Soldier, LeT militant killed in Kulgam

first_imgA Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant and a soldier were killed in a fierce gunfight at Kulgam in south Kashmir on Tuesday, as another batch of militants managed to the give the Army the slip after being trapped in Pulwama.A police official said a heavy exchange of fire erupted between the hiding militants and the security forces at Nowbug Kund, Kulgam, during a cordon operation. “The operation got prolonged as the trapped militants changed their positions during the exchange of fire,” the official said.An LeT militant, identified as Muzamil Manzoor, a resident of Bardoo-Yaripora, Kulgam, was killed. However, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin identified the militant as Showkat Ahmad Dar. The other trapped militants managed to escape into a jungle area. A soldier was also killed in the operation. A policeman associated with the Special Operations Group (SOG) suffered injuries, police said.Hideout bustedIn a separate operation, militants gave a search party of security forces the slip in Laam forests of Tral, Pulwama. “A hideout was busted and blankets were seized from the spot,” said the police. Railway services were disrupted in Kulgam and Anantnag. Internet services in the area too remained suspendedIn north Kashmir, a procession was taken out during the last rites for Ashiq Ahmed Bhat, a Hizbul Mujahideen militant killed along with his associate Toib Majid of Brat Kalan Sopore in Zachildara area of Handwara town on Monday night.A police official said Bhat was from the volatile Palhalan area. He had joined the militant ranks in April 2015 as a Class 10 student. Clashes also broke out after the funeral. Another militant Majid was also buried in Bratkalan Sopore as mourners chanted anti-India slogans.Paying tributes to the slain militants, Hizb chief Salahuddin, in a statement issued from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, said the ongoing struggle would continue till a logical conclusion was reached. “The sun of freedom will rise sooner or later in Kashmir.”last_img read more

