The lowdown on farm loan waivers

first_imgWhat is it?Farm loan waivers are not new to the Indian economy. In 2008-09, the UPA-I government announced a farm loan waiver of ₹60,000 crore (that was the initial estimate, which went up to over ₹70,000 crore later). It hit the exchequer, and not the banks, but it distorted the credit culture since it discouraged farmers from paying up their dues. In addition, when one State offered a waiver, it raised expectations in other States too. Since the BJP took office in May 2014, starting with Andhra Pradesh, several States have joined the farm loan waiver bandwagon, with Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra being the most recent ones, despite Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s stand that the States would have to foot the bill.Mr. Jaitley had shown resolve to maintain fiscal discipline during his budget speech earlier this year, which was lauded by industry and investors. Hence, he told the States that the Centre would not pay for the waiver. On the other hand, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) warned about the deteriorating fiscal position of the States. “We need to create consensus so that such loan waiver promises are eschewed. Otherwise, sub-sovereign fiscal challenges in this context could eventually affect the national balance sheet,” RBI Governor Urjit Patel said. He pointed out that if on account of loan waivers, the overall government borrowing went up, yields on government bonds would also be impacted. In a cascading effect, this would crowd out private borrowers as higher government borrowing could lead to an increase in the cost of borrowing for others.How did it come about?Two successive years of below normal rainfall, in FY14 and FY15, are being seen as the main reason for the loan waiver demand. But the recent farmers’ unrest in Madhya Pradesh took place despite a good monsoon that resulted in a bumper crop. However, the prices of farm produce came under pressure because of demonetisation as there were ‘fire sales’ of vegetables — a fact which was acknowledged by the RBI. The sharp decline in food prices in the consumer price index-based inflation was evident. Retail inflation dropped to 2.18% in May as the decline in the prices of food and beverages was sharper in May than April (-0.22% in May against 1.21% in April).Why does it matter?The loan waiver will have a significant impact on the States’ finances. According to a report by the State Bank of India, the impact on Punjab will be the maximum, with the State’s fiscal deficit jumping by an additional 4.8% of the GSDP. The report says that the States will make provisions for farm loan waiver in their budgets in multiple years. In its recent report on the States’ finances, the RBI also pointed to the worsening position of their financial health. It noted that the consolidated finance of the States had deteriorated in recent years, with the gross fiscal deficit to GDP ratio averaging 2.5% in the last five years (from 2011-12 to 2015-16), compared with 2.1% during the previous five-year period.The RBI observed that the State governments faced severe resource constraints as their non-debt receipts were often insufficient for fulfilling their development obligations. There is one positive aspect of the current loan waiver schemes, as highlighted by some economists: the schemes announced in several States have emphasised that loans should be waived only up to a specified threshold limit (mostly ₹1 lakh), and any amount over that will have to be paid.What next?More such schemes will possibly follow as the States going to the polls have started upping the ante for a farm loan waiver. There are protests in several parts of Gujarat demanding a waiver. The State will go to the polls later this year.Bankers have been concerned about this. As SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya put it: “In case of a farm loan waiver, there is always a fall in credit discipline because the people who get the waiver have expectations of future waivers. Future loans given often remain unpaid.”last_img read more

Army back in Darjeeling after 2 deaths

first_imgViolence erupted again in the Darjeeling hills on Saturday after two persons were killed, allegedly in firing by police and security forces. The Army was redeployed to control the situation, which turned volatile as pro-Gorkhaland supporters clashed with the police in Darjeeling town and adjoining areas. Tension gripped the hills after the death of Tashi Bhutia, a Gorkha National Liberation Front supporter, at Sonada. GNLF spokespers- on Neeraj Zimba said Bhutia was shot dead by security forces on Friday night. The police, however, said they did not have any report of firing. “We don’t have any report of police firing as of now. We are looking into the incident. We can give you details later,” a police officer said. Clashes erupted as the procession carrying Bhutia’s body turned violent and protesters attacked a police outpost at Sonada. A pitched battle ensued between the protesters and police. The protesters also set ablaze the Sonada station of the heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The violence soon spread to Darjeeling town with clashes at Chowk Bazar. Police resorted to tear gas shelling to disperse the mob, which allegedly tried to attack the office of Deputy Superintendent of Police. A second youth later succumbed to bullet injuries sustained during the violence. He is yet to be identified but is thought to be a resident of Singhamari. Clashes were also reported from Kalimpong where protesters set on fire property of the State Forest Department.Two columns of the Army, one at Sonada and the other in Darjeeling town, were deployed to control the situation. “One accident has happened at Sonada. This is because they attacked the police.. We will have to look into who is responsible,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said at the State Secretariat. Urging pro-Gorkhaland supporters to shun violence, Ms. Banerjee said she was ready to hold meetings with political parties in the hills in the next 10-15 days. “I am asking the administration and the people to exercise restraint,” she said.She asked protesters to allow the government to send food and other supplies to the hills.last_img read more

