Civil rights groups have expressed outrage over the closure of investigation against six persons named in the FIR registered in the lynching of dairy farmer Pehlu Khan. The cattle rearer from Haryana was killed by a mob of cow vigilantes near Behror in Alwar district of Rajasthan on April 1 this year.The case against the six persons was registered on the basis of Pehlu Khan’s dying declaration made to the police officers in a private hospital at Behror. The CID-CB of the State police has reportedly cleared the accused of all charges, while arriving at a conclusion that they were not present on the spot when the offence was committed.Pehlu Khan, 55, and his two sons were transporting cows, after purchasing them in a cattle fair in Jaipur, to their hometown Nuh in Haryana, when they were waylaid on the Jaipur-Delhi national highway by a mob of self-styled cow vigilantes and beaten up. Pehlu Khan succumbed to his injuries after two days.The CID-CB has concluded on the basis of the mobile phones’ call data records and the statements of employees of a gaushala, situated 4 km away from the crime scene, that no case was made out against the six accused. Police have since arrested half-a-dozen other persons on the basis of video footage of the incident, bust most of them have been released on bail.The accused named in the FIR are Om Yadav, Hukum Chand Yadav, Sudhir Yadav, Jagmal Yadav, Naveen Sharma and Rahul Saini. According to the CID-CB’s report, no corroborative evidence has been found to prove that they were part of the crowd that had attacked Pehlu Khan.The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), which spearheaded a campaign for getting justice to the victims in the case, said the police were protecting the accused — all of whom were office-bearers of right-wing Hindutva groups — under pressure of the BJP government. “The CID-CB is under the direct control of the Home Minister. Its blatant bias is very obvious,” PUCL president Kavita Srivastava told The Hindu.‘Will expose illegality’Ms. Srivastava said the rights groups, along with Pehlu Khan’s sons, who were also complainants in the police case, would challenge the CID-CB’s closure of investigation in the court.“The court will not allow closure without issuing notice to the complainants. We will expose the illegality of police action in the court.”Rajasthan Muslim Forum secretary Mohammed Nazimuddin said the failure of police to bring the guilty to the book would encourage others to attack innocent persons with impunity. “The way the police have been trying to save the accused since the beginning [in this case] shows that no rule of law exists in Rajasthan,” he said.The activists were also worried about safety of the participants in a “Karwan-e-Mohabbat” of Aman Biradari, which will be passing through Behror on Friday morning on way to Jaipur. Some right-wing groups have threatened that they would not allow the activists to enter the town and stop the march on the highway.
A policeman was killed and another injured in an attack by militants in Zakura area on the outskirts of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir on November 17.Three militants travelling in a car opened fire on a police team at the Zakura crossing on Srinagar-Ganderbal road, killing sub-inspector Imran Tak and injuring to a special police officer (SPO), a police official said.The official said the police team managed to intercept the car and apprehended one militant, but two others fled from the scene.A hunt has been launched to track down the two militants, he added.
