Chandigarh: Five persons, including four of a family, were killed and 15 injured when 25 vehicles collided with each other today on Delhi-Ambala National Highway-1 in Karnal district. A car collided with a stationary truck in Nilokheri in Karnal this morning owing to reduced visibility due to dense fog, following which other vehicles which were close behind rammed each other, Karnal SP, Pankaj Nain said. "Five persons were killed in the mishap," he said, adding, among the dead, four were members of a family from Uttar Pradesh, who were going to Punjab to attend a wedding.
The seriously injured have been admitted to a nearby hospital, police said. The highway has been cleared and normal movement of traffic has been restored, they added.
Mumbai: The rupee lost 8 paise to 67.93 against the US dollar in early trade today at the Interbank Foreign Exchange market due to increased demand for the American unit from importers and banks amid a lower opening in the domestic equity market. Moreover, sustained capital outflows also weighed on the domestic unit but dollar's weakness against some currencies overseas limited the rupee's fall, forex dealers said. On Wednesday, the rupee had gained 5 paise to 67.85 on persistent selling of dollars by banks and exporters in view of weaker American currency in the overseas market despite fall in domestic equities.
Meanwhile, the benchmark BSE Sensex fell by 148.20 points or 0.62 per cent to 23,610.20 in early trade.
Islamabad: Pakistan is notorious for increasing incidents of killings of journalists and is considered one of the most dangerous places for media persons in the world, said a Pakistani daily on Wednesday. An editorial "Media under siege" in the Daily Times said that an attack on City 42 television channel's office in Lahore by unidentified armed men has "further panicked journalists, who are already living under the shadow of fear due to constant threats from the terrorists". So far the police are clueless about the perpetrators of the attack. "In the wake of similar attacks on media offices and personnel in Lahore, Faisalabad and Karachi this emerging onslaught on the media is becoming more common, with the obvious aim of further stifling its freedom. "It seems part of a broader agenda to put the mainstream media under siege. The journalist community and political parties' leaders have condemned the attack and demanded the arrest of the culprits as soon as possible," the daily said.
The editorial observed that the "attack prompted the lawmakers of the Punjab Assembly to move a joint resolution while the journalist community staged a protest demonstration to press for their demands to be provided security". Noting that the profession of journalism has always been a challenging job in Pakistan, the daily said: "Nowadays, media houses are vulnerable to terrorist attacks. It is the state's responsibility to provide protection to journalists inside and outside their workplaces." It went on to say that Pakistan has "already become notorious for increasing incidents of killings of journalists and is considered one of the most dangerous places for media persons in the world". "Not only the government but media managements should also take stringent measures as the scale of the threat is very large and the personnel of the law enforcement agencies by themselves cannot ensure the security of all media outlets."
It said that coordinated efforts by the authorities and managements may be the best way forward for the security of media offices and journalists. "Stronger preventive measures and protection must be undertaken while reviewing existing security protocols for possible loopholes. In an environment of fear, the media cannot play its due role, which is critical in countering the terrorists' narrative," the daily added.
Geneva: Nestle has terminated a sponsorship programme with world athletics' governing body (IAAF) over fears that the corruption and doping scandals surrounding the sport could damage the company's reputation, a spokeswoman said. "I confirm that we have decided to end our partnership with the IAAF Kids Athletics programme with immediate effect," Nestle spokeswoman Lydia Meziani told AFP in an email."This decision was taken in light of negative publicity associated with allegations of corruption and doping in sport made against the IAAF," she added. Nestle, the world's largest food company, became in 2012 the main sponsor of a programme aimed at promoting athletics for youths worldwide. But Meziani said Nestle decided to "terminate (its) existing relationship with the IAAF" because a continued partnership "could negatively impact our reputation and image."
The IAAF is facing crises on multiple fronts, including widespread allegations of corruption and bribery under disgraced former boss Lamine Diack. Separately, world athletics' new boss Sebastian Coe has faced criticism following Russia's ban from the sport for what a commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) described as "state-sponsored" doping. The head of the WADA commission, Dick Pound, said that Coe was almost certainly aware of widespread drug use within athletics, having served eight years as vice president under Diack. Nestle said it had informed the IAAF of its decision and would "await a formal acknowledgement from them that our partnership has ended."
New Delhi: At a time when the global technology giants are set to leverage the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for your daily lives -- from taking care of businesses to fulfilling your personal needs -- India seems to be reluctant to get on to this bus. When Amit Singhal -- a India-born techie who joined Google nearly 15 years ago practically reigning at Google Search since then -- decided to quit this month and hand the baton over to the head of the technology giant's artificial intelligence (AI) chief, the message was clear: AI was the future that had arrived. Amid all the brouhaha over machines acquiring near-human intelligence, is India ready to embrace the change? "For the Indian market, we might see some serious AI in action around 2020, and by 2025 there should be considerable advancements," Faisal Kawoosa, lead analyst, Telecoms Practice, at market research and consulting firm Cyber Media Research (CMR), told IANS. According to Thomas George, SBU Head of CMR, there were several studies projecting AI becoming mainstream within five years. "However, this appears possible only in the high-end segments in the advanced and developed markets and not in India," he added.
