VOICE OF ASIA 1
VOICE OF ASIA The Largest Asian-American Newsweekly in Texas
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Serving Harris, Fort Bend and Surrounding Counties for 30 years
Vol. 31 No. 6 • Friday, February 9, 2018
Published Weekly from Houston
24 Pages (2 sections) 50 cents
FRIDAY, February29, 2018 In Section l l l l l l l
Health Line Young Life Bollywood/Hollywood Business Science & Technology Horoscope Legal
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Consul General Dr. Ray urges Indian Americans to reconnect with India’s rich heritage
Indo-American Charity Foundation donates $200,000 to Mayor Turner's Harvey Relief Fund
Left to right: Dr. Durga D. Agrawal, Gary Tinterow, MFAH director, Sushila Agrawal, Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray and his wife Dr. Amit Goldberg at their residence. (Photo: Shobana Muratee)
IACF Officials presenting check to the Mayor. L:-R: Dr. Purvi Parikh, Alpa Shah, Shobana Muratee, (Presdent-elect), Mahesh Wadhwa (IACF President), Dr. Vanitha Pothuri (Immediate Past-president), Mayor Sylvester Turner, Swatantra Jain, (major donor), Dr. Ratna Kumar, Hasu Patel. (Back row): Zenith Ellankil, Premankur Cholia, Sreeni Nakirekanti (Joint -Treasurer), Venkatasubramaniam Iyer (Treasurer), Nanda Vura, Dr. Bela Thacker and Dr. Ramesh Cherivirala.
by Shobana Muratee
OUSTON – Consul General of India Dr. Anupam Ray hosted a dinner reception at his residence on Monday, February 5th. It was attended by community leaders and supporters of art to hear firsthand about the plans for the upcoming exhibition of India Art – “Peacock in the Desert: Royal Art of Jodhpur" at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston starting March 2018. Introducing Gary Tinterow, MFAH director, Dr. Ray praised his caliber for highly ambitious projects including the one on Rajastan. “Gary has great plans for MFAH,” he said. “Although, I would be going back, you and your children will be here. You have to connect your children to your heritage,” he urged. “There is no better way to engaging them, connecting them to what is good and exciting in India’s heritage.” Dr. Ray also recognized the contributions of Sushila and Dr. Durga D. Agrawal who are among the lead underwriters of the upcoming exhibition.
OF PEJMAN ICE MA A
Gary Tinterow is a native Houston who become director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in early 2012. The “Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India” is one his ambitions goals for the
MFAH. Speaking of the exhibition, he described it as the ‘holy grail’ that every American museum director would want to create – a museum of Indian art. Initially the idea was to represent all of India, he said, but now it is focused only
on Rajasthan. The exhibition will be on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston from March 4 to August 19, 2018, before touring to the Seattle Art Museum and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada.
MFAH's ground breaking exhibition of royal treasures from Jodhpur, India
By Shobana Muratee
OUSTON, February 05, 2018 – The Indo-American Charity Foundation (IACF), a non-profit organization in Houston, dedicated its October 7, 2017 annual Gala to raising funds in support of Hurricane Harvey victims. Following up on its commitment, a group of IACF directors met with Hous-
Unprecedented loans from Jodhpur on view in Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Masterpieces and relics, never before seen beyond palace walls, illustrate the history and artistic legacy of the Rathore Dynasty
OUSTON—January 8, 2018—A major collaboration brings a groundbreaking exhibition of royal treasures from India to Houston in March. Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in partnership with the Mehrangarh Museum
Recreation of a traditional elephant procession at the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, India. (Photograph by Neil Greentree) Trust of Jodhpur, Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India showcases nearly four centuries of artistic creation from the kingdom of Marwar-Jodhpur, one of the
largest princely states in India, in the northwestern state of Rajasthan. The exhibition will be on view at the Museum of Continued on Page 3
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“I want to thank you not just for this (check), but what you have done before Harvey. It’s another demonstration of why I love the diversity of this city.” Swantantra Jain praised him as one of the greatest Mayors’ saying, “This is the first time the Indian community came together, and it is a proud moment for all.” “This is just a drop in the bucket and we are honored that you are accepting this check,” said Mahesh Wadhwa, IACF President. In her comments, Dr. Pothuri who was instrumental in making the Gala a success with her own contribution of $25,000 told the Mayor about IACF which completes 30 years this year and how it was started by a group of Indo-Americans that came together and wanted to do something good for the local community. She also mentioned IACF’s annual fundraisers that are held to raise funds to help students in need with scholarships, support other local organizations working towards improving health, education and human services in the Greater Houston Area. IACF will be holding its next signature event “We Walk, We Care” Walk-a-Thon in April 2018 in Sugar Land, Texas. For more information on IACF visit www.iacfhouston.com
As the Bayou City continues to recover from the colossal losses from last year’s hurricane, any amount is significant for its speedy recovery. Under the leadership of IACF President, Dr. Vanitha Pothuri and its directors, the gala last year was a sold out in part due to the generous contributions of major donors like Swatantra Jain who was the Chief Guest and who donated $50,000, Swapnil Agrawal, who was the Gala Chair and a few others. Mayor Turner, who was Guest of Honor at the fund raiser last year was unable to attend the event and was represented by Deputy Mayor, Mr. Jerry Davis. Receiving the check this week, Mayor Turner said there are still thousands of Houstonians (under 4000) out there who are impacted by Harvey. “I’m especially sensitive to child and the elderly, people with special needs, the lowincome community, and the no-income families who have exhausted all their means,” he said. Thanking the members for their contribution, he said,
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ton Mayor Sylvester Turner on Monday, February 5, 2018 at his office in the City Hall and presented him with a check for $200,000 in aid of the city’s relief efforts.
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by Lindsay M. Harris and Victoria Neilson
VOICE OF ASIA Publisher: Associate Publisher: Editor-in-Chief: Austin Correspondent: Marketing Director: Office Manager:
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Columnists: Legal: Richard M. Alderman Legal: Sharlene Sharmila Richards Legal: Surendran K. Pattel Research: Prof. Meenakshi Bhattacharjee Opinion: Dr. Chandra Mittal
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he Trump administration has wasted no time taking further aim against asylum seekers, individuals fleeing persecution in their home countries and seeking protection in the United States. Earlier this week, President Trump referred to asylum seekers as taking advantage of “loopholes” and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has also made his animus for asylum seekers quite clear. Asylum seekers can either apply for asylum affirmatively with the asylum office, or raise their fear of return to their home country as a defense to removal proceedings. The backlog at the asylum offices, for affirmative asylum seekers, includes around 311,000 individuals. Many of these asylum seekers have now been waiting one, two, three, four, and even five years for an interview with an asylum officer. Until recently, asylum interviews were scheduled chronologically according to when the asylum applicant submitted their application; the wait was far too long, but there was an end in sight. On January 29, however, the Asylum Office issued a new memo explaining that they will now prioritize adjudication of the most recently-filed applications, those pending 21 days or less. While this may be a relief for asylum seekers who have just filed their applications or are about to file, for the more than 300,000 asylum seekers who have already filed and patiently waited in line, the government has effectively constructed a wall blocking adjudication of their applications and leaving them in legal limbo indefinitely.
by Bhamy V. Shenoy and Mallik Putcha.
he JFK Foundation has been giving awards since 1990 to celebrate individuals who choose the public interest over the partisanship, who do what is right rather than what is expedient. In 2017, we had nominated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for this award for his bold step of Demonetization (DeMo). But judges selected President Barak Obama for his courageous actions during his administration. We decided to nominate him again specially after what has happened since DeMo and also because of continuous criticism of DeMo mostly from those who are not charitable to him. It may be useful to revisit what we wrote to support our nomination last year and also
New immigration policy leaves asylum seekers in the lurch seekers who were not granted asylum by an asylum officer, and imposed a lifetime bar on receiving any immigration benefits for those who filed frivolous asylum applications.
Every month, asylum seekers file more applications than the asylum offices have capacity to interview. In June of 2017, the last year for which statistics are available online, the asylum offices received 11,414 applications and scheduled interviews for 9,753 applicants. It is this capacity gap — having more applications enter the system each month than leave the system — that has created the backlog. This adjudication disparity also means that with the new priorities, there is no plan in place for the asylum office to ever reach the applications that have been languishing in the backlog. Why has the government made this seemingly illogical change in how asylum applications are processed? The January 29 memo refers to reducing “the incentive to file for asylum solely to obtain employment authorization.” Asylum seekers are allowed to file for work authorization after their asylum application has been pending for five months and generally receive their work permit within the first year. The government is apparently concerned that nongenuine asylum seekers will file for asylum solely to obtain a
to look at the price Modi has paid for his bold step to reduce corruption. “India’s Prime Minister Honorable Narendra Modi took an unexpected and audacious step on November 8, 2016, to combat widespread corruption in India, the largest democracy in the world, by implementing the demonetization of high-denomination paper currency. Demonetization was a simple strategy to bring 86% of the wealth stored in currency into the banking sector. By banning the use of these higher-valued notes, those politicians and government officials who have accepted cash bribes and those business people who have freely dealt on a cash basis only, without paying taxes or providing receipts for their illegal transactions, were put in the position of losing their illgotten gains stored in currency (“black” money). Terrorists with fake currency also had to curtail their activities.”
Still it is too early to tell DeMo has failed. If the government succeeds in finding the sources of money deposited, it may ultimately lead to detecting black money. Finance ministry has already found that whopping amount of Rs. 5.03 trillion has been
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work permit. It is true that asylum seekers who are forced to wait years for decisions on their applications are entitled to work authorization: a necessary stopgap because the United States does not offer any financial assistance to asylum seekers while their cases are pending. While President Trump called for yet more money for border officers in his State of the Union, he has not requested more funding for asylum officers despite the glaring need for additional resources to properly adjudicate these cases. Instead he demonizes those who have sought protection in the United States as exploiting “loopholes.” But American asylum law is a lifeline not a loophole. Back in the 1990s, the last time the asylum system had built up a substantial backlog of asylum cases, Congress amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to decrease any perceived incentives to file for asylum simply to receive work authorization. The 1996 changes to the INA imposed a waiting period for asylum seekers to receive work authorization, required the commencement of removal proceedings for asylum
Being stuck on a line with no mechanism to ever move forward, is irrational and inhumane. Making matters worse, asylum seekers are often forced to flee their homes without all of their family members — leaving children or a spouse behind. After an asylum seeker is granted asylum, she has the right to file a petition for family reunification for children under the age of 21 and a spouse. This process generally takes over a year. So, for asylum seekers who have already been waiting years for their asylum interview, already facing prolonged separation, there is now no end in sight to their wait to reunite with children or spouse. The administration’s rhetoric and its actions consistently ignore the fact that the number of individuals seeking asylum in the United States is not due to a spike in fraudulent applications, but instead reflects the humanitarian crises south of our border in Central and South America and refugee crises around the world. Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people have given up everything to pursue the dream of freedom from fear in the United States, as our asylum laws allow and America’s founding values require. Sadly, the Trump administration is doing its best to turn that dream into a nightmare. (-The Hill)
Indian PM Narendra Modi: Renominated for JFK Profile in Courage Award
At the first anniversary of DeMo, the three stated objectives of DeMo have not been met. Only Rs. 41 crores worth of counterfeit currencies have been detected. There is not enough proof to show that there is appreciable decrease in terrorist activity. Of Rs. 15.44 trillion currencies scrapped, Rs. 15.28 trillion (99%) have been deposited. In other words there has been very little black money detected.
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deposited by just 147,000 individuals. This works out to Rs. 3.4 crores per person. Why will anyone keep such huge amount under the bed? Will investigative agencies have the capacity to unearth the black money now? Will there be political will on the part of NDA without showing any partiality to enforce the rule of law? Some other benefits of DeMo are as follows: Cash to GDP ratio has fallen from 11.3% to 9.7% which will result in reduced black market transactions and higher tax collections. Similar results will take place as a result of increasing digital payments which have gone up by 41%. 9.1 million new taxpayers have been added after DeMo. 1.8 million notices have been sent to assesses to explain their sources of Rs. 3.2 to 4 trillion. Cash deposits worth Rs 17000 crore were made and later withdrawn by 35000 companies which are deregistered. Scrutiny of these companies should lead to detecting illegal transactions. In the end, all these efforts will lead to exposure of black money. In other words, when Modi took the DeMo decision, there was no certainty of success. Still Modi took the gamble. While the objective of fighting corruption was noble, risks of failure were great. Despite immense popularity of Modi in his home state, tremendous development of Gujarat, and opposition party being led by what was universally perceived as incompetent leader Rahul Gandhi, BJP barely won the state election. Thus Modi paid a heavy political penalty because of DeMo. It is true that state elections which took place soon after DeMo in UP, Uttarakhand and Goa, BJP
did win. Still by any standard it was a courageous step on the part of Modi as seen in the background of extensive criticism and some of the goals being unmet. We had some doubts while submitting the nomination this year. There is general perception that Modi has not been able to control fundamentalist Hindutva elements in his party. This in turn has affected India’s civilizational values of secular culture and inclusiveness which have bee held in high esteem from time immemorial. For this reason, despite his bold step of DeMo, we felt our efforts may not bear any chance this year also. Depending on whether one is charitable to Modi or not, his perceived failure to rein in Hindutva can be considered as his failure or not. Given the complexity of Indian society, it is to the credit of Modi, he has been able to control extreme Hindutva elements. Even in a mature democracy like the US, political system has not been able to control racism or religious fundamentalism. It is a small miracle that India has been able to maintain relatively peaceful environment and avoid civic unrest. Just take a look at Pakistan next door. While Modi could have definitely done more to uphold secular principles, given the difficult circumstances he has managed well. For this reason we thought the judges will overlook his doubtful secular credentials and honor him like they have overlooked several drawbacks of Obama’s presidency. Even at the risk of paying a heavy political penalty, his was a bold decision to fight corruption, the first such serious attempt since India got independence.
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FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
MFAH's ground breaking exhibition of royal treasures from Jodhpur, India
Gary Tinterow, MFAH director briefing the guests at Consul General Dr. Ray's residence on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. (Photo:Shobana Muratee). Continued from Page 1 Fine Arts, Houston, from March 4 to August 19, 2018, before touring to the Seattle Art Museum and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada. Through lavishly made ceremonial objects, finely crafted arms and armor, sumptuous jewels, intricately carved furnishings and more, Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India outlines the dynamic history of the Marwar-Jodhpur region and the Rathore dynasty that ruled it for over seven centuries. Established in the 15th century, the city of Jodhpur was once the powerful capital of Marwar, a vast desert kingdom ruled by the Rathores, who were descendants of a hereditary social caste of Hindu warriors and kings (known as “kshatriyas”). Over the course of several centuries, the prosperity of Jodhpur attracted the attention of two successive empires who ruled India: the Mughals and the British. Both encounters reshaped Jodhpur’s cultural landscape, introducing objects, artists, languages, architectural styles and systems
“Peacock in the Desert" is the result of a landmark partnership, marking the first time the Mehrangarh Museum Trust has shared so many of the treasured objects of their collection,” commented Gary Tinterow, MFAH director. “We are deeply honored and grateful to be the first U.S. organization to present this show, and for the opportunity to provide visitors this unprecedented experience of India’s rich cultural history.” of administration that influenced the royal identity of the Rathore dynasty. Through some 250 objects from Indian courtly life, most never before seen outside of Jodphur, the exhibition illuminates how the Rathores acquired and commissioned objects amidst these cross-cultural exchanges to leverage patronage, diplomacy, matrimonial alliances, trade, and conquest. Drawn primarily from the collec-
A section of the guests who attended the dinner reception hosted by Consul General of India Dr. Anupam Ray at his residence for a sneak peek into “Peacock in the Desert". (Photo: Shobana Muratee) tions of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust and the private collections of the royal family of Jodhpur, the exhibition marks the first time that most of these treasures—including paintings, decorative arts and furniture, tents, canopies, carpets, textiles, and weapons—will be seen outside of their palace setting at Mehrangarh Fort and the first time they will travel abroad.
The foundations of the Fort, carved out of a rocky hillside 400 feet above Jodhpur, were laid by the Rathores in 1459 as a military stronghold. The Fort, famously described by Rudyard Kipling as “a palace that might have been built by Titans and colored by the morning sun,” has been the seat of the Rathore dynasty since then, serving as a royal residence, a center of cultural patronage, and a place of worship for
the royal clan. Today, it houses the collection of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, which was established in 1972 by the current dynastic head of the Rathore clan, His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh II, and remains one of the most important and best-preserved collections of fine and applied arts from the Mughal period of Indian history. For more details, visit www.mfah.org
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FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
Spring Convocation 2018: A testament of endurance and commitment toward student success
Houston Community College staff and faculty members at the 2018 Spring Convocation.
OUSTON, Jan. 31 – Overcoming the odds and striving for the ultimate student experience were two of the main themes as Houston Community College staff and faculty members gathered for the 2018 Spring Convocation. Referring to the devastation brought by Hurricane Harvey, Chancellor Cesar Maldonado delivered a message of inclusiveness and cooperation at the HCC Central Auditorium. “We are the sum of all of us with the culture that we bring, the commitment we drive and the support for students and each other. Hurricane Harvey generated a phenomenal com-
ing together of all at HCC,” said Maldonado as he talked about the decision to push back the start of the semester and about the various initiatives to assist affected students, faculty and staff.
and professors supporting me and I became the fabric.” Sephus added, “We are Houston strong, we are HCC.” Mary Louis, faculty member and associate chair of the HCC Government Department, told the audience that the stories she heard propelled her to strive higher.
Ebony Sephus, a student of the HCC Fashion Design program, whose residence was destroyed by the floods, took the stage as she held a bright green fabric.
“I was inspired to help my students achieve their goals because Harvey hit us all. If they can get up every morning and give it their all, so can I,” said Louis.
