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Science’s Top 10 Breakthroughs of 2013

first_imgEvery year, the editors of Science huddle together and pick an outstanding scientific achievement as the Breakthrough of the Year. This year’s winner is CANCER IMMUNOTHERAPY: harnessing the immune system to battle tumors. Scientists have thought for decades that such an approach to cancer therapy should be possible, but it has been incredibly difficult to make it work. Now, many oncologists say we have turned a corner, because two different techniques are helping a subset of patients. One involves antibodies that release a brake on T cells, giving them the power to tackle tumors. Another involves genetically modifying an individual’s T cells outside the body so that they are better able to target cancer, and then reinfusing them so they can do just that.We are still at the beginning of this story and have a long way to go. Only a very small proportion of cancer patients have received these therapies, and many are not helped by them. Doctors and scientists still have a lot to learn about why the treatments do and do not work. But the results have been repeated at different centers and in different tumor types, giving doctors hope that immunotherapy for cancer may benefit more and more people in the future.The editors also singled out nine “runners-up” for special praise: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(*)GENETIC MICROSURGERY FOR THE MASSESA year-old gene-editing technique called CRISPR touched off an explosion of research in 2013. It’s short for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats”: repetitive stretches of DNA that bacteria have evolved to combat predatory viruses by slicing up the viral genomes. The “knife” is a protein called Cas9; in 2012, researchers showed they could use it as a scalpel to perform microsurgery on genes. This year, the new technology became red hot, as more than a dozen teams wielded it to manipulate specific genes in mice, rats, bacteria, yeast, zebrafish, nematodes, fruit flies, plants, and human cells, paving the way for understanding how these genes function and possibly harnessing them to improve health.CLARITY MAKES IT PERFECTLY CLEARThis year, researchers invented a new way of imaging the brain that many say will fundamentally change the way labs study the intricate organ. CLARITY, a method of rendering brain tissue transparent, removes the biggest obstacle to traditional brain imaging: the fatty, light-scattering molecules, called lipids, which form cellular membranes. By replacing lipids with single molecules of a clear gel, the technique renders brain tissue transparent while leaving all neurons, other brain cells and their organelles intact. This allows researchers to infiltrate the brain with labels for specific cell types, neurotransmitters, or proteins, wash them out, and image the brain again with different labels—a process they say could speed up by a hundredfold tasks such as counting all the neurons in a given brain region.HUMAN CLONING AT LASTAfter more than a decade of failures, researchers announced they had derived stem cells from cloned human embryos. Such cells can develop into any of the body’s cell types, and researchers hope to use them to study and treat diseases. Mice, pigs, dogs, and other animals have been cloned by the same technique used on Dolly the sheep, but human cells have proved much trickier to work with. This year a new recipe—including a dash of caffeine, which appears to stabilize key molecules in delicate human egg cells—solved the problem. Now, researchers must determine how embryonic stem (ES) cells from the cloned embryos stack up against induced pluripotent stem cells, which behave much like ES cells but are not derived from human oocytes or embryos.DISHING UP MINI-ORGANSIn theory, pluripotent stem cells have the ability to become any type of cells in the body, but coaxing the cells to grow into specific tissues is still a challenge. This year, researchers made remarkable progress by growing “organoids”—liver buds, mini-kidneys, and even rudimentary human brains—in the lab. Although the brains have no blood supply and stop growing when they reach the size of an apple seed, their tissue and structure are surprisingly similar to those of developing human brains. Researchers have already used them to gain new insights into microcephaly, a condition in which the brain doesn’t grow to its full size.COSMIC PARTICLE ACCELERATORS IDENTIFIEDCosmic rays—high-energy protons and other particles from outer space—were first detected 100 years ago. Now, researchers have finally nailed down solid evidence of where they come from. Theorists had long suspected that most are accelerated in the shock waves from massive exploding stars, or supernovae. If so, they reasoned, some of the particles must collide with atoms in space to produce subatomic particles called pions, which would then decay into gamma rays. This year, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope spotted the telltale pion-decay signature in the debris from two supernovae.NEWCOMER JUICES UP THE RACE TO HARNESS SUNLIGHTA new breed of materials for solar cells burst into the limelight this year. Known as perovskites, they are cheap, easy to make, and already capable of converting 15% of the energy in sunlight to electricity. While that remains below the efficiency of commercial silicon solar cells, perovskites are improving fast. One particularly promising feature is that they can be layered on top of silicon solar-cell material to harness a range of wavelengths that neither could capture alone.TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO CLEANScientists have long speculated that one of the functions of sleep is to restore and repair the brain, but whether this is a “core” purpose of sleep remains controversial. This year, researchers found direct experimental evidence that the mouse brain cleans itself during sleep, by expanding channels between neurons that allow an influx of cerebrospinal fluid. The fluid flushes out detritus such as amyloid proteins, which accumulate as plaques in Alzheimer’s disease, twice as fast when mice are sleeping as when they are awake.YOUR MICROBES, YOUR HEALTHMore than 100 trillion cells bearing 3 million genes live inside the human body. This year, researchers evaluating everything from malnutrition to cancer therapies came closer to pinning down several key roles for these cells and genes in determining how the body works. The results strengthen the case that personalized medicine will need to take our microbial guests into account to be effective. Many more details of how the bacteria can fuel or fight disease—particularly by influencing the immune system and inflammation—should emerge in the coming year.IN VACCINE DESIGN, LOOKS DO MATTERResearchers have long hoped that structural biology, the study of the molecules of life, would help them design better vaccines. This year, it began to deliver. After crystallizing and analyzing an antibody that the body uses to combat respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections—which hospitalize millions of infants each year—scientists designed an immunogen (the main ingredient of a vaccine) that overnight became a leading candidate in the race to develop an RSV vaccine. Experts say this is the first time structural biology has clearly led to such a powerful immunogen. Other researchers are now harnessing the same tools in efforts to develop new HIV drugs.last_img read more

