US watches airline passengers for Ebola symptoms

News4u-News Desk- Government agents at US airports are watching travellers from Africa for flu-like symptoms that could be tied to the recent Ebola outbreak, as delegations from some 50 countries arrive in the nation’s capital for a leadership summit this week.

Border patrol agents at Washington’s Dulles International and New York’s JFK airports in particular have been told to ask travellers about possible exposure to the virus and to be on the lookout for anyone with a fever, headache, achiness, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, rash or red eyes.

Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland, which will receive several African heads of state, is screening passengers too, while US Secret Service agents in charge of security for the three-day summit have been briefed on what to look for and how to respond, officials said Monday.

If a passenger is suspected of carrying the deadly virus, they would be quarantined immediately and evaluated by medical personnel, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which provided the additional training to local airports.

“There is always the possibility that someone with an infectious disease can enter the United States,” CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said Monday.

“The public health concern is whether it would spread, and, if so, how quickly.’” The Ebola virus causes a hemorrhagic fever that has sickened more than 1,300 people in Africa, killing more than 700 mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

It is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as blood or urine, unlike an airborne virus like influenza or the common cold.

A person exposed to the virus can take up to 21 days to exhibit any symptoms, making it possible for infected travellers to enter the US without knowing they have it.

While the CDC says it is not screening passengers boarding planes at African airports the job of local authorities there the center said it has encouraged vulnerable countries to follow certain precautions.

Outbound passengers in the countries experiencing Ebola are being screened for fevers and with health questionnaires, Reynolds said.

Health officials say the threat to Americans remains relatively small, even with the uptick in travel this week between Africa and the United States.

In the past decade, five people have entered the US known to have a viral hemorrhagic fever, including a case last March of a Minnesota man diagnosed with Lassa Fever after travelling to West Africa.

Reynolds said in all five instances, US officials were able to contain the illness.

A vaccine against Ebola has been successfully tested with monkeys, and there is hope it could become available as early as next July, Dr Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told “CBS This Morning” television yesterday.


US watches airline passengers for Ebola symptoms

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India largest consumer of antibiotics in the world

News4u-News Desk- India has emerged as the world’s largest consumer of antibiotics followed by China and the US, according to a new study which quantifies the growing alarm surrounding antibiotic-resistance.

Global use of antibiotics is surging, according to Princeton University researchers who have conducted a broad assessment of antibiotic consumption around the world.

The study, “Global Trends in Antibiotic Consumption, 2000-2010,” found that worldwide antibiotic use has risen a staggering 36 per cent over those 10 years, with five countries Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) - responsible for more than three-quarters of that surge.

Among the 16 groups of antibiotics studied, cephalosporins, broad-spectrum penicillins and fluoroquinolones accounted for more than half of that increase, with consumption rising 55 per cent from 2000 to 2010.

The study quantifies the growing alarm surrounding antibiotic-resistant pathogens, and a loss of efficacy among antibiotics used to combat the most common illnesses.

The report also highlights an increasing resistance to carbapenems and polymixins, two classes of drugs long considered “last resort” antibiotics for illnesses without any other known treatment.

Overall, the study reviewed patterns, seasonality and frequency of use of antibiotics in 71 countries.

The data underscore the welcome evidence that more global citizens are able to access and purchase antibiotics.

But that use is not being effectively monitored by health officials, from doctors to hospital workers to clinicians, noted the researchers.

Consequently, antibiotic use is both rampant and less targeted. That reality is driving antibiotic resistance at an unprecedented rate, researchers said.

“We have to remember that before we had antibiotics, it was pretty easy to die of a bacterial infection,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, a research scholar with the Princeton Environmental Institute.

“And we’re choosing to go back into a world where you won’t necessarily get better from a bacterial infection. It’s not happening at a mass scale, but we’re starting to see the beginning of when the antibiotics are not working as well,” Laxminarayan said.

The study found that India was the single-largest consumer of antibiotics in the world in 2010, followed by China and the US.

