HC refuses to quash DA case against Virbhadra Singh

first_imgThe Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife’s plea seeking the quashing of a disproportionate assets (DA) case filed by the CBI.Justice Vipin Sanghi also vacated the Himachal Pradesh High Court’s interim order of October 1, 2015, restraining the CBI from arresting, interrogating or filing a charge sheet in the case without the court’s permission.“The writ petition is dismissed. Stay is vacated,” the court said.Mr. Singh has sought directions from the court to quash the FIR registered against him and his wife under Sections 13(2) and 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 109 of IPC by the CBI on September 23, 2015 here and urged the court to summon records of the preliminary inquiry and the FIR.Mr. Singh and wife Pratibha Singh claimed in their plea that there was no order, direction or judgment by any court that authorised the CBI to inquire, investigate or register regular cases and exercise jurisdiction in the territory of Himachal Pradesh.The Chief Minister contended that the raids on his private residence and other premises were conducted with “mala fide intentions and political vendetta” by the central investigating agency.He alleged that the CBI overstepped its jurisdiction in filing the case as the cause of action did not arise in the territory of Delhi.Mr. Singh also claimed that the permission of the State government and Home Department were not taken before raiding the residence of a sitting chief minister.The CBI contended that the allegations against Mr. Singh in the case are “very serious” as a huge amount of money was involved and the State government has shown “over anxiety” in protecting him. It said it had jurisdiction to register and investigate the case in Delhi as the disproportionate assets were allegedly acquired by the Congress leader from the income generated here when he was a Union minister during the UPA regime.The matter was transferred by the Supreme Court to the Delhi High Court, which on April 6, 2016 asked the CBI not to arrest Mr. Singh and directed him to join the probe.On November 5 last, the apex court transferred Mr. Singh’s plea from the Himachal Pradesh High Court to the Delhi High Court, saying it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, but “simply” transferring the petition “in interest of justice and to save the institution [judiciary] from any embarrassment“.last_img read more

Shivraj Singh faces protestsin Odisha

first_imgMassive protests by farmers and political activists groups greeted Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as he reached the western Odisha town of Bargarh to address a ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’ meeting on Saturday.Members of the Biju Janata Dal, Aam Aadmi Party and Paschim Odisha Krushak Sangathan Samanaya Samiti staged protests at different places and chanted ‘Shivraj Singh, go back’ and ‘Shivraj Singh, killer of farmers’. They were livid over the death of six farmers in M.P.’s Mandsaur.The Bargarh district police carried out preventive arrests by taking 183 persons into custody.Mr. Singh, however, dismissed the allegations.last_img

Punjab acted on early alert

first_imgThe Punjab Police issued the first of its alert on Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s supporters turning violent in case of an adverse verdict on August 13, indicating the build up and violence being planned by the Dera followers, a Punjab police official told The Hindu. Additional Director General, Punjab, Hardeep Singh Dhillon said the instructions to field units were sent on August 13 and they liaised with the Army well in advance.“As soon as the verdict was announced and violence was reported, we mobilised the Army in five mins, as we had already liaised with them. Curfew was imposed immediately at places where we expected trouble. We asked the Haryana administration several times to tell us the date of the verdict as we didn’t want to be caught napping,” Mr. Dhillon said. On August 22, three days before the verdict was announced at a special CBI court in Panchkula, the Punjab Police had issued an internal order that the Dera properties had “started storing petrol, diesel in drums at Naam Charcha Ghars in Faridkot; they have also stored sharp edged weapons and stones on the roof of the Charcha Ghars. On 25.8.2017, if the Hon’ble court would give verdict against Gurmeet Ram Rahim then devotees can use petrol and weapons to harm/destroy the government/public properties,” the communication said. The Centre has refused to hold the Haryana government responsible for its failure to avert Friday’s violence and arson in Panchkula and Sirsa where 32 people were killed, even though intelligence agencies said multiple alerts were issued a month in advance. No casualties were reported in neighbouring Punjab, which also has many Dera ashrams. Home Minister Rajnath Singh held a high level meeting at his residence on Saturday, which was attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said, “DGP Haryana assured the situation is under control. In an ongoing situation, we cannot blame anyone (on Haryana government’s role).”Mr. Dhillon said it was difficult to identify and segregate the Dera followers on the streets. “They were moving around in normal clothes and in private cars, difficult to have stopped each vehicle to check their presence. This is why we enforced curfew in Punjab.” He added that 18,000 police personnel were mobilised and put on alert in the State.last_img read more

