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Four die in Gujarat floods

first_imgFour people have died and over 2,000 shifted to safe locations as heavy rains lashed Gujarat, leading to rivers and dams overflowing and flooding several parts of the State, including Rajkot city.Saurashtra region has been bearing the brunt of the incessant rain with several rivers, large dams and reservoirs overflowing.According to the authorities, hundreds of people in Rajkot, Jamnagar, Morbi and Surendranagar districts have been shifted from low-lying areas near rivers and dams.In Rajkot, authorities have asked residents not to venture out as city roads were under knee-deep water.“We have pressed into service several teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and SDRF for rescue operations at various places on Saturday. The air force has also joined in the rescue operations,” Principal Secretary (Revenue) Pankaj Kumar said after a meeting of top officials convened by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani to take stock of the situation.Chief Secretary J.N. Singh and Pankaj Kumar also held a video conference with district collectors to assess the flood situation.The met department has forecast heavy rains in the next 48 hours and the Emergency Operation Centre has issued a high-alert.last_img read more

Dog eats away parts of woman’s body in Lucknow hospital morgue

first_imgIn a shocking incident at the state-run Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital here, parts of the body of a woman were allegedly eaten up by a dog, prompting authorities to terminate the services of a ward boy and three security personnel posted at its mortuary on Sunday.Principal Secretary (Health) Prashant Trivedi said that the services of the four persons were terminated with “immediate effect” and an FIR was registered against them on the basis of a complaint by the director of the hospital, Devendra Negi.Pushpa Tiwari (40), a resident of Chinhat, was admitted to the hospital’s emergency ward yesterday [Saturday] afternoon as a suspected case of celphos poisoning. She died during treatment in the evening, Mr. Negi said.The woman’s body was kept in a deep freezer in the mortuary as an autopsy had to be conducted since it was a medico-legal case.“The body was kept in the mortuary in the presence of her family members. When the doors of the morgue were opened at 9 a.m. today [Sunday], it was found outside the freezer with its face disfigured,” Mr. Trivedi said.The woman’s family members claimed that her earrings and nose pin were also missing. A police team, which reached the spot, found paw marks of a dog near the channel gate of the mortuary.Mr. Trivedi said that prima facie, the incident occurred due to laxity on the part of hospital workers.The Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Institute of Medical Sciences is a super-speciality hospital and one of the reputed and leading autonomous teaching institutes established by the Government of Uttar Pradesh.last_img read more

LoC violations: Rajnath hikes relief for victims

first_imgUnion Home Minister Rajnath Singh has announced an increase in compensation to victims of ceasefire violations in J&K from ₹1 lakh to ₹5 lakh, while considering proposal to procure land for permanent shelters.During his tour to border district of Rajouri in the Pir Panchal valley, Mr. Singh said, “Pakistan will have to stop these (ceasefire) violations sooner or later.”The Minister said an expert group will study problems faced by the people living in border areas, which have witnessed over 400 violations in recent years.Mr. Singh reviewed the status of migrants displaced by ceasefire violations in Rajouri’s Nowshera this year. “The local administration proposed 1030 kanal State land for alternative shelters,” District Collector, Rajouri, Dr. Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said.The demand to include crop losses under the Prime Minister Fasal Bhima Yojana was also put forth before the Union minister.‘For equitable development of regions’Meanwhile, Mr. Singh, who concluded his four-day J&K tour on Tuesday, said the Centre was for equitable development of all three regions of J&K. “Around 6000 transit accommodations will be constructed in Kashmir valley for (Pandit) migrants. Around 3,000 jobs will be provided to them as ₹1080 crore has already been sanctioned,” he said. Centre adopting reconciliatory approach: PDPA day after Union Home minister ‘defended’ special status of J&K, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the BJP at the Centre and national opposition parties have “acknowledged the importance of the reconciliatory approach and inclusiveness to get J&K out of turbulence and mistrust”.PDP senior vice-president Mohammad Sartaj Madni said all parties have realised how important it is to review cooperative diplomacy for regional peace and mutual understanding. He said the latest assurances from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Home Minister in this regard were “very much encouraging”.Meeting with NC team A 25-member NC delegation met Mr. Singh in Jammu on Tuesday and suggested that “regional autonomy to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh is a way forward to satiate aspirations of the people in three distinct regions of the State.”“Autonomous administrative structures for sub-regions on the pattern of Ladakh Hill Development Councils can defeat nefarious designs of the forces who want trifurcation of J&K,” NC provincial president Devender Singh Rana said.He expressed satisfaction over assurance of the Union Home Minister on Article 35A. “The Attorney General of India must be asked to submit a forceful counter in the apex court to safeguard Article 35A, which is endorsement of the law enacted by Maharja Hari Singh Ji 90 years ago,” he said.last_img read more