The study also found that antibiotic consumption has flattened in the US, compared with the five BRICS countries.

But US citizens per capita still account for far more antibiotic consumption than any other population, with a rate of more than twice that of India.

The study noted that antibiotic use tended to peak at different times of the year, corresponding in almost every case with the onset of the flu season.

The finding was published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.


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A female superhero movie in Spider-Man universe

News4u-Entertainment Desk- After Marvel’s introduced a female Thor, Sony is reportedly planning to create a woman superhero movie to add to its ‘Spider-Man’ universe.

The studio pushed back the release of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 3′ by two years.

The gap will now be filled by ‘The Sinister Six’ in 2016.

Lisa Joy has been hired to work on the script for the female-centered story, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Sony stable has Black Cat, Silver Sable and Spider-Woman but it is not clear who among these three will get a more prominent role to play.

The studio pushed the release of the third Spider-Man by two years after the second part failed to perform as per the expectations. ‘Sinister Six’, which focuses on the villains of the Spider-Man universe, will instead release on November 11, 2016 with Drew Goddard set to direct.


Spider-Man

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Foreign trade policy for 20014-19 expected by month-end

News4u-Business Desk- The Commerce and Industry Ministry is expected to announce the new five-year foreign trade policy (20014-19) by the end of this month as it seeks to boost manufacturing and exports, among other things.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) is giving final touches to the policy.

“It is expected that the new FTP would be announced by August-end,” an official source said.

The new policy would focus on wide range of issues including services exports, standards and branding of products.

India’s exports in the last three years have been hovering around USD 300 billion and now there is a need to boost it further and enhance its contribution in the world trade.

All exports- and imports-related activities are governed by the FTP. It mainly aims at enhancing the country’s exports and use trade expansion as an effective instrument of economic growth and employment generation.

Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) has suggested to focus more on export of services and hi-tech products in the new policy.

The services sector contributes about 55 percent to the country’s gross domestic product. During May, services exports were about USD 14 billion.

In April-June period of the current fiscal, exports grew by 9.31 percent to USD 80.11 billion.

India’s exports in 2013-14 were worth USD 312.35 billion, lower than targeted USD 325-billion.

The country’s exports stood at USD 300.4 billion in 2012-13 and USD 307 billion in 2011-12.


Foreign trade policy for 20014-19 expected by month-end

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118 feared dead in Bangladesh ferry disaster

News4u-News Desk- At least 118 people were feared dead after an overcrowded ferry with up to 250 passengers on board sank in the Padma river in central Bangladesh, as the efforts to locate the vessel under deep waters is still underway.

“Five more bodies were retrieved today as they were found afloat from Hymechar,” an area which is located miles downstream off the accident site at central Munshiganj, magistrate Abul Kalam told reporters.

His comments came after officials said that 118 passengers remained missing with rescuers fearing they were trapped inside the sunken Pinak-6 or washed away by the strong currents of the Padma, swelled by monsoon rains.

Strong current in the turbulent river apparently upturned the boat on Monday which was carrying nearly double the number of passengers then its capacity as it was crossing the Padma.

Over 100 passengers, however, were rescued alive by vessels and speedboats within hours after the accident.

Authorities mobilised two salvage vessels to retrieve the ferry while navy and coastguard divers joined the fire brigade rescuers but officials said the strong current and the bad weather made it difficult for them to locate it under water.

An official of the Bangladesh Water Transport Authority, however, admitted their sonar system with capacity to scan a smaller area appeared a little ineffective in tracking down the ferry as the underwater heavy current might have pushed the vessel elsewhere from the site where it sank.

Hundreds of wailing relatives, rallied on the bank of the river, staged a brief blockade on a nearby highway protesting the “inefficiency” of the authorities as they could not even locate the sunken vessel.

Experts said even if the vessel could be located it would not be an easy job to retrieve the estimated 100-tonne ferry from under nearly 90 feet depth. They said divers would have to go down and tie up the sunken vessel and have it pulled up.

The accident occurred nearly three months after a boat capsized in the same area killing 50 people.

