Hectic lobbying to form zilla parishads in Odisha

first_imgHectic lobbying and horse-trading have commenced ahead of the formation of zilla parishads as no party is sure of getting a majority in at least five districts of Odisha.The cat and mouse game has already begun between the ruling Biju Janata Dal and the BJP, which has emerged as the principal opposition in the rural elections.Bid to win supportBoth parties have started making efforts to win over the support of independents as well as Congress winners to form the zilla parishads in the districts where they are short of majority.As per the initial outcome of the polls, the BJD seems to be in a comfortable position in at least 16 out of the 30 districts, while the BJP has got majority in eight districts. The Congress has secured a majority in one district.Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has already hinted that the BJP will try to form the zilla parishads in more districts.The three parties have also started lobbying to get their candidates elected as the chairman of panchayat samitis at the block level.While the results of the elections for the posts of sarpanches and ward members were announced by the State Election Commission on Thursday, results for the election of panchayat samitis and zilla parishad members are to be announced on Saturday. In the just-concluded three-tier panchayat elections, party symbols were used for elections to the zilla parishads, while no party symbol was used for the posts of sarpanches, ward members and panchayat samiti members.Half posts for womenElections for 91,833 ward members, 6783 sarpanches and samiti members each, and 851 zilla parishad members were held in 315 blocks of the State in five phases. Fifty % of all these posts were reserved for women.last_img read more

MLA tries to assault Nashik civic chief, held

first_imgPune: Independent legislator Bacchu Kadu was arrested in Nashik on Monday for allegedly misbehaving with the Nashik Municipal Commissioner, Abhishek Krishna, and attempting to assault him.A case under Section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), among others, was lodged against the legislator from Amravati district and his supporters at the Sarkarwada police station in Nashik.Mr. Kadu and several of his supporters created a ruckus in the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) at noon over the civic body’s alleged failure to implement the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995. The legislator and his followers, operating under his social outfit Prahaar Sanghatana, raised slogans against the NMC. When he was granted an audience with Mr. Krishna, the talk degenerated into a heated verbal argument. A scuffle ensued, and the MLA allegedly tried to physically assault the NMC Commissioner.The police were called in to impose order. Deputy Commissioner Haribhau Phadol said Mr. Kadu’s actions would be investigated.last_img read more

Nitish’s human chain a flop show, claims Opposition

first_imgA day after the Bihar government organised a human chain against social evils such as dowry and child marriage, claiming that over 4 crore people had participated in it, the Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress on Monday termed it a “big flop” and demanded a white paper on its expenses.“People refused to join the human chain in most of the districts…we demand that the government should make public pictures taken by drones to prove its claim and also release a white paper on expenses incurred in organising it,” senior RJD leader Shivanand Tiwari told journalists. Mr. Tiwari charged that the “human chain was basically an event management exercise by Nitish Kumar for his image-making”. “He is the most expensive CM Bihar has ever got,” he added. Terming the event a “complete waste of money”, State Congress president (in-charge) Kaukab Quadri said: “Why don’t they organize a human chain on the issues of unemployment, caste and communal divide or the collapsed educational system in the State?” However, party MLC Ram Chandra Bharti participated in the event despite the Congress boycotting it. “If someone is in the party he should follow the partyline,” Mr. Quadri said.The government claimed that the human chain was a success. “Reports from districts said people were enthusiastic about the human chain and actively took part in it,” Chief Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh said.last_img read more

