Railways told to pay relief to woman who lost legs

first_imgThe Bombay High Court has asked the Railways to take a decision on granting compensation to a woman, who lost both her legs while trying to board a moving train at the Khandala station two years ago.A division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Anil Memon, while hearing a petition filed by the victim, Sejal Ladola, recently directed the Railways to decide on the compensation in the light of the peculiar circumstances of this case and posted the matter for final disposal on Monday.The Railways raised a technical issue and argued that the woman had an alternative remedy to approach the Railways Claims Tribunal to seek compensation.Chased robbersThe victim claimed that thieves entered her compartment at 3 a.m. on February 9, 2015, and ran away with her purse when the Secunderabad-Rajkot Express train she was travelling in made a scheduled halt at the Khandala station. Ms. Ladola got down from the train and chased the robbers, but she aborted the attempt when the train started moving. However, she slipped while attempting to board the train, losing both her legs in the mishap.Following the accident, Ms. Ladola filed a petition, demanding compensation for her treatment on the grounds that the Railways had failed to provide security to train passengers during night hours. The court noted that the petition had raised a basic issue about the alleged failure of the Railways to provide security to the passengers travelling in night trains.last_img read more

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Goa govt. to limit number of casinos

first_imgPANAJI: Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday declared in the State Legislative Assembly that a new policy would soon cap the number of casinos in a particular area, and that Goan residents would be banned from visiting the gaming areas.Giving an outline of his proposed casino policy, which will be finalised before the next session, Mr. Parrikar told the Assembly that all five offshore casinos currently operating in the Mandovi river would be forced to relocate to land over the next three years. He was replying to queries during a discussion on the 2017-18 State budget. “The Act will have a power to ensure that no Goan can visit casinos. The government will have powers to limit casinos in a particular area. The sixth casino will never enter Mandovi. We are capping it, under this Act, at five,” Mr. Parrikar said, during his nearly one-and-a-half-hour-long address in the ongoing monsoon session.Saying that a casino is as much a vice as liquor, Mr. Parrikar said he too was as opposed to the casino industry as the Opposition legislators, but was forced to allow them to operate because several stakeholders had invested money in vessels. He also blamed the Congress for “creating a fait accompli” on the issue. “We definitely opposed casinos. We also assured that we will cancel licences because that time there were no ships. When any person invests money, a State has a responsibility for continuity, right or wrong,” he said justifying continuation of offshore casinos by BJP governments over the years. He said the policy would ensure that the casinos would relocate from the river to an onshore “entertainment zone”.last_img read more

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Supreme Court to hear pleas against Article 35 A after Diwali

first_imgThe Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear after Diwali pleas challenging Article 35 A, relating to special rights and privileges of permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.A bench headed by Justice J.S. Khehar accepted the plea of the Jammu and Kashmir state government that the pleas challenging Article 35 A be heard after Diwali.Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi and Advocate Shoeb Alam mentioned the matter before a bench also comprising Justices Dipak Misra and D.Y. Chandrachud that even the Centre has no objection if the pleas are taken up after Diwali.“All the pleas will be taken up for hearing after Diwali,” the bench said.Earlier the apex court had favoured hearing of the matter by a five-judge constitution bench in case the Article is ultra vires of the Constitution or if there is any procedural lapse.The court had said that a three-judge bench will hear the matter and refer it to a five-judge bench if necessary.The apex court was hearing a plea filed by Charu Wali Khanna challenging Article 35A of the Constitution and Section 6 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution which deal with the “permanent residents” of the state.The plea has challenged certain provisions of the Constitution which deny property right to a woman who marries a person from outside the state. The provision, which makes such women from the State lose rights over property, also applies to her son.Article 35A, which was added to the Constitution by a Presidential Order in 1954, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of the Jammu and Kashmir.It also empowers the State’s legislature to frame any law without attracting a challenge on grounds of violating the Right to Equality of people from other states or any other right under the Indian Constitution.“Section 6 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution restricts the basic right of women to marry a man of their choice by not giving the heirs any right to property if the woman marries a man not holding the Permanent Resident Certificate.“Her children are denied a permanent resident certificate thereby considering them illegitimate — not given any right to such a woman’s property even if she is a permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir,” the plea said.While Jammu and Kashmir’s Non-Permanent Resident Certificate holders can vote in Lok Sabha elections, the same individual is barred to vote in local elections in the State.last_img read more

