Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana says it will pull out of NDA

first_imgBJP ally Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana chief Raju Shetty on Saturday said that the decision of pulling out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would be taken in “the next 10 to 15 days”. The decision will be taken because the PM has still not fulfilled the assurances given to farmers during the 2014 election campaign, he said.“We will decide whether to continue supporting the NDA or not in the next 10 to 15 days in our State executive meeting because the PM has still not fulfilled the assurances he gave to farmers during the 2014 election campaign. It’s been three years. We went with him for those promises but if they are not going to act on it, we will take a decision in our State executive,” Mr. Shetty told reporters in Nagpur.Calling the central government “extremely insensitive” towards the farmers’ issues, the Lok Sabha MP came down heavily on the BJP-led central government and the Maharashtra government.“The farmers were told to produce pulses. When they believed the PM and went for the pulses, even the government decided MSP wasn’t given to them because of this government’s apathy towards farmers. They imported 5 lakh tonnes of pulses and the FCI also brought out its old stock for sale on lesser prices hampering the farmers’ interest. All this has contributed to farmers’ distress. In 2014, Narendra Modi had promised one and half times MSP on the production cost. As a result, the farmers from across the country voted for him. His promises led to an increased debt burden on farmers and the central government now has an obligation to clear it,” Mr. Shetty said.He also criticised the Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra on the loan waiver.“We are adamant on complete loan waiver… But the loan waiver given by Maharashtra can’t be more than Rs. 17,000 to Rs. 18, 000 crore. The impractical conditions will bring this amount further down. It can’t be Rs. 34,000 crores. It is an attempt to deceive people,” he claimed.On the rumors about his induction in the Union Cabinet in the next expansion, Mr. Shetty said that he had never demanded a post of a Minister.“I won’t be a part of the Union Cabinet. I never demanded it and I won’t take it as they are still to act out their promises. I went to Delhi to raise the farmers’ issue and to give them justice, even if they invite me I won’t take it (Cabinet berth),” he stated.last_img read more

Low-intensity blast in Darjeeling, no casualty

first_imgA low-intensity blast took place in Teesta Bazar area of Darjeeling this morning as the indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling Hills entered the 72nd day.Though there were no reports of any casualty or injury to any person, some shops were damaged.Darjeeling district officials said, the blast was triggered on a road near Teesta Bazar, close to the Teesta bridge.The police is investigation the matter.The blast comes just a day after twin blasts shook Darjeeling hills. In Thursday’s blast also, there was no report of any casualty or injury.Friday’s blast is the third such incident since the indefinite shutdown to press for a separate Gorkhaland state, began over two months ago.On last Saturday, twin blasts rocked Darjeeling hills in which one civic police volunteer was killed and two others were injured.The Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) is all set to meet at Kalimpong today to discuss the issue of attending the August 29 talks convened by the state government in response to the GNLF’s letter requesting for a dialogue to restore normalcy in hills.The GMCC comprising members of all the hill parties, including GJM and GNLF, is headed by the GJM.The GJM on Thursday wrote a letter to the West Bengal government expressing its willingness to attend the August 29 talks to resolve the Darjeeling stalemate, abandoning its earlier stand.The letter, written by Binay Tamang, a leader of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, said, .“No other alternative or modified step will do justice to our plight…other than creation of a separate Gorkhaland.”’ Mr. Tamang’s letter was preceded by a letter GJM chief Bimal Gurung wrote to the state government on Wednesday requesting for a “political dialogue” on the demand for a Gorkhaland.last_img read more

