Last week, Mr. Dhakate had issued shoot-at-sight order and pressed two drones into service after movement of poachers was reported along the southern fringes of the park.150 forest officials were deployed and a total of 388 camera traps installed at sensitive points within the territory of the park.Villagers in the area were also informed of the same and were advised to avoid taking animals for grazing to the core areas.The order, however, raised eyebrows following which Mr. Dhakate has been removed from his post. The Director of Corbett Tiger Reserve has been removed from his post following a controversy over shoot-at-sight order issued by him in the national park to check the activities of poachers.Uttrakhand’s Chief Secretary S. Ramaswamy said that Parag Madhukar Dhakate has been replaced by Dheeraj Pandey as Director.D.V.S Khati, the Chief Wildlife Warden, said that Mr. Dhakate was not authorised to issue any such order.Also Read Corbett Tiger Reserve workers get the nod to kill armed poachers
The Jammu & Kashmir Police have arrested one of their own after he was allegedly caught on camera “snatching” money from a roadside beggar in Ramban district.A video clip purportedly showing head constable “snatching” money from the beggar a few days back went viral on social media, triggering shock and uproar.‘Bad habit’“Head constable Munawar Hussain has been suspended and arrested by the police after the incident,” Ramban Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Mohan Lal said.He said an FIR has also been registered against the policeman, who was attached with Ramban police line after being transferred from “Kishtwar due to his bad habit of chronic drinking”. Mr. Lal said Mr. Hussain came out of the police line and allegedly snatched money from the beggar. The officer said Hussain was caught by the policemen deployed there.More casesMr. Lal said three more cases are registered against Mr. Hussain in Kishtwar. “He was kept in the police line in Ramban after being transferred from Kishtwar due to his bad habit of chronic drinking. His ATM cards and others such items were given to his wife to operate in view of the his bad habits,” he said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s ruling coalition partner, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Friday accused its ally of “communalising human rights and governance issues” in the Jammu region.“There is nothing right about the right wing. The outburst by so-called leaders of Jammu about certain measures to safeguard the tribal community is unwarranted and uncalled for. This follows the politicising of the probe into the rape and murder of eight-year-old Asifa,” said PDP leader Firdous Tak, also an MLC from Kishtwar in the Chenab Valley.Referring to the BJP’s stand on tribal rights over forest land, which the BJP is openly opposing, Mr. Tak said: “The majoritarian approach of pushing the minorities to the wall is not new in Jammu. The BJP is following the footprints of the Congress to represent the majority opinion.”Warning against playing communal politics, the MLC said: “Every time you [the BJP] play the communal card, you are hurting the constitutional mandate.”Tribal rights and the rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomad girl have had the two coalition partners pulling in different directions.Sources said that Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday refused to meet the BJP MLAs who are demanding that the rape case be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation. Ms. Mufti’s stand has further soured relations.
India should cooperate with Pakistan to ensure regional stability and to end the Afghan war, said the Ambassador of Russia on Monday. Speaking at a public event here, Nikolay Kudashev said that India-Pakistan collaboration will help in resolving the decades-old conflict in Afghanistan.“The problems of Afghanistan are impossible to resolve without taking on board every neighbouring country. Excessive pressure on certain states would just antagonise them and make numerous problems even more complicated… this logic also guides us to further develop ties with Pakistan and it is in the interest of regional stability to help Pakistanis as well as Indians effectively adjust themselves to the new forms of cooperation offered by SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) and enhance their anti-terrorism cooperation,” said Mr. Kudashev elaborating on Russia’s engagement of Pakistan.In a set of frank observations at an event organised by the Anant Aspen Centre, the envoy urged India to cooperate with Pakistan in the platforms that various multilateral bodies are providing.New-found bonhomieMoscow and Pakistan dealt with a difficult phase during the 1980s when Pakistan supported the Mujahideen fighters to counter Soviet occupation forces. However the cooperation took off in the last few years with joint counter-terror drills between two sides that India has observed with concern. The envoy clarified that Moscow does not prioritise bilateral disputes in South Asia while framing policies.“We don’t look at the region from the point of view of bilateral disputes that we are not in a position to interfere or take sides. There should be realistic and comprehensive approach to the issues of common interest,” said the envoy highlighting the need for peace between India and Pakistan.“No doubt that existing disagreements between India and Pakistan should be resolved politically and diplomatically according to the provisions of the Simla Agreement of 1972 and the 1999 Lahore Declaration,” Mr. Kudashev said.He said that Russia is open to a relationship with all sides for the sake of regional stability and the crisis in Afghanistan requires the “Afghan-led” solution.
