NRC: Put legacy data online, says rights body

first_imgA rights body in Assam has urged Prateek Hajela, the State coordinator for the National Register of Citizens (NRC), to make the legacy data available on its web portal.Uploading the data would help people who were left out of the complete NRC draft published on July 30 as many of them had “failed to collect the legacy data or collected wrong data” due to illiteracy and sheer ignorance”, the Citizens’ Rights Preservation Committee (CRPC) said. Legacy data is a set of documents comprising the NRC of 1951 and electoral rolls up to March 24, 1971, which is the cut-off date for detecting foreigners in Assam.Available for 3 yearsNRC officials said the legacy data was available online for three years after the exercise began. It is now under login credentials, which means the access is limited to certain officials. Public access to the legacy data was reportedly withdrawn after cases of misuse.“Easier access to legacy data would be of help for the left-out people during the process of claims, objections and corrections,” CRPC general secretary Bidhayak Das Purkayastha said.Political parties and NGOs across Assam have set up assistance booths ahead of distribution of forms for claims, objections and corrections from Friday. Some MLAs have taken up the responsibility individually.Assistance centres“We have set up Bidhayak (MLA) Seva Kendras in Dhekiajuli. We will support every single Indian left out of the final draft of NRC, and will ensure no Indian is left out,” Ashok Singhal, the BJP legislator representing the Dhekiajuli seat, said.Other organisations such as the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad have expressed concern over the alleged move to penalise people who fail to prove the reason behind filing an objection to the inclusion of a suspected foreigner, doubtful voter or declared foreigner in the draft.“It is too premature a fear, since the Supreme Court would take a call on what will or will not happen during the upcoming phase of the NRC exercise,” an official said, declining to be quoted.Former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, meanwhile, criticised Mr. Hajela for a work “done poorly as proved by the apex court’s censure”. Not ruling out a “faulty” final NRC, he said the citizens’ charter would turn into “waste paper” if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is turned into law.last_img read more

Dabholkar case: CBI seizes arms cache from Andure’s kin

first_imgThe Central Bureau of Investigation, in collaboration with the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, has seized a weapons cache from the house of a relative of Sachin Andure, who was arrested last week in connection with the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar. CBI officers said Mr. Andure, who was arrested on August 18, revealed that he had hidden some weapons in his cousin’s house in Aurangabad. “We sought ATS [anti-terrorism squad] assistance and on Tuesday morning, the house in question was searched, and a bag was found, which contained a sword, a dagger, a 7.65mm pistol and three live rounds of the same calibre,” a CBI officer said. Since ammunition of the same calibre was used in Dabholkar’s killing, the gun seized on Tuesday would be sent for ballistic testing. “Once the reports are received, we will compare it with the ballistic reports of the ammunition used in the offence,” the officer added. Mr. Andure’s arrest was the result of the interrogation of Sharad Kalaskar who, along with Vaibhav Raut and Sudhnwa Gondhalekar, was nabbed by the ATS on August 10. Mr. Kalaskar allegedly confessed to have been directly involved in Dabholkar’s murder, along with Mr. Andure, who was then summoned for inquiries and later handed over to the CBI on August 18. The ATS went on to arrest a fourth accused, Shrikant Pangarkar, from Jalgaon on Sunday. Disruptive activitiesThe ATS is still working on ascertaining the intentions of the four accused, who are charged with planning disruptive activities in various parts of the State. A large quantity of arms, ammunition and explosives has been recovered from the first three accused, while Mr. Pangarkar is said to be a “facilitator and provider” for the trio. “Investigations so far reveal that the group that the accused are part of is a highly organised one, with various modules operating in silos. There is no interaction between members of different modules, and each module is instructed to focus on its own assigned task, similar to the working of sleeper cells of terrorist organisations. The level of training that the accused appear to have received also indicates an organised set up,” an ATS officer said. The officer said the scope of the investigation is likely to extend beyond the State’s borders. “We have found out that the arrested have travelled all over the country,” the officer said.last_img read more

