Farakka barrage a curse for Bihar, say experts

first_imgEchoing Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s concern for the receding water flow in the Ganga and increasing silt deposit due to Farakka barrage causing floods in Bihar every year, experts on Sunday advocated “urgent review” and comprehensive study of the barrage to make the river rejuvenated.Magsaysay award winner Rajendra Singh, also known as Waterman, advocated removal of the Farakka barrage and said:“On the basis of what we have discussed so far, we can easily say that Farakka is inauspicious (ashubh) for Bihar. It is a curse (abhishap) which needs to be removed. Because unless and until we remove it, we cannot move forward.” Mr. Singh was addressing an international seminar, organised by Bihar’s Water Resources Department, on “Incessant Ganga” on the second day.“We have so far discussed so many aspects such as engineering and technological aspects of the Farakka, but there are other aspects such as environmental, cultural, natural, spiritual that need to be discussed,” he said.Speaking on the occasion, environment expert Himanshu Thakkar advocated urgent need for review of the Farakka barrage which, he claimed, had failed to fulfil any of the purpose — irrigation, hydro-electric power, water supply — of the barrage for which it was built.The barrage was built to maintain the navigability of the Kolkata port, he added.Mr. Thakkar, who is a coordinator of South Asia Network on Dams, River and People, New Delhi, said: “There is a need for urgent review of the barrage which is 42 years old. In the US, review of barrage is conducted in every 20 years, but in our country this practice is not followed.”last_img read more

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Signs of normality returning to violence-hit Bhadrak

first_imgLife in communal violence-hit Bhadrak town in Odisha is slowly limping back to normality with no incident of violence or arson reported during the past two days.Curfew was relaxed for four hours from 8 am to 12 noon on Sunday allowing people to arrange essential commodities. The administration, however, took no chance and extended curfew till 7 am on Monday. It hinted that there could be phased relaxation in the curfew. From a security point of view, educational institutions and government offices will remain closed on Monday.Security tightenedDeployment of security personnel was strengthened at vulnerable pockets of the town and frequency in patrolling was increased to ensure peace.“There has been no fresh violence reported from the town. Curfew was relaxed in the morning and people came out in large numbers to get essential household items. We are taking several confidence building measures,” said A. B. Ota, Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Central).“The administration is not in a hurry to convene peace committee meeting. We are waiting for return of complete peace. We will soon take a call on the issue,” Mr. Ota said.Soon after announcement of relaxation in curfew was made, people rushed out to purchase milk, bread and vegetables which were available at a few places. Traders in Kacheri Bazar came out to check if their property was safe. Tension was palpable in Chandan Bazar, where both communities have a sizeable population. “We want to forget the violence and mistrust between the communities. But what we want from the administration is prompt response from security establishments during time of emergency. Our repeated calls to police stations had gone unanswered on Friday,” said Haji Seikh Abdul Salam, president of Charampa Minority Forum.Social networking sitesMeanwhile, cyber cell of the Crime Branch of the State Police has begun investigation into circulation of rumour through social media. As a precautionary measure, three social networking sites — Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp — have been blocked at Bhadrak and surrounding areas for 48 hours from Sunday evening. Besides, toll free number 1077 and helpline number 06784-251881 have been issued for distress calls.last_img read more

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Punjab farmers defy ban on stubble burning

first_imgAs the issue of stubble burning continues to plague the region, farmers in Punjab have expressed reluctance to shun the practice unless they are provided financial incentive. Prepared to take the State machinery head on, the farmers have formed groups in villages to confront government officials from taking any legal action against them for burning residue of paddy crop.“We are prepared to take them [officials] on if they visit our village or our farms to penalise us for burning the residue. We don’t have any other option,” farmer leader Avtar Singh Korjiwala of Bhartiya Kisan Union Ekta (Dhakonda) told The Hindu.“We have formed groups of 12-15 farmers and whenever any of us has to burn the residue we all get together at that field to ensure that no government official enters the farm to stop us,” he said.Admitting that there have been cases of farmers confronting teams of government officials during stubble burning, senior PPCB official G.S. Gill told The Hindu that so far Punjab has recorded as many as 295 cases of stubble-burning in the ongoing harvesting season.₹8 lakh fine collected“We have acted against erring farmers is many cases and imposed penalty, collecting a fine of ₹8.42 lakh till now,” he said on Monday.Satnam Singh, president of the Bharatiya Kisan Manch of Behru village in Patiala, has asked the government to refrain from taking stringent action against the farmers. “If paddy residue has to be disposed of through machines it means an additional financial burden of at least ₹5,000 per acre. How will a farmer, who is reeling under debt, bear the cost ,” he asked.Meanwhile, the Punjab government on Monday said it would bring in a comprehensive agricultural policy in the next session of the State Assembly. The announcement was made during a high-level meeting convened by Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh with various farmer unions in Chandigarh.last_img read more

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Gas balloons catch fire in Baghpat, children injured

first_imgOver half a dozen children were injured when hydrogen-filled balloons caught fire at a function to welcome Bihar Governor Satyapal Malik in Baghpat district on Saturday. Six of the children were injured and have been admitted to the district hospital. Mr. Malik was visiting his ancestral village of Hisawda in Baghpat for the first time after being appointed Governor. Local villagers had organised a hydrogen-filled balloon for an event to welcome him. According to officials, immediately after Mr. Malik left the function, someone smoked a cigarette. This led to the balloons catching fire and bursting one by one. Children competing with each other to grab the balloons were brunt.The condition of the injured children is serious but stable, said a local official.last_img read more

