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Vol. 31 No. 3 • Friday, January 19, 2018

Published Weekly from Houston

Execution date set for first Indian-origin deathrow prisoner in US


ENNSYLVANIA - The execution date of the first death-row IndianAmerican prisoner convicted of killing a baby and her Indian grandmother has been set for next month. Raghunandan Yandamuri, 32, in 2014 was given death penalty for kidnapping and killing a 61-year-old elderly Indian woman and her 10-month grand-daughter. It was seen as part of a botched kidnappingfor-ransom plot. Yandamuri's execution date has been set for February 23 by local correctional authorities. However, he is likely to get a reprieve because of a 2015 moratorium on death penalty by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. Yandamuri is the first IndianAmerican to face death penalty. Federal authorities alleged that killings were part of a botched kidnapping-for-ransom plot. A native of Andhra Pradesh, Yandamuri had come to the US on a H-1B visa. He holds an advanced degree in electrical and computer science engineering. Following his conviction, he asked that death penalty be imposed upon him. Later he appealed his sentence, but lost his appeal last April. The local Times Herald yesterday reported that even though his execution by lethal injection is set for February 23,

FRIDAY, January JANUARY 2719, &2018 28

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UN must step up pressure on Pakistan EW YORK | AFP | 17 January 2018 - Returning from a UN Security Council visit to Afghanistan, US Ambassador Nikki Haley on Wednesday stressed the Kabul government wants world powers to step up pressure on Pakistan.


Haley joined the 14 other council envoys for talks with top Afghan leaders in Kabul at the weekend as the government considers holding peace talks with the Taliban to end decades of insurgency.

Raghunandan Yandamuri, 29 he might get a reprieve because a death penalty moratorium previously was put in place by Governor Tom Wolf. "The law provides that when the governor does not sign a warrant of execution within the specified time period, the secretary of corrections has 30 days within which to issue a notice of execution," Pennsylvania Department of Corrections said in a news release. According to the report, Wolf imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in 2015. State officials are awaiting the results of a study conducted by the Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment, before moving forward with any executions. Pennsylvania has not seen any executions in the last nearly 20 years. Since 1976, three persons have been executed in the States between 1995 and 1999.

"They feel confident that the Taliban will be coming to the table," Haley told reporters at UN headquarters. While the peace talks will be Afghan-led, the Kabul government did request that the Security Council weigh in to bring Pakistan onboard. "They did ask us for consensus to put further pressure on Pakistan to come to the table Continued on page 10

Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, is seen in this handout photograph shaking hand with Afghan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah (C) during a UN Security Council visit to Kabul that ended January 15 (AFP Photo)

Houston Indians celebrate Makar Sankranti, Lohri Kite flying featured at winter festival Read community story on page 3

Family enjoying kite flying at HMM celebrations. (Photo: Pradnya S. Joshi)

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US-Pakistan Bilateral Relationship: A Dilemmatic Challenge for America

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

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

Columnists: Legal: Richard M. Alderman Legal: Sharlene Sharmila Richards Research: Prof. Meenakshi Bhattacharjee Opinion: Dr. Chandra Mittal Editor Online:

Shobana Muratee

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

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

FRIDAY, January 19, 2018

by Chandra K. Mittal, Ph.D.


n January 1st, 2018, 7:12 AM President Donald Trump’s first tweet of the year said "The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!" If one did not know any better, one would perhaps call this tweet just a fluke or President being hung over from the New Year eve party. But it was anything but any of those. Besides, President Trump, reportedly, does not consume alcohol. It was indeed posted by the Donald Trump deliberately with full focus on Pakistan as America pivots its attention to foreign policy in the new year after achieving the big win at the end of 2017 with the Tax Reform Bill being approved by US Senate and signed into law. Thematically, the Presidential tweet was indeed the continuum of his Afghanistan stabilizing initiative he launched in the Fall of 2017, involving Pakistan and India. The first Presidential tweet of 2018 was simply a sign of America’s growing frustration with Pakistan – an old ally and friend who has not been able to fully and reliably deliver in the war against terrorism in the post9/11 era, or a friend who, in its estimation, breached the trust and is viewed with suspicion because he hid the chief architect of 9/11 terrorist, Osama-bin-Laden, in its

midst while receiving money from America to catch him. Historically, though from 1947 (creation of Pakistan) to 1991, United States had a close and cozy relationship with (capitalistic) Pakistan as a counter-weight to (socialistic) India and its supporter Soviet Union, the adversary in the Cold-War. This closeness was quite evident from the nature of economic and military assistance United States extended to Pakistan in the armed conflict with India in 1971, which ultimately dismembered Pakistan and created Bangladesh. This period was also marked by Pakistan helping United States with 1972 China initiative by President Richard Nixon, Soviet monitoring, and antiSoviet military involvement in Afghanistan in the 1980s, to mention a few. This warmth in relationship between United States and Pakistan, however, began to recede in the 1990s with the disintegration of Soviet Union and capitalistic market reforms in Indian economy (liberalization) that opened doors for increased economic cooperation between US and India. At this time, suddenly, India became a major business partner of United States in high-technology sector with infusion of American investment. Also, in the postSoviet Russia under Boris Yeltsin struck a more conciliatory and friendly tone towards United States which reduced threat from Russia. These developments resulted in making Pakistan less relevant to American strategic interests in the Southeast Asia. Coincidentally, 1990s was also the time when US-Pakistan relations came under

severe stress due to direct actions of Pakistan. Most controversial of these were Pakistan’s effort to go nuclear with development of atomic bomb that America was vehemently opposed to. United States did not condone these actions as it considered nuclear proliferation to be a destabilizing force in the region. But Pakistan pressed on and exploded its first nuclear device in 1998 under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. This attracted serious wrath of the United States, which imposed economic and military sanctions against Pakistan under the leadership of President Bill Clinton. The fate of US-Pakistan relations, however, took a positive turn in 2001 in the aftermath of World Trade Center bombing, i.e. 9/11, when America sought Pakistan cooperation in launching military action against terrorist groups in Afghanistan and neighboring areas. Pakistan initially objected but was ultimately pressured by President George W. Bush to join the fight. In exchange, America rewarded Pakistan with significant economic and military aid. But this anti-terrorism US-Pakistan alliance was not supported by all Pakistani citizens as has become evident from several acts of domestic terroristic violence by Pakistan-based Taliban killing thousands of innocent Pakistanis. The phrase …they(Pakistan) have given us nothing but lies & deceit in the Presidential Tweet is perhaps the soul of US sentiment towards Pakistan and summarizes the relationship since 2001. It essentially conveys that Pakistan has not been a trustworthy ally in fight against terrorism. But objectively looking, the

foundation on which the USPakistan relationship is built could not have led to a different outcome. First, Pakistan did not have wide public support to join America’s antiterrorism fight. And second, from the beginning, the relations have been “transactional” rather than being born out of any shared core political principles or philosophical convictions which can sustain it on permanent basis. In conclusion, US faces a major dilemma with Pakistan as it looks to the future. Pakistan is a nuclear armed nation, and has had political instability with alternate cycles of military dictatorships and weak democratic governments. Besides, it is a military-dominated country and does not have strong institutions of democratic civilian rule, which is not able to control or eliminate terroristic organizations within its boundaries. Given these realities, Pakistan is likely to remain major challenge for President Donald Trump. Adding to the American anxiety are also Iran and North Korea, who are developing their own nuclear capabilities. Under these circumstance, United States cannot afford to disengage from nuclear Pakistan. Instead President Trump must be innovative to capitalize on Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage and significant intelligentsia to develop and strengthen institutions of Pakistani democracy. The rest will likely take care of itself. Dr. Chandra Mittal is Professor at Houston Community College and Co-Founder of IndoAmerican Association (IAA). Contact:drckmit tal@yahoo.

com: Twitter: @drchandramittal

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Community Email:

FRIDAY, January 19, 2018

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Makar Sankranti and Lohri HMM celebrates Makar celebration at Arya Samaj Sankranti 2018


s the shortest day passes us by, the days start getting longer and before you know it, it is Makar Sankrant/Pongal/Udagi that marks the passing of the Sun into the Makar Rashi (Capricorn).

dies’ foreheads were adorned with red kumkum and yellow haldi (turmeric) and all attendees with fragrant essence put on their hands and hailed with a shower of rosewater. This was the auspicious start to HMM first event of the year.

teenager, hosted a Quilling workshop that was attended by more than twenty-five kids. The first hall had stalls with jewelry hand-made by Koumudi Ketkar, a stall hosted by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangha, Aloha Mind Math, Himalayan

Parents and children doing the bhangra dance during the celebrations


AV Sanskriti School of Arya Samaj Greater Houston celebrated last Sunday the event known as Makar Sankranti, Lohri, Pongal, Bihu, etc. in different parts of India reflecting its colorful diversity. Acharyaji spoke at length about its significance that is sun’s reversal from its southern journey to back to northward. In plain terms, that translates into winter becoming less harsh and paving the path for spring. Indeed, the Sunday weather attested to that by plenty of sunshine without the cold wind that had become common in the last few days. Sanskriti School kids had a direct learning of both theory and practice behind the science, art and festivities of the event. This event has a fixed date because of sun’s movement whereas the other Indian festivals follow moon’s movements. The Sanskriti School teachers, parents and kids were told that the classical Indian calendar is the most

scientific, taking into account lunar months synchronizing with the solar year. The Vedic concept of 12 months in a year was adopted by the western calendar that earlier had 10 months in a year – March to December – the term December referred to the 10th month, Dasham in Sanskrit. One fire pit was made active, a replica of the ancient practice of Havan. There were heaps of peanut, revris, etc. for the children to offer into both the fires – the one in the fire pit and the other in their belly. This reflected the farmers’ gaiety and festivity on seeing their crops maturing at this time of the year. Soon began the sound of dhol that increased the decibel level as well as the festive spirit. The open area converted into a makeshift stage and the people began dancing. The children were treated to Bhangra, Gidda, etc. Their special delight was the Bhangra master Arjun Barua who came in the attire that is seen in photos only.

Many kids went to touch him and his clothes to get the real feel of it. Nearby were the kite flying kids. If someone didn’t bring a kite then there was an expert supplying the necessary raw material and guiding to make a kite. Imagine a kid’s delight to fly a kite made by him some minutes ago. As usual, the food was attractive with Makki ki Roti, Sarson ka Saag, etc. The food committee had been quite liberal in arranging foods but the number of people (around 500+) enjoying the event far exceeded anybody’s expectations that they went into jittery. Not to be outsmarted, they went into war like emergency drill and ensured that everybody’s belly fire met its expectations as the fire pit did. One seasoned Punjabi remarked, “I had never seen such a lively and vibrant Lohri in my so many years in Punjab”. That befits the humble thanks to all the volunteers of Sanskriti Continued on next page

Children and adults wore black as part of the festival tradition. (Photo: Pradnya S. Joshi).


his festival is celebrated on January 14th of each year and Houston Maharashtra Mandal (HMM) celebrated it on the Eve of in the gym and cafeteria of West Memorial Elementary School in Katy. The School was on an unassuming, quiet residential street and children and adults were flying kites on the playing fields of the School as the shadows lengthened. The entrance was decorated with garlands of flowers on the door frame and Rangoli on the floor and traditional Shehnai music was playing in the background as one entered. Young and old were in traditional black sarees or churidars and the HMM Committee, as always, welcomed everyone warmly with a traditional Namaskar followed by “Tilgul ghya aani goad goad bola” in Marathi, meaning help yourselves to the sweet made out of sesame(til) and brown sugar (gul) and talk sweetly to everyone through the year. All the la-

The set up was in two halls. The first hall had the stage which was decorated with a colorful backdrop and was the spot for small babies under the age of one to have their “Bornahan” (“Bor” meaning a type of edible berry found in India and “nahan” meaning shower) and this ceremony involves pouring sweets, berries, sugarcane and money on the babies’ heads since this is their first season of harvest and it symbolically means that they should grow and flourish in life. The stage was also the spot for babies and toddlers to have their photos taken with jewelry made up of sesame seeds. This is yet another Sankrant tradition since sesame is typically eaten in the winter to provide enough heat for the body. There were musical chairs with upbeat Bollywood music and games for kids arranged in the first hall that kept the kids busy and smiling. Swarali Panse, a talented

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Blooms selling attractive woolens, Sheetal’s Skincare Studio, Geetham Silks selling beautiful sarees, and the Citizens Climate Lobby that enabled those who wished to express their opinion on Climate change to their local Congressman. The adjacent hall had food stalls selling all kinds of traditional and street food that included vada-pav, corn bhel, modak, gul polis, green peas kachori, sev batata puri, samosa chaat, malpoa, brownies, cakes, mastani, falooda, solkadhi and much more! It was a complete treat for food-lovers and mouthwatering snacks kept people moving from stall to stall until their stomachs could handle no more. There was a prize for the best decorated stall and the most popular stall decided by voting. There was a raffle prize too! Cold weather made tea and coffee inevitable and it was served incessantly through the evening by HMM. The food Continued on next page



Rupa Iyer named Program Director at NSF by Marilyn Howard Jones Rupa Iyer, PhD., associate dean; associate professor, engineering technology; founding director of the biotechnology undergraduate program and biotechnology graduate program Founding director of biotechnology programs and associate dean in the University of Houston College of Technology, Dr. Rupa Iyer, has been appointed program director for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate, which supports science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Iyer’s one-year position began in September 2017 at the NSF in Alexandria, VA and Washington, D.C metropolitan area. As a representative for the division, she will contribute to the foundation-wide coordination of scholarly activities for undergraduate STEM education. Her responsibilities will include supporting innovative and

Arya Samaj Continued from page 3 School and Arya Samaj. Sanskriti School noted a

FRIDAY, January 19, 2018

Indian Americans at the 2018 Houston Marathon

The assignment comes on the heels of her $2.1 million grant recently awarded by the National Science Foundation. Iyer invented an innovative approach to integrating classroom instruction and research at the University of Houston that will be spread to five colleges and universities around the country.

Rupa Iyer, PhD.

merit-reviewed activities for other EHR and undergraduate education (DUE) programs. “I am looking forward to the exceptional opportunity to contribute to the expansion of quality education and research, which will involve extensive interaction with academic research communities and industry, and other federal agencies that may lead to development of interagency collaborations, “said Iyer.

number of new enrollments for the spring term and were forced to keep it open for another Sunday, the 21st January. They can be reached at 832874-3376. Not to be left behind, DAV Montessori School (the regular elementary school at Arya Samaj) announced its open days during the week of January 16.

”With her relentless commitment to high standards, and breadth of interest and receptiveness to new ideas, good judgment, knowledge and experience with research on interdisciplinary educational innovations and applied research, Dr. Iyer is destined for success in this role,” said Dr. Tony Ambler, dean of the College of Technology. “We are very proud of her accomplishments, which further position the University of Houston as a formidable national frontrunner in STEM education and research. And, we are looking forward to Dr. Iyer’s return to the College where we can continue to benefit from her experiences and leadership.”