Officers unhappy with anti-drugs STF chief choice can leave: CM

first_imgPunjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday said the decision to reappoint IPS officer Harpreet Singh Sidhu as the chief of the anti-drugs Special Task Force has been taken amid reports of narcotics becoming an issue again in the State.Mr. Sidhu was the first chief of the STF set up by the ruling Congress government in 2017. But he was removed last year following reports of a tussle between him and the then Director General of Police Suresh Arora. ‘Seek deputation’Taking note of reports indicating resentment over posting of Mr. Sidhu again in his earlier role, the Chief Minister said anyone not happy with the development was welcome to leave the State and seek deputation with the Central government.“If any officer has problems with his orders, such an officer can say so and seek a deputation with the Centre,” said Capt. Amarinder in a statement.The Chief Minister, who also holds the Home portfolio, said it was his prerogative to transfer or post any police officer in the best interests of the State.Mr. Singh has been pleading for a national drugs policy to tackle the problem, which is posing serious concerns for Punjab, where drugs are being smuggled not just from across the India-Pakistan border but also from Jammu and Kashmir, and Gujarat.last_img read more

Sex workers in Silchar not in NRC

first_imgAn activist in Silchar of southern Assam has asked the authorities to find ways to include hundreds of sex workers who could not apply for inclusion in the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) because they were being shunned by their families.Some of the sex workers in Silchar town — trafficked as children — do not know where they came from, while others had second thoughts about identifying their families through the family tree necessary for inclusion in the NRC, activist Tuhina Sarma said.Silchar arguably has the largest redlight area in the northeast, comprising three localities. This area is believed to have come up during the Second World War when Allied soldiers fighting the Japanese halted there on the way to Myanmar via Mizoram and Manipur. “There are hundreds of sex workers, and many have children. We cannot let them become stateless because of the profession most of them were forced into and the stigma that prevented them from using the legacy data of members of their families,” Ms. Sarma, also an advocate providing free legal service to the sex workers, told The Hindu.It is estimated that at least 1,500 sex workers are among some 3.6 lakh people who did not or could not apply for the final NRC that was published on August 31.Assam Home Department officials said the NRC authority was yet to specify any plan about those who did not apply for the NRC.“The government has framed the rules for the NRC exercise, drawn up the standard operating procedure, set up the tribunals and everything else related to citizenship. So, it is the responsibility of the government to show the way forward for the sex workers, whose citizenship status is in a limbo for no fault of theirs,” Ms. Sarma said.last_img read more

IPL helped me grow as a cricketer, says Hardik Pandya

first_imgHardik Pandya wants to carry the form he’s currently showing in the domestic circuit into the upcoming three-game Twenty20 international series in Australia.”When you get into the national side, the confidence level goes very high. I knew I’ll get picked for the Australia series. I had to put in more hard work in the practice sessions and that helped me a lot. The kind of form I’ve had in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 tournament, I’m going (hoping) to carry it in Australia,” said the rookie after smashing 86 not out with eight sixes in 46 balls against Vidarbha.”I’ve been batting quite well in the league stages so I had to carry on with that form. One batsman should play till the end and I’m doing the role for Baroda. I was very happy when I was asked to bat at No. 3. I’m a proper batsman and I’ve always batted at No. 3. I’ve said during IPL that if I take a few balls, I can cover it,” he said.Pandya said his IPL stint in 2015 for Mumbai Indians, the eventual champions, helped a lot in his career which is on an upward curve presently.”The experience and exposure you get in IPL is quite amazing. You get to meet Ricky Ponting and practice with him. Even if I would have played for India, I don’t think he would have come and bowled at me. IPL has been a tremendous confidence booster for me. It helped me grow as a cricketer as well.advertisementPandya added, “He (Ponting) always tells the same thing that I need to keep working hard. Even (MI icon) Sachin (Tendulkar) said the same thing that you should keep working hard and the results will come,” Pandya said.He said the ability to hit a flurry of sixes was built by him brick by brick.”I’ve been a proper batsman and I always had to bat at No. 3. My game was always about timing my shots. Later on, I added some power. When I was 16, I used to hardly clear 30 yards, but I still had the confidence to try and hit it over the fielder.”last_img read more

