SC seeks responses on plea for compensation to rape victim

first_imgA day after a 10-year-old rape victim gave birth in a Chandigarh hospital, the Supreme Court sought responses from the Central and the Chandigarh authorities on a plea to pay her ₹10 lakh in compensation.On July 27, faced with a medical opinion that an abortion would endanger the lives of both the girl and her 32-week-old foetus, the Supreme Court was compelled to refuse the medical termination of the pregnancy. Appearing before a Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta on Friday, senior advocate Indira Jaising, in an oral mentioning, said Chandigarh authorities have been insisting on a charge sheet before considering the question of payment of any compensation.“That is no answer…what they say is absurd. We will issue notice to the Chandigarh administration,” the Bench said.“Yesterday, this court had given a compensation of ₹10 lakh to a woman in a similar kind of case. Here is a 10-year-old mother who cannot look after the child. Nothing has been paid so far to her,” Ms. Jaising, who represents the interests of the girl, submitted.The court has also sought a response from the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and District Legal Services Authority of Chandigarh and posted the matter for further hearing on August 22. The court had on July 17 directed the Bihar government to pay ₹10 lakh compensation to a destitute woman who was allegedly raped and not allowed to abort her 26-week pregnancy after a medical board’s opinion. The court found that the woman, who is also HIV positive, had gone to the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) to get her pregnancy terminated when she was in the 17th week of pregnancy.Earlier, in the 10-year-old’s case, while expressing its inability to intervene on her behalf, the Supreme Court had strongly urged the Centre to set up permanent medical boards in all States so that women, especially child rape victims, could receive expedient access to medical care.The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 bars abortion if the foetus has crossed the 20-week mark. An exception to the law can be made if a registered medical practitioner certifies to the court that continuing with the pregnancy would be life-threatening for the mother and the baby.last_img read more

Coastal Odisha receives widespread rains due to deep depression

first_imgThe Odisha government on Friday directed the district administrations to stay alert and respond to emergency situations in view of the heavy rain which is likely to lash the State under the influence of a deep depression over the central Bay of Bengal.Widespread rain started from early Friday morning with the atmospheric system moving north-northwestwards at a speed of about 33 kmph. The deep depression lay centered about 510 km south-southeast of Gopalpur, said a bulletin of the Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre.“It is likely to maintain intensity of a deep depression for about 12 hours and weaken gradually into a depression during the subsequent 12 hours. The system is very likely to move north-northwestwards and reach north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha coasts around Saturday morning as a depression,” it said.Rain or thundershower is likely to take place at most places in the coastal and many places in the interior districts of Odisha during the next 48 hours, it said.Squally winds with speed reaching 45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph is likely to prevail along and off the Odisha coast up to December 10. Sea condition would be rough to very rough along and off the coast during the period.Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre director S. C. Sahu, however said the rain would not be very heavy due to the chillness in the air. “Light to moderate rain would prevail in most parts of the State during the next 48 hours,” said Mr. Sahu.Meanwhile, two farmers died in Berhampur district during their hurried effort to save their standing paddy crop. Narayan Dash,18, of Baulagaon village under Chatrapur police station limits, was bitten by a poisonous snake on Thursday night, while he and his father Bhagaban Dash were transporting paddy crop from the field to their home. The youth breathed his last in MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur on Friday.The other victim was Maheswar Swain,50, of Dehuka village under Buguda police station limits. According to police sources, he was killed while he was trying to transport a paddy thrasher machine from one of his fields to the other. The paddy thrasher fell on him killing him on the spot.last_img read more

