Minor rape victim’s premature baby dies

first_imgThe baby boy who was prematurely delivered following the Supreme Court’s order to terminate the pregnancy of a 13-year-old rape victim, succumbed on Sunday at the State-run JJ Hospital. The baby was delivered on September 8 at 32 weeks and weighed 1.8 kg. While he was stable for a few hours after being shifted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), he developed breathing difficulties on Saturday, after which he was placed on ventilator support. Given the premature birth, his lungs, like other organs, had not fully developed. “The baby passed away at 10 a.m. on Sunday,” confirmed a doctor from the hospital. Medical experts said that premature babies can develop complications but with good NICU care, babies as small as 700 grams in weight have survived. Exceptional casesWhile the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, allows termination only up to 20 weeks, Section 5 of the Act provides an exception to the doctor in good faith, only if immediate termination is the only way to save the mother’s life. Kandivali-based gynaecologist Dr. Kartik Bhagat, who first detected the girl’s pregnancy, said that this is “not as easy as it sounds”. “Legally, termination of pregnancies is allowed only up to 20 weeks. If I had to apply the Section 5 of MTP Act in this case, the mother’s life was not in immediate danger for me to carry out a termination,” said Dr. Bhagat, who immediately referred the case to another gynaecologist, Dr. Nikhil Datar, for the legal procedures. By the time all the necessary procedures, including the filing of the FIR, medical examination, the submission of a petition in the Supreme Court and that of a medical report by team of doctors was completed, the girl was in the 31st week of her pregnancy. On September 6, the SC allowed the termination of the pregnancy, which was to be carried out two days later. But on September 8, the doctors delivered a baby boy.last_img read more

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Two arrested in Bengal with 12 kg of ivory

first_imgOfficials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence Kolkata Zonal Unit have arrested two persons with several pieces of elephant tusk from Mallaguri area near Siliguri in north Bengal.About 12.4 kilogram of elephant tusk was seized from Saiful Islam, a resident of Lakhimpur in Assam and Santosh Pradhan, resident of Siliguri. On putting together the pieces, having a girth size 0.36 metres, it was found that they were part of a single trunk about 2.86 feet long. “Preliminary investigations indicate that the elephant was poached in the forests of Arunachal Pradesh or Assam five to six months ago and the tusk was being taken to Nepal ,” a statement issued by the DRI said.The development comes weeks after six persons were arrested in Jaldapara in north Bengal for having killed a rhino.last_img read more

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Jinnah portrait at AMU sparks row

first_imgA BJP MP has asked Aligarh Muslim University to explain why it displays a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, triggering a row days after a student sought permission to hold an RSS shakha on the university premises.In a letter written to Vice-Chancellor Tariq Mansoor yesterday, Aligarh MP Satish Gautam objected to the Pakistan founder’s picture on the walls of the AMU student union office.AMU spokesman Shafey Kidwai on Tuesday defended the portrait, which has apparently been hanging there for decades, saying that Jinnah was a founder member of the university court and granted life membership of the student union. Traditionally, photographs of all life members are placed on the walls of the student union, he told PTI.“Jinnah was also accorded life membership of the AMUSU in 1938. He was the founder member of the University Court in 1920 and also a donor, the spokesman said. “He was granted membership before the demand of Pakistan had been raised by the Muslim League,” he said.The spokesman said no national leader had raised any objection to the photo even after Independence. These included Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Azad, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, C Rajagopalachari, Rajendra Prasad and Jawaharlal Nehru.Mr. Shafey said AMU student union has a long tradition of granting life membership to prominent people in politics, social and educational fields. Their photographs were a part of the rich heritage of undivided India and no one ever thought of raising this issue before, he said.The first recorded life membership by the student union was the one granted to Mahatma Gandhi on October 29, 1920, he said. This was followed by a long list of luminaries including Rajagopalachari, Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, C V Raman and British writer E M Forster, he said.Last week, the AMU Vice-Chancellor received a letter from an “RSS activist” Amir Rasheed seeking his permission to organise a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh `shakha’ on the campus. Mr. Kidwai said, “The University is not considering any proposal for allowing any camp or shakha organised by any political party.”“We have a tradition of not allowing political parties to put up their candidates either for contesting the Students’ Union polls or the Teachers’ Association elections,” he said. He said AMU had “no intention” of allowing any “direct intervention” of political parties inside the campus.AMU was not under any sort of pressure from any government agency, he added.He said the student union enjoyed a certain autonomy within the legal framework of the University’s constitution as enshrined by an Act of Parliament.“No Vice-Chancellor or governing body has ever tried to infringe upon such rights and hence, while we may have different views from the student union on many matters, the AMU authorities have always tried to avoid directly intervening in their matters,” he added.last_img
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Demolition drive sparks a row in Tripura

first_imgA row broke out in Tripura on Monday after officials started a drive to demolish party and trade union offices built on public land. In a pre-dawn action, the west Tripura district administration dismantled at least nine structures in Agartala.The Congress and the CPI(M), both in opposition, criticised the action, but admitted that the buildings were on government land. The ruling BJP called the drive “impartial.” Congress workers, led by PCC president Birajit Sinha, staged a sit-in in front of the office of the District Magistrate to condemn what they called unethical demolition of offices of the transport unions owing allegiance to the party. The police took them into preventive custody.The Transport Minister in the Left Front government and CITU leader, Manik Dey, and west Tripura MP Shankar Prasad Datta visited the Old Motorstand area where the structures were dismantled. They alleged that the demolition was done without notice. “I can recall the days of Emergency. The BJP government in the State is showing disrespect to democratic values,” Mr. Dey told journalists. CPI(M) leaders said the trade union offices served as a place for transport workers and passengers to rest. They warned the government of an agitation if it pressed ahead with the drive.Hundreds of paramilitary troops and armed policemen were deployed at midnight before the demolition began. A prohibitory order under Section 144 was imposed in the city.West Tripura District Magistrate Milind Ramteke and Superintendent of Police Ajit Pratap Singh supervised the demolition of concrete structures with the help of bulldozers and a few hundred workers. Several roads were barricaded.Mr. Ramteke said notice was served on the occupants a week ago and was advertised in newspapers. He said the government had identified 104 political and trade union structures built on government land in west Tripura alone. Officials have put the number at 400 across the State and said all of them will be razed.Police officers said the situation in Agartala remained peaceful, but deployment would continue in some parts of the city to maintain law and order.last_img read more

