December 3

No water cuts for Pune till July 15: Bapat

first_imgDistrict Guardian Minister and senior BJP leader Girish Bapat has ruled out the need for water cuts till monsoon as thundershowers in the last 48 hours have brought down the temperatures in the city.The three dams, Khadakwasla, Panshet and Varasgaon, have enough stocks to meet the requirements till July 15, Mr. Bapat said, adding that the decision was taken in concert with the Pune Municipal Corporation and the irrigation department. The fourth dam, Temghar, which is undergoing repair work owing to massive leakage, has been emptied. The cumulative storage capacity of the four water bodies is 29 tmcft. “After reviewing the situation, we concluded that there is no need for water cuts as of now. Supply will continue as per normal schedule till July 15,” he said.The news comes as a relief to the residents who were facing alternate-day water supply in 2015 and 2016. The rationing began in mid-September 2015 and dragged on till July last year as reserve stocks in the four dams plummeted to a historic low of 2.84 tmcft, forcing officials to prioritise between releasing water to the adjoining rural areas of Daund and Indapur and catering to the city’s needs.last_img read more

December 3

Three Bihar policemen dismissed for ‘protecting’ liquor mafia

first_imgIn a first major crackdown on policemen allegedly found ‘protecting’ the ‘liquor mafia’ in dry Bihar, three police officials on Wednesday were dismissed from service while one was suspended for dereliction of duty by the Patna Central Range Deputy Inspector General of Police Rajesh Kumar. The dismissed police officials are identified as Sunil Kumar and Bishambhar Prasad, both Sub-Inspectors, and Shrawan Kumar, an Assistant Sub-Inspector, of the Beur Police Station in Patna. Officer-in-charge of the Fatuha Police Station Avinash Kumar was suspended for dereliction in duty.“Many more dismissals or suspensions of police officials found in the illegal trade of liquor in any way would be done in the coming days…we are keeping a strict vigil on such policemen,” a senior official posted at State Police headquarters told The Hindu. Earlier, altogether 29 policemen, including the Beur Police Station officer-in-charge, were transferred and asked to report at a police line after they were reportedly found protecting some liquor traders. A policeman was identified by an arrested illegal liquor trader at Buxar for providing him ‘protection’ after taking a bribe. Since the new, stringent Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act 2016 was enforced in the State in April 2016, action has been taken against over a dozen police officials failing to check illegal liquor trade in their area. Crackdown and crushWhen the media widely reported that rats have been guzzling liquor in dry Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar summoned top police officials and asked them to take stringent action against policemen involved in the illegal trade of the liquor. Now, every day, thousands of seized liquor bottles are being crushed under bulldozers at different police stations under the supervision of District Magistrates or the senior police officials.Over 45,000 people have been arrested and several lakh litres of illegal liquor have been seized in dry Bihar under the new stringent law but truckloads of illegal liquor are being transported every day into the State from the neighbouing States like Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, with a few of them caught and seized. “It is all happening in connivance with the policemen posted at the check posts or elsewhere…the policemen at the local level have found a new source of income,” said a businessman at the U.P.-Bihar border area in Buxar.last_img read more

December 3

Gujarat rain rescue apace

first_imgAHMEDABAD: Incessant rains have claimed nine lives in Gujarat while over 400 people stranded in floods have been rescued, including dozens of them airlifted by the Indian Air Force since July 14, when rain fury began in the State. “With the help of National Disaster Response Force and the Air Force, we have rescued 405 persons in different parts of the State in the last 48 hours. Nine persons have lost their lives while 2,004 persons have been shifted to safer places,” said Revenue Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, who supervised the rescue efforts from the State’s emergency control room on Sunday.last_img read more