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HMM celebrates

Indo American participants in 2018 Houston Half Marathon. Left to Right – Kinner Patel, Shirish Boradia, Nat Annamalai, Sesh Bala, Shilpi Desai, Pankaj Desai, Jui Jagad, Chintan Mehta. With 2018, Sesh Bala has completed 15 Houston Half Marathons and Pankaj Desai has completed 10.


t was a cold 35 degrees and wind chill of 29 at 7 AM at start of the 47th Houston Marathon race on Sunday, Jan 14. The near freezing cold weather did not deter the runners! The sun came out bright with clear skies at later 8 AM making the cold somewhat bearable. It was a sell-out marathon at 27,000 runners, half each for the Full Marathon (26.2 miles) and Half Marathon (13.1 miles). A determined group of Indo Americans as well was out in open space, running and walking, and making their presence felt at the 2018 Chevron Houston Marathon. The Marathon is the larg-

est sporting event in Houston with 27,000 registered runners, 7,500 volunteers and over 200,000 spectators. A 5K race was held on Saturday for better crowd control and management. The Marathon starts and ends at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown. The prize money for the Full Marathon first place was $45,000 and for the Half Marathon $20,000. It is the same amount for men and women. The men’s full marathon was won by Bazu Worku of Ethiopia with a timing of 2:08:30 hours. The women’s full marathon was won by Biruktayit Degefa also of Ethiopia with a timing of 2:24:51. The men’s half marathon was won by New

Continued from page 3 stalls were run by culinary enthusiasts who are members of the HMM. The stalls were arranged according to the food served such that there was a good mix of sweets and savory. Each stall was numbered in order to aid the voting for the best stall. The flavored modak stall was voted the best stall and the corn bhel stall was voted as most popular. Over 450 people attended this event, making it a huge success. By, a little past eight o’clock, the food stalls were sold out and started wrapping up for the evening. Attendees looked content and went home with a copy of the upcoming HMM events for the year and an annual calendar printed in Marathi, Kalnirnay (literally meaning the decisions made by Time) listing month by month festivities and birth and death anniversaries of all famous saints, kings, national leaders and freedom-fighters of India.

Kite making at DAVSS

Zealander Jake Robertson with a timing of 1:00.01 hours. The women’s half marathon was won by Ruti Aga of Ethiopia with a timing of 1:06:39 hours. Many personal records were broken. Some said the cold weather actually helped! There were a couple of men who ran shirtless! The Marathon is also a charitable event; the runners and the organization raise money for many area charities. Each year the organizers make some changes. This year, the route was the same as in 2017. The organization of flow 27,000 runners through a common start gate was not as efficient as in prior years; it took about an hour for the last person to cross the start line! However, the finish line at the Convention Center was handled extremely well. The cheering squads at the hoopla stations along the route were entertaining as usual; the spectators came bundled up and prepared. Security precautions were very visible. The organizers deserve praise for the management of such a large race. A casual scanning and observation suggested the Indian American community participation is somewhat steady; there is room for much growth and greater presence as runners, walkers, volunteers and spectators.

'Best Stall' at HMM celebrations (Photo: Pradnya S. Joshi)

The Houston Marathon has been a sell-out each year for many years. Jan 2019 Marathon registration was already open on Jan 15! The details are at the site Organizations like USA Fit, Fort Bend Fit and KatyFit can help getting trained.

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Fort Bend View


FRIDAY, January 19, 2018

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

Section 1


City to hold Sixth Annual “Clean Up Day” Friday, Jan. 19; Non-emergency offices will be closed for the initiative


ontinuing its “Team Clean” go-green initiative for the sixth year, Missouri City employees will again join forces this year and dedicate Friday, Jan. 19 to organizing their work areas and disposing of old documents, obsolete software, nonworking equipment and other dated materials. City Hall (1522 Texas Pkwy.) and Municipal Court (3845 Cartwright Rd.) will be closed for the business day. Inspections & Permits (1522 Texas Pkwy.) will be open from 8 a.m. to noon. The permitting counter will be open during that timeframe and limited field inspections will be conducted. The Recreation & Tennis Center and the City Centre at

Quail Valley will be open for business. All non-emergency City offices will reopen for regular business hours at 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 22; Municipal Court will reopen at 7:30 a.m. on the same day. Throughout the Clean Up Day, staff will monitor phone calls and emails and address urgent matters immediately. Residents who have questions about City services and programs should call 281.403.8500 and leave a message. Residents and businesses with questions about inspections and permits should call 281.403.8600 and leave a message. City staff will promptly respond to all messages on Monday, Jan. 22. For emergencies, please call 911. “This project enables Team

members to review, organize and archive electronic and paper documents, clear out nonessential files and clutter, and to recycle paper, office equipment and other accessories,” said Deputy City Secretary Vickie Berglund, who is spearheading the strategic initiative. All City departments will collaborate to conduct the increasingly productive Clean Up Day. “With each Clean Up Day, employees become more aware of better records managing of both digital and paper formats along with the timely recycling of non-essential papers and ease of shredding sensitive documents,” Berglund said. “E-waste is a big concern with non-repairable hardware and obsolete software being recycled instead of filling up

SL City Council, Fort Bend ISD board elections filing


ICHMOND - Candidates wishing to run for the May 5 elections for the Sugar Land City Council or Fort Bend ISD board of trustees may begin the filing process today. The deadline for applicants to file is Feb. 16. Sugar Land City Council In Sugar Land, positions up for election include the mayor, which is currently held by Joe Zimmerman, as well as at

For updates, please watch the City website:, like us on Facebook—fb/MissouriCityTX, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat—@MissouriCityTX, and watch Missouri City Television (Ch. 16 on Comcast and Ch. 99 on AT&T U-verse).

Fort Bend ISD to host District Spelling Bee on February 1


large positions 1 and 2, held by Himesh Gandhi and Mary Joyce, respectively.

terim City Secretary Thomas Harris III, P.O. Box 110, Sugar Land.

Council members serve twoyear terms, and applicants can file in person or via mail.

On the Fort Bend ISD board of trustees, positions 2 and 6, currently held by Grayle James and Addie Heyliger, respectively, are up for election.

To file in person, candidates must visit the city secretary’s office, 2700 Town Center Blvd., Ste. 122, Sugar Land, between the hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. To file by mail, candidates must send applications to In-

dump sites. All other hardware in good condition is set aside for the annual City public auction.”

Trustees serve three-year terms, and two are elected each year. The board is comprised of seven local citizens from specified divisions within the district. Positions 1, 2 and

ORT BEND ISD (January 17, 2018) – Fort Bend ISD will host its District Spelling Bee on Thursday, February 1, from 5:45 p.m. to approximately 9:00 p.m. at Wheeler Field House (16403 Lexington Blvd., Sugar Land, 77479). All FBISD campus Spelling Bee winners from grades 3-8 will compete in the District Spelling Bee, where two Spelling Bee Champions will be named. The two winners will go on to compete against other students from the greater Houston area in the Houston Public Media Spelling Bee on Saturday, April 7, 2018.

Tel: 713-774-5140

Fort Bend ISD to host parent workshops on student mental wellness, suicide prevention Workshops to be held on Jan. 30th, Feb. 1st, Feb. 6th


ORT BEND ISD (January 11, 2017) – Fort Bend ISD, in conjunction with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), will be hosting three parent workshops focused on student mental wellness and suicide prevention. These workshops are open to all parents and teachers of any FBISD school. NAMI Parents and Teachers as Allies is a free, two-hour mental health education workshop for school professionals and parents in order to help them better understand the signs and symptoms of emotional and behavioral difficulties, which in turn could be early warning signs of mental illness in children and adolescents. Attendees will leave these workshops with a better understanding of: l The early warning signs of mental illness l The experience of parents raising a child with a mental illness l The challenges children and adolescents face when emotional and behavioral disturbances are part of their school life

The workshops are scheduled on three different evenings in order to allow parents and teachers the flexibility of attending one that is most convenient for them. Below are the dates and times, as well as a link to register online for the

workshop. January 30, 2018 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fort Settlement Middle School – Library 5440 Elkins Road Sugar Land, 77479 Register online for this event February 1, 2018 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Cornerstone Elementary – Cafeteria 1800 Chatham Avenue Sugar Land, 77479 Register online for this event February 6, 2018 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Elkins High School – Library 7007 Knights Court Missouri City, 77459 Register online for this event These workshops are part of FBISD’s Counseling and Postsecondary Readiness Department’s initiative that kicked off this past fall, FBISD Speak Up. This initiative is focused on promoting mental health awareness and suicide prevention by reducing the stigma and fear associated with being an upstander and reaching out for support, either for yourself, a friend or family member. If you have any questions, contact your child’s school counselor or send an email to


Thank you, Fort Bend ISD School Board! You provide the leadership, vision, and oversight of our community’s public schools, where students are inspired and equipped to pursue futures beyond what they can imagine! • Named 2017 Outstanding School Board at the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards! • Reduced tax rate by two cents, providing relief to all taxpayers • Adopted the FBISD Profile of a Graduate to ensure education of the whole child

Kristin K. Tassin President Position 4

Jason Burdine Vice President Position 1

Addie Heyliger Secretary Position 6

Grayle James Position 2

• Invested in instructional systems and programs to provide equitable education opportunities for ALL students • Managed district growth, including oversight of successful 2014 Bond Program • Engaged community at Listening Tours and Literacy Tours throughout the district

Jim Rice Position 3

KP George Position 5

Dave Rosenthal Position 7



FotoFest Announces Artists for its 2018 Biennial

New technology is improving breast cancer surgeries at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital

Exhibition Features 48 Contemporary Photographic and New Media Artists from India


OUSTON, TEXAS – December 12, 2017 – FotoFest International is pleased to announce the names of the 48 featured artists in the central exhibition for its upcoming FOTOFEST 2018 BIENNIAL, March 10 – April 22, 2018. Dedicated to INDIA: Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art, FotoFest 2018 speaks to a number of contemporary issues in India including gender and sexuality, land rights conflict, the environment, human settlement and migration, and caste and class divisions. The participating artists are from India and the global Indian diaspora. Organized by Lead Curator Sunil Gupta and FotoFest Executive Director Steven Evans, FotoFest 2018 will be one of the largest exhibitions of contemporary photography by artists of Indian origin to be presented in the United States. The artists were handpicked by Mr. Gupta and Mr. Evans while journeying through multiple cities in India and across the world. “The artists, all of Indian origin, are imagining and responding to what India means today in its myriad complexities, given its ancient culture and more recent emancipation from British colonialism,” says Biennial Lead Curator Sunil Gupta. “They were selected by a process of portfolio reviews and face-to-face meetings with nearly three times as many artists than are in the show. The final short list was arrived at by assessing the engagement of their works with both the issues and the technology that define photography in the world today.” “It is very exciting for FotoFest to be working with

this remarkable range of artists,” says Steven Evans, FotoFest Executive Director and Biennial Co-Curator. “Some are well known to those familiar with the international world of contemporary art, while others will be new discoveries, as they are exhibiting internationally for the first time. We are looking forward to bringing this work together under the rubric of the FotoFest Biennial, and to be featuring their work in the new hardcover book Sandip Kuriakose (Delhi, India) inspired by the exhi- Interested, 2017. From the series NPNR. bition. Our goal is to Courtesy of the artis bring new attention to this work, and to present new work from his contribute scholarship on these series Roti Kapta aur Makaan, artists, the region, and the diasexamining racial dynamics pora of Indian origin.” and migration in England. Highlights include Indu Antony (Bangalore, India) who The 2018 Biennial will be will present photographs of the first time that FotoFest has drag kings from her ManiFest focused so directly on South series, exploring representation Asia. As a platform for art and of gender and sexuality; Sheba ideas, FotoFest has a long hisChhachhi (Ethiopia/Delhi, Intory of focusing international dia) whose work addresses the attention on emerging and unenvironment and eco-philosoderknown regions, including phy; Vicky Roy (Delhi, India), Latin America (1992), Korea whose long-term documenta(2000), China (2008), Russia tion of young street children is (2012), and the Arab World a reflection of his own personal (2014), showcasing hundreds history as a child runaway; of artists and in many cases Shilpa Gupta, among the best introducing their work to the known contemporary artists United States. FotoFest is also in the exhibition, who will an international platform, and show a large-scale interactive exposure at the FotoFest Bienvideo work; Asif Khan (Delhi, nial has often led to wider exIndia) who will show works posure overseas as well. from his Muzaffarnagar series documenting Tibetan refugee The INDIA: Contemporary camps; and Max Kandhola Photographic and New Media (Birmingham, UK) who will Art exhibition will be present-

FRIDAY, January 19, 2018

detects the location of the reflector — and the tumor — and sends real-time audio and visual indicators to the surgeon.

Sandra Templeton, MD, breast surgeon


ed at three adjacent converted warehouse art spaces in Houston’s Washington Avenue Arts District, and in a new collaboration, in the Louisa Sarofim Gallery at Asia Society Texas Center in the Houston Museum District. In addition to the INDIA exhibitions, the FotoFest 20018 Biennial features a number of related programs, including a two-day INDIA Symposium, presented in partnership with Asia Society Texas Center and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; a film program, presented with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; artist talks and tours; family; literary; and culinary events. FotoFest and Schilt Publishing, Amsterdam, will publish a hardcover book to accompany the program, with reproductions from Biennial artists, and essays from experts on contemporary art and the region.

UGAR LAND – (January 17, 2018) — Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital is the only hospital in Fort Bend County using a new radar localization technology to improve the outcome of breast cancer surgeries and biopsies. The Savi Scout® system, developed by Cianna Medical, enables Houston Methodist Sugar Land radiologists and breast surgeons to pinpoint the exact location of breast tumors both before and during a surgical procedure without using wire localization.

“The other method of identifying nonpalpable tumor locations involves placing a wire in the cancerous tissue the day of surgery,” said Logan Boatman, MD, a board-certified radiologist who specializes in breast imaging at Houston Methodist Sugar Land. “With Scout, the reflector can easily be placed days to months before surgery without shifting its location.” Since wire localization can be a cause of discomfort and dissatisfaction for women undergoing breast biopsy or surgery, Scout provides a less stressful experience the day of surgery or biopsy. “Breast cancer surgery is physically and emotionally challenging for women,” said Templeton. “Scout allows us to improve our process by resolving one of the patient dissatisfiers of breast conservation surgery by eliminating the need to place a wire inside breast tissue to locate a tumor.” The technology is just one of the ways that Houston Methodist Sugar Land is advancing breast conservation surgery — a popular approach to treatment that leaves women with a breast and nipple that are as natural as possible while removing cancerous cells.

