All posts by admin

ED attaches assets of former Goa CMs

first_imgThe Enforcement Directorate on Thursday seized assets including immovable property worth Rs.1.95 crores belonging to two former Goa Chief Ministers Digambar Kamat (Congress MLA) and Churchill Alemao (NCP MLA ) under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, in connection with Luis Berger Consultancy scam.The two leaders have been named accused in the scam.Alemao was out on bail after being in police custody for 15 days along with another former official of Goa Anand Wachasunder.last_img read more

PDP, BJP leaders try to iron out differences

first_imgAmid fresh sticky issues between the alliance partners, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), senior leaders from the ruling parties met in Jammu on Friday “to iron out differences and find out ways to deal with growing unrest.”BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav, the chief architect of the coalition, met senior PDP leader and Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu at the BJP headquarters in Jammu.MLC seatSources said Mr. Drabu raised the issue of the PDP losing an MLC seat to the BJP despite the seat sharing arrangement. Of six MLC seats, the BJP has won three seats, while the PDP, the National Conference and the Congress got one each. According to the seat-sharing arrangement, the alliance partners were to get two seats each. PDP MLC Yasir Reshi has boycotted the oath-taking ceremony at the council chairman’s office on Thursday to express the party’s anger.Sources said Mr. Madhav, who also met Governor N.N. Vohra, took stock of growing unrest in the Kashmir Valley. Both the ruling parties “weighed options to find a way out.” “We discussed J&K situation,” said BJP vice-president Avinash Rai Khanna.The ties between the two parties — which got together in a rare coalition in 2015 — seem to be under strain.Earlier, the PDP took potshots at Mr. Madhav for his remarks ‘all is fair in love and war’ in an interview, while referring to the video controversy wherein a civilian was tied to the jeep front.“The statement is a move to legitimise a crime that is internationally criticised. One fails to understand against whom Mr. Madhav has declared war,” said PDP leader Bukhari.He said his party had decided in favour of an alliance with the BJP “to take forward the peace process started in 2002.” “Kashmir is a political problem. Only dialogue with all stakeholders will resolve the issue,” added Mr. Bukhari.Withdraws remarksMeanwhile, BJP leader and State Industries Minister Chandar Prakash Ganga on Friday withdrew his remarks “only bullets for protesters,” saying “his statement was misinterpreted.” Appeal to OmarIndependent MLA Engineer Rasheed on Friday urged National Conference working president Omar Abdullah “to offer yet again his unconditional support to [PDP chief] Mehbooba Mufti.”“Weakening of Ms. Mufti by the BJP only means dividing Kashmiris and threatening them. It’s high time Mr. Abdullah woke up and offered his support again to Mehbooba for formation of a government so that the nefarious designs of Sangh Parivar are defeated,” he said.last_img read more

U.P. declares war on cheats

first_imgThe Uttar Pradesh government will this year take help from the Special Task Force and local intelligence agencies to keep an eye on the ‘education mafia’ in a bid to clamp down on cheating in the State Board examinations.The objective is “copying-free examinations” and preventing the education mafia from doing mischief, Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma said. “The police are on the job and those taking contracts for ensuring copying in examinations centres will land in jail,” he said.The U.P. Board examination for Classes X and XII starts on February 6 and will continue till March 12. A total of 66,37,018 students have registered to appear in this year’s exam — 36,55,691 for Class X and 29,81,327 for Class XII.Last year, 1,862 students were caught cheating; the overall pass percentage for Class X was recorded at 81.18 and 82.62 for Class XII.Mr. Sharma said the government has taken the help of the STF and local intelligence agents in doing away with education centres infamous for mass cheating. Examinations centres have come down from over 12,000 to 8,500.It has also been ensured that the centres have enough space to accommodate students and adequate facilities. “Copying mafias have been identified. Local education officers have also been asked to take help of help of local intelligence during examinations to keep an eye on their activities,” Mr. Sharma said.The government has made it mandatory for examination centres to have CCTV cameras, he said.The Deputy Chief Minister, who also holds the portfolio of the Secondary Education Department, said the government has made its stand clear — no unfair means would be tolerated and anyone found copying or promoting it would be dealt with strictly.“We have studied all the possible ways and means of unfair means during the examinations. Those appearing in an exam impersonating someone else or involved in changing answer sheets before they reach evaluation centres will not be able to do so. Effective measures have been taken,” Mr. Sharma said.The measures to prevent cheating include frisking students before they enter the examination halls, dividing centres in sectors, appointing administrative officers as sector magistrates and issuing prohibitory orders within 100 metres of the centre.last_img read more

Lalu’s son Tej Pratap to tie the knot with Aishwarya

first_imgTej Pratap, elder son of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and former State Health Minister, will marry Aishwarya, daughter of RJD MLA Chandrika Rai and grand-daughter of former State Chief Minister Daroga Prasad Rai. Mr. Rai told mediapersons seeking confirmation of the news, “Yes, it is true.” Mr. Rai said the date is yet to be decided, although some sources said the wedding will take place on May 12 and the ring ceremony will be held at the end of this month. In the previous Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) government, Mr. Rai was the Transport Minister. His father Daroga Prasad was CM of Bihar for less than a year, from February 16 to December 22, 1970. Tej Pratap is an RJD MLA from the Mahua Assembly constituency of Vaishali district.last_img read more

