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Divided Congress decimated in Nagpur

first_img: Even before the results for the Nagpur Municipal Corporation were fully declared on Thursday, senior Congress leader from Nagpur, Nitin Raut issued a statement blaming “certain party leaders” for “discarding party principles of democratic functioning” resulting in third successive defeat for the party in Nagpur Municipal Corporation polls.This debacle follows the Congress party’s big defeats in Lok Sabha and Assembly elections here two years ago.“The debacle of the Congress in Nagpur’s civic polls is a direct result of certain leaders discarding party’s principles of democratic functioning. We witnessed dictatorial attitude of a specific group which was not interested in effecting a Congress win but wanting Congressmen to lose. In the last three decades that I have dedicated to Congress, this is the lowest point for the party in the city I have experienced and all this is because somebody put himself first and the party second,” said Mr. Raut, who was also a cabinet minister in Congress-NCP government.The division in Nagpur Congress was clearly evident in previous elections as well. However, this time round, the district leadership of the party was openly pitted against its own party leaders.Senior leaders Satish Chaturvedi, Anees Ahmad, and Mr. Raut kept themselves away from the campaign citing “undue ticket distributions” by district Congress president Vikas Thakre who is considered close to former Nagpur MP Vilas Muttemwar. Mr. Thakre could not retain his own seat and lost the election by 800 votes. Promising candidates like Praffula Gudadhe Patil, who had contested the last Assembly polls against CM Devendra Fadnavis from Nagpur (South-West) constituency, had to wait for a ticket till the last moment. Mr. Patil won his seat by defeating the BJP candidates by over 4000 votes on Thursday.On the other hand, the BJP was led by two heavyweight politicians from Nagpur — Union Minister for Surface Transport and Shipping Nitin Gadkari and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.At the time of ticket distribution, the party conducted many surveys and denied tickets to around 40 sitting corporators and relatives of senior RSS and Bajrang Dal functionaries in the city. Mr. Gadkari had camped at his home for three days at the time of selection of candidates and was actively involved in every election process, from candidate selection to pacifying those who were denied tickets. Mr. Gadkari also gave tickets to many OBC candidates from open seats.However, the BJP will now have to deal with the high expectations of the Nagpur public to develop the city on the lines of a metropolitan city.last_img read more

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Crack in tracks apparently led to derailment: Railways

first_imgA crack in the tracks prima facie caused the derailment of eight coaches of Mahakaushal Express near Mahoba station in Uttar Pradesh.Speaking on the sidelines of a function, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said that “according to the Divisional Railway Manager, prima facie fresh weld failure on left side caused the derailment.” Fresh weld means it was not an old crack and that the crack developed suddenly and could not be detected.While the UP ADG (Law and Order) Daljit Chaudhary said 52 passengers were injured in the mishap, Sinha said 21 were injured, including one seriously.The derailment took place near Mahoba station in Uttar Pradesh.The DRM of Jhansi Division and General Manager of North Central Railway have rushed to the site after the accident to supervise the rescue and relief operations.last_img read more

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All Bihar jails to have videoconferencing: Nitish

first_imgBihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday announced that all jails in the State would have videoconferencing facility from next year. He also inaugurated 56 telephone exchanges at 30 jails, canteen facility for prisoners in 11 jails and laid foundation stones for multipurpose auditoriums at eight Central jails of the State.“Jail reforms have been going on ever since my government had come to power but the biggest reform will be when a change in prisoner’s thinking would come… by next year all jails in the State will have videoconferencing facility, which would do away with the need for taking undertrials to the court for hearing of their cases. This will also ensure speedy dispensation of justice,” the Chief Minister said while inaugurating the newly constructed building of Bihar Sudharatmak Prashashanik Sansthan (Bihar Institute of Correctional Administration), the State’s first green building, at Hajipur in Vaishali district. Mr. Kumar further said that he himself had gone to jail during Emergency time “had seen the problems of non-political prisoners from close quarters”, adding that his government has introduced several changes in the jail manual and brought in reforms.The Chief Minister said Bihar was the first State which set up an open jail at Buxar. “Tents and blankets made by prisoners at this jail are rated as one of the finest… during my Vikas Yatra, I had stayed at various places in tents made by prisoners of Buxar jail,” he recalled.last_img read more