“When I got to my home it was like a horror movie. My fabric was all over the floor. Fabric is my livelihood and Harvey took that from me. I felt vulnerable and started crying,” Sephus recalled. “Then I thought of my classmates
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Fort Bend View
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
Sugar Land, Katy, Stafford, Missouri City, Richmond, Rosenberg and Meadows Place
Dr. Jewel Lincoln joins Houston Methodist Primary Care Group in Sienna Plantation
Dr. Jewel Lincoln, Family Medicine
ISSOURI CITY – (February 6, 2018) – Houston Methodist Primary Care Group is pleased to welcome Dr. Jewel Lincoln, now one of five primary care physicians seeing patients in Missouri City at 8330 Hwy. 6, Suite 110. Lincoln joins a team of board-certified family medicine and sports medicine physicians in providing quality health care to the Sienna Plantation and surrounding communities. Lincoln specializes in pre-
Pecan Grove Elementary student reunited with dad who was serving overseas As Connor stayed behind in his classroom, his classmates made their way into the hallway and lined up against the wall with other students holding American flags. When SSG Miron arrived, the students began playing and singing along to the song, “God Bless the U.S.A.,” by Lee Greenwood. Staff Sgt. Miron slowly made his way down the hall, and when he got close to Connor’s classroom, his teacher Ms. Higdon led Connor out of the classroom. It took Connor a few seconds to realize it was his dad standing right in front him, but once he realized who it was, the two shared a warm and very long embrace.
vention and wellness as well as the diagnosis and management of chronic and acute illnesses. Her expertise includes providing care for the entire family, specifically for both women and children. She earned her medical degree from the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of North Texas Health Science Center before completing her family medicine residency in Waco, Texas. Lincoln is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is a member of the American Academy of Family Medicine Physicians. “My mission is to partner with patients to help them achieve their goals in a compassionate and comfortable environment,” Lincoln said. “Now that I am a part of Houston Methodist Primary Care Group, I’m excited to foster new, long-term relationships with patients.” To schedule an appointment with Dr. Jewel Lincoln or another Houston Methodist Primary Care Group physician, visit houstonmethodist.org/pcg/ southwest or call 281.930.6639.
Staff Sgt. Garret Miron gets an emotional hug from his son Connor (Photo: FBISD)
ORT BEND ISD (February 6, 2018) – Connor Miron, a Pre-K student at Pecan Grove Elementary, will never forget the day his dad came home.
Sugar Creek Country Club donates to community
When asked what he was most excited to do with his dad now that he’s home, Connor simply said that he couldn’t wait to get home and wrestle.
Staff Sgt. Garret Miron served overseas in Qatar since June 2017. He knew that his return home would be something special, and he wanted to make it even more special, by surprising Connor at school. The original plan was for SSG Miron to surprise Connor in his classroom, but PGE Principal Ruth Riha and her staff went above and beyond. With help from Connor’s mother, Brandye Miron, the school held a small welcome back parade.
The class were excited by Sgt. Miron's visit and reunion.
Katy residents plead guilty to falsifying tax returns and wire fraud by Special Corresponent
Johnson, 46, entered a guilty plea, according to U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes has set his sentencing for June 4. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
OUSTON, Feb 7, 2018 - A house at 8526 Lemonmint Meadow Drive in Katy was raided by federal authorities in the early morning hours in November. Six people were taken into custody, following the return of a 32-count indictment alleging a conspiracy to steal money from bank accounts and a conspiracy involving the filing of false tax returns and aggravated identity theft.
Pictured l to R: Gordon Wagner, SCCC General Manager; Jill Stickels, SCCC Membership Director; Brenna Cosby, Fort Bend Education Foundation, Executive Director; and Harvey Zinn, SCCC Board President (Photo: FBISD)
UGAR LAND - The Fort Bend Education Foundation was proud to partner with Sugar Creek Country Club to give back to FBISD Schools in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Sugar Creek Country Club donated
$8,135 dollars towards the effort to purchase a new library for Juan Sequin Elementary. A portion of every New Member initiation fee in an effort to be a strong community partner. (-FBISD)
The last of the six persons caught in the raid, Joseph Edward Johnson, arrested and indicted in November 2016 for stealing money from bank accounts and filing false tax returns, entered a guilty plea Monday to the charges against him, the U.S. Attorney's Office
According to Johnson's plea agreement, he agreed to plead guilty to counts one and five of his indictment, which include conspiring to commit wire fraud and conspiring to commit theft of public money. Both convictions also carry a possible fine of $250,000. According to court records, Johnson, of Katy, and five others impersonated their victims and called their banks to deceive the tellers into providing personal information.
The six were arrested when federal agents raided their Katy-area home in 2016. The U.S. Attorney's Office identified the six people arrested as James Michael Curtis Johnson, Donald Ray Perry, Enitra Shante Pickett, and D'angela Devonne Domio, Joshua Jacquez Britton, and Johnson. According to records, over time conspirators received enough information to pass the bank's challenge questions, gaining access to their victims' accounts. Johnson was the last to enter a guilty plea.On Feb. 12, of the six, Britton will be the first to be sentenced followed by Perry on April 2.
VOICE OF ASIA 6
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
Grand celebration of Thai Poosam at Sri Meeenakshi Temple
Temple deities adorned for the festival. by Bhargavi Golla
n Sunday, February 4th, 2018 Sri Meenakshi Temple celebrated Thai Poosam with great grandeur, devotion and enthusiasm on February 4th, 2018. This is one of the biggest and colorful festivals at MTS. Around 1000 devotees participated in the celebration and about 250 registrations for Kavadi and Paalkudams. It is celebrated in the Tamil month of Thai (January – February) on a full moon day and the day of the star Poosam (Pushaya). Thai Poosam is dedicated to the Hindu god Murugan, the son of Shiva
and Parvathi. Murugan is also known as Karthikeya, Subramanya, Shanmukha, Shadanana, Skanda and Guha. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Parvathi presented a Vel (lance) to Lord Murugan to vanquish the demon army of Tarakasura and combat their evil deeds. Therefore, Thai Poosam is a celebration of the victory of good over evil. Devotees prepare for the celebration by cleansing themselves through prayer and fasting for at least six days before Thai Poosam. Priests Sri Manickasundara Bhattar, Sri Kalyana Sundaram, Sri Balaji Sethuraman
and Sri Sridharan Raghavan performed initial rituals including Sankalpam, Vinayaka puja and Punyahavachanam at the Ganesh Temple for Kaavadi (a semicircular decorated canopy supported by a wooden rod with small milk pot on both sides) and Paalkudam (brass pots with milk and covered with a coconut and tied by yellow cloth) and handed those to devotees. Devotees carried kaavadis on their shoulder and paalkudams on the head in a procession around the main temple to Kalyanamandapam while chanting Vetrivel Muruhanukku Arohara and Muragan devotional bhajans. Many children along with their parents carried kavadis and paalkudams in the procession. By completing this walk the devotees feel a sense of satisfaction and spiritual awakening in their lives. Energetic devotees entertained the crowd with Kavadi Dance and Kummi Attam at the procession At the kalyana mandapam priests performed the Abhishekam, Alankaram, and Upacharam to “Utsava Murthi” of Lord Murugan and Deivayanai and Valli Devi with the milk from Kavadis and Paalkudams. Devotees recited “Kanda Shasti Kavacham” and Bhajans, which filled the atmo-
The spectacular kavadis and paalkudams in procession. sphere with sacred vibrations and Divine energies. Volunteers distributed the milk from the “Abhishekam” and “Prasadam” bags with coconuts and fr uits. The Utsava Murthies were taken in a procession on the silver chariot to the main temple for the final Aarathi. The procession was accompanied by Chenda melam performed by young MTS devotees. The Divine Thai Poosam concluded with a sumptuous feast, organized by Food committee lead, Rani Chilukuri and served by volunteers. MTS Chairman Dr. Padmini Ranganathan thanked the priests, staff, Board and volunteers. This event was co-
A view of the devotees at the temple. ordinated by Dr. Dorairajan, Malar Narayanan and Nachal Sethuraman A short video
of the event can be found at: https://youtu.be/EC_r6k5CQrE
India's Republic Day Celebration at Arya Samaj of Greater Houston everyone's eyes as well as ears as it was based on the fusion of multiple patriotic songs.
DAV Montessori and Sanskriti School children singing Vande Mataram.
Indian National flag hoisting ceremony and Singing of National Anthem
ASGH AKM Youth Recognition for Community Service awards HOUSTON, (Jan 28) - Last Sunday witnessed remarkable celebration of India's Republic Day at the Arya Samaj Greater Houston by coming together of the star performers of its both the schools, DAV Montessori and DAV Sanskriti School. The Sunday assembly heard the talk by Acharyaji encompassing the Vedic concept of nation building and the role of its citizenry. Four varnas of Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra are four pillars and no nation can afford to disregard their importance though the nomenclature may change in modern times, such as, teachers and researchers (Brahman), police and army personnel (Kshatriya), people engaged in agriculture, manufacturing, business and commerce (Vaishya) and the service-oriented people (Shudra). India is marching ahead to become a positive force to reckon on the global arena.
It is a solemn occasion to remember the countless people making sacrifice to gain independence. Two pioneering stalwarts were singled out for their birth anniversary falling in proximity, namely, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose (23 Jan) and Lala Lajpat Rai (28 Jan). It is all but natural for the children to come forward who will be the future torch bearers. Three kids of the DAV Montessori School in their colorful attire resembling the Indian tricolor delivered speeches that would enthuse patriotic fervor in any soul. As the assembly moved in the open area, they had a delightful serving of songs by the children of DAV Montessori and DAV Sanskriti School, including the full recitation of Vande Mataram that had motivated the youth of the yester years to even lay their life for the motherland. One dance item by the little kids attracted
In fitness of the occasion, two high school teenagers, Kanika and Dhruv were awarded the Certificate of Recognition for their selfless voluntary work at Arya Samaj Houston. They are active members of its teenager group called Arya Kishor Mandal
(AKM) and will be the perfect role models for the younger ones. The climax was the unfurling of the tricolor, followed by the entire group singing the national anthem. Younger kids even less than 5 years were cautioned a priori the need to stand still during the national anthem and they didn't let down. The crowd was served a delicious meal in a smooth quick manner. Arya Samaj of Greater Houston can be reached https:// www.facebook.com/AryaSamajOfGreaterHouston/ for more information.
ASIA -SOUTH ASIA
VOICE OF ASIA 7
Taiwan hotel collapses after 6.4-magnitude quake
'Fake' doctor accused of infecting 46 Indians with HIV arrested
EW DELHI, India | AFP | Wednesday 2/7/2018 - Indian police Wednesday arrested an unlicensed doctor accused of infecting at least 46 people with HIV by re-using a syringe, the latest case to expose the paucity of healthcare in the country of 1.25 billion. Police in Uttar Pradesh tracked down Rajendra Yadav, who provided cheap door-todoor medical services to poor villagers, after a filing a criminal case against him over the spread of the infection in the northern state's Unnao district. "He was arrested on a tip-off and is being questioned about his role in the case," Unnao police chief Pushpanjali Devi told AFP. A 6.4-magnitude quake on the east coast of Taiwan has left two dead and more than 100 injured after buildings were toppled and a hotel collapsed. (Photo: AP)
AIPEI, Taiwan | AFP | Tuesday 2/6/2018 - A hotel on the east coast of Taiwan has collapsed after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, the national fire agency said, with reports that several other buildings have been toppled with some people trapped. Images on local television showed the Marshal Hotel in Hualien slanted on its side, partially crumpled into the
ground. Media reports said there were 30 people trapped inside with others crawling to safety. The fire agency said a second hotel had also been damaged, with televison images showing roads strewn with rubble and cracks in highways. The quake hit at 23:50 pm (1550 GMT) around 21 kilometres (13 miles) northeast of
the port city Hualien, according to the United States Geological Survey.
Medical instruments were recovered from his possession are being sent for forensic tests.
It follows almost 100 smaller tremors to have hit the area in the last three days.
India has only limited public healthcare services and that, combined with a lack of regulation, has allowed unlicensed doctors to thrive, particularly in rural areas.
The quake comes almost exactly two years since a quake of the same magnitude struck the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan, killing more than 100 people.
Nasheed seeks Indian military intervention in Maldives crisis
OLOMBO/MALE, 2/6/2018 (PTI) - Exiled former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed today sought India's diplomatic and military intervention to resolve the ongoing political crisis in the island nation after President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency and troops arrested the top judge. The picturesque Indian Ocean archipelago was plunged into chaos on Thursday when the Supreme Court called for the release of nine imprisoned opposition politicians, ruling that their trials were politically motivated and flawed. The government refused to implement the ruling, prompting a wave of protests in the capital, Male, with angry clashes between police and demonstrators. Yameen yesterday declared a state of emergency. Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and another judge, Ali Hameed, were arrested hours after the govern-
ment declared a state of emergency. No details were given about the investigation or any charges. Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who has allied himself with the Opposition, was detained at his home. Nasheed, whose Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) functions from Colombo, appealed for India's help. In a statement issued here by the MDP, Nasheed said, "We would like the Indian government to send an envoy, backed by its military, to free the judges and the political detainees, including former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, from their detention and to bring them to their homes. We are asking for a physical presence". Nasheed said President Yameen has illegally declared martial law. "President Yameen's announcement which declares a state of emergency, the ban-
ning of fundamental freedoms, and the suspension of the Supreme Court is tantamount to a declaration of martial law in the Maldives. This declaration is unconstitutional and illegal. Nobody in the Maldives is required to, nor should, follow this unlawful order," Nasheed said. "We must remove him from power. The people of the Maldives have a legitimate request to world governments, especially to India and the United States". He also asked the US to ensure that all American financial institutions stop all transactions of the Yameen regime's leaders. Earlier, Nasheed also expressed concern over Yameen's deliberate delay in implementing the Supreme Court ruling to immediately release political prisoners. "This deliberate refusal by the government to uphold the Constitution further destabilises the Maldives and wider
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The latest case was exposed when government medical screenings uncovered a high concentration of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in the district. "All these 46 cases are from specific localities within our district," Unnao's chief medical officer S.P. Choudhary told
Indian Ocean security," Nasheed said. Nasheed, 50, the country's first democratically-elected leader -- was sentenced to 13 years in jail on terror charges in March 2015 over the arbitrary arrest of chief criminal judge Abdullah Muhammed during his presidency. He was granted asylum in the UK after he was authorised to seek medical treatment there amid mounting foreign pressure. Nasheed was narrowly defeated in 2013 by President Yameen. Nasheed says his conviction on terror charges was politically motivated. The Maldivian government holds that Nasheed is convicted for a crime and is wanted in the Maldives to serve a jail sentence. Nasheed said he will seek UN support to ensure he is allowed to contest this year's election.
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
Eight countries push UN to take up Myanmar Rohingya crisis
NITED NATIONS, United States | AFP | Wednesday 2/7/2018 - Britain, France, the United States and five other countries asked the UN Security Council on Wednesday to discuss the fate of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees driven from Myanmar, diplomats said. The council will hold a meeting on Tuesday to hear UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi report on the crisis sparked by an army crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state in August. Sweden, Poland, the Netherlands, Kazakhstan and Equatorial Guinea requested the talks along with the three permanent council members. The meeting comes nearly three months after the council adopted a statement demanding that Myanmar rein in its security forces and allow the Rohingya to return to their homes. More than 750,000 Rohing-
AFP. "This is when we decided to dig deeper. Some of the infected blamed the quack and his use of a single syringe." But Choudhary said the high number of cases was unlikely to be down to Yadav alone. "We don't think that the quack doctor alone could be a factor for these numbers," he told AFP. "The area has a high migrant trucker population, and the prevalence of unprotected sex could be the likely reason." India has 2.1 million people infected with HIV, according
ya have been driven from the mainly Buddhist country to Bangladesh, fleeing soldiers accused of killings, rape and burning down villages. Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed last month to repatriate the Rohingya over a period of two years, but the United Nations has expressed concerns after the UN refugee agency UNHCR was kept out of the agreement. The General Assembly in December adopted a resolution asking Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to name a special envoy to Myanmar, but that appointment has yet to be made. China, a supporter of Myanmar's former ruling junta, and Russia voted against the resolution. Both hold veto power at the council. Myanmar's government also turned down a visit by council envoys to Rakhine state, saying it was "not the right time," Kuwait's Ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi said.
to the United Nations, although the rate of infection is falling. It has an estimated 840,000 doctors -- one for every 1,674 people -- far fewer than the one per 1,000 people recommended by the World Health Organization. Last week the government announced a national healthcare scheme for half a billion people, but did not give details of how much it would cost or how it would be funded. India spends a little over one percent of GDP on public healthcare, a sum the government is aiming to increase to 2.5 percent by 2025.
8 killed in gas leak at southern China steel mill
EIJING, China, 2/5/2018 (AP) Gas leaking from a pipeline at a steel mill in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong killed eight people and injured 10 early today, local authorities reported. The Shaoguan city government said in a post on its microblog that the leak occurred at 3 a.m. at the Shaoguan Iron and Steel company's Songshan plant. It said the rescue and recovery effort was underway and the cause of the leak was under
investigation. China has made considerable progress in improving industrial safety, but scores are still killed annually in the country's factories, coal mines and transportation networks. In 2015, an explosion traced to improperly stored chemicals killed at least 173 people in the port city of Tianjin, about an hour east of Beijing. More recently, 10 people were killed in an explosion at a biotech company workshop in the eastern city of Lianyungang on December 9.