Kasganj: perpetrators of violence won’t be spared, says Adityanath

first_imgUttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday broke his silence on the communal clashes in Kasganj on Republic Day in which 22-year-old Chandan Gupta was killed, saying strict action would be taken against the perpetrators of violence and those indulging in anarchy would not be spared.“Our government is committed to providing security to each and every citizen. Those indulging in anarchy will not be spared,” he told journalists in Lucknow.At least three shops, two buses and a car were torched after Gupta was killed in clashes following pelting of stones by a mob on a motorcycle rally taken out to celebrate Republic Day.As many as 118 people have been arrested in connection with the violence.The incident drew flak from Governor Ram Naik. He described it as a “blot” on Uttar Pradesh and said it was a “matter of shame”.last_img read more

Gujarat ex-DGP Pandey discharged from Ishrat Jahan case

first_imgA special CBI court in Ahmedabad on February 21 discharged P.P. Pandey, former Gujarat DGP and a key accused, from the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. This makes making Mr. Pandey the first high profile accused to be discharged in the sensational case involving top ranking officials of the Gujarat Police and the Intelligence Bureau.Special CBI Judge J.K. Pandya allowed Mr. Pandey’s discharge plea in an order delivered on February 21.A 1980-batch IPS officer, Mr. Pandey was arrested in July 2013 by the CBI, and spent nearly 19 months in jail. He got bail in February 2015 following which he was reinstated in the State police and was promoted to DGP level. Even after his superannuation, he was given extension in the service but after a petition in the Gujarat High Court, his extension was withdrawn.PTI adds:Judge Pandya allowed Mr. Pandey’s discharge application on the ground that there was no evidence against him related to the kidnapping and murder of Ishrat Jahan and three others.The CBI had accused Mr. Pandey, who then headed the Ahmedabad crime branch, as being involved in the alleged fake encounter.The court said that no witnesses accused Mr. Pandey of the murder and kidnapping of the victims.It also said that the witnesses’ evidences were contradictory as they gave different evidences to different investigating agencies.The court also held that being a government servant, permission to prosecute Mr. Pandey was not taken by the investigating officer from the state before filing of the charge sheet against him, as per section 197 of the CrPC.In the first charge sheet filed by the CBI in 2013, seven Gujarat police officers were named as accused, including Mr. Pandey, D.G. Vanzara and G.L. Singhal, facing charges for kidnapping, murder and conspiracy.The CBI had named four IB officials, including IB’s special director Rajinder Kumar and officer M.S. Sinha, in supplementary charge sheet, which still awaits the Centre’s sanction.The city crime branch officials had gunned down 19-year-old Ishrat Jahan from Mumbra in Maharashtra, her friend Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh, Zeeshan Johar and Amzad Rana in an alleged encounter on June 15, 2004 on the outskirts of the city.last_img read more

Currently no proposal to scrap Article 370, says govt

first_imgThere is currently no proposal to scrap Article 370 which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. Mr. Ahir was replying to a written question by BJP MP Ashwini Kumar, who asked whether the government was committed to scrapping Article 370 of the Constitution. The MP from Karnal in Haryana also asked what was the present status and the procedure laid down for scrapping Article 370. “There is currently no such proposal under consideration of the Government,” Mr. Ahir said in his one-line reply. Scrapping Article 370 forms part of the BJP’s political manifesto. However, the party, in alliance with the regional PDP, remained silent on the demand in the Agenda of Alliance agreed to in 2015. In a separate question on statements made by the Centre’s interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma on violence in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Ahir said Mr. Sharma had recently visited border areas in view of recent cease-fire violations and suggested some measures for the local population. These included shifting residents and constructing bunkers. The question was asked by Congress’ Jyotiraditya Scindia and Gaurav Gogoi. Mr. Ahir said the government was keen to bring peace in the state and was ready to hold dialogue with all sections of society who shun the path of violence. The government has also continuously encouraged policies to bring youth to the mainstream. These include providing employment opportunities to wean them away from militancy, he said.last_img read more