DGCA grants aerodrome licence to Shirdi airport

first_imgFlying to the pilgrim town of Shirdi for the darshan of Sai Baba will soon become a reality. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Thursday issued an aerodrome licence to Shirdi airport, which has a runway long enough for an Airbus A-320 and Boeing 737 aircraft to land.In a statement, DGCA said it issued the licence to Shirdi airport for day operations after ensuring compliance with all relevant standards. “The Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC) has developed a green field airport at Kakadi village in Ahmednagar district for which the Ministry of Civil Aviation had granted ‘in principal’ approval in 2011,” the DGCA statement said. The runway of the airport is 2,500 meters in length and is capable of handling Code 3C type aircraft, which include the Airbus 320 and Boeing 737.Suresh Kakani, vice-chairman and managing director, MADC, confirmed that the airport was ready and flight operations would start from October 1 to coincide with the 100th death anniversary of Sai Baba. “All the points raised during the DGCA inspection have been fulfilled. All that now remains is the start of flight operations,” Mr. Kakani said.Zoom Air, Alliance Air and TruJet have expressed a desire to start operations.last_img read more

RSS claims two lakh new recruits in western U.P.

first_imgThe Rashtriya Sawaymsevak Sangh (RSS) has substantially enhanced its presence across western Uttar Pradesh, senior leaders of the Hindutva group said, ahead of “Rastrodaya 2018” — a mega mobilisation event which more than three lakh people are expected to attend. Prant prachar pramukh Ajay Mittal said, “When the BJP government came to power in 2014, about 2,400 shakhas (branches) used to be held in Meerut alone in a day. Now the number has gone to 4,500. There is much more renewed energy, enthusiasm among the common people towards the organisation,” he added.Senior leaders told The Hindu that the RSS wanted to spread the reach of the organisation further ahead of the 2019 general elections. Pracharaks have been tasked with mobilising and bringing people together for the largest congregation in the RSS’s history. The RSS now claims to have more than two lakh new members from western U.P. Mr. Mittal emphasised that the focus of the campaign was on rural areas adding that among the participants, 2.18 lakh will be from the villages and 93,364 from the urban areas of the districts.last_img read more

J&K: probe on as cow smuggling suspect dies

first_imgThe mysterious death of a man, who was detained by the Jammu and Kashmir police on suspicion of being a cow smuggler in Kishtwar district last week, has triggered protests following which the administration has launched a magisterial probe into the incident.Javaid Ahmad Malik, a resident of Bharat village, was detained by officers of Chatroo police station on Friday and died the same day. The police claimed that Malik fell into a gorge while trying to escape from custody but his family alleged that he was beaten to death. They said the victim had gone to the police station on his own to secure the release of two of his relatives who were arrested on charges of bovine smuggling. An FIR has been registered against the police officers for negligence and a departmental inquiry has been initiated, officials said.Cops suspendedSHO of Chatroo police station Mohammad Bashir has been transferred and two others — ‘Munshi’ Jaffar Khan and selection-grade constable Mohammad Amin — have been placed under suspension. Dismissal of a Volunteer Home Guard, Mohammad Shareef, from service has been recommended, the officials said. Taking cognisance of protests in Doda and Chatroo over the death, District Development Commissioner, Kishtwar, Angrez Singh Rana ordered a magisterial probe into the incident. “The inquiry will be conducted by Additional District Development Commissioner, Kishtwar, Imam Din who has been asked to submit his report in a specified time frame,” a police spokesperson said. Senior Superintendent of Police, Kishtwar, Abrar Chowdhary has also ordered a departmental probe by Deputy Superintendent of Police, Headquarters, Nihar Ranjan in the case, he said.last_img read more