VOICE OF ASIA 8
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
Trump for 'fair, equitable, Wife of Richmond man killed sellmerit-based' immigration system ing car felt something was wrong
ASHINGTON (PTI) - US President Donald Trump has reaffirmed that he favours an immigration system which is fair, equitable and based on merit instead of visa lottery, a mechanism he described as "terrible". He made the remarks yesterday during his address to the 2018 House and Senate Republican Member Conference in West Virginia. "We want an immigration policy that is fair, equitable, but that is going to protect our people. We want people coming into our country based on merit and based on the fact that they are going to love our country, respect our people and our country," Trump said. "We don't want visa lottery. 'Pick a lottery ticket. Pick a lottery.' We don't want that. So we want it (immigration) based on merit," he said to a wide applause from Republican lawmakers. The White House had earlier defended President Trump's proposal for a merit-based immigration system, saying
the flood of low-skilled immigrants into the US has suppressed wages, harmed American workers, and strained federal resource. Trump told the Republican conference yesterday that the Congress now had a chance to pass into law the immigration reforms that the American people have been demanding for decades and that many of them have been working on for their entire careers. "We have a great opportunity as a Republican Party. As the Republican Party, we have a great opportunity. We are getting very little help from the Democrats, but I hope after I leave this room, we're going to get a call from these people saying, 'Let's go'," he said. Trump said nearly seven in 10 Americans support an immigration reform package that includes a permanent solution on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA. DACA recipients are often referred to as 'Dreamers' -- people who were brought to the US as children by their parents.
"And I've been hearing about DACA for so many years. Some people call it DREAMers. It's not DREAMers, don't fall into that trap. It's just much different than DREAMers. And I said the other night, you know, we have dreamers too. We have dreamers in this country, too. You can't forget our dreamers. I have a lot of dreamers here," he said.
uietly, all but unheralded, Donald Trump has begun tilting significantly away from Pakistan and toward another South Asian ally -- a counterweight to China that could help tip the balance, particularly in the region's potentially most sensitive flashpoint, the South China Sea. That enemy of my enemy is India, and it is not an inconsiderable friend to have. At the same time, though, Trump's actions have opened another door to a resurgent China that could prove even more dangerous down the road. So, when did this relationship with India develop? The United States and India have been allies for a while, but Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have significantly strengthened their bonds over the few months. Modi visited Trump in Washington last June, kicking off a new set of talks between the nations. And then at November's ASEAN Regional Forum in Manila, Philippines, the two leaders resolved to strengthen the US-India defense partnership, discussed expanding Indian oil imports from the United States to help shrink the trade gap and agreed to expand a supply line to Afghanistan that India was developing. All this plays to India's advantage. India is hoping to find a big-power ally that can help it become a viable force against China, while at the same time maintaining security of its sea routes to the east. After all, more than two-thirds of India's entire trade volume arrives and departs by sea. India's new "Look East Policy" involves not only bulking up its blue water naval capability but also launching a new intercontinental ballistic missile that puts all of China within range of attack. China is not taking this news well. China has been concerned for a while with India's surging economic growth, military reach and population expansion. This new policy only irritates China more. To complicate matters, India's growth is surging at the very moment that China's is beginning to plateau. Last month, the International Monetary Fund revised Asia's economic growth upward largely on the strength of India's performance -- projecting an expansion in India of 7.5% this year and 7.8% next year, an increase over the 6.7% growth registered in 2017. By contrast, China is heading in the other direction -- its growth dropping from 6.8% last year to 6.6% this year and 6.4% next year. And there is no suggestion that the United States is prepared to squeeze India's foreign trade as it has already shown an inclination to take on leading Chinese exports, raising tariffs substantially on solar panels and washing machines. Of course, American two-way
trade with India is a fraction of the trade with China, but it has been rising rapidly and the Indian government has been receptive to the Trump administration's pressure to reduce the size of its trade deficit. Most smaller Southeast Asian nations are also eager to see a newly resurgent India as a trade partner, but especially as a reliable balance to China, which has loomed over the region militarily as well as economically. In this respect, India is very much flexing its muscles. Last month, India successfully test fired an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 3,400 to 3,600 miles. It's also looking to double its fleet of 12 state-of-the-art American made P-81 anti-submarine patrol aircraft, able to detect submarine activity from the air. This comes just as China has offered India's neighbors -Bangladesh, Thailand and especially Pakistan -- advanced Yuan class submarines at a fraction of the price of European or American models. In its nuclear arsenal, India already is believed to have 120 to 130 nuclear warheads, compared with China's 270, according to the Federation of American Scientists. Building a deliverable nuclear capacity has been a vital concern to India, until recently as a deterrent to the nation it has long seen as its mortal enemy: Pakistan, with 130 to 140 nuclear weapons. Which makes the
Authorities say Terrell Funches, 20, and a 15-year-old girl have both been arrested and charged with capital murder.
Houston police said Altaf He alleged that the Opposi- Hussain Malik, 43, was found at tion Democrats do not want to an apartment complex on Truxillo in Third Ward on December help the 'dreamers'. 7. Investigators said his body "We want to take care of was covered in trash bags near DACA, and I hope we will. We a dumpster. need the support of the DemoMalik's wife said someone crats in order to do it, and they might not want to do it. They had expressed interest about talk like they do, but I don't buying a 2009 Audi A8 the famthink they do. But we're going ily was selling on Dec. 5. to find out very soon," he said. "It's shocking when you see "We want something that is somebody 15 years old, how can very, very tough and strong, in you do that thing? It's shocking. terms of the border. We need Unimaginable," said Quratulain to end chain migration, and we Malik, Altaf Malik's wife. need to cancel the terrible visa Quratulain Malik told Eyewitlottery. And those are the four pillars that I talked about the ness News her husband finished other night. We call them the dinner and rushed out to show White House framework -- a the vehicle to the interested plan that will finally bring our buyer. On Dec. 6 Malik's family conimmigration system into the 21st Century," Trump said.
Trump's support of India could have unintended consequences by David A. Andelman
ICHMOND (KTRK) Police confirmed that a man and a teen girl have been charged in the deadly stabbing of a Richmond father of four.
Altaf and Quratulair Malik (Photo: Facebook) tacted authorities to report Malik missing. A resident taking trash to their dumpster discovered a male's body covered in trash bags next to the dumpster. Officers and paramedics arrived and determined the male was Malik. Investigators were able to trace the suspects using the LetGo app the victim used to sell his vehicle. According to reports, the suspects were searching, "How to hide a body and get away from the police" on their
phones. Malik had four children. His wife said there have been many restless nights knowing the suspects were still out there but now they have some peace of mind. "It's been restless nights but now I'm in a little bit of peace cause at least they got them," said Quratualin Malik. No bond information on the suspects has yet been released. The family has set up a GoFundMe account for help with the family's continuing needs.
Indian fined Rs 87 lakh in UAE for email insult to RTA
n Indian worker in current strategic situation in the the UAE has been region especially fraught, beslapped with a hefty cause both nations are believed fine of around Rs 87 lakhs for to be bulking up their arsenals an offensive email to the counstill further. try's transport authority claimThis confrontation comes at ing it rips off the poor after he the very moment the Trump ad- flunked a driving test, media ministration has entered into a report said today. bitter war of words with Pakistan, once a loyal South Asian The 25-year-old Indian nation. As he has done in other worker ridiculed the Roads and parts of the world, notably the Transport Authority (RTA) that Middle East, where the Presi- they take 'poor people's money dent has thrown America's support firmly to Saudi Arabia, last month Trump announced that he was withholding some $2 billion of security aid from Pakistan as punishment for the regime allegedly harboring terrorists who are actively working to further destabilize Afghanistan. ONDON (PTI) - A Not surprisingly, the Paki19-year-old Instani government has begun dian student won a actively seeking new strategic partners. And, according to 1,000-pound grant after he Chinese state-owned media, became the 1,000th student to China has eagerly stepped in enrol at Birmingham City Unito assist. Already, China has in- versity International College vestments and loans in Pakistan (BCUIC). surpassing $100 billion. China Rachit Patel, from Mumbai, has also, as CNN reported, made a major move into India's celebrated the milestone along offshore neighbor, Sri Lanka, with students and teachers as with a 99-year lease on a major he began his studies on the Art port facility and some $15 bil- and Design Foundation programme at the College. lion in investments.
by making them intentionally fail in driving tests and forcing them to repeat the tests', the Gulf News reported.
The RTA had received from the worker an email that it deemed as insulting and disdaining, it said.
The Dubai Court of First Instance also jailed the accused for three months although he had pleaded not guilty and maintained that he had been frustrated after he failed his driving test, it said.
The RTA's concerned department took immediate legal action against him for sending that offencive and disparaging email and reported it to Dubai
He was fined Dh 500,000 (Rs 87,38,612) for mocking and offending a government department via the email, the report added. (-PTI)
Indian student bags award as 1,000th student at UK college
All this has led a number of Asian nations, already skeptical of Trump after his withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership, wondering how committed the United States is to providing a counterweight to Chinese hegemony. (-CNN)
I was really excited to be here, but I never expected I would be making history on my first day," Patel said. "I can't wait to further my education here at the BCUIC in these beautiful surroundings,
before I progress on to the BA (Hons) Media and Communication undergraduate degree at Birmingham City University in September," he said. Opened less than five years ago, BCUIC provides undergraduate and postgraduate pathways to Birmingham City University for international students who do not meet the university's direct entry requirements - enabling them to progress on to a full-fledged Bachelor's or Master's degree. The BCUIC is a few miles from the centre of Birmingham, close to the world-famous Cadbury's chocolate factory in the city's Bournville suburb. Cheryl Badhams, College Principal, Birmingham City
University International College, said: "We are thrilled to have reached this milestone of enrolling 1,000 students - and in under five years is a real achievement." "I believe our success is owing to the continued hard work of our dedicated team of academic and support staff, who work together to provide a safe and supportive learning environment to international students, within our unique Bournville campus." The BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an international education provider with knowledge and resources of staff from more than 35 different colleges and campuses worldwide.
VOICE OF ASIA 9
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
VOICE OF ASIA 10
US does not rule out North Korea talks at Olympics
OKYO, Japan | AFP | 2/6/2018 - US Vice President Mike Pence refused to rule out meeting North Koreans attending the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, offering the faintest hope of a diplomatic breakthrough Tuesday. With the United States and North Korea locked in a highstakes nuclear standoff and trading fiery insults, Pence said no talks were scheduled, but suggested a meeting may not be rebuffed. "With regard to any interaction with the North Korean delegation, I have not requested a meeting, but we'll see what happens," Pence said during a stop in Alaska, on route to Asia. "President (Donald) Trump has said he always believes in talking," Pence added, "I haven't requested any meetings. But we'll see what happens." Pence is leading the US delegation to Friday's opening ceremony of the politically tinged games. Pyongyang's delegation is being led by North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-Nam. - Sporting chance -
dent Bill Clinton visited to secure the release journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee. Possibly the most substantive high-level talks occurred when then US secretary of state Madeleine Albright met with the late leader Kim Jong-Il during a visit to Pyongyang in October 2000. Pence said any encounter with North Korean officials today would center on the military threat. "My message -- whatever the setting, whoever is present -- will be the same. And that is that North Korea must once and for all abandon its nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile ambitions," he said. "North Korea can have a better future than the militaristic path and the path of provocation and confrontation that it's on. Better for its own people, better for the region, and better for peace." Since coming to office, Trump has derided North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un as "little rocket man" for pushing development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles capable of threatening the United States.
North and South Korea have, at least temporarily, put aside their enmity to allow Pyongyang to send athletes to the Games, an opening that some see as an opportunity to push for a negotiated settlement.
Washington is currently waging a campaign of "maximum pressure," in the hope that a tougher economic and diplomatic environment will alter the regime's calculus.
Kim will become the most senior-ranked North Korean official to ever cross the Demilitarized Zone into the South.
Trump has convinced the global community to significantly tighten sanctions against the North, but has so far failed to convince China to agree to a game-changing oil embargo.
That appears to have prompted the US overture. "A message was being sent" said one US official, commenting on Pence's comments and an almost identical message from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. "All it does is indicate that anything is possible." Visits to Pyongyang by top US officials have been rare and far between. In late 2014, then national intelligence director James Clapper made a secret trip to secure the release of two Americans -- Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller -- and had what he later described as a tense dinner with a top North Korean intelligence official In 2010, former president Jimmy Carter visited to secure the release of Aijalon Mahli Gomes. A year earlier former presi-
Inside the White House there is fierce debate about whether pre-emptive military action will be needed to stop North Korea's drive for nuclear power status. With the risk of war rising, some US officials are eager to play down talk of a "bloody nose" strike designed to warn the Kim regime against groundbreaking nuclear or ballistic missile tests. General Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Tuesday said the focus was on backing up diplomatic efforts with the credible use of force. With an estimated 30,000 US personnel stationed on the Korean peninsula and Seoul within range of North Korean artillery, any conflict there would almost certainly be devastating.
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
Britain's dark-skinned, blueeyed ancestor explained Thanks to technological advances, scientists can see ancient DNA in new detail. by Sarah Gibbens
Thomas is part of a large team that worked with London's Natural History Museum to reconstruct the Cheddar Man's face.
ONDON - A recent facial reconstruction of a 10,000-year-old skeleton called the "Cheddar Man" has revealed a man with bright blue eyes, slightly curly hair, and dark skin. "It might surprise the public, but not ancient DNA geneticists," says Mark Thomas, a scientist at the University College London. That's because a new analysis of the ancient man's DNA proves he's genetically similar to other dark-skinned individuals from the Mesolithic era found in Spain, Hungary, and Luxemborg whose DNA has already been sequenced. The new revelation places the Cheddar Man among a group of hunter-gatherers that are thought to have migrated to Europe at the end of the last Ice Age some 11,000 years ago. The Cheddar Man earned his name, not because of his fondness for cheese, which likely wasn't cultivated until around 3,000 years later, but because he was found in Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, England (which is, incidentally, where cheddar cheese
EW YORK: 03 Feb 2018 - Indiana said on Friday it will require its Medicaid recipients work or do some other form of community engagement, becoming the second state to make this fundamental change to the 50-year-old health insurance program for the poor. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicesâ€™ (HHS) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it approved Indianaâ€™s waiver to add these requirements to its Medicaid program on Friday. The work requirement applies to able-bodied working age
"In my view, that's the
They started the reconstruction by taking measurements of the skull. "He had a thick, heavy cranium and a relatively light jaw," says Thomas. Researchers then sequenced the Cheddar Man's entire genome. He's the oldest British individual whose genes scientists have mapped. From the sequence, they learned skin color, eye color, and hair type. Finally, to bring the Cheddar Man to life, experienced Dutch model makers Adrie and Alfons Kennis used 3D scans and printing to add the "flesh" to his reconstructed bones.
By sequencing the ancient DNA, scientists were able to create skin color, eye color, and hair type. (Photo: Tom Barnes, Channel 4)
CREATING COLOR FROM ANCIENT GENES
a clear idea of what the Cheddar Man looked like.
It's thanks to new sequencing technology that researchers can sift through vast quantities of data, says Thomas. This allowed the team to get
The genes that determine skin color are mapped across various chromosomes, says Miguel Vilar, the science manager for National Geographic's genome project. Vilar was not involved in the reconstruction but says scientists would have had to look at billions of data points, something we have previously been unable to do with ancient DNA.
Indiana to impose Medicaid work requirements by Michael Erman
In more temperate regions, where ancient humans were less exposed to sunlight, they would have needed to absorb more radiation to break down the essential vitamin needed for healthy bones.
Medicaid enrollees, according to HHS. Pregnant women, medically frail enrollees, students, some caregivers and people in substance use treatment are among those that are exempted from the requirements. Kentucky became the first state to impose work requirements on its Medicaid recipients last month. At least eight additional states, mostly Republican-led, have proposed similar changes to Medicaid: Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin. (-Source: Reuters)
most robust theory for skin pigmentation," says Thomas. "But it doesn't explain eye pigmentation. There are other processes that go on. It could be sexual selection. It could even be something else we don't yet understand." Another theory put forth in a 2014 study suggested that as humans began cultivating farms, their diets became less diverse and thus they would have needed to absorb more vitamin D from the sun.
New DNA sequencing techniques make those scattered chromosomes easier to read, he says.
Today, he adds, modern diets help people consume vitamin D without sunlight exposure.
"It's like taking an ancient book and looking at a whole chapter, versus looking at single word. Now we can read full paragraphs."
Determining skin color is only a minor part of the project, says Thomas. Researchers are looking more broadly at how dietary changes and exposure to pathogens influenced populations over the last ten thousand years.
"Eye pigmentation is determined by a specific gene and a particular variant in the gene," says Thomas. "For skin there are a number of variants." How and when Britons developed lighter skin over time is unclear. "We think it's because light skin allows for more UV radiation, which helps break down vitamin D," says Vilar.
Their research will the subject of a documentary on the UK's Channel4 network airing later this month. "If you can measure changes in genetic variances over time," he adds, "You can catch evolution as it happens." (-National Geographic)
VOICE OF ASIA 11
Cricket: India crush South Africa by 124 runs in third ODI
APE TOWN, South Africa | AFP | 2/7/2018 - Virat Kohli struck a majestic 160 not out as India thrashed South Africa by 124 runs in Wednesday's third one-day international at Newlands to take a 3-0 lead in the sixmatch series.
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
NBA: Pistons' Reed suspended over domestic violence case
India made 303 for 6 after being sent in to bat, while Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal took four wickets apiece as South Africa were bowled out for just 179. Scores in brief: India 303-6 in 50 overs (S. Dhawan 76, V. Kohli 160 not out) South Africa 179 in 40 overs (J. Duminy 51; Y. Chahal 4-46, Kuldeep Yadav 4-23).
India's Hardik Pandaya bats during the One Day International (ODI) cricket match between India and South Africa, at Newland Stadium, in Cape Town. (Photo: Rodger Bosch/AFP). Result: India won by 124 runs
Series: India lead the sixmatch series 3-0
Toss: South Africa.
NFL: Butler hits out over Super Bowl benching
OS ANGELES | AFP - New England Patriots defensive star Malcolm Butler hit back on Tuesday as the mystery of his Super Bowl benching rumbled on. Butler spent most of the Super Bowl on the bench as a frustrated spectator after being left out of the starting defensive line-up.