BUDGET 2016 COVERAGE: A roundup of Obama’s science spending request

first_imgThe Obama administration on 2 February presented its budget request to Congress for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins in October. ScienceInsider tracked the numbers on rollout day and provided analysis. Click here to see all of our Budget 2016 coverage.8:05 p.m.: That’s all for today, folks! Come back tomorrow for more coverage of science policy, politics, and money on ScienceInsider.8 p.m.: The top Republican and Democat on the House of Representatives science committee react to today’s budget request.Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), chair of the House science committee:“Under this president, our nation’s debt has grown by more than $7 trillion. And the president’s latest budget proposal is more of the same. The American people do not want increased taxes and the government spending what it doesn’t have.“Investments in science and technology have the potential to create jobs and yield future economic growth. Rather than focus on areas that have clear benefits for Americans, the president instead chose to push a partisan agenda. His budget includes new spending for costly ineffective energy subsidies and a new $500 million United Nations program to promote ‘climate change resiliency’ in other countries. I’m disappointed the president chose to play politics with taxpayers’ dollars instead of offering real solutions.“I am disappointed that the budget request does not adequately support the programs that will take us farther into space to destinations like Mars. In fact, his budget cuts human space exploration and planetary science.  The Obama administration continues to include costly distractions, such as climate funding better suited for other agencies, and an asteroid retrieval mission that the space community does not support.“It is clear that the president is out of touch with how Americans want their government to be run. House Republicans will continue to promote policies to make the federal government and our nation’s scientific enterprise more efficient, effective and accountable.”Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX), ranking member of the House science committee:“The President’s Budget would help ensure that the U.S. can compete in a 21st Century global economy and solidify America’s place as a scientific and technological leader. The commitment to STEM education, advanced manufacturing, and energy efficiency and the development of clean energy alternatives is encouraging. I am most pleased by the 6 percent increase for research and development.  Robust investments in R&D and education are essential if we want to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and unlock untold societal benefits.“I am also pleased that the budget would undo the sequester. The full impact of sequestration on non-defense discretionary spending would be very detrimental to our research, education, and innovation enterprise. The scientists, engineers, and innovators of today make discoveries and develop technologies that improve the quality of life and security of our citizens, generate whole new industries and jobs, and keep our nation thriving in a competitive world economy. They also help to give our children the inspiration and grounding they will need to become the next innovators, or just to be prepared for the high-skilled jobs of the future.  The only responsible course of action is to invest in our research agencies like the President has proposed, not hamstring them with arbitrary sequestration cuts.“I look forward to reviewing the specific budget requests of the agencies under the jurisdiction of the Committee in more detail in the weeks ahead and I look forward to working with the President and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that America remains a leader in science and technology in the decades to come.”7:55 p.m.: CDC close to flat, but with new antimicrobial mandateThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would see a small increase under the president’s budget request. The agency would get nearly $7.1 billion—up almost 2% from 2015 levels, not counting the emergency $1.7 billion it got this year to support domestic and international Ebola response.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 most notable increase would go to “emerging and zoonotic infectious disease” programs, allotted $699 million in the 2016 budget—a nearly $300 million increase.  Most of that comes with the president’s initiative to combat antibiotic resistance, a $1.7 billion initiative announced last week, of which CDC would take a $280 million slice. That funding would support efforts to educate hospitals about antibiotic stewardship and to monitor emerging threats. The agency plans to double the number of sites in the Emerging Infections Program—a research and surveillance network of labs, clinics, and state health departments—from 10 to 20.CDC’s budget for injury prevention and control would also spike under the plan, from $150 million to $257 million, as CDC is folded into a broader effort by the administration to reduce rates of prescription drug abuse. –Kelly Servick7:50 p.m.: A food-focused bump for FDAObama’s budget request includes $4.9 billion for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—a 9% increase over 2015. Federal appropriations alone—not counting user fees collected from companies seeking FDA review—amount to $2.76 billion, or a 6% increase, according to a preliminary analysis by the Alliance for a Stronger FDA.The agency’s food safety efforts would see the biggest boost—$109 million, or 4%—as part of an ongoing overhaul meant to cut down on foodborne illness, mandated by 2011’s Food Safety Modernization Act. Meanwhile, its oversight of medical products would see just a 1% increase in funding.That’s problematic, given that both the agency’s workload and the complexity of the science involved in the review process continue to increase, says Steven Grossman, the alliance’s deputy executive director. “It’s clear that the medical products stuff is growing much faster than the budget is,” he says. –Kelly Servick7:48 p.m.: At NOAA, a 6.3% increase and an emphasis on climate and weatherThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) budget request reveals a strong focus on planning for and mitigating the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events, with money set aside for new weather satellites, climate mitigation planning, and additional grants for coastal resilience studies. The budget also calls for expanding NOAA’s existing efforts to study ocean acidification and for upgrading the National Weather Service’s infrastructure.The total NOAA request is $3.333 billion, 6.3% above 2015. For the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, the agency’s main research arm, the request is $485 million, an increase of 12%. Within the office, climate research would get a big boost, a 9% increase to $189 million. There’s also a 33% hike for ocean acidification research, to $30 million.The budget asks for $2 billion to push forward with the next generation of weather satellites, including $380 million to begin to develop a Polar Follow-On satellite program, designed to fill the data gap between the current Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite with NASA and the planned Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), of which the first satellite is scheduled to launch in early 2017. Funding for the follow-on satellites may come at the expense of the budgets for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOES-R) and JPSS, however, both of which stand to decrease by about $100 million for 2016.Overall, NOAA research did well—it’s the best budget for NOAA research in a long time, says Scott Rayder, a former chief of staff at NOAA and now a senior adviser at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. “There’s something there for everyone.” In particular, he notes the administration’s apparent emphasis on climate “news you can use,” such as regional forecasts, rather than global forecasts. There’s also a focus on developing forecasts with a seasonal to interannual timeframe—about 3 months to a year—which are in high demand in industry, Rayder says. “The marketplace—agriculture, transportation, energy, water managers—they all want this information. So in this space, the administration and Congress can agree that it’s a good thing.”NOAA is also requesting $147 million to begin construction of a new ocean survey vessel with a variety of capabilities, from surveying marine mammal populations to servicing National Weather Service buoys. To save costs, NOAA is requesting that the ship be built to the same specifications as two already-planned ships for the federally funded academic research fleet, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s R/V Neil Armstrong and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s R/V Sally Ride. “It’s a smart acquisition decision,” Rayder says. With the federal fleet aging and likely to decline by 50% by 2026, “they really need this vessel.” –Carolyn Gramling7:36 p.m.: UPDATED—USGS climate, natural hazards programs would gain under 13.7% budget boostThe U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was among the winners in the White House’s budget request for 2016. The agency was allotted nearly $1.2 billion—an increase of 13.7% from 2015.All seven of the agency’s so-called mission areas—Ecosystems, Climate and Land Use, Energy, Minerals and Health, Natural Hazards, Water Resources, Core Science Systems, Science Support—would see gains. The agency’s climate and land use research programs would get largest overall bump, 27%. Core Science Systems, which supports research, would get 14% raise to $187 million, while the agency’s natural hazards program would get a 13% increase to $155 million.“It’s a very strong budget,” said Suzette Kimball, the agency’s acting director, at a briefing today. “We have very limited actual decreases in budget.” If approved by Congress—and that remains to be seen—the increase would help pay for studies of everything from insects that pollinate crops to sinkholes and space weather.The proposed increases also reflect the Obama administration’s shift toward trying to take a more active role in mitigating the potential effects of climate change, said Lexi Shultz, public affairs director at the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C. “We’re facing a somewhat unprecedented threat because we, as a nation, don’t have a handle on everything we need to do to protect ourselves from the effects of climate change. So I don’t think it’s surprising that the administration would prioritize [USGS’s climate and land research programs] above all others.” The agency, administration officials have suggested, could play a key role in helping communities anticipate and prepare for climate-related catastrophes and long-term changes.Although the agency’s water resources programs would see the smallest funding increases under the proposed budget—just 5% to $222 million—they would remain the agency’s single largest spending area. Some the new funds, the agency says, would go to studying how drought affects entire ecosystems.Overall, USGS’s percentage increase is nearly double the White House’s overall 7% proposed increase for discretionary spending. That favored status reflects White House’s recognition of USGS’s value, says Shultz, who adds: “Now what we’d really like to see is Congress share in this recognition.” Whether the Republican-led Congress will be as enthusiastic, however, won’t be known until later this year. –David Shultz7:35 p.m.: UPDATED—NASA budget includes missions to fly past Europa and to redirect an asteroidNASA’s request of $18.5 billion represents a rise of 2.7% over 2015 enacted levels. That may not come close to the 5% rises requested by other research agencies, such as the National Science Foundation. But for NASA watchers, it’s better than it has been a long time.“This is the best starting point we’ve had in 4 years from the White House,” says Casey Dreier, director of advocacy for the Planetary Society, based in Pasadena, California. “That shouldn’t be dismissed.”For NASA’s science office, perhaps the biggest surprise is an official embrace of a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa that would launch in the mid-2020s. The agency asks for $30 million for the Europa mission in 2016 and plans on developing the mission concept this spring. That request signals a detente between the administration, which had avoided requesting funding for Europa, and Congress, which always plumped for the mission—including the $100 million that it appropriated for Europa in 2015. “This is a big change in administration policy and we’re very pleased,” Dreier says.At a briefing today, NASA chief financial officer David Radzanowski would not say what the overall price tag of the Europa mission would be, only that it would have to cost much less than $4 billion. That’s why advocates have pushed for a “Europa Clipper” concept that would spin around the moon in multiple flybys, rather than calling for an orbiter—a more difficult and expensive mission that would subject the spacecraft to much greater doses of radiation from Jupiter. There has been growing evidence that Europa may be emitting plumes of water from its south pole, and many scientists want any mission to be able to sample those plumes for signs of life.The budget also asks for $220 million for an Asteroid Initiative, which includes money for a controversial mission to send astronauts to an asteroid that had been redirected from its natural orbit to the vicinity of Earth. However, there is no line item for the asteroid redirect mission, and the agency has delayed making a decision on choosing an approach for the mission (whether to snatch a boulder from a larger asteroid, for instance, or to bag up an entire asteroid and bring it to Earth). Marcia Smith, a veteran space policy analyst and consultant based in Arlington, Virginia, says the longer NASA avoids committing to a particular mission, the easier it will be for a subsequent administration to kill the proposal. “It seems that time is running out for them to make that choice,” she says. “It suggests that they’re having some challenges at a fundamental level.”In the request, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate gets far less of a boost than the agency does overall—a rise of just 0.8% to $5.289 billion. Within the four science divisions—earth science, astrophysics, planetary science, and heliophysics—earth science appears to be the big winner. That division gets $1.947 billion—a whopping 10% jump over 2015 levels.This is no surprise coming from the Obama administration, which has consistently tried to raise earth science funding. But it also comes with increased responsibilities—the administration wants NASA to take over the management of all nonweather satellites from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Nevertheless, Steven Running, chair of a NASA earth science advisory committee meeting, was pleased both with the funding request, as well as with a year that had seen the launch of three major missions: the Global Precipitation Measurement mission, joint with the Japanese Space Agency; the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 mission; and the Soil Moisture Active Passive mission, which just launched on 31 January. “NASA Earth science has had a tremendously good year,” says Running, of the University of Montana, Missoula. “We’re feeling our oats.”NASA planetary science appears to be the biggest loser in the Science Mission Directorate, with a 5% cut from 2015 enacted levels. But that reflects the pattern of the last few years, where the administration underasks for planetary and Congress overdelivers to the division. “It’s a very familiar story,” Dreier says. Among now operating planetary missions, the agency expects to zero out the Mars Opportunity rover, the Mars Odyssey orbiter, and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. But Radzanowski says that the agency has been able to find money to continue operations for aging missions before. “We will look at ways to continuing operations—if they actually are operational by 2016 and the science value does make sense.”The agency requests a 3.7% hike to $709 million for astrophysics, and an additional $620 million to continue building its chief astronomical priority, the $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope. “On the whole, it’s not a bad situation,” says Bradley Peterson, an astronomer at Ohio State University, Columbus, who heads a NASA astrophysics advisory committee.One surprise is the administration request for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a joint mission with the German space agency that consists of a converted 747 jet with a telescope riding in the rear. Last year, the administration tried to cancel the mission, which has been expensive and relatively unproductive scientifically. But Congress rushed to the mission’s aid with $70 million for 2015. This year the agency asked for $85 million. “Let bygones be bygones,” Dreier joked. “I was very surprised to see that, coming out as if nothing had happened.” According to Peterson, “that was recognition that they should not have made any unilateral decision on the future of SOFIA without discussions with our German partners.”Within the human exploration program, which takes up roughly a quarter of NASA’s overall budget, the agency continues to take a two-pronged approach to developing rockets that would return astronauts to space after the retirement of the Space Shuttle. The commercial crew program—which provides subsidies to companies such as SpaceX and Boeing to develop privately owned, human-rated rockets and capsules—would get $1.244 billion, a more than 50% jump over what Congress gave the program in 2015.In addition, the agency would spend almost double that, $2.453 billion, on its own capsule, Orion, and a rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), a lumbering, and delayed, heavy-lift vehicle that will not see its first launch until the end of 2018. Yet NASA’s request calls for 15% less than Congress spent on Orion and SLS for 2015. The requested levels are telling and anticipate familiar battles with Congress, which has taken a dim view of commercial crew while protecting SLS. Both the Europa mission and the asteroid redirect mission could take advantage of rides on a SLS rocket in the 2020s. –Eric Hand7:33 p.m.: UPDATED—DOE’s science office rises 5%, with advanced computing a big winnerThe president’s budget doles out $5.3 billion for the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science, a 5% increase that beats out inflation. “It’s not a windfall by any means, but on the other hand, certainly we understand it’s a pretty constrained budget environment so being able to see any increase at all is a positive thing,” says Thom Mason, director of DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.Five of the six major research programs within the Office of Science get a share of the good news.The biggest winner is the Advanced Scientific Computing Research program, which would see an increase of 14.8%, to $621 million. This increase would support efforts by DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which manages the nuclear weapons stockpile, and the Office of Science to develop fast, cutting-edge exascale computers, paving the way for advanced climate modeling and biomedical applications.Nuclear physics receives a 5% increase, to $625 million. That’s consistent with the funding needed for construction of the new Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at Michigan State University.High Energy Physics received a 2.9% increase to $788 million, which includes support for the planned Long Baseline Neutrino Facility.The funding for Basic Energy Sciences grew by 6.7%, to $1.8 billion. That budget will pay for planned upgrades of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and the Linac Coherent Light Source at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. “That’s an area where in the last couple of years we’ve seen budget increases requested but they’ve not made it through [Congress],” Mason says. “It would be good if we actually could realize those requested increases.”DOE’s Biological and Environmental Research program would get a 3.4% bump to $612 million. (But the Obama administration’s efforts to increase funding for this program have often gotten a frosty reception from Republicans in Congress, who now control both the House and Senate.)The lone outlier is DOE’s fusion program, which would get a 10.3% cut, to $420 million. The program saw an increase in 2015 partly as a result of Congress’s desire to maintain a domestic fusion research program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The White House had proposed cutting that project in order to help pay for ITER, the troubled international fusion project under construction in France. But a fierce lobbying campaign persuaded Congress saved the MIT project for 1 year. Now, however, DOE is struggling to figure out how to pay for both ITER and a few domestic projects—and the administration appears to be reinforcing the idea that there won’t be any new money in the short run.For the DOE budget overall, “the emphasis is really in the energy technology areas,” rather than the Office of Science, says Michael Lubell of the American Physical Society in Washington, D.C. Programs supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency received major increases in the request, as they have in previous years. But if history is any judge, the increases are unlikely to be approved by Congress. –Emily Conover5:10 p.m.: AAU says Pentagon basic research cuts “inconceivable”The Association of American Universities, which represents many of the nation’s largest research campuses, has issued this reaction to today’s budget request (edited for brevity):”The President’s FY16 budget contains the kind of investments in scientific research and higher education that would help close the nation’s innovation deficit. By