Goa CM shares food plate with HIV-positive children

News4u-News Desk-Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar shared a meal with HIV-positive children, to dispel the misconception that the dreaded disease is transmitted by a mere touch.

The chief minister shared lunch yesterday with more than 30 children at an orphanage where they are currently studying.

These children were in the news recently after a section of parents of normal kids, studying along with the HIV-affected kids at a school in South Goa, had demanded their suspension from the school.

“I will provide all the support for these children. I am here to eradicate the belief that HIV spreads through touching or sharing meal,” Parrikar told reporters after eating food.

The chief minister had last month announced in the Legislative Assembly about sharing food with HIV-affected children.

“I will eat from a common plate with an HIV-positive child to prove my belief that the disease is not transmittable (by casual contact). If HIV were spread by physical contact then every human being would test positive. It does not spread like a common cold,” he had said.


Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar

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Pak violates ceasefire twice in J&K

News4u-News Desk-Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire twice on Sunday by resorting to heavy firing with automatic and small arms along International Border and Line of Control in Jammu and Poonch districts of Jammu and Kashmir, forcing Indian troops to retaliate

“In major escalation, Pakistani troops opened unprovoked firing from small arms and automatic weapons at our forward posts in Hamirpur sub-sector in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir around 0840 hours,” a Defence spokesman said.

The spokesman said the Army troops also responded with weapons to Pakistan’s firing which resulted in intermittent exchanges of fire, he said.

“There was no loss of life or damage to property in the firing on this side of LoC,” he said.

“Earlier in another such ceasefire violation, Pakistan Rangers resorted to heavy firing on 5-6 Border Out Posts (BoPs) in R S Pura and Arnia sub-sectors in Jammu district around 0200 hours”, a BSF officer said.

The BSF troops guarding the borderline with Pakistan responded with equal caliber weapons to Pakistan’s firing which resulted in intermittent exchanges of fire, which has stopped late this morning, he said.

“There was no loss of life or injury to any in the firing on this side of IB,” he said. There were reports that Pakistani Rangers also fired 82-mm mortars on BoPs and some civilian areas in R S Pura.

There have been 10 ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops along LoC and IB in Jammu region during past 9 days and 11 in August this year.

There was no ceasefire violation for past two days as gun fell silent along IB and LoC on August 15 and 16 after a nearly week-long heavy firing exchanges along Indo-Pak border.

The last ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops took place on August 14, when they resorted to unprovoked small arms and automatic weapons firing on Indian posts along LoC in Hamirpur sector of Poonch district around 1730 to 1810 hours.

Besides this, there were two other violations of ceasefire in Balakote (Mendhar) and Hamirpur sectors in Poonch on August 14 morning and August 13 night.

J&K

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FM station for visually-impaired seeks to expand reach

News4u-News Desk-An ambitious FM channel which was launched in Dehradun to showcase the broadcasting talents of visually-impaired people may soon spread its wings to Himachal Pradesh or Tamil Nadu.

An initiative of the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped (NIVH), the FM channel, ‘Hello Doon’, became operational about two years ago.

The institute, which functions under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, is now mulling an expansion of its services in the rest of the country as part of efforts to open the doors of the world of broadcasting to more visually- impaired persons.

“My first priority would be to set up something similar in either Tamil Nadu or Himachal Pradesh, where we have our regional centres, so that the message goes out about the excellent broadcasting talents of blind people,” NIVH Director Anuradha Mohit told PTI in New Delhi.

Noting that the Dehradun-based ‘Hello Doon’ channel was an experiment to showcase the talents of visually-impaired people, she said there are plans to launch new FM channels in 2015-16.

“That will be some time in 2015-16… It takes a long time to start a radio station. There are so many formalities to be completed… I have included it in my programme for 2015-16,” she added.

‘Hello Doon’, available on 91.2 MHZ, has completed two years. Programmes on this station are largely created by visually-impaired students. That apart, the institute is also offering a one-year training course in radio journalism for visually-impaired persons.

