A wedding gift to reform alcoholic husbands

first_imgWhat would you gift a newly-married couple? Several options immediately come to mind. A Madhya Pradesh Minister, however, settled on an unusual present for nearly 700 brides on Saturday — a mogri or a wooden bat.The mogri is traditionally used to wash clothes. The Minister has advised the brides to use it on their husbands if they turn alcoholic or harass them. The mogri even bears the legend sharabiyon ke sutara hetu bhent; police nahi bolegi (gift for beating drunkards; police will not intervene).Gopal Bhargava, State Minister of Panchayati Raj and Rural Development, gifted the bats during a mass marriage ceremony solemnised on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya in his hometown Garhakota in Sagar district. The Minister said he believed it was an apt present. “Whenever I visit rural or urban areas in my constituency, women complain about their husband’s drinking habit. They inform me that whatever little they earn is snatched away by their husband for alcohol. They are also subjected to physical violence,” he told PTI on Sunday.last_img read more

Bihar may sack staff who take dowry

first_imgBihar has decided to take action against government employees who demand or promote dowry and child marriage. Apparently emboldened by the success of the stringent prohibition laws, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar earlier launched a campaign against dowry and child marriages on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti on October 2. Later, the ‘Bandhan Tod’ mobile app was launched to raise awareness on resisting child marriage and providing assistance to adolescent girls in need of help. The Bihar Women Development Corporation (BWDC) has been made the nodal organisation to successfully implement the campaign. A department official told The Hindu that strict action would be taken against priests and religious leaders who facilitated child marriages. Even the managers of banquet halls and hotels would be asked to take assurances at the time of booking, said the official. “Government employees against whom complaints of taking dowry or abetting child marriages are received and are found guilty in our inquiry might be sacked from services,” he said.last_img read more

Omar Abdullah seeks early elections in J&K

first_imgFormer Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Tuesday demanded early elections in Jammu and Kashmir after the BJP pulled out of the PDP-led government and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti resigned.Mr. Abdullah spoke to the media after calling on Governor N.N. Vohra following the fall of the PDP-BJP government in the State.“I met the Governor just a little while back. I told the Governor that in the 2014 elections, the National Conference did not have the mandate to form a government and today also we don’t have the mandate,” he said.“We have neither been approached nor have we approached any party for support to form a government in the state.“The Governor has no option but to impose Governor’s rule and improve the situation so that a democratic government is formed in the state after holding fresh elections,” Mr. Abdullah said.Mr. Abdullah said he had assured the National Conference’s support to the Governor but added that the Governor and his administration must ensure that early elections are held to put an elected government in place.Asked about the possible reasons for the BJP’s pullout from the government, the National Conference leader said: “I can’t speak for the BJP. They alone can explain what prompted their decision.“Yes, I was surprised by the timing of the BJP decision. I expected this to happen later this year, but it happened sooner because of the deterioration in situation.”Asked whether the BJP had embarrassed the PDP by taking a unilateral decision, Mr. Abdullah said: “Whether PDP is embarrassed or not they would know, but I feel the BJP should have taken the PDP into confidence.“But different parts function differently. They (BJP) claim radicalisation and obviously they have better access to information than us. “We believe that both these parties have together pushed the state down the precipice.”Mr. Abdullah said that Governor Vohra, with his vast experience, can help pull the State out of the current crisis. Asked about his party’s earlier offer of support made to the PDP, he said: “That was a one-time offer and after they joined hands with the BJP, that offer ended.”Asked if his party was happy about the development, he said, “We do not celebrate this break-up. We are mourning the demise of democracy in the state”.Would he ask the Governor to keep the state Assembly in suspended animation or seek its dissolution? Mr. Abdullah replied: “That is the prerogative of the Governor and of nobody else.”last_img read more

