Goa Congress legislators stage walkout

first_imgPanaji: The Congress legislators staged a walkout on the second day of the Assembly’s Budget Session on Thursday, condemning Governor Mridula Sinha’s decision to not invite the party to form a government, even after it had emerged as the single largest party in the recent elections.All 16 MLAs of the Congress were wearing black armbands as a mark of protest. When the Governor began her customary address to the members of the Assembly, Congress Legislative Party leader Babu Kavlekar stood up and said Ms. Sinha’s decision to invite the BJP to form a government, despite the party coming second in the elections with 13 MLAs in the 40-member House, was against the spirit of the constitution, and also a condemnable act. Some of the Congress’s MLAs backed Mr. Kavlekar and staged a walkout.However, the Nationalist Congress Party MLA Churchill Alemao remained seated during the walkout. Mr. Alemaon has been served a show-cause notice by his party for backing the BJP-led coalition government in the confidence motion in the House last week.In her address, the governor said that her government was committed to eliminating open defacation in Goa by October 2, 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.Mopa airportMs. Sinha said the Greenfield international airport project at Mopa, North Goa, will have a potential of 28 million passengers per annum. She said the government will also ensure that the Dabolim airport remain functional for civilians.last_img read more

Army officer, three militants killed in Nagaland encounter

first_imgA Territorial Army officer was killed and three soldiers were injured during operations against a group of militants belonging to the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) in Nagaland on Wednesday.Three militants were killed in the operations and one civilian, an auto driver, was killed in the crossfire.Major David Manlum with the Naga battalion of the Territorial Army (TA) was killed while leading the operations in Lapa Lempong and Oting village near Mon.Major Manlum is from Assam and belongs to a family of Armymen.His father is a retired subedar and his brother is currently serving.Joint operationArmy sources said the joint operation, by 164 TA and 12 Para Special Forces of the Army, was launched following specific information on the militants’ movement on Tuesday night and the encounter began soon after.The casualty occurred when the militants lobbed a grenade, officials said. The three injured soldiers of 12 Para were evacuated to the military hospital in Jorhat and are reportedly stable.Security forces have recovered one AK-6, two AK guns of Chinese make, two grenades, three Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and medicines from the area. Sanitisation operations are still under way.last_img read more

‘Forbidden love’ that snatched away two young lives in Bihar’s West Champaran

first_img On Tuesday morning, soon after sunrise, Mr. Sah, along with other family members, reached the spot in the neighbouring village of Balua Malahi Tola once again. “But there was nothing. The bodies were gone,” he said. “We searched the whole day but we did not get any clue. We then informed the Nautan Police Station and lodged a complaint at 9 p.m.”Police Inspector (PI) Kundan Kumar Singh swung into action and, working on some “initial leads”, he recovered the bodies of both the teenagers from two different places. “The boy’s mutilated body was recovered from a punj (a makeshift tomb-like structure to hoard ripened paddy) at a sareh (an empty place), while the girl’s body with grievous injuries was dumped in a gorge on the banks of Chandravat river and covered with salt and mud,” said the police official. The post-mortem report is yet to arrive, five days after the incident.“Before dawn on Wednesday, Isent the three accused persons — the girl’s brother and two uncles — to jail,” said Mr. Singh. “Otherwise, it could have flared up into communal violence.” The 4,000-strong minority community population in the Balua Malahi Tola village of Noor Jehan Khatun has 1,800 voters.Was this a case of honour killing? “During the investigation, it came to light that the boy andgirl, both from different communities, had fallen in love while studying in nearby local schools. The boy’s father said in his complaint that the two had known each other for four or five months,” said Mr. Singh.Mr. Sah, a trader in fertilizer and seeds in the village, has named four persons as accused in the case: Allauddin Ansari (24), the girl’s elder brother; her two uncles Gulsanovar (55) and Ansari Miyan (58); and elder sister Shabnam Khatun (26). “All three male accused were arrested and sent to jail. Shabnam Khatun is absconding,” said the PI.“Allauddin Ansari is a toughie who flaunts his proximity to local political leaders. He does odd jobs, but has no criminal record,” he added.About half-a-kilometre from the police station is Noor Jehan Khatun’s mud-and-thatch-roof house. There was no one inside, but for her sexagenarian aunt Sabbujanah Khatun, feeding a cow and five goats in the foreyard. “Noor Jehan died after consuming poison,” she said, without looking up. Sabbujahan Khatun, aunt of Noor Jehan, outside her house. | Photo Credit: Ranjeet Kumar center_img There have been other stories of forbidden love in Bihar, and in the case of Mukesh Kumar and Noor Jehan Khatun, both teenage Class IX students, it led to dishonour and death in the State’s West Champaran district, from where Mahatma Gandhi launched his Satyagraha movement in 1917.Sources say they fell in love some four or five months ago, the girl’s family took umbrage about 15 days ago, and late on the night of November 27, the couplewas allegedly killed by them.Ravikant Sah alias Faresh Sah, 36, and his wife Geeta Devi, 32, were woken up after midnight on Monday by the beeps onMr. Sah’s mobile phone. It was 2.25 am.“Your son’s body is lying in the sugarcane field at Belimai place,” said the caller and abruptly cut the line, recalled Mr. Sah, and he performed the last rites for his son at the backyard of his home in the Banhora village on Friday. He had immediately rushed to his son’s room to check if he was in. Mukesh Kumar was not in his bed.Moments later, Ravikant Sah, along with his brother Ashok, raced on their motorcycle to the spot, reaching in just five minutes. “From a distance, we saw a mutilated body in the field, surrounded by six-seven people. A girl, gasping for breath, was lying nearby. We could not muster the courage to reach the place and returned to wait for the morning to break,” Mr. Sah told The Hindu, wiping tears.last_img read more