December 3

Rajasthan puts gag order on govt. staff

first_imgOfficials of the Rajasthan government may face disciplinary action if they criticise any of its policies, programmes and decisions or make adverse remarks about any government institution or functionary on the social media. Even sharing of such a social media post will invite punishment.The Bharatiya Janata Party government issued a circular here over the weekend, inviting the employees’ attention to the service conduct rules of both the Centre and the state. The circular made a specific reference to “undignified and improper” comments being publicised on social media.State Personnel Secretary Bhaskar A. Sawant said many officers and employees were not complying with the conduct rules and were spreading “false, baseless and unverified” comments on the public forums. Such a conduct lowered the dignity of public offices, stated the circular sent to all Divisional Commissioners, Collectors and Director-General of Police.Opposition cries foulThe Opposition Congress has cried foul on the issue, saying the release of circular when the code of conduct for the government officials was already in force proved that the BJP government wanted to hide its “failures and irregularities”.“The new instructions issued by the [state] government amount to suppression of freedom of speech and expression and curbing of any opinion which goes against the ideology of BJP. This circular has revealed the autocratic character of BJP,” state Congress president Sachin Pilot said on Saturday.last_img read more

December 3

Sentencing in Kopardi rape-murder case on November 29

first_imgPune: A special court in Ahmednagar on Wednesday has reserved the much-anticipated judgement in the infamous Kopardi rape-murder case till November 29.The Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, made his concluding arguments on Wednesday in which he urged the court to award death sentence to the three convicts – Jitendra Shinde (25), Santosh Bhaval (36) and Nitin Bhailume (26) – given the gory and brutal nature of the crime committed last July.When the court convened at 11.a.m., advocate Balasaheb Khopade, lawyer for Bhaval, said, “It is a highly unfortunate incident, but Santosh Bhaval has not committed the crime. Yet, he has been falsely implicated and the evidence was fabricated … no witness saw him leaving the crime scene.” Mr. Nikam, who began his summation following Mr. Khopade’s defence, argued that the accused deserved capital punishment. He said that the convicted “remained unrepentant of their crime” before and after the tragedy.“Jitendra Shinde had accosted the victim even before the day of the actual crime, engaging in improper conduct much to the mirth of Bhaval and Bhailume, who were laughing when Shinde grabbed the girl by the hand… Later, on July 13, when the victim set out on her bicycle towards her grandfather’s home, two of the accused had kept a watch on her on their bike,” Mr. Nikam said. He argued that Shinde had shown no remorse after the crime, and it was “highly unlikely that Bhaval and Bhailume, who had actively abetted in the crime, would show signs of rehabilitation even if their sentence were mitigated”.“Going by their disposition and behaviour, there is no guarantee that the convicted will not commit a similar crime in the future. Hence, all three deserve the death penalty,” Mr. Nikam argued.On Tuesday, defence counsel had concluded arguments for Shinde and Bhailume, pleading for mitigation of their sentences.The case, which has been closely tracked by political parties and social outfits, had acquired a peculiar urgency owing to the potentially explosive nature of the crime in creating acute social divisions.The incident had been likened to the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case in the extent of its brutality, with medical reports suggesting that violence of a particularly feral nature was wreaked on the minor victim.last_img read more