Novak Djokovic to have Andre Agassi in his corner throughout Wimbledon

first_imgNovak Djokovic will have coach Andre Agassi in his corner for as long as required at Wimbledon as the Serb tries to claim back one of his lost grand slam titles.The 30-year-old teamed up with the eight-times major winner before the French Open, having split with his long-time coaching team.But the American had already flown home before Djokovic crumbled against Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals.The exact details of the arrangement between 12-times grand slam champion Djokovic and Agassi remain vague, and Djokovic says they are “going with the flow”.But he says he will able to count on the 47-year-old’s wealth of experience throughout the Wimbledon fortnight.”He will be in London for Wimbledon and he will stay as long as I stay in the tournament, so that’s great news,” Djokovic told a news conference at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park, where he has taken a wildcard for the Aegon International.”Obviously Roland Garros, the eight or nine days that we spent together, were very valuable for me to get to know him, to learn from him. We shared a lot of experiences on and off the court, things that he has been through that I can relate to.”So having him around is not only great for myself but also for tennis. He’s supposed to arrive for the weekend. So he’s going to be there before the tournament starts.”A year ago Djokovic arrived at Wimbledon as holder of all four grand slams.This time, he is down at world number four having seen all of his prized crowns removed from his possession — the rot setting in at Wimbledon last year when, as defending champion, he fell to Sam Querrey in the third round.advertisementDjokovic is playing a grasscourt warmup tournament for the first time in seven years and looked relaxed as he walked about in the south coast sunshine on Monday.”This year I knew I wanted to play one, but I thought Queen’s and Halle would be too early for me,” Djokovic, who has been running on the pebbly beach since arriving, said.”I haven’t had too many matches this year all in all. That’s the reason why I came to Eastbourne.”For me it’s great to visit a new place, be part of a new event. I don’t get to experience that too often. We have more or less the same schedule each year over and over again.”Djokovic said he needs to rediscover the level of consistency that saw him dominate men’s tennis.”It does feel different than 12 months ago when I had the four grand slams under my belt, and coming into Wimbledon, completely different than I mentally am today.”I still have to trust myself, my abilities to play well, and to win against anybody on any surface. I will just try to reach that consistency level that I need, because I felt like that’s something that I was lacking.”last_img read more

Solid Sands: SuperTest helping Graphcore accelerate the future of AI

first_img Continue Reading Previous RISC-V initiative leverages standard platform for custom designsNext Syslogic: new touch panel computer optimized for automation Machine intelligence processor maker Graphcore (Bristol, UK) develops massively-parallel computing platforms that let innovators create next-generation AI products. As part of its compiler development tool chain, the company is using SuperTest to test and validate compilers for its unique Intelligence Processing Unit architecture.There are several factors that compel the need for exhaustive compiler testing. Firstly, if you are building a compiler for a proprietary target architecture, where you can’t draw on the wealth of experience already acquired by the developer community. Secondly, if your compiler must perform complex application-dependent optimizations, reordering or modifying code to make maximum use of target architecture features and instructions.For Graphcore, a UK-based chip-maker that develops silicon platforms for accelerating Artificial Intelligence applications, both these conditions apply. The instruction set and memory architecture of its massively parallel Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU), which integrates over 1200 processor cores on a single piece of silicon, is uniquely designed to accelerate today’s AI applications while also allowing engineers to create new categories of AI models and products. The back-end of its software stack, called Poplar, employs multi-layered optimizations to distribute tasks between the cores and ensure they run at optimum speed and efficiency.To promote exploration and innovation in the AI application space, the company is also committed to allowing application developers to program its IPU at the C++ level, which makes it extremely important to offer them a highly robust compiler that can handle anything they throw at it.In terms of user confidence and convenience, there are also other reasons why the C++ compiler for Graphcore’s IPU needs to be rigorously tested and validated. For example, in addition to allowing programming at the C++ level, the Poplar software development stack accepts input from highly abstracted deep-learning AI frameworks, which adds additional layers of translation between the abstracted model and the target hardware machine code.Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInMoreRedditTumblrPinterestWhatsAppSkypePocketTelegram Tags: Tools & Software last_img read more

Samsung Galaxy A70 to launch in India next week, price revealed

first_imgSamsung is gearing up to launch its next Galaxy A device in India. We know this is the Galaxy A70 as the company has been teasing its launch with a dedicated microsite on its official website. Samsung is yet to announce a launch date, but a new report not only reveals this but also the expected price of the Galaxy A70 in India. Additionally, the report also adds that the Galaxy A80 with its unique pop-up rotating camera will launch in India in May.According to a report by IANS, the Galaxy A70 will launch next week with a price under Rs 30,000, while the Galaxy A80 will launch next month priced below Rs 50,000. “We will launch the Galaxy A70 in India next week in the Rs 25,000-Rs 30,000 bracket and the Galaxy A80 in the Rs 45,000-Rs 50,000 bracket in May,” Ranjivjit Singh, Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President, Samsung India, told IANS.The Galaxy A70 is one of the biggest phones in this new Galaxy A lineup with a screen size of 6.7 inches. The phone offers a Super AMOLED Infinity-U display with a FHD+ (2400×1080) resolution. It is powered by a Snapdragon 675 chipset paired with 6GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. The Galaxy A70 houses a 4,500mAh battery and supports 25W fast charging. It ships with Android Pie with One UI on top.The upcoming Galaxy A device sports a triple camera setup with a 32MP primary camera with f/1.7 aperture, an 8MP ultra wide-angle camera and a 5MP depth camera. It gets a similar 32MP selfie camera on the front.advertisementSamsung has been rapidly expanding its Galaxy A portfolio this year in order to take on Chinese competition in the country. The company has expressed its plan to launch a new Galaxy A device in India every month with a target of reaching $4 billion in sales from this series alone. The Galaxy A10, Galaxy A20, Galaxy A30 and Galaxy A50 have already been launched in India priced between Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000. With the upcoming Galaxy A70 and Galaxy A80, Samsung will be challenging competition, particularly OnePlus, in the premium mid-range segment.ALSO READ | Samsung Galaxy A70 quick review: Has the goods to make it a winner in IndiaALSO READ | Samsung Galaxy A80 quick review: Rises to the challenge with a rotating camera and New Infinity displaylast_img read more

