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FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

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Rice, UH rank among ‘2018 Best Value Colleges’ OUSTON - Remarkable academic quality and affordability are just some of the great attributes that have landed the University of Houston and Rice University on Kiplinger’s Personal Finance 300 Best Value Colleges for 2018.


The rankings, which have been around for nearly 20 years, combine public schools, private universities and private liberal arts colleges into a single, comprehensive list.

“Salary Yardstick” is $64,300. The university also ranked as No. 5 on the “Best Values in Private Colleges” list. UH joins Texas A&M, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas at Dallas as the only public schools in Texas listed in the 2018 rankings. Kiplinger’s starts with a list of nearly 1,200 schools across the country and trims the list using measures of academic quality. The schools are then ranked on cost and financial aid data. Only the top 3 percent of schools make the list. The full rankings are now available online and will appear in print in the February 2018 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, on newsstands January 9. (-UH/RICE Press releases)

North Carolina accuses drugmaker Insys of scheme to push opioid

Rice University, Houston The rising cost of tuition nationwide and the increasing number of American families struggling with student loans are among the biggest issues facing higher education leaders and lawmakers. When choosing the right university—one that delivers an affordable, high-quality education, the stakes are high. “Our rankings, which weigh affordability alongside academic quality, are a great resource for students and their parents when sorting through college choices,” said Mark Solheim, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. “All 300 schools on our list are worth a look.” Rice is No. 8 on Kiplinger’s “Best College Values” 2017 list based on its academic quality and affordability. “Stronger test scores than in previous years and robust financial aid awards helped Rice University return to the top 10 on our combined list this year,” the Kiplinger staff wrote in its profile of Rice, according to the release. “The school, located in the heart of the country’s fourth-largest city, also stands out for its low six-to-one student-faculty ratio and 96 percent freshman retention rate. With the lowest sticker price in our combined top 10, the school is an attractive option for families regardless of how much aid they think they may qualify for.”









Kiplinger also calculated the median earnings of workers who enrolled in college 10 years earlier and received federal financial aid. For Rice, that

Obama most admired man among Americans: Gallup poll


ASHINGTON, | AFP | 12/27/2017 - Former US president Barack Obama is the most admired man in the United States and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton the most admired woman, according to a poll published Wednesday.

Obama came out on top of the annual Gallup survey for the 10th year in a row while Clinton, who lost last year’s presidential election to Donald Trump, was named the most admired woman for the 16th straight year. Seventeen percent of the Americans polled said Obama was the man they admired most, down from 22 percent last year. Trump was second with 14 percent followed by Pope Francis with three percent. Nine percent of those polled

US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Brendan Smialowski)

said Clinton was their most admired woman followed by former US First Lady Michelle Obama with seven percent and talk show host Oprah Winfrey with four percent.

AAPI QLI hosts 22nd annual gala, honors 4 physicians for excellence Four physicians, Dr. Mohinder Gupta; Dr. Devendra Mehta; Dr. P. Patrick Basu; and, Dr. Usha Krishnan were honored for their life time achievements

Billionaire Insys founder John Kapoor. Photo credit: University at Buffalo/Reuters by Nate Raymond


OSTON (Reuters) - North Carolina sued Insys Therapeutics Inc on Thursday, accusing the pharmaceutical company of illegally pushing a powerful fentanylbased cancer pain medicine called Subsys to boost profits amid the U.S. opioid epidemic. The lawsuit announced by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein comes amid a federal investigation that has led to charges against several former executives accused of engaging in a scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe Subsys. Stein accused Insys of paying kickbacks to doctors to promote and prescribe Subsys for uses other than treating cancer pain and of deceiving insurers into covering prescriptions for

Chief Guest Congressman from NY’s 3rd district Honorable Tom Suozzi, Nassau County Executive elect Honorable Laura Curran, first deputy commissioner at department of health New York State Dr. Eugene Heslin, were among the dignitaries who attended the gala. Read report on Page 3

Continued on Page 3

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Gallup said the poll of 1,049 adults was conducted between December 4-11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

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have just returned from India after spending five weeks. The entertainment value of the Gujrat election coverage was so huge I was virtually glued to the TV.

FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

Rahul Gandhi needs to take rebirth, again

Most entertaining was Rahul Gandhi’s new Brahmin persona - his sacred thread (Janeu), his prominent Tilak on the forehead, his claim to Kashmiri Pandit roots, and last, but not the least, his visit to twenty-two Hindu temples. Understandably, BJP was quick to point out that Rahul sat in the Namaz posture as he offered puja during those temple visits.

help Rahul and the Congress sway the election in their favor.

Unfortunately for Rahul and the Congress party, Rahul’s Janeu did not fool anyone. The party lost Gujrat in spite of rigorous campaigning by Rahul Gandhi and strategic alliances with Patidar Patels and Dalits.

The important question is whether Rahul can reincarnate himself again as the champion of secular cause. Being a proclaimed Hindu, and that too a Brahmin, I suppose he believes in reincarnation!


n Dec. 13, Myanmar’s Ministry of Information released a photograph of two handcuffed men who had been arrested for simply doing their job. They were Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two journalists who work for Reuters and who were arrested on the order of Myanmar’s president, Htin Kyaw, a day earlier on the outskirts of Yangon where they’d gone to meet two policemen from Rakhine State. They haven’t been seen or heard from since. They were trying to find the truth about what is going on in Rakhine State, from which some 650,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled since a military crackdown began in August. As evidence piles up of ethnic cleansing so brutal it could well qualify as genocide, truth is the last thing the government wants known. The day after the journalists’ arrest, Doctors Without Borders released a report estimating that 6,700 Rohingya, including 730 children under the age of 5, were killed during the first month of the military’s operation, putting the lie to the army’s astounding claim last month that its troops had not killed a single civilian. On Wednesday, the United Nations disclosed that Myanmar has now permanently barred Yanghee Lee, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, from visiting the country. This heavy-handed effort to quash an investigation simply confirms the army’s guilt. “This declaration of noncooperation with my mandate,” said Ms. Lee, “can only be viewed as

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Elections come and go and politicians like camellias change colors. In the recent Gujrat elections, Rahul was camouflaged as a devout Janeuwearing high cast Hindu, shedding his old colors of a secular messiah of Muslims and minorities. It would have been worth it if it worked. But, it did not.

Rahul Gandhi (Photo: IndiaLive) Even Modi’s unpopular demonetization and GST (General

Sales Tax dubbed as Gabbar Singh Tax by Congress) did not

Free Detained Journalists in Myanmar a strong indication that there must be something terribly awful happening in Rakhine, as well as in the rest of the country.” As to press freedom, Myanmar’s new democracy is little different from its old military dictatorship. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo’s detention “comes on the heels of the arrests of journalists in multiple parts of Burma under a variety of charges,” says Richard Weir of Human Rights Watch. The two reporters have been charged under Myanmar’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act, and they face up to 14 years in jail. Condemnations of the journalists’ arrest and demands for their immediate release have descended from nations around the world, including the United States and the European Union, as well as the United Nations. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has benefited from foreign investments that were made on the understanding that Myanmar was becoming more democratic. But its behavior, as Senator Ben Cardin said on Wednesday, has reawakened “the memory of the horrible practices with the repressive military rule.” Releasing the two journalists immediately would help restore at least some lost faith.

Reuters journalist Wa Lone, working in Sittwe in the state of Rakhine, Myanmar, in September. Lone and Kyaw Soe, another Reuters journalist, were arrested this month on the order of Myanmar’s president, Htin Kyaw.(Photo: Andrew Marshall/ Reuters)

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FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

Second Front Page


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AAPI QLI hosts 22nd annual gala, honors 4 physicians for excellence while pointing to the fact that Indian American Physicians service every 7th patient in the nation and contribute to the healthcare industry in the nation. In his inaugural address as the incoming President, Dr. Jagdish Gupta, President-Elect of AAPI QLI, announced the exciting new programs for the members in the year 2018 under his new leadership. “We want to continue to be the most vibrant, transformative and politically active Chapter among all AAPI chapters in the nation,” he said.

Nassau County Executive Elect Laura Curran (second from left) was a Guest of Honor). Besides the bouquet she is holding, she was presented a plaque. Others seen in the picture, from L to R: Dr. Jagdish Gupta, President Elect, Mrs. Asha Dua, Dr. Rakesh K Dua, President by Ajay Ghosh


APIQLI (American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin of Queens and Long Island) hosted its 22nd Annual Convention at Huntington Hilton on Long Island, NY on December 16, under the leadership of its President Dr. Rakesh Dua. It was attended by Chief Guest Congressman from NY’s 3rd district Honorable Tom Suozzi, Nassau County Executive elect Honorable Laura Curran, first deputy commissioner at department of health New York State Dr. Eugene Heslin, many dignitaries and more than 600 guests. Four physicians, Dr. Mohinder Gupta; Dr. Devendra Mehta; Dr. P. Patrick Basu; and, Dr. Usha Krishnan were honored for their life time achievements and money was raised for many local and national charities. Dr. Ajay Lodha, immediate past president of national AAPI and Dr. Gautam Samadder, current president of national AAPI were recognized for their leadership and contributions to the physician community across the nation.

“We are here to celebrate our achievements tonight,” Dr. Dua in his Presidential address. He stated that AAPI QLI was registered in June 1995 as a Not-for-Profit Organization by Dr. Narendra Hadpawat to represent all Physicians of Indian Origin in Queens and Long Island, NY. The Inaugural dinner was held on June 3rd, 1995 at Leonard’s of Great Neck, NY and with 150 physicians in attendance.

The Mission of AAPI Queens and Long Island has been to represent the interests of all physicians of Indian Origin in the area including providing Continuous Medical Education (CME) and engaging in charitable activities for the benefit of our community at large. Since its inception there was a strong alliance with and support from National AAPI.

North Carolina accuses drugmaker Insys of scheme to push opioid Continued from page 1 the company’s product. “As we allege in our complaint, Insys carried out an extensive, coordinated scheme of kickbacks, deception and fraud in the marketing of its drug, Subsys,” Stein said at a press conference in Raleigh, North Carolina that was streamed online. Chandler, Arizona-based Insys did not respond to requests for comment. It has said that it has taken steps to prevent past mistakes from happening again and has stressed that Subsys made up 0.02 percent of opioid prescriptions in 2016. Thursday’s lawsuit, filed in a North Carolina state court, came as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that opioids were involved in 42,249 overdose deaths in 2016, up 28 percent from a year earlier.

Insys has found itself at the center of investigations focused on Subsys, an under-the-tongue spray intended for cancer patients that contains fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. In October, federal prosecutors in Boston brought charges against billionaire Insys founder John Kapoor, adding him to a case filed last year against six former Insys executives and managers initially charged, including former Chief Executive Michael Babich. Prosecutors said that beginning in 2012, Kapoor, Babich and others schemed to pay speaker fees and other bribes to medical practitioners to prescribe Subsys and to fraudulently induce insurers into approving payment for it. Kapoor, Babich and the others have pleaded not guilty. Several other exInsys employees and medical practitioners have also faced charges related to Subsys. Insys has said it is in settlement talks with the U.S. Justice Department and has estimated the minimum amount it may have to pay is $150 million.

In his address, Tom Suozi praised the contributions of Indian Americans to the larger American society. “In this room, you represent the future of New York And the USA. I see an immense pool of talents among you. We are very lucky to have you. You do so much for the nation,” he said. Tuozi urged AAPI members “not to allow others to pull up the ladder from behind. Echoing the sentiments, Dr. Gautam Samadder, President of AAPI, in his address, pointed out to the ongoing discrimination experienced by Indian American Doctors. He called upon the AAPI members to “stand united, in order to be able to fight for our rights,”

President Dr. Rakesh Dua presenting plaque to Chief Guest Congressman from NY’s 3rd district Honorable Tom Suozzi,

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It previously agreed to pay $9.45 million to resolve investigations by attorneys general in Oregon, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Illinois. It also faces lawsuits by attorneys general in Arizona, New Jersey and New Mexico.



FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

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

Progressive High School celebrates semester graduates with Clap-Out


ORT BEND ISD (December 21, 2017) – Progressive High School administrators, parents and community members celebrated the achievements of 20 graduating seniors at the school’s annual Senior Clap-Out ceremony. The school hosts the event at the end of each semester to recognize seniors for reaching the academic milestone. Among PHS’ Class of 2017 are: Chinelo Achuama, Jimmy Amador, Jasmin Benitez, Haile Broker, Anthony Garcia, Jordan Gebert, Akheem Gordon, Adrian Hernandez, Jinesa Hernandez, Promise Itauma, Katia Alveldano Leal, Kenneth McKyer, Ashondre Mitchell, Humberto Mora,

Norely Nava, Cari Rios, Damien Roberson, Nicholas Scott-Evans, Yordy Gonzalez Tovar and Desiree Zuniga. Valerie Peterson-Kelly of Very Positive Outlook, Inc., served as guest speaker for the event. She congratulated the graduates with affirmations. “You are wonderful. You are fantastic. You are successful, and this is only the beginning,” said Peterson-Kelly. She also asked the graduates to close their eyes and visualize where they want to be in the future. She reminded the students that they are much bigger than their neighborhoods and environments.

FBISD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Devin Padavil also offered the students words of advice. “Don’t let other people write your story and treat every obstacle like a test,” he said. “Hearing about all the work you’ve put into this place, and all the obstacles you’ve overcome is truly inspiring for us. No matter your age, the obstacles never stop. The true test of life is whether you will keep going.” Other program participants included Lisa Jones, Principal; Ron Jedkins, Assistant Principal; Margaret TookesShade, College and Career Counselor; and Marva Flentroy, Counselor.

Student receiving her certificates at the annual Senior Clap-Out ceremony.

The ceremony concluded with a clap out in honor of the graduates.

Missouri City Receives Three Competitive Grants for Citywide Parks and Recreation Programming ation and Tennis Center, 2701 Cypress Point Dr. For more information about Missouri City, please watch the City website:, like us on Facebook—fb/MissouriCityTX.