The security forces gunned down two alleged members of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) in Sukma district of south Chhattisgarh on Saturday.The encounter took place in Burkapal area of Sukma when the District Reserve Guard (Chhattisgarh police’s special anti-Maoist unit) and the Special Task Force were conducting an anti-Maoist operation in the area.The security forces also recovered 11 country-made weapons from the spot of the encounter suggesting some more Maoists may have been injured or killed.In a separate development, Maharashtra police found one more body of a Maoist in Gadchiroli district.“A decomposed body was found in the forest near Indravati river in Tadgoan forest area of Gadchiroli where an encounter had taken place on last Sunday. One AK-47 rifle was also recovered during a search operation in the area today. Today’s recovery has taken the total number Maoists killed in Kasansur encounter to 34,” Gadchiroli police said in a statement.Mr.Abhinav Deshmukh, the district Superintendent of Police, Gadchiroli, informed that 19 bodies have been identified so far and 14 bodies have been handed over to the relatives of the deceased.
The sporting feat of a budding visually challenged chess sensation has gone completely unnoticed and unrewarded at a time when stellar performances of Odia athletes in the just-concluded Asian Games in Indonesia were widely acclaimed both by the State government and the private sector. Twenty-year-old Soundarya Kumar Pradhan won a silver medal at the 10th IBCA World Individual Junior Chess Championship for the Blind and Visually Impaired held in Poland in the third week of August. His feat assumes even greater significance considering the financial and infrastructure obstacles he faced in his journey from Boden in Odisha’s Nuapada district – one of the poorest and most backward regions of the country. “For a visually challenged, it was never easy to travel to Poland and compete with the best in the game. It hurts when nobody comes forward and pats your back when you bring laurels for the country against all odds,” rued Mr. Soundarya. He was a born with Leber congenital amaurosis, a disease genetically passed through families. It, however, did not deter him from dreaming. Initiated into chess at the age of four, Mr. Soundarya has been performing consistently in the game. He emerged as the champion at the national level on a couple of occasions and also won the bronze at the Asia Pacific Chess Championship for the Blind and Visually Impaired held in Karnataka in 2017 before clinching the silver last month.When Mr. Soundarya was finally felicitated by Lex Publicio, a Bhubaneswar-based law firm, here on Monday, he said it would be difficult to move ahead without support. Recently, Odia sprinter Dutee Chand was awarded ₹ 3 crore for her double silver in the Asian Games, while four members of the Indian women hockey team were given ₹1 crore each for coming second.
An 18-month-old infant girl has been missing after a reportedly overcrowded boat capsized in Rakhaldubi river in western Assam’s Goalpara district on Monday evening, while two more boat incidents occurred across the State on Tuesday evening. The Rakhaldubi mishap is the third boat capsize in the State in the last one week after a mechanised country boat sank in the Brahmaputra off Guwahati killing four. Officials in Goalpara district said the unregistered row-boat had 15 people on board when it sank in the river. All other passengers were rescued by locals.Around the same time, a mechanised country boat also capsized in the Beki river near Kalgachia in Barpeta district. The boat drifted after its engine failed and hit the pillar of a bridge across the river. Around 30 people on board managed to either swim ashore or were rescued.In another incident on Tuesday, a rowboat sank in western Assam’s Goalpara district around dusk, the fourth such incident since a mechanised country boat capsized in the Brahmaputra off Guwahati on September 5. According to initial reports from the district, two people — Bilal Hussain, 26 and Amina Khatun, 7 — were missing after the boat with at least four people on board sank at Khankhowa Char near Goalpara town.These mishaps involving unregistered boats happened on non-notified routes. We have registered cases against the operators,” Bharat Bhushan Dev Choudhury, director of the State’s Inland Water Transport Department, said.On Monday, Assam Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said no mechanised country boats would be allowed to operate in the entire river system of the State. After a review meeting with IWT officials, he ordered all single-engine ferries to be converted into double-engine ones with reversible gears.“As per the safety norms, there must be one life jacket for each passenger in the vessel and it will be mandatory for each passenger to put on the life jacket while boarding the vessel. The deputy commissioners shall conduct a safety audit of the ferry vessels within their respective districts,” Mr. Patowary said.