Post-Lok Sabha polls in Assam, parties shift focus to RS seats

first_imgFollowing the completion of the Lok Sabha polls in Assam, parties in the State are now focussing on the two Rajya Sabha seats which are set to fall vacant next month.The seats are currently held by Congress members Santiuse Kujur and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Their terms will come to an end on June 14.The Election Commission is likely to issue a notification soon for holding polls for the two seats, said sources.The Asom Gana Parishad, meanwhile, has reminded the Bharatiya Janata Party of an agreement that was inked between the two parties ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. The AGP supported the BJP on 10 Lok Sabha seats, while it contested on three. As part of seat-sharing pact it was agreed that one of the Rajya Sabha seats would be given to the AGP.“There was an agreement ahead of the Lok Sabha polls that the BJP will give one Rajya Sabha seat to us. Accordingly, we fielded only three candidates and helped the BJP candidates on 10 seats. Now the time has come to remind them about the agreement,” AGP general secretary Ramendra Narayan Kalita said. Mr. Kalita’s statement assumes significance as BJP legislator from the Bokajan constituency, Numal Momin, had recently claimed that his party will name nominees for the two seats.The Congress is unlikely to field anyone this time as it does not have the required number to ensure victory of its candidate, a senior party leader said. “We do not have the required number to ensure victory even if we put up a candidate. So I think the party is going to refrain from putting up candidates for Rajya Sabha [seats from Assam] this time,” he added.Numbers gameA candidate requires at least 43 first preference votes to win a Rajya Sabha seat. While the Congress has 25 legislators in the House, the All India United Democratic Front has 13 legislators.The ruling BJP has 61 MLAs in the 126-member Assembly. Its allies, AGP and Bodoland Peoples Front, have 14 and 12 members each. The BJP-led alliance also has the support of Independent legislators.last_img read more

Coral Reefs Feast on Sponge Detritus

first_imgCoral reefs shouldn’t exist. Teeming with fish and a rainbow of other organisms, they somehow thrive despite the fact that the water surrounding them contains hardly any nutrients. Now, scientists think they’ve solved part of the puzzle: These communities are living off the waste of sponges.It’s easy to forget that sponges are animals. They don’t have faces. They don’t move. They don’t even have circulatory or digestive systems. Instead, they draw water through little holes in their bodies, and then pump it past cells that extract nutrients. Some sponges grow in the shape of barrels or balls, but the ones that Jasper de Goeij studies are flat, colorful crusts, only a few millimeters thick. When De Goeij, a marine biologist at the University of Amsterdam, started keeping them in the lab several years ago, he noticed that they were always dirty, covered in fluffy little pyramids of brown detritus. At first he blamed the tanks he kept them in, but he soon realized that the sponges themselves were making the dirt by sloughing off dead cells and excreting waste. Because sponges fill the cracks and crevices that make up about two-thirds of a Caribbean coral reef, De Goeij wondered if this detritus might feed these ecosystems.Researchers already knew that microbes helped feed coral reef communities. They take up dissolved organic matter like sugars and amino acids and turn it into complex molecules that animals can use. (Most marine animals can’t just suck sugar out of the water; they need it in a more complicated form.) But De Goeij found in earlier research that there aren’t enough bacteria in reef waters to account for all the activity. Could sponges be responsible for the rest?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 a lab on the Caribbean island of Curaçao, De Goeij and his colleagues set up tanks with four species of sponges. To trace the path of nutrients, they fed sugars and other molecules made with heavier-than-usual forms of carbon and nitrogen to the animals. De Goeij found that the gunk that fell off the sponges also had those heavier elements in it, showing that the sponges had taken up the nutrients and turned them into cells and waste.Next, the researchers took their experiments to reefs near their lab. They used tightly woven cotton fabric to close off two crevices of the coral reef—sponges love crevices—and injected the labeled food. After 6 hours, they removed the cloth and took samples every 6 hours from the sponges in the crevice; the sediment nearby; the water; and the snails, worms, and other animals in the area. After the initial 6 hours, the labeled food had made it to the sponges. Over the next day, it showed up in the sponges’ castoff cells and waste products. Within 2 days, it was in other animals in the area, meaning they’d eaten the sponges’ detritus, the team reports online today in Science. “It’s a really fast system,” De Goeij says. “In a 100-liter cave underwater, you put a teaspoon of sugar and 2 days later you can find it in a snail that’s crawling around.”It’s not clear how big the sponges’ role is. De Goeij calculates that on the Curaçao reef, the animals cycle about 10 times more nutrients than bacteria do, but scientists will need to study more sponges in more places to work out how important they are overall. Scientists have observed that sponges are becoming more common on Caribbean reefs. That might be partly because of nutrients pouring into the water from agriculture and other human activities; algae use them to grow wild, then leak sugars that sponges can suck up.“I’m excited, because by and large sponges have been kind of ignored,” says Joseph Pawlik, a marine chemical ecologist at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. Sponges are hard to identify, and the ones that grow in cracks and crevices are hard to get to. Pawlik studies big sponges that grow on top of reefs, and he looks forward to finding out whether they’re ditching cells at the same rate as De Goeij’s thin, crustlike sponges. The new study “is going to generate a lot of new science and a much better understanding of how important sponges are to the reef ecosystem,” Pawlik says.last_img read more