Missouri City has earned three grant awards in 2017 for highquality Parks & Recreation programming.. Photo: Missouri City.


issouri City is capping off 2017 by being the recipient of three grant awards for Parks & Recreation programming: the National Recreation and Park Association’s Walk With Ease Instructor Training Grant, the United States Tennis Association’s Blended Lines Grant and a U.S. Lacrosse First Stick Program grant. “As we maintain a tight budget, our staff has become aware of how crucial public/private partnerships are to reaching business plan goals,” City Manager Anthony J. Snipes said. “These three grants will result in an enhanced quality-of-life for residents, and I am extremely proud of the creative ways City staff are growing and expanding our recreational programming.” Sponsored by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Walk With Ease Instructor Training Grant, awarded to 250 recipients nationwide, will be used to train two staff members on how to help residents

improve their social interactions, as well as their health and fitness levels through guided walking programs. Brian Barker, Recreation Specialist for Fitness, Athletics and Facilities, will oversee the grant and participate in the training webinar in January, 2018. Depending on the grantor’s timeline for funds distribution and training, staff expects to have the program ready in the spring of 2018. The United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) Blended Lines Grant is a 100 percent reimbursement grant that allows tennis facilities to create blended lines on tennis courts, which are designed to create a smaller playing surface for Junior Tennis Programs. The blended line is a light, shadowlike line painted by professionals on regular sized tennis courts. This allows adults to play on the court, while allowing youth to learn on the same court, using the smaller dimensions highlighted by the blended lines. The USTA grant funded blended lines on the front seven courts at the Recre-

Missouri City non-emergency offices to close for new year’s day; waste pickup will occur


ll non-emergency City Hall Offices will be closed on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018 for New Year’s Day. This includes: l City Hall, 1522 Texas Pkwy. l Inspections & Permits, 1522 Texas Pkwy. l Municipal Court, 3845 Cartwright Rd. l Recreation & Tennis Center, 2701 Cypress Point Dr. Residents who have questions about City services and programs should call 281.403.8500 and leave a voicemail message. Residents and businesses with questions about inspections and permits should call 281.403.8600 and leave a message. City Staff will promptly return all calls.

Crockett Middle School Teacher Richard Embrick receives teaching award from Houston Museum of Natural Science

Crockett Middle School Science Teacher Richard Embrick received the Wilhelmina C. Robertson Excellence in Science or Mathematics Teaching Award. The annual award, sponsored by the Houston Museum of Natural Science, recognizes one elementary science or math teacher and one secondary science or math teacher in the Houston area who demonstrate significant ability and dedication to teaching. (L-R) FBISD Board of Trustees Jason Burdine and Kristin Tassin, Embrick and FBISD’s Director of STEM Curriculum & Instruction Julia Erdie


ort Bend ISD (December 21, 2017) – Crockett Middle School CTE PLTW Engineering Instructor Richard Embrick received the Wilhelmina C. Robertson Excellence in Science or Mathematics Teaching Award earlier this month. The annual award, sponsored by the Houston Museum of Natural Science, recognizes one elementary science or math teacher and one

secondary science or math teacher in the Houston area who demonstrate significant ability and dedication to teaching. Embrick was nominated for the award for his passion and dedication to the field of science and STEM. Once nominated, he submitted a nomination packet that discussed his teaching philosophy and provided a lesson sample.

“I always enjoyed taking my family to the Houston Museum of Natural Science and I just recently won the 2017 HE-B Excellence in Education award, so I felt this nomination was a calling to continue to tell my story about why I love teaching and how it has impacted my students,” Embrick said. Each $2,000.

20 graduating seniors at the school’s annual Senior Clap-Out ceremony



For emergencies, please call 911. The Recreation & Tennis Center, 2701 Cypress Point Dr., will be open for regular business hours on New Year’s Eve, Sunday, Jan. 31. The center will be closed on Monday, Jan. 1 and normal business hours will resume on Tuesday, Jan. 2. The Quail Valley Golf Course and the City Centre at Quail Valley, 2880 La Quinta Dr., will be open and maintain regular business hours through-

out the New Year’s weekend. For tee times and other information, call 281.403.5910. Residents who participate in the Municipal Solid Waste and Recycling Program will receive regular service. To ensure pickup, citizens are encouraged to set garbage and recyclable materials out by 7 a.m. For assistance, residents may contact WCA at 281.403.5800. For updates, please watch the City website:



Sri Ayyappa 35th Annual Mandala Pooja at

5 ‘Healthy’ New Year’s

Sri Meenakshi Temple, Houston

Resolutions Worth Giving Up


18 holy steps were consecrated at the Lord Ayyappa sannadhi. by Venkat Prasad


his year’s 35th Annual Mandala Pooja for Lord Ayyappa at Sri Meenakshi Temple was a very special event.

During MTS Maha Kumbhabhishekam on November 23, 2017, 18 holy steps were consecrated at the Lord Ayyappa sannadhi. The ascending of 18 holy steps by the Ayyappa devotees is extremely sacred act after fasting for 41 days, by adorning tulasi mala with austerity. On Saturday Dec. 23, 2017, there were more than 75 devotees living within and outside Texas participated in this special event and ascended the 18 holy steps. It is believed this (18 holy steps) is the first of its kind among Hindu Temples in the Southwest region of the United States. While there are quite a few ways of interpreting the 18 holy steps, one of the most common understanding is that first five steps indicate one should control five senses (vision, auditory, smell, taste and touch), next eight steps identify control of values or ashtaragas (love, anger, avarice, lust, pride, unhealthy competition, jealous and ego), next three steps signify gunas (such as Satvika, Rajasika, and Tamasika) and last two steps denote Vidya (Knowledge) and Avidya (Ignornace). After controlling all these 18 aspects of day to day life, one surrenders oneself to the Lord Ayyappa.

FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

Healthy resolutions. Photo Source: (c) Drobot Dean/

hile most New Year’s resolutions are wellintentioned, sometimes they look better on paper than in practice, actually doing more harm than good. Here are five so-called “healthy” resolutions worth giving up in 2018, as well as better solutions. Resolution 1: I’m going to take up permanent residence in the gym. Working out is an important piece of the weight loss puzzle, but moderation is key. Studies suggest that too much exercise can lead to a number of issues like hormonal imbalance, fatigue, insomnia and even depression. Many people also report experiencing a drastic increase in appetite after extreme bouts of physical activity, which can lead to overeating and negate the weight-related benefits. Plus, if you exercise so intensely that you’re injured or sore for days, it will be difficult to sustain this otherwise healthy habit. Resolution 2: I’m saying goodbye to fats completely. Fatty foods have gotten a bad rap. The reality is there are good fats and bad fats. In humans, fat helps support normal growth and development, provides

energy, allows for proper cellular function, provides protective cushioning for organs, and helps with absorption of certain vitamins. Bad fats are found in foods like meat, butter, lard, cream and trans fats (found in baked goods, fried foods and margarine) and can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Aim to replace these with good fats, which are associated with a decreased risk of chronic disease. Good fats include plant-based oils like olive and canola, avocados, nuts, seeds, and dairy, since these also offer the nutrition your body needs. Resolution 3: I’m going to skip breakfast to cut calories. According to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, if you’re skipping breakfast, you’re doing something wrong. Research shows breakfast helps support brain function, energy and mood. And research suggests that people who eat breakfast consume fewer calories throughout the day, weigh less and have fewer risk factors for heart disease. Just a few reasons to load up in the a.m. Resolution 4: I’ll just crash diet to lose the weight. Crash diets don’t work and many people who do them end up just gaining the weight back.

“Sustainable weight loss should not involve hunger or deprivation,” says Mandi Knowles, dietitian for South Beach Diet. “Your weight loss efforts should include sensible changes that are easy to follow.” Find a weight loss plan that’s convenient and lets you know with confidence that you are losing weight the healthy way. Plans like South Beach Diet teach portion control through a low-carb, high-protein approach with meals delivered to your door. Resolution 5: I’m going to stop snacking. Snacks can account for more than a quarter of one’s daily calories. But if you munch on nutrient-dense foods (high in vitamins, minerals and fiber and low in calories), you’re more likely to maintain a healthy weight, according to the “National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.” So, snack wisely. For more weight loss tips, visit In the new year, ditch extreme diets and exercise schemes. You’ll find more success with sustainable health and wellness habits. StatePoint.



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As Trump administration tightens visa rules, Indians turn to ‘Golden Visa’ route

FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

Obama, in interview with Prince Harry, says leaders must use care on social media


ormer US President Barack Obama told Britain’s Prince Harry he was concerned social media was “corroding civil discourse”, in what he said was his first interview since leaving the White House, aired Wednesday. “One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities,” he told the prince, who was guest editing BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

The EB-5 scheme gained popularity as the laws for H1-B got tougher and uncertain this year. More and more Indians are opting for this scheme. PTI. by Nilesh Christopher ET Bureau Dec. 28, 2017


ENGALURU: As the Trump administration considers tightening of visa regimes facilitating legal immigration to the US, the latest extension in deadline for the EB-5 visa has caused a renewed push for wealthy Indians vying to take the commonly called ‘Golden Visa’ route. Since September 2015, there have been sustained efforts by the committee for US immigration to increase the minimum investment for EB-5 from $500,000 to $920,000. But, the deadline for the increase has been continuously extended with January 19, 2018 being the latest. Entrepreneurs and parents of students studying in the US are rushing to invest at a cheaper price. “Since the investment is likely to get more expensive, Indians want to cash in at a cheaper price,” said Abhinav Lohia, executive vicepresident - India and the Middle East, CanAm Enterprises, an EB-5 immigration services consultant. “We received around 15 queries a week and about 60 queries a month from India inquiring about the EB-5 programme,” Lohia said. “Seeing the spike in Indian applications .. The EB-5 immigrant investor

programme provides opportunities for qualified foreign nationals to get permanent residency in the US by investing $500,000 in projects that will generate at least 10 full-time jobs in the United States. “I have started making frequent trips to India conducting seminars about the programme talking to banks, real estate developers, parents etc,” said Rohit Kapurina, attorney and EB-5 expert at Law firm Arnstein & Lehr’s. “The proposal to not allow spouse of H-1B visa holders to work in the US too has made people gravitate towards EB-5”. The minimum investment of $500,000 has remained the same since the inception of the EB-5 programme and the US Congress has been actively looking to increase the cap. The EB-5 allows investors to bring their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21as part of their application. “Indian parents and their children comprise of more than 50% of applicants for EB-5 followed by young professionals and HNIs,” observed by CanAm Enterprise. India takes the number three spot in the total number of EB-5 applications after China and Vietnam who have filed 10,948 and 404 applications, respectively.

“They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases. Things aren’t as simple as they’ve been portrayed in whatever chat room you’ve been in,” he added. “The question has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views, but doesn’t lead to a Balkanisation of society and allows ways of finding

Britain’s Prince Harry interviews President Obama as part of his guest editorship of BBC Radio 4’s Today program. The interview was recorded in Toronto in September. (AFP / Kensington Palace / The Obama Foundation) common ground.” The interview was recorded in Toronto, Canada, in September on the sidelines of the

Invictus Games, the athletic tournament created by Harry for wounded former soldiers. Despite admitting concern

10 hurt in Saint Petersburg supermarket bombing by Marina KORENEVA


AINT PETERSBURG, Russia | AFP | 12/27/2017 - - A homemade bomb blast at a supermarket in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg injured 10 people Wednesday, officials said, sparking a probe into attempted murder. “According to preliminary information, an explosion of an unidentified object occurred in a store,” a spokeswoman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, Svetlana Petrenko, said in a statement. The blast was caused by a “homemade explosive device with the power equivalent to 200 grammes of TNT filled with lethal fragments,” she said. “The investigation is looking at

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all possible causes of what happened,” she said, adding that a probe for attempted murder had been launched. The incident comes several months after Russia’s second city was rocked with a metro bombing in April which killed 16 people and amid concern that hundreds of Russian citizens who travelled to fight alongside jihadists groups abroad could pose a mounting security challenge back home. “Ten people have been hospitalised, their lives are not in danger,” the head of the Saint Petersburg investigative unit Alexander Klaus told Russian news agencies. An emergencies ministry representative told AFP that one of the injured was in serious con-

dition. An AFP correspondent at the scene observed first responders and police as well as a car belonging the Federal Security Service (FSB), which investigates acts of terror. The building containing the supermarket did not appear to have sustained serious damage. Police have cordoned off the area while the city’s transportation authorities briefly rerouted public transport in the neighbourhood. Passerby Galina Gustova, 58, observed the scene with horror. “How terrible! And this happens as people are shopping ahead of the holidays,” she said. “It’s a good thing nobody died.”

over the future of the US, Obama, who did not mention his successor Donald Trump by name, said he felt a sense of “serenity” on leaving the White House. “There was a sense that we had run a good race,” he added. On his new routine, Obama told the prince: “I wake up later, it’s wonderful to be able to control your day.” The prince opened the discussion by saying: “This is the first interview you’ve said ‘yes’ to doing since you handed over the reins”, to which Obama replied: “that’s true”. Harry is due to marry his US actress girlfriend Megan Markle on May 19 at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle near London. According to British press reports, civil servants are concerned that a wedding invite from the couple to Obama could cause a further rift between Britain and Trump following a series of high-profile spats



One man’s stand against junk food as diabetes climbs across India

NRI behind $20m H1-B visa fraud faces deportation after prison


ASHINGTON: December 27, 2017, PTI - A Virginia businessman who used shell companies to visa fraud apply for nearly a thousand foreign workers’ visas awill spend 28 months in federal prison before he is likely deported to India. Also, his wife and U.S.-born son are being sent back.