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Mood upbeat in Himachal’s Chamba district

first_imgMood in the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in Himachal Pradesh was upbeat after Chamba district was included in the list of country’s most backward districts. The isolated district was going to get a special grant and it would be developed with fresh parameters, said the party’s MP Shanta Kumar, representing Kangra Lok Sabha seat. Thanking the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said it would be the BJP government’s biggest gift to the hill State and the ignored districts such as Chamba would see the light of development.Raw material The remote district had now come under the list of underdeveloped districts in the Centre’s fresh policy announced specially made for the backward and less progressed districts. Though the hill State came under the category of reasonably developed States, t the Chamba district was lagging behind in growth, said Mr. Kumar. He added that the district required economic investment and new industries and it was fit to have some big cement plants because of availability of raw material here.Addressing a meeting held to celebrate the announcement, Union Health Minister JP Nadda said the Congress had ruled the hill State for long but had intentionally kept the district backward. He said the Centre would would fulfil its promise of bringing developmental projects with the district being included in the list of less developed districts. New recruitments would be done in the Chamba Medical College and Hospital and the cement plant to come up at Sikri Dhar would end the unemployment problem prevailing in the district, said the Minister.A new road map of development would be readied by a specially formed committee headed by the State Chief Secretary.last_img read more

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No arrest yet in U.P. loot, murder case

first_imgTwo days after a cash van guard was shot dead outside a bank a few metres away from the Governor’s House here, the police are yet to nab the suspect who fled from the high-security zone on a motorcycle.The cops have, however, shortlisted 10 suspects from Lucknow as well as other districts and analysed footage from 50 CCTVs. The police have formed eight teams and are being assisted by the U.P. Special Task Force in the sensational daylight robbery and murder case.On the afternoon of July 30, a guard of a private cash collecting agency was shot dead and the driver injured by a suspect during a robbery.The suspect fled the scene on a motorbike with more than ₹6 lakh. According to footage of the crime released by the police, the suspect did not try to conceal his identity and brandished a pistol. The crime scene is also close to the official residence of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.SSP Lucknow Kalanidhi Naithani said that the suspect appeared to be a part of some organised gang. “It is organised though he was having a so-called country-made but branded pistol. It is clear he was not a petty criminal,” Mr. Naithani told The Hindu.The police have released a sketch of the suspect and announced a reward of ₹50,000 for anybody providing clues about him.ADG Law and Order Anand Kumar said the case was a ‘big challenge’ for the police. “We have some clues. We will work out the case at the earliest,” Mr. Kumar said in a video message on Twitter.last_img read more

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21 lions have died in Gir forest since September 12, says Gujarat

first_imgAs many as 21 lions have died in Gujarat’s Gir forest, sending shockwave in the Asia’s only abode of wild cats. The government authorities attributed deaths to infighting and viral infection, prompting the state authorities to bring in experts from Veterinary Research Institute from Bareley and experts from Delhi Zoo. According to the state forest department, 11 lions died between September 12 to 19 in Gir’s Dalkhania and Jasadhar range. Out those 11 deaths, carcass of seven lions were found in the forest areas while four lions died during treatment. Moreover between September 20 to 30, 10 more lions which were rescued from Dalkhania range have died during the treatment, taking the toll to 21, making it the worst tragedy in Gir forest. ‘Injuries due to infighting, respiratory and hepatic’“Post mortem report of 11 lions died during September 12 to 19, indicated infighting, injuries due to infighting, respiratory and hepatic failure as major causes for deaths,” a statement issued by the forest department mentioned. As a result, all lions in the affected range were rescued and shifted to Jasadhar rescue centre. They were thoroughly checked up and samples collected from their were sent to National Institute of Virology, Pune and Indian Veterinary Research Institute in UP, Veterinary college and forensic science laboratory in Junagadh to ascertain their health conditions. However, subsequently 10 more lions rescued from Dalkhania range died during treatment from September 20 to 30. The authorities sent their blood and tissue samples. “As per the reports received from NIV from Pune, virus were found in four cases, whereas traces of Protozoans, which is spread by ticks found the body of lions, were found in six samples sent to Veterinary College in Junagadh,” the statement added, admitting presence of viral infection causing deaths of lions in the region. Infection to lions limited to Sasasia forest areaThe forest department, however, has stressed that the infection is found to be limited to the lions of Sasasia forest area only. Now, as precautionary measure, all lions residing in Samardi area have been rescued and brought to Jamwala Rescue centre where they have been kept in isolation and actions are being taken to insulate them from the disease. “They have been kept under observation with an objective to give them immediate treatment, if required. However, no virus or bacteria has been reported from 31 lions rescued from Samardi forest area and they all are found healthy at present,” the forest department statement added. Moreover, as an emergency measure, the government is also importing certain vaccine from USA so that precautionary measure could be taken immediately. Meanwhile, experts from Delhi Zoo, Lions Sagar Park and Indian Veterinary Research Institute are examining kidney and liver functions of all lions which have been rescued and brought to the rescue centres.last_img read more