Issues continue to dog the testing of Ebola drugs and vaccines

first_imgAt a U.S. congressional hearing today that examined the country’s public health response to Ebola, an official from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it’s working to develop “a flexible and innovative protocol” to evaluate experimental treatments for the disease. The fact that no such common protocol already exists speaks to the complex practical and ethical issues that surround the use of untested drugs and vaccines in the midst of explosive spread of a virus that kills more than half the people it infects.Given the epidemic’s unprecedented scale, a panel of bioethicists and infectious disease specialists convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) in August unanimously decided that it was ethical to use unproven treatments and preventions against this deadly disease. The panel also said there was a “moral obligation” to gather and share scientifically relevant data about whether these products were safe and effective. But it did not suggest how this should happen, and as the FDA official’s testimony indicated, new views are still emerging while others are being refined.Over the past few months, subsequent WHO consultations and opinion pieces by prominent public health experts and ethicists have spelled out detailed visions of how to proceed with testing of experimental Ebola medicines. The issues, both practical and ethical, are starkly different for drugs and vaccines. Unproven drugs go to the sick, who are fighting for their lives and often have few options, whereas experimental vaccines are tested in healthy people—most will be first-line workers—in an effort to protect them from the deadly virus. “Ethical arguments are not the same for all levels of risk,” noted 17 prominent researchers and ethicists from 11 countries in an editorial about Ebola drug testing published online on 10 October in The Lancet.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 gold standard of clinical trial design for both drugs and vaccines is the randomized controlled trial (RCT), in which half the participants are randomly assigned to receive the experimental medicine, while the control group receives conventional care, sometimes including a placebo. Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which has treated more Ebola patients in West Africa than any other group, emphatically opposes RCTs in affected countries for either treatments or vaccines. MSF’s Annick Antierens, who oversees “investigational platforms” for experimental Ebola products, says “this cannot be defended ethically.”The Lancet editorial, led by Piero Olliaro of WHO and the United Kingdom’s University of Oxford, sided with MSF with regard to treatments. In making their case, the authors question the meaning of “equipoise,” a fundamental ethical principle behind RCTs that says investigators should not know whether an intervention is better than what’s offered to the control group. “Equipoise is a useful principle, but it can break down when conventional care offers little benefit and mortality is extremely high,” the authors write. “This is precisely the problem with Ebola: current conventional care does not much affect clinical outcomes and mortality is as high as 70%. When conventional care means such a high probability of death, it is problematic to insist on randomising patients to it when the intervention arm holds out at least the possibility of benefit.”The editorial rebuts an article published online on 11 September in The Journal of the American Medical Association by bioethicist Steven Joffe of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and an earlier one by bioethicists Annette Rid of King’s College London and Penn’s Ezekiel Emanuel that ran online on 21 August in The Lancet. Those authors contend that “compassionate use” of experimental Ebola medicines outside of RCTs, as has happened in a few patients with the antibody cocktail called ZMapp and a drug made by Tekmira, risks compromising the ability to gather scientific evidence and, as Joffe writes, “will not necessarily prevent more deaths than would administration of the drug in a well-designed clinical trial.”Rid says Olliaro and co-authors wrongly assume that receiving an experimental treatment is necessarily better than receiving effective supportive care—which has not been available to many infected people in West Africa. She further contends that the editorial “underplays the possibility that experimental interventions can make people worse off” and “neglects the population-level concern that, even if the interventions don’t make individuals worse off, they may be ineffective and we would end up misallocating scarce resources.”The design of real-world studies to test whether Ebola vaccines work has similarly triggered impassioned discussions. Many researchers at a WHO consultation held 29 and 30 September came to the meeting thinking that traditional RCTs were off the table: Sentiment seemed to be leaning toward a strategy known as stepped-wedge that would give all participants the Ebola vaccine at different points in time and then look to see whether people who received it later were more vulnerable to infection. But