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VOICE OF ASIA The Largest Asian-American Newsweekly in Texas

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Vol. 31 No. 12 • Friday, March 23, 2018

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Ismaili Muslims spiritual leader visits Houston to celebrate Diamond Jubilee

March 23, InFRIDAY, Section 2 2018 l Health Line: Report on bottled water contamination l Home & Real Estate: UH Architectural student wins design competition l Art & Culture Irish-Americans celebrate St. Patrick's Day

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Governor Abbott to lead business development mission to India

Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Getty Images


Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos welcomes His Highness the Aga Khan at Sugar Land Regional Airport on Sunday, March 18, 2018.

by Staff Reporter


UGAR LAND, TX - Sunday, March 18, 2018 - His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims arrived in Houston upon the invitation of Governor Greg Abbott. He is on U.S. tour to commemorate Diamond Jubilee - 60 years of commitment to faith, pluralism and improved quality of life. This is His Highness’s first official visit to Houston since ten years ago when he visited on his Golden Jubilee.

are expected to attend to mark 60 years of a spiritual leader and his influence. The historic ten-day visit to the United States kicked off in Atlanta,

the other American stop on his tour, with an official salute by the Atlanta Police Department Honor Guard followed by the 116th Army Band performing the US national anthem.

India takes down local website of Cambridge Analytica

The Aga Khan's three-day visit, from March 18-22 will be celebrated this week at the George R. Brown Convention Center.









Fifty-thousand Ismaili followers

"Nowhere else in the United States will you find a better business environment or a more talented workforce than Texas," said Governor Abbott. "The Lone Star State continues to be a premiere destination for foreign direct investment, and this trip will be an opportunity to further highlight and share Texas’ economic success story. I look forward to bringing more jobs and investment to our state, and continuing to build upon Texas' already strong economic and cultural relationship with India." Print pool coverage of the Governor’s trip will be provided by The Dallas Morning News, and TV pool coverage will be provided by KTRK (ABC13-Houston). The trip will be sponsored and paid for by the Texas Economic Development Corporation.

India has taken down the local website of Cambridge Analytica following allegations the company used personal data of 50 million Facebook members to influence the US presidential election.

A legendary philanthropist supporting causes around the world through Aga Khan Development Network, His Highness has been a prominent voice in Houston from donating the seven Tolerance Sculptures in 2011 to recognition for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts provided by his Aga Khan Council volunteers. In Sugar Land, the network build the Ismaili Jamthkana Center. During the visit, the Aga Khan met with high level government officials and members of the local Ismaili community as well as nationally with a significant portion of the Ismaili community from around the US coming to Houston.

USTIN, Texas Wednesday, March 21, 2018-- Governor Governor Greg Abbott will lead a business mission to India from March 22nd – 30th. Over the course of the week, the Governor will visit the cities of Mumbai, Bengaluru, Agra and New Delhi. During the trip, Governor Abbott will meet with CEOs, company executives and officials from the Indian government to promote business development and encourage investment in Texas. This will be Governor Abbott’s fourth international business development trip since taking office.

Mr Modi has engaged strongly with Facebook since his election in 2014. AFP


EW DELHI - SCL India, a venture between the SCL group in London and Ovleno Business Intelligence, says both India's major political parties are its

clients. The company has no charges against it. Facebook would also face "tough

action" if it was found to have misused dia, in a 2016 interview with a regional Indians' data, the IT minister warned. channel, spoke about his involvement Both the ruling Bharatiya Janata with Mr Trump's presidential camParty (BJP) and main opposition Con- paign. Mr Tyagi told the BBC that he gress deny links with SCL India but could not comment on the controversy, have accused one another of utilising but said the removal of Mr Nix would pave the way for a "fair investigation". the services of the company. What do the parties say? Cambridge Analytica has also consistently denied any wrongdoing and On Wednesday, India's law and IT most recently suspended its boss Al- minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, said exander Nix, after footage by Britain's there were "numerous reports" of ConChannel 4 News showed him appear- gress involvement with Cambridge Aning to suggest tactics his company alytica and called upon its leader Rahul could use to discredit politicians on- Gandhi to "explain" the company's role line. in his social media outreach. Amrish Tyagi, the head of SCL InContinued on Page 6

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by Viorica Marian

VOICE OF ASIA Publisher: Associate Publisher: Editor-in-Chief: Austin Correspondent: Marketing Director: Office Manager:

Koshy Thomas Sherly Philip Shobana Muratee Sherine Thomas Susan Pothanikat Priyan Mathew

Contributors: Legal: Sharlene Sharmila Richards Research: Prof. Meenakshi Bhattacharjee Opinion: Dr. Chandra Mittal Editor Online:

Shobana Muratee

All rights reserved. No material herein or portions thereof may be published without the consent of the publisher. Voice of Asia assumes no liability resulting from action taken based on the information included herein. Published weekly by Free Press LLC, 8303 SW Freeway, Suite # 325, Houston, TX 77074. Tel: 713-774-5140. Fax: 713-7745143. Email for editorial submissions: voiceasia@aol. com; Email for advertising inquiries and submissions:

It is the policy of Voice of Asia to publish letters to the editor which evidence a variety of viewpoints. The opinions expressed in any particular letter to the editor are not necessarily those of the management. Voice of Asia welcomes letters in reply to issues raised in letters to editor. In as much letters to the editor are not articles written or researched by members of Voice of Asia, it is not the policy of the Voice of Asia to perform any investigation or confirmation of any facts or allegations contained in letters to the editor. Moreover, Voice of Asia reserves the right to edit letters to the editor as necessary to correct errors of fact, punctuation, spelling and to comply with space constraints. Although paid advertisements may appear in Voice of Asia Group Publications in print, online, or in other electronic formats, the Voice of Asia Group does not endorse the advertised product, service, or company, nor any of the claims made by the advertisement. - The Publisher

Voice of Asia (USPS 010-215) (ISSN#10705058) is published every Friday (for a subscription rate of $50 per year) by Free Press LLC, 8303 SW Freeway, Suite # 325, Houston, TX 77074. Tel: 713-774-5140. Fax: 713774-5143. Periodical postage paid at Houston, Texas. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Voice of Asia, 8303 SW Freeway, Suite # 325, Houston, TX 77074


y the end of 2018, Google Assistant will support more than 30 languages. This shows the importance the private sector places on multilingual communication. Unfortunately, the U.S. education system lags behind in reflecting the value of a multilingual society.

FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

The US needs to embrace multilingual education - our children will benefit from it language, we focus on the surface level of one specific language? A child could learn the surface levels of that language, but fail to acquire the deeper linguistic skills altogether.

Fifty years after the walkout by Latino students in Los Angeles protesting the lack of bilingual education, dual language learning remains inaccessible to many American children. This is despite the fact that one in four children in the U.S. speaks Spanish, a number that continues to grow.

But, when done right, an education program that allows English learners to continue growing the deeper cognitive skills in their native language — while learning English —makes it possible to gain a strong conceptual and academic foundation that transfers across both languages.

At the same time, 80 percent of adults in a nationwide survey agreed that children in the United States should learn a second language fluently before they finish high school. Not teaching American children another language is part of a larger problem in the U.S. education system, which currently lags behind other industrial nations in reading, science, and math. Most students in Europe must study their first foreign language by age 9 and second foreign language later. The benefits of a better-educated and more informed society are obvious. If we intend to have U.S. students perform as well as those from other industrial nations, we need to examine how we teach language to our students. We know dual language education is effective from a pedagogical and developmental point of view and that it provides a linguistic foundation for further cognitive advancement in all academic areas. As a professor at Northwestern University, I have studied bilingualism for two decades. My research shows that both minority- and majority-language children benefit from dual language education. For example, in a districtwide research study in Illinois, we found that not only did minority Spanish-native students in a two-way immersion program outperformed their Spanish-speaking peers in other programs on both reading and math, but majority English-native students enrolled in the immersion program also outperformed their English-native peers in mainstream classrooms.

iStock lish — instead of, rather than in addition to, English. Some argue that dual language education is expensive. However, by not supporting dual language education, we may end up paying more over time. If a child cannot understand the teacher, he or she may be unable to learn. The student may not acquire literacy, end up frustrated and drop out of school. This pattern can end up costing the U.S. economy several hundred billion dollars. Another frequent argument against dual language education is that children from homes where English is not spoken often perform worse on a To be sure, some students from non-English speaking families may also come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Access to healthcare, quality nutrition, and a safe environment play an important role in achievement. When the needs at the lower levels in A.H. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are not met, those at the higher levels can not be actualized.

To understand why supporting dual language education is important, consider the Iceberg Model of bilingual education proposed by University of Toronto’s Jim Cummins, a model that distinguishes between surface and deeper levels of language proficiency. The surface level is what we think of when we think of everyday language proficiency, and includes pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension. But underneath that surface is a deeper level of linguistic skill, which includes evaluation, synthesis, cognitive analysis and semantic and functional meaning. This underlying cognitive proficiency overlaps across languages in bilinguals. Just like the small tip of an iceberg belies the enormous base underneath the water, so are the surface features of a language not always indicative of the deeper foundation and advanced critical thought of the person who is bilingual. What happens if instead of focusing on developing deeper cognitive proficiency in any

To accomplish this, we must provide support for English learners to successfully acquire English by investing resources into bilingual education in schools with diverse student populations. The other side of the coin is teaching a second language to native English speakers so they too can benefit from the cognitive, neurological, economic, and cultural advantages that knowing another language bestows. Research shows that investing in education raises educational attainment and earnings, and reduces the likelihood of both poverty and incarceration in adulthood. Let’s stop disadvantaging all our children, whether they speak English, Spanish or another language or dialect at home, and start getting smarter about language learning across the board. Viorica Marian is the Ralph and Jean Sundin Endowed professor of communication sciences and disorders and professor of psychology at Northwestern. She is a Public Voices Fellow through The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter: @VioricaMarian1.

Yet, when it comes to dual language education, there remains a disconnect between research and practice. The issue is frequently distorted in public discourse and the term bilingual education is often used incorrectly to refer to education in a language other than Eng-

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Section 1

Community Email:

FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

Tel: 713-774-5140

Work from the Heart

"Take sex offender off South Asian airwaves"

Leadership is not one person trying to oversee and direct everyone but a person standing up for his team. - Bob Patel

by Shobana Muratee


ast October 27, 2017, Voice of Asia reported about Sunil Thakkar, 51, host of Houston’s Masala Radio as being charged with Sexual Assault of a Child (1417 years old) on December 7th, 2015. Sunil’s case was set for trial in January of 2017. He pled guilty to 5 years Deferred Adjudication along with some other conditions, including 10 days in jail and a lifetime sex offender registration. Although the news came as a shock to the Houston Indian American community, nothing seemed to have change with Masala Radio, which continued to receive the support from its sponsors and advertisers and listeners, even as it plans on hosting the Houston Holi Festival on March 24, 2018. Last week, members of the Greater South Asian Houston community posted a petition on “Take Sex Offender off South Asian Airwaves” and were seeking at least 1000 signatures of South Asians and non-South Asians from Houston, as well as from local Houstonians and residents of other cities, states, and countries. After crossing the 1000 mark, they have now set the goal of 1500 signatures. The statement on We are a collective of diverse individuals from the greater Houston area and the heterogenous South Asian American community. We write this to express our concern that an individual who pled guilty to the offense of sexual assault of a child between the age of 14 - 17 and is now a registered sex offender remains a radio jockey and the public face of Masala Radio. We are also disturbed to see that

several cultural organizations, small businesses, and local companies continue to advertise through Masala Radio and endorse events spearheaded by Masala Radio, such as the Houston Holi Festival on March 24, while the face and brand of Masala Radio remains unchanged. By keeping a sex offender on air and conducting business as usual, Masala Radio and all Masala Radio advertisers implicitly condone the criminal behavior. Additionally, when organizations and businesses utilize Masala Radio for advertising services and collectively plan events with Masala Radio without calling for accountability, they directly align themselves with a sex offender. We call for Masala Radio to reconsider the face of their brand and remove a radio jockey that is a registered sex offender off the air. Our hope is also that Masala Radio advertisers, cultural organizations, small businesses, and local companies will put pressure on Masala Radio to make these changes, or sever ties until such changes are made. We most importantly hope to say unequivocally to our peers and the next generation that sexual assault is a crime and that the community will be a source of support for victims and denounce the perpetrators. For too long our community has created an uncomfortable environment for sexual assault to be reported. In this era of “me too,” as other sexual assault offenders are rightfully removed from leadership and employment positions, it is time for our community to acknowledge “we too” will take some action. Anything less communicates a deafening silence to survivors and all of the young children looking to us as models. #timesupthakkar #stepdownsunil

YLDP batch of 2018, with speaker Bob Patel (center). By Kirti Balaji


best way to prove your point.


Mr. Patel talked about accepting all the tasks he was presented with, even moving half way around the world because he thought he would have something to offer to the company and he wanted to learn from the experience.

Mr. Patel’s values can be seen through the vision of his company. LyondellBasell believes in the power of many and continuous improvement. He views hardships through the impact lenses from the Harvard Business Review. He looks to what positive effects his actions will have on his company and workers. He assured yldp’s class that leadership is not one person trying to oversee and direct everyone but a person standing up for his team.

OUSTON - On March 3, 2018, the Youth Leadership Development Program of Houston’s class of students had the privilege of listening to Mr. Bhavesh V. (Bob) Patel speak about his career path. Mr. Patel is the chief executive officer of LyondellBasell which is one of the largest plastics, chemicals and refining companies in the world. Mr. Patel offered the high school students interesting insight and philosophies of overcoming adversities.

Mr. Patel has had leadership positions based in the Netherlands, Singapore, and the United States. His humble nature was evident in the way he put his workers first as described through when he wanted to offer his people financial benefits for moving to a new country for the company. Mr. Patel also inspired us with his charismatic personality when he talked about his ability to work with a team. He told us that explaining ideas to people who disagree is the

Mr. Patel moved to the United States as a young kid. He earned a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Ohio State University, and he pursued a Master of Business Administration due to his curiosity of the business side of engineering. Mr. Patel always followed his career path based on his interests. He worked hard to get a job in the type of engineering he

Mr. Patel’s speech inspired us, high school students, to work together as a team in order to prosper. Ultimately, a solid team working together with hardworking leaders is what makes companies such as LyondellBasell excel.

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FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

Students to Compete at 2018 Texas Science and Engineering Fair in San Antonio

Houston's Artist Kartik Trivedi returns after Art Show at Mission City Center of Performing Arts

of our state." Hosted by The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), the science fair begins with check-in on Friday, March 23, and culminates with judging and an awards presentation on Saturday, March 24, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. University of Texas Chemistry Professor Dr. Kate Biberdorf will deliver the keynote address at the awards presentation.

Angela Kang of James Bowie High School was a past winner of the fair with a biology project. (Photo: Facebook)


From left to right: G.S.Satya, Shanta Dasu, Kartik Trivedi, Satish Raval, Archana Panda and Suresh Dasu. Kartik Trivedi’s Art Show at Mission City Center of Performing Arts, Santa Clara, California on 28th January 2018. He was a guest of Yuva Bharti.


OUSTON - For the last six months, Houston's renowned artist Kartik Trivedi was living in Silicon Valley, Santa Clara, California. Here he exhibited his painting at the India Community Center at Milpitas, CA, and Mission City Center of Performing Arts, Santa Clara, CA. Later on his make-shift apartment was converted into an studio-art gallery.

Event Will take place in October 2018.

Meera Prahalad who bought two large oil paintings of Kartik wants to write a book on Kartik’s life and work. Because of her help, now Hindu American Foundation in American major cities will arrange Kartik’s paintings Art show.

Neha Raval a classical singer and a teacher interviewed Kartik on “SurAnd-Tal, and Rangilo Gujarat” radio programs.

Archna Panda, a Radio Personality and Poet has program on KLOK Radio station, Sanjose, Ca. Honored Kartik with Kashmiri Shawl and silver coin of Laxmi Devi and Lord Ganesha.KLOK a powerful Radio station can be heard in Losangeles, Ca in the south and Seattle, Washington,in the North. Bhupen Mehta of Indians for collective action, Invited Kartik to do a special poster for the celebration. The organization will complete 50 years. Kartik will also exhibit his paintings.

USTIN, March 21, 2018 – More than 1,200 Texas middle and high school students will present their outstanding projects at the 2018 Texas Science and Engineering Fair (TXSEF). The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) continues its commitment to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and the success of tomorrow’s workforce by co-sponsoring the event for the 17th consecutive year with ExxonMobil.

Ujjval Shah and her husband Karthik are planning to write a book on Kartik’s painting. Pavni Kaushik writier and painter wrote five pages articles on Kartik’s Life and work in India currents Magazine 74 thousand copies printed in Silicon Valley, CA. Pavni calls Kartik a modern Day, ”Renaissance Man.”

“We are proud to support this prestigious event that provides Texas students the platform to demonstrate their significant talents and their commitment to improving the world around them through innovative science solutions," said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “The knowledge and experience gained by these future innovators through this exciting competition can inspire them to pursue a rewarding career in high demand STEM fields and prepare them to be the future leaders

India ‘Currents Magazine’s digital copy will feature Kartik’s present day life and work, title “Kartik Trivedi Today and Tomorrow”. Kartik has been invited to Silicon Valley, Santaclara, CA to do a special film on Indian immigrants and their dremas; title “Vatan ki yad “. Kartik will direct the film and he will also do music and art direction. Archana Panda will write story and poems. This project will start in September 2018.

more days? “How many more Projects? On a Raining night, He loves to sing Raga Miya Ki Malhar, His own composition

Kartik has reached age 80 years and has two pace makers in his heart. Always a lonely hunter

“Ghir Ghir Aye Ye Kari Badariya Bundniya Barsan Lagire.” Before he goes to sleep.Now a distant Thunder is not going to disturb him, never alvida.

Many times looks at sky in search of that divine and mubles, “How many

“TWC is proud to join ExxonMobil and UTSA in providing a setting in which outstanding students can showcase their research projects in these high-demand industries,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs. “We applaud the students for the commitment and innovation they demonstrate.” The Texas Science and Engineering Fair is officially sanctioned by the Society for Science & the Public, the annual host of the Intel In-

ternational Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Awards will be presented to students in 22 project categories for both middle and high school divisions. “In an increasingly competitive job market, individuals with handson experience in STEM disciplines are highly sought-after,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “It is important that we continue to support the next generation of the Texas labor force by providing them with opportunities like this fair.” Winners from the science fair’s high school division will qualify for the Intel ISEF competition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in May 2018 and the top two placers in each category will also earn a spot at the Texas Governor’s Science and Technology Champions Academy, a weeklong residential summer camp, also sponsored by TWC, which will be held this summer at Southern Methodist University.