Rahul Verma distributing the Indian dish khichdi, a mixture of rice, lentils and vegetables, to patients outside a hospital in New Delhi. Mr. Verma has taken a stand against junk food in India, where people are more likely to develop diabetes from weight gain than people in other regions. (Photo: Atul Loke for The New York Times)

India is “sitting on a volcano” of diabetes. A father’s effort to ban junk food sales in and near schools aims to change what children eat by Geeta Anand, NY Times


EW DELHI — Rahul Verma’s son was born gravely ill with digestive problems, but over years of visits to the boy’s endocrinologist, Mr. Verma saw the doctor grow increasingly alarmed about a different problem, one threatening healthy children. Junk food, the doctor warned, was especially dangerous to Indians, who are far more prone to diabetes than people from other parts of the world. One day in the doctor’s waiting room, Mr. Verma noticed a girl who had gotten fat by compulsively eating potato chips. He decided he had to do something. “On one side you have children like my son, who are born with problems,” said Mr. Verma, “and on the other side you have children who are healthy and everything is fine and you are damaging them giving them unhealthy food.” Mr. Verma, who had no legal training, sat late into the nights with his wife, Tullika, drafting a petition in their tiny apartment, which was bedecked with fairy lights and pictures of the god Ganesh, who is believed to overcome all obstacles. He filed the public interest lawsuit in the Delhi High Court in 2010, seeking a ban on the sale of junk food and soft drinks in and around schools across India. The case has propelled sweeping, court-ordered regulations of the food industry to the doorstep of the Indian government, where they have languished. They have outsize importance in India, population 1.3 billion, because its people are far more likely to develop diabetes — which can lead to heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and amputations — as they gain weight than people from other regions, according to health experts. Since 1990, the percent of children and adults in India who are overweight or obese has almost tripled to 18.8 percent from 6.4 percent, according to data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. The International Diabetes Federation projects that the number of Indians with diabetes will soar to 123 million by 2040 as diets rich in carbohydrates and fat spread to less affluent rural areas. “We are sitting on a volcano,” said Dr. Anoop Misra, chairman of a diabetes hospital at Fortis Healthcare, one of India’s biggest private hospital chains. In the years since the court ordered the government to develop guidelines to regulate junk food, the case has encountered ferocious opposition from the All India Food

Processors Association, which counts Coca-Cola India, PepsiCo India and Nestlé India as members, as well as hundreds of other companies. Subodh Jindal, the president of the association, said in an interview that junk food was unfairly blamed for diabetes and obesity. It was overeating, not the food itself, that has caused the problem, he said, asking, “Do you eat two pizzas a day or two pizzas a week?” The government this year took a significant step that public health experts believe will help combat the rise of obesity in the world’s second most populous country. It partially implemented a tax on sugar sweetened beverages, instituting a 40 percent tax on such drinks that are carbonated, though not on juices made with added sugars that many children drink. But so far, the regulations to ban sales near schools sought by the court in Mr. Verma’s case have led to naught. “At such a slow pace, we will all be sick and diseased by the time any changes come in,” said Shweta Khandelwal, a nutritionist at the Public Health Foundation of India. Jagat Prakash Nadda, India’s minister of health and family welfare, did not respond to repeated requests for comment, but Pawan Agarwal, chief executive of the Food Safety Standards Authority of India, the body in the ministry responsible for such regulations, insisted that the government’s efforts have been sincere. “This may appear to be typical of India. When you have an issue, you set up so many committees and confuse the whole issue,” he said. But he insisted: “People are concerned. They want to do something about it. Therefore everyone is setting up committees.” As the case has played out on Twitter and in newspapers, students carrying “Junk Food Rest in Peace” posters have rallied, seeking to make obesity an issue in a country where feeding the hungry has been a national obsession. Some schools have voluntarily stopped serving junk food. The court battle has unfolded in a grand, wood-paneled courtroom here in the nation’s capital. Mr. Verma, 42, quit his job as a corporate marketing executive after his son’s birth in 2006 and set up a foundation in 2007 to help families like his with sick children. An emotional man, he sometimes wept in frustration with the government’s foot dragging. At one point, doubting his decision to venture into India’s overburdened legal system, the lanky, round-faced Mr. Verma, who wears big square glasses, begged the judge to let him withdraw the petition. “Nothing is happening. I’ve wasted my time,” he said, tears sliding down his face, as he bemoaned getting sidetracked from his foundation’s mission of helping poor, sick children at the giant public hospital where his son had been treated. “I could have helped hundreds of kids.” But Chief Justice Dipak Misra refused to let Mr. Verma

take back his lawsuit. Instead, spotting a senior advocate, Neeraj Kishan Kaul, at the back of the crowded courtroom, the judge ordered him to act as the pro bono lawyer for Mr. Verma’s case.

Foar years Raju Kosuri ran what prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia, federal court described as a visa-for-sale system using the H1-B program for specialized foreign workers, making over $20 million in the process. He pleaded guilty last year to visa fraud and making false statements. President Donald Trump has frequently criticized the H1-B program, at times suggesting he would eliminate it altogether. Kosuri, 45, was initially facing far more prison time as leader of the fraud conspiracy. Judge Leonie M. Brinkema said in court Friday that problems with the prosecution of the case led to a more lenient sentence, but that she had to send a message to anyone considering similar malfeasance.

As Mr. Kaul, 54, approached the bench, he recalled, he joked to the judge, “You’ve got the wrong guy. I like junk food.”

The H1B-visa program “has the potential to yield great financial rewards,” the judge said. “The temptation is there.”

Researchers around the world began noticing that Indian immigrants were more prone to diabetes in the 1970s.

Kosuri’s wife, Smriti Jharia, 46, is one of the immigrants he illegally sponsored. She

“But nobody knew why,” said Dr. Viswanathan Mohan, a physician and researcher who owns several dozen diabetes centers in India. Scientists searched for genes that predisposed Indians to diabetes, but didn’t find them. Instead, a growing body of research suggests that Indians’ body type — one that is smaller but with more abdominal fat — may be responsible. Being born to a malnourished woman — a common phenomenon in India — may also increase the odds of developing diabetes. Clues to this pattern emerged from other parts of the world. Researchers studied the health of babies born during the Dutch famine in 1944-45. They found that the babies had a higher likelihood of impaired glucose tolerance as adults, which led to higher rates of diabetes. Dr. Chittaranjan Yajnik, a diabetes specialist, and Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, are among the researchers exploring a theory that Indians evolved what Dr. Yajnik has called “a thin-fat” body type over millenniums as a way to survive famines when monsoons failed. Dr. Yajnik, who is from Pune, a city in western India, noticed during his medical training in Britain in the 1980s that he had higher levels of fat and hormones related to diabetes than European doctors even though he appeared thinner. That set Dr. Yajnik, now head of diabetes at KEM Hospital Research Center in Pune, on a quest to understand if this was generally true for Indians — and if so, why. In the 1990s, he began following the pregnancies of hundreds of women in villages outside Pune and tested their offspring as they grew up. Compared with infants in Britain, Indian newborns were about 1.5 pounds lighter but had more abdominal fat and higher levels of certain hormones in their cord blood, he found, suggesting a predisposition to diabetes. Dr. Yajnik said he believes Indians’ susceptibility to diabetes may have emerged as their diets changed with rising affluence — and that their bodies, attuned to scarcity, couldn’t handle an overload of food. In the years since Mr. Verma filed his suit, consumption of junk food has risen sharply across India. Sales of packaged foods have increased 138 percent; fast food 83 percent; and carbonated drinks 58 percent, according to Euromonitor International, the market research firm.

FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

Coca-Cola Company’s chief executive James Quincey, in an interview with Indian media earlier this year, said that he expected the Indian market to eventually become the company’s third largest in sales, up from sixth. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have announced plans to invest billions of dollars in the Indian market. They have also said they plan to increase their offerings of drinks with less sugar and more fruit. Sanjay Khajuria, a Nestlé India spokesman, said the food processors association, which opposed Mr. Verma’s case, had “taken into account inputs received by the association from its members,” and declined further comment on the case. He also noted that the company has joined other companies in India to restrict advertising directed at children under 12 to products with a certain level of nutrients. A Coca-Cola spokesman referred questions on the lawsuit to the food association. PepsiCo India’s vice president of sales, Harsh K. Rai, also declined to comment on the lawsuit. He said the company has stopped advertising to children 12 and under. Becoming a crusader against junk food was far from Mr. Verma’s mind as he and his wife battled to save their son, Uday, who was born with parts of his digestive system missing. The boy endured nine surgeries, but emerged thriving. His parents decided they wanted to help families facing similar challenges and formed the Uday Foundation. Mr. Verma ran it, while his wife supported the family on her $1,000-amonth salary as an administrator in the government education system. After seeing the obese girl in the doctor’s waiting room, Mr. Verma couldn’t shake his concern about junk food. He also had a worry closer to home: his daughter, Lavanya, sometimes bought burgers at school instead of eating the rice and lentils her mother sent from home. First the couple approached state officials about banning junk food in New Delhi schools — to no avail. Then in 2010 he filed the lawsuit, basing his case on the constitutional authority of courts to intervene to protect citizens’ right to life. In 2011, the presiding judge asked the national government “to take concrete and effective steps to ensure that the sale and supply of junk food in and around schools is banned.”

pleaded guilty to falsely obtaining naturalization and agreed Friday to move back to India immediately and give up her American citizenship. She said their son, a native U.S. citizen who has never lived in India, will go with her. Steve McCool, Jharia’s attorney, said his client “was grateful that she was permitted to voluntarily remove herself from the United States. Unfortunately, her son has to pay a heavy price for her criminal conduct.” Charges against three other defendants allegedly involved in the scheme were dismissed after Brinkema found prosecutors had failed to turn over relevant evidence, according to court records. A sixth defendant was allowed to withdraw her guilty plea; she went to trial earlier this month and a verdict has not yet been reached. “This has been a long and unusual case,” said Kosuri’s attorney, Stuart Sears. “He regrets his conduct, and he and his family have paid a tremendous price.” Starting in 2000, Kosuri launched over a dozen businesses that claimed to provide information technology services out of Danville, Virginia. In fact, he admitted they existed merely as vehicles to get visas for Indian nationals who would actually work elsewhere.

The food indusry hired some of the country’s most politically-connected lawyers to fight the case, including Mukul Rohatgi, the former additional solicitor general; Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who has been a member of Parliament and spokesman for the Congress Party, which has ruled India for most of its post-independence history; and Kapil Sibal, the threetime president of the Supreme Court Bar Association who had served as a senior minister in the Congress-led government. The hearings dragged on. Finally, in 2014, the working group of an expert committee picked by the food authority recommended that sales of potato chips, sugar sweetened beverages, ready-to-eat noodles and chocolates be banned within 500 yards of schools. The food association strenuously objected. D. V. Malhan, its executive secretary, said in an interview that there are so many schools that the proposed sales ban would have hurt the industry badly. In early 2015, the food authority in the health ministry finally recommended regulations to the court, including some limitations on the sale of junk food around schools. The judge ordered the recommendations carried out within three months. Instead, the food authority appointed yet another committee. Last year, at a meeting in New Delhi, that committee proposed taxing junk food, prohibiting advertising of it during children’s television shows and requiring consumer labeling of processed food. Mr. Malhan, of the food association, denounced the report for not soliciting industry input earlier. Shouting, he said the guidelines were unacceptable. It has been nearly two years since that contentious meeting. Mr. Agarwal, chief executive of the food authority, insisted his agency is finally ready to start adopting new rules early next year for labeling healthy food with a green light and those high in fat, sugar and salt with a red light. But he said taxing junk food and banning it around schools were long term goals. “There is no point in confronting industry on these issues,” he said. As the government debates junk food policy, doctors here say that over the past 20 years they have seen their offices packed with increasingly younger diabetic patients. Last month, Sapna Dhingra, 49, called Dr. Rommel Tickoo, a New Delhi internist, com-

Kosuri, who immigrated from India in 1999 and was a lawful permanent resident, was paid millions by the companies where those visa recipients worked. Kosuri also obtained millions in bank financing by misrepresenting his business, as well as a $500,000 grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission. He and his wife tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to win federal contracts through the Small Business Administration through one of the companies. Seventy-one percent of H-1B visa recipients came from India in 2015, according to a 2016 DHS. Giant multinational outsourcing firms based in India every year submit tens of thousands of applications for workers in the technology and engineering fields. “If fraud like the [Kosuri’s] becomes too prevalent, the result may be that the H-1B process is severely cut back,” Assistant United States Attorney Jack Hanly wrote in a court filing. “That would be a major setback for those who use the program honestly and benefit from its availability.” In April Trump ordered a review of the H-1B visa program and announced new steps to combat fraud and abuse, including unannounced site visits to companies with a high ratio of workers from the program.

plaining of leg pain. He sent her for a blood test and texted her the next day: “Come over. You’ve got diabetes.” She reeled in shock. Her mother is also diabetic, but got the disease in her 60s. Now diabetes is stalking her husband and daughter, who are what Dr. Yajnik would call “thin-fat.” Her husband, Hardesh, 54, learned a few months ago that his high blood sugar put him on the borderline of being diabetic. He immediately started taking daily walks, but Delhi’s dangerous air pollution prompted Dr. Tickoo to advise him to stop. A blood test revealed that the couple’s daughter, Ria, 22, also had elevated blood sugar. She is not overweight, either, although she gained a few pounds recently after a knee injury interrupted her exercise routine. Dr. Tickoo advised Ria to immediately change her diet but she said it was hard to resist temptation. When she is not studying at the Pearl Academy of Fashion, where she is in her final year, she hangs out in malls crammed with fast food restaurants serving pizza, burgers, fried chicken and oily Indian entrees. She has switched from milkshakes to smoothies made with fresh fruit, but confesses her motive is not her health. The question for her and her friends: “Are we going to fit in our leggings or not?” At lunchtime one recent day, people on crutches and with tubes hanging out of their noses gathered in a crowd outside the hospital where Mr. Verma’s son was treated. A white van pulled up and they jostled to the front of the line for heaping bowls of khichdi, an Indian favorite of rice, lentils and vegetables. Mr. Verma’s foundation — which now has more than 700,000 Twitter followers — serves these meals three days a week to about 1,000 patients. At his office, he reveled in his David versus Goliath battle to regulate junk food. He was emphatic that someone needs to continue the fight; he is just not sure that someone is him. He is convinced the unending legal battle gave him high blood pressure. But that happened after outrage about filthy air had mounted. Mr. Kaul said the government will only move on junk food once public pressure builds. “You need a movement to fight the inertia of the system,” he said, sipping a can of Coke.



FRIDAY, December 29, 2017


Virat Kohli (L) and R Ashwin (AFP Photo)

Rockets confident of return to form after three-game skid by Tim MacMahon


OUSTON -- The Houston Rockets’ winning percentage has dipped significantly over the past week, but their confidence has not.

WHAT A TRIUMPH! Cricket: India unbeaten in 16 series at home This triumphant phase stretches over 25 months and across all formats by G. Viswanath ll the kerfuffle following South Africa’s thrashing of India by 214 runs in the fifth and final One-Day International at the Wankhede Stadium and the 3-2 loss in the 2015 series is very much a thing of the past now.