Pune school’s directives on girls’ innerwear, loo breaks angers parents

first_imgA controversy has erupted over a set of guidelines issued by a Pune private school, asking the girls to wear innerwears of specific colour while on the campus.As per the guidelines issued by MIT Vishwashanti Gurukul School, located in Kothrud area of the city, girls must wear only “white or beige inner-wears” under their bloomers every day.In another diktat, the co-ed school has directed its all the students to use urinals during specific time only.While parents have sought action against the school, the authorities have justified the guidelines, saying they are to ensure the safety of students.Guidelines mentioned in school diaryThese and some other such guidelines were mentioned in the school diary, which was handed over to students recently.One of the guidelines talks about the loo breaks.“The students are strictly advised to use urinals and toilets in specific time allotted in the time-table. In case of emergency and medical grounds, the students should take permission from their respective teacher and proceed to the toilet with a buddy,” it stated.The school administration has sought a written affidavit signed by the parents of the students.Terming the guidelines “coercive and unnecessary”, the parents have approached the Education department and sought action against the school administration.One of the parents said the mention of innerwear in the diary could have been avoided. “The parents and students are well matured and there was no need to include such guideline in the diary,” she said.Suchitra Karad-Nagare, executive director and trustee of the MAEER MIT group, justified the guidelines, saying the coloured innerwears worn under white uniform could draw unpleasant comments.Complaints from girls“In past, we had some girls coming to us and complaining about such unpleasant experiences. To prevent such incidents, we decided to include rules about innerwears in the diary,” she said.Instead of calling each and every parent and explaining to them about the move, the school administration decided to put that in the diary, the executive director said.On the loo break timings, she said it has been done to “bring discipline and to ensure the safety of the students as sometimes students excuse themselves and dodn’t return to their classes for long time”.Dinkar Temkar, Director, (Primary) Education, has directed the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to make inquiries.Two officers from the PMC’s education board have been appointed to look into the matter.last_img read more

Eye on Assembly polls, Naveen goes on an inauguration spree

first_imgEyeing a fifth consecutive term in Odisha, where Assembly polls will be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal president Naveen Patnaik seems to have already got into the poll mode to stay ahead of the Opposition Congress and the BJP. Mr. Patnaik has started inaugurating roads, bridges, hospitals and other projects in different parts of the State to guard against anti-incumbency.Irrigation project He inaugurated a medium irrigation project in Sundargarh district on Wednesday. The project will provide irrigation cover to 5,750 hectares in Gurundia and Banei blocks.On Tuesday, the Chief Minister launched a massive plantation drive under the ‘Green Mahanadi Mission’ in Boudh and Subarnapur districts to rejuvenate the river.On Thursday, he is scheduled to inaugurate the much-awaited Gurupriya bridge that would link the mainland with 151 villages in the cut-off areas in Malkangiri district. The bridge is likely to open road link to the last Maoist bastion in the State.Under the ‘Ama Gaon, Ama Vikas’ (our village, our development) programme that was launched on the birth anniversary of late Biju Patnaik on March 5, Mr. Patnaik sanctioned 21,960 projects to be implemented at a cost of ₹547.74 crore in 101 of 314 blocks in the State by directly interacting with the villagers through videoconferencing. Apart from strengthening the BJD at the district level by inducting many prominent leaders from other parties, Mr. Patnaik has also reached out to the people through the newly-started ‘Ama Mukhyamantri, Ama Katha’ (Our Chief Minister, our issues) programme which involves discussion on issues of importance.He also announced a ban on the use of plastic bags, polythene and single-use plastic in the State starting Gandhi Jayanti through this programme on July 10.Three-party StateAs Odisha virtually continues to remain a three-party State since 2009, when the BJD snapped ties with the BJP, the leaders of the Congress and the BJP are busy fighting a perception battle – each trying to finish second in the electoral race in the future. While the Congress is struggling to regain the strength it lost due to infighting, the BJP has been working hard to occupy the second position in Odisha politics since it finished second in the Zilla Parishad polls in 2017. The Congress may remain in the second spot if it manages to have an alliance with the Left and other small parties in the State before the polls.last_img read more