In a major blow to the Congress in Meghalaya, four-time Chief Minister Donwa Dethwelson Lapang resigned from the party.In his resignation letter to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Thursday night, Mr. Lapang said he was resigning “reluctantly and with a heavy heart”.The former Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief accused the All India Congress Committee (AICC) of embarking upon a policy of phasing out senior and elderly people.“In my opinion it means that service and contribution of senior and elderly people is no longer useful to the party,” he said in the letter, copies of which were made available to the media.Mr. Lapang said, “This restriction made me frustrated and compelled me to be no longer comfortable in the party.”Mr. Lapang first became Chief Minister in 1992. He was again sworn in as Chief Minister in 2003, 2007 and 2009.AICC general secretary in charge of Meghalaya Luizinho Faleirio said he had not met Mr. Lapang in the last three years. Mr. Faleirio said he did not meet Mr. Lapang during his recent visit to Shillong for revamping the activities of the party.Mr. Lapang, after demitting the office of party chief last year, continued to hold the position of an adviser to the party.MPCC president Celestine Lyngdoh expressed surprise over Mr. Lapang’s decision to quit the party. “We’ll try and find out and, if possible, sort out things at the earliest,” he said.
With the Narendra Modi government fighting the perception of being anti-Dalit, leaving the BJP vulnerable, key NDA ally from Bihar Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP), headed by Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, is confident of getting more seats to contest in Bihar during the 2019 Lok Sabha poll. The LJP is also lobbying for seats in Uttar Pradesh. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who heads the Janata Dal(U) and Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha of the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party, have staked claim for a fair share of the 40 seats. The BJP holds 22 seats, LJP has six and JD(U) four. Mr. Kushwaha’s party has the lone seat that he himself represents. The BJP has indicated that it is not willing to fight the poll on fewer than 20 seats. The remaining 20 has to be shared among the three allies. “The government is not in a position to discount us if it wants to ensure that its pro-Dalit credentials are not questioned. We contested seven seats in the last election and lost only one, that too by a very small margin. So there is no question of us accepting fewer than seven,” a top LJP leader said.The party said that if its services are to be utilised in Uttar Pradesh, then it should be rewarded. “There is a huge population of the Passi caste in eastern Uttar Pradesh and also in Rae Bareli and Amethi. It is obvious that the BJP would want LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag to be involved in campaigning. The BJP will do well to at least give us three or four seats in the State,” the leader added.Mr. Paswan has been maintaining a studied silence. “We have had no discussions on seats. It will be done at the due time,” th Minister told The Hindu.
The authorities have decided not to publicise the details of candidates contesting in elections to urban local bodies in volatile pockets in the Kashmir valley “due to security reasons,” evoking sharp reactions from political parties.“Lack of transparency will only bring disrepute to the institution of democracy. It seems former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s legacy is being reversed. Mr. Vaypayee, as prime minister, ensured fair elections in J&K and allowed peoples’ representatives to come up. This saw a new hope emerging among people, who started looking up to elections as a credible exercise. In the process, mainstream political parties, too, gained an important space despite Kashmir’s complex situation,” senior Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Nayeem Akhtar told The Hindu. He described the situation in J&K as “worse than the 1990s.” “It’s getting worse than 1990s, with non-locals being fielded as candidates in many wards. They may have visited the area for the first time on the day of the nominations. The way the elections are held goes against tenets of democracy,” said Mr. Akhtar.All major regional parties, including the PDP and the National Conference, have decided to boycott polls, leaving the Jammu & Kashmir People’s Conference (J&KPC), the Congress and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) as major players in the fray. “The credibility of the poll process has been badly affected. No candidate has filed a nomination in 177 wards. In 215 wards, candidates have been declared [elected] unopposed. It speaks volumes about the power-thirsty BJP imposing [on the] elections. What will be the credibility of these polls, when even finding a candidate to contest has become difficult?” asked Congress vice president and MLC G.N. Monga .Details concealed Contrary to J&K Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra’s directive to returning officers “to paste details of contesting candidates on notice boards”, scores of wards in south and north Kashmir have decided against it. “Candidates have pleaded with us that their lives will be in danger in case their details are made public. In many wards, we decided against publicising it,” a south Kashmir-based official told The Hindu. In the wake of militant threats, several independent candidates on Thursday held a press conference in Srinagar. They claimed they were “not getting any response from the government over security. The property of two candidates have been attacked by unknown men in the past 24 hours in the Valley with petrol bombs.”However, Additional Director General Police-Law and Order (ADGP) Muneer Ahmad Khan said many contestants have been put up in hired hotels, guarded by heavy contingents of police and paramilitary forces. About 3,000 candidates are in the fray across J&K for elections to 1,145 wards across 79 municipal bodies, starting October 8.