Since that massive defeat, India has had a good run of 16 consecutive undefeated series across all formats at home over a period of 25 months. India has won 15 series (six Test, five ODI and four Twenty20 series) and drawn one. The Twenty20 series against Australia two months ago ended in a draw with the third match at Hyderabad being abandoned without the toss taking place because of rain and unfit playing conditions. Two years ago India team coach Ravi Shastri was peeved at the Wankhede pitch incharge, Sudhir Naik, for not making a “slow turner”; the featherbed allowed South Africa to plunder 438 runs for the loss of four wickets. It was entertainment of the highest class with Quinton de Kock cutting loose to make 109, Faf du Plessis 133 and A.B. de Villiers 119 and South Africa scoring at a rate of 8.76 an over. In reply, India was shot out for 224 in 35.5 overs. The fact that the Future Tours Programme (FTP) scheduled a

long list of home series enabled India to show its mettle and prove to the cricketing world that it’s hard to beat at home. “The good run started with a 3-0 win against the Hashim Amla-led South Africa, the ICC deemed the pitch prepared for the third Test in Nagpur as “poor”. The Test ended in three days, with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin taking five for 32 and seven for 66. Ashwin has remained India’s lynchpin taking 125 wickets at 22.22 in 20 Tests with left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja a close second at 104 at 20.47 in 20 Tests. India dismissed 361 batsmen at 25.21 in this phase that started with the first Test against South Africa in New Delhi. Ashwin and Jadeja are followed by Umesh Yadav 40, Mohammad Shami 27, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma 18 each, Amit Mishra 12, Jayant Yadav 11, Kuldip Yadav four and Varun Aaron two. India captain Virat Kohli has led the batting honours list in this 20-Test period, scoring 2,062 runs at a remarkable average of 71.10 with seven centuries and four half-centuries. He is followed by Cheteshwar Pujara (20 Tests, 1,807 runs at 56.47, five centuries and 10 half-centuries), Murali Vijay (18 Tests, 1,273 runs at 42.43,

five centuries and four halfcenturies), Ajinkya Rahane (18 Tests, 1,001 runs at 35.75, three centuries and as many half-centuries), K.L. Rahul (11 Tests, 794 runs at 46.71, one century and seven half-centuries). While India played 20 Tests and lost only one Test, falling to left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe who took 12 wickets and took Australia to a 333-run victory in Pune in February 2017, the Indian team lost six ODIs; to New Zealand (3), England (1), Australia (1) and Sri Lanka (1) and four Twenty20 matches; to Sri Lanka (1), England (1) Australia (1) and New Zealand (1). India’s top batsman in the ODI format, starting with the series against New Zealand in October 2016, has been Kohli, who has an aggregate of 986 runs at 70.34 (16 matches, 4x100, 4x50). He is followed by Rohit Sharma (16, 810 at 54.00, 3x100, 3x50), M.S. Dhoni (19, 597 at 39.80, 1x100, 3x50), Kedar Jadhav (16, 490 at 44.55, 1x100, 2x50), Hardik Pandya (18, 454 at 37.83, 3x50) and Rahane (11, 388 at 35.27, 5x50). The ODI wicket-takers have been Jasprit Bumrah (26 at 29.88), Pandya (21 at 34.62), Yuzvendra Chahal (16 at 25.75), Amit Mishra (15 at 14.33), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (14 at 39.64), Umesh Yadav 13 at 28.46) and Kuldeep Yadav (11 at 28.73).

Houston has lost only one of the 16 games that they have had Paul, whose return from the monthlong absence due to a bruised left knee sparked the Rockets’ long winning streak.

The Rockets actually considered Monday night’s performance a step in the right direction. Their recent defensive struggles continued -- Houston has allowed 119.6 points per 100 possessions during their losing streak, a drastic spike for a team that had recently ranked in the top five in defensive efficiency. However, the Rockets believed they played with significantly better effort than the past two games, crediting the Thunder’s star trio of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony for Oklahoma City shooting 54.4 percent from the floor. (-ESPN)

The Rockets (25-7) have slipped to second in the Western Conference standings, a game behind the Golden State Warriors. Coach Mike D’Antoni said he has “no doubts” that the Rockets will soon return to elite status, alluding to how much Houston has missed Paul, who exited early in the fourth quarter of last week’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers that started the rough stretch.

India aim for history on South Africa tour


Chahal leads the bowling list (20 from 10 matches), followed by Bumrah (18, 18), Pandya (13, 19), Ashish Nehra (13, 12) and Ashwin (13 from eight). (-TheHindu)

In a landmark tour of South Africa next month they are looking for a record 10th straight Test series win. They are currently level with Australia on nine straight series wins.

Kohli said the team is stronger than the last tour to South Africa when the Proteas won the two-match Test series 1-0.

Shastri and captain Virat Kohli said the side are ready for the challenge, which will be followed by tours of England and Australia and then the World Cup. Shastri stressed the importance of building the same squad around Kohli since the

“That experience will stand them in good stead, that’s for sure, because the conditions will be testing,” he said. “This one and a half years will define this Indian cricket team, and the whole team is aware of that. “All I can say is that this will be a better cricket team after those 18 months.”

“The bowling has come a long way, the batting has come a long way, all the guys are much more experienced now, but the hunger remains the same. We still want to go back and try to do what we couldn’t do the last time.” - No wedding hangover The captain and star bats-

men said India have been “relentless” in their performances against Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Bangladesh and England over the past year. “We don’t care if we draw or are one game up or one game down, our intensity remains the same and that is because of the fitness levels going up.” Kohli also insisted that his wedding to Bollywood star Anushka Sharma this month had not diverted him from the mission ahead and that he is “mentally prepared”. “Switching back to cricket is not difficult at all because it’s in my blood like it is for every other team member and the management.” He added that he had not been inactive during the break. “Obviously I have been training to get back to playing in South Africa,” he said, stressing his commitment to push the team to be their best.


Pakistan still have bowlers to trouble N. Zealand, claims Sarfraz

Kane’s three goals in a 5-2 rout of Southampton also guaranteed he would finish as Europe’s leading scorer for 2017.

AHORE, Pakistan | AFP - Pakistan still have bowlers who can put pressure on New Zealand in their upcoming one-day series despite the absence of Junaid Khan, Usman Shinwari and Imad Wasim through injury, captain Sarfraz Ahmed said Tuesday.


“It was hard not to think about it, being level going into the game,” said Kane. “I wanted to win the game but of course I wanted to score as a striker. Getting that record was a great feeling.” Kane has 39 Premier League goals in 2017, three more than Shearer’s previous Premier League record of 36, set in 1995.

“You’ve had a magnificent 2017 @HKane. You deserve to hold the record of most @premierleague goals in a calendar year. Well done and keep up the good work,” he tweeted.

Guard Chris Paul has missed the past two games with a strained left adductor, and the Rockets hope that he can play in one of the two games in the upcoming road back-to-back against the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards. Key re-

“None at all,” D’Antoni said. “We had like five or six or seven straight stops to start the fourth and we couldn’t score. We got 19 [points] in the fourth because James sits for five or six minutes. We have a solution for that. No, there’s no doubts.”

Kohli has been the No. 1 batsman in Twenty20s (451 runs from 13 matches), followed by Rohit Sharma (418, 16), Dhoni (349, 19), K.L. Rahul (255, six) and Shikhar Dhawan (253, 12).


Former England captain Shearer was quick to congratulate the new record-holder.

The Rockets have filed a protest of Friday’s loss in which Clippers guard Jawun Evans should have fouled out with three minutes to play with Los Angeles holding a three-point lead.

serve forward Luc Mbah a Moute has been out since dislocating his right shoulder Dec. 13 and could miss another two weeks. Center Clint Capela returned Monday after missing three of the previous four games due to a bruised left heel.

last tour of South Africa in 2013.

ONDON, United Kingdom | AFP - Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane said beating Alan Shearer’s Premier League record for goals in a calendar year was a “great feeling” after he netted a hat-trick on Tuesday.

“They are fantastic players here. It’s fantastic to play with them. We’re a hard team to stop and I said to them before the game to try and set me up and they did that, so I’ll have to take them out for dinner.”

“We’ll be all right. That’s it. That’s all it is,” guard James Harden said after a 112-107 loss Monday night to the Oklahoma City Thunder. “Guys are playing a little bit too many minutes. Our defense isn’t really there consistently, and our offense, we aren’t making shots like we need to be. We’ll be all right. It’s a part of it. We’ve just got to fight through it. It’s a long season.”

“We’ll be all right. That’s it. That’s all it is,” guard James Harden said (Photo: BET)

UMBAI, India | AFP | Wednesday 12/27/2017 - India will define their place in cricket history over the next 18 months with tours of South Africa, Australia and England putting them to the test, the team’s coach said Wednesday. The world’s number one ranked Test side have become invincible at home since losing a one-day and T20 series to South Africa in 2015.

Soccer: Kane says ‘great feeling’ to beat Shearer record

“I’ve improved physically -- recovery for games, getting ready for each game, eating right and ice baths,” added Kane. “I feel good and sharp and at my best at this busy period.

The Rockets’ primary concern in the wake of losing three consecutive games, a rough stretch that came immediately after a 14-game winning streak, is getting key injured players healthy.

Striker Harry Kane said it had been a “fantastic” year. (File photo/ AFP) Kane’s third goal took him to 56 for club and country in 2017 -- lifting him above Barcelona’s Lionel Messi to become Europe’s top-scorer over the past 12 months in the five major countries (England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France). Kane said it had been a “fantastic” year. “To get compared to those players -- the Messis and Shearers -- is what it is all about,” he said. “To get another hat-trick is a great way to end the year. “It is always about improv-

ing every year. That’s what I always have done throughout my career and it is what I will continue to do.”

“It’s unfortunate that three of our key bowlers are injured but we still have good bowlers who can trouble New Zealand,” he said, highlighting Hasan Ali who was declared player of the Champions Trophy in England this year with 13 wickets. Pakistan’s 15-man squad flies early Wednesday to play five one-day internationals followed by three Twenty20s, with the first ODI in Wellington on January 6.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino hailed the achievement of his star forward.

Sarfraz said Pakistan are ready after their Champions Trophy triumph in England.

“It does not surprise us because every day we see how he works, how determined he is and how professional he is,” he said. “That can only be good for him.

“We have done the best preparation for the tour and all the players are in good form so we will do our best on the New Zealand tour,” he told the media after a short training camp.

“Professional is a massive word -- you need to include everything there inside and he is a good example of that.”

“Apart from opener Fakhar Zaman, all other players have played in New Zealand before so they know about the tough

Captain Sarfraz Ahmed (File photo/AFP) conditions and about the New Zealand team. So we are ready for the challenges.” New Zealand won a one-day series against the West Indies 3-0 on Tuesday but Sarfraz is

still confident. “We have a strong bowling unit and I am sure that the batting will also come good in tough conditions in New Zealand,” he said.



Pakistan grieves Benazir Bhutto, 10 years after assassination

FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

India says more than 660 missing one month after deadly cyclone


EW DELHI, India | AFP - More than 660 fisherman remain missing one month after a deadly cyclone battered India’s south coast and parts of neighbouring Sri Lanka, Indian authorities said Wednesday. Cyclone Ockhi has already left a confirmed death toll of more than 250 people from its rampage that started on November 29 in Sri Lanka, where 27 of the dead were reported. Winds of up to 130 kilometres (80 miles) per hour uprooted trees and damaged electricity and telephone infrastructure as well as tens of thousands of homes. India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told parliament that 661 fishermen were still missing but did not say whether they were presumed dead. Bilawal Bhutto, pictured in November with a photograph of his late mother


AHORE, Pakistan | AFP -Thousands of mourners visited the shrine of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto Wednesday as the country marked 10 years since her assassination, with her killers yet to face justice. An estimated 20,000 people gathered at the shrine in Garhi Khuda Baksh in the Bhutto family stronghold of Sindh province, television images showed. They came to pay their respects to the charismatic politician, who was the first woman to lead a Muslim country and a darling of the West. “I feel we have become orphans after her martyrdom,” mourner Allah Varayo, 45, told AFP by telephone from the shrine. Others waved flags

in the black, red and green of Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as well as photographs of the slain leader. “I could see more vigour among the people, who have come in larger numbers than the previous years,” said Ahsan Junejo, a resident of the Bhutto’s home town Larkana near the shrine. Bhutto, a two-time prime minister, was contesting a third election when she was assassinated in a gun and suicide attack at a rally in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007. Her death plunged Pakistan into political uncertainty and street violence and shocked the world. Former president and military ruler Pervez Musharraf is alleged to have been part of a broad conspiracy to have

Bhutto, his political rival, killed before elections. He has been charged with the murder but has denied the allegation, and remains in self-imposed exile in Dubai. Earlier this year a Pakistani court declared him a “fugitive” in the case. “Murderer, murderer, Musharraf, murderer!” Bhutto’s son Bilawal, chairman of the PPP, chanted along with the crowd at the shrine Wednesday, an unusual expression of mass defiance against the military. Musharraf’s government blamed the assassination on Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who denied any involvement. He was killed in a US drone attack in 2009.

Four hundred were from Tamil Nadu state and another 261 from Kerala. She said the military and other services had rescued about 845 people up to December 20.

Indian officials carry a stranded fisherman, rescued by naval and air force helicopters from the Ockhi cyclone, at Thiruvananthapuram Airport on December 1, 2017. (File, AFP)

Hundreds of fishermen in mostly rudimentary boats were caught in the deadly cyclone that emerged in the Bay of Bengal and swept over Sri Lanka and south India before entering the Arabian Sea.

that insufficient warnings were given to fishermen. Relatives of the missing have accused the authorities of not doing enough to find those still unaccounted for.

There have been allegations

India’s east coast, includ-

ment of failing to give Bhutto adequate protection and said her death could have been prevented. To this day just two people have been convicted of the assassination -- policemen accused of “mishandling” the

crime scene. Five alleged militants accused of being involved in the killing were cleared earlier this year, though they remain behind bars for now. The unanswered questions surrounding the assassination

ing major cities like Chennai, is prone to storms that strike each year between April and December. In 1999 more than 8,000 people were killed when a cyclone battered the eastern state of Orissa.

have prompted a flood of conspiracy theories. “There are theories only, and even after 10 years we don’t know who was behind the murder,” Muqtida Mansoor, a political analyst, told AFP.

In 2010 a UN report accused Musharraf’s govern-

China hopes India, Pakistan can peacefully resolve their disputes


EIJING, China | AFP - China on Wednesday expressed hope that India and Pakistan can continue to make efforts to resolve their differences through dialogue and consultation. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing that Beijing has noted relevant report on the cross-border firing and killing of three Pakistani soldiers by Indian Army commandos this week. She refrained from commenting on the current round of tensions along the Line of Control, but said the two countries should remain committed to the regional peace and stability. “As a common neighbour and friend of India and Pakistan, we hope both the countries can continue to properly resolve relevant disputes through dialogue and consultation and jointly stay committed to the peace and stability of the South Asian region,” Hua said in response to a question. The Indian Army sources in New Delhi have said a “small group” of ‘Ghatak’ comman-

“As a common neighbour and friend of India and Pakistan, we hope both the countries can continue to properly resolve relevant disputes through dialogue and consultation and jointly stay committed to the peace and stability of the South Asian region.”

dos carried out a tactical level selective targeting of the Pakistani post around 200-300 metres across the LoC on Monday in which three Pakistani soldiers were killed and one was injured. The operation is seen as avenging the killing of four Indian Army personnel by a Border Action Team of the Pakistan

Army in Keri sector Rajouri district four days ago. Pakistan on Tuesday summoned India’s acting deputy high commissioner to protest “unprovoked” firing by the Indian Army that killed its three soldiers and “categorically rejected” claims that Indian commandos crossed the LoC.

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FRIDAY, December 29, 2017










2 0 1 8



Section 2



Asia makes gains as world’s Billionaires add $1 Trillion in wealth in 2017


loomberg’s Billionaires index indicated that the top 67 billionaires added more than $1 trillion to their wealth in 2017, more than four times last year’s gains.