Yashwant to visit Gujarat on Congress invitation

first_imgBJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who had recently caused a flutter by criticising the Centre for its handling of the economy, will be on a three-day tour of poll-bound Gujarat starting November 14, on an invitation from an NGO supported by the Congress party.The former Union Finance Minister would interact with the business community and deliver lectures in Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Surat, a Congress leader said on Thursday.The events are slated to be organised by the Loksahi Bachao Andolan (Save Democracy Campaign), an NGO supported by the Congress.Economic featsMr. Sinha, whose son Jayant Sinha is a Minister in the Narendra Modi government, is likely to speak about demonetisation and the GST, the two steps being showcased as major economic achievements by the current dispensation.Former Finance Minister and Congress leader P. Chidambaram had recently interacted with the traders of Rajkot on the GST and on the subject of ‘State of Economy’, though not under the banner of any political party.In a recent newspaper article, Mr. Sinha criticised the Centre and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in particular for the handling of the economy, which he said was on a “downward spiral and is poised for a hard landing”.Mr. Sinha had also written that many people in the BJP were aware of this reality, but not speaking up out of fear.last_img read more

One killed in West Bengal during panchayat poll nomination filing

first_imgSporadic violence was reported from several districts of West Bengal on Monday during filing of nominations for the Panchayat elections.One person was shot dead in Suri block of Birbhum district. Police is yet to confirm the person’s political affiliation.Apart from incidents of alleged assault on Opposition party workers by Trinamool Congress (TMC) cadres in the districts of Murshidabad and Paschim Medinipur, two photojournalists and a reporter were assaulted in Murshidabad. One photojournalist was assaulted in Birhum.Meanwhile, Bengal’s Congress leadership said that they would approach the Calcutta High Court regarding the outbreak of violence during filing of nominations.The West Bengal State Election Commission on Saturday night announced that filing of nominations will take place from 11 am to 3 pm on Monday.last_img read more

Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb gets it wrong again

first_imgThe Opposition parties took a dig at Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb after he reportedly said that poet Rabindranath Tagore returned his Nobel Prize in protest against the atrocities committed by the British.Tagore had in fact renounced the knighthood conferred by the British and not the Nobel Prize for Literature, which was awarded in 1913.A video shows the Chief Minister making the remark at a function organised to mark the birth anniversary of Tagore in Udaipur.His earlier statements — that internet and satellites existed in the ‘Mahabharata era’ and that Diana Hayden was not worthy of the Miss World beauty pageant title — had triggered a row.On Friday, the Congress and the CPI(M) slammed Mr. Deb for his repeated blunders. “Who does not know that Tagore renounced knighthood to show his strong protest against the massacre the British committed at the Jallianwala Bagh in Punjab in 1919,” Congress leader Rahul Saha told The Hindu.(With PTI inputs)last_img read more

Three get death for killing 4-year-old boy

first_imgA Himachal Pradesh court on Wednesday sentenced three persons to death for murdering a four-year-old boy whose skeletal remains were found in a municipal water tank two years later.Shimla Sessions Judge Virender Singh convicted Chander Sharma, Tajender Singh and Vikrant Bakshi on August 6 for the child’s murder, but deferred the hearing on the quantum of sentence.Yug’s father Vinod Kumar Gupta, mother Pinki Gupta and grandmother Chandralekha Gupta were present in the packed court as the sentence was pronounced.“My son cannot come back but I am satisfied with the verdict of death penalty for the guilty,” Mr. Gupta said.Yug was abducted from the busy Ram Bazar area in Shimla on June 14, 2014, and killed after seven days, even before a ransom call was made.His remains were recovered from a Shimla Municipal Corporation water tank in Kelston area on August 21, 2016, after the probe was handed over to the CID.‘Tortured, starved’ The prosecution said Yug was tortured, starved and forcibly served liquor before being thrown alive into the water tank. A rock was tied to him to drown him in the tank, it said.The boy’s killing had sent shock waves across the city and residents took out processions and candlelight marches to express their rage.Mr. Gupta had filed a missing person’s complaint at Sadar police station the day his son was abducted. A criminal case was registered on June 16, while a letter seeking a ransom of ₹3.6 crore was received on June 27.Ransom lettersThree more ransom letters were received subsequently.On January 29, 2016, some municipal corporation employees found his skeleton while cleaning the tank after a jaundice outbreak in the city.Public prosecutor Randip Singh Parmar said that statements of 105 witnesses were recorded in the case. The death sentence would have to be confirmed by the high court. The convicts may file appeal against the sentence at the high court within 30 days, he added.last_img read more

Five naxals held in Chhattisgarh

first_imgFive naxals were arrested from two places in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Bijapur district, the police said on Tuesday.While three cadres were picked up from Potenar village under Jangla police station limits, two others were held from the forest of Basaguda police station area on Monday, a local police official told PTI. Separate teams of District Force and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were involved in these operations.Those arrested from Jangla area are identified as Lekam Balram (38), Alma Rama (32) and Aalam Pandu (51) who all are lower-rung cadres, he said, adding that Balram and Rama were carrying reward of ₹10,000 and ₹5,000, respectively, on their heads.Two cadres who were arrested from the forest of Chipurbhati and Putkel villages are identified as Veko Podia (27) and Punem Hunga (27), both active members of Dandakaranya Adivasi Kisan Majdoor Sangthan (DAKMS), a frontal wing of Maoists, he said.They all were allegedly involved in incidents of torching vehicles, putting up Maoist pamphlets and posters and damaging roads, the official said.last_img read more

