Police ask telecom companies to suspend 3G and 4G services in Kashmir Valley

first_imgThe Jammu and Kashmir police has directed telecom companies to shut their 3G and 4G services in the Kashmir Valley as the state authorities feel there has been an attempt to spread fear and show security personnel in a bad light through online videos.The decision was taken after several videos surfaced in recent days, some showing local politicians being threatened by terrorists in various parts of the Valley and others which showed alleged atrocities by Army, police, CRPF or other para-military forces deputed for Parliamentary bye-elections.Officials said that it appears that such videos were being circulated with an aim to create fear among people or show the security personnel in poor light.Controversy peaked when a video showing a man tied to an army jeep in Budgam district of central Kashmir on April 9 surfaced when polling was underway for the Srinagar Parliamentary bypoll.A case has been registered against unknown army personnel for the alleged act which received wide criticism.There were videos showing traders and political leaders in Pulwama of South Kashmir being threatened by terrorists at gun point.“Such videos are only aimed at creating scare in general public,” a senior police official said.Internet services had been barred in the Valley keeping in view the sensitive Srinagar bypoll and were restored on April 13.last_img read more

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Rajnath joins BJP campaign in Agartala

first_imgUnion Home Minister Rajnath Singh arrived in Agartala on February 3, the day that witnessed some dramatic twists in political camps in the run up to the February 18 Assembly elections. Former Chief Minister Samir Ranjan Barman who filed his nomination papers for the Bishalgarh constituency, and pledged to contest as an independent, withdrew his candidature in support of the BJP.In another development, Sukumar Chandra Das, Congress candidate from Salgarah-Kakraban constituency, withdrew his papers and joined the BJP. After his departure, the Congress is now left with 59 candidates.Soon after arrival, Mr. Singh addressed an election rally at Barjala in support of party candidate Dilip Das. Mr Singh during his two-day stay would address a number of rallies and flag off the party’s Bijay Rath that would travel across the State to propagate for the party aspirants till closure of campaign.While the BJP is hosting central leaders and star campaigners, the ruling CPI(M) engaged its top leaders. After hectic schedules of party general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Polit Bureau members Brinda Karat and Subhashini Ali, and several other leaders from West Bengal. Former party general secretary Prakash Karat is now leading the campaign besides Chief Minister Manik Sarkar.The Congress earlier released a list of some 40 star campaigners including Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. However, the party is yet to confirm their engagements. Regional parties like the INPT and the NCT are jointly contesting and together put 14 candidates in tribal reserved segments. INPT president Bijay Kumar Hrangkhawl alleged pressure and threats on candidates of the alliance to give up fight.last_img read more

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Raje announces farm loan waiver for Rajasthan’s small, marginal farmers

first_imgRajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje announced a one-time loan waiver for small and marginal farmers up to ₹50,000 each from their outstanding short-term debt in the 2018-19 State budget presented in the Assembly here on Monday. While this move will cost ₹8,000 crore to the State exchequer, no new taxes were imposed in the budget.The budget, which gave sops to almost every section of the population, was perceived as a populist one, coming in the wake of her party’s defeat in the recently concluded by-elections in Rajasthan.This was Ms. Raje’s last budget in her present tenure, as the State goes to polls in December this year.Ms. Raje also announced ₹650 crore tax relief and ₹44,135 crore expenditure on the development, infrastructure and social security schemes in the budget. “I have sub-divided the areas of budgetary expenditure to reach out to the maximum number of people and made the best use of public money,” Ms. Raje, who also holds the Finance portfolio, said.The budget proposed a total outlay of ₹1,07,865.40 crore on schemes and projects, with 40.92% going to social and community services and schemes. In the planned outlay, the power sector received 25.08% and rural development sector 13.42% of the allocations. Ms. Raje said all expenditures would be within the limits of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act.The Chief Minister also announced exemption to small and marginal farmers from the payment of land revenue and establishment of a State Farmers’ Debt Relief Commission as a permanent institution for settlement of crop loans on merit basis.A provision of ₹15 crore was made for entrepreneurship development under the Skill Training Scheme, while interest-free loan of ₹2 lakh will be provided to people engaged in mechanical works and two years’ child care leave will be given to women employees. A new project for development of water catchment areas will also be undertaken at a cost of ₹151 crore.The estimated fiscal deficit for 2018-19 is ₹28,011.21 crore, which is 2.98% of the Gross State Domestic Product, while the estimated total revenue receipt for the year is ₹1,51,663.50 crore. The budget had the estimated revenue deficit of ₹5,454.85 crore without the effect of the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana.In the tax proposals, Ms. Raje announced 50% exemption in stamp duty for the establishment of IT, entertainment and tourism sector units, 10% increase in SGST-based investment subsidy and an increase in the maximum limit of interest subsidy in a year for agro-based industries and services from ₹5 lakh to ₹7.5 lakh.‘Directionless’The Opposition Congress described the budget as “directionless” and said the BJP government would not be able to implement the announcements in the limited time it has. Pradesh Congress president Sachin Pilot said the crop loan waiver would not benefit thousands of farmers who had obtained loans from the institutions other than the cooperative banks. He also expressed surprise that the social security pensions had not been increased for any category of eligible people.last_img read more