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Rajput forums to back Congress in Rajasthan bypolls

first_imgAn announcement made by the Rajput organisations here on Sunday extending support to the Congress in the upcoming by-elections in Rajasthan has created a flutter. The possibility of a traditional and sizeable vote bank shifting to the Opposition party has unnerved the BJP.The Rajput community has been at loggerheads with the BJP government over several issues, including the police encounter of gangster Anandpal Singh, row over film Padmavat, reservation in jobs and the encounter death of history-sheeter Chatur Singh in Jaisalmer.At a meeting of the community leaders at Rajput Sabha Bhawan here, the representatives of organisations such as Shri Rajput Sabha, Karni Sena, Rawana Rajput Sangharsh Samiti, Marwar Rajput Sabha, Pratap Foundation, Bhawani Niketan and Rajput Vikas Parishad assured their “unconditional support” to the Congress candidates on the three seats going to bypolls.Disillusioned with BJPCongress candidate from the Ajmer Lok Sabha seat, Raghu Sharma, attended the meeting and sought the Rajput community’s support Jaipur District Congress president Pratap Singh Khachariawas, who was instrumental in bringing the community closer to the party, said there was a perceptible sense of disillusionment with the BJP among Rajputs.By-elections to the Mandalgarh Assembly seat and the Ajmer and Alwar Lok Sabha constituencies will be held on January 29. The Rajput leaders have also decided to campaign for the Congress candidates in all the three constituencies.Shri Rajput Sabha president Giriraj Singh Lotwara said the Rajput community was feeling cheated under the BJP rule. While the agreement signed with the State government in the Anandpal encounter case was violated, the demand for a CBI probe into Chatur Singh’s death was not accepted and a service tax of ₹3.50 crore was imposed on the Rajput Sabha Bhawan, he said.Karni Sena chief Lokendra Singh Kalvi said the community would support the collective decision for supporting the Congress. However, youth leader Rajendra Singh Bhiyad said the BJP government was sympathetic with the community’s demands and Rajputs should avoid following a route “scripted” by a political party.According to the Rajput leaders, the ruling BJP recommended a probe into the violence after Anandpal Singh’s encounter in an attempt to frame the community elders and was not doing enough to stop the release of Padmavati, now titled Padmawat, all over the country after banning it in Rajasthan. Besides, no progress has been made on Rajputs’ demand for inclusion in the OBC category for reservation.As the State government’s prominent Rajput face, Rural Development Minister Rajendra Rathore tried to control the damage, Pradesh Congress president Sachin Pilot welcomed the community’s decision.While Mr. Rathore said the social organisations should not indulge in politics, Mr. Pilot affirmed that the Congress would work for welfare of Rajputs who were feeling humiliated in the BJP regime despite their sacrifices.last_img read more

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‘Violence against Dalits continuing in Rajasthan’

first_imgThe violence against Dalits, which started during the Bharat Bandh on April 2, was still continuing in Rajasthan with the BJP government targeting the youths, tribals, students and government employees, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) alleged here on Monday. Amid the “repressive measures”, Dalits were living in a state of terror, it said.The CPI(M)’s fact-finding teams, which went to Khairthal – where a youth was killed in the police firing – and other areas of the State, found that while the police had humiliated and thrashed the activists of Dalit organisations, the office-bearers of BJP and RSS, accompanied by their workers, had indulged in “full-scale violence” and attacked the Dalit localities.‘BJP, Cong. connived’“Even the Congress leaders connived with the BJP members and participated in violence at some places,” CPI(M) State secretary and former MLA Amra Ram said at a press conference here. Mr. Ram said a large number of youths and government employees, who took leave on April 2 to participate in the bandh, were incarcerated in jails on bogus charges.Hundreds of people injured in the violence were being treated at hospitals or at their home, while the State government was not willing to give them any compensation, said Mr. Ram. “Students have been stopped from appearing in their examinations, while the police have sought lists of employees from offices in a bid to implicate them in false charges and deprive them of their livelihood.”Former Minister Bharosi Lal Jatav, whose house was set on fire in Hindaun, told a delegation of CPI(M) leaders that a Pradesh Congress Committee member and a local BJP leader had led the violent crowd which indulged in arson. All the accused arrested in connection with the incident have since been released on bail.The team led by CPI(M) Politburo member and former MP Hannan Mollah, which visited Khairthal, stated in its report that the police had resorted to “unprovoked firing” on a crowd, in which 25-year-old Pawan Jatav was killed and two others were injured.last_img read more