Haryana’s Nuh bears witness to failure of first ‘mobile court’

first_imgOn the drive south from Delhi towards Alwar, a left turn at Badkali Chowk in Haryana’s Nuh brings one to the small town of Pingawan. About 7 km down the road, one encounters a black, rusted signboard that reads ‘Mobile Court, Pingawan, Mewat’ on the boundary wall of a modest building.But the place is unusually quiet for a court. A solitary watchman, who appears to be in his 60s, is seated on a half-broken chair while two children play close by. “It is a Wednesday. The court sits only on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays,” the watchman says, explaining the lack of activity.The town’s residents promptly direct visitors to the building when asked about the “mobile court”, oblivious to the fact that the court, inaugurated more than a decade ago as the country’s first mobile court, officially lost its ‘mobile court’ designation more than five months ago.Set up in a bus, the court was inaugurated in August 2007 by the then Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan with the aim of making the judicial system accessible to remote and backward areas, and was slated to sit for one day each week at the four towns of Punhana, Shikrawa, Indana and Lohinga Kalan.Presided over by an Additional Civil Judge-cum-Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate, it was staffed like a regular court and meant to conduct both civil and criminal cases through full-fledged trials.But just a little over a year after its inauguration, the court gave up on mobility as both the lawyers and the local judicial officers found themselves facing difficulties in operating it in a mobile form. While it was a good initiative to provide “Sasta aur Sulabh Nyay” (affordable and accessible justice) to the people of Punhana, the lack of basic infrastructure was the reason for its failure, said Ferozepur Jhirka Bar Association president Mumtaz Hussain. ‘Lacked key facilities’“Since the mobile court was held in the open at four different locations in the interior areas, it became difficult to provide facilities such as stamp vendors, typewriters, photocopiers and more importantly the treasury to collect court fees,” said Mr. Hussain. “Despite the lawyers cooperating to their full to make the experiment a success, the court had to be fixed in a building in Punhana,” he added.The court was subsequently shifted to its present building in Pingawan after a year since the Punhana building had to be vacated for the Election Commission during the 2009 election. After the District and Sessions Judge, Nuh, sought the discontinuation of the “mobile court” in 2013, the Punjab and Haryana High Court formally consented to it on July 17, 2018.However, with the court now presided over by a junior judge, litigants have to travel to the Ferozepur Jhirka court to file civil suits, defeating the purpose of door-step delivery of justice. “It was an initiative taken in haste without considering the ground realities,” said another lawyer, who did not wish to be identified. As for the ‘mobile court’ bus, it now lies parked in the Ferozepur Jhirka court campus — a testimony to the failed experiment.last_img read more

Kashmir’s first Ashok Chakra awardee hails from hotbed of militancy

first_imgFresh snowfall only added to the prevailing deafening and eerie silence at Kulgam’s Batagund village, home to 38-year-old Nazir Ahmad Wani, the Kashmir valley’s first ever awardee of the Ashok Chakra — India’s highest peacetime military decoration. Ironically, the district also became a hotbed of militancy last year.Also Read Kashmir’s first Ashok Chakra for Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani  Lance Naik Wani’s posthumous military decoration is least talked about in militancy-affected Kulgam, which saw 26 civilian deaths either near encounter sites or in street protests. At least 15 local militants were killed in more than 50 major operations conducted in the district.At the spare three-storey house of the Wanis, younger brother Mushtaq Ahmad is reticent and all guests are not welcome. “A few days ago, locals knocked on our door and broke the news about the award. The fact of the day is we lost him,” said the younger Wani, referring to his brother.Curious locals are keeping a tab on all guests visiting the house.“Kulgam has suffered the most in 2018,” said Majid Ganai, a local resident. “It was a year of funerals. We saw militants, informers, soldiers and policemen, all locals, returning home draped in coffins. Funerals were also only occasions of celebrations. Wani’s feat could hardly be discussed in these times,” he added.The Wanis’ neighbours said Wani had been shooed away by militant commander Mohammad Ayoub from nearby Bhan village, who had rejected his offer to join militancy. In 1992, Wani joined the Ikhwan, a local name for an irregular counter-insurgency force drawn from locals. Married to his school-time sweetheart Mahajabeen in 2002, Wani’s two children, Athar, a Class 10 student, and Shahid, a Class 8 student, would shuttle between Jammu and the Valley “to ensure their safety”. Wani would always drop by uninformed at home, as the militants stepped up attacks on local soldiers, killing at least three members of the armed forces in their houses.Regularised in the Army in 2004, his counter-insurgent colleague Mukhtar Ahmad Malik alias Mukhtar Gola’s killing saw Wani pledging to go after the killers. In September, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants shot Malik dead inside his house in Shurat village. The killing was filmed on a mobile phone by the militants, who fired from inside the pheran, a long woolen robe.One-and-half months later, Wani volunteered to take on the LeT’s Umar Ganai and his five associates, the main suspect behind Malik’s killing, on November 25 in Hirapur village in Shopian. Ganai and Wani shot each other dead in the encounter, said a police officer, declining to be identified.The citation for the award, issued by the Rashtrapati Bhawan, reads: “Lance Naik Wani epitomised qualities of a fine soldier. He always volunteered for challenging missions, displaying great courage under adverse circumstances, exposing himself to grave danger in the line of duty.”Meanwhile, Governor Satya Pal Malik said Wani would always be an inspiration for the generations to come and motivate them to work selflessly for the safety and security of the country.last_img read more