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Dalit farmer set on fire in Bhopal

first_imgA Dalit farmer was burnt alive allegedly by four men in Bhopal district when he opposed their attempt to encroach on his land, a police officer said on Friday. The incident took place at Parsoria Ghatkhedi in Berasia tehsil on Thursday. Kishorilal Jatav (70) succumbed to injuries before reaching the hospital, the officer said.Accused arrested “We have arrested all the four accused and booked them for murder. A special investigation team headed by Additional Superintendent of Police Sanjay Shau will probe the incident,” Deputy Inspector General of Police (Bhopal) Dharmendra Choudhary said. The accused were identified as Teeran Yadav, Prakash Yadav, Sanju Yadav and Balvir Yadav. Jatav protested when the four men tried to encroach on a piece of land leased by him, following which the accused allegedly set him on fire after pouring petrol on him, the DIG said. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan condemned the incident and said the culprits would not be spared.last_img read more

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3 Jharkhand firms under ED scanner

first_imgThe Enforcement Directorate has issued summons to three firms operating in Jharkhand in connection with the transfer of more than ₹9 crore to the accounts of a construction company suspected to be controlled by alleged Naxal leader Binod Kumar Ganju.While one company is mainly into mining and transportation of minerals, the second is in the business of thermal power generation and the third is into construction.₹9.4 crore transferredThe ED probe has revealed that Ganju, against whom the agency is carrying out money laundering investigations, had the construction firm set up to launder the money extorted from businessmen and industrialists. The company’s records showed that ₹9.4 crore was transferred between July and December last year from the three firms in question. The ED has issued summonses to determine the reasons for the transfers. The ED is also examining the construction company’s records to find out if it was indeed into any business activity.As part of its drive against Naxal operatives, the ED has registered a case against Ganju under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.last_img read more

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Illegal electric fence kills forest guard in Assam

first_imgAn illegal electric fence put up by encroachers in the Nameri National Park to keep elephants away has claimed the life of a forest guard in northcentral Assam’s Sonitpur district.The 200 sq km Nameri is a tiger reserve. Park officials said Biren Chandra Deka was electrocuted on Sunday night when he, along with another guard, was proceeding to the Nameri anti-poaching camp from the range office. “The route is through an encroached area in the buffer zone of Nameri National Park near 12th Mile of Bhalukpong (on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border,” said P. Sivakumar, Chief Conservator of Forests of the Northern Assam Circle. Mr. Deka did not notice the fence in the dark. He was killed on the spot.“We lodged an FIR and identified the people who erected the fence,” he said.last_img read more

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Migratory birds at Chilika face avian flu threat

first_imgLakhs of migratory birds which have congregated at the Chilika lake are facing a threat to their lives following the detection of avian influenza virus barely a few kilometres away from the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary.Some crows and chickens were found dead inside poultry farms in Krushnaprasad block last week. Subsequently, samples were sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal, for testing.The State government informed that the samples have tested positive for H5N1 virus and a massive culling operation would be undertaken from Friday inside private poultry farms in the affected villages, including Sana Sahi, Maluda and Patharganj.The Puri district administration would cull birds within one km radius of the place where the carcasses were found. Besides, officers of animal husbandry department have been asked to intensify surveillance in 10 km-radius area.As a precautionary measure, the State government has withdrawn eggs from the menu of midday meals being served in Puri district. Transportation of birds from affected areas has also been prohibited. Sale of eggs and chicken has also been banned in the district.“There is threat to migratory birds as avian flu was detected barely 5 km from the sanctuary limit. Bar-headed goose birds are most susceptible to H5N1 virus, which is very contagious,” said Susanta Nanda, Chief Executive of Chilika Development Authority.“No preventive action can be taken as it is difficult to sanitise such a large area of the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary. The Chilika Wildlife Division is prepared to face any emergency situation,” he added.“There is an existing guideline how to dispose of affected birds. The dead birds have to be buried deep beneath the soil. One needs to send whole sample for testing without opening it,” he elaborated.According to Mr. Nanda, more than seven lakh migratory birds have arrived at the Chilika lake this year.last_img read more

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Jean Dreze, activists protest in Bihar

first_imgNoted economist and activist Jean Dreze and Right to Information activist Nikhil Dey, along with thousands of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) activists, on Friday protested against the “harassment and intimidation” of those who have raised questions of corruption related to the MGNREGA scheme in the Muzaffarpur district of north Bihar.The protest march led by Mr. Dreze, Mr. Dey, Rajendran Narayanan and Sanjay Sahni began at the local Jubba Sahni park in Muzaffarpur and ended at the District Collectorate. Later, they submitted a letter to District Magistrate Mohd. Sohail and Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sunil Kumar, demanding a fair and transparent probe into the allegations. They also urged officials to ensure that whistleblowers are protected. “We also put our demand for work under the MGNREGA be met within the stipulated 15 days time, and a bi-monthly dialogue with officials be organised to address grievances,” Mr. Narayanan told The Hindu over phone.‘Fabricated cases’Earlier, several allegedly false and fabricated cases against MGNREGA activist Sanjay Sahni and some members of his group, the Samaj Parivartan Shakti Sanghthan (SPSS), were lodged at different police stations in Muzaffarpur, for raising questions over corruption in implementation of the MGNREGA scheme. The activists had submitted a fact-finding report to the Bihar Director General of Police (DGP) in June 2017.“But more false cases were lodged against them. More recently, an FIR was lodged against them on September 6 at the Maniyari police station this year,” said Mr. Narayanan. Another petition titled, ‘Bogus FIR against Sanjay Sahni (MGNREGA watch) in Muzaffarpur’, signed by Mr. Dreze, Mr. Narayanan, Mr. Dey, and Aruna Roy, of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan (MKSS), was submitted to DGP K. S. Dwivedi, demanding “appropriate action” and “protection of Sanjay Sahni from further harassment” on September 12, 2018. “But, nothing has happened so far,” added Mr. Narayanan, an MGNREGA activist and assistant professor at the Azim Premji University.“The implementation of social security schemes in Muzaffarpur has seen a distressing downward trend as nearly ₹636 crore due payments are to be made by the State government towards wage and material costs,” said Mr. Narayanan. In Muzaffarpur district, only 94 households have been able to avail their legal entitlement of a 100 days of work in the year, he added.last_img read more

