The Bihar government on Thursday issued show-cause notices to over a dozen IAS officers and District Magistrates, asking them under whose permission they left the headquarters to participate in a meeting on February 26 and form a human chain outside Raj Bhavan. The officers have been asked to respond within three days.Protesting against the arrest of Bihar Staff Selection Commission (BSSC) chairman and senior IAS officer Sudhir Kumar in connection with the question paper leak scam, the State IAS association members had held an emergency meeting on February 26 at IAS Bhawan and also formed a human chain outside Raj Bhavan while a delegation had gone inside to meet Governor Ram Nath Kovind. In denialOver 50 IAS officers, including secretaries of several departments and District Magistrates, had participated in the meeting and the human chain. The protesting IAS officers had also met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and State Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhury to apprise them of the issue. They said that “Sudhir Kumar was one among the upright and honest IAS officers of the State”. Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, the ruling alliance partner, too had called Sudhir Kumar an “honest IAS officer”.The IAS officers later passed a resolution that they would not take any calls, even from the Chief Minister, “unless it came in writing”. They even wore black ribbons to register their protest. However, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had said that he was yet to receive any formal representation from the protesting IAS officers. “Let it come and I’ll take a decision on it which will prove a milestone,” Mr. Kumar had told journalists.Slapping the show-cause notice on Thursday, the State government asked them whether they “had participated in the meeting? If yes, under whose permission they left the headquarter and how could they form a human chain in the prohibited zone outside the Raj Bhavan on February 26?”.Fresh round of conflict “The show-cause notice served on IAS officers is bound to trigger a fresh round of confrontation between the State and the bureaucracy,” a senior IAS officers and member of the IAS association of the State told The Hindu.Meanwhile, Sudhir Kumar was produced in a local court on Thursday which fixed the next date of hearing for March 26. He along with four members of his family were arrested from his home at Hazaribagh in JharkhandEarlier, BSSC secretary Parmeshwar Ram too was arrested.
Mumbai: Kanamo in the Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, is no stroll in the park. At 5,970 m, it is a tough climb even for an experienced trekker. To scale this peak in just two days is exceptional. Last year, in July, Ishani Sawant, 25, did just that. What’s more she did it solo, carrying all her food, climbing gear, tent and high altitude clothing.“It was intimidating,” she admits. “I hadn’t been there before. The trail to the summit was not visible, as it had snowed heavily for previous two days. But it was an amazing experience. I had to find my way, navigate in the fresh snowfall. But it was an out-of-this-world feeling, to be alone, on the top, to talk to no one for two days, just you.”Love at first sightThe Pune resident fell in love with the mountains on a trip to the Himalayas when she was 13. She remembers being awestruck by their grandeur. “I kept clicking pictures of the mountains.” She knew then that she wanted to make the mountains her life. While it wasn’t easy to convince her parents to let her pursue her passion — “I hail from a middle class family where mountaineering as a profession is unheard of” — her mother quickly became very supportive. “She always believed in me and this kept me going.”Ms. Sawant is a qualified lawyer, with an LLB from ILS Law College, Pune, which she followed with a Diploma in Forensic Science. But she knew that adventure was her real calling. “While studying law and going to court, I used to go for adventure events on weekends. That made me so happy and it was so contrasting to the court atmosphere. I decided to become a professional alpinist.”So, while she was getting her more conventional qualifications, she also worked on her mountaineering. When she was 18, she enrolled in the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. She graduated with A grades in both the basic and advanced mountaineering courses from two of India’s top mountaineering schools, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (in 2009) and the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (in 2013). She has also taken courses in rock climbing and water kayaking in 2015, completed a Trip Leader India Course in 2016 from the National Outdoor Leadership School, and is a certified Wilderness First Responder from the Hanifl Center in Mussoorie.First climbHer first professional climb was in June 2013, when she, part of a team of four mountaineers, crossed the Parang La pass (5570m) in Ladakh and trekked to Tso Moriri, climbing Alpine style, which means climbing in a self-sufficient manner, carrying everything one needs, rather than setting up fully stocked camps on the mountain.Looking back, she says it was difficult at first to find acceptance from the mostly male mountaineering community. “Initially guys didn’t want to climb on my belay,” she says. (A belay is where one mountaineer holds a climbing rope secure, giving a climbing partner an additional element of safety.) “I had to keep proving myself again and again. I used to train with them and then wait after every one was gone to train more, do more pull ups and abs. It has been a very tough journey but I love the entire process. Now as I go climbing, my mates are confident about me, which has in turn upped my own courage.”Invisible slopesLearning the skills and acquiring the expertise was tough, but things got tougher