Union minister Smriti Irani on Saturday attacked the Trinamool Congress and accused the ruling party in West Bengal of indulging in the “targeted killings” of BJP workers.She said that since the TMC was part of a consolidated opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it was a “consolidated opposition” that was indulging in targeted killings of BJP workers.“I want to point out to those who are silent on the issue that not only is democracy being throttled but they are indulging in targeted killings of BJP workers,” Ms. Irani told reporters here.“The ruling party in West Bengal is part of a consolidated opposition which is fighting against Narendra Modi. So the consolidated opposition is indulging in targeted killings of BJP workers,” the minister said.“This is not an issue of concern only for BJP workers but the entire nation. The West Bengal government has failed to maintain law and order and is not able to deliver justice to the families of the victims,” she said. The BJP has alleged that its worker, Trilochon Mahato (20), who was found hanging from a tree at Balrampur in Purulia district of West Bengal on May 30, was killed by the ruling TMC. However, the TMC has denied the allegation, terming it as “baseless”. One more person was found hanging in the same district on Saturday.Ms. Irani, who was here to list the achievements during four years of the Modi government, however, parried questions on the issue of hike in fuel prices. To a question on whether the government proposed to reduce taxes on fuel so as to bring down its prices and curb inflation, Ms. Irani said, “I am not the petroleum minister nor the finance minster, so I cannot reply to this question.”She said, “Under the UPA government, petrol prices rose by ₹4 per year. Under the NDA rule, we have been able to control that rise to around ₹1 per year.”Ms. Irani said that the petroleum minister was of the opinion that fuel should be brought within the ambit of the GST so that its prices can be reduced. She claimed that Opposition parties uniting to fight the BJP, in itself, was the “biggest indication” of the popularity and political prowess of the prime minister. “The coming together of the opposition is the biggest indication of the popularity and political prowess of the prime minister. The opposition is incapable of winning the hearts of the people by their own policies, programmes or leadership,” the minister claimed. Asked about parties such as the TDP and the Shiv Sena “deserting” the BJP, Ms. Irani said, “Party president Amit Shah has indicated that we are ready to fight the polls with the Shiv Sena.” She said that Gujarat, like all other states, was a beneficiary of the central government schemes such as Mudra and Jan Dhan Yojana. Irani, who is Union textiles minister, claimed that her ministry had worked pro-actively to set the textile sector on the path of growth.
A man blind since birth is taking up a surprising new hobby: photography. His newfound passion is thanks to a system that turns images into sequences of sound. The technology not only gives “sight” to the blind, but also challenges the way neurologists think the brain is organized.In 1992, Dutch engineer Peter Meijer created vOICe, an algorithm that converts simple grayscale images into musical soundscapes. (The capitalized middle letters sound out “Oh, I see!”). The system scans images from left to right, converting shapes in the image into sound as it sweeps, with higher positions in the image corresponding to higher sound frequencies. For instance, a diagonal line stretching upward from left to right becomes a series of ascending musical notes. While more complicated images, such as a person sitting on a lawn chair, at first seem like garbled noise, with enough training users can learn to “hear” everyday scenes.In 2007, neuroscientist Amir Amedi and his colleagues at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem began training subjects who were born blind to use vOICe. Despite having no visual reference points, after just 70 hours of training, the individuals went from “hearing” simple dots and lines to “seeing” whole images such as faces and street corners composed of 4500 pixels. (For comparison, Nintendo’s Mario was made up of just 192 pixels in his first video game appearance.) By attaching a head-mounted camera to a computer and headphones, the blind users were even able to navigate around a room by the sound cues alone. Every few steps the system snaps a photo and converts it into sound, giving the users their bearings as they traverse tables and trashcans. One patient even took up photography, using the head-mounted system to frame his snapshots.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(*)The training program also devoted 10 hours to recognizing human silhouettes represented by sound. By the end of the training, participants could detect the exact posture of the person represented by the soundscape and replicate the pose, the team reports online today in Current Biology.When the researchers mapped the brain activity of the participants, they found something astonishing. The generally accepted model of the brain contains regions devoted to each sense, such as the sight-centric visual cortex. Researchers had long believed that if those regions aren’t used for their intended sense, they are repurposed for other uses; for example, the visual cortex of someone blind from birth could be used to help boost her hearing. But Amedi and his colleagues found that the area of the visual cortex responsible for recognizing body shapes in sighted people—called the extrastriate body area—lit up with activity in the study participants when they were interpreting the human silhouettes.Amedi says the traditional sensory-organized brain model can’t explain this activity; after all, the subjects only heard the information, and scientists believed that the body-recognizing area shouldn’t have fully developed without visual experiences during development. Neuroscientist Ella Striem-Amit of Harvard University, who co-authored the paper, thinks it’s time for a new model. “The brain, it turns out, is a task machine, not a sensory machine,” she says. “You get areas that process body shapes with whatever input you give them—the visual cortex doesn’t just process visual information.”Ione Fine, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington, Seattle, who studies brain changes and did not work on the project, says Amedi’s work is the best evidence yet for functional constancy—the idea that areas of the brain do the same job even with different kinds of input. “The idea that the organization of blind people’s brains is a direct analog to the organization of sighted people’s brains is an extreme one—it has an elegance you rarely actually see in practice,” she says. “If this hypothesis is true, and this is strong evidence that it is, it means we have a deep insight into the brain.” In an alternative task-oriented brain model, parts of the brain responsible for similar tasks—such as speech, reading, and language—would be closely linked together.Amedi’s team recently released a successor to vOICe, called EyeMusic, as a free iPhone app. The new algorithm produces more pleasant tones and can even provide color information. In the above video, a man blind since birth uses EyeMusic to “see” drawn faces. Amedi hopes EyeMusic will help blind users gain more independence and improve their quality of life.(Video credit: Amedi Lab)