Monitoring of nutrition to go hi-tech in Rajasthan

first_imgMonitoring of nutrition and health-related services in the Anganwadi centres will go hi-tech in Rajasthan during September, which will be observed as a “nutrition month”. With the mobile applications replacing the manual observation methods, smartphones will be supplied to all Anganwadi centres in the State to ensure success of nutrition programmes.Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had announced in her Independence Day address on August 15 that September would be celebrated as a “nutrition month” to spread awareness about health and nutritional aspects of food in both urban and rural areas. The free milk distribution in schools for the students of Classes I to VIII along with the midday meals was also extended from three days to all days in the week.Orientation workshopAt an orientation workshop for the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) officials here on Wednesday, several presentations were made on the activities to be taken up next month for strengthening primary health care of children and improving their nutritional standards. ICDS Director Sushma Arora said new strategies would ensure success of the National Nutrition Mission (NNM).The district-level officers of the connected departments, including Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, Medical & Health, Education, Water Resources and Sanitation, also attended the workshop. Roli Singh, Principal Secretary (Women & Child Development), said the results of new initiatives on the front of nutrition were very encouraging.The activities to be conducted at the district and block headquarters and in Anganwadi centres during September will connect nutrition with the development of human capital, earlier considered a burden. World Bank’s representative Arvind Singhal and UNICEF representative Nizamuddin Ahmed made suggestions for removal of systemic barriers.Rajasthan plans to implement NNM with a vision document for 2022, which is at present being formulated to ensure convergence of work by all stakeholders for improving nutrition levels of women and children and reducing under-nutrition and low birth weight by 2% each year.The NNM, approved by the Union Cabinet, will be implemented in 24 of the 33 districts in the State. The declaration of September as a “nutrition month” forms part of the strategies for addressing the issue of under-nutrition and stunting.last_img read more

Student protest forces Presidency to hold convocation at other venue

first_imgIn a small auditorium of Nandan, located in the Kolkata’s cultural complex, Presidency University held its convocation on Tuesday morning. The auditorium that can barely accommodate 100 people had veteran Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee and former scientific adviser to the Prime Minister C.N.R. Rao receiving honorary degrees D. Litt and D.Sc degree respectively. No student of the University was present. University Chancellor and State Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi also stayed away from the convocation which ended in 40 minutes. The 200-year-old institution was forced to hold the convocation at an auditorium mainly meant for screening of films as a section of the students had not allowed the authorities to enter the campus on college street. “Students should remember that they have not come to live in Hindu hostel. But to study in Presidency University. What is it that makes that particular location and that particular building so important,” Vice-Chancellor of Presidency University Anuradha Lohia, said during the convocation. Large placard Prof. Lohia explained to the gathering that it was the student’s protests that has forced the University to hold their convocation at Nandan and not at the University premises. On Monday morning, the Vice-Chancellor and other authorities found that the gate of the University was locked by students who put up large placard which stated, ‘Presidency University is closed …..Renovation of Hindu hostel is going on’.A section of students of the institution have been protesting for the past one month over demands that they be allowed to stay at the Hindu hostel, close to the University campus on college street, which is under renovation. The University has made alternative arrangements for boarding of the students at its New Town campus and made arrangements free travel. The Vice-Chancellor argued that as a custodian of the University, she cannot push beyond a certain level and jeopardise safety of the issue.“That they want to stay in the hostel right now, does not sound rationale. It does not sound like students of Presidency University,” she said. Prof. Lohia said she will not use force against the students and will not force herself inside the University campus. Meanwhile, a section of protesting students said that the University authorities cannot put the blame entirely on the students. “Over the past 40 days we tried to argue our case with the Vice-Chancellor but she did not listen. Now by passing the responsibility of what happened today on students, the Vice-Chancellor is passing the responsibility and trying to score points before the State government,” Shuvajit Sarkar, a second year postgraduate student of History said.last_img read more

Ravenshaw V-C, others freed after 13 hours

first_imgRavenshaw University Vice-Chancellor Ishan Kumar Patro and other officials, who were confined to a room by some students for nearly 13 hours, were freed by the police on Tuesday morning. The students had gheraoed them in protest against the cancellation of students’ union election.The university authorities had on Monday cancelled the election due to widespread unrest on the campus. Like last year, the authorities had decided to hold indirect election to the Students’ Council, which was opposed by some students.“While we were discussing the election issue, some students gheraoed us and did not allow anyone to come out of the room despite our repeated requests. They kept us confined to the room for about 13 hours and did not even allow the ladies to use the washroom,” the V-C said, adding that stringent action would be taken against the offenders.Expressing anguish over the conduct of the students, Prof. Patro indicated that students of the women’s hostel who stayed outside their hostel beyond 12 a.m. on Monday will be issued show-cause notices and their parents would also be intimated. “In the absence of a satisfactory reply, the hostel seats of the offenders will be cancelled,” Prof. Patro said“Although, these protesting students were creating a situation necessitating to declare sine die in the university, I am not going to upset the academic interests of 8,000 students”, the V-C said and added that a large section of the students was not interested in the election.last_img read more