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Efforts to trace, deport illegal foreigners in Assam have been poor, unsatisfactory: State Chief Secretary tells SC

first_imgAssam Chief Secretary Alok Kumar admitted to the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the “performance” of the State government and its task force to trace illegal foreigners and deport them had been “poor” and “not satisfactory” over the past five years.“Put that on record,” Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, leading a three-judge Bench, told Mr. Kumar.Mr. Kumar’s admission was in response to Chief Justice Gogoi’s queries about how the State had managed to deport only four out of 46,000 illegal foreigners identified in Assam between 2015 and 2018.“Out of 46,000, you could only find 2,000; of this, you could deport only four?” Justice Gogoi asked Mr. Kumar.When Mr. Kumar tried to explain, Justice Gogoi interjected and asked, “Is your government being run in accordance with the Constitution?”“Performance [to trace illegal foreigners in the State] in the last five years has been poor,” Mr. Kumar acknowledged.“Put that on record,” the Chief Justice said.“The performance of the task force to identify them is also not satisfactory,” Mr. Kumar added.“Put that also on record,” Justice Gogoi reacted.The CJI then referred to how 38 lakh of the 40 lakh people excluded from the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam have filed citizenship claims.“If they fail in their claims, they will immediately file complaints with the Foreigners Tribunals in Assam. Do you know how many tribunals would be required to deal with such a large number of complaints?” Justice Gogoi asked.Observing that a 1,000 more tribunals would be required to deal with the tide, Mr. Kumar said the State had already proposed a ₹900-crore budget for setting up these tribunals.The Chief Justice, however, said he was sceptical about how the State would find another 1,000 judges, that too, for a tenure appointment of just three years.“Which good advocate would leave his practice and come for a three-year term as a tribunal judge?” Justice Gogoi wondered.The court further directed the Chief Secretary to file an affidavit before April 25 suggesting measures for release of detenuees languishing in Assam’s detention centres for years.“They cannot be released like how domestic criminals are released,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted.“These (detention centres) are not places anyone would like to be. There are about 915 detainees, how long will they continue to be in custody?” CJI asked.The court however did not find it necessary to send an advocate as amicus curiae to check on the living conditions of the detainees. “We know their living conditions are bad,” Chief Justice Gogoi said.In the previous hearing, Mr. Mehta had briefed the court that the “push-back” policy was dropped in 2013 and nowadays diplomatic channels were employed to determine the nationality of an illegal foreigner and to deport the person. A Ministry of Home Affairs affidavit had said how the Assistant High Commissioner of Bangladesh visited detention centres to talk to detainees. If their information is proved correct, they are expeditiously issued travel documents.The court is hearing a petition filed by activist Harsh Mander about the dismal living conditions within the four walls of the detention centres in the State. The court noticed that many detainees continue to be lodged inside these centres even after the expiry of their term of im​prisonment for illegally entering the country.last_img read more

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Five labourers killed in Pune saree godown fire

first_imgFive labourers were killed in a fire that broke out early on Thursday in a saree godown at Uruli Devachi, about 20 km from the Pune city, the authorities said.The incident occurred a little after 4 a. m., said fire brigade officials. They ascribed the cause of the blaze to a short circuit.Four of the deceased hailed from Rajasthan, while one was from Maharashtra’s Latur district, said the police.All of them were in their 20s. They have been identified as Rakesh Riyad (22), Rakesh Meghwal, Dharmaram Vadiyasar and Suraj Sharma, all aged 25 and belonging to Rajasthan, and Dheeraj Chandak (aged 23) from Latur.“The labourers died due to asphyxiation within minutes of the blaze. They were sleeping inside the 6,000 sq. ft. godown, which was locked from outside by the owners to preclude any theft. When we retrieved their bodies, some of them had been burnt,” said a police official.Fire brigade officials said five fire tenders were sent to the spot to combat the conflagration.“We received a call at the control room at 4.15 a. m., following which five fire tenders were immediately rushed to the spot. In addition, eight to ten water tankers too were sent,” said a fire brigade official. The intensity of the blaze was such that it could be brought under control only after more than four hours of firefighting. The rescue team had to break into the godown through the rear windows, he said.December 2016 blaze In a similar incident in late December 2016, six sleeping labourers were charred to death at the ‘Bakes n Cakes’ bakery in Pune’s upmarket Kondhwa area.In that case too, the bakery was locked from outside, as a result of which the employees could not rush out when the fire broke out.last_img read more

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A Reprieve From Warming, Thanks to the Pacific

first_imgEven as greenhouse gas emissions ratchet steadily upward, for 15 years global mean temperatures have mysteriously failed to keep pace. They haven’t stopped climbing, but the rate of global warming has slowed. Now, researchers have identified a possible culprit: a cooling trend in tropical Pacific sea-surface temperatures. That trend, the authors note, is just part of a natural cycle, so the reprieve is only temporary.On average, our atmosphere warmed by about 0.17⁰ C per decade from 1970 to 1998, but by about 0.04⁰ C per decade from 1998 to 2012. Some scientists have suggested that the slowdown may be due to a buildup of aerosols in the atmosphere, to volcanic eruptions, or to a pronounced lull in solar activity in 2008 and 2009. The ocean also plays a part; a study published in Nature Climate Change in 2011 noted that the deep ocean stores much of the “missing heat.” Scientists have wondered whether ocean surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific—part of a decade-scale cycle of changes in rainfall, temperature, and atmosphere circulation known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)—also play a significant role.To find out, climatologist Yu Kosaka of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California, and climatologist Shang-Ping Xie, also at Scripps, took a closer look at how naturally varying sea-surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific might affect global atmospheric temperatures. They turned to a system of models known as POGA (Pacific Ocean-Global Atmosphere), previously used to study links between Pacific Ocean surface temperatures, ENSO, and global atmosphere.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(*)Kosaka and Xie ran three different sets of experiments to try to tease out this impact. In one, they ran a model that incorporated only atmospheric changes, such as the observed increased greenhouse gas concentrations. In a second, they included the sea-surface temperatures but held greenhouse gas concentrations steady at 1990 levels. And in the third set, known as POGA-H, they included changes in both ocean temperatures and greenhouse gases.When the researchers compared the results of the models with observed temperature trends from 2002 to 2012, POGA-H gave the best match. By comparing the temperatures from that model with temperatures from the model that included only atmospheric changes, the researchers were able to suss out the effect of the ocean temperatures. They found that recent cooling in the tropical Pacific—which covers only about 8.2% of Earth’s surface—was responsible for lowering global mean temperatures by 0.15⁰ C, relative to the 1990s, the team reports online today in Nature. In the Northern Hemisphere that hiatus was most pronounced in winter, when ENSO has the greatest impact on the transfer of heat from the tropics to the poles.“Our study does not tell us when the climate will go out from the hiatus,” Kosaka says, “but now we know that in the timescale of several decades, the climate will continue to warm due to increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.” Indeed, noted meteorologist Richard Allan of the University of Reading in the United Kingdom in a statement to the U.K. Science Media Centre, these findings highlight that the braking is “likely to be a temporary respite.”Kosaka and Xie present a convincing case that tropical eastern Pacific cooling is behind the recent hiatus, says climatologist Nat Johnson of the University of Hawaii, Manoa. The study also highlights that focusing on short-term trends of global-mean temperatures can be “a bit misleading”, he says. Not only can natural variability mask the true trend in global temperatures, but regional trends may also differ sharply from global trends. For example, during the hiatus, northwest North America  has experienced less warming, but the southern United States got no such break. So a combination of greenhouse-gas warming and cooling in the eastern Pacific can lead to rapid short-term warming in some regions “even as global mean temperatures temporarily flatten.”last_img read more