Alleging caste discrimination, TN medico attempts suicide

first_imgA third year resident doctor of Ahmedabad civil hospital attempted suicide, alleging caste discrimination. M.. Mariraj, a native of Tamil Nadu, and currently a resident doctor studying general surgery in Civil Hospital and Medical College, attempted suicide by consuming sleeping tablets following a spat with some staff members in Operation Theatre (OT).The civil hospital authorities have dismissed his allegations and said he had threatened the administration of extreme step in the past also.“His all allegations are baseless. In fact, his Head of Department himself is from the SC community so there is no question of any caste discrimination,” Civil Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr M.M. Prabhakar said.The hospital’s post graduate course director Dr Hansa Goswami also dismissed the allegations and held that “there has been some issue with this particular student.” In the past also, he made allegations and a committee was also formed to look into his issues, she said.According to sources, the student sometimes got stressed because of language issues as he does not understand both Gujarati and Hindi while majority of people in the hospital use these two languages.“We have taken his compliant seeking to file atrocity case against two persons Dr Neel Patel and Dr Utkarsh Shah,” a police official from Zone 4 said, adding the victim has stated in his complaint that he was not allowed to perform individual surgery and faced caste-based discrimination from people belonging to the upper castes.last_img read more

Man accused of molesting U.S. tourist gets bail

first_imgPanaji: A magistrate’s court in North Goa on Wednesday granted bail to Isidore Fernandes, accused of molesting a tourist from the U.S., on condition that he will appear before the investigating officer whenever called for.The accused has been charged under Sections 354 and 354(A) of the IPC for sexual harassment and molestation case.Earlier in the day, a Goa police official went to Mumbai to record the statement of the woman tourist who had complained about the molestation while she was in Goa recently leading to arrest of Mr. Fernandes on Tuesday.The complainant had made the complaint to Goa police on email, Ms. Chandan Choudhary, Superintendent of Police, North Goa told The Hindu on Wednesday afternoon.last_img read more

Punjab tweaks bid process to curb illegal mining

first_imgThe Punjab government on Thursday decided to grant mining contracts through progressive bidding, in a move that is expected to boost government revenue and curb illegal mining.The decision on re-auction of mines through progressive bidding was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet led by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.“Following the decision, contractors of mines auctioned through reverse bidding process would be given their advance profit for the balance term of their contracts. A total of Rs.11 crore is expected to be paid out for this purpose,” an official spokesperson said.The Cabinet also approved a new legislation that makes fraudulent practices by financial establishments a non-bailable offence, inviting up to 10 years of imprisonment with provisions for attachment of property.The spokesperson said the Punjab Protection of Interests of Depositors’ (in Financial Establishments) Bill, 2018, has been brought in following several complaints of fraud received by the State government, the Reserve Bank of India and the Securities and Exchange Board of India.The Cabinet also approved the release of funds to private educational institutions under the Post-Matric Scholarship for Scheduled Castes to private educational institutions.last_img read more

7 killed in Shimla bus accident, 21 injured

first_imgAt least seven people have been killed and 21 others injured when a State Transport Corporation bus veered off the road at Gajehri near Theog in anterior Shimla on Friday morning. The bus was on its way from Shimla to Sharontha village at Tikker in Rohru tehsil. Those who were seriously injured have been referred to Indira Gandhi Medical College Hospital in Shimla. The rescue operation is still on and the police along with local villagers are transferring the injured to the hospitals at Theog and Shimla. All the bodies and the injured have been identified, said the police. The cause of accident is yet to be ascertained. The driver suddenly lost control when the bus rolled down on the steep downhill drive from Theog to Chaila, said locals.last_img read more

Raje unveils welfare steps, extends milk scheme

first_imgRajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje unveiled a slew of welfare measures, including extension of the Annapurna milk scheme for schoolchildren, allocation of funds for new infrastructure and interest subsidy on farmers’ loans, after unfurling the national tricolour at the Independence Day function here on Wednesday.Addressing the gathering at Sawai Man Singh Stadium here, Ms. Raje said September would be celebrated as a “nutrition month”, when awareness about health and nutritional aspect of food would be spread in both urban and rural areas. The free milk distribution in schools for the students of Classes I to VIII along with the midday meals will be extended from three days to all days in the week.“Children registered in Anganwadi centres in the age group of 3 to 6 years, pregnant and lactating women and teenage girls will also be given milk for three days in a week. The State government will provide ₹100 crore for the plan, in addition to ₹203 crore for the Annapurna milk scheme,” Ms. Raje said.Ms. Raje, who is at present touring different parts of the State during her ‘Gaurav Yatra’ ahead of the State Assembly elections, called upon the people to extend cooperation to the State government for achieving the goals of development. “Our government has formulated schemes and programmes for public welfare. No aspect of development should be left out,” she said.New school buildingsThe Chief Minister said the State government would spend ₹775 crore on constructing 94 new school buildings and 7,080 additional classrooms in 2,400 schools. Besides, the District Employment Officers will function as the District Skill & Vocational Training Officers to improve employability of youths.last_img read more