Two farmers commit suicide in Buldhana, Maharashtra

first_imgTwo debt-ridden farmers allegedly committed suicide in Buldhana district of Maharashtra, police officials said today.Gajanan Jaybhaye, a resident of Saukhedtejan village, left his home on Saturday night and went to his farm. The 35- year-old subsequently consumed poison and set himself ablaze after building his own pyre with woods and animal fodder kept in the farm, a police official said.The incident came to light on Sunday morning, said the official. The police have registered a case of accidental death on a complaint filed by the father of the deceased. The official, quoting Mr. Jaybhaye’s family, said the farmer was facing some loan repayment-related problem. In the second incident, a 34-year-old cultivator hanged himself at his residence in Shivani Taka village under Sindkhedraja tehsil of Buldhana district, an official said. Rameshwar Kisan Tambekar killed himself on July 26 over non-repayment of bank loan and poor crop yield, he said.last_img read more

SC lets acting DGP in J&K continue for next few weeks

first_imgThe Supreme Court on Thursday allowed Dilbag Singh, acting Director General of Police in Jammu and Kashmir, to continue in office for the next few weeks till the Union Public Service Commission takes a decision on the appointment of a regular police chief.A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra passed the order after Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal submitted that Mr. Singh, who replaced S.P. Vaid, is on temporary charge as acting DGP of the State. Mr. Venugopal said the State had already sent names of suitable candidates for the post to the UPSC for scrutiny.UPSC counsel Naresh Kaushik intervened to point out that there had been no delay on the part of the Commission. The UPSC had detected “certain deficiencies” in the communication sent by the competent authority of the government.“Whatever it may be, the State shall comply with the requirement as sought for by the UPSC within five days and the UPSC shall take a decision within four weeks therefrom,” the court said.last_img read more

Mayawati speaks with Akhilesh Yadav, calls CBI probe an act of “election greed”

first_imgIn an open show of solidarity with Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav, who could be questioned by the CBI in an alleged illegal mining case, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Monday said Mr. Yadav was being targetted to “defame and oppress” their parties’ alliance.Ms. Mayawati said the CBI’s “threats” to question Mr. Yadav “under the guise of a probe” in the case, was an act of “election greed” issued with “feelings of political malice.”Ms. Mayawati said she spoke to Mr. Yadav on the phone on Sunday and reminded him of her own alleged persecution in the Taj Corridor case after she refused to give in to the BJP’s demands for 60 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats as part of an alliance.The BSP chief advised Mr. Yadav to not get “perturbed” by the saam, daam, dand, bhed (ancient philosopher Chanakya’s strategy of acquiring power through all means) and other machinations of the BJP.The BJP’s “disgusting politics and election conspiracy” was nothing new, Ms. Mayawati said, warning that the party should be prepared to pay its price in the coming Lok Sabha elections.“It’s an old hathkanda [machination] about which the people know too well,” she said in a statement issued in Lucknow.Ms. Mayawati said since it became public that the top leadership of the SP and BSP, Mr.Yadav and herself, had a direct meeting, the same day, “a rattled BJP government” through the CBI conducted raids at many locations in Uttar Pradesh in a long-pending mining issue and “intentionally spread the news” of questioning Mr. Yadav.“What is this action, if not to defame and oppress the SP-BSP alliance through political malice and election conspiracy,” she asked.If this was not a political conspiracy, the CBI would have been allowed to hold enquiry in the case earlier, she said, while questioning the “unnecessary” and “preposterous” statements made by BJP leaders regarding the case.“Since when did BJP ministers and its leaders become spokespersons of the CBI,” Ms. Mayawati asked.Like the Congress, the BJP had also been an “expert” in implicating its opponents in false cases through misuse of government machinery, and the BSP movement had been a victim of this, she said.‘BJP falsely implicated me in Taj corridor case’“When the BSP did not agree to giving 60 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats to the BJP, then they falsely implicated me in the Taj [corridor] issue, and as a result, keeping in mind the larger interest of the BSP movement, on August 26, 2003, I resigned from the Chief Minister’s post,” she said adding that and in 2007, the people took sood samet badla (revenge) and the BSP made its first full majority government in the State.The BSP chief’s strong statement against the BJP came a day after Mr. Yadav questioned the timing and intention behind the CBI linking his name to the probe in the mining case.Ready for probe: AkhileshMr. Yadav said on Sunday that the “BJP has shown its true colours.” He suggested the raids by the CBI by opening up “old cases” were an attempt by the BJP-led Central government to stall the SP-BSP alliance. The two parties, along with the Rashtriya Lok Dal were close to formally announcing an alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha election.“The SP is trying to win as many Lok Sabha seats as it can. Possibly the CBI or the government that runs the CBI is trying to…What do we have? We can form an alliance and go to the people. And those who want to stop [us], what do they have? They have the CBI,” he told reporters in Lucknow.Mr. Yadav, who served as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh from 2012 to 2017 and held additional portfolios of mining in 2012 and 2013, also said he was ready to be questioned by the probe agency.“If they question us, we will have to answer. We will give them an answer. But the people of the country are ready to give an answer to the BJP,” he said.last_img read more