Two die in U.P. after police refuse help

first_imgIn a shocking incident, Uttar Pradesh police personnel in Saharanpur reportedly refused to help two accident victims on Friday. The victims later died.The policemen were allegedly unwilling to take the youngsters to hospital, saying it would “dirty their vehicle.” The local people managed to take the boys to a hospital where they died due to excessive bleeding and head injuries.The entire incident was captured on video by the locals. The video went viral in western U.P., leading Superintendent of Police Prabal Pratap Singh to suspend the three policemen deployed with the 100 helpline.Road accidentArpit Khurana and Sunny, residents of Saharanpur, were proceeding on their motorbike late on Thursday night when they hit a pole on the road and fell into a drain. People in the neighbourhood took them out and called the 100 helpline.Two policemen arrived eventually, but refused outright to take the victims to the hospital and asked the people who had gathered to take them in an autorickshaw.In the video, one person is seen lifting one of the accident victims and pleading with the policemen to open the door of the police vehicle. But the policemen are heard saying, “If we take these two in the car, how will we sit in the dirty vehicle all night? Take them in an auto. We cannot take them.”Three policemen deployed with the 100 helpline, head constable Indrapal Singh, constable Pankaj Kumar and constable Manoj Kumar, have been suspended.last_img read more

Yerawada Deputy IG in the eye of a storm

first_imgSwati Sathe, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Prisons), is at the centre of a controversy over allegedly facilitating a meeting between an unknown person and Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote inside Yerawada Jail.Mr. Ekbote is a prime accused in the Bhima-Koregaon riots of January 1.The complaint against Ms. Sathe has been made by Hiralal Jadhav, former superintendent of Thane Central Prison who was suspended following allegations of sexual harassment by a woman constable. Mr. Ekbote was arrested by a Pune Rural Police team on March 14 after the Supreme Court cancelled his interim bail relief.Mr. Jadhav has claimed that Ms. Sathe accompanied an unknown person in her vehicle to meet the Hindutva leader sometime between March 24 and 25. He said he had obtained this information through his ‘sources’ at Yerawada Jail.Copies of the complaint have been sent to the office of the Inspector General (Prisons), the Prime Minister’s Office and the President of India, seeking an inquiry into the matter.“There was no entry in the register about this person. Ms. Sathe has clearly exploited her position to facilitate this illicit rendezvous,” said Mr. Jadhav.Rejecting the charges, Ms. Sathe said she had not received any intimation of a complaint on behalf of Mr. Jadhav, neither had any higher authority asked her for an explanation.However, a number of social outfits have sought an investigation against Ms. Sathe. Anjum Inamdar, an activist with the Moolnivas Muslim Manch, said: “The Bhima-Koregaon riot is an extremely sensitive matter. We demand that the CCTV footage from Yerawada prison be immediately examined and the identity of this person be disclosed. If this incident is true, then it is regrettable that an IPS officer like Ms. Sathe is part of it and action must be taken against her.” His organisation is planning a protest in front of the Yerwada Jail on Saturday.Santosh Shinde of Sambhaji Brigade said, “He [Ekbote] was clearly being visited by someone connected with the riots with the intent to probably help obliterate his crime. Sathe’s actions in allowing this visitor to meet Ekbote without any record of the meeting are highly condemnable.” Mr. Shinde said CCTV footage should be examined to identify the mystery visitor.last_img read more

Hailstorm hits Himachal; yatras affected

first_imgIncessant snowfall since Monday night in Uttarakhand’s Kedarnath and Badrinath, coupled with rains and landslide in Lambagad disrupted pilgrimage to the Himalayan shrines for hours on Tuesday, with the authorities preventing devotees from moving beyond Linchauli and Bhimbali.However, as the weather cleared up towards the evening, the trek route to Kedarnath was opened for the devotees, Rudraprayag District Magistrate Mangesh Ghildiyal said.Over 4,000 pilgrims safely returned to Gaurikund by the trek route after paying obeisance at Kedarnath despite bad weather, he said, adding that over 400 pilgrims are still stranded at the shrine.A very heavy hailstorm hit parts of Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday leading to a sharp decline in day temperatures.The storm led to a huge traffic jam in the capital town and suburbs.(With PTI inputs)last_img read more

‘Gaj Yatra’ honours Meghalaya’s elephant corridor effort

first_imgIn 2014, villagers in Meghalaya’s Garo Hills set aside a part of their community-owned land to create village reserve forests, giving right of passage to elephants.In acknowledgement of that gesture, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) on Monday rolled out the ‘Gaj Yatra’ from Tura, the principal town of Garo Hills.People’s initiative’Gaj Yatra’, a “journey celebrating India’s national heritage animal”, aims at securing 100 elephant corridors across India. Four of these are in Meghalaya, including the Siju-Rewak corridor that some 1,000 elephants use to travel between the Balpakram and Nokrek National Parks in the State.“The campaign has aptly been launched in the Garo Hills, where the people have created community forests for human-elephant harmony and conservation of animals such as hoolock gibbon,” Vivek Menon, executive director of WTI, said after the four-day campaign was flagged off.The event involves taking an elephant mascot across districts frequented by jumbo herds for generating awareness among the people.Meghalaya Home Minister James K. Sangma said the ‘Gaj Yatra’ could go a long way in providing space for elephants to move. “There have been 14,700 cases of man-animal conflicts that may have occurred due to space constraint and less food available,” he said.He underlined the role of Nokmas, traditional custodians of the land, in supporting the move towards co-existence between man and animal and helping conservationists for the success of the initiative. Expansion of human settlements have resulted in fragmented elephant habitats in the Garo Hills, leading to conflicts.last_img read more

