Japan observes Hiroshima bombing anniversary

News4u-News Desk- Japan marked the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Wednesday, as Mayor Kazumi Matsui called on U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders to visit the city to see the scars of the atomic bombing first hand.

About 45,000 people stood for a minute of silence at the ceremony in Hiroshima’s peace park near the epicentre of the 1945 attack that killed up to 140,000 people. A second bombing, over Nagasaki three days later, killed another 70,000, prompting Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Mr. Matsui invited world leaders to Hiroshima, referring to a proposal made at a ministerial meeting in April of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative in Hiroshima, calling on them to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“President Obama and all leaders of nuclear-armed nations please respond to that call by visiting the A-bombed cities as soon as possible to see what happened with your own eyes,” Mr. Matsui said. “If you do, you will be convinced that nuclear weapons are an absolute evil that must no longer be allowed to exist.”

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, among dignitaries attending the event, said that as the sole country to have suffered nuclear attacks, Japan has the duty to seek to eliminate nuclear weapons.AP

 

People pray for the atomic bomb victims at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

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Afghan attack: General Harold Greene was ‘true hero’

News4u-News Desk- The US military has paid tribute to Maj Gen Harold Greene, killed by an Afghan soldier in an insider attack on Tuesday, as a “true hero”.

Gen Greene, the most senior US soldier killed in action overseas since Vietnam, was shot dead as he visited a UK-run military training facility.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the shooting was a “cowardly attack”.

Officials said the Afghan soldier who opened fire had subsequently been shot dead.

At least 15 other soldiers were injured. Two Britons, several Americans and generals from Germany and Afghanistan were among the wounded.

Insider attacks have become one of the defining features of the later phase of the conflict in Afghanistan.

They have hampered efforts to train the country’s 350,000-strong security force as they prepare to take on the Taliban once most US and Nato forces depart.

US Army spokesman Juanita Chang described Gen Greene as a “true hero”.

She said he was working “to better advance the Afghans and the cause in Afghanistan”.

“He really believed what he was doing over there,” she said.

US media reaction

US newspapers have been speaking to Gen Greene’s friends and colleagues, who painted a picture of a cerebral general who was more interested in software than military hardware.

The LA Times reported that Gen Greene would be remembered for being a “brilliant logistician with a quick sense of humour”, while the New York Times said he was a “gadget guru” whose missions usually did not involve actual fighting. Both said that he used iPads and videogames to help train a new generation of American soldiers.

The Washington Post concentrated on his role as deputy commander in training Afghan security forces, calling him a “key figure” in this process.

Correspondents say that the attack raises new doubts about Nato’s ability to train Afghan forces as Western countries gradually withdraw.

From the end of this year, just under 10,000 American troops will remain, with all withdrawing by the end of 2016.

The Pentagon described insider attacks as a “pernicious threat”.

It described it as an isolated attack and insisted that there had been no breakdown of trust between coalition soldiers and their Afghan counterparts.

The Afghan soldier who opened fire was recruited three years ago, Afghan defence ministry sources told the BBC.

He carried out the shootings from a guard post as a large group of senior Afghan and international troops gathered.

By the time he had emptied the magazine of his US-issue M16 rifle, more than a dozen people had been shot, our correspondent says.

The Afghan commander of the British-led officers’ academy, Gen Gulam Sakhi, was among those wounded.BBC

 

General Harold Greene

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Fifth India-US Energy Summit to focus on renewable energy

News4u-News Desk- Renewable energy and energy security would be the focus of the two-day annual India-US Energy Summit to be held here next month.

Noting that energy security is critical for both the US and India, Dr R.K Pachauri, president of The Energy and Resources Institute North America (TERI NA), said the two countries must work together, both in energy security as well as on policy fronts, so as to bring in some positive changes.

The two-day event from September 30 being organised by TERI and Yale University is likely to be attended by top officials and energy experts from both the countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is expected to be in the city to meet President Barack Obama, has been invited to address the meeting in energy, a subject close to his heart.

According to a TERI statement, the focus of the Summit will be on bilateral cooperation in the energy sector and related areas.