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Five civilians killed in clashes with security forces in Kashmir

first_imgHizb commander, Kashmir University lecturer among five terrorists killed in Shopian  The police have confirmed only one death so far. The civilians death comes amid raging protests and clashes between the security forces and locals since Sunday morning.Earlier, five militants were killed in an operation conducted by the security forces in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Sunday morning, according to the police.“The encounter has concluded at Badigam-Zainpora in Shopian. Five bodies of terrorists recovered,” said Director-General of Police S.P. Vaid.One policeman and an Army jawan were also injured in the gunfight. Widespread violent clashes and security forces’ firing have allegedly left five civilians dead and over 20 injured on Sunday in parts of Shopian district, where five local militants were killed earlier in the day.Five civilians, identified by the locals as Zubair Ahmad, Nissar Ahmed Kumar, Adil Ahmed Sheikh, Sajad Ahmad Rather and Asif Ahmad, were declared dead in different hospitals in Shopian and Srinagar. “All had suffered firearm injuries,” said the hospital sources.Also Readlast_img read more

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Karnataka effect: RJD stakes claim to form government in Bihar, Congress in Goa

first_img| Photo Credit: Ranjeet Kumar  “We met the Governor and submitted a memorandum stating that we have support of 111 MLAs. The Governor heard our submission with patience and said he would think over it,” Mr Yadav told reporters outside Raj Bhawan after the meeting. A large number of RJD and Congress MLAs had gathered outside the Raj Bhawan but only few were called in to meet the Governor.In the 243-member Bihar Assembly RJD is the single-largest party with 80 MLAs, Congress has 27, the HAM(S) one and CPI-ML three while, ruling alliance partners JD(U) has 71 MLAs, the BJP 53, the Lok Janshakti Party and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party two MLAs each.Mr. Yadav said, “The point we’re trying to make is that there has to be one rule in the country…if the Karnataka Governor’s decision to invite the BJP as the single largest party was proper, then the same yardstick should be applied to Bihar also…RJD is not only single largest party but a single block of pre-poll alliance.” In a ripple effect of Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala’s decision to invite the BJP as the single largest party to form the government, Congress leaders in Goa and Manipur met their respective State Governors and staked claim to form the government as did Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejaswi Yadav in Bihar.Former Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh and senior Congress leaders met Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi at the Raj Bhavan in Imphal. “We demanded dismissal of the BJP-led coalition government as we were denied a chance to form the government despite emerging as the single largest party with 28 seats (in the 2017 Assembly election),” Mr. Singh said after the meeting.Citing the Karnataka example, Mr. Singh said had the Congress been given a chance by Governor Najma Heptulla then, he could have proved the majority within a few days. “We can prove our majority now, if invited,” he claimed.In 2017, the Congress bagged 28 seats in the 60-member Manipur Assembly. The BJP won 21 seats but cobbled up a coalition with regional parties but needed “defectors” from the Congress to make the number. Of the 28 Congress MLAs, eight shifted loyalty to the BJP without resigning from their constituencies in what legal experts say is a violation of the Tenth Schedule.In GoaAfter meeting Goa Governor Mridula Sinha, Leader of the Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar, who was accompanied by 13 party MLAs, said a representation had been submitted requesting the Governor to “right the past wrong” of inviting the BJP to form the government in March 2017, and now invite the 16-member Congress legislative party to form the government instead.The BJP had won 13 seats in the February 2017 state assembly election as against 17 won by the Congress, which had emerged as the single largest party in the 40-member house. The BJP staked the claim to power with two regional outfits and independent MLAs, and formed a coalition government after getting a prompt nod from Ms. Sinha.‘A principled stand’In Patna, Mr. Yadav, who is also Leader of Opposition in State Assembly, met Governor Satya Pal Malik, accompanied by leaders of the mahagathbandhan — the Congress, Hindustani Awam Morcha and CPI(ML), and staked claim to form government on the basis of the “principled stand taken by the Karnataka Governor”.center_img RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav addresses journalists after meeting the Governor in Raj Bhavan, Patna, on May 18, 2018.last_img read more

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Declassify Blue Star papers: SAD

first_imgThe Shiromani Akali Dal on Tuesday urged Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to declassify all papers linked to Operation Blue Star to expose the ‘role of the Congress’ before the people.Alleged conspiracyThe SAD delegation, led by Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, said that people were still unaware of the alleged conspiracy under which the Army had been ordered to storm into the holiest of Sikh shrines – Sachkhand Sri Harmandir Sahib — in 1984.Ms. Badal said the delegation also raised the point that a UK court had recently ordered the government to declassify all papers related to Britain’s involvement in Operation Blue Star. The Indian government must now take necessary steps to secure these papers from its counterpart in Britain, she said.“Also, we asked Mr. Singh to intervene and address the grievances of the Sikh community in Shillong. Sikhs in Shillong have been subjected to brutal attacks and are being coerced to move out of areas they had inhabited decades ago.,” she added.last_img read more

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Rebel AAP MLAs plan more meets

first_imgIntensifying their fight against the Central leadership, dissident legislators of the AAP’s Punjab unit on Friday decided to hold volunteers’ conventions across the State to ‘strengthen’ the party.First meeting A decision to this effect was taken at the first meeting of the ad hoc political affairs committee here under the chairmanship of the sacked Leader of the Opposition (LoP) Sukhpal Singh Khaira. The committee was constituted by the dissidents on Tuesday. “We do not want to carry on with the politics of confrontation… we want to save Punjab and strengthen the party,” Mr. Khaira said after the meeting. A volunteers’ convention will be held in Faridkot on August 22, followed by similar events in Gurdaspur and Moga on August 25 and and September 2 respectively, he added. Days after being sacked as the LoP last month, Mr. Khaira convened the first volunteers’ convention in Bathinda on August 2. Resolutions passed at the convention declared the AAP’s Punjab unit ‘autonomous’ and dissolved the party’s organisational structure in the State even as the high command disapproved of the event. He said a volunteers’ convention will also be held in the Garhshankar constituency.Three-member panel Mr. Khaira also constituted a three-member review committee under the chairmanship of MLA Kanwar Sandhu to look into the party’s performance in the 2017 Assembly polls. The review committee will submit its report in the next 45 days, he said. Besides Mr. Khaira, other AAP MLAs who took part in the meeting included Mr. Sandhu, Nazar Singh Mansahia, Jagdev Singh Kamalu, Master Baldev Singh, Jagdev Singh Hissowal, Pirmal Singh and Jai Krishan Singh Rori.last_img read more