A message from Mayor Sylvester Turner and community organizations to participate in the City of Houston’s Hire Houston’s Youth program. Join us to increase access to quality ‘earning and learning’ opportunities for Houston’s youth.” - Mayor Sylvester Turner


n able and ready workforce is critical to ensure a strong economic future for Houston. I am committed to providing access to internships and job opportunities for our young people who live in the city. I call our corporate partners, other governmental entities,

Hire Houston Youth offers youth ages 16 to 24 internship and job opportunities at public and private employers throughout the Houston area. All positions offer at least 7 weeks of employment, and employers are asked to compensate youth at least $8.00 an hour. Most opportunities begin June 11, 2018 and end August 3, 2018. The application opened February 19 and will close March 23.

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Fort Bend View

FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

Sugar Land, Katy, Stafford, Missouri City, Richmond, Rosenberg and Meadows Place

Section 1


FBISD Trustee Grayle James participates in Leadership Program


ORT BEND ISD (March 20, 2018) – Grayle James, Fort Bend ISD Trustee, joined 29 other Texas school board members February 28–March 3 at the third of five sessions of the Leadership TASB Class of 2018. Selected by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), the group is participating in a yearlong education leadership study program. These trustees represent school districts of all sizes, with student populations ranging from 158 to 98,688, and reflect a similar range of property wealth.

Mayor Allen Owen earns UH Public Official of the Year award

Mayor Allen Owen, left, accepts a University of Houston Master of Public Administration Program “Public Official of the Year” Award during a ceremony on Friday, March 2. (Image courtesy of Missouri City)

Meeting in Galveston, the board members began their session by touring Texas City and Galveston ISDs. Featured speakers were Will Richardson, well-known author, educator, and reform leader; and Amy Lynch, a nationally recognized expert on generational differences.

TASB is a voluntary, nonprofit association established in 1949 to serve local Texas school boards. School board members are the largest group

Tel: 713-774-5140 trict B Councilmember Jeffrey Boney, District D Councilmember Floyd Emery and several staff members. “Our public safety crews rescued more than 1,300 residents from City limits and the ETJ areas where we provide service. To be able to receive this award on behalf of the hardworking men and women who weathered Hurricane Harvey is truly an honor.” The University of Houston MPA Program is led by Dr. James Thurmond, a former Chief Administrative Officer of Missouri City. The program annually honors outstanding public officials who have provided positive influence on the ideals of public service in the greater-Houston metropolitan area. Since it was launched in 2012, the MPA Program has recognized more than a dozen award recipients.

Participants who complete all required elements of the study program will graduate this year by earning Master Trustee status. This is the highest designation recognized by TASB.

Other Leadership TASB sessions are scheduled for El Paso, April 19–21, and Fort Worth, June 28–30. Each session has a unique theme that builds on the previous session and features nationally recognized experts in the fields of leadership development and education. Teams also work throughout the year on extended learning assignments between meetings. Created in 1993, Leadership TASB has more than 800 graduates to date.


Grayle James, Fort Bend ISD Trustee (Photo: FBISD) of publicly elected officials in the state. The districts they rep-

resent serve more than 5.3 million public school students.

ISSOURI CITY On Friday, March 2, the University of Houston (UH) Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program recognized Mayor Allen Owen as one of its Public Officials of the Year for his exemplary tenure of public service and his leadership during Hurricane Harvey. “While this award was giv-

en to me, it truly was earned by all of the hardworking City staff who, for seven days, worked tirelessly to rescue residents and pets trapped in flooded areas while partnering with area volunteers and commercial partners to assure the safety and well-being of all ‘Show Me City’ residents,” said Mayor Owen, who was joined at the ceremony by Dis-

“At the height of the Harvey flooding, [Mayor Owen made sure] emergency responders had the necessary tools to rescue storm victims,” Dr. Thurmond said. “He accomplished this through his network of long-standing partnerships.” Other 2018 recipients include Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Fort Bend County Judge Robert Hebert and Bellaire City Manager Paul Hofmann. For more information about Missouri City, please watch the City website:

Video catches sophisticated porch furniture theft operation


ICHMOND - In what appears to be a carefully planned operation, four suspects were caught on video in Fort Bend County stealing patio furniture from a residential street and throwing it in the back of a U-Haul.

Sheriff Troy E. Nehls said in a press release that he wants to have lunch with the person who comes forward to help solve this crime. The string of thefts took place on Thursday, March 15, in the

Harvest Green subdivision, which is located near Richmond. Residents of Butterfly Garden Trail called the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office to report overnight thefts of porch furniture, officials said in the release

Sheriff's office spokeswoman Caitlin Espinosa said Tuesday that three thefts have been reported so far, but it appears that the suspects went to additional homes in the neighborhood. Residents captured surveil-

lance video of what appears to be four suspects working together. A large U-Haul truck can be seen driving slowly down the street, while several people run up to porches, steal furniture and throw it in the truck. (-KPRC)

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India takes down local website of Cambridge Analytica Continued from Page 1 Mr Prasad also issued a public warning to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, saying that Facebook was welcome in India but: "If data theft of Indians is done through the collusion of the Facebook system, it shall not be tolerated. We have got stringent power in the IT Act, we shall use it, including summoning you in India." The Congress, for its part, hit back saying that it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who used the firm and not them. These claims appear to be backed by Himanshu Sharma, the vice president of SCL India, who says on his publicly available LinkedIn profile that the company has "successfully managed four election campaigns for the BJP" and among them names the 2014 general election which swept Prime Minister Narendra Modi to power. Earlier on Tuesday, the head of the BJP's social media unit Amit Malviya told the BBC that the party had "not heard of SCL Group or Amrish Tyagi so there is no question of us working with them." Congress social media strategist Divya Spandan said they had never used SCL or any of its affiliate companies as it has its own data analytical team.

What does SCL India do? SCL India claims it has 300 permanent employees and more than 1,400 consulting staff in offices across 10 Indian states. It offers a range of services in India, among them "political campaign management" which includes social media strategy, election campaign management and mobile media management. Under social media strategy it offers services such as "blogger and influence marketing", "online reputation management" and "daily management of social media accounts". What exactly is the problem? Jagdeep Chhokar, the head of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-governmental organisation that works in the area of electoral and political reforms, told the BBC that while political parties were required to include expenses on social media campaigns as part of a sworn affidavit to be submitted after every election, it was unclear how many of them were doing that. "As far as the question of political parties' payment to data companies is concerned it should indeed be declared properly in the sworn affidavits but there is no proper authority to implement it," he added.

FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

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Furthermore, even if SCL India were running a similar campaign to that alleged in the US, it is unclear how much of that activity would even be considered illegal in India. Speaking to the BBC, Smriti Parsheera, a technology policy researcher at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in Delhi, said that the current law as laid down in the Information Technology Act, 2000, provides for compensation for losses caused due to inadequate protection of "sensitive personal data". Ms Parsheera said that the law goes on to define sensitive data to mean information such as passwords, financial information, health conditions and biometric information. "The problem with the current framework lies in both the narrow scope of the protections as well as the inadequate implementation of these limited protections. Information such as a person's name, location, general preferences, friend's list, are clearly powerful tools for analytics and profiling of users but do not qualify for protection as sensitive data under the present law," she added.

In Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, an enormous residential complex known as the Gate Towers rises above an early morning winter fog. There are more than 3,500 units in the Gate Towers and connecting Arc. (Photo: Ron Cunningham)

Texas bomb suspect blows himself up, leaves confession

Courtesy: BBC News. Reporting by Ayeshea Perera and Zubair Ahmed

Trump admin urged to keep work permits for spouses of H-1B visa holders


ASHINGTON: Six Democratic lawmakers from the Silicon Valley have urged the Trump administration to retain Obama-era rule allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to work legally in the US, according to a media report. A 2015 rule issued by the Obama administration allows work permits for spouses who otherwise could not be employed while H-1B visa holders seek permanent resident status—a process that can take a decade or longer. Indian-Americans were a major beneficiary of this provision. More than 100,000 H-4 visa holders have been beneficiary of this rule. More than 104,000 spouses have

been granted work authorisation since the H-4 visa rule was enacted, according to DHS’s Citizenship and Immigration Services. Democratic Congressmen Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, Ro Khanna, Mark DeSaulnier, Barbara Lee and Jerry McNerney in a letter to the Homeland Security secretary urged to “reconsider” his plan, saying it would “create significant uncertainty and financial hardship for many highly skilled professionals who are vital to our economy”, Silicon Valley-based Mercury news said. In their letter dated March 5, the lawmakers argued that in many areas where H-1B workers live, including

Silicon Valley, “It is nearly impossible for a family to live on one income.” The move comes amidst reports that the Trump administration is planning to revoke an Obama-era rule under which spouses of H-1B visas were given work permits. In a recent court filing, the Department of Homeland Security said that it needs time till June to take a decision on it. Earlier, business and tech industry groups—representing Amazon. com, Google, Visa and other companies— urged the Trump administration not to halt work authorisations for spouses of immigrants who have specialty worker H-1B visas and are seeking permanent residency.

Burn specialists report a dramatic increase in burn injury survival over the past 30 years Advances in burn treatment are associated with reduced mortality rates in people who sustain life-threatening burns, according to study findings.


ALVESTON (March 9, 2018): For many years, people who sustained severe burn injuries often died. But great strides in burn care over the last 30 years have dramatically increased their chances of survival, according to two new studies just published by the Journal of the American College of Surgeons and Annals of Plastic Surgery. “Mortality has decreased three to fivefold since the 1980s, ostensibly from the substantial advances in burn care that occurred between 1980 and 1989,” said lead study author David N. Herndon, MD, FACS, chief of staff and director of research at the Shriners Hospitals for Children, Galveston, and director of burn services at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). “Yet, until now, there has not been definitive studies showing the cumulative effect of these research advances on survival.” Burns are one of the leading causes of unintentional death and injury in the U.S., according to the American Burn Association.* Very large burns—those that cover 50 percent or more of the body’s surface area—put people at high risk of infection and death. In addition to burn size, older age, female gender, and damage to lungs due to the inhalation of smoke put people at greater risk of death. This is the most definitive report of the role advanced burn treatment has played in reducing risk of death, the authors said. Dr. Herndon and colleagues examined the records of 10,384 adult and pediatric burn patients admitted to Shriners Hospitals for Children®, Galveston, or the Blocker Burn Unit in Galveston from 1989 to 2017. Over this time period, protocols directly derived from these advances were used to guide care of these patients. The researchers applied multivariate regression analysis to create a statistical profile of their burn patients and to identify the main factors associated with mortality. Factors such age, sex, burn size, whether the patient suffered smoke inhalation injury (damage to

the airways), and length of stay were collected at admission.

50 percent body burn killed that same person.”

Of the 10,384 burn admissions, a total of 355 victims died. The researchers looked specifically at the main factors that influenced risk of death in different age groups and then created a risk prediction model.

Other factors not assessed in the study that have contributed to better outcomes in burn patients include improvements in the transfer of critically ill patients to hospitals and burn centers.

Using mortality data from the medical literature, as well as data from the National Burn Repository, the researchers compared historical predictions of mortality risk with their observed patient data. They found a significant decrease in mortality in their patient population compared with historical predictions from previous studies.

“We hope our findings will inspire other burn units to try to keep people alive with extensive burns because it’s clear that it can be done. Burn specialists also need to focus on implementing the protocols that have allowed this improvement in survival to occur,” Dr. Herndon said.

“In this one area of medicine, these new protocols have massively reduced mortality overall,” Dr. Herndon said. “Over the last 30 years at our burn center there has been a continuing reduction in the risk of mortality of about 2 percent per year in all age groups, burn sizes, and genders. Children admitted at Shriners Hospitals for Children, Galveston were twice as likely to survive in comparison with the prediction from National Burn Repository data reported in 2010.” The study also identified the most powerful predictors of mortality: the percent of total body surface burned, age, and the presence of inhalation injury. The probability of death rose as age increased, as burn size increased, and with the presence of inhalation injury. The data suggest that the continuous improvement in mortality over time is a result of changes in the standard of care, including protocols for management of inhalation injury; nutrition to combat infection and aid in healing; and receiving early burn excision and skin grafts immediately following injury. “The most dramatic decreases in mortality most recently have been in patients over age 40,” Dr. Herndon said. “Remarkably, a patient up to the age of 40 who has sustained a 95 percent body burn now survives half the time, whereas in earlier times a

Beyond the effort to reduce mortality rates in burn victims, researchers hope to concentrate on better treatment strategies to improve quality of life. “Our priorities for future advancements need to focus on decreasing scar tissue and morbidity, effective rehabilitation, and returning patients to work,” Dr. Herndon said. The study’s coauthors are Karel D. Capek, MD; Linda E. Sousse, PhD; Gabriel Hundeshagen, MD; Charles D. Voigt, MD; Oscar E. Suman, PhD; Celeste C. Finnerty, PhD; Kristofer Jennings, PhD; Derek M. Culnan MD; and Manubhai H. Desai MD. ________________________ * National Burn Awareness Week. American Burn Association. Available at: Accessed March 2, 2018. Citations: Contemporary Burn Survival. Journal of American College of Surgeons. Available at: http://www.journalacs. org/article/S1072-7515(18)30026-7/ abstract (.) Fifty Years of Burn Care at Shriners Hospitals for Children, Galveston. Annals of Plastic Surgery. March 2018, Volume 80, Issue 3, pages S90S94

Mark Conditt, a 23-year-old (Facebook). by Mark HENRICKS


USTIN, Texas | AFP | 3/21/2018- A man suspected of carrying out a series of bombings in the Texas capital Austin blew himself up Wednesday, leaving behind a recorded "confession" that police said portrayed "challenges in his personal life." Police said they surrounded Mark Conditt, a 23-year-old white male, outside a hotel in city suburbs, where a series of bombings that began on March 2 killed two men, both black, and injured several others. The suspect detonated a device in his car and later died, Austin police chief Brian Manley said, bringing a dramatic end to the massive manhunt involving hundreds of federal agents and local police. Police recovered a roughly 25-minute recording from a phone that was in Conditt's possession when the explosion occurred, and Manley said he "would classify this as a confession." On the recording, Conditt describes seven explosive devices, and "we have accounted for the devices that we have known about," the police chief said. Manley said that on the phone recording, Conditt "does not at all mention anything about terrorism, nor does he mention anything about hate." "Instead, it is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his personal life that led him to this point," he said. - Conservative views Police zeroed in on Conditt over the past 24 to 36 hours as evidence came in from video footage and witness accounts, Manley said. A sealed federal arrest warrant and criminal complaint had been filed Tuesday night, charging Conditt with one count of unlawful possession and transfer of a destructive device, the US Department of Justice said. Law enforcement officers searched a home in the Austin suburb of Pflugerville identified as Conditt's residence. Police evacuated a fiveblock radius and detained the suspect's two roommates for questioning. Fred Milanowski of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said a recovery team discovered explosive material in the home, along with "componentry" that resembled those found at the scenes of previous explosions. Information about Conditt's past began to trickle out. The Houston Chronicle reported that Conditt grew up in a religious family, was homeschooled and briefly attended a local community college. Police could not say how he had learned to build explosive devices. News organizations found a 2012 blog with six postings attributed to Conditt, who would have been a

teenager at the time of their publication. On it, Conditt described himself as "conservative." The posts, apparently part of a class assignment, argued against gay marriage, saying homosexuality was "not natural," supported the death penalty, and criticized the sex offender registry. Conditt's family released a statement to CNN saying they were unaware of "the darkness that Mark must have been in." "Our family is a normal family in every way. We love, we pray, and we try to inspire and serve others. Right now our prayers are for those families that have lost loved ones, for those impacted in any way, and for the soul of our Mark." - 'Deep breath' CBS affiliate KEYE in Austin published photos it said were taken from security footage of the bombing suspect, wearing a blue baseball cap, gloves and possibly a wig as he dropped off packages Sunday at a FedEx office in Austin. One of the bombs detonated early Tuesday at a FedEx sorting facility in Schertz, south of Austin. Texas Congressman Mike McCaul, who chairs the homeland security committee in the US House, told KXAN TV that the suspect's use of FedEx was a major break in the case. "Everything flowed from his going into this FedEx store, because from there we were able to ascertain who the individual was," McCaul said. Amid the lingering questions, residents of Austin -- a city of nearly one million people -- were contemplating the end of a three-week ordeal. "I think everybody is taking a deep breath this morning," said Adler, the city's mayor. Miguel Alvarado, who was heading to a park with his son on Tuesday night, told AFP that the serial bombings had taken a toll. "People are a little shaken up," Alvarado said. While the ordeal was coming to an end, some families and neighborhoods were permanently altered. The first explosion on March 2 killed Anthony Stephan House -- a 39-year-old father of an eight-yearold girl who had started a money management company and worked for two Texas-based firms. The second blast on March 12 killed 17-year-old Draylen Mason -- a high school senior and a musician in a youth orchestra, who was headed to college. Both men were black. "There's a sense of grief about what happened," said one Austin resident who did not want to be identified. "It changes your sense of safety."


East & West

FRIDAY, March 23, 2018


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French food fest wants to whet the world's appetite



ARIS, France | AFP | Truffled frogs legs with spiced raisins, and apple and pear tart with prune and Armagnac ice cream... French chefs were setting out Wednesday to make mouths water in a global celebration of the country's cuisine. Some 3,300 restaurants in more than 150 countries are taking part in the "Good France" festival, from small village cafes in rural Gascony to three-star Michelin chef Paul Pairet's hip "multi-sensory" dining club, Ultraviolet, in Shanghai. Dinners are also being held in French embassies across the world as a part of the festival which was inspired by the legendary chef Auguste Escoffier's "Epicurian dinners" in 1912 when diners in the great global capitals sat down to the same menu.

Indian, Pakistani Vegetable Fritters (Photo by

French superchef Alain Ducasse says his 'Good France' festival is "about influence, about exporting French food culture"

The French menus will vary this time, however, with Good France's founder, superchef Alain Ducasse, saying Japanese chefs might be making boeuf bourguignon with local beef.

akoras, savory fritters, are a very popular chaat—snack or appetizer—in Pakistan and northern India. The chickpea batter gives them a unique flavor, and their crispy crust encases all kinds of vegetables and sometimes chunks of meat. Pakoras are often bought from street vendors who serve them wrapped in a newpaper cone.


