Two orphaned tiger cubs die of viral infection

first_imgTwo orphaned tiger cubs died of a viral infection at Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, a forest official said today.One of the cubs died at around midnight yesterday and the other succumbed this morning, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve’s field director Mridul Pathak said.Both the cubs were four months’ old.They were among the three cubs found on January 22 this year at Sarwahi village on the periphery of the Sanjay Gandhi Tiger Reserve in the state.The poachers had killed the mother of the cubs.Later, the three cubs were shifted to Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve to be put in foster care, he said.“We tried our best to save the cubs who were infected with parvovirus. This virus generally infects dogs, but it infected the cubs here. The doctors from Panna and Jabalpur were called and proper medicines were also administered to the felines but they could not be saved,” Pathak said.The third cub also has the infection and a team of doctors is trying to save the feline, he added.last_img read more

Six babies branded in Keonjhar

first_imgAfter six cases of branding of babies by traditional healers came to the light in Odisha’s Keonjhar district in the last ten days, the administration launched an awareness campaign urging people, especially tribals, to shun the superstitious practice.Despite being one of the richest districts of the country, Keonjhar has very poor health infrastructure.While four cases of branding of babies emerged from the Banspal area, one each was reported from the Keonjhar, Sadar and Harichandanpur blocks of the district. Although branding did not result in any death, two seriously ill infants were shifted to Cuttack.Tribals usually look up to traditional healers whenever infants or kids develop stomach ailments. The traditional healers then brand stomachs with a hot iron nail. It is one of the crudest forms of dealing with childhood illness.“Apart from pictorial advertisements on walls, we have directed all ASHA workers and anganwadi workers to counsel people against branding of babies,” said Kabindra Prasad Sahoo, Chief District Medical Officer of Keonjhar.last_img read more

A school too far

first_imgPune: When Bapusaheb Jangam visits his grandsons, he clambers down from the clifftop Raireshwar fort in Pune’s Bhor tehsil, where the family lives, to Aasra, a village at the base. The boys moved there for their Class VIII studies because the school in the fort has classes only up to Class VII, and it would be a tough daily walk. Though Jangam is remarkably fit, and has been making this trek since he was a child, it takes him 50 minutes downslope. This makes him sad about the younger kids in Raireshwar.The Maharashtra government’s education department has decided to close down zilla parishad schools with less than 10 students; this will affect approximately 1,300 schools, including the tiny one in the fort. According to the department — and Education minister Vinod Tawde has stated this too — low student numbers means that quality of education is poor. The students will be accommodated in ‘nearby’ schools.RTE ground rulesThe Right to Education Act says that the distance between a primary school and the house of a student must be less than one km till Class V, and less than 3 km from Class VI to VIII. But the Raireshwar children will now have to go to Rairi school, 35 km away. “It will take them at least two hours,” says Jangam. “Why are they doing this? Have those officers come for inspection at least once before taking this decision? Can these poor kids leave their homes and relocate closer to the school?”Raireshwar fort — where in 1645, the then-16-year-old Shivaji took an oath to found a Maratha empire —houses a hamlet of around 150 residents, mainly farming families.“I park my bike at the base of the fort and climb up the iron stairs,” says Arvind Shinde, the only teacher at the Raireshwar school “The kids will have to walk five kilometres down the mountain, then another 35 km to their school. It will be impossible in the monsoon.” Mr. Shinde fears that his 10 students will be forced to stop their education because of the arduous walk.The Hindu encountered two other primary schools on the plateau, in similar isolated hamlets: Malwadi (Raireshwar) with one student and Keshavnagar (Dhanvali) with three students. As with the fort school, these too will soon close, and the students will have to walk to Rairi village.Keshavnagar sits on a cliff, three kilometres further across the plateau. Its ‘basti-school’ was set up in 2001 to serve the 20 to 25 Mahadev-Koli (a Scheduled Tribe) families there. It too has a single teacher, Tulshiram Wagmare, who parks his motorcycle at Kankwadi village at the base of the cliff and walks for an hour up the path, which passes through a forest. He once lived here, but he moved his family to Bhor; he comes here to teach because he feels a commitment to the community. “Their parents are not educated,” he says. “Forget Rairi, they will not even allow these kids to come down to the closest school, at Khalchi Dhanivali. Who would want a Class I girl to walk through the forest for one or two hours daily?” Mr. Wagmare’s students include Sonal and Pratiksha Dhanavale, who are in Class I and III. On the day this reporter visited, heavy rain, the after-effect of Cyclone Ockhi, had made Keshavnagar unapproachable. “In the monsoon, even I stay on top because it is impossible to climb down. How can you expect little kids to do this?”Arduous trekFormer students from these schools say that while they had to walk down from the plateau to secondary school, at least their primary school was close by, which won’t be the case for the young ones now. “It takes at least two hours through a dense forest,” says Sonali Kank, who now studies in a college at Bhor. “Even we never walk that path alone. How will their parents send them down? It will end their education.” Rahul Dhanvale, from Khalchi Dhanivali, mid-way between Kankwadi and Keshavnagar, now a Class XI student in a school in Bhor, says. “I am an expert on walking these roads. But mud, rocks and steep slopes drain your energy. Why should those kids suffer?”The teachers and parents with whom The Hindu spoke requested not to be named, out of fear of the government, but bitterly criticised the education department’s decision, calling it absurd, unjustified and disastrous for the children.“It does not matter whether the school has even one student,” a teacher said. “Education is not about making profit. The school should run if it is close to the student’s home.” He is sure that no girl will be sent even to primary school if the decision is implemented. “What you are seeing is just 0.001% of the total problem. This decision has created havoc in the state.” A parent wondered if the government had done any physical survey before deciding on closing down the schools. “Why do they want my son to drop his education? This is inhuman,” he said.last_img read more