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Amid alliance speculations, Fadnavis calls on Uddhav

first_imgChief Minister Devendra Fadnavis held a meeting with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday evening to discuss the possibility of alliance in the Lok Sabha elections. Later, talking to reporters Mr. Fadnavis said that the talks were positive. “Today, I met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at his residence. We held discussion about our alliance in the polls and the talks were positive. The Sena has certain suggestions regarding issues of farmers and we are ready to accept those. The talks will continue,” Mr. Fadnavis said. This is for the first time in recent times that Mr. Fadnavis has publicly acknowledged meeting Mr. Thackeray for talks on seat sharing. The meeting comes on a day when Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut made a statement about CM post being given to Sena, if Prime Minister’s post was to go to BJP. Hinting a possible climb down from its earlier position, Shiv Sena on Thursday said that allies should get the Chief Ministerial post in their respective states if a BJP-led NDA government is formed at the Centre after the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.Speaking to a news agency, Mr. Raut said on Thursday, “There is no change in the stand of Shiv Sena on fighting the Lok Sabha polls alone and that talk of an alliance with BJP is only media speculation.”Mr. Raut said if a National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is formed in 2019, Shiv Sena, Akali Dal and other major allies will have a role. “All the allies of the NDA are strong in their states and if you (BJP) want to have an alliance with them at the Centre, the Chief Minister in that state should be from that ally,” he said.Mr. Raut said this is his party’s stand and not a condition. “We have already said that the next Chief Minister in Maharashtra will be from Shiv Sena and this has nothing to do with an alliance. If in future, there are discussions on an alliance we will want implementation of the 1995 formula as per which Shiv Sena will have the role of a big brother in Maharashtra whereas we will reciprocate similar support to BJP at the Centre,” he added.last_img read more

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Vanzara, Amin freed in fake encounter case

first_imgPoliticising Ishrat Jahan A Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Friday discharged former Gujarat police officers D.G. Vanzara and N.K. Amin from the sensational fake encounter case of Ishrat Jahan and three others in Ahmedabad.The court approved the pleas of both officers seeking to drop proceedings against them on the ground that the Gujarat government had decided to not grant sanction to prosecute them in the case. The government held that the police officers did their official duty and there was thus no need to prosecute them in the case, as required under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).Special CBI court judge J. K. Pandya said that since the government had not sanctioned their prosecution, their discharge pleas would be allowed and the case against them would be dropped.Under Section 197 of the CrPC, the State government’s sanction is necessary for prosecution of a public servant for an act done as part of official duty.The court had in the past rejected their discharge applications in the same case.CBI, the prosecuting agency, has told the court that sanction was not granted to prosecute the two officials, who were chargesheeted as key accused in the fake encounter case, which was jointly executed by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch and officials of the country’s top spy agency, the Intelligence Bureau (IB).Both officers, posted in the Ahmedabad Crime Branch at the time of incident, had been charged with conspiracy, illegal confinement and murder in the Ishrat Jahan case by the CBI.Former Gujarat police chief P.P. Pandey was discharged in the case last year. He had spent nearly 19 months in jail before being let out on bail in February 2015.Also Read Mumbra resident Ishrat Jehan, then 19 years old, and three others, were killed in June 2004 near Ahmedabad by Gujarat police officers in a joint operation with officials of the Intelligence Bureau (IB). After the encounter, the police had claimed that they were Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let) terrorists and were tasked with a mission to assassinate Narendra Modi, who was then chief minister of Gujarat.During the course of hearing, the application seeking to drop the proceedings was opposed by senior lawyer Vrinda Grover, who appeared for Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kauser, contending that the pleas of the police officers were “untenable in law and unsustainable on facts”, and that the State government was not the appropriate authority to refuse sanction to prosecute the two officers in the said crime.It is learnt that Shamima Kauser is likely to move High Court challenging the lower court’s order to drop proceedings against the key accused in the case.last_img read more