Tayyab Ali, 92, lies on a rusty cot in a large house with a courtyard full of plants. Clad in an off-white kurta, he peers intently through thick glasses as he says, “I moved here in 1946 to protect our heritage. I am still doing the same thing.”Tayyab Ali Bengali, as he likes to be called, had migrated from what is now Bangladesh. He was one of the 313 Ahmadiyyas who, at the time of the Partition, had chosen to stay back in Qadian in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district. It was here that the sect’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, had established a religious community in 1889. The Ahmadiyyas believe that their founder was the “promised messiah” of the Muslims, meant to propagate the teachings of Prophet Mohammad. But the majority Sunni Muslims believe the Prophet to be the last messiah. This fundamental difference in religious belief has meant that the Ahmadiyyas are a persecuted minority in every Islamic state.In Pakistan, where over 4 million Ahmadiyyas reside, an ordinance passed by the government in 1984 declared them as “non-Muslims”. It also made it a criminal offence for members of this community to practise Islam or claim to be Muslims.As for the Ahmadiyyas, they call themselves a “revival movement in Islam”, one that rejects “terrorism” and believes in the “jihad of the pen” as opposed to a “jihad of the sword”.Mr. Ali is proud to be a ‘Darvesh’, the title given to each of the 313 who chose to stay in India after the 1947 Partition, leaving their families in Pakistan. He recalls attending a few sermons given by Ahmadiyya leaders in 1945, after which he decided to join the sect. He moved to Qadian the following year.“My parents were Sunnis. They stopped me but I didn’t listen to them. After Partition, my father sent me a money order and asked me to come back. But I sent the money order back,” he says. He last travelled to see his family over 50 years ago, in what was then East Pakistan, but returned in four days. “The environment was hostile. My parents didn’t treat me well. I came back,” he recalls. In India, he says, he wakes up for fajr, the first of the five prayers through the day, rests, eats, and goes to watch kids play football in the evening.The only tough time, he recalls, was the year following Partition. “We lived like prisoners, with a bare minimum of food, for over a year. We couldn’t get out of Qadian. A year later, I started playing football and volleyball, and that became a reason for me to get out of Qadian sometimes for tournaments,” Mr. Ali says.India’s Ahmadiyya population is about 1.5 lakh, About 6,000 of them live in Qadian in a settlement spread across 1,500 acres. It has a residential colony, two mosques, State board-affiliated schools for both girls and boys, a religious college, a few manufacturing units, including a chapatti-making unit, playgrounds, community halls, and religious monuments.Self-sustaining communityModelled as a self-sustaining township of sorts, the community enjoys its own administration, known as the ‘Secretariat’, with separate departments for expenditure, construction, audit, general affairs, information technology, waseehat and jaidaat. All the department heads are appointed by the ‘Khalifa’, or fifth successor of the founder, Mirza Masroor Ahmad. The Khalifa is based in London, which has now become the headquarters of the community.“Most of the money to run the community comes from donations by our members across the country. A significant part of it is generated by a system wherein those who pledge allegiance to the community donate 10% of their property and monthly salary to the administration,” says Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat’s (AMJ) spokesperson Tariq Ahmed. Many members of the community live in houses owned by the sect, pay a nominal rent, and work at the Secretariat.Nasir Waheed, who handles accounts at the Secretariat, says that he gets a salary of just ₹7,000 a month but is grateful for the peaceful life. “My children study in the community school where the fees are low. And because I work for the community, there are a lot of benefits,” he says, adding that his father was a Darvesh. “He worked for free in the initial years and started with a salary of ₹5”.Mr. Waheed’s wife, Swalehah Waheed (37), says the women are mostly occupied in religious programmes scheduled through the year. The entire settlement is divided into 13 sub-areas, each headed by a woman who is responsible for the ‘religious guidance’ of the women of her subdivision. “They give us books of our Khalifa to read and there are regular discussions around it. Every now and then, religious programmes are organised where women and minor girls share what they have read,” says Ms. Waheed, who has a master’s degree in political science from Panjab University.While there are many like Ms. Waheed, there are also women like Tahira Maqbool. Ms. Maqbool is now an Indian citizen but was a Pakistani until two years ago. The 34-year-old mother of three recalls life back “home” in Faisalabad and the pain of living there.