after that.Climbing as a profession is not an easy one to follow in India. There is a huge difference in infrastructure, she says, which she only realised when she went to the U.K. in 2016 — as one of only 20 women from all over the world selected — for the International Trad Climbing Meet organised by British Mountaineering Council. “It was there I realised that there is no dearth of talent in our country. However, the reason why upcoming athletes switch to regular professions is lack of facilities. All good equipment and shoes we have to import from abroad, which makes mountaineering super expensive. We do not have sports physiotherapists to handle rock climbing injuries on the field or in the gym. There are not many trained coaches to teach us the latest methods and workouts. Most importantly, we do not have the mindset that rock climbing and mountaineering is also a profession. It is only a handful who rise above this all and still have that madness to pursue it.”Money crunchThe expense, and the fact that mountaineering is just not a viable profession in India means that getting funds is all uphill. “Mountaineering is an expensive sport, so I am finding it difficult to fund my adventures. I hardly go to Himalayas considering the huge costs involved in travel and equipment rent.”Ms. Sawant has not managed to find sponsors yet, so she spends her weekends teaching at adventure events to fund her own training. She uses her web site to share her adventure experiences and all the things she does to earn money for her adventures.This is in addition to her day job. In 2017, she added to her qualifications by completing a Distance Masters in Sports Management from the Institute of Sports Science and Technology, Pune, to help her learn about business. She is an entrepreneur, and her firm ProEdge conducts customised adventure events, including trekking, bike rides, rappelling, rafting, paragliding and camping. “I am internationally certified, not only in mountaineering and rock climbing, but also as a First Responder. So I am well equipped to handle wilderness emergencies and skilled to run these extreme sports events smoothly.” She also works with people with disabilities, running adventure programs for Adventures Beyond Barriers, and conducting rappelling and tandem cycling events for visually challenged people to take part in, along with sighted people, to promote inclusivity. She also trains cadets at the National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla, Pune, and has constructed a climbing wall for the academy.Conquering oneselfHow does she fit all this in? “I have realised that when you push your limit, your limits push back. So we should constantly endeavour to keep pushing towards our dream. No matter in which field you are, learning happens when you step out of your comfort zone and so something that you felt you couldn’t.”Her relative youth is also a handicap when it comes to being taken seriously as a mountaineer, and she is determined to change perceptions on that front too. “It really does not matter whether you are young or old, a man or a woman, an able-bodied or handicapped: the mountains are there for all. They do not become smaller if you are a kid or a woman or a handicapped. Mountains do not differentiate, then why should we? I live by this philosophy and hence been able to come this far.”For Ishani Sawant, life is all uphill; and that’s the way she likes it
As the Army killed three infiltrators on the Line of Control (LoC) on Wednesday in north Kashmir, over 10 youth were injured in violent clashes triggered by the killing of a student during a search operation in Shopian on Tuesday evening. The slain militants were part of a group of infiltrators. “The troops guarding the Line of Control (LoC) noticed the militants trying to infiltrate into the Valley from across the border in Machil sector under the cover of darkness on Tuesday night,” said the spokesman.The troops, according to the spokesman, engaged the heavily-armed militants in a combat. “Three militants are believed to have been killed in the gunfight. Three weapons were recovered. The operation is continuing in the area.”Violent protestsIn Shopian, hundreds of locals participated in the last rites of 19-year-old college student Adil Farooq Magray. People raised provocative slogans like ‘There is only one solution, it’s gun solution’ as the body was lowered into the grave around 11 a.m. Magray was a resident of Ganawpora. He died after being hit by bullets as locals clashed with a search team looking for trapped militants. His death sparked a string of violent protests in parts of Kashmir Valley.A police spokesman said students of the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), Awantipora, and Higher Secondary School, Pampore, resorted to stone pelting on the security forces. Security forces used smoke shells and pellet shotguns to clear the Srinagar-Jammu national highway. At least 10 students, including women protesters, suffered injuries. Several police personnel too were injured. The IUST authorities have decided to suspend classes on Thursday and Friday.‘Situation volatile’J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president G.A. Mir condemned the student’s killing. “The situation is extremely volatile, as both the State and Central governments have miserably failed to restore peace and normalcy. The situation continues to deteriorate,” he said.CPI (M) leader and MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami asked the security forces to exercise restraint. “The law enforcing agencies are refusing to draw lessons from previous experiences. Such incidents are bound to inflame the situation. Unfortunately, no distinction is being made between civilians and militants,” he said. Separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik have called for a shutdown on Friday.