Halifax 2014 Participates in Candidate City Seminar

first_imgRepresentatives from the Halifax 2014 bid committee are joining delegates from Glasgow, Scotland and Abuja, Nigeria, this week for a three-day seminar on the Commonwealth Games bidding process. The Commonwealth Games Federation invited 10 participants from each candidate city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games to participate in the seminar in Melbourne, Australia, July 10-13. “With our management team fully in place, this is a tremendous opportunity to continue educating ourselves on the bidding process before the May 9, 2007, deadline,” said CEO Scott Logan. “The Melbourne Games’ organizers learned a lot about what they did well and where they would have done things differently — and we’re keen to learn from their experience.” Candidate city participants are attending 17 lectures and receiving final instructions on the requirements for preparing and submitting bids. The Commonwealth Games are an international sport and cultural event held every four years in which athletes from 71 Commonwealth nations and territories compete. In December 2005, Halifax won the right to be Canada’s candidate city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. In competition with Glasgow, Scotland and Abuja, Nigeria, the Halifax 2014 bid committee is now focused on developing and winning the international bid, which will be awarded by the Commonwealth Games Federation on Nov. 9, 2007, in Sri Lanka. A list of the Halifax 2014 delegates participating in the candidate cities seminar is available at .last_img read more

The budget agenda

first_imgUnion Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman seems to have a tough task before her if she has to fulfil wishes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi while presenting a fresh budget for 2019-20. The Prime Minister has clearly told a group of economists and sector experts about his intention to undertake fresh reform measures to boost growth and make the Indian economy competitive. This would require a radically different trend in the government’s budgeting exercise which is traditionally loaded on non-developmental expenditure and high debt servicing costs. When the Narendra Modi government first came to power in May 2014, he decided to focus on financial and social inclusion that became extremely popular in the country. The national government’s expenditure management was mainly left with professionals in the North Block. The latter seemed to have been less comfortable and innovative about successfully managing and implementing the government policies and handling additional pressures created by the award of the Seventh Pay Commission, demonetisation of large currency notes, digitisation of the economy and indirect tax reform through GST. Also Read – A special kind of bondThe pay commission’s recommendations on pay, pension hikes for 4.7 million employees and 5.3 million pensioners alone brought a heavy annual burden on the expenditure side. The government failed to link pay hikes with employees’ performance or productivity. There was little pressure on government employees, including officers and top bureaucrats, to perform better to cover additional pay package. The pay and pension increases ranged from 14 to 23.50 per cent. Entry-level basic pay more than doubled to Rs 18,000 per month and at the level of Cabinet Secretary, the top-most civil servant, to Rs 2.5 lakh from Rs 90,000 per month. Also Read – Insider threat managementThe government’s expenditure budget in the last five years went on expanding with a very little link with productivity and development. The first year’s budget expenditure of the Modi government in 2014-15 was Rs 17.95 lakh crore. The amount was Rs 1.30 lakh crore more than the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government’s last budget in 2013-14. The fiscal profligacy continued even under the Modi-1 period. Of the 2014-15 budget expenditure, non-plan expenditure was as high as Rs 12.20 lakh crore against a net tax revenue to the centre of only Rs 9.22 lakh crore. The 2019-20 budget may see the government’s gross expenditure topping the Rs 28 lakh crore mark or around Rs 10 lakh crore more than its budget spending five years ago. The worst part of this fiscal profligacy is that over 70 per cent of the budget expenditure continues to be under the non-development category. The budget of 2017-18 was marked by two important changes. It was advanced to February 1 from the traditional February 28. It also abolished the age-old plan and non-plan expenditure classifications and replaced them by ‘revenue expenditure’ and ‘capex’. The massive borrowing and the government’s continuously forced disinvestment in the public sector by making a high net worth PSEs buying government stakes into each other in the absence of market support to fund a routine annual increase in budget expenditure are hurting the government’s as well as PSEs’ development programmes. The government is spending around 25 per cent of its total budgeted expenditure towards interest payment on loans. Fatter the expenditure budget, higher are loan components and loan service costs. This huge loan liability is severely impinging on the government’s ability to provide more funds for poverty alleviation and development-oriented programmes. Former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley pegged the government’s borrowing for 2018-19 at over Rs 6.24 lakh crore. More than 92 per cent of this amount was meant to be spent on interest on the already running loans of the government. The government had reportedly borrowed 115 per cent of its total estimated borrowing limit in the first 8 months of the last financial year. The government’s interest payment liability alone is equal to almost 40 per cent of its total projected net revenue receipts. This huge liability leaves very little room for the government to spend on developmental schemes. In last year’s budget, the previous finance minister had pegged the Central government’s capital outlay at Rs three lakh crore and its interest payment liability at nearly twice the amount. It’s a kind of debt trap as the country is forced to borrow over Rs 6,00,000 crore every year to meet its interest payment obligations. The practice is unhealthy and must not continue. Finance Minister Sitharaman must break away from the trend to control the wasteful or non-productive expenditure on the administration. It is high time to tighten the expenditure belt of the government, make sarkari jobs productivity-oriented and let the budget focus more on development. That will create large gainful employment, raise public income, spur domestic demand and create higher production and growth. She should encourage the core and manufacturing sectors, including PSEs, to expand substantially in the coming years while compressing the government’s non-productive expenditure supported by borrowing and disinvestment at the cost of PSEs. The task is not easy. A good part of her 2019-20 revenue earning prospect had already been hijacked by the previous NDA government by way of an advance collection of revenues by departments like railways and forcing PSEs part with dividends meant for the current financial year. This may be possibly responsible for the government’s fiscal deficit in the first two months (April-May) rising to 52 per cent of the entire budgeted target for 2019-20 and posing a new challenge to the Centre. The US embargo on oil and other trades with Iran, a growing war-like situation in the West Asian gulf region, rising oil prices and the spectre of drought owing to highly delayed monsoon threaten to bring an unquantifiable impact on the government’s expenditure target during the current financial year. Sitharaman’s expenditure budget must provide for such an impact without compromising on development. (The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