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Bengal issues lookout notices for Gurung, Giri

first_img However, Mr Gurung did have an idea of the meeting as he issued a statement prior to the meeting with the Chief Minister. “But what he did not know was the whereabouts of Tamang and Thapa after the meeting,” a GJM official said.After the meeting, on his return to the hills, Mr Tamang gave a call to withdraw the strike till September 12, which is revoked on Friday by Mr Gurung. The party officials clarified that the strike in Darjeeling– which will be completing three months in few days– will continue indicating that the talks between the Bengal government and a section of GJM leaders failed.Mr Gurung also slammed Tamang as a “traitor” who was playinginto the hands of the state government. Following his statement Tamang’s house, meanwhile, was ransacked by pro- Gorkhaland supporters. Posters were pasted in front of his house terming him a “traitor of Gorkhaland”. The party leadership claimed that a woman was killed during lathi charge by police to disperse a crowd that was protesting against the decision to suspend the shutdown. The police, however, denied the allegation. GJM stir escalates in Darjeeling, Tamang removed from post The West Bengal government issued look out notices against the president and secretary of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha [GJM] on Friday. The notices are issued by the Criminal Investigation Department [CID] of the State government and a very senior officer of the CID confirmed it to The Hindu. The notices follow GJM action against party interlocutors Binoy Tamang and Anit Thapa who represented them at the talks with the government. “We have issued them against GJM president Bimal Gurung and general secretary Roshan Giri,” a senior CID official said.A similar notice was also issued against another activist, Prakash Gurung, the youth wing president of the GJM. The notices are issued in consultation with the officials of the Central government to nab criminals and also to stop them from crossing international borders.Meanwhile, following a meeting of GJM senior office-bearers, Mr. Gurung ostensibly expelled party’s assistant general secretary, Binoy Tamang, who led the team to Kolkata on August 29 to hold a meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Another leader of the party Anit Thapa was also apparently expelled. “I am hearing the news that they are expelled,” party’s secretary Roshan Giri told The Hindu. However, he has not confirmed the expulsion.Earlier, Mr Gurung claimed in a statement that a section of their party leaders “have shaken hands with Bengal government … to derail [the] movement” and thus he issued a long and strongly worded statement claiming the struggle for Gorkha homeland will continue.“They [rebel leaders] didn’t inform me about the recent meetings they undertook, they didn’t tell me where the meeting took place, how many times such meetings were held, and I wasn’t even made aware of who would be the Convener of the coordination committee, I only came to know about it after they had done the selections. So I was kept in the dark and they didn’t consult me….[section of the leaders led by Tamang] went to Nabanna [State Secretariat] and sat for a meeting with Mamata Banerjee without consulting me,” Mr Gurung alleged.Also Readlast_img read more

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BJP will fight 2019 Odisha polls alone: Amit Shah

first_imgThe Bharatiya Janata Party is not looking for allies in Odisha and will fight the 2019 Assembly elections alone, party president Amit Shah said on Thursday. “We will have no alliance in Odisha,” Mr. Shah said at a press conference at the party office here on the second day of his three-day visit to Odisha.Mr. Shah, who has set a target of 120 seats for his party in the 147-member Odisha Assembly, said a BJP wave was blowing across the country and it would come to Odisha very soon. The party has 10 legislators in the current Assembly.Mr. Shah claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had allocated huge funds for the development of Odisha in the last three years.Mr. Shah, who arrived in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday as part of his 110-day nationwide tour to strengthen the party organisation, is holding a series of meetings with leaders and workers to chalk out the party’s strategy in the State.He is scheduled to address booth-level workers at a conclave in Bhubaneswar on the last day of his visit on Friday.last_img read more

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HC admits plea of Ram Rahim challenging conviction

first_imgThe Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday admitted the appeal filed by Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who is serving 20-years jail sentence, challenging his conviction by the special Central Bureau of Investigation in two counts of rape of female followers.A division bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice Sudhir Mittal while admitting the appeal issued issued notice to the CBI.Ram Rahim’s lawyer, S.K. Garg Narvana pleaded before the court that in the wake of all the Dera properties having been attached, his client was not in a position to pay ₹30 lakh – the amount which the CBI court has asked to pay as a fine to the rape survivors. “Also my client – Gurmeet Ram Rahim has renounced the world,” he said.The court, however, directed Ram Rahim to deposit the compensation amount, within two months at a nationalised bank in the CBI Panchkula court’s name. The court said that the amount will be kept in the bank till the case is pending and would be paid only after the court’s direction.last_img read more

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Militant killed in encounter in J&K’s Kupwara

first_imgAn unidentified militant was killed in a gunbattle with security forces in Langet area of Kupwara district in Jammu and Kashmir. An encounter broke out between militant and security forces on Sunday morning after the latter launched a search operation in Langet, 100 kms from here, an Army official said.He said one militant has been killed and the encounter is still underway.last_img