Patna’s writers, poets, experts, historians, social activists and students of arts are up in arms over the closure of the century-old Patna Museum and the decision to shift precious artefacts and sculptures from there to the newly constructed Bihar Museum, registered under Societies Act.On Monday, poets Sri Ram Tiwari, Arun Shadwal, Srikant Vyas and Santosh Sahar and social activists including Mithilesh Yadav, Chandrika Mallik, former MLA Somprakash and activist-journalist Pushpraj gathered outside the gates of the Museum for a poetry reading programme protesting the closure.Students of the Patna Art College also have protesting the closure of Patna museum, saying, “The Patna Art College was set up just behind the Patna museum so that students could come and learn from the traditional paintings and sculptures…but, the government has snatched all this from us.” New homeSet to be formally thrown open to the public on Gandhi Jayanti on October 2, the newly constructed Bihar museum is spread in over 17 acres of prime land on Bailey Road in the capital — built at a cost of ₹498 crore under a foreign consultant.Ahead of the inauguration, the State government currently has closed the historical Patna museum which celebrated its centenary in April this year, for two weeks from September 9 to 25 to shift its most precious artefacts, sculptures, paintings and manuscripts to the newly constructed museum.“The Patna museum is one of the richest in the country, with several invaluable sculptures like Mauryan age female figurine Yakshini [the Didargunj Yakshi], Buddhist and other Mughal era stone and bronze statues, paintings… But now under a systematic plan all these priceless artefacts are being shifted to the Bihar Museum which is registered under the Societies [Registration] Act (1860) …we demand the government to stop all this and let the old glory of Patna museum remain intact,” Mr. Pushpraj told The Hindu. He has been spearheading the “Save Yakshini, Save Patna museum” campaign in the State along with several intellectuals, experts, archaeologists, social activists and students of the Patna Art College.Donor’s distressJaya Sankrityayana Parhawk, daughter of eminent Buddhist scholar Rahul Sankrityayana whose several invaluable Thangka paintings, Buddhist manuscripts and books brought from Tibet in 1930s were donated to the Patna museum, too has not only expressed her shock over the government’s move to shift all these artefacts to a new museum “without her knowledge” but also condemned it.“How can a government deprive a century-old museum of its invaluable artefacts for a private NGO registered under Societies Act…I’m pained and shocked,” she said while adding that she has also written an open letter to the chief minister Nitish Kumar requesting him to look at her pain and anguish and would stop transfer of the “rare and priceless artefacts which are the assets of the people of Bihar from being perished”. “My father’s paintings and Buddhist manuscripts, books were not sold to Patna museum but given as a provisional grant…our family should have been informed before shifting all these heritage stuffs from Patna museum”, she told The Hindu.Earlier, eminent sociologist Hetukar Jha who died recently, historian Imtiaz Ahmed, Prof Arun Kumar Sinha , Hari Kishore Prasad, former director Museum, Prof Rajendra Ram, Padma Shri Usha Kiran Khan, Prof Shatrughan Sharan Singh and Jaidev Singh too had to the Chief Minister appealing to him to save the Patna Museum.Danger of damageFormer Additional Director of the Patna Museum and former director of K.P. Jayaswal Research Institute, Chitranjan Prasad Singh said, “The government should have constituted an expert committee before taking decision to shift priceless artefacts… There is always a danger of damage to these sculptures and statures…who will take responsible for this?” Agreed the former director of Bihar museums, U C Dwivedi, “it’s a wrong decision of the government.” The lone curator of the Patna museum, Dr Shankar Suman informed The Hindu that altogether 101 artefacts have already been shifted from the Patna Museum. “They have planed to shift altogether 3,000 artefacts, sculptures, paintings, stone and bronze statures in two