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Badal lashes out at Punjab CM over his Israel visit

first_imgFormer Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday hit out at Punjab Chief Minister Amaridner Singh for visiting Israel, saying “it shows an insensitive attitude of the Chief Minister towards the people of the State in their hour of grief in the wake of Amritsar train tragedy.”“I find it insensitive and careless beyond belief that the Chief Minister chose to leave his State and his people to their own fate and decided to proceed on an utterly avoidable foreign trip. In his shoes, I would have cancelled the trip,” said Mr. Badal here, after submitting a memorandum to Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore.A joint delegation of the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP led by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and BJP State president Shwet Malik submitted a memorandum, demanding registration of criminal cases against all those responsible for the train accident.“The tragedy could have been easily avoided if the Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and his spouse (Dr. Navjot Kaur) had displayed even the elementary sense of responsibility by refusing to be associated with an event without appropriate government permission,” said Mr. Badal.Mr. Badal reiterated his party’s demand for the immediate sacking of Mr.Sidhu and registration of criminal cases against all those responsible for their part in the tragedy.last_img read more

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Yogi govt. to set up shelters for stray cattle

first_imgThe Uttar Pradesh Cabinet on Tuesday empowered the urban and rural civic bodies to run temporary shelters to take care of stray cattle. A policy decision to this effect was taken in a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a government spokesperson said. He said with the machines having taken over the traditional methods of agriculture, the cattle owners often abandon their livestock, leading to problems like damage to crops, traffic disruptions and road accidents. The new policy will enable departments concerned to work in coordination with each other and achieve better results, he said. The State’s Animal Husbandry Department too will help the civic bodies in their endeavour, he said, adding the government will strive to make these “gauvansh ashray asthal” self-sustaining. Earlier last week, the Chief Minister had directed officials to make immediate arrangements for proper care of stray cows.last_img read more

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BJP plea on loudspeakers declined

first_imgThe Supreme Court on Monday declined the plea of the West Bengal BJP seeking to overturn a 2013 ban enforced by the Mamata Banerjee government on the use of loudspeakers in the State between February and March due to Class X and XII Board examinations.A Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi questioned the move to challenge the order.Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the BJP, said that the ban was applied every year. He added that the apex court had recently allowed the party to move the State government afresh to seek permission to hold ‘rath yatra’ but without the loudspeakers, it would be of no value. The counsel said the freedom of speech and expression of the party was also an important issue and use of loudspeakers was necessary.When the Bench said children are writing their examinations and hinted at dismissing the plea, the counsel offered to withdraw it, which was allowed.last_img read more