The past year has been action-packed for Amazon in India. The country’s online retail market is around $3 billion at present, but it is expected to cross $50 billion by 2020 — and the global online retail giant is gearing up to play a dominant role in the sector.While Amazon has been compelled to adopt different a business model in India to comply with foreign direct investment (FDI) regulations — India does not permit FDI for online companies that have their own inventory — the ramp-up of its operations in the country has been the fastest globally for the Seattle-based $75 billion firm. When the company launched Amazon.in, its online marketplace in India, in June 2013, it had just 100 sellers across two categories — books and movies, and television shows. Amazon now has a base of 5,000 sellers and a selection of more than 15 million products across 25 categories including music, video games, toys, home goods, luggage, jewelry and beauty products. According to media reports, industry estimates put Amazon’s India sales at around $200 million.Amazon has been active on other fronts, too. For instance, it took the lead among online retailers in India to introduce same-day and next-day deliveries. To reach its customers faster, Amazon is now running a pilot for last-mile delivery by partnering with neighborhood mom-and-pop stores. Amazon also has two fulfillment centers in the country — one on the outskirts of Mumbai, and the other in Bangalore, each about 150,000 square feet. These two centers stock products across several categories from sellers using “fulfillment by Amazon” – a service in which Amazon takes complete care of packing, shipping and delivery of the sellers’ products.“India is a very important market for Amazon globally. We are committed to India and are here for the long term,” says Amit Agarwal, vice president and country manager of Amazon India. “We take it as an article of faith that customers will shop on Amazon.in only until the very moment they find a better customer experience elsewhere. It’s truly ‘Day 1’ for us, and we are committed to aggressively investing over the long term and relentlessly focusing on raising the bar for the online shopping experience in India.”Pragya Singh, associate vice president of retail at research and consultancy firm Technopak Advisors, notes that Amazon has been present in India since 2012, when it launched Junglee.com, a comparison site the company bought more than a decade ago. That purchase, she says, helped Amazon build an initial understanding of the market. “Amazon has spent the past year strengthening its backend, has added categories one by one, expanded its vendor base in India and worked on the fulfillment aspect, which is a very critical piece in Indian e-tailing,” she adds. “Amazon is changing gears now, and if FDI in (inventory-led) e-commerce opens up anytime soon, it won’t be surprising to see (the company) going full steam to grab the top slot.” According to recent media reports, the new government in India, which took over in May, is considering easing restrictions in this sector.Domestic Players on the MoveBut even as Amazon is getting its act together, the major domestic players in the space are making waves as well. In March, India’s largest online retailer, Flipkart, announced that it had crossed the $1 billion mark — the first online retailer in India to do so — a year ahead of its target. Founded in 2007 by ex-Amazon employees Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, it currently offers 15 million products across more than 70 categories.In May, in the largest-ever transaction in the Indian e-commerce space, Flipkart acquired Myntra, the leader in the online fashion and lifestyle sector in the country. The two firms will leverage their synergies but will continue as independent entities. While both Flipkart and Myntra have refused to divulge the size of the deal, industry analysts peg it at around $350 million.Calling the acquisition a “game changer,” Sachin Bansal says: “This is an acquisition for scale and not for cost. We believe that with this acquisition, we both can grow five to 10 times (faster) in the fashion category than what we would have done independently.” Myntra co-founder Mukesh Bansal adds: “This is probably one of the few sales in the e-commerce segment in India that is not out of distress. There was no compulsion for us to sell, only a very strong business case to accelerate our roadmap and create a strongly differentiated organization.”The Flipkart-Myntra deal is important because fashion and lifestyle is not only one of the largest categories in online retail in India — it accounts for more than 25% of the market and is expected to increase to as much as 40% — it also has among the best margins. While margins in branded apparel can go up to 35%, for in-house brands it can be as high as 60%. The companies are looking to increase their combined market share in this category from 50% at present to around 70%. Flipkart has already committed to investing upwards of $100 million in the combined fashion business over the next 12 to 18 months.According to Kartik Hosanagar, a Wharton professor of operations and information management, the acquisition makes “tremendous sense” for Flipkart, given both the higher margins associated with apparel and the threat from Amazon. But he is surprised that Myntra agreed. “Myntra is well positioned in a high-margin business, and I believe they will fare better than their main competitor, Jabong. I have to believe that their common