction at 2022.“It’s a step forward and an important one,” says Thomas Glasmacher, a nuclear physicist at Michigan State and leader of the FRIB project. “Especially given the federal budget situation we’re just happy to be going forward.”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 DOE decision doesn’t quite give researchers the green light to start construction. Rather, the DOE directive allows them to start buying materials such as high-purity niobium, which will be needed to make the high-tech guts of the accelerator. But workers won’t be allowed to start the “civil construction” of digging the 150-meter basement in which the accelerator will lie until Congress passes a budget for fiscal year 2014, which starts 1 October. And researchers must pass another major review before they get permission to start building the accelerator itself—the hard part of the project.However, with Washington mired in partisan bickering, many observers doubt that Congress will pass a budget this year. Instead, they expect that legislators will simply extend the current budget through next year in a “continuing resolution”—just as they did this year. If that happens, researchers won’t be able start civil construction for another full year, Glasmacher says. Still, physicists will cope, he says: “We’re going to manage whatever the constraints.”Meanwhile, it’s not clear that DOE’s nuclear physics program, which has an annual budget of $520 million, can afford to follow through on the project. In January 2012, then-Secretary of Energy Steven Chu warned that it might not be able to. A year later, an advisory panel begrudgingly told DOE officials that if they cannot afford to both build FRIB and continue to run a 14-year-old atom smasher known as the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory, which does a different type of nuclear physics, then they should build FRIB. But some observers say that issue may eventually involve Congressional politics. For the moment, though, FRIB continues to move forward.last_img read more

3 12 19

first_imgLooking a bit like a dolphin, but with a long slim snout filled with pointy teeth, one species of ichthyosaur was practically invisible in the murky depths of Jurassic seas, thanks to dark pigmentation that covered its entire body. That’s one conclusion of a new study that provides an unprecedented peek at the coloration of sea creatures alive during or soon after the dinosaur era.The new findings “are marvelous, so cool,” says Anne Schulp, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, the Netherlands, who wasn’t involved in the research. “This is paleontology well beyond the bones, and [the team’s] arguments make perfect sense.”Soft tissues aren’t often preserved in the fossil record. As a result, figuring out what ancient creatures looked like—and particularly what colors they might have been—was by necessity speculative. But in recent years, scientists have developed high-tech methods to map the chemical traces of soft tissues in the rocks surrounding fossils, which in turn have helped them visualize the remains of pigments—almost literally bringing prehistoric colors back to life. Most previous efforts have focused on fossil birds and preserved remnants of their feathers, says Johan Lindgren, a vertebrate paleontologist at Lund University in Sweden. Now, he and his colleagues have used those techniques to analyze the fossils of ancient marine reptiles.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(*)For their study, the researchers looked at three sets of fossils (now housed in museums in Denmark, England, and Texas) of widely disparate creatures from different eras: a leatherback turtle that lived about 55 million years ago, a large predator called a mosasaur that lived about 86 million years ago, and an ichthyosaur that swam the seas between 190 million and 196 million years ago. (The ancestors of each of these creatures had once lived on land, so all three were air-breathers.) In all three fossils, outlines of soft tissue were preserved in the surrounding rock as dull black material. Paleontologists have long presumed such films to merely be carbon-rich remnants of tissues, Lindgren says. But a look at those materials with a scanning electron microscope revealed dense layers of tiny, rugby ball–shaped structures ranging between 0.5 and 0.8 micrometers long. These tiny bits are the same size and shape as the pigment-bearing structures (called melanosomes) found in the skin and scales of modern-day lizards and in the feathers of birds. Their ovoid shape suggests the pigments were black; melanosomes that lend a red or yellow color are typically spherical, Lindgren notes.When the team bombarded the fossils with charged particles and then analyzed the particles that were knocked from the surface (a technique called time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry), they chemically identified the remnants of eumelanin, a pigment that typically lends a black or brown color to skin or feathers. The rocks surrounding the preserved tissues didn’t contain the carbon-rich compounds, further suggesting the chemical remnants stem from preserved soft tissues and not ancient sediments, the team reports online today in Nature. Considering the concentrations of melanosomes the researchers found, even if the animals had other pigments that weren’t ultimately preserved, the pigment-bearing areas would likely have been dark gray or black.The overall pigment patterns in the fossils are very similar to those of modern-day sea creatures, the researchers note. In the leatherback turtle and the mosasaur, the pigments were concentrated on the upper surfaces of the animals’ bodies. Studies suggest that this dark-above-and-light-below color scheme, known as countershading, helps provide camouflage, Lindgren says. When lit from above (as it would be when the animal was swimming in a normal posture) and seen from the side, the lighter underside would be in shadow, helping the creature blend into the background, he notes. Because these creatures are air-breathers, they would have spent a substantial amount of time at the surface or in the shallow, well-lit portions of the seas.But the ichthyosaur appears to have had dark pigments all over its body. That’s unusual but not unknown among modern sea creatures, Lindgren says. The sperm whale is also dark all over—a color scheme that may help the fearsome predator hide in the gloomy depths where it typically forages.The pigments may have served other purposes as well. Dark upper surfaces, in particular, help modern-day marine reptiles such as leatherback turtles absorb sunlight while they bask at the surface. That boosts the creatures’ body temperatures, allowing them to grow faster and to forage for longer periods in cold waters.The team’s research “is very interesting, and it’s not trivial,” says Mike Benton, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. “Several years ago, people would have said we’d never be able to tell what colors ancient creatures were,” he notes. “But here we are.”last_img read more