‘Home’ truths “I was born in Faisalabad and stayed there till I got married in 2003. It’ll always be home because I’ve spent my childhood there. But in Pakistan we are treated worse than animals,” she says. Recalling an incident, she describes how her brother was once stopped on the street for particular reason, slapped around, and asked to change his faith.Tehmida (29), also a Pakistani born and brought up in Karachi, got married in India in 2013. She, too, has experienced persecution. “I was a bright student in college and my teachers loved me. But the day they came to know that I was an Ahmadiyya, their attitude towards me changed completely. They even asked me to leave the college. I said I’ll only leave if you make a formal complaint.”Unfortunately, for the married Pakistani women in Qadian, the ordeal doesn’t end even after they leave their home country. In India, life without citizenship is not easy either.“Sometimes, I feel like a prisoner because I have to renew my visa every year. I got married here and my four-year-old son is also an Indian. But I can’t leave Qadian. To travel out of this town, I need a No Objection Certificate from the Indian government. This remains a huge problem,” says Ms. Tehmida, adding that her friends from Pakistan often ask her if she has visited Mumbai or the Taj Mahal. “What could I say?”Slow citizenship process Tears roll down the eyes of Ms. Maqbool as she recalls the time her father passed away, in April 2012. She could not go and see him one last time as she had submitted her passport to the Indian government as part of her citizenship application process. “It is a very slow process,” she says. “I received the citizenship certificate only in April 2016.” Rukaiyya Khalam (52), from Pakistan’s Rabwah, has a similar story. She came to India in 1994 and started her citizenship process right then. “My mother passed away in 1996. But there is a requirement that in order to get citizenship, I should not leave India for seven years after I come here. So I didn’t go. Now, more than 20 years later, I am still not an Indian national,” she says.Ms. Tehmida, however, is happy in one respect. “I am free to practise my beliefs the way I want”.Mr. Ahmed, too, dwells on the relief in being able to freely call oneself a Muslim.In September, the Pakistani government had removed Princeton economist Atif Mian, an Ahmadiyya, from the newly set up Economic Advisory Council because of opposition from the Sunni majority. “In Pakistan, we can’t keep the Koran. We can’t celebrate Id. We can’t publish any of our books or periodicals. We can’t greet with Assalamu alaikum. There is not a single month when our people are not martyred. How would they accept one of us in the national Economic Advisory Council? India and most of the 211 other countries where our people live are extremely tolerant in this matter as compared to Pakistan,” he says.Members of the community say that they can lead a normal life In India, like any other Muslim, so long as they don’t show that they’re Ahmadiyya. Mansoor Ahmad, a local who often visits his relatives in Delhi, says that his nieces and nephews go to a private college and none of their friends really care what community they are from. “But it’s not always like this. There have been instances when hardliners in Ludhiana have created a ruckus because of our presence during religious programmes. But even on those occasions things never escalated to violence,” he says.
Every fall, countless songbirds migrate from their breeding grounds in the United States and Canada. Often flying at night to avoid hawks, the animals head south to spend the winter in Mexico and Central America. But exactly where many of them go, and how they get there, has been something of a mystery. Now, a team has shown that analyzing DNA in feathers can provide new details about bird migrations. Although the technique is still in the proof-of-principle stage, it “could be an immensely powerful tool in implementing conservation measures for the most at-risk bird populations with fine-scale precision,” says Jeff Wells of the Boreal Songbird Initiative in Seattle, Washington.Ornithologists have many ways to track migratory birds. The most common is to put small identification bands on their legs. The trouble is that netters recapture only a tiny fraction of the banded birds. Electronic tracking devices can work well for individual birds, but may not yield insights for an entire population. More recently, researchers have shown that the ratio of isotopes in feathers can provide a rough guide to where a bird has been feeding, because the feather ratios mirror those of food sources. Analysis of mitochondrial and nuclear genes has also offered clues, for example confirming that some birds have geographically distinct breeding populations. But even those techniques couldn’t tease out fine-grained differences in where birds summer and winter. “This is a really big issue,” because conservation groups need to know where to spend their resources to best effect, says Robert Fleischer, a geneticist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington D.C.In a bid to get more detail, the new study used genomic markers—called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)—to distinguish populations. The DNA came from a remarkable collection of more than 180,000 feathers from about 50 species stored in freezers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Ecologist Thomas Smith has been gathering the feather samples for more than 2 decades; when other researchers band birds, they pull a tail feather and mail it to Smith. Tissue at the base of the feather contains enough DNA for researchers to analyze.