Woman assaulted, paraded naked in U.P. village by molesters

first_imgA woman was beaten up, disrobed and made to run naked in her village in Gopiganj area of the district for resisting eve-teasers, police said on Sunday. Police have registered a case against the four miscreants involved in the incident and have arrested one of them, said circle officer Yadavendra Yadav. “The woman from the weavers’ community objected to being teased by one Lal Chandra Yadav. In the evening, Yadav along with his three accomplices forcibly entered her house and thrashed her.” “They stripped her of clothes and made her run in the village. Some villagers shot the incident on phones and the video subsequently went viral,” he said. The inspector of the police station has been shunted.last_img read more

Sub-sonic cruise missile ‘Nirbhay’ successfully test-fired

first_imgThe Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Monday successfully test fired the underdevelopment long range subsonic cruise missile Nirbhay from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur in Odisha.“It is the sixth development flight trial with objective to prove the repeatability of boost phase, cruise phase using way point navigation at very low altitudes,” DRDO said in a statement adding the missile demonstrated its sea-skimming capability to cruise at very low altitudes.Nirbhay has a range of 1000 km and can fly very low to the ground to avoid detection by enemy radar called terrain hugging capability. “During today’s test, the missile demonstrated the terrain hugging capability by covered way-points as low as 5 m to maximum 2.5 km (altitude),” a defence source said.At each waypoint the altitude was varied and it had a sustained flight at different altitudes including at 5m. “It was tested upto a range of 700 km,” the source stated.Of the six test trials, three were failed and three were successful. No other indigenous missile has been tested at such altitude, the source added.The missile was primarily designed and developed by the Advanced Defence Establishment of DRDO located in Bengaluru in cooperation with other DRDO laboratories.Once inducted, Nirbhay, similar to U.S. Tomahawk cruise missile, will give Indian armed forces a long range standoff capability to strike targets on land.The missile took off vertically turning horizontally into desired direction, booster separated, wing deployed, engine started and cruised all the intended waypoints, DRDO stated and added the entire flight was fully tracked by a chain of electro optical tracking systems, radars and ground telemetry systems deployed all along the sea coast.last_img read more

