RSS-affiliated schools bloom across Bengal

first_imgThough West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been at loggerheads with the BJP-led NDA government over demonetisation and the crackdown on MPs over the chit fund scams, the State government has ensured that more than a dozen Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-controlled schools have been granted affiliation in the last year. These schools are run by the Vivekananda Vidyavikash Parishad (VVP) with a declared agenda of instilling “Hindu mindset” among the pupils. The VVP is the Bengal chapter of the Vidya Bharti Akhil Bhartiya Siksha Sansthan, an RSS-affiliated organisation. The organisation’s website clearly states that its primary objective is to establish an education system which will create a generation of “youths with a Hindu mindset.” “Our aim is to develop an ideal education system which will create a generation of youths who will have Hindu mindset along with well developed spiritual outlook,” states the website of VVP. Speaking to The Hindu, the organisational secretary of the VPP, Tarak Das Sarkar, an RSS pracharak, said, “All of our schools received State government affiliation after 2011 (when TMC came to power in Bengal).”Mr Sarkar was quick to stress that, “We have followed due procedures to get the affiliations. There is no politics behind it.” In 2016 while eight schools (upto class VIII) and two schools (upto class X) run by the VVP have been given permanent affiliation by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE), 15 primary schools were issued provisional affiliation by the West Bengal Board of Primary Education. As a result these schools will now be able to receive the grants under the Centre’s Sarva Siksha Abhiyan scheme as well as facilities such as free text books and mid day meal from the WBBSE. They would also be eligible for no objection certificates from the State’s Education Department for being upgraded to Secondary Schools under the WBBSE. However, as per the provisions of the affiliation these schools will not get any financial aid from the State government.According to VVP authorities, the organisation currently runs 326 schools in Bengal up from 314 in 2015. As on December 2016, the number of students at these schools stood at 74,996, an increase of 23.87 % since 2015, VPP authorities said. They also said the schools which recently got government affiliation are located in the districts of Paschim Medinipur, Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri, Murshidabad, North Dinajpur and Cooch Behar. Even as State BJP president Dilip Ghosh criticised the TMC government for “failing to create proper education infrastructure” in Bengal, he welcomed the development as a “positive step.”“I think they (TMC government) have taken a positive step in giving affiliation to these schools. Since the State government has failed to improve the standard of education in Bengal, they are left with no choice but to give affiliation to these schools,” Mr. Ghosh said.last_img read more

Bandh in Jammu to condemn Amarnath terror attack

first_imgSeveral political organisations, including the VHP, JKNPP, NC and Congress called for a bandh in the city on Tuesday, in the wake of a terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims in Kashmir’s Anantnag district.“We have called for Jammu bandh tomorrow (Tuesday) against the death of seven Amarnath pilgrims in a terror attack at Anantnag,” VHP spokesman Rajesh Kumar said on Monday.A similar call was made by the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP), the National Conference (NC) and the Congress. Congress spokesman Ravinder Sharma condemned the attack and said the party supported the bandh.Terrorists killed seven Amarnath pilgrims, including six women, and injured 32 others as they struck at a bus in Kashmir’s Anantnag district, in the worst attack on the annual pilgrimage since the year 2000.The bus bearing the registration number GJ09Z 9976 was attacked at around 8.20 PM near Khanabal when it was on its way to Jammu, police said.last_img read more