“Energy security is critical for both the US and India,” Pachauri said.

“The recent geopolitical developments in the region from where we import the bulk of our oil, can lead to a drastic increase in oil prices. The devaluation of the Rupee has added to the crisis. But I am confident that we are on the cusp of change in the use of our renewable energy resources,” he said.

“We should be investing more on renewable energy sources in the coming years. India and the US must work together, both in energy security as well as on policy fronts, so that we can bring in some positive changes,” Pachauri said.

Hosted annually since 2009 by TERI North America and Yale University, the fifth US-India Energy Partnership Summit will broadly look at ‘Accelerating Resilient Growth and Development’, while addressing various issues related to energy efficiency, security, access and technology.

Stakeholders from various sectors will discuss new collaborations in clean technologies and renewable energy, green buildings and sustainable cities, decentralised energy access, alternatives such as shale gas, etc.

Climate change will also form a key component of the discussions, with the proceedings at the General Assembly and Climate Summit providing significant inputs to the Summit deliberations, the statement said.PTI

 

renewable energy

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Tobacco-derived ‘plantibodies’ enter the fight against Ebola

News4u-News4u-Desk- Drugmakers’ use of the tobacco plant as a fast and cheap way to produce novel biotechnology treatments is gaining global attention because of its role in an experimental Ebola therapy.

The treatment, which had been tested only in lab animals before being given to two American medical workers in Liberia, consists of proteins called monoclonal antibodies that bind to and inactivate the Ebola virus. For decades biotech companies have produced such antibodies by growing genetically engineered mouse cells in enormous metal bioreactors. But in the case of the new Ebola treatment ZMapp, developed by Mapp Pharmaceuticals, the antibodies were produced in tobacco plants at Kentucky Bioprocessing, a unit of tobacco giant Reynolds American.

The tobacco-plant-produced monoclonals have been dubbed “plantibodies.”

“Tobacco makes for a good vehicle to express the antibodies because it is inexpensive and it can produce a lot,” said Erica Ollmann Saphire, a professor at The Scripps Research Institute and a prominent researcher in viral hemorrhagic fever diseases like Ebola. “It is grown in a greenhouse and you can manufacture kilograms of the materials. It is much less expensive than cell culture.”

In the standard method of genetic engineering, DNA is slipped into bacteria, and the microbes produce a protein that can be used to combat a disease.

A competing approach called molecular “pharming” uses a plant instead of bacteria. In the case of the Ebola treatment, Mapp uses the common tobacco plant, Nicotiana benthanmianas.

The process is very similar. A gene is inserted into a virus that is then used to infect the tobacco plant. The virus acts like a micro-Trojan Horse, ferrying the engineered DNA into the plant.

Cells infected with the virus and the gene it is carrying produce the target protein. The tobacco leaves are then harvested and processed to extract the protein, which is purified.

ZMapp’s protein is a monoclonal antibody, which resembles ordinary disease-fighting antibodies but has a highly specific affinity for particular cells, including viruses such as Ebola. It attaches itself to the virus cells and inactivates them.

APPROVAL PROCESS

The drug so far has only been produced in very small quantities, but interest in it is stoking debate over whether it should be made more widely available to the hundreds of people stricken with Ebola in Africa while it remains untested.

“We want to have a huge impact on the Ebola outbreak,” Mapp CEO Kevin Whaley said in an interview at company headquarters in San Diego. “We would love to play a bigger role.”

Whaley said he was not aware of any significant safety issues with the serum. He would not discuss whether the company has been contacted about providing the drug overseas.

But he did note the novel manufacturing process carries its own risk, and would have to be cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as part of the approval process.

The FDA would, for example, have to be satisfied that the plant extraction process had not led to contamination of the resulting drug.

The tobacco plant grows quickly, said Reynolds spokesman David Howard, and “it takes only about a week (after the genes are introduced) before you can begin extracting the protein.”

He declined to say how much medication each plant can yield or whether Kentucky Bioprocessing is in a position to produce ZMapp in significant quantities.

Scripps’ Saphire said it can still take anywhere from one to three months to produce the ZMapp serum for wider use given the complexities of the process.