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Sombre spring in Kashmir Valley as six youth go missing

first_imgSecurity agencies in Kashmir are alarmed as six youth had gone missing in the Valley in March. Photos of three of them with weapons in hand surfaced online in the past few days, raising suspicion that they have joined militancy.One of those missing is a student of the University of Kashmir and another is a policeman’s son. Protests broke out on the university campus on Wednesday, demanding the whereabouts of Sameer Ahmad Dar, a Department of Earth Sciences student, be revealed. The students say Dar has been missing since March 19 after leaving home at Kakpora in Pulwama.“The university has written to the Director-General of Police and requested him to ascertain the student’s whereabouts. We request the agitating students to maintain calm and cooperate till the police ascertain the facts,” a university official said.A senior police official told The Hindu that an investigation had failed to establish that Dar had links with the militants, but they could not rule out the possibility.Mother’s anguishAt Kawa Mohallah in Khanyar of Old City here, Mymoona Jan, mother of Fahad Mushtaq Waza, 18, known as Faid, appealed to her son to “quit militancy”. Faid went on a religious programme on March 23 and on Tuesday, his gun-wielding pictures were splashed on social media sites. He allegedly joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba and took the name Abu Usama.“He [Waza] betrayed, and lied to, me. He said he would be back by Monday after finishing a religious programme. I appeal to him to return now,” Ms. Jan said.In Kupwara, the police have declared Junaid Ahmad Wani (25) of Tikkipora “missing”. “The matter is under investigation. We cannot conclude that Wani has joined militancy,” a senior police official said.Bilal Ahmad Shah (25), also from Kupwara, allegedly joined the militant ranks on March 20. He had been missing for three weeks and was seen carrying an AK 47 rifle in a photo posted online recently, showing that he has joined the Hizbul Mujahideen.Another youth who announced his alleged association with militants on social media is Abid Maqbool Bhat, son of a head constable at Tral in Pulwama, He is said to have joined the Jasih-e-Muhammad. Junaid Ahmad Khan, son of the newly appointed Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chairman Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, joined the Hizb.last_img read more

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Class IX girls to get bicycles in Rajasthan

first_imgOver 3.22 lakh girl students of Class IX in Rajasthan will get bicycles during the current academic year with the State government devising new methods to facilitate their access to schools. The government senior secondary schools opened at all panchayat headquarters have reported a large number of admission of girls.State Education Minister Vasudev Devnani, who distributed bicycles to the girl students of the Government Jawahar Higher Secondary School in Ajmer on Saturday, said the dropout rate of girls after the middle school’s education was earlier very high because of lack of resources to continue the studies.“The education scenario in Rajasthan has made a turnaround with the State improving its rank from 26th to second in the country in this field during the last four years,” Mr. Devnani said. The Minister represents the Ajmer North constituency in the Assembly.‘Schools upgraded’Mr. Devnani said as many as 7,000 schools across the State had been upgraded as part of the drive to improve the standard of education. “After the promotion of teachers and an increase in the enrolment of students, the parents want to send their children to the government schools and get benefit of new resources and high standard of education,” he said.last_img read more