Tihar Jail launches ‘Wah-O’ perfume with Nafisa Ali as brand Ambassador

first_imgThe Tihar Jail is set to enter the perfume market by launching its product ‘Wah-O’ , with eminent activist and actor Nafisa Ali being its brand ambassador, officials said.‘School of Perfumes and Fragrances’ was inaugurated by Director General (Prisons) Ajay Kashyap on Friday, they said. It will also provide opportunities to inmates to become economically independent and “productive members” of society, officials said.According to the jail authorities, inmates will also be benefited through profits gained through the sale of ‘Wah-O.’ Ten per cent of the profit will go to the Prisoner’s Welfare Fund while 25% of the annual profits will also be channelised into the Victims Welfare Fund.The jail authorities said that Ali has agreed to become the brand ambassador for the Tihar perfumes. “Nafisa has agreed to be the brand ambassador for the Tihar perfumes which will enter the perfume market under the brand name of Wah-O,” an official said.He said that with little requirement of space and machinery, such units can be set up with a small capital. The inmate acts as an entrepreneur and an owner rather than a worker or a labourer in another person’s factory.Mr. Kashyap said that at present five fragrances (sandal, rose, mogra, jasmine, lavender), and a blend released under the name of Nafis, is being produced by the inmates. The market of pot-pourri, incense cones, diffusers among others will be tapped in the second phase. The high-security Tihar Jail, one of India’s largest prisons, produces several products under the umbrella of ‘TJ’s product.’ Initially, Tihar Jail’s products were sold to prisoners and their visitors, who can buy them a store just outside the jail.Later, they began to appear in stalls in courts. Also, Tihar products are also supplied in government offices. One of its stalls is currently at the Delhi Secretariat, which offers number of TJ’s products.last_img read more

Rajasthan raises minimum wages

first_imgThe minimum wages have been increased by ₹6 a day in Rajasthan following a proposal to revise the surcharge imposed on stamp duty, which is spent on welfare and protection of cows. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje made the announcement during her visit to Sawai Madhopur district over the weekend.Addressing a “Jan Samvad” programme in Chauth Ka Barwara, Ms. Raje said the minimum wages in all categories of work had been increased in view of inflation and to provide relief to labourers.The wages of unskilled labourers have been increased from ₹207 to ₹213 a day. The enhanced daily wages will be ₹223 for semi-skilled labourers, ₹233 for skilled labourers and ₹283 for highly skilled labourers. The increased wages will come into effect retrospectively from January 1, 2018.The State government is also considering doubling of surcharge on stamp duty for welfare and protection of cows from the existing 10% to 20%. Around ₹235 crore worth of revenue has been generated from the 10% surcharge levied in April last year on those making rent and lease agreements and making property transactions on stamp papers.According to the official sources, the State Cabinet has approved a notification for increasing the surcharge twofold and sent the proposal to Governor Kalyan Singh for approval.Extended grantsThe State needs about ₹490 crore annually to meet the expenditure for providing fodder and shelter to 9,60,000 cows in 2,562 authorised gaushalas. The State, which has a dedicated Ministry for cow welfare, has extended the grants for water and fodder to gaushalas from three months to six months.last_img read more