Clampdown on social media in Kashmir

first_imgA clampdown is under way in Jammu & Kashmir to contain circulation of fake news on social media platforms, especially through instant messaging service WhatsApp, as the police on Sunday identified several social media groups that were “responsible for” rioting in Srinagar last week.A police spokesman said several Facebook pages, WhatsApp groups and individuals using social media and circulating rumours had been identified in the July 12 case of arson during clashes in Srinagar’s Soura area. “A rumour was circulated on social media about security forces setting ablaze handcarts in Soura’s Anchar area. An investigation has been able to trace the rumour-mongers,” said the police. The authorities were adopting a multi-pronged strategy to end fake news and rumours on social media platforms, responsible in many cases for deterioration of the law and order situation in the Valley. Superintendent of Police (Kishtwar) Abrar A. Chowdhary has directed the administrator of a WhatsApp group ‘Youth for peace’ to register with the Deputy Commissioner. The police have warned of action if WhatsApp group adminstrators fail to register. The administration has invoked the Information Technology Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in its order. Around 25 WhatsApp groups have registered with the Kishtwar administration already.“People glorifying militants on WhatsApp groups could face prison up to two years under the UAPA,” said the police.Sources in the police said the authorities will strictly implement the 2016 order that makes registration of administrators of WhatsApp groups with the deputy commissioner mandatory. Intrusion of privacy However, users and administrators of the social media claimed it was intrusion into their privacy. “We have family groups, sports groups and the groups where we share news to a closed group. What kind of a group is treated as a news platform remains undefined,” said a WhatsApp group admin.Without defining the social media news platforms, the Jammu and Kashmir government, in its order, has also warned action against the administrators of social media groups “for all the comments and remarks posted and for its repercussions.” The State has also regulated the usage of social media by its employees. “No government employee shall engage in any criminal, dishonest, immoral or notoriously disgraceful conduct on social media which may be prejudicial to the government,” reads an order of the General Administration Department.last_img read more

AIMIM Corporator arrested for opposing condolence motion on Vajpayee, BJP members booked after ruckus

first_imgA corporator has been arrested here for opposing a resolution in the municipal corporation to pay tributes to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a police official said on Saturday.Syed Mateen Sayyad Rashid, a member of the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) belonging to the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), a Hyderabad-based political party, was apprehended last night, he said.The arrest was made after a complaint was filed against him by the AMC’s security officer, he said.Rashid has been booked under IPC sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 294 (obscene acts in public) at the City Chowk police station, police said.Earlier on Friday, the 32-year-old was allegedly thrashed by BJP corporators for opposing the condolence motion tabled for paying homage to Vajpayee, who died in New Delhi on August 16.The alleged incident took place during the general body meeting of the civic body, ruled by the BJP-Shiv Sena combine, here in central Maharashtra, an official had said.After the meeting began, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) corporator Raju Vaidya tabled a proposal to pay tributes to Vajpayee. Rashid opposed it, which infuriated the saffron party members, who allegedly thrashed him, he said.A video clip purportedly showing Rashid being kicked, punched and slapped by BJP corporators has gone viral on social media and was also aired by some TV channels.Rashid has lodged a separate complaint against two BJP corporators and some other members in connection with the assault on him, the police official said.On Friday, the general body of the AMC passed a resolution to cancel Rashid’s membership, a civic official said.Soon after the fracas at the meeting, Deputy Mayor Vijay Sainath Autade had directed the AMC’s security officer to lodge a complaint against the AIMIM corporator for attempting to create enmity between two communities, he said.Rashid was arrested from the Government Medical College and Hospital where he was admitted for treatment of injuries he suffered in the attack, the police said.The AIMIM corporator on Friday said that he was opposing the move to pay tributes to Vajpayee in a “democratic manner”, but was assaulted by around a dozen BJP corporators.BJP members bookedCases of assault were also registered on Saturday against five BJP corporators on a complaint lodged by Rashid. None of them has been arrested yet, police said.Offences under IPC sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 147 (rioting) were registered against deputy mayor Autade and four other BJP corporators including a woman, said inspector Shingare.Police were also looking for around a dozen persons who vandalised a car and created ruckus outside the AMC building, he said.last_img read more

Class X Board papers to be opened in front of students

first_imgIn a departure from the norm, the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education on Tuesday announced that question paper packets will be opened in front of Class X candidates shortly before the commencement of the examination. “From 2019, the sealed question packets of Madhyamik examination (Class X board exam) will be opened by invigilators in front of students in the examination hall and distributed accordingly,” Board president Kalyanmoy Ganguly said. Sources said the decision came in the wake of reports that the headmaster of a Jalpaiguri school, during the 2018 secondary examination, opened sealed question papers 35 minutes before the scheduled time. The headmaster was suspended by the board later.last_img read more