The 38 Chinese billionaires on Bloomberg’s list added $177 billion in wealth last year, a 65% increase that was the largest of the 49 countries represented. That increase was led by China EverGroup The world’s richest people grande founder Hui Ka added $1 trillion to their Yan who addfortunes last year as Asia ed nearly $26 billion to his had more billionaires on wealth last year. the list than the U.S. for

The world’s richest person, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, saw his wealth balloon by $34.2 billion as he Meanwhile, the first time. took over the Ma Huateng, top spot from co-founder of former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. messaging service Tencent Holdings Bezos’ net worth sits at about $99.6 Ltd., became Asia’s second richest billion, according to Bloomberg. person after his wealth nearly douGates has a fortune of about $91.3 bled to $41 billion last year. billion. The number of Asian billionaires As of the end of trading Tuesday, the world’s 500 billionaires controlled $5.3 trillion, up from the $4.4 trillion they controlled last year.

surpassed the U.S. for the first time in 2017, according to a UBS Group AG, PricewaterhouseCoopers report. (-The Street)

Wall Street edges up as tech snaps skid by Chuck Mikolajczak


EW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks eked out a slight gain on Wednesday, as advances in some major technology stocks offset losses in energy and helped keep major indexes just above the unchanged mark. The S&P technology index was up 0.2 percent and managed to snap a five-session losing streak, its longest since April. The sector was buoyed by gains in Facebook, up 0.9 percent, and Microsoft, up 0.4 percent. “Tech is very elevated,” said Stephen Massocca, Senior Vice President at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco. “Tech has been down a little bit but if you look at the heart of the beast, the juicy stuff, it hasn’t really gotten hurt.”

rose 28.09 points, or 0.11 percent, to 24,774.3, the S&P 500 gained 2.12 points, or 0.08 percent, to 2,682.62 and the Nasdaq Composite added 3.09 points, or 0.04 percent, to 6,939.34. Oil prices dipped after hitting a near two-and-a-half-year high in the previous session, pushing down the S&P energy index by 0.3 percent. ConocoPhillips, off 1.1 percent, and Chevron down 0.3 percent, were the biggest drags on the index. Housing stocks edged up 0.1 percent after data showed contracts to buy previously owned homes edged higher in November, the latest signal the housing market may have regained some momentum.

European stocks edge higher in thin holiday trading


London’s FTSE 100 index, driven by strong gains in mining stocks, ended the session 0.4 percent higher at a new closing high of 7,620.68 points. And in the eurozone, both Frankfurt’s DAX 30 and the CAC 40 in Paris were more or less flat. “European equity markets are mixed... with the FTSE 100 outperforming thanks to gains from its heavily weighted materials segment,” said Accendo Markets analyst Henry Croft. “Continued concern as to the impact of last week’s Catalonian election victory for pro-independence parties, as well as a euro recovery... are both

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U.S. holiday sales set to break records in surprise boon to retail by Eric M. Johnson, Richa Naidu


EATTLE/CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. holiday shopping season is on track to break sales records on the back of surging consumer confidence and increased use of mobile devices, presenting an unexpected boon for retailers and the delivery companies they rely on. The holiday shopping season, a crucial period for retailers that can account for up to 40 percent of annual sales, brought recordbreaking online and in-store spending this year of more than $800 billion, according to Mastercard Inc’s analytics arm. Stakes are particularly high this year for traditional retailers that have invested heavily in technology and free delivery and returns, determined to stay relevant in a market increasingly dominated by Inc. “It has been an extremely positive holiday season in terms of sales both for brick-and-mortar and for online businesses,” said Shelley Kohan, a Retail Fellow at analytics firm RetailNext. Preliminary numbers show total holiday sales will exceed RetailNext’s initial forecast of a 3.8 percent increase from last year. “All the economic indicators were very strong, and so I think consumers were more willing to open up their wallets and purses and spend more,” Kohan added. RetailNext and most other analytics firms and industry groups - including Adobe Analytics and the National Retail Federation - are due to publish holiday sales data in January. Mastercard Inc said on Tuesday that a late-season rally had driven an 18.1 percent rise in online sales. Department store chain Macy’s Inc and Target Corp both noted increased activity

That pace is expected to continue Target spokesman Joshua Thomas into early January, UPS said, and told Reuters that during the week be- would likely peak at 1.4 million on fore Christmas the company had seen Jan. 3, which would be a fifth conseca marked increase in shoppers picking utive annual record, up 8 percent from up online orders in stores, while Ma- this year. cy’s spokeswoman Blair Rosenberg Rival FedEx Corp said it experiJacob Sanchez said last-minute shoppers boosted fra- withenced Diagnosed autism another record-breaking peak grance sales during that period. shipping season, but declined to proThe S&P retail index was flat on vide specifics. The company’s Chief Marketing Officer Rajesh SubramaWednesday. niam told analysts last week about 15 - SANTA‘S LITTLE HELPERS percent of all goods purchased online Package delivery companies that are returned, with apparel running at handle returns for retailers have ben- about 30 percent. efited from booming delivery volumes UPS has worked for years to inin recent years, but also have had to crease its ability to forecast customer invest billions of dollars to upgrade shipping demands to handle major and expand their networks to cope as package volume spikes ahead of the e-commerce purchases surge to new holidays. It has also raised shipping heights. rates and added 2018 peak-season Delivering individual packages to surcharges. shoppers - and picking up returns - is The returns delivered in 2017 are a lower margin business for delivery part of the 750 million packages UPS companies, which make more when said it expects to deliver globally durthey deliver in bulk to businesses. ing the peak shipping season from the United Parcel Service Inc, the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday through world’s largest package delivery New Year’s Eve. That is an increase company, said on Wednesday it was of nearly 40 million over the previous on track to return a record number of year. packages this holiday, having handled UPS and FedEx shares both ended more than 1 million returns to retailers up slightly on Wednesday. daily in December. during that time.

Eclectic Indian restaurant at opens at popular downtown Boca Raton plaza

Tesla shares fell 1.8 percent after brokerage KeyBanc lowered its estimate for Model 3 deliveries to roughly 5,000 units from 15,000 units for theothers sign of autism. Learn the fourth quarter.

Lack of speech Trading volumes remained mutedisin a the holiday-shortened week between Christmas and New Year. Volume on Shares of wireless-charging technolTuesday was the thinnest of the year ogy developer Energous Corp surged for a full session. 168.1 percent to $23.70 after it got The Dow Jones Industrial Average certification for its wireless charging transmitter.

ONDON (AFP) - European shares were steady to slightly higher in thin holiday season trading on Wednesday, buoyed by a rise in commodity prices and a firmer showing on Wall Street.

FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

weighing on mainland European equities.” Oanda analyst Craig Erlam said that the period between Christmas and New Year “is often very quiet. With the US having got tax reform over the line last week and kicked the budget issue back to January at the last minute, investors have been left with little to turn their attention to.” “A thin volume trading is a general theme across the markets,” said Naeem Aslam, analyst. “Most traders are away on their holiday and we do not expect much action in the markets, however, the general portfolio rebalancing trade would be the most common feature between now and the end of this year.” London’s top seven performers were all miners, with Fresnillo leading the pack with a two-percent rise as copper prices hit a three-year high.

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Festival SALE

by Lulu Ramadan


OCA RATON, Florida — An eclectic Indian restaurant opened its doors at downtown Boca Raton’s Royal Palm Place plaza. Tanjore Indian Cuisine, which offers a modern twist on Southwest Indian staples, opened last month in place of Sapphire Indian Cuisine at Royal Palm Place, the shopping plaza at Federal Highway south of Palmetto Park Road. Chef Yogi Dhwale and restauranteur Chris Corda partnered to create the new-age restaurant, which boasts a menu of unique appetizers and entrees with several vegetarian and vegan options. The menu includes classic Indian dishes of seafood, lamb, chicken and vegetables, and a lengthy list of wines and cocktails. Dhwale spent 12 years perfecting Indian recipes while serving them at a snack shop in Bombay, according to a news release from the restaurant. That’s where Dhwale’s passion “evolved into an enthusiastic desire to

A lamb dish served at Tanjore Indian Cuisine at Royal Palm Place plaza in Boca Raton. ( -Palm Beach Post ) bring a true taste of India to Florida,” the release reads. With crisp white walls and cobalt blue furniture and linens, the restaurant has an canopied outdoor patio and indoor dining room.

On top of serving lunch and dinner everyday, Tanjore also offers brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 to 2:30 p.m. For more information about Tanjore Indian Cuisine, visit its website.



FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

Bea Johnson promotes book Hong on zero-waste lifestyle Kong’s


AIPEI, Taiwan - Bea Johnson, who in the US has been dubbed the guru of the zerowaste movement, arrived in Taiwan on Dec. 17 to promote her book on living without waste. The Frenchwoman, who lives in Mill Valley, California, has promoted the “five Rs” in maintaining her house: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot.


Although Johnson has lived a zerowaste lifestyle for a decade, she admitted that it was difficult making it a target in the beginning because of the lack of resources to guide her.

Taoist funerals

She turned to her parents and grandparents to figure which commercial products she could replace with natural alternatives, such as baking soda instead of commercial shampoo and

The superstition, symbolism and how to stop your soul being dragged into the coffin by Heidi Ng


rom swordplay to sweet treats, few Chinese funeral traditions are as involved as a Taoist ceremony. We find out how to ward off evil entities and guarantee a peaceful afterlife for the deceased. Mourners are dressed in loose white clothing, the women hiding their sadness behind large pointy hoods. The ear-piercing, discordant sound from the suona, a woodwind instrument, is played by a priest. At some point, swords will be waved, tiles will be smashed, and paper models of houses, servants and various other objects will be set on fire. This is the eerie spectacle of a Chinese Taoist funeral ceremony, with rituals, symbolism and ghostly superstitions dating back to ancient times. The most popular choice of funeral service in Hong Kong, the Taoist ceremony places the utmost importance on appeasing malignant spirits to protect the soul of the deceased, and on safeguarding mourners from the spirits’ wicked ways.

A woman washes dishes on the edge of a polluted reservoir in northern Jakarta. More than five million people, or about half the city’s population, live in slums here—as do more than one in four people across Indonesia. (Photo by Sean Gallagher/NatGeo) two to three years for the ashes to be moved because of a lack of space at columbariums in Hong Kong. Photo: Antony Dickson

Law’s shop sells a range of funeral paraphernalia, including the white cotton and sackcloth garments worn by mourners. In the old days, the coarse, poor quality material was chosen to

The white cotton and sackcloth funeral attire worn by close family members at a funeral. (Photo: Antony Dickson)

“The main theme of the funeral is filial piety, which is a core Chinese value,” says Teresa Law Wai-man, whose family have been in the funeral business for more than 30 years. Her Wing Fook Funeral Home is among a cluster of businesses serving the needs of the bereaved on Wa Fung Street in Hung Hom.

Author Bea Johnson during a recent book tour of Poland (Photo: These principles have allowed her and her family to minimize the amount of trash they produce in a year to fit into a regular-sized mason jar (less than half a liter), she said during a talk last week at Eslite Bookstore in Taipei’s Xinyi District. Her family in 2006 moved to a small town, where the house was a lot smaller than their previous one, so a lot of their belongings were stored in the basement, Johnson said. They realized after a while that they were not using 80 percent of the things they had stored, which she said was when they began reducing the unnecessary waste they had in the house. The author of Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste said the benefit of living with less is having more time to do things that are important, such as spending time with family and friends.

toothpaste, so that she would not contribute trash with the packaging of the products, she said. Johnson showed the audience what she was carrying in her bag during her two-day stay in Taiwan — an insulated beverage container, chopsticks and a cotton bag — saying that whenever she is buying food or drinks to go, she does not need vendors to provide a bag or cup.


U.S. year-end holiday retail sales rose 4.9% compared to the same period last year, a welcome gift to U.S. retailers amid new signs of consumer confidence. Online retail shopping similarly increased 18.1%, while overall consumer buying during the holiday period set a new record for dollars spent, according to the sales report issued by Mastercard SpendingPulse. “Overall, this year was a big win for retail,” Sarah Quinlan, senior vice

Ashes of the deceased waiting to be moved to a columbarium. It may take

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The family’s zero-waste lifestyle has also meant unconventional presents.


Instead of giving her children consumer products for their birthdays, she said that she and her husband treat them with experiences, such as scuba diving lessons and bungee jumping.

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Since publishing her book in 2013, Johnson has traveled around the world to promote her zero-waste lifestyle, as well as zero-waste, no-packaging stores. (-Taipei Times)

Holiday sales jump 4.9% over last year espite thousands of store closings this year, Americans supplied a final flurry of spending to give retailers their best holiday season sales since 2011, figures released Tuesday show.

A heady odour of incense fills the air in Law’s shop, where numerous funeral urns containing ashes reside in antique wooden compartments, awaiting removal to a permanent resting place in a columbarium. Photos of the departed stand beside the urns, along with offerings of sustenance that the deceased may have enjoyed in life, such as fruits, candies, Coke and mooncakes.

president of Market Insights, Mastercard, said in a statement issued with the report. “The strong U.S. economy was a contributing factor, but we also have to recognize that retailers who tried new strategies to engage holiday shoppers were the beneficiaries of this sales increase.” Although the report showed the 2017 holiday shopping season from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 was a winner for all retailers, the results differed by category: There was no place like home for the holidays for many shoppers, who sent sales of electronics and appliances up 7.5%, the strongest growth of the last 10 year. Sales of home furniture and furnishings separately grew 5.1%. (-USA Today;)

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convey mourners’ humble reverence for the dead, Law says. Bright colours, particularly red, which is associated with many Chinese celebrations, are unacceptable at a funeral. The men’s mourning costume also includes a white headband, while women don a hood to hide their worn-out features, Law says. Taoist funeral practices run much deeper than the material realm, though, and the elaborate ceremony is steeped in ancient beliefs and rituals. Taoism, like Buddhism – the second-mostcommon choice for a funeral service in Hong Kong, followed by a Catholic ceremony – holds that humans undergo an endless cycle of death and rebirth. In between, the soul resides in various realms of good and evil. (


Young Life

Modern-day Mowgli: Indian toddler forges bond with monkeys

The Four Quirks of an Effective Leader: Judge Ed Emmett By Ravi Desai


Samarth’s unusual friendship was discovered when the youngster was spotted alone in his village playing with nearly two dozen grey langurs. (AFP Photo)


ADRAS, India Samarth Bangari’s unusual friendship was discovered when the youngster was spotted alone in his village in southern India playing with nearly two dozen grey langurs.

with him for an hour or two.”

The infant’s uncle Barama Reddy said it was “strange” for the monkeys to behave like that, and villagers feared the boy would be attacked while his parents worked in a nearby field.