Amit Shah flags off Vasundhara Raje’s 58-day ‘Rajasthan Gaurav Yatra’

first_imgRajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Saturday embarked on a 58-day-long ‘Gaurav Yatra’ (march of pride) from the Charbhujanath Temple in the Rajsamand district, with an eye on the State Assembly election due in December this year. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah launched a scathing attack on Congress president Rahul Gandhi while flagging off the yatra.Daily questionPradesh Congress president Sachin Pilot, who has announced that he would pose one question to Ms. Raje everyday during the yatra, asked whether the BJP wanted to use temples only for getting political mileage in the elections. Congress workers also staged a protest against the yatra in Jaipur and burnt Ms. Raje’s effigy at the District Collectorate.Ms. Raje and Mr. Shah offered prayers at the temple before heading to Kankroli town where they addressed the first public meeting of the much-hyped yatra. Ms. Raje will use a modified bus as the ‘chariot’ during the onward journey, in which she will cover 165 of the 200 Assembly constituencies in the State by spending 40 days on the road. The march will culminate in Ajmer on September 30.Mr. Shah public wanted to know from Mr. Gandhi what his “last four generations” had done for the country. “There was a complete lack of development in a State like Rajasthan during the Congress rule,” he said.The BJP president claimed that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had released two-and-a-half-times more funds to Rajasthan in comparison with the previous UPA regime and brought 116 schemes for the people of the State. “Still, the Congress has the audacity to ask what the BJP has done [for you],” he told the audience drawn from the Mewar region.Mr. Shah also raked up the issue of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC), while alleging that Congress wanted to exploit the “illegal Bangladeshis” residing in India as its vote bank. “The Congress president should tell the people if Bangladeshis should continue to live in our country,” he said, and affirmed that the NDA government would “weed out every foreign national living illegally in India.”Taking strong exception to the tone and tenor of Mr. Shah’s speech, Mr. Pilot said his remarks had damaged the dignity of politics and proved that the BJP had nothing to offer to the public.last_img read more

SC agrees to examine plea for CBI probe into Bengal BJP workers death

first_imgNew Delhi The Supreme Court today agreed to examine a plea seeking a CBI probe into the alleged killing of three BJP workers in West Bengal after the recently held local bodies elections in the state.The plea filed by a BJP leader alleged that family members of the victims were being threatened and FIRs had been lodged in these cases.A bench of justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan issued notices to West Bengal and the CBI on the plea and sought their reply in four weeks.During the hearing, BJP leader and advocate Gaurav Bhatia said that “disturbing murders” have taken place in West Bengal and police have not registered an FIR in these cases.He said that CBI probe should be ordered and alleged that family members of the three slain BJP workers, Shaktipad Sarkar, Trilochan Mahato and Dulal Kumar, were now being threatened.₹50 lakh compensation demandMr. Bhatia also demanded that compensation to the tune of ₹50 lakh and security cover be provided to the family members of the victims.The bench said it is issuing notice in the matter.Earlier, the apex court had refused to give an urgent hearing on the plea seeking a CBI probe into the killing of BJP workers in Purulia and South 24 Parganas districts of West Bengal after the recently held panchayat polls.Shaktipada Sarkar, a BJP block president in the Mandirbazar-Dhanurhat area, was hacked tod death when he was returning home in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district on July 28.The body of a 32-year-old Dulal Kumar, a BJP worker, was found hanging from an electric pole in the Purulia district’s Balarampur of West Bengal on June 2.In the same district on May 30, the body of 18-year-old Tirlochan Mahato, also a BJP worker from Balrampur, was found hanging from a tree with a poster written in Bengali struck on his back, saying he was killed for canvassing for the BJP during panchayat election.last_img read more

BJP moves Calcutta HC with fresh plea to hold rath yatra

first_imgThe BJP moved the Calcutta High Court on Monday with a fresh plea, challenging the West Bengal government’s denial of permission to the party’s proposed rath yatra in the State.The State government had held a meeting on the yatra with a three-member BJP team as per the High Court’s direction, following which it informed the party on Saturday that permission could not be granted for the same.Hearing todayRepresenting the BJP, lawyer Saptangshu Basu mentioned the matter before the court of Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty and sought permission to file a fresh petition. Justice Chakraborty allowed the BJP to file the petition and asked its lawyer to serve copies of it to the State government and other respondents in the matter. The petition is likely to be taken up for hearing on Tuesday before Justice Chakraborty’s court, Mr. Basu said. The party had proposed to take out three rath yatras in different parts of the State ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. The BJP had moved a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court after a single-judge Bench of Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty refused the permission. The Division Bench had on December 7 directed the State chief secretary, the Home secretary and the Director General of Police to hold a meeting with three representatives of the BJP by December 12, and take a decision on the yatra by December 14. The dates of the meeting and decision-making were later postponed by a day each by the Court.last_img read more

