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2 killed in poll-related violence in Odisha

first_imgTwo persons, including a candidate contesting the posts of sarpanch and panchayat samity member in Ganjam, the home district of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, were killed in group clashes related to the polls.Bulukumar Pradhan (34) was the candidate for sarpanch and panchayat samity member posts from Brahmanchhai panchayat under Shergarh Block, which is part of the Hinjli Assembly segment represented by the Chief Minister. The State Election Commission cancelled voting scheduled to be held in Brahmanchhai on Tuesday because of the deterioration of law and order situation. No voting was held in 12 booths of Brahmanchhai panchayat.Distribution of moneyTussle over allegation of distribution of money among voters had led to a violent clash at Brahmanchhai around 11 p.m. on Monday. Ten people were injured in the clash in which sharp weapons were used. It is alleged that taking advantage of the darkness, some miscreants had kidnapped Bulukumar, whose body was later found on the banks of the Rushikulya river flowing near the village.Six persons injured in the clash have been admitted to MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur. According to Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Subash Chandra Panda, though the situation was under control in Brahmanchhai, three platoons of armed forces have been deployed in the area as a precautionary measure. No one had been arrested till Tuesday evening.Other clashThe other clash and murder took place around midnight on Monday at Mardakot village under the Kodala police station limits. Three persons were injured in the violent clash. The deceased, Pitabas Swain (42), was a supporter of the sarpanch candidate contesting from the area. According to sources, allegation of distribution of money among voters in the dead of night ahead of polling day had led to the group clash.last_img read more

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Ex-sarpanch, who faces 100 FIRs, held

first_imgA former sarpanch of Chintagufa village in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, named in many incidents of Maoist violence, was apprehended a week ago. But the police are tight-lipped about the development.Pudium Panda was reportedly taken into custody from the forest near Minapa. He is former member of the Communist Party of India and former sarpanch of Chintagufa, which is situated on the Dornapal-Jagargunda Road, where the highest number of security men have died in Maoist attacks in the last few years. Police sources said he was first interrogated at the Chintagufa police station and then taken to Sukma. His wife, now the sarpanch of Chintagufa, was taken to Sukma to identify him. Asked about the arrest, Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Dantewada Range) P. Sundar Raj said: “Not arrested so far.”Mr. Panda is facing over 100 cases against him. He has been named in almost every Maoist attack on security forces on the Dornapal-Jagargunda road in the past eight years, including the 2010 attack at Tadmetla, in which 76 CRPF soldiers were killed. ‘Never carried weapons’However, Communist leader and former Sukma MLA Manish Kunjam said Mr. Panda never carried any weapon, nor was he not involved in any violence. “They [the police] have not disclosed his arrest, and we are afraid he may be booked in many more cases. He was a sarpanch during Salwa Judum days and was also associated with our party,” said Mr.Kunjam.last_img read more

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As Lalu battles troubles, BJP woos Nitish

first_imgSC puts Lalu Prasad back on trial in fodder scam case Following the move by Supreme Court to put Lalu Prasad back on trial in the fodder scam case, the BJP in Bihar has offered Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to break his party’s alliance with the RJD leader.“If Nitish Kumar decides to break the alliance with Lalu Prasad, we will think over extending support to him”, said senior Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi. Mr. Kumar and his party was in alliance with the BJP for 17 years.Also Read  Earlier on Sunday, senior BJP leader and minister in Jharkhand Saryu Rai and Chitranjan Sinha, the additional advocate general of Bihar visited, Mr. Prasad’s residence saying it was a “courtesy call.” On Monday, however, senior state BJP leader, Nand Kishore Yadav, welcomed the Supreme Court move saying “the fodder scam case must reach its logical conclusion.”The ruling Janata Dal (United) and state Congress leaders said “it’s a Supreme Court verdict and everybody should respect it…we cannot say much on the court verdict”.Meanwhile, a pall of gloom spread outside the official residence of Mr. Prasad at 10, Circular Road. A battery of media persons gathered outside hoping to get some reactions but the imposing green coloured gate remained shut with some policemen stationed outside.Sources inside the residence told The Hindu that Mr. Prasad was discussing the legal ramifications of the Supreme Court verdict with some close aides over phone.last_img read more

