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Ray of hope for Thar’s endangered wildlife

first_imgIn an attempt to reduce mortality of endangered wildlife in Thar desert, new “rescue wards” have come up in the far-flung rural areas of Jodhpur, Rajasthan. These will provide quick treatment to animals injured in road accidents, dog bites and fights. With an average of nearly 1,000 injuries a year, the wildlife in Thar desert has witnessed 60% mortality because of lack of transport to the main rescue centre at the Jodhpur zoo. This has led to the depletion of wildlife, mainly chinkaras (Indian gazelles).The Forest Department’s move to set up 17 rescue wards has come as a much-needed support to the Bishnoi community of western Rajasthan, which has been in the forefront of wildlife conservation. Bishnois risk their lives to save gazelles from poachers and transport injured animals to Jodhpur. The rescue wards were launched on Sunday, well before the onset of monsoon which causes widespread mortality among gazelles as they cannot run fast in the moist soil and fall prey to dog bites.Training for villagersShravan Singh Rathore, Jodhpur zoo’s veterinary surgeon, told The Hindu that the new facilities would help save wild animals and birds. A day-long training camp was held in Jodhpur to hone the skills of villagers volunteering as animal rescuers.Thanks to the new centres, Bishnoi volunteers expect wildlife mortality to reduce drastically. Bishnoi Tiger Force chief Ram Pal Bhawad said the community had been demanding such centres for over a decade. “We have definite plans for the conservation of the desert’s endangered wildlife,” he said.last_img read more

Three derailments in a span of nine hours

first_imgThree trains jumped off the tracks in Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi and Maharashtra within a span of nine hours on Thursday, the latest in a string of such incidents in the recent past.Another derailment was averted in Uttar Pradesh after locals spotted a fracture on a track between Farrukhabad and Fatehgarh, minutes before the Kalindi Express was scheduled to arrive, officials said.Luckily, barring injuries to a passenger in the incident in the national capital, no casualties have been reported.The first accident occurred at 6:25 a.m. when seven coaches of the Jabalpur-bound Shaktipunj Express went off the tracks near the Obra Dam station in U.P.’s Sonbhadra district. Within hours, at around 11:45 a.m, the Ranchi-Delhi Rajdhani Express derailed near Minto bridge in the national capital, leaving one person injured. These two incidents were followed by the derailment of a goods train in Maharashtra’s Khandala at 3:55 p.m., railway officials said.Ironically, these accidents occurred on a day when Piyush Goyal, the new Railway Minister, chaired a high-level meeting with Railway Board officials to discuss ways to ensure safe operation of trains.The spate of derailments over the past few weeks has raised safety concerns, despite large-scale overhaul of infrastructure in the last couple of years.Railway Ministry officials said Thursday’s derailments did not result in any major damage or casualties as the trains were approaching the stations and were therefore travelling at slow speeds. The derailments are the first since Mr. Goyal shifted to the Rail Bhavan after the Cabinet recast. His predecessor Suresh Prabhu reportedly offered to step down owning moral responsibility for two previous accidents.last_img read more

Behaviour change needed to stop open defecation: Experts

first_imgSanitation experts here on Wednesday laid emphasis on bringing about a sustained behaviour change in the local communities to achieve the target of making the villages, towns and districts Open Defecation Free (ODF) in Rajasthan. The harmful impacts of open defecation on people’s health and children’s nutrition should be brought to their notice, they said.The occasion was the State-level inauguration of “Swachhta Hi Sewa: Swachh Yuva Diwas” on the Rajasthan University campus here. State Rural Development Minister Rajendra Rathore said six districts had so far been declared open defecation free, while 10 more would be given the ODF status by December this year.‘Onus on youth’“Of the 9,851 village panchayats in the State, 6,375 have been declared open defecation free,” Mr. Rathore said. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan would succeed if the youth adopted it as a movement, he added.UNICEF-Rajasthan chief Isabelle Bardem said that against the access of 27.3% households to sanitary toilets in 2012 in the State, 87% households had sanitary toilets built in their premises till this month. “Stopping open defecation will restore women’s dignity and protect them against harassment and sexual offences,” she said.A massive rally of the university and college students was organised on the campus and the theatre artistes staged a presentation on the community-led total sanitation process. The event was organised jointly by UNICEF and the university’s Centre for Mass Communication.last_img read more

Left seeks clarification from Rajnath

first_imgThe CPI(M) on Monday sought an explanation from Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on a meeting reportedly attended by BJP and RSS leaders and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval to discuss the BJP’s strategy for the elections in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland. A section of the media reported that BJP and RSS leaders, and most important, Mr. Doval, took part at the meeting. “If correct, this is a shocking violation of norms and a serious misconduct. How can a senior government functionary like the NSA be present at a meeting to discuss the BJP’s election campaign? The Union Home Minister must immediately clarify,” the party said in a statement. The CPI too asked the government to clarify. “It is one thing for the Home Minister to meet the NSA. But what was Mr. Doval doing at a political meeting? The government needs to explain,” CPI leader D. Raja said. BJP sources denied the presence of Mr. Doval at the meeting. “The NSA was not present at the meeting. BJP and RSS leaders met Mr. Singh. It was a political meeting. Mr. Doval might have come later to meet the Home Minister, which we are not aware of,” a senior BJP leader said.last_img read more