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The Secret to Making a Good First Impression

first_imgImagine you’re calling a stranger—a possible employer, or someone you’ve admired from a distance—on the telephone for the first time. You want to make a good impression, and you’ve rehearsed your opening lines. What you probably don’t realize is that the person you’re calling is going to size you up the moment you utter “hello.” Psychologists have discovered that the simple, two-syllable sound carries enough information for listeners to draw conclusions about the speaker’s personality, such as how trustworthy he or she is. The discovery may help improve computer-generated and voice-activated technologies, experts say.“They’ve confirmed that people do make snap judgments when they hear someone’s voice,” says Drew Rendall, a psychologist at the University of Lethbridge in Canada. “And the judgments are made on very slim evidence.”Psychologists have shown that we can determine a great deal about someone’s personality by listening to them. But these researchers looked at what others hear in someone’s voice when listening to a lengthy speech, says Phil McAleer, a psychologist at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom and the lead author of the new study. No one had looked at how short a sentence we need to hear before making an assessment, although other studies had shown that we make quick judgments about people’s personalities from a first glance at their faces. “You can pick up clues about how dominant and trustworthy someone is within the first few minutes of meeting a stranger, based on visual cues,” McAleer 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 there is similar information in a person’s voice, he and his colleagues decided to test “one of the quickest and shortest of sociable words, ‘Hello.’ ” The team recorded 64 Scottish undergraduate students (32 males and 32 females) reading an unfamiliar passage which included a telephone conversation. They were instructed to read in a neutral tone of voice. He then extracted the single word “hello” from each recording, and let 320 different students (117 males and 203 females) listen to that word over headphones or speakers attached to a computer. The students were asked to rank the voice according to 10 personality traits, including trustworthiness, dominance, attractiveness, and warmth. Each student assessed a single, randomly assigned trait for all the voices, rating them, for instance, as more or less dominant on a scale of one to nine.Although the voices played for only 300 to 500 milliseconds, the students did not hesitate to form an opinion, McAleer says. More importantly, people converged on these snap judgments; most of the recorded voices elicited the same response from the listeners. (Listen to a trustworthy and untrustworthy “hello.”) “It is amazing that from such short bursts of speech you can get such a definite impression of a person,” McAleer says. “And that, irrespective of whether it is accurate, your impression is the same as what the other listeners get.”McAleer and his colleagues’ analysis, reported online today in PLOS ONE, suggests that people’s impressions are based on the tone of voice. Men who raised the tone of their voices, and women who alternated the pitch of their voices were rated as more trustworthy. Men with lower pitched voices were generally perceived as more dominant. But the opposite was true for women: Those with higher average pitch were rated as more dominant.The speed with which the students made their judgments makes evolutionary sense, McAleer says. “Deciding who to trust and who to approach can be crucial to your survival. There’s no point to listening to someone talk for 5 minutes to figure out if they’re trustworthy or not—you could be dead already.”Most intriguingly, there is a strong overlap between how we perceive facial and vocal cues, McAleer says. The trustworthy signals in our faces come from “moveable features,” such as our eyes and mouths. But signs of dominance are conveyed from rigid, immobile ones, such as the distance between our eyes or the width of our jaw. Similarly, trustworthiness in a voice is linked to such things as pitch and glide, elements that we can adjust. But dominance is influenced by morphology, such as the length of one’s vocal tract, over which we have no control. Thus, one either has the facial and vocal features that convey dominance—or not. “It’s striking that we find these same features when we look at the voices—and remarkable that the same assessment system applies to both voices and faces,” says Pascal Belin, a neuroscientist also at the University of Glasgow and one of the authors of the paper.The study adds to ongoing research about the type of attributions people are ready to make based on very little evidence, Rendall says. “What’s most interesting here is that people are very consistent in their ratings. It makes you think there is something to this.” What remains to be seen, he adds, “is if the attributions are on or off the mark. Are the people that have been rated as trustworthy really trustworthy?” Consider what goes through your mind after you’ve taken your seat on an airplane. You’ve not seen the captain, but his or her voice comes over the intercom. “Hello, this is your captain speaking.” Are you about to fly the friendly skies?last_img read more

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Shrinking Waves May Save Antarctic Sea Ice

