Month: December 2019

Jammu Army camp attackers from Pakistan: J&K DGP

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first_imgJammu and Kashmir DGP S.P. Vaid said on Saturday that the terrorists who had stormed the Sunjuwan Army camp in Jammu earlier in the day were “100 % from Pakistan.”Mr. Vaid said the attack coincides with the death anniversary of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. Guru was hanged to death in Delhi’s Tihar Central Jail on February 9, 2013. Security agencies had sounded a high alert last week for February 9 and February 11, the day Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front founder Maqbool Bhat was hanged in Tihar jail in 1984.Rajnath in loopHome Minister Rajnath Singh said Centre was closely monitoring the situation. Mr. Singh said he spoke to the J&K DGP regarding the terrorist attack on the Army camp.“The DGP has apprised him of the situation. The MHA is closely monitoring the situation,” a tweet posted by Mr. Singh’s verified handle said.Later, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function in Ahmedabad, Mr. Singh said, “You should be rest assured that Army and security forces are giving a befitting reply to the attack. They will not let Indian down. I cannot comment anymore as the operation is still on.”A senior Home Ministry official said the attack had tell-tale signs that the terrorists belonged to Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohmmad (JeM). In the past two years, Afzal Guru has emerged as the common link in at least three attacks on police and Army camps along the Jammu-Pathankot highway. The att ack on a CRPF camp in South Kashmir’s Pulwama on December 31 was also carried out by JeM, the official said.Investigators had found a message, written in Urdu, on piece of paper on the body of one of the four terrorists who was killed at Pathankot airbase in 2016. The message allegedly said the attacks were a revenge for Afzal Guru’s hanging.Similar papers were found on the bodies of intruders who were gunned down during an attack on a police post at Rajbagh police station in Kathua in Jammu on March 20, 2015 and the attack on an Army camp in nearby Samba on March 21, 2015. All the cites of the attacks are located within 15-20 kms of the Pakistan border and along National Highway 1A.An official said it was premature to say whether the terrorists infiltrated from the Line of Control (LoC) or International Border (IB). The 740 km LoC is under the operational control of the Army and 192 km International Boundary (IB) along Jammu is manned by the Border Security Force (BSF). Infiltration bidsOn February 7, the Home Ministry informed the Rajya Sabha that there were 406 infiltration bids reported in J&K in 2017 and 59 infiltrators were shot dead. In 2015 and 2016 the cases of Infiltration stood at 121 and 371 respectively. The BSF said it has been on maximum alert due to the ongoing cross-border firing and shelling from Pakistan’s side. “There has been no breach of fence on the IB. The forces are on maximum alert. The cross-border firing has stopped since January 22 but sporadic shelling is taking place. It is premature to say where the terrorists came from,” said a senior BSF official.last_img read more

Rahul questions Nitish over tragedy

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first_imgCongress president Rahul Gandhi questioned his one time ally and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over the death of nine school children who were crushed by a speeding Bolero vehicle that was allegedly being driven by a drunk BJP functionary. Tweeting in Hindi, Mr. Gandhi said, “In alcohol- free Bihar, a drunk BJP leader killed nine school children. Nitishji, what happened to the voice of your inner conscience? Is this the truth of your ban on alcoholism? Is your conscience protecting the BJP leader or the reality of the alcohol free Bihar?”last_img read more

Farmers’ protest in Jaipur

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first_imgRattled by the farmers’ threat to lay siege to the Assembly from Thursday, the Rajasthan government launched a crackdown on their leaders, arresting hundreds of them, and took measures to stop the entry of protesters here. The All India Kisan Sabha condemned the government’s action, and termed it undemocratic.Those arrested included the former CPI(M) MLAs Amra Ram, Pema Ram and Pawan Duggal. Mr. Amra Ram and a large number of his supporters, held in Chomu, were shifted to the Central Jail here on Wednesday. Several farmer leaders were arrested from Sikar, Bikaner, Hanumangarh, Churu, Nagaur, Jhunjhunu and Kota districts.The CPI(M)-affiliated AIKS had given a call to farmers, agricultural labourers and cattle rearers to march to Jaipur and lay siege to the Assembly during the ongoing Budget session. The farmers’ body accused the BJP government of dishonesty in its budgetary announcement of farm loan waiver and failure to fulfil its promises made to farmers after their 13-day-agitation in the Shekhawati region last September.last_img read more