Goa Minister on visit to US must call on CM: Congress

first_imgPanaji: The Congress in Goa on Thursday mockingly advised Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar, whose official tour to the US, along with four family members, has sparked a controversy, to at least call on Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar in hospital during his visit.“Since Mr. Ajgaonkar has gone on a junket to the US with family members along with some tourism ministry officials, he should at least call on our ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and enquire after his health, considering that no one in Goa has been formally informed about the state of health of our Chief Minister,” Congress spokesperson Urfan Mulla said at a press conference at the party headquarters on Thursday. Another Congress spokesperson Amarnath Panjikar said it was unfair that the minister travels to the US with family members, at a time when the state was reeling under a financial crisis, especially with the mining industry non-functional following directives from the Supreme Court since March.“The government should get reimbursement for the cost incurred on the travel and stay of the family members, once the minister returns,” Mr. Panjikar said. The State Tourism Ministry has said that the Minister is in the US to participate in tourism promotion road shows. Senior Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party(MGP) leader and Public Works Development minister Sudin Dhavalikar recently rushed to the rescue of his ministerial colleague and said that Mr. Ajgaonkar should pay for the cost incurred on the travel and stay of his relatives for the US trip. “There is nothing wrong with family travelling on such trips, as long as state funds are not used. The tourism department can recover the amount from the minister,” Mr. Dhavalikar responded to media reports recently.Mr. Ajgaonkar is one of the three MLAs of MGP, an alliance partner of BJP-led coalition in the State.last_img read more

Odisha STF to visit New Delhi to quiz LeT militant’s handler

first_imgA team of the Special Task Force (STF) of the Odisha Police will soon visit New Delhi to interrogate Habibur Rahman, one of the handlers of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist Shaikh Abdul Naeem alias Nomi, arrested recently. Habibur, alias Habib, is a native of Kendrapara district in Odisha. “An STF team led by DIG Himanshu Lal will leave for New Delhi very soon to interrogate Habibur Rahman with the permission of the National Investigation Team (NIA),” Odisha police’s Crime Branch ADGP S.K. Upadhya told reporters here. The ADGP said the team will interrogate Rahman on his Odisha link and his modus operandi on terror activities in the State. “It will also seek details on how many times he had accompanied the Pakistan-based (LeT) terrorist Shaikh Abdul Naeem to Odisha,” Mr. Upadhya said. Rahman was arrested by the NIA in New Delhi on August 6 after being deported from Saudi Arabia. Naeem has been charge-sheeted along with 10 other co-accused including Rahman. It is alleged that Habibur had arranged hideouts and funds for Naeem on different occasions. Acting Director General of Police and Bhubaneswar-Cuttack Police Commissioner Satyajit Mohanty had on Tuesday said that the Odisha Police was ready to provide all assistance to the NIA in its investigation. Habibur Rahman’s father Mir Aainuddin had on Tuesday said his son should be punished if he is found to be involved in any terror activities.Mr. Aainuddin, a native of Mirmahala hamlet in Tendakuda gram panchayat of Kendrapara district, said the family had not been in touch with Rahman for 12 years as he was disowned for marrying outside his religion.last_img read more

Runners to boost Meghalaya bypoll

first_imgThe runners are back in Meghalaya in strength after more than a century — not to deliver letters like their predecessors, but to relay messages to and from polling booths.Ranikor, in South West Khasi Hills district, is one of two Assembly constituencies where by-elections are scheduled for August 23. The other is South Tura in West Garo Hills district. Ranikor has hilly pockets that have no road or mobile phone connectivity. This prompted the Election Commission to go back to the era when the postal department employed runners to deliver mails. Mail runners became redundant after the advent of the railways in the 19th century, but continued to work in far-flung areas. They were immortalised by Bengali poet Sukanta Bhattacharya in the early 20th century, while Tamil actor-producer Ram Arun Castro played a mail runner in Oattathoodhuvan-1854 (The Mail Runner) in 2015.“The district authorities identified 15 strong young people to transmit the messages, which in turn would be communicated to the returning officer and election officials,” Frederick Roy Kharkongor, Chief Electoral Officer, said.Mr. Kharkongor said there are five polling stations in Ranikor perched on remote hills. One has to walk over 45 km to reach the farthest stations. The poll messengers must walk briskly or run several times in a day. The runners have thus been chosen from among youth who take part in local fitness contests.“Each runner will be paid an honorarium on a par with polling officials. The decision to employ them was taken when ideas were discussed on how best to cover remote centres,” Mr. Kharkongor said.The by-election to Ranikor, with 26,880 voters, was necessitated after Congress’Martin M. Danggo resigned in June.last_img read more