Bomb at military academy in Libya’s Benghazi kills 7

first_imgBenghazi – A car bomb Monday targeting a military academy in Libya’s restive eastern city of Benghazi killed at least seven soldiers and wounded 12, military and hospital sources said.Benghazi, cradle of the 2011 uprising that toppled veteran Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi, has seen near-daily attacks on security and other targets in recent months as the weak Tripoli government struggles to rein in former rebel brigades turned militias.The medical centre in Benghazi said “seven bodies have arrived at the hospital in addition to an undetermined number of human remains,” updating a previous toll. A hospital spokesman said 12 people were wounded in the bombing, including six in serious condition.A military source said the car parked in front of the academy blew up as soldiers emerged from an awards ceremony for army promotions.The explosion left a one-metre (three-foot) deep crater and damaged around 20 cars parked nearby.Car parts and scraps of military uniforms could be seen several metres (yards) away.As with previous attacks, it was not clear who carried out the bombing and there was no claim of responsibility.The government condemned the “criminal” and “terrorist” act and declared three days of mourning.“The government has not and will not spare any effort to pursue those behind this crime and bring them to justice,” it said in a statement.In a separate incident Monday, a man was killed elsewhere in Benghazi by a bomb that had been attached to his car, a security source told AFP, adding that the deceased has not yet been identified.On December 22, a suicide car bomb targeting a security post 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Benghazi left 13 dead.Militants have also attacked foreign missions in Benghazi, including a September 2012 assault on the US consulate in the Mediterranean city that killed the ambassador and three other Americans.On March 2, gunmen shot dead a French engineer in Benghazi.Eastern Libya has become a bastion of Islamist extremists, with authorities avoiding a full-blown confrontation with heavily armed former rebels pending the formation of a regular army and police force.The government has struggled to consolidate control in the vast and mostly desert country, which is effectively ruled by a patchwork of local militias and awash in heavy weapons looted from Kadhafi’s arsenals.last_img read more

Morocco: Over 40k Men Made Requests to Marry Underage Girls in…

Rabat- The Moroccan Ministry of Justice has reportedly received over 40,000 requests for marriage of underage girls in the last year. Although the requests were denied, dozens of them allegedly married minor girls illegally.Akhbar Alyaoum newspaper quoted a UNICEF official as saying that over 40,000 Moroccan adult males made requests to the Ministry of Justice to marry underage girls.The UNICEF official added that the organization is moving forward to release a study on child marriage in Morocco, which was started last year. In 2004, Morocco adopted a new family code, which increased the minimum age of marriage for girls from 14 to 18. However, the phenomenon of child marriage is becoming more common in Morocco.In a recent investigation, the paper revealed that in some rural areas, dozens of girls under the age of 18 get married, have children and sometimes get divorced according to the Fatiha,- the first chapter of the Quran- without court registration.In Tiseroulin, in the province of Midlet 98 Miles from Meknes, over 50 child brides, aged between 11 and 16, are married to adult males, according to Mohamed Ouslaiman, the president of local association Azem Aberbach.Najat Ikhich, the co-founder of Yetto, revealed that her association intervened to stop a man from forcing his 11-year-old girl to marry an adult male, after the association promised to sponsor the child’s studies until she earns her baccalaureate diploma.Najat Ikhich said that child marriage keeps increasing in Morocco, since the government keeps ignoring the 20th and 21st articles of the family code.“These articles give judges the power to approve nuptials with a minor if it is permitted by the child’s guardian, “ Najat said.She adds that the place for girls is at school,  rather than her husband’s house. ”I feel sorry for the underage girls who become maids in their husbands’ houses, especially those who were married off without official legal documents.Edited by Jessica Rohan read more