Governor visits Asansol, appeals for peace

first_imgWest Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on Saturday visited violence-hit Asansol and Raniganj areas of Paschim Bardhaman district and urged the people to maintain peace. “I have come here with the message of peace. Peace should be paramount. I appeal to all the people belonging to all castes and communities to live in harmony,” Mr. Tripathi told journalists. The Governor said that he wanted to visit the strife-torn areas earlier but it did not materialise. Mr. Tripathi held a meeting with senior district and police officers and spoke to locals. The industrial region in south Bengal has been on the boil for the past one week over tensions during Ram Navami celebrations. Two persons have died in the violence in Paschim Bardhaman district and four in the State in the communal flare up. State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury who also wanted to visit the areas was stopped by the police on the national highway. On Sunday, a four-member delegation of the BJP is scheduled to visit the trouble-hit areas. During the day certain rallies were brought out on the occasion of Hanuman jayanti. Despite orders of the State administration that there should not be any armed rallies, some rallies were brought out in Hooghly district where people were seen carrying arms.last_img read more

Maharashtra village bids tearful adieu to martyred son

first_imgPune: In Marathwada’s second military funeral in a little over a week, Jawan Kiran Thorat, who was killed during firing by the Pakistan Army in Poonch earlier this week, was cremated with full military honours at his ancestral village in Aurangabad district on Friday.A mournful congregation numbering thousands gathered to pay their last respects to the brave heart who succumbed to his injuries following “unprovoked and indiscriminate firing” by the Pakistan Army in Poonch’s Krishna Ghati sector on Wednesday. Thorat’s mortal remains were brought from Aurangabad town to his village of Fakirabad Wadi (in Vaijapur Tehsil) at 11. 30 a.m.Impassioned scenes of grief were witnessed as a massive crowd followed the funeral cortege from Mhasoba Chowk to his home in Vaijapur chanting “Kiranbhau amar rahe (Long Live Kiran Thorat)”. Many recalled Jawan Thorat’s unassuming, earnest and gentle persona.His family, including his parents and brother, are farmers. The 31-year-old soldier had completed 11 years of service in the Army.Thorat’s parents, elder brother Amol, wife Aarti alongwith their two young children — a three-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy — were inconsolable as his body was laid on the funeral pyre. His final rites were performed with military solemnity in the afternoon. Marathwada has lost her second son in the line of duty in eight days. Sepoy Shubham Mustapure (20) of Parbhani district fell in the Poonch sector on April 3 as Pakistani troops fired mortar bombs at forward posts in the area.last_img read more

17 dead as bus overturns in U.P.

first_imgSeventeen people died and over two dozen were injured when a bus overturned after hitting a divider in Mainpuri on Wednesday. The double-decker bus was coming from Jaipur in Rajasthan via the Agra Expressway and Karhal-Mainpuri when the driver allegedly lost control at a bend.Mainpuri Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai said looking at the way the bus overturned, “it must have been travelling at a high speed”. The police are investigating the accident.Mainpuri District Magistrate Pradeep Kumar said the driver was in a serious condition and unfit for statement. Mr. Kumar said it would be proved if the driver had handed over the controls to his assistant at the time of the accident or had himself fallen asleep while driving.The accident took place near Gram Kallu ki Madaiya in Kiratpur area under Dhanahar police station of Mainpuri, which is more than 250 km from the State capital.Sixteen died on the spot while 26 were injured, a police spokesperson said. Four seriously injured persons were referred to Saifai. One of the dead is yet to be identified. The youngest victim was 15-year-old Nandan from Kannauj.Ex-gratia compensationChief Minister Yogi Adityanath, expressing grief over the incident, announced an ex-gratia compensation of ₹2 lakh to the kin of the dead and ₹50,000 to the injured.last_img read more