Accused priest in Mangueshi temple molestation cases absconding, say Goa Police

first_imgThe Ponda police are on the lookout for Dhananjay Bhave, the accused booked in Mangueshi temple molestation cases of two girls after Additional District and Sessions Court in Ponda on Saturday rejected two anticipatory bail applications filed by the priest.He was booked for allegedly molesting two women inside the temple in June this year.A senior police official in South Goa District headquarters told The Hindu on request of anonymity that the accused Dhananjay Bhave could not be traced, after the court in Ponda, located in South Goa district, cancelled both his applications for anticipatory bail. “He is absconding.”“We are on the lookout for him,” another senior official in Ponda police station told The Hindu later in the afternoon, adding that they will began procedure in this regard to track him down.Last month, Bhave was booked in two separate cases under section 354 (outraging modesty) of the Indian Penal Code, after two victims, including a Goan-origin student studying medicine in the U.S. and another Mumbai-based Goan girl, complained to the police separately that the priest had allegedly molested them by hugging and kissing them near the sanctum sanctorum of the Mangueshi temple, while they were on a temple visist and while their parents were busy with prayers in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.Before approaching the police, the complainants had approached the Shree Manguesh Devasthan Committee, which had said that it could not find any dependable evidence to establish a prima facie case against Bhave and had advised the victims and their parents to approach “appropriate authority” with their complaints.The priest stands suspended from temples services following FIRs registered against him by police. An application against rejection of both bail applications of Bhave, will be filed in Bombay High Court at Goa, lawyer of the accused, Shashikant Joshi said. He was waiting for the order, he said on Saturday afternoon.last_img read more

Congress downplays BSP-Jogi tie-up

first_imgA day after the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati announced a tie-up with Ajit Jogi’s Janta Congress Chhattisgarh for the forthcoming Assembly elections in the State, the Congress on Friday downplayed the import of the development, asserting that one had not heard the last on alliances.“It must be seen in context; first, it is an evolving situation and is limited to Chhattisgarh where the BSP won all of one seat in the last election,” said senior Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi. “Each of these adjustments, talks, gathbandhans [alliances], arrangements are completely State specific. What applies to Chhattisgarh certainly does not automatically apply to Madhya Pradesh or to other States, be it Uttar Pradesh or Rajasthan. These are completely State-specific alliances and it is not only about BSP but about every other party. And I think we have not seen the last word on the subject.” The Congress’s public position notwithstanding, the key question being asked in political circles is whether the BSP’s announcement undermines the opposition’s plan of a grand alliance in 2019, especially in U.P. Also, while the Congress officially says it is still in talks with the BSP for a tie-up in Madhya Pradesh, party leaders privately state that the BSP chief is under pressure from the BJP not to be part of any grand alliance.“There is little doubt that she is being directly monitored by the ruling party and the government through its agencies,” said a Congress leader from U.P., who didn’t want to be named.The Income Tax department is reported to have put under scrutiny business transactions carried out by Mayawati’s brother Anand Kumar, according to the Congress leader.Political observers contend that the BSP chief is also possibly wary of helping the Congress to strengthen its position in the Hindi heartland by winning crucial State elections.“If Congress wins States like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, then they will gain the kind of momentum that the BSP will not like and an alliance right now for these Assembly polls may not suit her,” said a Bengaluru-based leader of the Janata Dal (Secular), which has alliances with both the Congress and the BSP in Karnataka.last_img read more

Militant killed in Pulwama was an MBA

first_imgA young militant of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), who had completed his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in 2015, was killed in an operation in south Kashmir’s Pulwama on Friday.The police said the militant, identified as Ishfaq Yousuf Wani from Pulwama’s Koil Pulwama, was killed during an anti-militancy operation in Banderpora area in the morning.“During the searches in the area, hiding militants opened fire. It was retaliated and one militant was killed. Wani was wanted by the law for his complicity in a series of terror crimes including attacks on security establishments,” said the police.The police said incriminating materials, including arms and ammunition, were recovered from the site of encounter. “All these materials were taken in the case records for further investigation,” said the police.Went missing in 2015Wani, 25, completed his MBA in 2015 and went missing in July this year. Later, his weapon-wielding photographs were uploaded online after he joined the LeT. His father, also a militant, was killed in August 1996, according to locals.According to the family, Wani was studious and scored good marks during his schooling at the Alamdar Public School, Koil. “Wani did his B.Sc from the Government Degree College, Pulwama, and later completed his MBA. He also worked with a corporate bank,” said a family member.Hundreds of locals participated in Wani’s funeral at Koil village. Pulwama district witnessed a spontaneous shutdown. Train service in the district was also suspended for the day.No Mixed-Media Items28-satya-peerzada-LeT militant killed.last_img read more