Ann Reid to Lead Science Education Advocacy Group

first_imgAnn Reid has been a researcher, a policy wonk, and a program manager. In January, she will put on a new hat—as first responder to attacks on science education.This week, Reid was named executive director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). She will succeed Eugenie Scott, who spent 26 years building up the small, Oakland, California-based organization into a powerful defender of the teaching of evolution and climate change in U.S. public schools.“I think they are the most effective group working at the grassroots level,” says Jay Labov, senior adviser for education and communications at the National Academies’ National Research Council in Washington, D.C. “The work they did in the Dover case was just spectacular; I’m not sure the ruling would have been the same without their help,” Labov says, referring to a 2005 suit in which a federal judge rejected an attempt by a Pennsylvania school district to force teachers to present intelligent design as a viable alternative to evolution in science courses.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 decentralized nature of U.S. education means that one ruling is never enough to stem the antiscience tide, however. This afternoon, for example, the Texas State Board of Education will hold its final public hearing before approving the next batch of science textbooks for use in local school districts, and NCSE staff members have worked hard to rally support for high-quality instructional materials.Joining NCSE is the latest step on what Reid, 54, admits has been a circuitous career path. After graduating at 19 from what is now Bard College at Simon’s Rock, which calls itself “the only liberal arts college expressly designed for students of high school age,” Reid earned a master’s degree in international studies from Johns Hopkins University and took a job in Paris with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. “I was 21 and I wanted to change the world—today!” she says.But the realm of international diplomacy turned out to be less exciting—and less satisfying—than she had imagined. “I found the policy work to be very frustrating,” she says. “It simply wasn’t evidence-based. Decisions were being made based on political rhetoric.” After 3 years she returned to the United States with the intention of going to medical school.Family life interfered with those plans, however, and she wound up taking an entry-level lab technician position at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. That job led to a 20-year research career that included co-leading a team at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology that sequenced the virus in the 1918 flu pandemic.The work, including developing new techniques for extracting DNA from paraffin-embedded tissue samples, satisfied a previously unrequited passion for science. But it also taught her how quickly newly acquired technical skills can become outdated. “We finished sequencing the virus in 2004, after 7 years of work. Now you could do it on your lunch hour,” she says.In addition to being a scientific tour de force, the 1918 flu project was intended to save the institute from cost-cutting moves at the Department of Defense. However, Reid saw the writing on the wall—the institute eventually closed in 2011, although its massive collection of tissue samples has been preserved—and in 2005 she went to work at the National Academies’ Board on Life Sciences.There she was staff director for several studies, including a report on metagenomics that she says “opened my eyes to the shift in biology toward the importance of microbes.” One spinoff was a 2007 paper she wrote with Labov entitled “A Call for Bringing a New Science into the Classroom (While It’s Still New).”The article was her first formal foray into the world of science education, and she regards it as good preparation for the challenges facing her at NCSE.“I see our role as doing everything we can to help science teachers teach good science,” she says about the center’s mission. “Evolution and climate change are two topics in which they might find it difficult to do so, because of outside pressure from parents and some local officials. So our job is to help them make sure that doesn’t happen, by giving them the tools they need to fight back.”Reid likens the center to “the local fire department or FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency]. As Eugenie likes to say, ‘We don’t put out the fire. But we pass out the fire extinguishers and let the local science community do its job.’ ”Scientists who have worked with Reid call her an excellent choice to take the reins from Scott. “Ann is an expert at navigating the science-policy-society interface,” says Princeton University’s Bonnie Bassler, chair of the board of governors for the American Academy of Microbiology, which Reid has led for the past 3 years. “Plus, she has a knack for making complicated subjects understandable to broad audiences. She will bring rigor and a passion for science to her new role at NCSE.”last_img read more