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Seeking permanent jobs, SPOs in Assam block Brahmaputra bridge

first_imgSome 300 special police officers (SPOs) on Monday blocked an arterial bridge across river Brahmaputra demanding regularisation of their jobs. They threatened to commit mass suicide by jumping into the river before the police dragged them away to restore order.About 650 SPOs have been jobless since the Assam government discharged them in 2015. They have been awaiting absorption in the proposed third Assam Industrial Security Force, as the government had promised.“We have no job, no money to look after our families. The government does not want us to live, and by preventing us from jumping into into the river, it does not want us to die either,” an SPO told newspersons.The State government had raised the SPOs in 2008 to guard government officials and vital installations after militants triggered large-scale violence in Dima Hasao district. Many surrendered rebels were included into the squad under rehabilitation schemes.“Initially, 900 SPOs were recruited. But the government discharged 298 of them in 2010 without any notice. The remaining SPOs were discharged in 2015, but none of us were given the revised pay since September 2013,” Dilip Saikia, president of SPO Welfare Society, had said some time ago.Mr. Saikia is undergoing treatment following an accident.The SPOs were recruited at a fixed monthly pay of ₹4,839 for the first three months. The pay was later revised to ₹8,200.The SPOs had in 2015 staged an armed revolt after being discharged. Two of them sustained bullet injuries after the police opened fire to quell the rebellion.Home Commissioner L.S. Changsan did not take calls, but an official in her department said the SPOs were recruited in 2008 on the condition that their job would be temporary. “There is no point demanding regularisation of job when they had agreed to the condition in the first place,” he said.last_img read more

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SP students’ wing bags top post in AU elections

first_imgThough they lost ground this year, the student wing of the Samajwadi Party continues to be the leading force in the prestigious Allahabad University Students’ Union elections, results for which were declared in the early hours of Saturday.The Samajwadi Chatra Sabha grabbed two posts, president and joint secretary. However, the National Students’ Union of India of the Congress sprung a surprise as it also bagged two posts, vice-president and cultural secretary, in what is its best performance in over a decade.One seat fore ABVPThe student wing of the RSS-BJP, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, was restricted to a single seat, general secretary, which it had also won in 2017.The SCS had secured the post of president, vice-president, joint secretary and cultural secretary of the central varsity last year, winning four out of the five posts.The counting of the polls turned controversial as the hostel in which the winning candidate for the president’s post —Uday Prakash Yadav of the SCS — is living was set on fire by miscreants. Senior Superintendent of Police, Allahabad, Nitin Tiwari said that six to seven rooms in the Holland hostel were set on fire and that all items inside Mr. Uday Yadav’s room were gutted.The room of last year’s president Awanish Yadav, also of the SCS, was also gutted, while his car was set on fire. Several motorbikes were also gutted.The police are probing the case and an FIR will be registered.Mr. Uday Yadav alleged that police laxity had led to the incident, which he said tarnished the tradition of the Central varsity. The SCS alleged that the losing ABVP was behind the incident.“This is not an ordinary incident. But the police administration is silent because the BJP, known for its misuse of government machinery, has been dealt a cracking defeat,” said Mr. Uday Yadav, who is a first-year law student from Deoria.last_img read more

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On his birthday, Mulayam reveals interest in Delhi

first_imgNot just Uttar Pradesh, focus on capturing power in Delhi as well: this was the advice Samajwadi Party (SP) founder Mulayam Singh gave to party workers and leaders as he entered the 81st year of his life on Thursday. While his public appearances have decreased over the past one year, party workers still look up to the Yadav patriarch as a guiding light and a potential prime ministerial candidate, especially as the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha election approaches.Mr. Singh has in the past made his PM aspirations known to all.“Yours eyes must be set on Delhi. Delhi is everything, keep that in mind… You must resolve to create such a situation that no government can be formed in Delhi without the SP,” Mr. Singh told a gathering at the party office on the occasion of his birthday.The SP founder even asked party workers to organise public meetings for him at the local level so that he could join in the campaign.Mr. Singh reflected on his career and how the SP formed the government in Uttar Pradesh four times and become part of the Centre twice, despite being underestimated as a “party of one district”.However, he said that “some leaders” broke away from the party after creating strife and causing damage, and now it was up to the youth to unite and strengthen the party ahead of 2019. Mr. Singh did not name any leader, though it could be speculated if he was referring to his younger brother Shivpal Singh Yadav who, after a long family feud, especially with his nephew Akhilesh Yadav, formed a separate outfit recently. Akhilesh and Shivpal, however, have been locked in battle to claim Mulayam’s political legacy. The patriarch has so far enacted a balancing game.While SP leaders cut a cake and celebrated his birthday at the party headquarters, his son Akhilesh, along with his daughter and son, called upon him to wish him, before he headed out to campaign in Madhya Pradesh. “He taught us all to walk on Gandhiji’s path of truth and non-violence and to follow Lohiaji’s principle that in order to defeat the evil, we must first recognise it, and that trust is the biggest asset of human relationships,” Mr. Akhilesh tweeted.On the other hand, Shivpal Yadav’s party organized a session on “Socialism and Secularism” in Lucknow, while he himself attended a ‘dangal’ (wrestling contest) organized in Safai as tribute to his elder brother. Mr. Singh is a former wrestler. Saifai is the native village of the Yadavs in Etawah district.last_img read more