December 3

Bengal a hub of soaring trade in wild Indian birds

first_imgPeople keep parakeets as pets without realising that they are violating the law,says a forest official.  | Photo Credit: ABRAR AHMED “On January 13, we arrested five persons, all residents of West Bengal. Thankfully, most of the birds were alive and we released them at a spot where they could thrive,” said Arup Mukherjee, Divisional Forest Officer, Kharagpur.Agni Mitra, Regional Deputy Director-Eastern Region, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, says that residents of a village near the Bardhaman Station are in touch with bird-catchers in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.“Once these birds are brought to West Bengal, they are stored for a brief period with shop-keepers, whom they call mahajans. Another group of hawkers takes these birds on credit from the shopkeepers and sells them in village fairs,” Mr. Mitra explained.Mr. Mitra said that this seizure of 2,754 birds was not the only one of its kind in recent times. Other seizures of wild Indian birds have been reported not only from Kolkata but also from market fairs in districts such as Tarakeshwar in Hooghly, Uluberia in Howrah, and in Purba Medinipur.Clandestine tradeExperts observe that Kolkata, and West Bengal, have for the past several years been a hub for the trade in Indian wild birds despite laws prohibiting it. After a 1991 amendment to the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, except for the house crow (Corvus splendens), which is listed as vermin, no Indian bird can be hunted, trapped, caged or traded.But in markets like Ghalif Street, Moulali and Boral across the north and south of Kolkata, and in the numerous haats in villages and suburbs, trade in wild Indian birds continues to flourish under the garb of trade in wild exotic birds, which is legally allowed. Abrar Ahmed, ornithologist and former consultant to NGO Traffic International’s Bird Trade Project, said that his studies over the past two decades have shown that of the 1,300 Indian species of birds, about 450 are being traded in domestic and international markets.Some of the most traded species are the rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri), Plum-headed Parakeet (P. cyanocephala) and Alexandrine parakeet (P. eupatria), followed by these passerines — black-headed munia (Lonchura malacca), red munia (Amandava amandava), white-throated munia (Lonchura malabarica) and hill myna (Granula religiosa).Mr. Ahmed pointed out that over the course of his studies on the Indian bird trade since 1992, he recorded 23 species listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Birds, and 19 species listed as Near Threatened, being exploited for trade.While the focus is on protecting threatened species, many of the bird species that are being exploited do not fall in such categories, the bird expert said. He describes them ironically as “species of lesser gods”.Explaining how the bird trade racket is spread far and wide Mr. Ahmed referred to a recent seizure at Lucknow, where about 800 wild birds were seized in the first week of January and seven persons were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police. He also pointed to another seizure Nepal in October 23, 2017, where three Indian nationals and a Pakistani national were arrested with a large number of animals and birds. Kolkata is the end point for the trade.“In Kolkata, the birds are brought from the terai region and the Gangetic plains. The route goes from Lucknow to Patna and then to Kolkata, over short distances by train. Winter is a preferred time for the trade as the birds can undertake longer journeys without food and water, and can be stored in smaller spaces to avoid detection,” he said.Another route followed is stretches from Assam to Siliguri to Kolkata.Since West Bengal shares a porous 2,216 km border with Bangladesh, the birds are easily taken to the neighbouring country, and smuggled all over the world via traders in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal.‘Unending problem’A senior official of the West Bengal Forest Department, who has been involved in the seizure of thousands of birds and the arrest of over 100 persons for the crime, described it as an “unending problem” as long as there is demand for wild Indian birds in local markets. While the focus is on protecting threatened species, many of the bird species that are being exploited do not fall in such categories, the bird expert said. It was like a scene from Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s National Award-winning film Charachar (‘Shelter of the Wings’, 1994), where the protagonist Lakhinder, played by Rajat Kapur, a bahelia (bird-catcher) by profession, releases his catch in the forest. Forest officials of the Kharagpur Divisional Office, too, had never witnessed anything such as this before.In mid-January, hundreds of wild birds with bright plumage flew out of iron cages in a burst of colours into the freedom of the sky. There were so many of them that it took several minutes before the cages were empty. The release followed highest ever seizure of wild birds in West Bengal in the preceding week. The birds were set free in the forest of Nayagram in the Pashchim Medinipur district, where such a large population of birds could be sustained in wilderness.The seizure included 1,782 rose-ringed parakeets and plum-headed parakeets, 80 hill mynas and 892 munias. They were stuffed in cages and being transported to a local fair in two vehicles when they were intercepted by the forest officials.According to investigators, the birds were trapped along Uttar Pradesh’s border with Nepal. They were transported by short train journeys to ensure that the maximum number could be kept alive. Forest officials tracked them from the time they arrived in West Bengal’s Bardhaman Station, based on a tip-off.Last year, too, when a similar consignment arrived in West Bengal, the perpetrators managed to slip away. Wildlife officials were ready this time, and intercepted the cages en route to Dantan, a block bordering Odisha. Wild Indian birds are in demand in international markets also.  | Photo Credit: ABRAR AHMED  “People who buy these birds should realise that the common mithu (parrot) is a protected species in India,” the officer said, emphasising that many people try to keep birds as pets without even realising that they are protected by law.While there are provisions in the law to prosecute buyers of these birds, it has not been implemented and law-enforcers are of the opinion that prosecuting buyers would amount to taking the matter “a little too far”.The clandestine nature of trade in wild Indian birds makes it difficult to enumerate it. Mr. Ahmed estimates 20,000-50,000 wild Indian birds are sold annually at each of the trading points.The researcher says there are at least 5,000 families, including traditional trappers such as Mishrikars, Pathamies, Bahelias or Chirimars, who depend on bird-catching as a means of livelihood. Conservationists fear that any attempt to stop the trade in Indian wild birds will not bear fruit in long run without the rehabilitation of these communities.last_img read more