OS ANGELES - Detroit Pistons center Willie Reed has been suspended for six games following an investigation into a domestic violence incident involving his wife, the NBA said Tuesday. Reed, 27, was arrested and detained by police in Miami following the incident on August 5 last year. He later entered a pretrial diversion program to resolve the criminal case against him. The NBA sanction was taken after a separate investigation into the incident which reviewed all available evidence.
Head coach Bill Belichick and defensive co-ordinator Matt Patricia later said the 27-year-old cornerback had been left out for "football reasons".
I visited with my family every night," Butler wrote in a post shared on Instagram and Twitter.
The decision baffled many former players and pundits -- the Patriots sitting one of their best defenders in a game where they leaked points as the Eagles won 41-33. A report by the NFL Network on Tuesday said Butler had been omitted after a "perfect storm" of issues, which included violating a rule over team curfews during Super Bowl week as well as illness
Willie Reed's suspension is effective immediately starting with Detroit's upcoming game against the Brooklyn Nets (AFP Photo/ Rob Foldy)
"During Super Bowl week I never attended any concert, missed curfew, or participated in any of the ridiculous activities being reported. Malcolm Butler of the New England Patriots reacts in the fourth quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 (AFP Photo/ Kevin C. Cox). and poor form in practice. However Butler took to social media on Tuesday to ad-
dress the reported reasons for his benching. "I would never do anything
to hurt my team's chances of winning a game, including this year's Super Bowl where
"They are not only false, but hurtful, to me and my family. Although I wish I could have contributed more to help my team win, I have to get ready for the next opportunity." Butler's post was later liked
"The NBA also consulted with a group of domestic violence experts who provide the league with guidance in such cases," the NBA said in a statement. "The six-game suspension is based on all facts and circumstances of this matter and considers the conduct and its result, the outcome of the criminal matter, and Reed's voluntary participation in counseling," it added. The suspension is effective immediately starting with Detroit's game against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. (-AFP)
and commented on by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. "Love you Malcolm, you are an incredible player, teammate and friend. Always!!!!!!," Brady commented. Brandon Browner, who played alongside Butler in the Patriots' 2015 Super Bowlwinning team, accused Belichick of taking "a power trip" with the shock decision. "That was a power trip," Browner noted on Instagram. "You divide the locker room when you do that."
VOICE OF ASIA 12
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
VOICE OF ASIA 13
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
TiE Houston Venture Forum selects 6 out of 50 companies for mentoring
OUSTON - In October 2017, TiE Houston put out a call for companies to apply for the TiE Houston Venture Forum. The initiative was led by TiE Houston board members, Dr. Shri Iyer and Karl Maier. Over 50 applications came in, were screened, and 6 companies were selected. The selected companies were Arovia, Blue Altum, Replete Biotics, Medifies, MITO Materials, and Katz Water Technology. From November to January these companies received mentoring from TiE Houston charter members, including a bootcamp that was held at HCC on January 11th. On January 20, 2018, 30 investors from TiE Houston, TMCx, HX, Station Houston, HAN, and Rice Alliance gathered at Station Houston to meet the companies and hear their pitches. The companies were in various sectors - oil and gas, healthcare IT, medical devices, materials, and consumer products. Each company was allotted 30 minutes to pitch to the investors, including Q & A. In addition, the companies set up poster boards so that the investors could get to know the companies individually during lunch and breaks. It was an exciting day for everyone.
Haley Keith from MITO Materials
Christopher Stevens from Replete Biotics over 11,000 members and 2800 charter members throughout 58 countries. Charter Members, who are successful entrepreneurs and/or business execu-
tives, make the pillars of each chapters. They commit their time to help next generation of entrepreneurs - a “leveraged give back” which creates jobs,
economic activities and wealth in the community. Houston chapter, led by Dr. Arun Pasrija, has a strong and vibrant charter member community
helping meet’s TiE’s mission and making it a meaningful part of Houston’s start up eco system. The next TiE Houston event
will be a Charter Member Lunch on Friday, February 9, 2018. For more information on TiE Houston or future events visit www.houston.tie.org.
The ultimate goal of the forum was to create opportunities for entrepreneurs. Some companies will continue to receive mentoring while others will be taking the next step and entering into talks with investors for angel funding. The TiE Houston Angel investor group is in the process of selecting a company to fund while providing additional mentoring to others. “The quality of presenting companies helped by mentoring and active participation of investors at this Venture Forum event is clear evidence of TiE Houston impact in mentoring/ investing activities in Houston’s start up eco system” said Dr. Arun Pasrija, President of TiE Houston. “We were pleased with the level of active engagement by investors at the Forum, the quality of the companies was excellent, and we hope that most of the companies will get funded, either in the near future, or after additional mentoring by TiE charter members” said Dr. Shri Iyer, TiE Houston board member TiE is a global organization dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship. TiE has grown to
Nate Pagel from Medifies
All companies and TiE leadership
ASHINGTON | AFP, 2/6/2018 The buoyant US economy has been a muchneeded bright spot for Donald Trump’s White House, but whipsaw moves on Wall Street and a rising trade deficit darkened the horizon Tuesday. Trump spent the last year taking credit for Wall Street records, but in the last 48 hours received a warning aides and financial and advisors tell all political newcomers -- markets can go up, as well as down. Monday saw the Dow’s largest-ever points drop, prompting almost as much nervousness
Jumpy markets a challenge for Trump in the White House as it did on the New York Stock Exchange. A partial recovery on Tuesday was clouded by news that the US trade deficit -- which Trump has vowed repeatedly to fix -- widened even further during his first year in office. Government data showed the trade deficit rose 12 percent in 2017 to $566 billion, the highest level in a decade.
Analysts said that could cause downward revisions to growth rates from the end of last year, taking the US even further from Trump’s goal of three-percent annual growth. - Salesman-in-chief Until now, Trump has been notably successful in convincing Americans that continued economic growth was his doing. With a major package of tax
cuts in the bag, some 52 percent of Americans said they approved of the way Trump was handling the economy, much higher than his overall approval rating. Only 11 percent of Americans believe that the economy is the biggest problem facing the country, according to an IPSOS/Reuters poll taken before the recent gyrations. In the face of this week’s unwelcome economic news,
Trump’s strategy has been to ignore it. His regular comments talking up the Dow were ripped out of an economic speech on Monday. On Tuesday it was left to White House aides -- who just days before were touting the “Trump bump” -- to insist that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. “Does the president have second thoughts about taking credit for a booming economy? Absolutely not,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.
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APE CANAVERAL, United States | AFP - The world’s most powerful rocket, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, blasted off Tuesday on its highly anticipated maiden test flight, carrying CEO Elon Musk’s cherry red Tesla roadster toward an orbit near Mars. Screams and cheers erupted at Cape Canaveral, Florida as the massive rocket fired its 27 engines and rumbled into the blue sky over the same NASA launchpad that served as a base for the US missions to Moon four decades ago.
World’s biggest rocket soars toward Mars after perfect launch
Wait—the Ozone Layer Is Still Declining? The lower stratosphere’s ozone continues to decrease, despite the world’s success in phasing out ozone-depleting chemicals by Annie Sneed
n 1985 scientists reported something very unsettling: They had found a hole in the planet’s ozone layer over Antarctica. The culprits, they said, were humans emitting chemicals that depleted atmospheric ozone above the South Pole and the rest of the globe. Because the ozone layer protects us and other organisms from harmful solar radiation, the international community united in 1987 to sign the Montreal Protocol, which phased out use of such chemicals.
“Wow, did you guys see that? That was awesome,” said SpaceX commentator Lauren Lyons as applause thundered through mission control. SpaceX commentator John Innsbrucker said it was “everything you could want in a test flight.” Loaded with Musk’s red Tesla and a mannequin in a spacesuit, the monster rocket’s historic test voyage has captured the world’s imagination. SpaceX’s webcast showed Musk’s Tesla roadster soaring into space, as David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” played in the background -- with the words “DON’T PANIC” visible on the dashboard, in an apparent nod to the sci-fi series the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Musk posted a video of the car on Twitter after launch, in which he can be heard laughing in the background as a camera behind the mannequin’s head shows the car apparently in orbit around Earth. “It actually really doesn’t look real, it’s crazy,” Musk can be heard saying. He later posted another video showing a “live view of Starman” appearing to cruise, its gloved hand on the wheel, through the darkness of space, the Earth’s image reflected on its glossy red surface. The car was also outfitted with a high-data storage unit
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
The protocol, widely considered a huge success since its enactment, significantly dropped the level of ozone-depleting chemicals in the atmosphere, and the “hole” over Antarctica has been shrinking. Yet in a new study published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, scientists report that one crucial section of the ozone layer still seems to be declining steadily.
The SpaceX Falcon Heavy launches from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on February 6, 2018 (Photo: AFP) containing Isaac Asimov’s science fiction book series, the Foundation Trilogy, and a plaque bearing the names of 6,000 SpaceX employees. - ‘Giant step’ About two minutes into the flight, the two side boosters peeled away from the center core and made their way back toward Earth for an upright landing. Both rockets landed side by side in unison on launchpads, live video images showed. “New Olympic sport - Synchronized Landings!” wrote NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik on Twitter.
Experts said the launch would likely catch the eye of the US space agency NASA, which may consider using the Falcon Heavy as a way to fast-track its plans to reach the Moon again for the first time since 1972. Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot congratulated SpaceX and called it a “tremendous accomplishment.” Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana said “the successful launch of a new vehicle on its first flight is a significant accomplishment they can be very proud of.” Canadian astronaut Hadfield tweeted:
“HUGE congrats to the @ SpaceX team on your maiden flight! Another giant step towards making spaceflight for everyone a reality.”
“What we’re watching is @ SpaceX leaving all other rocket companies in the dust. Congrats to everyone there!”
The third, center booster was to attempt a landing on an ocean platform although its status was still unclear.
The Falcon Heavy launched from the same NASA pad that was the base for the Apollo-era Moon missions of the 1960s
- Falcon Heavy specs -
and 1970s. It is “the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two,” SpaceX said.
The ozone layer resides in the stratosphere, the region of atmosphere from 10 to 50 kilometers above Earth’s surface. This blanket of gas is vital for life on Earth—it absorbs the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, which can damage DNA and also promote skin cancer and other harm to humans, wildlife and crops.
That means it can carry twice the payload of United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy, at a far lower cost -- about $90 million per launch compared to $350 million for its competitor. But the Falcon Heavy is not the most powerful rocket ever -- just the biggest in operation today. The Saturn V rocket that propelled astronauts to the Moon could deliver more payload to orbit. The Soviet-era Energia, which flew twice in 1987 and 1988, was also more powerful.
In reality, ozone is distributed throughout the lower, middle and upper stratosphere as well as in the troposphere, the atmosphere’s bottom layer that extends up from Earth’s surface to about 10 kilometers. Thanks to the protocol, from the late 1990s on, ozone in the stratosphere “looked like it wasn’t going down anymore, which is a massive success,” says William Ball, a researcher in atmospheric physics at ETH Zürich and one of the study
The Falcon Heavy is essentially three smaller, Falcon 9 rockets strapped together, adding up to a total of 27 engines. The 230-foot (70-meter) tall rocket is designed to carry nearly 141,000 pounds (64 metric tonnes) into orbit.
How smartphones could be ruining your dinner
authors. But precise measurements of the lower stratosphere have been difficult to make. “One of the key problems that’s been left unresolved is that in the lower stratosphere, there’s lots of variability that we don’t capture in the approach that we typically take to work out what the trends are,” Ball says. Ball and a team of researchers from institutions around the world wanted to more accurately measure trends in the ozone layer. For their study, they synthesized and then analyzed multiple satellite data sets of atmospheric ozone. The data cover the tropics and mid-latitudes, from 1985 through 2016. The team found ozone in the upper stratosphere has indeed rebounded since 1998. “It’s clear it’s going back up,” Ball says. “This is exactly where we’d expect to see the Montreal Protocol working its best.” They also discovered ozone in the troposphere—which comes in large part from air pollution—rose from 2004 through 2016. They observed, however, no significant upward or downward trends for the middle stratosphere, or for the total ozone column—the sum of the troposphere and stratosphere— since 1998. What is the culprit? Ball’s team found the ozone in the lower stratosphere has slowly, continuously dropped since 1998. “We see a small but persistent and continuous decline—not as fast as before 1998 but a continued [trend] down,” he says. “This is surprising, because we would have expected to also see this [region’s ozone] stop decreasing.” The finding is important because the lower stratosphere contains the largest fraction of the ozone layer. (Scientific American)
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New research suggests that smartphones could be having a negative effect on our wellbeing, by reducing our social interaction with others
new psychological study has revealed the negative effect that smartphones can have on human interaction, finding that using the devices can actually cause us to enjoy our time with others less. Carried out by Kostadin Kushlev from the University of Virginia, USA, along with researchers from the University of British Columbia, Canada, together the team looked at the effect of smartphones on the dining experienced of 304 participants with an average age of 30. The team set up two different conditions for the study, asking one group of participants to keep their phones on the table while eating and asking a second group to put their phones away.
After the meals, both groups were given a longer questionnaire asking how much they enjoyed the food, the conversation, and the overall experience, as well as how much they had used their smartphones. The team found that diners who had put their phones away reported having a happier experience than those whose phones were on the table.
While Kushlev acknowledges that smartphones can have a positive effect, making you feel closer to the person you are texting, he added they can also have a negative effect, making
“What is interesting to me, and I think to a lot of people, is, ‘How is this changing fundamental human behaviors that have been central to human society and human well-being throughout history?’”said Kushlev, who added that as well as face-toface interaction, sharing food is a traditional way of bonding with others. Kushlev also added that the results are particularly important as today’s younger users cannot remember a time without them, meaning it can be easy to accept smartphone use and its negative effects as the norm. “I don’t think we should accept that phones should be as distracting as they are today,” he said. The results can be found published online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Courtesy: AFP Relax News
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The team concluded that it was the distractions from smartphones that reduced the enjoyment of sitting together to share a meal, with Kushlev adding that, “Statistically speaking, the effect was pretty significant.”
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The first group were told they would need their phones as they would receive a question about their dining experience halfway through the meal, whereas the other group were told the researchers would give them a paper survey midway, so they would not need their phones.
The team found that diners who had put their phones away reported having a happier experience than those whose phones were on the table.
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BOLLYWOOD - HOLLYWOOD Section 2
Jamie Dornan is done with Fifty Shades for good: “I’m gettin’ too old for this!”
Jamie Dornan thinks he’s getting “too old” for Fifty Shades. During an interview Monday on ITV’s Lorraine, the actor was asked about the upcoming Fifty Shades Freed movie and shared whether or not fans would ever see him play Christian Grey again.
Neil Nitin Mukesh
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
on turning evil for Bollywood
When host Lorraine Kelly asked if the third film in the franchise would be the “last one,” Dornan replied, “Um yeah, I think so. I don’t think there’s any...I mean there’s no other books. [E.L. James] wrote the first two books again from Christian’s perspective, but I guess we’ve already seen...we’ve done those films, the same story, so they won’t do that again.”
After ‘Golmaal Again’ the actor will play a negative character once more in ‘Saaho’
ctor Neil Nitin Mukesh, who played a negative role in Rohit Shetty’s Golmaal Again, says he is glad about carving a niche for himself in the negative zone. Mukesh, despite his boyish looks, mostly features in negative characters in movie.
The 35-year-old actor continued, “Unless Erica keeps writing, but Dakota [Johnson] and I are...particularly me, I’m gettin’ too old for...for this.”
Talking about this inclination, Mukesh said: “I did negative roles from the beginning of my career. Be it in Johnny Gaddaar, Saat Khoon Maaf, David... I don’t look at roles as positive or negative. I just see that whether that character will create impact on screen or not, irrespective of screen time of that character.
Earlier in the interview, Dornan discussed his character Christian, explaining that he likes him more in this third movie more than he did in the first film. “I think I like him more now than I did in the first movie,” Dornan said. “I think he’s gone through quite a big change in his...in his way and how his is with people and he’s opened up a lot by Anna and I think he’s just a better version of himself.” Fifty Shade Freed hits theaters on February 9. (-Entertainment Tonight)
“So it doesn’t make difference to me. As an actor, I feel you need to have conviction when you go out there. At least, I am glad that in the aspect of negative roles, I have carved niche for myself.” The actor also spoke about his upcoming film Saaho, a multi-lingual film starring Prabhas and Shraddha Kapoor. where he plays a negative character once again. “Saaho is shaping up really well. We are now preparing for action sequences. Sujeeth is very good. He is only 26 years old but is a brilliant director. I gained weight for Saaho but now I have to reduce that. I am finding it a bit difficult. But I think that transformation will be fun,” he said. Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson at a premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey (-File photo)
Lifetime’s Meghan Markle and Prince Harry movie has cast its leads Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance will debut this spring — just in time for the next royal wedding. by Julie Miller
rince Harry and Meghan Markle’s actual courtship unraveled like the plot of your favorite Lifetime movie: handsome, eligible royal meets beautiful American commoner. Soon, he sweeps her off her feet with romantic overnight trips, top-secret dates, and unprecedented P.D.A.s—seeing past her plebeian pedigree (and previous divorce) to propose marriage after more than a year of dating. Never before has a real-life romance been so perfect for a television-movie adaptation—so naturally, Lifetime is re-creating the magic in Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance. And today, the network announced the lucky actors who will role-play this most magical of love stories. Meet Parisa Fitz-Henley and Murray Fraser, who have been cast as Lifetime’s Meghan and Harry. Fitz-Henley is best known for playing Luke Cage’s onetime love interest Reva Connors in Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, and for playing what Wikipedia describes as a “quirky free-spirited witch” on NBC’s supernatural drama Midnight, Texas. Fitz-Henley’s Instagram proves that the gorgeous actress bears an uncanny resemblance to Markle. Murray Fraser, meanwhile, is a British actor with only two credits to his name—as PC Jason Denny on the
Asked if he would like to play an army man in a film, Mukesh said: “Why not? It is not because the fact that I will get an opportunity to hold the gun or wear the uniform of an army officer, but if any filmmaker offers me role of an army man, then I would love to do it only to honour those people, who fought for us.” Apart from Saaho, the actor will also be seen in Firrkie, along with Kay Kay Menon, Karan Singh Grover and Sandeepa Dhar.