weeks time…but what will be left here in Patna museum after all these priceless heritage stuffs will be gone?” he asked. He also expressed apprehension that the Patna Museum will be closed forever after September 25, saying “who would come here and for what?”Earlier, in June 2015 the Patna High Court while hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by a research scholar Ashok Kumar against construction of Bihar museum had observed that it was not in the “public interest”. “The facts of the case were sufficient to stall the project at the initial stage but the question of stalling does not arise since the construction is said to be nearing completion”, observed the division bench of the then Chief Justice L. Narasimha Reddy and justice Sudhir Singh of the Patna HC.‘Global practice’But, the state chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh said, “the [Bihar] museum will be world class…and the museum has been registered as a society because such institutions cannot flourish under bureaucracy…The global practice is to grant autonomy to such institutions… In any case, the development commissioner will be the chairman of the management committee and the finance secretary, art and culture secretary will be part of the team…so the museum will not become a private one”.
One police officer was killed and another injured as militants attacked a police party on the outskirts of Srinagar near Zakura area on Friday afternoon.A police official said the policemen came under fire from the militants when a search operation was launched after a tip-off about the presence of armed men.Two policemen sustained grievous injuries in the first exchange of fire with the hiding militants. Injured sub-Inspector Imran Ahmad succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. “Another policeman has been hospitalised too,” said the police official.The area was cordoned off to nab the militants. One person has been detained from the spot. It could not be immediately confirmed if the detained man is a militant or a civilian.
A man from Khadkoli village in the neighbouring Palghar district was on Saturday arrested for allegedly repeatedly raping his 14-year-old daughter, police said.In a complaint lodged with Palghar police, the victim, a student of Class VII, said that her 42-year-old father has been raping her since 2014. She told the police that the latest such incident took place on December 7 in the forest area in Khadkoli.According to police, her parents had got separated and the victim had been living with her father. “As per her complaint, her father used to threaten her with a sickle or an axe before committing the crime,” a police officer said.Based on her complaint, Palghar police registered a case against the accused and arrested him early on Saturday.The accused has been booked under different IPC sections, including 376 (rape), and also the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act.
Less than a fortnight after students of the North Eastern Regional Institute of Science and Technology in Arunachal Pradesh agitated for appointment of a regular Director, their counterparts at Assam Women’s University (AWU) are on strike, demanding the appointment of a Vice-Chancellor and adequate teachers to run the university.The students are also against the State government’s reported move to downgrade the university to a technical institute. The only-for-women university is at Jorhat, 305 km east of Guwahati, and was started in September 2014. On Thursday, students’ unions, adhering to divergent political ideologies, joined the agitation launched by the AWU students more than a week ago. These unions include the All Assam Students’ Union, the Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti, the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and the All India Democratic Women’s Association. “We want Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to sit down with the students to sort out the issues,” SFI secretary Nirankush Nath said. AWU, whose goal is to “produce 21st century think tanks to effectively carry forward women-centric opportunities,” has 700 students in 15 departments, including health science, business management and tourism.