Lashkar-e-Taiba’s fresh recruit Majid Khan surrenders in Kashmir

first_imgA fresh Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) recruit, Majid Khan, on Friday “returned home and gave up the gun” in the wake of repeated appeals made by the family and friends on social media. The 20-year-old was a local football star.‘Not to press charges’“The brave boy decided himself to give up violence and get back into the mainstream. We ensured he safely returned after we came to know about an opportunity (of his return) on Thursday. No charges will be pressed against him so that he pursues his career and sporting passion,” said General Officer Commanding (GOC), Victor Force, Maj. Gen. B.S Raju.GOC Raju also offered a surrender option to those militants involved in crimes but intend to return. “They may have to face the law of the land. But we will ensure their return to the mainstream,” he said.Mr. Khan — who was mentally disturbed after the killing of his close friend Yawar Nisar in an encounter in August this year — joined the LeT two weeks ago and announced it on the social media by posting gun-wielding pictures, invoking a barrage of appeals from friends and family.Mr. Khan’s mother Ashiya Begum, 50, made an emotional appeal to her lone son online.He was also fast turning into a poster boy of militancy, motivating many to join online.The police want other local militants, whose number is around 150, to join the mainstream. Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Muneer Khan said Mr. Khan had neither “surrendered nor was he apprehended.” “His mother, father and friends were instrumental in bringing him back,” the IGP said.In an appeal to local militants, the IGP said, “We are ready to welcome those who have gone astray. Violence will take us nowhere. Let all local youth return home, resume work and establish peace. They have a right to live a dignified life.”Mr. Khan’s decision has brought joy to the family. “He was the only support to the ageing parents. I have two daughters. I have come out to offer prayers. I am happy and thank all who prayed for his return,” said father Irshad Khan, who was hospitalised recently due to mental stress. Mr. Khan, a resident of Anantnag, earned goodwill locally due to his social work during the 2014 floods. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said it was “a mother’s love that prevailed.” “Her impassioned appeal helped in getting Khan back home. ,” she tweeted.last_img read more

Pradeep Negi, an Indian teacher, is in running for the $1 million Global Teacher Prize

first_imgA physically challenged Indian teacher from a little-known institution in Uttarakhand beat tough competition from around the world to be named today among the top 50 contenders for a $1 million global award.Pradeep Negi, an economics, social science and computer science teacher at Government Inter College BHEL Ranipur in Haridwar, has been shortlisted for the annual Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2018 from over 30,000 nominations and applications from 173 countries around the world.“It is unbelievable. I am proud that I have been chosen as one of the top 50 teachers. It has motivated teachers in our community,” said Mr. Negi.“I am handicapped but it hasn’t stopped me from succeeding and I am glad that I can inspire other disabled people in India. I have developed a lot of innovative work in ICT for my poor children and I am glad it has been recognised,” said Mr. Negi, who was physically disabled at the age of two due to polio.Mr. Negi was chosen for his fighting spirit, having suffered from bullying at school because of his disability and overcoming his adversities to use new technology tools to make economics and social subjects compelling to students.“Congratulations to Pradeep Negi for reaching the final 50. I hope his story inspires those looking to enter the teaching profession and shines a spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over the world every day,” said Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation and the Global Teacher Prize.“We intend to keep this momentum going as our journey continues to return teachers to their rightful position as one of the most respected professions in society,” he said.Mr. Negi has helped train more than 1,200 teachers in his State.The Global Teacher Prize was set up to recognise one exceptional teacher every year who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.The top 50 shortlisted teachers are narrowed down to 10 finalists by a committee and the results are announced in February, 2018.The winner will then be chosen from the final 10 finalists by the Global Teacher Prize Academy.All 10 finalists will be invited to Dubai for the Award ceremony at the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) on March 18, 2018, where the winner will be announced live on stage.last_img read more

