The BSP on Wednesday expelled its legislator Nasimuddin Siddiqui and his son from the party for carrying out “anti-party” activities.BSP General Secretary and Rajya Sabha member Satish Chandra Mishra said Mr. Nasimuddin has also been accused of accepting money from people in return for work.Mr. Nasimuddin and his son Mr. Afzal were expelled for indulging in anti-party activities, he said, adding that the BSP will not tolerate such indiscipline.
Is Darjeeling stir killing tea and tourism? Production has also dropped by 10.1 % in Assam, the Tea Board said. The state which accounts for half the Indian tea production of around 1200 million kgs, was affected by floods. Two other tea-producing regions of West Bengal, Dooars and Terai in the sub-Himalayan region, reported increased production in June.South India also reported rise in output in two of its three tea-producing states. Overall, Indian tea crop was 2.8 % lower in June with a crop of 143 million kgs. Small growers contributed 68.2 million kgs of the output denoting a rising share. Darjeeling tea crop has dropped 89.5 % in June, following total work stoppage at the gardens on account of the turmoil sparked by the Gorkha Jana Mukti (GJM) agitation over demanding statehood.Figures just released by the Tea Board of India, estimated the Darjeeling tea crop to be only around 0.14 million kgs in June 2017 against the 1.3 million kgs crop of June 2016.The trouble, which started with announcements of making Bengali compulsory in all West Bengal schools, snowballed into a major crisis following the clampdown by the state government on leaders and offices of GJM. The total shutdown began on June 15. The crop loss has almost washed away the premium second flush tea crop and there may soon be no Darjeeling tea offerings at the tea auctions in Calcutta.Also Read
NAGPUR: Two IPS officers posted in Chhattisgarh have been served retirement orders by the Union government “in public interest”. “Mr. A. M. Juri of 2000 batch and Mr. K.C Agarwal of 2002 batch have been asked to take retirement in public interest after completion of 15 years of complimentary service. The order has been served to the two concerned officers,” said Mr. Abhishekh Pathak, Assistant Inspector General of Police, in charge of administration in Chhattisgarh police headquarters. Both officers held the rank of the Deputy Inspector General of Police. They could not be reached for their reactions. Both officers have departmental inquiries pending against them.
The water crisis has returned to haunt Shimla once again, after a few days of respite. More than a third of the population went without water on Saturday morning. The residents of ‘Zone III’ had to move out of their homes after failing to get the water supply promised by the municipal authorities. Due to the heavy rain on Friday night that resulted in silt accumulation, the water pumps stopped working, said the municipal staff when contacted by the residents. “But the same staff had the water to supply in the morning to select VIPs”, complained the majority residents who were seen running to their houses in the evening in hope to get some tap water, expected to be released in the evening.
A ‘Khet Bachao Kisan Bachao’ (save farms, save farmers) yatra, which will start on July 11 from Nindar village, near here, will highlight agricultural distress and the BJP government’s “indifference” to the plight of farmers who are denied remunerative prices for their crops, vegetables and dairy products, while their land is acquired without their consent.The farmers of Nindar had made headlines in October last year when they dug pits and trenches and buried themselves waist-deep in the mud for a month to protest against acquisition of their land for a housing project. The unusual demonstration, barely 20 km from Jaipur, had forced the State government to hold talks with the peasants, though the issue has not yet been fully resolved.The yatra’s convenor Nagendra Singh Shekhawat said here on Monday that the march was aimed at bringing unity among the farmers and giving them a platform where they could voice their grievances and raise demands. “Despite toiling for several months, farmers are unable to get even the input costs for their produce. On the other hand, the government is simply not concerned.”‘No mass movement’Addressing a press conference, Dr. Shekhawat said the farmers’ agitations in the past had not succeeded mostly because they were restricted to a single village panchayat or tehsil and the farmers living elsewhere could not join them due to lack of awareness. The yatra will cover 2,500 villages of Jaipur district in one and a half months.The yatra will be followed by a massive ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’, which will raise the issues of farmers being subjected to repressive measures which have deprived them of a decent livelihood and land rights. While affirming that the yatra had no connection with the coming State Assembly elections, Dr. Shekhawat said Rajasthan had not witnessed any major farmers’ agitation during the last three decades because of lack of networking of the rural populace.The demands to be raised during the yatra will include right prices for milk and farm produce, rehabilitation of farmers before acquisition of land, immediate halt to land acquisition in 20 villages of Bara Padampura for a greenfield airport.