‘Raja Bhaiya’ floats party, says it will fight for “equality” among all castes

first_imgRaghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, a Thakur strongman from Uttar Pradesh, said the new party he was floating would focus its campaign on opposition to what he claimed was the preferential treatment being given to Dalits.Mr. Singh, a former minister in U.P. governments led by both the Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party, put up a show of strength with a rally at the Ramabai Ambedkar Grounds here on Friday. The independent MLA from Kunda in Pratapgarh aims to mobilise the upper castes by tapping anti-Dalit sentiment in a bid to widen his influence in the State.Voicing his opposition to the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which he asserted had been made “more complicated” by successive governments, Mr. Singh said he was only fighting for “equality” among all castes and was against discrimination.Dalits were being “cut-off from the rest of the society” due to the differential standards being adopted in disbursing compensation to victims of heinous crimes.Citing murder as an example, he said, “It’s not that a Dalit [family] feels more pain while a non-Dalit feels less.”PTI adds…The former Uttar Pradesh Minister, who now represents the Kunda Assembly constituency, said the Election Commission of India had been approached for registration of his party. He had said the party’s name will have ‘Jansatta’ (people’s power) as its prefix.At the rally, Mr. Singh said governments over the years have made the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 “complex” despite the Supreme Court on March 20 providing safeguards against arrests under the law.A Bill overturning the court order was unanimously passed by Lok Sabha on August 6, ruling out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SCs and STs.Provisions of now-amended SC/ST Act “draconian”Terming the provisions of the now-amended SC/ST Act “draconian”, he said he was opposed to them. He also opposed reservation in promotion for SC/ST employees which, he said, should be based on “the basis of capability”. “This is our clear stand,” he stated.“In the days to come, I will be labelled anti-Dalit. I want to tell you I am not anti-Dalit, I am only talking about equality. Dalits are my brothers,” he said. “All political parties are indulging in dividing society on caste and religious lines. They give diplomatic answers to crucial issues. We want brotherhood and unity.”Mr. Singh asked why there was different standards for compensation in rape and murder cases. “For the heinous acts, there should be same compensation,” he said.“Going by the fundamental principle of equality, whether it is a heinous crime like rape or murder, Dalits are being treated differently and given compensation by the government while the general public and the upper castes are left out,” he said.Mr. Singh, who has faced 48 cases, has been a Minister in governments headed by Akhilesh Yadav, Kalyan Singh and Rajnath Singh.In November 2002, the Mayawati government slapped charges under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) against him, but in 2003, within minutes of the Mulayam Singh Yadav taking over as the Chief Minister, all charges against him were dropped.last_img read more

Lab incidents lead to safety crackdown at CDC

first_imgThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has closed two labs and halted some biological shipments in the wake of several recent incidents in which highly pathogenic microbes were mishandled by federal laboratories. The cases include an accidental shipment of live anthrax; the discovery of forgotten, live smallpox samples; and a newly revealed incident in which a dangerous influenza strain was accidentally shipped from CDC to another lab.The two cases involving CDC mistakes reveal “totally unacceptable behavior” by staff, said CDC chief Thomas Frieden at a press conference today at CDC headquarters in Atlanta. He announced several actions that CDC is taking to step up safety and security, including a moratorium on shipping highly risky pathogens. “I’m disappointed by what happened and frankly I’m angry about it,” he added.Frieden also revealed that two of six vials of smallpox discovered last week in a cold storage room in a Food and Drug Administration lab at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, have tested positive for live virus when grown in culture. Some smallpox experts had predicted that the 1950s-era samples would no longer be viable. Four samples have yet to be tested; all will then be destroyed, Frieden said.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)CDC’s actions follow an incident last month in which up to 75 CDC workers were potentially exposed to anthrax when samples thought to be dead proved to be live. A CDC internal report released today describes how scientists failed to follow proper procedures to ensure samples were inactivated before they left the lab. The investigation also found “multiple other problems” with operating procedures in the anthrax lab, Frieden said. The report also describes a second incident that occurred 6 weeks ago but came to Frieden’s attention “less than 48 hours ago,” he said. In mid-March, a CDC influenza laboratory sent a shipment of a low-pathogenic strain of H9N2 avian influenza to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) poultry lab. Tests there revealed it was contaminated with the highly virulent H5N1 avian influenza strain, which can infect and sicken humans. Although USDA notified the CDC lab on 23 May, senior leadership at CDC was not informed until 7 July, Frieden said. His concerns are that the lab’s “superb laboratory” could make such a mistake and that higher-ups weren’t notified sooner. “That kind of delay is very troubling,” he said.Meanwhile, FDA and NIH are “scouring” their labs to make sure they have no more forgotten smallpox samples, Frieden said.In response to the incidents, which so far have resulted in no known exposures to workers or the public, CDC has temporarily closed both the anthrax lab and the influenza lab that shipped the H5N1 samples. The agency is also the halting all shipments of pathogens from its highest security laboratories (known as biosafety level 3 and biosafety level 4) until safety procedures have been improved.Frieden has appointed Michael Bell, a CDC deputy director, to oversee all lab safety at CDC and asked him to report on ways to improve procedures in consultation with an internal working group and outside advisers. In addition, personnel who violated protocols or reporting rules will be disciplined, Frieden said.The lapses at the world-renowned infectious disease research agency are sure to raise questions about safety at other labs studying highly pathogenic agents, including university labs that are modifying influenza strains to make them more virulent. Frieden said that “whatever you think about” such so-called gain-of-function studies, “I think it’s clearly the case that these incidents indicate that we need to really ensure that whatever work is done needs to be done safely and securely.”*Update, 13 July, 10:26 a.m.: The item was updated to clarify that H5N1 is an avian virus and to correct a typographic error.last_img read more