Muslims opposing Ram temple must go to Pakistan: U.P. Shia Waqf board chief

first_imgUttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board Chairman Waseem Rizvi has suggested that Muslims who are against building Ram temple in Ayodhya “must go to Pakistan and Bangladesh.”The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute from February 8. Mr. Rizvi offered Friday prayers at the disputed site in Ayodhya and also met the chief priest of the Ram Janambhoomi, Acharya Satyendra Das. On the occasion, he said, “Those who are opposing the Ram temple in Ayodhya and want to build the Babri Mosque there… People having such fundamentalist mentality should go to Pakistan and Bangladesh. Such Muslims do not have any place in India.” “Those who want to spread Jihad in the name of the mosque must go and join the forces of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS chief,” Mr. Rizvi said. He alleged that fundamentalist Muslim clerics are trying to destroy the country and they must migrate to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Reacting to Mr. Rizvi’s remarks, Shia clerics demanded his arrest for trying to communalise the atmosphere. President of Shia Ulema Council Maulana Iftekhar Hussain Inquilabi alleged, “Rizvi is a criminal involved in grabbing and illegal selling of Waqf properties.” “He has been charge-sheeted by the CB-CID and to save himself from the law he is enacting a big drama,” he told PTI.“During the rule of the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, he was patronised by Mulayam Singh Yadav and then minister Azam Khan. Now, during the BJP government, he wants to be spared,” Mr. Inquilabi claimed.last_img read more

Poachers kill rhino, escape with horn in Kaziranga

first_imgPoachers killed an adult rhino and escaped with its horn from the Western Range of Kaziranga National Park in Biswanath district, a senior forest official said on Sunday.According to Kaziranga National Park divisional forest officer Rohini Ballav Saikia, the incident took place around midnight at Polokata near the Sitamari area — a sandbar island in the Brahmaputra — south of the Baghmari powergrid station under the Lahorijan forest camp.“Poachers took its horn and fled the spot, which is an open area of about 200 metres from the forest camp. We have also found five rounds of empty cartridges of .303 rifle from the spot,” Mr. Saikia said.Mr. Saikia, along with other senior forest officials, reached the spot this morning and a joint team of forest and police personnel launched an operation to nab the poachers, he added.This is the second rhino poaching incident in Kaziranga this year.On January 14, a female rhino was killed at Daflang camp area of Bagori range, but the poachers could not take its horn.During the ongoing budget session of the Assam Assembly, Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma said that altogether 74 rhinos have been killed by poachers in Assam since 2015 and 316 poachers were arrested during 2015-17.As many as 21 rhinos were killed in 2015, 22 the next year and nine in 2017, the Minister had informed the House on February 8.The killing of the rhino took place within hours of Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi directing law enforcing agencies to take all measures to prevent cases of poaching of rhinos in the Kaziranga National Park.‘Pride of the State’“Assam has earned its name and fame worldwide because of the Kaziranga National Park and its precious one-horned rhinoceros. Indiscriminate killing of the rhinos by the poachers is not only an attack on the creature, it is an attack on the pride of the State,” the Governor said.Incidents of poaching over the months have reduced drastically but security agencies must be on their toes to foil any nefarious design to harm the rhinos, he added.last_img read more

Omar calls for immediate dissolution of J&K Assembly, fresh elections

first_imgNational Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah on Wednesday called for the immediate dissolution of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly and holding of fresh elections in the State.In a surprise move, the BJP on Tuesday pulled out of the three-year-old ruling coalition with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the State was placed under Governor’s rule on Wednesday morning.“The J&K state assembly should be dissolved immediately & fresh elections should take place as soon as appropriate. The former DCM has admitted that BJP can’t be trusted not to horsetrade for Govt formation,” Mr. Abdullah tweeted.The J&K state assembly should be dissolved immediately & fresh elections should take place as soon as appropriate. The former DCM has admitted that BJP can’t be trusted not to horsetrade for Govt formation. https://t.co/dbX4bK8goc— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) June 20, 2018  The former Chief Minister was reacting to BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta’s reported statement that his party was “working on something.”“I don’t think a new government will be formed anytime soon. Uncertainties are there, but we are working on something and people will get to know about it,” Mr. Gupta had reportedly said.Mr. Abdullah claimed that Mr. Gupta’s statement hinted at the BJP’s attempts to break other parties to form a government.“What do you mean ‘we are working on something’? The only ‘something’ would be to break other parties & make up the numbers to form a BJP Govt. Has the former DCM inadvertently spilled the beans?” Mr. Abdullah asked on Twitter.On a news report about Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh not being kept in the loop about the BJP’s decision to pull out of the government, he tweeted, “If this story is true & @HMOIndia didn’t know about the impending demise of the BJPDP alliance then the fact that it caught me & my colleagues by surprise is really no big deal.”last_img read more