7 to 8 servings INGREDIENTS •

Chickpea flour (besan) -- 1 cup

Hot chile peppers, minced (optional) -- 1 or 2

Ground cumin -- 1 teaspoon

Salt -- 1 1/2 teaspoons

"Even if the beef for the boeuf bourguignon in Japan is Japanese it would be better to drink a French wine with it," he joked.

Warm water -- 1/2 cup

Oil -- 2 tablespoons

Prepared vegetables (see variations) -- 2 to 3 cups

Ducasse insisted that France was the "world leader in gastronomy and it should not be shouted down by countries who came late to the table but shout louder than us."

Oil for deep frying

"It is about influence, about exporting French food culture," he told AFP.

METHOD 1. In a large bowl, add the chickpea flour, optional chile peppers, cumin, salt, water and 2 tablespoons of oil. Whisk the ingredients vigorously to incorporate air and make a fluffy, smooth batter. Alternatively, put all the batter ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside and let the batter rest for about 20-30 minutes.

The festival is dedicated to the memory of Paul Bocuse, the "pope" French cuisine, who died in January aged 91. This is the fourth year in which the dinners have been held, with French President Emmanuel Macron aiming to have 10,000 restaurants taking part by 2020.

The Good France festival involves 3,300 restaurants in more than 150 countries. The festival is dedicated to the memory of Paul Bocuse, the (Shutterstock/Tatyana Vyc)

Heat about 1-2 inches of oil in a heavy skillet or deep pot over 2. medium-high flame to 365-375°F. Using a fork, dip the prepared vegetables into the batter to coat. Then drop into the hot oil and deep fry until lightly browned on all sides. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and hold warm while you repeat with the remaining vegetables. 3.

Serve hot with mint chutney or cilantro chutney.




The Lives and The Times II

Amit Verma, author.

by David Garvin


s way of an introductory note, I read and reviewed "The Lives and The Times" by Amit Verma exactly two years ago. I was, in short, most admiring of the author’s novel of surreal normality, satire and amusing supernatural elements. It seemed that Mr. Verma had taken from James Joyce and V.S. Naipaul a master class of fever-dreaming narration (I meant that as a compliment). My review in Voice of Asia was, for a short while, my most commented-upon writing. Many thanked me for leading them to Amazon to buy the book. And I was pleased to meet the author and his wife that summer, and heard there was to be a second book soon. Happily, it is a continuation of June, the ‘average man leading an average life’, as the novel begins again. Here in the sequel is a familiar series of interlinked storylines and characters, with real issues (both political and personal) seeming to nudge themselves into the fictional lives of June and his circle of Indian anti-heroes. Things start out with an existential definition worthy of Jean-Paul Satre: “The life of any and every individual is

unbearable, perhaps even appalling, and most likely deary. An honest conversation with the self will suffice as proof for this.” Then mysterious structures mirroring the internal motivations and government (inner?) workings pop up and the reader begins to find them most interesting, as chapters stop and start up again.

cast of players as a Shakespearian tragedy. Sure there are laughs and odd flavorings, but whether the tale will end in tears seems inevitable. That the reader is not treated to a simple

Class and social standing, the effects of genocide and ‘Who put the author in authoritarianism?’ are notes I find myself writing in the thin margins of this paperback. History and myth interject themselves into the background with regularity. June seems to fade from the narrative, leaving the reader to question ‘who’s voice is this?’, but as the author’s construct from the beginning is as an observational pundit, the very quotable interjections add Cover of the new release by Amit structure to the dream- Verma story, such as it is. On one notable, increduconclusion but a twist of lous occasion, erotic stirrings are treated to a rip in emotions within actions, is space-time. The simple laws of most admirable. There is physics just don’t apply to the an epilogue which seems a bit trite, but mercifully inner psyche. is only two pages long. By India may be a million stories that time, one is both grateuntold, but here is a few dozen ful for the ride and (at least unwound, as the mortal coil of for this reader) most wantdaily life becomes encumbered ing to re-read the first volwith the twilight world of dark ume of The Lives and The intentions. Questioning the line Times by Amit Verma. between the coupling of relaThe Lives and The Times tionships and their uncoupling, the book in total presents our II by Amit Verma is available on Amazon.

FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

Asian Indians Connecting in Community Groups Enjoy Greater Financial Security


PRINGFIELD, Mass., 2018 – A recent MassMutual study confirmed what most Asian Indians have known all along: being part of a community is not only good for your body and soul, but also for your bank account. According to “You Get What You Give: The MassMutual 2018 Finanecial and Wellness Community Involvement Study” from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), one in two Americans say community involvement improves their finances, while four in ten say financial support is a reason they are involved in communities.

AI college students - casual. GettyImages found to be more likely to pursue their financial goals. Sixty percent of the Asian Americans surveyed regularly saved money in a short-term savings account, while sixty-three percent put their money in a retirement savings account, the highest among all ethnicities surveyed.

When it comes to Asian Americans, community is especially important for cultural connection and resource sharing. Seventy-two percent of Asian Americans participating in the study said that being part of a community was important to their overall wellbeing. Additionally, a crucial link between financial security and community participation was identified: “Those who are more confident in their financial future are also more likely to say community involvement is important,” said Dennis Duquette, Head of Community Responsibility at MassMutual.

In a world that’s quickly becoming more isolated, communities are essential in maintaining a sense of belonging and developing lasting bonds. MassMutual started almost a century and a half ago out of a concern for community by offering coverage to help people secure their futures and protect their loved ones. MassMutual’s study on financial wellness and community involvement discovered that communities today are more relevant than ever. “Our research indicates that by Living Mutual – coming together and relying on each other – we can make our communities stronger and our lives more secure and fulfilling,” said Candy Chan, Director of Asian Markets at MassMutual.

Tough Times: Let’s Lift Each Other Up While communities foster a sense of social and financial security, they also act as support systems in times of crisis according to the study. Eighty percent of Asian Americans in the study believed that it was important to look out for one another and forty-seven percent had supported someone in their community during a time of financial difficulty. Apart from looking out for each other, Asian Americans were also

Community: Up Close and Personal According to the survey, Asian Americans are most

likely to form communities among families, friends, children’s schools, and professional networks. Creating more opportunities for children is particularly important for Asian Indians. According to another recent MassMutual study that focused on college funding, forty-nine percent of Asian Indians surveyed started saving for their children’s college education before their child turned five, and were most prepared for it among all the ethnicities surveyed. In fact, by the time a child was ten, seventy-nine percent of Indian parents were saving for college and at least one in five had saved up to $50,000 (Source: MassMutual’s College Planning & Saving Study conducted by New American Dimensions, LLC., 2017). Another interesting finding from the MassMutual’s Financial and Wellness Community Involvement Study is that Asian Americans seem more passionate about career networking. Sixty percent of the Asian Americans surveyed were involved in communities related to their work or professional networks, fourteen percent higher than the U.S. average. To learn more visit

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China urges US to not act 'emotionally' on trade


EIJING, China | AFP | Tuesday 3/19/2018 - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called on the United States Tuesday to not act "emotionally" and to avoid a trade war, as President Donald Trump considers new punitive measures against Beijing. After announcing tariffs on global steel and aluminium imports, Trump is now mulling new actions against China over its "theft" of US intellectual property. Washington has long accused Beijing of forcing US

companies to turn over proprietary commercial information and intellectual property as a condition of operating in China. But Li pledged that China "will strictly protect intellectual property rights". US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer recently proposed a package of $30 billion in tariffs on China but Trump wants it to go higher, according to US media. The US trade deficit with China ran to a record $375 bil-

lion last year -- but US exports to the country were also at a record. "Nobody will emerge as a winner" from a trade war, Li told a press conference after the country's annual parliament session. "We hope that both parties can maintain reason, not act emotionally, and avoid a trade war," said Li, who was given a second five-year term by the National People's Congress on Sunday. Li vowed that China will

further open its huge market to foreign firms, and make it easier for companies in the services sector -- such as healthcare, education and finance -- to gain access. "We will completely open the manufacturing sector. We will not allow the forced transfer of technology," he said. It is not the first time that Chinese officials have promised to improve access to foreign firms, but US and European companies still complain about major hurdles. The EU Chamber of Commerce in China summed up the exasperation last year as "promise fatigue" -- a complaint that challenges Xi's image as a champion of globalisation.

India's Silicon Valley faces man-made water crisis by Claire Cozens


Firefighters work at the polluted Bellandur Lake that has become so toxic it spontaneously catches fire (Photos: Manjunath Kiran)

Already, more than half of Bangalore's estimated 10 million inhabitants have to rely on borewells and tankers for their water because there isn't enough mains supply to go round. Most of the city's municipal water is supplied by the Cauvery river, whose waters flow through Karnataka and neighbouring Tamil Nadu state before emptying into the Bay of Bengal, and have been bitterly disputed for more than a century. Two years ago, an order to release extra water from the river to ease a shortage threatening crops in Tamil Nadu sparked deadly protests in Bangalore that forced hundreds of companies to close.

"Yesterday they told us that 38 samples had matched. The 39th had a partial match as he didn't have any immediate family," said Swaraj.

When India's junior foreign minister Vijay Kumar Singh and Iraqi government officials went to Badush, someone told them to inspect a mound in the village, the minister added.

When the area was excavated, Indian officials found many identification marks such as non-Iraqi shoes and Sikh religious bangles. "We felt these were our people... contacted a foundation working on the issue and shared missing workers' families' DNA samples with them for the identification process," the foreign minister told parliament.

Once known as India's garden city for its lush green parks, Bangalore was built around a series of lakes created to form rainwater reservoirs and prevent the precious resource from draining away.

"If the current trend of growth and urbanisation is allowed (to continue), by 2020, 94 percent of the landscape will be concretised."

Their bodies had been found in the grave in the village of Badush northwest of the city of Mosul and taken to a local organisation for DNA testing.

"They said that they had buried many people there (in a mass grave). We reached there and requested Iraqi authorities to use a deep penetration radar, which detected many bodies under the surface," she told parliament.

Panathur lies next to Bangalore's biggest lake, Bellandur, which provides a poignant reminder that things weren't always like this.

"The city is dying," says T.V. Ramachandra, an ecologist with the Indian Institute of Science who has predicted the Karnataka state capital could be the first Indian city to follow Cape Town in running out of water.

Sushma Swaraj told the upper house of parliament the workers had been murdered by IS.

"We got to know that these people were moved from Mosul to Badush by their captors," Swaraj said.

"The future will be very difficult. It is impossible to imagine how they will find water, how they will live. Even if we dig 1,500 feet (450 metres) down, we are not getting water."

Many of those that remain are heavily polluted. Bellandur has become so toxic it spontaneously catches fire, and emits clouds of white froth so large authorities have had to build barriers to keep it from spilling onto the road.


EW DELHI, India | AFP | Tuesday 3/20/2018 - The bodies of 39 Indian construction workers kidnapped in Iraq in 2014 by the Islamic State group have been found in a mass grave, India's foreign minister said Tuesday.

The victims were mostly from poor families in India's northern state of Punjab and had been working for a construction company in Mosul when they were rounded up.

"There is a severe scarcity of water here," said Nagraj, 30, who moved to the suburban neighbourhood of Panathur a decade ago and has seen it transformed by rampant construction.

Many have now been concreted over to build apartment blocks with names like Dream Acres and Strawberry Fields to house the workers who have flocked here during India's outsourcing boom.

by Bhuvan Bagga

The government had for years insisted they were believed still alive and the latest announcement sparked criticism from some relatives of the dead.

Gleaming new apartment blocks are still springing up all over the city known as India's Silicon Valley -- even though there is nowhere near enough mains water to supply those already living and working there.

- Lakes on fire -

India confirms deaths of 39 workers abducted in Iraq

The workers were abducted in June 2014 when IS jihadists overran large swathes of territory in Iraq and captured Mosul.

ANGALORE, India | AFP | Saturday 3/17/2018 - Every day more than 1,000 water tankers rumble past Nagraj's small plywood store in Bangalore, throwing up clouds of dust as they rush their valuable cargo to homes and offices in India's drought-stricken tech hub.

Many rely entirely on supplies shipped in by tankers filled from giant borewells that have caused groundwater levels to plummet, sparking predictions Bangalore could be the first Indian city to run out of water.

FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

Many of the city's lakes have been concreted over to build apartment blocks, while others that remain are heavily polluted. Last month the Supreme Court stepped in, altering the river-sharing arrangement in Karnataka's favour citing Bangalore's dire need. - Rainwater harvesting Ecologist Ramachandra says Bangalore has enough annual rainfall to provide water for its estimated 10 million people without resorting to borewells or rivers -- if only it could harvest the resource more effectively. "If there is a water crisis, we should not think about river diversion. We should think about how to retain the water," he said, blaming "fragmented, uncoordinated governance" for the crisis. As in the rest of India though, there is little incentive for citizens to save water. Despite years of drought, the government still provides clean water to citizens at heavily subsidised rates and access to groundwater is largely unregulated. "In Bangalore 1,000 bottles of the cleanest treated water comes to our doorstep and we pay only six rupees (about nine cents)... the incentive is not there," says A.R. Shivakumar, a senior scientist with the Karnataka State Council of Science and Technology.

under the house, which Shivakumar designed with water efficiency in mind. Even the cement used to build it was made with recycled water. His work setting up rainwater harvesting at bus stops, in slum housing and even along the city's metro system proved so effective that city authorities now require all new housing developments to have inbuilt systems. "This crisis will force everyone to take up measures like rainwater harvesting and water conservation measures," he told AFP. "The new generation have shown a lot of concern toward the environment and conservation measures. That will definitely take it forward. Awareness is already on the increase."

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Despite this, Shivakumar and his family have not used a single drop of mains water in the 23 years they have lived at their home in Bangalore.

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Instead they rely entirely on rainwater collected through gutters and stored in large tanks

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The Indian government had never received any ransom demand or any other direct communication from the kid-

nappers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed anguish and backed the foreign ministry, saying officials had "left no stone unturned in trying to trace and safely bring back those we lost in Mosul". "Every Indian grieves with those who lost their loved ones in Mosul. We stand in solidarity with the bereaved families and pay our respects to the Indians killed in Mosul," he tweeted late Tuesday. - 'Heart-wrenching' A special plane will bring 38 of the 39 bodies home after formalities are completed in Iraq. The DNA matching process is still incomplete for the final victim. "Howsoever painful, the families will get the dead bodies after over three years. This will hopefully bring some closure to the grieving families," Swaraj said. Some relatives, however, criticised the government. "For the last four years the same minister has been telling me that we have traced their location and they're alive," Gurpinder Kaur, sister of one of the dead workers, told reporters in Punjab. "I only heard what the minister said on television. I have no other information about it. I am waiting for her to contact me but I don't know what to trust," she added. Punjab state's chief minister Amarinder Singh described it as "heart-wrenching news". "My heart goes out to the families who had been living in hope since their reported abduction by ISIS in 2014. Prayers with all of them," he said, using another acronym for the Islamic State. Shashi Tharoor, a lawmaker from the main opposition Congress party, told journalists the government had not done right by the families. "If the government didn't have any details, why did they keep telling everyone they are alive? The government cheated the people (families) by giving them false hope for four years," he said. At a press conference later, Swaraj denied the government had given families false hope, insisting it had needed proof before confirming any deaths. The minister also could not say when the hostages had been killed.



FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

'Shark' Nibali wins cycling's CRICKET Milan-San Remo classic Nidahas Trophy 2018 finals



AN REMO, Italy | AFP - Italy's Vincenzo Nibali made a late solo break and held off a desperate chase from the pack to win the first big classic of the season, the Milan-San Remo on Saturday.

OLOMBO, Sri Lanka, PTI, March 19, 2018 - Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan on Monday said there is no point "crying" over the heartbreaking defeat to India in the final of Nidahas T20 Tri-Series here and will rather focus on rectifying the mistakes for future.

The 2014 Tour de France winner, nicknamed 'The Shark', shook off the sprint favourites on the Poggio hill 10km from home in the 294km race through north-western Italy. Nibali cruised to victory with his arms aloft as Australian Caleb Ewan and France's Arnaud Demare led the chasing pack over the line a good bike length behind after the struggle that had gone to the wire. As Nibali pulled away on the final climb, pre-race favourite Peter Sagan just watched him go, refusing to chase the Italian down after being pipped on the line in 2017 by Michal Kwiatkowski as the Sky man again sat on his wheel. At the summit Nibali led by just eight seconds, but his sheer mastery on the descent earned him a lead that allowed him to hope for victory. "When I knew I was 20 seconds ahead I gave it the gas," said the 33-year-old, who still had almost 5km to ride. "I'm speechless." "We were racing for (teammate) Sonny Colbrelli but in the last 15km, I felt good and decided to go." "This is the race I least expected to win, the one I'm least suited to win," said the man renowned for his climbing and descent work. Ewan, who made an impressive last thrust to try and catch Nibali, added: "I realise it's a massive result but to come so close to winning it's a pretty big disappointment." Three-time world champion Sagan eventually settled for sixth place as the Slovak, who came second last year, once again failed to seal victory on his eighth attempt. Defending champion Kwiatkowski of Poland finished in eleventh. Nibali's victory ended Italy's 12-year wait for a first home winner since Filippo Pozzato in 2006. The 33-year-old Sicilian is one of the few riders to have won the three big Tours -- Giro, Tour de France and Vuelta. But he has already won 'Monument' classic races, notably the Tour of Lombardy. - Cavendish, Greipel crash The 109th edition of the race, which is the longest in the cycling calendar, started under the rain before the sun came out with 60km to go. But there were some highprofile casualties with Britain's Mark Cavendish, the 2009

Ex-All Black and Samoa flanker Mika dead at 45


ELLINGTON, New Zealand | AFP | Tuesday 3/20/2018 - New Zealand rugby was reeling Wednesday at the sudden death of former All Black and Samoa flanker Dylan Mika at the age of just 45. "It's with sadness we confirm that the former All Black & Manu Samoa star passed away suddenly," New Zealand Rugby tweeted late Tuesday. Mika, who played seven Tests for the All Blacks in 1999, was an insulin-dependent diabetic and local media reports said he suffered a heart attack related to the condition. A statement from his family said he died "suddenly and unexpectedly". "He was a hugely talented athlete, well-respected in the Samoan community and abroad but just as importantly, to his friends and family a warm, wonderful, and caring man," it said. His tally of international caps for New Zealand would probably have been higher but he had to serve a stand-down period after representing Samoa in two Tests in 1994-95.