Around 70,000 State police personnel along with 80,000 civic volunteers and 1,500 police personnel from Assam, Odisha, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh will be deployed for the rural polls. According to a senior official of the State Election Commission (SEC), there will be one armed police personnel in each polling booth.About 1.15 lakh candidates are in the fray in the three-tire Panchayat polls.“Barring the uncontested seats at the gram panchayat level, there are 31,789 seats and 92,204 candidates; for the 6119 panchayat samity seats there 20,535 candidates are in the fray; 2872 candidates will compete for 621 zilla parishad seats,” the SEC official said. About 35% of the 58,792 seats in the rural polls are uncontested.The filing of nominations for the Panchayat polls from April 2 to April 9 and then on the extended date on April 23, were marred by violent clashes between cadre of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and workers of Opposition parties resulting in the death of several people.A legal battle was also fought over the rural body polls with Opposition parties approaching both the Calcutta High Court and Supreme Court against the alleged terror tactics of the TMC and the SEC’s inaction.Meanwhile Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the “State administration will leave no stones unturned (to ensure peaceful polls.” She also said the State administration will be “pro-active” to prevent any untoward incidents during the rural polls.Mamata assures peace“State administration is always with the people to ensure peaceful polls and will be pro-active,” said Ms. Banerjee.On the arrest of former Trinamool MLA Arabul Islam for the alleged murder of a villager in South 24 Paraganas, Ms Banerjee said, “Arabul is also one of our zilla parishad candidates. Even then we arrested him regardless of his political affiliation.” SC stays Calcutta High Court order on West Bengal panchayat polls Panchayat elections in West Bengal will be held on Monday across 20 districts amid tight security. About 5.08 crore voters —74% of total electors in the State — will cast their votes.Also Read
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje approved on Wednesday a proposal to set up 55 courts under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in the state. Each district would have at least one such court to deal with cases of crime against children, especially rape and to ensure that accused are convicted at the earliest, Ms. Raje said in a statement. One such court is already operational in the state capital, the statement said. Total 660 new posts would be created and filled in these courts. The POCSO courts would be set up in Bikaner, Balotara, Banswara, Chittorgarh, Churu, Dausa, Dholpur, Dungarpur, Sriganganagar, Hanumangarh, Jaipur, Jalore, Jaisalmer, Jhunjhunu, Karauli, Merta, Pratapgarh, Rajsamand, Swai Madhopur, Sikar, Sirohi, Jodhpur and Tonk, the statement said.
An assistant professor of mathematics at the Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati (IIT-G) was arrested on Saturday for allegedly attempting to rape a woman, who visited him from Kolkata.The police said K.V. Srikanth was picked up on Friday after the woman, an insurance agent, filed a complaint at the Gauripur outpost near the institute. “We registered a case under Sections 354A (related to sexual harassment) and 354B (assault or use of criminal force on woman with intent to disrobe) of the Indian Penal Code. The victim said in the FIR that the teacher had attempted to rape her,” a Kamrup district police officer said.The IIT-G authorities said the woman, who had come to the campus before going out with Mr. Srikanth in a car on Friday, did not lodge any complaint with them. “We received information about the arrest of the assistant professor today [on Saturday]. We are waiting for the legal proceedings,” Labanu Konwar, the institute’s spokesperson, said.
BJP ally Janata Dal (United) on Monday said politicians sitting in high offices should not be seen in the vicinity of those facing serious criminal charges and that the ruling NDA must seek votes for the work of the Modi government in last five years.Reacting to reports about the presence of some of the Dadri lynching case accused in the front row of a public meeting addressed by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at Bishahra village on Sunday, JD(U) spokesperson K.C. Tyagi said it was not a good signal to the masses.“People watch the association of those in public life. Politicians sitting in high offices should not be seen in the vicinity of those facing serious criminal charges,” he said.Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched in 2015 for allegedly keeping cow meat at his home in Bishahra.Reports said some of the accused facing murder charge in the case were in the front row of Mr. Adityanath’s election meeting.Plank of developmentMr. Tyagi said Mr. Modi had led the NDA to victory on the plank of development and that no attempt was made to sharpen social conflicts.“The NDA should seek votes for its development works in the last five years,” the JD(U) leader said.