U.P. to build 221-metre Ram statue on the banks of Saryu

first_imgWhile a show of strength is on in Ayodhya by the VHP for the Ram Mandir, the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has cleared a 221-metre-tall statue of Lord Ram, to come up on the banks of the Saryu in the temple town.While the government did not reveal the details of cost, funding, or exact location, it announced the expected size of the statue, which seems to outdo the 182-metre Sardar Patel statue in Gujarat.The Lord Ram statue would consist of a 151-metre statue, a 20-metre umbrella overhead, and a 50-metre pedestal; the total being 221 metre, a government spokesperson said.The pedestal would hold a “grand and ultra-modern museum” showcasing history of Ayodhya, legendary Ishvaku dynasty and Raja Manu, and the Ram Janmabhooomi.After shortlisting five statues, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath approved one, made of bronze.The Yogi Adityanath government had last year announced that it would construct a Ram statue in Ayodhya as part of the “Navya Ayodhya” scheme of the UP Tourism Department to develop the town as a tourist hub.This is not the only Ram statue the BJP government is planning in UP. The government has also announced that it would build a statue of Lord Ram at Shringverpur, a site near Allahabad revered by Nishads. They are a riverine Most-Backward Caste.Next to that Lord Ram statue would come up a statue of Nishadraj, the caste icon and boatman who, as per Hindu beliefs, helped Lord Ram along with his wife and brother cross the Ganga during exile. Mr. Adityanath had in September said ₹ 34 crore would be allocated for the project.last_img read more

Amit Shah’s real mission was to collect Rafale files from CM

first_imgCongress spokesperson and former MLA Jitendra Deshprabhu on Tuesday said that the BJP national president Amit Shah’s “real” mission during his visit to Goa on Saturday was to take away files related to the Rafale deal from Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s bedroom. Known for shooting his mouth off, Mr. Dehsprabhu claimed at a press conference at the Congress headquarters here that some of the documents related to the Rafale deal, which were leaked to the media over the last few days, could have been part of Rafale files which were stashed at Mr. Parrikar’s private residence. “It is possible that a few documents have slipped from there. Documents are also being sourced from other places. Where are they coming from?” he asked adding, “Amit Shah’s job was to clear files from Parrikar’s bedroom so that their scam is not exposed.” “Yes, the Congress alleges that Mr. Shah’s Goa visit was to collect the files at Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s home. The files were taken away. Once the files are taken away, they BJP can be at peace and they can then sack Manohar Parrikar, who can no longer blackmail the top leadership,” Mr. Deshprabhu alleged. The Congress spokesperson reiterated that the leaked audio tape, purportedly containing a journalist’s conversation with Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, had already confirmed that the former Defence Minister did keep files related to the Rafale deal in his bedroom. Mr. Deshprabhu alleged that when Mr. Shah visited Goa on Saturday, it was to collect the same pack of files. Mr. Shah made an unscheduled 45 minutes stop and had a meeting with Mr. Parrikar at latter’s private residence before addressing a party booth workers’ meeting near here.last_img read more