Black buck poaching case: Jodhpur court to pronounce verdict today

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first_img“It was the elite that was targeted this time. Five star hotels and all. So they panicked. Then they got up and spoke about it. My question is why not before? Attacks have happened in trains and small towns too, but no one talked about it so much,” Salman said during an interview to in 2010. Salman also claimed that Pakistan cannot be held responsible for the attacks. The actor, later apologised for his comments. In 2008, the two actors allegedly got into a fistfight during a birthday party of Salman’s then girlfriend Katrina Kaif. The relationship between the two stars has never been the same since then and digs at the Khans’ relationship have filled up gossip columns. However, recently the two actors got back together on a good foot in an Iftar party and King Khan also attended Salman’s sister’s wedding to bless the couple. Shah Rukh also visited Salman hours before the verdict on the hit-and-run case. Vivek Oberoi accused Salman of “threatening to kill him, abusing and indulging in character assassination.” Rumour mill was spinning after this press conference as Vivek Oberoi and Aishwarya Rai were reportedly in a relationship. A Magistrate’s court will pronounce its judgment here on Thursday in the blackbuck poaching case against Bollywood actor Salman Khan and others, against whom the trial has been going on since 1998.  Mr. Khan, who boarded a chartered plane from Mumbai, arrived here on Wednesday. Actors Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam, who will appear in the court as accused along with Mr. Khan for pronouncement of the verdict, also reached here separately by the evening. After their presence in ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’, the couple’s relationship was in the eye of the storm. After they broke up in 2002, Aishwarya alleged that the actor harassed her. The former Miss. World said that Khan was unable to come to terms with the ending of their relationship. A case was also registered against Salman by Aishwarya’s parents. Vivek Oberoi accused Salman of “threatening to kill him, abusing and indulging in character assassination.” Rumour mill was spinning after this press conference as Vivek Oberoi and Aishwarya Rai were reportedly in a relationship. The actor was accused of poaching two Blackbucks in 1998 at a village near Jodhpur during the shooting of the film Hum Saath Saath Hain. In 2006, Khan was sentenced to one year imprisonment for hunting of the endangered species. Actor Saif Ali Khan was also accused in the case. Salman Khan is known to be a close friend of Namal Rajapaksa, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son. The actor appears to have, perhaps unknowingly, played an indirect role in the release of the five Indian fishermen on death row in Sri Lanka, The Hindu had reported. The actor also invited some flak over his association with the then Sri Lankan President. Photo: Special Arrangement Salman Khan is known to be a close friend of Namal Rajapaksa, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son. The actor appears to have, perhaps unknowingly, played an indirect role in the release of the five Indian fishermen on death row in Sri Lanka, The Hindu had reported. The actor also invited some flak over his association with the then Sri Lankan President. Photo: Special Arrangement “It was the elite that was targeted this time. Five star hotels and all. So they panicked. Then they got up and spoke about it. My question is why not before? Attacks have happened in trains and small towns too, but no one talked about it so much,” Salman said during an interview to in 2010. Salman also claimed that Pakistan cannot be held responsible for the attacks. The actor, later apologised for his comments. (L)Tabu, Shonali Bendre, Neelam The actor was accused of poaching two Blackbucks in 1998 at a village near Jodhpur during the shooting of the film Hum Saath Saath Hain. In 2006, Khan was sentenced to one year imprisonment for hunting of the endangered species. Actor Saif Ali Khan was also accused in the case. After their presence in ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’, the couple’s relationship was in the eye of the storm. After they broke up in 2002, Aishwarya alleged that the actor harassed her. The former Miss. World said that Khan was unable to come to terms with the ending of their relationship. A case was also registered against Salman by Aishwarya’s parents. In 2008, the two actors allegedly got into a fistfight during a birthday party of Salman’s then girlfriend Katrina Kaif. The relationship between the two stars has never been the same since then and digs at the Khans’ relationship have filled up gossip columns. However, recently the two actors got back together on a good foot in an Iftar party and King Khan also attended Salman’s sister’s wedding to bless the couple. Shah Rukh also visited Salman hours before the verdict on the hit-and-run case. In 2007, the actor was also issued a ‘fatwa’ by a Uttar Pradesh-based Muslim clergy for celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi. In 2007, the actor was also issued a ‘fatwa’ by a Uttar Pradesh-based Muslim clergy for celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi. In 2007, the actor was also issued a ‘fatwa’ by a Uttar Pradesh-based Muslim clergy for celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi. A sessions court in Mumbai sentenced Salman Khan to 5 years in prison for culpable homicide for the death of a man in the 2002 hit-and-run case. The Bollywood actor was held guilty of all counts in the 13-year-old case. Photo: Vivek Bendre A sessions court in Mumbai sentenced Salman Khan to 5 years in prison for culpable homicide for the death of a man in the 2002 hit-and-run case. The Bollywood actor was held guilty of all counts in the 13-year-old case. Photo: Vivek Bendre Chief Judicial Magistrate (Jodhpur Rural) Dev Kumar Khatri had reserved his judgment on March 28 after completion of final arguments in the 20-year-old case.Mr. Khan has been accused of killing two blackbucks in Kankani village, near here, on the night of October 1-2, 1998, when he was shooting for Hindi film “Hum Saath Saath Hain”. The other actors were accused of travelling with him in a Gypsy car. All of them allegedly fled when they were chased by the villagers.Mr. Khan is facing charges under Section 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and the others under the same provision of law read with Section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.last_img read more