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Shimla landslip buries 8 vehicles

first_imgEight vehicles were buried while three houses and a temple were damaged in a massive landslip triggered by heavy rains near Dhalli area in the suburbs of Shimla, officials said.No loss of life was reported, they said adding that 15 families had been shifted to safer places as several houses on a hill top were endangered.The Dhalli-Shoghi road was blocked and hundreds of trucks loaded with apples and headed to the Bhattakufar Subzi Mandi, three km from the spot, were stranded.Videos of the incident, which showed a heap of rubble falling on the road, brushing away some vehicles while trapping others, went viral.Heavy machinery had been deployed to clear the road, Shimla Deputy Commissioner Rohan Chand Thakur said.Heavy rains triggered landslips in some interior areas also but there was no major disruption.Paonta Sahib and Nahan received 137 mm rain, followed by Naina Devi 118 mm, Jhandutta 85 mm, Kheri 58 mm, Mehre 51mm, Berthin 49 mm, Kahu 39 mm, Pachhad 38 mm, Solan 37 mm, Dalhousie and Shimla 33 mm, Jubbar Hatti and Una 24 mm, Kufri and Ghumarwin 20 mm.The local MeT office predicted a wet spell in the region for the next six days.last_img read more

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Police to probe clip on Aurangabad riots

first_imgIn the aftermath of the Aurangabad riots, city police has ordered a probe after a clip allegedly demonstrating the “involvement” of some local police personnel with the rioters surfaced after the clashes.According to sources, the eight-minute long video purportedly recorded by onlookers, show the policemen to be mute spectators, “walking” with the rioters and permitting them to indulge in their vandalism spree as they smash and torch parked vehicles.In the clip, the rioters after wrecking several vehicles, are seen setting a shop ablaze in the city’s sensitive Nawabpura area.“We are probing this issue and have taken the footage very seriously. The guilty parties — be it policemen or rioters — will be punished,” said acting Aurangabad Commissioner of Police Milind Bharambe on Monday.At least two persons lost their lives, while more than 35, including several policemen, were seriously injured after violent clashes between two groups erupted over illegal water connections on Friday last week, heightening communal tensions across the city.Additional DGP (law and order) Bipin Bihari too promised a stern probe into the affair.Internet suspendedAn uneasy calm prevailed over Aurangabad the weekend after the riots, with authorities clamping Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (prohibiting an assembly of more than four persons in an area) and suspending internet services to stall further violence.Speaking in Nashik on Monday, Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar categorically charged the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government for stoking caste and communal tensions and being responsible for the clashes.“Be it Bhima-Koregaon or Aurangabad, the BJP government is responsible for the heightening social tensions across Maharashtra. Why is the Police Commissioner’s post lying vacant for more than two months in a communally sensitive city like Aurangabad?” said the NCP leader, alleging that the scope of the riot indicated that it was a “pre-planned conspiracy”.Call for compensationMr. Pawar further demanded immediate compensation for those afflicted by the violence.The damage to property during the riots, which raged on for more than 12 hours on the intervening night of May 11-12, has been estimated at more than ₹100 crore.Scores of small shops in the Nawabpura, Moti Karanja and Raja Bazaar areas were gutted by the rioters as the clashes gradually took on a communal colour.Senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who toured the ravaged city on Sunday, too accused the police of merely “standing by” as the rioters ran amok.“What was the intelligence arm of the police doing? The senior police authorities have acted in an extremely negligent fashion, just as they did during the Bhima-Koregaon riots,” said Mr. Vikhe-Patil, who is the leader of opposition (LoP) in the Legislative Assembly.At least 10 policemen, including Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Govardhan Kolekar and Kranti Chowk Police Station in-charge, Inspector Shrikant Paropkari were injured in the clashes.Mr. Kolekar, who suffered serious injuries on his neck during stone-pelting, was airlifted to Mumbai on Monday for further treatment. He is said to be in a critical condition.More than 50 persons have been detained by the police in connection with the riots so far, said authorities.The city has been without a full-time Police Commissioner for the past two months, since Yashasvi Yadav was sent on compulsory leave by Mr. Fadnavis for alleged mishandling of the city’s garbage crisis.last_img read more