By the Numbers: NSF’s Science Indicators Offers Answers, of a Sort

first_imgTrue or false?More than one-third of U.S. elementary students learn no science in a typical week. The U.S. science and engineering workforce grew by 10% between 2008 and 2010. The number of authors of scientific papers from U.S. universities increased by two-thirds between 2010 and 2012.These three questions are based on information in the latest edition of Science and Engineering Indicators, a biennial collection released today by the National Science Foundation (NSF). And the answers—1) True; 2) True, but with a big caveat; and 3) It seems unlikely—point to both the strengths and weaknesses of the massive report.The 2014 tome describes in great detail the state of U.S. science and its relative ranking among global competitors. It draws from surveys conducted by NSF or work that it has funded, as well as data from other sources that NSF’s statistical shop, the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), has vetted.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(*)Once again, the report points to the continued scientific progress by China and other Asian nations as measured by  any number of indices, from high-tech manufacturing to research spending to training the next generation of scientists and engineers. “The longstanding dominance of the United States continues to erode,” says Dan Arvizu, chair of the National Science Board, the presidentially appointed oversight body that issues the report. “Other countries have been building up their research capacity very rapidly, and this report shows how fast this new world is arriving.”With 600 pages of text and graphics and a 939-page appendix of tables, Indicators provides lots of yardsticks by which to measure those changes. At the same time, readers may want to exercise some caution to avoid leaving the statistical buffet with indigestion—or with egg on their faces.Science teachersThe answer to the first question comes from the 2012 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education. The survey of 7752 teachers at 1504 elementary and secondary schools around the country—the fifth since 1977—is designed to assess the background and experience of teachers, what goes on the classroom, and the resources available to them.The answers show that science is a “forgotten step-child” to math and reading in the lower grades, according to the team at Horizon Research Inc. in North Carolina that conducted the NSF-funded study. Several metrics suggest that elementary science instruction is on shaky ground: Those who teach it are more likely to be novices; science receives only 40% the time given to math and less than 30% spent on reading; and teachers feel only half as well prepared to teach science as math. Engineering is almost nonexistent, the study notes, with only 4% of elementary school teachers feeling very confident about tackling the subject.Scientific workforce One apparent bright spot in the 2014 Indicators is the recent rapid growth in what NSF calls the scientific and engineering (S&E) workforce. The report says the total was 5.40 million in 2010, up from the 4.88 million reported for 2008 in the 2012 edition of Indicators. But the real increase is probably closer to 3% or 4% rather than 10%, says Beethika Khan of NCSES and lead author on the workforce chapter.That’s because the 2008 number was in all likelihood an undercount, Khan explains. It was based on people who self-identified as members of the scientific workforce in the 2000 decennial census and who NSF then tracked for the rest of the decade through two surveys, one of recent college graduates and one of doctoral recipients. But those surveys don’t capture those who didn’t earn a U.S. degree, that is, many foreign-born scientists and engineers. Nor do they include people working in the field without any science and engineering degree.In contrast, the 2010 data draw upon the American Community Survey (ACS), the successor to the long form of the census. That survey is done annually, and offers a much more accurate snapshot of the workforce at any given time. NSF used ACS for the first time to help calculate the size of the scientific workforce in 2010. “Our use of the ACS as a frame has improved our results,” she says.(This year’s report also takes a first-ever look at those in the S&E workforce without a bachelor’s degree. It finds that blacks and Hispanics are overrepresented, and Asians underrepresented, compared with the demographics of those with S&E degrees working in the field. The non-degree holders are also much more likely to be working in computing and information technology—69% of all non-degree holders work in that field, compared with 44% of all college-educated S&E workers.)Author, authorThe final question pertains to cross-sector collaboration, which the report calls “one of the most striking changes in the U.S. S&E landscape in recent years.” But NSF’s attempt to highlight how scientists are “cross[ing] boundaries to enter previously unfamiliar territory” appears to have taken a wrong turn at some point.The questionable figure appears in the report’s overview. It purports to show a steep rise in the number of academic authors on scientific papers and the number of authors per paper.Each name is counted as a separate author, so the absolute count is obviously inflated. But the real problem is that both numbers, which have grown at a steady rate since 1988, suddenly spike in 2011 and 2012.What could have caused U.S. academics to suddenly become so much more prolific—and collaborative? The statistical answer, in a word, is CERN. More specifically, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at Europe’s high-energy physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.“One sees more huge recent collaborations in physics,” says NCSES’ Robert Bell, who oversaw the 2014 Indicators. An unofficial analysis by NSF staffers, he says, found one paper with more than 3000 authors in 2010, 45 such papers in 2011, and 88 in 2012. Before 2010, he notes, there were none.The pattern of greater collaboration has been evident for the past 2 decades, he notes. In 2012, only 55% of papers in all fields had four or fewer authors. That compares with 83% in 1988, 74% in 1996, and 65% as recently as 2004. The LHC has distorted the picture, however, by making it seem as though the entire scientific community has suddenly embraced massive co-authorship.last_img read more

Updated: Ugandan President Defends Antigay Bill

first_imgA defiant Yoweri Museveni has responded to U.S. President Barack Obama’s criticism of Uganda’s pending Anti-Homosexuality Bill by stating that he intends to sign it into law as soon as a scientific committee has completed its work. In a letter to Obama dated 18 February—but which has just become public—Museveni, Uganda’s president, defends the bill, which would introduce life sentences for so-called “aggravated homosexuality” with minors or in cases of rape, and terms of 7 to 14 years for attempted or actual homosexual activity.The bill was passed by Uganda’s Parliament last December, but Museveni declined to sign it until a specially appointed committee of researchers and health officials pronounced on the causes of homosexuality. The committee presented its report to Museveni and members of his ruling National Resistance Movement party on 14 February, whereupon Museveni announced through a spokesperson that he would sign the legislation.The “unanimous conclusion” of the committee, Museveni wrote Obama, “was that homosexuality, contrary to my earlier thinking, was behavioural and not genetic.” But some members of the committee have told ScienceInsider that this is not the conclusion they came to, and that their findings do not lend support for the draconian legislation.Museveni told Obama that he is now waiting for clarification from the committee about whether “a combination of genes can cause anybody to be homosexual.” Once he has that, Museveni wrote, “my task will be finished and I will sign the Bill.”*Update, 24 February, 11:30 a.m.: Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has signed the antihomosexuality bill.last_img read more

To Hire US Graduates, Indian IT Firms Go Straight To Source

first_imgWith Indian IT firms doubling down on hiring fresh graduates in the US, the location of engineering colleges they want to hire from has become an important factor in determining where they set up their facilities. Read it at Economic Times Related Itemslast_img