Mizoram Home Minister Lalzirliana resigns

first_imgIn a setback to the Congress Mizoram Home Minister R Lalzirliana on Friday resigned from the Lal Thanhawla Cabinet, sources in the Chief Minister’s Office said.Mr. Lalzirliana, accompanied by his supporters arrived at the Chief Minister’s office-cum-residence to put in his papers but Mr. Lal Thanhawla was out of town, the sources said.The development comes as a reversal for the Congress in the State, where elections are due in December.Mr. Lalzirliana handed over his resignation papers to Mr. Lalramthanga, principal secretary to the Chief Minister.Mr. Lalzirliana, who is also the Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee vice-president, was served a show cause notice by the MPCC disciplinary committee on September 11, accusing him of confusing party workers.last_img

Hizb was backed by JeI: Centre

first_imgA day after it banned the Jammu and Kashmir-based group Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) under the anti-terror law, the Centre said the organisation was responsible for the formation of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), the largest terrorist organisation active in the State. A senior Home Ministry official said the JeI had been providing all kinds of support to the HM in terms of recruits, funding, shelter, and logistics. “In a way, the HM is a militant wing of JeI (J&K),” the official said.The organisation was banned twice in the past — in 1975 for two years by the J&K government and in April 1990 by the MHA which continued till December, 1993. “JeI is the main organisation responsible for propagation of separatist and radical ideology in the Kashmir Valley,” said the official. “Jel has been pursuing the agenda of setting up an independent theocratic Islamic state by destabilising the government,” said the official.According to him, a sizeable section of JeI cadres overtly worked for militant organisations, especially HM. “Its cadres are actively involved in the subversive activities of HM by providing hideouts, and ferrying arms.” “The strong presence of HM in the area of influence of JeI is a clear reflection of separatist and radical ideology of the organisation,” the official said.last_img read more

Coldest March in West Bengal in a decade

first_imgDue to high pressure over the Bay of Bengal, Kolkata experienced its first Nor’wester of the season, sharply bringing the temperature down in March. Thus, the city is experiencing its coldest days and nights in March over the last decade, according to the Kolkata meteorological centre. The early half of February saw humidity in the air. This had led to record rainfall in and around Kolkata, according to weather reports. The city saw a record minimum temperature of 15.5 degrees Celsius. The closest to this temperature was in 2011, when the mercury plummeted to 15.7 deg C in March. The cold wave is likely to continue for a few more days. Siliguri saw the mercury dipping to 9.8 degrees, Purulia 11.4 and Sriniketan 11.8 respectively.last_img

Encounter under way in Pulwama’s Tral

first_imgThe Jammu and Kashmir police on Monday evening said it has established contact with hiding militants in Pulwama’s Tral, triggering an encounter.“An exchange of fire has started in Awanipora’s Tral area. The security forces are on the job,” said a Srinagar-based police spokesperson. Initial reports suggest the gunfight started as a joint team of Army’s 42 Rashtriya Rifles, CRPF’s 180 Battalion and the police’s special operation group threw a cordon around the Mir Mohalla of Tral area.Preliminary reports suggest two to three militants were trapped in the area. “An intermittent fire is going on,” said the police.last_img