Max Hospital terminates services of two doctors The decision to cancel the licence of Max Hospital, Shalimar Bagh was “harsh” and “unfair” and it will severely limit patients from accessing treatment, the group that runs the hospital said.Max Healthcare authorities, in a statement, issued hours after the cancellation of the licence by the Delhi government said that they had not been given an adequate opportunity to respond.“We have received the notice of cancellation of the license of Max Hospital, Shalimar Bagh. We strongly believe that this ruling is harsh,” the statement said.Also Read “We believe that even if there is an individual error of judgement, holding the hospital responsible is unfair and it will severely limit the ability for patients to access treatment. This will compound the shortage of hospital facilities in the national capital.”The Delhi government cancelled the licence of the super specialty facility in north-west Delhi with immediate effect for alleged medical negligence including the case of the twins in which one of the babies was found alive after being declared dead by doctors.The move came after a three-member inquiry panel of the government submitted its final report to the Health Minister Satyendar Jain, who termed the incident as “not acceptable“.According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) of the Delhi government’s heath department, the licence has been cancelled till further orders.“We will explore all options available to us. We stand firmly behind our commitment to patient care, clinical and service excellence to the best of our capabilities,” the statement issued by the hospital said. read more
Unhappy with the partial farm loan waivers announced by the Punjab government last month, hundreds of farmers staged a State-wide protest on Wednesday by blocking roads, including State and National Highways, for about two hours at over 30 places.The protesters, associated with as many as seven farmers’ unions, accused Chief Minister Amarinder Singh of backtracking on his poll promise of complete waiver of farmers’ loan in the State.“Farmers in Punjab are committing suicide and one of the key reasons behind these incidents is debt. We want the State government to announce complete a loan waiver for farmers and farm labourers as promised by them during 2017 Assembly election campaign. What the government has recently announced is only partial waiver, which will not serve the purpose,” said Jagmohan Singh, the general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta (Dakonda).Major unions participateThe unions that participated in the protests include Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan), Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta (Dakonda), Bharatiya Kisan Union (Krantikari), Punjab Kisan Sangrash Committee (Azad), Kirti Kisan Union, Krantikari Kisan Union and Kisan Sangharsh Committee.“We are left with no choice but to fight for our cause until our demands are met. We will intensify our protest in the coming days. If complete waiver is not announced, we will stage a dharna outside the State Assembly during the upcoming budget session,” he added.Surjit Singh, the State president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Krantikari), said that during the Assembly election campaign Mr. Amarinder Singh had promised that all kind of farm loans, whether from banks or commission agents, would be waived. “But now, after coming to power, what the Congress has announced is not the same. The Congress party has gone back on its promise,” he said.Stir threatened“Today we have gathered to remind the government of its election promise on loan waiver. The Congress should immediately announce complete farm debt waiver or be ready to face agitation,” said Kirti Kisan Union leader Nirbhay Singh.The Punjab government’s farm loan waiver scheme in its first phase envisages waiving loans of marginal farmers, having land up to 2.5 acres with a loan up to ₹2 lakh. read more
Following the adjournment of proceedings, Khan, 52, will be spending another night behind bars.Defence counsel Mahesh Bora argued that the circumstances of the alleged poaching incident in 1998, relied upon by the lower court, had been discarded by the Rajasthan High Court, which had acquitted him in two other related cases. He also contended that the evidence of witnesses was not reliable.The prosecution will make its arguments on Saturday after the Sessions Court peruses the lower court’s record. The Chief Judicial Magistrate had acquitted film actors Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre, giving them benefit of doubt.Also Read A Sessions Court in Jodhpur will pronounce on Saturday its order on the bail application of actor Salman Khan, who was sentenced to five years in jail in a blackbuck poaching case. The court heard arguments on suspension of the sentence on Friday and summoned records from the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court, which had handed down the punishment on Thursday.Lawyers representing Khan, who is lodged in the Central Jail in Jodhpur, appeared before Additional Sessions Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi and sought the actor’s release on bail, while also filing the petition for suspension of his sentence and appeal against the magistrate’s judgment.Also Read On Salman Khan: A portrait of the artist as a ‘bad boy’ Salman Khan sentenced to five-year imprisonment in blackbuck killing case The case pertains to the killing of two endangered blackbucks in Kankani village, near Jodhpur, on the night of October 1-2, 1998, when Khan and other actors were shooting for Hindi film Hum Saath Saath Hain.The blackbuck is a species of antelope protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. read more
The Central Bureau of Investigation arrested three promoter-directors of Vadodara-based Diamond Power Infrastructure Ltd (DPIL) in connection with ₹2,654.4 crore loan fraud case.In a joint operation, the CBI and Gujarat’s Anti Terrorist Squad arrested Suresh Bhatnagar and his two sons Amit and Sumit from a hotel in Udaipur, Rajasthan. On March 26, the CBI filed a case against DPIL and its directors for defrauding the consortium of 11 banks of ₹2,654.40 crore. A key accused in the fraud case, Amit Bhatnagar is known for his proximity to a powerful cabinet minister in Gujarat, Saurabh Patel. After the CBI FIR, the Congress spokesman Pawan Khera released several picture of Mr. Bhatnagar with top BJP leaders, including PM Narendra Modi, Union Minister Piyush Goyal.