From Agriculture to Art — the AI Wave Sweeps In

first_imgThe internet is a technology of low-cost communication and connection. Everything from email to e-commerce to social networks has hinged on the internet’s transformative role in changing the economics of communication. All those connections suddenly became both possible and cheap.Artificial intelligence is a technology of low-cost prediction and discovery. It exploits the new resource of the digital age — vast amounts of data — to identify patterns and make predictions. Much of what AI does today can be thought of as a prediction. What product to recommend, what ad to show you, what image is in that picture, what move should the robot make next — all are automated predictions.This concept of AI as an engine of predictive decision-making is the main theme of a new book by three economists at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, “Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence” (Harvard Business Review Press).The authors, Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans and Avi Goldfarb, argue that AI-powered decision-making is poised to alter virtually every industry. To explain, they start with an AI leader, Amazon. The online retail giant is constantly learning more and more about its customers’ buying habits and tastes, and the data is steadily improving the predictive power of its AI algorithms.Imagine, the authors suggest, that Amazon’s AI gets good enough that the company takes the next step — shipping goods before they are ordered. It knows what you want so accurately that returns would be minimal and make Amazon even more efficient.It would also change the nature of shopping “from an opt-in experience to an opt-out experience,” Agrawal said in an interview.A fanciful thought experiment? Perhaps. But Amazon was granted a patent for “anticipatory shipping” in 2013.Just where artificial intelligence is taking us, at what pace and along what trajectory, is uncertain. The technology, of course, is raising serious questions about its potential impact on jobs, privacy and politics.Still, AI is marching into practically every field, from agriculture to the arts. Here are five examples:Medicine Brendan Frey studied under Geoffrey Hinton, a scientist and pioneer of so-called deep learning, an AI technique that has made remarkable progress in recent years on tasks like image recognition and language translation. For years, Frey has done research that combines deep-learning and cell biology.Deep Genomics, founded in 2015, is at the forefront of efforts by big companies, startups and university researchers to transform the economics of drug discovery. The problem is apparent. It typically takes several years and costs billions of dollars for pharmaceutical companies to bring a new drug to market. Much of the money and time is spent on clinical trials on human subjects.AI holds the promise of sharply reducing the amount of costly and lengthy trial and error in traditional drug development and testing. Deep Genomics, based in Toronto, is not only using its technology to winnow the number of target compounds to attack a particular disease, but also to predict the biological outcome in humans. “The guesswork is tremendously reduced,” Frey said.It is still early for Deep Genomics and its approach. The first of its compounds will be tested in clinical trials beginning in 2020.An an undated photo provided by Self Help Africa, cassava farmers in Kenya use a phone app to identify diseases and pests. Photo: Ann Njeru/Self Help Africa via The New York TimesAgriculture Corporate agriculture deploys an array of high-tech tools including sophisticated weather modeling, soil sensors, genetic seed breeding and drones. But there is another side to agriculture: the 500 million small farms — 2 hectares, or about 5 acres, or less — that produce most of the developing world’s food.PlantVillage, a research and development project, based at Penn State University, is beginning to bring artificial intelligence to these smaller farms. Scientists at PlantVillage, in collaboration with international organizations, local farm extension programs and engineers at Google, is working to tailor AI technology for farmers in Tanzania who have inexpensive smartphones. The initial focus is on cassava, a hearty crop that can survive droughts and barren soil. But plant disease and pests can reduce crop yields by 40 percent or more.PlantVillage and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture have developed a simple AI assistant, called Nuru (“light” in Swahili). Wave the phone over a plant leaf, and the software diagnoses the disease or pest blight and suggests low-tech treatments. Once downloaded, the app does not require wireless access to cellular data or remote computing power, which means it works in rural villages.Programs in Kenya and India are underway. In the developed