Satabhaya’s sorrow

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first_imgIt’s a struggle between man and sea. Back in 1971, a tidal surge triggered by a tropical cyclone invaded 16 villages on the coast of Kendrapara district in Odisha, sweeping away more than 700 people and causing immense destruction. Ever since, the advancing Bay of Bengal has been eating into human habitations, razing houses and destroying villages.The worst affected are the people of the Satabhaya gram panchayat, enduring nature’s fury for decades, much before the word “climate change” entered the public discourse. Once a cluster of 16 revenue villages spread over 3,440 acres of land, the panchayat has been reduced to a few hamlets. Mohanpura, Sanagahirmatha, Paramnandapura, Kaduanasi and Sahebnagar have already gone under. The advancing sea sand has swallowed substantial portions of another eight villages.Coconut trees battered by the sea, thatched houses just inches away from getting buried under sand and remains of tube wells show the enormity of the devastation. Without suitable land for resettlement, people had been left stranded on the edge of the sea for four decades. Remoteness, inaccessibility and lack of governmental resolve stretched their miseries for years.When people across the world hold on to their homeland, Satabhaya’s inhabitants fought for an alternative place. Just before the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in 2014, their threat to boycott the polls moved the administration to initiate a relocation process.In 2018, the villagers, described as climate change’s first orphans by filmmaker Nilamadhab Panda, agreed to relocate to Bagapatia, about 10 km into the mainland. Last month, the idol of Panchubarahi, presiding deity of Satabhaya, was shifted to Bagapatia, speeding up the process of relocation. As of now, more than 571 families have found a new address in Bagapatia colony.Satabhaya today wears a deserted look. A few dozen families are busy gathering valuable household articles before the village is wiped out from the map.(Biswaranjan Rout is a photographer contributing to The Hindu)last_img read more

Goa beach safety tightened, ‘no selfie’ zones identified

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first_imgIn an effort to reduce the number of accidents and falls, Drishti Marine, a State government appointed lifeguard agency, have identified ‘no selfie’ zones at 24 unsafe points along 106 km coastline of the tourist State. Areas identified in North Goa include Baga River, Dona Paula Jetty, Sinquerim Fort, Anjuna, Vagator, Morjim, Ashwem, Arambol, Kerim and between Bambolim and Siridao; and in South Goa, the signs will be placed at Agonda, Bogmalo, Hollant, Baina, Japanese Garden, Betul, Canaguinim, Palolem, Khola, Cabo De Rama, Polem, Galgibagh, Talpona and Rajbagh. These points will have ‘no-selfie’ signages.“Further, signage boards are being upgraded with pictorial instructions on flags, an emergency toll free number and dos and don’ts while visiting the beaches of Goa,” Ravi Shankar, CEO, Drishti Marine said.The move came following continued reports of drowning. Recently a couple from Tamil Nadu reportedly drowned while taking selfies in North Goa. Earlier the agency had issued an advisory cautioning tourists and visitors not to venture into the sea during the monsoon season, June to September, as the sea and wind conditions are not favourable for swimming or water-based recreational activities. Red flags have been put up on all beaches marking them as no-swim zones. Drishti lifeguards are closely monitoring the weather conditions and are on duty throughout the monsoon period from 7.30 a.m. till 6.00 p.m. daily. Additionally, two Drishti lifeguards are available at every lifeguard tower to handle any emergency arising post 8.00 pm. Post sunset till midnight, the beaches are monitored and patrolled by the Beach Safety Patrol.last_img read more

Activists say Kasganj probe biased

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first_imgCivil rights activists on Wednesday alleged a deliberate bias against Muslims in the investigation into the violence at Kasganj in Uttar Pradesh on January 26.The report was released by activists Sandeep Pandey, Teesta Setalvad, former IPS officer S.R. Darapuri, lawyer Shoaib Mohammad, academic Apoorvanand and others. “The independent investigation exposes the police attempt to frame the Muslims, against whom there is no evidence, and protect the Hindus, against whom there is evidence,” it said.last_img read more