Nineteen people, including three children, were killed and six others were injured after a cement-laden truck they were travelling in overturned on a highway in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar.The victims were labourers from central Gujarat and were coming from Pipavav port.“Twenty-five people were in the open cement laden truck. The driver lost control while overtaking another vehicle on the highway and the truck turned turtle. Twelve women were among those killed,” a State government release said.The government has announced a compensation of ₹4 lakh each for the victims.“My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in the accident… I pray that those who have been injured in the accident recover at the earliest,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani asked the authorities to conduct an inquiry. The truck driver fled after the accident.
The Congress has become the single largest party in Meghalaya with its candidate winning the by-election to the Ampati Assembly constituency by a margin of 3,191 votes on Thursday.The Congress now has 21 seats and the National People’s Party (NPP) 20.The seat had fallen vacant after former Chief Minister Mukul M. Sangma gave it up while retaining Songsak, one of the two constituencies he had won in the February elections. His 27-old-daughter Miani D. Shira retained the seat for the Congress.Ms. Shira received 14,259 votes while her nearest rival Clement G. Momin of the NPP bagged 11,068. Independent candidate Subhankar Koch mustered 360 votes, 152 more than NOTA or none of the above.Of the 24,181 voters in Ampati, 90.42% cast their votes on May 28.The ballot battle for Ampati was a race between the Congress and NPP to be the single largest party in the hill State. Before Thursday’s result, both parties were tied at 20 seats in the 60-member Assembly.The NPP heads a coalition government with the BJP and other regional parties.The United Democratic Party has six seats, the People’s Democratic Front four, the BJP and the Hill State People’s Democratic Party two each and the Nationalist Congress Party and the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement one each. The House has three Independents.“This victory has increased my responsibility. I hope to carry on with the good work that my father has done,” Ms. Shira said after the result was announced.A “family seat” Though Ampati has been a “family seat,” Ms. Shira had a tougher time than her father, Mr. Sangma, who won the seat in the February 27 polls by a margin of 8,104 votes.A graduate from Delhi’s Shri Ram College of Commerce, Ms. Shira had declared assets worth ₹8.9 crore — more than that of her parents. Her mother, Dikkanchi D. Shira is a Congress MLA from the Mahendraganj Assembly seat.Among her assets are five vehicles, including a Jeep Compass. Her husband, Daryl William Ch. Momin, owns three cars and a Harley Davidson motorcycle. read more
In Rajasthan, the name of a village called ‘Miyon ka Bara’ was officially changed to ‘Mahesh Nagar’ after residents complained that they were not getting matrimonial matches as the name gave an impression that the village was inhabited by Muslims.The Union Home Ministry recently approved the change of name and conveyed the decision to the Rajasthan government.The village in Barmer district has a population of around 1,400. Tahir Samma, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Siwana tehsil, said before Independence the name of the village was ‘Mahesh Ro Bado’ which changed to ‘Miyon ka Bara’ over the course of time.“The residents were facing difficulty in finding marriage proposals for their children because of the village’s name. They approached the government authorities with the request to change the name,” Mr. Samma said.The Home Ministry examines the proposal for changing the names of villages, cities and railway stations once the proposal is received from the State government. “After consulting other agencies, if found appropriate, the Ministry conveys its no objection to the State and the gazette notification is issued,” an official said.In March, the Home Ministry had informed Parliament that between January 2017 and February 2018, it received 27 proposals from States requesting a change of names of villages, towns and railway stations. Rajasthan submitted eight proposals, including Miyon Ka Bara. read more