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The researchers focused on a perky, black-capped yellow bird called the Wilson’s warbler (Cardellina pusilla). Previous genetic studies had shown that the warblers have separate breeding populations in the eastern and western United States. But researchers suspected that there are several subpopulations, such as in the Sierra Nevada and Colorado Plateau. To make matters more complex, each might have its own wintering grounds. To see if they could detect those linkages, they first examined DNA from 22 birds captured in five regions of the United States, sequencing 150,000 regions of their genomes. From a pool of a half-million SNPs, they chose 96 that could best distinguish the birds. Then, they compared those SNPs with those taken from a second set of 1626 feathers from 68 locations across North and Central America.The results, posted on 8 August in a preprint on bioRxiv, showed six genetically distinct groups of Wilson’s warbler. The study confirmed that birds breeding along the California coast spend the winter in southern Baja, for example, and warblers in the eastern United States head for the Yucatan, Belize, and Costa Rica. But the SNPs also provided the first strong evidence that warblers in the southern Rocky Mountains and the Colorado Plateau overwinter in El Salvador.The researchers also got the first clear look at migration timing. Team member Kristina Paxton of the University of Hawaii, Hilo, spent 2 months catching warblers in 2008 and again in 2009 as they passed through a stopover site on the Lower Colorado River in Arizona. DNA from the feathers showed that birds headed to California flew through first, followed by those going to the Pacific Northwest, the Sierra Nevada, and finally Alaska. In the future, researchers might be able to tell when at-risk populations of other species pass through.The genomic tools provide “resolution of populations that we’ve never seen before,” says Kristen Ruegg, an evolutionary geneticist at UCLA, one of the study’s authors. Now, Ruegg and colleagues would like to expand the analysis to other migratory birds, including endangered species, if they can get funding. Douglas Robinson, an ecologist at Oregon State University, Corvallis, calls the approach “probably the wave of the future” for determining geographic connections on a regional scale, but he thinks that more detail will be needed to make a difference in conservation.The paper is in review at Molecular Ecology, and Ruegg will discuss the work in a webinar, sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on Thursday at 2 p.m. EDT.
If aliens ever abduct you to a galaxy far, far away, this map might help you find your way back home. Presented online today in Nature, the map spans more than 1.5 billion light-years, coloring the densest concentrations of observed galaxies red and areas with the fewest galaxies blue. Your home galaxy, the Milky Way, is the blue dot at the center. The red region above the Milky Way includes Virgo, the closest galaxy cluster, about 55 million light-years from Earth. The orange curve illustrates the key finding of the new work: It encircles galaxies that would fall toward one another along the curved white lines if space weren’t expanding; the astronomers have named this huge assemblage Laniakea, after Hawaiian words for “spacious heaven.” It is 100 quadrillion times as massive as the sun—equivalent to 100,000 Milky Ways—and stretches across more than half a billion light-years of space. Outside Laniakea, other galactic gatherings appear green on the map: the Shapley Concentration at the upper left; the Coma Supercluster at the top; and the Pisces-Perseus Supercluster at the right.
On Earth, humans break from a walk into a run—where both feet are lifted off the ground—when their speed reaches about 2.1 meters per second. Calculations predicted that the transition speed would be lower on the moon due to the reduced gravity, at about 0.86 meters per second, but lab simulations have suggested higher values than that. Short of flying a crew to the moon, the only way to test things out in lunar gravity is by hopping onto NASA’s adapted DC-9 aircraft that can fly a roller-coaster path—so the researchers did just that. During each cycle on the so-called vomit comet, volunteers had 20 to 30 seconds to test out varying walk and run speeds on a treadmill (similar to what’s pictured) when the gravity on them fell to one-sixth of that on Earth. The results confirm that the walk-to-run transition speed is indeed higher than predicted by theory, at an average of 1.42 meters per second. This is possibly due to the additional force that swinging arms and legs exert on the body, as the effect of such force is more pronounced in lunar gravity, the team reports this week in The Journal of Experimental Biology. The researchers hope such studies could lead to more agile space suits.