Sena mocks Modi’s ‘achhe din’ promise as fuel prices soar

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first_imgIn view of soaring petrol and diesel prices, the Shiv Sena on Wednesday asked its senior alliance partner BJP to ensure citizens have a stable life even if it cannot bring “acche din” (good days) for them.Details of rising fuel prices in the NDA government’s tenure should also be displayed along with the PM’s photos in the petrol pumps, the Sena said. Petrol prices crossed the ₹78 per litre mark in Delhi for the first time on Tuesday in more than two-and-half months, while diesel was going at ₹69.61 per litre. ‘Acche Din’ was the slogan used by Mr. Modi during the Lok Sabha poll campaign in 2014.“The government has not been able to control the surge in fuel prices. When prices touched an all-time high recently, the Centre intervened. But the public’s happiness was short-lived as prices shot up again,” the Sena said in an editorial written in the party’s mouthpiece Saamana.The government has clarified that fuel prices will not be brought under the Goods and Services Tax (GST), so inexpensive petrol and diesel “will remain a dream”, it said.“What is acche din? People being able to satisfy their needs with minimum money and having spare money with them. Their lives should be stable and their living standards should rise. Of these, what has the government provided in the last four years?” the Sena sought to know.Stating that a few months are left before Mr. Modi’s tenure ends, the Sena asked why the prime minister could not provide stability to the people by reducing fuel prices.“Forget acche din, at least provide stability to the people,” said the Sena, which is an ally of the BJP at the Centre and in Maharashtra.last_img read more

BJP booth level leader shot dead in West Bengal

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first_imgA BJP booth level leader was shot dead and a party worker seriously injured when unidentified miscreants attacked them in West Bengal’s Paschim Burdwan district, police said Monday.The BJP booth level president Sandip Ghosh and party worker Jaidip Banerjee were returning home after attending a meeting when they were attacked by the miscreants at Malandighi Saraswatigunj area of the district on Sunday night, they said. Banerjee has been admitted to a private hospital in Durgapur. Bijay Ghosh, the father of the deceased, said his son had told him that he was going to attend a picnic. The BJP alleged that Ghosh was killed by TMC goons. Denying the allegations, a Trinammol Congress district leader said that BJP’s internal party rivalry was responsible for Ghosh’s death.last_img read more

NGO seeks probe into recurring elephant deaths in Odisha

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first_imgWith 45% elephant mortality allegedly caused due to unnatural reasons in Odisha, Wildlife Society of Orissa (WSO), an environmental pressure group, has demanded institution of an inquiry into recurring elephant deaths and fixing of accountability on negligent forest officers.In nine months since April 1 this year, as many as 67 elephants have died while 30 of these deaths have been found to be unnatural ones, says WSO analysis.“The elephant mortality data show that in about 45% of the cases, death was caused by unnatural reasons including about 20% due to poaching by weapons and electrocution. In about 28% of the cases, no prima facie reason for death could be ascertained some of which would certainly be due to unnatural reasons,” says the analysis.“It is also very disconcerting that in most unnatural deaths, the victims have been adult breeding male elephants. Odisha loses 18 to 20 of such elephants every year, threatening the health and sustainability of their population. Already 18 such adults have died in Odisha since April,” said Biswajit Mohanty, WSO secretary.Seeking action against State forest officers in a letter addressed to the director of Project Elephant, Mr. Mohanty, former member of National Biodiversity Board, charged, “Odisha has now become the elephant graveyard of India with deaths being reported almost every week. The State forest department has not been able to stop this despite crores of rupees spent on patrolling and protection.” “The main reason is lack of accountability as no senior officer is punished for negligence or lack of supervision. Only forest guards and foresters are suspended,” he pointed out.last_img read more

Meghalaya, Mizoram Chief Ministers register protest against Citizenship Bill

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first_imgThe allies of the BJP in Meghalaya, led by Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, called on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday to convey their opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.Meghalaya and the other north-eastern States are opposing the Bill that seeks to legitimise the stay of non-Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who came to India till December 31, 2014, because of religious persecution.Mr. Sangma, accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, told Mr. Singh that all the six coalition partners in the State felt that the Bill would affect Meghalaya’s social fabric and cause a serious law and order problem in the region. “Everybody in Meghalaya is opposed to the Bill. I urge your good office to reconsider the decision..,” BJP leader and Health Minister Alexander L. Hek told Mr. Singh. Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga too voiced concern over the Bill.last_img read more