Decent turnout, says official

first_imgAs the Kashmir Valley saw a little over 8% polling in the first phase of the urban local body elections on Monday, K. Vijay Kumar, Adviser to J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik, said there was a “deterrence injected by various quarters.”Mr. Kumar told The Hindu that the turnout was “decent.” “We made adequate security arrangements for people wanting to vote. Considering the deterrence injected by various quarters and the local situations, it was a decent turnout,” he said.Many seats uncontestedA senior Home Ministry official said there were many seats that went uncontested and the administration would go back to the rulebook to see the available options.“There was a vacuum; there were many wards where there was no contest. We will see what rules exist to tide over this crisis, whether a re-polling is required,” he said.The State is currently under Governor’s rule after the BJP walked out of the alliance in June.last_img read more

Sena’s Vijay Auti elected Assembly Deputy Speaker

first_imgWith barely a year left for the Maharashtra to go to polls, Shiv Sena MLA Vijay Auti was on Friday elected unopposed as the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly. The post was vacant for over four years and the selection of the Sena MLA on this post is seen as Bharatiya Janata Party and the Sena on a path to bury their differences. Independent MLA Bacchu Kadu had filed a nomination for the post with support from two MLAs of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen but withdrew from the competition Friday morning. Mr Auti, a three-term MLA from Ahmednagar’s Parner constituency is one of the senior-most leaders of the Sena. “I will try my best to uphold the traditions of the August House. My appointment is being seen as an indication of a possible alliance between two parties. But I have been given the responsibility of such a post that I cannot make political comments,” he said, thanking the House for electing him unanimously.Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil congratulated Mr. Auti, saying he will not curb the voice of the Opposition. Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar said that Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s trip to Ayodhya seem to have helped the party. Meanwhile, the Deputy Chairman’s post in the State Council is yet to be filled. According to sources, Sena’s Neelam Gorhe is a leading contender. However, with the Opposition having more numbers than the ruling parties in the Upper House, the former seems to be forcing a delay in the process of announcement of election.last_img read more

Srinagar’s Deputy Mayor attacked, injured

first_imgSrinagar Municipal Corporation Deputy Mayor Sheikh Imran was injured after corporators attacked him during an ongoing third general corporation session in Srinagar on Monday.Mr. Imran alleged he fell down after a heavy object was flung at him “by BJP and RSS-backed councillors during the meeting”.“I have been consistently opposing the BJP’s footprint here and won’t tolerate any interference in our religious identity. As I was seated during the meeting, BJP and RSS-backed councillors flung an object at me, resulting in multiple stitches on the face. It was a pre-planned attack,” said Mr. Imran.He appealed to Governor Satya Pal Malik and the Chief Secretary to look into the matter.However, a section of corporators accused Mr. Imran of “making their lives vulnerable in Kashmir by labelling them as pro-BJP”. “Mr. Imran himself is in touch with top BJP leaders of the State and not us. We contested the elections as Independents. It seems he wanted to get us killed given the current security situation,” they alleged.Mayor Junaid Azim Mattu said the house was in a complete order and those who created ruckus were evicted. “If there was any violence, there will be consequences as per the law,” he said.Meeting adjournedThe proceedings of the council was adjourned after the incident. The police have taken cognisance of the incident.Srinagar elected 76 municipal corporators in much-delayed elections held in October last year. The elections witnessed a very low turnout as both the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party decided to stay away from the polls.last_img read more