proposing to eliminate sequestration and raise the budget caps, it permits needed investments in the ideas, discoveries, and people that can provide the foundation for our nation’s future.The budget’s proposed increases for the National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and ARPA-E, NASA, and the Agriculture Food Research Initiative would help build our economy, improve health, and strengthen our national security …On the other hand, we find it inconceivable that the Defense budget contains an 8.3-percent cut in basic research, given the significant overall increase provided for the Pentagon. Defense basic research is critical to our national security. For this nation’s fighting men and women to remain the world’s best equipped, most technically advanced force, we need to sustain the investment in Defense basic research. Congress rejected a similar cut last year, and we hope that it will step in again.”5:08 p.m.: President’s 2016 budget offers 3.3% boost for NIH; modest increase includes more for precision medicine, antibiotic resistance, BRAIN InitiativeThe National Institutes of Health (NIH) would rise $1 billion, bringing its total budget to $31.3 billion under President Barack Obama’s 2016 budget request released today. That 3.3% increase is good news for biomedical research advocates.Within the $1 billion are two new cross-agency research efforts announced in Obama’s January State of the Union address and described in more detail by the White House last week. The Precision Medicine Initiative includes $130 million spread across NIH’s institutes to create a 1-million-volunteer study to explore links between genes and health; another $70 million would expand National Cancer Institute efforts to treat cancer by targeting genes that drive tumor growth. And $100 million (in addition to an existing $361 million) would go for diagnostic test development, genome sequencing, a clinical trial network, and other research as NIH’s contribution to a trans-agency National Strategy to Combat Antibiotic Resistance.The request also includes $70 million in new money for the cross-agency BRAIN Initiative, more than doubling its NIH funding; $51 million more for Alzheimer’s disease research (a 9% increase over current spending); and $51 million more for vaccines against such diseases as HIV and influenza.The 3.3% raise is “a nice increase for NIH. We’re very gratified by that number,” says Jennifer Zeitzer, deputy director of public affairs for the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Bethesda, Maryland. “We do wish for more, obviously. But we’re in a good spot. This lays out a vision for what we can do.” She adds, however, that the increase will depend on Congress following through on Obama’s request to scrap the 2011 mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration.But the head of another biomedical research advocacy group, Research!America CEO Mary Woolley, said although her group, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is “pleased” by what it calls “a starting point,” her group feels the new initiatives at NIH “should supplement, not supplant, the imperative of making up for a decade’s worth of lost ground.” Her group is pinning its hopes on a bill introduced by House of Representatives Democrats called the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act that would allow NIH’s budget to gradually grow to the level it would have reached if it had risen with inflation since 2003. –Jocelyn Kaiser4:08 p.m.: White House favors USGS with rock-solid 13.7% increaseThe U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was among the winners in the White House’s budget request for 2016. The agency was allotted nearly $1.2 billion—an increase of 13.7% from 2015. (That percentage is nearly double the White House’s overall 7% proposed increase for discretionary spending.) If Congress goes along—and that’s unlikely—the increase would dwarf the 1.4% budget increase USGS got this year. –David Shultz3:51 p.m.: NIST shoots for 29% increase as White House backs advanced manufacturingThe president’s budget aims to boost the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) numbers with a 29% increase to $1.12 billion, up from $864 million last year. This overall number includes a near 12% bump for the NIST labs, also known as the Scientific and Technical Research and Services, from $676 million to $755 million.But the biggest winner appears to be NIST’s Industrial Technology Services. ITS includes a series of programs to support innovations in manufacturing. Within that bailiwick, the administration proposes to spend $144 million this year on the new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, a collaborative effort between industry, academia, and government partners to speed manufacturing innovation. The heart of that effort would be the creation of two Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation, which are expected to cost $150 million over 5 years.Also noteworthy in the ITS budget is the quiet phaseout of the Technology Innovation Program (TIP), the successor to the once highly controversial Advanced Technology Program, which shared R&D costs between government and industry. TIP funding for 2015 was down to a meager $5 million, and that number has been zeroed out for 2016. –Robert F. Service3:46 p.m.: Correction: DOD basic research gets an 8% cut, not a modest increaseThanks to some sharp eyes at the Association of American Universities for noticing that our earlier item on DOD basic research contained an error. The request actually calls for an 8% cut to the Pentagon’s basic research account, to about $2.1 billion. This account has been under heavy pressure in recent years, with Congress stepping in at times to plus up the numbers. It provides major funding for several fields, including engineering research, computer science, and math. (To avoid confusion, we have removed the earlier item.)3:15 p.m.: EPA requests 4.6% boost for science and technology, including computational toxicology researchScience and technology spending at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would get a $34 million (or 4.6%) boost over what Congress approved last year, to $769 million, under the president’s fiscal year 2016 budget proposal. Of note, the president’s request includes a 58% hike in funding for computational toxicology research to $33.8 million, to help develop better and faster methods for screening chemicals for potential health concerns.”One of the great challenges that EPA has faced for some time has been being able to increase the speed of their assessments — their risk assessments and their hazard assessments,” says Paul Anastas, former EPA assistant administrator and now a chemist at Yale University. “And being able to use these high-throughput protocols that the computational toxicology allows is going to be essential going forward. So I think that that’s really very important, and perhaps one of the biggest highlights in the investments in the science and technology budget.”The request also includes a 9% increase for climate, air, and energy research to $100.3 million. –Puneet Kollipara1:55 p.m.: Lukewarm praise from Research!America for National Institutes of Health and health numbers … This in from Research!America president and CEO Mary Woolley:”We are pleased that the President’s FY16 budget proposal calls for the elimination of sequestration and makes a down payment on the bipartisan goal of accelerating medical progress.  We see this as a starting point.  It is absolutely important to invest in initiatives that focus on precision medicine, Alzheimer’s, antimicrobial resistance and other growing health threats, but these investments should supplement, not supplant, the imperative of making up for a decade’s worth of lost ground.  We believe that Congress and the White House can, and must, unify behind a moonshot as envisioned in the bipartisan Accelerating Biomedical Research Act. Medical progress is not just a health imperative, it is a strategic imperative, integral to national security, fiscal stability and economic progress.  Leaders on both sides of the aisle clearly appreciate that the time is now to turn ideas into reality.  It may be a truism, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.”1:32 p.m.: NASA’s science office gets modest 0.8% boost, but agency embraces mission to EuropaNASA overall gets a request of $18.5 billion, which represents a rise of 2.7% over 2015 enacted levels. The agency continues to go with a two-pronged approach to developing rockets that would return astronauts to space after the retirement of the Space Shuttle. The commercial crew program—subsidies for companies like SpaceX to develop privately owned, human-rated rockets—would get $805 million, while the agency would spend $2.051 billion on its own rocket, the Space Launch System, a lumbering, and delayed, heavy-lift vehicle that will not see its first launch until the end of 2018.The budget asks for $100 million to develop a mission formulation to Jupiter’s moon Europa. That signals the end of a low-grade battle between the administration, which had avoided requesting funding to pursue the mission, and Congress, which always appropriated money toward the goal. The budget would also provide support for a controversial mission to send astronauts to an asteroid that had been redirected from its natural orbit to the vicinity of Earth. Both of those missions could conceivably ride on a Space Launch System rocket in the 2020s.In the request, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate gets far less of a boost—a rise of just 0.8% to $5.289 billion. Within the four science divisions—earth science, astrophysics, planetary science, and heliophysics—earth science appears to be the big winner. That division gets $1.9 billion—a whopping 7.3% jump over 2015 levels. This is no surprise from the administration, which has consistently tried to raise the earth science division above the others.Steven Running, chair of a NASA earth science advisory committee meeting, was pleased both with the request, as well as with a year that had seen the launch of three major missions: the Global Precipitation Measurement mission, joint with the Japanese Space Agency; the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 mission; and the Soil Moisture Active Passive mission, which just launched on 31 January. “NASA earth science has had a tremendously good year,” says Running, of the University of Montana, Missoula. “We’re feeling our oats.”But the other divisions still get to continue work on their babies. An agency fact sheet mentions support for a Mars rover planned to launch in 2020 and also for the James Webb Space Telescope—though its development costs have been capped at $8 billion. –Eric Hand1:15 p.m.: Remember those decade-old plans to double the budgets of NSF, DOE Science, and NIST? How’s that going?A trio of research agencies still waiting to reap the rewards of a promised doubling of their budgets fared well in the new request. In 2006, President George W. Bush proposed a 10-year doubling for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In 2007, Congress enacted the America COMPETES Act that set an even faster, 7-year doubling path, and once President Barack Obama was elected, he pledged to honor the doubling, although the details became fuzzier as the years passed. In fact, the three agencies have seen their budgets rise by a total of 33% from 2006 to 2015.This year’s budget would mark the end of the original Bush pledge, and the Obama administration has clearly pushed to make the news as rosy as possible. The president’s 2016 request would boost the trio’s budget to 40% above their 2006 appropriations. For NSF, that would mean a jump from $5.65 billion to $7.72 billion, a rise of 37%. The Office of Science would grow from $3.63 billion to $5.34 billion, a boost of 48%. NIST, by far the smallest of the three agencies, would come closest to an actual doubling, soaring 91%, from $395 million to $755 million. –Jeffrey Mervis1:10 p.m.: DOE’s advanced computing program would get a big boost as science office grows 5.3%Under the proposed budget, the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science would get a 5.3% increase overall, to $5.3 billion. The biggest bump within DOE goes to their Advanced Scientific Computing Research program, which would see an increase of 14.8%, to $621 million. Basic Energy Sciences would get a boost of 6.7%, to $1.8 billion. Nuclear Physics would increase by 5.0%, to $625 million. High Energy Physics would get $788 million, a 2.9% increase. Biological and Environmental Research would grow by 3.4% to $612 million. Fusion Energy Sciences, however, would shrink by 10% to $420 million. –Emily Conover12:47 p.m.: NIST’s research labs would get a boost of nearly 12%, to $755 million12:35 p.m.: Early reaction to NIH numbersA statement just in from Carrie Wolinetz, president, United for Medical Research, a coalition that works to boost biomedical research funding.“We welcome President Obama’s FY16 budget proposal to increase National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and eliminate harmful sequestration. NIH has fostered remarkable advancements in human health, but has suffered from inadequate funding for the past decade. Additional resources will help defeat our nation’s most harmful diseases — including cancer, heart disease and diabetes — and fuel job creation in the life sciences sector – a win-win.”12:21 p.m.: NSF gets 5.2% overall, education would jump 11%The National Science Foundation (NSF) would receive a 5.2% increase, to $7.724 billion. The six research directorates would grow by 4.3%, to $6.19 billion, while the education directorate would jump by 11%, to $962 million. NSF would also receive a 9% boost in its management account to continue planning for its 2017 move to a new headquarters building in Alexandria, Virginia.Noon: A first look at the numbers from the budget request (more to come):Would provide $146 billion for research and development, 5.5% above 2015 levels. R&D includes basic and applied research and technology development programs. Requests $450 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative; current budget is $325 million. $32.8 billion for basic research, a 3% increase. $31.3 billion for the National Institutes of Health, a roughly 3% increase. 5.2% increase for the National Science Foundation, up $379 million to $7.724 billion. $3 billion request for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, $101 million over 2015.10:40 a.m.: What are science advocates looking for in today’s budget request?Last week ScienceInsider asked a variety of folks who closely follow federal spending on science what they would be looking for in today’s budget request. Here are some of their answers:Pat White, president, Act for NIH, Washington, D.C.My eye will obviously be on NIH.  Here are the things I’ll be looking out for:The NIH budget.  As you know, NIH’s budget has declined by nearly 25 percent since 2003, when adjusted for inflation.  In the best of times, NIH could fun 1-in-3 research proposals.  Today, that number has fallen to its lowest level ever, about 1-in-6.  That means thousands of promising proposals that could lead to cures for disease are not pursued every year.  Rumor is Administration will ignore sequestration and budget caps in FY16 proposal.  What’s that mean for NIH?Areas for bipartisan achievement with Congress and the White House for medical research.  Historically, NIH and medical research have been non-partisan issues.  In the 1990s, the NIH budget was doubled and the Human Genome Project were completed by a Republican Congress and a Democratic White House.  We have that same opportunity today.David O. Conover, vice president for research, Stony Brook University, New YorkWe will be looking closely at the total requests for NSF, NIH, and DOE. Last year we were disappointed that the President’s budget did not set a higher mark for those funding agencies, but it was the 2nd year of the budget cap agreement so it was a zero sum game. Not so this year. Within the NSF budget, we will be looking at the agency request level for social sciences and geosciences since these directorates have been called out for reductions and/or criticism by Congress. Will the request demonstrate resolve to fight for these disciplines or bow to pressure?Barry Toiv, vice president for public affairs, Association of American Universities (AAU), Washington, D.C.Here are questions that will be on our minds at AAU:1.      Does discretionary spending rise beyond the sequestration level and perhaps beyond the statutory cap, and is that accomplished in a way that has any chance of enactment?2.      Do the basic research budgets in each of the major research agencies suggest significant progress toward closing the innovation deficit?3.      Does the precision medicine proposal provide new resources or does it come from existing NIH funding?4.      Does the Defense Department budget show progress toward achievement of the 20/20 principle? The 20/20 principle is an investment benchmark level for Defense Science and Technology (S&T) and 6.1 basic research programs—investments in Defense S&T should constitute 20% of the total Defense RDT&E budget, and investments in 6.1 basic research should comprise 20% of the total DOD S&T budget (6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 programs). This investment principle is predicated on past DOD S&T investments that have yielded cutting edge technologies with both military and civilian applications.  The 20/20 investment principle could be achieved over a three-year period by increasing the share of funding by approximately one percent in FY15, FY16, and FY17 for 6.1 basic research and by approximately one percent in total for DOD S&T during the same time frame. Jon Retzlaff, managing director, Office of Science Policy and Government Affairs, American Association for Cancer Research, Washington, D.C.In addition to advocating for the President’s initiative on precision medicine, the AACR will be focused on making sure that Congress understands the importance of providing annual funding increases for NIH that takes into account inflation and provides for a healthy percentage of real growth.  We also strongly believe that it’s important that NIH’s annual funding increases are predictable, consistent, and sustainable over the long-term.  Therefore … we hope to see that the President’s FY 2016 budget proposal prioritizes NIH funding so that the agency is able to begin the process of ensuring that our country is able to consistently support the plethora of research opportunities to improve public health that currently exist.Scott Rayder, senior adviser for development and partnerships at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, ColoradoI hope that the Administration does not flat fund R&RA (research and related activities) at NSF. Last year (FY15 Presidents Request) was the first time in NSF history that research was level funded. I hope FY 16 PresBud is better.7:45 a.m.: Top line R&D number out; White House wants 6% bump for R&D, spending caps liftedThe Obama administration will ask for a 6% increase in federal spending on research and development, according to a White House fact sheet previewing today’s budget request to Congress for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins in October.“Our long-term economic competitiveness depends upon continued robust investment in R&D,” according to the statement, “including significant investments in basic research and advanced manufacturing technology.  The Budget invests in biomedical research—like the BRAIN initiative, which is developing tools and technologies to offer new insight into diseases like Alzheimer’s, and Precision Medicine, which can improve health outcomes and better treat diseases. It also emphasizes agricultural research, looking at climate resilience and sustainability.”The federal R&D budget includes spending on both basic and applied research. It will total roughly $140 billion this year, so a 6% increase would mean an additional $8 billion spread across the six or seven agencies that fund the bulk of the nation’s research activities. The exact distribution in the request won’t be known until later today.The increases for research are part of the Obama administration’s arguments for lifting spending caps established by a 2011 budget deal with Congress. The fact sheet suggests the caps set for 2016 would starve research. “[A]ssuming roughly current funding patterns, research funding adjusted for inflation would reach its lowest levels since 2002,” the fact sheet notes, “other than when sequestration was in full effect in 2013.”The White House fact sheet also hints at new investments in clean energy and efforts to combat climate change, but provides no details. “In order to secure America’s energy future and protect our children from the impacts of climate change, the Budget invests in clean energy, improving energy security, and enhancing preparedness and resilience to climate change,” the fact sheet states.It also hints at spending on public health priorities. “The Budget provides resources to support the Global Health Security Agenda, increases funding to eradicate polio and other global health challenges, and creates a new Impact Fund for targeted global HIV/AIDS efforts,” the fact sheet states. “In addition, the Budget increases funding for domestic preparedness efforts to more effectively and efficiently respond to potential future outbreaks here at home. The Budget also makes investments to address the domestic HIV epidemic to help States develop HIV implementation plans to support the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.”Come back to ScienceInsider today to see our rolling coverage of the budget release.Click here to see all of our Budget 2016 coverage.center_img $71.3 billion for overall Pentagon R&D, a 9% increase. $34.1 billion for applied research, a 4% increase. Repeats last’s years request for $325 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy; Congress gave just $275 million. Repeats call to make the R&D tax credit permanent.last_img read more