With an eye on urban voters, Maharashtra pushes infrastructure spends

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first_imgThe Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government on Wednesday tabled an interim Budget targeted at boosting its popularity among urban voters ahead of Lok Sabha elections in just over a month. The ₹19,784-crore deficit Budget for 2019-20 focusses on the delivery of big-ticket infrastructure projects at the rich expense of ballooning fiscal deficit, and debt. The total outlay of ₹99,000 crore, includes funds for construction of Metros, roads, transportation, mobility schemes and housing in urban areas. In his 75-minute speech, State Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar refrained from announcing any new projects, but focused only on providing money to projects already in progress. The Opposition was quick to term his effort ‘disappointing’, arguing it neither caters to the farmers nor the urban population.Metro projectsMr. Mungantiwar said the government is determined to complete Metro projects in Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and other cities speedily. “In Mumbai, approval has been given to MMRDA for a plan of 276 km Metro route length. Therefore an ambitious decision has been taken by the government to extend the Metro network to Thane, Mira-Bhayander, Vasai-Virar, Kalyan-Dombivli and Bhiwandi,” he said. Apart from Nagpur, Pune and Navi Mumbai where 141.06 km Metro route will be constructed, preliminary survey for light rail transport system is being undertaken for Nashik city as well. Giving a pushing to boosting road infrastructure, Mr. Mungantiwar has proposed an outlay of ₹8,500 crore for road construction in the State, in addition to ₹1,105 crore under Central Road Fund Scheme. Last year, ₹10,828 crore were allocated for road construction.An outlay of ₹3,700 crore has been proposed for the hybrid annuity model, the same as last year’s provision. The finance minister also announced the beginning of construction of Mumbai-Nagpur express highway and said that ₹700 crore has been spent on land acquisition. The Budget has proposed modernisation of State Transport bus stations and purchase of new buses, for which ₹101 crore has been earmarked.Addressing the issue of industrial growth and employment, Mr. Mungantiwar claimed that the State has created 25.60 lakh employments in the last one year. He said the new IT policy is likely to attract an investment of ₹1,500 crore and create one lakh jobs.“Under the electronic policy, ₹6,300 crore investment is expected and 12,000 jobs are likely to be generated,” he said, giving credit to Make in India and Magnetic Maharashtra convergence summits. Investments of ₹7,500 cr. and ₹7,000 cr. are expected from space and defence material manufacturing policy, and the eco-friendly electric vehicle manufacturing policy respectively. An outlay of ₹65 crore is proposed for the Industrial Cluster Development Program, he said. The Minister proposed an outlay of ₹6,895 crore for the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban), a substantial increase from last year’s ₹2,215.85 crore. Similarly, an outlay of ₹2,400 crore has been proposed for smart cities project and for Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation for development of basic facilities such as water supply in urban areas, sewerage and green belts.last_img read more

Issue ads for Indore, Bhopal, taunts Kamal Nath

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first_imgMadhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Saturday taunted the BJP for the delay in announcing candidates for the Indore and Bhopal Lok Sabha seats, both considered its strongholds. He said that the BJP should issue advertisements inviting suitable candidates for the two seats. Senior leader and former CM Digvijaya Singh is the Congress’ nominee from Bhopal while the BJP is yet to announce its candidate. The seat has been held by the BJP since 1989 and the 2014 polls was won by Alok Sanjar who defeated the Congress’ P.C. Sharma by a margin of over 3.70 lakh votes. Indore is represented since 1989 by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. “The BJP is breaking out into a sweat. It should issue an advertisement to find candidates,” Mr. Nath said.On a demand that Guna MP Jyotiraditya Scindia be fielded from Indore, Mr. Nath said Mr. Scindia’s case was “different”. ‘Different case’“Mr. Scindia is a sitting MP. There is his own area which he has been representing. So his case is different. There is no such question unless he himself takes any decision,” he said.He also predicted that the Congress would win 22 out of 29 LS seats in the State.last_img read more

Bombay HC extends protection to Gautam Navlakha till April 15

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first_imgThe Bombay High Court on Monday extended protection from arrest of activist Gautam Navlakha till April 15, 2019 in the Bhima Koregaon violence case.A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre was hearing a plea filed by Mr. Navlakha urging the court to quash the FIR registered against him by Pune police.Advocate Yug Chaudhary appearing for Mr. Navlakha had earlier told another Bench that the Delhi High Court had quashed the arrest, but the Maharashtra government filed a special leave petition in Supreme Court against it, but another Bench at the Bombay HC stayed the arrest. Therefore, the arrest remains quashed as of now.He had said the special leave petition filed by the Maharashtra government in the case will be heard by the apex court in four weeks. and suggested the matter be heard after that.However, the additional government pleader Aruna Kamat Pai had objected to that and the court had said, “If there is no interim order what is the prejudice to you?”Mr. Navlakha has been charged under various sections of IPC and UAPA. The matter will now be heard on April 15.last_img read more

‘Gathbandhan is the biggest thing I have’