December 3

Nagaland polls delay board results

first_imgStudents in Nagaland who appeared for their Class 10 and 12 exams are feeling the impact of the Assembly elections that were held in February.Officials of Nagaland Board of School Education (NBSE) told reporters in Dimapurthat the results of the high school leaving certificate and higher secondary school leaving certificate exams held in March could be delayed by a fortnight.NBSE results are normally declared by the first week of May.“NBSE exams are usually held in February, but because of Assembly elections, they were conducted in March this time. This has caused the delay,” a senior board official said.last_img read more

December 3

Maharashtra HSC results declared, girls outdo boys yet again

first_imgGirls fared better than the boys in the Class 12 exams at the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) which was declared on Wednesday.Girl students recorded a robust pass percentage of 92.36% against boys’ 85.23%.There was a dip in the overall pass percentage as compared to last year. The cumulative pass percentage figure this year was 88. 41%, a slide in little more than one percentage point from last year’s figure of 89.50, but higher than the pass percentage figure of 86.60 recorded in 2016.This year, a total of 12.52 lakh students cleared exam successfully out of the 14.85 lakh students who appeared for the examinations held over a course of month between February 21 to March 20. 8, 34,134 male students and 6, 50, 898 female students had appeared for the exams.“This year, for the first time, we have made use of bar codes in both the question and answer sheets and provided online hall tickets in the Pune division besides scheduling a break of one day between important papers,” said Shakuntala Kale, Chairperson, MSBSHSE, expressing satisfaction at the successful conduct of the exams.The Science stream recorded a pass percentage of 95.85%. The Arts stream recorded a pass percentage of 78. 93%, a significant dip from last year’s figure of 81.91, while 89.50% of students in the Commerce stream cleared the exams, as compared to last year’s 90.57%. The pass percentage figure for vocational candidates was 88.41%. Besides, 91.78% of the students with disability successfully cleared their exams.Given below are the pass percentages for the nine divisions, along with the number of students appeared in each:Name of DivisionPass%Konkan94.85Kolhapur91Pune 89.58Aurangabad88.74Amravati88.08Nagpur87.57Latur88.31Mumbai87.44Nashik86.13Total88.41last_img read more

December 3

Army Major detained in Meerut for involvement in killing another Major’s wife

first_imgAn Indian Army Major has been detained in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh for his alleged involvement in the killing of another Army Major’s wife in west Delhi, a senior officer said.An officer, privy to the probe, said that the accused has been detained and is being questioned.The woman’s body was found with her throat slit near the Brar Square in the Delhi Cantonment area on Saturday.Initially, the police was informed that a woman had died in an accident. Later, when they inspected the body, it was found that her throat was slit, they said.The accused had allegedly run a car over her face in order to make the incident appear as an accident, police said.The woman was dropped at the Army Base Hospital in her husband’s official vehicle by a driver.Later, when he came back to pick her up, he could not find her and learnt that she did not attend her scheduled physiotherapy session.last_img read more