No weapons, shoes inside Puri Temple: SC

first_imgThe Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that said no policemen should enter Puri’s Jagannath temple armed with weapons and wearing shoes. A Bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta gave the direction taking note of the violence that had broken out during a protest against the introduction of a queue system for devotees of the temple on October 3. The Bench was hearing a plea on behalf of an organisation that has filed an application for intervention in the matter, alleging that the local police entered the temple with guns and shoes during the violence.The Odisha government’s counsel said no violence took place on the temple premises and termed the allegations baseless. The counsel said that the office of the temple administration, situated around 500 metres from the main temple, was attacked and ransacked during the violence. Uprooted barricades The bandh, called by Jagannath Sena, a Puri-based social-cultural organisation, turned violent when a large number of protesters uprooted the barricades put up to facilitate the entry of devotees into the temple through the main entrance in a queue.The Jagannath Sena had called for a bandh after the temple administration introduced the queue system on Monday on an experimental basis. The protest was supported by sections of temple servitors.At least 10 policemen were injured when protesters resorted to violence to enforce the day-long bandh.The agitators also damaged a police outpost and an information centre outside the temple as well as the Town police station, prompting the police to resort to a mild lathi-charge and tear-gas lobbing to control the situation. Several police vehicles were damaged.(With inputs from agencies)last_img read more

Naveen raises ex gratia to ₹10 lakh for Titli victims’ kin

first_imgAs death toll due to the Titli cyclone and subsequent floods in Odisha increased to 52, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday raised the ex gratia amount from ₹4 lakh to ₹10 lakh each for the next of the kin of the deceased.Mr. Patnaik declared this when he came to visit this non-descript village in the worst hit Gajapati district. He interacted with the victims of the storm and landslide of Gangabada panchayat at Champapur and promised rehabilitation and relocation of the ravaged hamlets. Orphaned childrenHe also announced that a vulnerability mapping of all the villages in the hilly regions will be done and if needed, they will be relocated to safer places with all amenities.In Champapur, the Chief Minister met the two motherless children, Simanchal Bhuyan and Kartik Bhuyan, who lost their father in the landslide at nearby Baraghara on October 11, when cyclone Titli had its landfall near Palasa in Andhra Pradesh. Mr. Patnaik declared that the State government will take care of all such children who have been orphaned by the cyclone. The former sarpanch of the Gangabada panchayat, Sabitri Bhuyan, narrated the problems being faced by the native tribals in the aftermath of the Titli cyclone.Mr. Patnaik then declared that all the hamlets on the Mahendragiri hills will be relocated to safer plain areas at the foothills. He also handed over land pattas to ten families of landslide-hit Baraghara. This tribal hamlet with 76 families will be relocated to Dengasahi mouza. Several other villages of the Gangabada panchayat would also be relocated, Mr. Patnaik added. Most villagers of the cyclone and landslide-hit villages of the panchayat expressed their willingness to be shifted to safe areas as landslide has also destroyed their agricultural fields.Mr. Patnaik then flew down to Bhanjanagar area of the Ganjam district and met the cyclone and flood victims of the area.Meanwhile, announcing the official death toll in Bhubaneswar, Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi said that maximum number of 39 deaths was confirmed in Gajapati district, 12 deaths were reported from Ganjam district and one from the adjoining Kandhamal district. Reports of 10 more deaths were being verified, he added. Mr. Padhi said according to initial estimates, damages in the State were to approximately ₹2,200 crore. Final report will be prepared in the next two days, he added.last_img read more

INLD chief expels grandsons Dushyant, Digvijay Chautala

first_imgIndian National Lok Dal president Om Prakash Chautala on Friday expelled Dushyant Chautala and Digvijay Singh Chautala from the primary membership of the party with immediate effect for indulging in “indiscipline”.Mr. Dushyant, who is the INLD MP from the Hisar Lok Sabha seat, has also been removed from the post of leader of the INLD Parliamentary Board. Mr. Digvijay headed the Indian National Students’ Organisation, the students’ wing of INLD, which has already been dissolved. Both Mr. Dushyant and Mr. Digvijay, who are sons of INLD State secretary general Ajay Singh Chautala, were accused of indulging in indiscipline, hooliganism and spreading disaffection within the party and against the party leadership during the birth anniversary celebrations of Chaudhary Devi Lal at Gohana on October 7.A statement released by the party said: “Mr. Om Prakash has conveyed to the party office that he did not need any outside evidence as he was a witness to the indiscipline and unruly scenes that continuously interrupted his speech on that day. But still he referred the matter to the disciplinary action committee of the party.”“The committee has concluded that both are guilty as charged,” said the statement.The statement said that since Mr. Dushyant and Mr. Digvijay were members of his immediate family, it was not an easy decision for Mr. Om Prakash to take. ‘Party chosen over kin’It added that Mr. Om Prakash had to make a choice between the party and members of his family, and he had chosen the party and decided to concur with the conclusions of the disciplinary committee. “Accordingly, he had instructed the party office that his decision be immediately put into effect,” the statement added.last_img read more