Hold early, simultaneous Parliament and Assembly polls, says J&K parties

first_imgThe J&K’s political parties on Monday called for “simultaneous and early” Assembly and Parliament elections, as the full team of Election Commission of India (ECI) arrived in Srinagar on a two-day visit to hold deliberations and assess the ground situation.The ECI team, comprising Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora and Election Commissioners Sushil Chandra and Ashok Lavasa, met at least 11 political parties and individuals in Srinagar. It also held discussions with senior officers of the police and the administration “to get a first-hand information on the ground situation” of the State, which witnessed several cycles of both street and militancy-related violence since 2014.“Elections are soon going to be held to uphold the principles of democracy. The ECI desires that the elections should be the most inclusive with absolute neutrality by people involved in organising them” CEC Arora said.The ECI team met the representatives of National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Congress, BJP, CPI (M), Peoples Conference (PC), People Democratic Front (PDF), Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN), Awami Ittihad Party (AIP) etc. in Srinagar and sought their inputs.“Situation in Kashmir is fragile. An elected government is the only way out to bring normalcy. The ECI should not wait to announce dates for holding both Lok Sabha and Assembly polls together,” said NC general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar.PDP leader A. R. Veeri also told the ECI that “prevailing alienation and unpredictable situation can only be handled by an elected government and both the elections should be held simultaneously”. Seconding the demand to hold both the elections together, Congress leader Taj Mohiudin said, “Security agencies should create a conducive atmosphere for polls”. AIP chief Engineer Rashid early these elections were important to allow the local government “to deal with the issues of Article 35A and Article 370”. CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami pointed out that “in absence of an elected government, uncertainty in the State is was deepening day-by-day”. “There is no justification to delay elections in J&K, neither political nor constitutional. The elections dates for both Parliament and Assembly should be announced soon,” said Mr. Tarigami. DPN chief Ghulam Hassan Mir said holding early elections would be a test “whether the ECI was an independent body or was influenced by the Centre”. The BJP said it’s also ready to face the elections. “We expressed our readiness to contest the elections as and when ECI desired it,” said BJP spokesman Altaf Thakur.Meanwhile, the ECI team reviewed “preparedness of various departments of civil and police administration”, besides transportation of EVMs and polling material. The ECI team will visit Jammu on Tuesday and meet political parties there before it leaves for New Delhi to take a final call.J&K first came under the Governor’s rule on June 19, 2018 and under President’s rule on December 19, 2018. The state is without an elected government for around 10 months and the President’s rule will complete its six months in June this year.last_img read more

Border surveillance in Dhubri from today

first_imgHome Minister Rajnath Singh will inaugurate on Tuesday an electronic surveillance project in Dhubri district of Assam, a riverine and highly porous stretch along the Bangladesh border.The “smart fencing” will be operationalised in the 61 km riverine section of the international border in the district where the Brahmaputra river enters into Bangladesh, in a bid to check illegal immigration and smuggling of arms, ammunition, drugs and cattle, MHA said Monday.The project, BOLD-QIT (Border Electronically Dominated QRT Interception Technique) under the Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS), will cover the India-Bangladesh border in the area which consists of ‘char’ (sand islands) and innumerable river channels, which makes border guarding a daunting task, especially during the rainy season, a statement by the MHA said.To overcome this problem, the MHA had in 2017 decided to employ a technological solution, besides the physical presence of Border Security Force (BSF) personnel. In January 2018, the information and technology wing of the BSF undertook project BOLD-QIT and completed it in record time with the support of various manufacturers and suppliers.last_img read more

ScienceShot: Galaxy Smashup

first_imgA broad region of gas glowing only at x-ray wavelengths marks the crumple zone where a dwarf galaxy is slamming into a much larger mass of stars, a recent study suggests. The larger galaxy, dubbed NGC 1232, lies about 60 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Eridanus. In visible wavelengths, it looks like a normal spiral galaxy. But in a visible light/x-ray composite image released today, a purplish, comet-shaped glow across the galaxy’s face depicts a region—estimated to be almost 24,000 light-years across—where gas is being heated to temperatures of about 5.8 million°C. The glowing gas cloud may be up to 3 million times as massive as our sun, and it is much too voluminous to represent a normal star-forming region, which is typically less than 300 light-years across and fits within one of a galaxy’s spiral arms. The cloud’s large size, as well as the lack of any distinct features at optical or infrared wavelengths, also argues against the glow being the remnants of a supernova explosion. Instead, the researchers have proposed, the x-ray glow betrays the presence of a shock wave somewhat akin to a sonic boom, triggered by a dwarf galaxy about 1/10,000th the size of NGC 1232 or smaller slamming into the diffuse halo of gas surrounding its larger cousin. Although galactic collisions have been seen many times before, this is the first to be seen only at x-ray wavelengths, the researchers say. And because NGC 1232 looks normal at visible wavelengths, the team suggests that collisions with dwarf galaxies—which in many cases are too small to cause disturbances in the motions of stars within the larger galaxy—are probably rare but may be more common than recognized. One region glowing very intensely in x-ray wavelengths (depicted by arrow) appears to be located at the leading edge of the cometlike glow, so it may represent an area of prolific star formation triggered by the shock wave resulting from the galactic collision.last_img read more