Army flag march in Itanagar after mob violence, film festival venue destroyed

first_imgFriday night’s mob violence in Itanagar, triggered by the Arunachal Pradesh government’s move to grant permanent resident certificates to six non-tribal communities, left one person dead in police firing and another grievously injured. The government clamped prohibitory orders and suspended Internet service. The Army staged a flag-march on Saturday. These measures came after protesters went on the rampage, destroying private and government property.The violence coincided with the start of the first Itanagar International Film Festival (IIFF) that was envisaged the Frontier State as a film destination. A mob ran through the festival venue – Indira Gandhi Park in the heart of the city – destroyed five inflatable cinema halls, cars and almost everything else standing.This forced the organisers, a Goa-based firm, to call the festival off.The mobs continued to vandalise property and burn vehicles till about 4:30 am on Saturday, much after Chief Minister Pema Khandu tried to douse the flames by announcing that his government would not discuss the PRC issue during the current Assembly session “keeping in view the present situation”.Officials in Itanagar said a mob – women and elderly among them – surrounded the Assembly building and threatened to burn it down. They damaged the vehicle of former Chief Minister Nabam Tuki at the gates as most of the other MLAs stayed the night in the Assembly for fear of being assaulted.The police resorted to firing when another group tried to storm the Secretariat building in Itanagar. A man from Kimin in Papum Pare district died in the firing while another person, injured, was being treated at the Tomo Riba Institute of Health and Medical Sciences at Naharlagun nearby.Security was particularly strengthened around the house of Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein as the protestors threatened to bury the body of the man killed in police firing at his residence. “We had to call in the Army for a flag-march to instill a sense of security among the people and clamp Section 144,” a senior police officer said.Mr Mein, along with Mr Khandu, had sought the granting of PRC to six of the Frontier State’s non-tribal communities – Adivasi, Deori, Gorkha, Moran, Mishing, and Sonowal Kachari – some of whom are Scheduled Tribes in Assam.These six communities are dominant in Changlang and Namsai districts of Arunachal Pradesh. Mr Mein represents the Lekang Assembly constituency in Namsai district.Internet shut, call for calmIn an order on Friday night, the State’s Home Commissioner G.S. Meena said telecom service providers have been asked to suspend internet services for the next 24 hours. “This is in view of the law and order situation to avoid rumour-mongering through the internet,” he said.The Chief Minister on Saturday appealed for calm, accusing “vested interests” of misleading the people over the PRC issue. “The government had never intended to bring a Bill on the PRC issue, which was blown out of proportion leading to misunderstanding among the people,” he said.A joint high power committee (JHPC), headed by Environment and Forest Minister Nabam Rebia, to look into the PRC issue had prepared a report that was to have been discussed in the Assembly, he said.“JHPCs formed earlier, one of which involved Takam Sanjoy, had also recommended PRC for the communities concerned,” he said, adding that his government would never take a step that would affect the indigenous communities.A former MP, Mr Sanjoy is the president of Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee.Naga rock band hitOne of the worst affected by the mob violence was Nagaland-based singer, composer, and songwriter Alobo Naga, the frontman of popular rock band Alobo Naga and The Band (ANTB). He had reached Itanagar on the fateful day to perform at the film festival.Many of Alobo Naga’s shows across the globe have been in conflict zones. He had a first-hand experience of violence in Itanagar, the place he least expected to be “caught in the crossfire”.Winner of the Best Indian Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2012, Mr Naga said he had never imagined in his worst nightmare that he would become the victim of mob violence.“Trouble had started brewing when I arrived here. I thought the film festival venue would be a safer place to park my music van than the hotel. This (Saturday) morning, I found my van burn along with my guitar, keyboard and other music instruments,” he told The Hindu from Itanagar.The van, he said, was worth Rs 25 lakh and the music instruments priceless.Other participants at IIFF too were counting losses like the Nagaland rock band. A Guwahati-based supplier of acoustics and tent material said the mob destroyed “almost everything” running into a few million rupees.Apart from damaging at least 20 vehicles at the Dorjee Khandu Convention Centre – in Itanagar’s VIP area – where the main screen of the film festival was installed, the mob destroyed five inflatable screens at the Indira Gandhi Park besides everything else standing there.“We had installed five inflatable halls with a screen, each with a capacity for 130-150 people. They are all damaged,” an organiser said, declining to be quoted.“Many artistes invited for the film festival were caught at the venue the whole night. The protestors did not harm anyone but cars and equipment of many artistes,” film-maker Utpal Borpujari said after participants were escorted out of Itanagar.The organisers had curated 51 films, seven from film-makers of the north-eastern sates, for the festival. The films included Bulbul Can Sing by national award-winning director Rima Das of Assam.last_img read more