Maharashtra’s Minister of State for Home Deepak Kesarkar on Monday defended the detaining of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad by the police in Mumbai and denial of permission for a rally in Pune. “He (Azad) can come to Maharashtra anytime after January 2 and hold as many rallies as he wants. We will not stop him. But one must understand that considering last year’se incident, the top priority of the police authorities is to maintain law and order. They have acted accordingly,” said Mr. Kesarkar. On January 1 last year, riots broke out in Bhima Koregaon after thousands of people — largely from Dalit community — who had gathered to pay respects at the victory memorial to the Mahar soldiers who fought with British to defeat the Brahminical Peshwa regime, clashed with right-wing Hindutva groups. Mr. Azad was in Mumbai three day back to address a rally, but was kept detained for two days by police. He was denied permission to hold a rally, and barred from visiting Chaityabhoomi in Dadar.“We all know what happened there after the rally. In addition, the police force is busy on bandobast for December 31. Why do you want to organise the rally on the same day? You can hold it at a later date,” said Mr Kesarkar. Meanwhile, the state government has made heavy bandobast for visitors to the memorial on Tuesday. “A total of 5,000 constables, 12 State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) platoons, 1,200 homeguards will be deployed. Inspector General of Police, Superintendent of Police and eight additional SPs along with other officers will be on the field. Additional 2,000 volunteers too have been posted,” said Mr. Kesarkar. Parking arrangement for 7,500 cars has been made, plus 200 special buses will be used to carry people to the victory memorial. read more
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on Saturday alleged that BJP as part of conspiracy has set CBI and ED against his father Lalu Prasad and his family for not joining hands with them in their efforts to divide the country on communal lines. Addressing opposition parties rally in Kolkata organised by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Mr. Yadav came down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and called him “manufacturer, wholesaler and distributor of lies.” He lauded Ms. Banerjee for bringing leaders of various parties on one platform and urged all the leaders to keep standing together to oust the BJP government from power.Mr. Yadav said Ms. Banerjee always stood with his father (Lalu Prasad) in times of “dukh-sukh” (sorrow and happiness) and appealed to people of Bihar residing in West Bengal to provide her strength in her political fight keeping this in mind. “Modi ji is manufacturer, wholesaler and distributor of lies…he speaks one lie and give 10 more with it as gift,” the RJD heir apparent said making a scathing attack at the Prime Minister “If you join hands with them (Narendra Modi and Amit Shah) than you will be regarded as ‘Raja Harishchandra’ (legendry king who stands for truth). Or else they will set CBI and ED, with whom they have entered into alliance, against such person. My father and my family have been victim of this conspiracy,” the RJD leader who himself is facing probe in hotels-for-land scam said.Mr. Yadav, the younger son of Lalu Prasad and who is leader of opposition in Bihar Assembly, referred to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s “chaukidar chor hai” jibe and said “chaukidar shall always remember that janata are ‘thenedar’ (officer in-charge of a police station) and will punish chaukidar for wrongdoing.” On NDA taking swipe at the Opposition by asking who is the leader among them, the RJD leader said “our beauty lies in the fact that there is unity in diversity.” Mr. Yadav said that country does not need sword to fight the communal force rather there is a need of needle. “If we stitch a torn cloth with needle using string of different colours it would become more attractive,” he added. read more
Around 1.40 lakh new electorate have been added to the Gurugram district rolls since the previous Lok Sabha elections in May 2014, registering an increase of over 15%. The final electoral rolls for the current year ahead of the upcoming elections is likely to be published by the month-end.According to the district administration, the total number of electorates for Gurugram district stood at 10,64,351 as on September 1, 2018. However, 24,465 new electorates were added and 3,179 names deleted during the revision of the electoral rolls from September 1, 2018, to January 8, 2019, with qualifying date being January 1, 2019.Election Tehsildar Sant Lal said that the total number of electorates as per the final electoral rolls for 2019 would be 10,85,637 against 9,43,110 for 2014 registering an increase of 1,42,527.The maximum number of 15,356 electorates were added to the Badshapur Assembly constituency in the district, followed by Gurgaon (4,480), Pataudi (2,467) and Sohna (2,162).Similarly, a maximum of 1,334 names were deleted in Sohna Assembly constituency followed by Badshapur (924), Gurgaon (730) and Pataudi (191) on account of death or shifting of the electorates.A total of 2,177 Form 8 applications were received for corrections, but 546 were rejected. Besides, 1,443 Form 8A requests were received for change in address due to shifting within the same constituency. The maximum of 736 such forms were received in the Badshahpur Assembly constituency followed by Gurgaon (641) and Sohna (60). However, only six such requests were received for Pataudi, a Scheduled Caste reserved Assembly constituency.