OMR sheets of 108 students go missing

first_imgThe OMR sheets of the mathematics paper of 108 students who had appeared for their matriculation examination were found missing from a government-run high school in Malkangiri district on Sunday.Complaint lodged The matter came to light after the authorities of SSD High School at Padia lodged a complaint at the Padia police station, police said. The complaint said the optical mark recognition sheets of nearly 108 students have gone missing from the school premises.Probe is on Malkangiri Superintendent of Police Jagmohan Meena said a team led by ASP U.C. Nayak has been sent to the school to conduct a probe. “Investigation is in progress to ascertain the circumstances in which the OMR sheets went missing,” he said. The school authorities have also informed the district administration and the Board of Secondary Education, which conducts the annual matriculation examination in the State, about the incident, said an official. Malkangiri Sub-Collector Rameswar Pradhan and other senior officials have reached the school for the probe.Three suspended The development comes a day after images of the mathematics question paper surfaced on social media on Saturday, prompting the State government to suspend three teachers in Kalahandi district. Earlier, the question papers of Odia, Hindi and English went viral on social media, putting the Board in a tight spot. The matriculation examinations began on February 22 and would conclude on March 8. The BSE had earlier suspended 10 persons, including four examination centre superintendents, for their alleged role in circulating the images of questions on social media.last_img read more

AGP, BJP strike Bill consensus

first_imgThe Asom Gana Parishad, which returned to the NDA fold on Wednesday, and the BJP will not speak on the contentious Citizenship Bill while campaigning for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in Assam, NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Friday.The two parties have decided to resume the talks on the Bill after the election, he added.AGP, which had walked out of the North-East Democratic Alliance remonstrating against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, brought by the Centre two months ago, returned to the grouping on Wednesday.“During the campaign, we will not say anything about our differences (on the Bill), but project our unity to the people,” Mr. Sarma said. Both the parties would sit together after the polls to find out a solution through “consultation and consensus”, he added.Mr. Sarma was addressing a joint press conference with Assam BJP chief Ranjeet Kumar Dass and AGP president Atul Bora here.‘Focus on PM’ “The sole aim of our campaign will be to make Narendra Modi the PM again for the development of Assam and the Northeast. Our campaign will focus on the success of the PM and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s tenure,” Mr. Sarma said.There will not be a separate manifesto or common minimum programme for the constituents of the ruling coalition in Assam, he added. A “common statement” approved by all the parties in the NEDA would be issued in the coming days, he said.Commenting on the issue, Mr. Bora said, “We have decided to sort out the differences through discussion. We have joined the alliance in the greater interest of the State and country.” He claimed that Mr. Modi had done “lots” of development work in the country, while former PM Manmohan Singh “did nothing” for the Northeast, despite being a parliamentarian from Assam for 10 years.Mr. Sarma added that seat-sharing details would be formally announced on Saturday in New Delhi after a delegation of the regional party meets BJP president Amit Shah.Voting in Assam will take place in three phases on April 11, 18 and 23.last_img read more