The Rajasthan State Human Rights Commission has posed some serious questions to the State government about the authority and permission to run drug rehabilitation centres after the death of a young man during treatment for de-addiction at a centre in Jodhpur. The commission has specifically asked about qualifications of persons running such centres.The commission’s enquiry came on a complaint filed at its camp hearing in Jodhpur earlier this week. Complainant Imran Khan stated that his brother Sajid had died during treatment at a rehabilitation centre in the city and the police had launched investigation after registering a case under Section 304-A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code.‘Guidelines violated’Mr. Khan sought the directions for probe into his brother’s death as a murder case, while alleging that the rehabilitation centres, which charged thousands of rupees for treatment, did not even have the basic facilities. No qualified persons were available there for consultation and treatment and the Centre’s guidelines were being “violated with impunity”, he said.The commission’s Chairperson, Justice Prakash Tatia, observed in his order that it was necessary to know whether de-addiction had evolved as an independent subject of medicine and whether specialised treatments were available for different types of addiction.The commission directed the State’s Principal Medical & Health Secretary to provide information about the official authority which gives permission for establishing the rehabilitation centres as well as the provision for their monitoring. The commission has asked the Principal Secretary to file the reply by October 30, when the case will come up for further hearing.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on Saturday reached out to sections of the society falling outside the traditional “MY” (Muslims and Yadavs) base, asserting that his party belonged to “all poor, deprived and exploited people”. At a conference of the Extremely Backward Classes held here by his party, the former Bihar Deputy CM attempted to make inroads into the social segment which has hitherto been, largely, with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U). RJD from its supreme leader Lalu Prasad’s days have been enjoying support from numerically important Yadav caste and muslims which constitutes large chunk of voters in the State. He also said that he was in favour of the uplift of the poor among the upper castes but pointed out that there was no provision in the Constitution for quotas on economic grounds. The RJD heir apparent also attacked Mr. Kumar for having betrayed the mandate of 2015 Assembly polls by walking out of the Grand Alliance and claimed “had we joined hands with the BJP, I might have become the Chief Minister. But unlike chacha (uncle – the term he often uses to describe Mr. Kumar) we are not interested in chair but prefer to work for the people”.‘Nitish power hungry’ “His hunger for power made him side with the BJP in the 1990s when the Mandal movement was fresh. He did it again at a time we were engaged in a historically important fight against the BJP which is now in power and has imposed an undeclared Emergency”, Mr. Yadav alleged. Training his guns at the BJP, Mr. Yadav who is also the Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly, said “an attempt is being made to trigger communal frenzy so that people lose sight of what government is doing”.
A day after the grenade attack on a religious congregation at village Adliwal near Amritsar killed three persons, Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh said the device used was similar to the HG-84 grenade recovered from a terror module busted by the police last month. Capt. Singh said initial investigations indicate that the grenade used was similar to the ones being manufactured by the Pakistan Army ordnance factory. ‘Not religious discord’He ruled out that the attack was a result of discord between the Sant Nirankari Mission and traditional Sikhs.Capt. Singh was in Adliwal village to take stock of the situation. He said the grenade indicated a high probability of the involvement of inimical forces from across the border.A senior Home Ministry official said in Delhi that consultations were on with the State government to hand over the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).“As of now, no links of the attack to the Zakir Musa group has emerged. An NIA team visited the spot and various agencies are working on it,” the Home Ministry official told The Hindu. Last week, the Punjab police had been put on high alert following intelligence regarding movement of Zakir Musa, the chief of the J&K-based terror outfit Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, near Amritsar.Capt. Singh said the attack seemed to carry Pakistan’s signature. “Prima facie, this appears to be an act of terror by separatist forces, organised with the involvement of ISI-backed Khalistani or Kashmiri terrorist groups,” said Capt. Singh, adding that his government was aggressively pursuing all angles of investigation.₹50 lakh for information“The culprits will soon be arrested. The State government has announced ₹50 lakh as reward for any information leading to the arrest of the assailants,” he said, adding that the NIA was also helping in the investigations.In reply to a question, he said, “The attack cannot be equated with the Nirankari conflict in 1978, as that was a religious matter and the Adliwal incident was purely a case of terrorism. Violence between the Sant Nirankari Mission and traditional Sikhs on 13th April 1978 in Amritsar left 13 dead, and sparked the subsequent wave of terrorism in the State. Sunday’s incident had no religious overtones, as per initial investigations.”Inspector General of Police, border range (Amritsar), S.P.S Parmar told The Hindu that the police had unearthed certain leads and they were being investigated. “As of now the assailants have not been identified or arrested,” he said. Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore has asked the Chandigarh police to be on high alert and ensure complete security to the people at religious places, especially Nirankari missions in and around the Union Territory.