Ateneo rallies to beat La Salle, reclaims UAAP men’s football throne

first_imgDA eyes importing ‘galunggong’ anew Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Two-day strike in Bicol fails to cripple transport Roselyn Doria shrugs off criticisms as she accepts 1st Best Middle Blocker award Skipper Julian Roxas, one of the three graduating Ateneo players, then put Ateneo ahead for good, 2-1, with a headed in the 100th minute en route to the Blue Eagles’ second crown in three years and eighth overall.Rookie Mohammad Almohjili put the Green Archers, who were hungry to end a 21-year title drought, on the scoreboard in the 78th minute.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logisticsAJ Arcilla, who produced key saves for the Eagles in extra time, was named the Best Goalkeeper, while the Rookie of the Year honors went to Shanden Vergara of the Archers.De La Salle’s Yoshi Koizumi and Jed Diamante bagged the Best Defender and Best Midfielder awards, respectively, while University of Santo Tomas won the Fair Play award. Ateneo’s Jarvey Gayoso is the UAAP Season 81 men’s football MVP. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOMANILA, Philippines–Jarvey Gayoso came through in extra time as Ateneo turned back rival La Salle, 2-1, in a thriller to capture the UAAP Season 81 men’s football crown Thursday at Rizal Memorial Stadium.Gayoso, the league’s MVP and best striker, salvaged the Blue Eagles’ title bid with his 12th goal of the seasson early in stoppage time to tie the match at 1-1 and extend it for another 30 minutes.ADVERTISEMENT PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss LATEST STORIES ‘Rebel attack’ no cause for concern-PNP, AFP Duterte wants probe of SEA Games mess MOST READ Ethel Booba twits Mocha over 2 toilets in one cubicle at SEA Games venue Aside from Roxas, Rupert Baña and Jeremiah Rocha ended their UAAP careers as champions.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting View comments Catholic schools seek legislated pay hike, too Cayetano: Senate, Drilon to be blamed for SEA Games messlast_img read more

Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponappa rise one spot in badminton doubles rankings

first_imgThe 2010 Commonwealth Games champion duo of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa rose one rung to No.14 in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings in women’s doubles while the men’s doubles combo of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy slipped a rank to be positioned at the 20th spot.In men’s singles, HS Prannoy jumped two places to reach the 25th spot while both Kidambi Srikanth and Ajay Jayaram lost a spot each to be placed 12th and 21st, respectively. China’s Chen Long continues to hold on to the top spot.In women’s singles, there was no major change as Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu retained their spots at No 8 and 10, respectively. Spain’s Carolina Marin dethroned Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon to take the Numero Uno spot.There are no Indians in the top 25 in mixed doubles.last_img read more