Ferry accidents are common in riverine Bangladesh criss- crossed by some 230 river especially in the southern and northeastern regions while faulty design of boats and ferries alongside poor safety standards are generally blamed for the disasters.

According to statistics tallied by the media, about 5,500 people have died in 658 ferry disasters since 1994 while 1500 people remained missing.


118 feared dead in Bangladesh ferry disaster

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Obama signs bill granting USD 225 mln to Israel for Iron Dome

News4u-News Desk- US President Barack Obama Tuesday signed a bill granting an additional USD 225 million to Israel for the procurement of the Iron Dome missile defense system to counter short-range rocket threats.

“This funding will ensure that Israel will be able to sustain production of Iron Dome components in order to maintain adequate stockpiles of Iron Dome interceptors and equipment,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said after Obama signed the legislation into law.

“The United States is proud that the Iron Dome system developed in coordination with Israel and funded by the US has saved countless Israeli lives.

Continued bipartisan support for Iron Dome funding ensures Israel will retain vital defense against rockets and artillery in light of the enduring threats,” he said.

Earnest said the US has been clear since the start of the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip that no country can abide rocket attacks against its civilians.

“The US supports Israel’s right to defend itself against such attacks. We also continue to call on Israeli authorities to take all feasible precautions to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza and protect the civilian Palestinian population from the effects of attacks, and we continue to stress that all parties to the conflict must comply with international humanitarian law,” he said.

Both the chambers of the US Congress House of Representatives and the Senate had passed the legislation last week.

“With Israel once again under attack by rockets above and tunnels below, our bipartisan resolve to stand by Israel is firm and unwavering,” Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said.

The House of Representatives Speaker, John Boehner, said the House will always support Israels right to defend itself.

“This will help protect Israeli citizens from rocket attacks by Hamas, which still has thousands of rockets in its arsenal. By coming together in bipartisan fashion, the United States Congress is sending a clear message: Israel is our friend, and Israel’s enemies are our enemies,” he said.

Republican Senator John McCain said, “Israeli civilians are alive today because of Iron Dome, and American taxpayers can be extremely proud of the contribution we have made to this life-saving program.”


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RBI likely to keep interest rate unchanged today

News4u-Business Desk-The Reserve Bank may maintain the status quo on interest rate in its bi-monthly monetary policy review to be unveiled on Tuesday amid apprehensions that deficient rainfall may further push up food inflation.

The food inflation remaining over 8 percent mark will weigh heavily on the Reserve Bank, which has been maintaining that containing inflation is its top priority. Prices of some of the food articles like tomato, onion, potatoes are still quite above normal.

With monsoon being below normal, there is a fear that price situation, especially food inflation, may further deteriorate in the coming days. Monsoon deficiency stood at 23 percent in at the end of July.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is scheduled to announce its third bi-monthly monetary policy on 5th August.

State Bank of India (SBI) Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya said the RBI is likely to keep interest rate intact in the monetary policy review.

“I think status quo (in policy rate) is more likely,” she said.

HDFC Bank Deputy Managing Director Paresh Sukthankar said: “Our view is that policy rates are likely to remain roughly stable.”

He further said: At least, the assumption that we are built in to for the GDP growth in this year, we are counting on major tail winds from interest rate reduction.

The pick-up in the economy that we are anticipating is really going to be driven more by the policy environment and the investments picking up but not necessarily on the back of lower interest rates.”

According to Indian Overseas Bank, interest rates will remain same in this policy, but going forward there would be a downward bias.

In the last policy review in June, RBI chose not to tinker with the policy rate. It was the second consecutive time that RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan kept interest rates unchanged.

The repo rate, at which the RBI lends to banks, was retained at 8 percent and the cash reserve ratio (CRR) was kept unchanged at 4 percent.

The statutory liquidity ratio (SLR), the mandatory amount of bonds lenders must park at the RBI, was cut by 0.5 percent to 22.5 percent of their net demand and time liabilities (NDTL) with effect from 14th June.