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SC pulls up U.P. govt for poor upkeep of Taj Mahal

first_imgThe Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the Uttar Pradesh government for the poor upkeep of the Taj Mahal.A Bench led by Justice S.A. Bobde asked the State to file a fresh vision document in four weeks, detailing the manner in which the monument would be preserved and protected.Earlier, the court had said the protection of the Taj Mahal should not be restricted to the world heritage monument alone but everything around it that goes to protect the ivory-white mausoleum commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, in 1632.The court had said that the Taj Mahal was only the “centre-piece”. The forest cover, the river Yamuna and the grounds of the Taj Mahal should also be saved from pollution. The Bench had said the Vision Document for Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) should examine and end the proliferation of hazardous industries, foundries, seepage and emissions which are slowly but steadily destroying the Taj Mahal and the protective cover around it.In its 1996 judgment, the Supreme Court had noted that the Taj Mahal was not threatened by only traditional causes of decay, but also social and economic conditions. Industrial emissions, brick-kilns, vehicular traffic and generator-sets polluted air around TTZ. The monument itself was slowly turning yellow from the collected grime.last_img read more

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As Shutdown Takes Hold, an Essential Few Scientists Still on the Job

first_imgA bird identification expert might not seem like an employee essential to keeping the U.S. government functioning. But ornithologist Carla Dove was one of a select corps of federal scientists deemed important enough to be exempted from a sweeping government shutdown that began today,  paralyzing research funding agencies, shuttering a wide range of science projects, and sending home more than 800,000 federal employees.“I’m getting prepared to be lonely,” Dove said yesterday, noting that most of her colleagues at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., wouldn’t be allowed to work. “It will be me and 650,000 museum specimens.”The shutdown is the result of an epic stalemate between the Democrat-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which could not agree on how to finance the government for the 2014 fiscal year, which began on Tuesday. It is the first shutdown since the winter of 1995–96, when an impasse over spending priorities prompted agency closures that lasted nearly a month. This time, however, the disagreement centers on efforts to undo the new U.S. health care law known as Obamacare.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The crisis came to a head yesterday, as Senate Democrats four times rejected bills passed by House Republicans to defund or delay Obamacare in exchange for funding the government for a few months at existing levels. Without such appropriations, agencies technically have no money to spend.Some agencies still openA shutdown doesn’t mean that the entire government closes. It is largely business as usual at agencies the White House has deemed essential for public safety and national security, for instance, including the departments of Justice and Homeland Security.At the 10 national laboratories supported by the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science, researchers are soldiering on. The labs, which support x-ray synchrotrons, neutron sources, and other major facilities used by academic and industry scientists, are run for the government by private and university contractors. That means the labs were not required to shut their doors immediately. In fact, most appear to have a cushion of money left over from the last fiscal year, which ended yesterday, that they will use to keep going for as long as possible.Officials at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, for instance, say they have no immediate plans to turn off the Advanced Photon Source, an x-ray synchrotron that supports some 4600 researchers each year. “We’ve got a month and after that we are powering things down,” says Eric Isaacs, the lab’s director. Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, is less optimistic about how long his lab can keep the doors open. “Basically, we’re trying to take things day by day for the moment,” he says. “I don’t think we can make it through a month.”Both Mason and Isaacs stress that, even as their labs remain open, the lack of funding is affecting smaller research efforts. Oak Ridge receives funding through roughly 40 different sub-budgets or “control points,” Mason explains. Although lab officials have some ability to redistribute money within each sub-budget, they cannot move money from one to another. So different research efforts will run out of gas at different times if the shutdown continues, Mason says: “There are 40 odd little cliffs that you go over as each of these buckets runs dry.” Once enough programs have been forced to stop, Mason says, it will become untenable to keep the lab open, even if other programs still have a shekel or two to spend.At the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, director Doon Gibbs sent staff a memo this morning that read, in part: “Laboratory management will continue to take prudent steps going forward to mitigate the impacts of the shutdown, and we ask you to do your part by limiting all non-essential travel, conferences, training, and meetings, etc., to help reduce costs. … Please maintain your focus during these uncertain budgetary times, watch out for each other, and concentrate