investors … had a big role to play in pushing the deal through.”Soon after its acquisition of Myntra, Flipkart also raised $210 million in a fresh round of funding led by DST Global. Since its inception in 2007, Flipkart has raised more than $550 million and, with money from the previous rounds not yet fully utilized, it is flush with funds for more growth-related investments. “Acquisition is an important strategy for us,” says Binny Bansal.Meanwhile, another major domestic player, Snapdeal, which is expected to reach $1 billion in sales this year, recently raised $100 million from a consortium of investors, including Wipro chairman Azim Premji, Singapore-based Temasek Holdings and Hong Kong-based Myriad Asset Management. With the deal, Temasak and Myriad, which have also invested in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, are making their first investments in Indian e-commerce.In February, Snapdeal, which has over five million products from more than 30,000 sellers, raised $133 million in funding. This was led by eBay, which, following an initial investment in 2013, increased its stake in Snapdeal to around 20%, according to industry estimates. In a press statement in February, eBay senior vice president and APAC managing director Jay Lee said: “Accelerating growth in India and other emerging markets continues to be a core strategy for driving eBay’s global e-commerce leadership. We continue to invest in Snapdeal due to its complementary business model, good management team and strong brand.” EBay has been present in India since 2004 with the acquisition of Baazee.com and is estimated to have around 1.1 million products across nearly 2,000 categories.According to Venture Intelligence, a research services firm focused on private equity and M&A deals, from January 2014 to now, there have been 13 venture capital/private equity investments in the Indian e-commerce space totaling $309 million. Last year, there were 30 investments totaling $540 million, while in 2012 there were 48 investments totaling $316million.Domestic online retailers have also been active on other fronts. For instance, soon after Amazon launched its one-day delivery service, Flipkart, Myntra and Snapdeal followed suit. Flipkart is now pushing the envelope when it comes to customer service by piloting a “try and buy’ concept for apparel in Bangalore. Customers can try out the garments before deciding whether or not to purchase them. The firms are also making concerted efforts to hire top-notch professionals and aggressively woo consumers with high-decibel advertising and steep discounts.Does Amazon Need to Rethink?What does all this increased activity mean for Amazon? Does it need to rework its strategy if it wants to gain the top slot in the Indian online retail market? Sudhir Sethi, founder and chairman of IDG Ventures India, which is an investor in Myntra, says that with the Myntra acquisition, Flipkart “has taken a significant lead over Amazon in having the largest and most profitable vertical in their stable at a significant scale. Both Amazon and Snapdeal will be forced to scale faster in the fashion vertical now.” However, Sethi adds that “with its deep domain and sector knowledge, as well as access to a deep pool of capital, Amazon is clearly well placed to be a leading e-commerce player in the Indian market.” Both Flipkart and Snapdeal, he notes, will have to raise more capital to scale, invest in logistics and inventory handling automation, as well as raise the bar on consumer satisfaction.K. Ganesh, a serial entrepreneur and strategic investor in five e-commerce start-ups, suggests that Amazon needs to rethink its strategy to bridge the gap between itself and the combined Flipkart-Myntra entity. “Amazon is the pioneer in this space and has a huge war chest and patience to drive the outcomes in the Indian market,” he notes. “It has great domain knowledge, and the learnings it brings are unparalleled. But the size and leadership of the Flipkart-Myntra combination, the top investors and their ability for further funding will certainly affect Amazon’s plans in India. From Amazon’s point of view, it would have been better to have two competitors with relatively smaller cash, traction and resources, (rather) than their joining forces.”Agarwal declined to comment directly on the competition. “We remain customer obsessed and not competition focused. We are going to relentlessly focus on expanding sellers and selection on the platform, innovate on various customer touch points, and provide fast and reliable delivery services.” He says that his team draws lessons from Amazon’s experience globally. “Amazon has built one of the most sophisticated logistics infrastructure that has ever been built to serve sellers and customers. We learn a lot from that and localize that to India,” he notes.Global vs. LocalGiven the peculiarities of the Indian market, can global platforms, processes and models, even if they are tweaked, work in India? No, according to Ganesh. “Many of the things that companies take for granted in terms of the ecosystem do not exist or are not developed in India,” Ganesh points out. “These need to be developed from scratch here. For instance, the entire concept of cash-on-delivery, the high returns and refunds, the lack of a credit score for nonpayment of debt, the inability to prosecute to recover any bad debt, the high price sensitivity and the obsession over getting best value for money are all things that require local solutions. Transplanting U.S. models here will not work.”Flipkart’s Sachin Bansal says that across the world, e-commerce is a space where being local is a key benefit. “Be it online retail, jobs, classified ads — local aspects play an important role.” Bansal cites an example: “If Flipkart had started in the U.S., we would have built our logistics system very differently. Our supply chain structures would be very different because the cost of labor in the U.S. is very different from what it is in India. What we automate and what we don’t automate makes a big difference. There are also cultural differences.” Myntra’s Mukesh Bansal adds: “A lot of global players were built in the desktop era. The whole Indian ecosystem will be built on mobile from scratch. Global players come with a lot of legacy that is not relevant in the Indian market.”But Agarwal counters this argument, noting that India is the fastest-growing mobile commerce site for Amazon globally. “We launched the Amazon mobile shopping app for Android and iOS phones within a couple of months of our India launch and, today, we get more than 30% traffic through mobile.” He also points to some of the features and programs developed by Amazon specifically for India: Pin code-based delivery to deal with challenges around logistics, payments functionality that allows customers to start where they left off in case of an incomplete transaction, the “fulfilled-by-Amazon” service and a small business accelerator program.