December 3

‘Referendum bid to disturb Punjab’s peace’

first_imgThe Communist Party of India has called the proposed ‘Sikh Referendum 2020’, slated to be held in the United Kingdom on August 12, an attempt to disturb the hard-earned peace in Punjab.“The talk of referendum is nothing but terrorism through other means,” Joginder Dayal, member of the CPI national council, said in a statement here.Condemning the move, Mr. Dayal said extraneous elements were clearly at work to disturb the peace in Punjab.“We oppose the idea of any kind of a theocratic State, be it the Hindutva idea of India that the RSS-BJP promotes, or any kind of religion-based secessionist movement like that of Khalistan,” said Mr. Dayal.‘No traction’ “All talk of the ‘Sikh Referendum 2020’ has been emerging from the soil of Canada or the United Kingdom. Both Ottawa and London are most welcome to carve out a Khalistan in any shape, form or fashion if they want to, since they are sovereign countries. As far as India is concerned, there is no traction for such a demand,” added Mr. Dayal.Meanwhile, radical outfit Dal Khalsa and Simranjeet Singh Mann-led Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has urged Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) to clear the “vagueness and ambiguity” in its 2020 referendum proposal.SAD (Amritsar) president Simranjeet Singh Mann and Harpal Singh Cheema, president of the Dal Khalsa, in a letter to the SFJ leadership have asked it to spell out, during the event in London on August 12, how they were going to implement the proposal as there were many grey areas in it.last_img read more

December 3

Two NC workers shot dead in Srinagar

first_imgUnidentified gunmen shot dead two National Conference (NC) workers and injured another in Srinagar on Friday morning, just three days ahead of the urban local bodies elections in Jammu and Kashmir.“The killings took place in the interiors of Srinagar. We are investigating the matter,” said Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar, Imtiyaz Ismail said.Shot from close rangeThe attackers fired upon the three NC workers — Nazir Ahmad, Mushtaq Ahmad and Shakeel Ahmad — from close range in the Karfali Mohalla.When Shakeel tried to flee, he was chased and shot at in a nearby lane.“Nazir and Mushtaq were brought dead to a nearby hospital,” said a police officer. The third victim “stable”, according to officials.Both the NC workers were close to MLA Shameema Firdous. The killings took place three days ahead of polls for the urban local bodies on October 8. Police sources said three candidates withdrew their nominations after the attack.The attack has sent the security agencies into a tizzy. Frisking has been intensified. An additional 40,000 security personnel will man the streets during the elections.The National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and CPI(M) have condemned the killing. “People who committed this dastardly act have no humanity,” said NC president and MP Srinagar Farooq Abdullah. He demanded a high- level and impartial probe into the incident. “It is an act of terrorism and a ploy to stifle our voice,” said NC vice-president Omar Abdullah.The NC said the workers killed had no involvement in the ongoing ULB polls.PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said she was pained to hear about the killing. “My heart goes out to their families and children,” she said.CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami termed the incident “heinous”.last_img read more

December 3

BJP using Goa casino to fund campaigns, claims NSUI

first_imgThe National Students Union of India (NSUI) has lodged a complaint with the Election Commission of India (ECI) alleging that the BJP-led coalition government in Goa permitted a new casino vessel to operate in the Mandovi river for funds for the upcoming general elections and three Assembly by-polls to be held on April 23. NSUI Goa president Ahraz Mulla said in his complaint that the permission granted to the offshore casino Big Daddy on March 13 was in violation of the model code of conduct which came into force on March 10. “We feel the casino is the ‘big daddy’ of the BJP, and will help them fund their election campaigns as the vessel was brought after the election model code of conduct was put in effect,” the complaint said. There are now seven offshore casinos anchored in Mandovi river, and nearly 10 onshore casinos functioning from five stars and above category resorts.last_img read more