Modi, Maya spar over rape case

first_imgA full-scale war of words broke out Sunday between Narendra Modi and Mayawati over the Alwar gang-rape incident, with the Prime Minister accusing the Bahujan Samaj Party chief of “shedding crocodile tears”, a charge trashed by her as his “dirty politics”.Addressing election rallies in Kushinagar and Deoria in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Modi mounted a scathing attack on the BSP chief and dared her to withdraw support to the Congress government in Rajasthan if she was really serious about the incident.Continuing his tirade at the opposition, the Prime Minister said, “The biggest example of how the ‘mahamilawat’ (highly adulterated) SP-BSP-Congress alliance actually works is Rajasthan. A Dalit daughter is gang-raped and there is a government of the Congress and ‘naamdaar’ (dynast). And the Rajasthan government is not a dispensation which enjoys full majority. It is working with the support of BSP. It is busy in hushing up the matter.”‘Dirty politics’Hours after his remark, Ms. Mayawati charged the Prime Minister with doing “dirty politics” over the Alwar gang rape and demanded his resignation for incidents of Dalit atrocities in the past.“In the wake of this (Alwar) incident, Modi is doing dirty politics. The BSP will for sure take an appropriate political decision in the absence of stringent and proper legal action in the case,” Ms. Mayawati said in a press note responding to the Prime Minister’s challenge to her to withdraw support to the Gehlot government. The Congress government in Rajasthan has been accused by both the Prime Minister and the BSP chief of brushing the case aside for political gains.After Mr. Modi’s barb, Ms. Mayawati retorted with a list of incidents on which she said the Prime Minister should take moral responsibility and resign from his post. “The BSP will take a required political decision soon, but why is PM Modi not taking moral responsibility for the incidents in the past, such as the Una flogging incident, Rohith Vemula case or other cases pertaining to Dalit atrocities? Why is he not resigning?” the BSP press note issued in Lucknow stated.On April 26, the gang-rape victim was travelling with her husband on a motorcycle when the accused stopped them. They allegedly beat the husband and raped her in front of him.last_img read more

Top Stories: Dead Dolphins, Aging Memories, and a Chemical Attack in Syria

first_imgBackgrounder: Clues to a Chemical Weapons Attack in SyriaThe United States is weighing a military strike against Syria after concluding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for an “undeniable” chemical attack that killed hundreds of people. This week, U.N. investigators are interviewing survivors and collecting samples in the area near Damascus where the 21 August attack allegedly occurred. Judging from videos and other accounts of the attack, chemical weapons specialists say that the investigators are likely to focus on suspicions that the attack involved the nerve agent sarin. But why do experts suspect sarin? And what exactly are investigators looking for? ScienceInsider lays out what we know—and what we’re looking for.Babies Learn to Recognize Words in the WombSign 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(*)Be careful what you say around a pregnant woman, at least in the last trimester. As a fetus grows inside a mother’s belly, it can hear sounds from the outside world—and can understand them well enough to retain memories of them after birth, according to new research.RNAi Treatment Steps UpRNA interference (RNAi), a technique for silencing genes that shows potential for treating diseases, has been like a hot baseball prospect who hasn’t proven he can play in the big leagues. But now RNAi has turned in a performance that is winning researchers’ praise. A new study shows that the approach can dramatically and safely cut levels of a protein that causes a rare liver disease.Measleslike Virus Likely Culprit in U.S. Dolphin Die-OffDead dolphins have been recovered from the Eastern Seaboard at a rate that is 10 times higher than usual—333 since just 1 July. This week, researchers announced the culprit is an outbreak of a measleslike virus. They say the epidemic will continue until the number of susceptible animals dwindles, and that there is no feasible way to vaccinate or treat the animals.Memory Protein Fades With AgeIt’s an inconvenient truth of aging: As we get older, our memories get worse. But is this memory loss an early form of Alzheimer’s or something else entirely? Now, scientists have found a protein that declines as we get older and distinguishes typical age-related forgetfulness from Alzheimer’s. The discovery could lead to treatment for run-of-the-mill memory loss.last_img read more

ScienceShot: A Genetic Test for High-Quality Chocolate

first_imgTo help keep the makers of high-quality chocolate from being duped with inferior ingredients, researchers have developed a genetic test that can tell a premium cacao bean from a mediocre impostor. Beans of the cacao plant, the source of cocoa butter and cocoa powder used to make chocolate, can differ widely in appearance, even within the same seed pod (beans within pod, image). So, visually discriminating beans from an exceptional variety from average-tasting beans can be difficult. That poses problems for people in charge of quality control, because unscrupulous bean merchants have ample opportunity to mix in cheaper beans among their premium products. Enter genetics. By analyzing DNA extracted from 30-milligram samples of the seed coat of a cacao bean (which is genetically identical to the tree it comes from), it’s possible to verify whether the bean belongs to a specific variety of cacao. Using the newly developed test, which looked at 48 different genetic markers, researchers were able to discriminate 30 authentic samples of a high-priced cacao variety called Fortunato No. 4 from five other varieties grown in and near Peru and 18 others grown worldwide, they report today in  the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Although DNA analyses can be performed relatively quickly, separating a seed coat from its bean is now rather time-consuming, the researchers say. Future research will focus on streamlining the tests and on developing a technique that can be used to analyze bulk cocoa powder.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