Relief for building violators likely in Punjab

first_imgThe Punjab Cabinet on Friday approved ‘The Punjab One-Time Voluntary Disclosure and Settlement of Violations of the Buildings Bill-2019’ for enactment in the budget session of the State Assembly next week.“The Bill had been drafted following the Cabinet’s approval on January 2, 2019, for all buildings constructed in violation of the building by-laws in municipal areas up to June 30, 2018. The enactment is aimed at ensuring that the unauthorised buildings that have come up over the years are aligned to the parking, fire and safety standards across the State since it is not feasible to demolish the same,” an official statement said here. The Cabinet meeting, which was held under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, also approved a proposal to make it mandatory for all MLAs to declare their immovable properties in January of every calendar year.“The Cabinet approved the necessary amendment to Section 3-AAA in The Punjab Legislative Assembly (Salaries and Allowances of Members) Act, 1942, for this purpose, in line with the desire of the Assembly Speaker,” said the statement.Also in line with Supreme Court orders, the Cabinet gave its nod to the creation of 4,521 dedicated new posts for the Bureau of Investigation.The State government also announced 6% DA to its employees and pensioners, with effect from February 1, 2019. “The decision would entail an extra annual financial liability of ₹720 crore to the State exchequer.”last_img read more

U.S. asks universities to flag risky pathogen experiments

first_imgAcademic scientists with federal funding who work with any of 15 dangerous microbes or toxins will soon have to flag specific studies that could potentially be used to cause harm and work with their institutions to reduce risks, according to new U.S. government rules released today.The long-awaited final rule is similar to a February 2013 draft and is “about what we expected,” says Carrie Wolinetz, a deputy director of federal relations at the Association of American Universities (AAU) in Washington, D.C., which represents more than 60 major research universities. Those schools see the rules as replicating other federal security and safety rules, Wolinetz says, but will adjust to them.But some observers have concerns, such as that the rules do not apply to other risky biological agents. In a conference call with reporters today, a White House official said the government is open to a “broader discussion” about whether it should expand the list of 15 regulated agents.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 rules are the latest in a flurry of regulations that grew out of the 2001 anthrax attacks and govern experiments that could potentially be used as bioterrorism weapons. Experts identified seven types of experiments that represent so-called dual use research of concern (DURC)—such as making an agent more transmissible or resistant to drugs. In March 2012, federal agencies announced that they would give special scrutiny to such DURC experiments with 15 dangerous agents or toxins; the 15 agents are part of a broader federal list of regulated “select agents” that pose particular risks to public health.In February 2013, the government released a draft of a follow-on regulation that would require scientists and universities also to screen studies for DURC. And in the wake of controversial experiments that involved making H5N1 bird flu more transmissible among mammals, the government added separate regulations specifically for H5N1 and studies with another bird flu virus, H7N9.Today’s institutional regulations are “an additional and important component” of an overall framework, said Andrew Hebbeler, assistant director for biological and chemical threats in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The rules, which cover institutions receiving federal funding for life sciences research, add a “grassroots approach,” he said. They will require that scientists working with any of the 15 agents who think their work may fall under the DURC definition notify a special review committee within their institution. If this committee agrees the research is DURC, it must notify the funding agency and develop a risk mitigation plan. Institutions can lose federal funding if they do not comply.The policy includes tight deadlines—30 days for the institutional committee to notify the funding agency that it has identified a DURC experiment, and 90 days to submit the mitigation plan. In response to some of the 38 comments it received on the draft policy, OSTP made some revisions to the process, Hebbeler said. For example, institutions do not have to review proposals that haven’t yet gone through peer review; the institution only needs to show the funding agency that it has a DURC review process in place.The new rules will take effect a year from now; institutions will need to submit progress reports for ongoing studies. Federal reviews since 2012 have found that of perhaps a “couple hundred” studies involving the 15 agents, “only a handful” met the DURC definition, said Amy Patterson, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) associate director for biosecurity and biosafety policy, on the press call. Scientists and institutions will need help figuring out whether research meets the DURC definition, she added: “This is clearly a learning curve.” NIH is releasing a guidebook and preparing other “tools,” such as case studies and workshops, she said.AAU’s Wolinetz said institutions have been readying for the final policy, either by adding new duties to existing biosafety review committees or setting up separate DURC review panels. Her group’s concern is that the policy overlaps with existing regulations, including voluminous safety and security rules for working with select agents. The new rule “is unnecessary in a lot of ways,” she says.Others see the new rules as inadequate. Molecular biologist Richard Ebright of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, a persistent critic of U.S. biodefense research, says the rules don’t require “a bona fide risk-benefit analysis,” which would require weighing risks and benefits, not just identifying them. He’s also concerned because the rules do not cover institutions that don’t receive federal funding for life sciences (although they are covered by select agent rules). And the list of 15 agents does not include some problematic pathogens, such as the viruses that cause SARS and MERS. Those are “glaring omissions,” Ebright says. Hebbeler said OSTP hopes for “an active dialogue with the community” about whether the list should be expanded.The new rules are also unlikely to assuage concerns about so-called gain-of-function studies that make flu strains such as H5N1 more transmissible or lethal. Concerns have escalated in recent months following new publications and several accidents in federal biocontainment labs. Hebbeler said “we are actively discussing” those controversial studies and that the risks and benefits will be on the agenda at a 22 October meeting of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, which has not met in nearly 2 years. He declined to comment on whether the government will order a pause in such studies.last_img read more