Malayalam actress, dance director Divya Unni remarries in Houston
Publicity shots of Murray Faser and Parisa Fitz-Henley surround the engagement photo of the royal couple. (Photos: Getty Images/ITV/Rex) Scotland-set ITV crime series The Loch and a bit part on an episode of Victoria. But he also sports dashing, Harry-adjacent looks. Adding to the meta-nature of this Lifetime movie about what is essentially a Lifetime movie the universe willed into real-life existence: Markle herself played the love interest in two romantic television movies like this one, not long before manifesting the role in real life. In 2014’s When Sparks Fly. Markle played “a big city
journalist sent back to her small hometown to write a Fourth of July story [only to] discover [that] the life and love she left behind are exactly what she’s been missing.” In Dater’s Handbook—released on Hallmark the same year she met Harry—Markle played “a successful business woman [who] appears unsuccessful in her personal life and decides to try The Dater’s Handbook at her sister’s encouragement and dates several guys to test the process.” (-Vanity Fair)
“I want to work another 20 years”
areena Kapoor Khan, who concluded the Lakme Fashion Week 2018 with her stunning walk as the showstopper, said that her journey in Bollywood has been ‘honourable and enriching’. “It’s been honourable and I would say enriching. It has been 18 years and still counting. I hope to work for another two decades!” She was last seen in 2016’s Udta Punjab and her next film Veere Di Wedding is scheduled to release on June 1. During the media interaction at Lakme Fashion Week 2018, the 37-yearold actress was asked if there had been any catfights on the sets of Veere Di Wedding, given the fact that the ensemble cast was all female. Speaking of it, she said, “That is just a myth. We all are friends. Rhea (Kapoor) is a very good friend of mine. The whole idea of the film was to show the story of four friends. It was so much fun and inspiring and even the film was shot with a lot of fun,” she said. The Shashanka Ghosh-directed film, also starring Sonam Kapoor and Swara Bhasker in the lead roles, is a story about four friends. (-IANS)
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OUSTON - Malayalam actress Divya Unni living in Houston got married for the second time on Sunday, February 4th at the Sree Guruvayoorappan temple here in Houston. She got hitched to a Mumbai-based Malayalee Arun Kumar. Arun has been working in Houston as an engineer reportedly for the last four years. The pictures from the wedding have found their way to the social media. Divya, moved to the United States following her first marriage to Dr Sudhir Shekhara. In 2016, Divya announced that she has separated from her husband and will be legally ending her 14-years-old marriage. While the real reason that played the deal breaker is still unclear, the rumors have it that Sudhir’s infidelity broke the marriage. After her separation from her husband, Divya moved to Kochi with her children Arjun and Meenakshi. An award-winning classical dancer,
Thank you so much for the love, blessings and prayers. My gratitude to everyone who sent us their blessings and good wishes. #love #justmarried #blessed #wedding #gratitude #goodwishes #sreeguruvayurappantemple Divya is presently running Sreepadam School of Arts in Houston, Texas. She has been pursuing her passion for dance since she was three-years-old. She is trained in Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Mohiniyattam. Actors Meera Nandan and Remya Nambeesan are Divya’s cousins. Divya also acted in many movies in Malayalam and was on top of the game during her heydays. She had shared screen space with all the top actors of Malayalam cinema, including Mammootty, Mohanlal, Dileep and Suresh Gopi and others. She has also acted in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada films.
VOICE OF ASIA 16
Kava, the drink soothing the stress of NY millennials
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
Will Cake be ‘THE’ mobile browser for young smartphone users? Swipe right for yes
ake Technologies, Inc is building a swipeable browser for mobiles and it appears to be gaining interest. ‘Point and click’ is starting to seem like a distant memory, as more apps and devices are adopting the ‘swiping’ motion. Cake Technologies is an early-stage, venture-backed startup that believes in, and is therefore building, browsers that allow you to swipe between search results and categories.
A bowl of lemon mint kava -- the new drink for stressed-out millennials in New York -- served at Brooklyn Kava (Photos: AFP)
ROOKLYN, NY - It’s been a mainstay in the South Pacific for thousands of years. Now stressed-out millennial New Yorkers are kissing goodbye to alcohol and gulping down a mildly narcotic drink to ease the pain of long hours, bottleneck commutes and Donald Trump. Kava -- a root ground to powder, mixed with water and then strained -- might taste like muddy water and make fans gag without a fruit juice chaser or blended into a “kavatail,”
part of daily life. Astonishingly two of the lounges are a short walk from each other in Bushwick, known for its artistic scene and influx of young people drawn by more affordable rents. This is the perfect breeding ground for the American kava customer: residents in their mid-20s, embarking on stressful careers, navigating relationships, battling chronic subway delays and, in a Democratic city, dealing with
The ‘swipe’ is just another way that technology is progressing to give a faster and more intuitive user experience. It’s made itself hugely trendy through dating apps such as Tinder, which has gone on to make a professional networking platform called Ripple. And now that Apple has dropped the home button on their iPhone X, there’s a good chance that more will follow into a future of gesture-based interfaces. “Web browsers haven’t changed much in the last decade, and frankly, they’re kind of boring,” says Cake founder Jase Bosarge. “Younger smartphone users have grown up with user-friendly, mobile-native apps, and it’s time for the mobile browser to catch up.” They aren’t the only ones that want to see a change. This week they an-
(Image: Shutterstock) nounced that they’ve received $5 million in their first significant round of venture capital financing. The funding is led by Peak Ventures, with participation from Pelion Venture Partners and Kickstart Seed Fund. “There’s a lot of room for innovation when it comes to the mobile browser, and Cake has found a sweet spot,” said Sid Krommenhoek, partner at Peak Ventures. “Since the smartphone was introduced in 2007, storage capacity alone has increased more than 60x, yet the mobile browser has hardly changed in a decade. We see a huge
opportunity for Cake to disrupt industry heavyweights by providing quicker access to search results in a way that is much more user-friendly.” In addition to swiping, users will be able to manage their search engine results (Google or Bing) by putting their preferred results into lists, such as, shopping or news. This way they can ensure that the first X number of sites they swipe through will be relevant. Cake is now available for free on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for users worldwide. To learn more visit
Two senators offer narrow bill protecting young immigrants
ASHINGTON - Two senators are introducing compromise legislation that would help achieve legal status for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children. Harding Stowe, the owner of Brooklyn Kava, pours the trendy drink into a bowl to be served -- he says it’s “going to explode” in popularity but it’s the mood enhancer taking the edge off for those struggling to cope with hectic modern life. The effects include a mild numbing of the tongue and lips, relaxation and euphoria -- feelings in short supply in congested, rat-race New York, a cacophony of noise, sleep deprivation and yelling. “If any city needs to relax a little bit and calm down, slow down, it’s New York,” says Harding Stowe, the 31-year-old owner of Brooklyn Kava in the rapidly gentrifying, artistic neighborhood of Bushwick. “I really think it’s going to explode and I think it’s starting right now.” Kava may be steeped in tradition and ceremony on Pacific islands such as Fiji, but in the West, it is seen increasingly as a healthier alternative to booze by younger people who want to go out, but not wake up with a hangover the next day. “It’s very relaxing. It’s not like alcohol or drugs,” says Brooklyn artist Sabrina Cheng, 26, a recent convert. “I have a very low tolerance for alcohol anyways. But kava, you can hang here all day, read your book, have the laptop, talk.” With teenagers and millennials drinking less alcohol than their parents, entrepreneurs jumping on the bandwagon believe a less booze-soaked future might be just around the corner.
Donald Trump blues. “I went through quite a lot of anxiety with my previous job and this definitely helped a lot,” says Phil Mai, 25, a financial analyst at a media firm in Manhattan, sitting at the bar in House of Kava on Ladies Night with his girlfriend Susie. “I used to drink alcohol two-three times a week and, on a weekend, sometimes binge,” he says. “I think I had my last drink probably like two weeks ago.” - Trump effect The House of Kava has a string of theme nights to keep people hooked: open-mic nights that bring in rappers, poets and stand-up comics and while most people are in their mid-20s, recently people in their mid-60s have started stopping by. “I’m from a conservative family and I’m the only liberal, so given the state of the world, that is like the biggest stresser in my life, I would say,” says Kellianne Holland, 24, who works for a non-profit when asked what makes her most anxious. Dimly lit, the bar is incredibly mellow. Susie draws. Another woman is buried in a laptop. Someone else is reading and one couple talk softly to one another. There is none of the yelling synonymous with the New York bar scene.
The bill calls for bolstering border security by 2020. But it does not explicitly provide money for a border wall with Mexico, the focus of President Donald Trump’s immigration
The plan is a more modest approach than Trump has sought for protecting “Dreamers,” young immigrants helped by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Trump swung back hard against more conciliatory immigration proposals, saying, “Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time” in a tweet Monday morning.
It lacks Trump’s demands for limiting the relatives that “Dreamers” can sponsor for citizenship, and ending a visa lottery aimed at admitting more immigrants from diverse places in-
The measure is by Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons. (-CNBC)
New study from Stanford University finds that positivity makes kids more successful by Abigail Hess
chools across the country should dust off their “If you believe it, you can achieve it” posters, because scientists from Stanford University have discovered the brain pathway that directly links a positive attitude with achievement. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine studied 240 children ages seven to 10 and found that being positive improved their ability to answer math problems, increased their memories and enhanced their problem-solving abilities. They also used MRI brain scans to map the neurological effects of positivity. The study, published in Psychological Science states, “our study is the first to elucidate the neurocognitive mechanisms by which positive attitude influences learning and academic achievement.” Specifically, the research pinpointed the ways in which a positive attitude improved
the functions of the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory. Lead author Lang Chen said that the impact of positivity was larger than researchers had anticipated. “Attitude is really important,” he told Stanford’s Erin Digitale. “Based on our data, the unique contribution of positive attitude to math achievement is as large as the contribution from IQ.” The researchers explain that positivity manifests itself in multiple ways. For instance, if students were positive about math, they tended to have more interest in math and were more likely to practice. “We saw that if you have a strong interest and self-perceived ability in math, it results in enhanced memory and more efficient engagement of the brain’s problem-solving capacities,” said Stanford professor and senior author, Vinod Menon.
Their findings show that regardless of IQ, a positive attitude can help anyone improve memory or lessen anxiety — but positivity does not guarantee success. “A positive attitude opens the door for children to do well but does not guarantee that they will; that depends on other factors as well,” says Chen. Chen and Menon believe that their findings can help improve academic performance for children who struggle with school and give teachers a surefire tool for helping their students meet their fullest potentials. This research highlights a concept that business leaders have stressed for years: Positivity breeds positive results. “Positive people don’t just have a good day; they make it a good day,” says self-made billionaire Richard Branson. “People who think positively usually see endless possibilities.” (-CNBC)
“It’s not as cool anymore to go to bars every night,” explains Stowe. “People want something new and they want something healthy.”
Sun safety may not be a top priority in daycare
An initial kava boom in the West in the 1990s fueled low-quality exports which -- combined with little understanding of the plant -- led to negative publicity about health concerns and prohibitions in Europe. That all led to a bust.
ids in daycare may not always learn about sun safety because their teachers are more focused on lessons about healthy food choices, brushing teeth and getting plenty of exercise, a U.S. study suggests.
But while the US Food and Drug Administration warned in 2002 of a “rare” but potential risk of severe liver injury associated with kava-containing products, kava is again seeing another boom, and exports from Fiji alone more than doubled from 2012-16. “Unlike in the 1990s, the scholarly understanding of the plant is much better. It has been widely studied and it’s generally perceived as safe and beneficial,” says Zbigniew Dumienski, a researcher at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. There is a well-established scene in Florida, yet kava has been relatively slow to take root in America’s most populous city, where there are only three kava lounges but 10,000 bars, with drinks after work and happy hours
Researchers surveyed 202 administrators, managers and teachers at Head Start and other daycare centers in Illinois in July, a time of year when kids are apt to be exposed to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Overall, when participants ranked their top priorities for teaching toddlers and preschoolers healthy habits, good nutrition came first, followed by exercise, and brushing teeth. Less than one in five respondents listed bike helmets, vaccinations or sun protection as top priorities. “The seasonal shift in sun intensity in Illinois means that sun safety receives less attention than health promotion activities that apply all year such as good nutrition, adequate ex-
ercise and brushing teeth,” said senior study author Dr. June Robinson of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. While about half of the daycare programs did provide sunscreen for students, 77 percent of these programs didn’t allow kids to apply the sunscreen themselves, researchers report in JAMA Dermatology. It’s possible some daycare centers were following state regulations that apply to students starting in elementary school, which classify sunscreen as an over-the-counter medication that can only be applied by a school nurse with a doctor’s prescription, Robinson said by email. Daycare centers aren’t bound by these regulations, but it might still influence their decisions, Robinson said. (-Reuters Health).
The sun shines above thick smog trapped in Utah Valley in Alpine, Utah, U.S. December 12, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/George Frey)
VOICE OF ASIA 17 VOICE OF ASIA 17
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018 FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
After 24 surgeries, Bangladesh ‘tree man’ relapses
HAKA | AFP - A year ago Abul Bajandar, a Bangladeshi rickshaw-puller dubbed “treeman” for the bark-like growths that once covered his body, appeared to have made a full recovery from the rare condition that has afflicted him for a decade. But 12 months after doctors declared him all but cured following 24 surgeries, Bajandar’s hands are once again covered in the growths that characterise his rare condition.Surgeon Samanta Lal Sen, who last year hailed his cure as a milestone in medical history, now admits Bajandar’s case may be more complicated than first thought.
The key is to deliver a tiny pulse of electricity to exactly the right place at exactly the right moment, a team reports in Tuesday’s Nature Communications. “Tree Man” Abul Bajandar, who has been unable to work for years and whose young family lives in the hospital, says he fears he will never be cured. (Photo: AFP/Sam Jahan) (a cure). But now it seems to be a time-consuming case,” surgeon Sen told AFP.
young Bangladeshi girl suffering from the condition.
“I am scared to have any more surgeries. I don’t think my hands and feet will be okay again,” the 27-year-old told AFP at the Dhaka hospital where he first came for treatment in January 2016.Bajandar suffers from epidermodysplasia verruciformis, an extremely rare genetic condition known as “tree-man disease”.
This week Bajandar underwent his 25th surgery to remove some of the growths from his hands.
He withdrew her from treatment, saying he did not want to watch her grow up in a hospital ward.
FEWER THAN HALF A DOZEN CASES
“Nobody deserves to be in a hospital forever,” said a nurse working in the plastic surgery unit.
Intrigued by his condition, doctors at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital treated him for free, surgically removing more than five kilograms of growths from his hands and feet.
“We’re grateful for the free treatment, we couldn’t have afforded to pay for it,” said Khatun, who passes her time in the ward making jewellery for a little cash.
“We thought we had achieved
For his wife Halima Khatun, life is on hold as she tends to her husband and looks after their four-year-old daughter.
Fewer than half a dozen people worldwide have epidermodysplasia verruciformis, according to Sen. Last year the Dhaka Medical College Hospital treated a
“Unfortunately, he (Bajandar) may have to stay here for a while.” Meanwhile Bajandar worries about money, and how he will pay for his daughter’s education. “She’s growing up so fast,” he said. “I always wanted her to become a doctor. But if my condition worsens, how can I even send her to pre-school, let alone a medical college?”
More than skin deep: cosmetic surgery industry booming by Mariëtte Le Roux
ARIS, France | AFP | Thursday 2/1/2018 - In the never-ending quest for youthful, magazinecover looks, 8.6 billion euros ($10.7 billion) were spent last year on materials and chemicals used in cosmetic procedures worldwide, the IMCAS industry body said Thursday.
Spending on equipment and products used to nip, tuck, lift, and tighten grew more than eight percent from 2016, it showed. The market should reach 9.3 billion euros in 2018, and is likely to more than double in the seven-year period from 2014 to 2021. The report tracked sales of equipment such as lasers for “body contouring” or hair removal, pharmaceutical compounds, “active” cosmetics, fat-sucking devices, musclefreezing toxins such as botox, wrinkle “fillers”, and breast implants. Impressive as they may seem, the amounts surgeons spend on these items is but a drop in the ocean of what clients fork out for beauty procedures. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), Americans alone spent more than $15 billion on beauty procedures in 2016, an 11-percent rise from the previous year. In a statement, ASAPS president Daniel Mills credited a healthier economy, technological innovations, and “a desire on the part of baby-boomers and their offspring to remain competitive in a youth-centric
“We saw a 15 percent improvement in memory,” says Michael Kahana, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and an author of the study. The approach hints at a new way of treating people with memory problems caused by a brain injury or Alzheimer’s disease, Kahana says. But the technology is still far from widespread use. Kahana has spent years trying to understand why the brain often fails to store information we want it to keep. “When we’re trying to study a list of items, sometimes the items stick and sometimes we have momentary lapses where we don’t seem to remember anything,” he says. Kahana and a team of researchers thought there must be a way to help the brain do better. So they had a computer learn to recognize patterns of electrical activity indicating that the brain was about to have a memory lapse. Then the team had the computer intervene by delivering a pulse of electricity to different areas of the brain just before the lapse was going to occur. And in the area involved in recalling words, the approach worked. “When we stimulated the left temporal cortex, we found that
A model looking like actress Angelina Jolie reads a leaflet in front of a billboard showing her portrait at the IMCAS World Congress in Paris on Feb. 1. (Photo: AFP) workforce.” Procedures to shift undesirable fat from areas such as the buttocks or belly to perk up breasts or plump up checks were among the most popular in America, the data showed. - Demand ‘stronger than ever’ A form of cosmetic vaginal surgery called labiaplasty was one of the most sought-after procedures, growing 23 percent in the United States and 45 percent globally from 2015. It involves trimming back the “inner lips” or labia minora flanking the vaginal opening, in the quest for a smooth, designer vagina. “Vaginal rejuvenation is the new trend and the fastest growing procedure (labiaplasty),” International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) president Renato Saltz told AFP. According to an ISAPS report on the year 2016, the latest period for which data is available, 23.6 million face- or body-boosting procedures were performed globally, nine percent more than in 2015. Of these, 10.4 million required clients going under the knife, the rest were injections or non-invasive treatments. “The demand for cosmetic
procedures is stronger than ever,” said Saltz. The top five countries -- the United States, Brazil, Japan, Italy, and Mexico -- accounted for 41.4 percent of the world’s cosmetic procedures, the ISAPS report said. Breast augmentation remained the most popular surgical procedure in 2016, accounting for 15.8 percent of all beauty operations, followed by liposuction with 14 percent, eyelid surgery with 12.9 percent, and nose jobs with 7.6 percent. Penis enlargement was the least popular cosmetic procedure in 2016, and the category with the biggest drop -- 28 percent. “The most popular non-surgical procedures continue to be injectables, with Botulinum toxin (botox) ranking at number one at 4,627,752 procedures,” said the ISAPS. Led by China and India, Asia was the fastest-growing market, added IMCAS, and should overtake Europe for the first time in 2018 in terms of cosmetic industry spending. The data showed that men made up almost 14 percent of clients overall, mainly seeking eyelid surgery, breast reductions, nose enhancements, liposuction, and hair transplants.