A round table on #MeToo organised recently by Saad Aangan, a local women’s collective in collaboration with International Centre Goa, on International Day to End Violence Against Women, recognised that while all women are vulnerable to sexual harassment, they are differently placed in protecting themselves from it.Even as opinions differed, it was acknowledged that #MeToo has catalysed and provoked thinking on the limitations in the law, lack of transparency, accountability, and the lens from which experiences of sexual harassment are being viewed. The round table saw the participation of a diverse group of people speaking out their lived experiences from different perspectives – as survivors, hand holders, supporters, members (internal and external) of Internal Complaints Committees (ICCs), presenting officers in inquiry, representatives of women, transgender, persons with disability, domestic workers and civil society organisations, lawyer, counsellors, and others. Participants noted the social and economic factors, including familial pressures, inhibiting women from lodging complaints or approaching the ICCs and a demand was made that the three-month provision for lodging a complaint must go.“There was consensus on the need for different boundaries in the context of different work locations. It was felt that in each context, protocols have to be in place. However, the issues of boundaries and sense of male entitlement are itself something that need reflection, discussion, and more conversation,” Advocate Albertina Almeida, convenor from Saad Angan told The Hindu.Participants specially articulated the role of the State and the role of the employer and focused on limitations like abdication by the State of its role in proactively disseminating information, enabling and ensuring access to local complaints committees and ICCs, constitution of ICCs in conducting age appropriate sexuality education in educational institutions. They remarked that ensuring rights of women were low priority with the State.The pushback kind of trauma and victimization that survivors and supporters of survivors go through was vividly articulated, and gave a strong sense of the failure of the systems to understand and grapple with a range of issues from inappropriate interventions, to the ignorance or negligence or disregard or insensitivity of the ICCs where the woman is treated as a liar till proven innocent, to the non-constitution of committees, and lack of awareness creation and capacity building about the prevention, prohibition and redressal of sexual harassment at the workplace.The social determinants of vulnerability such as housing of domestic workers, and the pressures on workers not to unionise, also came under scrutiny as Aruna Chari, president of Goa Domestic Workers’ Union pointed out how vulnerable were the domestic workers, including teenage girls who work in homes and have no redressal mechanism.Good practices of employers organising meetings and being responsive to draw protocols to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace were also shared by participants. Potential of Legal Services Authorities creating awareness about the law, and also legal aid clubs, and creation of educational material and orientation modules to effectively sensitise were also discussed.A key observation was the ironical invisibility of the complainant, presenting officer, and even the ICC itself to the employer once the inquiry is completed and sometimes even while the inquiry is in progress, and the non-intimation to them about the status of the complaint. The hesitation by employers to organize any orientation programmes, or to organize them in a haphazard manner, was also highlighted by participants.The marshalling of provisions for women, such as confidentiality and conciliation, need for ensuring a level-playing field between complainant and “VIP accused”, the intimidation of legal language, the heavy burden placed on complainants to produce evidence, the application of criminal case standards to inquiries in complaints of sexual harassment, were other areas of concern.“It was largely felt that the challenge is to ensure procedures through which the rule of law prevails with due consideration to the special needs of survivors and principles of natural justice,” said Adv. Almeida.
Hundreds of commuters were affected on Monday as rail traffic was disrupted during a day-long agitation called by Milita Kriyanusthan Committeee, Balangir, for the establishment of a permanent Bench of the Orissa High Court in Balangir.Trains were cancelled, diverted, rescheduled and short-terminated as protesters squatted on the railway track in Balangir and Titlagarh.The Rourkela-Koraput-Rourkela Express and Jagdalpur-Durg-Jagdalpur Express were cancelled from both directions on Monday. The Visakhapatnam-Durg-Visakhapatnam Express was also cancelled between Rayagada-Durg from both directions.Long-distance trains such as Lokmanya Tilak-Puri Express, Ahamedabad-Puri Express, Durg-Puri Express and Alleppey-Dhanbad Express were diverted to other routes.Timings of three trains – Korba-Visakhapatnam Express, Visakhapatnam-Korba Express and Hatia-Ernakulam Express – were revised.Centrally locatedNormal life came to a grinding halt in Balangir district where people, including political leaders, intellectuals and students, joined the strike in support of establishment of a permanent Bench. They said since the western Odisha town is centrally located, it would be befitting if the place is chosen for a permanent HC Bench.The disruption in train movement in the Sambalpur-Titlagarh section came to haunt commuters days after a similar two-day-long rail roko was observed in Sambalpur and other western Odisha districts over the same demand.The Central Action Committee, which is spearheading the agitation for establishment of a permanent Bench in western Odisha districts, had enforced a two-day shutdown on November 29 and 30. Several trains had to be cancelled.Except banks, post offices and the district treasury, all State and Central government offices have remained closed since November 19. The Odisha government had recommended the establishment of permanent Benches – one each in western and south Odisha – to the Centre on September 5. Subsequently, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had replied to the State government seeking comprehensive proposals on the establishment of Benches along with the consent of the Orissa High Court. However, there has been no progress since the second week of September.