According to a latest forecast by the research firm Markets and Markets, the AI market is estimated to reach $5 billion by 2020 globally. "The increasing use of machine learning technology in the advertising and media and finance sectors, and the growing demand for AI across diversified application areas are driving the growth of the AI market," the findings showed.
In India, the top-notch technology companies are yet to make a substantial progress into the business of AI. While Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has Ignio -- a neural science-based automation platform that optimises IT operations, Infosys has recently launched AiKiDo project that will focus on AI, knowledge-based IT and design thinking to help enterprise clients. Wipro, on the other hand, has an AI platform "Holmes" -- a rich set of cognitive computing services for the development of digital virtual agents, cognitive process automation, visual computing applications, robotics and drones. To fulfill its AI dreams, Wipro recently acquired a strategic stake in Vicarious -- an AI company based in San Francisco, California. But this does not seem enough when it comes to the practical application of AI in the country on a large scale. "Although industry circles have been talking about AI for more than a decade, it is yet to make its mark in India," George said.
Globally, Microsoft, Google and Facebook are leading the way when it comes to incorporating AI into the workplace -- transforming the experience of "machine learning" via "deep neural networks" of hardware and software that nearly approximate neurons in the human brain. "Machine intelligence is crucial to our search vision of building a truly intelligent assistant that connects our users to information and actions in the real world," Google said in a statement recently. John Giannandrea, who led Google's machine learning efforts and is going to replace Singhal, is applying the technology to products such as image recognition for Google Photos search and the smart reply for Google Inbox. In a cheer for the AI community, Google's AlphaGo, a programme of its artificial intelligence arm DeepMind, recently defeated the reigning human champion of Go - a complex Chinese board game that is considered the "quintessential unsolved problem" for machine intelligence.
At Facebook, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to focus on AI and is even thinking of a simple AI to run his home and workplace like the famous Jarvis character in the Hollywood movie "Iron Man". According to Chris Bishop, managing director at Microsoft Research, 2016 will be the year of AI. "During 2016, we will see the emergence of new silicon architectures that are tuned to the intensive workloads of machine learning, offering a major performance boost over GPUs (Graphics Processing Units)," he posted. In his first "Ask Me Anything" session on the social networking website Reddit last year, famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said that we evolved to be smarter than our ape-like ancestors and scientist Albert Einstein was smarter than his parents. "If they become that clever, then we may face an 'intelligence explosion', as machines develop the ability to engineer themselves to be far more intelligent," he said in reply to a question on the discussion board. That might eventually result in "machines whose intelligence exceeds ours by more than ours exceeds that of snails", Hawking answered.
That may be a daunting task for people to absorb. But perhaps human intelligence will evolve to do just that.
(Nishant Arora Can be contacted at email@example.com)
London: Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) show decrease in grey matter in areas of the brain that process breathlessness, fear and sensitivity to pain, a new study has found. COPD is a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe and is caused by damage to the lungs from many years, usually from smoking. It is often associated with disease-specific fears and avoidance of physical activity. Researchers from University of Leuven in Belgium tested 30 stable outpatients with moderate-to-severe COPD and 30 control subjects with no history of the disease. All study participants underwent Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) compatibility check to obtain structural brain images. Patients were also tested for lung function using spirometry, and assessed with the COPD Anxiety Questionnaire (CAF).
The study found patients with COPD showed regionally decreased grey matter volume in the anterior, mid, and posterior cingulate cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala. Levels of degeneration in certain areas of the brain were also impacted by longer disease duration. Those individuals showed a greater fear of breathlessness and fear of physical activity, which can affect the course of the disease. "Targeting disease-specific fears in patients with COPD might not only improve outcomes of clinical interventions such as pulmonary rehabilitation, but also reverse structural brain changes in these patients," said Andreas von Leupoldt from the University of Leuven.
The findings were published in the journal CHEST.
London: Childhood abuse and neglect can lead to a range of negative outcomes in patients with bipolar disorder, warns a study. Bipolar patients with a history of childhood maltreatment developed the depressive mental condition more than four years earlier than patients with no history of maltreatment, revealed the study. In addition, they were almost twice as likely to attempt suicide and nearly four times more likely to have a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. Also, up to 15 percent of people with bipolar disorder die by suicide, the research, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, showed.
"Our findings have important implications for clinical practice, as they suggest that a history of childhood maltreatment could be used as an early indicator of high risk for poor outcomes among individuals with bipolar disorder," said Jessica Agnew-Blais, post-doctoral researcher at King's College London. Bipolar patients with a history of childhood maltreatment have more severe manic, depressive and psychotic symptoms; higher risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and substance and alcohol misuse disorders; earlier onset of symptoms; more frequent manic and depressive episodes; and higher risk of suicide attempt, the researchers elucidated.