Why your gym clothes stink

first_imgYou’re not imagining that your synthetic gym shorts emit an unholy reek after a hard workout. The stench is real, and there’s a reason for it, a new study in Applied and Environmental Microbiology shows. Scientists asked volunteers to sniff both cotton and polyester T-shirts that healthy people had worn in an intense, hourlong spin class, but not until the sweaty shirts had “incubated” for 28 hours. (Letting the shirts stew gave bacteria time to break the fatty acids found in sweat down to the smaller, airborne molecules that make us stink.) After determining that the polyester shirts did, indeed, smell worse than the cotton ones, the researchers took a microscopic look at the fabric to determine why. They found that the bacteria micrococci—the main culprit in turning sweat rank—grows much better on polyester than on cotton, likely because moisture is not absorbed, but rather stored, between synthetic fibers. The team is now trying to determine precisely why polyester is such a refuge for micrococci. In the meantime, they recommend that gymgoers worried about their offensive BO switch to cotton.last_img read more

ANALYSIS: Everyone is well-behaved at DOE ‘family’ picnic

first_imgWASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) 17 national laboratories can be a rambunctious and fractious lot, often feuding over funding, prestige, and greater independence from their parent bureaucracy. But earlier this week, in a U.S. Senate committee room here, the labs were on their best behavior, presenting themselves as a well-functioning—if not necessarily happy—family.The occasion was the first-ever National Lab Day, a brainchild of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz designed to show off how the labs contribute to U.S. science and security. The main target audience: members of Congress who, to put it bluntly, provide most of the money to run the multibillion-dollar research network. And although it wasn’t mentioned directly, the 16 September Lab Day also occurred as the labs are facing renewed scrutiny over their efficiency and purpose.The labs “provide essential capabilities for university and industrial researchers” and have made important contributions to America’s economic and military might, Moniz reminded a room packed with science policy heavyweights, including 15 lab directors, National Cancer Institute chief Harold Varmus, former White House science adviser Neal Lane, and lawmakers and staffers who serve on key committees overseeing federal research agencies. “[They] continue to advance science, clean energy, and nuclear security in this country, as they have for decades.”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(*)Two U.S. senators in attendance—Dick Durbin (D–IL), whose state is home to the Fermilab and Argonne labs, and Jim Risch (R–ID), whose state hosts the Idaho National Laboratory—echoed Moniz’s praise. The legislators also announced (here and here) that they were forming a Senate National Laboratory Caucus, which aims to bolster support for the system among their colleagues—and demonstrate the value of the labs even to the dozens of states that don’t have one. (The House of Representatives already has a similar caucus.) Lawmakers sometimes don’t realize, Durbin said, that the labs are “one of the most valuable pieces of the American innovation system.”That theme was echoed during a brief panel discussion that Moniz moderated. Varmus noted how the labs make little-recognized contributions to biomedical research. Norman Augustine, the former CEO of defense giant Lockheed Martin and a member of numerous panels that advise the labs and review their programs, offered a heartfelt and data-sprinkled case for the role they play in conducting long-term research that most companies can’t: “The marketplace won’t allow it.” Two industry representatives, from a maker of vehicle engines and a think tank that serves the electric power industry, discussed how lab collaborations have helped improve vehicle fuel efficiency, reduce pollution, and strengthen the power grid.The VIPs then circulated around a room packed with more than a dozen display tables and glimmering video screens that documented an array of lab accomplishments, including virtual nuclear reactors that enable utilities to improve performance, imaging technologies that are revamping cancer studies, and simulations of supercomputer capabilities. There was even a giant jar of mostly black jellybeans, demonstrating how lab researchers have helped study the invisible dark matter and dark energy that make up most of the universe.Notably absent from the displays, however, were eye-catching signs emphasizing the names of the labs; instead, the institutional identities were more demurely displayed. The message, one lab staffer privately remarked, was “we are family.” (All that was missing was a recording of the 1979 Sister Sledge pop hit, famously used as a theme song that year by the Major League Baseball champion Pittsburgh Pirates.)Then there was the invisible elephant in the room. Over the past few years, the perennial issue of how to make the lab system work better has been revived, providing fodder for Washington think tanks, lawmakers, and others. Common themes include concerns about suffocating bureaucracy, unnecessary duplication of effort, management problems that have contributed to massive cost overruns in some projects, and a perceived failure to maximize commercialization of lab discoveries and technologies. In response, Congress and DOE have established several committees to examine the system and recommend improvements. (Augustine is serving on one of the panels.)Although Moniz referred only vaguely to those potentially sensitive discussions in his public remarks, he readily acknowledged the problem during an impromptu session afterward with reporters. “We all know that there is criticism,” he said, including that there are too many labs and that their programs overlap. But he’s not seriously considering consolidation, he said, suggesting a closer look would show that lab programs are often “complementary, not overlapping.” The bigger problem, he said, is that “very few people have a picture of what this lab system does. … I guess we have just not done a good enough job of [explaining] it yet.”Moniz also said he’s “not exactly waiting for all these reports” to make changes in how DOE and the labs operate. Since coming on the job last year, he says he’s tried to give the labs a greater voice in developing projects that unite related efforts across the department and various laboratories under a single umbrella. One example, he said, is an effort included in the 2015 budget request now before Congress to consolidate an array of projects that involve underground science, including efforts to understand subsurface pollutants and the subterranean storage of carbon dioxide. The idea, he emphasized, is to break a pattern of DOE “going to the labs and saying, ‘Here’s a project—do it!’ ” And he promised “there will be more in the next [budget request].”Moniz also expressed hope that the Senate will soon confirm more than a half-dozen nominees for key DOE posts, including physicist Marc Kastner to the head of the Office of Science. Some of the nominees have been stuck in limbo for more than 8 months. “I am optimistic,” he said, “that this calendar year we will see some action.”last_img read more