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Coal mine mishap: rights panel sends notice to Meghalaya govt.

first_imgThe Meghalaya Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the State government seeking a probe into the December 13 coal mine mishap trapping 13 miners who are now feared dead.The panel headed by its Chairperson Aftab Hussain Saikia and Member P.J.P. Hanaman also asked the State’s Chief Secretary to submit a detailed report on the probe within 30 days of receiving the notice.The labourers, feared dead, had struck an aquifer while digging in the ‘rat-hole’ mine 370 ft below the surface on December 13. A team of more than 100 rescue workers had not been able to retrieve the bodies till Tuesday evening. Of the 13 miners, five were from Assam.Noting that illegal mining had been continuing in Meghalaya despite a ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal, the MHRC sought interim relief to the next of kin of the missing miners. “An interim order for compensation shall be considered soon,” MHRC Secretary Aldous Mawlong said.last_img read more

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‘Orange’ alert for Andaman due to cyclone ‘Pabuk’

first_imgThe Centre has sounded an “Orange” alert for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which is facing a cyclonic storm, officials said on Sunday.Cyclonic storm “Pabuk” is approaching the archipelago and currently hovering over the Andaman sea and the neighbourhood, they added.An “Orange” warning had been issued for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a home ministry official said, quoting from a weather bulletin. An “orange” weather warning means people should “be prepared” and there is an increased likelihood of bad or extreme weather, which may disrupt road and air travel and threaten life and property.“Pabuk” is now over the Andaman sea and its neighbourhood and it has moved north-northwestwards at a speed of 20 kmph in the last six hours. It lays centred near latitude 11.0degrees North and longitude 95.5degrees East, about 310 km east-southeast of Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The cyclonic storm is very likely to continue to move north-northwestwards and cross the Andaman islands by Sunday night with a wind speed of 65-75 kmph, gusting to 85 kmph, the official said. Thereafter, it is very likely to move north-northwestwards and then recurve north-eastwards, towards the Myanmar coast, and weaken gradually thereafter, he added, quoting from the bulletin.last_img read more

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ScienceShot: Tracking the World’s Everlasting Dead

first_imgWhat has become of the world’s once privately owned mummies? Many of the European and American tourists who purchased the ancient linen-wrapped dead as souvenirs from Egypt in the 1800s were unable or unwilling to care for them and later donated them to local museums and other institutions. The Mummipedia Project, announced in August, aims to find them. With the goal of “a page for every mummy on Earth,” bioarchaeologist Andrew Wade is asking volunteers to contribute information—such as where and when mummies were collected—from local museums, universities, and private collections. The two mummies from Thebes, Egypt, shown in these 3D reconstructions (left/right) and CT scan (center), now at the Redpath Museum in Montreal, Canada, are among the thousands of bodies in the database. Using Mummipedia, researchers will know where to find mummies from a particular Egyptian dynasty or from a specific ancient Peruvian culture and use them to study topics as diverse as the evolution of ancient parasites and the development of funerary practices.See more ScienceShots.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

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New Staph Vaccine Shows Promise in Rabbits