Nose swab detects fatal brain disease

first_imgThe early signs of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)—a rare, incurable brain disorder caused by infectious, misshapen proteins called prions—are difficult to interpret. At first, people may simply feel depressed and can undergo personality changes or bouts of psychosis. By the time memory failure, blindness, and coma set in, typically within a year of infection, death is usually imminent. Now, researchers report that a simple nasal swab may help physicians detect the disease far more accurately and earlier than current methods.Finding simple, noninvasive diagnostic tests is “one of the holy grails” for CJD and other prion diseases, says biochemist Byron Caughey of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana, who helped lead the new work. Although there’s no cure for CJD, early diagnosis is important because it can help rule out other, treatable disorders, and it allows medical personnel to take precautions that prevent the disease from spreading to others through exposure to brain tissue or spinal fluid, he says. A type of the disease called variant CJD in humans results from eating meat infected with mad cow disease.Researchers made a major stride toward better diagnostic methods in 2010, when Caughey and other researchers first described a new technique called the RT-QuIC test. The test requires removing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from patients by means of a spinal tap, putting samples into a bath of normally shaped prion proteins, and agitating the solution to encourage any abnormal prion “seeds” in the tissue to latch onto the regular proteins. If even trace amounts of pathogenic protein are present, they rapidly use the normal proteins to create millions of insoluble, fibrous amyloid strands. Researchers believe that these amyloid aggregates, also seen in other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, ultimately cause CJD by interfering with or killing off neurons en masse. After death, the brains of people affected by CJD are so badly damaged that they often resemble Swiss cheese or sponges.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 RT-QuIC test, now being used in diagnostic centers around the world, works well but still misses about 10% to 20% of cases, Caughey says. It also requires an invasive, potentially painful spinal tap. In the new study, the researchers ran a fiber optic scope straight up patients’ noses to the very top of the nasal cavity where olfactory neurons are located. In theory, these neurons should contain much higher levels of abnormal prion protein tangles than does CSF because they are directly connected to the brain, Caughey notes. Then, the scientists rolled a small brush along the roof of the nasal vault and analyzed the samples of discharge or tissue they collected with the RT-QuIC assay.As predicted, the concentration of abnormal prions detected in the nasal samples was several orders of magnitude higher than those found in CSF, the group reports online today in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Compared with the CSF-based method, which correctly identified only about 77% of positive cases in this study, the swab test caught 97% of 30 CJD-positive patients, missing just one. In addition, the nasal brushings produced no false negative results in 45 disease-free controls, Caughey says.“Much higher numbers of patients and controls need to be tested to work out the actual diagnostic sensitivity” of the test, but it appears to be a promising way of detecting CJD without performing an invasive procedure, Caughey says. One of his colleagues underwent the nasal brush test, he says, and although it was not exactly a pleasant experience, “there’s not much pain involved, apparently.”“This is a big advance,” says Pierluigi Gambetti, a neuropathologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. In principle, the nasal brush test should make it possible to diagnose the disorder much earlier than the CSF–based technique because abnormal prions build up in olfactory neurons more quickly than they migrate out of the brain into spinal fluid, he says.Gambetti, who was not involved in the new study, is co-author on a second NEJM paper appearing online today that shows that an assay similar to the CSF–based RT-QuIC test can pick up very small amounts of abnormal prion protein in the urine of people who have contracted a rare variant of CJD that is transmitted by consuming contaminated meat. A handful of such cases have recently been diagnosed in the United States, he notes, and the urine test could be another quick, affordable way to screen for the disease.Although these new diagnostic methods may help prevent CJD from spreading, they can do little for patients themselves, Caughey says. “Hopefully someday we’ll have a therapy” so that clinicians can intervene before too much damage is done.last_img read more