at the meeting, Ripley Ballou from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which has the Ebola vaccine furthest in development, won wide support for his argument that the fastest, most ethical way to assess whether the product works is with an RCT that uses an “active control”—such as a proven vaccine against an unrelated disease—rather than a dummy placebo shot.In the wake of that meeting, some have questioned whether an active control is more ethical than a placebo. Peter Smith, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who attended that meeting as well as a 2013 WHO consultation on the use of placebos in vaccine trials, contends the issue is practical, not ethical: An active control may persuade more participants to join the study. “If it’s easier to do the trial if you use an active control rather than a placebo, then fine, do the trial that way,” Smith says. “But to believe one is more ethical than the other is not the issue.” He stresses that the main benefit of joining a vaccine trial, especially in resource-strained countries like these, is that people who do develop the disease “are generally looked after better than people not in trials.”Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University in New York City who co-authored the latest Lancet editorial opposing RCTs for Ebola drugs, supports their use for Ebola vaccines. But he worries that an active control may cause problems. Immune responses triggered by the vaccine in the active control arm, he notes, “could complicate interpreting the results” in people who received the Ebola vaccine. It also raises ethical dilemmas if an active control arm uses a vaccine that the country cannot afford to use routinely.Bioethicist Nir Eyal of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, who also supports RCTs for Ebola vaccines, says it’s “an enormous privilege” to be offered a chance to participate in a trial that gives people a 50% chance of receiving a vaccination with some promise of success. “Of course nobody wants the placebo,” Eyal says. “But the point of medical trials is not to provide the intervention that’s medically best for the research subject. It’s to establish something that’s important—and this point is crucial—for a far larger population and to prevent human catastrophe.”Even MSF does not rule out other trial designs that offer the Ebola vaccine to all participants. Aside from the stepped-wedge scheme, researchers could stage less rigorous “observational” trials, which are typically used after vaccines come to market to see how well they work in entire populations. “After licensure, there are plenty of observational studies that give us very, very useful and meaningful results that we believe,” says epidemiologist Arthur Reingold of the University of California, Berkeley.In this scheme, vaccine is distributed without an organized study and investigators would look at Ebola rates in a cohort of vaccinated people—say, the health care workers at one hospital—or assess vaccination rates in people who develop Ebola. “The key issue when you start calculating vaccine effectiveness is whether people who get the vaccine and people who don’t get the vaccine are relatively comparable,” Reingold says.Yet another hot-button issue is who should be eligible to receive experimental drugs or treatments. Scarce treatments like ZMapp have preferentially gone to health care workers because, as the August WHO consultation emphasized, they put their lives at risk for others and they are needed to control the epidemic. Rid and Emanuel question whether this makes sense, noting that health care workers have special ties to the medical community and relatively higher levels of income. “Their priority might therefore be viewed as further privileging of the already well-off, especially by contrast with those who provide care without being trained as health professionals.”On the vaccine front, GSK may have up to 20,000 doses ready for efficacy tests in January, but that still means there likely will be far more interested participants than product. The latest WHO consultation says front-line workers should go first—not just doctors and nurses—a group that includes anyone who helps care for patients or even buries those who die.For practical reasons, meeting participant Michael Selgelid of Monash University, Clayton, in Australia says it makes the most sense to offer the vaccine to the “traditionally conceived” notion of a health care worker. “They are best able to give proper informed consent, and it’s crucial in this scenario that we have really good informed consent,” he says. At the end of the day, Selgelid says, regulators like FDA likely will heavily influence trial design as they are the ones who will ultimately decide whether these products can come to market. “Just how flexible the regulators are going to be is a question for them rather than me,” he says.*The Ebola Files: Given the current Ebola outbreak, unprecedented in terms of number of people killed and rapid geographic spread, Science and Science Translational Medicine have made a collection of research and news articles on the viral disease freely available to researchers and the general public.last_img read more