Does Mimas have an ocean under an icy cap?

first_imgYou’ll forgive Mimas, one of Saturn’s smaller ice moons, for seeming a little dull. It doesn’t have the obvious enticements of its siblings, such as Enceladus, with its water-spewing fissures, or Titan, with its thick methane atmosphere. Studies of Mimas, thought to be geologically dead, have been few and far between. “We thought it was the most boring satellite,” says Radwan Tajeddine, a planetary scientist at Cornell University.But the moon may hold a special secret of its own. A stronger than expected rotational wobble points to one of two intriguing scenarios: Mimas either has an irregularly shaped core or has an ocean buried underneath its icy surface. “Something else has to be going on inside,” says Tajeddine, who publishes a study with his colleagues online today in Science. Other scientists say it’s unlikely Mimas has such an interesting interior and think the wobble can be explained more simply.Tajeddine and his team relied on pictures taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which has been exploring the Saturn system since 2004. They built a 3D model of the moon and found that it rotates with an extra wobble, like a misshapen top spinning slightly askew. Because Mimas is nearly spherical, the wobble hinted that something lumpy, or perhaps sloshy, lay beneath the surface. The scientists tested several models of the moon’s interior to see what might give rise to the observed wobble.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 the end, just two scenarios could reproduce it. In one, a spherical shell of ice wraps around an irregular rocky core shaped like a rugby ball. If this scenario holds, Tajeddine says, the “fossilized” core could hold clues to Mimas’s formation. He says the core could have acquired an irregular shape by forming first, much closer to Saturn, where the planet’s strong tides could have stretched it. Then, the core could have migrated outward and accumulated ice, which, being more deformable, would settle into a sphere. But there still should have been a small sign of the irregular core protruding at the surface, like an elbow poking up against a sleeve, and the researchers found none.That led them to favor the other scenario: an ocean underneath an ice cap 24 to 31 kilometers thick. If it is true, Mimas would join Enceladus, Titan, and Jupiter’s moons Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto as solar system moons suspected to harbor an ocean. One problem is that Mimas’s ancient, heavily cratered surface shows no signs that water has ever touched it—unlike, say, the freshly Zamboni-ed ice skating rink of Europa. Mimas is also too small to have enough heat-producing radioactive elements in a rocky core to maintain a liquid ocean. But Tajeddine says the gravitational tug of Saturn on Mimas’s eccentric orbit could produce enough tidal heating to maintain a liquid interior.But not for very long, says William McKinnon, a planetary scientist at Washington University in St. Louis. If such an ocean were buried there, its tides would iron out Mimas’s orbital eccentricity within a few million years—eliminating the very thing that can keep the ocean liquid. That means that Cassini would have to be catching Mimas at an incredibly coincidental moment in its history, just after something put the moon into an eccentric orbit that in turn heated up and created the ocean. “I find it quite implausible,” McKinnon says. He says the rugby ball–shaped core scenario is more compelling, though that same result could be achieved with irregular gradations in the density of rock, ice, and pore space. He also suggests a scenario that the researchers did not consider, one in which the detected wobble could have been knocked into existence by something that has nothing to do with the moon’s interior: a comet impact.Cassini made its closest pass to Mimas in 2010, when it flew within 10,000 kilometers of the moon. As part of its extended mission, the spacecraft in 2016 will fly within about 27,000 kilometers of the moon, the closest of a handful of encounters in 2016 and 2017 that could allow Tajeddine to refine his measurements of the wobble. However, these passes will not be close enough for the spacecraft to look for tiny variations in the moon’s gravity field or surface temperature—two methods that would help reveal what really lies within.last_img read more