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One more inmate of Bihar’s Aasra shelter dead

first_imgOne more inmate of the Aasra shelter home in Patna has died. Anamika, 27, died at a government hospital on Friday night, police said.Police have also rescued one of two inmates who had gone missing from the shelter home. She was found at Saguna Mor in Patna.Anamika had been taken to the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) after her condition deteriorated on Thursday night. “She was complaining of breathlessness and was severely anaemic. She died around 8 p.m. on Friday,” said Rajiv Ranjan Prasad, superintendent of PMCH. It was the third case of death of an inmate of the Aasra shelter home in the last three weeks.The government-funded home is run by the NGO Anumaya Human Resources Foundation. The secretary and treasurer of the shelter home, Chirantan Kumar and Manisha Dayal, were arrested after two of the inmates were brought dead to PMCH on August 10.Two missing inmates — Meera, 35, and Anita, 30 — were said to have run away from the home on Thursday. “We have found Anita and she is with the local police now,” said Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj. There are 68 women and girls, most of them physically challenged, living in the shelter home. After the arrest of the secretary and treasurer, the State Social Welfare Department deputed its own personnel for the home’s upkeep as an interim measure. “Several measures have been taken to improve the living conditions at Aasra shelter home,” said department director Raj Kumar. The department is also planning to shift this shelter home from the Rajiv Nagar area, said department officials.“Gradually, the government is taking over all the shelter homes run by NGOs in the state…such incidents are not acceptable and those found guilty will face action”, Krishnandan Verma, social welfare department minister said on Friday. Earlier, after the Muzaffarpur sexual abuse case involving 34 minor girls was exposed in a social audit report of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), the Nitish Kumar government had decided to phase out awarding contracts for running shelter homes. Chief minister Nitish Kumar had announced that “the government will run all the shelter and short stay homes in the state”. There are 110 shelter and short stay homes in the state and the conditions in most of them, as the TISS report had said, are “deplorable”.last_img read more

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Lucknow IPS officer dies, suicide suspected

first_imgA 30-year old Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, who had reportedly consumed some poisonous substance, died Sunday at a nursing home in Kanpur after battling for life for four days.Surendra Kumar Das, an officer of the 2014 batch, was posted as Superintendent of Police (East) in the city.A ‘suicide note’ was recovered from the scene of the incident; it mentioned “family issues” as the reason behind the extreme step.Dr. Rajesh Agarwal, a senior doctor at the nursing home where Mr. Das was undergoing treatment, had on Saturday said that many organs of the officer’s body had stopped functioning.Life supportHe was on life support in the intensive care unit. “He died during treatment on Sunday,” said an official spokesperson, adding that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had expressed deep condolences to the family.A police official said: “The [suicide] letter stated that he was doing so [taking his life] because of family issues. The letter was addressed to his wife and further stated that he loved her a lot. The end of the letter stated that no one else was responsible for it.” At 4 a.m. on Wednesday, his wife, a doctor, noticed that his health had deteriorated suddenly.ADGP Kanpur zone Avinash Chandra said in Kanpur that Mr. Das consumed a rat poison that he had asked his domestic help to fetch for him from the market.last_img read more

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State to launch start-up yatra to pick from rural ecosystem

first_imgThe Maharashtra government will tap into the vibrancy of the start-up ecosystem by launching a yatra to search for future entrepreneurs and unicorns in rural areas.Backward regionsThe month-long start-up yatra will be flagged off by the Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu and cover as many as 14 districts of Maharashtra, especially in the backwards regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada, officials said.A contingent of industrialists, bankers and investors will depart from Mumbai on October 3 and complete the month-long journey in the first week of November. “During the period we will hold boot camps looking for ideas and talent in the rural start-up system. The conclusion would be a two-day incubator camp in Mumbai,” said a State official.Rural outreachSenior officials said the yatra aims to support a start-up culture in the region, and at the same time reach out to the hinterland to “pick up start-ups”.The contingent will include representatives from 24 start-ups which have been shortlisted earlier this year to collaborate with the government to implement innovative projects.The state has already signed Letters of Intent with 24 start-ups for work orders worth ₹15 lakh as part of the Maharashtra Start up Week where over 2,000 participants made a pitch for their innovations at the event. The shortlisted start-ups are collaborating with the government over the next few months and work closely in areas such as infrastructure, healthcare, defence and the environment.As part of the State’s start-up policy, the rural outreach has been in the planning stage for a while, Minister for Labour and Skill Development Sambhaji Patil-Nilangekar said the most exciting part of the start-up week was, 18 of the 24 shortlisted firms are based in the rural regions of Maharashtra, and areas outside bigger cities. “We now want this start-up ecosystem to spread even to the rural areas,” he said.last_img read more