I am in hosh, and josh is high too: Parrikar

first_imgIn an apparent dig at the Opposition for questioning his hosh (senses), ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, while tabling the State budget for 2019-20 in the Assembly on Wednesday, said not only is he fully in hosh but his josh (enthusiasm) is high too. Mr. Parrikar, struggling to read a few typed pages, presented a revenue surplus budget. The gross budget was of ₹19,548 crore, as against ₹17,123 crore for 2018-19, signifying an increase of 14.16% over last year.Reading out a brief statement from his seat, following permission from the Speaker, he said, “The present circumstances have prevented me from delivering a detailed budget speech, but there is a josh that is high, very high. And I am in hosh, fully in hosh. I am sure that my figures will speak more than words, and will be effectively translated into results.” On Sunday, at his first public function in months, Mr. Parrikar had twice quoted a dialogue from the film Uri: “How’s your josh,” in a brief speech at the inaugural of the third Mandovi bridge. Goa Congress president Girish Chodankar had said the next day that Mr. Parrikar should come back to hosh before asking people about their josh. On Wednesday, the Chief Minister, who is suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer, was in obvious discomfort during his speech in the House and was assisted with his papers by the marshals. Twice, he had to sip on medication through a straw. A visibly concerned Speaker Pramod Sawant intervened before Mr. Parrikar could complete the few pages he was holding, to say that the House would adopt his budget speech as read. At the direction of the Speaker, the budget speech was tabled in the House electronically. Mr. Parrikar began his speech quoting a couple of lines by the late poet Achut Ramnath Kare, saying that he owed a lot to his motherland and Goa, and vowed to “serve Goa with sincerity, integrity and dedication until my last breath”. “For the year 2019-20, the annual financial statement indicates a revenue surplus since last three years in succession. The revenue surplus is estimated at ₹455 crore,” Mr. Parrikar said. The budget, which has a thrust on employment, information technology, infrastructure and education, has an uncovered fiscal deficit of ₹1,418.65 crore. The budget has not provided for any additional resource mobilisation. The three-day Assembly session, which began with Governor’s customary address to the members on Tuesday, will end on Thursday after the House passes a vote on account to provide for expenditure for the first five months of 2019-20.last_img read more