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High-Fiber Diet May Ward Off Asthma

first_imgThe fiber consumed in fruits and vegetables seems to help quiet the overzealous immune system activity that leads to such conditions as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and possibly even colon cancer. Now it appears that a diet rich in fiber may also fend off asthma, an inflammatory condition that constricts the airways of the lung, by changing the way some immune cells are produced in the bone marrow.When we eat plentiful fruits and vegetables, the bacteria that occur naturally in our intestines help us digest the fiber. The microbes take “soluble” fiber such as pectin—found in apples, pears, berries, citrus fruits, and onions—and ferment it into specific types of fatty acids that interact with immune cells, helping keep inflammation in check. Whether this anti-inflammatory effect extends beyond the digestive tract is less clear. But the fatty acids in question are able to circulate through the bloodstream, perhaps hooking up with immune cells throughout the body.That could mean that dietary fiber influences other inflammatory diseases, such as asthma. It’s known that asthma has increased in westernized countries since the 1960s, during which time the amount of fiber consumed has also declined. Moreover, asthma is not as common in less well-developed areas, such as Africa, where fruits and vegetables form a bigger part of the diet.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)To test a possible link, immunologist Benjamin Marsland of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and colleagues put a group of mice on a low-fiber diet. After 2 weeks, the researchers had the animals sniff an allergen derived from dust mites (a key trigger of human allergy and asthma). These mice showed exaggerated asthmatic responses, including inflammatory compounds in the lungs and the constricted airways that cause the wheezing and shortness of breath so familiar to asthmatic patients.On the other hand, mice that ate a diet rich in pectin for 2 weeks before getting the dust mite extract showed a reduced inflammatory response. Levels of the immune cells known as eosinophils, and of the antibody immunoglobulin E—both usually increased in allergies and asthma—were almost halved, and the mice showed less constriction of their airways.To see if the gut bacteria were responsible for the fiber-mediated benefits, the scientists analyzed the feces of mice on normal, low-, and high-fiber diets. In the animals given pectin, the kinds of bacteria best able to produce the anti-inflammatory fatty acids were about twice as prevalent as those of other bacteria more common in a low-fiber diet. On closer examination, the researchers found proportionally higher amounts of the fatty acids not only in the stool of the pectin-eating mice, but also in their blood.Were the fatty acids in the bloodstream telling the immune system to back off, and was this message enough to call off an asthma attack? To find out, the researchers injected the mice with propionate, one of those fatty acids. After 2 weeks, the rodents again showed reduced inflammatory markers and less constriction of the airways in response to the dust mite treatment, the team reports online today in Nature Medicine. What’s more, key immune cells called dendritic cells behaved differently. Dendritic cells can either scale down immune system activity or ramp up the response, depending on the signals they send to other types of immune cells. In mice on a high-fiber diet, the dendritic cells were less able to turn on the so-called effector cells, which are key players in allergic asthma in mice and humans.In the final phase of the experiment, the researchers found that the mice given propionate were actually producing more of the immature “precursor” cells that develop into the dendritic cells that protected against asthma. “Our study is the first to show that diet can influence the production of immune cells in the bone marrow, which could have major implications given that immune cell precursors leave the bone marrow and spread to tissues throughout the body, including the lung,” Marsland says.According to Gary Huffnagle, an immunologist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, researchers had expected that if compounds produced by bacteria did influence asthma, they would do so in lung tissue. The chain of events connecting dietary changes, altered metabolism of gut bacteria, a shift in immune cell production in the bone marrow, and relief of asthmatic inflammation is an exciting development, he says. “No one has ever put that all together before. The study is a beautiful convergence of observations.”Rigorous scientific work needs to be done, Marsland believes, to test whether dietary supplements including purified propionate, or some similar fatty acid, might be beneficial for people with asthma or for those who don’t have access to fruits and vegetables. In the meantime, he says, a balanced diet rich in fiber is the best way to get the anti-inflammatory benefit.last_img read more

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ScienceShot: Mysterious Underwater Circles Explained

first_imgThe truth behind the mysterious underwater circles that periodically appear off the coast of Denmark has been discovered, and sadly it doesn’t involve aliens, fairies, or the fabled lost city of Atlantis. In 2008, a tourist snapped photos of several large dark rings that appeared near the white cliffs of Denmark’s island of Møn in the Baltic Sea. The circles, several as large as a tennis courts, sparked numerous theories of their origin—some more outlandish than others. In 2011, when the formations reappeared, scientists discovered they were actually round bands of marine eelgrass, similar to rings of mushrooms known as fairy rings. Because eelgrass usually grows as continuous underwater meadows, scientists were still baffled by the rims of lush eelgrass with barren cores. Now, researchers say they at last know the rings’ true cause. The scientists found large amounts of toxic sulfide built up in the muds where the eelgrass grows. The sulfide forms when nutrients from agricultural runoff cause bacteria to flourish. Eelgrass grows radially outward, with older plants in the middle and younger seedlings on the outer rim. Because only the middle ring of mature plants can endure the poisonous sulfide, a near-perfect ring of seagrass forms, the researchers report in the February issue of Marine Biology. While the eelgrass circles make for a remarkable sight and a catalyst for kooky conspiracy theories, the researchers say sulfide from agricultural runoff has become a major problem for seagrass ecosystems worldwide.For more stories on mysterious formations in nature, see our collections page.See more ScienceShots.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

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In Japan, official effort to replicate STAP stem cells comes up empty