Punjab grenade attack case: key accused held

first_imgThe National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested a key accused in last year’s grenade attack on a police station in Punjab’s Jalandhar from Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir, according to an official statement. The accused has been identified as Amir Nazir Mir, a resident of Dadsara, Awantipora, Pulwama, it said. He was arrested from Awantipora, the central agency said. On September 14, 2018, four grenades were hurled at the building of Maksudan police station in Jalandhar, in which one police personnel was injured. Initially, an FIR was registered by the Jalandhar police to probe the case. The case was then taken up for investigation by the NIA in December. “NIA investigation has revealed that the attack was handiwork of Kashmir-based terror outfit Ansar Ghazawat-ul-Hind (AGH),” the statement issued by the probe agency said. Mir is a key accused as he procured and facilitated delivery of four grenades used in the attack on the directions of AGH chief Zakir Musa, it said. Two arrested earlierTwo other accused hailing from Pulwama – Fazil Bashir Pinchoo and Shahid Qayoom – were earlier arrested in the case. They were pursuing their B. Tech from St. Soldier Group of Colleges in Jalandhar, the statement said.Mir was the active link between the arrested accused and the AGH chief, it said. Two more accused who were involved in the attack – Rauf Ahmed Mir and Umar Ramzan – were killed in an encounter with security forces in South Kashmir on December 22, 2018.last_img read more

Law varsity students boycott midterms

first_imgSeveral students at the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (RGNUL) in Patiala continued with their protest for the fourth day on Monday demanding revocation of suspension of six fellow students.Several students also boycotted the mid-term examination that commenced on Monday as part of their protest.The university administration had suspended the six students on March 15 on grounds of “indiscipline”. Students, however, say that the suspensions happened because they protested against unhygienic food being served in the hostels. In a representation to the university Chancellor, the students demanded an immediate revocation of the suspension order. The students have alleged that the grounds for suspension, as stated in the order, are “wholly malafide”. Students’ body soughtThe students have also demanded constitution of a students’ association. “An appropriate legal order delegating to the students the ability to organise themselves into a student body and formulate a constitution, and a charter of rights of individuals at academic institutions must be passed,” said the representation, adding that it would help participation of students in committees of the university.last_img read more

PETA Abandons $1 Million Prize for Artificial Chicken

first_imgDon’t expect an artificial chicken in every pot anytime soon. Since 2008, the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has offered $1 million to anyone able to create a commercially viable artificial meat from growing chicken cells. But although scientists are making progress toward artificial hamburgers, even a 2-year extension from the original deadline of 2012 wasn’t enough to lure applicants for PETA’s prize. With the award’s latest deadline expiring tomorrow, ScienceInsider asked the group about its plans and PETA President Ingrid Newkirk released the following statement:“Herbert Hoover’s ‘chicken in every pot’ was the impetus for PETA’s extension of its $1 million prize for the first scientist to put an in vitro chicken in every pot or at least in your local supermarket. Since announcing the prize, laboratory work on in vitro meat has come a long way, but it looks as if the first commercially viable in vitro meat will be a beef hamburger or a pork sausage, rather than anything involving chicken. PETA is happy that its offer sparked debate, created a fellowship, spurred interest and investment from the food industry and ‘dot.com millionaires,’ and has seen patents pending for breakthroughs in developing the process, from tissue scaffolding to muscle development.“PETA, which has continued to fund research at the University of Missouri into in vitro meat production, will announce tomorrow that the operation was a success, although the prize expired. We recognize that while chickens are the most abused animals used for food, by virtue of their sheer number—a million slaughtered in the U.S. alone each hour—the science used in the development of in vitro pork and beef will eventually be used to create in vitro chicken. Our prize offer has served a purpose, and we will now be entertaining ideas on how to put that $1 million to good use in combating cruelty in food production. Our first focus may be in legal challenges to ‘ag-gag’ legislation that makes it a crime to record atrocities on factory farms and in slaughterhouses, thereby keeping the consumer in the dark.”last_img read more