One in every 25 adults is diagnosed with bipolar disorder at some point in their life. The disorder is characterized by periods or episodes of feeling very low and lethargic (depression) or of feeling very high and overactive (mania), the researchers said. It is important to identify bipolar patients with the greatest clinical need and risk as early as possible, in order to ensure that they receive the timely and effective interventions to reduce their risk of poor outcomes, the researchers suggested. Maltreatment in the form of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or neglect, affects one in five children under 18 in Britain and is known to be highly prevalent in bipolar patients (up to 60 percent).
Taipei: The death toll from a powerful earthquake that struck Taiwan on February 6 has increased to 55 with over 80 still reported missing. The collapse of Tainan's city Wei Guan residential complex, the most seriously damaged, accounted for 53 of the casualties, Xinhua news agency reported. The 6.7-magnitude earthquake hit Kaohsiung county.
Pathankot: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday visited the strategically important IAF base here and reviewed the situation.
New Delhi: Faced with acute slowdown in demand and delay in delivery of projects, realtors' apex body Naredco today demanded tax sops for affordable homes and restructuring of bank loans.
As part of its pre-budget recommendation to the government for revival of the sector, National Real Estate Development Council (Naredco) has sought infrastructure status for the housing sector, industry status of the entire real estate sector, which would help the developers to get bank loans at less interest.
"We have submitted our pre-budget memorandum to the finance ministry and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. We have demanded infrastructure status for housing and single- window approval for realty projects," Naredco President Parveen Jain told reporters here.
The single-window approval for projects would help the developers in completing the projects on time, he added. With sluggish sales affecting liquidity of the developers, Naredco's Navin Raheja said the developers should be given moratorium for repaying bank loans.
To boost affordable housing, the association demanded that the Sec 80 IB (10) should be reintroduced in the upcoming budget for 2016-17 fiscal. This section allowed 100 per cent exemption of income tax on housing projects with a maximum built up area of 1,000 sq ft in Delhi and Mumbai, and 1,500 sq ft in other places.
"All affordable housing projects as defined in Prime Minister Awas Yojna should be brought under 80IB (10)," Raheja said, adding that about 2 crore homes need to be developed by 2022. He expected that the proposed real estate regulatory law would boost customers confidence and repair the relation between developers and buyers.
Naredco President Jain said the real estate sector has the potential to turn around the economy and contribute to the growth of the country because of its backward and forward linkages with other sectors and huge job potential. PTI
Kamla Behanji, the eldest of us all six siblings, has been a cynosure of the eyes of everyone in our large family. Her marriage in late sixties, in a political family in Uttar Pradesh, was much talked about in those days. Relatives from both states, while visiting one another, left so many interesting things to talk about, since culture on either side of Yamuna was distinct in its own quintessential way. Sometimes we poked the UP-wallas calling them ‘paarva’—one belonging to the other side; and vice-versa.
Unfortunately Behanji lost her husband at fairly young age of forty-three. A pall of gloom fell on the entire extended family on either side. Behanji took a long time in recovering from the shock and coming to terms with her widowhood, at the same time striving hard to keep finding her feet, in an environment that was absolutely conservative. Her daughter was though married off within the life span of her husband, and she managed a decent alliance for her son. She had four grandchildren from both the daughter and the son, besides a horde others in their joint family.
Now I come to the main part of my narration—the birthday bash. Well, braving all storms in life, Behanji over the years, acquired a status of a ruling and pampered matriarch in the family. Her influence grew manifolds, even outside the walls of her mansion-like house. She began to be counted as a patron, protector and saviour, at least for the women folk in the vicinity. It’s a strange coincidence that I and Kamla Behanji share our birthdays on February 11. There was a wedding in her family the gone year. Also, her birthday happened to be on the same date. The wedding ceremonies were on the way, when all in the family were conscious of Behanji’s birthday too. She did not know that her birthday would be celebrated with more fervour than the excitement generated by the rituals concerned with matrimony. Some nautch-girls too were invited to perform. Some three hundred men and women gathered to have a blast. There were dances galore to the Bollywood tunes and everyone danced in frenzied movements.
The younger lot, mostly the grandchildren, in the group had kept the birthday plans of giving a surprise to Behanji up to themselves only. When loud music, tapping and thumping the floor, coupled with screaming and shrieking was going on close to the strike of twelve, a group of youngsters began counting down in loud voice for Behanji’s birthday to be announced, to all present there, with, ‘five-four-three-two-Happy Birthday to you!’ All gathered around Behanji. Some seeking blessings and others chorussing ‘A Happy Birthday’. “Dhaad, dhaad, dhaad, dhaad, dhaad, dhaad”—six shots were fired from a pistol. The frenzy became louder. From her wheel-chair, Behanji made a dancing movement with her hands. At this, the revellers went mad in rapturous uproar and lifted her up.
The other day, about a week back, almost the same set of crowd saw her off to hospital for treatment for a renal resurgence. I keep my fingers crossed and pray she be healthy once again to let us celebrate another birthday on February 11, and many more to come. Amen!