Experts be damned: World population will continue to rise

first_imgWhen it comes to the party that is planet Earth, we might need to plan for a few extra guests, according to scientists. A new statistical projection concludes that the world population is unlikely to level off during the 21st century, leaving the planet to deal with as many as 13 billion human inhabitants—4 billion of those in Africa—by 2100. The analysis, formulated by U.N. and University of Washington (UW), Seattle, researchers, is the first of its kind to use modern statistical methods rather than expert opinions to estimate future birth rates, one of the determining factors in population forecasts.“The U.N. in the past has been criticized for not doing complete statistics on their data and now they’ve done it exactly right,” says demography researcher John Bongaarts, vice president of the Population Council in New York City, who was not involved in the new work.Through the early 2000s, most researchers thought that the world population—which today hovers around 7 billion—would reach 9 billion by midcentury and then stop growing. But the projection assumed that birth rates in Africa—the highest in the world—would steadily drop as access to contraceptives and women’s education improved. Instead, birth rates in most African countries have remained stagnant or declined only slightly. This can be explained partially by smaller jumps in contraception and education than predicted, though most scientists don’t fully know why the rates have stalled so much.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(*)Africa’s situation is only part of what’s led to the new numbers. Every few years in recent history, the United Nations has recalculated its population projections after consulting with individual demography and statistics experts who provide best-guess estimates of future fertility (birth rates) and mortality (death rates). But not all experts agree on the trends these numbers will take. And the United Nations couldn’t run advanced statistics on the forecasts, because there were no quantifiable levels of uncertainty associated with the projections.  “Experts are pretty good at knowing where things generally stand with these rates,” says statistician Adrian Raftery of UW, a senior author on the new paper. “But what they don’t seem to be good at is integrating the newest data into future estimates in the right way.”Rather than rely on expert opinions for the newest population projections, the United Nations teamed up with Raftery and his colleagues, who developed statistical equations—based on historical and real-time data—that describe how the fertility rate is changing over time in different places around the world. This let them crunch the numbers in a new way, and—in addition to calculating a single estimate—determine the statistical probability of different events, such as the population leveling off.“The combination of a new method that’s not based on assumption but is based directly on data, and also the new data on Africa, have combined to make quite a big change to the overall population projections,” Raftery says.To wit, there’s a 95% chance the world population will be between 9 billion and 13.2 billion by the year 2100, the team concludes online today in Science. Much of that growth, it found, will likely take place in Africa, whose population is estimated to rise from 1 billion to 4 billion by the end of the century. And, unlike projections from last decade, the new graphs show a steady increase through 2100 rather than a midcentury leveling off.The new numbers will be used in models created by economists, environmentalists, and governments who use population estimates to predict pollution and global warming levels; prepare for epidemics; determine road, school, and other infrastructure requirements; and forecast worldwide economic trends. All of these plans need to be altered if the population is going to grow an extra few billion. “There’s a need to put population back on the world agenda as a major issue,” Raftery says. Determining what’s caused Africa’s birth rates to stagnate could be a step toward dealing with this skyrocketing population, he says.But there’s no guarantee that the world’s population is going to continue to rise at its current rate, points out economist and population researcher David Lam of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. “We’re still talking about much slower population growth than we just came through,” he says. “The world population doubled between 1960 and 1999 and we’re never going to do that again. The population is leveling off and it’s going to eventually level off under any of these scenarios, whether that’s before 2100 or after.”And of course, the numbers are just projections, Bongaarts says. “It could very well be that we could have epidemics, or wars, or unrest that creates massive mortality. But to be honest, it would require something of a huge magnitude to alter this trajectory.”last_img read more