“Our morning transmission is looked after by a visually impaired candidate who qualified for the one-year course. Two of our programmes are completely made by visually-impaired artistes. One of the programmes, ‘Sangeet Shiksha’, has completed almost 300 episodes on Hindustani Classical Music,” Mohit said.

She stated that steps are being taken to make the FM channel self-sustainable by getting sponsors.


FM station for visually-impaired seeks to expand reach

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Harvard scientists create world’s largest robotic swarm

News4u-News Desk-Harvard scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have created the world’s largest robotic swarm - 1,024 little bots standing on pin-like legs - that can assemble into predetermined shapes.

Researchers at Harvard University demonstrated the robots by sending a command “form a sea star shape” to the little bots simultaneously via an infrared light.

The robots began to blink at one another and then gradually arranged themselves into a five-pointed star.

The robots then also formed the letter K. The ‘K’ stands for Kilobots, the name given to these extremely simple robots, each just a few centimetres across, standing on three pin-like legs.

Just as trillions of individual cells can assemble into an intelligent organism, or a thousand starlings can form a great flowing murmuration across the sky, the Kilobots demonstrate how complexity can arise from very simple behaviours performed en masse.

The self-organising swarm was created in the lab of Radhika Nagpal, Fred Kavli Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

“We are especially inspired by systems where individuals can self-assemble together to solve problems,” said Nagpal.

The Kilobots require no micromanagement or intervention once an initial set of instructions has been delivered.

Four robots mark the origin of a coordinate system, all the other robots receive a 2D image that they should mimic, and then using very primitive behaviours - following the edge of a group, tracking a distance from the origin, and maintaining a sense of relative location - they take turns moving towards an acceptable position.

The Kilobots also correct their own mistakes. If a traffic jam forms or a robot moves off-course - errors that become much more common in a large group - nearby robots sense the problem and cooperate to fix it.

To keep the cost of the Kilobot down, each robot moves using two vibrating motors that allow it to slide across a surface on its rigid legs.

An infrared transmitter and receiver allow it to communicate with a few of its neighbours and measure their proximity - but the robots are myopic and have no access to a bird’s-eye view.

“These robots are much simpler than many conventional robots, and as a result, their abilities are more variable and less reliable,” said lead author Michael Rubenstein, a research associate at Harvard SEAS and the Wyss Institute.

“For example, the Kilobots have trouble moving in a straight line, and the accuracy of distance sensing can vary from robot to robot,” he said.

Yet, at scale, the smart algorithm overcomes these individual limitations and guarantees - both physically and mathematically - that the robots can complete a human-specified task, in this case assembling into a particular shape, said Nagpal.


Harvard scientists create world’s largest robotic swarm

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PM, Ansari greet people on Janmashtami

News4u-News Desk-Vice President Hamid Ansari along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday greeted the people on Janmashtami, saying it was time to rededicate to Lord Krishna’s teachings to build a peaceful, enlightened and just society.

“I convey my warm greetings and good wishes to the citizens of our country on the joyous occasion of Janmashtami… Lord Krishna’s message of performing our duties with sincerity and devotion, without attachment to the results of our actions, remains a pertinent principle for salvation of humanity,” Ansari said in his message.

He said on the occasion, people should resolve to rededicate themselves to the teachings of Lord Krishna to build a peaceful, enlightened and just society.

In his message, Prime Minister Modi hoped that Lord Krishna would bless the lives of people.

“Greetings on Janmashtami! May Lord Krishna bless our lives with peace, prosperity and happiness,” the Prime Minister said in his message.


Janmashtami

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Dissolvable ‘tampon’ to protect against HIV

News4u-Features Desk-Researchers have developed a dissolvable tampon-like product that can carry substantial loads of medicine and could offer fast-acting HIV protection.

Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) have developed the material which is capable of carrying substantial loads of medicine, dissolving and releasing the drugs once its comes into contact with moisture.

The study builds on research conducted at UW’s Department of Bioengineering in 2012.