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‘Regional autonomy in J&K if NC wins polls’

first_imgNational Conference president and former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on Thursday said that if his party is voted to power in the upcoming Assembly elections, “regional autonomy will be granted in J&K within 30 days of his party forming the government”.“A roadmap in this regard has been drawn between 1996 and 2002 and the larger objective of regional autonomy will be politico-economic empowerment of all the regions of the State,” said Dr. Abdullah in Jammu. The National Conference moved a similar resolution on April 13, 1999, and was passed with a voice vote on June 26, 2000. The move triggered a major face-off between Dr. Abdullah’s government and the Centre. The resolution was rejected by Parliament without having any discussion. Dr. Abdullah’s fresh remarks on it came on a day when he welcomed former BJP leader Gagan Bhagat into his party. Mr. Bhagat was ex-MLA of the BJP from R.S. Pura. “A regional autonomy mechanism under overall superintendence of the State government will further strengthen the regional unity, which is imperative for singular entity of J&K,” said Dr. Abdullah.Rally plan foiledMeanwhile, NC workers in Srinagar made an attempt to take out a rally over the killing of seven civilians in security forces firing in Pulwama. However, the police foiled the rally, which was led by NC general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar.last_img read more

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Mamata dares Modi to prove she took money for paintings

first_imgWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to prove that she took money selling her paintings.The TMC chief’s strong reaction comes after BJP president Amit Shah on Tuesday alleged Ms. Banerjee’s paintings were bought by chit fund owners for crores of rupees.Addressing a public meeting here, Ms. Banerjee said the BJP leaders have no courtesy and her party has initiated defamation proceedings “over the baseless allegation“.“Modi Babu (PM), I challenge you to prove that I have taken a single penny (for selling the paintings) in my account. You talk like a barbarian and have no courtesy,” Ms. Banerjee said.last_img read more

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ScienceShot: Northern Rivers Are Melting Arctic Ice

first_imgWarm water flowing into the Arctic Ocean may be speeding the melting of sea ice, according to a new analysis of NASA satellite images. In 2012, for example, a year in which Arctic sea ice reached a record low for the past 30 years, Canada’s Mackenzie River delta was fringed with a swath of ice during late spring (light blue stripe at lower center of top panel, image taken 14 June) and open waters offshore remained near freezing (dark blue). But 3 weeks later (image at bottom), river runoff had broken through the ice barrier, warming the surface waters of a Poland-sized area of open water by an average of 6.5°C, the researchers report in Geophysical Research Letters. A combination of factors has rendered Arctic sea ice vulnerable in recent years, the team contends: The overall volume of river runoff dumped into the Arctic Ocean has grown (by more than 7% between 1965 and 2000), that water has been increasingly warm (picking up heat from the sun-warmed land before it flows into the sea), and sea ice cover has become ever thinner and more fragmented (thus making it easier to melt). Presuming that the runoff from the 72 major rivers flowing into the Arctic Ocean has an average temperature of 5°C, the amount of energy transported to the sea each and every year is equivalent to the amount of electric power used by the entire state of California in 50 years at today’s usage rates, the researchers estimate.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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Computer Game Reveals ‘Space-Time’ Neurons in the Eye