‘Bed of nails’ surfaces just won’t get wet

first_imgBirds do it. Bees do it. Even the leaves on the trees do it. No, not that. They have surfaces capable of shedding water. In recent years, scientists have jumped into the game, creating a wide variety of coatings capable of shedding very different liquids, such as oil and water. But they haven’t yet managed to create a surface that also repels the “wettest” fluids—those with very low surface tension, such as fluorinated solvents. Until now. Researchers report online today in Science that they’ve engineered glass and metal surfaces to repel virtually all fluids. To do so, they etched the surfaces to resemble a bed of nails, with the heads of the nails—each 20 micrometers across—facing up. That limits the surface area that liquids can contact, a strategy that had been used before. But in this case, the researchers also undercut the head of each “nail” to prevent liquid from invading the gaps in between. Because the etched surfaces don’t use a coating, they can withstand high temperatures, a property that could make them valuable in the production of electronic circuits. They might also lead to surgical instruments that repel blood and other fluids.last_img read more

Arctic Report Card sounds alarm for region’s oceans

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA—A continually warming Arctic is having profound impacts across the top of the planet and beyond, according to a government report released here today at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The effects include weather disruptions, disappearing snow, and lands greening as temperatures rise. But some of the biggest changes are happening in warming Arctic seas, with the future of northern fisheries hanging in the balance.The latest version of the Arctic Report Card, first released in 2006, showed that warming trends remain largely consistent in the Arctic, which is warming, on average, twice as fast as the rest of Earth. Snow cover on land was below the average of the previous 3 decades; for the 10th straight year, June featured record lows over land in the North American and Eurasian sectors of the Arctic. Loss of sea ice and the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet slowed, though summer temperatures on the ice sheet set records.This year offered new insight into the future of the Arctic marine ecosystem, one of the biggest question marks as the region warms. The first task is to get a handle on all the factors that explain why the Arctic, mostly ocean, is warming up so fast. A couple of factors are warm air coming in from the tropics and replacement of white sea ice—which reflects heat back into the atmosphere—with dark, absorbent water. A new clue may be in the water itself, says Kathy Crane, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Silver Spring, Maryland, which published the report. Ships studying currents have recently identified new flows of warm water entering the Arctic through the Bering Strait on the Pacific side and the Norwegian Sea on the Atlantic side. “We not only have the solar radiation, but we have these currents to bring water in laterally,” she says.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)All of this warming could have a dramatic impact on the region’s fish. The Bering Sea, between Alaska and Russia, and the Chukchi and Laptev seas, off eastern Siberia, saw summer temperatures 4°C higher than the average of the previous 3 decades. This, along with acidifying waters, could spell doom for many species, for example crustaceans whose shells may dissolve. And warming temperatures can have an uncertain impact on Arctic fish, says Jim Ianelli, a fisheries biologist with NOAA in Seattle, Washington. Alaska pollock, an important fish commercially, was thought to benefit, on average, from warm conditions, which may stimulate the ecosystem as a whole. But new findings suggest that cold temperatures are important, too: Cool waters in the fall and winter encourage the growth of nutritious microorganisms that young fish need to grow. With waters projected to continue to warm, NOAA now projects a likely decline in the amount of Alaska pollock by 2050.2014 showed the promise of a new, productive Arctic Ocean as well: In the Kara and Laptev seas off Siberia, for example, satellites measured higher than normal levels of chlorophyll, which strongly suggests increased growth of crucial marine plants like algae.The Barents Sea was colder than usual in 2014, but the trend since 1981 is warming. That may be why scientists have seen cod and other fish from the northern Atlantic migrating north from Barents Sea fisheries into the Arctic Ocean. “It’s very much a concern in Norway and among the Russians, who worry the fish may be leaving fisheries,” says Crane, who helped lead the report. Crane, with NOAA, says that satellite measurements are adequately monitoring parameters like sea ice and vegetation on tundra from space. “But they don’t tell us what’s happening inside the Arctic Ocean. For that we need continuous and improved measurements.”For the first time, NOAA included details about how the warming Arctic may be linked to weather further south—even causing cold weather in North America and Europe. January and March of this year included “periods of strong connection” between the pole and mid latitude, according to the report. The “polar vortex,” which separates arctic and tropical air, weakened, the report said, allowing warm air to flow north in January, when Alaska saw temperatures 10°C warmer than usual. Meanwhile, frigid arctic air dipped low into eastern North America and Russia, and winter months were 5°C colder than average. Emerging science about these linkages has spurred NOAA to focus its Arctic research program on the problem, Crane says.last_img read more