3 12 19

first_imgCan elephants understand human? Is spoiled fruit waging war on us? And what really drove the evolution of lighter skin? Science’s Online News Editor David Grimm chats about these stories and more with Science’s Sarah Crespi.Listen to the full Science podcast.Hear more podcasts.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(*)last_img read more

3 12 19

first_imgIn a 226 to 179 vote, the House adopted a proposal from Representative Mark Meadows (R–NC) to bar the United States from entering international trade agreements to cut climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions. An amendment from Representative Scott Perry (R–PA), adopted on a voice vote, would bar spending money on a number of government climate assessments and reports, including the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s National Climate Assessment (NCA). The president has used the most recent NCA, released last month, to bolster his Climate Action Plan to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.Several other amendments offered by Democrats to bolster funding for ocean acidification and climate research failed on voice votes.Advocates for strong action on climate change are hoping the Senate will hold firm against the climate-related funding restrictions and strip out the “poison pills,” says Michael Halpern of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The White House has also indicated its opposition to climate research limits.One ocean advocate, meanwhile, calls the House bill a “mixed bag. … We’re not thrilled but not devastated,” says Jeff Watters, acting director of government relations at the Ocean Conservancy in Washington, D.C. “It certainly doesn’t meet our expectation of what needs to happen.”Overall, the bill would keep top-line funding numbers for the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) roughly equal to current spending. But it would cut NOAA’s climate-related research funding by $37.5 million, or 24%, from 2014. It also rejects a NOAA request to spend $15 million on a package of three space-based instruments including the Total Solar Irradiance Sensor, and a $9 million boost, to $15 million, for NOAA’s ocean acidification research and monitoring programs.In a report that accompanies the bill, the House also moved to block the White House’s controversial proposed closure of NOAA’s historic research lab near Beaufort, North Carolina. Some ocean and climate researchers are suffering a bit of heartburn from amendments that lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives last week added to a major spending bill.In a 321 to 87 vote, the Republican-controlled House on 30 May approved a $51 billion spending bill that would fund the departments of Commerce and Justice, and an array of other agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), in the 2015 fiscal year that begins 1 October. During 2 days of debate on the bill, House members offered scores of amendments, many proposing to shift funding between programs or cut spending. NSF survived the free-for-all largely unscathed.But lawmakers adopted several amendments that targeted marine research and climate science programs. The U.S. Senate, which this week begins work on its version of the spending bill, would have to agree to the amendments in order for them to become law (and in the past has stripped similar provisions from the legislation). For now, however, these amendments remain in the mix: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(*)center_img Representative Bill Flores (R–TX) successfully added language barring the president from enforcing his National Ocean Policy, which has been a partisan football in recent years. The amendment, which is similar to past amendments adopted by the House but later stripped from final measures, was approved on a voice vote.last_img read more