Open-Access Group Sanctions Three Publishers After Science ‘Sting’

first_imgA leading trade association for the publishers of free, open-access (OA) scientific journals has expelled two of its members, and put a third on probation, as a result of a controversial investigative journalism project published earlier this year by Science. The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) announced today on its blog that it is terminating the memberships of publishers Hikari Ltd. and Dove Medical Press and placing the membership of SAGE Publications “under review” for 6 months.Last month, reporter John Bohannon sparked extensive debate with a story, part of a larger special issue on how scientists communicate with each other, which documented lax standards for accepting manuscripts at a number of OA journals. He found that dozens of free journals accepted a fake and obviously flawed study that he had created. The “sting” prompted fierce debate, with some critics arguing that Bohannon’s methods were flawed and designed to undermine the OA movement, while others said the story highlighted an important problem in the rapidly growing OA industry.When the story appeared, OASPA, which includes more than 50 major scientific publishers and related organizations among its members, issued a statement noting that Bohannon’s story “provides some useful data about the scale of, and the problems associated with … low-quality publishers,” and promising to “issue a fuller response … once we have had a chance to review the data in more detail.”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 today’s statement, OASPA says its review revealed problems serious enough to merit action at three journals that accepted the fake paper: Clinical and Experimental Medical Sciences, published by Hikari Ltd. of Ruse, Bulgaria; Drug Design, Development and Therapy, published by Dove Medical Press, which has offices in the United States and the United Kingdom; and the Journal of International Medical Research, published by SAGE Publications of Thousand Oaks, California.“[T]here was a lack of sufficient rigour in editorial processes at all three of the journals in question, and that for Hikari and Dove the issues may extend wider than the single affected journal,” the group writes in its statement. Hikari and Dove can reapply for membership in 12 months, the group says, while it will consider readmitting SAGE for full membership in 6 months “if there is evidence that its processes have been sufficiently strengthened.”The groups says it has also moved to “strengthen its own membership procedures,” in part by adding “more detailed questions about the editorial process” to its membership application.“In conclusion, although we have unfortunately now terminated memberships as a result of the Science news article, positive outcomes have also arisen from its publication,” the group writes.A Hikari employee reached by ScienceInsider declined comment on the announcement. Dove did not respond to requests for comment.In a statement, SAGE wrote: “We welcome OASPA’s investigation into the quality of research published by its members and will fully cooperate with the 6-month review. We have already taken steps to ensure that the peer review process of the Journal of International Medical Research is much more robust and are confident that OASPA will find our processes more than sufficiently strengthened when they undertake the review. Any paper with similar flaws would not get through either stage of the peer review process of JIMR today.”“SAGE is committed to ensuring that the peer review and acceptance process for all of our journals, whether traditional subscription-based or open access, is robust and to working with OASPA to ensure this. We are pleased that OASPA has recognized our efforts and that they will allow us to formally remain a member of the organization while our official status is put under review.”You can see SAGE’s full statement here.*Update, 11 November, 5:25 p.m.: SAGE’s statement has been added to the article.last_img read more

Embattled NOAA Lab in North Carolina Would Get New Life in U.S. Spending Bill

first_imgA key U.S. House of Representatives committee is moving to block the Obama administration’s controversial proposal to close a federal marine research laboratory in North Carolina.The Committee on Appropriations today released a draft spending bill for the 2015 fiscal year that begins 1 October.  It includes funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and, in an accompanying report, the panel bars NOAA from moving ahead with plans to consolidate several laboratories and close a century-old lab on an island near the town of Beaufort.The panel also asks NOAA to send lawmakers a report within 1 year “on all National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) facilities and labs, to include current maintenance costs as well as a detailed analysis of how the research conducted by NCCOS laboratories would be affected by any proposed NCCOS lab consolidation.”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 move comes after North Carolina lawmakers had protested the proposed closure and called on the spending panel to keep the lab open. The House panel is expected to approve the bill in a vote Thursday and send it to the full House. The Senate has not yet released its version of the spending bill, and no final decision on the legislation is expected until later this year, after the November elections.Still, the House move comes as a relief to the Beaufort lab’s supporters in Congress. “I’m very pleased we were able to work together to secure this funding because the lab has a significant economic impact, and it is critical to maintaining the competitiveness of our state’s research enterprise,” said Representative David Price (D-NC) in a statement.A NOAA spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.last_img read more