UN envoy gets firsthand look at volatile western Côte dIvoire

Since fighting broke out after the emergence of two new rebel groups in western Côte d’Ivoire late last November, access to populations in need of aid has been hampered. Carolyn McAskie, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s humanitarian envoy for the crisis headed to the towns of Man and Guiglo to get a first-hand look at the situation there.During her visit, Ms. McAskie expressed deep concern over reported civilian casualties due to fighting and helicopter attacks. Non-governmental organizations in the region have reported that at least 50 civilians claiming to be victims of attacks on 15 April were treated at the Hospital of Man, and at least eight died. Unaligned and uncontrolled armed groups in the west further jeopardize civilian safety. She also deplored the attack on and subsequent pillaging of the Burulli Ulcer Centre in Zouan-Hounien, close to the border with Liberia, where Catholic priests treated victims of a disfiguring skin disease. “Such indiscriminate targeting of civilians, and of medical facilities, is entirely unacceptable,” she said. “The protection of civilians is the over-riding concern.”As sporadic violence and persistent reports of human rights abuses temper hopes that peace may finally be taking root in Côte d’Ivoire, humanitarian organizations say they are concerned that delivering food and other supplies could make them the targets of armed elements. Ms. McAskie will participate in the launch on Monday of the UN Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal to meet basic humanitarian needs in Côte d’Ivoire and five neighbouring countries. This new appeal covers a longer term and is more comprehensive than the Flash Appeal issued last November. Humanitarian agencies received 41.5 per cent of the $22 million in funding required under that Appeal. read more

At Alpbach UN chief urges greater action to meet antipoverty sustainability goals

“Our shared challenge is to conquer the persistent problems of old – poverty, hunger, disease and hatred – while building a new landscape of peace, prosperity and dignity for all,” Mr. Ban said in a message delivered by Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs to the closing session of the forum.“Collectively, we need to grasp this historic opportunity to transform our economies and societies, and put our planet on a sustainable course before it is too late,” he urged participants gathered in the Austrian town of Alpbach. Held annually, the forum brings together academics, students, and decision makers from all areas to discuss and brainstorm new ideas and solutions to European and global problems, according to the event website. In his message, Mr. Ban said that despite skepticism, the MDGs have focused international attention and successfully reached some targets, such as halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and improving access to drinking water. “But there is much unfinished business,” he cautioned, citing 19,000 children under the age of five who die daily from preventable diseases; 2.5 billion without access to sanitation; stalled progress in getting children in school; threats to environmental sustainability; and gaps in gender empowerment. He also highlighted the importance of shaping an “ambitious, inspiring and universal” global agenda on poverty eradication and sustainable development to follow up on the MDGs once their deadline eclipses at the end of 2015. This is particularly relevant given the global time of austerity, Mr. Ban noted, but urged governments to “lift the lives of the world’s most vulnerable” to reflect people’s priorities and not military needs.The UN is amidst its 1,000 days of action to accelerate progress towards the MDGs. The MDGs and the post-2015 agenda will be discussed at the high-level opening of the new General Assembly year at the UN headquarters in New York next month.Mr. Ban was originally scheduled to participate in the forum, but cut short his official visit to Austria to focus on the latest developments related to Syria and the UN chemical weapons inspection team. read more

UN Assembly hears Holocaust survivors plea to never forget all human life

At a meeting that was opened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and which featured statements from, among others, Reuven Rivlin, President of Israel and Denis Antoine, Holocaust survivor Jona Laks, who travelled to New York from Tel Aviv, recalled that in Auschwitz she had been “just number A27725,” a tattoo that is still emblazoned on her arm. “Seventy years since the liberation, I stand before you to bear witness of a world that once and a people disseminated because they were born Jewish. I stand before you to bear witness what befell my family, my twin sister and me,” Ms. Laks said. The International Day is marked every year on 27 January, the date on which Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated in 1945. This year’s observance, on the theme ‘Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors,’ coincides with two milestone events: the 70th anniversary of the Second World War’s end and the founding of the UN. Ms. Laks said she was six years old when “Hitler invaded Poland,” and recalled how all Jews were demanded to abandon their homes and move into the ghettos. The confiscation of Jews’ property and being forced wear the yellow Star of David was a long and painful journey of dehumanization. “We went through horrors, starvation and illnesses,” she remembered. The concentration of a large number of people in a small overcrowded area caused epidemics and various diseases. All these things took their toll and make the children in the camps weak. “One night, my father, who lived some distance from the children’s concentration camps, learned some of the less productive children were going to be deported to even worse camps. He managed to sneak in and bring my twin sister Miriam and me out. This is how my life was saved, because the next day, the 20,000 children were taken to be exterminated.” Shortly thereafter, Ms. Laks was sent to Auschwitz with her sisters. “I remember very clearly the day we arrived in Auschwitz; we were lined up for selection. As we lined up, Hannah, our eldest sister who was afraid I would not pass this selection, gave me her wooden shoes to make me look taller, pinched my cheeks to make me look healthier, and pushed me to the back of the line.”“But despite her efforts, I was marked for the crematorium while my twin sister was sent the other way. I was standing in line getting closer and closer to the crematorium. I could see smoke coming out and even smell the bodies,” Ms. Laks recalled. But she was spared when one of the doctors noticed that she was a twin. “I wish I could spare you all the gory details of what came next. There is nothing darker about the Holocaust than the role played by medical doctors,” she said. “It has been proven beyond any doubt that experiments performed on twins were not only cruel but scientifically useless. We were treated as inhuman creatures, lab animals and nothing more.”After the war, in 1948, “an orphan and completely alone,” Ms. Laks made her way to then-British controlled Palestine. She said that when the State of Israel was established later that year, for the first time in her life she felt like she was a person and “no longer just a number.” “Not only people died in Auschwitz, the idea of humanity perished as well. The message is not to forget and that human life is sacred,” she said.Addressing the General Assembly via video-link, Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, delivering today’s keynote address, asked why the Shoah refuses to become history and remains relevant to so many people. Genocides and other human atrocities occurred before the Holocaust but this event in history stands out. The Holocaust is so powerful, he said, because of the ease and speed with which the perpetrators’ ideology succeeded. How could hundreds of years of human progress yield such massive atrocities? Modern society deludes itself that technological advances go hand-in-hand with moral progress. “This is not true. The Shoah was conceived by highly educated people,” Mr. Shalev said, emphasizing that if it happened before, it can happen again. “How can we assure that values will still be essential to our lives as technology advances?” Through education, he answered. Yad Vashem teaches educators that in addition to being an immense atrocity to humanity, the Holocaust was also a dramatic struggle of the human spirit. “Our road today is plagued with cruel conflicts and we can and must educate the next generation of leaders to behave ethically. I call upon my fellow educators to strive and persevere in the battle of human morality.”When the war ended, Mr. Shalev recalled, much of the world rejoiced for the Allied victory, but Jews who survived were left to mourn the death of their families and friends. They chose hope instead. And it is evident now that in the last 70 years they demonstrated their commitment to humanity by rebuilding their families and communities. Taking to the podium next, Boris Feltman, a 95-year old World War II veteran, who recalled his time serving in Ukraine. He remembered the ghetto of thousands of Jews who were transferred from Romania; the young people forming resistance groups; and his own struggles witnessing the brutality around him. He remembered how fascists caught 12 young Jewish men and killed them by throwing them 15 metres off a bridge. “They did not let anyone bury those men for two days.” Mr. Feltman recalled how fascists would shoot people “all the time without reason.” Millions of people and six million Jews perished and “we, soldiers of the Soviet Union, with United States, England and Canada, on 9 May, 1945, felt like we rid the world of evil forever. We were happy like kids.”“Generation after generation has the responsibility to tell the truth about the Holocaust,” the World War II veteran stressed, warning that today, new evils have emerged: anti-Semites, terrorists, and extremists again want to destroy society. Also as part of today’s ceremony, which was rescheduled from yesterday as UN Headquarters was closed due to inclement weather, Grammy-award winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari and Cantor Shimmy Miller, Congregation Ahavath Torah, recited the memorial prayers accompanied by keyboardist Daniel Gildar. Today’s ceremony was followed by the opening of the exhibit “Shoah: How was it humanly possible,” curated by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, at 2:30 p.m. in the visitors lobby of UN Headquarters. read more