Shakib was asked how difficult was it to hide his emotions after the loss. Nibali (above) snatched victory ahead of Australian Caleb Ewan and France’s Arnaud Demare. (Photo: EPA-EFE) winner, and Germany's Andre Greipel both suffering injuries in separate crashes. Cavendish hit a bollard and flew through the air before landing hard on his back, 10km from the finish line. The stunned 32-year-old lay motionless for some time and was later taken to hospital in San Remo for tests on his right hip. This season has been crashprone for rider from the Isle of Man who came a cropper on the Tour of Abu Dhabi in February and again during the team time-trial in last week's Tirreno-Adriatico. He had been uncertain to compete in the Milan-San

Remo until the last minute. Greipel fell twice, the second time on the Poggio descent, and suffered a broken collarbone among other injuries. His Lotto team manager Marc Sergeant said the German would miss the upcoming northern classics. Meanwhile, the race marked the debut of a video review system following the row over Sagan's exclusion from last year's Tour de France.

"I actually don't know. There is no point crying about it. Yes, there can be emotions attached to such occasions but there isn't anything to do here," Sakib said. Wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik (29 of 8 balls) smashed a last-ball six as India pulled off a four-wicket win last night.

Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan says there's no point crying over defeat to India. Shakib Al Hasan said there is no point "crying" over the heartbreaking defeat to India in the final of Nidahas T20 Tri-Series here and will rather focus on rectifying the mistakes for future.

"It's not possible to rewind time, so we have to do better when there is a similar situation again. We have lost many close games and finals.

the bowler conceding 22 runs in the 19th over, which paved the way for India's incredible come-from-behind win.

The 28-year-old was controversially kicked off the Tour for elbowing Cavendish and causing a crash.

"This was the fifth one (final) and all of them were close matches. The closest I think was the Asia Cup and then today's one (Sunday) I think this was even closer (than the Asia Cup). I think we are moving forward."

As a result governing body the UCI is introducing video technology for all major races.

Shakib said he will not hesitate to again hand over the ball to Rubel Hossain despite

Needing 34 runs in the last two overs, India knocked off 22 off Rubel to bring the equation down to 12 off six balls. "To be honest he did not miss much of the plan when he bowled. I don't know if there are many batsmen who can come and hit a six off the first ball, the next for a four and then again a six," Shakib

was quoted as saying by 'The Daily Star'. "Such batting is rare in history, it was miraculous batting. But he (Karthik) did that. Of course Rubel was nervous after giving away 10 runs from the first two balls and that is natural. But still I think I will back him if there is a similar situation in the future," Shakib added. Karthik came in to bat with the scoreboard reading 133/5 at the end of 18 overs.


FRIDAY, March 23, 2018



FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in collaboration with the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Jodhpur, India. Lead Underwriters: Nidhika and Pershant Mehta Additional generous support for this exhibition is provided by Medha and Shashank Karve; Sushila and Dr. Durga D. Agrawal; National Endowment for the Arts; The E. Rhodes & Leona B. Carpenter Foundation; Eddie and Chinhui Allen; Milton D. Rosenau, Jr. and Dr. Ellen R. Gritz; Paul and Manmeet Likhari; Mr. and Mrs. H. Bruce Sallee; Vivian L. Smith Foundation; Anne and Albert Chao; Jag and Pinder Gill; Dr. and Mrs. Srinivasa Madhavan; Usha and Kumara Peddamatham; Dr. Mani and Anuradha Subramanian; Rama and Geetha Rau Yelundur; Mr. and Mrs. Sundaresan Bala; Monjula and Ravi Chidambaram; Kathy and Marty Goossen; Shantha Raghuthaman; and Miwa S. Sakashita and Dr. John R. Stroehlein. The accompanying catalogue is generously supported by Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.

µ˙The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


Section 2

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Oil Prices Stabilizing? Local Station Owners Benefit from Lower Prices ple, when consumers don’t have to spend as much at the pump, they have more disposable income to buy more cars which means car dealers and their employees have more money to spend and the trickle down filters through the entire economy. Besides lower prices at the pump, consumers benefit in several other ways as a study from the San Diego Union Tribune learned when asking several local economic authorities. Here are some of the other ways consumers are saving now and will save in the future if oil prices stay low: Seshadri Nonavinakere


redicting what will happen with oil prices is a bit like predicting the apocalypse, but there appears to be a level of stability right now that most industry experts expect will be around for quite a while. Most analysts forecast that crude oil will remain in a relatively tight range from $50 to $70 per barrel until 2030. If that is indeed the case, everyone in the supply chain is looking for ways to survive and thrive in the new reality. What Happens to Oil-Producing Countries When Oil Prices Fall? On a macro level, oil exporters are some of the biggest losers when oil prices fall like they did back in 2014. There are several countries in the world including Venezuela, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia whose entire economy is dependent on oil revenues. Since oil prices started their fall, Venezuela’s economy is on the brink of collapse and the political system is in total disarray. Oil accounts for 75 percent of Saudi Arabia’s revenue, and the country ran a nearly $100 billion budget deficit in 2015. In Nigeria, the country is unable to pay its bills, state employees are not being paid and the country is experiencing power outages and fuel shortages. Even countries with more diversified economies like Russia feel the impact. Tim Bowler, a staff reporter for BBC News, reports that Russia loses over two billion dollars for every dollar the price of oil falls. Experts predict that Russia’s economy could shrink by nearly a full percentage in every year that oil prices continue to decline. Consumers are the Big Winners By all accounts, the end consumers are the big winners when oil prices fall. As just one exam-

• Lower fuel bills and energy costs. Lower food costs because • distribution costs are lower. Inflation is held at bay so • interest rates stay low and home sales increase. Others products like plas• tics that use petroleum as a raw material will see price decreases. How Lowering Gas Prices • Help BOTH Consumers and Owners of Local Gas Stations With the shakeout nearly complete for investors, drillers and distribution channels, local gas stations must figure out how to make money in new ways. People are often surprised to learn that the companies at the end of the supply chain (local owner operators) actually make more money when prices at the pump fall. They are just as happy to see lower prices at the pump as the consumers who purchase their products. When the wholesale price of oil and gas rises, local gas stations cannot increase prices fast enough to cover their increased costs. Or if they raise prices in anticipation of wholesale increases, they may lose business to lower-priced competitors. When prices begin to fall, consumers are much more forgiving. Drivers are also less likely to drive all over town looking for the lowest prices, and rather than just putting in a few dollars at each stop, they are more likely to fill their tanks. And because they have a little extra disposable income, they will also go inside and buy coffee and snacks. The author, Seshadri Nonavinakere, is associated with and works in the Oil & Gas Industry for the last 20 years around the world. He is also a Finance Analyst, has experience in Manufacturing, Mining Operations, and IT Training.

FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

Tel: 713-774-5140

Zuckerberg admits ‘mistakes’ over Facebook data scandal by Robin Millard ONDON, United Kingdom | AFP | Wednesday 3/21/2018 Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, breaking his silence over the data scandal roiling the social network, acknowledged Wednesday that the company had made “mistakes” and needed to “step up” to fix the problem.


“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” Zuckerberg said in his first public comments since the scandal broke last weekend. Writing on his Facebook page, he added: “I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. “The most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.” The scandal first erupted after a whistleblower from British data firm

Cambridge Analytica (CA) said it was able to create psychological profiles on 50 million Facebook users via a personality prediction app downloaded by 270,000 people that also scooped up their friends’ data. CA is accused of then using the information for US President Donald Trump’s election 2016 campaign. Zuckerberg’s admission follows another day of damaging accusations against the world’s biggest social network. A former Facebook employee told British lawmakers the firm had a “wild west” approach to personal data protection, while a privacy campaigner said he warned in 2011 of the loopholes that have led to the current crisis. Sandy Parakilas, who worked in policy compliance and data protection for Facebook between 2011 and 2012, said the platform’s data policies “had very few ways of discovering abuse or enforcing on abuse when it was discovered”. “Facebook was allowing develop-

ers to access the data of people who hadn’t explicitly authorised that,” he told a parliamentary committee. “(It) was aware that this had happened and didn’t notify anyone, and then should have been aware that it was continuing to happen and then didn’t notify anyone.” Meanwhile Max Schrems, a ViennaBased activist who has brought online data protection cases before European courts, told AFP he complained to the Irish Data Protection Authority in 2011 about the controversial data harvesting methods. Schrems said that he also had a seven-hour meeting with Facebook representatives the following year to discuss concerns around apps operating in this fashion, but that they said they saw no problems with their policies. “They explicitly said that in their view, by using the platform you consent to a situation where other people can install an app and gather your data,” Schrems said.

Trump trade war biggest risk to world economy: German experts RANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany | AFP | Wednesday 3/21/2018 - US President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium risk escalating into a threat to the international trading system, a highlyregarded group of German economists said Wednesday.


“An escalation of the trade conflict would damage international value chains and in the medium term threaten the international rules-based trading system,” warned the German Council of Economic Experts -- known as the “Wise Men” although one member is a woman. The economists highlighted other dangers in a regular report, including a disorderly British departure from the European Union, a tricky Italian election outcome dominated by populists, “geopolitical risks” from war and conflict and a financial crisis triggering a sudden slowdown in the Chinese economy. But “frictionlessly functioning world trade is of central importance for the

continuation of the global upturn,” they said. That made the threat to trade from Washington the biggest factor in their judgement that “risks to economic development have recently increased.” Trump has ordered border taxes of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium, provoking promises of retaliation from partners like the European Union -- which Trump in turn vowed to meet with further levies of his own. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem and representatives from national capitals have rushed to Washington to try and turn the president aside from a transatlantic trade showdown. So far they have little to show for their efforts.

Other Trump policies met with a warmer response from the German economists, who noted that massive tax cuts and spending increases could “strengthen growth momentum in the US more than predicted” -- boosting the economies of Washington’s trading partners. For Germany, the experts upped their economic growth forecast for 2018 slightly, to 2.3 percent, while their first prediction for 2019 called for a slight slowdown, to 1.8 percent. Easy-money policy from the European Central Bank and planned government spending increases under Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fourth government are pushing Europe’s largest economy to grow at a faster pace than it can maintain for the long term, the economists said.

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FRIDAY, March 23, 2018



Zero Bond? “Having more women filmmakers is bringing a change” - Lara Dutta


Is there anything left for Daniel Craig to do as James Bond? His version of the character has already had a happy ending, but bringing on a filmmaker like Danny Boyle promises something wildly different for 007.


t’s been almost three years since James Bond graced movie screens. The last time he did, it seemed like a swansong, fittingly so, for Daniel Craig’s run as the character as Bond drove off into the sunset with recently introduced love interest Dr. Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux). It seemed this iteration of the worldfamous superspy finally had his happy ending, and Craig a well-deserved break. But with Oscar-winning filmmaker Danny Boyle publicly confirming he is circling the director’s chair for the yet untitled Bond 25, it seems the finality of Craig’s Bond isn’t so final. The biggest question facing the longrunning franchise is if there is anything left to do with this Bond, who has certainly been put through the ringer on multiple occasions. Over the course of four films, Craig’s Bond films fit relatively neatly together into a three, or three-and-a-half act structure. 2006’s Casino Royale served as the origin story, a Bond Begins of sorts. 2009’s Quantum of Solace, plagued by the 2007-2008 writer’s strike, followed as a long-winded epilogue to the prior film. 2012’s Skyfall fulfilled the task of encapsulating the character’s fifty-year history, while raising the stakes that allowed for the reintroduction of classic Bond concepts. And 2015’s Spectre tied all of the Craig films together, introduced the classic big bad Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), and delivered a conclusion that seemed to leave room for little more, barring a repetition of events before Craig’s time. Given the narrative arc of the 21st century Bond films, it’s surprising that Craig is interested in returning, particularly given these comments on Spectre’s press tour. What’s even more surprising is Boyle wanting to tackle the character this far along in his journey. While it’s no secret that Boyle is a fan of the character, even featuring Craig’s Bond in the opening of the 2012 London Olympics, he’s also repeatedly stated his disinterest in making bigbudget films and franchises. Over

the course of his career, Boyle hasn’t strayed from this sentiment, opting to always make films that feel like Danny Boyle films, regardless of critical reception of box office takes. Having a renegade like Boyle under employ promises the potential for something wildly different from Bond producers, Eon Productions. With Skyfall, Eon opted to do something it hadn’t done before, hire a prestige, big-name filmmaker in American Beauty’s Sam Mendes. Prior to that, the Bond films had largely maintained a consistency in crew and returning filmmakers, or drew from respected but relatively unknown European filmmakers. The change in course led to fans lobbying for names like Christopher Nolan and Denis Villeneuve to helm the franchise after Mendes’ Spectre. When a director shortlist circled around last year, along with the announcement that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who have co-written each of the Bond films since 1999’s The World is Not Enough, would be returning as screenwriters for Bond 25, it seemed the film would ultimately offer more of the same. Purvis and Wade have made major strides in the franchise, but they also tend to rely on the familiar and repeat plot beats. Bringing in Boyle — who his working on the story with his frequent collaborator John Hodge scripting it — suggests we may be looking at a very different Bond than we’ve come to expect when the film lands on Nov. 8 2019. Boyle’s films have always offered a profound intimacy, meditations on the experience of living and dying within narrow barometers of location. His characters feel mortal, and even when they step into the realm of the fantastic they always return to ordinary mundane issues. Now seems like the perfect time to destabilize the public perception of James Bond with a filmmaker willing to chart his own course, because whether or not it works, one thing is certain: James Bond will return. (-Hollywood Reporter)

rom winning the Miss Universe crown to navigating her way in Bollywood, coming up with a prenatal yoga series and now debuting on television, Lara Dutta Bhupathi has enjoyed various roles in showbiz. She says with increasing participation of women behind the cameras, there’s a change visible in the entertainment industry. “I think the whole scene is changing because of more participation of women, and so there are that much better-written parts that women are getting in films. I think the younger lot -- Alia Bhatt, Anushka Sharma, Deepika Padukone and Kangana Ranaut -- they are really lucky to be a part of Indian cinema at a time when more women filmmakers are telling stories that deserve to be told. This is only improving the image of our women in Indian cinema,” said Lara. She pointed out how since she produced the film Chalo Dilli, the number of female filmmakers has increased. “They are coming up with the right story and thankfully, studios are ready to invest money and taking female filmmakers seriously. On the other hand, actresses like Kangana and Anushka are also producing their own films. I think that is how we are getting more and more empowered,” she added. While some of the iconic filmmak-

ers like Mira Nair and Aparna Sen have represented Indian cinema on the global platform in the past, in the last few years names like Zoya Akhtar, Alankrita Shrivastava, Gauri Shinde and Konkona Sen Sharma have gone behind the camera for movies. Anushka has backed some offbeat films like NH10, Phillauri and the latest Pari under her home production, while Priyanka Chopra is producing a slew of regional films. And who can miss out Ekta Kapoor. Though heroines tend to get typecast in a mother’s role after a certain age, it is interesting how at 39, Lara gets to play a strong professional like her part as a lawyer in Azhar, and as an art gallery owner and curator in Fitoor. On this, she said, “I never made a strategy to choose a certain kind of role, but yes those are the kind of roles I am offered. Maybe, filmmakers believe that I can bring something more to such characters in a film. Honestly, I do not analyse them that much. I think that is why I have done a variety of roles from a lawyer to a village woman and a mad character in a comedy film like Singh Is Bliing.” Lara is making her debut on Indian

television with a dance reality show titled High Fever... Dance Ka Naya Tevar. On what sets the show apart, she said, “The fact is that in our country, there are many relationships in the family that maintain a certain distance all their life. Our society works that way. And I think to an extent the mainstream Indian television played it to the gallery. Therefore, there has always been a certain distance between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, or a relationship between brother-inlaw and sister-in-law. In our show, we are breaking the stereotypical equation of such relationships. Here, a brotherin-law is coming with his sister-in-law and saying what a friendly bond they share, through their dancing. This will create a huge impact among many people out there in the audience to come out and celebrate family bonds. This show will bring a new perspective to the traditional mindset of family relations.” According to her, that is the most interesting element about being a part of the show. The show, also featuring Ahmed Khan and Dana Alexa, an international dancer and choreographer as judge, is starting from Saturday on AndTV. (-HT)

Irrfan-starrer ‘Blackmail’ to release on April 6


UMBAI, Mar 17 (PTI) Irrfan Khan-starrer “Blackmail” will release as per schedule, the makers have announced after meeting the actor. Irrfan, 51, recently announced that he was fighting a rare disease in a Twitter post. Bhushan Kumar and Abhinay Deo met Irrfan, whose ill health had led to speculation about his upcoming projects. Accroding to the filmmakers, Irrfan told them to go ahead with the planned release of the film.

Irrfan Kahn

response to the trailer and songs of ‘Blackmail’ and was very keen that we released the film in the best possible way on April 6 as scheduled. We are all praying for him and I am confident that he will sit with us and watch the film on April 6.” “Our prayers are with Irrfan and his family. We are hopeful that he will recover from his illness. As per his wish, we will release Blackmail on April 6 in the best possible manner,” Kumar added.

Besides Irrfan, the film features Kirti Kulhari, Divya Dutta, Arunoday Singh, Omi Vaidya and Pradhuman Singh.

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Global biodiversity ‘crisis’ to be assessed at major summit by Mariette le Roux with Florence Panoussian in Bogota


Paradoxically, decades of conflict have preserved fragile habitats in nogo zones in the country, whose mountainous topography supports 311 different ecosystems.

Starting Saturday, a comprehensive, global appraisal of the damage, and what can be done to reverse it, will be conducted in Colombia.

But 1,200 Colombian species are listed as threatened, due partly to pollution and forest-destruction caused by illicit drug production. More than just a portrayal of doom and gloom, the latest assessments will include projections for future recovery or decline, and “suggestions for action,” IPBES executive secretary Anne Larigauderie told AFP.

“The science is clear: biodiversity is in crisis globally,” WWF director general Marco Lambertini told AFP ahead of a crucial meeting of the Intergovernmental SciencePolicy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

mit in Colombia’s second-largest city, Medellin.

“We depend on biodiversity for the food we eat, the water we drink, the clean air we breathe, the stability of weather patterns, and yet our actions are pushing nature’s ability to sustain us to the brink.”

First, on March 23, the IPBES will simultaneously release separate assessments for the four regions into which it has divided the world -- the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe and Central Asia.

Scientists and government envoys will gather as the 128-member IPBES to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on five monumental assessment reports designed to inform global policymaking into the future.

A fifth report, due March 26, will focus on the global state of soil, which is fast being degraded through pollution, forest-destruction, mining, and unsustainable farming methods that deplete its nutrients.