Sex and the Single Sand Flea

first_imgWhere, exactly, does the sand flea have sex? On the dusty ground, where it spends the first half of its life? Or already nestled snugly in its host—such as in a human foot—where it can suck the blood it needs to nourish its eggs? The answer to this question, which has long puzzled entomologists and tropical health experts, seems to be the latter. A new study, in which a researcher let a sand flea grow inside her skin, concludes that the parasites most likely copulate when the females are already inside their hosts.Tunga penetrans, also known as the chigger flea, sand flea, chigoe, jigger, nigua, pique, or bicho de pé, is widespread in the Caribbean, South America, and sub-Saharan Africa. The immature female burrows permanently into the skin of a warm-blooded host—it also attacks dogs, rats, cattle, and other mammals—where over 2 weeks it swells up to many times its original size, reaching a diameter of up to 10 mm. Through a small opening at the end of its abdominal cone, the insect breathes, defecates, and expels eggs. The female usually dies after 4 to 6 weeks, still embedded in the skin.Native to the Caribbean, sand fleas infected crewmen sailing with Columbus on the Santa Maria after they were shipwrecked on Haiti. They and others brought the parasite back to the Old World, where it eventually became endemic across sub-Saharan Africa. Even today it is an occasional stowaway, showing up in European and North American travel clinics in the feet of tourists who have gone barefoot on tropical beaches.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(*)For people living in infested regions, however, the flea is a serious public health issue. What starts as a pale circle in the skin turns red and then black, becoming painful, itchy—and often infected, a condition called tungiasis. One flea seems to attract others, and people can be infested with dozens at once. The infection makes it hard for people to walk and can lead to permanently deformed feet. There is no drug treatment; the only way to get rid of the parasites is digging them out. People often use unsterile instruments to do this, causing other infections, including tetanus. Tungiasis affects the poorest of the poor, says Jörg Heukelbach, who studies the disease at the Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza, in Brazil, and is neglected—and often unrecognized—even by health officials in endemic regions.Marlene Thielecke, a Ph.D. student at Charité University Medicine in Berlin, was studying ways to prevent tungiasis infection in Madagascar when she noticed she was hosting a flea herself. Because part of her job was to evaluate and record sand flea developmental stages in local villagers’ feet, she says, “I thought it might be interesting” to observe one in her own foot. So she began to take regular photographs and videos to keep track of what happened.At first, the flea didn’t bother Thielecke and she noted that it seemed to grow normally. But she soon realized it wasn’t laying any eggs—unusual for an embedded and otherwise apparently mature flea. It also lived much longer than usual; after 2 months, it was still regularly expelling liquid from its abdomen, a sign it was still alive—but still no eggs. At that point, Thielecke says, the spot was itchy, painful, and prevented her from walking normally. “I started to get uneasy” about leaving it in for so long, she says, so she extracted it. Months later, back in Berlin, she talked about the observations with her supervisor at the Charité, tungiasis expert Hermann Feldmeier. The lack of eggs and the unusually long life of Thielecke’s flea were likely because it was never fertilized, the researchers conclude in a paper published this month in Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. As soon as she found the flea, Thielecke began to wear socks and closed shoes to prevent other fleas from entering. (“One was enough,” she says.) She and Feldmeier think that perhaps the flea lived so long because it was in a sort of developmental “waiting state,” expecting a male to find it and fertilize its mature eggs.The fact that her flea was apparently a virgin suggests an answer to the long-standing puzzle of whether fleas are fertilized before or after they embed. More than a century ago, researchers reported observing male fleas mating with unembedded females; others have argued that it’s more likely that females first embed, then are fertilized by males who find an infected mammal and mate with embedded females through her abdominal opening. (Males don’t embed themselves in skin.) That would make evolutionary sense, Feldmeier says. Because females tend to embed in clusters, any male that comes along will have a chance to mate with multiple females—and a group of females will have a higher chance of being found by a male than a single one.The insight into the flea’s sex life doesn’t have immediate implications for fighting tungiasis in areas where it is endemic. But it could help doctors recognize the parasite in travelers who return home with a flea. Physicians should be aware that single fleas “don’t necessarily develop normally” and can live longer than the textbooks predict, Feldmeier says.And although the single observation doesn’t prove that females are always fertilized after embedding, “it’s very interesting,” says Ingela Krantz, a professor emeritus of infectious disease epidemiology at Umeå University in Sweden. “This is the type of knowledge you usually skip because you say ‘Sand fleas, they are a nuisance, we treat them.’ But to start from the beginning and try to understand these strange parasites is important.”For another icky tale of a researcher infected by the organism he studies, see “Invasion of the Nostril Ticks.”last_img read more