Gadchiroli attack probe indicates SOP lapses

first_imgA preliminary probe into the Naxal attack that killed 15 personnel of the Gadchiroli police earlier this month, has found lapses in adherence to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the red zones of the State.The report of Maharashtra Director General of Police (DGP) S.K. Jaiswal was forwarded to the State Home Department this week.Sans recceFixing responsibility for the incident of May 1, the probe has found a sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) guilty of rushing the unit into an ambush, without following the procedures or sending a road patrol party to do a recce.The said SDPO and another senior unit in-charge have been asked to proceed on forced leave, officials confirmed to The Hindu.In one of the worst retaliatory attacks, Maoist insurgents blew up an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), killing men of the Quick Response Team (QRT) of the Gadchiroli police. The unit was proceeding from the police station in Kurkheda taluka, nearly 60 km north of Gadchiroli, when the blast was triggered. The Naxals had torched 36 vehicles meant to assist road work the previous night.Fixing accountability Among other preventive measures, the report also suggests changes to the existing SOP, and has fixed responsibility for its violation on the senior unit in-charge.“The inquiry has found the SDPO in-charge made two calls asking the men to leave as early as possible to the spot where the Maoists had burnt vehicles just the previous night. Before pushing the unit out of Kurkheda, (SDPO) did not wait for the SOP to unfold,” said a senior official of the Home Department.The report, which followed the DGP’s two-day visit to the attack site, suggests changes to the existing SOP to avoid future incidents, officials said.“The report has suggested postponing the filing a panchnama soon after any incident has taken place to avoid ambushes in the future. The panchanama — as per the new changes — will now wait until anti-landmine vehicles or patrol parties have scanned the area. This is one of the many changes we have suggested to the existing SOPs for the red zone,” said an official. Centre’s guidelinesEarlier this month, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba while sharing details of the movements of the various Naxal units or dalams with the State government, urged the forces to follow the SOP on all possible occasions. The letter had stated the SOPs to be observed during long patrols and during the protection duty for burnt vehicles.“We have included contents of Union Government’s letter into suggested SOP changes,” a State government official said.last_img read more

ScienceShot: Men Talk Like ‘Valley Girls,’ Too

first_imgYou can talk like a “Valley girl,” too? That could be a statement, but if you paid attention to the question mark in the sentence, then the pitch of your voice rose as you read it. The style of talking has been called “Valley girl speak”—linguists know it as “speaking with a high rising terminal,” or “uptalk.” But it’s not just for females, according to a new study being presented Thursday at a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. Researchers examined the speech patterns of two dozen college-aged males and females who had grown up in southern California, as each individual gave directions or described scenes from a sitcom. Both males and females used uptalk, they found, although females used the speech pattern more often. When recordings of the students’ voices were analyzed, the scientists also discovered that they could distinguish instances of uptalk from true questions—the rise in pitch began earlier in the sentence when a question was being asked. The findings add weight to the concept that uptalk isn’t associated with personality or confidence—or the “Valley girl” stereotype alone—but is a true regional dialect.For a story on another unusual speech pattern, check out our 2011 piece on “vocal fry,” our most popular story of all time.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