RIKEN to Check 20,000 Papers for Doctored Images and Plagiarism

first_img TOKYO—Shock waves emanating from allegations of image manipulation and plagiarism in two Nature papers published in January continue to ripple through RIKEN, the Japanese institute at the center of the ongoing controversy. Last week, local media reported (in Japanese) that questions have arisen about images in research papers published by three more members of a RIKEN committee charged with investigating the Nature papers. The news came a week after RIKEN announced it would investigate allegations of image manipulation in papers published by Shunsuke Ishii, who resigned as chair of the investigating committee on 25 April.Now, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper is reporting that RIKEN President Ryoji Noyori has asked all laboratory and research group leaders to check all of their previous publications for doctored images and plagiarism. The newspaper quotes an unnamed RIKEN official as saying the directive covers at least 20,000 publications. There was no indication of a deadline for completing the reviews.The still-unfolding controversy stems from instances of image manipulation and plagiarism in an article and a letter published online on 29 January in Nature by Haruko Obokata of RIKEN’s Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, together with colleagues at RIKEN and other institutions in Japan and at Harvard Medical School in Boston. The researchers reported finding a new, simple way of creating stem cells, called stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency, which so far no other groups have been able to reproduce. The investigating committee, while still headed by Ishii, found numerous problems with the papers and concluded that two instances constituted research misconduct. Obokata is appealing the finding, claiming the problems resulted from innocent mistakes. RIKEN officials could not be reached for comment today because of a national holiday in Japan.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(*) RIKEN last_img read more

Surprise, surprise: Americans hold on to their paychecks

first_imgMoney, it turns out, doesn’t necessarily burn a hole in our pockets. Researchers have found that, on the day Americans get paid, they’re little more likely to spend that cash than on any other day of the week—at least if it’s on items like food and coffee. The finding suggests that tax rebates and other cash infusions may not boost the economy, as most people would probably save the windfall for a rainy day.Researchers disagree about what people do with extra cash, says economist Matthew Shapiro of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. “If the standard economic theory is right,” he says, “most individuals will save almost all of a payment.” Some studies suggest, however, that people are not this rational, but obtaining data is not easy.So Shapiro and colleagues turned to a computer and cellphone program called Check that lets users record all the money they spend. For 300 days, the researchers tracked a random sample of about 23,000 anonymous U.S.-based users who received regular payroll or Social Security payments. At first glance, the data suggested that people spend money as soon as they get it. Individuals shelled out about 70% more than average on the day a payment arrived, and they continued to spend significantly elevated amounts for the next few days.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(*)However, this spending surge could simply mean that the users had timed regular payments like rent and tuition to their paychecks. When the team removed recurring identical payments from the analysis, it found a much lower, but still significant, postpayment peak, with people spending about 40% more after income arrived. The researchers say that even this amount could have been an overestimate, as they might have missed some recurring payments like metered utility bills that can vary from month to month.So Shapiro and colleagues picked out a single type of spending that’s easily influenced by the perception of disposable income: cash shelled out for fast food and coffee. Here, most people’s spending barely increased after a payment, the team reports online today in Science.Still, not everyone followed this pattern. Individuals with less cash in their bank accounts increased their spending more after receiving a payment than did folks with more money in the bank. Sometimes, these people simply received less money, leaving them less able to build up reserves. Other people were simply more carefree with their money and therefore tended to spend it as soon as they got it. “Surprisingly, there are a lot of well-to-do individuals who run their credit balances up to the limit and live paycheck to paycheck—even if it’s a large paycheck,” Shapiro says.The finding could help governments better stimulate the economy. If they could find ways to target tax rebates to people who have little cash in reserve, for example, the payments might stimulate spending more effectively, Shapiro says.Jonathan Parker, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, is impressed by the researchers’ innovative use of a novel data source. “By using administrative data,” he says, “they’re able to get much more precise measurements than surveys generally provide, and a much larger sample of individuals.” Still, the volunteers are not perfectly representative of the U.S. population, he notes. For example, the researchers openly acknowledge that men use Check more than women do and are thus presumably overrepresented in their sample. The effects of this disparity are unclear, but if women were better, on average, at managing their finances than men are, it would distort the findings.last_img read more