Algal virus found in humans, slows brain activity

first_imgIt’s not such a stretch to think that humans can catch the Ebola virus from monkeys and the flu virus from pigs. After all, they are all mammals with fundamentally similar physiologies. But now researchers have discovered that even a virus found in the lowly algae can make mammals its home. The invader doesn’t make people or mice sick, but it does seem to slow specific brain activities.The virus, called ATCV-1, showed up in human brain tissue several years ago, but at the time researchers could not be sure whether it had entered the tissue before or after the people died. Then, it showed up again in a survey of microbes and viruses in the throats of people with psychiatric disease. Pediatric infectious disease expert Robert Yolken from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, and his colleagues were trying to see if pathogens play a role in these conditions. At first, they didn’t know what ATCV-1 was, but a database search revealed its identity as a virus that typically infects a species of green algae found in lakes and rivers.The researchers wanted to find out if the virus was in healthy people as well as sick people. They checked for it in 92 healthy people participating in a study of cognitive function and found it in 43% of them. What’s more, those infected with the virus performed 10% worse than uninfected people on tests requiring visual processing. They were slower in drawing a line connecting a sequence of numbers randomly placed on a page, for example. And they seemed to have shorter attention spans, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The effects were modest, but significant.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 slower brain function was not associated with any differences in sex, income or education level, race, place of birth, or cigarette smoking. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the virus causes cognitive decline; it might just benefit from some other factor that impairs the brain in some people, such as other infectious agents, heavy metals, or pollutants, the researchers say.To test for causality, the team injected uninfected and infected green algae into the mouths of mice. (They could tell that the mice became infected with the virus because they developed antibodies to it.) Infected and uninfected mice underwent a battery of tests. The two groups were about on par with how well they moved, but infected animals took 10% longer to find their way out of mazes and spent 20% less time exploring new objects—indications that they had poorer attention spans and were not as good at remembering their surroundings.The researchers also studied gene activity in the animals’ hippocampus, a part of the brain important for memory and understanding one’s whereabouts. They found changes in the activity of almost 1300 genes in the infected animals. Some of those genes affect how the brain reacts to a key chemical messenger called dopamine, and others are important in immune function. Yolken has not yet found the virus in the brain but suspects it may affect the brain through its influence on the immune system, stimulating certain immune responses that might in turn affect gene expression in the brain.The researchers and others have found this virus in samples around the world but have yet to test whether it’s present in people outside of Baltimore, where the study was done. And a few people carry antibodies to the virus, Yolken says. But he says they are still not 100% certain if and how the virus infects people.The cognitive effects were small, notes Joram Feldon, a neuroscientist emeritus at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich who was not involved with the work. He praises the finding for being innovative, but says “if you ask me if I am worried about the existence of this virus, I am not.”Allan Kalueff, the director of the ZENEREI Institute in Slidell, Louisiana, who was not involved with the work, suspects that other viruses may affect human sensory processing and behavior. He says he wonders whether these results indicate that there may be health risks to workers in the seafood industry or who work around water where they may be exposed to this algal virus. “But we clearly need more studies, including both animal and plant/algal studies.”last_img read more

NIH scientists lead presidential show-and-tell

first_imgBETHESDA, MARYLAND—Anthony Fauci remembers the last time he played tour guide to the president. In 2009, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) walked the newly inaugurated Barack Obama around the campus here, in what he calls a “getting-to-know-you-type visit.” Yesterday, Fauci hosted a second tour by Obama, but, against the backdrop of the global Ebola crisis; “this one has a specific purpose,” he says.Obama’s purpose was equal parts celebration and exhortation. In remarks at the NIH Clinical Center, he congratulated NIH teams that have conducted basic research on the virus; cared for the Dallas, Texas, nurse Nina Pham when she was diagnosed in October; and worked on the vaccine candidate jointly developed with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), for which initial safety results were published last week in The New England Journal of Medicine. He touted a new White House announcement about improvements in U.S. Ebola preparedness. And he won laughs from the audience of scientists by tiptoeing through a jargon-filled sentence describing their work. (When he reached the phrase “multiparameter flow cytometer,” the crowd burst into applause.)But the visit also comes as the White House awaits action from Congress on a nearly $6.2 billion emergency appropriations request to continue fighting the virus in West Africa and to move candidate vaccines through clinical trials. The request, made on 12 November, allots $238 million to NIH. Fauci says $56 million of the total would go toward a larger efficacy trial in Liberia, which would include both the NIAID/GSK vaccine and another made by NewLink Genetics of Ames, Iowa (pending more data from ongoing safety trials).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(*)Obama acknowledged that amid news of progress against the outbreak in Liberia, U.S. media attention to the crises has waned. “That’s sort of how our attention spans work sometimes. Ebola’s not leading the news right now,” he said. He urged Congress to approve the emergency request before leaving for the holidays, noting that his conversations with lawmakers have been encouraging. But as Congress struggles to reach a compromise on federal spending before adjourning later this month, it’s uncertain whether the Ebola request will be approved in its entirety.After the speech, Clifford Lane, NIAID’s deputy clinical director responsible for the framework of the anticipated study, told ScienceInsider that the final emergency funding level will determine “how many things we might have to compromise” to conduct the new trial. He says he’s hopeful that the study will begin in January.As the president made his way through the labs in the NIAID Vaccine Research Center, Nancy Sullivan, who heads the center’s biodefense research section, offered to show him the original lab book from her 1999 experiments involving Ebola. The results, published the following year in Nature, were the first step in what would become the NIAID/GSK vaccine. The president was transfixed by the notebook, Fauci says. He brought it up in his speech that afternoon, as evidence of the many years of quiet, incremental research now culminating—under a global spotlight—in a potential vaccine. “When she first had some breakthroughs in understanding the Ebola virus, nobody really gave a hoot,” Obama said. “Until you do.”*The Ebola Files: Given the current Ebola outbreak, unprecedented in terms of number of people killed and rapid geographic spread, Science and Science Translational Medicinehave made a collection of research and news articles on the viral disease freely available to researchers and the general public.last_img read more