An ant, a plant, and a bear, oh my

first_imgIn a mountain meadow in Colorado, ecologists have come across yet another example of the amazing interconnectedness of nature’s flora and fauna. Black bears, by eating ants, help one of the meadow’s key plant species thrive.  “This is yet another example of the hugely important and sometimes unexpected roles that top predators play in ecosystems,” says Todd Palmer, an ecologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville who was not involved with the work. The bears’ influence is indirect, but may be significant enough that land managers should take a broader perspective when making decisions about bears in their territories, adds Joshua Grinath, an ecology graduate student at Florida State University in Tallahassee who discovered this connection.Ecologists are increasingly realizing that no species exists in a vacuum, but understanding the effects of their interactions can be challenging. For example, researchers had thought that the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park in the United States 20 years ago led to an increase in willows and aspens there because the wolves made elk fearful of browsing the saplings. But recent data suggest that elks aren’t really intimidated by wolves. So the forest’s revival is a mystery.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(*)Grinath came upon another predator-plant connection while studying the partnership between ants and treehoppers on a common plant called rabbitbrush. These tiny sap-sucking insects secrete a sugary liquid the ants eat in return for taking care of the treehoppers. One summer, a bear moved into Grinath’s study site and started digging up the underground ant nests, eating both larvae and adults. So he decided to see what effect the bears had on his study subjects. Over 4 years, he and his colleagues monitored 35 ant nests in this subalpine meadow for bear damage. During that time, bears damaged or destroyed 26% to 86% of the nests. He soon realized that plants lacking ants grew better and produced more seeds.Now Grinath knows why. The ants aren’t directly harming the plants, he and colleagues concluded after a series of field experiments. Instead, the presence of the ants scares off predatory insects, in turn enabling treehoppers and other plant-munching insects to thrive and take a serious toll on plant growth. “The ants are providing an enemy-free space for all these herbivores,” Grinath says.  Where bears have eaten the ants, predators return and help protect the plants, he and his colleagues reported online ahead of print in Ecology Letters.“The study really highlights the complexity of effects that a predator can have on a whole community of species that are interacting with each other,” says Corinna Riginos, an ecologist at Teton Science Schools in Jackson, Wyoming, who was not involved with the work. “Most likely, other big predators also have just as many surprising and complex effects on the many species they live with.”Judith Bronstein, an ecologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, was also impressed, as such interactions can be hard to tease out. “In this case, many of the strongest effects are indirect ones whose importance couldn’t have been predicted in the absence of controlled experiments,” says Bronstein, who was not involved with the work. (The experiments performed by Grinath’s team included removing all ants from some rabbitbrushes, allowing just a few ants on others, and leaving  the ants alone on still other plants. In other tests, they manipulated the number of insect predators on the plants.)In this situation, it’s not just who eats whom, but also a question of who helps whom. Such mutualisms, as these partnerships are called, “can play a powerful role in the organization and functioning of nature,” Palmer says.Bears are changing their diets—with some eating more ants and others becoming increasingly reliant on garbage and human food—so ant populations may increasingly be affected. But “it’s hard to say” whether the bears’ eating habits have a big enough impact “to affect the abundance of rabbitbrush across the landscape,” Riginos says. Adds Palmer, “The jury is out until large-scale and longer term experiments are conducted.”But Grinath thinks there is cause for concern: “These types of ecological relationships could unravel” if bears and their habitats aren’t managed carefully, he says, and plant populations could change as a result.last_img read more