Dr Kim Woodrow and her team were experimenting with electrospinning, a process where a charged fluid containing polymers and antiretroviral drugs is projected from a syringe and through an electric field.

The electric field causes the jet of liquid to break into tiny fibres, each measuring anywhere between 100 to several thousand nanometres, ‘Gizmag’ reported.

These then come to land on a collecting plate and combine to form a stretchy fabric capable of blocking sperm and, as the researchers discovered, carrying and releasing contraceptives and antivirals.

Because certain elements of the material can be controlled, such as the solubility, strength and size of the fibres, the researchers said that it may prove more versatile than other anti-HIV technologies currently in development.

One sample dissolved within minutes, an application that could protect against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Another sample dissolved over several days, which could prove useful in sustained delivery of drugs, such as birth-control pills and anti-HIV medicines.

The team said that the electrospun material can carry a large load of maraviroc, an antiretroviral drug used in the treatment of HIV which has minimal side effects.

The research is published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.


Dissolvable ‘tampon’ to protect against HIV

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CBI to probe Tata Realty-Unitech land deal

News4u-News Desk-CBI has registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) to probe into an alleged Rs 1,700 crore land deal between Tata Realty and Unitech in 2007 to purportedly fund the latter’s telecom project.

Highly-placed sources in the agency said that the Supreme Court has been informed about the probe that was being conducted to ascertain the actual purpose of the land deal.

The CBI has also said that it would be investigating the allocation of dual technology spectrum to Tata Teleservices in February 2008.

The sources said these aspects were not probed during the earlier investigation into the 2G scam. Now these aspects will be looked into thoroughly after which a report will be submitted to the Supreme Court.

Tata Realty spokesperson said the company was “not aware of any preliminary inquiry”.

“We have explained our position on this issue in the past. We reiterate that we have comprehensively addressed questions from all Government agencies and fully cooperated with all authorities in their investigations. We stress that we are committed to the highest standards of ethics and business conduct,” the spokesperson said.

Unitech refused to comment on the issue.

The agency will probe whether the advance given by Tata Realty was used by Unitech for real estate projects or for a telecom licence pertaining to the 2G telecom spectrum allocation scam.

CBI has already sought a copy of the report of the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) which had alleged that the realty deal between Tatas and Unitech in 2007 could have been aimed at funding Unitechs telecom licence.

The need for the probe was felt after Reliance had approached the Supreme Court seeking directions to quash the FIR filed against it in connection with Swan Telecom which was alleged to be the front company of Reliance Telecom Limited.

As the agency was preparing a reply on RTL plea, the CBI found that no probe had been conducted against Tatas so far and the same was conveyed to the Supreme Court.

The CBI would now be examining senior Tata group officials, the sources said.

Besides this, the agency would look into the report of SFIO probe which was ordered by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in 2012 to look into the affairs of Niira Radia-led PR firm Vaishnavi, which used to handle media relations of various Tata group firms and Unitech, the sources said.

The SFIO report alleged that the Rs 1,700-crore realty deal between Tatas and Unitech in 2007 could have been meant for funding Unitech’s telecom licence issued in January 2008.


CBI

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19 injured as moderate quake jolts China

News4u-News Desk-At least 19 people were injured on Sunday after a moderate 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck a county in China’s southwestern Sichuan province.

The epicentre, with a depth of 7 km, was in Wuji Township, 21 kilometres away from the Yongshan County seat.

The shallow quake was strongly felt in the neighbouring counties of Suijiang, Daguan and Zhenxiong as well as the Zhaoyang District of Zhaotong City, which administers Yongshan, according to the provincial seismological bureau.

Nineteen people in Yongshan were injured and 1,424 houses were damaged, state-run Xinua News Agency reported.

Cracks have been spotted in adobe houses and more than 10 cattle lots collapsed at Jinping Village, according to the county government.

Among the injured, ten have been sent to county hospitals for treatment and another nine are receiving medical care at township clinics.

About 50 km of roads, 41 km of tunnels and 21 km of power transmission lines were damaged in five townships. More than 1,000 local officials, policemen and militia personnel are working in the affected regions in rescue efforts and disaster investigations.