nations, people fear AI as a job killer. “But in low-income countries that lack human capital in fields like agricultural science, there is an opportunity to use AI to help break the cycle of poverty,” said David Hughes, an entomologist at Penn State and the director of PlantVillage.A lab technician at work at Deep Genomics in Toronto on Oct. 3, 2018. The company is using artificial intelligence to speed up drug development. Photo: Mark Sommerfeld/The New York TimesHeavy equipmentAn estimated 1 billion people in more than 60 countries step onto a KONE elevator or escalator every day. Its big people-lifting machines are a representative example of the AI overhaul underway in businesses that make and service heavy equipment.The Finland-based multinational is using IBM’s Watson software to constantly monitor the performance of its machines. Low-cost sensors, wireless communications, cloud computing and AI software are the technical ingredients that make the change possible now.KONE’s new equipment is being made with the sensors and wireless links, while its older models are being retrofitted. Data streams off each machine, every second, providing measurements that include vibration, leveling, braking, temperature, door openings and cargo weight.The data is fed into the AI software, which looks for telltale signals that a machine is in need of maintenance or a new part, before it fails. “You go from being reactive to proactive and predictive,” said Larry Wash, an executive vice president of KONE.The results on the elevators deploying the new technology so far are encouraging. There are 25 percent fewer breakdowns and 60 percent fewer customer reports of problems than on elevators serviced on traditional maintenance schedules.Insurance Root Insurance, a startup in Columbus, Ohio, is using artificial intelligence to more accurately price car insurance. Alex Timm, the chief executive, says good drivers pay more than they should, effectively subsidizing the bad-driving culprits — the one-third of drivers responsible for the majority of accidents.Root is a bet that with modern technology, it can do better, charging good drivers less for auto insurance, up to $100 a month less — and the startup can still be quite profitable. Since its insurance app was introduced in the fall of 2016, Root has expanded into 20 states to date.Root uses the sensors in a smartphone to measure location, acceleration, braking and turning. The myriad sensor data is parsed by clever software for signals of risky driving behavior — lane changing, tail gating, even texting (typing generates tiny, but measurable, vibrations).Potential customers download the Root app and are monitored for a test-drive period, typically two or three weeks. The algorithmically-vetted safe drivers are approved.“Our models are much more accurately predictive of accidents,” Timm said.Root insists that it collects data only for its own risk analysis. “We’ve never sold data and never will,” he said.In an undated handout photo, a KONE technician in San Francisco installs equipment to connect an elevator to provide real-time information to IBM’s Watson software. An estimated billion people in more than 60 countries step onto a KONE elevator or escalator every day. Photo: KONE Corporation via The New York TimesArt In 2015, weirdly morphing images of puppies and celebrity faces appeared in YouTube videos. They immediately became a sensation in the digital art world. Not only was the hallucinogenic imagery remarkable, but it was also the handiwork of Google’s Deep Dream, an AI program.Deep Dream used so-called neural networks to digest millions of images, identify visual patterns and then create something new — a kind of aesthetic prediction.Today, many computer artists are using AI tools to create new imagery, design interactive visual experiences and probe machine intelligence. Their work benefits from a wealth of AI software that is freely shared among computer scientists and artists.In his project “Experiments with Deep Generator Networks,” Gene Kogan used a machine-learning algorithm that learned from many photos on the web, which were labeled in categories like gazebo or butte, and then produced its own version. “It’s a neural network imagining what a gazebo or butte looks like,” said Kogan, a resident scholar at New York University.Computer art has been around for decades, and Hollywood’s digitally animated movies and special effects are marvels of rich, evocative imagery. But that is more comparable to computer-aided design, with the software serving as a supercharged pencil or paintbrush, still firmly controlled by the human artists.Modern AI software is different. “Now, we’re playing with tools that, maybe, are more akin to human perception and intelligence,” said Golan Levin, a professor of electronic art at Carnegie Mellon University.c.2018 New York Times News Service Related Itemslast_img read more