An accused in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots was found dead under mysterious circumstances at Sikheda village, police said on Monday.Sodan Singh’s body was found on Sunday evening, hanging from the ceiling of a room that housed a tubewell. The body had been sent for post-mortem and the matter was being investigated, police said.Singh’s son has lodged a complaint at the local police station, alleging that his 60-year-old father was murdered.Based on the complaint, a case was registered against Anup, Rajesh, Sunil Kumar and Ramgopal, police said.The communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas in August and September 2013 claimed more than 60 lives and displaced over 40,000 people.Singh was also named as an accused in a sexual harassment case.
A day before the crucial Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting to be held in Gujarat, the Congress legislator Vallabh Dharaviya resigned from the party and joined the BJP. He represented Jamnagar Rural assembly seat in the house.A first-time legislator, Mr. Dharaviya on Monday morning resigned as a Member of the State Assembly and immediately joined the BJP. Earlier, two MLAs Jawahar Chavda and Parshottam Sabaria had resigned and defected to the BJP.“I have decided to join BJP because there is no vision in the Congress leadership,” Mr. Dharaviya told mediapersons at the State BJP headquarters where he joined in the party in presence of State leaders.So far, as many as five Congress legislators have resigned and joined hands with the ruling party in Gujarat. The growing list of Congress Members joining BJP began with senior Koli leader and MLA Kuvarji Bavalia, who defected to the ruling party in 2018. He was made a Cabinet Minister immediately.Recently, Javahar Chavda, a four-time MLA, resigned from the party and was made a Cabinet Minister next day. Other MLAs who resigned and joined BJP were Dr. Asha Patel and Parshottam Sabaria.“BJP is misusing the state machinery and also offering money to lure Congress MLAs in Gujarat. This indicates their panic because even in Gujarat, BJP will lose large number of Lok Sabha seats,” said Congress General Secretary in charge of Gujarat Rajeev Satav.Gujarat has 26 Lok Sabha seats and BJP won all of them in 2014. However, in the 2017 Assembly polls, BJP suffered heavy loses as it could win only 99 out of 182 assembly seats while Congress registered its best performance winning 77 seats in last two decades.
We humans are good at deciphering others’ emotional states from the sounds they make. A baby’s laugh tells us instantly that she is happy; similarly, we have no trouble knowing that a dog’s spirited bark is a sound of joy. Indeed, previous studies have shown that we’re adept at distinguishing the barks of lonely, angry, and happy dogs. Are there, then, similar features that we listen for when we hear a baby’s laugh and a dog’s happy bark, or a man’s angry cough and a dog’s growl? To find out, a team of researchers devised an online survey to assess how humans perceive the emotional content of human and dog vocalizations. Thirty-nine people were recruited to take the survey. They listened to randomly played nonverbal sounds, such as a woman cooing, a man snorting, a baby giggling, and a dog growling or barking. The volunteers rated each sound on a positive to negative scale and its emotional intensity. The researchers’ statistical analysis revealed a striking relationship between how the listeners rated the emotional aspect of each sound and its acoustics. Thus, shorter calls—whether human or dog—were regarded as more emotionally positive than longer calls; and higher pitched samples were rated as more emotionally intense than lower pitched sounds for both species, the team reports online today in Biology Letters. By following these same simple rules, they conclude, it may be possible to develop easily recognized artificial emotions in social robots.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(*)
A search of National Institutes of Health (NIH) laboratories for forgotten infectious agents has turned up a handful of dangerous bacteria and toxins in labs not approved to handle them, according toThe Washington Post, which broke the story late Friday.The samples included two vials of plague bacteria (Yersinia pestis); two vials of Burkholderia pseudomallei, which causes the tropical disease melioidosis; three vials of tularemia bacteria; two vials of botulinum toxin; and a sample of deadly ricin in an old collection dating to 1914. These agents and toxins are all on the federal select agent list, which means they must be registered and handled only by approved labs.The Post also reported that in July, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found samples of staphylococcal enterotoxin, which can cause food poisoning, in an unapproved lab. The finds came as part of a sweep for select agents at NIH and other federal agencies launched after six vials of live smallpox dated 1954 were found in July in a cold storage room in an FDA lab on the NIH campus.