Thinking the monkeys must enjoy the company of children, another youngster was plonked next to Samarth but the langur pack became aggressive, Reddy said.

But it soon became clear they were more than comfortable in his presence, with the youngster happy to share some of his food with the visiting troupe. The monkeys kept returning, day after day, to visit their young friend in Allapur, roughly 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the city of Bangalore, his uncle said. “Since that day, the monkeys haven’t missed a day. They come to the house around the same time,” Reddy told AFP. “Even if he is sleeping, they first wake him up, and then sit

The unusual relationship piqued local interest, and soon people began visiting the house to catch a glimpse of young Samarth tottering around the farm with 20 langurs in tow.

FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

n December 16th, 2017, the students of YLDP attended an invigorating presentation at Houston TranStar by County Judge Ed Emmett. Emmett was born in Houston, Texas and graduated from Bellaire High School in 1967. Four years later, Emmett would graduate from Rice University with a B.A. in Economics. In 2007, Emmett was first appointed county judge by the commissioners court, a position he continues to hold to this day. Throughout his presentation, Emmett proposed four ‘quirks’ of an effective leader. Firstly, tell the truth in every circumstance. Here, Emmett convinces the audience that telling the truth is the right move all of the time. For example, throughout his work with Mayor Turner on releasing important information regarding Hurricane Harvey to the public, he would only tell the truth. In other words,

ondly, Emmett strongly recommended to remember that, as a leader, it is not about you, but about the people you serve. As a leader, the trust of the people you represent is placed in you. Therefore, to think selfishly and only for one’s benefit would be a disservice to those around you. Emmett also discussed the importance of accepting change. He stated, “Change is always going to happen. It’s whether or not you accept that fact and adapt accordingly will determine your effectiveness as a leader.” Lastly, Emmett exhumed the thought of being open-minded. Only through open-mindedness will leaders be able to adapt to change and their environment or situation. As a leader, it is important to be open to new ways of thinking due to the changing world around us. Through being open-minded, people are able to become efficacious managers and leaders. As we all know, no leader is perfect. Everyone has their

Judge Edward Emmet

He said Samarth was now a local legend due to his “special bond” with the monkeys, whose sounds he mimics even though he cannot speak yet. “Everyone thinks that he is special and they are communicating with each other, and can understand what is being said,” Reddy said. Mowgli was a character in “The Jungle Book”, Rudyard Kipling’s tales about a boy who grew up in the wild in India, and is often used as a shorthand for people who are able to bridge the human-animal divide. (- AFP)

‘Tis the season to hide the chocolate from your dog, say experts

YLDP Houston students with Judge Edward Emmet, Director of Harris County’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Emmett pleads the next generation of leaders to tell the truth as lying destroys a leader’s credibility among people. Sec-

own unique flaws. However, what separates the truly great leaders from the ‘good’ leaders is their ability to recognize and

be cognizant of their faults and to adapt accordingly. Emmett’s presentation opened our eyes to these ‘quirks’ of effective lead-

ers and in that, instilled a solid blueprint for us to go on and use throughout our lives.

FBISD College and Career Readiness Advisors prepare seniors for next steps following high school

Christmas treats, for human consumption only, please! by Mariëtte Le Roux


ARIS, France | AFP | Thursday 12/21/2017 While Christmas may be a time of sweet indulgence for humans, for dogs it is a period of heightened risk of chocolate poisoning, experts warned on Thursday. With edible tree decorations, sweet-laden advent calendars and gift boxes aplenty, chocolate becomes “more accessible” meaning dog owners must be extra vigilant, a University of Liverpool research team said. When eaten by dogs, chocolate in small doses can cause vomiting or diarrhoea, and in large quantities it can lead to muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or even heart attacks. It is responsible for about a quarter of all acute canine intoxication cases. “Chocolate ingestion has a unique seasonal pattern which merits highlighting this risk,” the researchers wrote in the Vet Record journal after scru-

tinising five years worth data on chocolate poisoning from 229 British veterinary practices. Such cases increase fourfold over Christmas compared to the rest of the year, they found, while at Easter it was double. Young dogs were more likely to eat chocolate than older ones. “Sources of chocolate included bars and boxes (often gift selections) of chocolate, Easter eggs, chocolate cake, liqueurs, chocolate rabbits, Santa Claus figurines, advent calendars, and Christmas tree decorations,” the research team wrote. There was “one case involving a hot chocolate drink.” - A garden of eggs Reported doses were mostly small, except in one case involving “a garden of Easter eggs hidden for a large party of children,” the team found. None of the cases were life-

EHS CCR Door Contest Winner


ORT BEND ISD (December 21, 2017) – Fort Bend ISD high schools were among those throughout the state to accept the Generation Texas Month 2017 challenge by hosting college application and financial aid activities, events and outreach to prepare seniors for their next steps following high school graduation.

EHS CCR presentation in session.

effort to encourage high school seniors to complete and submit college and financial aid applications, including the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA) and an application (ApplyTexas) to at least one institution of higher education.

Generation Texas challenged schools to join in the statewide

Hightower High School accepted the challenge by hosting a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Infor-


levels in their system.”

For dogs, the toxic element in chocolate is theobromine, with pet food maker Hills explaining on its website that while humans easily metabolise the substance, dogs process it much more slowly, “allowing it to build up to toxic

Darker chocolate contains more of the substance, and less than an ounce (28 grammes) of dark chocolate is enough to poison a 22 kilogramme (44-pound) dog. “If you are worried or sus-

mation Night and an FAFSA workshop for students and parents. Also, during benchmark testing for grades 9-11, Hightower seniors took part in a college application workshop, researched scholarship apps and completed the Graduate for Mas Challenge (presented by the Taco Bell Foundation and Get Schooled to empower teens to follow their path to reach their personal, educational and career goals).

pect that your dog may have eaten a large quantity of chocolate... call your veterinarian immediately,” the company advises. Chocolate is bad for cats too, but they are less likely to eat it. Unlike other mammals, they do not taste sweetness.

Elkins High School also accepted the challenge by hosting several activities to promote college and career readiness. Social studies classes attended a panel discussion to receive educational and career advice from area professionals. EHS’ Science and Engineering/CTE Departments joined the District’s CCR/Counseling Department in hosting the UH Biomedical Engineering workshop on campus. EHS also welcomed parents to campus to present business workshops for students. The parents shared advice on what it takes to operate businesses and personal success stories. EHS also hosted a Generation TxMonth Challenge Door Decorating Contest for teachers that named three winners – Maeamour Jones, 1st place; Mary Font, 2nd place; and Jodi Porter, 3rd place.



Section 2


FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

The People’s Lawyer

International Business and FCPA Compliance

Be careful of deals that sound too good to be true Richard M. Alderman Interim Dean of the Law Center

Q. Is it legal for me to act as an “agent” for a company from outside the US? The company will have their customers mail checks to me in my name, I cash the checks, keep a percentage of the original, and wire the remainder to company? This sounds like a great opportunity. A. It does sound like a great opportunity, and as my father used to say, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.” As far as I know, there is nothing illegal about representing a company from outside of the U.S. for the purpose of collecting payments. In this case, however, my opinion is that this offer is a scam. Without going into the details, what will happen is the checks you receive and “cash” eventually will bounce after you have forwarded your money to the company. You will then have to return all the money you received from the bank. The bottom line is you will be out a lot of money. My advice is to ignore all of these get rich quick, workat-home, schemes. Q. Can you be turned in to a collection agency for a bill if you are at least paying something on it, say $5? A. If you are not paying the full amount due on a debt the debt is considered in default and can be sent to

collection. Sometimes speaking with the creditor and explaining why you are not paying the full amount and when you will be able to pay can delay collection efforts. Q. Who is liable for golf ball damage to auto when driving near a golf course? Thank You. A. Interesting question. For anyone to be liable, they must be “negligent.” In other words, they did not act as a reasonable person would in the same circumstances. For example, the golf course could be responsible if it did not have sufficient protection for passing cars. If every similar course had a 20-foot fence, and it had no fence of a ten-foot fence, it could be considered negligent, and responsible for damage caused by a golf ball. The golfer could also be responsible if he or she did not act reasonable. For example, if the golfer had hit the ball in the street before, and did not take responsible steps to aim the ball away from the road, the golfer could be considered negligent. In many case, however, no one may be responsible because it was simply an accident. If this was just an accident—the golfer and the golf course both acted reasonably—nether would be liable and you would have to pay for the damage. This is why it is so important we all have full-coverage automobile insurance.

Q. I have lived in the same apartment for 6 years. I am a good tenant and always pay my rent on time. Can my landlord just refuse to renew my lease with no explanation? I have been told he doesn’t like me. A. As a general rule, either the landlord or the tenant can chose not to renew a lease with no explanation. For example, if you wanted to move, you could just tell the landlord “I’m not renewing my lease.” If he asked why, you could say “none of your business.” Similarly, the landlord can decide not to renew your lease and require you to move. There is nothing stopping a landlord from not renewing a lease because “he doesn’t like” the tenant. A landlord, however, cannot refuse to renew a lease based on race, sex, age or religion. This would be unlawful discrimination. Q. Someone who owes me money just died. Am I out of luck? Do his children have to pay? A. When someone dies, his or her children are not liable unless the child had agreed to pay the debt. You may not, however, be out of luck. After a person dies, his or her estate is responsible for the debts. You should file a claim with the executor or administrator of the estate. If there are any assets in the estate, they can be used to pay the money you are owed.

Do you want to know more about your legal rights? Check out my website, (Article reprinted from Sept. 29 issue)

Tel: 713-774-5140

Part 1 functions. First, there are anti-bribery provisions, which prohibit payments to foreign officials to obtain or retain businesses. Generally, these provisions make it unlawful to offer, pay, promise to pay, or promise to give anything of value to any foreign official in order to obtain or retain a business; they also are meant to prohibit offers or payments to secure an improper business advantage. Second, there are accounting provisions, rules requiring accurate bookkeeping and record- keeping, as well as a comprehensive system of internal accounting controls. The FCPA accounting provisions prohibit falsification of books and records, as well as knowingly failing to implement internal controls. Those subject to FCPA requirements include “domestic concerns” (that is, U.S. residents and business concerns) and “issuers,” which are all public companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges or are required to file periodic reports with the SEC. Also, certain foreign individuals and businesses, while acting on U.S. territory, may be subject to the FCPA. The SEC has broad authority for civil enforcement of

Surendran K. Pattel Attorney & Counselor at Law, PKS Law Firm, PLLC

Question: How can FCPA violations be avoided in international business? The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) was enacted in 1977, the legislative response to revelations that American-based companies were bribing foreign officials on a widespread basis in their pursuit of lucrative business deals. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) share FCPA enforcement, which has increased in recent years. Ongoing investigations are reported to involve drug manufacturers, computer companies, media firms, and retailers. FCPA investigations and their related costs can be onerous, so it is best for those in business to know as much as possible about the FCPA, beginning with its basic components and

the FCPA over issuers and their officers. These individuals may include directors, employees, agents, and stockholders who act on the issuer’s behalf. Other U.S. agencies and departments that can become involved in FCPA enforcement include the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In the next column we will discuss in more detail the FCPA anti-bribery and accounting provisions. 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.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announces Tax Amnesty Program


USTIN — Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar today announced a temporary tax amnesty program giving certain delinquent taxpayers a chance to make their accounts compliant with state tax law without incurring penalties and interest on tax due. The Texas Tax Amnesty Program will run from May 1 to June 29, 2018. The program applies to periods prior to Jan. 1, 2018, and only includes liabilities that have not been previously reported to the Comptroller. Passed by the Texas Legislature in 2017, Senate Bill 1 requires the Comptroller of Public Accounts to establish a tax amnesty program to encourage voluntary reporting by: delinquent taxpayers who do not have a Texas Sales and Use Tax Permit, or are not registered for a tax or fee administered by the Comptroller’s office; and taxpayers who have a permit, but may have underreported or owe additional taxes or fees. “Our tax amnesty program is the perfect opportunity for taxpayers to get in compliance,” Hegar said. “Maybe you forgot to get a sales tax permit or you inadvertently underreported taxes owed. If you qualify, there are no excuses necessary. You can participate in the coming tax

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FRIDAY, December 29, 2017


Petition to dump Damon from ‘Oceans 8’ gathers pace


Section 2 Email:



boys of 2017


EW YORK | AFP | - Oscarwinner Matt Damon has alienated friends with remarks over the sexual misconduct firestorm blazing through Hollywood, but enough to become the next male star on the cutting room floor? An online petition demanding the dumping of his cameo in 2018 heist movie “Ocean’s 8” has nearly reached its goal of 17,000 signatures -- signed by more than 16,620 supporters by late afternoon New York time Thursday. Critics say his inclusion would be particularly galling given its status as an all female reboot of the popular franchise, starring Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter. The petition calls on “Oceans 8” producers George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh, “to toss Damon’s Oceans 8 cameo where it belongs: on the cutting room floor.” It alleges that he “enabled” Harvey Weinstein’s conduct by trying to squash a New York Times report in 2004 that detailed instances where the now fallen Hollywood mogul exploited his status as a studio executive to harass and assault women. Damon denied trying to bury the story and claimed he had no idea of the allegations against Weinstein, who helped catapult him into an international household name.

An online petition demanding the dumping of Matt Damon’s cameo in 2018 heist movie “Ocean’s 8” has nearly reached its goal of 17,000 signatures (AFP Photo/KEVIN WINTER) The actor also came under fire last week, for telling ABC News that there was a “spectrum of behavior” and a “difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right?” His long-time friend, Ben Affleck, with whom he shared an Oscar for best screenplay over 1997 movie “Good

Will Hunting” and Affleck’s actor brother Casey, have also been accused publicly in recent months of sexual misconduct. “This behavior is beyond enabling -it’s just gross. Matt Damon should not be in this movie,” said the petition. “Damon’s inclusion would trivialize the serious nature of the charges against

Anushka Sharma named PETA’s Person of the Year


UMBAI, December 27, 2017, PTI - Newlywed actor Anushka Sharma has been named PETA’s Person of the Year by animal rights organisation People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Known for movies like PK, Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Anushka is a vegetarian, has nabbed the title for helping to protect dogs from fireworks to advocating for horses who are forced to pull carriages in Mumbai. “Anushka Sharma is a proud animal rights proponent whose kindness and initiative know no bounds,” PETA Associate Director Sachin Bangera said in a statement. “PETA is calling on everyone to follow her lead by eating healthy plant-based meals, helping community animals by speaking up when they are suffering, and always keeping an eye out for new ways to help animals,” Bangera added. Anushka, who married crick-

sexual abusers like Weinstein,” and “show massive disrespect” to women speaking out, it said. Harvard-educated Damon, 47, is the father of four daughters, including a child from a previous relationship of his wife. “Ocean’s 8” is scheduled for release in June 2018 and tells of an attempted heist at New York’s annual Met Gala, one of the hottest tickets in the celebrity universe.