“The requests received for fresh voter identity cards after the completion of the revision process will be taken up after the publication of the final electoral rolls. The process of continuous updation of the electoral rolls will continue till the day of filing of nominations for Lok Sabha elections,” said Mr. Lal.Deputy Commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh told The Hindu that around 1,73,000 entries with similar names and father’s name were physically verified by the Block Level Officers during the revision, but none was found to be duplicate. Similarly, 11,387 “identical entries” were weeded out by the software for uncanny visual resemblance and were being physically verified. A single line voter helpline number — 1950 — is operational from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the mini-secretariat to seek any information related to the voter identity cards.Mr. Singh said an awareness campaign would also be kicked off on January 25, the National Voters’ Day, to educate the electorate about the use of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail in the EVMs. “This time VVPAT would be used in all the 90 Assembly constituencies during Lok Sabha election.” read more
The mortal remains of George Fernandes were on Thursday cremated here amid chants of ‘George Sahab amar rahe’ as family, friends and admirers gathered to bid an emotional goodbye to the Socialist leader. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, BJP veteran L.K. Advani, Union Ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Ravi Shankar Prasad, senior leaders Sharad Yadav and Upendra Kushwaha were among those who attended the cremation at the Lodhi electric crematorium. The mortal remains of the former Defence Minister were brought from his home in a wooden casket on a military truck. Chants of ‘George Sahab amar rahe’ (long live George Sahab), ‘Jab tak suraj chand rahega, Goerge tera naam rahega’ (Your name will be as immortal as the sun and the moon) also rent the air at the crematorium as his body was placed at a platform there for people to pay last respects. Besides family members, including wife Leila Kabir, son Sean and Fernandes’s brothers, the leader’s close associate Jaya Jaitly and former cricketer Ajay Jadeja also were present during the cremation.An hour-long prayer service was held in the morning at Fernandes’s residence at Panchsheel Park. Fernandes died on Tuesday at the age of 88 after prolonged illness. read more
The Trinamool Congress formed a 12-member committee on Sunday to prepare an initial list of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The committee will also plan campaign strategies, party’s secretary general Parth Chatterjee said. However, the final decision will be taken by party chief Mamata Banerjee.2 MPs, 10 MinistersThe committee comprises Ms. Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, general secretary Subrata Bakshi, Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim and Arup Biswas, Suvendu Adhikari, Chandrima Bhattacharya, Sashi Panja, Moloy Ghatak, Jyotipriyo Mallick, Subrata Mukherjee, Derek O’Brien and Partha Chatterjee.While Mr. Banerjee and Mr. O’Brien are Lok Sabha MPs, the other 10 members of the committee are Ministers in the State Cabinet. Out of the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the State, the TMC won 34 seats, the Congress got four and the BJP and CPI(M) won two each in the 2014 general election. “The committee will look into election-related publicity and screening of applications of aspiring candidates in consultation with party chief Mamata Banerjee,” Mr Chatterjee said.On the BJP, which has emerged as the main Opposition party in the State in terms of vote share in the 2018 panchayat elections, Mr. Chatterjee said the party indulges in creating division among people.(With PTI inputs) read more
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a roadshow and take part in the Ganga aarti on Thursday, a day before he files his nomination papers from this Uttar Pradesh constituency, a party functionary said. The nomination on Friday will also see a show of strength with several BJP allies, including Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray and Janata Dal (United)’s Nitish Kumar, expected to accompany Mr. Modi when he files the papers. The roadshow will begin at 3 p.m. after the Prime Minister garlands the statue of Banaras Hindu University founder Madan Mohan Malaviya, according to the schedule available now. The procession will end at around 7 p.m. at the Dashashwamedh Ghat, the most prominent of Varanasi’s ghats, where Mr. Modi will take part in the evening prayers. On Friday, the Prime Minister will hold a meeting at 9 a.m. with the party workers at a hotel in the Cantonment area.Ministers’ presence He will then offer prayers at the Kaal Bhairav temple before leaving for the Collectorate to file his papers, seeking re-election from the Lok Sabha seat. Union Ministers Sushma Swaraj, Piyush Goyal, J.P. Nadda and Nitin Gadkari are also likely to be present, party leaders said. read more