HC sees ‘sexual experimentation’ in rape case, suspends sentences of 3 convicts

first_imgThe Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday suspended the sentences of three persons, who were convicted by a Sonepat trial court for repeated gang rape and blackmail of a fellow student of a private university in 2013.All the three were law students of the university in Sonepat. The FIR in the case was registered in 2015 on the basis of the victim’s statement.While Hardik Sikri and Karan Chhabra were sentenced to 20 years in jail, Vikas Garg was given a seven-year sentence by the trial court.In the order, delivered last week by justice Mahesh Grover and justice Raj Shekhar Attri, the High Court said, “The testimony of the victim does offer an alternate story of casual relationship with her friends, acquaintances, adventurism, and experimentation in sexual encounters and these factors would therefore, offer a compelling reasons to consider the prayer for suspension of sentence favourably, particularly when the accused themselves are young and the narrative does not throw up gut-wrenching violence that normally precede or accompany such incidents.”’Alternate conclusion of misadventure’The court, while accepting the applications of suspension of sentence, said, “We are conscious of the fact that allegations of the victim regarding her being threatened into submission and blackmail lends sufficient diabolism to the offence, but a careful examination of her statement again offers an alternate conclusion of misadventure stemming from a promiscuous attitude and a voyeuristic mind.”The court, however, clearly said, “Nothing said above should be construed to be an expression on the merits of the case.”“A careful examination of her statement again offers an alternate conclusion of misadventure stemming from a promiscuous attitude and a voyeuristic mind.”The court said: “It would be a travesty if these young minds are confined to jail for an inordinate long period which would deprive them of their education, opportunity to redeem themselves and be a part of the society as normal beings. Long incarceration at this stage when the appeal is not likely to mature for some time is likely to result in an irreparable damage. We are also of the opinion the pendnecy of appeal, ironically may work as a guarantee to prevent a repeat resulting from fear of incarceration in the event of failure of appeal.“We have considered the argument of the learned counsel and have thought it prudent to refer to the statement of the prosecutrix and her cross-examination in extenso to gain and give an insight into the immature but nefarious world of youngsters unable to comprehend the worth of a relationship based on respect and understanding. The entire crass sequence actually is reflective of a degenerative mindset of the youth, breeding denigrating relationships mired in drugs, alcohol, casual sexual escapades and a promiscuous and voyeuristic world. No wonder, what is thrown up before us is a tragedy of sorts, driving four young lives into an abyss.“There’s no doubt that few allegations of the victim regarding blackmail, if correct, need strongest condemnation with equal forceful retribution that the law mandates. What is equally worrisome is how to retrieve the youth who have dragged themselves and their families into an abysmal situation, be it the victim or the perpetrators.“Indeed all the transgressions if established would demand retributory justice at the time of decision of the appeal, but while dealing with an issue of suspension of sentence, we are constrained to not only keep in mind the gravity of the situation and the offence, but also to strike a balance between the retributory reformatory and rehabilitative justice.” The court ordered that counselling be provided to the three men by a psychiatrist of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). It also ordered a compensation of ₹ 10 lakh to the victim.last_img read more

BJP trains its guns on alliance partner in Bihar

first_imgThe BJP, a ruling coalition partner in Bihar, has accused the State administration of acting in a partisan manner in dealing with the communal clashes that broke out in several districts during the last week’s Ram Navmi celebrations. Recently, the State government had released funds for the repair of mosques, shops and madrassas damaged in the communal clashes — a move questioned by the State BJP leaders.A team of BJP leaders from the State met the police chief K.S. Dwivedi on Friday and submitted a memorandum asking why action was being taken only against members of the majority community for communal flare-ups alleging that members from both communities were involved and had suffered losses.The delegation demanded the “release of all innocent people and a high-level enquiry into the alleged partisan approach adopted by the police.”“This policy of appeasing one community has never paid off for the country,” said senior State BJP leader and former party MP C.P. Thakur. Communal incidents were witnessed in six districts in which several people were injured, shops gutted and mosques damaged. A total of 15 cases were registered by police and 214 people were arrested. The Opposition parties have charged Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of “surrendering before the aggressive BJP”.last_img read more

‘Bill to protect Khasi women from outsiders’

first_imgThe chief of an autonomous council in Meghalaya has justified a controversial bill to prevent women of the Khasi tribe from marrying non-Khasis, insisting it could protect them from deadly diseases such as HIV-AIDS transmitted through marriage with outsiders.The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) had on July 25 passed the Khasi Hills Autonomous District (Khasi Social Custom of Lineage) (Second Amendment) Bill, 2018. It prescribes stripping a Khasi woman who marries a non-Khasi of her Scheduled Tribe status, and categorising children born out of such marriages as non-Khasis.“The amendment Bill is aimed at protecting the community from imminent threat of deadly diseases such as HIV-AIDS that come through marriage with bus and truck drivers from outside the State and migrant workers, besides drug addicts,” KHADC’s chief executive member H.S. Shylla said. He had said mixed marriages were posing a demographic threat to them.last_img read more