“This is a major advancement in the way we prepare for and perform breast cancer surgery,” said Sandra Templeton, MD, breast surgeon with Houston Methodist Breast Surgery Partners at Sugar Land. “This technology, when appropriate, To schedule an appointenables us to work more efment with Houston Methodist ficiently and effectively while Breast Surgery Partners, call improving patient satisfaction.” 281.724.4276 or visit houstonThe Scout system uses non- to learn more radioactive, radar technology about the practice. to provide real-time surgical Visit our Facebook page at guidance during breast surgery. for A tiny reflector is placed in the the latest news, events and intumor by a radiologist using ulformation. trasound. During surgery, Scout


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FRIDAY, January 19, 2018

HCC Newspring Business Plan Competition offers mentoring, group training and prizes to entrepreneurs


OUSTON [Jan. 8, 2018] – Entrepreneurs looking for advice and mentorship for their proposed startup or existing business will find what they are searching for with the Houston Community College Newspring Business Plan

Competition. Every year the competition brings in experienced entrepreneurs to mentor and train as they develop their launch or growth plans. “It is all about offering free mentoring and training in a competitive environment to allow business owners to vet

their business assumptions and create stronger plans,” said Sandra Louvier, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at HCC Northwest College. In addition, the top finishers in the competition take home $30,000 in cash and in-kind prizes to help fund their busi-

VFA's first African American President as Morehouse, Emory, Georgia Tech and Clark Atlanta universities.

Benny J Tillman (Balabhadra Bhattacarya Dasa)


enny J Tillman (Balabhadra Bhattacarya Dasa) has become the Executive President of Vedic Friends Association beginning Jan. 1 this year. Previously director of VFA Atlanta, Tillman is the first African American President of the organization.

cred Sanskrit text from India, holy to a billion plus people, his specialization is engaging the youth in Dharmic activities in many of its dimensions. He is very eager to network with likeminded people and organization for serving their sociospiritual needs.

The Vedic Friends Association (VFA) is an international body of people who have embraced the Vedic culture or deeply respect the Vedic vision and way of life, including its systems of yoga, meditation, pranayama, languages and literature, Ayurveda, astrology, vegetarianism, forms of worship and spiritual knowledge. The VFA is committed to the promotion and preservation of Vedic heritage, civilization and culture. It was formed in 2002 in Detroit, MI. An avid reader and preacher of Bhagavath Gita, the ancient sa-

A direct disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (Founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.Prior to joining the Hare Krishna Movement, he was a successful entertainer in the Atlanta music scene during the late 60’s and early 70’s. Tillman is one of the most respected leaders in the Atlanta Hindu community. He frequently gives lectures at major Hindu events as well as lectures at local universities such

In his own words “I am looking forward to creating a signature VFA program in Atlanta in August 2018, which will show cause the true spirit and dimensions of Vedic Hindu Dharma. We also plan to take this up in other parts of USA as we gather strength. I am thankful to our past president Stephen Knapp (Srinandanandana Dasa) for forming the org way back in 2002 and bring to this state. I am looking forward to the guidance of VFA board of directors, comprising of Chairman David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri), Co-Chairman Stephen Knapp (Srinandanandana Dasa) and Co-Chairman Jeffrey Armstrong (Kavindra Rishsi)” Vamadeva Shastri (David Frawley), Chairman of VFA, say “VFA is the first western Vedic association that brings together all serious minded students and teachers in the Vedic field. It addresses Yoga, Vedanta, Ayurveda, Jyotish and all aspects of Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma.” Over the last two decades VFA has created a firm foundation for future growth with a dynamic and experienced team of instructors and guides. Now VFA is launching several important new initiatives to take the organization to a new and transformative level of expansion and development.” Visit for more information on VFA.

ness. Louvier said the competition is open to just about any type of business. “We’ve seen businesses from medical to hair salons, dance studios, online and brick and mortar.”

so beneficial because of the growth of my business plan,” Mathis said. “My mentors helped me think outside the box and stretched my imagination.”

Past contestants credit the competition for helping them reach success. Deidre Mathis, who plans to open a unique Houston boutique hostel in spring 2018, won $4,000 in the 2017 competition. It was

The competition runs from late February to May and includes five training sessions, with mentors assigned to each entrepreneur accepted into the program. “While the prize money is great, the competi-

tion ends up being a win for all involved because the training and mentoring empowers all contestants to vet their business assumptions and finish with stronger, focused launch and growth plans,” added Louvier. Applications for this year’s Business Plan Competition must be submitted by January 17. To learn more about the competition and how to apply, visit

Wesley Mathew, charged with capital murder in adopted daughter’s death


Texas man has been charged with capital murder in the death of his 3-year-old adopted daughter, who was found to have died from “homicidal violence.” Wesley Mathews, 37, who authorities have said admitted to causing the child’s death and then hiding her body in October, could face the death penalty or life in prison if found guilty of the charge, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office said Friday. “We have not yet decided if we are going to actually seek death. We do go through a process to make that determination,” District Attorney Faith Johnson said at a news conference after a grand jury returned the indictments.

he then moved her body, which was found two weeks later, an affidavit stated.

Mathews was additionally charged with abandoning a child and tampering with evidence, both in the second degree and carrying two to 20 years in prison, Johnson said. He was previously charged with injury to a child, which is a first-degree felony.

Earlier this month, authorities revealed that an autopsy found the child died from “homicidal violence,” though additional details were not released. Her death came a little more than a year after she was adopted from an Indian orphanage, The Associated Press reported.

Mathews initially told authorities that his daughter, Sherin, had gone missing after he left her outside as punishment for not drinking her milk in the early morning hours of Oct. 7.

“We do want to make sure that justice is done, on behalf of this little 3-year-old, and we will seek justice as we do always,” Johnson said at Friday’s news conference. “We are going to be the voice for her in this office and we’re going to do all that we can do to make sure that the fair thing, the right thing, the just thing is

Authorities said he later admitted to physically forcing her to drink the milk, causing her to choke and die. He said

Wesley and Sini Mathews. Photo:WFAA done.” Mathews’ bond on Sunday was set at $2.25 million, Dallas County jailhouse records show. Mathews’ wife, Sini Mathews, 35, was also charged on Friday with a separate child abandonment count, which NBC 5 reported is related to her and her husband allegedly leaving the toddler home alone on the day before she was reported missing. She remains jailed as of Sunday on $250,000 bond. Johnson noted that the child abandonment charge carries a possible two- to 10-year prison sentence. Sini Mathews has claimed innocence in the child’s death.

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FRIDAY, January 19, 2018

Indian-American announces Suresh Prabhu, Kiren Rijiju hail plans to run for US Congress Indian diaspora as partners in India’s growth


ASHINGTON An Indian-American investment banker has announced his plan to run for the US House of Representatives from a Congressional seat in Connecticut.

Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu and Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju addressed members of the diaspora from the UK at a special event organised by the Indian High Commission in London. be addressed,” Prabhu said, soon after a visit to Ambedkar Memorial in north London to pay respects to the Dalit leader earlier on Saturday.

Harry Arora, 48, seeks to oust Democratic incumbent Jim Himes, who has represented the 4th Congressional District since January 2009. Arora wants to have a Republican voice in the so called 'Samosa Caucus' -- the informal group of Indian-Americans in the US House of Representatives.

Stressing that he was keen to focus on the “entry” of new ideas rather than Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU), the minister said that his tour of the UK had proved successful in setting a positive post-Brexit agenda.

Harry Arora

Currently four Indian-Americans in the US House of Representatives -- Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Pramila Jayapal -- are from Democratic party.

firm that specialises in energy trading. In 2006 he founded his own energy fund, ARCIM Advisors, after more than a decade on Wall Street including seven years at Enron, where he rose to the rank of vice president.

Since 2012 Arora, who was born in India, has been a partner in Northlander Commodity Advisors, a London-based

"My understanding of economics and policy framework will allow me to propose thoughtful policies to reverse

the harm being inflicted by current policies. After a successful business career, I want to serve the public cause. I consider that my duty," Arora said in a statement.

Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu addresses a press conference, in New Delhi (PTI)

The Republican primary for the seat is scheduled for August 14. So far he is the only candidate from the party to enter the fray.

ndia’s true growth potential can be realised in partnership with the diaspora, two senior Indian ministers said


Two Indian-Americans Slain techie Srinivas Kuchibcharged with defrauding hotla's widow invited to attend Donald Trump's State Connecticut state Pavan Vaswani, 39, and Rishi Malik, 45, were arrested


ASHINGTON | January 13, 2018 - Two IndianAmericans have been charged with allegedly defrauding Connecticut of about $5.8 million in taxes due on tobacco products imported into the State, a US attorney has said. Pavan Vaswani, 39, and Rishi Malik, 45, were arrested on Thursday. While Malik has been detained pending a detention hearing, Vaswani was released on a $250,000 bond. Both have been indicted on 13 counts. Between 2013 and 2017,

Vaswani filed false tax forms with the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services that underreported his taxes due. He then paid over those lower amounts instead of taxes actually owed. Mailk conspired with Vaswani through means including forming a Pennsylvania company, Discount Deals, to acquire smokeless tobacco that was imported into Connecticut without payment of taxes, prosecutors said. If convicted, each count carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. PTI

of the Union address


unayana Dumala, the wife of slain Indian techie Srinivas Kuchibhotla, has been invited to attend US President Donald Trump's maiden State of the Union address, a media report has said. Dumala's husband, Kuchibhotla, was shot dead in a hate crime by an American navy veteran at a bar in Olathe city last year. Dumala, 32, fell out of status because her permission to reside in the US was tied to Kuchibhotla through marriage but she managed to regain her residency status. She has been invited by Con-

gressman Kevin Yoder to attend Trump's State of the Union address, an annual message presented by the US president to a joint session of the Congress. The State of the Union address will be held on January 30. "She is a very powerful symbol of who the system is failing," Yoder was quoted as saying in the report. "One of the reasons I have become so passionate about this immigration issue is that we need to send a message to the Indian community and

today as they concluded their visit to the UK. Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu and Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju addressed members of the diaspora from the UK at a special event organised by the Indian High Commission in London. “I strongly believe in the strength of the diaspora in realising India’s growth potential... together we will shape tomorrow’s India,” said Prabhu, as he laid out examples of the achievements of the Narendra Modi-led government as a “flavour of New India”. “For the first time, we have a Prime Minister who has set a timeline of 2022 by when most of the country’s problems will other immigrant groups that we are a loving country that is welcome to all," said Yoder who is a member of the Congressional caucus on India and Indian Americans. Dumala said she now plans to travel to India to observe the first death anniversary of her husband.

His colleague, Rijiju, highlighted steps taken to assist the diaspora worldwide, such as merging the persons of Indian origin (PIO) card with Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) document and expansion of the e-visa scheme to 160 countries. “Wherever we go our strength is our diaspora, which is our pride. We must stand together and help each other to ensure India reaches its rightful place in the community of nations,” said Rijiju, who was praised by Prabhu as a promising young leader and “symbol of new India”. Both ministers have been on a UK visit to hold bilateral dialogues with their counterparts. Prabhu, here to co-chair the India-UK Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) meeting in London earlier this week, held talks with UK international trade minister Liam Fox to review the work of the India-UK Joint Working Group on Trade to remove hurdles in the path of closer ties. Rijiju initialled two memoranda of understanding (MoUs) on criminal record sharing and illegal migrant returns agreement with UK security minister Caroline Nokes, which will be formally signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK for the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in April.



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FRIDAY, January 19, 2018

India top court hears challenge to government ID scheme


EW DELHI| | AFP | Wednesday 1/17/2018 - India's top court on Wednesday began hearing a challenge to the legality of a government identity scheme that holds biometric data on more than a billion people. The "Aadhaar" system uses fingerprints and iris scans to provide users a 12-digit unique identity number they can use to access government and other services. It was intended as a voluntary programme to reduce official corruption in the payment of subsidies and other aid programmes. But critics say its growing use for everything from banking to mobile phone contracts has effectively made it compulsory, violating citizens' right to privacy. Numerous challenges to the scheme have come before In-

Pakistani police arrest suspect in rape and murder of 7-year-old girl

dia's Supreme Court, which said last year it would set up a special panel to rule on the legality of the scheme. It follows a landmark ruling by the court last year recognising privacy as a fundamental right. In their introduction to the court on Wednesday, a host of petitioners led by ex-army officer S.G. Vombatkere, social activists Bezwada Wilson and Kalyani Menon Sen challenged the scheme saying it was "reminiscent of totalitarian regimes". "Every basic facility is linked to Aadhaar and one cannot live in society without an Aadhaar number," they said. Launched in 2009, Aadhaar was meant to operate as a voluntary scheme that would provide identity cards to millions of poor people to make welfare payments easier and

Numerous challenges to the scheme have come before India's Supreme Court (Photo: AFP/File) further ammunition earlier this month when a newspaper reporter found that it was possible to buy information in the biometric ID database -- the world's biggest -- for a little over $7.

curb wastage in public spending. But in recent years the government has made it compulsory to access a range of services including opening a bank account, paying taxes and even getting benefits such as pensions and scholarships.

The Unique Identification Authority of India, which administers the scheme, denied any security breach but complained to police over the sting.

Aadhaar critics were given

India ends decades-old subsidy for hajj pilgrims


EW DELHI, India | AFP - India's Hindu nationalist government is ending a decades-long policy of offering discounted airfares to Muslims embarking on the hajj pilgrimage, it announced Tuesday. The right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party has accused its opponents in the Congress party -- who introduced the hajj assistance scheme in the 1950s -- of trying to woo Muslim voters through handouts.

once in their lifetime. Critics have long argued that India, a secular country, should not extend handouts to any religious community for their faith-based celebrations. India's top court in 2012 said the scheme should be phased out, and that it contravened a fundamental tenet of Islam -- that only those who could

afford to make the pilgrimage do so.

Muslims would embark on hajj this year -- a record number -- suggesting enthusiasm for the annual pilgrimage would not shrink without the government's financial assistance.

But the right-wing government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi spends millions for Hindus undertaking the Kailash Mansarovar and Kumbh Mela, a sacred bathing ritual that draws millions of pilgrims over four weeks.

Muslim leaders in India have also urged the government to abolish the travel subsidy, saying state-run carrier Air India was the biggest beneficiary.

Naqvi said 175,000 Indian

A girl holds up a picture of Zainab Ansari, a seven-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in Kasur, during a protest in Islamabad January 11, 2018. (Photo:Reuters)


AHORE, Jan 17 — Pakistani authorities today arrested a suspect in the rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl that ignited nationwide protests and outrage over allegations of government inaction, two police officials said. Police found Zainab Ansari’s body in a garbage dumpster in Kasur district near the eastern city of Lahore last week, four days after she was reported missing.

was behind the repeated killings. The two police officers told Reuters the authorities had arrested a man who was being treated as a prime suspect, after police had questioned dozens of people in the case. “Evidence we’re getting leads us to believe that he is the man,” said one officer, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to disclose investigation details.

Residents of the area have said the murder was the 12th such incident in a year, and has fueled fears a serial rapist killer might be on the loose.

Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab province, where Kasur is located, visited the town on Wednesday and held a meeting with officials on the investigation.