The U.S. House of Representatives could vote as early as this week to approve two controversial, Republican-backed bills that would change how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses science and scientific advice to inform its policies. Many Democrats, scientific organizations, and environmental groups are pushing back, calling the bills thinly veiled attempts to weaken future regulations and favor industry. White House advisers today announced that they will recommend that President Barack Obama veto the bills if they reach his desk in their current form (statements here and here).The bills, introduced by a mostly Republican cast of sponsors in both the House and the Senate, would require that EPA use only publicly available, reproducible data in writing regulations and seek to remake the membership and procedures of the agency’s science advisory panels. Supporters, including industry groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, argue that the legislation would improve the transparency and soundness of how EPA uses science, making regulations less costly and more effective.Opponents, however, are calling the bills wolves in sheep’s clothing. “I cannot support legislation that makes it easier for industry to implement their destructive playbook, because risking the health of the American people is not a game that I’m willing to play,” said Representative Paul Tonko (D–NY) at a 25 February committee meeting on the bills.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(*)Versions of both bills had been introduced in previous Congresses, and their revival was widely expected as part of Republicans’ continuing efforts to block key parts of Obama’s environmental agenda.H.R. 1030, the EPA Secret Science Reform Act, was introduced in the House by Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), chair of the House science committee; a Senate companion is backed by Senator John Barrasso (R–WY). The bill would require the data EPA use for future regulations to be publicly available so that other scientists can independently analyze it. “The legislation provides an opportunity for the type of transparent and accountable government the American people want and deserve,” Smith said just before a 25 February committee vote to send the bill to the full House.H.R. 1029, the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) Reform Act, meanwhile, was introduced in the House by representatives Frank Lucas (R–OK) and Collin Peterson (D–MN) and in the Senate by senators John Boozman (R–AR) and Joe Manchin (D–WV). The bill would make changes to the structure and procedures of the SAB, a federally chartered body of scientists and economists who review EPA risk assessments and policy documents and advise the agency on other science-related matters. The bill would improve scientific advice to EPA by “guaranteeing a well-balanced expert panel, increasing transparency, and encouraging public participation,” Lucas said before the committee also voted to send the bill to the full House.Democrats, science groups, and public-interest groups have numerous concerns about both bills. The secret science bill, for example, would apparently bar EPA from using public health studies based on confidential patient information, wrote the American Statistical Association’s president, David Morganstein, in a 25 February letter to lawmakers. That would force the agency into “a choice … between maintaining data confidentiality and issuing needed regulations,” he wrote. Also, efforts to deidentify sensitive data before release—by stripping names and other information—aren’t fail-safe, Morganstein wrote.But backers of the bill said those problems could be resolved. Study participants could sign waivers acknowledging that the raw data could become public, said Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R–CA). People concerned about their privacy could also decline to participate, he suggested. “Their specific participation isn’t necessary to have a successful research project,” he said at the committee meeting.Democrats disagreed. Researchers’ findings could become skewed, because many potential participants—especially the sickest ones—would drop out. “You need a broad, unbiased sample in order to have valid results,” Representative Zoe Lofgren (D–CA) said at the meeting.Democrats are further concerned about another provision, not included in earlier versions, that would give EPA only $1 million per year to implement the bill, which would entail, among other things, obtaining raw data from study authors. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office calculated that the bill would cost $250 million annually to implement early on, and that’s only if EPA were to halve the number of studies it used to 25,000 annually, said Representative Donna Edwards (D–MD).“It forces the agency into an untenable position”—either ignore the bill’s requirements because of lack of funding or comply with them and stop using scientific studies almost entirely after the money runs out, Edwards said. “The majority is actually legislating failure,” she said.Another provision in the advisory board legislation also troubles some outside groups. It would allow industry scientists greater leeway to join EPA panels, but bar academic scientists on the panels from talking about matters related to research they’re doing. The idea is to provide balance and prevent conflicts of interest, backers say. But the provision “turns the idea of conflict of interest on its head,” wrote Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a 25 February letter to lawmakers. Even though the bill contains new language that lets scientists talk about their research if their expertise is externally peer reviewed and publicly disclosed, Rosenberg worries that language is legally ambiguous, as scientists’ work isn’t limited to published research.Another provision requiring advisory panels to respond to all public comments would encourage commenters to bombard panelists, preventing the panels from finishing their work, said Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX), the top Democrat on the House science committee. “I assume that is the point of this legislation,” Johnson said.Committee Republicans defeated a number of Democratic amendments to alter the bills before sending them to the full House, but approved one (by voice vote) from Representative Alan Grayson (D–FL) that would bar all lobbyists from serving on EPA advisory panels.The full House is expected to approve the bills as early this week. The Senate’s course of action isn’t yet clear.*Update, 4 March, 11:00 a.m.: This story has been updated to include the White House’s veto threat, and to clarify a bill provision on academic members of advisory panels.