America-Merill Lynch said it expects the rate cut to happen only in December, if the monsoon normalises to cool down inflation, or early 2015 in case prices rise prolongs.

“We continue to expect the Governor to be on hold on August 5…the RBI will be on long hold till it is clear that inflation is truly coming off,” it said.

“The RBI is likely to leave rates unchanged despite easing inflation… no hurry to ease rates,” DBS said.

It said the macroeconomic backdrop is looking better on most counts since the last monetary policy review in June and specifically mentioned a stability in the industrial growth saying it is only expected to consolidate over the next few quarters.

However, the industry is pitching for a rate cut to boost industrial activities.

Exhibiting signs of revival, India’s manufacturing activity, gauged by the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), had risen to 19-month high of 4.7 percent in May on account of improved output from mining, power and capital goods sector.

Besides improved industrial activity, retail inflation fell to a 30-month low of 7.31 percent in June as prices of food items, including vegetables, came down.

Wholesale Price Index (WPI) based inflation in June fell to 5.43 percent after rising to a five-month high in the previous month.

Committed to keeping the economy on a disinflationary course, considering CPI inflation at 8 percent by January 2015 and 6 percent by January 2016, RBI said that further policy tightening will not be warranted if the economy stays on this course.

“On the other hand, if disinflation, adjusting for base effects, is faster than currently anticipated, it will provide headroom for an easing of the policy stance,” it had said.


RBI

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Google doodle pays tribute to Kishore Kumar

News4u-Entertainment Desk- Google paid a tribute to legendary singer-actor Kishore Kumar on his 85th birth anniversary by dedicating a special doodle to him on Monday.

The doodle shows the late music icon’s sketch replacing the L of ‘GOOGLE’ and borders with drawings of masks, pen and paper, camera and symbol of music, depicting his versatility as an artiste.

His songs like ‘Roop Tera Mastana’, ‘Khai Ke Pan Banaras Wala’, ‘Zindagi Ek Safar’, ‘Om Shanti Om’ and ‘Mere Saamne Wali Khidki Mein’ from ‘Padosan (1968)’ are popular even today.

Kumar is also famous for his acting in films like ‘Chalti ki Naam Gaadi’, ‘Half Ticket’, ‘Mr X in Bombay’, ‘Jhumroo’ ‘Dilli ka Thug’ to name a few. Born as Abhas Kumar Ganguly in 1929 in Khandwa of the then Central Provinces and Berar, now in Madhya Pradesh, Kumar was brother of actor Ashok Kumar.

Famous American cartoon sitcom ‘The Simpsons’ once featured his hit number ‘Pal Bhar ke Liye’ from the Dev Anand-starrer ‘Johnny Mera Naam (1970)’ in one of its episodes titled ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore.


Google doodle pays tribute to Kishore Kumar

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Lankan HC summoned on article; conveyed ‘anger and concern’ of MPs

News4u-News Desk- India on Monday summoned the Sri Lankan High Commissioner and lodged a protest against a derogatory article about Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa which rocked the Parliament in Delhi.

Sri Lankan High Commissioner Sudharshan Seneviratne was summoned by the External Affairs Ministry and was conveyed the “anger and concerns” among parliamentarians on the issue in the strongest possible words by the Joint Secretary incharge of Sri Lanka division in MEA, officials said in New Delhi on Monday.

Meanwhile, India on Monday strongly condemned the derogatory article against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa appearing in the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry website, as the controversy rocked Parliament with an agitated AIADMK demanding a resolution to denounce it.

“The issue raised by (AIADMK leader) V Maitreyan is indeed very serious. India strongly condemns it. We will definitely summon the High Commissioner of that country and tell him about it,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in Rajya Sabha on Monday after AIADMK members trooped into the Well demanding a statement from the government.

Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha witnessed two adjournments each as AIADMK members disrupted the proceedings and stormed the Well seeking a statement from the government and raising slogans denouncing the Sri Lankan President.