Why some ants have bigger brains

first_imgAnimals that live in larger societies tend to have larger brains. But why? Is it because a larger group size requires members to divide up the labor on tasks, thus causing some individuals to develop specialized brains and neural anatomy? (Compared with most humans, for instance, taxicab drivers have brains that have larger areas that are involved with spatial memory.) Or is it because the challenges of group living—needing to know all the foibles of your neighbors—cause the brains of all members to grow larger? Scientists tested the two hypotheses with wild colonies of acacia ants (Pseudomyrmex spinicola), which make their nests in the hollow spines of acacia trees in Panama. Ant workers at the base of the tree wait to attack intruders, while workers foraging on the leaves (as in the photo above), aren’t as aggressive but are faster at managing the colony’s brood. This division of labor is most marked in larger colonies (those found on larger trees), while workers in smaller colonies do both jobs. The scientists studied 17 colonies of ants and measured the brain volumes of 29 of the leaf ants and 34 of the trunk ants. As the colony size increased, the leaf ants showed a marked increase in the regions of the brain concerned with learning and memory, the scientists report today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. But the same neural areas decreased in the trunk ants. Thus, larger societies’ need for specialized workers, some strictly for defense, others for foraging and brood tending—rather than for social masters—seems to be the key to the expanding brain, at least in ants.last_img read more

Indian Man, Shot Dead In US, Was Planning Trip Home For Mother’s Birthday

first_imgA 61-year old from Telangana was shot to death outside his apartment in the United States, days before his trip to India, his family said.Sunil Edla had planned a two-month trip to India to visit his mother for her 95th birthday and celebrate Christmas with family back home in Medak district of Telangana. “Everyone was calling him and talking to him because he was leaving for India so soon,” his cousin Raj Casula said.Read it at NDTV Related Itemslast_img

A Latte To Think About

first_imgThese days, I have a latte to think about. Have you seen the prices of essential commodities lately? Everything seems to be frothing over. I first noticed that something was amiss during a visit to my favorite coffee shop a few months ago. I ordered my favorite skinny mocha latte from a skinnier 20-something blonde barista, and handed over $4.“Keep the change,” I said grandly, only to receive a dirty look from the woman.“What change?” she demanded.I looked at the price listings, and sure enough, every item had gone up a quarter in price. Now, if it had been anything else, I might have made the ultimate sacrifice, but this was coffee we are talking about. I grew up loving coffee in South India. In fact, the first thing I learnt to make in a kitchen (other than a mess), was a mean cup of good old-fashioned filter coffee. When I first came to the United States in 1991, specialty coffees hadn’t come to the tiny university town in Montana where I landed. I taught myself to drink the watery black brew with creamer that passed for coffee, until the good folks at Starbucks set up shop, two years later, and became the center of my universe. I gladly bared my slim wallet to them, and in return, they gave me back the sucking instinct I had lost at age 5, when I was weaned off my thumb. The addiction has become so strong now that you can separate a hungry hand-fed tiger cub from its milk bottle more easily than pry my 16-oz. hot coffee from my hands. Until now, the only problem my habit caused me was heart burn. Was it about to impoverish me as well?With a white face, and mocha latte in hand, I went about my errand … which was to fill up the car’s gas tank. Of course, I got clobbered there too. I returned home in tears, and blubbered to my husband that I had spent $50 on just coffee and gas.“How are we going to manage?” I whined. “My favorite coffee now costs $4 and I feel so guilty about buying it. It is almost the same price as a gallon of gas.”My husband was his usual helpful troubleshooter. “Well, what do you know, the car has a ‘habit’ too!” he riposted. “Never mind, just imagine that the car is a gas-guzzling Hummer, instead of a small fuel-efficient Toyota Corolla, and transfer the coffee spending into the gas portion of the budget. No more guilt, problem solved,” he said.I remember when my parents used to discuss financial matters. My mother would mention a problem; my father would say “We’ll see,” and things would work out. They never fought over money matters. At least, as far as I know. In 1983, on the verge of his retirement, my father was making Rs. 5,000 after deductions, at his job as a high school headmaster. On the first of the month, he would bring the cash home in an envelope and hand it to my mother. She would put it in the right-side locker of our steel Godrej (the left-side locker was for important documents and bank passbooks with handwritten entries; remember those?) Once, I was given the honor of putting the envelope away. I still remember the thrill of feeling the thick envelope (the amount was in Rs. 100 notes). Sometimes, I wish we didn’t have the direct deposit option of payment. The feel of real money gives a satisfaction that is hardly engendered by a pay statement.Using real money has other points in its favor too, since the use of debit and credit cards and even checks to pay our way through the month can be hazardous at times. During my student days, there were occasions when checks ricocheted off the walls of hollow bank accounts. I don’t think my parents ever wrote a rubbery check; for one thing they were very frugal, and nobody used a check for small amounts in India those days. On the 2nd or 3rd day of every month, my mother would take out some money from the pay packet and head to the Chintamani supermarket (in North Coimbatore) to buy the month’s grocery, bringing it home in heavy tote bags. These days, I do my shopping with my debit and credit cards, trusting divine Providence and my husband’s money skills to keep the tap flowing as virtual money changes hands through virtual channels in today’s inflationary times, with virtually abysmal buying power. If only we could get away with doing virtual work! To my mind, the one big casualty of the credit card era is the word “afford.” In the old days, if you didn’t have the money, you went without, or saved until you could pay for something. But with the advent of credit, anyone can afford anything, provided he lives long enough to finish paying for it. Buying only what you could pay for at the time of purchase, the old way of doing things, seems so archaic.However, the stark reality of having to put the house-key in the mailbox and walking away from a beloved home or seeing a foreclosure sign up on the familiar front door has brought word affordability back in fashion. With food and gas prices going up, equity flying out the window and no one willing to lend money, people are being forced to cut back. Maybe we should eat out less, they are thinking, maybe we should just avoid the mall and go for a walk, this weekend. Maybe we shouldn’t treat shopping as a form of entertainment.I know you’re probably wondering if the price of gas will ever return to last year’s levels. But me, I’m more worried about my specialty coffee. Will my favorite coffee shop ever bring its prices down … or is it a tad too latte for that?   Related Itemslast_img read more