Climate science skeptics have derailed a congressional proposal to create the honorary position of U.S. science laureate. But proponents haven’t abandoned the idea of giving someone a national platform to foster public understanding of science and serve as a role model.On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives was expected to give swift approval to a bill introduced this spring by a bipartisan coalition of legislators in both the House and the Senate. The legislation would allow the president to name not more than three laureates at a time to an unpaid position that could last up to 2 years. The idea was considered so innocuous that it was to be brought up under special rules requiring a two-thirds majority and allowing no amendments.The bill was never discussed in any committee, however, and Larry Hart of the American Conservative Union hit the roof when he saw it on the House calendar for the next day. (The Washington, D.C.-based group calls itself “the oldest and largest grassroots conservative organization in the nation.”) In a letter to other conservative organizations and every House member, Hart said the bill would give President Barack Obama the opportunity to appoint someone “who will share his view that science should serve political ends, on such issues as climate change and regulation of greenhouse gases.” He also called the bill “a needless addition to the long list of presidential appointments.”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 House Republican leadership reacted immediately, pulling the bill from the floor schedule. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) had introduced the bill along with Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), who chairs the House science committee, and a House Democratic aide says “we had expected it to pass easily. It’s no secret that Ms. Lofgren and chairman Smith don’t see eye-to-eye on many things. But they agree on the value of creating this honorary position.”A staffer for another co-sponsor, Representative Randy Hultgren (R-IL), took issue with Hart’s characterization of the bill as a vehicle for the president to advance his political agenda. “This is not a presidential appointment, and there would be no taxpayer money involved,” the aide said. “This bill is simply a chance to show our children that discovery science is important and that science can be an exciting and rewarding career.”Supporters say the next step is to take the bill off its fast track and give legislators a chance to debate its merits. “The committee plans to mark up the bill this fall so that Members have an opportunity to offer amendments before reporting the bill back to the full House for consideration,” says a science committee aide. Proponents don’t expect the bill’s substance to change but are hoping that going through the normal process will smooth its passage. “It still seems like a pretty noncontroversial idea,” the Hultgren staffer says.But Hart says that he’d like the bill’s supporters to clarify several provisions, including the number of laureates, length of service, and type of duties they would perform. And climate skeptic Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute says slowing the pace won’t change his organization’s stance on the bill. “There’s no way to make it work,” Ebell says. “It would still give scientists an opportunity to pontificate, and we’re opposed to it.” Science/Wikimedia
If there’s one thing the malaria parasite wants, it’s to get inside the guts of a mosquito. Once there, it releases hundreds of wormlike cells that enter the human body through a bloodsucking bite. Now, scientists have found a way to make mosquitoes much less hospitable to this pathogen, as well as the one that causes dengue: stacking the insect’s gut with killer microbes that wipe out the invaders before they have a chance to cause disease.Like humans and most other animals, mosquitoes are stuffed with microbes that live on and inside of them—their microbiome. When studying the microbes that make mosquitoes their home, researchers came across one called Chromobacterium sp. (Csp_P). They already knew that Csp_P’s close relatives were capable of producing powerful antibiotics, and they wondered if Csp_P might share the same talent.The team cultured Csp_P in a sugar solution and in blood and fed both concoctions to mosquitoes whose natural microbiomes had already been eliminated with doses of antibiotics. As