Fight Over Diverting Campaign Funds for Research Takes New Turn

first_imgThe need to fight childhood diseases seems obvious. But the politics behind a push in Congress to fund additional pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have gotten pretty murky.On 11 December the House of Representatives passed a bill that would provide NIH with an estimated $126 million over the next decade for studies related to childhood diseases. The money would come from a fund created by a $3 checkoff box on U.S. tax forms, which earmarks the funds for public financing of presidential elections. Some 72 Democrats joined with an all-but-unanimous contingent of Republicans to provide the two-thirds majority needed to adopt the legislation, which has been championed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA).The bill, H.R. 2019, is named the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act. Miller was a 10-year-old Virginian girl who died last year of a brain tumor, and the bill initially drew rave notices from dozens of biomedical research and disease advocacy groups. “We strongly support increased funding for NIH, and appreciate your identification of medical research as a priority in a time of deficit reduction and fiscal austerity,” a coalition of universities and biotech companies called United for Medical Research (UMR) wrote to the bill’s sponsor, Representative Gregg Harper (R-MS) on 27 June. It’s “a great step in the right direction to put the NIH back on a plan for reasonable growth,” the American Society of Clinical Oncology wrote in a 10 July letter thanking Harper for introducing the bill.Last week, Virginia’s two Democratic senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, teamed up with Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah to create what they hope will be a similarly successful bipartisan coalition in the Senate. Kaine and Warner say they were swayed by Miller’s parents. “The cause is good. Once you talk to people about the need for more pediatric research, they get it,” Kaine told local media.But the Senate trio won’t be getting the same kind of supportive letter from UMR that the group sent the bill’s House sponsors this past summer. “We have no plans to take any other action on the legislation,” UMR President Carrie Wolinetz tells ScienceInsider.Why the about-face? “We had hoped that the bill would be a starting point for a broader discussion” about the importance of restoring cuts to NIH’s budget from last year’s mandatory sequestration, says Wolinetz, who is a lobbyist for the Association of American Universities. “But it’s turned out to be a distraction.”She and other research advocates worry that Congress may feel that “the job is done” once it approves this small boost for pediatric research and forget about the bigger problems facing the $30-billion-a-year agency. Ironically, she says that Cantor’s “passionate support” has given the bill a “high profile politically” that could increase the likelihood of such a response. “We’d prefer that the Senate take up the broader issue of adequate funding for NIH,” Wolinetz says.Several House Democrats explicitly questioned the commitment of their Republican colleagues to the issue before the vote this past December. “We all want to fund more research to fight pediatric disease. Nothing could be a more worthy objective,” said Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) on the House floor before joining a majority of the body’s Democrats in voting against the measure. “If we could only reverse the cuts that this House has adopted under Republican leadership, the [NIH] could make an even greater amount of progress in understanding and treating so many different devastating diseases for children and others.”H.R. 2019 would bar the public financing funds from being used for national political conventions, putting them instead in a “10-Year Pediatric Research Initiative Fund” within the Common Fund managed by the NIH director. (Presidential candidates could still use money from the fund for their campaigns, but recent candidates have declined to accept the money because acceptance imposes a ceiling on overall spending.) The legislation says that NIH cannot use the money for any other purpose, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the mechanism would yield $12.6 million a year. However, there would be no mention of pediatric research on the tax forms that offer the checkoff.For supporters of public financing of presidential campaigns, the Harper/Cantor bill is an outright disaster. “H.R. 2019 would repeal a portion of an anti-corruption campaign finance law which has served the nation well … and has provided ordinary Americans with a critical role to play in financing presidential elections,” a coalition of election watchdog groups argue in a 14 January letter to senators. The current system, they say, “needs to be repaired, not repealed.”Those advocates have tried to rally support for their cause by suggesting that the money wouldn’t actually fund additional pediatric research. They say that’s because continued cuts to domestic discretionary spending, under the 2011 Budget Control Act that created sequestration, would continue to eat away at NIH’s budget and, by extension, its ability to fund pediatric research. “The bill does nothing to change those policies and nothing to increase the amount that the Appropriations Committee has available to support biomedical research,” a group of House Democrat appropriators wrote last fall in a letter to their legislative colleagues.Cantor admits that sequestration is harming NIH. But he says the Kids First bill addresses another issue. Specifically, Cantor was looking for a way to support pediatric research without additional government spending, and asked Harper if he’d agree to alter his bill to terminate public funding of the national conventions to serve that purpose.“Some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle say this is just a drop in the bucket compared to the sequester cuts. I agree,” Cantor said on the floor. “But let’s not let Washington politics get in the way of any effort to help these kids. … This bill is a choice between allocating moneys for political conventions or pediatric medical research.”Prospects for a Senate vote are unclear, although Kaine told local media last week that he thought the problem was more logistical than philosophical. “Often the biggest hurdle in the Senate is just getting floor time on something,” Kaine said to the Loudoun County Times-Mirror. “I would say that is what we’re strategizing.”last_img read more