No evidence yet to support sedition charge against AMU students: police

first_imgPolice on Thursday said they had so far not found any evidence to support the sedition charge levelled against 14 Aligarh Muslim University students after protests broke out on the campus earlier this week.The AMU authorities suspended eight students late Wednesday night in connection with the protest during which a motorcycle, allegedly belonging to a member of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the BJP’s youth wing, was set on fire.Police had booked the students on sedition charge after BJYM activist Mukesh Lodhi filed a complaint alleging that he was assaulted by the students amid chants of ant-India and pro-Pakistan slogans on Tuesday.Senior Superintendent of Police Akash Kulhari said all pieces of evidence, including video clippings of the clash at the university circle between AMU students and those belonging to the ABVP, had not revealed anything to suggest sedition. They are collecting further evidence, including videos, and if they fail to get anything to substantiate the sedition charge, it would be dropped, the SSP said.Owaisi visit protestThe ABVP, the BJP’s students’ wing, had launched a protest against reported plans by AIMIM lawmaker Asaduddin Owaisi to visit the AMU campus. The BYJM members held a separate demonstration against the visit, demanding that the MP be banned from the campus. There were counter-protests then by the AMU students. Mr. Owaisi did not come to the university.When contacted, AMU spokesman confirmed that Mr. Lodhi, the complainant, was the same person who had issued an ultimatum to the Vice-Chancellor last week, warning him that if land for constructing a temple on the campus was not allotted within 15 days, they would themselves “begin the construction”. The SSP confirmed that the police are preparing a list of 55 AMU students against whom non-bailable warrants would be issued shortly. He said the police would then ask the university authorities to take disciplinary action against such students.last_img read more

2 journalists assaulted in Assam

first_imgAssam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Friday asked Director-General of Police Kuladhar Saikia to take prompt and stern action against those who had assaulted two journalists 540 km apart on Thursday night.Armed with sharp weapons, the assailants attacked Rajen Deka, a correspondent of the Assamese daily Dainik Asom, at Mukalmua in western Assam, while a group of inebriated youth assaulted News18 Television reporter Upasana Barua Goswami and her husband at a restaurant at Tinsukia. Mr. Dekawas admitted to the Guwahati Medical College Hospital. His condition was said to be stable. One of Mr. Deka’s neighbours, who has been absconding, is suspected to have orchestrated the attack over his election coverage.last_img

Video: Deep-Sea Squid Goes Fishing in the Dark

first_imgThe two wimpy tentacles dangling from the squid species Grimalditeuthis bonplandi have long baffled marine biologists. How can the creature use these long, unusually nonmuscular projections—which also lack hooks or suckers—to capture prey? The first videos of the squid in its deep-sea environment strongly suggest that the answer is simple: It doesn’t. Instead, researchers contend, it uses them to lure prey within range of its other eight arms, which are shorter and much more muscular. In seven videos made by remotely operated vehicles (one off the California coast, six near oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico), the researchers observed G. bonplandi wriggling the fleshy clubs on the ends of its tentacles in a way that resembles the undulations of a small, swimming animal (see video). Even though no footage shows the squid actually catching a meal, the squirming tentacle tips could attract prey in several ways, the researchers suggest today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Motions of the clubbed tips could stimulate bioluminescence in microorganisms or small creatures swimming nearby, which could in turn entice larger prey suitable for the squid. (An analysis of museum-preserved specimens hints that G. bonplandi eats small crustaceans and juvenile squid, possibly even those of its own species.) Or, the wrigglings could create pressure vibrations that directly invite prey to draw near. Finally, small swirls shed from the tentacle tips as they trail through the water could serve as a trail of bread crumbs that leads a potential victim—merrily searching for a meal of its own—to its doom. Any one of these techniques, or a combination, could work; many other deep-sea creatures are known to use similar tricks. But until cameras actually catch the squid catching a meal, the researchers caution, the ideas they’ve put forth are just speculation.last_img read more