“We strongly believe in three things that have helped us succeed globally: customer obsession, innovation and long-term focus,” Agarwal notes. “The Indian e-commerce space is still in a very nascent stage with significant potential for innovation to improve customer experience. The growth (here) is at an inflection point and there is tremendous opportunity. We believe there is room for multiple formats and players, and most importantly for innovation.”Hosanagar agrees with Sachin Bansal’s view that e-commerce is a local play. He points out that India’s e-commerce market looks more like that of China than the U.S. “If you look at China, Amazon hasn’t fared that well,” he notes. “So we shouldn’t assume that Amazon will bulldoze the local players.” However, Hosanagar adds that his “overall prognosis” is that Amazon will do well in India. “They have learned their lessons from China and will not look to replicate their U.S. model in India. Further, they have had a chance to observe the Indian market for the past couple of years. While I think they will do well, I don’t think Flipkart is in trouble, either. I think Amazon poses a larger threat to Snapdeal, which has a similar marketplace model.”The Winning FormulaS. Ramesh Kumar, a professor of marketing at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, suggests that the major challenge for any e-commerce portal is to create a sustainable differentiation. “Both Amazon and Flipkart need to be worried about each other, as both are capable of scaling up. Unlike established categories, I am unsure if local brands would have an advantage.” Singh of Technopak adds: “Where global players have an edge is experience in terms of technology and processes that are important in scaling up. Most of them also have deep pockets.”Ganesh, however, says that many of the advantages that global players have work better in the product space than in services. “The best option for (multinationals), in my opinion, is to get the best of both the worlds by going in for big, bold acquisitions — the way Naspers did with redBus, Pearson with TutorVista and Disney with UTV — rather than start from scratch.”According to IDG’s Sethi, the Indian online retail market has peculiarities that give local players an edge, but only for a short time. “In the medium to long term, international players have the advantage of having the experience of building scale, which the local entrepreneur may not have,” he says. His list of success factors: convincing consumers to buy online, enabling mobile commerce, efficient logistics, managing cash-on-delivery across the country, high consumer satisfaction, hiring the right team and availability of capital for rapid and sustained growth.Rishikesha T. Krishnan, director and professor of strategic management at the Indian Institute of Management in Indore, notes that Amazon has made its name in global e-commerce for “its brilliant and dependable execution.” Managing logistics effectively in India is not easy. If Amazon manages to crack that, it will be “a formidable threat to Flipkart.” But Krishnan notes that Amazon has a more serious challenge than dealing with India’s logistics. “Amazon is under pressure in the U.S. to improve its financial performance. India will be a long-term bet, and Amazon will succeed (here) only if it is committed for the long term.”Drawing an analogy from mobile services, Krishnan adds: “We need to see whether Amazon is more like a Vodafone — (i.e., a company that is willing to) take a big bet on India, dig in and fight in spite of investor pressures in Europe — or like a DoCoMo, (i.e., one that) gives up too early.” Related Items
The International Cricket Council rejected BCCI’s plea to give them a fresh deadline for Eden Garden to host a World Cup match.The BCCI had sought time till February 7 to make the Eden Gardens to host India and England World Cup match on February 27.Meanwhile, ICC will inspect Eden Gardens on January 31, 2011 for the remaining three World Cup matches.
On September 13, the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed described sports as an inseparable part of education, saying the focus on extra-curricular activities should be realistic and not a mere symbolic exercise.He stressed upon making games an essential part of the curriculum and said that, “Our children are blessed with great talent. It is imperative that the heads of the educational institutions provide them a platform to display their skills.” The Chief Minister was speaking after inaugurating the South Kashmir Sports Festival at Government Degree College for Boys in Anantnag.The minister said that adequate funds, over and above the normal allocation, have been provided to the Youth Services and Sports Department for restoration of flood-damaged sports infrastructure. Stating that a healthy mind rests only in a healthy body, the Chief Minister emphasized upon the importance of sports in overall personality development of the children.Further, he added that the government has made a new beginning by restructuring the State Sports Council by giving representation to those who have excelled in various sporting disciplines. “Sports has received the least attention and our capacities have been severely under-utilized. I have ordered immediate restoration of playgrounds and playfields so that these are used for organizing inter-school, inter-college and inter-district sporting activities,” he said.Sayeed said there is a need to create a very conducive and healthy atmosphere in sports arena so that we can produce many more Pervez Rasools. He asked the Sports Minister to revive the hustle and bustle of playgrounds by formulating a sports itinerary that is strictly adhered to.advertisementThe South Kashmir Sports Festival, being organized by J&K Police, will be a 15-day event, in which participants from the four districts of Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam will compete with each other in various sporting disciplines including cricket, soccer, volleyball, kho kho and badminton.