Brain MRI (BSIP/Collection Mix: Sub/Getty Images) memory was improved significantly,” Kahana says. “When we stimulated other parts of the brain, memory was, by and large, impaired.” The experiment was done with 25 patients with epilepsy who were in the hospital awaiting surgery to treat their seizures. That meant doctors had already inserted wires into their brains to monitor electrical activity. But epilepsy patients tend to have memory problems and other brain anomalies, says Michael Sperling, an author of the study and director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. “We still really lack any experiments in people with other conditions to know for certain whether [the treatment] would prove effective or not,” Sperling says. Even so, Sperling is optimistic that the research will lead to an implantable device that can improve memory in at least some patients. “There’s a good chance that something like this
will come available,” he says, “I would hope within the next half dozen years, or so.” The memory research is being funded by the military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. It’s part of an effort by the agency to develop technologies to help military personnel and veterans with memory problems caused by brain injuries. “We didn’t just do this for the sake of science,” says Justin Sanchez, who directs DARPA’s biological technologies office. “We wanted a real technology that could ultimately make its way out into the world.” DARPA-funded scientists are already working on a version of the brain stimulation system that could be implanted in a person, Sanchez says. And this sort of technology could eventually extend beyond people who have memory impairments, he says. “If any of us could get a 15 percent boost in our memory, that would be transformative,” Sanchez says. (-NPR Health Shot News)
Working before and after stroke is good for brain health
This meant plastic surgeons and beauty practitioners spent about the equivalent of Costa Rica’s total annual exports on the tools of their trade. The data revealed “a strong dynamism for this sector in a difficult economic environment for several geographical areas,” said a report released at the IMCAS beauty industry conference in Paris.
A tiny pulse of electricity can help the brain form lasting memories HILADELPHIA, PA, February 6, 2018 - A little electrical brain stimulation can go a long way in boosting memory.
Doctors declared surgery to remove the growths a success, but her father later said they had grown back in even greater numbers.
He has been there ever since with his wife and family, who live together in a small room in the hospital.
by Jon Hamilton
“We will keep on investigating to reach the ultimate success, though it’s tough to say how long it will take.”
His patient, who has been unable to work for years and whose young family lives in the hospital, says he fears he will never be cured.
OS ANGELES, Jan. 25, 2018 — Adult stroke patients who are employed prior to and after suffering strokes are more likely than unemployed adults to have healthier minds two years post stroke, according to preliminary research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2018, a world premier meeting dedicated to the science and treatment of cerebrovascular disease for researchers and clinicians. “Studies have shown stroke greatly increases dementia risk, and occupational status might influence how stroke survivors fare years after having a stroke,” said study author Einor Ben Assayag, Ph.D., senior researcher in the neurology department at Tel-Aviv Sorasky Medical Center, Tel-Aviv, Israel. “We looked at how occupational status, brain health and cognitive decline might be interrelated after stroke.” Ben Assayag and colleagues studied 252 working-age adult stroke survivors from the TABASCO study. They analyzed
brain health early on after stroke, as well as cognitive changes, at one year and two years after stroke. “A novel aspect of this study was we also studied the association of inflammation with occupational status and cognitive changes after stroke,” she said. They found: People who were unemployed before stroke were more than three times (320 percent) more likely than those who were employed to develop cognitive decline within two years from the initial stroke. In addition to having lower cognitive results post-stroke, those who were unemployed before stroke were more likely to have worse neurological deficit, higher depression scores and more elevated inflammation. Adults who weren’t working before having a stroke were more likely to have unhealthy brain changes defined as reduced cortical thickness and white matter volume on imaging studies.
Those who were unemployed prior to stroke were more likely to have type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. During the two years of the study, 4.4 percent of participants died and 8.9 percent developed cognitive decline. Returning to work after stroke was associated with lower cognitive decline risk. “The message here is ‘keep on working,’” Ben Assayag said. “Rates of death and cognitive decline were higher among the unemployed people we studied. In fact, being unemployed was by itself a risk factor for cognitive decline and death.” A limitation of the study is that it included only mild stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) patients, and not people with more severe strokes. The American Federation for Aging Research and U.S.-Israel Bi-National Science Foundation funded the study. (-SOURCE: American Heart Association.)
VOICE OF ASIA 18
Budget delays bring uncertainty to health programs for the needy by Shefali Luthra
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
Breast cancer treatments can raise heart risks, doctors warn by Jacqueline Howard
ith the clock ticking on the current stopgap bill that funds the federal government through Feb. 8, Congress is steeling itself to consider another mustpass budget bill.
eart disease and cancer are the top two leading causes of death in the United States -and a new paper highlights how these major health concerns can intertwine.
Once again, health care could be caught in the crosshairs.
A scientific statement from the American Heart Association, published Thursday in the journal Circulation, warns that breast cancer patients may be at an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and could benefit from discussing those risks with their doctors.
During previous debates over government funding, it was the high-profile Children’s Health Insurance Program that went months without reauthorization and became a bargaining chip. A deal in January extended it for six years. But the future of a host of other health care programs remains unsettled. Among them: funding for the nation’s 1,400 community health centers and a delay on capping Medicare coverage of physical therapy and outpatient therapy, after they technically expired last year. Advocates for the programs are pressing lawmakers to keep them going by including language in the broader spending bill that must pass next week to prevent another government shutdown. Some of the items in this eclectic legislative mix are often left to the last minute, to catch a ride on another bill — known as an “extender” by Washington insiders, because it extends funding that is set to expire or delays cuts that would otherwise take effect. On the surface, these efforts may sound like wonky, insidethe-Beltway machinations. But program backers say they have real-life implications for many of the nation’s neediest people. For them, the congressional delay is causing concern. The provisions are important and wide-ranging Renewing federal funding for community health centers is the biggest ticket item — the clinics cost $3.6 billion per year, and provide basic health care for about 27 million people with low incomes. Also at stake is the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, through which trained home visitors teach healthy parenting strategies to new mothers who are deemed at-risk and have low incomes. Another provision forestalls planned reductions put in place by the Affordable Care Act — in federal funds given to particularly vulnerable facilities known as Disproportionate Share Hospitals because they serve a particularly high percentage of low-income patients. And yet another provision would prevent limits that were put in place by earlier budget bills from being applied to Medicare’s coverage of physical therapy, outpatient therapy and speech-language pathology treatment. Without action, coverage would be cut off after $2,010 of occupational therapy is provided and another $2,010 for the combination of physical therapy and speech-language pathology. Each limit would translate to Medicare reimbursement for fewer than 20 visits. Congress has previously funded these programs in bigger bills These are generally smaller programs that, in the past, were authorized or extended via provisions attached to larger, mustpass bills. One of the favorite vehicles was the “doc fix,” which regularly moved through Congress to make adjustments in how Medicare paid doctors. That is, until a landmark 2015 law — the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, or MACRA — permanently addressed physician payment. CHIP finally got funding in the Jan. 22 federal spending deal this year, but the other items were left on the table. One issue, many said: They’re simply not as sexy, and the impact is harder to spot immediately. “The problem is too much of the focus was on just one egg in the basket, and that egg got done. Now the rest of the eggs are saying, ‘What about me?’ “ says Rodney Whitlock, a health policy consultant and former Republican Senate staffer. “The real-world impact of not addressing those is slowly becoming problematic.”
Matilde Gonzalez (left) and Cesar Calles hold their son, Cesar Julian Calles, 10 months old, as he is immunized with a flu shot in January at Sea Mar Community Health Center in Seattle. (-Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP) Most of the programs aren’t controversial politically
leagues are already starting to ration care.
These programs usually pass with bipartisan support. For advocates, lobbyists and analysts on both sides of the aisle, that makes the funding lapse especially disorienting.
She describes, for instance, a 69-year-old man who is recovering from a stroke and about halfway through his allotted therapy. He will require several more sessions later this year just for that condition, which would bring him up to the cap. If his other ailments — shoulder problems and poor blood flow – worsen, Medicare wouldn’t cover treatment.
“Even things that should be easy and bipartisan are taking much, much longer and encountering much more difficulty than I think any of us would have expected,” says Eliot Fishman, senior director of health policy at the liberal advocacy group Families USA and a former member of the Obama administration. “It’s clearly a matter of political gamesmanship.” There is some room to debate how to pay for these initiatives. But even that is limited, suggests Thomas Miller, a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “If it’s your economic interest at stake ... this is an end-all and be-all. But these are not gigantic items,” Miller says. “The consequences for the larger fiscal picture are not immense.” Take the caps on funding for the various sorts of therapy. They were first put in place as part of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, as part of an effort to curb Medicare outpatient spending. But in 1999, right when the caps were scheduled to kick in, pushback from physicians and patient advocates led Congress to delay their effective date. Since then, Congress, has — except for a brief lapse — staved off the caps. Delay in funding has consequences for patients Stephanie Weyrauch, a Minnesota-based physical therapist concerned about the therapy caps, says she and her col-
“We have to make sure we’re doing what’s best for our patients,” she says. “Sometimes that means we stop therapy early to prepare for a potential next episode.” A fix from Congress could come next week Federal legislators have already provided some shortterm funding for community health centers, which is “keeping the lights on,” Fishman says. But it lasts only until the end of March. And the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program is operating on previously allocated dollars. In the meantime, Fishman notes, the affected programs are struggling to plan for the future. They are trying to come up with budgets and make staffing decisions without a sense of what their income will actually be. But some people expressed optimism about what will be included in the funding bill likely to take shape in Congress next week. “I continue to believe that when a spending deal gets worked out this train will ride along,” Whitlock says. It is an election year, he notes: “No matter what, this is one of those where it’s got to get worked out.” (-Kaiser Health News)
Anxiety, irritability may increase dog bite risk
by Deborah Brauser aving an “anxious personality” may increase the risk of being bitten by a dog, either a strange dog or one in the home, new research suggests. In an observational survey study of almost 700 individuals in the United Kingdom, those who had higher scores on the Ten Item Personality Inventory (TIPI), which measures emotional stability, were at a significantly lower risk of having ever received a bite than those with lower scores, which signify greater levels of anxiety, irritability, and depression. In fact, “every single point increase in score between 1 and 7 was associated with a 23% decrease in the likelihood of having been bitten,” the investigators note in a press release. Previous research has shown that most bites come from dogs that are familiar; 55% of the bites in this study came from unfamiliar dogs. Lead author Carri Westgarth, PhD, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at the University of Liverpool, Cheshire, United Kingdom, told Medscape Medical News that although the latter finding was surprising, the real significance lies in the personality finding. “This has never been reported before, and I wasn’t even really looking for that. But to
me, how we behave regarding our health is likely to be influenced by our personality,” said Dr Westgarth.
“For older women, (cardiovascular disease) poses a greater mortality threat than breast cancer itself. This is the first scientific statement from the American Heart Association on CVD and breast cancer,” the statement says. Cardiovascular disease and breast cancer already have several overlapping risk factors, such as age and obesity, and current lifesaving breast cancer treatments could have negative impacts on heart health, according to the statement. “We hate to trade one disease for another,” said Dr. Laxmi Mehta, an author of the statement and director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “We are still recommending that patients do get their breast cancer treatment. They should get the best treatment that’s necessary for their breast cancer,” she said, but patients should try to prevent or reduce those risks to their heart health by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and monitoring their blood pressure and cholesterol. The intersection of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer is nothing new to oncologists, said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical and scientific officer and executive vice president of the American Cancer Society, who was not involved in the statement. “We have taught and seen these problems. The report may bring this problem to the front of mind among emergency medicine and internal medicine doctors who are caring for these women,” he said. “Let’s give these drugs and treatments to people who need them -- the risk-benefit is more favorable -and let’s do all we can to determine who is unlikely to benefit from the drugs and spare them the risks.” Globally, breast cancer is the top cancer impacting women’s health, in both the developed and the developing worlds, according to the World Health Organization. In the US and the United Kingdom, about 12% of women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetimes, according to the National Cancer Institute and the organization Cancer Research UK. There are many types of cancer treatment, including
Doctors warn of heart risk from some breast cancer therapies (-File photo) surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, hormone therapy, stem cell transplant and precision medicine. The new statement noted that radiation and chemotherapies can pose a risk to cardiovascular health.A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013 found that exposing the heart to radiation during radiotherapy could increase the rate of heart disease among breast cancer patients later in life. The study involved 2,168 women who underwent radiotherapy for breast cancer between 1958 and 2001. It showed that the rate of major coronary events among the women increased 7.4% for each additional gray, or unit, in the average radiation dose delivered to the heart. Women irradiated for cancer of the left breast, near the heart, had higher rates of major coronary events than women irradiated for cancer of the right breast, the study found. “It is less a problem today than 20 years ago, because we started aiming the beam to miss the heart about 20 years ago, but we occasionally see a woman who had lumpectomy and radiation, and the radiation beam caught part of the heart and a coronary artery,” Brawley said. “This can cause isolated coronary artery disease in that portion of the artery.” Coronary heart disease is the most common cause of cardiac death after radiotherapy, according to a paper published in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine in 2016. “Radiation therapy does have that risk of developing coronary artery disease, and it can be several years to a decade or more later,” Mehta said. Yet “one of the well-known treatments to potentially cause heart problems are anthracyclines,” she said of chemotherapy drugs. “Anthracyclines have been shown to result in weakening of the heart muscle and heart failure, which can be irreversible. Oncologists and cardiologists are well aware of this and minimize the dosage as possible to reduce the potential of heart failure.” One observational study of 1,263 breast cancer patients in Dundee, Scotland, found that among those who received
anthracyclines alone for treatment, 6.7% developed left ventricular systolic dysfunction, a common cause of heart failure. Among those who received a combination of anthracycline and trastuzumab, another chemotherapy drug, 12.5% developed that systolic dysfunction. So the study, published in the journal Heart in 2016, suggests that a single chemotherapy drug is associated with less damage to the heart compared with combining drugs. “Adriamycin, or doxorubicin, and trastuzumab, or Herceptin, are the big causes of heart failure,” Brawley said. “Adriamycin-induced congestive heart failure symptoms can show up three to five years after treatment and easily be missed by an internist or ER doctor who does not see a lot of these patients,” he said. “Health care is changing such that a cancer patient often does not see an oncologist after completion of therapy.” In general, the impact of both cardiovascular disease and breast cancer among women can be significant, and Mehta hopes the new statement raises this awareness, especially among older women. “Older breast cancer survivors are more likely to die from other diseases and not breast cancer, and cardiovascular disease is the most frequent cause,” she said. The American Heart Association’s statement is “long overdue,” said Dr. Lewis Kuller, a professor and past chair of the department of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, who was not involved in the statement. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and treating cardiovascular risk factors aggressively can help prevent heart attack, stroke and disability, said Kuller, who also has studied cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. Overall, “one of the great things about the cancer world right now is that there are more and more survivors,” Mehta said. “Oncologists are doing a terrific job of increasing survival rates by advancing the science and improving cancer treatments. This is much better than a few decades ago,” she said. (-CNN)
She noted that more research is needed to see whether the results can be replicated using “a more detailed measure of personality.” The findings were published online February 1 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. - Bites and Strikes -
Read up on what’s changing in the Health world
Yearly hospital admissions rates for “dog bites and strikes” in England are estimated at 6743. Strikes are nonbite injuries from a dog, but they are often reported as dog bites. It is estimated that in the United States, there are 9500 hospital admissions for dog bites per year. “Statistics concerning actual dog bites require clarification. Further, prevalence studies based on hospital admission records do not include likely less serious dog bites which do not require medical treatment or are treated elsewhere, including Accident and Emergency,” the researchers write. Dr Westgarth said she’s “always been fascinated by the relationship we have with our pets and how living with them might impact our health, such as with dog bites. But surprisingly, there’s little robust scientific research being done around dog bites.