‘Artificial spleen’ could help treat sepsis

first_imgIts victims include the actor Christopher Reeve, Pope John Paul II, and the British poet Rupert Brooke, who died after a mosquito bite on his lip became infected. Sepsis remains one of the leading killers in the United States and the world. Now, researchers describe a novel way to treat the lethal condition by filtering microbes from patients’ blood.  Sepsis is the body’s over-the-top reaction to an infection. Even with modern medical care, it can result in organ failure and death within just a few hours. Measures such as early treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics—which slay many different kinds of bacteria—have reduced mortality in recent years, but no drugs specifically target sepsis. Cell biologist and bioengineer Donald Ingber of Harvard University and colleagues wanted to test a different therapy—a technique to pull microbes and the toxins they release from the blood. As their design guide, the researchers looked to the spleen; the organ filters out pathogens and poisons as blood wends through its narrow passages.The team first needed a way to capture nasties. They coated tiny magnetic beads with fragments of a protein called mannose-binding lectin (MBL). In our bodies, MBL helps fight pathogens by latching onto them. Ingber and colleagues showed that the sticky beads could grab a variety of microbes in the test tube.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(*)With that key challenge out of the way, the researchers were ready to design the rest of the system. They engineered a microchiplike device a little bigger than a deck of cards that works somewhat like a dialysis machine. As blood enters the device, it receives a dose of the magnetic beads, which snatch up bacteria, and then fans out into 16 channels. As the blood flows across the device, a magnet pulls the beads—and any microbes or toxins stuck to them—out of the blood, depositing them in nearby channels containing saline.The researchers first tested their device with donated human blood tainted with bacteria. They found that filtering the blood through the device five times could eliminate 90% of the microbes.Next, Ingber and his team hooked up anesthetized rats to a pump that circulated their blood across the device and then returned it to their bodies. After dosing the rats with bacteria, the researchers measured the effectiveness of their system. Within 1 hour, the device removed 90% of the microbes from the rats’ blood, the team reports online today in Nature Medicine.To determine whether blood filtering improved survival, the researchers injected a lethal bacterial toxin into anesthetized rats and then used the device to filter the poison from the blood of some animals. Eighty-six percent of control rats died during the 5-hour experiment. If their blood was cleansed, however, only 11% of the animals perished. Although the beads don’t bind to all kinds of infectious microbes, “we get most bugs that are the most common causes of sepsis,” Ingber says. Moreover, because MBL attaches to an assortment of invaders, including viruses, the device could potentially remove pathogens that cause other diseases from the blood, including HIV and maybe even the Ebola virus, he says. It could also help treat illnesses triggered by abnormal blood proteins, such as autoimmune diseases.“This is a very promising study using a very creative system,” says Richard Wenzel, an infectious disease specialist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.But skeptics say it’s not clear whether the technique can be used for its intended purpose, treating sepsis. “What they’ve done is invent an artificial spleen,” says Clifford Deutschman, a critical care physician and sepsis researcher at the North Shore-Long Island Jewish-Hofstra School of Medicine in New Hyde Park, New York. He thinks the device could help many kinds of patients, including those with spleen injuries. But people with sepsis don’t usually have microbes or toxins in the blood, he says, so there may be nothing to remove.Ingber disagrees. He notes that antibiotics often benefit sepsis patients, so reducing microbial numbers should be beneficial. “It’s got to help to pull out the bugs,” he says. He and his colleagues are planning to test the device in pigs, which more closely mimic human sepsis.last_img read more