the scientists hoped, Csp_P quickly took over the mosquito’s gut after being ingested by means of the sugar solution—and even more quickly when it was fed to them in blood. In another experiment, done with mosquitoes that weren’t pretreated with antibiotics, Csp_P-fed mosquitoes were given blood containing the dengue virus and Plasmodium falciparum, a single-celled parasite that causes the most deadly type of malaria. Although a large number of the mosquitoes died within a few days of being infected by the Chromobacterium, the malaria and dengue pathogens were far less successful at infecting the mosquitoes that did survive, the team reports today in PLOS Pathogens. That’s good news: If the mosquito isn’t infected by the disease-causing germs, it is less likely to be able to transmit the pathogens to humans.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 team, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, also exposed the malaria parasite and dengue virus to lab cultures of Csp_P to test for anti-Plasmodium and antidengue activity. Here, too, they found that the bacteria inhibited the growth of the pathogens.The researchers say there could be two mechanisms by which Csp_P fights off Plasmodium and dengue infections. First, because Csp_P is toxic to mosquitoes, it activates the insect’s immune system. This has the collateral benefit of staving off infection from Plasmodium and dengue virus, which otherwise would have thrived in the mosquito’s gut. But that’s not all, says George Dimopoulos, a parasitologist at Johns Hopkins who led the research team. Because the bacterium also snuffs out Plasmodium and the dengue virus in the laboratory, it means Csp_P is producing toxic compounds that are killing the pathogens directly.Dimopoulos and his colleagues believe Csp_P could be used to “vaccinate” mosquitoes against the malaria and dengue pathogens, perhaps through the use of sugar-baited traps that are already used to spread insecticide through populations of the pest. This would have the twin effect of killing most mosquitoes while severely curbing the survivors’ ability to spread disease. This one-two punch is “a unique property” for any malaria-control agent, says David Fidock, a microbiologist at Columbia University, who was not involved in the study. “No current malaria-control agent does both.”Csp_P could also play a more direct role in combating malaria and dengue in humans. Because the compounds it secretes kill pathogens in the lab, these toxins could be turned into drugs to treat malaria and dengue in people.Tanjore Balganesh, a medicinal chemist who heads the Indian Open Source Drug Discovery program in Bangalore for neglected diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, is skeptical, however. Because Csp_P is so toxic to Plasmodium, the dengue virus, and even the mosquito that carries them, there is a good chance it could be damaging to human cells, too, he says. That’s not a death blow for this line of inquiry, however. “It’s still early days [for this research],” he says, “but no drug discovery program is without problems.”
Researchers have unearthed a fossil fish so well preserved, it still has traces of eye tissues. What’s more, these fossil tissues reveal that the 300-million-year-old fish called Acanthodes bridgei (pictured), like its living relatives, possessed two types of photoreceptors called rods and cones—cells that make vision possible. This is the first time that mineralized rods and cones have been found conserved in a vertebrate fossil, the team reports online today in Nature Communications, as soft tissues of the eye normally begin to disintegrate within days of death. The discovery of cones, which help the eye see colors, is suggestive of the presence of color vision in fish for at least 300 million years. In addition to rods and cones, the researchers detected a dark brown melanin pigment in the fish eyes. All three would have aided daylight and twilight vision in the fish that once thrived in shallow brackish waters. The fossilized fish, which was dug out from an ancient estuarine deposit near Hamilton in Kansas, is similar in size to its distant relative Rhinogobius, a small 4.5-cm-long streamline-bodied goby fish kept as an aquarium pet. According to the researchers, the fossil is so well preserved because the fish would have been buried in oxygen-low sediment soon after dying, preventing bacteria from fully breaking down its tissues.