Two people were killed in Kasur last week when police fired at hundreds of angry protesters, who said negligence on the part of the authorities

Sharif did not confirm the arrest in his remarks to media after the meeting, but said the police were close to solving the case

Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the government wants to assist India's roughly 175 million Muslims without resorting to political "appeasement" along religious lines. "Development with dignity is what we believe in," he said in announcing the decision to scrap the travel subsidy.


He said the cash saved from the scheme would be channelled into economic opportunities and education for Muslims, who make up about 14 percent of India's 1.25 billion people. Every year more than 100,000 pilgrims travel from India to the holy site of Mecca in Saudi Arabia for a spiritual journey that every faithful Muslim strives to make at least

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Tillerson says US troops in Syria to counter Assad

FRIDAY, January 19, 2018

Adrift in the Mediterranean


ASHINGTON | AFP | Wednesday 1/17/2018 - Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that US troops will remain in Syria not juts to fight jihadists but also to counter the power of Bashar al-Assad and his ally Iran. In a speech on the US strategy to help end Syria's seven-year civil war, Tillerson stressed that the mission of the US military is to destroy the Islamic State group and prevent its return. But he also made it clear that the open-ended deployment is intended to help create enough stability for Syrians to be able to remove Assad from office and reject Iranian influence. "A total withdrawal of American personnel at this time would restore Assad to continue his brutal treatment against his own people," Tillerson told an audience at Stanford University. "A murderer of his own people cannot generate the trust required for long-term stability," he said.

Three people walk amid the debris in the Syrian city of Raqa, after Kurdish fighters supported by US warplanes defeated Islamic State group jihadists to take the city (AFP Photo/Delil Souleiman) traitors, and US ally Turkey, wary of the presence of the YPG Kurdish militia in its ranks, is highly suspicious of its role.

announcements, Iran seeks dominance in the Middle East and the destruction of our ally Israel," he said.

Tillerson insisted that Washington is not being dragged into the Syrian civil war as a combatant seeking violent regime change, nor into a longterm nation-building mission.

Despite rejecting the regime change and nation-building model of past US interventions in the region, Tillerson said that the United States must not repeat its "mistake" in leaving Iraq.

"A stable, unified, and independent Syria ultimately requires post-Assad leadership in order to be successful."

Instead, he argued that the US role will provide stability to allow a UN-led peace process to resume and find a Syrian-led alternative to Assad's rule and the Iranian presence.

The United States has deployed around 2,000 ground troops to Syria and its warplanes patrol over the east of the country, hunting remnants of the Islamic State group.

"The departure of Assad through the UN-led Geneva process will create the conditions for a durable peace within Syria and security along the borders," Tillerson said.

The US works with the Syrian Democratic Forces, a militia dominated by Kurdish fighters which Washington sees as a basis for a 30,000-strong border force to hold eastern Syria.

"US disengagement from Syria would provide Iran with the opportunity to further strengthen its own position in Syria.

Assad's Damascus regime has condemned this force as

"As we have seen from Iran's proxy wars and public

- 'Same mistakes' -

US troops completed a withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, eight years after they toppled Saddam Hussein's rule, only to return in much lower numbers in 2014 to fight the Islamic State. "The United States will maintain a military presence in Syria, focused on ensuring that ISIS cannot re-emerge," Tillerson said, using an abbreviation for the Islamic State group. "We cannot make the same mistakes that were made in 2011, when a premature departure from Iraq allowed AlQaeda in Iraq to survive and eventually morph into ISIS," he said.

Anoushka Shankar ends marriage with British director Joe Wright


enowned sitar player Anoushka Shankar has reportedly decided to end her seven-year-old marriage with British director Joe Wright. A representative for the couple has confirmed the separation to PageSix. PageSix, a website quoted the rep as saying, “I can confirm that Joe Wright and Anoushka Shankar recently ended their marriage. All parties are committed to the welfare and happiness of their two beautiful children and ask that their privacy be respected. No further comments will be made on this matter.” Shankar is the daughter of Pandit Ravi Shankar and is a well-known musician across the globe. Wright is best known for Darkest Hour. Almost a week ago, Anoushka posted about her upcoming lyrics. “I said I loved you, and you heard me say, you were not asked me to hold you tighter, and I heard you say, I was not enough... how could we be enough for each other when we were never enough for ourselves? -new

Sitar player Anoushka with her Director Jhusband Joe Wright album idea scribblings #lyrics #newmusic #latenights,” she wrote on Instagram. Will her next piece of work be about her own break up? Anoushka and Joe tied the knot in 2010 in London at a private ceremony. They have two children together. Wright was earlier engaged to Hollywood star Rosamund Pike but their wedding was called off in 2008. Courtesy:HT.

ni guerilla group.

and change their behavior," Haley said.

A question mark also hangs over a further $1 billion of US military equipment for Pakistan.

Haley did not specify what measures could be taken to pressure Pakistan, but the council does have the power to impose sanctions. Pakistan has long been accused of supporting the Taliban and various militant groups in Afghanistan -- charges it denies. President Donald Trump has frozen US payments of military aid to Pakistan, worth $900 million, saying Pakistan is not doing enough to target Afghan Taliban and the Haqqa-


ASHINGTON, Wednesday, January 17, 2018 White House chief of staff John Kelly reportedly told a group of Democratic lawmakers that some of President Trump’s campaign promises on immigration, including building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, are “uninformed.” The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Kelly also told the lawmakers during the meeting that there will be no wall on the border “that Mexico will pay for.” Kelly met with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Rep. Judy Chu (DCalif.), the chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as part of ongoing negotiations between the White House and Congress over immigration policy.

Kelly emphasized to the group that Trump is “committed to a permanent solution to DACA,” referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obamaera program that protects thou-

Continued from Front Page

"As long as they are supporting terrorism in Pakistan, the Afghan community is continuing to feel it is not safe," she said.

We won’t build all of Trump’s wall, and Mexico won’t pay for it: Kelly

The Post reports that two lawmakers present in the meeting took notes on the meeting, and the newspaper confirmed those notes with two other lawmakers and a senior aide present at the time.

UN must step up pressure on Pakistan The Afghan government is making strides towards stability, she said, and "continue to make ten steps forward and with Pakistan they feel like they continue to take steps backward."

Migrants sit in a boat after being rescued by Libyan coastguards (Photograph: Hani Amara/Reuters)

US officials believe that Pakistan's intelligence agency and military have long helped fund and arm the Taliban to counter rising Indian influence in Afghanistan, whose government is backed by the US. The Afghan government also requested council help to address narcotics production and trafficking, looking at "every country that moves them," said Haley. The council visit - the first since 2010 - comes as the government holds a conference next month to present its strategy for reaching a settlement with armed groups. Kazakhstan's Ambassador Kairat Umarov, who led the council trip, said parliamentary elections must take place this year and be transparent "to ensure the credibility of the government" and "prevent further destabilization."

Gen. John Kelly (Photo: Getty Images) sands of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children from being deported. He also told the lawmakers that he “ordered” the six-month extension of DACA protections. “I worked to get the sixmonth extension of DACA. I ordered that. I managed that. And everyone has thanked me for that,” Kelly said, according to the Post. Kelly was also asked by one lawmaker, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), to explain Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico bor “Certain things are said during the campaign that are uninformed,” Kelly replied, according to the Post. He reportedly told the group that “a concrete wall from sea to shining sea” wouldn’t be built, but would instead be a “physical

barrier in many places.” Kelly’s meeting with Democratic lawmakers comes as Trump blasted a bipartisan Senate immigration proposal in an interview Wednesday, calling it “horrible” on border security and “very, very weak” on reform to the legal immigration system. “It’s the opposite of what I campaigned for,” Trump said. A bipartisan group of senators is expected to introduce legislation on Wednesday that would pair a fix for the DACA program along with border security. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that no immigration bill would come to the Senate floor until Trump indicates what he supports.

The silencing of Rappler, the Philippines' most independent media voice by Lindsay Murdoch


HNOM PENH, Cambodia: Journalists and human rights advocates have condemned a move by the Philippines to shut down a popular news website that has been critical of President Rodrigo Duterte. I​t's the latest rollback of free expression in Asia's biggest countries. Echoing US President Donald Trump's cry of "fake news", governments have been forcing independent media outlets to close, or jailing, harassing, censoring or subjecting to violence journalists in Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and Myanmar. The Philippine Security and Exchange Commission late on Monday announced the revocation of the operating licence of Rappler following months of criticism of the journalist-led outlet by the Durerte government and its supporters. Asian leaders, including Duterte, have cited Trump's 'fake news' language to shut down free press Asian leaders, including Duterte, have cited Trump's 'fake news' language to shut down free press Photo: Andrew Harnik Duterte has repeatedly attacked Rappler which has led critical coverage of his administration, including a deadly crackdown on drugs, falsely alleging the outlet was "fully owned by Americans". More than 14,000 most poorly Filipinos have been killed in the anti-drug campaign, the

largest loss of civilian lives in south-east Asia since the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia in the 1970s. Since opening in 2012, Rappler has been a crusading and investigative outlet in the country which for decades has been seen as having the freest press in the region. The commission revoked Rappler's licence, citing a 2015 investment in it by the US-based Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. The commission claimed that investment violated laws that forbids foreign ownership and management of the Philippine media.

ippines, most arrested under tough drug laws. Photo: Kate Geraghty

moved to muzzle the media to help further cement their increasingly authoritarian rule.

"This is a moment that we say that we stand for press freedom," she said.

Elections are scheduled to be held this year in Thailand, where a military junta has imposed strict censorship, as well as Cambodia and Malaysia.

Rappler was still publishing on Tuesday, pending an appeal. Duterte spokesman Harry Roque denied the decision was an attack on press freedom, saying the issue is about the "compliance of 100 per cent Filipino ownership and management of mass media."

The three countries have been growing closer to China in the face of criticism from the West.

Since Duterte became president in 2016 many of his social media supporters have attacked Rappler as "fake news" and threatened violence against its journalists, including Ressa.

Cambodia's government led by strongman Hun Sen last year shut down the Cambodia Daily, an independent and crusading online newspaper.In Myanmar, two Reuters journalists have been accused of violating the Official Secret's Act in what appears to be a "sting" operation by authorities.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines expressed outrage and called on all Filipino journalists to "resist every and all attempts to silence us".

The military-dominated government there has also condemned Western media reporting of the military's crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority as "fake news".

Maria Ressa, a former CNN correspondent and Rappler's chief executive officer, said the order was the latest harassment against her journalists and that "due process" was not followed in the case because the publication was not given an opportunity to respond to findings of a commission investigation.

The Foreign Correspondent's Association of the Philippines said the decision "sends a chilling effect to media organisations in the country".

In Malaysia, local media outlets have been targeted amid exposure of a multibillion dollar corruption scandal that has engulfed Prime Minister Najib Razak.

"What we will do is prepare to fight. We stand tall, we stand firm," Ressa said, adding that journalists and not investors have full control over the website.

James Gomez, Amnesty International's sirector of southeast Asia and the Pacific, said Rappler had been fearless in holding those in power to account.

Prisoners inside a cell in Manila Police Headquarters, Philippines, most arrested under tough drug laws.

"This is a politically motivated decision pure and simple and just the latest attempt to go after anyone who dares to criticise the government," he said.

One of thousands of people killed in the Philippines government's drug war. One of thousands of people killed in the Philippines government's drug war. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Prisoners inside a cell in Manila Police Headquarters, Phil-

Human Rights Watch said the move suggests "a sinister use of state regulatory processes to stifle critical media voices".

Across Asia, leaders have

Keith Richburg, a former foreign editor of The Washington Post and director of the University of Hong Kong's Journalism and Media Studies Centre, said the media clampdown was more than a moral concern. "A free press is also an economic imperative," he said. "Corruption is the cancer eating away at many Asian economies, deterring investors and retarding growth, and one of the cures is to unshackle the media." (-Reporters Without Borders)


FRIDAY, January 19, 2018

East & West


Tel: 713-774-5140

Israeli town names cinema ‘Bollywood Kitchen’: A for 'Wonder Woman' Gadot Celebration Of Indian-

American Cuisine

Actress Gal Gadot arrives at the premiere Of "Wonder Woman" on May 25, 2017 in Hollywood


ERUSALEM | AFP | - A cinema in northern Israel is to be named after Israeli-born Hollywood celeb Gal Gadot, star of the blockbuster hit "Wonder Woman", the town of Upper Nazareth said Tuesday. "We are going to name the new cinema after Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress who brings honour to this country," municipal spokeswoman Orna Yosef told AFP. "This is a message for our young people because Gal Gadot is an example of success, who has shown that dreams can be attained."

Gadot, 32, won the Miss Israel beauty pageant in 2004 aged 18. After her two-year compulsory military service she went into modelling and then films, breaking into Hollywood with a role in 2009's "Fast and Furious." She now lives in Los Angeles. Last year, Lebanon and Tunisia banned "Wonder Woman" because of Gadot's Israeli army service. The Gal Cinema, which will have two screens, will open officially on Wednesday with

a showing of Israeli director Eran Riklis's thriller "Shelter". Upper Nazareth was founded in 1956 adjacent to biblical Nazareth, the largest Arab city in Israel. Upper Nazareth's population of 50,000 is 80 percent Jewish, with the remainder made up of Muslim and Christian Arabs. Israeli daily Yediot Aharanot said that cinema closures in the area meant that until now residents were obliged to make a round-trip of around 80 kilometres (50 miles) to see a film in the coastal city of Haifa.

India celebrates the end of winter solstice


lso known as 'Makara Sankranti' or 'Maghi', it is one of the few Hindu festivals observed according to the solar cycle, unlike most festivals that are set by the lunar cycle of Hindu calendar. Melas, kite flying, colour decorations etc. mark the occasion.

by ADHITI BANDLAMUDI s an Indian-American, I don’t immediately associate Bollywood films with food — mostly because the characters in many Bollywood movies are too concerned with dance numbers and melodrama to be bothered by what’s for dinner. So, when I came across the new cookbook Bollywood Kitchen, I feared it might have been written by someone who knew nothing about Indian culture and only a bit about Bollywood, “curry” and naan.


Luckily, I was dead wrong. The book was, in fact, made exactly for me — a secondgeneration Indian-American who is intimidated by the thought of making Indian food herself. Author Sri Rao says he wrote this book based on his experience growing up in America as a brown kid. “I was really telling the story of how I grew up and how these films connected me to a motherland I never knew,” Rao says.

Lohri Lohri, which signals the end of winter days, is a popular Punjabi folk festival. It is primarily celebrated by the Sikhs and Hindus of Punjab. Bonfire, sugarcane,roasted corn are among the goodies that mark these celebrations.

Full disclosure: Rao is not a chef. He’s a screenwriter for American television and has produced and written for Bollywood films, too. Rao was born and brought up in Mechanicsburg, Pa., where he was one of the few people of color in town. He says, even today, his identity can be confusing at times.