University groups and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have begun to weigh in on a legislative proposal by Republicans to reshape a major chunk of the U.S. government’s science funding enterprise—and so far there’s a lot of skepticism.A prominent scientific society today also released an analysis that compares funding levels proposed by the Republican bill and a competing proposal from Democrats. The two parties are taking “vastly different” approaches, concludes budget analyst Matthew Hourihan of AAAS in Washington, D.C., which publishes ScienceInsider.On Tuesday, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, introduced a bill—the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act (H.R. 4186)—that would shape key research, education, and policy programs at the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. It is intended to be a follow-on to the COMPETES Act of 2010, which also covered programs at the Energy and Commerce departments. 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Some of those concerns are likely to be aired Thursday, when a subcommittee of the House science panel is scheduled to debate and vote on the measure, which will then move to the full committee.In a press release, Smith said FIRST is intended to help the United States remain globally competitive and ensure “that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.”“Unless we act swiftly, American researchers will continue to fall behind in supercomputing and particle physics. And we risk losing our lead in nano-technology, the health sciences, aerospace, lasers and other crucial areas. To reverse this trend, the FIRST Act increases investments for basic research in critical areas such as biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, engineering and mathematics. Advances in these fields drive innovation, create jobs and keep our economy strong.“Unfortunately, NSF has misused taxpayer dollars and funded too many questionable research grants – money that could have gone to higher priorities. For example, how does the federal government justify spending over $220,000 to study animal photos in National Geographic? Or $50,000 to study lawsuits in Peru from 1600 – 1700? We all believe in academic freedom for scientists, but federal research agencies have an obligation to explain to American taxpayers why their money is being used on such research instead of on higher priorities. In a time of constrained federal spending, the FIRST Act protects NSF’s budget in order to keep America on the cutting edge of science.”The House science panel’s ranking Democrat, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), issued her own press release, calling FIRST a “missed opportunity” and touting her own version of the legislation, the America Competes Reauthorization Act of 2014. “[W]hile there may be some Democratic Members whose priorities are reflected in the FIRST Act of 2014, overall it is a missed opportunity. The bill stops much too short of renewing our commitment to maintaining our scientific and technological leadership now and into the future. … I look forward to full committee consideration of the FIRST Act, where we can have a good debate about the merits of the bill and hopefully have the opportunity to strengthen the message it sends.”The Association of American Universities, composed of 60 major U.S. research universities, and two in Canada, also says FIRST falls short and will oppose the legislation.“The legislation fails to meet the guiding principles for reauthorization of the COMPETES Act endorsed last year by the business, scientific, and higher education communities. Among the most important of those principles is to set funding targets for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology that permit real growth for these agencies to stimulate long-term economic prosperity. The proposed legislation does not even keep pace with inflation for these agencies, whose work is critical to our future national competitiveness.”For this reason alone, the bill does little to close this nation’s innovation deficit, but it also does some things to widen it, including significant funding cuts to social, behavioral and economic research. The social and behavioral sciences play a vital role in this nation’s research portfolio. They contribute significantly to understanding and solving our nation’s economic, health, and security challenges, and they increase the efficiency and efficacy of the cures, technologies, and