U.S. House approves flat funding for DHS science amid fight over immigration policy

first_imgFunding for the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) research programs would remain essentially flat under a 2015 spending bill approved today by the U.S. House of Representatives. But that’s probably not the last word on its research budget: There may not be enough votes to win Senate passage, and the White House has threatened to veto it over provisions on immigration that it dislikes. A stalemate would leave DHS’s budget frozen at last year’s levels for months to come.Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of six senators is renewing their push to make it easier for highly skilled immigrants to work in the United States and remain permanently. But the introduction yesterday of Immigration Innovation (“I-Squared”) Act of 2015, which mirrors legislation introduced in the previous Congress, is drawing criticism from some groups that represent technical workers.House lawmakers voted 263 to 191 today to approve the $39.7 billion DHS measure (H.R. 240), which would fund DHS in the 2015 fiscal year which began this past fall. It includes $1.1 billion for DHS’s science and technology directorate, a cut of $116 million from 2014 levels. But the bulk of the reduction reflects declining construction costs for new laboratory facilities, including the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility, a $1.2 billion, high-security laboratory in Kansas.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(*)DHS’s main research account would dip by $4.5 million, to $457.5 million, although that is still $24 million higher than the White House’s request. The bill also maintains funding for DHS’s university-based research centers at $39.7 million, rejecting a White House proposal for an $8.7 million cut.Those outcomes are relatively positive from DHS’s perspective, budget observers note, given that lawmakers had little new money to work with. They are particularly noteworthy given the battering that DHS’s science budget has taken in recent years, with cuts of up to 50% to some programs.Today’s House action is the latest battle in a protracted war over immigration policy between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans. Late last year, lawmakers approved 11 of the 12 annual appropriations bills that fund the federal government. They excluded the DHS bill, which includes funding for the nation’s immigration and border security programs, in protest against White House moves to make it easier for some undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States without fear of deportation.House Republicans today attached provisions to the spending measure that would make it more difficult for the White House to carry out its plans. The bill now moves to the Senate, where 60 votes will be needed to advance the House version. If supporters of the bill can’t muster that number, the Senate could pass a different version that would then have to be accepted by the House. But the clock is ticking: Both bodies must act before DHS’s current budget measure, which freezes spending at 2014 levels, expires at the end of February.Earlier this week, White House officials said they would recommend that Obama veto the DHS measure if it includes those immigration provisions. The immigration fight isn’t expected to affect funding levels for DHS’s science and technology directorate. But it will further delay the department’s final 2015 budget.I-Squared reemergesIn the meantime, Senator Orrin Hatch (R–UT) and five allies are hoping to resolve at least one part of the immigration policy puzzle—how to treat immigrants who come to the United States to earn science, engineering, and other technical degrees or to work in the high-tech sector. Yesterday, they reintroduced the I-Squared Act, which would, among other things, increase the number of visas and residency permits available to immigrants with technical skills and allow their spouses to work.The legislation aims to “help ensure the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs get their start in America, no matter where they are born,” said co-sponsor Senator Amy Klobuchar (D–MN) in a statement accompanying release of the bill. The other co-sponsors are Senators Marco Rubio (R–FL), Chris Coons (D–DE), Jeff Flake (R–AZ), and Richard Blumenthal (D–CT).But labor unions and some professional groups disagree, arguing that it will contribute to an oversupply of technical workers and help depress wages. The bill’s main purpose, critics argue, is to provide a steady supply of cheap foreign labor for U.S. firms, particularly in the information technology industry.“This is a wrong turn,” said Russ Harrison, government relations director for IEEE-USA in Washington, D.C., in a statement about the bill. The group, which has some 200,000 members, is particularly critical of provisions that would increase the number of temporary H-1B work visas available annually, from 65,000 to more than 100,000 and ultimately to as many as 300,000.H1-B visas can remain valid for up to 6 years, so the change could inject some 1.8 million new job applicants into the U.S. market, the group estimates. “The primary, practical function of the H-1B program is to outsource American high-tech jobs,” Harrison said. Instead, the group says, the United States should downplay temporary visas in favor of granting permanent residency (so-called green cards) to highly skilled workers. “We need more green cards, not more guest workers,” Harrison said.Some Republican senators, including Jeff Sessions of Alabama, have also said they oppose the I-Squared approach, in part because they believe the United States already has an oversupply of technical workers in many fields.But John Feinblatt, chair of the Partnership for a New American Economy, a coalition of industry and other groups, sees things differently. “We need high-skilled immigration reform, especially as we face labor shortages in areas like engineering, medicine, and science,” Feinblatt said in a statement. “Senator Hatch’s legislation is exactly the type of constructive progress we need to help our economy grow and compete globally.”I-Squared won’t be the only high-skills immigration proposal that Congress will consider this year. The issue is expected to be on the agenda of several presidential hopefuls jockeying for advantage in the runup to the 2016 election.last_img read more