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first_imgThe odds are stacked against the Opposition in Lucknow. The BJP has won the seat consecutively since 1991 with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee winning five terms while his lieutenant Lalji Tandon was elected in 2009. In 2014, Rajnath Singh, now Union Home Minister, won handsomely, defeating his nearest rival by 2.72 lakh votes.But Poonam Sinha believes the “euphoria was different” then and says the BJP government has “absolutely wasted” the last five years in matters of governance.“That is one of the main reasons why our Gathbandhan (alliance) has become so strong. Whenever I talk to people, I can see they want a change,” Ms. Sinha told The Hindu.Picked by the Samajwadi Party, rather to the surprise of both locals and observers, to fight the BJP in one of its strongest urban bastions, Ms. Sinha is making her electoral debut. She joined the SP just a fortnight ago to become the face of the alliance on this prestigious seat. Ms. Sinha brings along with her a mix of Sindhi and Kayastha identity — her husband Shatrughan Sinha, a Congress candidate from Patna Sahib in Bihar, is a Kayastha — and the communities have a fair share of members here.‘No shortcoming’But she faces the challenge of familiarising herself with the city with which she has little political connection. Her opponent, Mr. Singh, though from Chandauli in Purvanchal, has served as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, providing him plenty of personal linkages in the State capital. Ms. Sinha says the outsider tag is not at all a shortcoming. “I am really touched by the warm welcome and the acceptance that they (people) are giving me. I really feel great and I’m happy I chose Lucknow,” she said.The SP candidate also hopes to cash in on the image of her party chief Akhilesh Yadav and the work done here under his tenure as CM from 2012 to 2017. “Our leader thinks forward. He doesn’t think backward, unlike this government which is trying to undo whatever good work Akhilesh ji has done in his tenure,” Ms. Sinha said.While Lucknow’s sizeable Muslim population would offer Ms. Sinha a decent share of base votes, a real challenge to Mr. Singh would rely on her cutting into the majority community votes, especially her own Kayasthas and Sindhis and the Brahmins and Banias. So what arithmetic does she have with her? “The Gathbandhan. That’s the biggest thing I have,” she says, avoiding references to any caste. Ms. Sinha says among her top priorities would be women’s safety and security and to provide accommodation like hostels to working women who come from rural U.P. to the city. Pramod Krishnam, the seer-politician fielded by the Congress in Lucknow, said he, and not Ms. Sinha, was going to defeat Mr. Singh as the Congress and BJP were locked in an ideological battle.‘Nuisance value’ Ms. Sinha, however, dismissed him saying his candidature was “just nuisance value” and the she was the “main challenger”.Fighting from his home district of Sambhal as a Congress candidate in 2014, Mr. Krishnam had secured only 16,000 votes. In 2014, the Congress was runner-up in Lucknow with 2.88 lakh votes, but its candidate Rita Bahuguna Joshi shifted to the BJP later and is now a Cabinet Minister in the Yogi Adityanath government.The SP-BSP also have a steep climb. In 2014, SP’s candidate Abhishek Mishra and the BSP’s Nakul Dubey, both Brahmins, had managed only 56,771 and 64,449 votes, respectively.last_img read more

Om Prakash Rajbhar denies his party MLAs are set to join BJP

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first_imgTwo days after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath sacked him from the Ministry, Om Prakash Rajbhar on Wednesday put up a brave face, saying his party’s legislators stood united with him.Rubbishing reports that three Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) MLAs were planning to shift to the BJP, Mr. Rajbhar dismissed them as “rumours”. He said Triveni Ram, Ramanand Baudh and Kailash Nath Sonkar were standing “like a rock” with the party. “We are comrades of a common struggle. The BJP can try all it wants but its schemes won’t succeed,” Mr. Rajbhar tweeted.Mr. Baudh came out in the support of his leader. Mr. Rajbhar is a “great man” who fights for the rights of Dalits, backwards and the poor, he said. “We reject slavery. BJP wanted us to be slaves. We are standing with the SBSP with full force. I will never leave the party,” he said.Mr. Adityanath sacked Mr. Rajbhar for his open rebellion against the BJP during the Lok Sabha election, with the SBSP not only fielding more than 40 candidates to hurt the BJP but also openly campaigning for candidates of the Opposition Congress and SP-BSP alliance. Mr. Rajbhar has regularly targeted the BJP for not implementing the recommendations of a social justice committee calling for sub-categorisation of the OBC quota that would benefit the most-backward castes including his own, Rajbhars.Mr. Rajbhar had been on the warpath against the BJP after it denied him ticket on his own symbol. The BJP wanted him to contest from the Ghosi seat in Purvanchal on its symbol.last_img read more

Slideshow: Tarantulas Loved to Extinction?