Gujarat will supply treated waste water for industrial use

first_imgShared tragedy For man and beast, the Zeel is the only watering hole at Seth Vandh. Why has drought hit the Maldharis of Kutch so hard this year? Spring of hope: Women in Samri Vandh village in western Banni find an unexpected water source in a dry river bed. A quick swig A thirsty villager takes a draught at the Zeel. Cooling down A leaky water tanker turns into a shower in Bhuj  “In the next 3-4 years, more than 80% of the water requirement of industries will be met through the supply of treated waste water (TWW), which will be supplied from Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs),” said Gujarat’s Chief Secretary J.N. Singh, adding that industry will get only treated water in order to reserve fresh ground water for drinking and irrigation.“As of today, our total sewage water generation is 4,000 MLD (million litres per day), while our treatment capacity is 3,500 MLD. In the next 2-3 years, new capacity of 1,500 MLD will be added, with the setting up of new STPs and expanding the existing ones,” said J.P. Gupta, Principal Secretary on water supply for the State.Also Read Spring of hope: Women in Samri Vandh village in western Banni find an unexpected water source in a dry river bed. Not enough: A cow fails to find shade under a tree at Dholavira. Shared tragedy For man and beast, the Zeel is the only watering hole at Seth Vandh. Not enough: A cow fails to find shade under a tree at Dholavira. Not enough: A cow fails to find shade under a tree at Dholavira. Milk of kindness A Maldhari feeds an abandoned camel calf some milk in Chhari Dandh near Banni. Deceptive calm Grass hides a plaintive phase of extreme drought at the Zeel, a traditional water hole at Seth Vandh village in Banni, Kutch, which has gone without rain for three continuous years. Deceptive calm Grass hides a plaintive phase of extreme drought at the Zeel, a traditional water hole at Seth Vandh village in Banni, Kutch, which has gone without rain for three continuous years. Shortage of water is an annual story in Gujarat, with limited sources of fresh water and rising demand. Every year, the State faces water shortage, particularly for drinking water in far-flung areas in Saurashtra and north Gujarat, both drought-prone regions in the State.In the current year, more than 750 villages are being supplied water through tankers due to non-availability of local sources, as most of the dams and reservoirs have gone dry, due to deficit rainfall in the last monsoon.Detailed planNow, the State government has come up with a detailed plan to address the water shortage by limiting the supply of fresh water only for drinking and irrigation purposes, while the growing demand of industries will be met through treated waste water, which will be supplied by State. May day: Carrying hay for livestock in Banni Cooling down A leaky water tanker turns into a shower in Bhuj A quick swig A thirsty villager takes a draught at the Zeel. May day: Carrying hay for livestock in Banni  According to Mr. Gupta, the State has limited sources of fresh water while demand is rising, which forces the authorities to adopt novel ways to address the issue. “By treating waste water that’s generated in sewage and supplying it for industrial consumption, we will also resolve the issue of pollution in cities and towns,” he added.“We have capacity to treat water at STPs and since there is no demand for treated water, it gets diluted and treated water is released into water bodies or farms. Now, we will be making it mandatory for industries to use treated waters, ,” Mr. Gupta said. Milk of kindness A Maldhari feeds an abandoned camel calf some milk in Chhari Dandh near Banni.last_img read more

Catholic leaders to come together to end HIV in Goa

first_imgFather Paul Alvares, head of the Conference of Religions of India – Goa Chapter, on Sunday said he would bring heads of various religious congregations together in an attempt to end the scourge of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the State by 2030.Leaders of the Catholic faith got together to discuss the response from the community to HIV in Goa on the sidelines of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial on Sunday, organised by Human Touch Foundation (HTF) at Margao.“Religious leaders can have massive impacts within their communities in the fight against HIV. With their considerable presence and reach, the church can help shape government policies and advocate with the government for better access to healthcare,” said Peter F. Borges, Founder of HTF. “In addition, religious leaders can talk to and inform their own faith communities. The church is a powerful agent to change individual beliefs and values.” He called for faith leaders to set examples and shape attitudes about HIV.HTF is represented in the Global HIV Strategy Group and International Reference Group of Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, an initiative of the World Council of Churches, a global network of churches and related organisations committed to campaigning for justice and dignity.Explaining the HTF’s plans, Sr. Crina Cardozo said programmes would be aimed at reducing stigma and promoting HIV testing in Goa through the involvement of faith leaders in line with the campaign of World Council of Churches. She said faith leaders should demonstrate to the faith community that HIV does not need or deserve stigma. Further, she called on faith leaders to preach sermons about the importance of testing and treatment, in order to prevent discrimination within their communities.Narrating her experiences of addressing HIV during an outbreak, Sister Lourenca Marques said faith leaders have a key role to play in increasing access to HIV testing and treatment, breaking silence and stigma, promoting human rights and building bridges between people and communities.During the dialogue, participants addressed the realities of how stigma and discrimination are perpetuated both in religious communities and the larger society.An adolescent living with HIV also recounted her experience when she and her other friends were discriminated against and expelled from their school in 2014. She shared her challenges and called for an end to discrimination against children living with HIV.In their concluding statement, participants called for the “renewed sense of urgency” to prioritise and strengthen the response to HIV.They pledged to commit themselves to strengthened efforts to respond to HIV in Goa, which includes protecting human rights through collaboration and influencing local and national decision-making processes.last_img read more