Elbow pain? You probably have the selfie elbow. Know the cure and causes

first_imgAfter ‘texting thumb’ and ‘text neck’, it’s the ‘selfie elbow’ that is making headlines these days. It may sound ridiculous to some but ‘selfie elbow’ is actually a new tech related medical condition that has become a cause of concern for avid selfie takers across the globe. The condition was discovered after NBC journalist Hoda Kotb developed a pain in her elbow. When she contacted her orthopedist, he asked if she plays tennis or ping-pong. It turned out that the pain was due to her habit of taking a lot of selfies. Koth’s Instagram feed has a plenty of celebrity selfies alongside photos of her with family and fans. And this love for selfies landed her with severe pain in the elbow.Also read:National Selfie Day: 5 selfies that broke the internet, one picture at a timePainful loveDoctors say that ‘selfie elbow’ is much like tennis elbow – a kind of tendinitis – more common in people related to sports. “The repeated movement of the elbow in extreme posture while taking selfies causes ache in the elbow,” says Dr Kamal Bachani, senior consultant, Orthopaedics, Vimhans PrimaMed Super Speciality hospital, New Delhi. This is also called an overuse injury. While taking selfies, one holds the mobile phone for several minutes in strenuous posture, which can cause trauma to the muscles and tendons in the elbow. “You keep the elbow straight or slightly bent in a forceful manner. And you continue to do so until you capture the image of your choice. This leads to abnormal strain on the tendons and ligaments of the elbow, which further leads to inflammation and acute or chronic pain in the elbow,” says Dr Bachani.advertisementOveruse of musclesThe tech driven injuries or pain due to the repetitive nature of the tasks have become more common nowadays. Just like sitting for long hours in the same position can land you with back ache, overuse of your joints while texting, typing and taking selfies is going to give you aches as well. “When you do the same repeated movement over and over again – add to this the tricky, agonising postures – your body starts to complain,” says Dr Bachani. Too much stress on the muscle, it’s going to have painful consequences. Selfie elbow is one more addition to the long list of medical conditions caused due to overuse of technology, especially among teens. Texting, tweeting, gaming and taking selfies make them more prone to aches and injuries than ever before. “Human body is not designed to put in such abnormal, extreme postures,” says Dr Bachani. Experts warn that over a period of decades, overuse of the fingers and thumbs can cause osteo-arthritis as the cartilage degenerates between the joints.The addictionThanks to selfie-loving celebs like Kim Kardashian and her penchant for poutperfect pictures – and the growing craze for social media – taking selfies has turned into an addiction. The number of likes a selfie fetches on social media has become detrimental to one’s happiness. According to experts, fussing too much over selfies or being obsessed about it also points out to an underlying psychological problem. Today, a selfie is an ‘identity statement’ – which also gives an instant boost to one’s selfesteem. “One could be seeking attention and acceptance through selfies. For some it’s a way to overcome their inferiority complex. If you look at the pattern, it is the ‘likes’ that dominate the selfie trend. And these likes can trigger addiction in the long run, making the person psychologically vulnerable. Over a period, it takes the shape of an irresistible urge to click and show off,” says Pulkit Sharma, clinical psychologist, Imago – Centre for Self, New Delhi, ” Slowly, one starts comparing his or her self-worth by the number of likes one gets on his or her selfie.”Take it easyAlso read:Selfie-obsessed: 5 sure-shot ways of telling if you’re a narcissistLuckily, it’s easy to treat the ‘selfie elbow’ condition with some ice, rest and anti-inflammation pills. In fact, there are a number of exercises and stretches that help prevent your muscles from strain caused by the tech related activities. Regular shoulder and wrist rolls can be done anytime to relax the muscles. But the selfie stick might not be of any help as you are still extending your arm out to use the stick. “Holding your phone with both hands or switching arms might help. But the best way is not take so many selfies if you want a pain free movement of the muscles,” says Dr Bachani.advertisementThe addiction to selfies, however, demands conscious efforts. “You need to separate the ‘likes’ and ‘social media’ from selfies, which will help you resist the urge of taking selfie at all occasions. This will cause a little discomfort initially but you need to apply a little mindfulness here. Let the moment and the urge pass. Deep breathing and visualisation techniques can also help,” says Sharma. Simply put, if it hurts the body you need to stop it. Ditch the selfie and switch to the old and easy style of creating memories – ask a friend to click!Common tech driven achesNeck painWhile working on laptop or using iPads or mobile, the neck remains really low in order to look on the screen and it also over stretches that leads to stiffness and pain.Carpal tunnel syndromeThe medial nerve in the wrist gets compressed due to overuse of wrist while you are typing or using mouse. Repetitive movements such as typing can cause inflammation and swelling of a tendon, typically in the wrist.Lower back painThe most common of all, wrong posture. Sitting for long hours on your desk can seriously harm your back muscles.Texting thumbIt’s also known as De Quervain Tenosynovitis and gamer’s thumb, it is a painful inflammation of tendons in the thumb that extend to the wrist. Overuse of space bar and even working with mouse cause it.Stiff shoulderConstantly looking at the monitor in a hunch posture leads to pain in the shoulders.last_img read more

Man who ran back from the dead

first_imgTwenty years ago, dawn was about to break at Pallanwalla in Jammu and Kashmir’s Akhnoor sector.In the early hours of July 15, 1999, a young Army major was busy commanding a post built on the bed of the River Manawar Tawi, close to the Line of Control. After a long lull in firing from the enemy post located 80 metres away, Major Devender Pal Singh had feelings of unease.”A 48-hour lull at the height of the Kargil conflict without a single bullet being fired was unusual for a combat zone. When the conflict scene is hot and nothing happens, you have a feeling something bad is about to happen,” recalls Singh, who was just 25 then.A few minutes later, Singh heard a whizzing sound and realised the Pakistan Army had used a parabolic weapon to send in a mortar shell that exploded just 1.5 metres away from him “I instinctively dived to the ground. A mortar has a killing area of eight metres. Looking back, I can say the bomb had my name written on it.” Singh lost consciousness and was almost declared dead.A specialist at an Army hospital revived him, but three days later gangrene set in. Multiple surgeries and an amputation later, Singh refused to give up and went on to become India’s first blade runner, running on an artificial leg and forming a support group for amputee runners called The Challenging Ones.In an exclusive interview with MAIL TODAY, Singh says the Kargil conflict of 1999 was a “positive” turning point in his life.advertisementHow did you stay motivated after losing a limb in the line of fire? I derived strength from the tradition of putting service before self that is the bedrock of the values of both the Indian Army and the teachings of Sikh gurus. The way the gurus sacrificed their families for the sake of their country without shedding a tear, and then making the best of whichever situation they have been put into, inspired me.That’s something I can relate to. I cannot get back the part of my body that I have lost. The sooner I accept it the lesser time I waste on repenting or sulking.What are the physical challenges of a blade runner? Difficulty of a physical nature is all in the mind. Out of the 50 shrapnel I carry in my body, 20 are in the stump. When I did my first run, part of the skin came off my stump because of the continuous rubbing of the socket with my skin. But I was better prepared the second time round. We always have choices. I purposefully made the choice of running since I wanted to come out of the injury. This choice made me innovate on the socket. It took me five half marathons after the first run to become totally injury free.Why do you call the amputation a ‘positive’ turning point?Lying in a hospital while my colleagues fought it out with Pakistan was not easy. My stomach had been operated upon twice, I was suffering partial deafness and doctors were struggling to extract the shrapnel embedded in my body.The world almost gave up on me. But I made a new beginning that day. I promised myself I’ll never compromise with my quality of life despite my disability. I made the best of whatever I had.That is what I’d done even in my childhood when my parents left me with my grandparents in Roorkee and that’s how I’ve dealt with other setbacks in my life.You didn’t give up after flunking exams in school, the NDA or the CDS till you reached your goal of joining the Army as an officer. Why is it important not to give up in the darkest phases of your life? Because that is how you will progress. Challenges come to you for your own benefit. It is only after undergoing these challenging situations is how you internally become strong. Unless you keep improving, you will become stagnant after some time.How do you motivate fellow amputees in your group? I don’t lecture anybody. The best way of motivating is by example. When I started running in 2009, there was not even a single person thinking about running on an artificial leg, or even telling people that they were wearing an artificial limb.That was the mind-set that amputees had, because of the stigma created by society. Every individual basically is a positive person. This hidden positivity can be brought out, only by making people do things on the ground. Physical activity isn’t everybody’s cup of tea including the so-called able-bodied.advertisementToday every one of the 2,000 amputees across India is setting an example in sports, adventure and Paralympic events.How about the 50 shrapnel lodged in your body? I’ve made peace with them. Anyone who does an X-ray of my body will still find bomb particles with the marking ‘Made in Pakistan’ (laughs) 20 years later.There are a few that give me more trouble: one in my elbow, one in the centre of ribs, one under my patella, one in the groin area. These are areas that are mobile, so the shrapnel keep shifting. But if I undergo surgery, I will be adding one more traumatic condition to my already dented body.last_img read more

Juventus turn down Fellaini after agent approach

first_imgTransfers Juventus turn down Fellaini after being offered Man Utd midfielder Romeo Agresti Last updated 1 year ago 00:00 11/18/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(3) Marouane Fellaini Manchester United Getty Transfers Juventus Manchester United Premier League Serie A The midfielder rejected United’s recent contract offer and his agent has held talks with the Serie A outfit, only to be told they are not interested Marouane Fellaini’s agent has approached Juventus over a possible move, but the Serie A champions are not interested in signing him, Goal understands.The Belgium international’s contract with United expires at the end of the season and the midfielder recently rejected an offer to extend the deal.Fellaini 9/4 to score v Newcastle Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player United are not giving up on the 29-year-old, however, and have no interest in selling him in January.Fellaini has become a regular under Jose Mourinho, scoring four goals from nine games in all competitions this term, and the manager is likely to put pressure on the club to ensure he stays.That has not stopped the former Everton man from beginning his search for a new club and sees Turin as a possible destination.Sources with the Italian side have told Goal that Fellaini’s representative has discussed a potential deal, but has been knocked back as the Turin side are targeting other options.Marouane Fellaini Manchester UnitedMassimiliano Allegri’s side are looking to add to their midfield in the near future, but they have no plans of going for Fellaini and are are instead prioritising Emre Can and 22-year-old Leon Goretzka – both of whom are also out of contract at the end of the season.Although Juve director Giuseppe Marotta recently distanced the club from making a January move for Liverpool’s Can, the Bianconeri will try to lure him away on a free signing in the summer. If the Germany international renews his contract at Anfield, they will make a push to snap up Schalke star and Bayern Munich target Goretzka.last_img read more

TFA Women’s Leadership Elite Coach Workshop

first_imgCoaches from across Australia will travel to Brisbane this weekend to take part in a Women’s Leadership Elite Coach Workshop. Touch Football Australia (TFA) was recently successful in receiving a Women’s Leadership Grant from the Australian Sports Commission, which has enabled the program to be developed to include participants from all states across the country.  TFA has a four tier coach accreditation and development system, in line with the AIS FTEM (Foundation, Talent, Elite, Mastery) Model. The Women’s Leadership Elite Coaching Workshop aims to equip participants with the skills to coach in an elite environment, along with increasing self-confidence as a leader.  Day one of the program outline includes a full day Leadership workshop facilitated by Bo Hanson from Athlete Assessments. Day two will be facilitated by current and former Australian Women’s Open Coaches Peter Bell and Kerry Norman, including five Touch Football specific modules from the new Elite Coach Course – which will be piloted in full from August.  The program will increase understanding of personal strengths, communication skills, program and time management skills, along with the required sport specific knowledge and support of mentors and fellow coaches, both female and male.  Stay tuned to for all of the latest news from the Women’s Leadership Elite Coach Workshop. Related LinksElite Coach Workshoplast_img read more