Magh Bihu Also known as 'Bhogali Bihu' or 'Maghar Domahi,' it is a harvest festival celebrated by the people of Assam. It features traditional Assamese games such as tekeli bhonga (pot-breaking) and buffalo fighting. Youngsters make structures of wood and bamboo called the Meji, which they later burn down in celebratory fire. They also make a hut called Bhelaghar from bamboo, leaves and thatch wherein they eat the food prepared for the feast and burn the hut next morning.

A pot of rajma, a bean stew from the north of India, cooks on the stove. It’s one of the recipes included in the new cookbook Bollywood Kitchen. Photo credit: Josh Loock/NPR

“I feel like I’m very adamantly American in my identity, but at the same time, I appreciate my cultural roots in terms of being Indian-American,” he says. “And I’m always looking for ways to bring those two things together.” Foreign tourists flying kites on the occasion of Makar Sakranti at Jal Mahal in Jaipur. AFP Photo.

Pongal A harvest festival dedicated to Sun God, it is celebrated for four days according to the Tamil calendar. It marks the start of the sun's six-monthlong journey northwards (the Uttaraayanam). The celebrations start with Bhogi, followed by Thai Pongal, Maatu Pongal and comes to an end with Kaanum Pongal.

Like Rao, my identity as a hyphenated American has been confusing. I grew up in suburban Georgia, craving Chik-fil-A and Waffle House. But now, as a 23-year-old living on her own, far away from home, I find myself missing mom’s deep-fried pakoras and hot tomato chaaru with rice. I live near an Indian restaurant that serves dishes like chicken tikka masala (which isn’t really Indian, by the way). Nevertheless, I find myself walking past it every day, just to catch a whiff of familiar smells and spices.

Cover: Bollywood Kitchen by Sri Rao Home-Cooked Indian Meals Paired With Unforgettable Bollywood Films.

The book features recipes from all over India, like rajma, a bean stew from the north, and dosa, a savory crepe from the south, alongside classic American recipes like butternut squash soup and pan-roasted Brussels sprouts. That’s a nod to the many secondgeneration Indian-Americans, myself included, who grew up with both cuisines, dipping our American grilled cheese sandwiches in Indian tamarind chutney. Rao says that’s exactly the point of this book. “We didn’t have access to Indian grocery stores when I was younger, so my mom made do with the ingredients she could find at the local supermarket,” Rao says. Take one recipe, keema, which he calls “a textbook example of American assimilation.” It calls for lamb, but his mom used hamburger meat along with Hamburger Helper. “Some people have said to me, since seeing this book ... ‘So, this isn’t really authentically Indian food, right? This is some sort of fusion.’ And I’ve really taken offense to that, because I feel like this is authentic Indian food.” Authentically Indian-American, that is.

Uttarayana Derived from two different Sanskrit words "uttara" (North) and "ayana" (movement), Uttarayana is popularly celebrated in Gujarat. It indicates a semantic of the northward movement of the Earth on the celestial sphere. According to Hindu Purans, Uttarayana is referred to as the day of a new good, healthy and wealthy beginning. The International Kite Festival (Uttarayan) is also one of the biggest festivals celebrated in Gujarat.

While sifting through recipes in this book, I stopped on mixed vegetable kura — a dish central to my family lore. When my dad came to the U.S. as a teen, his family didn’t have a lot of money. “I came to the United States with only a few coins in my pocket,” he would exclaim at dinner. Because frozen bags of mixed vegetables are one of the cheapest things you can buy at the grocery store, my dad bought these bags and made mixed vegetable kura to save money and eat healthfully. Today, he makes my siblings and me eat it at least once a year to remind us that our family came from meager means. Mixed vegetable kura has sentimental value, but it’s not exactly my favorite dish. So, for my first foray ever into cooking the cuisine of my forebears, I decided to prepare a dish I actually wanted to eat: baingan bharta. This Punjabi eggplant dish is comparable to an Indian baba ghanoush. (And one of my favorites!) My apartment was soon filled with smells of warm cumin, ginger and coriander. Afraid I didn’t get the recipe right, I hesitantly tasted a bit of the bharta while it was on the stove. To my delight, it tasted just like my mom’s cooking. My mom used to make this dish on school nights after coming home from work. She knows I like it, so every time she makes it, she puts a little extra on my dinner plate. To complete the experience, I decided to pair my dinner with a movie. I chose Lagaan, an iconic Bollywood film about India under British colonialism. But, I wasn’t able to sit through the 3 1/2-hour film, so I watched Stranger Things instead. Yep, it’s the Indian-American dream.

Enthusiasts flying kites in the shapes of a cobra. Pic/AFP

A series of spices used in rajma. Photo credit: Josh Loock/NPR




FRIDAY, January 19, 2018

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BlackRock chief calls on CEOs to act for good of society


EW YORK | AFP | The head of the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, has called on corporate leaders to act for the betterment of society or risk losing the investment giant’s support. In a letter to chief executives, BlackRock CEO and co-founder Laurence Fink said companies that failed to

set and pursue clear goals on the environment, workforce diversity and training and technological change would “ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders.”


With more than $6 trillion in assets under management, BlackRock is the world’s largest investor in publicly held

Like other investment managers, BlackRock in the past has faced criticism for failing to hold corporate leaders to ac-

Fink’s message may run counter to the views of companies in which BlackRock is invested and which believe their overriding goal is merely to deliver returns to investors.

What’s in a name? Chinese automaker nixes ‘Trumpchi’

BlackRock is the world’s largest investor in publicly traded companies.AFP Photo. count on matters of corporate governance and hot-button social issues.

articulated, if near-sighted, activist campaigns and ultimately harm results, he said.

But, in a letter dated Friday, Fink said companies without a clearly articulated purpose would be vulnerable to shortterm earnings pressures “and in the process sacrifice investments in employee development, innovation and capital expenditures that are necessary for long-term growth.”

To sustain performance, “you must also understand the societal impact of your business as well as the ways that broad, structural trends -- from slow wage growth to rising automation to climate change -- affect your potential for growth,” Fink wrote. “Companies must ask themselves: What role do we play in the community? How are

This would leave the companies exposed to more sharply

we managing our impact on the environment? Are we working to create a diverse workforce? Are we adapting to technological change?” BlackRock will double the size of its investment stewardship team over the next three years and directly engage with companies, favoring corporate boards that show greater ethnic and gender diversity as well as varied career experiences and perspectives among members, Fink said.

Guru-turned-entrepreneur targets India’s online market The Trumpchi models by China’s GAC will get a new name before they try to break into the American market, to avoid any potentially awkward links to the US president, even though the word means “legend” (Photo: AFP)


ETROIT | AFP - Chinese auto maker GAC is changing the name of models it plans to introduce in the US market next year, because “Trumpchi” sounds too much like its linked to President Donald Trump. “The name will change for the US market to avoid the wrong connotation or misunderstanding,” a GAC spokesman told AFP on Tuesday at the Detroit auto show.

means “legend” in Chinese, the spokesman said.

The Trumpchi models have been available in China for years, and the word actually

The company also plans to expand into Europe after trying to woo American consumers.

US media has previously reported that company executives had been deliberating over a name change. GAC, which sells 500,000 cars in its native country and 13 others in Asia and the Middle East, has long announced plans to be the first Chinese auto maker to enter the US market by the end of 2019.

The cultural dissonance with its chosen brand name is something with which another auto maker can relate. Tata Motors’ “zippy car” abbreviation Zica was an unfortunate choice in 2016 for its new hatchback sedan, considering it debuted as the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a global health emergency. The Indian company renamed it Tiago after making marketing lemonade out of a public relations lemon by holding an online renaming contest.


Say Nice Things About Your Coworkers Whenever You Can


hether we realize it or not, we are constantly given small opportunities to build up or put down our coworkers. If we’re introducing two colleagues, telling a story about how a meeting went, or sharing a colleague’s project, how we talk about others can make a big difference in how they feel about themselves and their work. So take advantage of these opportunities to speak positively about your coworkers. When introducing people, share details that highlight how the person

is interesting, and describe them as someone others would want to know. When you bring together a new team, tell stories about each person’s potential contributions to the group. If you witness someone being interrupted or silenced, build them up by reiterating their point or asking them a question that gives them the opportunity to speak. Stay aware of these moments and make the best use of them. You’re likely to get compliments in return. management-tip-day-hbrorg


EW DELHI, India | AFP | 1/16/2018 Baba Ramdev, the popular yoga guru-turnedentrepreneur behind one of India’s biggest brands, said Tuesday he was tying up with Amazon to target the country’s $1 billion online market for consumer goods. Ramdev built up a huge following through his yoga TV show before launching the Patanjali brand of products, which range from toothpaste to cooking oil and cosmetics. Patanjali now rivals major international brands in India thanks to its low prices and home-grown credentials, but currently sells mainly through bricks-and-mortar shops.

Baba Ramdev (File photo)

Now it is tying up with a range of online retailers including Flipkart, Paytm and BigBasket as well as Amazon after a successful trial.

and flowing saffron-coloured robes make him an incongruous figure in the world of big business, is a huge celebrity in India.

“The online mechanism is especially aimed at youngsters who want speed and comfort when it comes to shopping,” the yoga tycoon told journalists in Delhi.

He claims to live a simple life despite his riches and says all his profits go to charity. He has also denied past allegations of tax evasion.

The company has ambitious plans to double its turnover in the current financial year to $3 billion.

“I have no dreams of personal wealth and prosperity. We are a not-for-profit company,” he said on Tuesday.

Ramdev, whose long beard

“We will invest each and

every rupee that we make in charity.” India had 60 million online shoppers in 2016, a figure that will rise by more than 50 percent by 2026, according to a report by Morgan Stanley. “As India’s largest online marketplace, we are focused on enabling home-grown brands to get online and engage with millions of customers,” said Manish Tiwary, a vice-president at Amazon India.

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From high in the sky Hyongki Lee and Ning Cao monitor water storage changes in Lower Mekong with latest NASA grant


Principal investigator Hyongki Lee, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, along with co-investigator and postdoctoral researcher Ning Cao received more than $320,000 in funding from NASA to help build a sustainable system for water management in the lower Mekong region of Southeast Asia, where several countries share a single water source.

- As above, so below The Mekong River in Southeast Asia stretches from China in the north to Cambodia in the south, crossing through Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand along the way. The livelihoods of millions of people throughout the region depend on the Mekong’s waters for farming and fishing – the primary source of nutrition in the lower basin. Although water is plentiful in the region, it is not evenly distributed among the countries according to needs, Lee says. In the lower Mekong especially, where several countries share a single water source, the need for sustainable water management tools is dire. In 2016 Lee was selected by the NASA SERVIR program to lead a project managing water resources in Indochina by gathering data from satellite observations of the region and building a user-friendly software tool that allowed government officials to

by Audrey Grayson January 4, 2018 adri Roysam, chair of the electrical and computer engineering department at the UH Cullen College of Engineering, has been named a 2018 Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

ne of the biggest challenges faced here on Earth – how to manage water resources for an ever-growing global population – may soon be solved more than 20,000 miles above our heads.

Lee and Cao were selected to help guide the future of effective global water management through the GEO Global Water Sustainability (GEOGLOWS) initiative.

Image processing expert and ECE chair named IEEE Fellow


by Audrey Grayson

The project is one of 32 funded by NASA in support of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Work Programme, an initiative that uses data obtained by Earth-observing technologies (such as satellites) to help inform decision-making on Earth, such as how to manage natural resources and maintain the health of our environment.

FRIDAY, January 19, 2018

The honor is the IEEE’s highest grade of membership and is reserved for those with “an outstanding record of accomplishments” in an IEEE field. No more than one-tenth of 1 percent of IEEE’s voting members can be named Fellows in a given year.

Professor Hyongki Lee (left) and postdoctoral researcher Ning Cao received funding from NASA to help build a sustainable system for water management in the lower Mekong region of Southeast Asia view information on water levels in real time.

future changes.

“We take the raw data, then we analyze and process it to end up with a final product, which could be river level changes and groundwater storage changes, and even towards forecasting of them. We use the satellite data to solve scientific problems,” says Lee.

The low-lying deltas of the Mekong are especially vulnerable to water availability due to an increasing population, extensive irrigation and unchecked industrial development farther upstream. For many years locals relied on groundwater as the goto water source, leading to land subsidence and increased risk of flood. Couple that with climate change and an inability to quantify changes in water storage levels across the region, and you’ve got some troubled (and unequally distributed) waters.

As it turns out, there’s a lot you can see from up above that isn’t so apparent down below. “If a country upstream builds a dam, it can have catastrophic impacts on fishing and agricultural activities downstream,” Lee says. The availability of near real-time satellite data takes the guesswork out of water management policies, providing complementary hydrologic variables with unprecedented accuracy. With this latest grant, Lee and Cao are taking the work a few steps further. Integrating several forms of satellite data and images, the UH engineers have created a software suite that allows users to view water levels across the Mekong region on a 3D map. The software toolbox can quantify and visualize changes in water storage over time, warning decision-makers when levels are dangerously high or low and even making valuable predictions on

- Bridge over troubled waters -

Thankfully Lee’s reputation for building bridges over troubled waters preceded him, and government in officials in Vietnam and Cambodia soon came calling for his assistance. A lack of groundwater resources in the lower Mekong means the ability to measure and predict surface water storage changes is critical. Lee and Cao’s software suite is the product available offering just that. “This software suite can help stakeholders in those countries better understand and monitor surface water to improve water resource management across the entire transboundary basin,” Cao says.

In naming Roysam as a Fellow of both the 2017 and 2018 Classes, the IEEE cited his contributions to image processing algorithms for biological microscopy. Roysam is indeed world-renowned for his accomplishments in the field of image processing. Inventor of a novel software platform called FARSIGHT, Roysam is credited with pushing medical imaging to new heights by allowing researchers to rapidly analyze images of human tissue collected from laser-scanning microscopes by quantifying specific molecules of interest in cells and tissue. To date scientists have used it for everything from analyzing brain tissue after injury to studying the effectiveness of experimental medications. Since inventing the FARSIGHT software Roysam has undertaken a variety of research projects aimed at providing far superior imaging analyses than ever before possible. In 2011 Roysam received more than $5 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to explore why neural devices implanted in the brain inevitably fail over time. The following year Roysam joined

Badri Roysam, chair of the electrical and computer engineering department at the UH Cullen College of Engineering, has been named a Fellow of the IEEE forces with UH chemical engineer Navin Varadarajan to apply the TIMING software to study the best ways to modify human immune cells to fight against cancer. Throughout his career as both a researcher and an administrator, Roysam says the IEEE has played an integral role in his success. “The IEEE has been one of the most important technical societies to me both personally and professionally,” he said. “The organization has introduced me to the latest developments in my field through its prestigious publications and has allowed me to connect with some of the brightest minds in my field through its meetings and conferences. To say that I am honored to be named a Fellow of such a respected organization is an understatement.”

Einstein archives, letters to lovers set for Asian exhibits

Top takeaways from Consumers Electronics Show

A man visits an exhibition showcasing the original manuscript of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity in Jerusalem on March 7, 2010


EIJING, AFP - Handwritten pages from Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, letters to his lovers and other parts of his archive stored in Jerusalem are to be exhibited for the first time in Taiwan, China and Japan.