on the things we can control.”Grantmaking shuts downOther research agencies are already feeling the pain. At the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 73% of its more than 18,600 employees have been ordered to stay home. Although outside researchers can still submit grant applications through automated systems, NIH won’t process them. And study sections won’t meet to review pending applications.The widely used PubMed database, which holds biomedical papers and abstracts, is not being updated, and the GenBank gene database isn’t taking new data. No new patients are being admitted to the NIH Clinical Center, where more than 1400 studies are under way. The grants system also ground to a halt at the National Science Foundation (NSF), which spends 95% of its budget on research done by others. (Researchers who already had money in hand from both agencies can continue to draw funding.)Meanwhile, public websites have gone dark for NSF, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, and other agencies. “Due to the Federal government shutdown, NOAA.gov and most associated web sites are unavailable,” reads the NOAA site. “We sincerely regret this inconvenience,” NSF says. Websites at NIH and DOE are still up, but won’t be updated, according to notices.The essential scientists Every agency, however, has a list of employees that it says should keep working no matter what. At NSF, that “exempted” workforce amounts to just a few dozen people responsible for security, information systems, and overseeing its Antarctic program. NASA’s few workers include those watching over the International Space Station. At NIH, more than 5000 employees have been deemed critical to caring for patients and other tasks, including about 730 who are maintaining experiments in NIH’s 1140 intramural laboratories.One scientist on NIH’s essential list is Al Singer, chief of the Experimental Immunology Branch at the National Cancer Institute. He reported to work today to tend the lab’s colony of 14,000 mice, who give birth to 1200 pups each week that must be genetically tested and culled. “There’s no way this can stop,” he tells Science.A veteran of the last shutdown, Singer worries morale will suffer. “It’s a major disruption and people look at their job differently afterwards,” he says. “It takes a while to reenergize.” One NIH worker, he said, felt as though she had been fired. “There’s a lot of anxiety now,” he says. “People have to realize it’s a political fight. We’re collateral damage. But the intent is not to hurt us.”In Boulder, Colorado, a skeleton crew of NIST physicists and technicians is maintaining a cesium fountain clock that keeps official U.S. time accurate to 1 second every 100 million years, says Tom O’Brian, chief of the time and frequency division of NIST. Just 15 of the usual 100 or so employees will work limited hours to maintain the clock—“one of the most complex pieces of equipment in the world,” he says. It is essential to keeping GPS units, electrical power stations, and telecommunications networks in sync. “We depend upon really precise and accurate timing and synchronization for our modern technology every day,” O’Brian says.At NIST’s Boulder nanofabrication facility, four people out of about 100 will stay on duty to make sure temperature changes or other unforeseen events don’t damage millions of dollars in equipment in the facility, which serves a variety of academic and industry users. “It’s not a natural condition for everything to be shut down,” says lab manager Vince Luciani. He will remain on duty to check gauges on more attention-needy devices, including ultrahigh vacuum systems and photolithography equipment. He’s already looking ahead to the end of the shutdown. “To me, it’s very important, once they say ‘go’ and we can start working again, to as quickly as possible pick up where we left off.”At the Smithsonian, Dove will be doing a job that her bosses deemed essential: trying to identify birds that have collided with aircraft. On Wednesday, she is expecting feathers and other samples taken from a helicopter crash last March. Fall is always her busy time, she adds, with seasonal migrations leading to up to 50 bird strikes a day. And one of her contracts with the U.S. Air Force requires a quick turnaround, so Dove says she will be alternating with one other person to try to keep the backlog from building up. After she preps a sample and isolates DNA, she will be able to call in a sequencing technician to have the DNA deciphered. Then it’s up to her to match the DNA to a species and write a report.This year’s shutdown is also déjà vu for Dove, who was one of the few to stay on the job during the last closure.  “We’ve never had to close down,” she says. Overall, just 12% of some 6400 employees at the Smithsonian, which is two-thirds federally funded, are allowed to work.How long Dove and other essential scientists will be working without their colleagues is unclear. Also unknown is whether, once the crisis is resolved, the furloughed workers will be paid for the missed time.In the meantime, there is a fair amount of confusion about how to inform the public about the impact of the shutdown. An NSF official who was at work today after being deemed essential hung up on an inquiry from ScienceInsider because “talking to the media is not part of my excepted duties.” And the media managers at two DOE national laboratories said that all press queries were being handled by DOE’s office of public affairs, which will be closed for the duration of the shutdown.With contributions from Adrian Cho, Jocelyn Kaiser, David Malakoff, Jeffrey Mervis, Elizabeth Pennisi, and Kelly Servick.last_img read more