Ancient Cat May Reshape Feline Family Tree

first_imgThe world’s first big cats may have arisen millions of years earlier than previously thought. That’s the conclusion researchers are drawing from a newly discovered species of feline, similar to today’s snow leopard, that lived in the ancient Himalayas. Though the creature doesn’t have any living descendants, it may force researchers to rethink the cat family tree.Much of our knowledge about the origin of ancient cats comes from the DNA of living ones. In an extensive 2006 study, researchers made a rough sketch of the evolutionary history of pantherines, the lineage that includes today’s tigers, lions, leopards, and jaguars. They used overlap between the DNA sequences of modern species to backtrack to when various cat lineages likely diverged. According to this picture, the first pantherine evolved from an unknown ancestor, probably living in Central Asia, 10 million to 11 million years ago. Later research suggested that the big cat lineage didn’t start branching into other species—ancestors of modern tigers, for example—until roughly 2 million years ago.But paleontologists have been reluctant to accept this DNA-based picture, says Julie Meachen, a vertebrate paleontologist at Des Moines University who specializes in carnivores. “We want to actually see the fossil,” she says. Until now, the oldest pantherine fossils were 3.8-million-year-old teeth and jaw and skull fragments found in East Africa, not Asia.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(*)For 8 years, vertebrate paleontologist Z. Jack Tseng of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City has been part of a team searching for fossils in the cold, dry Tibetan Plateau—a landscape he says is reminiscent of South Dakota’s Badlands. In 2010, the group discovered a fossil-rich spot in an area called Zanda Basin: 120 fragments from more than a dozen mammal species were crammed into about one square meter of ground.Among the limbs of extinct antelopes, horses, and rhinos, the researchers turned up a few rare fragments—a skull, several jaws, and teeth—that seemed to belong to a species of cat. Based on the area’s geography, they suspected it would be a relative of the uniquely cold-adapted snow leopard. They soon discovered that the fragments came from at least three individuals of a never-before-seen species dating back 4 million to 6 million years—older than the oldest African find.In a paper published online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Tseng and his colleagues introduce Panthera blytheae, named for the daughter of avid supporters of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, with which several of the authors are affiliated. The creature, which they believe to be a sister species of the snow leopard, was a dwarf compared with modern lions and tigers. With an estimated weight of about 20 kilograms, it was roughly 10% smaller than the snow leopard. But it appears to share some of that cold-dwelling carnivore’s features, such as a wide forehead, believed to represent an expanded sinus cavity where frigid Himalayan air warmed up with each inhale.The Himalayan finding is “a nice surprise,” says Andrew Kitchener, a mammalogist at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh whose team uncovered a primitive member of the tiger lineage in China in 2011. “It’s given us a new part of the world to look at for the evolution of the big cat lineage.”  The group constructed a new evolutionary tree by combining physical features of the blytheae bones with features of other fossils, plus DNA data from living species. Its analysis pushes back the emergence of big cats to roughly 16.4 million years ago. This number has a wide margin of error, Tseng cautions. But more importantly, he says, by 6 million years ago (when previous research claimed big cats had not yet diversified), at least three separate lineages likely roamed Asia: one containing P. blytheae and the snow leopard, one containing the clouded leopard, and another leading to the modern tiger. (The ancestors of jaguars and lions probably arose later.) The team suggests that when shifting tectonic plates forced the Himalayas upward, many mammals—including, according to their new tree, the emerging pantherines—diversified in this snowy refuge. Some species then spread out across the continent during the Pleistocene ice age.The research gives new support to the idea that the first big cats radiated from Central Asia, says William Murphy, a molecular geneticist at Texas A&M University in College Station and an author on the 2006 study. But he is skeptical of the claim that P. blytheae is a sister species of the snow leopard. With only a few pieces of the skeleton, the group determined this relationship using a limited number of subtle features of the teeth, skull, and jaw, he says, which may not be reliable.“It’s possible that this fossil species might have a deeper ancestry in the Panthera tree,” he says, in which case they weren’t a part of the more recent diversification that Tseng and his colleagues link to the rising Himalayas. Rather than being nestled among the lineages that led to modern-day cats, it may have been an outlier, which happened to evolve snow leopard-esque features to survive at the top of the world. If P. blytheae actually belongs somewhere else on the tree, this would change the estimates for important splits in the big cat lineage. The only way to clear up these relationships: Dig up more complete fossils.last_img read more