N THE FOREFRONT: Ranveer Singh has been the frontrunner of fashion this year. And the look that was much talked about was a striped skirt with a V-neck jumper and trousers from designer Rajesh Pratap Singh, which he wore for a red carpet event.

VARUN DHAWAN Varun Dhawan’s name appears somewhere in the middle of the style ranking for Bollywood men. This year, the 30- year-old cemented his style credentials at an award show, where he paired a ribbon-styled bow tie with his tuxedo. SHAHID KAPOOR Actor Shahid Kapoor made bold style statement at HT’s Most Stylish awards this year in a jumpsuit by Khanijo. This year marked Shahid’s style transformation as he went on to experiment more than Ranveer and pushed the fashion boundaries. SAQIB SALEEM Saqib Saleem has recently emerged as one of the modish actors of Bollywood. This year, he made a slew of stylish red carpet appearanc-

es and this kimono-style jacket in beige with a black shirt and trousers is one of his most stylish appearances in 2017. SIDHARTH MALHOTRA This year, Sidharth, tried his best to go beyond rugged jeans, T-shirt and jacket or suits and experiment with his look. He looked best at an award show, where he wore a Shantanu & Nikhil jacket on a white round neck kurta and black trousers. RAHUL KHANNA One can learn the art of wearing a suit and looking fabulous every time from actor Rahul Khanna. Trust him to make the most boring suit interesting with the right styling. He exudes sophistication in this checkered grey blazer coupled with vest and green trousers. (



Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma. et star Virat Kohli earlier this month, was in 2015 named

PETA’s Hottest Vegetarian Celebrity.

Tiger Zinda Hai screenings in India interrupted by protesters Protesters burned Salman Khan effigies and Tiger Zinda Hai posters in response to his alleged use of a derogatory word



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After MNS demanded that the Salman Khan-starrer be pulled from cinemas to offer prime time slots to a Marathi film, the film’s screenings in Rajahstan are being marred by protests against the lead star, reports Hindustan Times. Protestors, incensed by Salman’s alleged use of a derogative word for scheduled castes in India, were burning effigies and tearing down Tiger Zinda Hai posters outside

cinema halls on the film’s opening day yesterday. “A few days ago, Salman Khan in an interview used ‘bhangi’ word. Constitutionally also, using this word is an abuse; it has hurt the sentiments of Valmiki community,” Jitendra Hatwal Valmiki, a social worker, told Hindustan Times. Salman is reported to have used the word in relation to his dancing skills in an interview four years ago. “Our demand is that Salman Khan and Shilpa Shetty

should apologise to Valmiki community; till then the movie should be stopped in the state,” Jitendra said. However, the film distributors aren’t very perturbed by the protests. “Protests were held by the Valmiki community at different places in the state outside cinema halls, but movie watchers were not affected. Police are providing protection,” said Raj Bansal, distributor of Yash Raj Films in Jaipur. Police have arrested around 40 protesters.

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Voice of Asia

FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

Section 2

A healthy balance for families

Technology and your children by Cheri Burcham, Family Life Educator

Noise is the next great public health crisis


echnology is so prominent in our society today, bringing disadvantages with it along with the benefits. How many times have you seen a toddler or small child given a smartphone, tablet or other similar device to keep them occupied while in public? While this can be helpful in a pinch, this form of entertainment also has the potential to be abused. The Illinois Early Learning Project provides some great tips for parents in finding a healthy balance with technology and electronic devices: Talk and interact while using technology. Conversations help your child understand what she sees and how technology works. Talk about the content to help your child understand what she sees. Choose age-appropriate programming. Infants and younger toddlers (under 18 months) can participate in interactive video chatting with relatives, but they do not benefit from programming or toys that claim to improve children’s intelligence. Older toddlers (18–36 months) may benefit from some simple, child-directed programming with support from adults.

by Neel V. Patel


Photo: Shutterstock Infants and toddlers need hands-on practice with real objects. They benefit most from their interactions with people through play and conversations. Use technology to complement other activities rather than relying solely on technology to entertain, teach, or otherwise occupy your child’s time. Young children are attracted to blinking lights and screens. Childproof as needed, especially heavy electronic items such as big screen TVs, which are tip-over hazards. Your child is watching your technology use, which can often interfere with daily routines. Put down your device and give your child your full attention. Use electronic media away from meal and sleep spaces. So what’s the big deal?

Why shouldn’t we let children watch programs and videos and play video games as long as they are content? Well, experts say that problems begin when media use starts taking the place of physical activity, hands-on exploration and faceto-face social interaction in the real world, which is critical to learning. Too much screen time can also harm the amount and quality of their sleep. The most current guidelines on children’s digital media use or “screen time” by the American Academy of Pediatrics includes these highlights: For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them under-

The FDA is cracking down on homeopathic remedies by Kristen V. Brown


ASHINGTON, December 26 2017 - On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration announced plans to crack down on so-called “homeopathic remedies”—treatments that due to agency enforcement policy have managed to avoid regulatory oversight. But no more, says the agency. Many of those products, it said in a statement, aren’t just herbal tea cures for a sore throat. They’re products being marketed as treatments for serious diseases—hope bottled up and sold to desperate people, without any sort of clinical evidence that they might actually work. “In recent years, we’ve seen a large uptick in products labeled as homeopathic that are being marketed for a wide array of diseases and conditions, from the common cold to cancer,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “In many cases, people may be placing their trust and money in therapies that may bring little to no benefit in combating serious ailments, or worse–that may cause significant and even irreparable harm because the products are poorly manufac-


tured, or contain active ingredients that aren’t adequately tested or disclosed to patients.” This is not the first crack down of its kind to come since Gottlieb took the reigns at the FDA. In November, the agency sent warning letters to four companies claiming that marijuana-based products can treat or cure cancer. In the same month, it also announced it would intensify its enforcement of stem cell clinics peddling bogus, often risky therapies. The FDA’s Monday announcement included a draft of new guidelines intended to promote risk-based enforcement of homeopathic remedies. The guidelines outline a focus on products with reported safety concerns, those for treatment of serious diseases, products targeted at “vulnerable populations” and therapies that are applied topically or taken orally. It’s a similar approach to the one proposed to regulate stem cell clinics. It’s also a good example of what the FDA commissioner called “deregulating by regulating.” The agency notes that until

recently, homeopathic remedies were a small market, but they have now ballooned into a $3 billion industry. Purveyors like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop now get rich peddling bogus medicine to the public. Homeopathy is a specific alternative medicine practice that operates under the premise that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people can cure similar symptoms in sick people, if you dilute it to the point of being basically nonexistent. It is almost undoubtedly a pseudoscience. But in the U.S., it has been government-approved pseudoscience ever since the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 recognized homeopathic preparations as drugs. After petitions to the FDA and FTC from the Center for Inquiry, in 2015 the FDA held a hearing on homeopathic product regulation and last year the FTC announced that homeopathic products cannot include claims of effectiveness without evidence. There is a 90-day public comment period for the new draft guidelines before anything is officially implemented. But it’s a long-overdue step in the right direction. (

ities don’t just get filthy in the visual sense — urban spaces can often be a raging mess of sound. The blaring car horns, the police sirens screaming through the usual waves of traffic, the clatter of passing trains, the constant cacophony of voices rising and falling as a strange melody — this deluge of noise can be devastating to the human psyche. “I think, as a society, we are becoming much more aware of the noise around us,” Scott Sommerfeldt, an engineer at Brigham Young University who specializes in acoustic noise mitigation, tells Futurism. “Excessive noise has detrimental health effects on us, and we’re finally realizing how those effects add up.” By 2100, 84 percent of the

stand what they’re seeing. For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should coview media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them. I think the big take-away on this topic is that with supervision, appropriate time limits and good role modeling, families can find that healthy balance children need with technology use. (HealthNews. com)

world’s estimated 10.8 billion people will likely live in cities. That means noise pollution will bloom in those areas and beyond, in surrounding suburbs and rural spaces that were typically safe havens from the clamor of the city. Urban sprawl will get worse, encompassing quieter areas into the thick sounds of city life. It’s impossible to overstate how much noise pollution can wreak havoc on human health and safety. High noise levels can exacerbate hypertension, cause insomnia or sleep disturbances, result in hearing loss, and worsen a plethora of other medical conditions. All of these problems can aggravate other health issues by inducing higher levels of stress, which can cascade into worsened immune systems, heart problems, increased anxiety and depression — the list just goes on and on. Humans have been suffering because of excess noise for a long time, and scientists have known about it at least for several decades. The government first acknowledged that noise was a problem when it passed the Noise Pollution and Abatement Act of 1972. “There was already a real awareness that noise was harmful to health, and the Act was a formal acknowledgment by the government,” says Arline Bronzaft, a psychologist and authority on noise pollution who currently serves as chairman of the noise committee of GrowNYC. “Although there wasn’t enough information to point to how noise affects us in every which

way, there was enough for us to move forward with back in 1972. And today, there’s enough literature for everyone to agree noise pollution is a public health hazard.” Humans aren’t the only species suffering from the racket. Urban and suburban noise can easily escape from peopled areas into nature, causing problems for animal populations, especially those that live close to highways or busy harbors. Noise pollution can make it harder for animals to avoid predators (or for predators to find and catch prey), reproduce, and live healthy lives. Birds and marine mammals, for instance, rely on specific vocalizations to attract potential mates. Noise pollution can disrupt those behaviors. Bats rely on echolocation to move around and find food but have an impaired ability to forage when ambient noise levels are high. Oysters clam up during stress; exposure to loud noises along the coast has caused them to close their shells more frequently and for longer periods, preventing them from ingesting enough food. It’s impossible to conceive of a quiet future for the planet — surely, things will only get noisier. True quiet will be increasingly hard to find. But new innovations could go a long way in helping the average person better navigate through the hullabaloo of a clamorous world. There’s little reason to believe it’s inevitable we’ll all go deaf by 55. (


2018 - Nine Resolutions for Pre-Retirees I

f you will be retiring in the next few years, you can consider yourself a preretiree. Those who plan to retire in the next five years need to start preparing their finances for the transition. Here are some of the New Year’s resolutions pre-retirees should make this year to get ready for retirement: 1. Identify goals and objectives. At this point in your life, you need more than a vague notion of what retirement will entail. You have to know what your retirement looks like before you get there. Start thinking about retirement travel and hobbies and how much those activities will cost to see if you can afford them. check with your spouse to ensure he or she doesn’t have different plans. 2. Pay off debt. If you’ve been talking about getting out of debt, now is the time to get serious. A mortgage, credit card balance or even student loans can cripple a retirement budget. Pay off the bills now while you are earning money. That will leave you in a better place financially than waiting until retirement to draw down savings to pay off the debt. 3. Take advantage of catch-up contributions. Workers who slacked off on saving when they were younger get a chance to put more aside once they hit age 50. The government allows catch-up contributions of $1,000 to traditional and Roth IRAs each year, for a total possible contribution of $6,500 annually. Older workers can also put an additional $6,000 aside in their 401(k) account for a total of $24,500. Those who are age 55 or older and use a highdeductible health plan can put another $1,000 in their health savings account as well. That brings their maximum tax-deductible HSA contribution to $7,900 for those with a qualifying family health insurance plan. 4. Create a retirement

income plan. Having enough money in retirement savings is only the beginning of preparing for retirement expenses. The question is how are your savings going to create income? Different buckets of money may fall under various tax rules. Some money may be tax-free, while other sources of cash are taxable. Pre-retirees need to draw up a plan that minimizes taxes while providing the income they need to maintain their lifestyle. 5. Decide on a Social Security strategy. Part of determining an income plan is figuring out when to claim Social Security. Although retirees can claim benefits as young as age 62, they can lose up to a third of their monthly benefit amount by failing to wait until their full retirement age. People living longer, it can make sense to delay the start of Social Security. Doing so provides an 8 percent increase in monthly benefits for each year from full retirement age to age 70. The nice thing about waiting is that these values are guaranteed to go up. 6. Reallocate investments. It’s been eight years since the end of the last recession, and the stock market has hit a series of record highs in 2017. That’s good news for investors, but it can lull people into a false sense of security. We’ve become immune to what the market can doThe pre-retiree market is probably in the biggest danger zone I’ve ever seen. Pre-retirees need to be prepared for a market correction by reviewing their investments and reallocating them to more conservative funds as needed. 7. Review life insurance coverage. Life insurance traditionally hasn’t been considered a need for retirees who are often empty nesters and don’t have to provide for a family. However, there can be a need for life. 8. Research health insurance options. If you’re retiring early, have a plan for

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health insurance. Medicare won’t begin until age 65, so early retirees need to find coverage elsewhere. COBRA coverage allows many workers to continue buying their workplace coverage, but the price can be exorbitant. Buying an individual policy through the government health insurance marketplace is another option. 9. Meet with a financial advisor. Even if you don’t have a regular financial advisor, paying for a session with a planner can be money well spent. A finance expert can help identify anything that may be lacking in your retirement plan. An advisor can help a preretiree realistically estimate what a budget will look like in retirement. Plus, advisors can help you prepare for the possibility of a market downturn. Reviewing risk profile is a key thing to do in 2018. Pre-retirees have plenty to keep themselves busy in 2018. You can spend time dreaming about the future, but don’t forget to also take these practical steps to ensure your retirement will be a successful one. For Medicare, Long Term Care, Individual and Small group Health Care, and effective retirement planning contact Sudhir Mathuria @ 713771-2900.


FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

December is AIDS Awareness Month


Korean Grain Bowl is built on healthy, filling ingredients Recipe and photo by Sara Moulton

Servings: 4, Time: 80 minutes For the miso sesame sauce: 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 tablespoons rice vinegar 2 tablespoons white or red miso 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger 1 1/2 tablespoons well-stirred tahini 1 teaspoon sugar

For the grain bowl: 1 cup brown rice 8 ounces firm tofu 1/4 cup vegetable oil 2 cups coarsely grated carrots Kosher salt & Black pepper 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms caps cut into 1-inch pieces 5 ounces baby spinach 4 large eggs 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds Korean chili sauce (Gochujang), Sriracha or the hot sauce of your choice


ake the sauce: In a blender combine all of the ingredients with 1 tablespoon water and blend until smooth. Set aside. Prepare the grain bowl: Cook the rice, wheat berries or whole grain of your choice such as quinoa following the package directions (you should

have about 3 cups); keep warm. Slice the tofu into planks 1/3-inch thick. Place the planks between paper towels on a plate, top the plate with another plate and a weight, such as several cans of tomatoes, and set aside for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. In a large nonstick skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, season them with salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring, until they are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet. Add another 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to the skillet. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, just until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the spinach and another pinch of salt to the mushrooms and cook, stirring, just until wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the baking sheet with the carrots. Cut the tofu planks in half and pat the pieces dry. Heat another 1/2 tablespoon of oil in the skillet over medium-high heat; add the tofu. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes a side. Transfer the tofu to the baking sheet and put the baking sheet of ingredients in the oven to keep warm while you fry the eggs. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet over medium heat, add the eggs and fry until cooked to the desired degree of doneness. To serve, mound 3/4 cup of hot grain into the center of each of 4 shallow bowls. Arrange 1/4th of the tofu on top along with one egg and one-fourth of the carrots and the spinach mixture. Sprinkle the scallions and sesame seeds over the top and drizzle with the miso sesame sauce and hot sauce. Serve with the kimchi on the side.