Stinky Whale Clumps, Now in Fossil Form

first_imgRocky lumps found eroding from ancient clay-rich sediments in Italy may be the first known fossils of ambergris, a fragrant and flammable substance produced in the intestines of sperm whales. What’s more, according to a new study, the large number of lumps discovered within a very small area hints that these fossils may be all that’s left of a mysterious mass die-off of the giant creatures.Ambergris—Latin for “gray amber”—is a dull, waxy material produced in the intestines of sperm whales. Because squid beaks are commonly found embedded in the lumps, scientists have suggested that the whales produce the smelly substance to protect their lower digestive system from indigestible sharp objects. Ironically, the soft, fatty precursor of ambergris—which, unsurprisingly, starts out smelling like poop—hardens and darkens while floating at sea, ending up with a distinctive, musky smell long prized by perfumemakers. At current prices, a 1-kilogram sample can be worth $20,000 or more. (In most modern perfumes, however, the rare and fragrant substance has largely been replaced by synthetic materials.)Because the fecal matter of dinosaurs and other ancient creatures has been found in the fossil record, ambergris should have been preserved, too, says Angela Baldanza, a sedimentary geologist at the University of Perugia in Italy. Yet no one had ever reported coming across it, she notes.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(*)While Baldanza and her colleagues were on a geological survey in central Italy in September 2011, they discovered more than two dozen unusual lumps eroding from a layer of marine sediments. They seemed to be fossils, she notes, but they didn’t look like any trace fossils she’d ever seen. What they did look like were lumps of ambergris, so the team began a detailed analysis.A variety of clues eventually led the researchers to identify the masses as fossilized ambergris, the researchers will report in a forthcoming print issue of Geology. First, Baldanza says, was their size and shape. The elongated lumps are 30 to 60 centimeters high and from 60 centimeters to 1.2 meters across, and each one has a tapered, grooved end. (In the two ambergris lumps found within modern-day sperm whales and described in detail, the tapered end pointed toward the whale’s anus and the larger, more rounded end pointed toward the whale’s stomach.) Second, several of the lumps contain fossilized squid beaks—remains of a modern-day sperm whale’s favorite prey. Third, chemical analyses of the rocks yielded eight amino acids consistent with those found in squid beaks, as well as substances produced only by a mammalian digestive tract. Finally, other fossils in the clay-rich sediments surrounding the lumps indicate that the materials were laid down on a sea floor no more than 150 meters deep about 1.75 million years ago, she notes. Sperm whales are known to have inhabited the Mediterranean at the time, Baldanza notes.“With four lines of evidence, I think they’ve really nailed the interpretation” that this is fossilized ambergris, says Anthony Martin, an ichnologist (a specialist in trace fossils) at Emory University in Atlanta.The team’s evidence is circumstantial but compelling, adds Nicholas Pyenson, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. “Is this fossil ambergris?” he asks. “They’ve made a pretty good case for it.”“The geochemistry was what really [convinced] me,” says Andrew Rindsberg, an ichnologist at the University of West Alabama in Livingston.Baldanza and her colleagues found 25 of the fossils in a region covering only 1200 square meters—an area a little smaller than three basketball courts. That leads them to suggest that the concentration of lumps may have come about when a large number of whales died and then sank to the sea floor, where the carcasses quickly decomposed in the warm, shallow waters but the ambergris—which on its own typically floats—was buried and preserved.What may have killed so many whales all at once is a mystery, the researchers say, but causes could include disease, environmental stress, or even a mass stranding while chasing schools of squid into a freshwater bay.The mass stranding interpretation is “speculative but plausible,” Martin says. One problem with that scenario, he notes, is explaining how the carcasses were transported from shore out to their final resting place but still remained close together.last_img read more

Are We Martians After All?