A New Way to Burn Calories

first_imgWhat if you could trick your body into thinking you were racing on a treadmill—and burning off calories at a rapid clip—while simply walking down the street? Changing our rate of energy expenditure is still far into the future, but work in mice explores how this might happen. Two teams of scientists suggest that activating immune cells in fat can convert the tissue from a type of fat that stores energy to one that burns it, opening up potential new therapies for obesity and diabetes.There are two types of fat in humans: white adipose tissue, which makes up nearly all the fat in adults, and brown adipose tissue, which is found in babies but disappears as they age. Brown fat protects against the cold (it’s also common in animals that hibernate), and researchers have found that mice exposed to cold show a temporary “browning” of some of their white fat. The same effect occurred in preliminary studies of people, where the browning—which creates a tissue known as beige fat—helps generate heat and burn calories. But cold is “the only stimulus we know that can increase beige fat mass or brown fat mass,” says Ajay Chawla, a physiologist at the University of California (UC), San Francisco. He wanted to better understand how cold caused this change in the tissue and whether there was a way to mimic cold and induce browning some other way.A few years ago, Chawla’s group had reported that cold exposure activated macrophages, a type of immune cell, in white adipose tissue. To further untangle what was going on, Chawla, his postdoc Yifu Qiu, and their colleagues used mice that lacked interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-13, proteins that help activate macrophages. When they exposed these mice to the cold, the animals developed far fewer beige fat cells than did normal animals, suggesting that macrophages were key to browning of white fat.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(*)But could giving IL-4 to healthy mice, housed in temperate conditions, create more beige fat? That was the big question, and Chawla’s group found that the answer was yes. Animals living at a comfortable 30°C received IL-4. Levels of a protein that helps the body produce heat, and that’s expressed in beige fat, soared 15-fold, and the animals’ energy expenditure increased by 15% to 20%—just as if they were sitting in a chilly cage.Across the country, cell biologist and biochemist Bruce Spiegelman and his former postdoctoral fellow Rajesh Rao, both at Harvard Medical School’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, were independently probing the browning of mouse fat. Spiegelman’s group had previously found that when a protein called PGC-1 was produced in muscles, it prompted adipose tissue to brown. He wanted to find the missing link, whatever PGC-1 was triggering, which in turn more directly affected fat. Spiegelman’s team analyzed genes and proteins that were switched on in fat when PGC-1 was expressed in muscle, and they saw that one gene stood out.The gene produced a hormone called meteorin-like, or Metrnl, that’s induced in muscle after exercise and also with cold exposure. The scientists found that it also browns white fat in mice. Mice given gene therapy that boosted production of Metrnl had better glucose tolerance, suggesting an antidiabetic effect, and lost a small amount of weight. Consistent with the San Francisco team’s work, Metrnl increased the numbers of certain types of macrophages and the amount of IL-4 in the fat tissue. Giving mice an antibody that neutralizes Metrnl left them with a defective response to the cold; they failed to activate the macrophage genes needed to brown their fat. “It’s thrilling the way it worked out,” Spiegelman says of both his and Chawla’s work, which appear today in Cell.“This mechanism for basically inducing these brown or beige fat cells … wasn’t previously recognized,” says Patrick Seale, a molecular metabolism expert at the University of Pennsylvania. Metrnl, Seale notes, “really hasn’t been described before—just giving animals this one protein is capable of inducing this browning response” which is “pretty exciting.” And that in turn opens up some intriguing possibilities for treating obesity and diabetes, such as giving a therapy like Metrnl, if it turns out to be safe and effective, that can brown white fat.“The idea that you could pharmacologically manipulate a person’s energy expenditure,” by browning their white fat, “is certainly an attractive idea, and it’s a different way of thinking about obesity,” says Peter Tontonoz, who studies molecular metabolism at UC Los Angeles. How this process works in people is still unknown. But scientists are thinking ahead. Spiegelman, for example, co-founded a company, Ember Therapeutics, that is trying to commercialize the work.last_img read more

Top stories: Stem cell factories, an octopus supermom, and what ‘healthy’ really means

first_imgSmoking mothers may alter the DNA of their childrenPregnant women who smoke don’t just harm the health of their baby—they may actually impair their child’s DNA, according to new research. The finding may explain why the children of smokers continue to suffer health complications later in life.Colombian grad student faces jail for sharing a thesis onlineSign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)A 26-year-old Colombian biologist faces up to 8 years in prison for posting a copy of another scientist’s thesis online. Colombia, like many other countries, grants strong protections to authors. The trial was scheduled to begin last month, but has been delayed. Preventing a cellular identity crisisIf you want to declare your identity to the world, you might buy a Prius or get a tattoo of Justin Bieber. Cells, of course, rely on different ways to establish who they are. Now, researchers say they’ve discovered a novel mechanism that marks the identities of different kinds of cells in the human body—and prevents them from transforming into another type altogether.Octopus supermom sets egg-brooding recordTalk about a protective mom! An octopus has been spotted guarding her eggs for 4.5 years, smashing the previous record for egg brooding. In 53 months, she was never seen eating, and instead pushed away crab and shrimp that wandered too close. Like most female octopuses, she likely died after her watch ended, but her eggs hatched successfully.Unexpected stem cell factories found inside teethDevelopment is thought to go just one way: Stem cells differentiate into specific types of cells, but the reverse isn’t supposed to happen. Now, researchers have discovered nervous system cells transforming back into stem cells inside our teeth. This means that scientists may have a new starting point from which to grow human tissues—without using embryos.Google X sets out to define a healthy humanGoogle X, the secretive research arm of Google Inc., is making a major foray into clinical research with the goal of pinning down what it means to be healthy. Google revealed last week that it will launch a project, the Baseline Study, to follow thousands of people and identify patterns of biochemicals, proteins, genetic mutations, and other measurements that correlate with who remains well and who gets sick.last_img read more