Rats see the pain in other rats’ faces

first_imgRats and mice in pain make facial expressions similar to those in humans—so similar, in fact, that a few years ago researchers developed rodent “grimace scales,” which help them assess an animal’s level of pain simply by looking at its face. But scientists have questioned whether these expressions convey anything to other rodents, or if they are simply physiological reactions devoid of meaning. Now, researchers report that other rats do pay attention to the emotional expressions of their fellows, leaving an area when they see a rat that’s suffering.“It’s a finding we thought might be true, and are glad that someone figured out how to do an experiment that shows it,” says Jeffrey Mogil, a neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Mogil’s lab developed pain grimace scales for rats and mice in 2006, and it discovered that mice experience pain when they see a familiar mouse suffering—a psychological phenomenon known as emotional contagion. According to Mogil, a rodent in pain expresses its anguish through narrowed eyes, flattened ears, and a swollen nose and cheeks. Because people can read these visual cues and gauge the intensity of the animal’s pain, Mogil has long thought that other rats could do so as well.In Japan, Satoshi Nakashima, a social cognition psychologist at NTT Communication Science Laboratories in Kanagawa, thought the same thing. And, knowing that other scientists had recently shown that mice can tell the difference between paintings by Picasso and Renoir, he decided to see if rodents could also discriminate between photographs of their fellows’ expressions. He designed the current experiments as part of his postdoctoral research.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(*)First, Nakashima and his colleagues photographed three laboratory rats as they sat in what he calls a “neutral” position—a kind of normal, everyday, unruffled rat pose. He then photographed the same rats while giving them a mild electrical foot shock. In these latter images, the rats tense their bodies and make the classic pain grimace.He created additional images to present to his test rats by airbrushing the photos so that the rat’s face, body, or both were blurred. Next, he mounted the images of the pained rats in one of three rooms in a testing box. He left the walls of the adjoining central compartment blank and arranged the photos of the “neutral” rats in the third room. He made similar comparative arrangements using the Photoshopped images, so that, for instance, one room held a gallery of images showing grimacing rats with blurred bodies, whereas the other compartment showed rats in the neutral position.   One hundred and four male rats that had never been used in experiments were then placed one at a time in the center room and allowed to explore the box for 10 minutes, while scientists recorded the amount of time and number of visits each rat made to each compartment.Rats that confronted the unairbrushed grimace photographs rarely lingered, Nakashima and his colleagues report online today in Royal Society Open Science. Instead, they preferred the room with the gallery of neutral rat images—evidence, the scientists say, that the rats were reading the signs of pain on the face of the rat in the photo. Those visual cues “perhaps induce fear” in the viewers, causing them to leave, primatologist Frans de Waal of Emory University in Atlanta said in an e-mail to Science. De Waal was not involved in the study.But the rats that saw the airbrushed images—even those with blurred bodies and upset faces—didn’t react this way. Apparently, the suffering rat’s body also communicates important information, and observing rats need to see both the face and the body in order to get the full message. Studies of nonverbal communication in humans show that we do the same thing, de Waal notes.Neither Mogil nor de Waal are surprised that rats are able to read the emotional cues expressed in a fellow rat’s face and body. “I would be more surprised if they didn’t have this ability,” Mogil says. “If it was only something we could do, we’d have trouble explaining where the ability came from.” Finding it in rats, though, erases the need for some awkward explanation of our ability and “makes evolutionary sense.”  Knowing that rats’ faces can tell another rat how they’re feeling will of course lead to more questions about using the rodents—or other animals—in biomedical research. “That’s not lost on me,” says Mogil, who uses rodents in his Pain Genetics Lab. “The more we do experiments like this, the more we wonder if we should do experiments like this.” But, he adds, if we want to study pain and pain treatments, “there is no alternative. Tissue cultures and computer simulations won’t work. We must do animal experiments, as we will never get ethical approval to do these tests on humans.” *Correction, 1 April, 8:55 a.m.: Satoshi Nakashima designed the current experiments as part of his postdoctoral research, not as part of his doctoral research, as was previously reported. The name of the journal has also been corrected.last_img read more

What Does Goddess Durga Feast on at Bonedi Barir Pujo

first_imgUnderneath contemporary trappings and irrational excesses, Durga Puja has more intimate connotations, best understood, perhaps, at a ‘Bonedi Barir Pujo’ Related Itemslast_img

The risk-taking Kapoor

first_imgRead it at Live Mint Related Itemslast_img

Influx Of Indian Tourists Expected Over The Next Decade

first_imgThis prediction from the head of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, Wichit Prakorpkoson. By 2028 he says he expects 10 million Indian visitors each year. About Chinese tourism, the ATTA chief say he expected the numbers to slow from previous trends but there will still be 20 million visitors from China coming to Thailand annually in ten years time.Read it at The Thaiger Related Itemslast_img