As it happened Manchester United v Manchester City Premier League

Foxes are in our cities but are they dangerous

first_img Source: Sasko Lazarov via Photocall IrelandSome foxes won’t even run away when shouted at from a window, while others can be seen strolling around or lying back enjoying the sun.This is mostly because urban foxes have become habituated to the city.If you do see a fox you can go to Irish Wildlife Matters and get the number of a local wildlife rehabilitator for more advice. Source: Sasko Lazarov via Photocall IrelandDo not disturb If you don’t want foxes coming to your garden – you need to get rid of their food source, so:Don’t leave out any food or food wasteKeep your bins closed and securedFeed your pets indoors.You’ll also need to make sure that your neighbours are following the same rules.If you’d like more information on foxes you can go to Conserve Ireland or check out some frequently asked questions at IWM.Misunderstood Fox owner, Mike Towler, thinks that foxes get a bad reputation because they are painted as villains in children’s stories.He says, “They have the nicest nature of any animal I have ever met, they are considerate, helpful – particularly towards young foxes.”Towler also points out that foxes provide a very useful function as they destroy the rats and mice you don’t want.He seems pretty comfortable with his fox who plays a little football and gets a wash and blow dry in this video: Source: LPSCreativeMedia/YouTubeRead: Fox cub with head stuck in a can gets rescued… and says thank you>Read: Animal rights groups condemn ‘brutal attack’ on fox in Laois> FOXES AREN’T JUST found wandering around woodlands in the countryside- urban foxes are very common in cities.They’ve even been seen roaming around Grafton Street in Dublin with dens near the Dáil.Isabela Berman sent us in this photo of a fox that she spotted near Lincoln Place this week.But don’t worry – Irish Wildlife Matters told, “You can be sure they are more scared of you than you are of them.”In the suburbs foxes do best in estates of houses with large gardens. Areas such as Sandymount show a high density of the creatures.However, they can also be found in industrial estates and in some council housing areas.During this time of the year the cubs are emerging from the den.They will spend a lot of time basking in the sunshine (when we have it) and lying up in bushes and long grass.What to do if you see a foxIf you spot a fox the advice is… don’t panic.Foxes are pretty harmless and they will run away if approached but don’t try to corner it as it could bite in panic.Now be warned some of these guys may seem pretty bold and brave.This fox was snapped in the Leinster House car park last winter and wasn’t too put out by the people nearby.last_img read more