The diagnosis will be unveiled in two parts at the sum-

by Jonathan Shieber

Meeting host Colombia claims to boast the world’s largest variety of birds and orchids and is second only to Brazil in terms of overall species diversity.

The reason? Humanity’s voracious consumption, and wanton destruction, of the very gifts of nature that keep us alive.

Compiled over the last three years, the reports will provide the most up-to-date picture of the health of the world’s plants, animals and soil.

SpaceX is making big money moves

The end product covers the entire Earth apart from Antarctica and the open oceans -those waters beyond national jurisdiction.

ARIS, France | AFP - Earth is enduring a mass species extinction, scientists say -- the first since the demise of the dinosaurs and only the sixth in half-a-billion years.

- 600 volunteers Altogether, the evaluations took 600 volunteer scientists three years to complete, synthesising data extracted from about 10,000 scientific publications.

The expert panel, she explained, had compiled five assessment reports, each about 600-900 pages long. Each of these was then condensed into a 20-30 page “summary for policymakers”. These summaries must be officially adopted in Medellin before being sent to IPBES member states to guide policymaking in areas that affect biodiversity -- everything from transport and infrastructure to farming, water management and education. The reports are not prescriptive, but “we hope that this will help inform policy decisions to stem the loss of biodiversity and the fundamental services it provides us with,” chief scientist Tom Brooks of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature told AFP.

One big buyer of SpaceX shares is reportedly SpaceX chief executive and founder Elon Musk, who multiple sources have said is investing $100 million to buy up shares.

years ago, when the company’s shares were issued at around 5 cents and Elon Musk said it was struggling to get cash in the door, basically living weekto-week. Secondary offerings are controlled sales of existing shares held by early employees and investors who are looking to cash out of the company. It’s the only way to realize some value of shares before an initial public offering.

News of the initial fundraising effort was first reported by CNBC, which pegged the valuation of Musk’s space exploration venture at roughly $21.5 billion. That’s a huge jump from 15

Those contracts are in addi-

tion to private agreements that SpaceX has cut with a growing number of commercial space companies, whose activity has been boosted by significant cost reductions at every level of the supply chain. SpaceX and companies like Blue Origin, Virgin Orbit, Rocket Lab, Relativity Space and SpinLaunch are all vying to bring down the cost of launching payloads into space. And on the other side of the equation, satellite companies like Spire, Astranis, Akash Systems, OneWeb, Planet and a host of others are reducing costs for building equipment with monitoring and communications technologies for terrestrial applications from space. (-TechCrunch)

Stem cell eye treatment safe, restores some vision: Study


ARIS (AFP) - Two people with severe vision loss due to a degenerative eye disease are able to read after embryonic stem cell treatment, researchers said Monday (March 19). The pair suffer from “wet” age-related macular degeneration, which can blur vision or cause a blind spot when abnormal blood vessels leak fluids into the eye, causing damage to a layer of cells called the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE).

But a year after the procedure, both could read “with normal reading glasses, though slowly,” said a Nature press summary. Further research must be done before the procedure can be approved as a treatment, said the team. Extraordinarily versatile, embryonic stem cells can become any tissue of the body - an abil-

Akoto, who had never been outside of Ghana before, said he was invited to the Microsoft-sponsored meet after video of his jury-rigged lessons went viral.

SpaceX is closing on $500 million in new cash (Graphic: SpaceX)

Now, on the heels of a huge award from the US Air Force, SpaceX will have $290 million in contracts coming in, covering transportation for three global positioning system satellites into orbit by the end of 2020.

Before surgery, neither was able to read any more, the team reported in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

Richard Appiah Akoto, who drew coloured chalk diagrams to teach impoverished rural pupils how a PC works, rubbed shoulders with Silicon Valley hotshots in the glitzy Asian tech hub.

The scarring of the macular due to the wet age-related macular degeneration.PHOTO: ALEXANDRA HOSPITAL ity that has thrown up tantalising hopes of using them to replace limbs or organs lost to disease, accident, or war. But donated stem cells can provoke an immune response, be rejected by the body, or even cause cancer. Stem cell expert Dusko Ilic of King’s College London described the study findings as “encouraging”, and said they reduced safety concerns around stem cell-based therapies. “They represent another step forward in materialising our hopes of clinical implementation of hESC-based treatment of age-related macular degeneration in the not-so-distant future,” he said. The eye is thought to be a

promising site for stem cell transplants, as it is behind a shield called the blood-ocular barrier where there is a weaker immune response. Four years ago, researchers used embryonic stem cells to restore some vision in patients with a more common and less severe form of macular degeneration - the “dry” type. Other teams are testing socalled induced pluripotent stem cells - adult human cells that have been reprogrammed to a youthful, versatile state. These can be derived from the patient, making them less likely to be rejected, while also sidestepping ethical qualms about taking cells from embryos.

First lady convening tech companies to tackle cyberbullying Richard Appiah Akoto’s school did not have the resources to buy computers. So the teacher improvised and showed students using coloured chalk. His creative efforts went viral, earning him worldwide acclaim. When the students saw the computers for the first time, they were excited but they al-

As a teacher of information and communication technology (ICT) at a junior high school in the impoverished Sekyedomase farming village in Ghana, Akoto said he had to improvise because the school had no computer and his own laptop had broken down.

given a standing ovation, the 33-year-old said the donations meant he would never have to resort to a chalkb o a r d again. “I hope to get m o r e computers so that every student will be behind one,” he said Friday.

After pictures of the class were uploaded, the global response was immediate, with pledges of donations pouring in.

One donor from Britain donated a laptop, and a Ghanaian IT firm gave five desktops to the school and another laptop for Akoto.

Shares for the company are selling for somewhere between $160 and $170, according to our sources.

They then transplanted this “engineered tissue” into the eyes of two volunteers.


“People started calling me... I said what trouble have I created for myself. But it’s all good. At the end of the day, something good has come out from it,” he said.

Responding to clamoring demand from investors and their own desires to cash out (at least a little bit), existing shareholders in the company are creating several special purpose vehicles to sell shares on the secondary market — with our sources saying those secondary offerings could total an additional $500 million.

For the study, a BritishAmerican research team used human embryonic stem cells (hESC) to grow RPE cells on a thin plastic scaffold.

INGAPORE, Singapore | AFP - A Ghanaian schoolteacher who used chalkboard drawings to teach computer science because his farming village had no laptops found himself the star of a global conference in Singapore.

“Then I will just draw the mouse with the cord and I would say this is the mouse, this is the body and this is the tail of the mouse,” he said.


lanning a Mars mission, a global telecommunications network for inexpensive internet service and creating an interplanetary hedge against World War Three isn’t cheap, so it’s no wonder that SpaceX is closing on $500 million in new cash through a financing round led by Fidelity, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the round.

This damage to the retina kills light-sensing cells.

Chalkboard computer teacher is international conference star

Facebook users delighted in his intricately detailed computer screen -- replete with toolbar icons -- and his precisely decorated keyboard and mouse, which he drew for children who had never seen a computer before.

FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

“I also h o p e that the other surrounding schools who are also lacking like my school, we hope to get more so that we also give them (computers) to help in their teaching of ICT.”

Richard Appiah (R) with Vice President for Worldwide Education at Microsoft, Anthony Salcito (L) in Singapore ready knew the parts from his drawings, Akoto said. After a three-day conference in Singapore, at which he was

by Catherine Lucey And Ken Thomas


ASHINGTON, Mar 13, 2018, (AP) — First lady Melania Trump is bringing together tech giants to talk about ways to fight cyberbullying and promote internet safety, representatives of three companies said Tuesday. Among the companies expected to attend the March 20 meeting: Amazon, Snap, Facebook, Google and Twitter. The meeting was confirmed by Amazon and representatives of two companies speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the plans publicly. Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Trump, said in a statement that Mrs. Trump “has simply asked for a meeting to discuss one of the many things that impacts children — as she has done many times in the past, on several different topics.” The meeting, first reported by The Washington Post, would mark Mrs. Trump’s first public event on a subject she has previously expressed interest in. During the first year of her

US First Lady Melania Trump shakes hands with Jennifer Park Stout (L), Head of Global Public Policy at Snap, alongside Carlos Monje (R), Director of Twitter North America Public Policy and Philanthropy, as she holds a roundtable discussion on cyber safety with technology leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House. (Photo: Saul Loeb / AFP) husband’s administration, she played a low-key role. Her interest in children has been clear, with visits to schools and hospitals. In her first public remarks at the United Nations last year, Mrs. Trump called on world leaders to come together for the good of their children, saying: “We must remember that they are watching and lis-

tening, so we must never miss an opportunity to teach life’s many ethical lessons along the way.” During the presidential campaign, Melania Trump mentioned doing work to address bullying — a notable choice given the president-elect’s penchant for name-calling on social media.



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Pepperdine told U.S. News about the error. In response, U.S. News removed Pepperdine and said it was “unranked due to a reporting error by the school.” According to Caron, the school would have been ranked 62nd or 64th if U.S. News had recalculated the rankings with the corrected information.


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US News law school rankings are released; Pepperdine’s mistake costs it a ranking

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ale Law School kept its No. 1 ranking in a list of the top law schools for 2019 released Tuesday by U.S. News & World Report. The rankings for the top eight law schools remain unchanged from last year. Yale is followed by Stanford University, Harvard University, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, New York University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Two law schools in the top 20 to post the biggest gains are: the University of California at Berkeley, which jumped three spots to No. 9, and the University of Minnesota, which also climbed three spots to No. 20. Another school that posted a large gain was the University of California at Irvine, which jumped seven spots to No. 21. Above the Law has a list showing gains and losses here. Above the Law and are reporting on a controversial decision affecting this year’s rankings. Pepperdine Law School jumped from 72 to 59 in an embargoed version of the rankings, spurring the school to take another look at its numbers, Pepperdine law dean Paul Caron wrote at TaxProf Blog. The school determined it made an error. Its median LSAT score for all its students was 160, not 162 as initially reported to U.S.

8) University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 9) University of CaliforniaBerkeley (tie) 9) University of Virginia (tie) 11) Duke University (tie) 11) Northwestern University (tie)

U.S. News chief data strategist Bob Morse told that misreported data is handled on a case-by-case basis.

13) Cornell University

“It is worth noting that Pepperdine did complete the data verification process during the data collection for law schools, assuring U.S. News that its information was accurate,” Morse said. “We do rely on schools to accurately report their information, and we thank them for their cooperation and efforts in doing just that.”

15) University of Texas-Austin

Here are the schools that made the top 20 on the U.S. News list of 2019 best law schools: 1) Yale University 2) Stanford University 3) Harvard University 4) University of Chicago 5) Columbia University 6) New York University

14) Georgetown University

16) University of CaliforniaLos Angeles 17) Vanderbilt University 18) Washington University in St. Louis 19) University of Southern California 20) University of Minnesota U.S. News rankings are based on a weighted average of a dozen measures. They are assessments by legal academics, lawyers and judges; median LSAT and GRE scores; median undergraduate grade point averages; acceptance rate; bar pass rate; placement success; expenditures per student; student-faculty ratio; and library resources. SOURCE: ABA Journal

7) University of Pennsylvania

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Top bottled water brands contaminated with plastic particles: report by Kerry Sheridan

land and the United States.


IAMI | AFP | 3/15/2018 The world’s leading brands of bottled water are contaminated with tiny plastic particles that are likely seeping in during the packaging process, according to a major study across nine countries published Wednesday. “Widespread contamination” with plastic was found in the study, led by microplastic researcher Sherri Mason of the State University of New York at Fredonia, according to a summary released by Orb Media, a US-based non-profit media collective. Researchers tested 250 bottles of water in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Thai-

Plastic was identified in 93 percent of the samples, which included major name brands such as Aqua, Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Nestle Pure Life and San Pellegrino. The plastic debris included nylon, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polypropylene, which is used to make bottle caps. “In this study, 65 percent of the particles we found were actually fragments and not fibers,” Mason told AFP. “I think that most of the plastic that we are seeing is coming from the bottle itself. It is coming from the cap. It is coming from the industrial process of bottling the water.”

US warns travelers of deadly yellow fever in Brazil


IAMI | AFP | Friday 3/16/2018 - A deadly and growing yellow fever outbreak in Brazil has killed at least four international visitors, and US health officials on Friday warned travelers to get vaccinated or stay away. Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne disease that often causes no symptoms. Some people may experience fever and nausea, and in about 15 percent of cases the infection can turn severe and lead to jaundice and multiple organ failure. Since early 2017, the virus has been spreading in several of Brazil’s eastern states, “including areas where yellow fever was not traditionally considered to be a risk,” said the report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Affected areas include the states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo, including areas close to the city of Sao Paulo. “Be protected or don’t go,” said Marty Cetron, director of the CDC division of global migration and quarantine. He warned that the intensity of transmission was “highly unusual” and the risk to travelers is “somewhat unprecedented.” He urged potential travelers to be vigilant, even if they run into difficulties obtaining a vaccine due to low availability. “Because of the challenge of getting the vaccine we don’t want them to hesitate and think, ‘Oh I will just go without it. It can’t hurt, my friends

Particle concentration ranged from “zero to more than 10,000 likely plastic particles in a single bottle,” said the report. On average, plastic particles in the 100 micron (0.10 millimeter) size range -- considered “microplastics” -were found at an average rate of 10.4 plastic particles per liter. Even smaller particles were more common -- averaging about 325 per liter. Other brands that were found to contain plastic contaminated included Bisleri, Epura, Gerolsteiner, Minalba and Wahaha. Experts cautioned that the extent of the risk to human health posed by such contamination remains unclear. have gone before and nothing has happened,’” he told reporters on a conference call. The vaccine should be given 10 days before travel. A total of 10 international visitors from Europe and South America who were not vaccinated prior to traveling to Brazil have been infected with yellow fever already this year. Officials warned of a specific hotspot on Ilha Grande, a forested island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, where eight international visitors have contracted yellow fever. Four of them died -- a Swiss national, a German and two travelers from Chile. “This suggests Ilha Grande is an exceptionally hot spot for yellow fever virus transmission,” said Cetron. Brazil’s health officials have confirmed 920 cases of yellow fever, including more than 300 deaths since July 2017 far higher than the previous year which saw 196 deaths.

“There are connections to increases in certain kinds of cancer to lower sperm count to increases in conditions like ADHD and autism,” said Mason. “We know that they are connected to these synthetic chemicals in the environment and we know that plastics are providing kind of a means to get those chemicals into our bodies.” - Time to ditch plastic? Previous research by Orb Media has found plastic particles in tap water, too, but on a smaller scale. “Tap water, by and large, is much safer than bottled water,” said Mason. The three-month study used a technique developed by the University of East Anglia’s School of Chemistry to “see” microplastic particles by staining them using fluorescent Nile Red dye, which makes plastic fluorescent when irradiated with blue light. “We have been involved with independently reviewing the findings and methodology to ensure the study is robust and credible,” said lead researcher Andrew Mayes, from UEA’s School of Chemistry. “The results stack up.” However, representatives from the

bottled water industry took issue with the findings, saying they were not peer-reviewed and “not based on sound science,” according to a statement from the International Bottled Water Association. “A recent scientific study published in the peer-reviewed journal Water Research in February 2018 concluded that no statistically relevant amount of microplastic can be found in water in single-use plastic bottles,” it added. “There is no scientific consensus on the potential health impacts of microplastic particles. The data on the topic is limited and conclusions differ dramatically from one study to another.” Jacqueline Savitz, chief policy officer for North America at Oceana, a marine advocacy group that was not involved in the research, said the study provides more evidence that society must abandon the ubiquitous use of plastic water bottles. “We know plastics are building up in marine animals, and this means we too are being exposed, some of us every day,” she said. “It’s more urgent now than ever before to make plastic water bottles a thing of the past.”

House call 2.0: Women GPs bring remote care to rural Pakistan by Sajjad Tarakzai


HOSA MANSEHRA, Pakistan | AFP | Sunday 3/17/2018 - In a remote Pakistani village surrounded by lush green hills, Mohammad Fayyaz brings his two-year-old son to a clinic so that a female doctor sitting hundreds of kilometres away can examine him. Healthcare in rural Pakistan and the careers of women doctors are being revolutionised as internet access grows across the country, allowing people with limited mobility because of geography or culture to interact online. Previously, Fayyaz would have had to travel for hours from his village of Bhosa, in northern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, only to spend hours queuing at overcrowded clinics in cities like Abbottabad or Peshawar for medical help. Women doctors more than 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) to the south in the port of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, face their own challenges, with their careers often put on ice once they marry and become mothers in the conservative, patriarchal country. Now, a Karachi-based health tech startup, Sehat Kahani, has deployed Skype to solve both problems at once by bringing work to the doctors and medical advice to the villages. “My son took just one dose of medicine and he feels much better now,” Fayyaz told AFP after paying a nominal fee of 100 rupees (90 cents) to visit the Sehat Kahani clinic in his village and speak face-to-face via video conferencing to a doctor in Karachi.

A Pakistani resident carries his sick son as they arrive at an online treatment clinic in the remote Bhosa village of Mansehra district (AFP Photo/Aamir Qureshi) struggling healthcare sector. The country has one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates and just 0.5-0.8 percent of its GDP has been spent on the health sector in the past decade. “It is very helpful, particularly for female patients because it is close to all of us,” Fayyaz says. “That’s why I am here,” agrees Bibi Mehrunisa, one of the many women clustered in the clinic’s waiting room, some with children in tow. - Marriage vs career It’s also important for the women on the computer screens. At her Karachi home, doctor Benish Ehsan was multitasking, caring for her child as he sat on her lap, even as she began her online examination of a young patient in Bhosa. “Is he using the bathroom, has the vomiting stopped or not?” she asks through the computer screen, advising the worried mother to feed her child more fruit and vegetables.

Convenience is everything in a place where women must walk for miles to fetch water from a spring and power cuts can last up to 12 hours a day, the low hum of generators a constant backdrop to village life.

“He has lost some weight, so I am prescribing some medicines for that too,” she says.