Team India’s new coach Anil Kumble also happens to be a serious photographer and has promised to carry his photography on the team’s West Indies tour to capture the winning moments.At the preparatory camp ahead of the West Indies tour, Kumble got his hands dirty training with the young Indian team. Apart from on-field drills, Kumble came up with various team-building exercises. He also chaired a meeting with the stakeholders of Indian cricket to discuss the future of the game’s 2016-17 season. He got together the likes of U-19 coach Rahul Dravid, limited overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Test skipper Virat Kohli and the selection committee members. (Also read: Anil Kumble photographer India coach West Indies tour) However, amidst the busy cricket season in which India are set to play 17 Test matches, Kumble promises to spend time with his DSLR camera. One glance at Kumble’s official Twitter profile will give you an insight to his talent behind the lens. The legendary leg-spinner likes to call himself a wildlife photographer.Stealth at it’s best. Clicked this in Karnataka at Kabini wildlife sanctuary. #WildlifeWednesday pic.twitter.com/2mYB1qknVn Anil Kumble (@anilkumble1074) May 18, 2016Kumble has actually been an avid photographer for years now and his book ‘Wide Angle’ showcases his mastery with the camera. The book, released by Shane Warne in 2010, has pictures that shows the other side of India’s most successful cricketer. Apart from the cricket photos, the book carries some of the most brilliant wildlife shots captured. (Also Read: Dhoni’s message to Team India – Have fun in life, you will be successful)Master Blaster Tendulkar has this to say in the foreword he wrote for Kumble’s book: “Anil has always been an avid photographer, and when I see the results in this book, they take me back. …’as long as I am in the team, you will have no privacy,’ he would say, pointing to his camera and we would laugh. It was wonderful.” (Also read: Love Virat Kohli’s aggression, says Anil Kumble)advertisementKumble reveals he has already packed his camera ahead of Team India’s departure for the Caribbean Islands tomorrow.”I am sure I will be carrying a camera to the West Indies. I have my camera packed. Yesterday, I couldn’t find a charger, took a while to find it,” he replied to a fan’s query on Twitter.Kumble said he would click photos of the team spending time at the scenic beaches in the Caribbean and that he would capture the winning moments through his lens.”You will see some images of the team at the beach and at the games, as well. Hopefully, winning shots will be great,” he added..@AshokRaghavan #AskTheCoach pic.twitter.com/cQgYdHuhE3 BCCI (@BCCI) July 5, 2016
Olympic silver medallist P.V. Sindhu advanced to the semi-finals, while Ajay Jayaram exited in the last eight stage of the China Superseries Premier badminton tournament here on Friday.Seventh seed Sindhu moved past Chinese He Bingjiao 22-20, 21-10 in 39 minutes. The Indian will meet the winner between Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi and Sung ji Hyun of South Korea. (Also read: Indian badminton team manager cancelled visa application : China)Jayaram, meanwhile, found it tough against Olympic champion Chen Long of China, who won 21-15, 21-14 in 40 minutes.Long will meet Olympic bronze medallist Viktor Axelsen, who smashed past Japanese Takuma Ueda 21-11, 21-6 in just 30 minutes.
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Jerusalem: Israeli police said Sunday they had detained and were questioning the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs, while a source close to the official said he was arrested in his home. Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs Fadi al-Hadami was detained and was being questioned for “activities in Jerusalem”, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. Hadami’s arrest was most likely due to recent activities that have included accompanying Chile’s president during a visit to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque complex, a source close to the minister told AFP. Also Read – Turkey preparations for Syria offensive ‘completed’ On Tuesday, Hadami was seen alongside Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on a tour of the flashpoint holy site, enraging Israel, which said it constituted a violation of regulations and a breach of understandings reached with Santiago for the head of state’s visit. The status of Al-Aqsa, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and located above the Western Wall, is one of the most sensitive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest for Muslims after Mecca and Medina, administered by the Muslim Waqf but secured by Israeli police. Also Read – Imran Khan arrives in China, to meet Prez Xi Jinping Chile later said Pinera’s visit was private, with Hadami’s presence not part of official protocol. The arrest follows days of violent unrest in Jerusalem. Overnight Saturday, Israeli police “continued dealing with riots and disturbances in a number of neighbourhoods when stones were thrown at officers and fireworks fired at them,” Rosenfeld said in a statement. Two officers were wounded and six suspects arrested, Rosenfeld said. The continued unrest follows the shooting of a 20-year-old Palestinian in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya by Israeli police, after he had allegedly thrown fireworks at them. The young man, identified as Mohammed Obeid, died of his wounds, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Israel occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community. Israel sees all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
REGINA — Saskatchewan’s attorney general says he has no doubt the constitutional challenge against Ottawa’s imposition of carbon tax will end up in the Supreme Court of Canada.Don Morgan says his government will respect the ruling from the provincial Appeal Court, which will hear two days of arguments starting Wednesday.But he says other provinces will look carefully at what is decided and could take the matter further.Morgan says he agrees climate change is a national concern, but believes Ottawa should be working to find other ways to mitigate emissions.The Saskatchewan Party government argues a federally imposed carbon tax is unconstitutional because it will not apply evenly across all of the provinces.Ottawa says it has the authority under the Constitution to put a price on pollution because climate change is a national concern.The federal government’s carbon tax is set to take effect in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Ontario and Manitoba starting in April.The Canadian Press
Today, Feeding America and Ad Council launched new public service announcements (PSAs) featuring actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry to help spread the message about childhood hunger in America and inspire people to take action.Video: Stop Hunger with Tyler Perry | Hunger Prevention | Ad CouncilThe new PSAs are an extension of Feeding America’s national Hunger Prevention campaign in partnership with the Ad Council, which is designed to raise awareness about hunger in America and encourage audiences to support the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks. Tyler Perry donated his time and talent for the project and is a member of Feeding America’s Entertainment Council of celebrity supporters.“As a member of the Feeding America Entertainment Council, I recognize our mission to spread the word and rally the country in the fight to end hunger,” said Tyler Perry. “15 million children suffer from hunger in the U.S. and through our newly released PSA, we will continue to raise awareness and provide meals to children and families in need across the country.”According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one in five children in America – 15 million kids – struggle with hunger. While food insecurity affects people of all ages, it is particularly devastating for children because of the potential for long term consequences. Research has shown that good nutrition has positive implications for a child’s future physical and mental health, and academic achievement.“Childhood hunger is an unacceptable problem that affects far too many children and reaches into every community in America,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America. “We’re so appreciative that Tyler Perry is joining us in bringing national attention to this vital issue. By providing a strong voice for children who struggle with hunger, he can help inspire more people to engage with their local food banks and make a true difference in the lives of millions in need.”The new PSAs feature Tyler Perry discussing the disproportionate effects of hunger on children, highlighting the fact that there are billions of pounds of surplus food wasted each year in the U.S. that could help feed families in need. The PSAs encourage audiences to visit FeedingAmerica.org to learn more about hunger in their communities, and to get involved in the fight to end hunger by volunteering at a local food bank, contacting their Members of Congress, and donating food or funds.“No child should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from,” said Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of the Ad Council. “We believe that Tyler Perry’s support will inspire communities to take action and give back to people who need our help.”Per the Ad Council’s model, all PSAs will run in advertising time and space entirely donated by the media. Since the launch of the Hunger Prevention campaign, media outlets across the country have donated more than $373 million in support for the PSAs.