Assam admits scholarship distribution scam

first_imgThe Assam government on Friday admitted that a scam has taken place in the distribution of scholarships to minority students from Class X and below, and the investigation has been handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department. In a written reply to a query by AIUDF MLA Aminul Islam, Minorities Welfare Minister Ranjit Dutta said in the Assembly that five persons have been already arrested for their involvement in the scam.Mr. Dutta said that a scam has taken place in the scholarship distribution scheme for the students belonging to the minority communities. The Minister, however, did not share details such as the size of the scam but said that the CID of Assam Police is conducting the probe at present. “The investigation is being carried out taking into account all the districts of Assam. So far, two teachers in Morigaon and Barpeta, two staff of bank customer care centre and one middleman have been arrested (sic),” Mr. Dutta said.last_img read more

Carnival 2019 in Goa: over 60 people with disability take part in float parade

first_imgThe parade with over 60 colourful floats, had its interesting characters. A man dressed like Mahatma Gandhi and a look-alike of Prime Minister Modi walking together attracted public attention. A float on the controversial Traffic Sentinel Scheme of Goa police urged people to obey traffic rules. There was also a scene on the Pulwama attack with a terrorist and Army Jawans, one on Goa’s formalin-in-fish controversy and a float by people from Kerala thanking Goans for assisting during Kerala floods. The Carnival parade will now move on to other cities for the next three days. The Carnival, the four-day annual pre-Lent festival of fun and frolic began with festive fervour in Panaji on Saturday.This year, it was a carnival with a difference, as more than 60 people with disabilities, either on modified two-wheelers, wheelchairs or with white canes, participated in the float parade. They used a special float organised by the Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG) along with Enable Travel and Ezy Mov to promote Goa as an accessible and inclusive tourist destination for people with disability. The highlights of the parade were live music by wheel-chair-bound music-teacher and singer Jolene Dias and DRAG president Avelino de Sa on a floating wheelchair.Rustom Irani and Shama Noorani from Enable Travel dressed as a King Momo and Queen Momo and participated in the parade in their wheel-chairs.“I thank Goans for inviting me for participating in this marvellous carnival. I am coming to Goa for the third time, but this is the first time I am participating in the carnival and I love it so much,” an excited Mr. Irani told The Hindu. While it was also Ms. Noorani’s first time to the Carnival, she was participating because it was made accessible. “I am really excited,” she said. Mr. de Sa said that participation in this carnival parade for many people with a disability, especially wheel-chair-bound people who had an accessible pandal to sit and watch the parade from, was a “dream come true.” He thanked Goa Tourism and his partners Enable Travel and Ezy Mov for “making it a reality.”DRAG had also made special arrangements for a wheelchair accessible pandal for people with disability and the elderly to view the Miramar-Panaji Carnival parade.As the crowd cheered , King Momo, mythical king of the Carnival and his entourage led a colourful parade of floats from Miramar near here to Dona Paula. King Momo declared the mock decree of “Eat, Drink and Make Merry” during his “4-day reign”, to the chants of “Viva Carnival” from the huge crowd that had lined up for the Miramar parade route. The parade showcased diverse participants under various categories, displaying different themes and messages, including group walkers for visually impaired from National Association for the Blind. The floats highlighted various social, environmental, and wildlife issues. last_img read more