Air India leaves Indian Table Tennis Squad Stranded at IGI Airport

first_imgIndia’s table tennis star Manika Batra and six other top paddlers were today left stranded at the Indira Gandhi International Airport after being denied boarding on a Melbourne flight by national carrier Air India en route an international event.The Indian contingent, comprising 17 players and officials, is scheduled to participate at the ITTF World Tour Australian Open starting on Monday in Melbourne.Read it at ITV Related Itemslast_img

Sailor Rescued After Spending a Year on Abandoned Ship in UAE

first_imgIndian sailor Nirmal Singh Rawat was rescued from an abandoned ship by authorities earlier this week after spending close to a year alone on board MT Hamed 2. With no electricity and minimal food and water available, Rawat, the captain of the vessel, fought extreme weather conditions in the hope that he will one day make it home and reunite with his family.The oil tanker was anchored five nautical miles away from the shore of Sharjah and Ajman, from where Singh was rescued and flown home to Uttarakhand on Nov. 22. During the months he spent on the ship, he was able to communicate with authorities to register his woes when sailors from ships passing by helped him charge his phone.Singh, 27, joined the ship as the captain in July 2016. He was not given a contract and was promised $2,000 per month for the job. The ship had eight more crew members, who agreed to quit and return home without the pending salaries in November 2016. “I am the captain. I couldn’t go just like that. Also, I wanted to get my pending salaries. So I stayed back,” he said, Gulf News reported.“I was not given a contract even after I joined the ship. It was when I asked the other crew members that I realized that I was being fooled because they also had not been paid for 14 to 17 months,” he added.During his time on the ship, he ate once in three days to preserve ration. Sometimes, ships passing by would offer him some food. He spent most of the period alone, except when he saved another sailor who jumped into his vessel in February.“He had got into my ship when I was trying to rescue his smaller vessel by pulling the rope. As we both were pulling it, the rope broke and that vessel (Al Mahra) was washed away and sank,” he said.Bodies of seven crewmen and three sailors were found later by the Sharjah Coast Guard and the Police Air Wing. Two others from the vessel are missing.“There had been days I had to starve without food and water. Once I had to stay for 50 hours without a drop of water in the peak of summer,” he said. He slept on the deck in the summer months as conditions inside the ship were unbearable.Indian social worker Girish Pant helped in Rawat’s rescue efforts as he was in touch with him as often as possible. “I wouldn’t have survived without the constant assurance and motivation by Girish Pant that I will go home one day. I thank the Federal Transport Authority (FTA) of United Arab Emirates and the Indian Consulate for helping me out after he took up my case with them and pushed for my sign off,” Rawat said.Pant said Rawat’s condition perturbed him and he was worried that Rawat would take an extreme step. “I salute his grit and optimism. Though he was in such a terrible state, he never lost his calm. Sometimes there was no news from him for weeks and I used to worry about him a lot,” Pant said.The FTA provided Rawat with provisions after the matter was taken up with them. Consul General of India Vipul commended FTA and Sharjah Port Authority for their assistance in rescuing abandoned sailors. Rawat is the latest among the 220 Indian sailors sent back from the UAE in the last six months. Related ItemsGulfSailorUAElast_img read more

Indian Engineer Pleads Guilty to Supporting Terrorism in U.S.