In some states, science on the Election Day ballot

first_imgMaine: Question 5 asks voters to approve $3 million in bonds, to be matched by $5.7 million in private funds, to modernize and expand a biological laboratory specializing in tissue repair and regeneration. Maine: Question 4 asks voters to approve $10 million in bonds, to be matched by $11 million in private funds, to build a genomics and disease research center at the Maine Technology Institute in Brunswick. Rhode Island: Question 4 asks voters to approve $125 million in bonds for a College of Engineering building at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston. Maine: Question 2 asks voters to approve $8 million in bonds to help create an animal and plant disease and insect control laboratory administered by the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension service.center_img When voters go to the polls tomorrow, there will more than just candidates on the ballot. There are also 146 referenda and initiatives in 41 states and the District of Columbia, including a handful that relate to science, engineering, or the environment. They include questions asking voters to fund a new $21 million genomic medicine research center in Maine, to approve a $125 million bond for a new engineering building at the University of Rhode Island, and to allow terminally ill patients in Arizona to use experimental treatments.Two ballot issues have stirred particularly strong debate—and an outpouring of cash. In Colorado and Oregon, groups are spending millions of dollars to sway votes on the question of whether companies should be required to label foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In Michigan, hunting and conservation groups are engaged in a heated and complicated battle over whether to allow the hunting of wolves.The GMO labeling initiatives—Proposition 105 in Colorado and Measure 92 in Oregon—have attracted strong opposition from industry groups, who argue there is no evidence that GMO foods pose a health threat and that labeling would be costly to consumers. “Once you start to label, now you have to segregate every single step of the way—the field, silo, transportation,” says Martina Newell-McGloughlin, a biotechnology researcher at the University of California, Davis, who is allied with groups urging a “no” vote on Proposition 105. “You’re going to end up paying a tax for a label that has no health value.”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(*)Larry Cooper, director of the Right to Know Colorado GMO campaign, which is urging a “yes” vote on Propositon 105, rejects that idea. He argues that labeling costs would be low and that consumers should be fully informed about what is in their food.So far, pro-labeling forces have prevailed in just one state in recent years; Vermont enacted a GMO-labeling law earlier this year. And food industry and agriculture groups are spending heavily to prevent another state from requiring labels. In Colorado, they’ve donated more than $11 million to defeat Proposition 105; the “yes” forces have raised less than $500,000. In Oregon, the spending gap is smaller: antilabeling forces have raised more than $16 million compared with about $7 for pro-labeling forces.In Michigan, the conflict is over wolf hunting. Officials removed endangered species protections for the state’s gray wolves in 2012, prompting a state senator named Tom Casperson to successfully push legislation that would designate the wolf as “game species.” Antihunting groups responded by collecting enough signatures to challenge Casperson’s measure on this year’s ballot, and many observers predicted they would win, in part because the state’s voters in 2006 rejected a similar effort to allow hunting of doves. Pro-hunting forces responded with another legislative maneuver, however, forcing their opponents to add a second ballot measure. But the maneuvering didn’t end there: Pro-hunting legislators then pursued a successfully pursued a third legislative gambit to sidestep both ballot measures. The upshot: Even if voters approve the two antihunting measures, known as Propositions 14-1 and 14-2, the wins may not be enough to bar wolf hunting. The matter could end up in the state’s courts.Some wolf biologists, meanwhile, say the outcome may not make much difference to the state’s wolf population of about 650 animals. Hunters killed just 22 wolves in the first hunt in 2013, fewer than the limit of 43 set by state officials.Other science-related items on Election Day ballots include:Alaska: Ballot Measure 4 would require legislative approval of a controversial gold mine proposed for the salmon-rich Bristol Bay area. Arizona: Proposition 303 would permit terminally ill patients and their doctors to use experimental treatments that have completed only preliminary phase I safety and dose trials. Colorado, Missouri, Louisiana, and Michigan already have similar “right to try” laws.last_img read more