first_imgIf you looked in a mirror this morning, you may have seen a descendant of creatures from Mars. That is, if biochemist Steven Benner of the Westheimer Institute of Science and Technology in Gainesville, Florida, is right. “Life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock,” Benner declares. Today, at the European Association of Geochemistry’s Goldschmidt Conference in Florence, Italy, Benner made what many in the origin-of-life debate call an interesting, but not convincing, new case for our martian heritage.However and wherever life began, one thing is sure: Its first organic building blocks, called hydrocarbons, had a number of hurdles to clear before evolving into living cells. Fed with heat or light and left to themselves, hydrocarbons tend to turn into useless tarlike substances. And even when complex molecules like RNA (most biologists’ best guess for the first genetic molecule) arise, water quickly breaks them down again.Benner argues that those chemical hurdles would have been lower on early Mars than on young Earth. To begin with, early Earth was probably a water world, completely covered by oceans, but water covered only parts of Mars’s surface. Moreover, he notes, rocks on Mars had a stronger oxidizing effect than rocks on Earth, so oxygen-bearing molecules would have formed more easily there. “This is established by observations today on both planets, as well as by models for how planets form,” he says.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(*)As a result, molybdates—molecules that contain molybdenum and oxygen—could have existed on Mars, but probably not on Earth. Like oxidized boron (which occurs in dry regions and would also have been rare on a water-covered early Earth), molybdates tend to prevent organic materials from turning into tar. Benner says laboratory experiments show that molybdates can convert certain organic molecules into ribose—an important component of DNA. “This is a fact,” he says.That would make it more likely that life originated on our planetary neighbor, Benner says. Martian microorganisms could have reached Earth on meteorites, flung away from the Red Planet’s surface by cosmic impacts.Benner’s hypothesis “is a neat idea, but not yet proven,” says biochemist William Bains of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Some theories for the origin of life do not need molybdenum at all, Bains says, and scientists don’t know for sure whether early Earth was completely covered in water while early Mars was not.Astrobiologist Paul Davies of Arizona State University, Tempe, agrees that Benner’s argument “greatly strengthens the case” for Mars as the first home of terrestrial life. But, he adds, “It comes down to probabilities. The case is suggestive but not overwhelming.” Even if early life existed on Mars, he says, it would be hard to prove that those life forms planted the seeds of our own existence. “In fact, because the traffic of [meteoritic] material between Earth and Mars is so prolific, once life gets going on one it will be transferred to the other very quickly, making the place of origin almost impossible to discern.”Astrochemist Pascale Ehrenfreund of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., is a bit more optimistic about resolving the issue. Laboratory experiments under conditions that resemble early Mars might lead to realistic answers, she says. But she doesn’t find Benner’s “interesting idea” convincing.Benner himself concedes that scientists may never know how and where life emerged. “We will likely need to be satisfied with answers to a more indirect question: How might life have emerged?” Finding martian life, either extant or extinct, could help by revealing information about ancient martian biochemistry. “This could lead to an ‘Aha!’ moment that opens new thinking relevant to the historical question.”As for pinpointing the location of the origin of life once and for all, Benner quips, “Building a time machine will help.”last_img read more

Video: What Tail Wagging Means to Other Dogs

first_imgWhen your dog wags his tail, you probably think he’s happy. And he is, if he’s swinging it to the right; but if he’s wagging to the left, he’s likely anxious—a difference that scientists detected 6 years ago. But what about other dogs: Can they also read the message in a tail? To find out, researchers tested 43 dogs of various breeds for their ability to distinguish between wags. They monitored the dogs’ heart rates and reactions while showing them videos of other Fidos doing either left- or right-asymmetric tail wagging, as in the video above. To make sure that the animals weren’t watching other facial or body cues, the researchers also showed the dogs only a silhouetted version of the wagging pooch. In the end, it didn’t matter whether they watched the natural dog or the silhouette; every canine understood the meaning in a left or right tail wag, the team reports today in Current Biology. Those that saw the dog wag to the left looked anxious, and their heart rates increased—a sign of stress. But dogs that watched the pooch swing its tail to the right stayed calm and relaxed—an indication that right wags are an expression of companionship and confidence, the scientists say. Thus, tail wagging does matter to other dogs and is a good reflection of what is happening in a dog’s brain, the team concludes.last_img read more