The remote doctors offer a fresh solution to Pakistan’s

“It suits us, we don’t need to go outside and can continue our

Later, speaking to AFP, Ehsan says the programme is empowering for stay-at-home mothers who also happen to be doctors, like her.

practice even sitting at home,” she says. “We are enjoying our family life and can also take care of patients.” Raheel Tanvir, a Sehat Kahani representative at the clinic in Bhosa, says roughly 80 percent of women doctors quit the profession after they get married. “So the basic aim was to bring back those female doctors... They can continue their profession, can examine the patients while sitting at home and can also take care of their family,” says Tanvir. The Bhosa clinic opened last September and since then has seen hundreds of patients each month, demonstrating the need for the female doctors’ skills. “It’s a huge waste,” says Javed Akram, vice chancellor of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in Islamabad, lamenting how women end up using their medical degree “to get married”. “Men prefer to have doctors as wives rather than receptionists or hair stylists,” he explains. “They are not giving anything back to the country... Let them work.” - Helping remote areas remotely The clinic in Bhosa operates simply: a nurse examines the patient and sends all the information to the doctor, who then consults with the patient via Skype before making a diag-

Pakistani doctor Nadia Rasheed speaks during an interview with AFP via Skype at a governmentrun online treatment centre (AFP Photo/Aamir Qureshi) nosis. The local government is also tuning in to the trend, setting up an e-ilaj, or e-treatment, centre in a village called Bilahi, with plans to expand in other remote areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. At Bilahi, where women clad in traditional shawls await their turn at the clinic surrounded by rolling hills, a four-year-old named Zehwish Azeem is ex-

amined remotely by physician Nadia Rasheed in Islamabad. Rasheed said the government initiative works with a local internet provider to bring medical advice to some 15 villages with a population of more than 27,000 people in a rural area where doctors are few. Over the last five years, more than 50,000 patients have been treated in such clinics in the

Punjab, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces, and in a remote village in the Margalla Hills bordering Islamabad, said Rasheed. “This area is remote, people are poor and they had to travel a long time for treatment,” Mian Badar Jan, an official in the Bilahi clinic told AFP. “Now this system with modern facilities is helping them.”


Broken legs, sledges, wheelchairs at Paralympics repair shop


eing overweight or obese does pose a risk of heart disease, despite claims to the contrary, a study of nearly 300,000 British adults suggested Friday.


YEONGCHANG South Korea), AFP Turkish skier Mehmet Cekic thought his Winter Paralympic dreams had come to an early end when the foot of his prosthetic leg cracked during a practice run in Pyeongchang.

With 567 Paralympians in Pyeongchang competing in high-octane sports from sledge ice hockey to downhill skiing, damage to prosthetic limbs and specialist sports equipment is common. The centre run by German prosthetics giant Ottobock, which is filled with a huge array of equipment and manned by 23 technicians, seeks to ensure that mishaps don’t prevent athletes from competing. As well as fixing prosthetic limbs, the technicians based in a warehouse in the athletes’ village also patch up wheelchairs and repair gear such as para-ice hockey sledges and sit-skis, used by skiers with leg impairments. “Every repair is different,” Peter Franzel, a director at Ottobock and head of the workshop, told AFP. “It’s not like changing oil in a car, it’s really highly individual.” Athletes can drop in to the 300-square-metre (3,200-square-foot) centre during opening hours, from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm, and it also has a 24-hour emergency phone line. Most repairs take place on workbenches, where technicians tinker with sit-skis, wheelchairs, and artificial legs, while athletes chat and wait for work to be finished. The workshop is home to a mind-boggling array of equipment -- from welding machines to metal grinders and highpowered drills, and sewing machines for leather straps and wheelchair fabric. Ottobock shipped about 8,000 spare parts out for the Games, and can also order extras from its warehouse in Seoul if needed. They also have repair centres at several of the venues. - Trouser trouble The company, a major producer of prosthetics and wheelchairs, has offered repair services at every Paralympic Games since Seoul in 1988,

Study challenges ‘healthy but obese’ theory


by Sam Reeves

But a team of technicians quickly patched up the device, allowing him to compete, one of many athletes given vital help at a hi-tech Winter Paralympics workshop.

FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

While it is generally accepted that being overweight increases a person’s disease risk, some researchers have recently suggested that carrying extra weight does not actually boost death rates for some, particularly the elderly. when a handful of technicians armed with a tool box worked out of a small pavilion. At Pyeongchang the technicians come from nine countries, including Germany, the United States, Finland and Japan, meaning they can speak an array of languages and cater to the global line-up of athletes. Repair services are free for all athletes, although prosthetics is normally an expensive business. A specialised prosthetic leg for skiing can cost around $18,000. A high-quality prosthetic for everyday use -- which contains a microprocessor that continually monitors the leg’s movements -- can cost up to $60,000. The workshop has faced heavy demand in Pyeongchang. It has so far carried out over 340 repairs during the Paralympics, higher than the 260 it had expected for the entire Games. Franzel said 60 percent of repairs were on wheelchairs as they were the most common piece of equipment among

Paralympians. But the technicians try to accommodate every request, no matter how unusual. The first repair they carried out at the Games was on a broken pair of glasses, while several Japanese para-athletes found their trousers were too long -- so the workshop turned them up. For Cekic -- Turkey’s sole Winter Paralympian, who lost his left leg eight years ago in a motorcycle accident -- the service proved invaluable. The workshop did not initially have an artificial foot to replace the one he had broken. So they attached the foot from his everyday prosthesis on to his specialised sports limb, allowing him to compete in his first event. The workshop ordered a new foot, which arrived after two days and Cekic’s sports prosthesis was fully repaired. “It’s great for athletes to have a centre like this, we really need it,” said the 48-year-old.

A number have even suggested that being overweight may protect against disease, a claim dubbed the “obesity paradox.” But the latest study, published in the European Heart Journal, said there is no paradox. It looked at 296,535 people aged 40-69 who enrolled in an ongoing health study in the United Kingdom between 2006 and 2010. For the latest analysis, data on the participants -- all of “white European descent” -was available until 2015. All were healthy when they first enrolled. The researchers noted the participants’ Body Mass Index (BMI) -- a ratio of weight-toheight squared used to determine whether a person falls in a healthy weight range. They then tracked who went on to develop CVD -- which includes heart attack, stroke or high blood pressure. The World Health Organization considers someone with

For healthy people, maintaining a BMI of 22-23 kg/m2 appeared to minimise the risk of developing or dying from heart disease

a BMI of 25 kg/m2 as overweight, and 30 kg/m2 or higher as obese. The research team found that CVD risk increased beyond a BMI of 22-23 kg/m2. “Furthermore, the risk also increases steadily the more fat a person carries around their waist,” said a press statement summarising the findings. People with a BMI of 22-23 kg/m2 had the lowest CVD risk, the study found. “As BMI increased above 22kg/m2, the risk of CVD increased by 13 percent for every 5.2 kg/m2 increase in women and 4.3 kg/m2 in men.” The findings presented a direct challenge to the obesity paradox. “Any public misconception of a potential ‘protective’ ef-

fect of fat on heart and stroke risks should be challenged,” said study co-author Stamatina Iliodromiti from the University of Glasgow. It is possible that the effect would be different for people with pre-existing disease, the authors said. But for healthy people, maintaining a BMI of 22-23 kg/m2 appeared to minimise the risk of developing or dying from heart disease. “The less fat, especially around their abdomen, the lower the risk of future heart disease,” the authors concluded. An American study published by the journal JAMA Cardiology last month, similarly found that overweight and obesity were associated with “significantly increased risk for CVD”.

Hillary Clinton fractures hand in India


EW DELHI, India | AFP | Friday 3/16/2018 - Hillary Clinton has fractured her hand during a tour of India, reportedly slipping in a bathtub at a luxury hotel in a former palace. A doctor at the private Goyal Hospital told AFP Friday that Clinton had undergone screening after suffering pain in her right hand following a fall. The 70-year-old former presidential candidate was staying at Umaid Bhawan, the palace of the former royal family of Jodhpur in western Rajasthan state, now a spectacular heritage hotel. “We did a CT scan and X-ray and found a hairline fracture around the wrist area. She was

advised to take rest for few days and use a crepe bandage for support,” said the doctor on condition of anonymity. Local and international media quoted unnamed sources as saying Clinton had slipped in the bath in an accident that comes just five months after she broke her toe in London. She is in India to promote her book, “What Happened”, which tells the story of her losing the 2016 presidential elections to Donald Trump. A few days earlier, video footage emerged showing Clinton stumbling on the uneven stairway of a 13th century Indian monument while holding the arm of an aide for support.

A doctor at the private Goyal Hospital said Hillary Clinton had undergone screening after suffering pain in her right hand following a fall during a tour in India.

US moves to slash nicotine in cigarettes Healthcare in US costs 2x as much as other rich nations W ASHINGTON | AFP | 3/15/2018 - US regulators Thursday opened the door to slashing the amount of nicotine in cigarettes in order to make them less addictive, a move that could mean millions fewer smokers in the years to come.

The US Food and Drug Administration said it is seeking public input and will begin “to explore a product standard to lower nicotine in cigarettes to minimally or non-addictive levels.” Despite decades of antismoking campaigns, nearly half a million people die in the United States each year from cigarette smoking, which costs almost $300 billion a year in direct health care and lost productivity, the FDA said. “We’re taking a pivotal step today that could ultimately bring us closer to our vision of a world where combustible cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction -– making it harder for future generations to become addicted in the first place and allowing more currently addicted smokers to quit or switch to potentially less harmful products,” said FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb. A study released Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine projected that cutting nicotine to a non-addictive level could mean five million fewer smokers in the first year of implementation. Within five years, another


IAMI | AFP | Monday 3/19/2018 The United States spends almost twice as much on healthcare as other rich nations, largely because everything from drugs to devices to doctors’ pay simply costs more, researchers said Tuesday.

Despite decades of anti-smoking campaigns, nearly half a million people die in the United States each year from cigarette smoking, which costs almost $300 billion a year in direct health care and lost productivity, the FDA said

The study by researchers at Harvard University and the London School of Economics disputes the long-held belief that US costs are high because patients see doctors too often or otherwise abuse the healthcare system.

eight million fewer people would smoke, and by 2060, the smoking rate in the United States could drop to 1.4 percent, down from its present level of 15 percent, said the report.

“The reasons for these substantially higher costs have been misunderstood,” said senior author Ashish Jha, professor of global health at the T.H. Harvard Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University.

The number of lives saved could reach 8.5 million by century’s end, it said. Tobacco executives from Altria and R.J. Reynolds expressed interest in the FDA proposal and vowed to work closely with the agency on what is expected to be a process lasting several years. “Today’s advance notice is a request for information, not a proposed rule, and is the first step in a multi-year process that will require the agency to examine and resolve many complex issues,” said Murray Garnick, executive vice president and general counsel of Altria Group, Inc., which includes tobacco gi-

ant Philip Morris. “As FDA has acknowledged, any proposed nicotine standard would need to be part of a comprehensive package,” he added. “Altria has already been preparing for any reasonable potential standard, and we plan to participate in every step of this process.” The Campaign for TobaccoFree Kids called the FDA plan “bold” and urged the agency to act quickly and set a hard deadline. “This is truly a once-in-alifetime opportunity to greatly accelerate progress in reducing tobacco use – the nation’s No. 1 cause of preventable death -- and bring us closer to eliminating the death and disease it causes,” said the group’s president, Matthew Myers.

“These data suggest that many of the policy efforts in the US have not been truly evidence-based.” The study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) compared the US health system to 10 other high-income countries -- Britain, Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, Sweden, France, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Researchers used data from 2013-2016 on about 100 metrics that underpin healthcare spending, and confirmed what experts have long known -- that

the United States “has substantially higher spending, worse population health outcomes, and worse access to care than other wealthy countries.” The reason? Prices are higher for nearly everything in the United States. For example, administrative costs related to planning, regulating, and managing accounted for eight percent of total US healthcare costs, compared with a range of one to three percent for other countries. Per capita spending for pharmaceuticals was also higher in the US -- about $1,443 compared with a range of $466 to $939 in other nations. Common brand-name medicines were often double the price seen in other nations. Doctors’ pay was also much more, with the average salary for a general practice physician in the US at $218,173, compared to other countries where the range was $86,607$154,126. - Value of international comparisons Researchers also pointed out many myths regarding why US health care is so pricey. Despite beliefs to the contrary, “the US has lower rates of physician visits and days spent in the hospital than other nations,” said the report. Nor is the quality much lower

than in other countries. America has “the best outcomes for those who have heart attacks or strokes, but is below average for avoidable hospitalizations for patients with diabetes and asthma,” said the report. Fewer people in the United States are insured -- 90 percent, compared to other countries which ranged from 99-100 percent. But overall spending is far higher. The United States spent 17.8 percent of its gross domestic product in 2016 on healthcare. Australia spent 9.6 percent of GDP on healthcare and Switzerland spent 12.4 percent. Meanwhile, US life expectancy in the US was the lowest of all 11 countries in the study, at 78.8 years. Other countries’ life expectancy ranged from 80.7-83.9. “As the US continues to struggle with high healthcare spending, it is critical that we make progress on curtailing these costs,” said first author Irene Papanicolas, visiting assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard. “International comparisons are very valuable. They allow for reflection on national performance and serve to promote accountability.”


Wearable brain scanner is gamechanger for neural care


FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

Japan condom makers hope for 2020 Olympic lift by Harumi Ozawa

OKYO, Japan | AFP | Wednesday 3/21/2018 - Japanese condom makers are ramping up preparations ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, seeing a golden opportunity to showcase their world-record ultrathin products.


For years, hundreds of thousands of condoms have been distributed for free to competitors at Olympic Games in a bid to encourage safe sex among the world’s fittest athletes.

Credit: Wellcome Trust, YouTube. by Patrick Galey1 ARIS, France | AFP | 3/21/2018 - British scientists on Wednesday unveiled a next-generation wearable brain scanner that can be donned like a helmet and allows patients to move freely while being scanned, potentially revolutionising neural care for children and the elderly.


Researchers hailed the “transformative” imaging setup, which for the first time gave them access to brain activity while patients make natural movements, including nodding, stretching and even playing ping pong. “It gives us a new kind of brain scanner that allows us to study things we’ve never been able to study before and people who have never been able to be scanned in a neuro-imaging environment -- patients from groups like children for example,” said Professor Gareth Barnes from University College London, who worked on the project.

This makes it hard to scan patients who are unable to stay immobile for long periods, such as young children or those with movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease. The new scanner, developed by researchers from UCL and the University of Nottingham, does away with the need for cooling by using state-of-theart “quantum” brain sensors, which represent two giant leaps in scanning technology. “These can be mounted directly onto the scalp surface so we can bring them into much closer proximity to the brain and that increases the amount of signal that we get,” said Matthew Brookes, associate professor at the University of Nottingham. “They’re also very light, which means we can put them on the scalp surface and the subjects can move their head around whilst they are being scanned.” - ‘Earlier treatment, earlier diagnosis’ -

Current magnetoencephalography (MEG) scanners use sensors to measure the brain’s magnetic field that need to be kept extremely cold -- minus 269 Celsius, or close to absolute zero -- requiring bulky cooling technology.

In a paper published in the journal Nature, scientists from the two universities showed patients performing a range of physical movements while the scanner helmet took images of their brain’s magnetic field.

They typically weigh around half a tonne (1100 pounds) and patients must remain perfectly still to not disrupt the brain images produced.

They were able to measure vast differences in electrical activity in certain areas of the brain depending on the activity performed -- be that playing table tennis or sipping a cup of

tea. “We can get a full image of what the magnetic field looks like outside the brain,” said Brookes, allowing researchers to see which areas of the brain fire up as patients do different tasks. In order to gain a clear view of the brain’s electrical signals, the team first had to develop a system of electromagnetic coils that cancelled out the Earth’s natural magnetic field around the patient. The new technology -- which is highly customisable and can fit over children’s heads as well as adults’ -- could revolutionise the way doctors and surgeons treat patients suffering from neurological disorders. “We think these sensors will help the surgeons better target where they operate and speed up the process,” Barnes said. The technology would also render some surgeries unneccessary, and allow for earlier treatments and earlier diagnosis, he added. The team are already working on even more customisable, bike-helmet style scanners that they predict could provide brain images four times more accurate than today in adults and 20 times clearer in children. “This technology has transformative potential across a range of neuroscientific and clinical applications,” it said.

Read HEALTHLINE Online Log on to

Brosnan says Indian company ‘cheated’ him over mouth freshener ads

The tradition provides prophylactic producers with a potentially unrivalled marketing opportunity. In Japan, condom makers are hoping the Olympics will be a chance to introduce customers to what they consider their gold-medal innovation: the ultra-thin 0.01mm condom. In addition to its barely there construction, the condoms are made of polyurethane, a material suitable for people allergic to the latex that is standard for many condoms. “It’s only Japanese companies that now manufacture condoms as thin as 0.010.02mm,” said Hiroshi Yamashita, senior manager and spokesman at Sagami Rubber Industries, a leading Japanese condom maker. “We see (the Tokyo Games) as an extremely precious opportunity to let the world know about Japan’s high-technology.”

At this year’s Pyeongchang Games, organisers handed out a record 110,000 free condoms, and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee told AFP they had no plans to break with the tradition. (Photo: AFP/Behrouz Mehri). their fortunes, Sagami developed the 0.01mm condom, which hit the local market in 2013, and sales have perked up since, according to Japanese industrial body Condom Kogyokai. It says Japanese companies produced around 417 million condoms in 2016, the last year for which it has figures. “Condoms are an effective means to help people protect themselves from contracting sexually transmitted diseases, and the thinner they are, the more men tend to use them,” said Tomonori Hayashi, marketing manager at Okamoto, which put its own 0.01mm condom on the market in 2015. “We expect that our products will be highly valued at the (Tokyo) Olympics,” he told AFP.

says. They haven’t tested an upper limit beyond that. - Dreaming of Olympic gold At this year’s Pyeongchang Games, organisers handed out a record 110,000 free condoms, and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee told AFP they had no plans to break with the tradition. “We are planning to provide condoms as one of the amenity items at the athlete’s village, although how many and which brands has yet to be decided,” a committee official said on condition of anonymity. Sagami has been dreaming for years of having its products distributed to Olympians in 2020. “When Tokyo was selected to host the 2020 Olympics, condom distribution at the athlete village immediately came to our minds,” Yamashita said.

Condoms have long been Japan’s most popular contraceptive method, with birth control pills not even available on the local market until 1999.

Japan’s 0.01mm condoms were developed in part by Chiaki Yamanaka, an assistant manager at Sagami who is known to colleagues as “Mr Condom,” a moniker he laughs off.

But Japan’s condom makers currently lag behind rivals internationally, with Britain’s Durex and US firm Trojan the world’s top dogs.

“We had lots of debate in the company about whether there would even be demand for 0.01mm condoms when we already had 0.02 mm products on the market,” he told AFP.

Japanese producer Okamoto Industries is tied for third place with a condom unit formerly owned by Australia’s Ansell, while Sagami comes next, according to Yamashita.