European Union’s pairing plan for science proves popular

first_imgA program designed to boost investments in the scientific infrastructure of Europe’s lagging regions by pairing them with elite institutes elsewhere on the continent has proved unexpectedly popular. The European Commission has received 169 scientific business plans for the scheme, dubbed Teaming, and may be able to advance only 16% of the proposals to the next round of the competition. The commission will start reviewing the proposals in Brussels next week.“We were delighted,” says commission spokesman Michael Jennings. “The response exceeded our expectations.” It also triggered an automatic 20% boost to the evaluation budget, according to an internal commission document obtained by ScienceInsider.The €314 million scheme, hatched a few years ago, is a small part of Horizon 2020, the European Union’s nearly €80 billion research funding program; the idea is to trigger the creation or rejuvenation of research facilities in 15 countries in the so-called Widening region of Europe, where scientific output is low, and eight associated member states. Regional governments can seek help from an established institute in remaining member states, most of them in Northern and Western Europe, to draw up a plan to start or revamp a science center.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(*)Romania tops the list with 24 proposals to host research centers, followed by Poland, with 19, and associated member state Serbia with 15. Germany provides the most candidate partner institutions, 136, followed by the United Kingdom, which appears in 67 applications. Spain submitted two ineligible applications to host a center; the country is actually on the list of high-performing partner countries and participated in that capacity in 29 applications.Proposals will be judged in part based on commitments from the regional government to provide funds, good working conditions for scientists, and institutional independence, according to the call for proposals published late last year. “The idea was to combine the highest scientific competence with the political will to build up an internationally attractive research infrastructure and innovation environment,” says Herbert Reul, a member of the European Parliament for the Christian-democratic European People’s Party and one of the architects of the program. The hope is that a shot at winning otherwise unattainable Horizon 2020 funds makes scientific reforms and investment more palatable to local politicians.Slovenia, for instance, will model the governance of the institutes proposed in its plan on German and other foreign research centers, says Urban Krajcar, the director-general for science at the country’s Ministry of Education, Science and Sport. The country has also promised to double any Horizon 2020 Teaming funds with money from the so-called European Structural and Investment Funds for regional development, he says. (The funds—worth some €352 billion between 2014 and 2020—are typically used for other types of infrastructure, such as roads and bridges; the commission’s hope is that the Teaming call will shift part of them to scientific infrastructure.)Among Slovenia’s proposals is a nanoscale sensor research center, a center for vaccine production and biotherapeutic technology, and a plan to upgrade an existing biomedical engineering Center of Excellence. “It would be a great honor for Slovenia to have one” of the winning applications, Krajcar says.The commission will announce about 27 first-stage winners in February 2015; the list will be further winnowed down to perhaps six pilot Teaming centers by 2016. Horizon 2020 foresees another Teaming call beginning in 2018, but given the demand for this first round, the authors of the internal document propose adding an extra cycle in 2017 if the commission can find the funds.last_img read more

Bats learn sounds like humans do

first_imgChildren and parrot and songbird chicks share a rare talent: They can mimic the sounds that adults of their species make. Now, researchers have discovered this vocal learning skill in baby Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus, pictured), a highly social species found from Africa to Pakistan. Only a handful of other mammals, including cetaceans and certain insectivorous bats, are vocal learners. The adult fruit bats have a rich vocal repertoire of mouselike squeaks and chatter (listen to a recording here), and the scientists suspected the bat pups had to learn these sounds. To find out, they placed baby bats with their mothers in isolation chambers for 5 months and made video and audio recordings of each pair. Lacking any other adults to vocalize to, the mothers were silent, and their babies made only isolation calls and babbling sounds, the researchers report today in Science Advances. As a control, the team raised another group of bat pups with their mothers and fathers, who chattered to each other. Soon, the control pups’ babbling gave way to specific sounds that matched those of their mothers. But the isolated pups quickly overcame the vocal gap after the scientists united both sets of bats—suggesting that unlike many songbird species (and more like humans), the fruit bats don’t have a limited period for vocal learning. Although the bats’ vocal learning is simple compared with that of humans, it could provide a useful model for understanding the evolution of language, the scientists say.last_img read more

Watchdog backs Indian-origin principal who imposed hijab ban at London school

first_imgAn Indian-origin school principal, who was likened to German dictator Adolf Hitler for banning wearing hijab by girls under eight, today got crucial support from the UK’s schools watchdog which said it will back heads who take “tough decisions” in the interests of their pupils.Principal of the east London’s St Stephen’s School, Neena Lall had last month decided to impose a the ban on girls under eight on the grounds that Islamic teaching did not require girls to wear it until reaching puberty.Read it at Hindustan Times Related Itemslast_img