U.S. BRAIN Initiative Gets Ethical Advice

first_imgThe Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues today released its first set of recommendations for integrating ethics into neuroscience research in the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. Last July, President Barack Obama charged the commission with identifying key ethical questions that may arise through the BRAIN Initiative and wider neuroscience research.The report is “a dream come true,” says Judy Illes, a neuroethicist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, who was a guest presenter to the commission. Brain research raises unique ethical issues because it “strikes at the very core of who we are,” said political scientist and philosopher Amy Gutmann of the University of Pennsylvania, who chairs the commission, in a call with reporters yesterday.Specific areas of concern identified in the report include questions of brain privacy raised by advances in neuroimaging research; whether research participants and patients with dementia can give informed consent to participate in experimental trials; and research into cognitive enhancement, which raises “issues of distributive justice and fairness,” Gutmann says.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(*)Parsing hope from hype is key to ethical neuroscience research and its application, Gutmann notes. Citing the troubled ethical history of psychosurgery in the United States, in which more than 40,000 people were lobotomized based on shaky evidence that the procedure could treat psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression, Gutmann cautions that a similar ethical derailment is possible in contemporary neuroscience research. A misstep with invasive experimental treatments such as deep brain stimulation surgery would not only be tragic for patients, but have “devastating consequences” for scientific progress, she says.To avoid such disastrous mistakes, the report suggests funding research into both innovative and successful efforts to integrate ethics into neuroscience research and education, including grants similar to the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) research program grants issued for the Human Genome Project. It also calls for all advisory groups and funding review panels for neuroscience research to include a trained bioethicist—a detail that is often overlooked, Gutmann says. The first scientific advisory group to the BRAIN Initiative “notably identified no bioethicists on its panel,” she says. The report makes no mention of ethical concerns surrounding future animal research, but Gutmann says the commission may address that topic in its next two meetings, scheduled for June and August.*Correction, 14 May, 12:15 p.m.: Judy Illes is a neuroethicist at the University of British Columbia, not at the University of Montreal, as previously reported. This has been corrected.last_img read more