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Naps Nurture Growing Brains

first_imgFew features of child-rearing occupy as much parental brain space as sleep, and with it the timeless question: Is my child getting enough? Despite the craving among many parents for more sleep in their offspring (and, by extension, themselves), the purpose that sleep serves in young kids remains something of a mystery—especially when it comes to daytime naps. Do they help children retain information, as overnight sleep has been found to do in adults? A study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides the first evidence that daytime sleep is critical for effective learning in young children.Psychologist Rebecca Spencer of the University of Massachusetts (UMass), Amherst, had more than a passing interest in the subject: Her daughters were 3 and 5 when she began chasing answers to these questions. She also wondered about growing enthusiasm for universal public preschool, where teachers don’t necessarily place much emphasis on naps. “There is a lot of science” about the best curriculum for preschool classrooms, “but nothing to protect the nap,” Spencer says. Still, data to support a nap’s usefulness were scarce: Studies in adults have found that sleep helps consolidate memories and learning, but whether the same is true of brief naps in the preschool set was unknown.So Spencer approached the first preschool she could think of that might help her find out: her daughters’. She later added other local preschools to her sample, for a total of 40 children ranging from nearly 3 to less than 6 years old. The goal of Spencer, her graduate student Laura Kurdziel, and undergraduate Kasey Duclos of Commonwealth Honors College at UMass, was to compare each child against him or herself: How well did a child learn when she napped, and what happened when she didn’t?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(*)To test this, the trio first taught the children a variant of the popular game Memory or Concentration. They were shown a series of cards with pictures on them, such as a cat or umbrella. The cards were then flipped over, hiding the pictures. Each child was offered another picture card and asked to recall where in the matrix its match lay.Then, about 2 hours later, it was naptime—or nap-free time, depending. Kurdziel and Duclos developed various “nap promotion” techniques, resting a hand on a child’s back, rubbing their feet (this was surprisingly effective), or simply sitting next to them. “If they know that someone’s got their eye on them then they can’t wiggle around as much,” Spencer says. The average nap was about an hour and 15 minutes.Soon after the children woke up, the memory game was repeated. On a different day, they learned the game in the morning, were deprived of a nap, and then tested again. All participants repeated the memory game the next morning, too.A nap made a notable difference in how the preschoolers performed, especially among those who were used to getting one. After sleeping, a child scored just as well on the memory game as she had before her nap. If she didn’t sleep, her score dropped 10% on average—so a child who correctly recalled where 75% of the cards sat would guess 65% if napless. More surprising to Spencer was that this pattern endured into the following day—scores held steady in the nappers, but had the same deficit in non-nappers. The researchers hadn’t kept track of overnight sleep, but it was apparent that even if a child caught up a bit at night, that didn’t provide a memory boost. “This is really saying, they need that sleep close to learning” for it to take root, Spencer says. The researchers also rated “child sleepiness” after naps and no naps, and concluded that the nappers were actually drowsier when the game was repeated—suggesting that their performance wasn’t improved just because they felt refreshed from a nap.The children who normally napped at least five times a week suffered the most memory loss without a nap, forgetting about 15% of what they’d learned. Those who rarely napped didn’t benefit from the bonus nap, suggesting that they’d matured out of needing one and could get by with a bit less sleep and a longer awake stretch. Kids likely abandon naps at different ages because “their brains are maturing at different rates,” says Sara Mednick, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside, who wasn’t involved in the study. That the learning difference endured into the next day, Mednick says, confirms “that [for] those kids who are still napping, their brains are not ready to be awake for 12 hours.”To probe the nature of nap-sleep, Spencer and her students had 14 of the children, including one of Spencer’s daughters, take a nap in their sleep laboratory while recording brain wave patterns. They found what are called “sleep spindles,” short bursts of brain activity that have been associated with memory processing. “We’re at the infancy in really understanding how memories are consolidated, encoded” during sleep, says Mednick, who published a study earlier this year showing that more sleep spindles, thanks to a sleeping pill in adults, correlated with improved memory after sleep. She and Spencer both believe that the new work underscores how critical naps might be to early childhood learning—and that preschools need to make it easy for children to take them. In fact, some of the youngsters in the study were so miserable when forced to stay awake that the researchers took pity on them, let them conk out, and excluded them from the analysis. “If they need the nap,” Spencer says, “they should get the nap.”last_img read more

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ScienceShot: Alien World Is More Earth-Like Than Any Found

first_imgAstronomers have discovered an alien world that’s more Earth-like in its size and composition than any ever found. It’s so close to its star, however, and consequently so infernally hot, that it’s more of a hellish cousin to Earth than a twin. The object (shown above, in an artist’s impression), christened Kepler-78b, is one of hundreds of worlds beyond our solar system detected by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, which has been monitoring the brightness of some 150,000 stars in the Milky Way in search of planets orbiting them. The majority of these so-called exoplanets are gas giants—big balls of gas and dust that are several times larger in radius than Earth. But Kepler-78b is only 80% more massive than Earth and 20% larger in radius, two groups of researchers report online today in Nature. That makes it about as dense as Earth and suggests that it is composed of rock and iron. But the object’s distance from its star (which is somewhat smaller than our sun) is only about twice the star’s radius, which means that the star would loom on the horizon like a gigantic disk, filling up a large part of the sky. Not a bad view, if you didn’t mind being burned to a crisp.See more ScienceShots.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