first_imgAn Indian engineer who was accused of sending funds to a leader of the al-Qaida terrorist organization pleaded guilty on April 11 to concealment of funding terrorism in a federal court in Toledo in the United States.Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad, 38, has lived in Toledo since 2006. He is to receive a prison sentence of 60 months. Mohammad, however, would get credit for the 30 months he has already stayed in the Lucas County jail, waiting for trial, the Blade reported.As a consequence of his plea and conviction, Mohammad would be sent back to India, U.S. district judge Jeffrey Helmick said. “You ultimately will be removed from this country and told you are not welcome to come back,” Helmick said.The four original charges that were brought by a federal grand jury in 2015 are set to be dismissed during the time of sentencing, as part of the plea agreement. A date for the sentencing has not yet been scheduled.Mohammad is one of the four persons accused in the case, while the others are Yahya Farooq Mohammad, who is also an Indian citizen, and American citizens Asif Ahmed Salim and Sultane Room Salim. All four of them were indicted on one count of conspiracy to provide and conceal material support and resources to terrorists. They were also charged one count of providing material support and resources to terrorists and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice in November 2015. Farooq Mohammad and Ibrahim Mohammad both faced an additional count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.Farooq Mohammad was sentenced in November 2017 to 27-and-a-half  years in prison after he pleaded guilty for supporting terrorism. He also pleaded guilty for trying to hire a hit man to kill federal judge Jack Zouhary, who was presiding over the case. He was also ordered to be sent back to India after completion of his prison term.Asif Salim and his brother Sultane Salim are scheduled for change-of-plea hearings on April 12.Assistant U.S. attorney Michael Freeman said that Ibrahim Mohammad’s brother, whom he called “Farooq,” along with others raised funds in 2009 in the United Arab Emirates so they could give it to Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. Al-Awlaki was labelled as a terrorist and killed by a U.S. drone in 2011.Some funds raised by Farooq were via credit card fraud. He also asked others he knew for funds and enlisted his brother in the United States for help. “Among the methods used to transfer funds to Farooq was for Mohammad to pay expenses, including tuition and the purchase of a car, for a relative attending the University of Toledo,” Freeman said.“The relative’s father then repaid the amounts of those expenses to Farooq in the UAE. The effect of this method of transferring the funds to Farooq was to conceal the source of the funds received by Farooq,” Freeman added. Related ItemsTerrorismUnited Stateslast_img read more

Dentist booked for giving instant triple talaq

first_imgA case has been registered here against a dentist for allegedly giving instant triple talaq to his wife over dowry, police said on Friday.Saira Bano, a resident of Mustafabad village in Muzaffarnagar area, was given instant triple talaq by her husband in April 16 after the dowry demands were not met, according to a complaint.A case was registered against Tahir Hasan under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act at the New Mandi police station on Thursday, the police said.The couple, who got married in December 2015, are dentists and have a clinic in Deoband town of Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur district.last_img

Odisha to give aid to four govt. hospitals, increase bed capacity

first_imgAnnouncing that the newly launched ‘Mo Sarkar’ initiative has proved successful, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday announced a series of measures to support four government hospitals in south Odisha. The scheme was launched on October 2. “On Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, ‘Mo Sarkar’ was launched. We focused on police and health. I have made 120 calls and the response has been overwhelming,” said Mr. Patnaik in a statement. Team visitFollowing the launch, the Chief Minister had sent senior officers across the State with a directive to visit at least 15 districts. “The feedback has been very inspiring and the response by both police and health functionaries has been very encouraging,” he said.As a follow-up to the first day of ‘Mo Sarkar’ team visit, based on patients’ feedback and discussions with doctors, Mr. Patnaik announced that the Rogi Kalyan Samitis of the four hospitals – Malkangiri district hospital, Koraput medical college, Koraput district hospital and Nabarangpur district hospital – will be given ₹15 lakh from the CM’s Relief Fund for patient welfare. A sum of ₹10 lakh will be provided for promotion of blood donation activities. As regards the Malkangiri hospital, Mr. Patnaik announced increase of bed capacity to 200, provision of accommodation for doctors and transit home, rest shed for attendants and daily bus service from Motu to Malkangiri.For the medical college at Koraput, Mr. Patnaik ordered detailed planning for composite hospital with 500 beds and enhancement of beds to 700 within two years. Besides, the college will have staff quarters and transit home, five ambulances and three Mahaprayan vehicles and rest shed for attendants as an interim measure. The bed strength of the Koraput district hospital will be increased to 250 and that of Nabarangpur district hospital to 200.last_img read more