U.S. lawmakers propose scaling back Pentagon science cuts—slightly

first_imgWhen President Barack Obama proposed a hefty 6.9% cut to the U.S. military’s basic research programs earlier this year, many academic science lobbyists winced. Today, the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives passed a spending bill that wouldn’t cut quite as deep—just 6.4%—but that’s not doing much to dull the pain.“We are dismayed by the House Appropriations Committee’s Defense bill,” said Hunter Rawlings, president of the Washington, D.C.–based Association of American Universities (AAU), in a statement. “We criticized the President’s budget for its 6.9-percent cut; this bill provides only a modest improvement.”Universities receive some 10% of their federal research dollars from the Department of Defense (DOD). In particular, academic scientists get about one-half of the roughly $2 billion the Pentagon spends on basic research, known as the “6.1” budget line in DOD parlance. Overall, DOD provides about one-half of the research funding in many engineering fields, one-third in computer science, and one-fifth in math and physics.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 recent years, Obama administration budget planners had largely shielded 6.1 spending from cuts despite a downsizing military. But the White House signaled that wasn’t going to be possible in the 2015 fiscal year that begins 1 October. It proposed cutting overall DOD spending on science and technology 5.5%, to $11.51 billion, with basic research taking a bigger hit. It’s “not that we don’t like university research. We love university research,” Alan Shaffer, a top DOD research official, told Congress earlier this year. “But given the constraints … we wanted to push more money” into more applied projects that are closer to fruition, he said.Shaffer estimated the proposed $150 million reduction in DOD’s core basic science budget “will cut about 1500 grants nationwide, give or take,” assuming an average of $100,000 per grant. “That’s a lot of university grants that are coming out.”Today’s House panel vote doesn’t offer much relief, which leaves AAU’s Rawlings and others hoping the full House or the Senate will intercede to cancel more of the cut. They warn that national security could be at stake. “The basic research DOD has conducted since World War II has consistently made our nation’s military the world’s best equipped, most technologically advanced force,” Rawlings said. “Congress should approve this kind of cut only if it wishes to erode our armed forces’ future technological advantages.”The research funding is part of a larger $491 billion measure funding all Pentagon programs. The bill must still be approved by the full House and reconciled with the U.S. Senate’s version. No final action is expected until after the November elections.last_img read more

Why katydids sing in unison

first_imgWhen a group of male katydids croon a tune in nearly perfect synchrony, it means the insects are after the ladies. But they’re not aligning their singing with each other to come across as larger or louder, a new study finds; each male is trying to beat out the others to be the first—by mere milliseconds—to hit a note. Katydids, also known as bush crickets (Mecopoda elongata), are among a handful of insects that make noise by rubbing a hind leg on one wing. Scientists knew that the sound attracted females, but they didn’t know why the males sang in synchrony. In the new study, researchers recorded and analyzed the choral performances of 18 different groups of four male katydids. Then, they let females choose between the males in each group. Females preferred males that were the first to broadcast each tone, even if it were only 70 milliseconds ahead of others in the group, the team reports online today in Royal Society Open Science. Moreover, the females preferred these lead singers to katydids that were singing alone—but the increased volume of the chorus didn’t seem to draw more females to the group as a whole. Singing in a group, the authors of the new study hypothesize, might help keep males on a steady rhythm—another trait that female katydids in the study preferred. But more work is needed to figure out why females chose the steadiest, leading singer, and whether the observation holds true in all species of katydids, like the round-headed katydid (pictured) that’s more common in North America.last_img read more

Concessions on Indian student immigration could give UK a post-Brexit boost

first_imgWhen I arrived from India as a 19-year-old student in the early 1980s, the UK was a very different country. In many ways, it was less open than now, but several institutions in London – such as the Indian YMCA, founded in 1920, and the India Club, which has stood on the Strand since the 1940s – testified to the welcome that Indian students had received going back a century.Read it at Times Higher Education Related Itemslast_img

Gross Misconduct: Scotland Yard’s Indian-Origin Officer Gets Notice

first_imgOne of Britain’s senior-most Indian-origin female officers has been placed on restricted duties as Scotland Yard investigates allegations that she broke the rules on being nominated for a royal honour.Parm Sandhu, currently serving as Temporary Chief Superintendent with the Metropolitan Police, has been served with a “gross misconduct” investigation notice and could potentially face a serious disciplinary charge.Read it at NDTV Related Itemslast_img