PENTAGON FUNDING

In 2007, Kentucky Bioprocessing entered into an agreement with Mapp Biopharmaceutical and the Biodesign Institute of Arizona State University to refine the tobacco-plant approach. The approach attracted funding support from the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

For all the hope, however, the plant technique has delivered few commercial products. In 2012 the FDA okayed a drug for the rare genetic disorder Gaucher disease from Israel’s Protalix BioTherapeutics and Pfizer. Called Elelyso, it is made in carrot cells, and is the only such drug to reach the market.

Other companies have fallen far short, though it is not clear if the technique was to blame. Calgary-based SemBioSys Genetics Inc, which used safflowers to produce an experimental diabetes drug, folded in 2012 before it finished clinical trials.

Even Kentucky Bioprocessing, which at one point was developing monoclonal antibodies against HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), C. difficile bacterial infection, and the human papillomavirus, has dropped the last two projects, Howard said.

Last year Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp acquired a majority share of Quebec City-based Medicago, which is developing influenza and other vaccines using the tobacco-plant technology. The other 40 percent is owned by tobacco giant Philip Morris International.Reuters

 

Tobacco-derived ‘plantibodies’ enter the fight against Ebola

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One-third of Delhi Police force to be women: Rajnath Singh

News4u-News Desk-Women will constitute one-third of the Delhi Police force, Home Minister Rajnath Singh told Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

“We have decided to increase the number of women personnel in Delhi Police to one-third. Our effort is also to increase women personnel in state police and central police forces to one-third,” he said during Question Hour.

Police-population ratio in Delhi (as in January 2013) was 391.33 per one lakh persons as against the sanctioned strength of 420.49.

The Home Minister said there is shortage of manpower in state and central police and also in other police organisations.

“There is shortage of manpower in state/central police and Indian Police Service (IPS) cadre,” he said.

He informed that as in January 2013, the sanctioned and actual strength of police personnel at all India level per one lakh population (police-population ratio) is 181.47 and 136.42 respectively.

Singh said state governments have been advised from time to time by the Home Ministry to fill up the vacancies in the state police forces.

He said that to fill up the vacancies of IPS officers, the batch size of IPS (direct recruitment) has been increased from 88 to 103 from Civil Services Examination (CSE), 2005 and further to 150 from CSE, 2009.

Government had also introduced third mode of recruitment to IPS through ‘limited competitive examination’ to recruit 80 candidates annually.

However, due to court cases, recruitment is yet to be done through this mode of examination.

Singh also said the process of appointments to the IPS by promotion from State Police Service has been accelerated.

To another question, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju that the President has given his assent to ‘The Industrial Employment (Standing Order) (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2005′ in February 2014 which was conveyed to the state government the same month.

 

Rajnath Singh

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11 washed away at Bagdari waterfall in Madhya Pradesh; seven dead

News4u-News Desk-Eleven people were washed away at Bagdari picnic spot, about 50 km away from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, when water level in a rivulet near the waterfall rose suddenly on Monday.

So far seven bodies have been fished out but others remained untraceable, according to Superintendent of Police (SP) Hari Narayanchari Mishra.

“A total of 12 persons, belonging to three families of Hanuman Tal area, went to the Bagdari waterfall picnic spot and crossed a rivulet in which water level was shallow,” he told reporters.

However, when they were crossing the rivulet while returning from the spot, the water level rose suddenly and all of them were swept away, the SP said.

Mishra said that local people somehow managed to save a 15-year-old girl but not the others.

“So far, seven bodies have been recovered and search is on to trace the remaining people,” he said.

District Collector, Vivek Porwal has announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 1 lakh each to the kin of those killed in the mishap.

The victims were not identified yet, the SP added.

 

MP Map

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Obama announces USD 33 bn to support development across Africa

News4u-News Desk- US President Barack Obama has announced a commitment of USD 33 billion to support development across Africa during a three-day summit with dozens of leaders from the continent.

These investments would unlock the next era of African growth, the US President said in his address to a galaxy of African leaders at the US-Africa Summit being hosted by him in Washington.

The three-day summit is being attended by leaders from more than 50 African countries.