3 12 19

first_imgSAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA—This past Wednesday, at a discussion titled “Stopping the Deadly Ebola Outbreak” held at the Scripps Research Institute here, a local TV reporter repeatedly prodded one of the star panelists, Kevin Whaley, the CEO of Mapp Biopharmaceutical of San Diego.After Whaley explained that he had no idea whether ZMapp, his company’s now famous experimental antibody cocktail used to treat Ebola victims, really worked, the journalist continued to press. “From what you’ve seen in your research—and what your heart says—what do you say?”The audience of 100 people or so broke into nervous giggles.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(*)“I’m not willing to speculate on that,” Whaley replied.The dogged reporter gave it one more try, referring to two American health workers who were infected with Ebola in Liberia, returned to the United States and received ZMapp, and lived to tell about it. “How happy were you to see the two missionaries walk out of the hospital?”“That was certainly very satisfying, and hopefully ZMapp played some role in that,” Whaley said. “But that remains to be seen.”The exchange highlights the growing hope that some biomedical intervention—such as a treatment like ZMapp—will allow more people to survive Ebola infections. Time and time again, however, hope and hype have become knotted together.Today, that knot is sure to grow tighter with the publication online in Nature of an encouraging monkey experiment with ZMapp, in which 100% of the infected monkeys survived. It is sure to further raise expectations of a cure—and further confuse the public about just how near a cure might be. Even the authors of the new study caution that extending the monkey results to humans could be a long and difficult task.The experiments, led by Gary Kobinger of the Public Health Agency of Canada in Winnipeg, first tested combinations of Ebola antibodies made by his lab and Mapp Bio to find a cocktail that worked best in guinea pigs and then monkeys. They selected the concoction now called ZMapp and gave it to three groups of six monkeys; all received intramuscular injections of high doses of Ebola virus. A control group of three monkeys were given dummy drugs.The treated monkeys each received a total of three doses of ZMapp, one every 3 days. Treatment began at 3 days postinfection for one group, at 4 days for another, and at 5 for a third. All 18 of the monkeys had evidence of infection, many became ill, and two nearly died.In the end, 100% of the treated monkeys survived, and 100% of the control animals quickly died. Although the experiment used an older Ebola virus that differs from the strain now in West Africa, the researchers showed in a test-tube study that ZMapp also worked against the more recently isolated virus.The results are “a monumental achievement,” wrote virologist Thomas Geisbert, who studies Ebola virus at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, in a Nature editorial accompanying the study.“It’s a great study,” Geisbert tells ScienceInsider. “I’ve got shelves and shelves and shelves of things that inhibit Ebola in cell culture and a small percent inhibit it in guinea pigs or mice. And I’ve got shelves and shelves of things that work in guinea pigs and mice but not in monkeys. If you save 100% of monkeys up to 5 days after infecting them, that’s a huge bar to clear.”In a teleconference held by Nature today, Kobinger said it was “quite remarkable” that they could rescue infected animals that had advanced disease, which he called “a very important step forward in the fight against Ebola virus.” But Kobinger also stressed that many unknowns remain about the differences between this monkey model and human infection.To begin with, most humans are infected by exposure to bodily fluids from people with Ebola, not by syringes that hold a huge bolus of virus injected into their muscles. This kills monkeys on average in 8 days, while it typically takes 3 to 21 days for humans to develop symptoms. “It’s very hard to translate” the disease progression in this monkey model to humans, Kobinger said. But a monkey infected by this route and left untreated for 5 days is 3 days away from death he said, which indicates that ZMapp worked well into the disease.The monkeys received three doses of ZMapp, and it sometimes required a second one before the level of Ebola virus in their blood—the viral load—dropped. With the seven treated humans, one person who died received only a single dose, and no one has yet reported how many doses the others received. Kobinger said he “would not expect” a single dose to work. “What the antibody is really doing is buying time,” said Kobinger, stressing the importance of proper medical care on survival.Kobinger said he had no idea whether the antibodies had any effect on viral load in these patients, as they were given the experimental ZMapp on a “compassionate use” basis. “When each of the clinicians or clinical teams that have been using ZMapp release their data, we’ll get a better sense of maybe the efficacy, but even then, it’s hard because it’s not really a designed study,” Kobinger said. “Unfortunately, it may be limited what we’re really going to learn from those seven patients.”In preliminary experiments not reported in the Nature paper, Korbinger said he has in vivo evidence that ZMapp works against the strain now circulating in West Africa. He said future experiments will analyze the impact of providing infected monkeys with effective intensive care. His group also wants to see how low of a dose of ZMapp they can give infected monkeys and still rescue them. “One of the things that is very urgent for us to do is a dose de-escalation study so that we can see what the minimum amount of antibody is so maybe with the same amount of material we could do more,” he said.The availability of ZMapp is a critical issue for the growing number of people who want access to it on a compassionate use basis. Mapp Bio says it now has no more ZMapp on hand. Kentucky BioProcessing in Owensboro grows the ZMapp antibodies in tobacco plants. In a 2012 press release, that company’s chief operating officer, Barry Bratcher, said it had a fully automated production system “that operates in accordance with good manufacturing practices” and could “generate a new antibody lot in two weeks to rapidly address new threats and new outbreaks.” Bratcher did not reply to an e-mail from ScienceInsider to discuss that prediction.At the Scripps panel talk, Whaley told ScienceInsider that they were still trying to sort out production issues. “Clearly we misstated [the production time needed],” Whaley said. “That clearly was not our intention.”Questions also have been raised about how it was decided to give ZMapp to the seven people who have received ZMapp so far, two of whom were from Europe and two from the United States. Whaley said the company responds to requests that come through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and has no say in who ultimately had received the product.Two of the seven ZMapp patients have died. Their outcomes ultimately say nothing about the treatment: The people received the drug at different stages of disease, and four were evacuated to wealthy countries for top-notch care—likely the most important determinant of survival. No information has become public about the effect the antibodies had on their levels of virus. What’s more, it’s an experiment without a control. “These people did not have an identical twin who was infected the same day and didn’t get treated,” said Scripps structural biologist Erica Ollmann Saphire, who was a panelist at the event there and helped Mapp Bio select antibodies. “That’s why we need to do the human clinical trial.”Human studies of ZMapp are scheduled to begin in early 2015.Meanwhile, Ebola cases continue to rise. The World Health Organization as of yesterday reported 3069 cases and 1552 deaths, a case fatality rate of 52%. Senegal today reported its first case.*The Ebola Files: Given the current Ebola outbreak, unprecedented in terms of number of people killed and rapid geographic spread, Science and Science Translational Medicine have made a collection of research and news articles on the viral disease freely available to researchers and the general public.last_img read more