Couple Caught with 100 kg Cocaine at U.S.-Canada Border

first_imgAn Indian American couple was apprehended with 100 kg cocaine in their semi-truck and trailer at the Canada-U.S. border. The arrest led to the haul of one of the biggest cocaine seizures in Alberta, authorities announced on Dec. 8.The couple, Gurminder Singh Toor, 31, and Kirandeep Kaur Toor, 26, both from California, were charged with importing a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking. In total, they were charged on four counts each under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. They crossed from the Coutts-Sweet Grass border. They made their first court appearance on Dec. 5.The truck was stopped by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on Dec. 2 for checking at the border. A total of 84 bricks of cocaine were found in the vehicle.“There were two people in the truck, which was hauling a load of produce from California to a business here in Alberta,” spokesperson Guy Rook said. “While searching the cab of the vehicle, officers opened a microwave and found eight bricks of a suspected narcotic.“A drawer beneath the microwave and an area behind the microwave revealed another 14 bricks of suspected narcotics. Continuing their examination, officers uncovered 18 bricks wedged between the end of the bed and the wall of the truck. When they lifted the top bunk mattress, they found another 44 bricks.Kim R. Scoville, Regional Director General, Prairie Region, CBSA, said in a statement: “Had this quantity of illicit narcotics made its way into our communities undetected, the impact could have been devastating. The CBSA is truly Canada’s first line of defense, and this record seizure is a prime example of how frontline officers are actively protecting Canadians every day.”The cocaine would have been enough for more than 100,000 hits and could be worth anywhere between $6.7 and $8.4 million or more, depending on how it’s mixed, cut and sold, according to RCMP officials. Related ItemsCanadaSmugglingUnited Stateslast_img read more

BJP blames AJSU Party for failing to reach pact

first_imgThe BJP on Monday held its NDA ally AJSU Party responsible for not being able to reach a seat-sharing arrangement between the two parties for the Jharkhand Assembly polls. Except for two-three seats, the AJSU Party cannot make any dent into the BJP’s poll prospects in the elections, BJP State unit president Laxman Gilua claimed. “The BJP had given eight seats to the AJSU Party in 2014 Assembly polls. This time, the party was ready to consider 13 to 14 seats. But AJSU president Sudesh Mahto was rigid on his claim of 18 to 22 seats,” Mr. Gilua said.Mr. Mahto had earlier said his party had given a list of 17 candiates for consideration by the BJP. “The BJP is a national party and should be respected as such. They should have agreed on seats proportionately,” he said referring to the regional status the AJSU Party has.BJP names 73 candidates So far the BJP has announced names of 73 contestants for the five-phase Jharkhand Assembly elections to be held between November 30 and December 23. On the other hand, the AJSU Party has released lists of 27 candidates so far for the 81-member House. Till now, the two NDA partners will come face to face in 19 constituencies. However, none of them has officially admitted that they have parted ways, leaving the scope open for a post-poll alliance.last_img read more

Centre nudging Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh on Ken-Betwa river interlinking project

first_imgThe government has said it is pushing Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to make progress on the Ken-Betwa river interlinking project, according to a response to a question in the Rajya Sabha last week.The project involves transferring surplus water from the Ken river in Madhya Pradesh to the Betwa river in Uttar Pradesh and irrigate 3.64 lakh hectares in the Bundelkhand region of both States. The ₹18,000-crore project has been mired in several hurdles. The most recent one is a disagreement between the States on the share of water.‘Consultative manner’“The government is pursuing the interlinking programme in a consultative manner. Vigorous efforts have been made by the Central government for generating consensus between the concerned States,” Minister of State, Jal Shakti, Rattan Lal Kataria, said in a written response to a query in the Rajya Sabha.A senior official in the Jal Shakti Ministry told The Hindu, on condition of anonymity, that the project was “still on” but posed environmental challenges. “Other than differences between the States, there are outstanding environmental obstructions too. It is not an easy road ahead.”The project involves building a 77-metre tall and a 2-km wide Dhaudhan dam and a 230-km canal. Originally, this phase envisaged irrigating 6,35,661 hectares annually (3,69,881 ha in M.P. and 2,65,780 ha in U.P.). In addition, the project was to provide 49 million cubic metres (MCM) for drinking water supply en route.‘No longer valid’While there’s a 2005 agreement between the two States on how water would be shared, Madhya Pradesh says these assumptions are no longer valid and the only way to meet the increased water requirements would be to include local management projects — the Kotha barrage, Lower Orr and Bina complex that were envisaged in the second phase of the project — in the first phase.“Some technical issues are involved in signing the MoU [between the States],” the Parliament reply notes.The project was also controversial as it threatened to partly submerge the Panna Tiger Reserve and affect the habitat of vultures and jackals. It had been cleared by the apex wildlife-regulator, The National Board for Wildlife, in 2016.last_img read more