first_imgYou open the overstuffed kitchen cabinet and a drinking glass tumbles out. With a ninjalike reflex, you snatch it before it shatters on the floor, as if the movement of the object were being tracked before the information even reached your brain. According to one idea of how the circuitry of the eye processes visual data, that is literally what happens. Now, a deep anatomical study of a mouse retina—carried out by 120,000 members of the public—is bringing scientists a step closer to confirming the hypothesis.Researchers have known for decades that the eye does much more than just detect light. The dense patch of neurons in the retina also processes basic features of a scene before sending the information to the brain. For example, in 1964, scientists showed that some neurons in the retina fire up only in response to motion. What’s more, these “space-time” detectors have so-called direction selectivity, each one sensitive to objects moving in different directions. But exactly how that processing happens in the retina has remained a mystery.The stumbling block is a lack of fine-grained anatomical detail about how the neurons in the retina are wired up to each other. Although researchers have imaged the retina microscopically in ultrathin sections, no computer algorithm has been able to accurately trace out the borders of all the neurons to map the circuitry. At this point, only humans have good enough spatial reasoning to figure out what is part of a branching cell and what is just background noise in the images.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(*)Enter the EyeWire project, an online game that recruits volunteers to map out those cellular contours within a mouse’s retina. The game was created and launched in December 2012 by a team led by H. Sebastian Seung, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Players navigate their way through the retina one 4.5-micrometer tissue block at a time, coloring the branches of neurons along the way. Most of the effort gets done in massive online competitions between players vying to map out the most volume. (Watch a video of a player walking through a tissue block here.) By last week, the 120,000 EyeWire players had completed 2.3 million blocks. That may sound like a lot, but it is less than 2% of the retina.The sample is already enough to reveal new features, however. The EyeWire map shows two types of retinal cells with unprecedented resolution. The first, called starburst amacrine cells (SACs), have branches spread out in a flat, plate-shaped array perpendicular to the incoming light. The second, called bipolar cells (BPs), are smaller and bushy. The BPs come in two varieties, one of which reacts to light more slowly than the other—a time delay of about 50 milliseconds. The SACs and BPs are known to be related to direction sensitivity, but exactly how they sense direction remains to be discovered.Seung says the EyeWire map of how SACs and BPs are wired together holds the answer: a time-delay circuit. Because of the arrangement of BPs, the movement of an object across the surface of a SAC should make it fire up only in reaction to movement in one direction. The key insight is that BPs are not connected to the SAC branches willy-nilly, as was thought. Instead, the faster variety of BP clusters far out on the edges of the SAC, while the slower firing variety clusters close to the SAC center. Only if the light from an object moves from the center of the SAC outward does the signal from the innermost BP sync up with the faster outer BP, and that combined signal is required to activate the SAC. If instead the movement is in the opposite direction, those signals are out of sync and the SAC does not fire. Though it has yet to be confirmed experimentally, this mechanism could account for how the neurons in the retina detect the direction of movement of a moving object long before the information reaches the brain, the team reported online yesterday in Nature.The study is “truly amazing,” says Alexander Borst, a neuroscientist at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried, Germany. Last year, Borst led the effort to map out a similar arrangement of neurons in the eye of a fruit fly. “This mechanism seems to be almost identical with the one proposed for direction selectivity in the insect visual system,” he says. If true, then some of the built-in functionality of the eye was likely invented more than 500 million years ago, when insects and vertebrates shared a common ancestor.last_img read more

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No scientific basis for gay-specific mental disorders, WHO panel concludes