The State Bank of India (SBI) wants to broaden its UK customer base beyond the Indian diaspora after pumping £225 million into its retail business as part of new post-crisis regulations.Bosses of the lender – which is 58.6% owned by the Indian government – said that while they were happy with the status quo, SBI was unwilling to pull out of one of its biggest overseas markets which currently accounts for 20% of foreign operations.Read it at BT Related Items
A physiotherapist from Birmingham has been imprisoned for 14 years for supplying ammunition and guns to gangs. He supplied weapons that were used in three murders, and several other crimes.Mohinder Surdhar, 58, from Grove Lane in Handsworth had admitted earlier at a hearing to a single count of conspiracy to transfer prohibited weapons and ammunition. Surdhar would use his authentic firearms certificate to procure weapons that were said to have been sold by co-conspirators for up to £3,000, Mail Online reported.Surdhar and the arms supplier, Paul Edmunds, 65, were together supplying guns and ammunition linked to more than 100 crimes in the United Kingdom. A UK court sentenced Edmunds to 30 years in jail in December last year.While sentencing the physiotherapist, Judge Richard Bond at Birmingham Crown Court told Surdhar that he had broken the trust that was vested in him as a licensed owner of firearms, that included a sniper rifle with a range of up to two miles.“You were a physiotherapist with a PhD, well-educated and well-respected in your field. In short, over a period of several years you acted as the fulcrum in the supply of prohibited weapons and ammunition to criminal gangs,” the judge told Surdhar.Trials of other defendants involved in the conspiracy heard that police across the country started to recover antique handguns and specially made ammunition from crime scenes from 2014, according to the statement from National Ballistics Intelligence Service. During the previous hearings, which led to the conviction of more than a dozen men, including Gloucestershire-based gun dealer Paul Edmunds, it was said that Surdhar acted as a middleman.“During his trial, the court heard Edmunds was arrested at his home in 2015, where he had three armories and used to make ammunition to fit antique weapons,” said the statement.The judge also told Surdhar that it is impossible to say how many weapons he had supplied over the years, but it appears that he supplied hundreds of guns to the gang. “Even to this day, weapons sold by you are still being seized from crime scenes,” he said.Law officers said that Edmunds was a registered firearms dealer from Gloucester. He knew how to source, purchase, import and later supply these guns and ammunition that were prohibited to Surdhar. The physiotherapist would then sell these to the criminals.“The weapons and ammunition have been directly linked to crimes across nine police forces, including murders, attempted murders and the 2011 Birmingham riots when shots were fired at the West Midlands Police helicopter,” said the crown prosecution service (CPS), the Hindustan Times reported. Related ItemsBirminghamBritainUnited Kingdom
Opposition BJP on Friday demanded an unconditional apology from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik soon after a photograph of martyr Ajit Kumar Sahoo’s coffin, draped in a BJD flag, went viral on social media. The photograph was taken on Thursday and it was uploaded on Friday. Ajit Kumar Sahoo, a jawan of the 44 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) hailed from Dhenkanal district in Odisha. He was critically injured in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Jammu & Kashmir’s Pulwama district on June 17 and later succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment at the hospital on June 18. “Let BJD president Naveen Patnaik tender unconditional apology for hurting sentiments of the people and the martyr’s family,” BJP Ex-Servicemen Cell State President Colonel B.K. Bastia told reporters here. “It is unfortunate that the martyr’s coffin was draped with a BJD flag instead of the Tricolour,” Mr. Bastia said. BJP national vice -president and former MP Baijayant Panda also demanded an apology from the ruling Party. “Very unfortunate, politicising the death of an Indian soldier by the ruling party in Odisha draping his coffin with their party flag instead of the Tricolour. ….,” Mr. Panda tweeted. “The BJD people offered floral tribute to the martyr near Khuntuni on the way to our village in Dhenkanal district. They covered the coffin with the BJD flag. The BJD flag was removed later. My brother was not working for any political party,” the martyr’s brother, Parameswar Sahoo, said. Odisha governor Ganeshi Lal and many other persons had paid tribute to the martyr as soon the body reached the Biju Patnaik International Airport late night on Wednesday. The coffin was then taken to Dhenkanal Mini Stadium and later to his native village Badasuanla where his mortal remains was consigned to flames. BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra has, however, described the incident as unfortunate and condemnable. “Our Party has a lot of respect for the martyrs and we condemn the incident. Stringent action will be taken against those who are involved in this episode,” he said.