Scientists Licking Wounds After Contentious Climate Report Negotiations

first_imgIt has been more than a week since a U.N. panel released a major report on mitigating climate change, but some scientists who helped write a key summary say they continue to smart from some disconcerting last-minute edits.“We are still shaking,” says Giovanni Baiocchi, an economist at the University of Maryland, College Park, whose work was central to the debates over the summary’s wording. The episode is making some researchers reconsider participating in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) process in the future. The 13 April release of  IPCC’s  mitigation assessment—the third of three reports—was capped by 5 days of negotiations in Berlin over the wording of the report’s “Summary for Policymakers.” It is a 33-page boil-down of key points culled from the report’s 2000 pages. Unlike the text in the body of the report, which scientists essentially control, the influential summary is the product of give-and-take with government diplomats and requires consensus.The most contentious issue this year was whether to highlight economic groupings of nations, such as high or low income, and illustrations showing how each group was contributing to the growth of greenhouse gas emissions were particularly controversial. Below is one of the figures from the draft summary that sparked debate; it shows that emissions from lower-middle income countries (LMCs) and upper-middle income countries (UMCs) are rising faster than emissions from high-income countries (HICs).The problem, according to some of those present, is that some nations, including China and Saudi Arabia, opposed including text and graphs that linked emissions to income levels. Saudi Arabia, which is in the high-income category, opposed mention of that category, for instance. And China, which is categorized as upper-middle income, opposed including figures that highlighted the skyrocketing emissions from developing nations.For three of the 5 days of the talks, diplomats from dozens of countries haggled with lead scientists over the issue. In the end, five figures and whole blocks of text were removed from the summary.“A strikingly large amount of scientific material [was] stripped out,” says David Victor, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego.“It is a bit disappointing that governments could not take ownership of this science, which is in the report’s chapters,” Baiocchi says. He won’t say whether he’ll participate in future IPCC reports.Others are also unhappy. “It left me depressed personally,” economist Reyer Gerlagh, of Tilburg University in the Netherlands, told The Sydney Morning Herald. “I do most of this work on the weekend, in evenings and on holidays. My payment is not in money or time, my payment is that I believe I can contribute to society’s benefit by providing the information.”“The whole process is kind of unbelievable,” Victor says. As one of the report’s lead authors, he was in the middle of the negotiations. The outcome raises “fundamental questions about whether the IPCC can really do policy-related assessments in areas where the science is most germane to policy,” he writes in an e-mail. “There has always been a tension between the scientific content and the political approval of IPCC reports. But on the scientific issues that probably matter most to policymakers—such as which kinds of countries cause most emissions, who will bear the greatest burdens in controlling emissions, or how international trade affects emissions and policies—the pendulum has swung strongly toward the governments.”Victor says the fight previews upcoming international negotiations, scheduled for June in Bonn, Germany, and December in Lima on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. There, negotiations are expected to include debates over whether nations like China and Saudi Arabia, which have enjoyed a special status in prior negotiations, should shoulder more of the burden to cut their emissions, which the IPCC report shows are rising steadily.last_img read more