Panaji police arrest man for trespass, voyeurism

first_imgThe city police on Thursday night arrested a 35-year-old man for allegedly breaking into homes at night in his underwear and staring at women and occasionally stealing cash, in an apartment complex on the outskirts of the city. The accused, Tulsidas Shirodkar, resident of Taleigao near here, was taken to Panaji Town police station, after residents of Adwalpalkar Horizon collectively complained to the police. “The accused has been booked under Sections 457 (trespass), 380 (theft), 354(c) (voyeurism) on Friday,” a police spokesperson said. “In three cases, complainants have said that money was also missing from the house, so we have booked him for theft,” he added.In the complaint, some residents, whose homes had been broken into, alleged that Mr. Shirodkar was in his underwear with oil smeared on his body.“I woke up once and saw him staring at me. I shouted in alarm, but he had disappeared before someone could arrive,” a woman said. Another victim said that he was lying next to her and her relative when they were sleeping on the bed. “I felt something next to me and shouted when I felt it was another person. But at that time I thought it was a dream because when I put on the light nobody was there,” the woman said.The police have activated a cluster approach dialogue with residents of various housing complexes in North Goa and housing societies and residents have been advised to streamline their security systems, strictly implement tenant verification systems and network with police personnel of the nearest station.last_img read more

Fuel prices: Rajasthan CM announces a 4% reduction in VAT

first_imgRajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje announced a four-per cent reduction in value-added tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel on Sunday, reducing fuel prices by ₹2.5 per litre in the State. VAT on petrol will be reduced from 30% to 26% and on diesel from 22% to 18%, Ms. Raje announced at a public meeting organised in Rawatsar in Hanumangarh district as part of her ‘Rajasthan Gaurav Yatra’The revised rates will be effective from midnight. The decision will cost the exchequer ₹2,000 crore and will provide the people a relief of ₹2.5 per litre on petrol and diesel.“We have decided to reduce VAT on diesel and petrol by 4%, which will provide much-needed relief to the people of the state, be it farmers or women or others,” Ms. Raje told reporters in Rawatsar after making the announcement.Petrol and diesel prices set new records on Sunday as they continued their upward march on fall in rupee and surge in global crude oil rates. The opposition Congress has called for a nationwide shutdown on Monday over rising fuel prices and depreciation of the rupee. Targeting the Congress, the chief minister said that the party had failed to play the role of an effective opposition and came out of its shell just before the election. Assembly election in Rajasthan is scheduled for later this year. Reacting on the decision, AICC general secretary and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot said that Ms. Raje had to take the decision because of public support the Congress was gaining for Bharat Bandh on Monday. “The chief minister had to reduce VAT on diesel and petrol because of the public support Congress was gaining for Bharat Bandh on Monday. The reduction is not enough and the relief should also be provided on gas cylinder without any further delay,” Mr. Gehlot said in a statement. He said that the former Congress government led by him in the State had reduced ₹25 per cylinder and looking at the prices of today, there should be a cut of at least ₹100 on the gas cylinder.last_img read more

Trial in many anti-Sikh riots cases yet to be completed

first_imgThirty-four years after riots broke out in the Capital in the aftermath of assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, killing over 2,700 Sikhs, the trial in a number of cases is yet to see its logical conclusion.On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court convicted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar for killing five Sikhs in the Raj Nagar area during the anti-Sikh riots and sentenced him to imprisonment for the remainder of his natural life. However, this is not the only case Mr. Kumar is currently facing in connection with the 1984 riots. Recently, a witness had told a local court here that she saw him addressing the crowd in the Sultanpuri area that Sikhs had killed “our mother” and instigated the mob to kill them. The next date of the case hearing is December 20.Another Congress leader Jagdish Tytler too is facing trial at a local court here in connection with riots at Gurdwara Pulbangash in North Delhi where three people were killed. Mr. Tytler was thrice given a clean chit by the CBI in the case, but the agency was directed by the court to further investigate the matter after the victims filed a protest petition challenging the agency’s closure report in the case.In February 2015, the Centre constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) for re-investigating the serious criminal cases which were filed in Delhi in connection with the 1984 riots and have since been closed. A total of 293 cases were taken up for re-investigation.The three-member SIT is also probing Mr. Kumar’s alleged role in two other cases. One of them is the twin murders of a man and his son in west Delhi’s Punjabi Bagh. In November, a local court awarded death sentence to a man for the murder of two men in south Delhi’s Mahipalpur. This was one of the five cases in which the SIT had filed a charge-sheet.last_img read more