US life expectancy drops again amid escalating opioid crisis


EW YORK | AFP | Thursday 12/21/2017 - US life expectancy at birth has declined for a second year running, the first such two-year drop since the early 1960s, fueled by an escalating opioid crisis, statistics revealed Thursday. The overall US life expectancy in 2016 was 78.6 years, a fall of 0.1 year from 78.7 in 2015, said the report by the National Center for Health Statistics. It was the first time overall life expectancy in the United States has declined two years in a row since 196263, and before that it happened in the 1920s, officials said. “Two years in a row is quite shocking,” Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics, told AFP. “The key factor in all this is the increase in drug overdose deaths.” In 2016, 63,600 people died from a drug overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That works out to an average of 174 Americans a day. The drug overdose death rate in 2016 was three times greater than in 1999, in a crisis that cuts across gender, race, geography and all demographic groups. “We’ve got some problems and we need to get our act together and take care of them. The drug overdose should be a completely preventable cause of death and we need to do

something about it,” said Anderson. Life expectancy for men was 76.1, a decrease of 0.2 year, with non-Hispanic black men most impacted. Women’s life expectancy remained the same at 81.1 years. The overall downward trend offers a glaring contrast to a global five-year increase in life expectancy from 2000 to 2015 cited by the World Health Organization. The 2016 US death rate increased 9.7 percent for unintentional injuries, 3.1 percent for Alzheimer’s, partly due to an aging population, and 1.5 percent for suicide. Unintentional drug overdoses account for a third of the unintentional injury category but three-quarters of its increase, Anderson said. On the upside, death rates decreased for seven of the 10 leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. “If those hadn’t declined to the extent they did then of course things would look worse,” said Anderson. But a levelling off in declining cardio-vascular mortality has given drug overdose increases a greater role in pushing down the overall life expectancy. “A lot of the decline that we saw over the last 50-60 years has been due to declines in smoking and maybe we’re kind of bottoming out in terms of what we can do,” said Anderson. The previous drop in life expectancy


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Tips for staying healthy as 2017 concludes by Kimberly Abate


his season is always a great time to get together with loved ones and celebrate, but it can also be pretty overwhelming. Luckily, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put together these tips to make sure you get through this last week in one piece:

3 Manage



1. Wash your hands often. This is one of the most important steps to avoid getting sick and spreading your germs to others. This time of year you are likely interacting with more people than usual, which increases your chances of coming in contact with different bacteria and viruses that make us ill. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water, rubbing them together for at least 20 seconds. If you have to cough or sneeze, try to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue. If you don’t have one handy, use the vampire cough. Cough into your upper sleeve or elbow, pretend you are Dracula covering your face. 2. Stay warm. Know how to handle the cold. This doesn’t mean that we should underestimate the dangers of cold weather. Cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, particularly for infants and older adults. Be sure to stay dry and dress warmly in several layers. Bundle up any loved ones who may be more vulnerable to the temperatures. 3. Manage stress. Some stress is unavoidable this time of year, but there are steps you can take to reduce it. Keep your commitments and spending in check, don’t overextend yourself or your pocketbook! It’s okay to say no to things. Do your best to balance work, home and play. Get support from your friends and family. Get enough sleep. Most importantly, try to stay positive and have fun. 4. Travel safely. More likely than not, you are go-

ing to do some traveling this year. Be sure not to drink and drive, and don’t let others do this either. Uber and Lyft are both available now, and can be a cheaper option than taxis. If you know you are going to be drinking, have your transportation planned. Wear a seatbelt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle. Always buckle children in the car using the proper restraints (car seat, booster seat or safety seat). 5. Be smoke-free. Avoid smoking or breathing other people’s smoke. If you are a smoker, you can quit! Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or talk to your health care provider about options. 6. Get check-ups and vaccinations. Exams and screenings can find problems early, and improve your chances for treatment if something is wrong. Vaccinations are one of the best ways to prevent disease. Schedule a visit with your doctor and see what exams and vaccinations are good for you based on your age, lifestyle, travel plans, medical and family health history. The Cayuga County Health Department offers free cancer screenings to men and women who are uninsured or underinsured. 7. Watch the kids. Kids can get themselves into trouble in the blink of an eye. Be sure to keep an extra watchful eye this time of year, as it is likely they may be in unfamil-

iar places. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks, household items and choking hazards from their reach. Learn how to provide early treatment for children who are choking. 8. Prevent injuries. Injuries can happen anywhere, especially around the holidays. Take caution when taking down decorations, using a step stool instead of a chair. Be sure to follow the fire safety tips we wrote about earlier this month to decrease your risk of a household fire. 9. Handle and prepare food safely. As you are preparing holiday meals, keep your family safe from foodrelated illness. Keep your hands and cooking surfaces clean. Avoid crosscontamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs away from ready-to-eat foods and eating surfaces. Cook foods to the proper temperature. Don’t leave perishable foods out for more than two hours. 10. Eat healthy, be active. You may feel like you have been going non-stop lately, but you are likely eating more than usual too this time of year. Balance and moderation are key. Limit your fats, salts and sugary foods as much as possible. Everyone indulges during the holidays, just try to keep it reasonable! For more information, visit the CDC website at

Quarter of Rohingya refugee children acutely malnourished


eneva, Switzerland | AFP | Friday 12/22/2017 - A quarter of Rohingya children under the age of five who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar suffer from potentially life-threatening levels of malnutrition, the United Nations said Friday. The UN children’s agency said that three health and nutrition surveys conducted between October 22 and November 27 showed up to 25 per cent of the young children crammed into Bangladeshi refugee camps have acute malnutrition, among other maladies. “Nearly half the children surveyed have anaemia, up to 40 per cent have diarrhoea, and up to 60 per cent have acute respiratory infections,” UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac told reporters in Geneva.

Photo: Voice of Asia nity have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state since late August during military operations that the UN has described as ethnic cleansing. Around half of them are children. Bangladesh’s UNICEF head Edouard Beigbeder said that “our worst fears have been confirmed”.

More than 655,000 people from the Rohingya minority Muslim commu-

“Refugee children who have already endured unimaginable suffering in fleeing their homes are now facing a public health crisis,” Beigbeder said in a statement.

at birth for the overall US population was in 1993, at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

On November 3, UNICEF warned that 7.5 percent of the children in one of the camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s

Women in Japan currently have the longest average lifespan at 86.8 years, while men in Switzerland can anticipate 81.3 years. Sierra Leone has the lowest life expectancy, with women at 50.8 years and men at 49.3.

Bazar district were at risk of dying from acute malnutrition. New surveys at the Kutupalong and Nayapara refugee camps, as well as other make-shift settlements, that included more than 1,700 children highlighted the worsening situation. “Less than 16 per cent of children are consuming a minimal acceptable diet,” UNICEF said. UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told AFP on Monday that Myanmar clearly “planned” violent attacks on its Rohingya minority, causing a mass-exodus, and warned the crackdown could possibly amount to “genocide”.

Like Us Brian Mertz, M.S. CEO “Helping India Caregivers Help Others” “We are a caregiver information and advocacy website that all Indian Americans could use”

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FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

Your Horoscope for the Week of December 29, 2017 by Hardik Vyas, Astrologer Cell : 832-298-9950

Aries (A,L,E) 21 March to 20 April You are hypersensitive and need much affection, tenderness, and love, but are not actively asking for it. Others’ mean behavior will affect you more than usual, and you are rather unrealistic in your hopes and expectations of them. You need to learn art of relaxation, Be calm & Be patience, let the week pass away then everything will be back to normal. Avoid spicy food, you may get some acidity problems & headache this week. Divert your recent aggression in your work, it will really help you to achieve your goals.

Taurus (B,V,U) 21 April to 20 May This is a time to attend to details, take care of practical business, and to make your life more stable and secure. It would be beneficial to consult advisors on investments and long-range plans and to put your affairs in order. Eliminating, waste and inefficiency is important to you now. There is much activity; you move rapidly from one thing to another and a hectic, somewhat stressful pace is likely. Many errands, phone calls, letters which require a response, and other “busywork” is on the agenda.

Gemini (K,CHH,GH) 21 May to 20 June You may have to speak your mind in a way that challenges or unnerves someone else. However, your mind is very active and sharp, and your reasoning power is good, so this is a good time to do mental work. It is easy for you to talk about your feelings now and also to listen sensitively to not only what others are saying but also what they are feeling. This is an excellent time to discuss your feelings and clear the air of any grievances you may be holding on to from the past. Your communication with women is especially good at this time.

Cancer (D,H) 21 June to 22 July It seems that whatever you try to do goes nowhere or gets lost in a haze of misunderstanding. This is not a good time to try to toot your own horn or attempt to get personal recognition for your efforts. Taking time off, working quietly, or doing something primarily for the benefit of others without concern for personal gain is favored at this time. At this time, you’re likely to feel that you cannot make your desires or influence felt, and that things go awry when you try to assert yourself, make an impact or get things done in a forthright way.

Leo (M) 23 July to 22 August Focus your energy, exhibit your generous nature & understand other’s feelings. Your rewards will far outweigh the effort. You’ll be able to achieve success, if you trust your gut feelings & remain loyal to your ideas. Be sure to spend some quality time with those who really matter to you. Your alliances need strengthening, spread your positive influence. If you join forces with others, you’ll be able to produce great results. Try to reflect on positive influences rather than the negative ones.

Virgo (P) 23 August to 22 September Your independent spirit should help you find the perfect place for you to enjoy what you do. A little risk-taking could be good for you. Open the doors & be yourself. Take pride in how you handle your time with organization & confidence. Secrets will be revealed & your views and ideas should be brought out into the open. You have the ability to listen, as well as help others to see things clearer. We all need feedback sometimes. Once you let your feelings out, you should be able to enjoy a good time of love and play.

Read your Weekly Horoscope Online


Libra (R,T) 23 Sept to 22 Oct Your timing will be perfect, your style impeccable, but your anger will be counterproductive to your objectives. Others may need to vent their emotions, but it won’t help your situation at all. You need to use your intellect and philosophy to find your answers. You may be asking a question that has no answer. To you, you are stating the obvious, but for others you will be opening previously locked doors. Dialogue is the first step to understanding more about others. You’ll receive an unexpected gift.

Scorpio (N,Y) 23 Oct to 21 Nov Love speaks to you and through you, you just have to listen. Mixed emotions are the starting point for a moving experience. Try to be more productive, stay focused and ignore the words of those who are jealous of you. Even though there are many things that you can’t control, you need to show your courage and begin to have more fun. Your vision of the future will encourage those who think the same way as you do. There’s power in apologizing to someone who needs your attention.

Sagittarius (BH,F,DH,TH) 22 Nov to 21 Dec You need a break from away extreme solutions of dealing with simple problems. Stay confident in who you are and you’ll be ensured a smoother ride. Being in between jobs or relationships can make you feel very isolated. A compromise on your part will restart stalled talks. By combining your resources, you’ll be able to find the perfect kind of operation. Your love life has suffered lately and now you need to start melting the heart that you love. You need to understand one golden rule that caring & respect brings people together.

Capricorn (KH,J) 22 Dec to 20 Jan Some issues related to your home or family related, will come over surface. You need to reserve special time to focus on these issues. It will be very good time for students in education & enrollment in new course as well. After the most busy week, you will have the right for relaxation. The week end’s activities will provide you with food, friends and good conversations. The rest you get will help you to replenish your energy and improve your perspective.

Aquarius (G,S,SH) 21 Jan to 19 Feb You will stick to your aims & goals. You will not give up, till you get success. Your strategy & planning with lots of patience will bring you best results, slow & steady wins the race, that will be your mantra for success. Your confidence will improve due to support you will receive from all around, this will bring new charm in your life. You will start seeing the world in a different way. Work related small travels will eat up most of your time, do not ignore traffic timings or your schedule will be disturbed.

Pisces (D,CH,Z) 20 Feb to 20 March Use your time wisely and spend it with children who need your guidance. It’ll really help you to feel the magic again. Your impeccable charm will help you to handle your responsibilities with strong authority and creative style. Important details may be overlooked by those who do not care. You need to oversee everything of any importance. Pace yourself so that you don’t get too tired or run down. Since you may not get the time to play that you wanted, find ways to enjoy whatever it is that you have to do. Even if you don’t accomplish much, at least you’ll have a good time doing it.




FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

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Motivate Your Team by Showing Them What Motivates You As a manager, one of your greatest concerns is how to motivate your employees to do their best work. But how often do you think about what makes you excited to come to work every day? Take a moment to check in with how you’re feeling about your job. When do you feel proud of leading your team? What aspects of your role do you enjoy? How can you increase your enthusiasm for your position? Your employees notice whether you have a genuine connection to your work, so if your energy is flagging, theirs may, too. Reconnect with what you love about your job, and then share your positive attitude freely. Modeling engagement with and enthusiasm for your work is one of the best ways to inspire employees.

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Executive Chef to lead, train and develop kitchen staff; elevate customer satisfaction. Create new North Indian and other regional cuisine. Ensure compliance with food handling and sanitation standards. Req: 5 years experience as Chef or in the job offered plus experience in North and other regional Indian cuisine. For immediate consideration submit your resume to Recruitment, Beyond Curry’s LLC 13346, Briar Forest Dr, Suite 180, Houston, Texas, 77077 or E-mail: or call 832-886-4291 or fax 844-273-0694

Sales Associate Needed We are looking for a temporary/ long-term talented customer oriented Sales Associate for a high end Indian Women’s Garment boutique on Hillcroft. Prior Experience in Boutique Sales preferred. Please contact Renu at (281) 888-9678 or (407) 808-1448.

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Source: Adapted from “Motivating Employees Is Not About Carrots or Sticks,” by Lisa Lai

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FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

Voice of Asia E-paper December 29, 2017  
Voice of Asia E-paper December 29, 2017  

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