Gureilla Marketing for Indie Films

first_imgNina Paley blogs obsessively. She blogs about her pet, about food poisoning and about around-the-world travel. She also blogs about her award-winning multicultural independent movie Sita Sings the Blues.Although her film, which juxtaposes the Ramayana with an American breakup, has won prestigious awards including the Gotham Award for Best Film Not Playing at a Theatre Near You and the Best Feature in the Annecy Animation Festival, Paley, like other independent filmmakers, finds it hard to find agents and distributors for a commercial release. “The Indian American cast, the Indian American setting in my movie was very confusing to distributors. They don’t like to risk films like mine,” said Paley.Dramatic television previews, larger-than-life billboards, and glossy posters have become an expensive cliché. Battling both a low print and advertising budget as well as a discouraging response from commercial distributors, Indie filmmakers have realized that the normal Hollywood model doesn’t work for independent films.Indie filmmakers, especially those incorporating international or multicultural themes, are finding innovative methods to promote and distribute their films.Paley’s solution was to use blogging to generate buzz and find a multiculturally savvy audience for her independent animation. So Paley not only blogs to promote her Indian American animated flick, but also to get online support from viewers — whether it is to create an audience for her movie’s latest screening, whether it is for advice or even for online donations.Paley’s website also offers sneak previews and art from her movie to attract desi viewers. “As an independent filmmaker, I have no investors. So I blog. The money I receive is often small, but the experience is beautiful and inspiring,” she said. Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues Recognizing the value of such films, which not only tell important stories but also educate Western audiences, Aroon Shivdasani, president and executive director of New York’s Indo-American Arts Council, has organized film festivals like ‘India Now’ to promote independent films through partnerships with other organizations.“The best route for independent filmmakers is through industry channels. Speaking directly to sales agents, filmmakers can chalk out best routes for their films,” said Shivdasani.For Tariq Tapa, director of indie film Zero Bridge, which is based on the life of a petty criminal in Kashmir, finding a distributor through industry channels has been hard. “There no magic offer that’s going to come to you. You have to be proactive about what kind of path you choose to make the movie seen by maximum number of people.”Proactive is something these independent filmmakers are. By creating websites, podcasts, twitter messages, and groups on social utility websites, they are ushering in a new era of e-marketing.  Deepti Gupta, lead actress in a web-series called Nipple: “I am emailing all my friends, both professional and personal, and using Facebook to create hype.”Unlike A-list films, which are marketed with vigor before release and pulled if they don’t do well in the first week, independent films are publicized through the internet version of word-of-mouth.Tapa himself has links to Facebook, Twitter and Youtube on his movie website to connect with the younger international audience with web savoir-faire.“Non-mainstream is the way of the future. Most filmmakers start with some sort of a combination and that’s the way for truly independent films to be distributed,” said Milton Tabbot, senior director of programming, at the Independent Filmmaker Project, New York.Although fewer films are being distributed because of the economic downturn, independent filmmakers are finding other ways of cultivating audiences, as more people are learning about and becoming interested in independent cinema showcasing the Indian or South Asian perception .“It’s not just niche audience for such films anymore. The audience is definitely growing,” said IAAC’s Shivdasani.Deepti Gupta, lead actress in a web-series called Nipple, has figured out her own ways to promote the indie production — so long as it’s free. “I am emailing all my friends, both professional and personal, and using Facebook to create hype,” she said.  ReenA ShAh: “You can send a blast out to your community, just like I did for Sita Sings the Blues and tons of people showed up for my independent screening in a library.”Shah even uploads one or two clips of her indie films and series on her own website to generate audience interest. Once they become regular viewers, she and her director plan to approach advertisers to generate online revenue.If the audience for indie flicks is growing, so are indie filmmakers. As cameras and digital phones are being used to make films, membership at organizations like the Independent Filmmaker’s Project is also growing, thanks to low-cost resources.The growing competition make it harder for small indie film producers to maintain market presence. Here’s where Video on demand (VoD) and Youtube come to the rescue. Moving away from revenue-generation, indie filmmakers try and get their work seen by the largest possible audience using sites that allow them to host videos.“There is no right way to distribute an independent film,” said Reena Shah, who has acted in more than 15 independent films incorporating desi themes, including Sita Sings the Blues. Well-versed in the wealth of internet resources as advertising tools for her work, Shah has used listservs, website promotions, and Netflix to distribute DVDs and inform potential audiences. To promote multicultural films dealing with the Indian diaspora, Shah has used her contacts with organizations like South Asian Women’s Creative Collective and Salaam, to promote the film to niche audiences.“You can send a blast out to your community, just like I did for Sita and tons of people showed up for my independent screening in a library,” she said.With more websites cropping up for independent video streaming, internet downloading sites, and marketing through blogs, listservs and sites like MySpace, one thing is clear: There will always be a place for indie films — and not just in theatres. Related Itemslast_img read more