Militant who aided Jatt’s escape killed

first_imgA Hizbul Mujahideen militant who had helped Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) ‘commander’ Naveed Jatt to escape from a Srinagar jail in February last year was killed in an encounter in Pulwama on Tuesday. One soldier also died and another sustained injuries in the gunfight.Hizb militant Hilal Ahmad Rather, a resident of Behgambagh-Kakapora in Pulwama, was encircled by a joint search team of the Army, police and CRPF in Ratnipora area. “As the midnight searches were going on, hiding militants fired upon security personnel. Rather was killed in retaliatory fire. The operation was called off in the morning after the body was retrieved,” said the police.The police said Rather hatched the conspiracy for LeT’s Jatt alias Hanzalla to escape from a Srinagar hospital on February 6 last year. Jatt was eventually killed in an operation on November 28 last year in Budgam’s Chadoora area. “Rather a long history of terror crime. He was the main conspirator and executor in helping Jatt to flee,” said Inspector General of Police S.P. Pani.The police said he was involved in attacks on security establishments. “Incriminating material, such as arms and ammunition, was recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken in the case records for the purpose of investigation,” said Mr. Pani.An Army soldier, Havildar Baljeet, who sustained bullet wounds at the encounter site later died in a hospital. “Another injured soldier was admitted to a Srinagar hospital and is undergoing treatment,” said the police.Lt. Gen. K.J.S. Dhillon, commander of the Chinar Corps, paid tributes to deceased Baljeet, 35. A resident of Karnal district in Haryana, the soldier joined the Army in 2002 and is survived by his wife, daughter and son.Meanwhile, internet was stopped in Pulwana and train services halted in view of street protests. Authorities said many youth took to the streets during the encounter. Hundreds of locals, including women, participated in the last rites of Rather. The funeral procession witnessed anti-India slogans.Teenage boy dies in blastThe police said a 15-year-old boy died when a blast occurred mysteriously in Anderhama area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara around 3:55 p.m.“We are ascertaining the facts regarding the incident,” said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Shriram Ambarkar.In a separate incident, a loud explosion took place outside Srinagar’s Central Jail. The police said it’s investigating the nature of blast.last_img read more

Ex-Minister asked to surrender before Ranchi court by Apr. 15

first_imgThe Supreme Court on Friday directed former Jharkhand Minister Yogendra Sao to surrender before a court in Ranchi by April 15 in cases related to rioting and inciting of violence. A Bench of Justices S.A. Bobde and S. Abdul Nazeer said: “The petitioner (Sao) is directed to surrender before the Additional Judicial Commissioner – 7, Ranchi, by April 15, 2019. The instant applications for modification and the miscellaneous applications stand disposed of accordingly.” Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Mr. Sao, said that there was no clarification in the SC’s order of April 4 as to where he should surrender. He said if the top court directs, Mr. Sao can surrender in Ranchi. Advocate Tapesh Kumar Singh, appearing for the Jharkhand government, said that Mr. Sao can surrender before the court of Additional Judicial Commissioner in Ranchi. He said all the case records have been transferred to Ranchi in compliance with the apex court’s order. The apex court order came on a plea of Mr. Sao seeking clarification and modification of the order on the place of his surrender. The apex court had on April 4 trashed Mr. Sao’s plea seeking to campaign for the Congress for the Lok Sabha poll and cancelled his bail, saying he had violated the bail conditions.last_img read more

Top stories: Grim new Ebola news, why size matters for narwhals, and water in space