Mongol-smashing Kamikaze typhoons may have been genuine

first_imgNear the end of the 13th century, the emperor Kublai Khan and his Mongol Empire were gearing up to invade Japan. They had more boats, more men, and had already conquered a large part of China; but according to Japanese legend, massive typhoons powered by the divine Kamikaze winds smashed the Mongolian fleet in 1274 and again in 1281 (pictured above). Researchers report online this month in Geology that they’ve discovered evidence in a lakebed on Japan’s Amakusa Island that suggests the fabled storms may have been real. Sediment accumulates at the bottom of lakes in layers; similar to how geologists can see “back in time” by looking at deeper layers of rocks, lakebed sediment can reveal details of the planet’s history. By analyzing cores of sediment collected from the bottom of Lake Daija, scientists were able to predict how frequently the sea had risen over the beach and washed into the nearby lake. Although the resolution of the technique wasn’t high enough to confirm typhoon events in 1274 and 1281 precisely, the team did discover evidence for two overwash events in the late 1200s, lending some real credibility to the Japanese legend. Unlike the legend, though, the scientists credit the turbulent seas of the past to stronger El Niño activity instead of a divine savior.*Correction, 10 December, 10:22 a.m.: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Mongols were preparing to invade China; they were preparing to invade Japan.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

In a turnabout, key congressional critic backs NSF peer review

first_imgAnd Vannevar Bush said, let there be peer review. And Lamar Smith saw the peer review, that it was good.A political dispute involving the National Science Foundation (NSF) that has taken on near-biblical importance within the scientific community may be inching closer to resolution. A new statement from Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), the chair of the science committee in the U.S. House of Representatives that oversees NSF, appears to be a significant softening of his long-standing criticism of NSF’s grantsmaking process. And although a different congressional panel is expected to register the same complaint against the agency at a hearing next week, the shift in the political landscape is good news for U.S. scientists.For 2 years, Smith has been feuding with NSF, asserting that the $7.3 billion agency is funding research that fails to address important scientific questions or is otherwise a waste of tax dollars. He’s also sent committee staffers to NSF headquarters to review dozens of grants already parceled out. Smith has blamed the problem on NSF’s vaunted peer-review system, and last year he introduced a bill that he says would improve NSF’s track record by requiring agency officials to certify that every award is funding research “that is in the national interest.”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(*)Many scientists regard the seemingly innocuous language as a veiled attack on the social sciences, which Smith and other Republicans have repeatedly labeled as less important than work in the computational and physical sciences, biology, and engineering. And indeed, more than half of the awards that Smith has held up to ridicule are funded by NSF’s social and behavioral sciences directorate, a program that represents less than 5% of NSF’s research portfolio.But yesterday Smith took a small but important step away from the brink by blessing NSF’s current system for selecting what to fund. It came in response to a question from ScienceInsider about the results of his review of some 60 NSF grants, some dating back a decade. “The Committee has learned a lot about the merit selection process, but nothing to suggest it is not the best available means for making very difficult, complex decisions,” Smith told ScienceInsider in an e-mail.That short, understated reply represents a major toning down of previous rhetoric. In January, for example, Smith wrote an op-ed for Politico that lashed out at those who have criticized his inquiry into NSF’s merit review system. Teaming up with Senator Rand Paul (R–KY), the legislators wrote that “[u]nfortunately, the academic community and the media vilify any attempt by Congress to better understand the grant-award process, labeling it political interference and an attack on science. … But scrutinizing science funding isn’t the same as attacking science.”His support for NSF peer review comes 2 weeks after Smith proclaimed that he and NSF were already on the same page. Hours after NSF Director France Córdova testified before the science committee on the agency’s proposed budget for 2016, the committee issued a press release headlined “Smith, NSF Director Córdova Agree to Work Together on ‘National Interest’ Criteria for Taxpayer-Funded Research.”The press release was based on an exchange between Smith and Córdova during the 26 February hearing. In her opening statement, Córdova described the agency’s progress on an initiative begun in December 2013 “to strengthen our efforts in transparency and accountability around the merit review process.” In follow-up questions, Smith asked Córdova if those changes dovetailed