first_imgTOKYO—A team of researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe, Japan, reported today that they have been unable to reproduce a simple method of creating stem cells that was reported in two Nature papers by CDB scientists earlier this year. “But these are just interim results, not a final conclusion,” said Shinichi Aizawa, a RIKEN developmental biologist, at a press conference.RIKEN, which operates a network of nationally funded research institutes, also announced today that CDB will be downsized, renamed, and relaunched in November under new management. In two papers, published online in Nature on 29 January, CDB’s Haruko Obokata and others reported that simply subjecting mature mouse cells to a mild acid bath could produce stem cells, which are capable of developing into all the cell types in a body. Stem cells are likely to be at the heart of a wide range of future medical treatments. The stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) method, as the researchers named it, was far simpler than all other known methods of creating stem cells. Co-authors of the paper include researchers at CDB, at other institutions in Japan, and at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)But the claims started unraveling within days as bloggers and contributors to the PubPeer website started noting problematic images and plagiarized text. Researchers around the world started reporting that they couldn’t replicate the results. A RIKEN investigating committee on 1 April announced finding Obokata guilty of research misconduct for several instances of falsification and fabrication in the papers. The committee cleared other co-authors of misconduct but said that senior scientists involved bore heavy responsibility for lax oversight of the then–30-year-old Obokata.That month, RIKEN also set up a team to try to replicate the STAP phenomenon. An outside committee reviewing the case on 12 June recommended that CDB be dismantled. The authors retracted the papers on 2 July, though Obokata has continued to claim that the STAP phenomenon is real. In a tragic turn, Yoshiki Sasai, a highly respected stem cell scientist who was a co-author of the papers and CDB deputy director, committed suicide on 5 August. Reportedly one of the notes he left behind blamed the stress of the media attention.The team attempting to replicate the STAP results is led by Aizawa and Hitoshi Niwa, another respected stem cell researcher who was also a co-author of the papers. In repeated experiments using different types of stress and cells from different tissues, they neither saw the fluorescent signal characteristic of stem cells generated from mice carrying a gene for green fluorescent protein, nor were they able to produce a cell mass as reported in the Obokata papers. Niwa noted that they used a common laboratory mouse strain known as C57 black 6. (A report in Japanese is here.) To be thorough, they intend to repeat the experiments with other mouse strains. They are also giving Obokata herself a chance to reproduce her results. They expect to complete their work by next March.As for the fate of CDB, RIKEN President Ryoji Noyori said they will rebuild the institute around 250 researchers with the remaining staff moved to other RIKEN institutes. (A Japanese report is here.) CDB had a staff of 541 in 2013, according to the institute’s annual report that year. A new director will be appointed for the institute, which RIKEN has tentatively named the “Multicellular System Formation Research Center.”Noyori also announced a multifaceted action plan to strengthen governance, establish a new research compliance office, improve awareness of research ethics, and provide guidance in properly recording and managing research data all to prevent a recurrence of misconduct and to regain the trust of the Japanese public.*Update, 27 August, 8:16 a.m.: This story was updated with more information.last_img read more

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Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository passes major hurdle

first_imgRemember Yucca Mountain? In another turn in the 27-year odyssey of the proposed nuclear waste repository in Nevada, a key safety evaluation published yesterday by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) gives it a thumbs up. The 781-page report concludes that the proposed site, as described in a 2008 application by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), includes “multiple barriers to isolate radioactivity from the environment” for hundreds of thousands of years, commission staff said in a statement. That should allow it to comply with standards to protect ground water and people in the distant future.The lengthy document is the second of five assessment volumes to be published on Yucca, which would theoretically hold up to 77,000 tons of highly radioactive waste for up to 1 million years after it would be sealed. Chapters systematically assess the geology of the site and nearby aquifer, how waste will be packaged and stored, and the fate of the “drip shield” that is intended to protect the packaged waste from ground water. “DOE has demonstrated compliance with the NRC regulatory requirements for postclosure safety,” the document states.The Yucca site was designated in 1987 legislation as a repository and has faced political opposition in Nevada ever since. In 2008, DOE submitted a license application to open the repository, but withdrew it 2 years later. In response, the states of Washington and South Carolina—both large producers of nuclear waste—and others filed suit. Last year, a court ordered NRC to move forward with its review and licensing process.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 Nuclear Energy Institute in Washington, D.C., an industry group, hailed the new report. “This technical evaluation provides strong support for our belief that the Yucca Mountain site is appropriate for an underground repository for used nuclear fuel,” the group said. The Republican-led House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee called the report “game-changing.”“[T]his is a major triumph of the [scientific] community of repository design and performance assessment,” said nuclear engineering professor Joonhong Ahn of the University of California, Berkeley, in an e-mail to ScienceInsider. “Having said this, there are still numerous hurdles ahead” before Yucca can open, he wrote. In addition to the other three required assessment volumes, he noted, the NRC commissioners themselves must rule on the application. Even if DOE receives the license, he adds, it may decide not to proceed.For its part, the state of Nevada vowed to continue its long-standing fight against the Yucca plan. “The NRC licensing board has admitted more than 200 Nevada contentions challenging the safety and environmental impacts of the proposed repository, and Nevada is prepared to aggressively prosecute these challenges. It is not apparent that the [NRC report] specifically addressed these and other safety contentions,” the state said in a statement.last_img read more

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Indian migrant workers file complaint to Ministry of Labour over unpaid wages from Toronto temple

first_imgTwo migrant workers from India who say they faced harsh living conditions and were drastically underpaid as sculptors at a Hindu religious charity organization in Toronto are seeking thousands of dollars in unpaid wages from the Carnforth Road-based temple.In a complaint to Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, a copy of which has been obtained by CBC News, Sekar Kurusamy and Suthakar Masilamani allege the Sridurka Hindu Temple owes them $66,121.74 in unpaid wages, unpaid public holiday pay, unpaid vacation pay and termination pay from Sridurka Hindu Temple.Read it at CBC Related Itemslast_img read more

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As crucial cash from the Gulf dries up, south Indian families fret

first_imgEvery evening, three generations of worried Angatt family women meet outside a half-built bungalow in this village in India’s southern Kerala state.Nearly six months after the house’s foundation was laid and its two floors raised, construction has slowed to a near halt. The reason is never discussed out loud – only whispered cautiously.“My husband said there are problems in the Gulf. Everything is suddenly more expensive and he is not able to save as much,” murmured Faseela Angatt, 29, who is overseeing the building while her husband works in the finance department of a Dubai firm.Read it at Reuters Related Itemslast_img read more