first_imgIt’s a nagging thorn in the side of climatologists: Even though the world is warming, the average area of the sea ice around Antarctica is increasing. Climate models haven’t explained this seeming contradiction to anyone’s satisfaction—and climate change deniers tout that failure early and often. But a new paper suggests a possible explanation: Variability in the heights of ocean waves pounding into the sea ice may help control its advance and retreat.The sea ice growth around Antarctica isn’t particularly large—about 1.2% to 1.8% on average per decade between 1979 and 2012, according to the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report. It’s also not uniform. The increases are concentrated primarily in the Ross Sea in western Antarctica; meanwhile, in the nearby Bellingshausen and Amundsen seas, sea ice has significantly decreased just as it has done in the Arctic.What role waves play in all this has been barely examined, from a climate modeling standpoint. Ocean waves undeniably pound into the ice, of course—polar explorer Ernest Shackleton noted “swells coming in and breaking the ice up” in his book South, says Alison Kohout, of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in Christchurch, New Zealand. But how does a single wave interact with an ice floe? And what is the cumulative effect of pounding waves on hundreds of kilometers of ice?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 begin to answer these questions, Kohout and her colleagues focused on the marginal ice zone (MIZ), the transitional region at the edge of the sea ice pack where the swell of ocean waves can still significantly affect the shape and size of the floes. The MIZ, which is packed with smallish floes—perhaps 100 meters across at most—receives the brunt of the pounding from large waves churned up by powerful storms in the open ocean. As the ocean waves scatter their energy into the floes, the floes may collide and bend or break, forming smaller floes or a slurry of ice on the water. Modeling how a single wave affects this region is tricky: In some ways, the sea ice behaves as individual floes, while in other ways it acts as a very thick fluid that “dampens” the wave’s energy.To measure how far into the ice the waves still pack a punch, the researchers used wave height, energy, and frequency data gathered from five autonomous wave sensors positioned on Antarctic sea ice along a 250-kilometer line. They noticed an interesting thing. As predicted, small waves—less than 3 meters tall—lost energy rapidly as they propagated through the sea ice, as they would through a thick fluid. But larger waves didn’t lose their energy nearly as quickly. As a result, “when the waves are bigger, the ice is going to get munched up a lot quicker,” Kohout says. Storms kicking up large waves, therefore, would have a disproportionately powerful effect on sea ice breakup, they report online today in Nature. And conversely, if wave heights are decreasing in a particular region, that could “allow” the sea ice to expand, she says.Next, the team compared satellite sea ice observations from 1997 to 2009 with modeled wave heights during that time. The correlation was strong: When waves got shorter in a given area—such as the Ross Sea—sea ice grew. When waves got taller, the ice retreated. “It was really quite exciting,” Kohout says. “This … really shows that it’s quite possible [wave heights] are playing an important role.”Indeed, the lines “agree beautifully”, says climate modeler Paul Holland of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, U.K., who was not involved in the study. But that doesn’t prove that wave heights control the expansion and retreat of the sea ice, as the paper suggests, Holland says. Maybe changes in ice cover affect the size of the waves. Or maybe some third effect causes changes in both wave height and ice cover. “I would suggest that the change in ice cover is due to changes in the winds,” Holland says. He co-authored a 2012 paper in Nature Geoscience that suggested that more northward-blowing winds around Antarctica are pushing the ice northward, increasing sea ice cover and also damping down waves. “That explanation is also entirely consistent” with the paper’s correlation between sea ice extent and wave heights. Still, “it’s not a closed case,” he adds.Incorporating a hyper-regional effect such as how wave heights influence sea ice into global climate models is going to be tricky, says Sam Dean, also of New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, in Wellington, and a co-author on the new study. “If it was easy, they would have done it. [But] this paper suggests that it might be worthwhile,” he says. Kohout says that’s the message she hopes to deliver: That wave heights should at least be considered in future climate models, “to show that it is or isn’t important, one way or the other.”last_img read more

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Is ecology explaining less and less?

first_imgEcologists are testing more and more hypotheses, but their studies are explaining less of the world. That’s the striking conclusion of a new study that analyzes 8 decades of research papers. What exactly is driving these trends isn’t clear, but researchers fear it could undermine confidence in ecological research.Since it gained momentum as a formal field of study in the 1800s, ecology has focused on understanding interactions among organisms and their environments. Ecologists have made major contributions to shaping modern views of how the natural world works, from documenting competition and cooperation in nature to clarifying the valuable services that ecosystems can provide to humans, such as purifying water or buffering storms and floods. As in many sciences, however, the field has become less descriptive and more quantitative as it matured.The idea for the new study came during a lab retreat by graduate students at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Many felt frustrated. When students submitted research papers to journals, they were always asked by reviewers to provide more P values, a measure of statistical confidence that a result is not due to chance.  “Our supervisors said, ‘It wasn’t always like this,’ ” recalls ecologist Etienne Low-Décarie, who is now at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom. 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 see that trend for themselves, Low-Décarie and two fellow graduate students first downloaded 18,076 articles, dating back to 1913, from three journals that cover a range of ecological research: the Journal of Ecology, the Journal of Animal Ecology, and Ecology. Then they set up a computer program to search the papers for two key statistics, P and R2. The latter is a measure of how much variability in a data set can be explained or predicted by a given factor. For example, the amount of phosphorus in a lake is a good predictor of how much algae will grow there.The average number of P values per paper has been steadily rising, they found. A typical paper now reports 10 P values, double the number from the 1980s. This suggests that researchers are conducting more experiments than before or exploring more variables. In other words, ecological research is getting more complex. A scientist trying to predict algal blooms probably has an equation that considers not just phosphorus levels, but also temperature, water clarity, and many other factors. But the proliferation of P values (which is happening in many fields) concerns statisticians, because the value by itself doesn’t say anything about the size of the effect or its biological significance. “You can get quite trivial findings” that have robust P values, Low-Décarie says. Nearly half of all papers in the database that reported a P value, for example, did not appear to include other statistics that would clarify for readers whether the result had a major ecological impact. In addition, the more P values that are calculated, the higher the odds that any given result will appear to be significant even if it’s just the result of chance.The researchers were more surprised and dismayed to discover that R2—a more informative statistical indicator—has been on the decline. In 1980, the average R2 reported in papers was about 0.7. By 2010, it had fallen to just under 0.5, they report online this month in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. “That was really surprising to me,” says Brian McGill, an ecologist at the University of Maine, Orono, who was not involved in the research. The average R2 should be increasing, he says, because more variables are being included in ecological models, which ought to make them more accurate. Co-author Monica Granados of McGill University says that when she gave a talk about the findings to a standing-room-only crowd this month at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Sacramento, California, the audience was concerned about the drop. “I was nervous, because it’s a critique of your peers and your field,” she says.What’s going on? One possibility is that ecologists have picked the low-hanging fruit; now that they have published on the most straightforward phenomena, researchers are tackling harder questions. Alternatively, standards could be lower; facing more pressure to publish, ecologists may have become more willing to include lower values for R2. A previous study estimated that the R2 of most ecological research ranges was between 0.02 and 0.05, but few researchers will publish results with such small explanatory power. “The reason we don’t is that we’re afraid it’s going to make us look bad,” says McGill, who has blogged about the need to improve statistics in ecology.A loss of confidence in ecological research could ripple beyond the scientific community. Policymakers around the world have become increasingly open to shaping policies based on ecological findings, and ecologists have been pressing to make their work even more relevant and useful to decision-makers.Still, McGill is fairly sanguine about the prospects. As a field, ecology is where weather prediction was a few decades ago, he says. Meteorologists continued to make forecasts, however lousy, but they measured how bad they were. “It’s good discipline and it’s how science advances,” he says. Eventually, new techniques and tools enabled the field to improve. Credit: Monica Granados last_img read more