Three Surat fire victims cleared Class XII exams

first_imgThree of the 22 students who died in the fire on Friday had appeared for the Class XII Board exams and cleared them comfortably, as per the results that were declared on Saturday.The students were identified as Yashvi Kevadiya, Mansi Varsani and Hasti Surani. “While Yashvi passed the exam with 67.75 percentile (C1 grade), Mansi received 52.03 percentile (C1 grade) and Hasti scored 69.39 percentile (B2 grade),” said Surat police spokesperson P.L. Chaudhari.last_img

Shah urged to ensure justice for Sanaullah

first_imgCongress MP Gaurav Gogoi has urged Union Home Minister Amit Shah to ensure “justice” to Kargil war veteran Mohammad Sanaullah, who has been recently declared a ‘foreigner’ and sent to a detention camp. Mr. Gogoi, in his letter to Mr. Shah, made available to the media on Thursday, urged him to institute an inquiry into the alleged inefficiency of police officers who verified his documents and the subsequent declaration of the former Army personnel as ‘foreigner’ by the Foreigners’ Tribunal at Boko. The Congress MP, elected to the Lok Sabha for the second consecutive term from Kaliabor, demanded that the erring officials be barred from continuing their duty in such “irresponsible manner”. People of Assam are pinning hopes on the central government for justice, he insisted. “Sanaullah’s long service in the armed forces is proof of his patriotism and citizenship and we sincerely want relief for the veteran aAmyman,” the MP added. A resident Kolohikash village in Boko area of Kamrup district, Mr. Sanaullah was serving as a sub-inspector in the Assam Border Police before being declared a “foreigner” on May 23 and dismissed from service.Decorated ArmymanEarlier, he had also served in the Electronic and Mechanical Services of the armed forces and was awarded the President’s Medal in 2014. He is currently lodged at a detention centre at Goalpara district in the State.last_img read more

Bureaucrats to spend two days in J&K villages

first_imgAs part of its unique outreach programme, ‘Back to the Village’, the Governor’s administration in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday designated gazetted officers to all the 4,483 panchayats in the State to seek feedback and share knowledge on government schemes.“The idea is to have a gazetted officer each in all 4,483 panchayats. It’s a first for J&K,” said Rohit Kansal, Principal Secretary, Planning, Development and Monitoring.Each officer has been directed to visit a gram panchayat and interact with the stakeholders “in a bid to innovate programmes, ensure participation and decentralise planning”.Under the ‘Back to the Village’ programme, around 4,500 gazetted officers will spend a minimum of two days, including one night, in the allocated panchayat.“It’s aimed at strengthening the bond between the government and the citizens,” said Syed Sehrish Asgar, District Development Commissioner, Budgam.last_img read more

Don’t blame EVMs for defeat, Maharashtra CM tells Opposition

first_imgMaharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday asked the opposition leaders to accept their defeat in Lok Sabha elections instead of blaming the EVMs.He was replying to the resolution raised by the opposition last week and a challenge thrown by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Jayant Patil to pass a resolution to conduct Assembly polls through ballot papers instead of electronic voting machines (EVM).In a reply to opposition leaders’ claim during the proceedings, Mr Fadnavis also rejected all the allegations of irregularities and graft against his colleagues. On the last day of Assembly session of the present government, and in his last speech, Mr. Fadnavis expressed confidence that he would be back after the elections in the same position.Mr. Patil reminded him that it is the people of the State who hold ultimate power to elect the government and said that he hopes they will vote for a better Chief Minister next time. “The opposition leaders must accept that they are defeated in the Lok Sabha elections due to their own deeds. The people of this country have rejected them and it is a bitter but important truth,” said Mr. Fadnavis.Recalling how he and his party too had fallen for a similar trap, Mr. Fadnavis said, “Someone had told me some years back that ballot papers with yellow colours were used as a part of bogus voting. We had gone to Bombay High Court and Supreme Court as well and we failed, because we refused to accept that we have been defeated by the people.”Mr. Fadnavis also referred to a challenge thrown by the Election Commission of India (ECI), where representatives of NCP and CPI (M) had attended. “Representatives of both the parties then had claimed that they were there to understand the procedure and not to challenge the EVMs,” he said.last_img read more

Assam flood victims to get cash for utensils, clothes for first time

first_imgVictims of flood in Assam are set to get cash for a couple of items they were entitled to but never received for five years.The Assam Disaster Management Manual, 2015, prescribes utensils and clothes for the flood-affected people.Those staying in designated relief camps as well as those marooned and living in camp-like situation will now be given ₹5,000 each for purchasing these items. The payment would be made through direct benefit transfer.“The Deputy Commissioners of the districts have been asked to ensure the immediate transfer of ₹3,800 for purchase of utensils and ₹1,800 for purchase of clothes to the bank account of the head of the flood-affected families,” Assam’s Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.“This has been in the manual, but will be implemented more or less for the first time,” he added.The Deputy Commissioners have also been asked to ensure distribution of cattle feed and free textbooks to school children in the flood-affected areas besides settling claims for rehabilitation grants for partially or fully damaged houses within one month.Relief and rehabilitation workers have been providing rice, pulses, salt, mustard oil, baby food, bleaching powder, phenyl, tarpaulin and generic medicines. Organisations such as All Assam Students’ Union said the State government has not been providing enough for the victims of the flood that has so far claimed the lives of 57 humans, 523 domestic animals and fowls and 199 wild animals including 17 one-horned rhinos in Kaziranga National Park.last_img read more