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ScienceShot: A New Way to Grow Quasicrystals

first_imgUntil Daniel Shechtman came along, chemists defined crystals as materials in which atoms are arranged in a regular pattern that repeats itself. But in 1982, Shechtman, a materials scientist at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, found that an alloy of aluminum and manganese had a regular order of its atoms but in a pattern that did not repeat. Such “quasicrystals” forced chemists to rewrite their textbooks, and ultimately won Shechtman a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2011. Since that early discovery, quasicrystals have been found in nature, and engineers made numerous varieties of their own and use them in everything from razor blades to nonstick coatings in cookware. Now, researchers in Germany have come up with a new way to grow ultrathin quasicrystalline films. As they report online today in Nature, they deposited a thin layer of barium titanate (BaTiO3) atop a surface of platinum atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. Barium titanate’s atoms are normally arrayed in a cubic pattern. But the mismatch in atomic arrangement between the two layers forces the BiTiO3 to arrange its atoms into 12-sided dodecahedrons. The outer ring of the dodecahedrons can be seen in yellow (images left and right). Inside, the atoms arrange themselves in a series of triangles, squares, and rhombi (right). The authors suggest that the new way of growing quasicrystals may lead to many more varieties with as yet untold uses.See more ScienceShots.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

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Massive U.S. children’s study needs major tweaks, report finds

first_imgA controversial plan to study the health of 100,000 U.S. babies to age 21 has some strong points—but also a host of weaknesses that could further delay its launch, an outside review has concluded. The critique from an Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC) panel raises questions about whether the National Children’s Study (NCS) can sustain the political support needed to assure funding for the ambitious effort, which has already cost $1 billion and could require billions more in coming years.NCS “offers enormous potential, but it also presents a large number of … challenges,” states the 16 June IOM/NRC report. To overcome them, IOM/NRC recommends that the study’s leader, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), undertake some major changes, including fine-tuning the study’s guiding hypotheses and bolstering scientific input and oversight. And it should drop an existing plan to enroll nearly half of the children at birth, and instead enroll all of them earlier, during the mother’s pregnancy.“It’s not like [NICHD needs] to start at square zero again,” because much of the groundwork for NCS has already been laid, says panel chair Greg Duncan, an economist at the University of California, Irvine. But the needed changes would likely delay initial recruitment, now planned for 2015.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(*)NCS grew out of a request from Congress, made 14 years ago, that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) follow a large group of children from birth to adulthood in a bid to understand how environmental factors, including social settings and chemical pollutants, influence health. Planners decided to recruit 100,000 women and their unborn babies by knocking on household doors in a random sample of about 100 U.S. counties. But this approach proved too expensive, so NICHD turned to other designs. Members of Congress expressed concern in 2012, after NICHD, having spent $1 billion, decided to pull the plug on 40 NCS sites run by academic investigators and turn over to large contractors the job of tracking the 4000 families it had already enrolled in a pilot study. In March 2013, Congress called for IOM to review the study and suggest improvements.In general, the IOM/NRC panel endorses the NCS concept. Similar studies are under way in Europe and Japan, it notes, but the U.S. version would be more comprehensive in part because researchers would collect extensive data on environmental exposures. The panel also agreed with NICHD’s decision to design the study as a “data collection platform” that will start out focused on testing just a few hypotheses—such as that exposure to kitchen dust exacerbates respiratory problems—and add more later. But these “exemplar hypotheses” need to be more scientifically robust, IOM/NRC found.The panel found fault, however, with how NCS planned to enroll subjects. Instead of enrolling 45,000 babies at birth and the same number before birth, the panel calculated the study could enroll 95,000 mothers during pregnancy for the same cost—if it dropped plans for separate studies of 10,000 women. Those smaller studies were to focus on particular questions such as preconception exposures and the effects of natural disasters. Enrolling siblings, as is planned, could also provide useful data on preconception exposures, the panel noted.  Such changes would enable NICHD to enroll participants for about $1.5 billion over 7 years, the panel estimates, with annual costs peaking at just over $300 million. (NIH is now allocating $165 million per year for the study.) The IOM/NRC total appears to put NCS on a lower cost path than earlier NIH estimates, which predicted the study could cost $3 billion. But the IOM/NRC estimate does not include costs such as archiving data and storing biological samples, the report notes. If NIH must further trim costs, the panels says it would be better to enroll fewer families than cut back on exposure measurements.The panel could not determine whether NICHD’s plan to enroll pregnant women through a sample of U.S. hospitals would yield a group as representative of the population as recruiting women through prenatal providers within the original 100 NCS counties. The problem is that “no such list [of all hospitals] exists,” Duncan says.  Scientific leadership of NCS is a major deficiency, the report finds. Although the study has various advisory committees, “the processes by which study decisions are made and vetted are opaque,” it says. NCS needs more expertise within its program office, the panel concludes, as well as a new outside scientific advisory group that has the authority to approve the study’s design.Such conclusions are vindication for some NCS critics, including academic scientists who were pushed out of the study 2 years ago. “From my point of view, this is an excellent report,” says pediatrician and epidemiologist Nigel Paneth of Michigan State University in East Lansing, who led a former NCS site in Detroit. “Its conclusions are essentially the same as mine. They’re just putting it more nicely.”Now that IOM/NRC has had its say, the question is whether NIH will embrace its recommendations—and whether Congress will be willing to keep funding the study.*Correction, 16 June, 4:35 p.m.: The report is from the National Research Council as well as the Institute of Medicine, both part of the National Academies.*Update, 16 June, 4:35 p.m.: NIH Director Francis Collins issued a statement in response to the report saying that it “raises significant concerns.” He is putting the main study on hold. A team of experts will meet in the coming weeks to advise Collins on whether the study is “actually feasible” given current budget constraints and if so, how to implement the recommendations. If not, the panel will look at “new methods to answer key research questions that are most important to pediatric health today.”last_img read more