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NIH Chief of Minority Health Research Retiring After 24 Years

first_imgJohn Ruffin, who has headed minority health efforts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for 24 years, is stepping down as director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). Ruffin will retire from federal service at the end of this month, he wrote yesterday in a message on NIMHD’s website.Ruffin is a developmental biologist who joined NIH in 1990 to head a new Office of Minority Programs. Ten years later, when Congress created a National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities to study problems such as higher rates of certain cancers in African-Americans, Ruffin became director. In 2010, Congress elevated the center to an institute. In addition to funding health disparities research and minority training programs, NIMHD also coordinates minority health research across NIH. With a $268 million budget, it is among the smaller of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers.“It has been an incredible journey,” Ruffin wrote in his message to the NIMHD community. “The time has now come for new vision, leadership, passion and commitment to sustain what you have created through the NIMHD, and to chart the course for the next chapter towards the elimination of health disparities.”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(*)In a statement, NIH Director Francis Collins commended Ruffin for his “extraordinary service” and called him “a tireless champion” who “has done everything in his power to bring attention to and find solutions for the unequal burden of illness affecting minority, rural, and poor populations in this country.” He highlighted Ruffin’s efforts to train more than 3000 health professionals and organize research summits on health disparities.Faye Gary, a professor of nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and former chair of NIMHD’s advisory council, praised Ruffin for promoting the idea that health disparities involve social and environmental factors in addition to genetics and biology. She also commended his political skills. “He is really the torchbearer for bringing health disparities and health equity to the national agenda,” Gary says.last_img read more

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Rebounding whale populations are good for ocean ecosystems

first_imgFar from depleting the resources of ocean ecosystems, growing numbers of large whales may be critical to keeping these environments healthy. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which finds that rebounding populations of baleen and sperm whales may be boosting marine food webs around the world. The work is the latest volley in a long-running debate about the ecological role of whales and how their return to the oceans may affect global fisheries that face myriad threats.Scientists have noted the gradual global recovery of various species of large whales. But many disagree about the impact this is having on ocean ecosystems. Some have cast whales as potential competitors to fishing fleets, because they vacuum up tons of invertebrates and small fish that might otherwise be available to commercially valuable species. Under that line of reasoning, some have argued in favor of the continuation of commercial whaling. In the 1970s and 1980s, for example, researchers argued that reducing certain whale populations would aid stocks of krill, a ubiquitous crustacean in the Southern Ocean that is a key food source for baleen whales and other marine species. But the new study notes that krill populations remained constant or even declined after great whales experienced big declines. How so? The authors reason that the whales helped provide nutrients critical to krill and other species low on the food web. For instance, the mammals release massive “fecal plumes” and urine streams that fertilize surface waters with nitrogen and iron, the authors note, and help enhance productivity by mixing up the top layers of the ocean when diving.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(*)Whales also move nutrients horizontally around the ocean. Humpback whales, for example, are a species of baleen whale known for grand migrations from the upper latitudes—like Pacific waters near Alaska—to the subtropics where nutrients are more scarce, near Hawaii and Mexico. Using historic and current population data, the study’s authors calculate that rebounded populations of whales could increase the productivity of phytoplankton in some subtropical waters by as much as 15% above the current level.Another underappreciated contribution to marine ecosystems, the authors report online today in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, is the bounty of organic material the animals provide to deep-sea ecosystems when they die. A so-called whale fall of a 40-ton gray whale provides a boost of carbon to the seafloor community equivalent to more than 2000 years of normal detritus and nutrient cycling.“The reduction of whale carcasses during the age of commercial whaling may have caused some of the earliest human-caused extinctions in the ocean,” writes the study’s first author, conservation biologist Joe Roman of the University of Vermont in Burlington, in an e-mail. “More than 60 species have been discovered that are found only on whale falls in recent decades. By removing this habitat through hunting, we may well have lost many species before we even knew they existed.”Such new understandings, Roman and his colleagues write, “warrants a shift in view from whales being positively valued as exploitable goods … to one that recognizes that these animals play key roles in healthy marine ecosystems.”The new study is a useful addition to the debate on the role of whales in global ecosystems, writes marine ecologist Lisa Ballance of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in San Diego, California, in an e-mail. “As [whales] recover, we can indeed expect their influence on marine ecosystems to change the structure and function of those systems relative to the past 100 years.”last_img read more