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Lights And Shadows

first_imgUstad Imrat Khan sheds light on the Ravi-Shankar-Vilayat Khan rivalry and the family feud after his brother’s death. He comes from a lineage traced to Mia Tansen and is the younger brother of sitar legend Ustad Vilayat Khan. He has mastery in the sitar, surbahar, tabla and vocal music and yet at 68, the youthful Imrat Khan Sahib says he continues to practice 6 hours daily. His four sons also sing and play the four instruments between them. Ustad Imrat Khan has also created the Imrat violin and Imrat guitar, and is currently teaching music at Washington University in St Louis, Mo.In a hard hitting interview with Little India, Ustad Imrat Khan talks about the early years, of living under the shadow of his flamboyant brother, and sets the record straight about the Ravi Shankar-Vilayat Khan rivalry, the family feud after his brother’s death, and the reason why he wants members of his gharana to stay united.You come from a family that is as talented as it is strewn with geniuses of classical music.Indeed, as you know my father Ustad Inayat Khan was the greatest sitar and surbahar player of his time as was my grandfather. When my grandfather trained my father and uncle the training was very tough and under the strictest of conditions. I was very young, about 3 when my father passed away, but my mother, Bashiren Begum and her father Ustad Bandeh Hassan Khan were the greatest influence in my life. Mother was a great singer and came from a family of renowned vocalists, but women in those days were not allowed to sing in public. Still her knowledge of music was tremendous and she would teach me. I remember her singing to me as a child of three and in fact those lyrics are still etched so sharply in my mind although I don’t remember anything else. From childhood I was first trained by my mother and then she handed me over to my uncle Ustad Waheed Khan to study surbahar. After my father died, my mother would carry his surbahar with her and hold it against her heart as if it was the most precious thing in her life. She would ask me repeatedly to learn the surbahar so that his legacy would not die with him. My uncle was a vagabond and traveled from place to place and we traveled with him. Finally he came and settled down in Kalyan, which is near Bombay, and I continue to learn from him. The surbahar is a much heavier instrument and I still have scars on my ankles where it was placed when I was a young child. She would however keep insisting I learn it, even though I had already become an accomplished singer and as a young boy would mimic Noorjehan and could sing all her songs. I sang many songs in films. I used to love skating and many times you would find me skating backwards, playing the Hawaiian guitar and singing songs or mimicking Ustad Ali Akbar Khan! I believe you were surrounded by so many amazing musicians and teachers.I consider myself really fortunate because not only did I see so many great musicians coming to our house and had the opportunity to listen to them, I was also fortunate enough to learn from so many stalwarts of music. I studied vocal music from my maternal grandfather and mother and also from Ustad Khadim Hussain Khan one of the greatest singers of Rampur gharana. I then learnt sitar from my brother Vilayat Khan sahib who was a musical genius and is rightly considered the greatest sitar player in the past century. He became famous from the age of 8 or 10. After my father passed away bhaiya (older brother) got a good job in Delhi and at the age of 18 when he played before an audience of legendary musicians, he completely stunned them. They said they knew from that moment that Ustad Inayat Khan’s legacy is in very capable hands. I worked side by side with him for 40 years. I was 8 years younger and he treated me like his son. We practiced together and played together, and did extensive research on gandhar pancham that he became so famous for and together we worked and changed the entire setting of the sitar.The result of that research is the Vilayat Khani Sitar that you hear today. My brother also encouraged me to learn surbahar so that we could perform duets together. The surbahar was created by my great grandfather and made famous by my grandfather and I am so proud that no other gharana has been able to master both sitar and surbahar like we have.Tell me about your relationship with Ustad Vilayat Khan. He was an unpredictable man from what I hear.Bhaiya was like a father figure for me. I worshipped my brother. I would polish his shoes, give him massage, and cater to his every need. As per our tradition and the respect we give our gurus and elders, I always walked a few steps behind him and never spoke in his presence. There were times we would be traveling in a train and he will suddenly remember and teach me a composition right then and there and then two years later, suddenly he will say Imrat remember that taan which I taught you in the train that night? Play it. If I didn’t remember I would be in big trouble! He would reprimand me and say. you won’t amount to anything you’ll just go through life bumming around! How could you have forgotten? I remember all that with such fondness even though I was getting a scolding. He loved me like a son. We gave many duet performances on sitar and surbahar and received much acclaim.If he had any flaw it was that he would blindly believe anything his sycophants told him and there were quite a few hangers on around him all the time. As long as you catered to him and did what he wanted you remained in his good books. He was also a ladies man, but I was in love with his music, and could sit there and listen to him for hours. He was truly the greatest sitar player in the world, and had become very famous at a very young age. We had been playing together since the 50s, and bhaiya loved me so much he would hrefuse to perform if I wasn’t accompanying him.Then things changed. In the late sixties while performing at Royal Albert Hall I was approached for a solo concert. I said I would only do it if Bhaiya gave his permission. He said he was fine with it. In reality he didn’t like it and that created a huge rift between us.Until then I had been playing second fiddle to bhaiya and it was not as if he was only playing with me. He had been playing many solo concerts. I did too, but mine were on a much smaller scale. Somehow as long as we were together, it never occurred to me that I should also ask for acknowledgement or my talent be showcased.I was content with doing my bit as a representative of my gharana. I would practice for hours and I do that to this day. I was so particular that the musical legacy I represented as a son of Inayat Khan should be presented as flawlessly and beautifully and I was content with just that. Still it was an opportunity to branch out on my own. Europe had never seen an instrument like surbahar before.Also in the rivalry between Pandit Ravi Shankar and my brother, people forgot all about me and the fact that I too had mastered both sitar and surbahar and was an accomplished singer as well. Not even my brother had the opportunity to study under so many musical greats as I had.So then there was a rivalry between Raviji and Vilayat Khan sahib? Raviji talked about the incident in Delhi in an interview with me, where he played along with your brother and the papers carried the report that Vilayat Khan sahib played better than him. He challenged Vilayat Khan sahib to a rematch and the latter calmed him down. Raviji actually spoke very fondly of Khan sahib.I read the interview you did with Raviji and I would like to set the record straight on that incident. Let me say this, Ravi Shankar would have been great at anything he tried his hand at. He was very bright, knew how to present himself, and he endeared himself to every one with his diplomacy, unlike Bhaiya who spoke his mind very bluntly. But eventually, while Ravi Shankar made a name for himself, none of his students have turned out to be world class musicians. Tell me one world class sitar player who can stand up and say I was trained by Ravi Shankar. The outstanding sitar players that you see today are my nephews Shujaat and Shahid and my sons, trained by bhaiya and me, and perhaps Budhaditya Mukherjee who is a student of our gharana.I also have to say this; there is no sitar player to touch my brother in the past 100 years, not even Ravi Shankar. The incident that Raviji spoke about to you happened in Delhi. Raviji was very well known then. He was also patronized by top notch business men, and the Nehru family, and the media too was very fond of him. When we arrived in Delhi for the festival, no one came to receive us and bhaiya was very upset. Later he was told he was to play with Ravi Shankar, and he said fine. The news spread like wildfire and 4,000 people showed up to see this dialogue between the two. At that point Raviji said he will only play if Ali Akbar Khan plays with him since he was not used to playing without Ali Akbar Khan. As you know their sitar- sarod duet performances had won them a lot of acclaim, though there were people who felt that Ali Akbar Khan was more talented and they were doing well because of his presence.My brother retorted that then Imrat will play next to me. I was a young teenager but I guess bhaiya felt I was good enough to play with them. Then people told him, Imrat is a child, don’t drag him into this. You can manage so either play with the duo on your own or just back out. Bhaiya said fine I will play alone. Kishan Maharaj was on tabla. I was on tanpura.The fact is my brother was the superior player that day. Whatever Raviji played my brother played faster and crystal clear. Then he said to Raviji “I have played whatever you have played; now I want you to play a taan that I’m going to play.” He played a taan which is very famous and is like the trademark of our gharana… It takes many many hours of practice for months to get it. Raviji tried and couldn’t do it. Ali Akbar tried and couldn’t do it either. Then my brother played it again and added more to it, and at that point pandemonium broke. People started roaring that Vilayat Khan had outshone Raviji and had the upper hand that day. The media that was so pro Raviji carried articles saying the same thing. Baba Allauddin Khan got very upset that his star disciples had been made to look so incompetent and yelled at my brother who respectfully took it.Having said that I will say I have the utmost appreciation and respect for Ravi Shankar. He has single-handedly put Indian classical music on the map. My brother did feel resentment initially that though he was the better musician, Raviji was getting so much publicity, but towards the end of his life he knew that people knew he was the greatest and that gave him peace of mind. But as I said earlier, Ravi Shankar is a multitalented great man. He would have been famous in anything he tried his hand at, because he knew how to present himself in the best possible way.So in all this how did your personal journey as a musician take place?I started giving solo performances in Europe and have to say I had excellent managers and finally came into my own as an artist. Still Europe never did summer concerts and I was instrumental in changing that. As you know winter is the time we have concerts in India and all the prestigious music festivals. For me attending those meant more than all the fame and money I could have earned abroad. So I would come back for 6 months every year and have done that for more than 40 years to this day. Sadly, I became very famous abroad and at home things changed.Bhaiya never said anything openly, but he had been angry that I had branched out on my own. The sycophants kept filling his ears, and he became even more distant. The organizers were given the impression that bhaiya will not play if I was invited. I was so used to being managed very competently in Europe that the idea of begging for concerts was very unpalatable. So I would wait and wait and no one would call me or they would ask me to lower my rates to pathetic standards. This went on year after year, so I would initially go for 6 months and wait then it became 4, now I still go for about 3 months every winter.In Europe it was a different story altogether. I became as well known as Ravi Shankar if not more. The group Rolling Stones was very famous. Their guitar player, Brian Jones used to come and learn from me. But then we saw the notoriety Raviji gained due to his association with the Beatles and playing at all those rock pop festivals and my managers warned me to be careful. A year after he came to learn from me in India, I returned to London to find Jones had died of a supposed drug over dose and that was that. After that I stayed away from rock stars.I was the most featured artist