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Congo outbreak of Ebola unrelated to escalating West African epidemic

first_imgA new Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is unrelated to the 6-month-old epidemic in West Africa, a genetic analysis has confirmed. Although the virus belongs to the same species, Ebola-Zaire, the strain is genetically so different that it “is definitely not a dissemination of the outbreak in West Africa,” says virologist Eric Leroy of the International Centre for Medical Research of Franceville, the World Health Organization (WHO) collaborating center in Gabon that is characterizing the DRC virus.Meanwhile, WHO and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) today issued fresh and even more urgent calls for immediate, massive international action to contain the West African outbreak, which is spiraling out of control. At a U.N. briefing today, MSF’s Joanne Liu painted a particularly desperate picture of the situation on the ground.”Ebola treatment centers are reduced to places where people go to die alone, where little more than palliative care is offered,” Liu said. “It is impossible to keep up with the sheer number of infected people pouring into facilities. In Sierra Leone, infectious bodies are rotting in the streets. Rather than building new Ebola care centers in Liberia, we are forced to build crematoria.”At the same briefing, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan raised her fist and called for “Action, action, action!”The DRC outbreak, first reported to WHO on 26 August, has so far sickened 53 people and killed 31, according to WHO. Early test results suggested the two outbreaks were caused by two different species of Ebola. (There are five species of Ebola virus, three of which cause outbreaks in humans: Zaire, Sudan, and Bundibugyo.) But the DRC outbreak, like the one in West Africa, turned out to be Zaire, Leroy wrote to ScienceInsider in an e-mail over the weekend.Now, a sequence of 346 base pairs of one of the virus’s genes has shown that the two outbreaks aren’t directly related. The fragment has seven mutations compared with genomes from the current outbreak in Guinea, but only four mutations compared with the strain that caused the first known Ebola outbreak in 1976, also in the DRC, which was then named Zaire. It is even more closely related—by just three mutations—to the strain that caused an outbreak in the DRC city of Kikwit in 1995. Leroy says he hopes to have a full genome sequence of the new DRC strain by the end of this week.An epidemiological investigation hadn’t suggested any links between the two outbreaks either. The index case in the DRC is believed to have been a pregnant woman from Ikanamongo Village in the north of the country, who prepared bushmeat hunted by her husband.The outbreak zone in the DRC is in a remote area approximately 1200 kilometers north of Kinshasa. “Motorcycles, canoes, and satellite phones have been supplied to facilitate outbreak investigation and contact tracing,” a statement issued today by WHO noted. “A dedicated helicopter will be made available soon.”That remoteness makes the response more difficult—but it’s also reason to be confident that this outbreak can be contained, Leroy says, because infected people won’t travel as much as they do in West Africa. In addition, he says, “the DRC has much experience with Ebola outbreaks, so all the people know very well what to do to stop the outbreak.”In West Africa, meanwhile, the outbreak shows no signs of slowing down. If it continues to accelerate at the current pace, the virus could sicken more than 10,000 people by 24 September, according to scientists trying to predict the spread of the virus.Public health experts are sounding increasingly alarmed. “There is a window of opportunity to tamp this down, but that window is closing. We need action now to scale up the response,” said Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, today at a press conference after returning from a visit to affected countries in West Africa.“In some ways, the most upsetting thing I saw is what I didn’t see,” Frieden said. “I didn’t see enough beds for treatment. So in one facility which had just opened with 35 beds, there were 63 patients, many of them lying on the ground. I didn’t see data coming in from large parts of the country where Ebola might be spreading. I didn’t see the kind of rapid response team that’s needed to stop a single cluster from becoming a large outbreak.”At the U.N. briefing, MSF’s Liu sharply criticized the international reaction to the outbreak so far, as MSF has done before. “The response has been too little, too late,” she says. Liu also criticized the fact that WHO didn’t declare the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) until 8 August. “We have lost 6 months,” she said.At a press conference later, Chan acknowledged that WHO and other organizations realized too late just how serious the outbreak would become. “I think it is fair to say that all organizations involved in this underestimated the complexity and the magnitude” of the outbreak, she said. But Chan defended the timing of the PHEIC declaration, which was triggered by the appearance of Ebola in Nigeria. “I think it was the right time to call it,” she said.*The Ebola Files: Given the current Ebola outbreak, unprecedented in terms of number of people killed and rapid geographic spread, Science and Science Translational Medicine have made a collection of research and news articles on the viral disease freely available to researchers and the general public.last_img read more

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Sea otter teeth more than twice as tough as ours

first_imgSea otters, which often dine on clams, crabs, and other shelled creatures, have unusually chip-resistant teeth, a new study suggests. Lab tests show that the enamel coating the teeth of sea otters (Enhydra lutris, shown) is up to two-and-a-half times tougher than human tooth enamel, thanks largely to the enamel’s microstructure. In all mammal enamel, the tiny crystals of calcium phosphate that give the tooth’s surface its hardness are separated by thin layers of protein-rich gel that help prevent cracks from propagating. In human enamel, there are about 14 of these crack-arresting layers per millimeter of tissue, but sea otter enamel has about 19 such layers per millimeter—an increase that substantially boosts the surface toughness of the teeth. Interestingly, the researchers report online today in Biology Letters, previous studies have found that the early hominin, or member of the human family, Paranthropus boisei—which lived in Africa between 1.2 million and 2.3 million years ago and has been nicknamed “Nutcracker Man” due to its large, thick-enameled molars—also had about 19 of these crack-arresting layers of protein gel per millimeter of enamel. That spacing suggests that P. boisei’s teeth may have been more chip-resistant than scientists have previously recognized, which may in turn revamp notions about the diet of these early humans.last_img read more