Slideshow: Cape Cod turtle deaths confound researchers

first_imgRescuer looks for stranded turtles on Cape Cod. New England Aquarium Rescuer with Mass Audubon retrieves stranded sea turtle from a Cape Cod beach in 2013. Rescuer looks for stranded turtles on Cape Cod. New England Aquarium New England Aquarium Juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtle being evaluated at the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles swim at the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital. New England Aquarium Juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, with a lacerated front flipper and fractured shell, being evaluated at the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in Quincy, Massachusetts. New England Aquarium Slideshow: Cape Cod turtle deaths confound researchers Rescued green sea turtle at the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital. New England Aquarium Juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, with a lacerated front flipper and fractured shell, being evaluated at the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in Quincy, Massachusetts. Rescuer approaches a cold-stunned sea turtle on Cape Cod. Mass Audubon Mass Audubon center_img Mass Audubon Mass Audubon A mystery is unfolding on the beaches of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Hundreds of endangered sea turtles have been washing up on the shore, sick and stunned by the cold ocean water. Biologists and volunteers are mounting an unprecedented rescue response to save as many turtles as possible before it’s too late.Most of the turtles are juvenile Kemp’s ridleys (Lepidochelys kempii) measuring less than a foot long. They are being trapped on their southbound fall migration to warmer climes by the arm of the cape, which protrudes into the Atlantic Ocean. Many wash up not only incapacitated by the cold, but also with life-threatening conditions like dehydration, pneumonia, infections, or off-kilter blood chemistry. Their skin is often discolored, and early on many were overgrown with algae.“They’re terrible looking” when they first wash up, says Bob Prescott, director of the conservation group Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in South Wellfleet, Massachusetts, who is coordinating the recovery of stranded turtles from the beaches. Fortunately, they respond well to treatment. His crews of volunteers and staff members have picked up more than 1070 turtles so far, about 20% of them already dead. That’s far above the average of 200 turtles that have washed up each fall for the past decade. The number of arrivals has declined, Prescott says, but it is still higher than normal and won’t likely reach zero until the end of the year, when the annual cold-stun season comes to a close. With water temperatures dropping, more of the turtles are showing up dead, and bigger species that can withstand the cold longer, like loggerheads (Caretta caretta), are starting to wash up.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(*)Prescott’s team sends the living turtles, often packed in banana boxes, to a sea turtle hospital in Quincy, Massachusetts, run by the New England Aquarium. Six hundred and fifty turtles have been admitted so far—approaching triple the hospital’s previous record of 240, set in 2012. Workers at the hospital have been putting in 12- to 14-hour days, with extra volunteers and staff from out-of-state aquariums pitching in, says Charles Innis, the aquarium’s director of animal health, who oversees the sea turtles’ care.Innis’s team has been stabilizing the turtles and then shipping as many as possible to other animal hospitals for further treatment and eventual release. This morning, a private plane flew 50 of the turtles to Houston. Last week, the U.S. Coast Guard airlifted 193 to Florida. Innis says the Cape Cod turtles have filled just about every facility along the U.S. East Coast, and aquarium staff members are now trying to place them in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. “We just simply don’t have tank space available to handle 600 turtles here. And nobody does, really,” Innis says. “It’s really a national effort at this point.”The healthiest turtles typically require a month or two of care before they can be released, but the sicker ones may have to stay for up to 8 months, Innis says, adding that he expects at least 70% of his patients to survive.Many juvenile Kemp’s ridleys never foray north of Cape Cod, but the ones that do and make it out before the water turns deadly cold don’t seem to return, Prescott says. Instead, they join other East Coast turtles in warmer waters farther south, where they spend a decade or so maturing before returning to nest on their home beaches in Texas and Mexico.The reasons for this year’s remarkable stranding remain unknown. Some observers have suggested that there may be more juvenile Kemp’s ridleys thanks to recent hatching success resulting from conservation efforts. But Donna Shaver, chief of the Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery at Padre Island National Seashore in Corpus Christi, Texas, where most U.S.-born Kemp’s ridleys hatch, says it may be more complicated than that. The number of hatchlings in the Gulf of Mexico has increased substantially since the mid-1980s, but it has varied quite a bit in recent years, suggesting that oceanographic conditions may also be behind this year’s large crop of stranded turtles.Another hypothesis is that rapidly warming water in the Gulf of Maine, which includes Cape Cod Bay and waters north to Nova Scotia, could be luring turtles farther north than they once ventured, causing more to become trapped on their southbound journey when the water cools in the fall. But biologists are putting serious investigation into the causes of the record strandings on hold until January, after the rush to save turtles ends.From Shaver’s vantage point, the Cape Cod rescue work—which she is not directly involved in—is very important. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Kemp’s ridley sea turtles as “Critically Endangered,” and the species is thought to have been harmed by the BP oil spill in 2010, which killed hundreds of turtles and may have contributed to subsequent declines in nests. Only about 5500 females nest each year, the best available proxy for their total population. “We’re really hoping for great success for those folks that are working so hard to try to find these turtles and bring them back around to health,” Shaver says. New arrivals swim in an air-conditioned room so as not to raise their body temperatures too quickly at the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital. ‹› Boxes await turtles in preparation for a U.S. Coast Guard flight carrying 193 rescued turtles from the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in Quincy, Massachusetts, to Florida on 25 November. New England Aquarium By Rebecca KesslerDec. 5, 2014 , 4:45 PM New England Aquarium Newly rescued sea turtle receives fluids at the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital. Mass Audubon Turtles await shipment from Cape Cod to the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in Quincy, Massachusetts. Mass Audubon Recently rescued sea turtles. Rescued sea turtle being placed in a pool at the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital. New England Aquarium last_img read more

Hebbar’s Kitchen and the Indian couple behind a food video empire

first_imgThese two-minute long videos, packaged like a mini cooking show, have managed to “break the monotony of having to flip through recipe books,” says Sudarshan Hebbar, an IT consultant who helps run Hebbar’s Kitchen, which was started by his wife, Archana.In 2016, Mrs Hebbar started a blog, filled with her favourite recipes from home – the south Indian state of Karnataka. She had moved to Australia with her husband in 2014, and was trying to get a job as a software testing professional. With no local experience in the region, it was tough, she told BBC Telugu’s Sharath Behara.Read it at BBC Related Itemslast_img

India’s biggest bank scam could swell to $2 billion

first_imgThe value of “unauthorized transactions” at Punjab National Bank, one of the country’s top state-run lenders, could rise by $204 million to around $2 billion, it said in a statement late on Monday.Government officials have named jeweler Nirav Modi as a leading suspect in the fraud. Investigators have raided properties belonging to the billionaire diamond dealer, seized some of his assets and suspended his passport.Read it at CNN Related Itemslast_img