discoveries made in other disciplines.”The bill also contains provisions that are duplicative and unnecessary, and others that add federal requirements and cost containment measures that would impede NSF’s ability to perform its mission effectively. And while the language regarding public access to the results of federally funded research is improved, it remains problematic.”The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), an international group of nearly 800 academic and research libraries, also says it is opposed to the bill. That’s because of a section (303) which would allow publishers to bar free public access to papers based on government-funded research for up to 3 years—longer than the 12-month embargo that is becoming the norm.“This provision would impose significant barriers to the public’s ability to access the results of taxpayer-funded research,” the group wrote, and “be a step backward from existing federal policy in the directive, and put the U.S. at a severe disadvantage among our global competitors.”“This provision is not in the best interests of the taxpayers who fund scientific research, the scientists who use it to accelerate scientific progress, the teachers and students who rely on it for a high-quality education, and the thousands of U.S. businesses who depend on public access to stay competitive in the global marketplace,” said Heather Joseph, SPARC’s executive director. “We will continue to work with the many bipartisan members of the Congress who support open access to publicly funded research to improve the bill.”*Update, 12 March, 1:05 p.m.: This story has been updated to include a link to the spending analysis of the competing bills. read more
Traveling with a pal is often more fun than going solo. And it may just help baby king penguins live to adulthood. Soon after chicks are born, their parents leave them for weeks at a time to go fishing. With the adults away, the furry young king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus, pictured above) huddle in groups called crèches to keep warm and discourage predators. Hanging out in one spot helps returning parents find their young in a colony of up to 500,000 individuals spread over several kilometers. Bad weather or predators sometimes will force a chick to wander hundreds of meters from its crèche, but the baby birds are canny navigators and almost always find their way back. This homing ability is sharpened when chicks travel in pairs, according to findings reported online this month in Animal Behaviour. In the study, blindfolded pairs of chicks were carried 140 meters away from their crèche and placed in a walled-off arena. Each chick was fitted with a GPS “flipperband” and spun gently to disorient it. After the walls were removed, the chicks were tracked as they waddled home. Chicks from different crèches hung together for short distances before going their separate ways. Chicks from the same crèche tended to pair up for the whole journey home—mimicking each other’s movements, swapping turns leading the way, and taking straighter paths home. In both instances, paired penguins walked faster than solo birds did. Sticking together also helped penguins from the same crèche arrive closer to the exact spot from which they’d been spirited away. The advantage of buddying up, the researchers speculate, may be that birds can use their collective familiarity with environmental cues to travel faster. read more
The top administrators of RIKEN, Japan’s national network of research laboratories, will voluntarily return 1 to 3 months of their salaries to atone for their responsibility for the STAP stem cell fiasco.STAP, or stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency, is the name given to an extremely easy way of deriving stem cells, which can theoretically develop into any of a body’s tissues. The method was defined in two papers that appeared in Nature this past January. After coming under fire by researchers who found problematic images in the papers, and by others who could not reproduce the findings, the papers were retracted this past July. An investigating committee found the lead author, Haruko Obokata, guilty of research misconduct. A RIKEN team is continuing experiments to try to get to the bottom of exactly what went wrong.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(*)Late on 23 October, RIKEN released a 5-point action plan [in Japanese here] to prevent a recurrence of research fraud. These included strengthening research management and compliance and launching a reform committee. To take responsibility for the STAP problem, RIKEN President Ryoji Noyori will return 3 months’ worth of his salary to the institute. Five other top officials, including those in charge of research and compliance, will return either 1 or 2 months’ worth of their salaries. read more
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