About 200 firefighters from various cities have arrived in Yongshan for rescue operations.

Civil affairs authorities have sent 200 tents, 2,000 quilts and 2,000 coats to the county.

Twenty-two aftershocks had been reported so far.

Some houses were reported to have collapsed but communication in the county is unimpeded, according to the seismological bureau.

Yunnan Governor Li Jiheng is leading a work team to Yongshan from Ludian, a county which was hit by a 6.5-magnitude earthquake on August 3.

Over 600 people were killed more than 80,000 homes were destroyed in that quake.

The Yongshan earthquake is not an aftershock of the Ludian earthquake as the epicentres of the two quakes are 113 km away from each other, said Zhang Junwei, an official with the provincial seismological bureau.


19 injured as moderate quake jolts China

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Kenya bars travellers from worst-hit Ebola countries

News4u-News Desk- Kenya is closing its borders to travellers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three countries worst hit by the Ebola outbreak, the government said on Saturday.

Kenya Airways also announced that it would suspend its flights to Freetown and Monrovia when the government travel bar on passengers comes into effect on Wednesday.

Several European carriers have already suspended services to the Sierra Leonean and Liberian capitals, where states of emergency have been declared to try to slow the spread of the disease.

Kenyan Health Minister James Macharia said the measure is also aimed at travellers who have passed through the affected countries.

“In the interest of public health the government has decided to temporarily suspend entry into Kenya of passengers travelling from or through the three West African countries affected by Ebola, namely Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia,” he said.

The measure does not affect health workers fighting the epidemic, Macharia said, nor Kenyans returning home from the three countries.

However, he warned that both groups would be subject to “strict checks… and it may be necessary to put people in quarantine”. Kenyan health officials have already spotted four suspected cases of Ebola, which experts say is raging out of control in west Africa, but all proved negative after tests.

Kenyan Airways will continue to fly to Nigeria, despite a much smaller Ebola outbreak in its largest city, Lagos, the company said in a statement.


Kenya bars travellers from worst-hit Ebola countries

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Rain continues to wreck havoc in Northern, Eastern India

News4u-News Desk- As rain continues to wreck havoc situation remained grim in Northern and Eastern India due to floods. Several thousand people are affected in Uttarakhand and Odisha with Centre issuing flood warning for UP.

Heavy rains continue in Himachal, 2 killed

Two persons were killed on Saturday as heavy rains continued to lash many places in Himachal Pradesh triggering landslides causing road blockades, damaging property and inundating agricultural lands.

The two persons identified as Devi Singh and Yash Pal were buried alive when the jeep in which they were travelling was buried by debris of landslide near Larji Dam in Mandi district.

Rain-related incidents have left 12 persons dead including four persons who were washed away in Sheer Khud at Jahu and four who died in flashfloods near Nadaun on Friday.

A cloudburst occurred in Dehra area of Kangra damaging half a dozen cowsheds and five heads of cattle perished, but there was no loss of human life, officials said.

A tree uprooted by a landslide damaged the rain shelter in Shimla and a car was buried under the debris. All the rivers and their tributaries in lower hills are in spate due to rise in water level.

The monsoon rain defict has come down from 36 per cent to 27 per cent during the past 48 hours. Bharwara was wettest in the region with 169 mm rains while Mandi and Sundernagar recorded 135 mm and 131 mm rains, followed by Bhoranj 120 mm, Nagrota Suriyan 116 mm, Amb 92 mm, Una and Renuka 90 mm, Bangana 85 mm, Jubbar Hatti 84 mm, Dehra Gopipur 78 mm, Nahan and Dharampur 75 mm, Mehre 74 mm, Sunni Bhajji 65 mm, Shimla 62 mm and Dharampur 60 mm.

The maximum temperatures remained steady in the region and Bhuntar recorded 31.6 degrees Celsius followed by Sundernagar 29.9, Solan 27, Dharamsala 26.8, Nahan26.1, Shimla 24.4 and Kalpa22.2 degrees Celsius.