More than 170,000 people attended the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas


AS VEGAS - The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, which concluded Friday in Las Vegas, drew some 4,000 exhibitors from dozens of countries and more than 170,000 attendees, showcased some of the latest from the technology world. Here are highlights from the show: Artificial intelligence battle The duel between Amazon and Google for supremacy in artificial intelligence played out at the show. Amazon pushed its “Alexa Everywhere” strategy bringing its digital assistant to eyewear, wristwatches, televisions and even a toilet. Not to be outdone, Google counterattacked with deals of its own, and with a massive ad campaign including a two-story “Google Assistant Playground” complete with a spiral slide from the roof to the pavement. The rival virtual assistants were part of a larger trend to “smart” homes and cites where door locks, lights, security systems, traffic, and more are commanded or coordinated with the help of internet connections and machine brains.

Compassionate robots Tech developers began moving beyond artificial intelligence to “emotional intelligence” and empathy with robots that can recognize people and their feelings, and respond in a more human manner. Those on display included a ping pong-playing robot from Japan’s Omron Automation which adapts its game to its opponent by reading body language. SoftBank robot Pepper entertained guests in a private suite adjacent to the show. Revving up car tech More players began gunning for Tesla with premium electric cars, including Chinese startup Byton and a revamped startup led by designer Henrik Fisker.

industry players sought to showcase alternative transport options. These included a self-driving motorcycle from Yamaha, and a range of electric bicycles, scooters, and hoverboards. “We are seeing with personal mobility that some people like to skate; some people like to scoot, and some people like to ride,” Swagtron chief operating officer Andrew Koven said as he unveiled a line of rideable gadgets. Let’s get medical The tech world took a deep dive into the medical field, using virtual reality and sensors for health and medical applications.

The show included a large presence from automakers and showed a commitment to advancing self-driving cars.

Exhibitors showed how tracking and sensors used in self-driving cars can help keep the elderly from wandering off or determining distress. Other devices offered new ways to deal with stress and pain, or predict the onset of disease.

South Korea’s Hyundai showed its new Nexo vehicle, betting on fuel cell technology, while Toyota unveiled a concept of an autonomous box for ridesharing and retail service.

Medical professionals at a CES conference discussed how new pain management techniques such as virtual reality could help address the opioid addiction crisis.

Beyond the car Even as car tech was on display,

Virtual reality headsets have been used to take people’s minds off

Some 75 artifacts will go on display in Taipei beginning Friday as part of the exhibit “Albert Einstein: Life in Four Dimensions,” Jerusalem’s Hebrew University said Thursday. They will remain on display at the

pain by immersing them in soothing environments. VR programs have also eased trauma by letting patients work through troubling experiences. Sensors and the cloud Sensors, cloud computing and artificial intelligence are becoming so ubiquitous and affordable that they are popping up in tech items tailored for pets, babies, seniors, new moms and other niche categories. From wearable breast pumps to hip air bags triggered when people fall, and dog or cat doors that open automatically for pets, internet age innovations are reaching into the farthest corner of everyday life. On the lighter side Streaming television powerhouse Netflix played with people’s minds with a booth for a fictitious company named Psychasec that offered replacement bodies in a promise of immortality. It turned out to be a promotion for a coming Netflix show titled “Altered Carbon,” set to debut in February.

National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall through April 8 before moving on to China and Japan. The Jerusalem university is home to the world’s largest Einstein collection. The pieces on display will include “his 1921 Nobel Prize, handwritten pages from the theory of relativity, letters exchanged with Sigmund Freud, family members and lovers, and the physicist’s own vinyl record collection,” the university said. A university spokeswoman told AFP that “nearly everything presented is original except for Einstein’s centuryold pipe, which is too fragile to send. We sent a copy.” Part of the journey for the historic and highly valuable material included an armoured truck, a police escort and a dummy car to “throw off potential thieves,” the university said. While certain artifacts have been exhibited in places including Washington and Los Angeles, the upcoming exhibits mark the first time such a large number of pieces have been sent abroad, the spokeswoman said. Einstein served as a non-resident governor of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. When the German-born physicist died in 1955, he left the institution his archives, making it the owner of the world’s most extensive collection of his documents. He also once turned down an offer to become Israel’s president. In October, a note that Einstein gave to a courier in Tokyo briefly describing his theory on happy living sold at auction in Jerusalem for $1.56 million.



FRIDAY, January 19, 2018

Pretty dresses are no longer just for women lot,” a spokesman for the federation said. Palomo’s independence of spirit also extends to where he feels most at home. Instead of one of the big fashion capitals, Palomo has set up his studio in his birthplace, Posadas, a small town of 7,000 people near Cordoba.

The 25-year-old Alejandro Gomez Palomo is one of a new wave of young designers for whom gender fluidity is not just a fashion statement but a way of being by Anna Pelegri / Fiachra Gibbons


hy should women get to wear all the pretty dresses? Why can’t men also flounce about in the feathers, lace or fine embroidery if they fancy? These are the questions being posed by the daring young Spanish label, Palomo Spain, whose flamboyant show kicked off the Paris men’s fashion week late Tuesday. Designer Alejandro Gomez Palomo told AFP he wants nothing less than to “liberate” men from the straitjacket of convention. The 25-year-old is one of a new wave of young designers for whom gender fluidity is not just a fashion statement but a way of being. “Chanel liberated women (after World War I) by dressing them in male fabrics like tweed,” Palomo said. “And when Yves Saint Laurent put women in dinner jackets it was an absolute revolution. “I am doing the opposite,” said the Andalusian-born creator, whose men show their legs, wear plunging necklines and silk suspenders and proudly sport transparent dresses embroidered with pearls and sequins. “It all comes naturally to me,” said Palomo, whose look owes much to the over-the-top world of Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar. The director’s muse Rossy de Palma has even walked the catwalk for Palomo, who struck gold in July when pop megastar Beyonce wore one of his spectacular flowery dresses to present

her newborn twins to her 110 million Instagram followers. Miley Cyrus also sported a Palomo Spain unisex white frilly silk basque in the video for her number one hit, “Malibu”. - ‘Liberating’ men Palomo said his style is about personal “liberation”, and rejects all comparison with a gay or transvestite aesthetic often attributed to him. “It is just a way of giving guys who might want to, the possibility to wear really sophisticated materials, and certain shapes and silhouettes that used to be associated with women’s wardrobes,” he told AFP before making his Paris debut. “I am not the first and the only person to do this,” he said, citing Jean Paul Gaultier -- who put men in skirts in the 1980s.

evance of gender at all, describing it as a “bit of an eye roll”. - Generational shift Punk veteran Vivienne Westwood and rising young Turk JW Anderson at Loewe also regularly blur the lines. The movement has already filtered down to the British high street, with big retail chains such as John Lewis and Selfridges experimenting with gender neutral clothing lines for both adults and children.

Palomo is, nevertheless, the most theatrical and extravagant of a growing wave of designers who are blowing away gender boundaries.

It built to a final flourish of imperial camp -- a feathered cape, plumed hat and thigh-high boots with white knickers.

One of the highlights of London fashion week earlier this month was a raucous show by the Loverboy label in which men and women with made-up white faces and blonde wigs heckled the models and swigged wine.

Palomo is far from alone in mining the cross-gender vein at Paris fashion week -- American avant-gardists Thom Browne and Rick Owens are old hands -- and transgender models are now commonplace.

Loverboy designer, kilt- and beretwearing Scottish rebel Charles Jeffrey, finished his previous show with a man in a princess wedding gown after putting his male models in miniskirts and a woman in a striped business suit.

Rather it’s the exuberance of Palomo’s clothes which prompted the French Fashion Federation to invite him into the prestigious Paris fold, the only Spanish designer at style’s top table.

Like several other young Londonbased creators, he questions the rel-

“We want creativity, diversity and a bit of disruption, and he brings the

by Nirmal Ghosh


ASHINGTON • Sitting among a jumble of his few possessions on a San Francisco sidewalk, 41-year-old “Kaels” Raybon has begun to accept the bad choices he made. He was a drug user, and did jail time. By the time he was let out, his wife and four children - two boys and two girls - had left him. Other family members had died and he had nowhere to live. He has now spent over 15 years on the street.

The children came to visit him one day, he said. He was torn. “I wanted them to stay, but at the same time I didn’t, because I have nothing to offer them.” Mr Raybon is among those who make up the most visible indicator of America’s worsening poverty and inequality - over half a million urban homeless. They are a stark contrast in perhaps the world’s richest, most powerful and most technologically innovative country. But homelessness is only the visible tip of the poverty iceberg. Large areas outside big cities are mired in chronic poverty. The definition of poverty varies, but a commonly used measure from 2015 is an annual income of US$12,082 (S$16,100) or less.

Palomo said his style is about personal “liberation”, and rejects all comparison with a gay or transvestite aesthetic often attributed to him

In Oman, an ancient mediation method gets a makeover

His debut Paris show had all his usual cheeky panache: A line of Renaissance court dandies in silken doublets, dresses and hunting attire, full of delicious double entendres.

American culture, new tax Bill exacerbating chronic poverty by helping to widen wealth gap

Mr Raybon’s voice trembles as he speaks of his children. “Emotionally, I’m a wreck most of the time,” he admitted to The Straits Times. “I see kids and dads, and I want that too. But it’s just not in my cards.”

The men in Ghala village gather each Friday for the “Sabla”, a traditional council where problems large and small are mediated without interference from the state

mani Mahmoud bin Yousef Temtemi found himself in a pastoral predicament this autumn -- his neighbour’s flock of sheep had overrun his farm and gobbled up his crops, threatening his income.

isfied Temtemi.

Rather than make a scene or turn to the police, Temtemi chose to raise his complaint in Omani tradition: through the local “sabla”, or council.

“This council is where the old and young come to learn. The youth learn manners from their elders,” greybearded Sayeed bin Khalfan Nabhani said in Ghala.


Dressed in a robe and embroidered cap, Temtemi took his place on a sunny Friday morning at his neighbourhood sabla in the village of Ghala -held outdoors on a patch of sidewalk. “The farm is our livelihood,” Temtemi told an AFP correspondent attending the meeting. “I told myself I would lodge a complaint at the sabla, where the owner of the sheep would be present.”

In far-flung areas, the sabla remains central to life, but even there it is changing, with women for example reserving the hall for their own meetings.

“He will pay 150 riyals ($390) and keep an eye on his sheep,” said a sat-

Dr Alston is not known for beating

“From the early 1970s, you had the governor and judge sitting at the council, along with witnesses and people of the villages -- plus the person with the problem,” said Nabhani.

The fellowship broke the ice for the mediation Temtemi sought. Acknowledging a problem needed to be solved, the men filed over to the meeting hall -- a sparse room with little more than benches built into the walls.

Forty-one million Americans live in poverty - 12.7 per cent of the country’s population. Some 46 per cent of those live in “deep poverty” - on an annual income below US$6,165. Among them are 1.5 million households, including 2.8 million children, who live in extreme poverty or on less than $2.

Poverty is in the news again on the heels of a scathing 15-page statement released last month by Dr Philip Alston, a tall, lean, 67-year-old New York University law professor from Melbourne, Australia, who is the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. A special rapporteur functions like an investigator and reports back to the United Nations.

Nabhani said the history of the sabla goes back “ages”, but some 40 years ago -- after Sultan Qaboos took power in Oman -- it was granted a degree of government recognition.

A solution is often found before the judge is called to get involved, he said.

The elders listened to the farmer’s story, discussed, then decided on compensation from the sheep owner.

about the bush. After a 15-day swing last month across six American states and cities, he is warning that worse is in store for America’s poor, at the wrong end of an increasingly widening wealth gap, and in an environment and official culture in which if you are down and out, it is probably your own fault.

Oman’s sabla is a unique form of consensus building that many see as central to the Gulf nation’s traditions, and which some want to see adapted to the age of the smartphone.

In Ghala, just outside the capital Muscat, the sheikh humbly brings breakfast for meetings of the council. The youngest serves coffee.

The managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Ravi Menon has been named as Central Banker of the Year in Asia Pacific. (Photo: The Banker).

“These are people who cannot find work ... who do not qualify for any other (welfare) programmes or who may live in remote areas. They are disconnected from both the safety net and the job market,” Dr Premilla Nadasen, author and professor at Barnard College in New York City, wrote in the Washington Post on Dec 21.

And he hopes his irreverence can put a bit of spark back into Spain fashion, so long dominated by safe mass markets brands like Zara.

Palomo, who trained at the London College of Fashion, sees himself as part of this generational shift which refuses to define people in binary terms.

Wealth gap in the US: Left behind in land of equal opportunity

America may be the land of equal opportunity - but like many other countries, there is a thin line between a life on the street and a roof over one’s head. Poverty creates its own loop; a prison record, for instance, makes it difficult to find employment.

Yet he has been dreaming of the Paris catwalk since “I was five years old and making clothes for Barbie dolls. It’s a huge honour for me,” he said.

- Sabla 2.0 -

Hilal al-Siyabi, an Omani community activist, believes the sabla can -and should -- keep up with the times. In the lush Muscat suburb of Saael, a new kind of sabla is under construction.

The passage last month of the Republican Party’s tax Bill will make their lives worse, says Dr Alston. The Treasury Department has explicitly listed welfare reform as an important source of revenue in part to make up for the deficit that the tax cut is likely to trigger. More important, however, is the culture. “In a poor country, there are two starting points - that there are social rights, and citizens have a right to healthcare, a right to education, a right to food,” Dr Alston told The Straits Times in an interview in his book-lined office at New York University. “Second, the only thing standing in our way is resources; we just don’t have the money.” (-Strait Times)

Cartoon by Chng Choon Hiong

Young Life


Gadgets for kids still big at tech show despite concerns from advocates, parents The children’s section at the giant Consumer Electronics Show this week touted “innovations that enable 21st century kids to learn and play smarter than ever.”


“We really focus on making sure that the time that we put it in front of our children is all about learning and development. And it’s not either or.” Braun said parents must decide on appropriate limits for screen exposure and other technology usage. Chinese startup Dragon Touch unveiled its colorful tablet computer aimed at kids between three and six years old, with educational apps and parental controls. Dragon Touch’s Lei Guo said the tablets may be valuable but also suggested parents supervise their use. “I really don’t want my kids to spend too much time on the

internet,” he said.


“So that’s why we also have the parent control mode, so that the parents can set a time, for example maybe 30 minutes per day.”

The electronics show has long featured devices for children, and exhibitors typically plan their displays and products many months in advance.