2017 4-Star LB Christopher Allen Has Committed To Alabama

first_imgFour-star linebacker Christopher Allen poses in an Alabama jersey.Twitter/Allen_GreatnessAlabama just added a four-star to its 2017 class in Christopher Allen.Christopher Allen has announced his commitment to Alabama. The Baton Rouge native is a four-star recruit and the No. 7 outside linebacker in the country for the class of 2017 per 247 Sports.Four-star linebacker Chris Allen from Southern Lab HS in Baton Rouge has committed to #Alabama. @TideSports @Allen_Greatness— Andrew Bone (@AndrewJBone) November 27, 2016Allen confirmed the commitment with a retweet of the above tweet by TideSports writer Andrew Bone. It looks as if Alabama’s 2017 recruiting class just picked up a very impressive linebackerThe 6-foot-4 linebacker has offers from a number of different schools and according to 247Sports, Florida and LSU were both in play to land Allen. He also has offers from the likes of Miami, Michigan and Florida State.Alabama currently holds the No. 1 recruiting class for next season.last_img read more

UEFA Super Cup: Everything you need to know

first_imgWith the book closed on one continental season, the next will be upon us sooner than expected, as Champions League winners Liverpool and Europa League holders Chelsea prepare to kick-off the latest campaign in style in the UEFA Super Cup.The two Premier League sides will ensure an all-English affair for the curtain-raising clash as Jurgen Klopp’s side look to add a second piece of silverware to the trophy cabinet this year, while the Blues will give their new manager a baptism of fire.Both sides will travel out east to Turkey only days after they begin their new domestic campaigns too, as they look to begin 2019-20 on the strongest foot possible. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Here is everything you need to know ahead of the clash…Where is the 2019 UEFA Super Cup taking place?Besiktas fans Vodafone ParkThe 2019 UEFA Super Cup will be held at Vodafone Park in Istanbul, Turkey, at the home of Super Lig outfit Besiktas. It has a capacity of 41,188 and will play host to the match August 14, 2019 .The ground replaced BJK Inonu Stadium as Besiktas’ home ground in 2016, but incorporates the former Eski Acık stand as part of its structure, due to the historical signifcance of the former.Since opening three years ago, it has played host to both Champions League and Europa League football as well as live music, with pop artist Shakira performing to 50,000 fans in 2018.2019 UEFA Super Cup formatMohamed Salah Liverpool Champions League 2018-19As it has been since 1998, this year’s edition of the Super Cup will be a one-legged tie between the winners of the Champions League and the Europa League.Both teams will be looking to claim another win in the competition, with Liverpool having prevailed on three occasions and Chelsea just the once.2019 UEFA Super Cup ticketsOfficial tickets for the Super Cup will be sold via lottery, which opens on Tuesday, June 18 at 1300 GMT. Fans and supporters will be able to apply for tickets until Tuesday, July 2 at 1300 GMT.Prices begin at €50 (£45/$56) and top out at €130 (£116/$146), with those successful in their application set to be notified by mid-July.Who are past winners of the UEFA Super Cup?Saul Niguez Atletico Madrid Real Madrid UEFA Super Cup 2018Save for one season, the Super Cup has not left Spanish soil for a decade, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid all winning on three occasions apiece since 2008.The only other team to taste success in this period is Bayern Munich, who beat Chelsea in 2013 in Prague.Barcelona’s five victories in the history of the competition have been matched by only one other side, Milan.Liverpool and Chelsea, meanwhile, are two of five English sides to have won, alongside Manchester United, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa – though only the Reds have won it more than a single time. Subscribe to Goal’s Liverpool Correspondent Neil Jones’ weekly email bringing you the best Liverpool FC writing from around the weblast_img read more

England are too good now to care about Japanese revenge

first_imgFour years is a long time in football.Before England faced Japan in the semi-finals of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, then-manager Mark Sampson said: “If you offered me any win against Japan, however it comes, I’d bite your arm off and your two legs.”The Nadeshiko were the reigning champions, having beaten the United States on penalties at the 2011 World Cup in Germany in their first escapade beyond the competition’s quarter-final stage. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? With the likes of Aya Miyama and Nahomi Kawasumi at the peak of their powers, they won every game on their road to the final – where they were eventually upended by a Carli Lloyd masterclass.Fast forward to 2019 and, as these two prepare to meet in their final group game of this summer’s World Cup, Phil Neville saying something similar is almost unthinkable – but he does.“I’ve got to be honest, I’d bite your legs off to win tomorrow night!” he says when the quote is presented to him, but there’s a difference.While he is keen not to play down the achievements by Sampson’s team in Canada, stressing that they deserve the utmost respect for getting where they did, the consensus in the camp is that, this time around, they can do that, and they can do it their way.“When we went into that World Cup, we weren’t just happy to be there obviously, we wanted to win, but we knew the expectation wasn’t there as much,” Lucy Bronze said.“We didn’t have as much belief, we hadn’t beaten a lot of the top teams, ever. We come into this World Cup having beaten the likes of the USA, France and Germany now.“That’s why we’re going into this game tomorrow saying we want to beat [Japan] fair and square, we want to play our game, the way we want to play it, the way we want to win.”Lucy Bronze quote PSToni Duggan reiterated that mentality earlier this week.“The players prefer this new style,” she said.“We want to be on the ball, passing and being confident and brave.”To receive praise and respect from Japan is up there with the highest, given their attractive style of play and back-to-back World Cup finals.Asked which England players she fears tomorrow, coach Asako Takakura said: “All of them.”She continued: “Seriously, England’s squad is full of excellent players.“Without us giving everything that we’ve got, we won’t be able to win the game.”The progress of the FA Women’s Super League is another factor in the growth of the national team. Bronze admitted that, despite her move to Lyon, she “can see why players wouldn’t want to leave” England, while Takakura “hope[s] the Japanese players can have that environment” someday.It’s these developments that allowed Neville to snap back at a French journalist, who suggested England’s league was weak and that British football is ‘kick and rush’, before the game against Scotland.It’s these developments that make England anything but underdogs this time around, like they were when the two met four years ago.England Japan 2015 Women's World CupAnd it’s these developments that, whether you consider England favourites or not, make considering the game a revenge mission for their 2015 semi-final defeat, quite frankly, lazy.Instead, it’s fuel for the fire in the Lionesses’ bellies, as Bronze perfectly explains.“That’s something that we’ve got over most of the teams in this tournament,” she said.“We got knocked out in the semi-final of a World Cup, and we got knocked out in the semi-final of the Euros. I don’t think there’s many other teams that are in the same position as us and are that hungry to get to a final because of those situations that we’ve been through.“That’s an extra motivation that’s been added to this team.”While there is admittedly more expectation on England as they come up against the Nadeshiko, it is pressure they have handled just fine so far.They did so in stylish fashion in the Battle of Britain when they overcame Scotland, they did so in a patient manner against a more defensive Argentina, and they will expect – and believe – they can do so again against Japan.This opponent presents a different challenge all together – something that prompted winger Emi Nakajima to say it will be “easy [for Japan] to create gaps” in England’s team.But, four years on, the Lionesses are a lot more mature and comfortable among the world’s best to get caught up in a pursuit of vengeance.last_img read more

The Lowdown on Smith Lowdown Focus Glasses and Brain-Training App

first_imgFrankly, I wasn’t much bothered by the data. The fact is that, while completing each session, I felt relaxed, focused, and clear-headed, and after each session I was able to embark upon the next to-do task with renewed drive. I have not seen any appreciable impact on my thinking at large just yet — the expectation is that I should see a better attention span, more ability to block distraction, better stress management, and more — but I have enjoyed the sessions I’ve thus far completed enough to keep using my Lowdown Focus glasses for now. If I end up with a quicker, clearer mind at all times, that’s great. If I just spend a few minutes now and then living calmly in a present moment, that’s fine too.The Lowdown Focus will cost you, though. Each pair retails for $349. The glasses are available in two sizes and three colorways. Is Calisthenics Right For You? A Guide to Bodyweight Workouts The Best Leg Exercises for Sculpted Calves, Quads, and More Why Mental Health Matters (and Why It’s Time to Change Our Perspective) Editors’ Recommendations center_img Imagine if you could go through every moment of your life with a set of electrodes connected to your head that track your brain’s activity, sending you feedback on your level of focus, the frequency with which you became distracted, information about your stress levels and mood, and all sorts of other actionable data about the inner workings of your mind. You could use thisinformation to help yourself become a more relaxed, focused, clear-headed, and decisive human being. The only drawback would be the complete lack of human interaction you would enjoy given the fact that you were walking around with electrodes strapped to your head.Ah, but now imagine if instead of electrodes, you could gather real-time information about your brain activity simply by wearing a pair of sunglasses. With Smith’s Lowdown Focus glasses on your face, your brain waves will be actively detected at the bridge of your nose and just above each ear, because, y’know, those are the places where glasses touch your face. The sensors placed in the bridge and arms of the Lowdown Focus glasses transmit brain wave activity to your phone, and using a paired app — appropriately called the Smith Lowdown Focus App (available for Apple and Android devices) — you can track your mind’s focus, or lack thereof, as you do everything from meditation to marathons, product development to practicing the piano.After a series of initial learning sessions, you can set up a regular training regimen that is tailored to help you meet your goals, be they enhanced focus, revitalizing relaxation, better athletic performance, and beyond. When you can see what your brain is doing while you are doing something, you can, with time and dedication, learn to focus your energy and attention more fully into the activity. Or so the thinking goes, anyway.After using a pair of Smith Lowdown Focus glasses for a few days, I’m half sold on them. Now, I readily admit I’m not a great person to comment on a product that asks you to sit quietly and focus inward, as the glasses/app do in the initial learning phases. But that’s rather what made me a perfect candidate to test these things. I tend to write for an hour, then bounce out of my chair and flit about the house completing random tasks, then sit down for five minutes, then get up again, then work for two hours, or maybe 15 minutes, and so forth. My schedule can be erratic and my attention scattered during many days. Thus there was a good chance I was going to get an unfairly negative impression of this system by not really giving it my true attention and effort.That wasn’t really the case, though. I found myself readily able to settle into the training sessions, sitting calmly and quietly for their duration and following the various prompts closely. After each session, though, when I checked the data, the app told me I was actually “focused” for about a third as much of the time as I thought. I was apparently “neutrally” focused for most of it, and unfocused for much of most sessions too. Where I had thought my mind was centered on my breathing and my thoughts rather clear, mostly these glasses are telling me I was more scattered. World-Class Runner Caryn Lubetsky Didn’t Run Her First Marathon Until She Was 40 Save Your Eyes from the Scourge of the Screens with the Best Blue-Light-Blocking Glasses for Men last_img read more