December 3

Three-way contest in Patiala

first_imgIn Punjab’s Patiala — the home town of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh — the Congress candidate, former Union Minister Preneet Kaur, is embroiled in a battle to reclaim the party’s lost turf as the seat is set for a triangular electoral contest in the upcoming parliamentary poll slated for May 19.Ms. Kaur, wife of Capt. Amarinder, tasted bitter defeat at the hands of Aam Aadmi Party’s Dharamvira Gandhi in 2014 Lok Sabha poll; Mr. Gandhi had won the Patiala seat by a margin of around 21,000 votes. Ms. Kaur had won from Patiala on the previous three occasions — in 1999, 2004 and 2009.On Friday, her husband accompanied Ms. Kaur as she filed her nomination papers for the electoral contest. Patiala, which has traditionally seen a fight between the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal, this time is witnessing a triangular contest with Mr. Gandhi, the AAP rebel, fighting as a joint candidate of the Punjab Democratic Alliance. The Akali Dal has announced former Minister Surjit Singh Rakhra as its candidate.Ms. Kaur expressed confidence that the Congress will register an impressive win not just in Patiala but across Punjab. “There is no Modi or Sukhbir Badal wave and Congress is set to win across the State. The mood in Punjab was completely changed from what it was in 2014,” she told reporters. “The BJP-led NDA government at the Centre has failed to keep its promises. The Congress, on the other hand, has been working for the development of Punjab and people are appreciating the good work,” she added. At her meetings and rallies, Ms. Kaur has been targeting the SAD-BJP for their “misrule” in the State during their 10-year-long regime. Mr. Rakhra, the Akali Dal candidate, also filed his nomination and hit out at the Congress, alleging that “empty promises” by the ruling Congress have exposed the party. He said that the Congress government in the State has “betrayed” the people as promises made by the party during the 2017 Assembly election campaign have not been fulfilled. Grassroots campaignMr. Gandhi, the sitting MP, who had floated his own political outfit, Nawan Punjab Party, had filed his nomination on Thursday and has started a door-to-door campaign instead of focusing on big rallies to garner votes. “People have seen my work and now they can compare it with that of previous MPs,” Mr. Gandhi told The Hindu.The AAP candidate, Neena Mittal, has also filed her nomination from Patiala.last_img read more

December 3

SC dismisses plea on traffic restriction in J&K

first_imgThe Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea challenging the Jammu and Kashmir government’s order restricting civilian traffic for a day in a week on a stretch of the National Highway from Udhampur to Baramulla for the movement of security forces.The State government’s counsel told the Bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta that the order restricting civilian traffic was passed due to the ongoing election and will remain in force till May 31. “Additional Solicitor General appearing for the State of Jammu and Kashmir submits that the closure of the highway as on date is for one day in a week, i.e., Wednesday. Additional Solicitor General has further submitted that the said closure will be effective only till the end of May 2019,” the Bench noted in its order. “Taking into account the reasons that have prompted the State to order for the closure of the highway which is restricted to one day in the week, we are not inclined to keep this petition pending any longer,” the Bench said and disposed of the plea.The State government had issued an order on April 3 in which it said that no civilian traffic movement will be allowed on the NH stretch from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. twice a week.last_img read more