Voice of Asia brings you the latest in medicine, medical
technology, nutrition, pharmacy, and other health related articles. Also visit www.healthlinemag.com
VOICE OF ASIA 19
US airlines tighten leash on ‘emotional support animals’
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
Age-related hearing loss Causes Tiny hair cells inside your inner ear help you hear. They pick up sound waves and change them into the nerve signals that the brain interprets as sound. Hearing loss occurs when the tiny hair cells are damaged or die. The hair cells DO NOT regrow, so most hearing loss caused by hair cell damage is permanent. There is no known single cause of age-related hearing loss. Most commonly, it is caused by changes in the inner ear that occur as you grow older. Your genes and loud noise (from rock concerts or music headphones) may play a large role. The following factors contribute to age-related hearing loss:
Woman passenger banned from taking her emotional support peacock on a flight. by Maggy Donaldson
ASHINGTON | AFP | Thursday 2/1/2018 - Major US airlines are clipping the wings of “emotional support animals” hoping to take flight with their owners over safety concerns, as a would-be peacock passenger created a social media tizzy. United Airlines -- which this week turned Dexter the Peacock away at New Jersey’s Newark Airport over health and safety concerns -- announced Thursday it was reining in regulations on emotional support animals, citing a 75 percent jump in customers taking creatures on board and a spike in related incidents. Federal guidelines support the right of passengers with disabilities to board with a variety of emotional support or service animals, but airlines can deny boarding to some exotic or “unusual” pets. “The Department of Transportation’s rules regarding emotional support animals are not working as they were intended, and we need to change our approach in order to ensure a safe and pleasant travel experience for all of our customers,” the airline said in a statement. Queried by AFP, United spokesman Charlie Hobart said the peacock kerfuffle had “no relevance whatsoever” to the policy change, which will go into effect March 1, and the timing “was a complete coincidence.” “We’ve been working on this policy for some time, well before this weekend’s incident with Dexter.” He noted that the majestic bird with iridescent blue and green plumage was not allowed onboard under current policy, which prohibits from cabin travel for a menagerie including hedgehogs, rodents, non-
household birds and “animals not properly cleaned or carrying a foul odor.” United’s move follows Delta’s decision to implement new documentation requirements for owners hoping to fly with their animals, a new policy it said “comes as a lack of regulation that has led to serious safety risks involving untrained animals in flight.” - ‘Comfort turkeys’ That airline said it had seen an 84 percent jump in reports of animal incidents since 2016, including an emotional support dog weighing 70 pounds (over 30 kilograms) that gave another passenger facial wounds requiring 28 stitches. “Customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, spiders and more,” Delta said. “Ignoring the true intent of existing rules governing the transport of service and support animals can be a disservice to customers who have real and documented needs.” The Association of Flight Attendants heralded Delta’s tightened requirements. An American spokeswoman told AFP that the airline was reviewing its policy, while vowing to “continue to support the rights of customers, from veterans to people with disabilities, with legitimate needs.” Dexter the Peacock, meanwhile, was forced to make the trek to Los Angeles via car, according to the bird’s Instagram account. “Spent 6 hours trying to get on my flight to LA,” read a caption next to an image of the peacock -- which reportedly belongs to a New York-based performance artist -- perched on a baggage trolley. “Tomorrow my human friends are going to drive me cross country!”
As cancer survival rate grows, so does number of new cases by Hugues Honore
ARIS, France | AFP Even as cancer treatment improves and survival rates go up, so too does the number of people afflicted with the deadly disease, experts said ahead of World Cancer Day. The 14 million new cancer cases worldwide recorded in 2012 will balloon to 24 million within two decades, outstripping the increase in global population, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). All forms of cancer combined claimed 8.8 million lives in 2015, making it the second leading cause of death after heart disease. “We know how to help avoid it, and to detect it. We’re getting better at treating it. But overall, we’re not making real headway in the fight against cancer,” said Christophe Leroux, head of communications for France’s League Against Cancer. Several factors account for the disease’s growing prevalence. One is ageing populations, especially in developed nations and China, where a onechild-per-family policy in force for more than 30 years created a top-heavy age pyramid. Cancer risk increases with age. There is also a long list of lifestyle habits linked to can-
cer, with tobacco consumption at the top. Other risk factors -- all of them increasing -- include eating poorly, lack of exercise, drinking alcohol, and obesity. Cancer-causing infections such as hepatitis and the human papilloma virus (HPV) account for a quarter of cancer cases, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. Another risk is exposure to carcinogenic industrial pollutants, including asbestos, organic pollutants such as dioxins, heavy metals and small air particles that lodge in the lungs. - Unequal access Despite the growing challenges, five-year survival rates for most cancers have improved -- sometimes significantly -- since 2000, according to a study published last week in medical journal The Lancet that reviewed 37.5 million cancer cases between 2000 and 2014. But large disparities between societies remain, depending on level of development and differences in health case systems. For children with brain tumours, for example, five-year survival has improved across the board from 54 percent for the period 2000-2004, to more than 60 percent for 2010-2014. In the United States, Denmark, Sweden and Slovakia, the survival rate progressed to 80 percent or better. In Mexico and Brazil, how-
Family history (age-related hearing loss tends to run in families) Repeated exposure to loud noises Smoking (smokers are more likely to have such hearing loss than nonsmokers) Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes Certain medicines, such as chemotherapy drugs for cancer
Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, is the slow loss of hearing that occurs as people get older
Hearing aids Telephone amplifiers and other assistive devices Sign language (for those with severe hearing loss) Speech reading (lip reading and using visual cues to aid communication) A cochlear implant may be recommended for people with severe hearing loss. Surgery is done to place the implant. The implant allows the person to detect sounds again and with practice can allow the person to understand speech, but it does not restore normal hearing. Outlook (Prognosis)
Age-related hearing loss most often gets worse slowly. The hearing loss cannot be reversed and may lead to deafness.
Loss of hearing often occurs slowly over time. Symptoms include:
Hearing loss may cause you to avoid leaving home. Seek help from your provider and family and friends to avoid becoming isolated. Hearing loss can be managed so that you can continue to live a full and active life.
Difficulty hearing people around you Frequently asking people to repeat themselves Frustration at not being able to hear
Certain sounds seeming overly loud Problems hearing in noisy areas Problems telling apart certain sounds, such as “s” or “th” More difficulty understanding people with higher-pitched voices Ringing in the ears Talk to your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms. Symptoms of presbycusis may be like symptoms of other medical problems.
Exams and Tests
Hearing loss can result in both physical (not hearing a fire alarm) and psychological (social isolation) problems. The hearing loss may lead to deafness. When to Contact a Medical Professional Hearing loss should be checked as soon as possible. This helps rule out causes such as too much wax in the ear or side effects of medicines. Your provider should have you get a hearing test. Contact your provider right away if you have a sudden change in your hearing or hearing loss with other symptoms, such as:
Your provider will do a complete physical exam. This helps find if a medical problem is causing your hearing loss. Your provider will use an instrument called an otoscope to look in your ears. Sometimes, earwax can block the ear canals and cause hearing loss.
You may be sent to an ear, nose, and throat doctor and a hearing specialist (audiologist). Hearing tests can help determine the extent of hearing loss.
Hearing loss - age related; Presbycusis
There is no cure for age-related hearing loss. Treatment is focused on improving your everyday function. The following may be helpful:
Vision changes Dizziness Alternative Names
The ear consists of external, middle, and inner structures. The eardrum and the 3 tiny bones conduct sound from the eardrum to the cochlea. (-SOURCE: US National Library of Medicine)
India unveils healthcare for 500m of its poorest
EW DELHI, India | AFP | Thursday 2/1/2018 - India on Thursday announced a national healthcare scheme for half a billion of its poorest citizens in a major giveaway to voters in the final budget before a general election. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said India’s most vulnerable families would be able to access up to 500,000 rupees ($7,855) a year for hospital cover through the initiative. India spends a little over one percent of its GDP on public healthcare -- one of the lowest proportions in the world -- a sum the government is aiming to increase to 2.5 percent by 2025. The government currently provides 30,000 rupees towards healthcare for poor families, but that sum is insufficient to cover most medical procedures. The programme would take public healthcare in the world’s largest democracy “to a new aspiration level”, said Jaitley. “This will be the world’s largest governmentfunded healthcare programme,” he told parliament in his budget speech. “The government is steadily but surely progressing towards a goal of universal health coverage.” He said “adequate funds” would be provided to roll out the insurance program to 500 million of India’s poorest nationwide. Nearly $190 million was earmarked to improve smaller local health centres accessed by many of the most vulnerable, he added.
ever, less than 40 percent of children diagnosed with brain tumours survived in the 2010-2014 period. Breast cancer rates also improved across the board, even as disparities remained. Five-year survival rates for 2010-2014 in the US and Australia were 90 percent. In western and eastern Europe, the rate improved to 85 and 71 percent, respectively. “If we want fewer deaths from cancer, there are two ways: first, better prevention, and second, improving outcomes,” co-author Michel Coleman, an epidemiologist a researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told AFP. - Treatment costs $300 bn Cancer is also a costly disease, both for health care systems of for society at large. Globally, the total annual economic cost of cancer exceeds a trillion dollars, according the WHO. Much of that burden falls on developing nations.
An Indian volunteer washes the wounds of a homeless woman during a free medical care camp in July for the homeless, in New Delhi. (Photo: AFP/Rahul Singh) India is home to 1.25 billion people but lacks sufficient doctors, and staterun hospitals are stretched to breaking point. Patients face long delays for even minor treatment, and a consultation with a private GP can cost 1,000 rupees ($15) -- a huge sum for millions living on less than $2 a day. Jaitley said the government was “seriously concerned” that millions of Indians had to borrow or sell assets to receive adequate treatment in hospital.
India only has an estimated 840,000 medical doctors -- one for every 1,674 people -- far fewer than the one per 1,000 people recommended by the World Health Organization. Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a thumping mandate in 2014 promising, among other things, a universal healthcare plan to protect India’s poorest. The budget is his government’s last before Indians go back to the polls for a general election, which must be called by May next year.
Hot tea linked to esophageal cancer in smokers, drinkers
f you smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol daily, you may want to consider letting your tea cool before you enjoy it. Drinking tea while it’s too hot could increase your risk of esophageal cancer, a new study suggests. In the study, published Monday, February 5 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, drinking “hot” or “burning hot” tea was associated with a two- to fivefold increase in esophageal cancer, but only in people who also smoked or drank alcohol. Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the world and is often fatal, killing approximately 400,000 people every year, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is usually caused by repeated injury to the esophagus due to smoke, alcohol, acid reflux and -- maybe -- hot liquids. The study, the largest of its
kind, followed close to 500,000 adults in China over an average of 9½ years. Because of the large size, it may set the bar for years to come, according to Neal Freedman, senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, who was not involved in the new research. Participants who drank tea on a weekly basis were asked to describe its temperature as “warm,” “hot” “or “burning hot.” Drinking “hot” or “burning hot” tea was not, by itself, a predictor of esophageal cancer, which is good news for tea aficionados. However, for people who smoked tobacco or drank alcohol -- both of which are known to cause esophageal cancer -drinking “hot” or “burning hot” tea made their risk of cancer even higher, according to Jun Lv, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Peking University
and a lead author on the study. “Drinking hot tea contributed to cancer only when it clustered with smoking and drinking alcohol excessively,” Lv said. The researchers collected information about tobacco and alcohol consumption at the beginning of the study. “Excessive alcohol consumption” was defined as 15 grams or more of alcohol per day -- slightly more than that found in a 12-ounce glass of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5-ounce shot of distilled spirits. Tobacco use was defined as one or more cigarettes per day. Very hot drinks could make the esophagus more vulnerable to known cancer-causing agents such as alcohol and smoke, Freedman said. “Irritating the lining of the esophagus could lead to increased inflammation and more rapid turnover of the cells,” he said. “Alternatively, hot liquids may impair the barrier function of the cells lining the esophagus, leaving the tissue open to greater damage from other carcinogens.” (-CNN, January 5, 2018
ART & CULTURE
VOICE OF ASIA 20
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
Satirizing the news a challenge in the age of Trump Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor barely raises the bar for children’s films in Pakistan A by Thomas Urbain
Did Allahyar meet expectations of better-than-before animation from Pakistan?
bsurdity and exaggeration, the two key ingredients of political satire, are no longer as effective in the age of Donald Trump and ‘fake news’ -- something that is forcing comedians and talk show hosts to adapt their craft to get a laugh.
News parody outlets such as The Onion, The Flipside, The Borowitz Report and a whole slew of others have all made a name for themselves by twisting the news to give it a humorous edge, openly mocking reality. The formula worked as a counterpoint to real news, but with the advent of Trump’s Twitter account and the explosion of fake news sites, the lines have become blurred. “The absurdity of our reality has completely outpaced anything the imagination could come up with,” said Andy Borowitz, who has been writing The Borowitz Report since 2001. by Mehreen Hasan hat are our expectations from an animated children’s movie made in
Humera Ejaz); a rather entitled snow leopard, Chakku (Abdul Nabi Jamali); and the always amorous Hero (Azfar Jafri), who’s a chukar, i.e., a partridge native to north Pakistan.
That the film should spark the imag-
Allahyar may check the above boxes, yet leaves a fair bit to be desired.
“So it would be futile for me to outdo the absurdities of our current situation,” he added. “I’m really more or less transcribing what is happening. And perhaps giving a slightly more blunt or unvarnished view,” he said. For all that, the need for people to laugh is even more pronounced than ever because, he said, “the situation we find ourselves in is so dire.” However, he notes that under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, the work had been more challenging for satirists since “the economy was improving and we had didn’t have any
A Trump fortune teller booth (Phjoto: Daily Mail UK) scandal at the White House and we had a president who was widely respected around the world, and was improving America’s image around the world.” In the age of ‘fake news’, he makes sure his column -- which now runs on The New Yorker’s website -- is clearly labeled as satire and runs in the humor section, lest anyone mistake his jokes for actual reporting. “It’s very clear that we’re not trying to fool anybody. We’re not trying to commit a hoax,” he said. - ‘A kernel of truth’ That is not the case with Christopher Blair, the mysterious figure behind a series of satirical websites such as The Last Line of Defense (thelastlineofdefense.online), which have attracted a
lot of attention over the past year. He told AFP that his sites were clearly marked as satire, but a number of factchecking websites have disputed that claim, and some have criticized him for peddling fake news for financial gain. In March, one of his articles claiming that an arrest warrant had been issued for Obama was picked up by dozens of other sites which presented it as real news. Blair defends his position, maintaining that it is clear to most people, and that he has been seeking “to target specific topics that we know will draw the worst the right has to offer into the public,” so that they “find themselves humiliated in front of their families and friends.” (-Daily Mail)
Why Pakistan and India are inevitably linked by literature ...and other consequences of the fledgling state of Pakistan’s publishing industry ination of its young viewers? That its story should inspire them? That its visuals should look better than Commander Safeguard? In Allahyar and The Legend of Markhor (Allahyar), an unlikely group unites in the jungles of north Pakistan to stop a pair of poachers — Mani (Ali Noor) and his reluctant sidekick Babloo Chacha (Arieb Azhar) — from hunting down markhors on the mountaintop of Sia Koh. This group consists of our young hero, Allahyar (Anum Zaidi); his spirited markhor friend, Mehru (Natasha
What people will recall is the film’s funny moments, like Hero the chukar, whose amourous antics are hilarious (even though they may be normalising harassment for the film’s young audience!). It was welcome relief to connect with and look forward to a character, especially in the absence of an emotional connection with the two main charcaters, Allahyar and Mehru. Equally funny is the appearance of a pair of rabbits (played by Parchi stars Hareem Farooq and Ali Rehman Khan). Don’t miss out. (-Dawn)
After Putin-In-Bullets, Exiled Ukrainian Artists “Coin” Donald Trump
EW YORK | AFP - They shot to fame in 2015 with a portrait of Vladimir Putin made of bullet shells from the killing fields of eastern Ukraine. Now, the two Ukrainian artists are back with a portrait of Donald Trump made from coins and poker chips. Threats forced Daria Marchenko, 35, and Daniel Green, 34, to leave
“I thought, ‘oh my God, you are so cheap, how can you be American president’?” says Green. “At that moment, I thought coins is the best way to show his portrait.” The duo deliberately chose one cent and five-cent pieces, the smallest denominations of US currency, to illustrate their point, Green explains.
by Faiqa Mansab
ublishing is a business. It’s all about numbers and if publishers can’t sell books, why would they invest in them? That is the story very briefly of publishing anywhere. In Pakistan, it gets worse. People who read in English for pleasure are snidely called ‘the elite’ because their numbers are abysmally low, not because everyone who reads in English is powerful and rich. English reading is distanced from the majority of readership culturally. Publishing in Urdu and regional languages is the only viable source for literary publishers because reading for pleasure constitutes a rather small section of the population and even smaller for books in English. Literary publishing in India, though, is leaps and bounds ahead of Pakistan, but encounters similar issues as far as distribution and reliable data gathering are concerned. Pakistan and India both have successful writers in English both homegrown and living in the UK or the US but most Pakistani writers are published abroad—in the UK and India and then the US and other English speaking countries—but Indian authors are being published in their own country as well as abroad. Their readership is much larger. The fact that Pakistani writers are not being published at home whereas Indian writers are, is often questioned and with the current mood of overt nationalism, it becomes a question of India versus Pakistan. Why did you publish in India? A question that seems absurd to Pakistani writers because there is hardly anyone to publish fiction written in English in Pakistan. Looking closer at Pakistan and India’s literary linkages
their homeland in November 2016. They now lead an itinerant life, traveling and exhibiting their work in the United States and Latin America. The Trump portrait, finished one month ago, is made of nearly 4,000 one cent and five-cent pieces. Poker chips are used for the US president’s shoulders. The artists are now searching for a place for a public unveiling. As with their “Face of War” portrait of the Russian leader, the Trump version, called “Face of Money” plays in the light revealing different expressions. Marchenko’s favorite? The one in which “he is very proud of himself,” she tells AFP in New York. They came up with the idea of the enormous portrait -- nearly eight foot by five foot (2.4 meters by 1.7 meters) -- last summer when Putin ordered the United States to reduce its diplomatic footprint in Russia by 755 employees. Trump responded by thanking Putin, saying it would allow the United States to cut down its payroll and “save a lot of money.”