Major cancer groups call for e-cigarette research, regulation

first_imgOne telling sign of the popularity of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, which allow users to inhale nicotine vapors without other harmful chemicals, arrived late last year: The editors of the Oxford Dictionaries declared “vape” their Word of the Year for 2014.Today, e-cigarettes earned another kind of notice: Two of the largest cancer science and treatment groups in the United States called on the government to start regulating “electronic nicotine delivery systems” and step up research on the health effects of vaping.“While e-cigarettes may reduce smoking rates and attendant adverse health risks, we will not know for sure until these products are researched and regulated,” said Peter Paul Yu, president of the 35,000-member American Society of Clinical Oncology, in a statement. “We are concerned that e-cigarettes may encourage nonsmokers, particularly children, to start smoking and develop nicotine addiction.” His group was joined by the American Association for Cancer Research, which has more than 33,000 members.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 joint statement endorsed the urgent need for new research into the health effects of e-cigarettes and using tobacco tax revenues to help fund studies. It also included a long list of recommended actions by state and federal government agencies. They include requiring makers of e-cigarettes to register their products with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to identify the chemicals and levels of nicotine in various brands, and to agree to help stop teenagers from vaping.In April 2014, FDA issued a proposal to start regulating e-cigarettes. The proposal would require FDA reviews of e-cigarette products and force makers to stop claiming health benefits until the science is in. The rule would also ban the distribution of free samples of e-cigarettes and vending machine sales. Health warnings would be mandatory. FDA has not finalized the rules, however, and researchers and health professionals say they hope today’s statement will highlight the need to move quickly.“As someone who runs a treatment program for tobacco addicts, I would love to be able to endorse the use of e-cigarettes as an alternative,” says Michael Steinberg of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, in New Jersey. “But I cannot do that because we don’t know the risks involved, nor can we be sure that moving to e-cigarettes really helps people stop smoking.” Steinberg says it could turn out that smokers who start vaping tend to end up using both e-cigarettes and flammable ones or that the nicotine produced by e-cigarettes is unexpectedly toxic.Some researchers worry that any new rules won’t go far enough, soon enough. Neither the FDA proposal nor today’s joint statement calls for a ban on television advertising by e-cigarette makers, for example, notes Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco. (Glantz, a frequent critic of the health claims made by makers of e-cigarettes, says he supports such a ban.) There’s also no mention of regulating e-cigarette “flavorings,” such as minty or fruity flavors, which were banned from cigarettes after they were linked to elevated smoking rates among teenagers.Glantz also worries that it could be years before FDA fully regulates the devices. “It’s an especially torturous political and legal process at the federal level,” he says. Regulations may be easier to finalize on the state and local level, he adds, noting that several states and cities have already imposed restrictions. “I would look for progress at the local level,” Glantz says. “I expect that in this case the most important changes will start at the bottom, not the top.”In the meantime, e-cigarettes are becoming increasingly mainstream. The small, battery-powered devices first became readily available in the United States in 2006, and sales rose to about $2 billion in 2014 alone. “Vaping” bars where people speak of “vapers’ rights” are popping up in towns and cities. Movie stars have advertised their vaping skills on late-night television talk shows.This past December, a survey released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that 17% of high school seniors said they’d vaped at least once a month, compared with 14% percent who admitted to smoking. Vaping among 10 graders, at 16%, was more than twice the rate of smoking. Antismoking activists found these reports alarming, arguing that vaping could become a “gateway habit” that could draw nonsmokers toward cigarette use.last_img read more