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first_imgHong Kong’s academics are being drawn into a long-running debate over local election procedures as student activists organize a boycott of classes to protest what they argue are undemocratic restrictions proposed by Beijing. More than 500 professors and staff members at 20 of the city’s colleges and universities have signed a statement supporting the students. And at least a few worry that Beijing’s attempts to micromanage local affairs could eventually crimp academic freedom.A statement of support titled “Don’t let the striking students stand alone” is posted in Chinese and English on the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union’s website. “As teachers and as citizens, we are pained and outraged to see the advancement of democracy in Hong Kong stifled and suppressed,” the statement begins before strongly endorsing student activism: “When we look back at history, both in China and overseas, we see that student movements have been an important force in pushing for social progress. Our hope in Hong Kong’s future lies in the passion and spirit shown by our young people and their willingness to take up the mantle in the fight for democracy and social justice.”    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(*)Universal suffrage in elections for Hong Kong’s chief executive by 2017 was a key principle underlying agreements to transfer Hong Kong from British to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. But the details were never spelled out. On 31 August, a committee of China’s National People’s Congress announced that only two or three people should be eligible to run for Hong Kong’s top political post and that all candidates should be selected by a nominating committee widely seen as favoring Beijing.Hong Kong’s pro-democracy advocates believe these conditions ensure that only pro-Beijing candidates will appear on the ballot. The announcement touched off demonstrations partly aimed at persuading Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, where a two-thirds vote is needed for approval, to reject the proposal. An “Occupy Central” movement plans to disrupt activity in the city’s business district early next month. And student activists are organizing a class boycott that could start the week of 22 September.The faculty support statement calls on teachers to be lenient in dealing with student absences, avoid scheduling important tests during the boycott, help student strikers keep up with class work, and wear yellow ribbons to show solidarity.”We have support from 20 local tertiary institutions with 520 signatories as of 13 September across most academic disciplines,” says Chor-yung Cheung, a political scientist at the City University of Hong Kong.If there is a student strike, “it will be business as usual,” at the University of Hong Kong, says Sun Kwok, an astronomer and the school’s dean of science. “Classes will continue to be held for students.”In response to a query from ScienceInsider, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) issued a statement saying the school “values freedom of speech, academic freedom and also rule of law.” But teaching and operations will go on normally, the statement reads.”The boycott will not be too disruptive, though with some good mobilization, the student leaders may be able to get lots of students to join,” says David Zweig, a social scientist at HKUST. He adds, “Most academics will simply tape their classes and ask the students to watch them. That is what I plan to do.”Kwok does not foresee the political controversy affecting higher education. “We are continuing to expand and improve and I am quite positive and optimistic about our future,” he says. He adds that political uncertainty has not affected recruiting. “At the faculty of science, we are continuing to advertise internationally for our open professorial positions and have received good responses. A number of colleagues from overseas have recently joined our faculty,” he says.Others worry that Beijing’s meddling could spread from the political arena to academia. Wai-Kwok Benson Wong, a political scientist at Hong Kong Baptist University, worries that, if Beijing gains more political influence, mainland scholars might be favored over locals, visas could be denied to academics with controversial opinions, and Hong Kong academics will hesitate to study or teach politically sensitive topics. The election rules decision “undermines people’s confidence in [Beijing’s] commitment to the policy of one country, two systems, which underpins Hong Kong’s academic freedom and other rights and liberties,” Cheung says.last_img read more