first_imgLook up the code F66.0 in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), the world’s most widely used diagnostic reference, and you’ll find sexual maturation disorder. That seemingly official psychological condition occurs when uncertainty about sexual orientation makes a person depressed or anxious, according to the ICD. Rooted in Freudian theory, which views homosexuality as merely an “immature” state of sexual development, a gay teenager could be labeled mentally ill under this category simply because he is grappling with conflicting or confusing sexual desires, notes Susan Cochran, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Today, it’s not clear that any such linear trajectory of sexual development exists, Cochran says. After reviewing decades of psychological and epidemiological studies on sexual orientation and mental health, she and others on a panel appointed by the World Health Organization (WHO) have recommended that F66.0 and four other homosexuality-related psychological disorders be stricken from the ICD.   “It is not justifiable from a clinical, public health or research perspective for a diagnostic classification to be based on sexual orientation,” the group wrote in a report released last month. All such classifications need to be eliminated from the ICD not only because they lack scientific basis or clinical utility, but also as a “human rights issue,” says Cochran, who led the working group.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 recommendations must undergo several reviews now, including a vote by ministers of health from more than 170 of the WHO countries. There is likely to be “tremendous pushback” from countries in which homosexuality is considered an illness or a crime, says epidemiologist Chris Beyrer of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. The anti-homosexuality laws recently passed in Russia, Uganda, and Nigeria and others now being debated in other countries makes this “precisely the right time for the WHO to stand up, take an evidence-based approach and say [homosexuality] is not a pathology,” he says.Every medical incident reported in the roughly 170 countries that belong to WHO gets an ICD code used for insurance billing, medical records, and epidemiological research. The WHO panel’s recommendation to eliminate all sexual orientation–related disorders in the ICD echoes changes that occurred in the United States decades ago, says psychiatrist Jack Drescher of New York Medical College in Valhalla, who was also on the WHO panel. In the 1970s, there was a “big fight” within the American Psychiatric Association (APA) over whether homosexuality should be considered a mental illness, Drescher says.Although APA removed the diagnosis from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973, they replaced it with a new disorder called sexual orientation disturbance as a political compromise, he says. This was later changed to ego-dystonic homosexuality. The disorder referred to the anxiety or depression one might feel about being homosexual or the desire to change one’s sexual orientation. For example, if a woman found after 10 years of marriage to a man that she was attracted to women, she could be considered mentally ill.The condition, still listed in the ICD, was “created out of air,” Drescher says. By 1987, most clinicians who supported the diagnosis had left APA, enabling the organization to eliminate sexual orientation–related disorders altogether from the DSM, he says. Drescher, Cochran, and other scientists hope that a similar moment is coming for the ICD, which deleted homosexuality as a disorder in 1990. “It was surprising” to discover how few studies have been published on the five remaining diagnostic categories over the past 20 years, Cochran says. In addition, the diagnoses “have not generated a body of research, are not routinely reported to WHO by any Member State and are not used in WHO’s calculations of the global burden of disease,” according to the report.Based on this evidence, the working group recommends that physicians treat anxiety or depression in gay and bisexual people as they would in anyone else. As it now stands, the diagnoses can be misused to justify “conversion” treatments considered unethical by mental health professionals and can obscure “very normal” reactions to harassment and prejudice that gays encounter on a regular basis, Cochran says. For his own part, Drescher doesn’t have much hope the panel’s recommendations will prompt changes in countries where gays are being persecuted. Drescher helped prepare a letter explaining the scientific understanding of homosexuality to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni before the president signed an antigay bill into law. Yet Museveni simply put together his own group of scientists “who reviewed our material and came to exactly the opposite conclusion,” Drescher says. “I don’t think [science] really matters in these witch hunts.”After Cochran’s group drafted its recommendations, WHO appointed a second panel of reviewers, including mental health researchers and physicians from countries where homosexuality is highly stigmatized or criminalized, such as Saudi Arabia and Russia. Of this group, “none of the peer reviewers tried to make a case that these categories should be retained,” says Geoffrey Reed, senior WHO project officer for the revision of the section of ICD dealing with mental and behavioral disorders.One presenter to the working group from Iran did claim that the sexual orientation–related diagnoses protect gays from prison or execution by providing a medical explanation for their actions, Drescher says. After consulting with organizations that track such issues worldwide, however, the group could not find a single instance in which a gay person had used such a defense.Now that the recommendations are out, WHO will perform extensive field tests in Mexico, Brazil, India, Lebanon, South Africa, and other countries to determine if the new criteria help clinicians make more accurate diagnoses, using case examples as well as real-life health settings, Reed says. The fact that the recommendations are grounded in data “doesn’t automatically mean people will be persuaded,” he acknowledges, but “our job is to assemble the best evidence that we can.”*Correction, 7 July, 11:11 a.m.: This article has been corrected to reflect that in 1973, APA replaced homosexuality with a new disorder called sexual orientation disturbance, which was later changed to ego-dystonic homosexuality.last_img read more

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Marmosets may help humans fight deadly coronavirus

first_imgAn animal model that closely mimics a disease in humans gives a huge boost to researchers attempting to combat it. But those developed to date for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which has caused nearly 900 cases of disease in humans since emerging in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has killed about one-third of these people, all have serious shortcomings. Although the virus is thought to jump into humans from camels, it’s still unclear whether it causes illnesses in dromedaries. (Besides, camels aren’t exactly known to be cooperative lab animals.) And rhesus macaques, arguably the best model yet developed, rarely develop severe or lethal cases of the disease like humans do. Now, researchers who helped developed the rhesus model think they may have found a much better one: marmosets. They have evidence that MERS-CoV behaves much the same way in these New World monkeys as it does in humans: copying itself to high levels, spreading widely through the lungs, and causing life-threatening pneumonia. What’s more, marmosets and humans have identical amino acids in a critical region of the receptor that MERS-CoV uses to infect cells, they report today in PLOS Pathogens. The development of the marmoset model could have a “major impact” in the search for drugs and vaccines against MERS-CoV, the scientists say.last_img read more