Skeleton in the closet identified: Bones from ancient Ur

first_imgThe skeleton lay hidden in a crate in the “mummy room” of the museum for decades. Curators at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Penn Museum) knew about it, but had no idea who lay buried there—or even in what long-ago era he had lived. Now, a careful examination of records has revealed his identity: The bones belong to a man who lived in the ancient Mesopotamian kingdom of Ur, 6500 years ago. They may be the oldest known from this early city, located in present-day Iraq. “It’s really cool we found it now,” said Janet Monge, curator for the museum’s physical anthropology section. “20 years ago we might have damaged it just trying to get a better look.”The Penn Museum has a large collection of artifacts from Ur, because in 1922, British archaeologist Leonard Woolley led a famous series of excavations there, a joint operation between the British Museum and Penn, bringing back precious stones and pottery, and uncovering an ancient human sacrifice. But researchers thought that the 30 excavated skeletons were shipped back to London and that Penn received only artifacts.Then, a few months ago, Penn Museum archaeologist Brad Hafford was looking over Woolley’s old notes and got a surprise: Woolley noted saving two skeletons from the hoard to give to the Penn Museum. The morning after his discovery, Hafford bumped into Monge on an elevator and mentioned his findings. After hearing Woolley’s description of the body—lying extended on a board, covered in wax, and stuffed inside a burlap sack—Monge realized she knew that skeleton, and exactly where to find it.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 pair descended to the mummy room to examine the body, carefully prying off the lid of a long crate, rusty nails and all. The body matched Woolley’s description. “There was no doubt,” Hafford said. “We’d found him.”The ancient man appears to have been about 50 and led a healthy life. He stood about 1.7 meters tall—huge for the period, when people averaged about 1.6 meters, Hafford said.Despite his good health, after more than 6000 years in the ground and 80 years in storage, the Ur skeleton has suffered from water and other damage. “It’s been buried for so long … the weight of the earth has crushed the body. … But we can do a lot with it still,” Hafford said.Wary of further damaging the specimen, the museum has no plans to put it on exhibit, although it may be on view for a period in the museum’s open conservation lab. However, the skeleton will eventually find a home in the virtual world. Hafford runs the Ur Digitization Project, which aims to unite all the artifacts from Woolley’s excavations into one place on the Web.In the meantime, Monge already has a plan for studying the bones. A CT scan is a top priority, to confirm whether the man was as healthy as he looks. Researchers also may be able to extract DNA from his exceptionally well preserved teeth or use isotopic chemical analysis to discover what he ate.But the skeleton can tell us much more than his personal habits, says Richard Zettler, curator-in-charge of the museum’s Near East section. “The remains come from a period of great change,” when people were just beginning to organize into city-states, Zettler notes.And what about the other skeleton Woolley promised in his manifest? “We haven’t found him—or her—just yet,” says Hafford with a chuckle. But researchers have their eye on a small, unmarked crate, also of unknown provenance, being kept in storage. For now, it lies waiting, potentially hiding a story thousands of years in the making.last_img read more