first_imgStaph infections pose one of the most serious microbial threats to people. Yet efforts to prevent them with vaccines have consistently failed, even as the bacterium responsible becomes increasingly resistant to antibiotics. Now, an experimental vaccine with novel ingredients has proven highly protective in rabbits against staph pneumonia, one of the most dangerous outcomes of the bacterial infection. The inventor hopes to take it into human studies soon.Staphylococcus aureus is thought to colonize the noses of about one-third of humans at any given time, but it also causes about half a million hospitalizations and 20,000 deaths each year in the United States. Strains of the bacterium that are resistant to most antibiotics, particularly varieties dubbed MRSA (methicillin-resistant S. aureus), have become a major danger, highlighting the need for a vaccine against the microbe.However, a series of vaccines has suffered dramatic failures in the past few years. A candidate from NABI Biopharmaceuticals of Rockville, Maryland, flopped in two trials among dialysis patients in the United States, and a Merck vaccine was abandoned in 2012 after millions of dollars were spent testing 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(*)Microbiologist Patrick Schlievert of the University of Iowa in Iowa City believes that pharmaceutical companies have been going about a vaccine the wrong way. Previous staph vaccines attempted to offer protection by including proteins or carbohydrates contained in the natural capsule that surrounds the staph bacterium’s cell wall and enables it to elude the immune system. This approach succeeded for vaccines against other bacteria like Haemophilus influenzae type B and Streptococcus pneumoniae, but did not work with S. aureus. Other vaccines that failed included single proteins from the cell wall of the S. aureus bacterium.In an article published online this month in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Schlievert and colleagues took a new approach. The strategy involves an entirely different class of substances taken from the S. aureus bacterium. These included so-called superantigens and cytolysins—proteins that are produced by S. aureus’s internal structures and play major roles in the illnesses caused by the bacterium. The researchers vaccinated 88 rabbits, split into several groups, with different combinations of the substances. All but two of the animals survived when S. aureus organisms were sprayed into their lungs. Of 88 unvaccinated rabbits exposed to the same bacteria, only one survived.In another experiment, the researchers found evidence that typical vaccines may actually make those immunized more vulnerable to a staph infection. They vaccinated five rabbits with neutralized proteins from the cell surface of S. aureus—the type of substances used in most previous and current vaccine candidates. All five of those animals died within 6 hours of exposure to a common MRSA strain; in contrast, five nonvaccinated animals survived at least 4 days postexposure.The studies’ counterintuitive findings are in agreement with prior research by Schlievert indicating that cell-surface antigens, which are frequently used to create bacterial vaccines, are a poor choice for preventives aimed at S. aureus because of the organism’s particular way of causing disease, he says.“One of the ways staph works is by creating aggregations of bacteria that block blood vessels and airways,” Schlievert says. Consequently, vaccines that stimulate the creation of antibodies to cell-surface antigens may be more dangerous than no vaccine at all, he says, because in binding with those antigens, they create molecular complexes that intensify the clumping phenomenon.Schlievert also believes that his results are more relevant to humans than other animal studies with staph vaccines. While other researchers have tested S. aureus vaccines in mice and nonhuman primates, he contends that the immune system of the rabbit is more similar to that of humans, at least when it comes to how it responds to this bacterium. Staph researchers say that Schlievert’s new study is provocative but not entirely convincing. “He shows that superantigens are more protective than surface antigens—in rabbits undergoing experimental infection,” says Robert Daum, pediatrician and microbiologist at the University of Chicago in Illinois. It remains to be seen whether the same holds true in humans, he says. “Lots of people have been using surface antigens [in vaccines] for a long time. It hasn’t been a great success story, but there are few data that suggest the vaccines make it worse.”Daum considers the suggestion that rabbits were better than mice as experimental animals to be intriguing. It is true that mice are not especially good models in S. aureus, he says, but on the other hand the rodents are inexpensive and well-studied. “If he’s right that rabbits are a better model, it will roil the field, because they are much more expensive and difficult to work with. To my mind, rabbits haven’t been studied enough yet to conclude that they are better.” Most of the data to this effect comes from Schlievert’s group.Daum argues that failures in previous vaccines have shown that defeating S. aureus requires more basic science before new vaccine antigens are trotted out. Too little is understood about the human immune response to S. aureus, which can cause deadly infections, yet often lives in and on us without causing disease at all. “We don’t want to eliminate all staph. We want to eliminate the nasty ones that cause disease. So we need to understand the immunology, and we’re not there yet,” Daum says.Schlievert says that unpublished data from his group show that his superantigen-based vaccines also prevent skin infections in rabbits. He next plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration to allow him to conduct basic human safety studies of the vaccine.last_img read more

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Origin of mummies pushed back 1500 years

first_imgMummification in prehistoric Egypt, between 4500 and 3100 B.C.E., occurred naturally: The hot, dry desert did the work of desiccating the bodies. It wasn’t until much later, around 2200 B.C.E., that artificial embalming using resins began—or so scientists thought. New evidence pushes back the origin of mummification in ancient Egypt by 1500 years, researchers report online today in PLOS ONE. The scientists examined funeral wrappings excavated from pit graves in the earliest recorded cemeteries, dating to between 4500 and 3350 B.C.E., in the Badari region in Upper Egypt. Using biochemical analysis, the team identified complex embalming agents on the linen wrappings, pictured above, made from ingredients such as pine resin, gum, aromatic plant extract, and natural petroleum. The researchers say recipes using the same ingredients in similar proportions would eventually produce the more well-known mummies at the height of the Pharaonic period, some 3000 years later.last_img read more