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Top stories: Martian canyons, a giant sea creature, and foreign DNA in our genome

first_imgIn a turnabout, key congressional critic backs NSF peer reviewA political dispute involving the National Science Foundation (NSF) that has taken on near-biblical importance within the scientific community may be inching closer to resolution. A new statement from Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), the chair of the science committee in the U.S. House of Representatives that oversees NSF, appears to be a significant softening of his long-standing criticism of NSF’s grantsmaking process. And although a different congressional panel is expected to register the same complaint against the agency at a hearing next week, the shift in the political landscape is good news for U.S. scientists.Warming Arctic may be causing heat waves elsewhere in worldSign 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(*)Global warming is increasing temperatures twice as fast in the Arctic as elsewhere on the planet. Some scientists have suggested that this so-called Arctic amplification can alter circulation patterns that affect weather in the United States, Europe, and Asia, potentially helping cause the powerful winter storms and deep freezes that have blasted the midlatitudes over the past decade. A new study suggests Arctic warming could ultimately pack a summertime punch, too, possibly contributing to extreme events such as the deadly 2010 Russian heat wave.Humans may harbor more than 100 genes from other organismsYou’re not completely human, at least when it comes to the genetic material inside your cells. You—and everyone else—may harbor as many as 145 genes that have jumped from bacteria, other single-celled organisms, and viruses and made themselves at home in the human genome. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which provides some of the broadest evidence yet that, throughout evolutionary history, genes from other branches of life have become part of animal cells.Newly discovered sea creature was once the largest animal on EarthAlmost half a billion years ago, the largest animal on Earth was a 2-meter-long, helmet-headed sea creature that fed on some of the ocean’s tiniest prey. The newly described species is one of the largest arthropods yet discovered, a class of animals that includes spiders and crabs. The well-preserved remains of the multisegmented creature are providing clues about how subsequent arthropods’ legs may have evolved from the dozens of stubby flaps used to propel this beast through the water.Researchers nearly double the size of worker antsResearchers have changed the size of a handful of Florida ants by chemically modifying their DNA, rather than by changing its encoded information. The work is the latest advance from a field known as epigenetics and may help explain how the insects—despite their high degree of genetic similarity—grow into the different varieties of workers needed in a colony.Sugar industry shaped NIH agenda on dental researchThe sugar industry convinced the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) that studies that might persuade people to cut back on sugary foods should not be part of a national plan to fight childhood tooth decay, a new study of historical documents argues. The authors say the industry’s activities, which occurred more than 40 years ago, are reminiscent of the tobacco companies’ efforts to minimize the risks of smoking.Martian canyons may have been carved by windAncient canyons scar the surface of Mars, a relic from a time billions of years ago when rivers flowed on its surface. But water may not be the only factor that shaped these canyons—the wind whipping through them could be just as important, according to a new study of river canyons on Earth. Scientists studying chasms in the Andes mountains in northeast Chile have found that wind carves some canyons 10 times faster than water. The discovery may be significant for understanding how much water flowed on the surface of ancient Mars.last_img read more

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Foreign Medical Graduates

first_imgPhysicians with U.S. postgraduate degrees can now practice medicine in India and teach at the country’s medical colleges.The health ministry has decided to recognize advanced medical degrees from the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand in a bid to encourage Indian doctors to return home to meet the growing shortage of physicians in the country. There is one doctor per 1,634 people in India. Thus far, India has only recognized medical degrees from countries with which it had reciprocal agreements to recognize Indian degrees, such as Bangladesh, Ireland and Nepal. Recognition of medical degrees from Japan, France, Germany and other European nations is in the offing.The Medical Council of India has opposed the move, protesting that many foreign institutions are inadequate or inconsistent with the Indian medical educational system, so allowing “doctors with such degrees to teach and practice in India seriously risked patient health.”  Related Itemslast_img read more

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