Immigration, Inc. Fuels Global Underground Economy

first_imgJosif Poro pats his new sofa, points with pride to his carpets and runs a wrinkled hand over a gleaming white hrefrigerator. He and his wife barely scrape by on their $220 monthly pension. They’d have to do without many of the items in their cramped apartment if their son, a factory worker in Greece, didn’t faithfully send home part of his earnings.“We call him our golden boy,” said Poro, 83, a retired textile mill worker.Around the world, millions of immigrants are sending billions of dollars back home.One sweaty wad of bills or $200 Western Union moneygram at a time, they form what could be called Immigration, Inc. – one of the biggest businesses on the planet.Experts tracking the phenomenon say they have gotten a much clearer picture since the 9/11 attacks, when authorities trying to cut the flow of cash to jihadists began taking a harder look at how immigrants move their money around.Mass migration, they say, has spawned an underground economy of staggering proportions.Globally, remittances – the cash that immigrants send home – totaled nearly $276 billion in 2006, the World Bank says. Remittances have more than doubled since 2000, and with globalization increasing the numbers of people on the move, there’s no end in sight.If these guest workers incorporated as a company, their migrant multinational would rank No. 3 on the Fortune 500 list, trailing only Wal-Mart and ExxonMobil in annual revenue.Remittances “are larger than direct foreign investment in Mexico, tea exports in Sri Lanka, tourism revenue in Morocco, and revenue from the Suez Canal in Egypt,” World Bank economist Dilip Ratha said in a recent report.And unlike the conventional economy, more cash tends to change hands in an economic downturn, political crisis, natural disaster, famine or war.Counterterrorism officials say al-Qaeda and other groups are financed in part through informal money transfer networks called hawalas. Governments and the International Monetary Fund have been working to regulate those.There are other downsides: fears of brain drains and a vast permanent army of economic exiles, and the untaxed earnings flowing out of host nations.The United States lost $41.1 billion in 2005, according to the World Bank, while Switzerland watched $13.2 billion trickle out of the country that year.But Giuseppina Iampietro, a Swiss Economics Ministry spokeswoman, says little can be done: “Immigrants have no obligation to invest their money in Switzerland.”Meanwhile, from Poland to the Philippines, remittances are throwing lifelines to families combating poverty and helping to keep some national economies afloat:• Across Latin America, remittances hit $62 billion last year and are projected to top $100 billion by 2010, the Inter-American Development Bank says. Mexicans wire home the most cash – nearly $22 billion – most of it earned in the U.S.• India is the world leader in remittances, taking in $23.7 billion in 2005 and an estimated $26.9 billion last year, the World Bank says. Western Union, traditionally one of the most frequently tapped money transfer companies, says its share of Indian transactions has grown at least 90% over each of the past six quarters.• Immigrants from Albania, one of Europe’s poorest countries, will send more than $1.3 billion back to their homeland this year. That’s 13% of Albania’s GDP and enough to finance half the trade deficit.“Without the money we get from our son, who lives and works in Austria, my family and I would simply starve to death,” said Jovana Acimovic, a housewife struggling to make ends meet in Belgrade, Serbia.In impoverished Tajikistan, the National Bank says migrant laborers sent home $1.1 billion last year – more than the country’s GDP. Filipinos working overseas sent home a record $13.6 billion in 2005. So much cash is flowing that mobile phone operators make it possible to transfer money over a cellphone.Maria Gorgan, a retired psychologist, left Romania two years ago for Spain, where she cares for Alzheimer’s patients. She earns $1,800 a month – seven times her monthly Romanian pension, and enough to help her son make a down payment on a new house.“We use the money I earn to support my family,” said Gorgan, 56, who sends her husband a few hundred dollars each month. “I don’t eat much. It’s hard. But I have to do it.”In Albania, where the average monthly wage is only $250, a third of the population of 3.2 million have left for better jobs in the United States, Britain, Greece, Italy and elsewhere.Many have no plans to return. But some, underscoring a trend also emerging in other countries – Latvia and Mexico for example – are coming back to buy homes and open businesses.Nearly one in three Albanian real estate transactions involves an expatriate buying property back home. “That means people see their future back in Albania,” said Evis Ruci, who tracks remittances for the central bank.Nazmi Ajazi, 52, spent a few years working in Greece and returned to set up an Internet cafe and a small grocery store on the dusty outskirts of Tirana, the capital.“It feels so good to be back in Albania, where you can be your own master,” his wife, Sofie, 50, said from behind a counter laden with eggs, oranges and freshly baked bread.But some see drawbacks.Much of the world’s migration is illegal, and although many immigrants work at menial jobs, some are doctors, engineers and other professionals. Their departure can mean a brain drain of highly trained personnel and create an immigration culture.“Migration creates more migration,” said Ilir Gedeshi, director of the Center for Economic and Social Studies in Albania, whose emigrants have stashed an estimated $14 billion in foreign banks. “It’s a cycle. The next generation has to leave because there are no jobs being created for them here.”Elvin Meka, secretary-general of the Albanian Association of Banks, offers a blunt warning: “We export human beings, and they send us cash,” he said. “Young people are addicted to the idea of leaving. That’s the biggest crime in this country. The government is killing their dreams.” In the former Soviet republic of Moldova, globalization has unleashed a troubling exodus.More than 600,000 of its 4 million citizens are believed to be working abroad, and since Jan. 1, 900,000 have applied for citizenship in neighboring Romania. Though emigrants sent back $920 million in 2006, more than the entire national budget, the trend has some officials wondering how much of a country will be left to govern.“If we don’t create conditions for higher wages and new jobs, people will just continue to emigrate,” said Sergiu Sainciuc, Moldova’s deputy economy minister.Others don’t see a problem.Mugur Stet, spokesman for Romania’s central bank, denies that remittances – which hit $7.3 billion last year – are artificially propping up the ex-communist country’s economy.“We see new homes, new businesses,” Stet said. “When they come back, it’s with a capitalist mentality. These Romanians may turn out to be better citizens than those who stay home.”For Ismet and Safija Helja, retired in impoverished Bosnia, the cash their carpenter son, Nedzad, sends from America boils down to this: not having to eat at a soup kitchen.Like clockwork, it arrives every three months. “Sometimes $1,000, sometimes $500, depending how good he does,” said Ismet Helja, 67.“If it wasn’t for Nedzad’s money,” he said, “we would die.” -APBradley S. Klapper, Dusan Stojanovic, Corneliu Rusnac, Lucia Stana-Seveanu and Samir Krilic contributed to this report. Related Itemslast_img read more