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Spider silk dethroned as nature’s toughest fiber

first_imgSpider silk is famous for its amazing toughness, and until recently a tensile strength of 1.3 gigapascals (GPa) was enough to earn it the title of strongest natural material. However, researchers report online today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface that the record books need to be updated to properly recognize the incredible strength of the limpet teeth. Marine snails known as limpets (Patella vulgata, pictured) spend most of their lives scraping a set of small teeth along rocks in shallow ocean waters, looking for food. The constant grinding would be enough to quickly reduce most natural materials to nubs, but the limpets’ teeth boast a tensile strength of between 3 and 6.5 GPa, researchers report. Scientists discovered that the teeth are made of a mixture of goethite (an iron-containing crystal) nanofibers encased in a protein matrix. In spite of their amazing strength, the teeth don’t quite best the strongest humanmade materials like graphene, but the new material’s upper range puts it far ahead of Kevlar and on par with the highest quality carbon fibers. Researchers speculate that the material’s durability may have practical applications in dentistry, but it’ll probably be a while before anyone is trading in their own teeth for some limpet chompers.last_img read more

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Scientists argue over access to remaining Ebola hotspots

first_imgThe slowdown in the West African Ebola epidemic is welcome news and reason to be hopeful—but it’s also creating a new problem. With fewer new cases occurring, it is becoming more and more difficult to test vaccines and drugs. As a result, conflicts are looming over who can test Ebola drugs and vaccines in Guinea and Sierra Leone.In Guinea, a large consortium that includes Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) vaccinated the first volunteers at risk of Ebola on Monday in a big trial of a vaccine produced by Merck and NewLink Genetics. But the team feels threatened because researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) are looking to move another vaccine study from Liberia, where the epidemic has come to a virtual standstill, to Guinea.The U.S. move could jeopardize the Guinean trial, says John-Arne Røttingen of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, who chairs the study’s steering committee. “Can the two trials be going on in the same place? I don’t think so,” says Marie-Paule Kieny, an assistant director-general at WHO. “There is a risk, if this is not done in an orderly way, that neither trial is conclusive in the end.”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(*)But Clifford Lane, head of clinical research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, which is part of NIH, says that Guinea, which reported 45 new patients last week, can accommodate both studies. “Guinea is basically as large as Sierra Leone and Liberia together,” he says. “It would seem reasonable to at least explore the possibility.”Meanwhile, an international team testing an Ebola drug called TKM-Ebola in Sierra Leone is worried that NIH is seeking to expand its trial of ZMapp, another Ebola therapy, from Liberia to Sierra Leone. That move could prevent the researchers from expanding their TKM-Ebola trial as planned, or even create direct competition at an Ebola treatment unit in the Sierra Leonean town of Port Loko where it is already under way.Before the current outbreak, scientists never had a real chance to test Ebola drugs or vaccines for efficacy. The products hadn’t moved through phase I safety studies, and the outbreaks were much smaller and always ended within a few months. The current epidemic, which has caused almost 25,000 cases and more than 10,000 deaths, offers a unique opportunity to test candidate vaccines and drugs that could save lives in the future, scientists say.Ironically, Guinea was initially passed over when vaccine trials were planned. Last October, when some models suggested more than a million people might get Ebola, scientists, politicians, and regulators met in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss how to push ahead with candidate vaccines. At the end of that meeting, plans had been agreed to study vaccines in Sierra Leone and Liberia; Guinea, where the outbreak had started but which had fewer patients, was seen as a particularly difficult environment for testing a vaccine. Feeling that was unfair, some meeting participants formed a working group to design a trial for Guinea and make sure that at least some Guineans would have early access to the experimental vaccines.The group came up with an unusual design called a “ring vaccination trial,” in which a ring of people around a newly discovered Ebola patient is vaccinated. Entire rings are randomized to be vaccinated either immediately or after 21 days. If significantly more people contract Ebola in the latter rings, the vaccine is deemed effective.The NIH study, on the other hand, is designed as a classic randomized controlled trial (RCT), with one group receiving the Merck–NewLink Genetics vaccine candidate, another group a different vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline, and a third group receiving a placebo. The researchers started vaccinating healthy adults in Liberia in early February, initially to study how safe the vaccines are and how much of an immune response they generate. “We think we will have a very good safety and immunogenicity database,” Lane says.After several hundred vaccinations, the scientists are ready to start phase III, in which efficacy is tested. But that won’t be possible in Liberia, where only one patient has been confirmed in the past 3 weeks, Lane says. “We are committed to trying to complete the study. To do that we are probably going to have to work in Guinea and/or Sierra Leone,” he says. The team has reached out to the Guinean ministry of health and to French researchers working on a drug trial in Guinea, “to see if something can be put together,” Lane adds. “I would hope that a country like Guinea is big enough to do at least two studies.”No, it’s not, says Peter Smith, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who was asked by WHO to study the issue. (Smith is not directly involved with the ring vaccination trial, but he chairs the board of the Norwegian Global Health and Vaccination Research program, which is co-funding it.)  “My conclusion is that it would not be feasible to successfully run both trials in Guinea at the same time (unless there is a radical change in the epidemiology of the disease in Guinea and disease incidence rates increase to levels very much higher than they are now),” he writes in an e-mail to ScienceInsider.Allocating one part of the country for the NIH study and excluding cases in that area from the ring vaccination trial would not work, Smith says, because the likelihood of catching Ebola is only big enough in the area around Conakry, the capital, where the WHO-MSF study has already started. “It would not only jeopardize the chances of the ring vaccination trial having sufficient power to show efficacy but also, unless NIH was prepared to increase the size of their trial very substantially, the NIH trial would have little or no power to detect efficacy.”Whether Guinea will agree to host the NIH trial as well is unclear, but there is clearly a need for the two groups to talk, Røttingen says. “I hope we can sit down and have a good discussion with them; we haven’t been able to do that at this stage.” A compromise could be to run the two trials one after the other, Kieny says. The ring vaccination trial is scheduled to enroll 190 rings by late May; the last vaccinations would take place 3 weeks after that. Add a few months of follow-up, Kieny says, and then NIH could start its own study. “Frankly, they are not ready to start now anyway.”Lane says it would likely take 6 to 8 weeks to start the new trial in Guinea. The study should not be delayed further, he argues, partly because the design of the WHO-MSF study may not be the best for assessing how effective a vaccine is. For instance, he says, most of the prevented cases in the ring vaccination trial would occur shortly after exposure, leaving it open to how well the vaccine protects in the longer term. “If my goal is to get the most effective vaccine as quickly as possible to the largest number of people possible, I do think an RCT is the most direct way,” he says.In Sierra Leone, researchers from the University of Oxford recently started a trial of TKM-Ebola, an experimental Ebola therapeutic made of synthetic, small, interfering RNAs. Now, the NIH-led effort to test the antibody cocktail ZMapp is expanding from Liberia to Sierra Leone as well. “We hear rumors that NIH have reached an agreement with the Sierra Leone government to conduct the ZMapp trial in any Ebola treatment unit—even those that have trials already running,” says Peter Horby, the lead investigator of the TKM-Ebola study. “If this is correct, it will jeopardize ongoing trials and lead to conflict.”Lane says that the government of Sierra Leone decides what treatment units will participate, and that Port Loko, where the TKM-Ebola study is running, is currently not included in the list. “We defer to our local partners,” Lane says.However, Lane argues that patients should have access to the most promising experimental drugs available, and that the animal data for ZMapp look better than those for TKM-Ebola. Horby agrees with that assessment, but says it is not clear how that translates into humans. (He says his team offered to test ZMapp in Sierra Leone but did not get access to the product because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did not approve the study design, in which patients who receive TKM-Ebola are compared with Ebola patients at other treatment units who did not get the drug.) “It would not be sensible or ethical to stop a well-running trial of a promising product for an alternative promising product,” Horby says.The start of the ring vaccination study in Guinea on Monday came exactly 1 year after the first case of the deadly disease was diagnosed in the country, alerting the world to what has become the worst Ebola outbreak ever seen. Setting up the trial has been a huge challenge, given the bad infrastructure in Guinea and the widespread distrust of the health system among the population, Kieny says. “This is a great success,” she says. “There has been great community engagement and no problems with violence.”*The Ebola Files: Science and Science Translational Medicine have made a collection of research and news articles on the Ebola virus and the current outbreak freely available to researchers and the general public.last_img read more

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Australia’s ANZ Settles With India’s Oswals, Takes $111 Million Hit

first_imgAustralia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ.AX) said it will take a A$145 million ($111 million) charge after reaching a settlement with an Indian couple who sued over the bank’s role in an asset sale. Related Itemslast_img

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An NRI’s domestic income from rental is liable to tax in India

first_imgRental income from house property situated in India is liable to income-tax in India. The method of computing taxable rental income is prescribed under the income-tax law as follows:Gross annual value less municipal taxes give the net annual value (NAV). Reduce standard deduction of 30% of NAV and interest on housing loan from this, which will then be the taxable rental income.Read it at Live Mint Related Itemslast_img

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Indian startup ecosystem ranked at number 37, much below China, Singapore, and South Korea

first_imgIn the past five years, the Indian startup ecosystem has seen many ups and downs. While the years 2014 and 2015 saw a lot of investor activity, purse strings were being tightened towards the end of 2017. The indulgence was giving way to discipline, but like the prodigal child, the Indian startup ecosystem has shown there is no stopping it, even if the progress is painfully slow.Read it at Your Story Related Itemslast_img

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