December 3

Searching for the Amazon’s Hidden Civilizations

first_imgLook around the Amazon rainforest today and it’s hard to imagine it filled with people. But in recent decades, archaeologists have started to find evidence that before Columbus’s arrival, the region was dotted with towns and perhaps even cities. The extent of human settlement in the Amazon remains hotly debated, partly because huge swaths of the 6-million-square-kilometer rainforest remain unstudied by archaeologists. Now, researchers have built a model predicting where signs of pre-Columbian agriculture are most likely to be found, a tool they hope will help guide future archaeological work in the region.In many ways, archaeology in the Amazon is still in its infancy. Not only is it difficult to mount large-scale excavations in the middle of a tropical rainforest, but until recently, archaeologists assumed there wasn’t much to find. Amazonian soil is notoriously poor quality—all the nutrients are immediately sucked up by the rainforest’s astounding biodiversity—so for many years, scientists believed that the kind of large-scale farming needed to support cities was impossible in the region. Discoveries of gigantic earthworks and ancient roads, however, hint that densely populated and long-lasting population hubs once existed in the Amazon. Their agricultural secret? Pre-Columbian Amazonians enriched the soil themselves, creating what archaeologists call terra preta.Terra preta—literally “black earth”—is soil that humans have enriched to have two to three times the nutrient content of the surrounding, poor-quality soil, explains Crystal McMichael, a paleoecologist at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. Although there is no standard definition for terra preta, it tends to be darker than other Amazonian soils and to have charcoal and pre-Columbian pottery shards mixed in. Most of it was created 2500 to 500 years ago. Like the earthworks, terra preta is considered a sign that a particular area was occupied by humans in the pre-Columbian past.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(*)By analyzing location and environmental data from nearly 1000 known terra preta sites and comparing it with information from soil surveys that reported no terra preta, McMichael and her team found patterns in the distribution of the enriched soil. The scientists concluded that terra preta is most likely to be found in central and eastern Amazonia on bluffs overlooking rivers nearing the Atlantic Ocean. It’s less common in western Amazonia, where runoff from the Andes tends to add nutrients to the soil naturally, and in highland areas such as Llanos de Moxos in Bolivia, which is home to many impressive pre-Columbian earthworks. By analyzing the environmental conditions most strongly associated with terra preta, the team was able to build a model predicting where undiscovered terra preta sites are most likely to be found. Overall, they suspect that there is probably about 154,063 km2 of terra preta in the Amazon, composing about 3.2% of the basin’s total area, they report online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.Not only does modeling the likely locations of terra preta reveal possible patterns of human settlement in the Amazon, but it also gives archaeologists “a starting point” for future excavations, McMichael says. “Within a forest of almost 6 million square kilometers, it’s hard for archaeologists to determine site locations for sampling,” she explains. Like the increasingly popular LiDAR—which can find earthworks hidden under the rainforest canopy but can’t sniff out terra preta—“these [statistical] methodologies narrow down the probabilities” of where to find promising archaeological sites.Other Amazon experts are more skeptical. Michael Heckenberger, an archaeologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, who was not involved in the research, points out a possible discrepancy in the sampling methods employed by McMichael’s team. The terra preta sites used to make the statistical model, he says, “just happen to be the areas where there’s been intensive archaeological survey.” The areas designated as terra preta-free, on the other hand, were sampled and categorized by ecologists and geologists, often long before anyone was looking for terra preta or other signs of pre-Columbian settlements in the Amazon. Just because a region is labeled terra preta-free now, Heckenberger suspects, doesn’t mean there isn’t any terra preta there. It just means archaeologists haven’t been there to look for it—yet. McMichael’s map “serves as a reminder of what we don’t know” about the Amazon’s past, he says.McMichael agrees that a terra preta-free label should not be taken as proof that humans never settled a region. The relative lack of terra preta around the Llanos de Moxos earthworks proves that humans didn’t necessarily enrich the soil, or do so in the same way, everywhere they lived, she says. “I would think that cultures adapted differently to the different environmental conditions,” creating terra preta where the natural soil was particularly poor and modifying their environment in other ways in regions where they didn’t necessarily need to enrich the soil to support large populations.McMichael hopes to use her statistical methods to model all different kinds of ancient human impacts on the Amazon. Her team has a paper in press at the Journal of Biogeography predicting the locations of earthworks, and eventually she hopes to create a map correlating past human settlements with various ecological patterns. If pre-Columbian humans encouraged the spread of particular plants and animals they found helpful in the regions around their settlements, for example, that might affect species distribution in the Amazon today. Soon, scientists might be able to go beyond earthworks and agriculture and read the Amazon’s history in the forest itself.last_img read more