first_imgWHO, CDC publish grim new Ebola projectionsSix months after the World Health Organization was notified of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, its experts have released a new study warning that the situation is quickly growing worse and that Ebola may even “become endemic among the human population of West Africa, a prospect that has never previously been contemplated.”See all of Science’s coverage of the Ebola outbreak, including the Ebola vaccine, the U.N. Security Council’s historic resolution to confront the disease, and the situation on the ground in Liberia.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(*)Half of Earth’s water formed before the sun was bornGood news for hunters of alien life: Water may be more widespread in planetary systems than we thought. New research shows that up to half of the water in our solar system formed before the sun itself was born. That means it’s likely that there is water everywhere waiting for planets to form.Fukushima radiation still poisoning insectsThe 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster released massive amounts of radiation. Now, new research suggests that the environment in the Fukushima region, particularly in areas off-limits to humans, will remain dangerous for wildlife for some time.Anonymous peer-review comments may spark legal battleThe power of anonymous comments—and the liability of those who make them—is at the heart of a possible legal battle embroiling PubPeer, an online forum for anonymous, postpublication peer review. A researcher who claims that comments on PubPeer caused him to lose a tenured faculty job offer now intends to press legal charges against the person or people behind these posts—provided he can uncover their identities. Narwhal’s tusk may be its status symbolThe narwhal’s tusk is pretty iconic, but until now, we haven’t known what it’s actually for. Potential explanations have included its use in defense and breaking of sea ice. Now, new findings provide evidence that the tusk may indicate which males have the biggest testicles—and thus are the most fertile mates.’Space bubbles’ may have led to deadly battle in AfghanistanIn 2002, a rescue mission in Afghanistan went awry because a U.S. command post was unable to radio one of its helicopters about mistaken coordinates. What went wrong? Scientists say that turbulent space weather caused a communications blackout in the region and thus prevented the warning from getting to the rescue helicopter. The mission turned into a 17-hour firefight, costing seven lives.How did the ‘Berlin patient’ rid himself of HIV?Researchers are closer to unraveling the mystery of how Timothy Ray Brown, the only human cured of HIV, defeated the virus, according to a new study. Although the work doesn’t provide a definitive answer, it rules out the possibility that conditioning—the destruction of the body’s own immune system with chemotherapy and irradiation—can rid the body of HIV on its own.last_img read more

Meet Vintana, the second-largest mammal that lived with the dinosaurs

first_imgScientists have unearthed the fossilized skull of the second-largest mammal alive during the age of the dinosaurs. The creature lived between 66 million and 72 million years ago and belonged to a group of mammals known as gondwanatherians, which roamed Gondwana, a landmass that, starting about 180 million years ago, broke apart into South America, Australia, Antarctica, Africa, Arabia, Madagascar, and India. Previously, researchers knew about gondwanatherians only from teeth and bits of jawbones. But in a study published online today in Nature, a team describes a complete skull of a new species from the group. The 12.4-centimeter-long cranium was unexpectedly recovered from a block of sandstone full of fish fossils excavated in Madagascar. Based on the length of the fossil, the creature (depicted at left and center of artist’s representation) probably weighed about 9 kilograms, likely making it the largest mammal of its time. Placed in the new genus Vintana (the Malagasy word for “luck”), the plant-eating beast had ever-growing, rodentlike front teeth, molars whose grinding surfaces were tilted slightly outward, and a bite force about twice that of modern rodents of a similar size. Surprisingly, the nose, palate, and rear portion of the skull contain bones long presumed by paleontologists to have been lost before mammals evolved, the researchers note. A CT scan of the braincase suggests that about 14% of Vintana’s brain was devoted to interpreting odors, so the creature apparently had a keen sense of smell. Its relatively large eyes, as well as certain features in the creature’s inner ear, suggest the creature was agile and fast—the better for this small plant eater to dodge dinosaurs in search of tasty morsels.last_img read more

Send Science your pictures of lightning!

first_imgLightning is an amazing phenomenon—so amazing, in fact, that we made it the cover of our latest issue! Think you can do better? Send your most electrifying pictures of lightning to sciphotos@aaas.org by 28 November for a chance to see your image published online in Science!In submitting your image(s), you agree to the User Submissions terms within our Terms and Conditions, which are online here.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