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first_imgMorkelskerFound in the Kitulgala Forest Reserve of southern Sri Lanka, the fringed ornamental (Poecilotheria ornata) inflicts a painful bite. Like other tarantulas, its venom is not fatal to humans. Laurence LivermoreThe brown parachute spider (Poecilotheria subfusca) comes from south-central Sri Lanka. Scientists surveying their habitat from 2003 to 2005 found only 20 individuals. Brent MooreThe striated parachute spider (Poecilotheria striata) is popular among pet traders and collectors. It’s found across 2000 km2 of the Western Ghats in India, where its habitat continues to decline. BayLee’s 8 Legged ArtThe beautiful parachute spider (Poecilotheria formosa) lives in the Eastern Ghats in southern India and is poorly known. Males have never been discovered. Zoological Survey of IndiaThe Rameshwaram parachute spider (Poecilotheria hanumavilasumica) was discovered in 2004 in a sacred grove on Rameshwaram Island in southern India. They ambush insects. BayLee’s 8 Legged ArtThe reddish parachute spider (Poecilotheria rufilata) ambushes prey and has been seen capturing young bats. They are smuggled from India into Europe and America for the pet trade. Spiders may not be the most cuddly of species, but some are so prized by collectors that their existence could be in peril. The pet trade is one of the reasons that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) this week took a step toward putting 11 species of tarantula on its list of endangered species. This slideshow highlights some of these colorful species and their natural history.The spiders live in India and Sri Lanka, so the main impact of listing them would be to generally prohibit their importation or sale within the United States. Most of the species live in trees and are threatened by deforestation. Some will enter homes, where people kill them. All of them are threatened by collection for the pet trade. The reddish parachute spider (Poecilotheria rufilata), in particular, is difficult to breed in captivity, and requires wild individuals.Brent Hendrixson, a spider biologist at Millsaps College in Jackson, says that habitat destruction is most likely the largest threat to the tarantulas. “It might be a stretch to say that overcollecting is driving the numbers down,” he says. “We don’t have any concrete data on exports from India or Sri Lanka in terms of wild-caught animals.” Most of the individuals in the United States have been propagated through captive breeding programs, he adds. The peacock tarantula (Poecilotheria metallica), in particular, is well suited because it is easy to breed and grows rapidly. They’re also stunningly beautiful.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(*)In 2010, a group called WildEarth Guardians in Santa Fe petitioned FWS to list species of the genus Poecilotheria and on Tuesday, the agency agreed that there’s enough science to warrant further review. That is supposed to take a year, but often stretches out longer. FWS will accept public comments until 3 February. Søren RafnThe peacock tarantula (Poecilotheria metallica) is known only from a small forest reserve in Andhra Pradesh, India. Like others in the genus, they make funnel webs inside deep crevices of old growth trees. B. SmithThe wonderful parachute spider (Poecilotheria miranda) gets its name because males will sail down from trees to the ground. The population, in the Chhota Nagpur region of northeast India, is thought to be decreasing.last_img read more