with his 2014 legislation, the FIRST (Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology) Act. Córdova said the bill language “is very compatible with the new NSF internal guidelines and the mission statement of NSF.”Seeing an opening, Smith then asked, “So I assume you support the language in the FIRST Act that deals with that subject?” Despite the scientific community’s harsh criticism of the bill, which died when the previous Congress adjourned, Córdova didn’t hedge. “Yes, we do,” she said.A week later, in a memo to NSF’s 1350 staffers that summarizes the current state of play, Córdova was a bit more circumspect in describing her position. For starters, the memo doesn’t mention the FIRST Act. Córdova instead cites another portion of her answer to Smith’s line of questioning. “I responded that NSF leadership has consistently emphasized the importance of the national interest,” she writes, “as stated in our mission set forth in the National Science Foundation Act of 1950: ‘To promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense.’ ”In the memo, Córdova also points to a small victory in the agency’s ongoing battle with the committee over the terms under which its grantsmaking records can be reviewed. The ground rules require science committee aides to read the documents in a safeguarded room at NSF headquarters, with the names of the reviewers redacted and without the ability to make photocopies.The process is a sore point with Smith. In his latest request to NSF on 10 February, for example, Smith notes that NSF “has not complied” fully with his request to turn over the documents and laments his “limited access” to them.Some NSF staffers have also bristled at the inspections, which they see as a breach of NSF’s promise to the community to preserve the privacy of the merit review system. In an apparent attempt to rally her troops, Córdova reminds NSF staffers that “the Chairman of the Committee had requested that these documents be delivered to the Committee,” a process that she terms “a compromise” between the two sides. “Historically,” the memo points out, “such accommodation between executive and legislative branches of government has reduced escalation and generally satisfied the major concerns of both branches.”That remains to be seen. Speaking earlier this week at the annual meeting of the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA), Córdova indicated that she thinks NSF’s critics are on shaky ground but that she nevertheless expects the fight to continue. “I think Congress has taken great pains to support it,” she told her COSSA audience. “But there’s a disconnect when you criticize the results.”Smith, for his part, is still unhappy with NSF’s ground rules for access to its grantsmaking files. “As NSF proceeds with implementation of its new transparency policies, the Committee may choose to revisit oversight terms and conditions for future access to grant files,” Smith wrote in yesterday’s e-mail to ScienceInsider. “The redaction of reviewers’ names is appropriate. However, the law is clear that no federal agency can impose unilateral restrictions on congressional access to information. This Committee’s Constitutional responsibility to oversee how $7 billion in taxpayer dollars are spent should not be hindered by unlawful restrictions.”Next week, the spotlight will be on another congressional committee. On Tuesday, Córdova goes before the House spending panel that funds NSF and several other science agencies, where the struggle over NSF’s funding choices is likely to resume. Its new chair, Representative John Culberson (R–TX), has both promised to make sure NASA and NSF “are fully funded … and free of politics” and warned that NSF should “focus more on the pure sciences … and avoid pursuing obscure and obtuse social science research.”Córdova will need to find a way to turn that double-edged—many would say contradictory—message to NSF’s advantage. How well she succeeds could determine not only NSF’s overall budget for 2016, but also whether the agency’s social science portfolio remains intact.last_img read more

UK cities join hands to attract more Indian tourists

first_imgIn a first-of-its-kind partnership, three of Britain’s largest cities have formed an alliance to attract more tourists from India as part of a new drive launched here today.London, Manchester and Birmingham will collaborate on the “Experience England” initiative to jointly promote the best of English tourism in three of the world’s fastest growing markets — India, China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries that include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).The first-of-its-kind partnership will focus on increasing the number of visitors arriving in one city and then travelling across the different regions of England.Read it at Outlook India Related Itemslast_img read more

Setback For AAP: Punjabi NRIs Sever Ties, Back Rebels

first_imgThe factional feud in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has reached overseas with several Punjabi non-resident Indians (NRIs) associated with the party taking on the central leadership over its decision to dissolve all its organisational units outside the country.Read it at Hindustan Times Related Itemslast_img