ScienceShot: Small World Spotted Far Beyond Pluto

first_imgAstronomers have detected a small world (inset) more than twice as remote as Pluto, lying 12 billion kilometers, or 83 AU, from the sun. (One AU, or astronomical unit, is the mean sun-Earth distance.) As scientists report online today in Nature, the new object is the first ever found whose orbit (red curve) resembles that of Sedna (orange curve), a far-off body that never gets close to Neptune’s path (outermost magenta circle). Both Sedna and the new world, designated 2012 VP113, therefore differ from Pluto and other members of the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt (turquoise dots), which lie just past Neptune’s orbit. The object journeys 80 to 452 AU from the sun, never approaching Neptune (30 AU) or Pluto (39.5 AU). The new world is roughly 450 kilometers across, just one-fifth Pluto’s diameter. If Pluto were as big as a basketball, Sedna would be a softball and the new world a mere golf ball. Whereas Pluto orbits the sun every 248 years, the new world requires 4340 years and Sedna 12,600 years to do the same. Both Sedna and its small sidekick probably belong to the inner part of the Oort cloud, the frigid reservoir of long-period comets that can dazzle us when they dash toward the sun, and suggest that many other far-flung objects await discovery.See more ScienceShots.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

MERS Situation More Serious but Not an Emergency Yet, WHO Panel Says

first_imgAn international committee advising the World Health Organization (WHO) today called on countries on the Arabian Peninsula to improve their hospital hygiene and help in carrying out much-needed studies on how the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) virus spreads. But the panel stopped short of declaring the deadly new disease, which emerged 2 years ago, a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).There has been a dramatic rise in reported MERS cases recently, and calling the outbreak a PHEIC would have given WHO the power to issue travel advisories and other recommendations under the International Health Regulations. It would also increase political pressure on the affected countries.But after a 5-hour telephone conference yesterday, the panel decided that the criteria for a PHEIC haven’t been met, Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director-general for health security and environment, announced at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, today. “They believe the situation had increased in terms of its seriousness and urgency but did not at this point constitute a PHEIC,” Fukuda said.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(*)Preben Aavitsland, a Norwegian epidemiologist who helped draft the International Health Regulations, criticizes the decision. “I personally think from the information that is publicly available that the event should be declared a PHEIC,” Aavitsland tells ScienceInsider in an e-mail. “MERS is an international concern, it spreads to other countries, and there is a need for an international response.” But to David Heymann, a former executive director of communicable diseases at WHO and now head of the Centre on Global Health Security at Chatham House, it seems “a sound decision.” “We have to trust the international bodies,” Heymann says.The emergency panel was established in July last year and it has met four times before, most recently in December. After each of those meetings it expressed concern but concluded it was too soon to call an emergency. The group will be asked to make a new assessment in a couple of weeks, Fukuda said.In its most recent update, WHO puts the number of MERS infections at 536, including 145 deaths. But that official count lags behind the numbers announced by country governments; Saudi Arabia alone has so far announced 157 deaths. Travelers have also exported the virus to more than a dozen countries where MERS is not endemic. The United States announced a second imported case on Monday, and the Netherlands reported its first today.”Suboptimal infection control practices” in hospitals and overcrowding in emergency rooms have contributed to the rise, Fukuda said. The number of infections acquired outside the hospital has also increased, he added; reasons for that were still unclear. But he stressed that there is “no convincing evidence right now for an increase in the transmissibility of this virus,” which was one of the main reasons the emergency committee did not declare a PHEIC. The committee evaluated genetic information available from five recent infections, three in Jeddah, one in Greece, and the first U.S. case. “The genetic sequences of these more recent viruses looked very much like the sequences of older viruses,” Fukuda said.Aavitsland says the escalating case numbers could lead some countries to unilaterally introduce restrictions for travelers from the Middle East. “By declaring a PHEIC, WHO could put itself in the driver’s seat and give recommendations against such measures, which are very unlikely to be beneficial,” Aavitsland writes. “If someone [issues] travel restrictions against Saudi Arabia now, then Oman or Lebanon may not declare if they have new cases tomorrow.”Declaring a PHEIC could also put increased political pressure on Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region to fully confront the crisis. The world is still waiting for critical research, such as a case-control study, to find out how the virus makes its way from the animal reservoir—likely camels—to humans, Heymann says. “That is the real issue: The study has not been done to show whether this can be prevented by simple efforts.” But declaring a PHEIC just to facilitate such studies would have been irresponsible, Fukuda says. “I hope the increased sense of urgency pushes aside any barriers,” he writes in an e-mail.People should not interpret the panel’s decision to mean everything is under control, says Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. “It’s not.” There is clear evidence that some individuals, called supershedders, have infected a large number of other people on the Arabian Peninsula, Osterholm says. “If that emerges elsewhere, the world will take a very different view on this.”last_img read more