New compound quickly disables chemical weapons

first_imgIn 2013, the Syrian military allegedly launched sarin gas rockets into a rebel-held town, killing hundreds. After diplomats brokered a deal to eradicate the weapons, international organizations began the dangerous job of destroying them. One roadblock to chemical weapons disposal is that heat and humidity quickly break down enzymes that can disable the deadly chemicals. Now, researchers have developed a highly stable compound that can inactivate nerve agents like sarin in a matter of minutes.To create the compound, chemists Omar Farha and Joseph Hupp of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, turned to nature for inspiration. Bacteria produce enzymes called phosphotriesterases, which deactivate certain pesticides and chemically related nerve gases at lightning speed, wiping out weapons in milliseconds. But such enzymes are fragile and easily degraded. The chemists set out to reproduce the mechanism by which phosphotriesterase breaks down these chemicals to create a humanmade catalyst that would survive the most inhospitable conditions.They started with metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), a recently developed class of porous compounds composed of metals arranged in a crystalline network linked by carbon-based molecules. MOFs are highly adaptable materials: Scientists can switch out the metals or the linkers to optimize the material for a variety of applications, such as carbon dioxide capture and hydrogen or methane storage. And because MOFs are porous, they have large surface areas that can rapidly create chemical bonds, making them good candidates for catalysts.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 natural enzyme, phosphotriesterase, two zinc atoms act as so-called Lewis acids, which accept electrons to bind with the nerve agent. Once the agent has bonded, hydrolysis occurs—a water molecule attacks the agent, slicing and dicing essential chemical bonds, thereby deactivating it. The scientists designed a MOF with a similar structure, but they replaced the zinc with zirconium, which likewise behaves as a Lewis acid and makes for an ultrastable MOF.They tested their compound, known as NU-1000, on a pesticide chemically similar to nerve agents but safer to work with. NU-1000 deactivated half of the pesticide within 15 minutes—the fastest decomposition of this chemical ever achieved with a MOF and three times as fast as the group’s previous MOFs. The team then sent the compound to a U.S. Army facility equipped to study toxic nerve agents, where military scientists measured a half-life of 3 minutes for destroying the nerve agent GD, which is even more toxic than sarin, they report online today in Nature Materials. The new compound obliterates GD 80 times faster than previous MOFs.NU-1000 improves on previous MOFs in part because the pores between its metal nodes are larger, allowing the chemical agent to penetrate within the MOF structure and interact with zirconium throughout. And the reaction doesn’t use up or degrade NU-1000, so relatively small quantities are sufficient, and the compound is reusable. “The MOF approach is very unique and very promising,” says chemist Banglin Chen of the University of Texas, San Antonio, calling it a “really great result.”But more work is necessary to make NU-1000 ready for action. The natural enzyme, phosphotriesterase, is between 1000 and 100,000 times faster, says biochemist Frank Raushel of Texas A&M University, College Station. “In order for [MOFs] to be practical in any sense, they are certainly going to have to get better,” he says. NU-1000, for instance, is not fast enough for use in gas masks, where air must be purified quickly enough for a soldier to breathe.The findings will guide the design of more advanced catalysts, Farha says. By modeling the chemical reaction, the group was able to understand how the catalyst worked, which highlighted the importance of large pores and the benefits of zirconium-based MOFs. “After learning from all these design rules, now we know what to do next,” Farha says. He hopes that they will eventually be able to predict how well such catalysts will function before even making them.“It sets the stage for the future,” Raushel says. “They are going in the right direction.”last_img read more