“The US is making a major and long-term investment in Africa’s progress. Taken together, the new commitments across our government and by our many partners total some USD 33 billion.

That will support development across Africa and jobs here in the US. Up to tens of thousands of American jobs are supported every time we expand trade with Africa,” he said.

“As critical as all these investments are, the key to unlocking the next era of African growth is not going to be here in the United States, it’s going to be in Africa.

And so, during this week’s summit, we’ll be discussing a whole range of areas where we’re going to have to work together - areas that are important in their own right, but which are also essential to Africa’s growth,” he said.

Citing the example of Kenya-born Kusum Kavia; whose family was originally from India, Obama said she is an example of what’s possible - a long-term partnership with Africa.

“Kusum Kavia was born in Kenya; her family was originally from India. Eventually, she emigrated to the US and along with her husband started a small business in California. It started off as a small engineering firm. Then it started manufacturing small power generators. With the help of the Export-Import Bank…they started exporting power generators to West Africa. In Benin, they helped build a new electric power plant,” he said.

“It has ended up being a win-win for everybody. It’s been a win for their company, Combustion Associates, because exports to Africa have boosted their sales, which means they’ve been able to hire more workers here in the US. They partner with GE; GE is doing well. Most of their revenues are from exports to Africa. It’s been a win for their suppliers in Texas and Ohio and New York,” he said.

“It’s been a win for Benin and its people, because more electricity for families and businesses, jobs for Africans at the power plant because the company hires locally and trains those workers. And they hope to keep expanding as part of our Power Africa initiative. So this is an example of just one small business. Imagine if we can replicate that success across our countries,” Obama said.

Asserting that the US is determined to be a partner in Africa’s success - a good partner, an equal partner, and a partner for the long term, Obama said: “We don’t look to Africa simply for its natural resources; we recognise Africa for its greatest resource, which is its people and its talents and their potential.”

The US, he said, does not simply want to extract minerals from the ground for its growth.

“We want to build genuine partnerships that create jobs and opportunity for all our peoples and that unleash the next era of African growth. That’s the kind of partnership America offers,” Obama said.

 

Obama

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Samson, Karn included in India’s ODI side

News4u-Sports Desk-Kerala youngster Sanju Samson and Railways leg-spinner Karn Sharma on Tuesday earned their maiden call-up while batman Cheteshwar Pujara was omitted from India’s 17-member squad for the One-day series against England, beginning from August 25.

Mumbai paceman Dhawal Kularni was also included while paceman Mohit Sharma was recalled in the squad, which had no place for seasoned players such as Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Ishant Sharma and Harbhajan Singh.

Suresh Raina, who was left out of the Indian team for the Asia Cup in Bangladesh has been included in the squad, announced by BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel after a meeting of the selection committee.

Pacer Umesh Yadav has also been recalled to the team, to be captained by Mahendra Singh Dhoni with Virat Kohli being his deputy.

The selectors also dropped paceman Ishwar Pandey, Varun Aaron and wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik.

“Considering the World Cup, the emphasis was laid on including the young players, that is why players such as Sanju Samson, Karn Sharma, Mohit Sharma and Stuart Binny are there in the team,” Patel told reporters.

Patel also informed that spinner Amit Mishra was ruled out due to a back injury.

The 19-year-old Samson and 26-year-old Karn were rewarded for their consistent performance in the domestic circuit as well as India A engagements.

Samson was highest run-getter for India A in team’s recent Quadrangular series victory in Australia.

The diminutive batsman scored 244 runs at an average of 81.33 in seven matches.

Kulkarni also forced his way to the team with his consistent show. He had emerged as the most successful bowler of the Quadrangular series with 14 wickets, which included one five-wicket haul.

Mohit, who has already played eight ODIs for India, had taken eight wickets in that series.

Yuvraj Singh, who was in the second-string team which toured Bangladesh under Raina’s captaincy, was ignored and so was Ishant Sharma, who is part of India’s Test squad in the ongoing series in England.

The Selection panel, headed by Sandeep Patil, discussed with captain Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher through video conference before finalising the squad.