Juggling Identities

first_imgConfusion and losses are my crosses.I am an immigrant. I straddle cultures, juggle identities, and carry labels.The INS calls me Resident-Alien, the IRS calls me Permanent Resident, Americans call me Indian, Indians call me Non Resident Indian, surveys call me Asian-American, and job applications ask if I have a Green Card. I got my Green Card last year. The process took two years and cost about $5,000. I spent hundreds of hours filling forms that the INS routinely sent back asking for more documents, yet another birth certificate. A local police station took my finger-prints to check if I had a criminal record; a clinic designated by the INS gave me a complete physical, including an AIDS test, and sent the results in a sealed envelope. A grave INS official in Hartford, Conn., opened the envelope, asked me if I had ever been arrested, if I had worked illegally, and stamped my passport. My Green Card – which as it turned out, wasn’t green – would follow.Like most immigrants, I came to America in search of opportunity. I was tired of the India’s caste prejudices and century-old traditions. My father had worked for 20 years before he could afford a car. I wanted a car, maybe even two. I wanted a home, to live the American dream. I wanted to go from rags to riches. And I didn’t want to wait 20 years for all that to happen. Naturally, I came to America.The never-ending expanse of choices in this country fueled my ambitions, lifted my spirits. Here, I could achieve anything, become anyone, except, perhaps, the president of the United States. The realization was exhilarating. What I came to realize was that with every choice came a sacrifice. With every achievement, I was losing a little of my identity.Lifestyle choices that came so naturally to the folks back home became agonizing decisions for me. Should I stick to the Indian community in the United States, or should I make American friends, knowing that I could never be one of them? Should I wear the colorful Indian clothes that I love, or should I quit wearing them in public because I am tired of being stared at? Should I keep my hard-to-pronounce Hindu name, or should I anglicize it, like the Chinese had done? Should I celebrate Christmas, a tradition that I didn’t grow up with, or should I ask for a day off from work to celebrate Diwali, the most important Indian holiday? Should I stay in this country, or should I go back home?Every Indian dreams of going back home. The isolation that is part of the immigrant culture, combined with the stresses of being a foreigner makes us nostalgic for the familiar sights, smells and sounds of home. America, however, seduces us with the promise of wealth and the “good life.” Most of us succumb and stay put. Every now and then, there are nasty incidents. Like the Dot Busters – a gang in New Jersey who identified Hindus by the dots they wore on their foreheads and attacked them. Like the svelte brunette in an exclusive Manhattan soiree, who drawled that the “immigrants had spoilt California” for her. Like the Senator on TV who launched a tirade on “immigrants who are sucking away America’s life-blood.” Like the stranger I encountered one snowy night. “Go back to where you came from,” he hissed. Well, I felt like telling him, if each of us said that to each other, the United States would be a pretty empty place.What immigrants – particularly from the East – have given the United States is a sense of balance. They bring Yin values to a very Yang culture. They temper the swinging pendulum with spirituality, and bring it to a Buddhist Middle Path. Into a land of excess, they bring in values like contentment and letting go. To mix some metaphors, they keep the melting pot from runningeth over.Another thing that immigrants offer is perspective. When people ask me about the starving children in India, I tell them about the paradoxes in this country. The media tells us that incest, rape, and other crimes against children are on the rise in the United States. Yet, the very same people who abuse their children will wait politely in line, for a school bus to pick up children! I find that hypocritical.Fielding questions is part of being a foreigner. Where are you from? Why are you wearing a dot on your forehead? Does your name mean anything? Do people still ride in elephants in India? Who’ll be your role model? The questions drum inside my head like Paul Simon’s song in the album, Graceland. Sometimes I get so fed up that I make up the answers or lie outright. But then, when I meet an “exotic” person, I find myself asking the same questions.I suppose it is part of being human to make connections and establish roots. What people – including me – forget is that a person cannot represent an entire country. For a long time, my behavior at every instance was exemplary. I was always polite because I didn’t want Americans to think that Indians were an impolite race. I always delivered 120 percent because it would help another Indian get hired. Routine acts became deliberations. Simple choices became political dilemmas. If a white person tips poorly, then he or she is just a poor tipper. If I do the same thing, I am a poor-tipping-Indian. So, never mind the bad service, never mind the lousy food. I have to leave a good tip. Otherwise, the next Indian that eats here will automatically get lousy service, because the waiter will think that all Indians are poor tippers. I am sure every minority has gone through the guessing and second-guessing that comes with being stereotyped. After a while, it gets to you. Being an ambassador for my country became too much of a burden. I began to resent it. These days, I try to be myself – failings, rudeness, warts, and all. It is difficult, because, at some point, I know someone is going to watch me slurping my soup, or doing something equally “rude,” and think that all Indians don’t know table manners.My father – a poet and philosopher – once asked me why I had decided to live in the United States. I thought about it for a moment and said, “Dad, I want to be a writer. If my books sell to the American market, they will sell all over the world. Once I become a successful author here, I can move back to India and still be successful.”My Dad smiled. “What if you become so successful that you forgot what you wanted to say?” he asked. Confusion and loss are my crosses. I will have to bear them, even if I can go back home.Originally published in Little India June 1998 Related Itemslast_img read more

American Woman Accuses NRI Techie of Molesting Her at Delhi Hotel

first_imgA California-based Non-Resident Indian software engineer was arrested for allegedly molesting a 52-year-old American woman at a hotel in Delhi. The woman accused Anmol Singh Kharbanda, 25, of lacing her drink and then trying to grope her while she was not fully conscious, the police said on Jan. 12The police arrested Kharbanda after a case of molestation was registered at Chanakyapuri Police Station, the Indian Express reported. Kharbanda met the American woman at the bar of Taj Diplomatic Enclave at 10 pm on Jan. 8, and they started having a conversation. He then offered her drinks in his hotel room and allegedly groped her, Additional Commissioner of Police BK Singh said, IANS reported.“We registered an FIR under Sections 354 and 328 of the Indian Penal Code and got her statement recorded before the City Magistrate under Section 164 of the CrPC,” Singh added.The woman, who arrived in Indian on Jan. 6, said in her complaint that Kharbanda allegedly mixed something in her drink that made her feel light-headed, and then attempted to grope her, while she pushed him away and left.Shaken after the incident, the woman, who was staying in another room at the same hotel, locked herself inside her room that night. She returned after a meeting from Jaipur the next evening and lodged a complaint against Kharbanda.The man is a contractual employee with Google and was visiting India on business. The police took CCTV footage from the hotel, and are trying to check if the events match. The police also questioned the security and administrative personnel of the hotel.Kharbanda has been sent to judicial custody. He was unaware of the complaint registered against him and carried on with his work. On Jan.9, when he returned to the hotel room, the security of the hotel updated the police, and he was then arrested.“We have been made aware by the lady guest of this incident between her and another resident guest. We have been in contact with the lady guest, a formal complaint with the authorities was also facilitated by the hotel team,” a spokesperson for Taj Diplomatic Enclave said, the Times of India reported. Related ItemsDelhiIndian Americanwomen’s rightslast_img read more