Gecko-inspired adhesives allow people to climb walls

first_imgIn the 2011 movie Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Tom Cruise climbs the exterior of the world’s tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, using nothing more than a pair of gloves. Now, scientists have invented the real deal: hand-sized, gecko-inspired adhesives that can lift a human up glass walls—and that one day may even catch space junk.“This is one of the most exciting things I’ve seen in years,” says biomechanist Kellar Autumn of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, who was not involved with the study. “This has been a real dream of mine.”Geckos run up walls and scurry across ceilings with the help of tiny rows of hairs on their feet. The hairs, known as setae, generate a multitude of weak attractions between molecules on the two surfaces that add up to a secure foothold. Moreover, making and breaking the bonds that hold individual setae to a surface is easy. So, unlike glue or tape, a gecko’s sticky feet attach and detach effortlessly, a trait envied by mechanical engineers.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(*)Scientists have recreated geckolike adhesion using silicones, plastics, carbon nanotubes, and other materials—but they’ve run into a scaling problem: The stickiness diminishes when the size of the adhesive exceeds a few square centimeters, severely limiting its practical applications. Even the gecko hasn’t solved this problem, Autumn says. In theory, each gecko hair is so sticky that the animal, which has about 6.5 million setae, should be able to hold up a 130-kilogram linebacker. In reality, a gecko can lift only 2 kilograms with its front feet.The scaling problem stems in part from the fact that loads don’t distribute uniformly across large areas of adhesives, report researchers from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, in a study published online today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. In gecko toes, for example, only a fraction of the setae are in close contact with the surface, and those that are don’t share the load equally among themselves. This could be because the gecko skin, like a rubber band, becomes stiffer to stretch as more force is applied to it, the team suggests. When a gecko runs up a wall, the setae are stretched unevenly such that some have more force applied to them than others. So some hairs max out their stickiness, whereas others are underutilized or not attached to the surface at all. So a gecko patch’s stickiness should increase if researchers can find a way to distribute forces more evenly.To create their artificial gecko adhesive, the Stanford team started by making silicone microwedges, which imitated gecko hair. They assembled these into 24 stamp-sized tiles, each of which contained hundreds of thousands of microwedges. The team then connected the tiles to springs with tendonlike strings and attached them on an octagonal-shaped plate. Unlike gecko skin, the springs apply the same force to the tiles after they are stretched beyond a certain threshold, thus distributing loads evenly among the tiles. This allowed the assembled patch to offer similar adhesive strength for sizes from a square millimeter to a human hand. Even if an individual tile peels off, the weight it carries is transferred to tiles with the lightest loads, where the springs haven’t stretched past the threshold, so that the overall system remains sticky.Mechanical engineer Elliot Hawkes of Stanford tested the new adhesive by strapping his feet to footholds connected to the patches through a rod. He found that he could easily peel off the patches one at a time and stick them to a wall with his hands—which was how the 70-kilogram Ph.D. student ascended a glass wall behind his lab on a crisp December afternoon (see video). At the end of the climb, he even let go of both his hands in a thumbs-up while the patches stuck securely onto the wall, providing him with two secure footholds.Though he climbed only 3.6 meters, Hawke says the patches could work just fine carrying him up to the top of the Burj Khalifa—if he’s not too tired of walking up 830 meters, that is.The Dubai sandstorm that nearly foiled Cruise in the movie would pose a problem, though, as the device works only on clean, smooth surfaces, Autumn says. But therein lies the beauty of the system: It could easily adapt to different situations, just by replacing the adhesive tiles with other types of geckolike adhesives—for example, adhesives that self-clean like real gecko hairs.The team is now working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to create adhesive-equipped robots that can catch space junk such as defunct satellites, Hawkes says. In a recent experiment in a zero-g environment, a bot equipped with a small adhesive patch gripped the solar panel of another 400-kilogram robot, slowed it down, and gently pulled it in another direction.“This is the future of bio-inspired design,” Autumn says. “It’s not just about copying nature, but understanding it deeply enough to go beyond it.”last_img read more

Renewal of R&D tax credit seems like sure bet after U.S. House vote

first_imgBetter than nothing—but barely.That is how many lawmakers and business groups are reacting to a vote last night by the U.S. House of Representatives to retroactively revive a tax credit that allows companies to write off certain research expenses.Backers of the so-called R&D credit, worth some $7 billion annually in recent years, had hoped this would be the year Congress finally made the 33-year-old tax break permanent—as many economic experts have long urged. But those hopes were again dashed by political infighting. Instead, Wednesday’s 378 to 46 vote will temporarily restore for 2014 the R&D credit and nearly 50 other tax breaks that expired earlier this year.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)A bipartisan alliance of lawmakers had hoped to move legislation that revived many of the expired tax breaks through at least 2015 and to make several—including the R&D credit—permanent. Even the White House had embraced the idea, joining others who argue that businesses need certainty to make long-term plans for investing in research. Supporters also insist that the cost of the credit is more than offset by related economic gains.There was even a rumored 11th-hour agreement between House and Senate leaders on such a strategy—until the White House threatened to veto any deal, in part because it did not include certain breaks for low-income taxpayers. With the current Congress set to adjourn as soon as the end of next week, lawmakers settled on a simple 1-year extension. If the House bill is approved by the Senate, as expected, it will mark the 16th time Congress has extended the R&D credit since it was created in 1981.Bipartisan frustration with that outcome was obvious during the House floor debate on the measure.“This place is dysfunctional,” said Representative Jim McDermott (D–WA). Congress should have acted on the tax credits “a long time ago, and done it permanently,” he said. “Businesses and individuals need to know what the tax is going to be in the beginning of the year so that they can plan and take advantage of incentives rather than waiting until the last 2 weeks of the year when the Congress may or may not act.”“This is a lousy way to run a tax code. It is a lousy way to run a government,” said Representative Ron Kind (D–WI). “I think individuals and businesses, large and small, need greater certainty.”Industry groups were disappointed, but still thankful that lawmakers didn’t blow a yearlong hole in the credit, as they did once in the 1990s, by letting it lapse completely. “They’ve produced a train wreck—again—but at least it is not as bad a wreck as it could have been,” one lobbyist for a high-tech group told ScienceInsider, asking for anonymity because the group has already begun enlisting lawmakers to protect the credit in 2015. “We’re pretty unhappy, but we don’t want to appear ungrateful.”There will be a new push next year to make the credit permanent, perhaps as part of a much larger effort to reform and simplify the U.S. tax code. But finding a way to offset the estimated $100 billion to $150 billion in lost tax revenue won’t be easy.McDermott, for one, was not optimistic about the prospects for a broader overhaul. “Everyone should take note of today, the third of December,” he said during the floor debate. “Next year, right about this time, we will be right back here with the same bill.”last_img read more