Augmented toothbrush -


An augmented reality toothbrush meanwhile introduced by French startup Kolibree allows children to look at a smartphone or tablet screen to motivate and educate them about oral hygiene. “With image analysis, the application detects the brushing motion,” Kolibree’s Leonie Williamson. The device makes brushing a game, enabling kids to earn points by holding and using the toothbrush correctly. Williamson said the toothbrush would not be a big contributor to too much screen time for kids: “It’s just three brushings of two minutes each

But the show opened just amid fresh fears that too much technology may be harmful for children. In the United States, the nonprofit group Common Sense Media found 95 percent of US households have a mobile device in the home. Screen time has been shifting, the group said, from television to mobile devices. Earlier this week, two large shareholders urged Apple to study whether iPhones are proving addictive for children and if intensive use of the smartphones may be bad for their mental health. The investors cited a recent study suggesting children are

Suicide of Australian teen ad star sparks cyber-bullying campaign

negatively distracted by digital technologies in the classroom. Apple, which is not present at CES but whose system is used by many app developers, said in a statement it “has always looked out for kids, and we work hard to create powerful products that inspire, entertain, and educate children while also helping parents protect them online.” At CES, Ahren Hoffmann of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, said determining how much technology to use for kids is “all about balance.” “We want to make sure that our kids today are both getting outside and play, and that they are playing with traditional toys, that they’re playing board games, but they’re also using iPads and tech toys, and learning about coding and other things that are happening in the world around us today,” she told AFP at the show.

The Population of Young Men Is Down, and So Is Crime Iby Kevin Drum


n the Daily Beast, criminologist Barry Latzer writes that murder is down in New York and is likely to stay down. Why? Because young men are responsible for most murders (true) and the population of young men has declined since the baby boom years (also true). Now that the baby boom is over for good, the number of young men is also down for good, which in turn means that crime is down for good. 14-year-old Amy Everett killed herself on Jan 3 after falling victim to cyber bullying. (Photo: Akubra)


ELBOURNE, Australia - The father of a teenager who starred in adverts for a well-known Australian hat brand and killed herself after being bullied online has vowed her life “will not be wasted” as a campaign against cyberbullying gains traction. A memorial for 14-year-old Amy Everett, known as Dolly, who was once the face of the wide-brimmed Akubra hat, is being held Friday following her suicide on January 3 after constant harassment. Her family launched the #stopbullyingnow campaign, which has rapidly spread on social media, and plan to establish the “Dolly’s Dream” trust to raise awareness around bullying, anxiety, depression and youth suicide. “This week has been an example of how social media should be used, it has also been an example of how it shouldn’t be,” her father Tick Everett said in an emotional Facebook post. “If we can help other precious lives from being lost and the suffering of so many, then

by Audrey Grayson


“Some international students might become overwhelmed with adjusting to even seemingly mild cultural differences, while others may hide their discomfort and attempt to blend in, leading to continued confusion,” writes Brandie Yale, director of graduate admissions at the UH Cullen College of Engineering.

Pai Technology introduced its interactive storybooks for children, which use virtual reality and according to its website “encourages a love of reading” and offers “thoughtful stories.”

“Technology is here to stay, and it’s important to expose our children to technology but in beneficial ways,” she said.

Coping With Culture Shock: Director Of Graduate Admissions pens article on international student experience OUSTON - Life as a college student is fraught with challenges: keeping up with classes, making new friends, learning new fields of study and working jobs and internships. But imagine also having to learn a new language and adjust to a foreign culture – those are some of the added challenges faced by international students attending colleges in the U.S.

AS VEGAS, Nevada - The timing may have been unfortunate following revived concerns of the dangers of too much technology for young children. But as the debate swirled, exhibitors at the Las Vegas extravaganza sought to showcase devices aimed at health, education and entertainment for youngsters, including educational robots.

Amy Braun, marketing director for the group, acknowledged concerns about kids and technology but said these devices still have value.

FRIDAY, January 19, 2018

Doll’s life will not be wasted.” Tick invited his daughter’s tormentors to her service to “witness the complete devastation you have created”, while advocating that others stand up to cyber-bullying. “You will never know what (you) have until it’s gone,” he added. Amy featured in past Christmas adverts for hatmaker Akubra, whose headwear is synonymous with outback Australia. The company, whose Australian origins date back to 1874, said it was “shocked and distressed” by her death. “To think that anyone could feel so overwhelmed and that this was their only option is unfathomable,” the company said. “Bullying of any type is unacceptable. It is up to us to stand up when we see any kind of bullying behaviour.” One in seven Australian children are often subjected to cyber-bullying, according to the National Centre Against Bullying, and youth suicide in the Northern Territory, where

Everett was from, is among the highest in Australia. Everett’s family received an outpouring of support online. “At nearly 60 years of age, I am bewildered by what is happening to our youth,” posted Facebook user Mondo Pace. “My niece was subjected to the same issues as Dolly now 20 years of age, she still carries the scars.” Another Facebook user Gav Morgan posted: “Words cannot describe the sadness I feel for the loss of your beautiful girl. The physical scars of bullying heal but the mental scars last much longer.”

It’s true that violent crime is related to the population of young men. The problem is that it’s not all that related. Here are the national numbers for all violent crime: Young men (15-24 years of age) were 9.2% of the US population in the late 70s, a peak in percentage since the upward trend from 1960. And violent crime peaked thereafter in 1990 at around 700 incidents per year. Since then, they have both been trending downwards, with such crime following roughly parallel with the decrease of percentage of young men. There’s a relationship there, but not a strong one. The population of young men dropped sharply between 1980 and 1990, but crime

Yale’s article, “Understanding culture shock in international students,” appears in the December issue of Academic Advising Today, a publication by NACADA, a global organization that promotes and supports quality academic advising at institutions of higher education. After describing some of the factors affecting culture

shock, such as the breadth of difference between a student’s home culture and host culture as well as their individual personality traits, Yale offers insights into the stages of cultural adjustment. By learning to recognize the stages of culture shock in international students, university academic advisors can better assist these students with moving through the process of adapting to a new country, culture, language and way of life, Yale writes. Moreover, cultivating a sense of community among native and international students can help to ease the sense of culture shock. “Advisors should encourage international students to have as much social interaction with native students as possible and can help develop programs and events to facilitate such interactions,” she writes. “The more international students find occasions to interact with native students and others in the host community, the more quickly they will conquer the impediment of culture shock and the more success they will have as international students.” (-SOURCE: UH, Posted on December 5, 2017)

Apple urged to study iPhone addiction in children


EW YORK - Two large shareholders urged Apple to study whether iPhones are proving addictive for children and that intensive use of the smartphones may be bad for their mental health. “There is a growing body of evidence that, for at least some of the most frequent young users, this may be having unintentional negative consequences” on their health, said Jana Partners LLC and California State Teachers’ Retirement System (Calstrs) in a letter sent to Apple dated January 6 and made public Monday. The “growing societal unease” over the intensive use of smartphones by children is “at some point is likely to impact even Apple,” they warned. The two shareholders, which between them own about $2 billion in Apple shares, urged the company to develop additional means for parents to restrict the use of mobile phones by their children. “We specifically ask that Apple form a committee of experts and specialists to research and study this issue and monitor ongoing developments in technology,” the letter said. “Additionally, we encourage Apple to offer parents more tools by enhancing mobile device software to enable age-appropriate setup options including limiting screen time, setting up parental monitoring, etc.”

The investors said confronting this issue now would enhance the value of the firm in the long term for all shareholders. Apple has not commented on the letter, but it provides parental controls on iPhones that allow restricting access to certain apps and content. Although Apple was singled out in the letter, the question of technology and screen time for children has long been debated. The investors cited a recent study by the Center on Media and Child Health and the University of Alberta, according to which teachers observed that students are negatively distracted by digital technologies in the classroom. In the study, three fourths of teachers said students’ ability to focus on educational tasks has decreased. While it is not clear how many children use these devices, surveys indicate more than one billion smartphones are being sold each year. The letter represents a new source of pressure on Apple, after being forced to apologize last month for slowing down the performance of older iPhone models. Consumer groups had accused the tech giant of slowing down the older models to encourage purchase of newer models, but Apple said the move was meant to optimize performance of phones with older batteries and cut the price of replacing the battery.

kept going up. It was flat between 1990 and 2000, but crime dropped sharply.

of the change in the crime rate between 1960-2010, but not a lot of it.

This isn’t dispositive. There’s probably some momentum built into the system, and men age 25-30 also contribute a fair amount to the crime rate. Most likely the rise and fall in the number of young men explains some

But this reminds me: I’ve been thinking of creating an updated lead-crime roundup. I haven’t done one since 2012, and there’s been a ton of new research since then. I need to put that on my list of things to do. (-Mother Jones)

Read other articles, your community breaking news and much more! Visit us online www.


FRIDAY, January 19, 2018



Actor Ansari responds to sexual misconduct allegations


EW YORK | AFP | 1/16/2018 Reality star Kim Kardashian and her rapper husband Kanye West Tuesday announced the birth of their third child, a baby girl who was born via a surrogate. “She is here! We’re so in love,” Kardashian, 37, wrote in a post on her website which she then shared with her 58.3 million Twitter followers.


ASHINGTON - Actor and comedian Aziz Ansari has acknowledged a sexual encounter with an anonymous accuser but insisted it was “completely consensual.” The accusations, published Sunday in online magazine Babe, were made by a 23-year-old photographer from Brooklyn, New York, named only as “Grace.”

In a brief message, she wrote that their “healthy, beautiful” daughter was born Monday at 12:47 AM local time, weighing 7.6 pounds (3.3 kilograms). The baby girl’s name was not announced.

She said she met Ansari -- who recently won a Golden Globe for his performance in Netflix comedy ‘Master of None’ -- in September 2017 at the Emmy Awards after party, and they met for a dinner date in New York around a week later. “Grace” said that after dinner, they went to Ansari’s apartment where he made repeated aggressive advances towards her, despite her “verbal and non-verbal cues” indicating she did not want to have sex with him, Babe reported. “I know I was physically giving off cues that I wasn’t interested. I don’t think that was noticed at all, or if it was, it was ignored,” she told Babe. “I believe that I was taken advantage of by Aziz. I was not listened to and ignored. It was by far the worst experience with a man I’ve ever had,” she added. In a statement Sunday, Ansari acknowledged the encounter with the woman to Babe.

Actor Aziz Ansari, pictured on January 7, 2017, expressed support for the movement of women speaking out against sexual misconduct

“We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual,” he wrote. “The next day, I got a text from her saying that although ‘it may have seemed okay,’ upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable,” he said. “It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned.”

Ansari added he responded privately to “Grace,” and also expressed support for the movement of women speaking out against sexual misconduct -- sparked by allegations against Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein -- describing it as “necessary and long overdue.” Ansari is best known for his roles as Tom Haverford in the sitcom ‘Parks and Recreation’ and Dev Shah in ‘Master of None,’ of which he is also a writer.

Actress Kruger says Hollywood changing because ‘men are scared’

Kim Kardashian announces birth of third child via surrogate

“We are incredibly grateful to our surrogate who made our dreams come true with the greatest gift one could give and to our wonderful doctors and nurses for their special care,” said Kardashian. “North and Saint are especially thrilled to welcome their baby sister,” she added. Kardashian and West married in May 2014, and already have two children: daughter North, 4, and 2-yearold son Saint. The couple chose to use a surrogate

as Kardashian suffered from placenta accreta -- a serious condition where the placenta becomes too deeply attached to the wall of the uterus -- during her second pregnancy, making a third pregnancy too risky, according to celebrity website TMZ. TMZ also reported that the Wests paid $45,000 to the surrogate -- who was banned from smoking and taking drugs as well as taking hot baths, dying her hair and eating raw fish.

Plot twist as Pakistani soap operas seek to break taboos


ARIS (AFP) - Hollywood actress Diane Kruger said Monday that the #MeToo movement had scared powerful men but she was afraid that change may be short-lived. The German-born star, who won best actress in May at the Cannes film festival for “In the Fade” -- which is hotly tipped for a best foreign movie Oscar nomination -- told French television that she has never been paid as much as her male co-stars. Yet she insisted that lasting change was only possible with men’s help. Kruger said the progress made on harassment since the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal shook Hollywood might be illusory if the culture did not change with it. “For now it is changing because men

Hollywood actress Diane Kruger says she has never been paid as much as her male co-stars (Photo: AFP/File | ) are scared,” said the actress, who made her name internationally with Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” in 2009.

“Every day there is someone new who is denounced (as an abuser),” she told BFMTV. “However, I am afraid that in six months, or a year, or even 10 years we will be still hearing the same thing.”





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SLAMABAD, Pakistan | AFP | Friday 1/12/2018 - In life, she chased fame, hoping to make her mark in Pakistani society. In death, murdered social media starlet Qandeel Baloch may have achieved her goal. Today she is a household name, and her tragic story has been turned into a soap opera -- one of several immensely popular TV shows seeking to challenge the country’s conservative taboos.

“I have never been paid the same as the man I am playing opposite. That is not right,” she said.

‘Baaghi’, which means ‘Rebel’, charts the rise of Baloch from young, exploited girl to internet sensation infamous for her provocative selfies until her shocking murder, with her brother confessing to the high-profile killing.

“We have got to be really vigilant, and women have to stick together for this cause.”

The show airs on private TV channel Urdu 1 every Thursday. Viewing figures are unavailable, but its pilot episode has been viewed more than 1.6 million times on YouTube.

But Kruger, 41, said men needed to join with women if there is to be a real cultural change.

“That girl was a lioness. She should not have died yet,” says Shazia Khan, a writer on the series.

“Above all we need men at our sides who fight for us and defend our interests. Women alone cannot change things,” she added.

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Pakistani actress Rubab Hashim stars in drama serial ‘Mein Maa Nahi Banna Chahti’ (I Don’t Want To Become A Mother) -- one of a wave of soap operas in Pakistan tackling issues such as domestic violence, child abuse, forced marriages and misogyny (AFP/File | )

Kruger plays avenging an widow in Fatih Akin’s Hamburgset thriller, “In the Fade”, which last week won best foreign film at the Critics’ Choice Awards, which tend to be the most accurate predictor of Oscar nominations.

Baloch’s fate polarised Pakistan. For some, it inflamed outrage over so-called “honour” killings in which hundreds of predominantly women are killed each year, usually by male relatives, for bringing what they perceive as shame on their families. But the concept of “honour” is deeply embedded in parts of Pakistan’s patriarchial culture, and other voices argued that Baloch had made herself a target by her actions -- tame by Western standards but deemed provocative in the conservative country.

and women’s rights. They are devoured by Pakistan’s 207 million strong population. Research by Pakistan’s media regulator shows that in 2016, 65 percent of television viewers watched drama channels featuring such soap operas. Another survey by Gallup Pakistan shows 67 percent of adult female viewers and 56 percent of adult male viewers watch entertainment shows, mainly soaps. Their popularity makes them a potentially powerful vehicle for progress, says lawyer Benazir Jatoi, who works for women’s rights watchdog the Aurat Foundation and has long argued that laws protecting women are not enough to effect grassroots change. - Blowback “Mujhe Jeene Do” (Let Me Live), another soap on Urdu 1, highlights the issue of child marriages. “If there (is) not widespread awareness, who would know that it is a crime?” Angeline Malik, the show’s director, tells AFP. Pakistan’s biggest entertainment channel, Hum TV, is a pioneer in using social issues as soap opera fodder. In 2016 the channel aired “Uddari”, or “Flight”, which told the story of a young girl sexually abused by her stepfather and ignited a debate about the sexual abuse of children inside the home. “Uddari took the sensitive subject ... to every household where discussion on sex is still a taboo,” says one avid fan, Aabida Rani.