on BBC and they made a fortune selling tapes of my performances and my fame spread all over Europe. I have always focused on the education of music, because it is important for any one who wants to be an intelligent listener or performer. So throughout my life, I have taken time out to give lecture demonstrations, workshops and have also taught as visiting professor in many top universities. I established the regular teaching of Indian classical music at Dartington College of Arts in England. I have lectured in Venice for UNESCO and taught classes at top notch institutions like Harvard, UCLA and many others. Some of the courses I established are still being taught.There was no top concert or event abroad where I was not invited. I have played before the Queen many times and all the top concert halls in the west. Sadly, while I was so sought after abroad, I went unappreciated and unacknowledged in India. They even suppressed my recordings, while my brother went on to record the maximum number ever by an artist. Even today you won’t find a lot of my good recordings anywhere. Still I have very fond memories of some of the recordings bhaiya and I did before people filled his ears and created a rift between us.There is a particular one Night at the Taj and then the one of rag Darbari on surbahar by you. Both are lovely.Night at the Taj has a beautiful story behind it. God gives Shahjehan and Mumtaz Mahal permission to spend one night at the Taj, and their souls come down. I played Shahjahan on surbahar and bhaiya played Mumtaz Mahal..as dawn approaches they are asked to return and they do so after spending an enchanting night. I think we have captured the enchantment of that night very beautifully in that album. The second album you mentioned was being recorded at this beautiful chateau. I was given a free hand and told not to worry about the time. As I looked out at the mountains through the windows it seemed as if I was transported back in time and was playing in the royal darbar. I closed my eyes and before I knew it I had played just the alaap for 40 minutes. Hurriedly I completed the recording in 20 minutes after that! I miss those times.Did you ever go up to your brother and clarify things? I did, but I could see there were plenty of people around him who felt threatened by the fact that if the two brothers reunited, they would be sidelined. They enjoyed basking in his glory, and living off his generosity. And of course even the ones who knew right from wrong, didn’t have the guts to speak up before him.His biggest drawback was the fact that he wanted everyone to just be a yes man. It’s strange that my sons are also being sidelined. They are doing very well abroad, but when they come to India they are given the same royal ignore as I was. Till I was in my late forties I was branded a grade B artist, because I hrefused to audition. Still my brother was my hero and I worshipped him and his music.Why is surbahar not as popular as sitar. It’s a beautiful instrument and very rich in sound?Surbahar is very difficult to master. It was really a divine instrument and you had to have a tremendous knowledge of dhrupad and khayal. You can pull the seven notes from the frets, which is very difficult since you have to maintain the dignity of sound and the fingers can’t handle that most of the time.Again it’s a heavier instrument and a lot of times people have a hard time sitting with it. It has a very slow development of alaap. It was generally played to highlight the devotional aspect of music and the approach is very serious and today people are very far from spirituality.That is why dhrupad is also suffering. Even though our gharana’s contribution to gayaki ang was created through surbahar by our forefathers, I have very few students who are studying surbahar from me. Most are learning vocal music, sitar, and the Imrat guitar, where I have combined strings from the sitar and guitarTell me about your sons and about your nephews Shujaat and Shahid. They have made quite a name for themselves, so it seems the gharana is in good hands.I got married much before Bhaiya did. I have four sons and a daughter. All of my sons showed great promise right from childhood and I have to say that I put them through very rigorous training. They started giving performances at a very tender age and in fact my grandson performed with me recently at the very tender age of three.I pulled them out of school and home schooled them. I had many foreign students and I told them to teach my sons and I will teach them sitar for free in return. They were never pampered and worked very, very hard learning vocal and instrumental music in the same tradition with which I was taught. Then my mother lived with me and she had a treasure of knowledge to impart and today they have all made a name for themselves.Ustad Ibrahim Khan one of the greatest tabla players loved my children and even while I was away touring Europe, he would tell my children beautiful stories and teach them tabla. I got Shafaat my youngest son to study tabla since he was a bit shy.For many years he was the only tabla player I performed with just to help him get over his inhibitions, to the extent that other tabla players got annoyed with me. I suggested to Wajahat to switch to sarod which would complement his singing also. I converted surbahar to sarod baaj and even Ustad Amjad Ali Khan really appreciates his playing.Shujaat is very talented and Bhaiya had very high expectations of Shujaat, but he was a very pampered and spoilt child. His mother, Ustad Vilayat Khan’s first wife was a socialite and a party girl. Her parents though were very nice people. Somehow that atmosphere wasn’t there in the house that was conducive for structured learning and even after his divorce though he moved the family to Dehradun, the structured training didn’t really happen, since bhaiya traveled.I remember my mother being so involved in our training. There were times I would be practicing at 1 a.m. and if I messed up she would yell from her room. “Imrat what are you doing? Play properly.” Or if at 3.a.m I played something well on surbahar she would get up and come and bless me and say you have reminded me of a taan your paternal grandfather played, let me teach you. I never saw that in Vilayat Khan sahib’s home.His second wife from whom he has a son Hidayat, never openly interfered, and she really looked after bhaiya, but even she didn’t make an effort to bring the family closer. Shujaat is also as willful as my brother, and they had a falling out though they didn’t completely cut ties. Shujaat met my brother, performed in concerts with him, cuts CDs with him but it was always on Shujaat’s terms. When he got married I told him, Shujaat your biggest drawback is you have not spent enough time studying under your father, I’m willing to help and give you all the taleem (education) you need, please come to me. Now his sister Zila is claiming she learnt from bhaiya and that is not true.I said the same to Shahid. Shahid always played very well from childhood and I have taught both of them along with my brother. Shujaat is also my son, but he has never acknowledged my contribution and Shahid does not even mention bhaiya who taught him for months along with Shujaat. Both Shujaat and Shahid keep doing their own thing.Today both of them listen to old recording and learn from them, and that cannot replace hands on training. I have told them many times to come to me and get that hands on training, but they have never responded. I don’t know why Shujaat is angry with me or against me. Vilayat Khan sahib has scolded my sons, yelled at them so many times, but those boys have not forgotten his past kindnesses and would still go there to offer their respects.There were times I would get upset at them and say why do you go there when Bhaiya scolds you all the time? Even then these boys would go and sit at his feet. Before he died he blessed my boys so many times with affection and told me how proud he was at the way they have turned out.There was a huge controversy about the last couple of days before Ustad Vilayat Khan’s death. Evidently you posted an email saying that you had met your brother and had a lengthy conversation with him. You said he had passed on the responsibility of carrying on the tradition of the gharana to you saying that now it’s you who has to do so. There was a furor and Shujaat responded to that email saying that his father was in the ICU, and how could he have a lengthy conversation, plus no one saw you go in. Your relationship with your brother had been so bad over the past so many years why would he want to talk to you leave alone anoint you his successor? There were others who claimed they never saw you go inside.First of all I’m very offended by this whole thing. I don’t need to step into my brother’s shoes. There won’t be another Ustad Vilayat Khan. Secondly, I’m not just the brother of Ustad Vilayat Khan, I’m first and foremost the second son of Ustad Inayat Khan and therefore I have to make sure that we do all we can as a family to preserve the traditions of our gharana.I was asked to come from London by a telegram from the family. Bhaiya was in ICU and said it would be nice if Imrat was here and good friends of mine who are very influential in Bombay got me into Jaslok hospital to see my brother. My sisters, their children, bhaiya’s daughters Zila and Yaman too were there, as were some other friends like Jayanto Chatterjee, Arvind Parikh.I went into his room around 9 a.m., and Bhaiya was conscious and in fact was asking where Shujaat, Hidayat and his second wife Lisa were. He had wanted some coffee. I said to him, “Bhaiya I hope you are not angry with me still” and he said, “No I’m not. That is why I asked for you.”He blessed my sons and commented that he was worried about Shujaat and Hidayat. Then he said to me I have represented our gharana as long as I could to the best of my ability.Now it is your responsibility to make sure our gharana continues to flourish the way it should. The fact is people would always tell him how come you haven’t trained your sons the way Imrat has and it made him sad. Anyway I was with him till 11.30 a.m. and after that I went to use the restroom and hurried back.I met Shujaat and Jayanto on the way back and they asked how I got in to see my brother and I said I made my own arrangements and that bhaiya had asked me to come back. They said no you can’t go in, the doctors have said no visitors.What was sad is they know very well I met my brother and claimed to the contrary. Every one saw me going into his room and they also saw me coming out. I never said I am stepping into my brother’s shoes or taking over the responsibility to ensure that our gharana continues to flourish. If Bhaiya said that to me it’s not my fault.Shujaat subsequently apologized to me in an email. Why did he do that if he believed I was lying?So what is it that you are worried about today?That our gharana is being divided into Vilayat Khani and Imrat Khani gharana due to inner bickering. Our forefathers and their legacy is greater than who we are as individuals and it should remain the solid tree under whose shade we must all grow and thrive.It should not divide into weak branches that can break in a snap. I would request the help of all my nephews and nieces and our well wishers to help reunite us. I have offered my support to Shujaat and Hidayat after my brother’s death and told them that we should all stay reunited, but they have not responded.I want all the children to stay within the pure tradition of classical music that our gharana has been famous for and to maintain its unique and individual sound. I don’t like fusion music, and jamming with western artists, nor do I like the way all the gharanas are mixed up. Perhaps only in the voices of Kishori Amonkar and Bhimsen Joshi do I see that distinct sound of their gharanas, every one else seems to be performing a hodge podge.My brother’s legacy is incomparable. Even today I have to work so hard to create what he played so effortlessly 30 years ago. If you trace Vilayat Khan’s music through the decades you will see how he added, reinvented and infused with freshness and beauty everything he played. That is why I want my sons and nephews to stay focused.What is next in the horizon?Well I am planning to write a book on music, detailing also the philosophy of music and religion. My brother and I had done such extensive research and I don’t want it to go to waste. I will also create a DVD to showcase those aspects of ragas that cannot be understood just by reading a book. I’m also introducing two of my students on tabla on an album and will be performing at concerts in my brother’s memory in India. But what makes me happiest is when I can educate any one in what our great music is all about.   Related Itemslast_img read more