APTN National NewsFlood waters are continuing to rise in Manitoba, forcing one First Nation to evacuate.Peguis First Nation, which sits about 200 kilometres north of Winnipeg, is facing flooding from the Fisher River and the waters are threatening to shut access to the entire community.APTN National news reporter Meagan Fiddler has the story.
New Delhi: The number of government employees, including defence personnel, registered as ‘service voters’ has seen a substantial increase since February this year and the maximum belong to the ministry of defence, EC data shows. As on May 6, when the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections concluded, nearly 18 lakh employees had enrolled as service voters. In February this year, the Election Commission (EC) had said that a total of 16,62,993 service personnel have been enrolled as Service Electors in the country in the electoral roll 2019. In 2014, the corresponding figure was 13,27,627. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghThe Ministry of Defence led with 10,16,245 service voters, followed by the Ministry of Home Affairs with 7,82,595 and Ministry of External Affairs with 3,539, according to the latest data. The state police has a poor representation with 267 personnel registered as service voters. Personnel of the armed forces, central armed police forces and state police personnel deployed outside their constituencies are considered as service voters. Diplomats and other support staff serving in Indian embassies abroad are also service voters. A provision in the Representation f the People Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017, passed by Lok Sabha and pending in Rajya Sabha, relates to spouses of service voters. As of now, an armyman’s wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman army officer’s husband is not. But the bill proposes to replace the term wife’ with spouse’, thus making the provision gender neutral. The wife of a service voter, if she is residing with him, is also entitled to be enrolled as a service voter in the constituency specified by that person.
Rabat- An appeal by Ahed Tamimi’s attorney to have the teenage activist’s trial opened to the public has been denied by an Israeli military judge, according to The Times of Israel. Tamini, who was arrested on December 19 last year for slapping an Israeli soldier in her West Bank village of Nebi Saleh, quickly became an iconic symbol of Palestinian resistance, with the video of the incident being shared by thousands of users on various social media platforms.“Explaining his decision, Judge Gilad Peretz wrote that he did not feel that he had the authority to overrule the court’s original decision on February 13,” The Times of Israel reported, adding the judge’s opinion that holding the teenage activist’s trial behind closed doors “is in the best interest of the minor.”The judge is said to be following the traditional rules of Israel’s juvenile courts, where, unless in ‘exceptional cases’, trials are generally held behind closed doors and in the absence of a probable public influence. But while Tamimi has been celebrated around the globe as an icon of resistance to ‘colonial occupation’ and injustice, Israeli authorities have incriminated her actions and charged her with dozens of criminal offenses, including “aggravated assault charges.” The Israeli authorities have also accused Ahed’s supportive family members, especially her mother Nariman Tamimi—who has described her daughter as a freedom fighter— of using their daughter as a “pawn” at the service of the pro-Palestine front.“Public exposure is the only defense at the disposal of Ahed, and it is clear that without it, in a secret trial, she can’t receive a fair trial,” said the teenager’s attorney Gaby Lasky, lambasting the fact that despite numerous appeals by herself and groups of human rights activists, the Israeli authorities are still set to continue the proceedings “in the dark.” Ahed’s attorney also told the press that both the minor and her parents wanted the trail to be open to the public.
3 October 2008The top United Nations envoy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today asked for additional peacekeepers beyond the nearly 19,000 uniformed personnel already there to prevent the vast country from slipping back into “horrendous” conflict. “We’re talking about a surge capacity, we’re not talking about a permanent arrangement,” Secretary-General’s Special Representative Alan Doss told reporters after briefing the Security Council on the renewal of hostilities in the eastern provinces and the need to accelerate the separation of armed groups and their demobilization. “We are entering a potentially very dangerous phase, tensions are rising and we do not want to see the Congo plunge back into the conflict which spilled over and involved neighbours,” he said, referring to the six-year civil war that cost 4 million lives in fighting and attendant hunger and disease – widely considered the most lethal conflict in the world since World War II – before it ended earlier this decade. “That conflict lasted for many years with horrendous consequences for the whole sub-region and especially for the Congo itself,” he added, voicing particular concern at the rise in ethnic tensions, and speaking at the end of a week that saw rocket-firing UN attack helicopters go into action against rebels who had opened fire on them in Ituri province. It was the latest such action over the past month by the peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUC), the largest such UN presence currently on the ground, to protect civilian populations in the east, especially in North Kivu province where the rebel National Congress for People’s Defence (CNDP) has been pushing against Government forces. Mr. Doss said the Council asked for more details on the troop request. He was pressed repeatedly on the number of extra troops he had requested. “If I said ‘modest,’ that wouldn’t satisfy you,” he replied, laughing. “I can’t really say at this point. We’re discussing it with DPKO (Department for Peacekeeping Operations), but obviously it’s not going to be a vast increase. “We have to be realistic as to what could be possible. But it’s also about the quality and getting air mobility and that sort of thing, it’s not just the numbers game,” he said, acknowledging that the peacebuilding budget is not “infinitely elastic” and there are many demands on it at the moment. In the meantime, “we will have to move ahead with what we’ve got and certainly we will use our mandate as it is today to take action when it is necessary to protect civilians and prevent further deterioration,” he added, noting that he had also discussed with the Council a reconfiguration of forces “to see to what extent we can get more mileage out of what we’ve got.” MONUC was set up in 1999 with an initial strength of some 5,500 military personnel to help enforce a ceasefire in the civil war and restore peace and stability. One of the UN’s major achievements was to help organize presidential, national and provincial elections two years ago, the largest and most complex polls it has ever helped to run. Since then, much of the rest of the country has been relatively calm. Mr. Doss cited some progress in South Kivu. “So the picture isn’t all bleak, but nevertheless the situation in North Kivu is, above all, very, very preoccupying,” he said. “Ethnic tensions have risen in North Kivu and that is very dangerous – no doubt about it.” He voiced concern over reported statements by the CNDP’s leader, renegade general Laurent Nkunda, which could further stoke tensions, a position echoed by a mission spokesman in Kinshasa, the DRC capital, who said: “MONUC and the international community will not tolerate this new attempt to destabilize the political process.” Another area of concern is Orientale province, where the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) from Uganda has launched attacks, uprooting thousands from their homes and kidnapping 90 children. The group is notorious for recruiting child soldiers. Mr. Doss said UN capacities to contain the situation there were very limited “given our preoccupations in the Kivus? There are limits to what we can do, we can’t be everywhere all the time.” Summing up the gravity of the situation, he stressed the imperative of dealing with the problem of armed groups. “Otherwise the rule of laws is being supplanted by the rule of the gun,” he declared.