Coins darkened with fire are used for the pupils, eyebrows and to emphasize the chin. The poker chips are a nod to the casinos the billionaire once ran in Atlantic City, New Jersey -- but also, in Green’s words, to his brand of international diplomacy. “He does international politics like he’s playing. Sometimes he wins, sometimes he loses big,” says the artist. - ‘Make waves’ Green singles out the US president’s announcement in December that he was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and preparing to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv. “When only eight countries follow you, it shows America has lost all power,” he says. Their next project is a portrait of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, even if that could complicate their return one day to Ukraine, Marchenko says.
Maniza Naqvi’s books written in English were published by the Oxford University Press Pakistan in 1998 and then in 2000, two of her novels were published by SAMA Press “which was started by the editors at OUP for my first and second novels,” according to Naqvi. However, all four are now out of print. Pakistan was an ‘obvious choice’ for Naqvi but there was no marketing by her publishers, books were not made widely available and were not reprinted once the stock ran out. When asked if anything had changed in the publishing industry of Pakistan, she said, “It hasn’t really changed much. But there are a lot of writers who should be published and are mostly getting published out of India with big publishing houses. And that’s a huge change.” With the current mood of overt nationalism, Pakistani writers are often asked: Why did you publish in India? A question that seems absurd to Pakistani writers because there is hardly anyone to publish fiction written in English in Pakistan. Indeed, it is, for writers who can now hope to be published and readers have access to more Pakistani writers in various genres. Mita Kapur, the CEO of Siyahi, one of the oldest and best-known literary agencies in In-
Writer Sarah Naveed recently completed her third novel. Will it find a publisher in Pakistan? (Photo courtesy: sarah naveed ‘s Facebook) dia, suggests that the Indian publishing industry is so popular with South Asian writers because it is connected to mainstream publishing globally and because it is well-structured. But why is Indian publishing attracted to Pakistani writers? Kapur says, “The voice and the multi-nuanced narratives are striking and compelling and are also representative of the concerns of the sub-continent.” Is Pakistan game for genre writing? So far so good. But there are other concerns as well. Genre writing is still not something that is widely accepted for publishing because readership is so small or these genres. Graphic novels, comics, science-fiction, fantasy and romance are not genres one expects to read from South Asian writers. “Marketability,” says Kapur, “counts when
decision making happens. If we have signed on a narrative and another book in the same sub-genre comes along, we do step back because we are careful about the commitments we make to our authors.” Sidra Sheikh with a copy of her scifi novel The Light Blue Jumper at a pop-up library in Lahore — Photograph courtesy Mongrel Books Sidra Sheikh with a copy of her scifi novel The Light Blue Jumper at a pop-up library in Lahore — Photograph courtesy Mongrel Books However, things are changing in Pakistani publishing. Sidra Sheikh was recently published by Mongrel Books, an indie publishing house started by Shandana Minhas, which publishes three books a year.
Fashion industry sets new guidelines to fight sexual misconduct
EW YORK | AFP - Ahead of New York Fashion Week the industry is unveiling new professional guidelines to combat the kind of sexual harassment and assault allegations plaguing some of the world’s most renowned fashion photographers.
The CFDA’s move ahead of Monday’s Fashion Week kick-off comes amid the #MeToo movement and the wave of sexual misconduct accusations that have accompanied it, targeting fashion figures including photographers Terry Richardson, Bruce Weber and Mario Testino.
Designers, show producers and photographers are asked to provide spaces “where models can change in privacy” at runway shows, according to recommendations sent by Council of Fashion Designers of America president Diane von Furstenberg.
All three once widely celebrated photographers are now barred from collaborating with Vogue and Vanity Fair publisher Conde Nast.
The text, released Thursday, referred those who have “in any way felt threatened or unsafe” to resources compiled by the Model Alliance, which combats sexual harassment. “The current climate has been marked by brave women and men and their revelations about an unacceptable culture in politics, sports and entertainment, as well as in fashion,” von Furstenberg said in a message accompanying the guidelines.
Conde Nast recently unveiled a “Code of Conduct” that seeks to “safeguard the dignity and well-being” of workers. It has namely banned the use of unaccompanied models younger than 18, and all shoots involving nudity or sexually suggestive poses must be approved by the subject in advance. Alcohol and illegal drugs also have been barred. The group extended the policy to its entire stable of publications around the world.
VOICE OF ASIA 21
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
International Business and FCPA Compliance - Part 3
Common law marriage is the same as a church wedding Richard M. Alderman Interim Dean of the Law Center
Q. What are my rights if I have a common law marriage? If we get divorced, will I have the right to any property? A. As I have said many times before, a common law marriage is no different than any other marriage. You are married. Whether you are married by a justice of the peace, a rabbi or priest, or have a common law marriage, the legal ramifications are the same. To have a common law marriage you must agree to be married, hold yourself out as married, and live together as married. Once you establish a common law marriage, your right to share property obtained while married is the same as any other spouse. If you get divorce, you will share all “community property,” which basically is anything either of you obtain while you were married. Q. I co-signed for my sister so she could buy a car. She stopped making payments and the car was repossessed. They sold the car and now say I owe almost $4,000. How do I get my name off of this agreement? A. You don’t! If you co-sign you have basically the same liability as the person for whom you co-signed. If she doesn’t pay, you are responsible. Once you co-sign you
cannot be released from your obligation unless the creditor agrees. In other words, you now have the same liability as your sister. The reason you owe almost $4,000 is because when a car is repossessed, the repossession does not automatically extinguish the debt. The car will be sold, and the amount obtained at the sale will be applied to the debt. In your sister’s case, after applying the sale amount to the debt there was a deficiency of almost $4,000. In most cases, a creditor does not ask for a co-signer unless the creditor has a reason to believe the person who signed won’t pay, or won’t have the assets to pay if sued. If you are asked to co-sign, there is always a chance you will be called upon to pay. Of course, if you do pay, you have the right to collect against your sister, and can even take her to justice court if she does not reimburse you. Q. I applied for a job. The company said I have to work a six months before I would be entitled to any paid vacation. Is this legal? A. There is no requirement in the law that employers give their employees any paid vacation time. It is entirely a matter to be negotiated between you and your employer. If this is not acceptable to you, you can simply refuse the position or tell them you will accept the position, but only if you receive
Surendran K. Pattel Attorney & Counselor at Law, PKS Law Firm, PLLC
Q. Am I entitled to a paid leave when I have a child? My employer has told me any maternity leave will be without pay.
Question: What are the basic FCPA accounting provisions?
family leave through their employer Q. To whom do I complain if I think my lawyer has been unethical and is cheating me? A. I recommend you start with the State Bar of Texas. Its phone number is (800)932-1900. As a first step, you might want to ask for a copy of the free publication entitled “Attorney Complaint Information.” You can also visit the Bar online at, https:// www.texasbar.com/.
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Answer: The accounting provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) consist of two main components. First and foremost, the act requires diligent maintenance of records that reflect an issuer’s transactions and disposition of assets both accurately and fairly. Ideally, all books and records are to be kept in such as manner as to prevent incorrect characterizations of bribes, or attempts to hide bribes. In addition, the FCPA contains provisions that require issuers to devise a system that ensures management control, authority, and responsibility for the firm’s assets. Under FCPA accounting
by Ross Kerber
OSTON (Reuters) The Federal Reserve’s surprise ban on Wells Fargo & Co growing its balance sheet comes at a difficult juncture for the United States’ third-largest lender.The San Francisco-based bank has been dogged by higher expenses related to a long-running sales practices scandal and investors want it to reboot its revenue engine to help boost earnings.
The sanction, issued on Janet Yellen’s last day as Fed chairwoman, will be lifted when Wells Fargo has shown it has
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Disclaimer: Information in this column is meant to be general and informational; it is not intended as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your personal situation before you take any action that has legal consequences. BIO: Surendran K. Pattel is an Indian-born attorney in private practice in the Houston area. He is the founder of PKS Law Firm, PLLC. He is licensed to practice in Texas, United States District Court Southern District of Texas, and in India. To contact please email: adv.surendran@ gmail.com
improved its governance and controls. Sloan said on Friday that the cap will cut the bank’s annual profit by about $300 million to $400 million this year, equivalent to less than 2 percent of the profit it generated last year -- not a big financial hit. To comply with the order while growing core loans and deposits, the bank will trim deposits from financial institutions and some commercial clients as well as some lowyielding trading assets. The danger from clients being turned away is that it provides an opportunity for competitors such as JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup. U.S. banks already expect revenues to climb and the profitability of their lending to rise
this year due to lower corporate tax rates and higher interest rates. Wells Fargo’s balance sheet expanded steadily from the end of 2013 to 2016, but growth slowed dramatically last year as it battled to address the issues raised by the scandal. “The growth limits will force Wells Fargo to slow down and that leaves room for others to pick up market share,” said Michael Kon, portfolio manager and director of research at San Mateo-based Golub Group, which sold its stake in Wells Fargo, once around 400,000 shares, as the sales problems emerged. “It will take a bigger decline in the price of WFC to get us interested again. We’re looking for a wider margin of safety at this point,” Kon said in a telephone interview.
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The U.S. Department of Justice can pursue civil actions for anti-bribery violations. In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission can pursue civil actions for violations of the accounting provisions of the FCPA. For violations of
Additional consequences stemming from FCPA violations can include: being barred from contracting with the federal government; cross-debarment by multilateral development banks; or severe limitations on certain export privileges.
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There are fines up to $2 million for corporations and other business entities, and $100,000 for individuals, that knowingly violate FCPA anti-bribery provisions; guilty individuals are also subject to imprisonment for up to five years. Willful violations of the accounting provisions can result in businesses being fined up to $25 million; individuals can be fined up to $5 million. Individuals also face the possibility of 20 years in prison for criminal violations. The courts can impose additional fines under the Alternative Fines Act.
anti-bribery provisions, a civil penalty up to $10,000 per violation is possible. For violations of accounting provisions, the SEC has flexibility in terms of penalties; its penalties depend on the severity of the violation.
Fed puts brakes on Wells Fargo when bank needs to step on gas
But the U.S. central bank on Friday made it harder for Chief Executive Tim Sloan to ramp up lending with a rare, company-wide bar on Wells Fargo growing past the $1.95 trillion in assets it held at the end of last year.
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Dr. Barbara Sunderland Manousso, CEO
provisions, there can be civil liabilities for both companies and individuals. Also, if the company or the individuals knowingly fail to comply with FCPA accounting provisions, they can be held criminally liable. Remember, however, that FCPA accounting provisions apply only to issuers, not private companies.
the vacation time you believe is fair and reasonable. And speaking of paid leave, take a look at the next question.
A. Although some countries require you receive paid maternity leave that is not the case in the United States. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, you may be entitled to up to 12 weeks leave, depending on the size the company and how long you have worked there. The law, however, does not require the leave be with pay. All you may be legally entitled to is an unpaid leave. According to the Department of Labor, only about 12 percent of U.S. private sector workers have access to paid
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Your Horoscope for the Week of FEBRUARY 9, 2018
Aries - 21 March to 20 April
Your social life continues to blossom, and with lovely Venus aligning with electric Uranus on February 6, an unexpected encounter could prove quite delightful. However, if you want this to develop into a supportive friendship, you will need to nurture it. Tuesday can be an opportunity to clarify the final points before a project or plan is completed. Doing so can help ensure success, Finally, with sociable Venus moving into Pisces on Saturday, you may be eager to help with a charity bash or just be there for someone.
Taurus - 21 April to 20 May
With the sun in the topmost sector of your chart, you might enjoy being in the spotlight. This, along with other aspects, encourages you to come forward and showcase your best qualities. If you get an intuitive nudge to connect with someone, listen to it. It could help you move further along your path to greater success. On Saturday, delightful Venus, your ruling planet, moves into Pisces and your social zone. This can enhance your love life and add a sparkling quality to any key events.
Gemini - 21 May to 20 June
Are you looking for adventure? If so, this week’s backdrop could coincide with an encounter with someone who has an engaging idea. They may suggest a trip or an opportunity to explore new ideas or traverse fresh terrain. On another note, getting support from someone for an idea of yours can be crucial to having the confidence to go ahead. Be sure to talk to him or her about it. Finally, as lovely Venus enters Pisces and your career sector on Saturday, you may find that charm is the key to progress.
Cancer - 21 June to 22 July
You could be tempted to put money into a brilliant idea. However, it might be wise to do some research first, because it could be a waste of money should you lose interest. When it comes to romance, you might be tempted to try to hurry the progress of a budding relationship. This could be wise, but a quarter moon in Scorpio suggests that doing so could hinder rather than help you. However, once lovely Venus enters Pisces on Saturday, things can begin to develop naturally.
Leo - 23 July to 22 August
Your relationships can be upbeat and vibrant this week, with one encounter proving exceptionally exciting. You may be tempted to go on an impromptu trip or break, and if you do it could be most enjoyable. This is very much a time for teamwork and cooperating with others rather than going it alone. You stand to gain more by assisting in rather than directing key projects. Over the weekend, luscious Venus enters your home zone, making this a perfect time for entertaining and a little pampering.
Virgo 23 August to 22 September
The current blend of energies could certainly keep you busy, which is why it’s so helpful to look after your well-being. With an intense focus on your sector of creativity, you could be deeply involved in projects that demand a lot of you. Therefore, eating well and working out on a regular basis can help you stay upbeat and positive, as well as enable you to feel really good. However, try not to promise more than you can deliver when the sun angles toward jovial Jupiter on Saturday.
Libra - 23 Sept to 22 Oct
You may be enjoying a new romance or the chance to indulge in a favorite hobby. With a lively focus on your leisure zone, time spent in fun pursuits can act as a restorative, especially if you have a lot of responsibilities at home. A quarter moon in Scorpio on Wednesday might encourage you to keep an eye on the costs, though, especially if a creative project looks like it could be rather expensive. There may be a cheaper way to do it. The temptation to indulge could be strong over the weekend, so go easy.
5 Creative Gift Ideas for Your Valentine
ooking to surprise your loved one this Valentine’s Day with something a bit different? Check out these five creative gift ideas that will help make the day special.
you, a custom family portrait is a sweet gift and a great piece of artwork for your home. Find an independent portrait artist on a site like Etsy or put your own artistic abilities to the test and create the portrait yourself.
1. Take a trip around the world with your taste buds. Cooking dinner for your partner on Valentine’s Day is nothing new, but kick it up a notch with an “Around the World” theme. Pick some destinations you’d love to travel to and get into the kitchen together to create their signature dishes. For extra points, track down drinks specifically found in those regions to pair with
4. Create an at-home spa day. Get pampered without leaving the house. Book a travelling masseuse or create DIY bath products like bath bombs or scrubs with essential oils. Create a spa-like atmosphere with low lights, candles and flower arrangements.
Scorpio - 23 Oct to 21 Nov
The stellar backdrop for this week could see you enjoying homey comforts and taking the chance to step back from life and see things in perspective. However, with lovely Venus aligning with electric Uranus, you might be eager to purchase a gadget for the home that can save time and make life easier. If it improves your diet or gets you exercising more, so much the better. With delectable Venus entering your romance zone from Saturday, your love life can begin to sizzle.
Sagittarius - 22 Nov to 21 Dec
The midweek quarter moon suggests that unresolved issues could be the reason you’re holding back from making a move or beginning a new phase or project. If there’s one matter that has been causing you to lose confidence, it would be worthwhile to take the time to resolve it. Once you do, you’ll have a lot more energy to put into any plans you’ve been mulling over. Luscious Venus moves into your home zone on Saturday, making this a great time to entertain or have guests to stay.
Capricorn 22 Dec to 20 Jan
This might not be the best time to join expensive groups or clubs, even though Wednesday’s quarter moon may be urging you to invest in your social life. It’s best to do a little research on prices before you go ahead. In addition, if someone asks to borrow money, it might be wise to say no for now. On another note, the move of convivial Venus into your communication zone on Saturday might get you thinking about a reunion. Connecting with old friends could be especially rewarding.
Aquarius - 21 Jan to 19 Feb
With lovely Venus in your sign aligning with electric Uranus in your sector of communication, unexpected news or an impromptu invitation could bring a pleasant surprise. However, the midweek quarter moon suggests you’ll need to consider your priorities before you make any decisions. The choice between running with goals and plans that pertain to your career or those that are meaningful to you personally can be a big one. The weekend looks good for shopping and buying something special for your loved one.
Pisces - 20 Feb to 20 March
This week could bring an opportunity to make a key decision regarding your spiritual path. The quarter moon on Wednesday might encourages you to learn to meditate, take up yoga, or connect with others who share your ideas and ideals. Even so, beliefs inherited from childhood or another time in your life could conflict with the ideas you’re eager to adopt.
your food. You’ll have fun experiencing new cuisine, and it may even ignite a spark to book a trip! 2. Make more time together. Use some creativity to show your Valentine that you want to spend more time together. Pair a new timepiece with roses for a unique presentation. Consider classic fashion choices with Casio’s Vintage timepieces, which feature stainless steel bands in different metallic color combinations, a daily alarm, hourly time signal and an auto-calendar, ensuring you are never late for a date. 3. Commission a custom family portrait. Whether you have kids, pets or it is just the two of
Order dinner in afterwards and enjoy the special time together as relaxed as can be. 5. Write a love song. Whether you write it yourself or pick a favorite that’s personal to you, performing a love song is a touching way to show you cherish someone. Enhance your performance with a portable keyboard that makes learning easy, such as Casio’s CTK-2550. It features 61 fullsize keys, 400 high-quality tones and 150 built-in rhythms to ensure you have all the tools you need to create a beautiful musical number for the one you love. Just download your favorite MIDI files, connect your device’s headphone output to the keyboard’s audio input, and explore an endless library of music. (-StatePoint)
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Voice of Asia Newspaper is based in Houston since 1987. We reach South Asian and Asian American families in Houston and surrounding cities i...
Published on Feb 8, 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...