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Confirmed: Some raindrops fall faster than they should

first_imgFive years ago, scientists reported that raindrops, especially small ones, often fall through the air much faster than they should. Some researchers have suggested that these “super-terminal” raindrops (ones traveling more than 30% faster than their terminal velocity, at which air resistance prevents further acceleration due to gravity) were fragments of larger drops that had splattered off the team’s instruments, with the smaller bits retaining the speed the larger drop had before it struck the instrument. But new research hints that the speedier-than-expected drops are the result of natural processes—and that, moreover, they make up a substantial fraction of rainfall. In the new study, scientists used 22 instruments typically used to monitor precipitation to measure the falling speeds of more than 1.5 million raindrops during six different storms at a site near Charleston, South Carolina, over a 5-month period. Whereas all drops 0.8 millimeters and larger fell at expected speeds, between 30% and 60% of those measuring 0.3 mm dropped at super-terminal speeds, the researchers report online ahead of print in Geophysical Research Letters. It’s not yet clear why these drops are falling faster than expected, the researchers say. But according to one notion, the speedy drops are fragments of larger drops that have broken apart in midair but have yet to slow down. If that is indeed the case, the researchers note, then raindrop disintegration happens normally in the atmosphere and more often than previously presumed—possibly when drops collide midair or become unstable as they fall through the atmosphere. Further study could improve estimates of the total amount of rainfall a storm will produce or the amount of erosion that it can generate.last_img read more

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Obama precision medicine plan would create huge U.S. genetic biobank

first_imgThe precision medicine initiative proposed by President Barack Obama last week would center on a huge new biobank containing medical records and genetic information for perhaps a million Americans. It would not be created from scratch by enrolling new volunteers, however, but would instead pull together existing studies into one giant database.That’s according to several scientists familiar with the broad outlines of the project who spoke on background with ScienceInsider. The biobank would be used for studies ranging from finding new disease-gene associations to working out how to use genomic and other molecular information in routine medical care. On Friday, the White House is expected to reveal details of the initiative, which will reportedly cost hundreds of millions of dollars.Such a national biobank would put the United States in line with other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Iceland, and Japan, which have built large population databases for research and medical care. A similar U.S. biobank has long been on the wish list of National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, who led the effort to sequence the human genome as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).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 term “precision medicine,” however, is relatively new. It comes from a 2011 report from the National Academies’ National Research Council (NRC) that called for combining medical records and genetic and other molecular data for large groups of people into a single “knowledge network” that would be used for understanding diseases and tailoring treatments.Keith Yamamoto, a member of the NRC panel and vice chancellor for research at the University of California, San Francisco, insists that precision medicine is not just a new buzzword for “personalized medicine.” Instead, it is a much broader endeavor, because it would integrate a huge range of biological data, for example on model organisms. Both basic researchers and clinicians could draw on the network, he says. “It’s a giant integration mill from which stuff would fall out from the bottom as new knowledge,” says Yamamoto, who has conferred witht the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on the topic.As a pilot project, NRC suggested building a large research database with medical and genetic data on 1 million adults. That appears to be reflected in the precision medicine initiative. The plan is to link up existing NIH-sponsored cohort studies and large biobanks created by health care providers. They may range from the famed 67-year-old Framingham Heart Study in Massachusetts funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to research databases being built by the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin and Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco that are linking genetic data with health records.Some have questioned whether it is feasible to combine medical records from different sources for research—data are often missing or collected in different ways. “There’s a lot of fuzziness,” says cardiac disease researcher Dan Roden, who leads Vanderbilt University’s BioVU biobank in Nashville. But an NIH-funded project called eMERGE that combines medical records from Vanderbilt and eight other medical centers has shown that “it can be done,” Roden says.One matter to be worked out for a megabiobank is which cohorts to include, says human geneticist David Goldstein of Columbia University, a member of the 2011 NRC panel. For example, “you absolutely must have recontactability,” or permission from patients to be called and asked to come into a clinic for further exams and tests. Some biobanks, such as Vanderbilt’s, do not have that consent from participants, Roden notes.Assembling a cohort that represents the diversity of the U.S. population will also be important. For that reason, one of the largest planned U.S. biobanks—the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Million Veteran Program—would not be enough, because it’s mostly men.Another question is whether to sequence the whole genomes of participants, or just the 1% that codes for proteins, which would be cheaper. Researchers will also need to work out ways to share genomic data securely, perhaps drawing on existing efforts to develop standards.Beyond creation of the biobank will be questions about how useful it will be. Many feel the promise of genomic medicine has not yet been realized. A search for common mutations underlying major diseases found that most such variants raise risks only slightly and are of little help for predicting whether an individual will develop a disease. Pharmacogenomics, or using genetic variants to determine how a patient will respond to a particular drug, has been a mixed success—such testing has not improved dosing for the blood thinner warfarin, for example.So far, the clearest success in genomic medicine is for finding genes underlying rare diseases and for treating cancer patients, whose tumors can sometimes be genetically tested to find faults that suggest a specific drug. For that reason, the United Kingdom chose to focus on cancer and rare diseases with a project that is sequencing 100,000 patient’s genomes for medical care.But Goldstein thinks for certain diseases, such as Lou Gehrig’s disease and epilepsy, genetics will ultimately pay off. And Roden points to a new wave of studies that are finding very rare mutations that more dramatically raise or lower risk. For example, the discovery of rare variants in a gene called PCSK9 that regulates cholesterol levels has led to a new class of potential drugs for lowering cholesterol.To study such extremely rare mutations requires “a very large denominator,” or huge numbers of subjects, Roden says.Congress, which so far seems supportive of the precision medicine initiative, will need to approve the funding proposed in next week’s presidential budget proposal for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins in October. It’s not clear how much will be “new” money and how much is reprogrammed or shifted from existing programs. Nor is it known how much of the funding will go to specific institutes, such as the National Cancer Institute.Still, NIH seems ready to move ahead: NHLBI and NHGRI are holding a meeting 2 weeks from now on how to build a large U.S. cohort study.last_img read more