Conclusion du Forum mondial de leau le temps est à laction

first_imgConclusion du Forum mondial de l’eau : le temps est à l’actionAu terme du 6e Forum mondial de l’Eau qui s’est tenu à Marseille, les participants ont conclu qu’il était temps d’agir. En effet, aujourd’hui, plus d’un milliard de personnes restent sans eau potable et 2,5 milliards n’ont toujours pas de toilettes dans le monde.Il est temps d’agir pour les milliards de gens qui n’ont toujours pas accès à l’eau potable. Voilà la conclusion du Forum de l’eau qui s’est tenu à Marseille. Un message similaire, mais avec des solutions différentes, devait clore samedi le “Forum alternatif” organisé par les écologistes et ONGs de solidarité. Première avancée, selon Loïc Fauchon, président du Conseil mondial de l’eau et organisateur de la réunion triennale, “l’eau sera pour la première fois inscrite parmi les 9 priorités de l’agenda international discutées au sommet Rio+20″ du 20 au 22 juin prochains.À lire aussiMaladie de Charcot : symptômes, causes, traitement, où en est on ?”Si on arrivait à placer haut la question de l’eau dans les préoccupations des chefs d’Etat et que le Fonds Vert (promis par le Sommet climat pour aider les pays pauvres) consacre, lorsqu’il sera créé, la moitié ou le quart de ses financements à des solutions concernant l’eau, alors nous n’aurons pas perdu notre temps”, a-t-il dit à l’AFP. De plus, parmi les engagements pris solennellement, des gouvernements ont promis de débloquer plus d’argent. De son côté, EDF a assuré qu’elle calculerait dorénavant l’empreinte eau de sa production d’électricité, alors que le seul refroidissement de ses 58 réacteurs nucléaires en fait le premier consommateur d’eau en France.Intitulé “le temps des solutions”, le Forum officiel a rappelé que plus de 70 % de la consommation d’eau allait à l’agriculture. Pour cette raison, les participants de plusieurs ateliers thématiques ont plaidé pour des modèles de production plus durable dans la perspective d’une population mondiale de 9 milliards d’habitants en 2050. “Mais quelle est cette agriculture qui consomme autant d’eau, ce n’est pas celle qui sert à nourrir les populations locales, c’est l’agriculture industrielle”, a souligné à l’AFP Jacques Cambon, ancien ingénieur de Suez qui a rejoint le groupe Aquattac, présent au Forum alternatif. “Pour réduire la pression sur l’eau, il faut changer de modèle de développement et arrêter de la considérer comme une marchandise”, a-t-il ajouté. Face aux nombreux manquements en matière d’accès à l’eau et à l’assainissement pour les plus pauvres, le Forum alternatif a réclamé un Tribunal international pour l’eau à l’image du TPI pour les crimes contre l’humanité.Le 19 mars 2012 à 12:39 • Maxime Lambertlast_img read more

Clark County deputies ask for help again in solving womans 2015 death

first_imgJessica Newton The Clark County Sheriff’s Office and Crime Stoppers of Oregon are asking for the public’s help in solving the January 2015 homicide of Jessica Newton.Newton’s body was found near the Columbia River in Clark County on Jan. 2, 2015. A boater found the 40-year-old woman’s remains on the western shoreline of Bachelor Island near Ridgefield, deputies said at that time.The Clark County medical examiner found that Newton died of homicidal violence. Investigators said she may have died some time in late December 2014 but had little other information about her whereabouts or acquaintances around the same time.Officials also said Newton frequented homeless services in east and downtown Portland.The sheriff’s office is again sharing that information in hopes someone will come forward with new investigative leads.Crime Stoppers said in a release it offers cash rewards of up to $2,500 for valid tips about unsolved homicides that lead to an arrest. Information about other felony crimes may net tipsters up to $1,000.last_img read more

Inside Microsofts HoloLens development lab

Petrol Prices Now Cheaper By ₹246 Per Litre Further Reduction on Cards

first_imgState-owned oil companies announced their decision to slash petrol prices by at least ₹2.46 per litre. The cut in petrol rates took effect on Thursday midnight.The latest price cut comes in the wake of falling global crude oil prices and is also based on the rupee value against the US dollar. This is the second revision to have taken place following a ₹2.02 a litre rollback that took effect on June 3, Indian news agency Press Trust of India (PTI) said.Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) are amongst three of the oil marketing firms which decided on the price cut.  Some of the metropolitan cities in the country will see a price reduction exceeding ₹2.46 per litre cut. According to an IOC statement, Bangalore and Hyderabad will have petrol rates slashed as high as ₹3.22 per litre, with new rates sliding down to ₹76.39 and 74.89 respectively.Petrol prices in Delhi will now cost ₹67.7 per litre, while in Mumbai prices will drop down to ₹73.35 a litre. Kolkata and Chennai will have prices down to ₹72.24 and ₹72.27 respectively.IOC stated that the three oil retailers are estimated to incur huge losses in revenue amounting to ₹1.51 billion, with diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene rates remaining unchanged. The firm maintained that the current under-recovery on diesel had gone up from ₹6.13 to ₹10.20 a litre; on kerosene from ₹24.16 to ₹30.53; and on the domestic LPG from ₹331.13 to ₹396.00 a cylinder.The company also added that it shall keep a close eye on global oil prices and the rupee exchange rate in order to evaluate any effect they have on selling prices.PTI noted that there exists a possibility of further reduction of petrol prices by at least ₹1 a litre, as the latest cut was based on average global oil prices during the first half of June. It was earlier reported that prices may drop by ₹4 per litre on July 1 onwards following the steep decline in international oil rates As of now, global gasoline rates dropped down to almost $98 per barrel. However, the Indian rupee is continuing its freefall, with the currency now standing at 57 against the green back.”We can sustain these prices for a sometime (without changing retail selling price). Unless there is a further drop in oil prices and rupee strengthens, a revision in petrol rates looks extremely unlikely in coming days,” an unnamed source was quoted saying to the news agency.last_img read more