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To foster complex societies, tell people a god is watching

first_imgPeople are nicer to each other when they think someone is watching, many psychology studies have shown—especially if they believe that someone has the power to punish them for transgressions even after they’re dead. That’s why some scientists think that belief in the high gods of moralizing religions, such as Islam and Christianity, helped people cooperate with each other and encouraged societies to grow. An innovative study of 96 societies in the Pacific now suggests that a culture might not need to believe in omniscient, moral gods in order to reap the benefits of religion in the form of political complexity. All they need is the threat of supernatural punishment, even if the deities in question don’t care about morality and act on personal whims, the new work concludes.People raised in Western cultures find the idea of moralizing high gods—so-called big gods such as the Abrahamic god of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—“really intuitive, and think that they are a common feature of religion, whereas really they’re not,” says Joseph Watts, a doctoral student in cultural evolution at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Gods in small-scale societies are “a lot more like humans,” he says. Think of the ancient Greek gods, with their romantic entanglements, material concerns, and arbitrary biases, for example.According to one leading theory of the evolution of religion, small-scale societies don’t have big gods because there’s no community benefit to having deities concerned with moral behavior. In those cultures, there’s no anonymity. Your neighbors, friends, and family are always watching and judging, and the danger of a damaged reputation is enough to keep you on the straight and narrow. As societies get larger, there are more opportunities to break bad—steal from complete strangers, for example—and fewer and fewer direct social consequences for doing so. But if everyone took advantage of those newfound opportunities to break the rules, big societies would collapse before they even got started.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(*)That’s where the big gods come in. Gods that are omniscient, concerned with people’s moral behavior, and capable of punishing transgressions in life or after death put believers on their best behavior and make it easier for large groups of strangers to live and work cooperatively. Thus, the thinking goes, a shared belief in moralizing high gods can help a society grow larger and more complex by encouraging cooperation and other prosocial behavior.Of course, it’s difficult to prove for sure how religions evolved without going back in time and seeing the process in action. But the big gods idea does make at least one testable prediction: that moralizing religions should appear before complex societies. To test which came first, a team of scientists led by Watts analyzed data about religion and political complexity from Austronesia, a group of related cultures indigenous to islands throughout Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. They collected the earliest known ethnographic data about 96 cultures, ranging from islands in the Philippines and Indonesia to Easter Island. They designated each culture as either low complexity (no political leadership or simple chiefdoms) or high complexity (anything from complex chiefdoms to full-blown states), and then examined their religious beliefs. Moralizing high gods were defined as beings that created the cosmos, were active in human affairs, and were invested in morality. Supernatural punishment was a bit more flexible: any being or process that monitored and punished behavior deemed selfish in the community. The researchers also borrowed statistical techniques from genetic evolution to reconstruct family trees of Austronesian cultures, which gave them an idea of when the various religious and political traits likely arose in different societies.Full-blown moralizing high gods were rare in Austronesia; out of the 96 cultures studied, Watts’s team identified only six with big gods, and the family trees suggested that these beliefs were more likely to arise after societies became politically complex—contradicting the idea that moralizing high gods are necessary for that kind of social development, Watts says. Belief in some kind of supernatural punishment—perhaps by ancestor spirits or nature deities—was more widespread. Thirty-seven cultures believed that deities could punish selfish behavior, such as forgoing a sacrifice or disobeying a taboo, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Even though these punishing deities’ concerns were not necessarily moral, the statistics suggested that belief in them was more likely to predate political complexity in a culture, suggesting that it is threat of supernatural punishment—not necessarily faith in moralizing gods—that helps societies grow larger.“I think there has been too much emphasis in the field of evolutionary religious studies on these kind of moralizing high gods,” Watts says. In order to understand how religion functioned in the past, “we really need to look at different kinds of supernatural agents and different kinds of religious features.”When it comes to that idea, Watts has a somewhat surprising supporter: Ara Norenzayan, a psychologist who studies the evolution of religion at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, in Canada. He’s the one who proposed the link between moralizing religions and political complexity in his 2013 book Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict, and since then his name has become practically synonymous with the theory. But, Norenzayan notes, “there’s a lot more to religion than moralizing gods.” All-powerful supernatural creators like the Abrahamic god are “at the extreme end of the spectrum” when it comes to beliefs that promote large-scale cooperation and social complexity. Certain rituals and beliefs like karma can also encourage prosocial behavior “without necessarily invoking big gods.”Especially in small societies like the ones in Austronesia, “what you’d expect is actually a gradual ramping up in moral concern and supernatural surveillance among the smaller gods, which is what their data seem to suggest,” agrees Edward Slingerland, a historian at UBC who works with Norenzayan on the evolution of religion. The article “is a huge improvement” over past work on the evolution of religion “in terms of how they’re dealing scientifically with the cultural material,” Slingerland says. “It seems like they’ve done a really sophisticated and thorough job in trying to render this qualitative data into something quantitative.”last_img read more

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