3 12 19

first_imgFilthy, smelly, repulsive. There are a lot of ways to describe cockroaches, but “full of personality” usually isn’t one of them. Yet a team of scientists has not only found evidence that the scuttling insects have personalities, but also discovered that when cockroaches get together, they create a group personality. The group personalities of cockroaches vary, too.“A lot of studies show personality in other invertebrates,” says Isaac Planas-Sitjà, a behavioral ecologist at the Free University of Brussels and the lead author of the study. “But no one had looked at the American cockroach.”Over the last 2 decades, scientists have documented personalities—that is, consistent behaviors, such as boldness, shyness, sociability, or aggressiveness—in a range of invertebrate species, from octopuses to water striders to social spiders. Planas-Sitjà was drawn to cockroaches not out of fondness, but because they don’t live in societies with leaders and followers—social castes that can make it difficult to spot an individual’s personality. “They are all independent, even though they are gregarious,” 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(*)To find out if the cockroaches had personalities, Planas-Sitjà and his colleagues glued tiny radio frequency identification chips to the thoraxes of 304 roaches so that they could track each insect after it was placed in a new environment. The scientists divided the animals into 19 groups of 16 individuals (all males about 4 months of age, because an animal’s age and gender can affect its behavior, making it more difficult to tease out its personality type). Three times a week, the team placed each group in the middle of a brightly lit, plastic circular arena that was surrounded by an electric fence so that the roaches could not escape. Two identical Plexiglas disks covered with red filters hovered just above the arena, creating red circles that the light-phobic insects perceived as shelters. Each shelter was large enough for all 16 cockroaches to gather beneath.Over a 3-hour period, the scientists measured the amount of time individual cockroaches spent inside a shelter and how much time each took to pay its first visit. To see if the insects reached a consensus about where to gather (an indicator of group personality), they tallied how many insects were beneath each disk at the end of the experiment. Their analysis showed that like other species, from spiders to lions, these cockroaches had shy and bold individuals. The shy roaches ran for cover as soon as they entered the arena, whereas bold individuals spent more time exploring, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. And the roaches consistently behaved in these same ways in each test.Despite these individual personality differences, by the end of each experiment the groups always ended up crowded together beneath the same shelter. “There is a collective dynamic—a social influence—that dilutes the individual personality differences,” Planas-Sitjà says. “So in the group, you end up with a similar behavior in everyone.” This conformity happens even though the researchers know, based on previous experiments, that some cockroaches when left alone in the arena never dash to a shelter, whereas others spend only a short amount of time beneath one. Yet they change their behaviors as soon as they’re in a group. “Then they all run to the shelter,” says Planas-Sitjà, who hopes to tease out why and how this happens with further experiments.The team’s discovery that “the collective outcome [the group personality] is different from the sum of the personalities is very cool,” says Noa Pinter-Wollman, an animal behaviorist at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in the study. “It implies that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Social spiders, bees, and ants are also known to have group or colony personalities.“To be able to show group personality as they have done is very exciting and intriguing,” adds Odile Petit, an ethologist at the French national research agency CNRS in Strasbourg. “And they’ve shown that individuals and their personalities matter even in simple animals.” Yes, even in cockroaches.last_img read more