“But they have proved to be popular with customers,” he added, pinching at a virtually invisible condom covering a glass cylinder at a testing facility.

In Tokyo’s quirky Harajuku district, Koji Negishi looked on proudly as customers browsed through the wide range of condoms available at his boutique, Condomania.

Sagami manufactures its polyurethane condoms in Malaysia but conducts six different tests for product quality.

His stock features everything from imported flavoured and textured varieties, to Japan’s homegrown ultra-thin rubbers.

- 100,000 thrusts Sagami has been in business since 1934, when its founder Saku Matsukawa started it to help fellow Japanese women prevent unwanted pregnancies at a time when poverty and food shortages haunted the country. But after decades of popularity, sales in Japan began to drop in the 2000s, partly due to an ageing population and a rising number of young people staying single. Looking for ways to revive

At a facility near Tokyo, workers in white masks and jackets test the endurance of products by filling them with air and water until they burst. Nearby, a machine testing resistance to friction produces a low, deeply unromantic, rhythmic hum. Condoms must be able to resist the friction of at least 100,000 thrusts, the company

“The company worked hard to get the 0.01mm products to market well before the Tokyo Olympics.” And with high hopes for an Olympic bonanza, it is ramping up production and opening a new factory in Malaysia to meet growing demand.

He has no doubt that foreign visitors attending the Olympics will fall for Japan’s premium condoms. “Condoms thinner than those overseas are very popular,” he told AFP. “Many visitors from abroad come here and buy (Japanese) products because they are thin and high-quality.”


EW DELHI, India | AFP | 007 star Pierce Brosnan has told Indian authorities he was “cheated” by a company that employed him to promote its mouth freshener brand, officials said Friday.

Read up on what’s changing in the Health world

Brosnan first appeared in the adverts on TV channels, newspapers and billboards in 2016 for Pan Bahar, a mixture of spices and areca nut -- a known carcinogen linked to oral cancer. The James Bond-style TV ad, which sparked ridicule on social media, showed a bearded Brosnan fighting villains and flirting with beautiful women before revealing a can of Pan Bahar. The ad also prompted health authorities in Delhi to send a notice to the 64-year-old Irish actor, asking him to explain his appearance in the commercial. In his reply, Brosnan said his contract with the company was over and he would not endorse “any harmful product” in future, senior health department official S.K Arora told AFP on Friday. “Mr Brosnan has said that he has been cheated by the company as they had not disclosed the hazardous nature of the product,” Arora said. The makers of Pan Bahar insist their product does not contain nicotine, but many other

Pierce Brosnan says he was ‘cheated’ into advertising Pan Bahar, an Indian mouth wash linked to pan masala, a type of chewing tobacco which is banned in several states

pan masala mixtures in India contain tobacco along with pastes, areca nut and spices. In India, alcohol and tobacco brands are not allowed to advertise, so marketing firms often use surrogate products for promotion. “The advertisement also violates Indian laws on surrogate advertisement,” said Arora, adding that the areca nuts used in Pan Bahar were scientifically proven to cause cancer.

An official of Ashok and Company, which manufactures Pan Bahar as well as tobacco products, refused to comment immediately. Arora said Brosnan had promised to assist Indian authorities “to stop such kind of campaigns for hazardous products”. Authorities said they would review Brosnan’s reply before deciding on what action, if any, to take.

Voice of Asia brings you the latest in medicine, medical technology, nutrition, pharmacy, and other health related articles. Also visit



FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

Picasso painting star of Rockefeller art ‘sale of the century’ The entire proceeds of the sale will go to charitable causes including Harvard University and conservation groups in the state of Maine, where the Rockefeller family had summer homes.

Picasso’s “Young Girl With a Flower Basket” was once owned by his friend Gertrude Stein (Photo: AFP / Jean-François Guyot) by Jean-François Guyot


ARIS, France | AFP | Wednesday 3/14/2018 - One of Picasso’s most unsettling paintings returns to Paris on Friday more than a century after he painted it here, as a taster for what is being billed the art “sale of the century”. With the art market surging, the nude “Young Girl With a Flower Basket” is expected to make at least $100 million (81 million euros) when it goes under the hammer in New York in May along with works by Monet, Renoir and Gauguin from the private collection of US billionaires Peggy and David Rockefeller. Auction house Christie’s expects the sale of the 1,600 works of art amassed by the couple to top $600 million -- easily beating the world record set in Paris in 2009 when the collection put together by the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his

partner Pierre Berge made $484 million. They include one of Monet’s waterlily paintings as a well as one of his famously smoky views of St Lazare station in Paris and three Miro murals which are expected to fetch $25 million. “It’s a really historic moment, the biggest private collection ever put up for auction,” Christie’s French head Francois de Ricqles told AFP. It not only represents the works collected by “a couple of great taste”, he said, “but with the addition of the items they inherited reflects the passion of generations of the Rockefeller family for art.” David Rockefeller, the former head of Chase Manhattan Bank, died last year aged 101, two decades after his wife. - Canvas never left their home -

The Picasso, a masterpiece from his pink period in 1905, is one of 10 works being shown by Sotheby’s in the French capital in the runup to the sale.

Once owned by Picasso’s friend, the American poet and novelist Gertrude Stein, it has not been shown in Paris in more than 50 years. Stein initially was troubled by the side-on view and the girl’s “repulsive” feet, but her husband Leo loved it. When they split up, however, she kept the painting for herself, leaving him their Cezannes. The Rockefellers were equally attached to it, not allowing it to leave their home on 65th Street in New York after they bought it in 1968. Selected works from the collection are being displayed around the world leading up to the sale. The Paris show also includes Georges Seurat’s picture of sailing boats, “La Rade de Grandcamp”, which is expected to make up to $30 million and Eugene Delacroix’s “Tiger Playing with a Tortoise” (1862), which has an estimate of $7 million.

Celebrating Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita, a Jazz Age art icon, and dandy, in Paris

Fazl Mosque

London mosques get listed status celebrating Muslim heritage


ONDON, UK | AFP | Tuesday 3/13/2018 - 0 Two London mosques were given special listed status Tuesday in recognition of their architectural and historic importance, in a move a government minister said celebrated “the rich heritage of Muslim communities in England”. The London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre in Regent’s Park, central London, and the Fazl Mosque in the southwest of the British capital were both listed as Grade II buildings by the government’s culture department. The special Grade II status is awarded to just 5.8 percent of approximately 500,000 listed buildings in England, marking them out as particularly important sites and giving them greater protection. “By listing these beautiful mosques, we are not only preserving important places of worship, but also celebrating the rich heritage of Muslim communi-

ties in England,” said Heritage Minister Michael Ellis. A fund to establish a central London mosque was set up in 1910, but the Regent’s Park location was only secured in the 1940s and building work was finally completed in 1977. The Fazl Mosque in the Southfields area is the headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and was London’s first purpose-built mosque when it opened in 1926. Although there are around 1,500 mosques in Britain, fewer than 20 percent are purpose-built according to Heritage England, which compiles the listings. The country’s first purpose-built mosque opened in Woking, a town south-west of London, in 1889. The Shah Jahan Mosque was upgraded on Tuesday to Grade I status, a ranking shared with sites such as royal residence Buckingham Palace.

Green was the color as Irish all over the world celebrated St. Patrick’s Day

by Hamish Bowles


ith his bluntly chopped pudding-bowl haircut, thumb-size moustache, horn-rimmed, round-eyed glasses, and small hoop earrings, the expatriate Japanese artist Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita was a dandified icon of Jazz Age Paris. His Warholian talent for iconic self-imagery was an essential element of his self-promotion. Foujita’s biographer, Phyllis Birnbaum (Glory in a Line, 2006) describes “an ego as big as a château,” and in 1936 the artist proclaimed, “I take pride in believing I am the world’s numberone artist”.

St Patrick’s day is celebrated across the world, especially in America where lots of Irish people moved to for work. (Photos: Getty Images)


The delightful exhibition “Foujita: Painter in the Roaring Twenties” (through July 15) at the Musée Maillol in Paris brings together examples of the artist’s work from the intimate to the epic, with pieces by his School of Paris contemporaries and friends— among them Moïse Kisling and Ossip Zadkine—and evocative home movie footage. Curated by Sylvie Buisson, Anne Le Diberder, and the Fondation Foujita’s director, Carole Boivineau, and installed by designer Hubert Le Gall, the exhibition evokes the whimsy and charm of this idiosyncratic artist. Foujita was the son of a general in the Japanese Imperial Army. He studied at Tokyo’s School of Fine Arts and spent a decade preparing a trip to the artistic mecca of Paris, where he finally arrived in 1913. Here he soon abandoned his Japanese wife, Tokita Tomiko, and married Fernande Barrey, a liberated artist and artist’s model through whom he befriended Soutine and Modigliani. (“Unfortunately, I am a man,” he once declared, but although he enjoyed an intimate friendship with his fellow artist Kawahima Richiro, he appears to have been an ardent lady-killer, and he married numerous times.) Foujita was soon a well connected

illions of people around the world celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day on the 17th of March, every year. It is a celebration of Irish history and culture, and is a national holiday in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Once he was free again, he became a priest, and went back to Ireland to convert thousands of people to Christianity. - The celebration Saint Patrick’s Day started as a religious feast to celebrate Saint Patrick’s

Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita, Kikoku (Courtesy of Musée Maillol) member of the avant-garde Montmartre and Montparnasse artistic set, which revolved around such institutions as the newly opened brasserie La Coupole—his circle included Josephine Baker and the actress Suzy Solidor, whom he portrayed in all her svelte garçonne glamour. Foujita, however, developed a unique style that utilized elegantly formalized

draftsmanship drawn from Japanese and Indo-Persian aesthetics, enlivened with a spirit of decorative Art Deco glamour—and it proved immensely commercially successful. By then he was celebrated for his intimate studies of women, his passion for cats (he even painted them on fans), his glamorous and lucrative portraits of stylish trendsetters and art patrons, and his monumental allegorical panels commissioned in 1928 for the Japan House in the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (and assembled in their silvery magnificence for the exhibition). Foujita designed and made clothes (wooing Barrey with a blue blouse that he stayed up all night to make for her), and collaborated with the modish furniture designers André Groult (couturier Paul Poiret’s brother-in-law) and Jules Leleu on trompe l’oeil marquetry designs for their furnishings.

Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita, Combat I, détail (Courtesy of Musée Maillol)

In the 1930s Foujita traveled in Latin America and, exiled from France at the outbreak of the Second World War, along with most of the Japanese artists, he returned to Tokyo, where he was appointed an official war artist, lacing his legacy with controversy. Rehabilitated after the war, he moved to the United States but soon returned to France, where he and his last wife, Kimyo Horiuchi, converted to Catholicism and he devoted his final years to the elaborate decorations of the Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Paix in Rheims. (-Vogue)

And it wasn’t just the White House fountain that went green, check out the Chicago River! The river is dyed green every year to celebrate Saint Patrick’s day, don’t worry about the fish though, the dye is totally environmentally friendly! They might have trouble seeing where they are going though - Who was Saint Patrick? Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland and is celebrated for bringing Christianity to the country. He is thought to have grown up in Britain, during Roman times, but was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave.

work, but it’s grown to be an international festival of all things Irish. People take part in parades and dancing, eat Irish food, and enjoy firework displays.The day is also famous for people wearing shamrocks, dressing up as bearded Irish fairies called leprechauns, and wearing all green.

Kate Middleton went and celebrated with the Irish Guards as part of St. Paddys day. And look at this fine Irish Wolf Hound she got to meet! Kate gave him a bundle of ‘Shamrocks’, we’re pretty sure the large dog is happier about it than he looks!

Young Life


Babies think logically before they can talk A new study shows language is not a prerequisite for some basic reasoning By Bret Stetka


ymbolic communication in the form of language underlies our unique ability to reason—or so the conventional wisdom holds. A new study published today in Science, though, suggests our capacity to reason logically may not actually depend on language, at least not fully. The findings show babies still too young to speak can reason and make rational deductions.

is called a disjunctive syllogism: A or B; not if A, therefore B. (A syllogism is a conclusion derived from two distinct premises. As part of their study, Cesana-Arlotti and his colleagues also reported infants’ pupils dilated when watching animations featuring illogical outcomes. This is known to occur in adults tasked with logic problems and provides more evidence babies are aware of the way things “should”

This young entrepreneur shares the 3-step strategy she uses to banish self-doubt by Nina Zipkin


hen Sabena Suri, then 24 years old, couldn’t visit a friend who had been hospitalized, Suri and two other friends assembled a get-well care package complete with cozy socks, a notebook, tea and a mug and her favorite book. The act inspired the idea for BOXFOX, a platform that provides customers with the tools to build unique and personalized gifts. Three years after the women quit their jobs to run the business full time, BOXFOX’s services now include hand-selected gifts for everything from baby showers to weddings. The service ships across the world. The now 28-year-old COO shared that she and her co-founders have been able to triple consumer sales every year since its launch, and are on track to hit $6.6 million in revenue by the end of 2018. One in four people who use BOXFOX are repeat customers, according to the company, and it has corporate accounts with big name brands including Airbnb, Drybar, Fandango and Southwest Airlines. Its team has grown to 12, with five more new hires joining in the coming months.

The authors—a team hailing from several European institutions—studied infants aged 12 and 19 months, when language learning and speech production has just begun but before complex mastery has been achieved. The children had to inspect distinct objects repeatedly—such as a dinosaur and a flower. The items were initially hidden behind a black wall. In one set of experiments the animation would show a cup scooping up the dinosaur. Half of the time, the barrier would then be removed to reveal, as expected, the remaining flower. In the rest of the instances, though, the wall would disappear and a second dinosaur would be there The children deduced in these latter occurrences that something was not quite right, even though they were unable to articulate in words what was wrong. Eye-tracking—a commonly used technique to gauge mental abilities in preverbal children and apes— showed infants stared significantly longer at scenes where the unexpected object appeared behind the barrier, suggesting they were confused by the reveal. “Our results indicate that the acquisition of logical vocabulary might not be the source of the most fundamental logical building blocks in the mind,” says lead study author Nicoló Cesana-Arlotti, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department Psychological and Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. A major component of human logic, he notes, relates to thinking about alternative possibilities and eliminating inconsistent ones: Does the dinosaur sit behind the barrier or does the flower? In a formal logic this

be. “Their approach of using multiple trial types is very strong,” says Johns Hopkins psychologist and reason researcher Justin Halberda, who was not involved in the study but wrote an accompanying analysis in Science about the new paper. “I think many people would say that most of their reasoning happens when they are silently talking to themselves in their heads. What this new study reveals is that preverbal infants are also working through this same type of serial reasoning, and doing so before robust language abilities have been mastered.” Cesana-Arlotti acknowledges his findings do not negate the importance of language and symbolic communication to human brain development, and to our evolutionary backstory. Yet the new research suggests that perhaps it is not entirely necessary to shape the brain’s logical reasoning capacities. He plans further work studying how preverbal logic might still differ from reasoning abilities that emerge once language comes along, as language may open additional reasoning abilities unavailable to the speechless brain. He also hopes to explore more deeply the mental development of young children. “Our research aims to investigate the earliest foundations of our ability to reason logically,” he says, “a major basis for learning, creativity and flexibility in the human mind.” “To our knowledge, nobody has ever directly documented logical reasoning in 12-month-old infants before,” he adds. “The exploration of the initial state of logic in the mind is a very exciting enterprise.” (-SciAmerican)

More than figuring out how to craft the perfect gift and giving herself a crash course on the ins and outs of international shipping, Suri says that one of the most rewarding elements of growing this business has been connecting with other women with similar goals. “As young female entrepreneurs, we started a company in a world where both of those qualities [can be] perceived as two strikes against us,” Suri tells Entrepreneur. “It took [finding] a lot of strength within myself and my two co-founders to know our worth and the value that being young and female actually brought to the table. By building this company [we hope that] we are starting to pave the way for other young women as well.” Suri shared her insights about how to bolster your confidence and write your own rule book. Q: Can you tell me about a time that you needed to create an opportunity for yourself or others? When we first started BOXFOX, a lot of times it felt like [people thought] we were creating this concept because

by Stacy Childress


uturists. Governors. Market analysts. Every week brings a new forecast or report from folks like these with predictions and prescriptions for the future of work. I recently flagged the topic as one of the three biggest innovation questions for 2018 in a piece here on Forbes. com.


OGOTA, Colombia | AFP | Friday 3/16/2018 - Gifted children at the Stephen Hawking school in Colombia’s capital Bogota have been paying a special tribute to the astrophysicist whose life inspired them to study science.

The school named after Hawking was founded in 1995 by a group of teachers committed to helping children with low resources but high IQs.

Catalina Sanchez, another adolescent moved by Hawking’s death, said students at the school consult short films, plays and books by or about the scientist on a daily basis. Every year, the pupils at the school mark the British astrophysicist’s birthday on January 8 with a science festival, but they want to go further. “We want to be his spokespersons,” said Sanchez, adding that they would visit other secondary schools to help children understand that Hawking “helped us to learn more about the universe.”

we were women. Gifting is [sometimes seen] as this cutesy concept. But we knew that this company was bringing an important service to people’s lives. We knew that it wasn’t just a cute concept -- it was scalable. Maintaining the vision of why we were starting this and understanding that people might have wanted to put us in a certain category or think about us as a certain type of entrepreneur, we knew that we were going to have to fight against that and prove that that wasn’t the case. This was much more important and much bigger of an opportunity than just starting a cute little company. Q: What was at stake for you? Did this experience change how you think about leadership? For any entrepreneur building a business, what’s at stake as a leader is failure. That can be defined as not living up to the potential that you’ve identified for your company and what you dream that it will become. As young female entrepreneurs, those stakes feel even higher. We want this business to succeed from a financial standpoint. We all quit our fulltime jobs to pursue this. I believe so strongly in the concept. But we also feel we’ve got a lot more to prove. The success of this business will hopefully inspire other women to follow in our footsteps and go after what they really want. In terms of how this has changed how I think about leadership, it really gives me a purpose that feels greater than the granularity of the everyday life of being a business owner. One thing I do is really empower our employees to give me feedback constant-

As philanthropic investors, my team at New Schools is always curious about ways to expand opportunity and outcomes for young people in the United States. Our process of discovery usually begins with more questions than answers. And right now, we’re asking a lot of questions about the future of work. Like nearly everyone else, we’ve heard all the hopeful predictions and dire statistics about economic shifts that await the next generation of Americans. To better understand how to prepare young people for such an uncertain future, we decided to hear directly from those who will be most impacted by the changes: today’s students. Through a mix of focus groups and surveys, we heard from nearly 300 public high school students who gave us insights into their aspirations and fears. Full of optimism, they are hoping to fulfill their most ambitious dreams and plans after school.