The E.U. Is the Problem on GM Crops, Say U.K. Scientists

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first_imgThe use of genetically modified (GM) crops in Europe is being hampered by a “dysfunctional approval process” imposed by the European Union, says a U.K. government-sponsored report released today. As a result, only a handful of GM crops may be approved in the near future, according to the Council for Science and Technology, which advises the U.K. prime minister on science policy.While stating that the unanimous scientific consensus is that GM crops are safe, the report, whose authors include prominent plant biologists and biotechnologists, criticizes the European Union for regulation that has fettered progress of the technology and risk assessments that have been “influenced by political considerations that do not have a scientific basis.”The council is jointly chaired by Mark Walport, the government’s chief scientific adviser, who was an author on the report. “We’re asking for the regulation to be fit for purpose,” Walport says. Co-author Jim Dunwell, a plant biotechnologist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, adds: “There has been an accumulation of regulation in a nonscientific way.”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(*)Anyone seeking to release a GM organism in Europe has to get approval from Brussels. Applications are assessed largely by the European Food Safety Authority. As yet, only one variety, Bt maize, is grown and its crops are concentrated in Spain. None are grown in the United Kingdom. A vote in February to approve another variety of GM maize saw opposition from most nations, including France, Italy, and Austria. There was support, however, from Spain, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, and the United Kingdom.This is not the first time that British GM researchers have complained about E.U. red tape hampering their work. A purple tomato rich in an antioxidant pigment, recently developed at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, U.K., for instance, has had to be grown in Canada for future research and to attract commercial interest.Instead of the current regulatory system, in which new plant varieties are assessed according to the process used to produce them, the authors suggest that a product-based approach could be adopted, similar to the procedure already used in Canada. This would put the trait above the process so a plant variety produced using GM technology would be treated in the same way as an identical variety produced via conventional plant breeding.“What really matters is the regulation of the trait rather than the method,” says Jonathan Jones of the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, one of the authors of the report. “The regulation of the technology is not proportionate. … It’s time to remove the red flags.”The report calls for Europe to take a step back by delegating final approval of commercial crop cultivation to individual nations. One route, it suggests, might be for the United Kingdom to create an authority that would be the GM equivalent to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which vets medicines for use in the United Kingdom. The European Union, meanwhile, could keep an advisory role on risk and safety.  The U.K. government already takes a positive line on GM crops.  In January, the environment secretary, Owen Paterson, told a farming conference in Oxford that Europe risks becoming “the museum of world farming” if it continues to reject GM crops.In a letter to the prime minister which accompanies the report, the authors state: “The longer the E.U. continues to oppose GM whilst the rest of the world adopts it, the greater the risk that E.U. agriculture will become uncompetitive, especially as more GM crops and traits are commercialized successfully elsewhere.”Dunwell also notes that African farmers successfully growing GM bananas and cassavas for themselves and for export are placed in a commercial quandary by the European Union’s anti-GM stance. “Allow independent E.U. states to go their own way,” he says.The last major U.K. report on GM crops, produced by Britain’s Royal Society in 2009, backed the technology. In particular, it outlined the urgent need to increase food production globally and the importance of science in meeting that demand. Public opposition, however, continues and anti-GM pressure groups continue to attack research. In 2012, a GM wheat trial at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, U.K., was vandalized by a protestor.John Pickett, who has worked on the wheat trials at Rothamsted Research and is a co-author of the report, says: “The best way to address these concerns is actually to carry out the experiments and assess the potential of newly developed plants to offer solutions to specific agricultural problems.”To this end, the report offers one final suggestion: “A new programme of independent research to field test ‘public good’ GM crops.” Named PubGM, it would assess traits produced by both private and public scientists for potential commercialization. But, adds Jones, “I don’t know exactly how it will work.”last_img read more

Video of tribe’s first contact shows both tension and friendly overtures

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first_imgToday the Brazilian Indian affairs department, FUNAI, posted an 8-minute video (also above) of a complex contact episode between members of an isolated tribe and outsiders, some of whom appear to be Brazilian officials. Seven tribespeople first made contact in late June along the Upper Envira River in western Brazil, and subsequently contracted influenza. After being treated by a FUNAI medical team, the tribespeople, ranging in age from about 12 to 21, returned to their Amazon forest village.The video shows young tribesmen, all male, interacting with what appears to be the Brazilian government contact team and local villagers. In the first 2 minutes of video, the young men gesture from across a river at officials and villagers. According to anthropologist Kim Hill of Arizona State University, Tempe, they frequently repeat words in the Panoan language family meaning “friend” as well as “good or beautiful.” Later (minute 3:04), the tribesmen accept bananas, a welcome gift of exchange among isolated people in the area. But one appears to be carrying a rifle (minute 3:40). And the young men then take cloth, a machete, and an ax from a household, (minute 6:18), despite repeated shouts of “No!”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(*)FUNAI has a history of filming contacts with tribal people and making them public, and these videos are valuable, says anthropologist Robert Walker of the University of Missouri, Columbia. “It’s kind of good to know what happened, and it shows how complicated these situations are,” Walker says. But Walker is struck by the strained nature of some of the filmed episodes. The young tribesmen in the video, “want axes, machetes, and cloths, and they probably want food,” he says. “But FUNAI did not provide this for them, because they are so completely underfunded.”There was plenty of opportunity for misunderstanding, he adds. “It’s not like a nice, sustained contact. Things are still really sketchy.”last_img read more

New screen design could extend smart phone battery life

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first_imgA brightly lit smart phone display looks good, but drains the battery quickly. Much of this can be blamed on a screen component called a polarizer. Light points in all directions, which can be mathematically broken down into two parts that are perpendicular to each other. A polarizer allows only one of the two to pass through, which is required for liquid-crystal display (LCD) screens to work but wastes at least 50% of the light. In practice, most polarizers waste much more. In a study published this month in Optica, researchers report a newly designed polarizer with much higher energy efficiency. The scientists etched a 3D nanoscale pattern on a piece of silicon, which enabled the polarizer to interact with and manipulate light. When they shone infrared light through their polarizer, the pattern on the silicon allowed light in one direction to pass through and rotated its perpendicular counterpart by 90°, thereby letting it pass through as well. The researchers achieved a maximum polarizer efficiency of 74%, they report. The technique needs to be extended to visible light before it can be utilized in LCDs and extend devices’ battery lives. But the team says that if it can optimize the approach, such displays could extend battery life and enable brighter screen settings in future smart phones.last_img read more