Stricter U.S. Visa Rules

first_imgTwo US senators are reintroducing a stricter H-1B visa reform legislation to require outsourcing companies to hire U.S. citizens and to pay H1-B employees prevailing wages for the work.The bill proposed by Sen Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, and Sen Charles Grassley of will hit Indian outsourcing leaders like TCS, Wipro and Infosys, each of whom sponsors 2,000 to 3,000 H1 B visas every year. “The Durbin-Grassley bill would require all employers seeking to hire an H-1B visa holder to pledge that they have made a good-faith effort to hire American workers first and that the H-1B visa holder will not displace an American worker,” according to a statement released by Sen. Grassley’s office.Sen Grassley recently asked Microsoft to lay-off foreign H-1B visa workers first before cutting U.S. citizens under its planned 5,000 job reductions.    Related Itemslast_img read more

Portfolios to new Goa Ministers: Kavlekar to be Deputy CM

first_imgThe four new ministers inducted into the Goa cabinet will be allotted portfolios on Monday, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Sunday. Chandrakant Kavlekar, who was the Leader of the Opposition, will be designated as Deputy Chief Minister, Mr. Sawant told reporters.Days after 10 Congress MLAs in Goa joined the BJP, Mr. Sawant on Saturday reshuffled his cabinet, dropping three members of the ally, Goa Forward Party (GFP), and an Independent legislator as ministers.Michael Lobo, who resigned as Deputy Speaker of the Goa Assembly, and three of the 10 MLAs who joined the BJP — Chandrakant Kavlekar, Jeniffer Monserratte, Philip Neri Rodrigues — were sworn in as ministers on Saturday.The monsoon session of the Assembly begins on Monday. Asked how the new ministers would handle questions in the House, Mr. Sawant said, “I will be there to help them.” The 10 Congress MLAs joined the BJP last Wednesday, increasing the saffron party’s strength to 27 in the 40-member House.Prior to the swearing-in, Mr. Sawant issued a notification, dropping all three GFP leaders — Deputy Chief Minister Vijai Sardesai, Water Resources Minister Vinod Palyekar, and Rural Development Minister Jayesh Salgaonkar — and Independent MLA and Revenue Minister Rohan Khaunte from the cabinet to accommodate the new members.The GFP, which has three legislators in the House, and Mr. Khaunte withdrew their support to the BJP-led State government on Saturday. Mr. Sardesai said the induction of the 10 Congress MLAs into the BJP was the “death of the legacy” of late chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who was a towering figure in politics of the coastal State.last_img read more

Nitish flags off ‘publicity rath’

first_imgBihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday flagged off a vehicle to be used for creating awareness about the State government’s water resources schemes and steps to save and conserve water.The vehicle, which is being called a ‘publicity rath’, will create awareness on the Jal-Jeevan-Hariyali (water-life-greenery) campaign via the audio-visual medium, an official release said here. The publicity rath will also make people aware of the fact that groundwater is the only source of water in the event of less rainfall and people will have to go for rainwater harvesting to conserve water, the release said. Mr. Kumar had on August 9 launched the Jal-Jeevan-Hariyali campaign in Patna.last_img read more

Rajasthan’s ITIs to be modernised for skill education

first_imgAs part of the efforts to connect skills with education, the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in Rajasthan will be modernised for facilitating their role in addressing the needs of industry by evolving expertise in different sectors. In addition to the traditional training modules, skill studies are being promoted among the ITI students to provide them a better exposure.Experts and State government officials deliberated on the strategies to improve skills and entrepreneurship at a conclave of ITI principals held at the Bhartiya Skill Development University (BSDU), which practises Swiss dual system of education by blending real time industry exposure with world-class machinery in its curriculum, here earlier this week.Academic and industrial experts laid emphasis on equipping the youth with the necessary skills and education to help create an “employment-ready workforce” for industry in the future. “While studying for a graduation degree, the training in different skills will open up new possibilities for career growth,” BSDU president Surjit Singh Pabla said.The participants in the conclave, including 300 ITI principals from across the State, threw light on the scope for giving academic facilities and practical exposure to the ITI students. The trainees, who will be given pre-admission in BSDU during their study in ITIs, will learn new traits from Swiss trainers through a curriculum designed by industry experts.‘Expand curriculum’Rajasthan Skill and Livelihoods Development Corporation’s Managing Director Samit Sharma said the ITIs should expand their curriculum and make productive use of facilities offered by other institutions. State Skill, Employment & Entrepreneurship Secretary Naveen Jain said modernisation would improve infrastructure of ITIs and motivate the students to keep innovating and think of new ideas.The Swiss dual system was highlighted at the conclave as a unique concept with the focus on customised practical industrial training along with theoretical knowledge.last_img read more