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first_imgIn 1670, a Carthusian monk named Père Dom Anthelme discovered a “new star,” or nova, near the constellation Cygnus, pointing out to his fellow monks a star that did not appear on maps of the sky. Now, as astronomers report online today in Nature, this nova, CK Vulpeculae, had an unusual cause: The explosion probably occurred when two stars orbiting each other spiraled together and merged into one. New observations reveal molecules in the gas surrounding the merged star (white and yellow show the brightest glow at visible wavelengths; green contours indicate carbon monoxide gas). The molecules contain lots of isotopes that arise during nuclear reactions, so they likely spilled out of the stellar interiors when the stars joined together. Astronomers have recently discovered that rare “red novae”—named for their color—result when stars merge; now the aftermath of the 17th century nova indicates what such stellar mergers look like centuries later.last_img read more

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first_imgRadical Sikh groups in other countries, engaged in secret talks with the government, put forward three main demands, including an apology at a global forum for the 1984 military operation in the Golden Temple and a special status for the Akal Takht and Harmandar Sahib on the lines of the Vatican, according to two people familiar with the developments.One of them, who was familiar with the process to reach out to Sikh groups since its inception, said contact was initially established with UK-based Sikh groups through London-based interlocutor Jasdev Singh Rai, director of the Sikh Human Rights Forum, shortly before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited London in November 2015 and formal talks began after Rai and some 30 Sikh leaders met Modi during the visit.Read it at Hindustan Times Related Itemslast_img read more

2 12 19

first_imgBoth The Prince and Prime Minister are long-term supporters of the use of Indian Traditional Sciences alongside conventional methods of medical treatment and were given a white Mala (rosary) the symbol of Indian Traditional Sciences to wear at the inauguration by Amarjeet S. Bhamra, Secretariat at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Indian Traditional Sciences.Read it at Asian Lite Related Itemslast_img