Mamata Banerjee focusses on organisation

first_imgWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday held a meeting of the Trinamool’s core committee, and directed senior leaders to be present at party offices daily. Ms. Banerjee drew up a roster of leaders who would have to attend the party headquarters.She assigned responsibilities at the party’s new socio-cultural unit to key leaders. While Ministers Bratya Basu and Indranil Sen would be in charge of the Jai Hind Bahini, Kakoli Ghosh Dasidar, MP, was tasked with oversight of the Banga Janini Bahini for women.Meanwhile, BJP State president Dilip Ghosh said two berths for West Bengal in the Union Ministry was less than what the State leadership had expected. He told reporters that a few persons had been arrested for chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in the Bhatapara area of North 24 Parganas. “Earlier also a few people were arrested but could not be kept in prison as there is no law for which anyone can be jailed for chanting Jai Shri Ram,” Mr. Ghosh said. Ms. Banerjee would hereafter be greeted with chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ wherever she went, Mr. Ghosh asserted.Two berths for 18 MPs The State BJP president also said that two berths in the council of ministers for 18 Lok Sabha MPs from Bengal was a little less than what the State leadership had expected. Mr. Ghosh said that he had informed BJP leader Ram Lal about this. However, he said that this was the beginning and more MPs may be inducted in the Council of Ministers later. “Many others would also be inducted in future,” Mr Ghosh said. “It is a continuous process. Our responsibility was to send maximum number of MPs from Bengal and provide sufficient support so that Modiji becomes the PM,” he added.last_img read more

STF to identify policemen in league with drug traffickers

first_imgIn an attempt to check the growing drug trade across the State, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has directed the Special Task Force (STF) to identify and take stringent action against policemen found to be in cahoots with drug traffickers, especially in the border districts.The Special Task Force held a meeting in Chandigarh on Friday, in which Capt. Amarinder asked the Punjab Police chief to deal firmly with policemen engaged in such unlawful activity. “The Chief Minister directed the ADGP (STF/Drugs) to constitute two STF teams in all border districts to work in close coordination with the concerned police officials and maintain strict vigil over their nefarious activities in order to eradicate the scourge of drugs,” an official statement said. The CM also directed the health department to regularly monitor the working of private drug de-addiction centres, which were found to be providing substandard services while charging exorbitant rates for the treatment of addicts.Legal trainingThe statement added that the Punjab Advocate General was asked to form a panel of eminent legal luminaries who will impart practical training to the police personnel to enable them to effectively present their cases in court. “Such hands-on training would equip the police officials handling legal cases against drug traffickers, peddlers, smugglers etc., in an effective and result-oriented manner (sic),” said the statement.last_img read more

Akali Dal to provide legal aid to Rajoana’s family to fight for relief

first_imgThe Shiromani Akali Dal on Wednesday said the commutation of death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana to life term was part of a process aimed at bringing to closure the festering wounds of the Sikh community and termed efforts to stall this humanitarian gesture “unfortunate”.Former Minister and Akali leader Maheshinder Singh Grewal said it was unfortunate than an attempt was being made by certain Congress leaders to recreate tension by opposing the move in the court of law. “The SAD is against such attempts aimed at striking at the core of peace and communal harmony and will provide all needed legal aid to the family of Rajoana to fight these insidious designs to reverse the humane relief granted to him,” said Mr. Grewal.‘Release Sikh prisoners’He said the Union government should release all other Sikh prisoners who are still languishing in jail after serving their full sentences. “The Punjab government should do likewise for prisoners languishing in State jails,” he said.Mr. Grewal said the Akali Dal and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) have always opposed the death penalty as a matter of principle and continue to do so.“We have waged a long struggle to create consensus on this issue and this included approaching the Union government and the President on several occasions under the leadership of Parkash Singh Badal,” he said.The decision to release eight Sikh prisoners who had already completed their sentence and the commutation of Rajoana’s death sentence were the fallout of the concerted efforts of the Akali Dal and the SGPC, Mr. Grewal claimed.He said the Congress leader opposing the commutation of the death penalty was part of the Vidhan Sabha when the House moved a resolution appealing to the Centre in this regard.The statement came a day after Gurkirat Singh Kotli, a Punjab MLA and grandson of slain former Chief Minister Beant Singh, said his family would move the Supreme Court against the Centre’s decision to commute the death sentence of Rajoana.Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, who too is a grandson of the slain leader, also criticised the Centre’s decision. “How is a terrorist of Kashmir different from a terrorist of Punjab? How can Rajoana who hasn’t applied for pardon himself, doesn’t believe in the law of land and wants to spread terror repeatedly be released by Modi Govt? Dual Face of Modi,” Mr. Bittu had tweeted. (With PTI inputs)last_img read more