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 5 September memo from NIH Director Francis Collins to staff (see below) says that the bacteria samples were all stored at NIH’s Clinical Center. The Burkholderia pseudomallei samples were an isolate from a patient; the others were testing samples. Ricin, a substance derived from castor beans that has been used in bioterror attacks, “has legitimate lab uses in very small quantities,” but was not in use in this lab, the memo says. As for botulinum toxin, the public may know it best as Botox, the substance injected in foreheads to erase wrinkles.Collins describes the discoveries as “a small number of instances where select agents were improperly stored.” Nobody was exposed to the agents and toxins, which were in sealed containers. Still, “[t]he finding of these agents and toxins highlights the need for constant vigilance in monitoring laboratory materials in compliance with federal regulations on biosafety,” Collins wrote. NIH expects to issue a status report on its campuswide inventory in early October.THE FULL TEXT OF THE NIH MEMO:From: Exec Sec1 (NIH/OD)Sent: Friday, September 05, 2014 12:43 PMTo: NIH-STAFF@LIST.NIH.GOVSubject: Interim Update on Comprehensive Sweep at the NIH from the Director, NIHDear NIH Colleagues:As we recognize National Biosafety Stewardship Month, I thought this would be a good opportunity to provide you with an interim update on the progress of our comprehensive search underway at NIH facilities for improperly stored select agents, toxins, or hazardous biological materials. Two weeks ago, Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, sent a joint memo (http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/08/28/ensuring-biosafety-and-biosecurity-us-laboratories) to all federal departments and agencies involved in life-sciences research to conduct a “Safety Stand-Down” in the near-term, during which senior leaders would review laboratory biosafety and biosecurity best practices and protocols, and would develop and implement plans for sustained inventory monitoring. In fact, we had a head start and initiated our sweep back in July, shortly after smallpox was found at an Food and Drug Administration lab located on the NIH campus. So far, we have found a small number of instances where select agents were improperly stored.Importantly, all of the agents found were in sealed and intact containers and there were no personnel exposures associated with the storage or discovery of these vials or samples. All of these agents have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and destroyed in compliance with select agent regulations.Three select agents were found at the NIH Clinical Center Department of Laboratory Medicine, which as you are probably aware, has thousands of microbial isolates from a historical collection. This department also stores microorganisms for the purpose of proficiency testing of laboratory clinical operations as well as libraries of samples collected for scientific purposes. The select agents found in this laboratory were:* Burkholderia pseudomallei, a patient microbial isolate. B. pseudomallei causes melioidosis, which is an uncommon bacterial infection usually found in tropical or sub-tropical areas.* Francisella tularensis, the cause of tularemia also known as Rabbit Fever, that was a College of American Pathologists (CAP) proficiency testing samples.* Two small lab vials of Yersinia pestis, the cause of plague, is an acute bacterial infection transmitted to humans and some domestic animals by fleas that come from infected rodents. There have not been any human-to-human transmissions of plague in the United States since around 1925. This was also a CAP proficiency testing sample.Two additional agents were found in other NIH laboratories:* One bottle of ricin of unknown quantity, but labeled 5 grams. Ricin is very poisonous if inhaled, injected, or ingested; it acts as a toxin by inhibiting protein synthesis. This sample was found in a historical collection dating from 1914 and is thought to be 85-100 years old. Ricin has legitimate lab uses in very small quantities. * Botulinum neurotoxin in individual quantities below the regulatory limits, but in aggregate quantities above the allowable limit. This neurotoxin is the cause of botulism, which is a rare, but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.As of this interim update, there have been no other improperly stored hazardous materials identified.I want to reiterate there were no personnel exposures associated with the storage or discovery of these vials or samples. And there is no evidence to suggest there was a safety risk to anyone in the lab, the surrounding areas, or the community. The finding of these agents and toxins highlights the need for constant vigilance in monitoring laboratory materials in compliance with federal regulations on biosafety. The safety of NIH employees and the public is of paramount importance and we ask for your continued diligence in review of your laboratories during this search.I encourage you to review the Biosafety Stewardship Month materials on the NIH website: http://www.nih.gov/science/index.html#safety. I will update you again in early October, when a preliminary status report is expected. Thank you for helping to protect the health and well-being of NIH staff, patients, and the public. Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