In the Lower House, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, “While matters concerning diplomatic relations are dealt with delicately, this is totally unacceptable and condemnable. There is no hesitation in condemning it.”

He also said he would convey the strong feelings of the members to Swaraj. But the AIADMK members were not satisfied with the reply and stormed the Well raising slogans.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour in Rajya Sabha, Maitreyan said the article appearing in the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry website was derogatory to Jayalalithaa.

He asked whether the government would summon the Sri Lankan High Commissioner as this was an insult of not only the Tamil Nadu government but also the Union Government.

AIADMK leader in Lok Sabha M Thambidurai demanded that the House adopt a “strong and unanimous resolution condemning Sri Lanka” so that such incident do not recur.

In the Lok Sabha too, Swaraj shared the concern expressed by the members and said “on behalf of the government, we condemn this in the most strongest terms and assure that we will summon the High Commissioner to make him aware of the feeling of the House over the issue.”

Thambidurai earlier attacked the government for not yet condemning the article and to make its stand clear on the issue at a time when Tamil Nadu people were agitated over it.

While Jayalalithaa, who is also AIADMK supremo, has written several letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issues of harassment of Tamil fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy and Kachchatheevu island, the same had been referred in the derogatory article as “love letters”, Thambidurai said.

He reminded the ruling NDA that it had promised during the election campaign that it would resolve the issue of Tamil Nadu fishermen who were time and again being harassed by Sri Lankan Navy.

Noting that the Sri Lankans are just 2.5 crore in number while there are seven crore people in Tamil Nadu, he wanted to know on whose side the government was and asked it to state what action it has taken so far in this regard.

As he spoke, AIADMK members trooped into the Well raising slogans forcing Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to adjourn the House, once for about 25 minutes and later for almost two hours.

In the Rajya Sabha, as Maitreyan raised the issue, his AIADMK colleagues trooped into the Well shouting slogans, which made Chairman Hamid Ansari to observe that their behaviour was unbecoming of Members of Parliament.

Earlier they had moved into the aisles displaying copies of the article on the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry website.

Sri Lanka has already apologised for the article and removed it from the website.


Sushma swaraj

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World Bank pledges 200 mln to contain spread of Ebola

News4u-Business Desk- The World Bank has pledged USD 200 million in emergency funding to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to help the West African countries contain spread of deadly Ebola infections and improve public health systems.

World Bank President Dr Jim Yong Kim, who is experienced in treatment of infectious diseases, said the new financing commitment was in response to a call from both the three African countries hardest-hit by Ebola and the World Health Organisation for immediate assistance to contain the outbreak.

In a statement, he said the World Bank Group would step up social safety net assistance for affected communities and families and help to build up public health systems in West Africa to strengthen the region’s disease control capacity.

“I have been monitoring its deadly impact around the clock and am deeply saddened at how it has ravaged health workers, families and communities, disrupted normal life, and has led to a breakdown of already weak health systems in the three countries,” Kim said.

“The international community needs to act fast to contain and stop this Ebola outbreak. I believe this new World Bank emergency funding will provide critically needed support for the response to stop the further transmission of Ebola within Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, which would prevent new infections in neighboring at-risk countries,” he said.

Welcoming the support from the World Bank, WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan said the demands created by this unprecedented outbreak outstrip the capacity of affected countries in West Africa to respond.

“So funding to increase national response capacities is a fundamentally important way to slow transmission and prevent spread to other areas,” he said.

With the Ebola virus now directly and indirectly impacting economies in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and neighboring countries, the new WB Group emergency response will also help countries and communities cope with financial hardship caused by the outbreak, a media statement said.

An initial World Bank-IMF assessment for Guinea projects a full percentage point fall in GDP growth from 4.5 per cent to 3.5 percent.

Agriculture has also been affected in all three countries as rural workers have fled farming areas in the affected zones.

To date, there has been no measurable impact on the food supply, it said. The World Bank said cross-border commerce has slowed considerably with land crossings closed to neighboring countries and more recently cancellation of flights.


World Bank President Dr Jim Yong Kim

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