Saturn’s days just got a bit shorter

first_imgBad news for any slackers on Saturn: The days on the ringed planet are shorter than the number you’ll find in most books—6 minutes briefer, to be exact. The faster spin drastically changes how scientists think Saturn’s winds blow.”We used to think that we knew the rotation period,” says Ravit Helled, a planetary scientist at Tel Aviv University in Israel. After all, she notes, spin is a basic planetary property. In the early 1980s, the Voyager spacecraft flew past Saturn and pegged a day as 10 hours and 39 minutes, based on periodic changes it detected in the planet’s radio waves. But the Cassini spacecraft, which arrived in 2004, found a longer period of 10 hours and 47 minutes, based on a similar technique.The problem is that Saturn doesn’t reveal this information easily, unlike the solar system’s other gas giant. No one disputes Jupiter’s spin rate of 9 hours and 55 minutes, because deep beneath that planet’s atmosphere, its core generates a magnetic field, the axis of which is tilted compared with the spin axis; therefore, as the planet turns, the magnetic field sweeps around like the beam of a lighthouse, sending out radio waves that make it easy to measure how fast the hidden core spins.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(*)But this method won’t work for Saturn, because its magnetic and spin axes are aligned. Indeed, the conflicting numbers from Voyager and Cassini demonstrated that the periods they measured weren’t reflecting the planet’s rotation. So Helled’s team deduced the spin from the planet’s gravity field. Saturn spins fast, making its equator bulge outward, which distorts the gravity field in ways Cassini has measured. By modeling this effect, Helled’s team reports online today in Nature that Saturn spins every 10 hours and 32 minutes and 45 seconds with an uncertainty of 46 seconds. That’s more than 6 minutes faster than Voyager found.”Six minutes makes a big difference,” says Andrew Ingersoll, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena who was not part of the research team. Because Saturn is so big, the equator at the level of the atmosphere must spin nearly 400 kilometers per hour faster than the Voyager value implied. Scientists measure wind speeds relative to the spinning planet, so the new rotation rate alters the estimated wind speeds by that same amount. The old rotation rate suggested that most winds blew only one way, whereas the new number means about half of the winds blow east and the other half blow west, “which seems a little more sensible,” Ingersoll says, because it’s the same pattern Jupiter has.The new number is valuable but not revolutionary, says David Stevenson, another planetary scientist at Caltech. “It is what people have been suspecting for several years,” he says, based on assuming Saturn’s winds resemble Jupiter’s. But he cautions that the rotation period is probably more uncertain than the researchers claim and could still be off by 2 minutes.Fortunately, the situation will soon improve. During the final months of its life, in 2017, the Cassini spacecraft will skim close to Saturn, better probing the planet’s gravity field. “I’m hoping that we’re going to detect some tilt” of the magnetic field, Ingersoll says, because then scientists will be able to measure Saturn’s spin period just as they have Jupiter’s.last_img read more

Indian carriers’ share in international traffic up by 2.6%

first_imgThis is one “made by Indians” programme that is showing the desired results. Last year, 5.9 crore people flew in and out of India – up 11.3% from 5.3 crore in 2016. Indian carriers saw their share in this traffic going up to 38.6%, up a significant 2.6% in just one year from 36% in 2016. The jump came mainly on the back of a solid 58% increase in international passengers flown by IndiGo, followed by soon-to-be-privatised Air India express which saw 20% jump in this traffic.Read it at Times of India Related Itemslast_img