The team has two all-rounders in Stuart Binny and Ravindra Jadeja while it has two specialist spinners in R Ashwin and Karn. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma and Dhawal Kulkarni form the five-man pace attack.

Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane and Ambati Rayudu are the other specialist batsmen while Dhoni and Samson are the two wicket-keepers.

The first ODI will be played on August 25 at Bristol while Cardiff (August 27), Nottingham (August 30), Birmingham (September 2) and Headingley (September 5) will host the other matches.

The lone Twenty20 will be played on September 7 in Birmingham.

Team:

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Mohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Umesh Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni, Sanju Samson and Karn Sharma.

 

Samson, Karn included in India’s ODI side

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Cartoonist Pran, creator of iconic Chacha Chowdhury, dead

News4u-Entertainment Desk- Eminent cartoonist Pran Kumar Sharma, popularly known as Pran, who gave life to lovable comic characters Chacha Chaudhury and his friend Sabu, is no more.

Pran succumbed to cancer early this morning at a hospital in Gurgaon, according to his publisher Diamond Comics. He was 75. “Pran passed away at 9 AM at the Medanta hospital. He had been suffering from cancer of the intestine for the past eight months.

He is survived by a son and a daughter,” Gulshan Rai, Publisher, Diamond Comics, told reporters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to twitter to express his grief over the passing away of the cartoonist. Modi described Pran “as a versatile cartoonist who brought smiles on the faces of people through his rich work”.

Born in Kasur, near Lahore in Pakistan in 1938, Pran began his career in 1960 as a cartoonist for the Delhi-based newspaper ‘Milap’ with comic strip ‘Daabu’. In 1969, Pran sketched Chacha Chaudhary for the Hindi magazine ‘Lotpot’, which made him famous. “Pran was making small cartoons for newspapers when I first contacted him in 1981.

At that time there were no Indian comics, it was all reproductions of foreign titles. For the last 35 years we have been the sole publisher of his cartoons,” said Rai.

With a career spanning over five decades, Pran employed a simple style of art and sense of humour to create a family of characters like Shrimatiji, Pinki, Billoo, Raman and Channi Chachi, which are regularly published in Indian magazines.

 

Chacha Chowdhury

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Gaza truce pushes into second day ahead of Cairo talks

News4u-News Desk- A fragile ceasefire in Gaza pushed into a second day on Wednesday as Israeli and Palestinian delegations prepared for crunch talks in Cairo to try to extend the 72-hour truce.

The ceasefire, which came into effect on Tuesday and carried past midnight into Wednesday, has brought relief to millions on both sides after one month of fighting killed 1,875 Palestinians and 67 people in Israel.

Israeli and Palestinian delegations are now set for what are expected to be tough talks aimed at securing a permanent ceasefire after the three-day window closes.

Officials on both sides confirmed sending small teams to the Egyptian capital, but they bring conflicting demands and face an uphill diplomatic battle ahead.

The Palestinians insist Israel end its eight-year blockade of Gaza and open border crossings, while Israel wants Gaza fully demilitarised.

But after the longest period of quiet since fighting began, Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki said he expected “the ceasefire to expand into another 72 hours and beyond”.

The United States is set to participate in the Cairo talks. “We are determining at what level and in what capacity and when,” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, in a BBC interview, called for a sustained ceasefire but stressed that the crucial wider issues will need to be addressed.

“How are we going to make peace? How are we going to eliminate these rockets? How are we going to demilitarize and move towards a different future?”

In Gaza City, people came out in numbers on Tuesday afternoon, children played on the street and the beach, and some shops reopened for the first time in days.

Others ventured home for the first time only to witness scenes of devastation.

“What am I going to tell my wife and children? I don’t want them to see this! They will go crazy,” said Khayri Hasan al-Masri, a father of three who returned to his heavily damaged home in Beit Hanun in the north after fleeing when Israel’s ground offensive began on 17th July.

At a bullet-riddled girls’ school, an Israeli flag and an anti-Hamas slogan had been etched on the wall of a classroom, and discarded ration packs and tuna cans labelled in Hebrew littered the floor.

 

Gaza truce pushes into second day ahead of Cairo talks

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