Amazon on Friday said India continues to be a “good story” for the US e-tailing giant, even as its losses from its international operations widened to $919 million for the December 2017 quarter.The operating loss in Amazon’s international business was at $487 million during the year-ago period.However, net sales in the segment grew to $18.03 billion in the fourth quarter, from $13.96 billion a year ago.Read it at Business Standard Related Items
Sumar Khatri sits cross-legged on the bare floor of his house. A blue plastic container that looks just like a simple spice box, found in most Indian kitchens, is lying open next to him. Inside, however, are an array of pigments soaked in water.He works oblivious to his surroundings in what looks like a composed scene. He takes some of the yellow dye, places it on the heel of his hand and mixes it with a metal stylus.Read it at Live Mint Related Items
It was at Oxford this week that I overheard two suitably grey-haired dons explain the difference of a hard Brexit and “anything else”. It was, they said, “like the difference between getting a hard-boiled egg and a soft-boiled egg – no matter what, you still have to break the shell!”Read it at Fortune India Related Items
The silky sunrays kiss your forehead, the cool breeze caresses your hair and the fragrant air infuses your spirit with prana (life force). Step out of your room, holding your bespoke hot cuppa and sit in the veranda of this old colonial building set amidst lush tea estates. Watch tea-pickers pluck the newest leaves and toss them into the wicker baskets on their backs or witness the soft drops of the hill rain turn the landscape into a misty wonderland. Enjoy a fascinating tea tour and indulge in flavorful tea tasting sessions. What’s more, with the world’s best range of teas in these 500-plus plantations, have your tea custom-made. And how about planting your own tea bush to mark your visit? Following in the footsteps of the wine regions of Europe and the coffee plantations of Central America, India’s tea estates, the largest exporter of tea in the world (collectively producing 981 million kilograms in 2009), are promising tasteful retreats for tea-connoisseurs from around the world. These refurbished tea gardens offer exciting package tours to Assam, Darjeeling in West Bengal, Munnar in Kerala, Palampur in Himachal Pradesh and Ooty in Tamil Nadu. The growing recognition of tea’s medicinal value as an anti-oxidant, which might reduce the risk of cancers, and caffeine-free herbal varieties, has tourists from around the globe beating a path to India’s colonial past.The exotic tea tours showcase the process through which the humble leaf is transformed into the much-sought after brew. It’s fascinating to see colorfully-dressed tea pluckers, predominantly women, plucking the delicate leaves and a bud adroitly with their lissom fingers. The tea tasting sessions in the tea gardens of India allow tea lovers to discover the differences in aroma, flavor and appearance of tea manufactured using different techniques, and during different times of the year. Often the sessions also include tasting teas from other parts of India and the world, together with examples of flavored and blended teas.Darjeeling Guests enjoying a picnic at the Glenburn Tea Estate in Darjeeling.The journey from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling offers breathtaking views of undulated terrains. The unique flavor and aroma of Darjeeling tea gives it its reputation as the “champagne of teas.” Nestled in the foothills of Himalayas, Darjeeling has tea estates at elevations of 1,000-2,000 meters above sea level. With the Kanchenjunga Peak as its shelter, Darjeeling’s tea estates sprawl across several towns (including its namesake) in a mountainous corner of India cradling the border with Nepal and Bhutan, as well as Tibet not far to the north. Darjeeling is home to the “first biodynamic” tea garden, Makaibari Tea Estate. One of the world’s most revered names in Darjeeling tea, Makaibari boasts of selling one of the world’s costliest black teas at Rs 22,000 ($500) per kg in 2005. Makaibari’s pastoral Stone Lodge features several luxury suites, the Makaibari Guest House and the dwellings of tea garden workers.