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Square Kilometer Array scales back ambitions for first phase

first_imgThe consortium that will build the world’s biggest radio telescope, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), today announced the final scope of the first phase of the project, which is due to begin construction in 2018 and be completed by 2023. Although it has had to be scaled back to stay within the available funding, the project will still be able to achieve all of its key scientific goals.“You have to make compromises when you are cutting your cloth to the funding you’ve got,” says SKA Director Philip Diamond. “There is a scaling down, but it is still a highly transformational instrument,” says astrophysicist Philip Best of the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Astronomy in the United Kingdom.SKA, funded by 11 countries from around the globe, will be built partly in southern Africa and partly in Australia. The plan is to first build a pilot instrument, which, as well as advancing astronomy itself, will also prove that the principle behind the giant telescope actually works before the construction of phase 2 between 2023 and 2030. The final instrument will have dishes and antennas stretching across most of Africa as well as Australia and will have a total collecting area of a square kilometer.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(*)A baseline design for SKA was drawn up during the planning stage, and teams in South Africa and Australia are in the process of building two prototype arrays to test some of the technology: the 36-dish Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) and the 64-dish MeerKAT array in South Africa.In July 2013, the SKA board set a cost cap for phase 1, also called SKA1, of €650 million. Since then there has been a worldwide effort by working groups and advisory boards to see what was possible within that budget. “We pulled it all together last October so that we could understand the costs to deliver the science goals,” Diamond says.The final plan for SKA1, announced today, has two components. The first is a midfrequency array with about 200 dish antennas in South Africa that will incorporate MeerKAT—down from roughly 250 in the original baseline plan. The second part is a low-frequency array in Australia that will be made up of about 130,000 so-called dipole antennas (similar to a rooftop TV aerial). The original plan called for 250,000 antennas.The original plan also included a third element, a specialized midfrequency survey telescope in Australia based around ASKAP but with 60 additional dishes. The dishes would be fitted with novel detectors called phased array feeds that can view a wide swath of the sky at once for rapid surveying. That will now have to wait for phase 2 of the project. Best, who served on a science advisory panel to SKA during the reconfiguring process, says that the midfrequency array in South Africa will still be able to do surveys of the radio sky, only more slowly because of its narrower field of view.Best says it was a “pretty unanimous decision” among the science advisers to follow this path. “Given the cost cap, it was more important to make two groundbreaking instruments,” he says. “It hasn’t lost any capabilities that the original baseline had,” he adds, but some goals may require more observing time and so “a little more give and take” may be required.SKA1 has two key science goals. The first is to detect the metronomic signals from many pulsars—rapidly spinning neutron stars that send out very regular radio pulses—so that tiny variations in the timing of their pulses can reveal the passage of gravitational waves. The second is to map out a very faint signal from neutral hydrogen gas through the history of the universe right back to the time when the first stars and galaxies were forming. “A massive range of other science is possible,” Diamond says.SKA is just starting to set the research goals for the second phase, Diamond says, and those will inform decisions about the size of the final instrument, which will likely have about 2000 dishes in Africa and up to a million dipoles in Australia. Most of the receiving hardware is, however, not a radical departure from what exists today. It is the data handling, computing, and software that remains unproven. “This is the biggest challenge we face,” Diamond says.Scaling back SKA1 is a bit of a disappointment, Best acknowledges. “But it doesn’t change things. The intention for the full SKA is the same, there is just less in the first phase,” he says.last_img read more