One person was killed and 27 others sustained injuries when a bus went down a precipice in Badulla today.The Police said that the Sri Lanka Transport Board bus went down a 75-foot precipice in Badulla. The driver of the bus was trapped inside and had to be removed by the Police and area residence.The injured where admitted to hospital for treatment. (Colombo Gazette)
The arms embargo in Darfur is being blatantly violated by all parties operating in the war-torn Sudanese region, including Government forces, allied Janjaweed militias, rebel groups and insurgents from neighbouring Chad, according to the latest report from a panel of experts set up by the United Nations Security Council.The panel’s report, released today, found that Chadian rebels are helping to stoke the conflict in Darfur – especially in the region’s north and west – by reportedly joining Government forces and the Janjaweed in their operations against rebel groups.The experts said there are reliable reports that Sudan is re-supplying the Chadian rebels with weapons and vehicles, with weapons and ammunition observed being offloaded at local airports and moved to locations within Darfur, where three years of fighting have killed an estimated 200,000 people and forced another 2 million to leave their homes.“Credible information” also exists indicating the Government continues to support the Janjaweed, providing weapons and vehicles in breach of its commitments, according to the report.“The Janjaweed/armed militias appear to have upgraded their modus operandi from horses, camels and AK-47s to land cruisers, pick-up trucks and rocket-propelled grenades,” it stated.The panel of experts, appointed by the Council last year to monitor the arms embargo and targeted financial and travel-related sanctions, also found that rebel forces have “shown a notable increase in capacity to engage the forces of the Government” since March.Turning to the financial and travel-related sanctions, the experts said it considered Sudan to have “wilfully avoided” its commitment under the resolution to implement financial sanctions against persons designated by the Council.They also voiced concern that fighting has increased in recent months because of a major split within rebel movements based on which groups and factions signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) in May and which did not.“Tragically, it is the long-suffering innocent civilians of Darfur who continue to bear the brunt of recent events.”Greece’s Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, Chairman of the Council committee dealing with sanctions concerning Sudan, said in a letter to the Council President that the committee will consider the panel’s many recommendations and then present their views to the full Council.Meanwhile, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland told a news briefing in Geneva that the violence and insecurity plaguing Darfur has escalated in recent months, with the militias stronger than ever.“They are much better armed, they are more brutal than ever and their potential to do bad is better than ever,” he said.Mr. Egeland, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said the escalating fighting has led to surging numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) across Darfur, a remote and impoverished region the size of France on Sudan’s western flank.Their suffering has been exacerbated because relief workers are unable to reach many of the IDPs due to the insecurity.Asked by journalists about the recent Human Rights Council session, Mr. Egeland said he thought it was a shame that it did not issue a strong statement on Darfur.“I think that is a very bad signal. There are few cases that are so clear-cut as Darfur in terms of women and children being abused, attacked [and] raped by armed men. And if there is one thing that the Human Rights Council should do, it is to come to the defence of the defenceless.”