2 12 19

first_imgOn an otherwise bright day in New Delhi, Indian democracy passed through what was perhaps the darkest phase of its 60-year-old history as three parliamentarians from the opposition right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party emptied a bag full of currency notes worth Rs 10 million ($250,000) onto the main table in the House. The money, they claimed, was an advance for a Rs 90 million bribe offered to them by leaders of the centrist ruling coalition – including Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s senior aide -to secure their abstention from voting, and thus facilitate the government’s victory. Media reports pegged the “market rate” for the horse-trading at $750,000 for an abstention and $9 million for a cross-vote.The repeated television images of the “note-bomb”- MPs waving the wads of currency before a packed House – stunned the nation. Of course, we all knew it happened under wraps. Plus, corruption in the Indian polity has not escaped detailed media scrutiny since the early and mid-1990s (after the advent of cable-TV news channels in the country) when exposes became easier with advanced snooping technologies like hidden cameras:• In the famous Jharkhand Mukti Morcha Bribery Case (1993) four JMM MPs were penalized for accepting cash worth Rs 16 million to shore up the minority Congress government of Prime Minister P.V.Narasimha Rao from toppling.• Sukh Ram, a communications minister in that same administration, grabbed the headlines three years later when Rs 36 million of unaccounted-for cash was unearthed from his house.• The Big Bull Harshad Mehta, prime accused in the largest securities scam of the Indian stock market, claimed he had bribed then PM Narasimha Rao with a suitcase containing Rs 10 million.• BJP President Bangaru Laxman was trapped in a 2001 television sting operation accepting money from investigative reporters posing as defence contractors.• Eleven MPs were exposed after a similar sting operation a couple of years ago showed them taking cash for asking questions in parliament.But what set apart last month’s cash-for votes-scam apart from the previous exposes was its setting. Despite frequent reports of unruly scenes in the state legislatures, the Indian Parliament commands a measure of awe and respect in the average citizen. The gloom that descended on the country the day it was attacked in 2001 was almost palpable. Indians by and large would readily discount the integrity of their law-makers, but the semi-circular tall-pillared edifice of the Parliament somehow remains – or remained till July 22 – a majestic and revered symbol of people power. Bandying around tainted money on its floor was nothing short of desecrating a temple’s sanctity.This trust-vote had another significance. Never in recent memory has a political event revealed so much about ourselves as a people, crystallized and brought into sharp focus so many hitherto tentative or blurred equations, and served to expose the murky underground of Indian politics once and for all – while seeming, on the surface, to merely endorse an administrative status quo.The vote firmed up Dr.Manmohan Singh in the prime ministerial saddle, but also showed us what life in the hurly-burly of realpolitik can do to a political innocent. By taking charge of his party’s managerial reins and guiding it to victory in the trust-vote, Singh has traversed that fiction-character arc from egghead academic through strait-jacketed technocrat to savvy politician. Is the good doctor now writing his own scripts?For a person who until recently was meek and shy to the point of shunning media publicity, the so-called puppet PM surprised all with his pro-active body language and his willingness – particularly in the days preceding the debate over the trust-vote – to flash V-for-victory and thumbs-up signs to television cameras and even walk up to reporters of his own accord to make statements and answer questions. And with his uncharacteristically personal counter-attack on BJP’s Lal Krishna Advani in his closing speech before the voting.The vote, without actually saying so, has cleared the way for the nuclear deal with the US government. It sealed India’s commitment to the 123-Agreement as the deal is officially called, and has now tossed the file back onto the Bush administration’s table for further action.This indirect but no less emphatic clearance of the deal has taken the sting out of the Left Front’s tail. And rendered the Front – which sought to bring down the Singh government on the issue of the N-deal – irrelevant at least until the general elections early next year. With the Front off his back, Singh can push for further open-market reforms. That’s something India’s stock market eagerly anticipates, as evidenced by a sizable post-vote bull-run.During the trust-vote debate, Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Bihari strongman and the administration’s resident clown, whose antics have served to camouflage his less innocuous irregularities, further needled the Left party leaders for badmouthing the US government in public and then sending their kids to American schools and nursing a quiet penchant for American-made wrist-watches!The American connection showed up in another, even more eagerly-awaited speech. In a Reaganesque twist, Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Party’s PM-in-waiting and a Harvard alumnus, introduced the story of Kalawati, a real-life widow whose farmer-husband had killed himself because of insurmountable debts. The link however was too far-fetched: one needs an awfully big leap of faith and foresight to be convinced that the nuclear-power deal (with its “more electricity, so more development, so less poverty” logic) would see Kalawati through her present problems. The Nehru-Gandhi family scion couldn’t have asked for a better moment to make his mark in Parliament before a nation-wide television audience. He squandered it.The vote has resulted in the reworking of political equations across ideological divides, rendering party labels meaningless. And if, as some observers believe, ideology has been dead in Indian politics for some time now, the vote simply issued its death certificate. Imagine the Left willing to vote with the Right, and politicos affiliating with parties they had been denouncing ad nauseam. But the reworking also betrayed a silent caste prejudice. Analysts are unwilling to dismiss the allegations by Dalit (low-caste) leader Ms. Mayawati that the BJP leadership, sensing that she would emerge as a consensus candidate for the post of Prime Minister if the Singh government fell, actually colluded with the latter to ensure its victory and survival. Look out for Mayawati to make waves in the next general election.The vote also brought to the fore the all-round trivialization of politics by the country’s media. When the Times of India, considered to be a newspaper of record rather like the New York Times, front-pages stories comparing the build-up to the confidence-motion vote in terms of a T20 cricket match, other media commentators could be forgiven for calling Omar Abdullah’s debate speech “stirring and inspirational,” because he began on an impassioned note, saying he was a Muslim and an Indian and found no difference between the two. The media, one suspects, failed to recognize the nuanced distinction between a parliamentary debate and a political rally.The final straw came during the final voting. The Parliament’s electronic vote-registering system failed to register as many as 54 of the total 541 votes. (They were later counted manually.) Turned out that this was the combined result of a snag in the system as well as the inept handling of the buttons by parliamentarians. Think: Nearly 600 million Indians cast their votes on electronic voting machines in every parliamentary election with little or no fuss, while one in every ten of those they elect can’t find the right button to press in a historic trust-vote. Think: India boasts of the world-class techies it produces, while its premier law-making institution struggles with a sub-standard electronic voting system.A sad casualty of the trust-vote was Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s 40-plus-year-old association with his party. Chatterjee, whose Santa Claus-like figure and deep stentorian voice, as much as his stature as a veteran parliamentarian, have for long helped in maintaining order in the House, was expelled from primary membership by the Communist (Marxist) Party’s politburo, because he refused to step down from the Speaker’s post to vote with his party against the Singh government. The law – which treats a Speaker as a neutral in such trust-votes except in the case of a tie – was clearly in favor of Chatterjee, himself a Constitutional expert. But his party bosses weren’t impressed. Barely hiding his rage, Dada (as he’s fondly called) later told reporters: “I am a small man, only big in size.”That’s precisely how the nation felt about itself on that sleazy cash-for-notes day in July.  Related Itemslast_img read more