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Why Indian Entrepreneurs Are Looking Beyond America To Fulfill Their Startup Dreams

first_imgFollowing the Trump administration’s decision to introduce stricter terms for issuing H1B visas and delays over implementing the International Entrepreneurship Rule (IER), it is a trying time for Indian techies and entrepreneurs in the United States.Even as the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services is taking steps to bring back IER — a proposed regulation to promote entrepreneurship in the U.S. which allows foreign-born entrepreneurs to be considered for two-and-a-half year visas with the potential for an extension for another two-and-a-half years — following a court decision, several Indian startups are exploring options in other countries such as Canada and Estonia. Could these new stringent immigration policies be hurting the U.S.’s image as a global startup destination?Read it at First Post Related Itemslast_img read more

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Indian Investigative Agency Busts Trafficking Gang Trying to Take 11 Punjab Boys to U.S.

first_imgThe Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case against five people for allegedly trying to send 11 teenager boys from Punjab to the United States on the pretext of an educational trip.The five accused are residents of Delhi and Punjab, , the CBI said in a statement on April 3. They have been identified as Rachna David from Jalandhar, and Sandeep Singh Luthra, Amit Jyot Singh, Rohit Gauba and Anshika Matharu from Delhi, according to the Tribune.After the case was registered, CBI conducted searches on April 3 at five places in Delhi and in one place in Punjab, including residential as well as official premises of the five accused. This led to the recovery of incriminating documents and articles. The investigation is still on.“It was alleged that the accused persons submitted false and fabricated documents to the U.S. embassy for obtaining non-immigrant visa for the 11 boys and one of the accused persons,” the CBI said.All the teenage boys were shown as students of a school in Punjab. One of the accused, who was to escort the group to the United States, was shown as the principal of the same school. However, none of them belonged to this school, the statement added.The families of each boy is said to have paid lakhs of rupees to the accused for sending them to the United States.The boys were brought from Punjab to New Delhi by the gang and were tutored to present themselves as school students during their interview at the U.S. embassy, the CBI said. One of the accused, David, allegedly impersonated as the principal of the school and accompanied the boys to the U.S. embassy.The CBI is also trying to assess whether this gang is associated with another group that was booked in December last year for sending 25 teenage students to France, the India Today reported. A complaint was registered against three travel agents after 22 of the 25 Indian minors allegedly taken illegally to France by them in 2016 were found missing. The teenagers, hailing from Punjab, Haryana and Delhi, were allegedly taken on the pretext of giving them rugby training. The CBI lodged a case of human trafficking against Faridabad-based travel agents Lalit David Dean and Delhi-based Sanjeev Raj and Varun Choudhary on Dec. 28 last year. Related ItemsHuman TraffickingUnited Stateslast_img read more