In a statement, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, highlighted that the terms and conditions for the cessation of hostilities include commitments for the unhindered access for humanitarian supplies and personnel to all parts of Yemen. “Both sides have committed to adhere to the Terms and Conditions for the cessation of hostilities which I presented,” said the Special Envoy. “I ask all the parties and the international community to remain steadfast in support for this cessation of hostilities to be a first step in Yemen’s return to peace. This is critical, urgent and much needed. Yemen cannot afford the loss of more lives.” Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed noted that the De-escalation and Co-ordination Committee has been reconvened in Kuwait and will work to bolster adherence to the cessation of hostilities. The Committee, comprising military representatives from both sides, recently concluded a capacity-building exercise conducted by experts from the European Union, he said. “Much work lies ahead to ensure full respect of the cessation of hostilities and the resumption of peace talks in Kuwait. Now is the time to step back from the brink. The progress made represents a real opportunity to rebuild a country that has suffered far too much violence for far too long,” added the Special Envoy. “A positive outcome will require difficult compromises from all sides, courage and determination to reach an agreement.” Preparations are currently well under way for the start of the intra-Yemeni peace talks, to be held under the auspices of the UN. The talks will focus on five main areas: the withdrawal of militias and armed groups; the handover of heavy weapons to the State; interim security arrangements; the restoration of state institutions and the resumption of inclusive political dialogue; and the creation of a special committee for prisoners and detainees. In related news today, Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, and Peter Salama, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), expressed hope that the cessation of hostilities and peace talks will bring an end to the conflict in Yemen. “We call on all parties to the conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, to commit to releasing children who have been recruited and used in the fighting, and to end all grave violations against boys and girls. Parties should take every possible measure to protect schools and hospitals, and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to children and all those in need,” the officials said in a statement. Noting that the children of Yemen are “bearing the brunt of a brutal conflict,” Ms. Zerrougui and Mr. Salama said the cessation of hostilities is an opportunity for parties to take action to improve their protection. The officials highlighted that the UN has verified a significant increase in grave violations against children by all parties to the conflict in Yemen. According to recent figures, 900 children were killed, a seven-fold increase compared with 2014. Child recruitment increased five times, with 848 cases verified. Meanwhile, attacks on schools and hospitals have doubled, bringing the total number to more than 115. The disruption in the delivery of basic services has deprived thousands of children of their fundamental rights to education and health, the officials said. They also emphasized that the incidents that the UN was able to verify represent “the tip of the iceberg,” but reveal some “very concerning trends.” Among the trends is the estimation that children represent about one third of all civilians killed and close to a quarter of those injured. Another trend is that attacks on civilian infrastructure, especially schools and health clinics, have become commonplace. In addition, children are now playing a more active role in combat and manning checkpoints, including on the front-lines, the officials said. “Taken together these data represent a disturbing pattern of flagrant disregard for international humanitarian law and the rights of children in Yemen. These patterns have far-reaching implications for the stability of Yemen and the future of its children,” the officials said.
Ohio State self-reported 47 minor Big Ten and NCAA rules violations in 2014, including one as the result of an accidental text sent by a football coach’s 4-year-old son.OSU wide receivers coach Zach Smith’s son picked up his father’s cell phone when a recruit called on May 27, and accidentally sent an automatic text message in return. The university sent a letter of education to the football coaches after the incident in regards to NCAA texting rules and phone security.The NCAA did not review the case as part of its interpretations philosophy, which allows for flexibility when reviewing rule violations.This information is the result of three separate public records requests submitted by The Lantern.The most recent request spanned from Sept. 1 through Jan. 18. The records request showed 19 self-reported NCAA and Big Ten violations in the final four months of the year.Of those 19 violations, only two involved the OSU football program, and none involved the men’s basketball team.Apart from the accidental text message from Smith’s son, the only other football violation was for “impermissible on-campus contact,” submitted to the NCAA on Sept. 25. That incident involved coach Urban Meyer having “inadvertent contact with a junior college non-qualifier.” That junior college athlete was on campus without the knowledge of the OSU staff, according to the records request.OSU declared the athlete ineligible until he was reinstated by the NCAA. The records did not specify any actions by the NCAA.Eighteen of the final 19 violations of 2014 were for NCAA rules, and only one prompted punishment from the NCAA beyond what was handed down by the university. As reported by The Lantern on Oct. 14, the NCAA imposed two $500 fines on OSU after an ineligible men’s soccer player competed in two matches.Apart from the soccer violation, three violations had monetary consequences.A member of the field hockey team took part in 17 games during the 2013-14 school year even though she was ineligible. The school paid $5,000 in fines and declared the student-athlete ineligible for field hockey going forward.One member of the OSU wrestling team inadvertently received school books during Fall Semester because his name “incorrectly appeared on the institution’s book list.” The NCAA reinstatement staff said the student-athlete must repay the value of the books before being reinstated, which was the same decision made by the university in the case.Members of the women’s tennis team were required to repay $28 after the program provided them with impermissible per diem on two occasions.Since Sept. 1, 12 different OSU programs self-reported violations, with football, men’s soccer, wrestling, field hockey, men’s gymnastics and women’s volleyball reporting two each. The OSU athletics communication staff also self-reported a violation of its own for “impermissible publicity of voluntary summer workouts.”Through Jan. 18, OSU athletics had only self-reported one NCAA violation and no Big Ten violations.The NCAA violation was for impermissible text messages and phone calls, reported by the football program on Jan. 7. The violation was the result of six accidental one-minute phone calls and five text messages over a span of 10 months. The university prevented the football coaching staff from making phone calls for one week as a punishment, and the NCAA decided not to impose any further sanctions.The three records requests submitted by The Lantern showed eight total football violations in 2014, along with the first OSU violation of 2015.The first request was submitted July 8 and fulfilled Aug. 11, the second was submitted Sept. 23 and fulfilled Oct. 14, and the third was submitted Jan. 18 and fulfilled Thursday evening.
It is also the most common reason given for suspensions, accounting for 30 per cent last year, up from 23.3 per… “Persistent disruptive behaviour” accounts for he highest proportion of pupil expulsions, according the latest official figures. This was cited as the cause for a third (34 per cent) of all permanent exclusions last year, up from 29.6 per cent a decade ago. Gavin Williamson, the new Education Secretary, is to launch a review into teacher training which will focus on implementing stricter behaviour strategies to tackle disruption in schools. Teachers will be given training to make them tougher with unruly children as part of a Government drive to restore discipline to the classroom.