Gandhi For Dummies

first_imgEven in the ignominious annals of India’s book censorship history, the Gujarat government’s decision to ban Joseph Lelyveld’s Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India has to be exceptionally embarrassing.Chief Minister Narendra Modi declared the book, which had not yet been released in India, “perverse … hurting the sentiments of those with capacity for sane and logical thinking” on the basis of a twisted review of an advance copy by a right wing, partisan British historian in the Wall Street Journal and a false and sensational cover story in a London tabloid, The Daily Mail, which labeled Gandhi a homosexual.In fact, the book, which only briefly explores the close relationship between Gandhi and one of his earliest Western disciples, the German architect Hermann Kallenbach, does not assert that Gandhi was homosexual and indeed goes to some length to refute such a reading. Lelyveld told Little India, that Gandhi “proclaimed himself a brahmachari and I believe he was a brahmachari …. It is a side issue and not very interesting, once you decide they were celibate.”But what has truth got to do with anything? A Google search for “Gandhi gay” throws up 6.4 million web links — nine times as many as for “Gandhi non violence,” for which he is most renowned. Characteristically, the precipitous, kneejerk reaction of the Modi government served only to fuel the media frenzy. Fortunately, the censorship juggernaut ran out of steam before other states and the central Indian government were stampeded into joining the ban. The book is now widely available throughout India and a Little India reporter was even able to find a copy in the library of the National Gandhi Museum in Rajghat in New Delhi, scarcely a center of perversity that Mr Modi would have us believe. The fabricated controversy (not that it would make a difference had the book actually made the claim it was alleged to have made) only served to bolster the book’s popularity — “helped sales quite a bit,” according to V.K. Karthika, chief editor of HarperCollins India, the Indian publisher of Lelyveld’s book. HarperCollins rushed its printing to capitalize on the buzz, tripling its normal print run. The company has not experienced any backlash or distribution problems anywhere in India and Karthika said Great Soul was “probably one of the top” books in first month sales in its genre. According to Karthika, the book had “one of the fastest launches” for a hardcover nonfiction book in the popular history/biography category, which is remarkable as “it is a fairly literary text for sophisticated readers.”“Insane and illogical” Gujarat residents can easily secure the book from a neighboring town across the border or even online. At this point, the backlash has had more ripples in the U.S., where two Indian American organizations in California and Massachusetts cancelled book readings by Lelyveld in the wake of the controversy.As we point out in our cover story, Gandhi himself would have taken the hoopla over his sexuality in stride, and very likely even encouraged and engaged it. He discussed his private life openly and once rebuked his Bengali translator at a prayer meeting for toning down his account of his controversial practice of sleeping naked with young women to test his vow of celibacy. Even more remarkably, when his stenographer Parsuram quit over these sexual experiments, Gandhi wrote: “I like your frankness and boldness… You are at liberty to publish whatever wrong you have noticed in me and my surroundings. Needless to say you can take whatever money you need to cover your expenses.”Clearly the self-appointed guardians of Gandhi’s legacy neither have read Lelyveld’s book nor have any understanding of the man they so venerate.   Related Itemslast_img read more