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NASA gets 2% boost to science budget

first_imgFor an agency regularly called “adrift” without a mission, NASA will at least float through next year with a boatload of money for its science programs.Yesterday Congress reached agreement on a spending deal for fiscal year 2015 that boosts the budget of the agency’s science mission by nearly 2% to $5.24 billion. The big winner within the division is planetary sciences, which received $160 million more than the president’s 2015 request in March. Legislators also maintained support for an infrared telescope mounted on a Boeing 747, a project that the White House had proposed grounding. NASA’s overall budget also rose by 2%, to $18 billion. That’s an increase of $364 million over 2014 levels, and half a billion dollars beyond the agency’s request.Planetary scientists are thrilled not only that their discipline was supported but also that no other space science areas were taxed to pay for their increase. “They added nearly $300 million to the entire science mission directorate. No one paid the price for restoration of the cuts to planetary science. That’s a big deal,” says Casey Dreier, advocacy director for the Planetary Society in Pasadena, California. Congress is expected to pass the spending deal later this week, and Obama is expected to sign it into law.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The $1.44 billion planetary science division is directed to spend “not less than $100 million” on a mission to Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter with plate tectonics and a subsurface ocean that has intrigued astrobiologists. The mission has been a perennial battleground between Congress and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. OMB has viewed a Europa mission as too expensive for NASA when it is considering embarking on a Mars Sample Return mission. But legislators in districts with NASA-supported research centers like the idea, and Congress keeps giving the agency money to get started on the Europa mission. “There was astonishing support for Europa,” Dreier says. “Hopefully this is going to send that signal to the White House and OMB to ask for this new start.”NASA’s earth science division got exactly what Obama asked for, at $1.77 billion. “We’re pleased to see that in an era of flat budgets, science is holding its own,” says Chris McEntee, executive director of the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C.In an effort to keep the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) focused on its expensive, flagship weather satellites, the Senate, in its version of the spending bill, had given NASA control of two smaller missions, Jason-3, an ocean altimetry satellite, and the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), a space weather satellite. But in the final reckoning, primary ownership of these missions would remain with NOAA.The astrophysics division was funded at $1.33 billion, $70 million above the president’s request. The additional money will be used to continue flying the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a modified 747 jet with a telescope in its rear. That’s less than the NASA spent last year to operate SOFIA, but enough to allow the mission to keep going. In its 2015 request, the White House tried to cancel the expensive, long-suffering mission.  The division also got $645 million that the agency says is needed to continue developing its flagship mission, the James Webb Space Telescope.On the human spaceflight side, which accounts for about half of the agency’s budget, Congress continued to support both public and private approaches to getting humans into space. It gave $2.9 billion to continue developing the internal, “NASA-owned” successors to the space shuttle: the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion capsule that sits on top. But in giving $805 million to the commercial crew program, Congress also continued to support private efforts to develop human-rated rockets by companies such as SpaceX.To see all of our stories on the 2015 budget, click here.last_img read more

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Podcast: Asteroid impacts, comet dust, and missing Y chromosomes

first_imgDid asteroid impacts spark life on Earth? Why is comet dust cropping up in Antarctica? And does smoking erase Y chromosomes? Science’s Online News Editor David Grimm chats about these stories and more with Science’s Sarah Crespi. Plus, Erich Jarvis sums up the findings from sequencing 40-plus bird genomes.last_img

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To search for alien life, scientists make a library of life’s colors

first_imgHere’s a new way to search for life on alien worlds: Look for the light it reflects into space. To prepare for such a search, scientists have made a library of life’s colors, cataloging the spectra, or wavelengths of light, reflected by 137 types of microorganisms, they report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the visible wavelengths of light, the microbes’ spectra depended on their pigments—what we think of as their color—which varied from species to species. In the infrared, however, the microbes all looked similar, absorbing light at particular wavelengths due to the water inside of them. If scientists detected a pattern of wavelengths that matched the types of pigmentation seen in earthly species, and displayed the universal absorption features in the infrared, it would be evidence for life. The database could help scientists design searches for life on watery, habitable exoplanets like the artist’s conception above, using the new, highly sensitive telescopes on the horizon. But such a search would be a technical challenge, because the light reflected by a planet is swamped by that of its star. And, the technique isn’t foolproof—it works only if the planet has a transparent atmosphere with few clouds, so that light reflected from microorganisms can escape, and is probably most useful for life that is likewise carbon-based and therefore has the same chemistry constraining its spectrum. Still, remote-sensing techniques like these may be our only hope for finding our kin in the far-flung corners of universe.last_img read more

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Kerala’s Fortunes Shrink as Expat Count, Remittances Dwindle

first_imgExpatriates from Kerala have played a key role in improving the financial health of the state. Beginning with Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore they reached Africa to send money back home. Later, the next generation found the Gulf countries greener.Read it at Manorama Online Related Itemslast_img

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