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Notice to Mehbooba on “illegal recruitments” in J&K Bank

first_imgThe Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Sunday served a notice on former Chief Minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti asking her “to explain her position before it regarding the illegal recruitments in the Jammu and Kashmir Bank”. Meanwhile, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) detained Engineer Rashid, an MLA.During the course of investigation of case FIR No. 10/2019, it has surfaced that some appointments were made by the Chairman J&K Bank on references and recommendations of a few Ministers, said the ACB notice.“It may please be clarified whether such references had your endorsement, verbal or otherwise for appointments in J&K Bank,” it added. A PDP leader confirming the letter told The Hindu that the party “was expecting it since the PDP is at the forefront of unifying political parties in J&K”.Ms. Mehbooba in her tweet said: “Not surprised to receive a letter from the Anti-Corruption Bureau. Concerted efforts are being made to browbeat mainstream leaders & thwart potential efforts for a collective response. I am too small an entity vis-a-vis the cause that unites us today. Such tactics won’t work.” Earlier in the day, Ms. Mufti called for a meet of all political parties, including separatists, at 6 p.m. in Srinagar.In a separate development, Peoples United Front leader Shah Faesal said the NIA had summoned Awami Ittehad party chief Engineer Rashid to Delhi.“Er. Rashid’s credentials as a public person are known to everyone but his outspoken nature and a unique stance on Kashmir seems to have rattled some interests in Delhi. It’s surprising that a person who has been an elected MLA is being treated in the most unfair manner,” said Mr. Faesal. He demanded that the NIA should immediately conclude the investigations and send Mr. Rashid back to Srinagar as the Kashmir valley was missing him in this moment of crisis when a war-like situation had been created.last_img read more

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