MOL Confirms Ownership Split of Four Yamal LNG Carriers

first_imgzoom Japanese shipping major Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) said today that China COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited will take an equity stake in MOL’s wholly owned subsidiary that will own four LNG carriers serving the Russia Yamal LNG project.COSCO Shipping informed earlier this week that the group’s board of directors had approved the acquisition of 50% stake in four LNG vessels intended for the Yamal LNG Project from MOL, but did not provide many details on the move.According to MOL, the ownership will be split 50%-50% between MOL and China COSCO Shipping. MOL has already signed long-term charter contracts for the four 174,000 cbm LNG carriers through its wholly owned company in June this year.The ships are intended for delivery and deployment on Yamal LNG project in 2019 and 2020 onwards, and will transport LNG transshipped by the project from Europe.This is the fourth joint LNG project involving MOL and China COSCO Shipping, following one for ExxonMobil, involving a total of four vessels which were delivered from 2015 through 2016, another for SINOPEC with six vessels to be delivered from 2016 through 2018, and the ice-class LNG carriers for the Yamal LNG project, with three vessels to be delivered from 2018 through 2019.The total number of vessels co-owned by MOL and China COSCO Shipping will be increased to 17 in 2020 when all vessels including those in latest project are in service.Separately, Russian natural gas producer NOVATEK, the majority shareholder in the Yamal LNG project, signed a Strategic Cooperation Agreement with the Chinese National Petroleum Company (CNPC).Under the deal, the parties committed to cooperate in implementing the Arctic LNG 2 project, as well as collaborating in different segments of the LNG and natural gas markets, including LNG trading and gas infrastructure development. “Our companies already have a history of effective cooperation, including the successful implementation of the Yamal LNG project. We believe our strategic cooperation agreement will further enhance our mutual relationship as well as open up new opportunities for both companies, utilizing our experience in implementing LNG projects combined with the enormous opportunities in the Chinese market, one of the most perspective gas markets globally,” Chairman of NOVATEK’s Management Board, Leonid Mikhelson, said.last_img read more

Elton John And David Furnish Attend 2016 International AIDS Conference

first_imgThe Elton John AIDS Foundation, its founder Sir Elton John and Chairman David Furnish attended a series of sessions, site visits and private meetings during the course of the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, which ended on Friday.Video: Elton John And David Furnish In DurbanTheir goal was to raise awareness of the continued need for funding and action in the fight against AIDS, to champion those most at risk of being left behind in the global response and to launch new initiatives that will provide HIV testing and treatment to thousands on the African continent.One such initiative is a new $10m LGBT Fund, in partnership with the Office of the Global Aids Coordinator and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), to support LGBT communities in multiple African countries. Two organizations, The International HIV/AIDS Alliance (Alliance) and the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) were announced at the conference as the inaugural recipients of the LGBT fund. Sir Elton John also joined Prince Harry for a special session focused on the needs of HIV-youth in Africa.Alliance, an organization that supports community groups in countries that are most affected by the global AIDS crisis and MSMGF, a non-profit that advocates for equitable access to HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support services for gay men, were the first organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa to receive grants to help address stigma, discrimination and violence against LGBT people, and to expand their access to HIV care and prevention. At the conference, EJAF also announced an initial start-up grant it will be providing to the International AIDS Society to launch its ‘Me and My Healthcare Provider’ campaign. This campaign celebrates doctors, nurses, and other frontline healthcare workers, who deliver quality, integrated HIV prevention, care, and treatment services to key populations, including gay men and transgender people, often in the face of discriminatory laws, traditions, and belief systems.“Supporting LGBT people in the US, the UK and internationally, has been at the heart and soul of our Foundation’s mission from the very beginning,” said David Furnish, Chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. “By partnering with PEPFAR to award the inaugural LGBT Fund recipients, and by supporting the International AIDS Society’s new ‘Me and My Healthcare Provider’ Campaign, we are building on that commitment and expanding this lifesaving work to places where it is needed most. Places where LGBT people are much more likely to be living with HIV and far less likely to receive the essential services they need to stay healthy and alive. We believe these global campaigns will bridge the gap between LGBT communities and their service providers, which is essential for ending AIDS.”Sir Elton also participated in a special session with Prince Harry, where the two men discussed the harmful consequences of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa, particularly among youth and adolescents. To achieve an AIDS-free world, both men stressed the need for education, access to testing and medical care, and support for young people worldwide.“Empowered young people, from all walks of life and all circumstances, have always urged us to push past the status quo and reach for a dream that is BIG and BOLD, ” said Sir Elton John, Founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. “Fifteen years ago, when the International AIDS Conference was last held in Durban, 1,000 South Africans were dying of AIDS each day – nearly 1 every minute. Today, HIV medicine costs as little as 3 rand – 20 cents – a day. The rate of new HIV infections here has been cut in half; almost all babies here are being born HIV free; and 3.5 million people here are now on treatment and living full and productive lives. That is some serious progress, and it’s because young, new voices demanded that people everywhere have access to lifesaving treatments, not just those in living in rich countries. If we want HIV programs to work for young people, we can’t tell them what to do or think, we need to nurture their voices. We need to listen to them and we need them to tell us what skills and services will help create the AIDS-free generation we all dream of.”During their time in Durban, Sir Elton and EJAF Chairman David Furnish visited LGBT people, outreach workers, and staff at the Gateway clinic in Umlazi township alongside the South African health minister, Aaron Motsoaledi. Sir Elton and the Minister discussed the issue of providing pre-exposure prophylaxis medication or ‘PrEP’ to LGBT persons to protect them from acquiring HIV. The South African government has already approved the use of PrEP for sex workers – another high risk group for HIV.The Gateway Clinic is one of over 100 clinics in South Africa whose staff have been trained to support LGBT clients under a grant from the Foundation to the NGO Anova. Over 1 million HIV tests will be given to LGBT clients during the course of the programme.Sir Elton and David also visited HIV-positive adolescents at KwaZulu-Natal Children’s Hospital where he emphasized the importance of helping young people overcome their disease and stigma by expanding their access to treatment and care.Since 2013, EJAF has provided over $14.4 million in support for LGBT communities in Africa, Asia and Europe, and has invested $3.4 million to support its youth-based campaign “Young Survivors” in Harare (Zimbabwe), Kampala (Uganda), Kisumu (Kenya), Lusaka (Zambia) and Beira (Mozambique).last_img read more

11 Saskatchewan First Nations issue state of emergency as water levels rise

first_imgAPTN National NewsA group of Saskatchewan First Nations have declared a state of emergency as water levels rise near their communities and anticipate mass flooding.The 11 First Nations of File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council issued the warning and are seeking resources to mitigate the upcoming flood season.They argue the provincial disaster assistance program (PDAP) doesn’t work because it takes too long to obtain funding and leaves First Nations to fend for themselves.“The current PDAP system is failing our First Nations communities,” said Edmund Bellegarde, chairperson of the FHQTC, in a news release. “The provincial program imposes barriers for our First Nations to access adequate funding and puts our citizen’s basic needs at risk. There are serious health issues as a result of flooding impacts such as families forced to live with mold.”Located in southern Saskatchewan the communities are in a flood zone expected to be impacted by the spring run off.One of the 11 communities directly impacted is Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation situated in the Qu’Appelle Valley located between the Pasqua and Echo Lakes near Fort Qu’Appelle.“It’s rather alarming how PDAP is operated. Our First Nation has to take on the financial burden of preparing for this years flood,” said Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation Chief Rodger Redman in a press release. “PDAP is still dealing with flood claims from 2010/2011. How are we supposed to carry this financial responsibility when we have not received adequate compensation from two years prior, we are committed to ensuring the safety of our citizens, lands, animals while also protecting and securing safe passage for those who travel across our lands or make their homes in our territories.”The federal government funds PDAP.Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt confirmed Tuesday afternoon he intends to meet with the FHQTC discuss “flood planning and response.” The FHQTC requested the meeting to discuss an agreement where First Nations can access flooding relief funding quicker.“We are working with the province of Saskatchewan and First Nations to ensure communities are prepared for potential floods,” said an Aboriginal Affairs spokesman. “In order to help mitigate flood damages and in preparation for spring 2013, our government has provided funds to over 60 Saskatchewan First Nations for preparedness activities.”Valcourt is also scheduled to meet with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.last_img read more