Students have covered walls of the school with drawings, photographs and cards in memory of the wheelchair-bound Hawking, who died Wednesday aged 76.

“Hawking couldn’t move but his incapacity didn’t deter him, and he was one of the people who knew most about space without having been there,” 16-year-old Juan Esteban Lopez, a pupil, told AFP.

Photo courtes Sabena Suri

Students and teachers at Stephen Hawking school in Bogota, pay homage to the British scientist, following the announcement of his death, aged 76, March 15, 2018. — AFP pic Hawking defied predictions that he would only live for a few years after developing a form of motor neurone disease in his early 20s.

Propelled to stardom by his 1988 book “A Brief History of Time,” Hawking’s genius and wit won over fans from far beyond astrophysics.

‘Be brave!’ Pope tells participants at Vatican youth gathering


OME - Pope Francis greeted the hundreds of young people gathered in Rome for the presynodal meeting for the bishop’s general assembly in October on youth by asking them “to speak bravely” and inject a dose of creativity to a Church “in need of young prophets.”

ly and ask for what they need from me. I want to always help give them the resources that are going to help them do better in their jobs. Q: People who want to advocate for themselves don’t know always know how. What are actionable steps they can take to make themselves heard? What steps do you take? The first one is information gathering. There’s so many resources to connect with people who might be in your exact same situation, whether that is a network [of people] or books or blogs or podcasts. In your moments of self-doubt and being unsure, having those resources can really help. Having strong mentors, especially other female entrepreneurs, helps me feel like I’m not alone. When I’m having a moment when I wonder if I’m good enough and how to advocate for myself, I write down all the things and accomplishments that I’ve brought to the table. Putting pen to paper and saying here’s how I contribute every single day and here’s what I’ve brought to this company or this job or this situation. This is how you can build up this unwavering confidence that’s going to drive you forward and allow you to stay strong when you know you’re going to be facing something super difficult. When you’re marching into your boss’s office to ask for a raise or to an investor to ask funding or a manufacturer to get better pricing, you really just have to not take “no” for an answer. With those three steps you’ve equipped yourself with information and your own self-confidence and that feels like a really good combination. I find that never really fails. (-Entreprenuer)

Interested in the future of work? Listen to young people

Gifted Colombia kids pay tribute to hero Hawking

Dora Pardo, who runs the school, said several past pupils have gone on to study physics and mathematics at university.

FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

The meeting - themed “We talk together” - welcomed youth from every part of the world and from many different cultural and religious realities. They were selected from dioceses, seminaries, associations and movements, schools and universities and from many walks of life, including arts, sciences, politics, sport, volunteering

Yet, when asked whether they believed their education had adequately prepared them for the shifting landscape in the future of the American workplace, only about 50 percent told us they felt adequately prepared. One of the students summed it up by saying, “Today’s education is focused on teaching specific skills, not the ability to learn new ones. While I think I will probably be able to adapt, that is not due to my education.” Here are some other key points we heard from them: • Nearly 55 percent of students took

and young people with disabilities. The document that will emerge from the weeklong gathering March 19- 24 will be presented at the Synod of Bishops themed “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” “Speak bravely!” the pope told the crowded auditorium of the Pontifical Maria Mater Ecclesiae College not very far from the Vatican. “Here, we leave shyness at the door,” he added, also encouraging those present to “listen with humility.”

at least one career and technical course (CTE), with the three most popular areas being Media and Entertainment, Technology, and Business. • 67 percent said their CTE courses were a helpful part of their college and career planning. • One quarter of students indicated they did not use college and career planning resources at school, and only 47 percent of this group had a clear idea of their career interests. For the three quarters who used such resources, 73 percent had a clear idea of their career interests. • 92 percent of students used technology for researching college options, and 77 percent did so for career options. • Students almost unanimously (98 percent) think using technology is valuable for college and career planning. The perspectives of these young people are instructive, not just because they will join the workforce soon, but because they also give us an important window into what they believe we can do better to prepare the students who are coming behind them. After all, today’s kindergarteners will graduate from high school in 2030 – the year when McKinsey Global Institute and Institute for the Future predict massive changes to the very nature of work and opportunity. (-Forbes)

Francis said that many times in the history of the Church and in the Bible, God has chosen to speak though youth, and said that in these days he will also speak though the diverse group of young individuals present at the presynod. “Too often people speak of youth without consulting you,” the pope said. “Some believe that it would be easier to keep you at ‘a safe distance,’ so as not to be provoked by you. It’s not enough to exchange a few little messages. Young people must be taken seriously!” (-AP)







FRIDAY, March 23, 2018


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Make some plans this morning, while you’ve got the knack for finding fun things to do and bringing together great people. By this afternoon, you need to be low-key when it comes to your love life.

21 April to 20 May If your partner totally misinterprets something you said, try not to fly off the handle. And if he or she flies off the handle at you, point out that your meaning was something different than what was heard.

21 May to 20 June Opposites most certainly do attract -- or it could be you’re simply interested in finding out what makes that person who’s so different from you tick. Keep things friendly for the time being, for their sake.

21 June to 22 July An unexpected drama pops up in your relationship, but in the process, a long-standing issue gets resolved. Just keep in mind that you’re both a player and a part of the audience.

23 July to 22 August You might find yourself bumping egos with someone today -- do they really think they’re as fired up as you? If there’s an attraction beneath all this, sparks may fly. Just don’t let yourself lose your cool!

23 August to 22 Sept There’s a lot more going on than you can see, but you’re smart enough to put it all together if you spend some time pondering. A friend provides a big clue late in the day, so watch for it.

to your service and product listing. Call 713-774-5140


RESTAURANTS India’s Restaurant & Catering

For special parties and corporate events. Preferred Wine list, authentic vegetarian & nonvegetarian dishes, finest Indian cuisine with chef’s special dishes Ph: 713-266-0131/0805

We cater from 10 people to 800 people for all occasions. We deliver to your venue.

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281.955.9878 216.338.3940 (cell)

Shiva Indian Restaurant & Catering Specializing in North Indian Cuisine, office & Corporate catering 2514 Times Blvd, Rice Village Ph: 713-523-4753 Visit us online:

Week of MARCH 23, 2018 21 March to 20 April

Book this space TODAY For a quick reference


23 September to 22 Oct Some sweet energy should be coming your way early today, so if you’ve got any messages to return, don’t hesitate. Later, put romance on hold while you catch up with the rest of your life.

23 October to 21 Nov Take the next step regarding your career. If that means asking your partner to take on a few more household chores while you get a game plan in place, ask them now.

22 November to 21 Dec The energy coming your way is somewhat stop-and-go, sped up one minute, shut down the next. When it comes to dealing with your love life, pay attention and drive defensively.

22 December to 20 Jan f you’re feeling a bit of despair over something that’s been going on for the past few days or weeks, buck up! You have at least one good friend who can be a big help, so go ahead and call them out.

21 January to 19 Feb Yes, you and your partner are contradictions. Some nights you stay in; other times, you spend entire weeks in the urban jungle (or scaling mountains, or whatever suits you). Go with it! You both contain multitudes.

20 February to 20 Mar You might feel somewhat scattered in the morning, but as the day progresses, expect some transformative energy to come your way. By late tonight, the world is yours -- who do you want to welcome into it?

1. “____ Fever,” movie and novel 6. “Is” in the past 9. Name of the Blue Ox 13. Rome’s Colosseum, e.g. 14. Fla. neighbor 15. Jig, in France 16. Volcanic rock, pl. 17. Basketball hoop 18. Opposite of adore

DOWN 1. Locker room supply 2. Caspian feeder 3. Denim innovator 4. Foolish 5. *Before - flour, water, shortening; After - ____ 6. Announce Red Alert 7. *Before - Clay; After ____ 8. Brazilian dance

19. *Before - Rodham; After - ____

9. Kind of lettuce

21. *Before - ____; After Mumbai

11. Channel marker

23. Make mistakes 24. Prickle on a wire 25. Art degrees 28. Abominable humanoid 30. “American Horror Story: Hotel” hotel 35. Tangerine and grapefruit hybrid 37. Sailor’s call 39. Tarzan’s swing 40. Search without warning 41. Audition tapes 43. Shorter than maxi 44. King of ancient Crete 46. Time distortion 47. Bit of slander 48. Bobbysock 50. Row of vagrants 52. “All the Light We Cannot ____,” novel 53. Auctioneer’s quantities 55. El ____ 57. *Before - ____; After living room 60. Like misanthrope’s remark 64. Pluck 65. Flying saucer acronym 67. Nary a soul 68. Sicker 69. Waikiki garland 70. Written corrections 71. English playwright Coward

10. Turkish honorific 12. Always, in verse 15. Run around 20. Artemis’ companion 22. Middle-earth creature 24. Organic matter used as fuel 25. *Before - ____; After Myanmar 26. “Encore!” 27. Move furtively 29. Muscle or strength 31. #17 Across, pl. 32. Quarter side, pl. 33. Empower 34. *Before - ____; After Democratic Republic of Congo 36. *Before - William Michael Albert Broad; After - Billy ____ 38. *Before - New Amsterdam; After - New ____ 42. Like certain foods 45. Amazon, e.g. 49. #me____ 51. *Before - supper; After ____ 54. “Yours ____” 56. D in LED 57. Prince William’s sport 58. Car shaft 59. Cambodian currency 60. Mint product 61. Salon creation 62. Hostile to 63. Just in case

72. Japanese capital

64. M in rpm

73. Fit out again

66. ATM extra




Job Posting – Multi Media Journalist KTRK-TV the ABC Owned station in Houston, TX is looking for a smart, savvy, passionate, high-energy, hard-working MMJ with a positive attitude. You will beresearching and setting up stories every day, along with shooting, writing, and editing for TV and for digital. You also need to be very skilled and seasoned in covering live breaking news. Candidates must show examples of live shots that are creative, memorable, engaging and stand out in the crowd. You will constantly be working under tight deadlines. On most days, you will be working independently but on some days you will be assigned a photographer, in particular for most live shots. You must have a knack for quickly cultivating contacts in the community and must know how to dig for unique, exclusive content on the big and little stories alike. We want a respected, knowledgeable, ethical station representative and promoter with a strong presence on social media. You must have at least 2 years of broadcast photography experience AND 2 years of on-air experience. Candidates must be open to working any shift on any day of the week. Background check clearance and clean driving record will be required.To be considered all interested applicants must apply online at, reference job # 535897BR. Please upload a cover letter, resume and list of references. Female/Minority/Veteran/Disability/Sexual Orientation/Gender IdentityNo Telephone Calls Please

Job Posting – Temporary, Web Producer KTRK-TV is looking for a Temporary Digital Producer who can do it all to be part of the team leading the charge to take our digital efforts to the next level. The ideal candidate will have three years’ experience working in major market televisionor print news internet operation, the ability to shoot and edit video and working experience of Photoshop. Additionally have proven social media expertise and must be flexible with work schedule which may vary depending on station needs and projects.Candidate must be able to handle many projects simultaneously. Candidate must be a self-starter and have a ‘Do It Now’ mentality to excel in our fast-paced environment. We are a 24/7 news operation, so digital producers must be willing to work any day or shift, as needed. To be considered interested applicants must apply on-line at byuploading a resume file, cover letter and list of references. Please reference Job Requisition # 532268BR. Equal Opportunity Employer –Female/Minority/Veteran/Disability/Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity. No Telephone Calls Please

visit us online www. voiceofasiaonline. com

FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

To place Classifieds in Voice of Asia Call 713-7745140

Houston Community College Request for Proposals (RFP) Ammunition Project No. 18-17

Houston Community College Request for Proposals (RFP) Video Surveillance Retrofit Project Project No. 18-18

Sealed proposals will be received in Procurement Operations (3100 Main Street, Room No. 11B01, Houston, Texas 77002) until 2:00PM (local time) on Thursday, April 05, 2018. Documents can be obtained at: http://

Sealed proposals will be received in Procurement Operations (3100 Main Street, Room No. 11B01, Houston, Texas 77002) until 2:00PM (local time) on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. Documents can be obtained at: http://www. procurement/


M/WBE Suppliers Health Special Risk, Inc. is bidding on Project Number 18-01-10 Primary & Catastrophic Athletics Injury Voluntary Student Accident Injury Insurance for Houston Independent School District. We are looking for possible M/WBE suppliers to join our provider network. If you are a physician, physical therapist, or an orthopedic surgeon and are interested in this opportunity, please contact by 3/28/2018.

HOME IMPROVEMENTS Vendors working with Harvey hit homes Call 713-774-5140 To get Special rates!

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FRIDAY, March 23, 2018

Home&Real Estate Tx building sector contributed over $58bn to state coffers last year

US home building dips in February, apartments sag

Texas topped the country in commercial real estate development in 2017


il and cattle are the iconic business touchstones for Texas.

improving infrastructure, and creating places to work, shop and play,” Thomas Bisacquino, NAIOP president and CEO, said in a statement. “Commercial real estate is a robust contributor to national and state economies.”

But it’s real estate development where the Lone Star State really leads the country. Last year, Texas was the top U.S. state for commercial real estate development contributions to the economy.


slowdown in building apartments saw US home construction dip in February while the closely watched single-family segment edged higher, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

Direct expenditures for U.S. construction in 2017 surpassed $1.2 trillion dollars — the highest total in a decade.

With more than $24 billion in direct construction spending in Texas, the building sector contributed almost $59 billion to the state’s economy, according to a new report by the NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association. The sector supports almost 380,000 jobs in the state, the new study finds.

The report, Economic Impacts of Commercial Real Estate, 2018 Edition, was published by the NAIOP Research Foundation. It measures every year the contribution of commercial real estate development to the national and state GDP, salaries and wages generated, and jobs supported from the development and operations of commercial real estate.

And Texas leads the country in warehouse and retail development. Only California has more office development than Texas, the NAIOP finds.

Housing starts fell in the Northeast, the storm-damaged South and fire-stricken West but rose in the Midwest. Total new construction for housing fell seven percent for the month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.2 million units, a level four percent below that recorded in February of last year. The result significantly undershot analyst expectations, which called for a result closer to 1.3 million.

Overall, commercial real estate development, NAIOP states,supported 3.6 million American jobs in 2017 (a measure of both new and existing jobs), contributed $541.0 billion to U.S. GDP, and generated $174 billion in salaries and wages.

Nationally, the commercial property sector supports 7.6 million jobs and contributed $935.1 billion to the U.S. economy in 2017. Construction started on more than 524 million square feet of office, retail, warehouse and industrial space around the country last year. “The importance of commercial development to the U.S. economy is well established, and the industry’s growth is critical to creating new jobs,

Source: NAIOP

Starts for single-family homes did rise 2.9 percent. Construction permits, a sign of supply in the pipeline, also fell 5.7 percent, with the allimportant single-family segment sinking 0.6 percent.

In 2017, 523.6 million square feet of commercial real estate space was built with capacity to house 1.3 million new workers nationwide. Direct expenditures for U.S. construction surpassed $1.2 trillion dollars — the highest in a decade. (NAIOP).

Officials warn, however, that housing construction data are highly volatile and most of the February figures were well within broad margins of error.

Housing and home-buying drive a significant share of consumer and economic activity, spurring retail spending and investment and a dip in the housing sector can constrain GDP growth. Analysts say the US housing market is exceedingly tight, given the strong demand produced by the current economic recovery and the slow pace of construction, which has held down supply and driven up prices. Economists said Friday the February results were disappointing and did not point to an improvement on 2017’s sluggish construction. Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said mortgage applications data suggested a rebound could occur but rising interest rates were likely to dampen homebuyer appetite. “We still hope for something of a rebound,” he said in a client note, “but we have had to temper our optimism.” “Soaring employment and faster wage growth should support the housing market, but activity is going to be constrained by higher rates.” - AFP

Building Dreams: UH architecture student wins design competition Winning home design will be constructed in Sharpstown community by Sara Tubbs


s a child growing up in India, Tanmay Thakker had a fascination for buildings - the look, the feel and the materials. That passion pushed him to an architecture career and the chance to realize his dream of designing and building homes. The University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture & Design graduate student recently won The Sharpstown Prize for Architecture for designing a singlefamily home that will be built on a vacant lot in the Sharpstown Community of Southwest Houston. Thakker’s design, “Screen House,” is inspired by his view of today’s high-tech world. “Technology has taken over so much that we don’t even talk to each other even if we are in the same house,” he said. “I designed a house in the shape of a ‘C’ with a courtyard as the centerpiece, so people and space will naturally interact with each other andthe site.” The competition was sponsored by Seeds of Sharpstown, an organization investing in “the renaissance of Sharpstown.” Professor Rafael Longoria incorporated the competition, with guidelines provided by Seeds of Sharpstown, into the curriculum of his graduate level studio class of ten students. “This sophisticated integration of real-world projects into the curriculum provides

UH Architecture graduate student Tanmay Thakker with his model home “Screen House”. Photo credit: UH students an opportunity to not just test their ideas but to also challenge the status quo of the marketplace and the housing industry in both what and how they consider single family design,” said Gail Peter Borden, FAIA professor and director Graduate Programs. Working with a $140,000 budget for the total cost of construction, students had to design a home between 1,000 and 1,200 square feet, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and no taller than two stories. The students spent time in Sharpstown learning about its history and changes residents want to see in the future. Thakker’s analysis revealed the context consisted primarily of homes made out of indigenous brick, so his project adopted a combination of brick and metal

for his scheme to integrate. “It’s a house that has a certain glamorous aspect that will stand out in the neighborhood,” said Mike Prentice, Seeds of Sharpstown founder. “This is a

Save the date. Seeds of Sharpstown will be holding an Open House in honor of prize winner Tanmay Thakker. It will be held on April 12, 2018 from 6 pm to 9 pm, at the Beck Center at 8100 Roos in Sharpstown.

Construction on “Screen House” will begin in the spring. Photo credit: UH contemporary design. I wanted it bold and to make noise.”

will begin in the spring. Other finalists include: Jennifer Carpenter Minor with

Construction on the home

“Sustainability/Modern Comfort”; and Brooks Caton, “Redefining the Hearth.” - UH

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Voice of Asia E-paper March 23, 2018  

Voice of Asia Newspaper is based in Houston since 1987. We reach South Asian and Asian American families in Houston and surrounding cities i...

Voice of Asia E-paper March 23, 2018  

Voice of Asia Newspaper is based in Houston since 1987. We reach South Asian and Asian American families in Houston and surrounding cities i...