“Besides being the first garden to be certified for trade in the world, we were also the first to market Darjeeling Greens, Oolongs and Silver Tips,” says Rajah Banerjee, the fourth generation owner of this 1859 tea estate. “We grow vegetables in our biodynamic garden of the Stone House. And hence, our meals are all organic.” The enchanting forest cover of this estate has made it home to many endangered species, including panthers, tigers, birds, butterflies, snakes, spiders, etc. A sumptuous breakfast amid the rippling green fields. Bereft of any local transport, walking miles on the beautiful ravines is a part of life in Darjeeling. The air here spells old world charm. “For hiking enthusiasts and bird watchers, Glenburn Tea Estate offers a haven amidst its sprawling tea gardens,” says Spanish nature lover Nhora Tori. Indeed. Offering a breathtaking view of the Kanchenjunga Mountain Range, the Burra Bunglow — a 150-year-old plantation house at Glenburn — offers different suites, each designed on a different theme. Nearly 80 percent of the clientele at the bungalow are international tourists. The lodge boasts of multi-cuisine dining , as well as yoga, massage and spa packages.Then there is Kurseong, a fine boutique hotel where the theme is tea and trains, and the Cochrane Place. The door to this cafe is shaped like an engine. The mesmeric place offers a jacuzzi spurts tea bath, tea facials, and tea-based dinner.AssamFurther east from Darjeeling, one gets to bite some flowery, spicy and malty flavors of tea. One of the major tea producers in the world, Assam is home to numerous tea estates spread across 216,200 hectares of land that produce more than 360 million kg of tea annually. Mancotta in Dibrugarh is a chang bungalow, built on stilts,to defend against leopards at the dawn of the tea age. Here’s an itinerary for an enlivening tour: Visit a tea plantation in Assam, pluck your own tea leaves and see it being processed the next morning; live in colonial grandeur; explore local villages and sights; spend a day out on one of the numerous islands on Brahmaputra River, the second longest river in the world; experience how different varieties of tea are processed in surrounding plantations; enjoy a local dance performance; ride an elephant and discover wildlife in Kaziranga National Park, and visit an auction center. Or maybe just lounge in the verandah at your lodge, sipping tea and reading a book. A brief sojourn in one of these tea plantations is a charming experience that offers a subtle ambience — a sensory calmness — rarely to be experienced in busy cities.Assam is also the birthplace of Indian tea, a story that dates back to 1823 when an enterprising Englishman named Robert Bruce discovered the tea plant growing wild in the state and exported the first 8 chests of Indian tea to a London auction in 1839.“One who has experienced it knows how exciting it is to learn to pluck two leaves and a bud and then get exposed to withering, machine and hand rolling, fermentation/oxidation, drying, sorting and packing, not to mention the numerous cupping and tastings in a tea factory. The best idea is to let visitors experience first-hand the secrets of ‘terroir’ — that spiritual connection between soil, climate, plant genes and human activity that defines our ‘vintage’,” says Anand Chatterjee, president of a fourth generation owned tea company, Signature Estates. Mancotta in Dibrugarh is a chang bungalow, built on stilts,to defend against leopards at the dawn of the tea age.Over the years, Assam has become a much sought after tea tourism destination. It is famous for its Tea Festival, which is celebrated every year in November.“It’s nice to see a spurt in the number of international tourists in Wild Mahseer Lodge,” says Durgadas Sarcar, manager. Wild Mahseer is especially known for its sumptuous multi-cuisine specialities, palatial rooms, picturesque locale and global tea tasting sessions. The lodge is well-equipped for fast and still water fishing.Intertwined with local culture, folk dance and music, a stay in the 140-year-old Mancotta Chang Bungalow is a lifetime experience. Rishi Saraf, manager of Purvi Discovery, which owns this heritage bungalow, says, “In recent years, the number of foreign visitors staying at our lodge has risen considerably. We get many tourists from countries like America, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, France, Italy, Netherlands, and Korea.”Some of the most prominent tea estates in Assam are the Williamson Tea Estates and those owned by the Tata Group. Visitors here can take exciting elephant tours of Assamese plantations. Many tea resorts arrange safaris to Kaziranga and Orang National Park and, in collaboration with the Nameri National Park, angling and river rafting on the Bhorelli River.Nilgiris…A clear copper-gold colored, brisk liquor, and gentle fragrance define the Nilgiri cup. Set amidst romantic misty mountains, bubbly brooks and lovely dark woods, Nilgiri embraces nature at its charming and serene best. Stretching across the southwestern tip of India, at an altitude of 4,500 feet from sea level, the tea estates offer picturesque views of hilly expanses from the Western Ghats to Kerala and Tamil Nadu. A tree house nestled in one of the tea plantations in Assam.Nilgiri teas make luscious iced teas. Also, these teas are famous for creating popular Oolong and some green varieties. The fragrant Nilgiri teas serve as ideal base for flavors, scents and fruits. Their aroma also makes Nilgiri teas popular in blends and tea bags. Famous in this range are the hand-sorted