2 12 19

first_imgA police investigation has been launched after a Hindu temple was broken into in Fiji on Dec. 25, less than 10 days after another one was desecrated.Three men entered the Shree Sanatan Dharam Ramayan Mandali at Waila in Nausori while others stood guard outside, Radio Fiji One reported an eye-witness, Ramzan Khan, as saying. Idols were destroyed, religious books were torn and money was stolen before they escaped, the report added.The earlier incident of desecration of a Hindu temple in Fiji had angered the community in the country as well as outside. The police are investigating the incident that took place on Dec. 16 at Votualevu Tirath Dam Mandir in Nadi area.Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama also expressed concern at the incident. Bainimarama has “stressed the importance of investigating this right away and getting the perpetrators to justice,” FijiSun quoted Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho as saying.“This is religious intolerance and it will not be condoned,” Qiliho said. “As responsible citizens we must respect each others religion and the Police will do a thorough investigation and we will apprehend the perpetrators. They will be brought to justice.” The miscreants poured paint over the images of deities Ganesha and Hanuman, etc., painted graffiti/slurs on walls, stole the donation box, sound system and other equipment, and threw rubbish in the prayer area.Fiji Hindus expressed their ire over the incident on social media. One user said on Facebook: “Fiji is incompetent not only in the health department but also the justice department as well! Why on earth would it be impossible to catch the perpetrator(s) because there was no surveillance system!”Others urged the community to donate a CCTV for the temple for better security.“It has been so helpful to have the Police Commissioner come and visit us. This is our place of worship. We keep it sacred, we treasure it and for some people to come and just rubbish it has really hurt us,” Votualevu Tirath Dam Mandir Committee president Naresh Kumar told Fiji Sun.“We are sad to have our temple in this state, this is not right,” Parmen Nath Bharos, an executive at the temple, was quoted as saying in another report. “We are not aware who did this,” he said, adding, “We are not pointing a finger at anyone. Positive steps needs to be taken and we must accept other religions.” Related ItemsFijiHinduismlast_img read more