Researcher files lawsuit over anonymous PubPeer comments

first_imgThe scientist who claimed that comments on the postpublication peer-review website PubPeer caused him to lose a job offer has now filed suit against the anonymous posters and has subpoenaed the website’s operators in a bid to obtain their identities.In September, PubPeer’s anonymous moderators revealed that Fazlul Sarkar, a cancer researcher at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, had threatened legal action after the University of Mississippi rescinded its offer of a tenured, $350,000-per-year position. Sarkar, who remains employed at Wayne State, claimed that anonymous comments suggesting misconduct in his research caused the university to revoke its offer.This weekend, PubPeer moderators announced in a comment thread that Sarkar has filed a libel suit in a Wayne County circuit court against several “John Does” behind the comments he considers defamatory. And although he is not suing PubPeer directly, Sarkar has filed a subpoena asking the site’s moderators to turn over “all identifying information” about the posters by 10 November. As a Retraction Watch post on the suit explains, shield laws in many states would likely have protected PubPeer from being forced to turn over whatever information it has about the commenters, but Michigan’s shield law applies only to grand jury and criminal cases, not civil cases like this one.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 an associated complaint letter, Sarkar’s lawyer, Nicholas Roumel of Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard & Walker, P.C. in Ann Arbor, Michigan, details the specific comments he considers defamatory. He also quotes a 19 June letter from Larry Walker, the director of the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi Cancer Institute, where Sarkar was to hold an appointment. In the letter, Walker cites the PubPeer comments as the reason for reversing the university’s job offer, explaining that “to move forward would jeopardize our research enterprise and my own credibility.”PubPeer moderators previously told ScienceInsider in an e-mail that they intend to protect their users’ identities, and lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in New York City have offered to help the defend PubPeer against a subpoena. The moderators have not yet announced how they plan to respond.last_img read more

Expat wives: An opportunity to learn

first_imgMany of the expats in Pune are families or couples where the men moved for work and the wives and family came with them. Often, this means that the wives needed to leave their jobs because they don’t have Indian companies to sponsor them or to work for. For some women, this means a rare opportunity to enjoy themselves without the daily demands of their careers. For many others, it means boredom or a loss of a sense of accomplishment. As I’ve written before, many of us seek volunteer work, finding places where we can give our time to help others in need. Still others see this time as an opportunity to learn something new or perhaps pursue a degree.Read it at Pune Mirror Related Itemslast_img

How London’s Southall became ‘Little Punjab’

first_imgWhen he opened for business in 1954, Pritam Singh Sangha could never have envisaged that he was kickstarting a consumer revolution that would establish the Asian corner shop in the British landscape, nor that Southall would become the country’s premier Asian town, dubbed Chota Punjab – Little Punjab.A gregarious man, Sangha (pictured below) was a well-known and popular figure. Not only did he own the only Indian shop in Southall, west London – and probably the country at the time – but he was also one of the first Punjabis to make the area his home, in 1951.Read it at The Guardian Related Itemslast_img