The 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) convention kicks off today in Varanasi. Nearly 6,000 overseas delegates are flocking to the holy city to celebrate their Indian connection for three days. This is a good time to look at the evolving relationship between India and its 31.2 million diaspora living in 208 countries across the globe. About 70% of them live in nine countries, the US being home to 4.46 million, followed by Saudi Arabia (4 million), Malaysia (2.4 million), and the United Arad Emirates (2.8 million).Read it at Hindustan Times Related Items
Amid dissenting voices demanding introspection and accountability over the past few days, the Rashtriya Janata Dal on Wednesday asserted that the party is united and would contest the next State Assembly elections scheduled for 2020 under Tejashwi Yadav’s leadership. RJD leaders also said Mr. Yadav would continue as the Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly. Alliance partner Congress, however, was a no-show at a Mahagathbandhan meeting later in the day.“With the [general election] defeat we’re down but not out. A day before the poll, communal forces conspired to rob our vote bank with its money power. We will introspect and do a booth-wise survey of our defeat…we’ve taken the drubbing as a challenge,” State RJD chief Ram Chandra Purve told journalists after the conclusion of the party’s meeting on Wednesday.The RJD had called a two-day meeting of party leaders and legislators to mull over its humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha poll. The party contested 20 of the State’s 40 parliamentary seats as part of a Grand Alliance but couldn’t win any, ally Congress picking up a solitary seat.At the meeting, a three-member panel comprising senior party leaders Jagdanand Singh, Abdul Bari Siddiqui and Alok Mehta was constituted to interact with party workers and leaders to ascertain the reasons behind the party’s poor performance in the Lok Sabha poll. The panel will submit its report in two weeks.Earlier, senior party leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh had said that “delay in seat-sharing arrangement and uneven distribution of tickets” had led to party’s defeat. He also had admitted that the Grand Alliance was not united from the start and existed “only on paper”. Mr. Singh, who lost in Vaishali against Lok Janshakti Party candidate Veena Devi, also held the rift between Mr. Yadav and Tej Pratap, the two sons of party chief Lalu Prasad, as one of the reasons for the party’s drubbing.After the conclusion of the RJD’s two-day meeting, Grand Alliance leaders reached former CM Rabri Devi’s residence for a meeting. Alliance party leaders Sharad Yadav, Upendra Kushwaha and Mukesh Sahni attended the meeting but no leader from the State Congress turned up.“I was not aware of any such meeting,” said State Congress chief Madan Mohan Jha.
Sleuths of Assam’s Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau on Thursday arrested two officials of a National Register of Citizens (NRC) service centre for taking money to include a person’s name in the updated NRC.The two were identified as field-level officer Syed Shahjahan and assistant local registrar of citizen registration Rahul Parashar. Both were posted at the Ganeshguri NRC centre in Guwahati.“A woman named Kajari Ghosh Dutta had filed a complaint that the duo had sought ₹10,000 for including her name in the NRC after correcting some defects in her application. A team led by a DSP caught the 48-year-old Shahjahan and found the money on him,” an officer saidThe team also caught Mr. Parashar as he was found to be involved with the bribery case and seized connected documents.The office of the State Coordinator for NRC, in a statement, allayed fears of tampering with the NRC process in view of the arrests. “The system of NRC update is strong enough to ensure quality and will remain unaffected even in case of complicity,” it saiThe final NRC draft is expected to be published by July 31 as directed by the Supreme Court. NRC officials said that about 85% of the process has been completed so far. This includes preparing an additional draft by June 22 for those included in the final NRC but was found ineligible on verification.Some 40.07 lakh out of 3.29 crore applicants had been left out of the complete draft of NRC that was published on June 30, 2018. The claims and objection phase for the excluded as well as those who names were included faultily had been completed on December 31, 2018.These claims and objections are being verified.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached assets worth about ₹67 crore in connection with the Manesar land acquisition scam in Haryana.The properties include 14.56 acres in Gurugram belonging to Mahamaya Exports Private Limited, besides four acres and bank balances of other accused persons. The ED had made an attachment worth Rs.42.19 crore in December last.The money laundering case is based on an FIR registered by the police in August 2015. The CBI later took over the case and filed a charge sheet against former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and 33 others.According to the probe agencies, the State government issued notifications in 2004 and 2005 for acquisition of land measuring 912 acres to set up an industrial model township.It is alleged that the farmers and landowners of Manesar villages in Naurangpur and Lakhnaula were compelled to sell about 400 acres to private builders at throwaway prices under the threat of acquisition. This allegedly caused a loss of about Rs.1,500 crore to them.According to the ED, ABW Infrastructure and its group entities allegedly bought most of the land in question. As alleged, it got licences for residential, commercial and group housing projects in connivance with government officials.The ED has also alleged that ABW sold some licences at high rates and earned “undue” profits. The group companies entered into “false” land sale agreements with different entities to conceal the income and avoid tax.The agreements were later cancelled, false cancellation-cum-settlement agreements prepared and amounts to the extent of six to seven times of the sum as per the agreements-to-sell were shown to have been paid to these entities in compensation for cancelling them.The compensation was credited to the bank accounts of these entities and taken back in cash, the ED has said.