December 3

USC considers acquiring Scripps Research Institute

first_imgIn an unexpected announcement yesterday, the University of Southern California in Los Angeles revealed it may be acquiring or merging with the Scripps Research Institute. Scripps, a major nonprofit biomedical research hub based in San Diego, California, issued a joint statement with the university, telling U-T San Diego that they were “discussing the possibility of a relationship that would enhance the missions of both institutions.” The article cites anonymous sources who say funding woes at Scripps motivated the possible merger—namely, increasing competition for funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).The biomedical research community expressed surprise over the announcement. Chemist and blogger Derek Lowe noted on In the Pipeline that such mergers are quite unusual and said the dwindling numbers of high-profile researchers at the institute were a sign of financial difficulties.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(*)What a possible merger would mean for the Scripps satellite campus in Jupiter, Florida, is not yet clear. Former Florida congressman Mark Foley, who worked to recruit Scripps to the state, told The Palm Beach Post that he was “outraged” by the announcement, particularly after the state recently allocated $3 million to cover shortfalls in NIH’s contribution.last_img read more

December 3

The iron driver of climate change

first_imgMining the exotic metals used in modern electronics inflicts a lot of damage on the environment, especially by polluting the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. But overall, the global warming impact of metals is still dominated by the old-school elements iron and aluminum. That’s one of the bottom lines from a comprehensive environmental analysis of 63 metals, published this week in PLOS ONE. Iron (Fe), and its alloy steel, are the dirtiest of the bunch, responsible for 30% of all industrial CO2 emissions. The runner up is aluminum (Al) at 2% of CO2. In third place—perhaps a surprise to some readers—is calcium (Ca), an alkaline earth metal. It’s mined for quicklime, an ingredient in cement. (What typically consumes the most energy is not getting the rock out of the ground, but refining the ore. All told, producing metals takes 9.5% of world energy.) Other environmental damage related to production, such as acid-mine drainage, is also dominated by these common metals. A unique aspect of the study is that it teases apart the environmental impact of each element, even though many are mined or processed in combinations. The detailed analysis could help engineers design products that substitute more benign metals.last_img read more

December 3

Mars Curiosity rover finds evidence of ancient lakes in Gale crater

first_imgGale crater, the bowl on Mars that NASA’s Curiosity rover has been exploring for 2.5 years, was once filled with water over the course of millions of years, and maybe even longer, scientists reported today in a press conference. That’s good news for astrobiologists who hope that the ancient environment on the Red Planet was habitable for a sustained period of time. Mars scientists had always suspected that Gale crater once contained water and had already found evidence for lakebed mudstones close to the spot where the rover landed. But now there is evidence that, about 3.8 billion years ago, there were repeated bouts of deposition in river deltas and lakebeds that may have lasted a million years or more. The scientists described seeing cycles of deposition from sediment carried in from the rim of Gale crater by rivers. Some rocks contained the angled bedding associated with the slope of a river delta. Other rocks, like the mudstone shown here, display the flat bedding of sediments deposited at the bottom of a lakebed. As Curiosity begins its drive up a mountain of sediments in the middle of the crater, it may discover that this cycle repeats itself. That could boost estimates for the duration of the wet period to tens of millions of years. What remains unclear is whether Mars was wet in a sustained way throughout this period of time or whether all the deposition occurred in short, episodic bursts. The view that the planet was warm and wet enough to support large and long-standing bodies of water is being challenged by theories that propose that Mars was only occasionally wet, during short-lived periods after volcanic activity or asteroid impacts.last_img read more

December 2

Missing Indo-Canadian Man Found Dead

first_imgDarshan Singh Padam, described as a 58 years old East Indian Male, 5’9” tall, 230 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes, had gone missing this week but police announced on Thursday that Padam had been found deceased. He was last seen wearing jeans, a grey shirt and a black zip up vest. Police have now turned the case to the Coroner’ s office.Read it at Link Related Itemslast_img