The local MeT office has predicted light to moderate rains at isolated places in mid and lower hills during next two days.

Thousands affected in Bihar flood, evacuation on

Thousands of people in Darbhanga, West Champaran and Nalanda districts in Bihar have been affected by floods after rivers flowing through these districts breached their embankments.

Floods occurred in Darbhanga and West Champaran districts after breaches developed in the embankments of Kamla Balan and Gandak rivers respectively, while in Nalanda it was due to the overflowing of Panchane river.

Rescue operations have been launched and the Chief Secretary and other top officials made an aerial survey today to assess the situation.

“A clear picture of the situation would emerge only after the aerial survey is complete, and then only we would be able to say anything,” Disaster Management Department (DMD) Principal Secretary Vyasji said over phone.

DMD Special Secretary Anirudh Kumar said around 45,000 people have been affected by flood in Darbhanga district alone.

Terming the situation in Nalanda district as “grim”, the DMD official said Sarmera, Asthawan and Rahui blocks had been severely affected and thousands of people in danger were is being evacuated.

Kumar said rescue and relief work has begun in West Champaran district.

Four teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were coming from Kolkata to assist the eight other teams already present in Bihar, he said.

Water Resources Department minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhury told PTI, irresponsibility and laxity by executive engineers and other officials were suspected in the breaches in Darbhanga and West Champaran districts because they had been earlier directed to be there to protect the embankments.

“The Executive Engineer of our department and his subordinates in Darbhanga district are being suspended because of showing laxity in the matter. The breach happened despite our officials being there.

We are conducting a probe in the breach in Gandak embankment and irresponsible officers will be suspended,” Chaudhary said.

The minister said there was around an eight metre-long breach in the embankment of Kamla Balan at Kumhraul near Ghanshyampur in Darbhanga district and flood water has affected over 20 villages in the area.

“We are trying to protect the ‘cut-ends’ of the embankment and will go for plugging the breach once the water level goes down,” he said.

“Two teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and two of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) are conducting rescue and relief operations for the people trapped in the waters of Kamla Balan. They are being brought to relief camps,” the DMD Special Secretary said. The minister said the breach in Gandak embankment near Ratwalpur at Bagaha in West Champaran district occurred today afternoon and the team of engineers and officials was still in the process of assessing the situation and spread of water.

“As far as Nalanda district is concerned, flood has taken place due to water overflowing of the Panchane river.

There was heavy rainfall over the last few days and the area has no system of embankments,” Chaudhary said.

Chaudhary said Chief Engineers have been sent to monitor and control the breaches at both the places.

He also said Bihar Chief Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh, Disaster Management Department (DMD) Principal Secretary Vyasji and WRD Secretary Dipak Kumar Singh have gone on aerial survey to assess the flood situation.

“We are running 60 relief camps in the three flooded areas. People brought to them are being given food. Cash relief grant and food grains will also be provided to them,” the DMD Special Secretary said.

Flood warning in UP as Rapti flows above danger level

The Centre on Saturday issued a warning of “high flood situation” in Uttar Pradesh after water in the Rapti river rose above the danger level.

“River Rapti in Balrampur district of UP is now flowing in high flood situation.

At 1800 hours on Saturday, it was flowing at a level of 104.99 metres with a rising trend,” said a statement issued by Ministry of Water Resources here.

The river was flowing at 0.37 metres above the danger level of 104.62 metres and 0.46 metres below its previous highest flood level (HFL) of 105.25 metres recorded on September 11, 2000, it said.

At 0800 hour on Saturday, it was flowing at a level of 104.79 metres, the release added.

The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth on Friday took stock of the preparedness in the wake of floods in Nepal.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have also been kept ready for rescue operations in Nepal, if required.

Three helicopters have been kept on the stand by at Gorakhpur for this purpose, it said.

Flood situation in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and recent heavy rains and cloudburst in Uttarakhand were also reviewed by NCMC with the state governments.


Rain continues to wreck havoc in Northern, Eastern India

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