Valeant moving on from troubled past with name change to Bausch Health

first_imgMONTREAL – Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. is changing its name to Bausch Health Companies Inc. as it works to move beyond the issues that tarnished its reputation and caused its market value to plummet.The company, which has been working to turn itself around in recent years after facing political and regulatory scrutiny for its relationship with a mail order company and large increases to drug prices, said the switch will come in July and also involves changing its stock market ticker symbol to BHC on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges.Once Canada’s most valuable company by stock market value, Valeant’s stock plunged by nearly 90 per cent in 2015 amid various controversies.Chairman and CEO Joseph Papa said the company considered a number of options before determining that the chosen moniker reflects the full scope of its activities, including pharmaceuticals, medical devices and over-the-counter consumer products.The name change only involves its corporate identity with brands such as Bausch & Lomb and Salix retaining their identities.“I’m excited about this development because it signals we’ve reached an important point in the turnaround process with the steps we have taken are yielding concrete results and we are beginning to turn the page away from legacy issues that have been headwinds over the past years,” he said Tuesday during a conference call.In the past two years, the company said it has completed more than a dozen divestitures and reduced its debt by more than 20 per cent or $6.9 billion, including $280 million in the first quarter.The drugmaker also said it continues to resolve legacy legal issues, with roughly 20 lawsuits or investigations concluded so far this year.They include a settlement for $1.88 million with the California Department of Insurance over the terminated relationship with mail-order pharmacy partner Philidor Rx Services. Valeant said it reached an agreement with no admission or findings of liability.“Importantly, we’ve resolved cases that represent in the aggregate over $1 billion in alleged exposure and our team has been able to do this for substantially less than initially claimed amount of exposure,” Papa told analysts.Valeant shares surged after it beat analyst expectations despite reporting a loss in its latest quarter as it took a $2.2-billion goodwill impairment charge related to its Salix and Ortho Dermatologics businesses.Valeant’s shares closed up $2.08, or 8.87 per cent, to $25.54 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.Valeant said it lost $2.69 billion or $7.68 per diluted share in the quarter compared with a profit of $628 million or $1.79 per diluted share in the same quarter last year.Revenue totalled nearly $2 billion, down from nearly $2.11 billion a year ago with revenue from its top 10 products delivering more than 20 per cent revenue growth.Organic revenues increased for the first time since the third quarter of 2015, rising two per cent, the company said.On an adjusted basis, Valeant said it earned $312 million or 88 cents per diluted share in the quarter, up from $273 million or 78 cents per share in the same quarter last year.The company was expected to report 59 cents per share in adjusted profits on $1.94 billion of revenues, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.Valeant also raised its outlook for the year.It now expects full-year revenues in the range of $8.15 billion to $8.35 billion, up from earlier expectations for $8.10 billion to $8.30 billion.Full-year adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization are expected to be in the range of $3.15 billion to $3.30 billion, up from $3.05 billion to $3.20 billion.“Valeant’s positive organic growth, continuation of debt repayment, and resolution of certain legal cases represent good progress at the company’s turnaround strategy,” stated Michael Levesque, Moody’s senior vice president.However, he said the company’s credit profile remains constrained by its high debt — in excess of $25 billion — and the unresolved Xifaxan patent challenge.David Steinberg, managing director of Toronto-based investment bank Jefferies wondered if the strong first-quarter results could signal that a turnaround is beginning to take hold.“A mountain of debt remains, but an operational turnaround appears to be in the works,” he wrote in a report.Steinberg said reducing debt requires solid prescription growth for key products such as Xifaxan and other gastrointestinal brands and turning around dermatology with new product launches.“It won’t be easy and major overhangs still remain. However, with about a 2.5 year runway, we increasingly think they have a decent chance.”Follow @RossMarowits on Twitter.Companies in the story: (TSX:VRX)last_img read more

CN Rail to acquire 1000 new grain hopper cars over the next

first_imgMONTREAL – Canadian National Railway Co. says it plans to acquire 1,000 new grain hopper cars that will allow it to phase out older, lower-capacity cars over the next two years.The cars will be built by National Steel Car Ltd. at the company’s Hamilton plant.National Steel Car says that combined with CN’s order for 350 lumber cars, the purchase of grain cars will result in the hiring of more than 550 additional people at its Hamilton facility.The Montreal-based railway company’s 12,000-car Western Canadian grain fleet included CN-owned hoppers, leased cars and private customer equipment.The railway placed the grain hopper order after Ottawa introduced changes to encourage railways to make investments to avert service disruptions.The wide-ranging Transportation Modernization Act includes financial penalties for railways that fail to deliver promised rail cars for grain shipments on time.Companies in this story: (TSX:CNR)last_img read more

Nova Scotia deficit ballooned to 679M net debt hit alltime high

HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s deficit ballooned in the last fiscal year and its net debt reached an all-time high, the provincial government revealed Thursday.The audited financial statements for 2013-14 show that the deficit grew to $678.9 million, nearly $200 million from what was forecast in December, and the net debt climbed to $14.8 billion.Finance Minister Diana Whalen blamed the higher-than-expected deficit on an unanticipated drop in revenues, higher departmental expenses and a one-time adjustment to the public service pension plan.“A lot of this, as large as it is and as concerning as it is, is actually related to events that were out of the control of any government,” said Whalen, citing a drop in personal and corporate income tax, as well as the harmonized sales tax, which together make up the bulk of provincial revenues.Total expenses for the fiscal year ending on March 31 were $10.8 billion, about $460 million more than estimated.This increase was primarily due to a one-time $318.9-million pension valuation adjustment. But it also included a $69.7-million rise in departmental expenses driven by environmental remediation projects, increased caseloads within the Community Services Department and higher snow removal and salting costs during an abnormally harsh winter.Whalen pointed to an internal program review being led by Premier Stephen McNeil as proof of the government’s commitment to identify possible cost-saving opportunities.“We are trying to examine what we’re doing and look for better ways to do it,” she said. “We want to become a leaner government.”Whalen would not rule out tax hikes, but she did express concern when asked about the possibility of spending cuts.“You can’t just cut off services to people if they’re in need,” she said.The province’s opposition parties accused the government of lacking direction.“People are tired of hearing about governments studying things,” said Tim Houston, the Progressive Conservative finance critic.“We need to see governments take some action. … We need results now, in the present.”Whalen recited as reasons for optimism what sounded like a familiar refrain: the shipbuilding project, Halifax’s new convention centre, the Maritime Link and offshore exploration. In the latter months of the previous government’s mandate, the NDP listed the same developments as cause for hope.Interim NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald said the projects were already in place prior to the Liberal party’s ascension to power eight months ago.“This government has no plan,” said MacDonald. “This government hasn’t created any jobs itself yet.”The Liberals were elected in October of last year, taking over from the NDP partway through the fiscal year.The New Democrats originally forecast a $16.7 surplus for 2013-14, which was soundly rejected by the Liberals when they released an updated budget forecast in December projecting a deficit of $481.1 million.While the overall debt for 2013-14 climbed by $819 million, Whalen drew attention to the debt-to-GDP ratio, a key indicator of economic health, which had risen only slightly compared to the year prior, from 36.3 per cent to 37.8 per cent.Whalen did not proved any update on the budget projections for 2014-15, which were released in April and projected a deficit of $279 million.She said the government intends to return to a balanced budget in four years.Follow @gwomand on Twitter.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had an incorrect spelling for the first name of the finance minister. Nova Scotia deficit ballooned to $679M, net debt hit all-time high AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press Posted Jul 31, 2014 2:05 am MDT read more

Vancity report shows Vancouver rental market too pricey for young workers

VANCOUVER – Canada’s largest credit union is warning that young workers who have long since abandoned hope of owning a home in the Vancouver area are now being priced out of the city’s rental market.A new report from Vancity explores the tight rental market across Vancouver and the problem it poses for the so-called millennial generation.Vancity vice-president of community investment, William Azaroff, says the report shows only the Marpole and East Hastings neighbourhoods remain affordable for the average worker under 40, earning less than $40,000.He says millennials are being forced to the suburbs because Vancouver’s high rents and near zero vacancy rate mean renting is no longer an alternative to home ownership.Azaroff says the report recommends governments encourage more rental housing construction by offering tax breaks and other incentives to developers.He predicts businesses will be unable to attract new workers if vacancy rates remain low, because tenants won’t want to make a long commute from the suburbs.“Business owners (have) to be able to attract workers and if the people who would consider working there can’t get rental within a decent commute to those jobs, then you don’t have that kind of labour fluidity or labour mobility, so people can move to where the jobs are within our region,” says Azaroff.Renters chased to the suburbs by high rents and a lack of vacancies in Vancouver may find more affordable housing, but the report also says they will spend much more on transportation and other related costs. (Roundhouse Radio) by The Canadian Press Posted Jul 7, 2016 9:20 am MDT Last Updated Jul 7, 2016 at 12:00 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Vancity report shows Vancouver rental market too pricey for young workers read more

United Way organizers urging lastminute pledges

The United Way flag flies outside the Schmon Tower.Brock’s United Way campaign has officially wrapped, but donations for the 2009 campaign can be made until the end of the year.The campaign has raised nearly $100,000 so far. The 2009 goal was $109,000. But at this month’s wrap-up, campaign committee co-chairs Kevin Lawr and Gregory Finn said they were confident the goal would be met.“We know there are people out there who haven’t yet filled in their pledge cards,” Lawr said. “They have told us they plan to, so we’re reminding them to get those cards in before the end of the year.”A tough economic year and a multitude of good causes competing for donations made the campaign challenging this year, organizers said.But an expanded volunteer group and the new events started this year provide good building blocks for future campaigns, they said.The 2008 campaign goal was $96,000. The Brock community pledged $122,000.Campaign co-chair Gregory Finn stands by as Mary Poulin and Kevin Lawr draw the winning ticket for the United Way raffle. The grand prize was Toronto Maple Leafs tickets. read more