Orange Pekoe, sold at international auctions, and the slightly cheaper machine-sorted Broken Orange Pekoe.For an inclusive tour of this Southern tea-growing region ExplorIndya is a one-stop destination. Set in the tea-sloped hills of Nilgiris, ExplorIndya is an extension of a family-owned eco-homestay called Aakriti. “The home-stay is set amidst our four-acre tea garden that borders a reserve forest close to the town of Ooty,” says Rajat Kumar, the founder. “As plantation owners for the past 18 years, we offer our knowledge right from the process of cultivation, harvesting through final production.”In addition to providing guests with tours of tea plantations and factories, the package offers nature walks, wildlife safaris, bird-watching, tribal life insights, discovering the primeval art of tribal wild-honey hunting, an Indian family experience, and cooking classes. Tourists savoring Indian food at the Mancotta ChangBungalow in Dibrugarh, Assam.At a height of about 7,130 ft, the Kolukkumalai Tea Factory, an orthodox tea manufacturing unit, claims to being one of the highest tea plantations in the world. The view of the Western Ghats from this height is absolutely enchanting.The Tata Tea Museum at the Nullathani Tea Estate takes visitors through the forgotten past of the high ranges and offers a glimpse of the 100-year-old history of the region — from the rudimentary original tea roller to the present, fully automated tea factory at Mattupetty.At Coonoor, the Nilgiris auction center, nearly a half million kgs. of tea are sold weekly. Trekking and hiking is popular in Coonoor. Some of the popular tea esates in Nilgiri include Tiger Hill, Corsley, Craigmore, Pascoes Woodlands, Colacumby, Nonsuch Dunsandale, Chamraj, Parkside, and Glendale.TripAdvisor recently named Munnar in Kerala as the world’s second most famous tourist destination. Essentially a tea town, Munnar unfolds in stretches of mountains and hillocks carpeted with vast green tea gardens. It also cradles many rare wild species. Sweet scented sandalwood trees grow thick and fast at Marayoor in Munnar. It is a treasure house of bio-diversity. The snow-soaked dawns at Munnar mesmerize tourists. Tourists learn tea processing at a factory in Dibrugarh. The princely Tea Garden Resort at Chithirapuram in Munnar has harmoniously incorporated all the comforts of the modern life with the unblemished charm of nature. Tea Meadows is another popular tea resort. “Our guests could indulge in golf, rainbow trout angling, mountain cycling, trekking trails, paragliding, rock climbing, river crossing, and wildlife camping,” says Divya, co-ordinator at Tea Meadows. The annual Tea and Tourism Festival in Ooty in February attracts tea lovers from all over the world. Surely one occasion not to be missed.Other tea producing regions in India include Dehradun (Uttaranchal), Teria-and-Dooars (West Bengal), Palampur (Himachal Pradesh), and some parts of Sikkim and Manipur.Here is your chance at a different travel experience at luxurious tea bungalows, ensconced in the most beautiful regions, interact with tea workers, try your hand at plucking tea leaves, and visiting tea factories to understand the tea refining process. Tea ToursTea tour packages vary widely by region, time of year and duration of the visit. They range from $45 per day at the Mancotta Chang Bungalows in Dibrugarh, Assam to $310 per day at the Glenburn Tea State in Darjeeling and $350 at the Wild Mahseer in Assam. Glenburn Tea Estate & Boutique Hotel, Darjeeling: glenburnteaestate.comMakaibari Tea Estate, Darjeeling: www.makaibari.com.Wild Mahseer, Assam: oldassam.com/wildmahseer/default.htmlMancotta Chang Bungalows, Dibrugarh, Assam: assamteatourism.comTea Meadows, Munnar: teameadows.com Tea Garden Resort, Munnar: teagardenresorts.comTalliar Valley Bungalow, Munnar: www.teabungalows.com Related Items
The tea tribes of Assam were brought by the British colonial planters as indenture laborers from the Chhota Nagpur Plateau region. They are found mainly in the districts of Darrang, Sonitpur, Nagaon, Jorhat, Golaghat, Dibrugarh, Cachar, Haila-kandi, Karimgan Tinsukia and other districts of Assam.These photos capture Golaghat, near the famous Kaziranga National Park.The soil quality and climate in this district have contributed to some of the best quality tea produced in India. The Garh tribe, to whom most villagers belong, have their original roots in Central India.Some of the best tea brands can be spotted in this region. The ideal time to visit and get mesmerized with the beauty of the tea landscape is during the monsoons. Women carry the plucked tea leaves in bags, which is picked up by vehicles at various collection points in the estates.The tribals have assimilated with the existing culture and traditions of the Brahmaputra valley, creating many new traditions, cultures, handicrafts, dance forms and a new way of living.Visitors can catch a glimpse of the seeds of the British Raj in India and taste some of the world’s ?nest tea which almost never touches any Indiantongue, as it is largely exported. Related Items