The decision to turn her death into one of Pakistan’s popular television soap operas has ensured the debate surrounding such murders of women endures.

In “Sammi”, which revolves around its eponymous star character, the station highlighted honour killings, forced marriages, and denial of property inheritance to women all in one show.

Notorious for its high-profile story, Baaghi is just one of a wave of soap operas and dramas airing plotlines that revolve around such social issues: from domestic violence to child abuse, forced and child marriages, misogyny

Sultana Siddiqui, a producer who later set up her own TV station, said they wanted Sammi to be a mirror of society, and an example of “how a taboo issue could be displayed in proper manner.”



Section 2


FRIDAY, January 19, 2018


by Sharlene Sharmila Richards, Immigration Lawyer Email at

Beneficiary may also be the executor of a will Sharlene Sharmila Richards

Richard M. Alderman Interim Dean of the Law Center

Q. Can I name my husband as executor of my will if he also is going to be the beneficiary? A. Almost anyone may serve as the executor of a will, including a beneficiary. Basically, the only people who may not serve as executors are minors, incompetents, convicted felons, or others a court finds unsuitable.

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justice court.

Q. My six year-old daughter was injured on the playground area of our apartment complex by a little girl throwing construction debris at her. The injury required sutures and no one wants to take responsibility. The parent hasn’t offered to help with the medical bills and the complex manager only asked if my daughter fell on the debris.

The apartment complex also may not have any liability. Based on what you say, the only way the apartment would be responsible is if it was negligent in leaving debris around the complex that children could play with and get injured. For example, if a reasonable person would clean up the debris, or place in a secure area, and the management left it near the playground, it could be considered negligent, and responsible for your daughter’s injury. On the other hand, if the debris was place outside of playground in a trash area, the apartment owners would have acted reasonably and there would be no liability. The issue is: did the complex act reasonably with respect to cleaning-up the debris?

A. Suing for the acts of children can be difficult. It will depend on the age of the child and whether the parent was properly supervising. I assume this was a young child, under the age of ten. If the child is ten or older, the parent is liable if it was an intentional act of the child. If the child is under 10, a parent is liable only if he or she was negligently supervising the child. If the parent sat by and saw what the child was doing and let the child continue, the parent could be responsible.

Q. My brother and I inherited our family home after my Mom died in 2016. He wants to sell the house to retire, but I do not. I would rather have the monthly rent that we both get. He wants to take me to court to FORCE me to sell the house. Can he legally do this? A. When two people jointly own a house and cannot agree on what to do with the property, either can ask a court to order the sale of the house and divide the proceeds. Because this will be a forced sale, involving attorneys and a legal proceeding, it is likely to produce less money than if you and your brother simply arrange the sale. My suggestion is to try to work this out, but if you brother insists on selling the house consider buying his interest yourself, or take steps to insure you get

The child herself could also be liable if she was old enough to understand someone would get hurt and tried to hurt your daughter, or knew you shouldn’t throw debris and still did. On the other hand, if the children were all just playing, and this was a case of “kids will be kids,” the child probably has no liability. If you think the child or the parent fit these standards of liability and no one will help pay of your bills, you should speak with them and consider filing a claim in

Q. How much notice am I entitled to before I am fired? I showed up for work this morning and was told it was my last day. Am I entitled to two week’s notice? This doesn’t seem fair. A. As a legal matter, you are not entitled to any prior notice. Unless you have an employment contract or union agreement that says otherwise, you may be fired with no prior notice. Your employer may not have treated you fairly, but from a legal standpoint, it had the right to do what it did.

Do you want to know more about your legal rights? Check out my website,

Young “Dreamer” scientists in legal limbo


rump’s move last year to end DACA prompted lawsuits from 19 states and Washington DC, among other challengers. The case that ultimately led federal judge William Alsup to order DACA’s reinstatement was filed by the University of

California system—which estimates that some 4,000 of its students are in the country illegally, and says that many are likely eligible for DACA status. “Prior to DACA, young people couldn’t see their futures,” says Roberto Gonzales, a pro-

fessor of education at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who studies how immigration policies affect the lives of undocumented US immigrants. “DACA empowered people to start making investments in their future, to go to college and medical school.

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Q: What is DACA and can you explain what is going on with it currently? A: Under DACA or Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals Under certain individuals who came to the United States before the age of 16 may request consideration for a deferral of their removal from the United States. This policy, announced on June 15th, 2012, granted lawful presence to those “Dreamers” for a two year period. They were also eligible for employment authorization for that period of time if they are able to demonstrate economic necessity for employment. There are currently about 800,000 Dreamers. On September 5th, 2017, President Trump’s administration ended the DACA program with the last day for filing renewals beings October 5th, 2017. Congress was asked to provide a legislative solution by March 2018. So far nothing has come through yet. In January 2018, the Federal Court in San Francisco determined that the termination of the DACA program was based on flawed legal premised and ordered the Government to resume accepting DACA renewal applications. Q: In light of the new January 2018 order, can I file for DACA relief if I have never ever had DACA? A: No. The order specifically limited these applications to previous DACA recipients. Those who previously were granted DACA and their DACA have already expired on or after September 5th, 2016 may file for DACA request as a renewal request. For those who previously had DACA and their DACA had already expired before September

5th, 2016 or if the DACA was previously terminated at any time cannot request for DACA renewal but may request for DACA as an initial request. Q: I had been granted DACA but my DACA status expired before September 5th, 2016. If I cannot file for renewal, can I file a new initial DACA request? Yes, according to the A: instructions on the USCIS website, individuals who previously were granted DACA but whose status had expired prior to September 5th, 2016 or if their DACA status was terminated at any time may file a new initial DACA request. Please list the date as to when your prior DACA expired or when it was terminated on Part 1 of the Form I-821D. Q: What do I need to show to request an initial grant of deferred action for childhood arrivals? A: To be eligible for deferred action, you must show the following : Be under the age of 31 as of June 15th, 2012; you came to the United States before your 16th birthday; you resided in this country since June 15th, 2007 to present; have been physically present in the United States on June 15th, 2012; you either entered the country without inspection or your lawful immigration status has already expired as of June 15th, 2012; you are either currently in school or have graduated, or have obtained a GED certificate or other state authorized exam in the US or have been honorably discharged veteran of the Armed Forces or the Coast Guard of the US; and you must also have not been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety. If in doubt, please consult with

an immigration attorney to help you determine whether you satisfy all the eligibility requirements for deferred action for childhood arrivals. Q: What form do I have to use to apply for DACA? What is the filing fee? A: You will need to use Form I-821D. In addition to that, please also complete Form I-765 and I-765WS to apply for employment authorization. File all the forms together. The total filing fee is $495.00 Q: I had departed the US under advance parole. MY DACA expired on January 10th, 2018. Will my departure under advance parole pose a problem for the renewal? No, it should not. A:

Now, that’s been thrown into peril.”

cally contentious—could end, a concern that complicated his studies. “I remember sitting in a chemical-engineering class trying to calculate a molecule moving through a membrane,” he says. “How can I focus on something like that when there’s a huge terror in my family and my community about deportation?”

plate. “My first year has been a real whirlwind,” she says. “On top of how difficult grad school is, Trump got elected.” ValdezWard, who came to Houston, Texas, from Mexico City when she was six months old, says that even with DACA protection, she was ineligible for many government grants and internships that are available only to citizens. “If my status expires, there goes all of my funding,” she says. (

DACA helped to make university possible for Josue De Luna Navarro, an undergraduate engineering student who expects to graduate from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque later this year. Then, if all goes well, he will head to medical school. But Navarro has always feared that the DACA programme— which has long been politi-

Like other young researchers in graduate school, Evelyn Valdez-Ward has a lot on her

Disclaimer: Any advice provided in this article is general in nature and not intended to constitute legal advice for any specific case. Please consult with an immigration lawyer about the specific circumstances of your case. My Bio Sharlene Sharmila Richards is a licensed Immigration lawyer practicing in Houston, Texas. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2000 and is a member of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and a member of the US Supreme Court. You may contact her at telephone number 713-623-8088 or by email at srichardslaw@ to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

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Healthy Living


Section 2

FRIDAY, January 19, 2018


Ingestible ‘mini pill box’ releases weekly dose of HIV meds

Tel: 713-774-5140

Breast cancer gene does not boost risk of death: study

by Mariëtte Le Roux

Twelve percent of the women had a BRCA mutation.


ARIS, France | AFP | 1/9/2018 - An ingestible “mini pill box” which releases a cocktail of HIV drugs in the stomach over several days is a potential step towards reducing the burden of daily pill-taking, scientists reported on Tuesday. Tested only in pigs so far, the tiny device is the latest attempt to make it easier for people on medication for chronic illnesses, including those infected with the AIDS-causing virus, to stick to their dosage plans.

The team tracked the women’s medical records for an average period of just over eight years, and found that 651 of 678 total deaths were due to breast cancer. “The study found that there was no difference in overall survival two, five or ten years after diagnosis for women with and without a BRCA mutation,” a press statement said.

Drug adherence is a major challenge for people who have to take multiple drugs daily, or even twice-daily, for the rest of their lives. Average adherence is estimated at about 70 percent for antiretroviral treatment (ART), which keeps human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) under control, but does not kill it. People who forget to take their medication run the risk of falling ill if the virus rebounds, or developing resistance to the drugs they were using -which could require a more expensive, and more onerous, replacement. Skipping pills can also lead to the failure of ART taken by infected people as a means of preventing the virus spreading to uninfected sexual partners. The new dosage system comes in the form of a capsule which, once its shell is dissolved in the stomach, unfolds into a star-shaped gadget about four centimetres (1.6 inches) wide. Unfolded, it has six arms, and can hold several different drugs at a time -- a “cocktail” of AIDS medicines, for example.

In 2013, Hollywood star Angelina Jolie announced she had had both breasts surgically removed as a preventative measure after tests revealed she carried the BRCA gene mutation, despite not having been diagnosed with cancer (AFP Photo/Valerie Macon) Average adherence is estimated at about 70 percent for antiretroviral treatment (ART), which keeps human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) under control, but does not kill it. (Photo: AFP) in the stomach, being too large to pass through the pylorus, a valve between the stomach and the small intestine, but without inhibiting food passing through the digestive system.

Based on computer modelling, the new delivery system could prevent 200,000 to 800,000 new infections over the next 20 years, the research team estimated.

The team loaded a three-drug HIV cocktail into the device and tested it in pigs, animals with a stomach anatomy similar to humans.

But long before that, more tests are needed in primates and eventually in humans.

In the trial, “these slow release dosage systems perform equal or better than the current daily doses for HIV treatment,” said study co-author Giovanni Traverso of the Harvard Medical School. Once it has done its work, the system breaks up and is excreted from the body in pieces.

According to UNAIDS, 1.8 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2016, and 36.7 million people were living with the virus. Of those, more than 20 million were on ART. Thirty-five years of research has yet to yield a cure or vaccine for the virus which has infected more than 70 million people since the early 1980s, and killed about 35 million.

Young women with the BRCA gene mutation that prompted actress Angelina Jolie’s pre-emptive and muchpublicised double mastectomy are not more likely to die after a breast cancer diagnosis, scientists said Friday. In fact, they may have a “survival advantage” over non-carriers if diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, a form that is particularly hard to treat, a team wrote in the journal The Lancet Oncology. “Women diagnosed with early breast cancer who carry a BRCA mutation are often offered double mastectomies soon after their diagnosis or chemotherapy treatment” compared to non-mutation carriers, study co-author Diana Eccles of the University of Southampton said in a statement.

“Our findings suggest that this surgery does not have to be immediately undertaken along with the other treatment.” According to the American Cancer Society, women with a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes have a sevenin-10 chance of getting breast cancer by the age of 80. They are also more likely to get it at a younger age than other women. In 2013, Hollywood star Angelina Jolie announced she had had both breasts surgically removed as a preventative measure after tests revealed she carried the mutation, despite not having been diagnosed with cancer. For the new study, Eccles and a team recruited 2,733 British women aged 18-40 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2008.

In a subgroup of women with triple-negative breast cancer, those with a BRCA mutation had slightly higher survival rates for the first two years after diagnosis. “In light of their findings the authors suggest that women with triple-negative breast cancer and a BRCA mutation who choose to delay additional surgery for 1-2 years to recover from their initial treatment should be reassured that this is unlikely to affect their longterm survival,” the statement said. “However, risk-reducing surgery will still likely be beneficial for BRCA mutation carriers to prevent another new breast or ovarian cancer from developing in the longer term.” While only about five percent of breast cancers are diagnosed in women younger than 40, a high proportion of deaths fall in this age category. AFP

Trump allows US states work rules for Medicaid enrollees

- Saving thousands of lives The device is designed to stay

Panel suggestions on driving drunk


he National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine panel recommations for addressing the problem: —States should pass laws lowering their drunken driving thresholds from a bloodalcohol concentration of 0.08 to 0.05. —Congress passed a law last month increasing federal alcohol excise taxes by about 16 percent. —State and local governments should take steps to limit or reduce alcohol availability, including reducing the hours and days that stores, bars and restaurants can sell alcohol. —Federal, state and local governments should curb alcohol advertising and marketing, and fund advertising designed to counter alcohol marketing. —Police sobriety checkpoints should be conducted more frequently and in conjunction with widespread publicity about the programs. (


ASHINGTON, | AFP | 1/15/2018 - Donald Trump’s administration moved Thursday to let states require that able-bodied adults work in order to receive health care benefits through Medicaid, a pillar of the US social safety net. The policy change would mark the first time the publicly funded program, which has insured the health needs of the poor and disabled since its creation in the 1960s, has been allowed to require work for benefits. The Health and Human Services Department outlined how states could reshape the program in a directive. “Medicaid needs to be more flexible so that states can best address the needs of this population,” Seema Verma, administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a statement. “Our fundamental goal is to make a positive and lasting difference in the health and wellness of our beneficiaries, and today’s announcement is a step in that direction.” The directive spells out who is excluded from the new work requirements, including children and the elderly, people with disabilities, pregnant women, and people being treat-

ed for opioid abuse. But it makes suggestions for states as to what counts as work, including state work programs, job training, volunteering, or caring for a relative. Several Republican lawmakers have supported work requirements as a condition for Medicaid coverage for able-bodied people, but such changes were not allowed until Thursday’s memo. At least 10 states, led by Republicans, were awaiting federal permission to enforce the new work rules, according to the Washington Post. Nearly 20 percent of the population received Medicaid benefits in 2015, according to the US census. Health insurance reforms initiated during Barack Obama’s presidency raised the income cap for access to Medicaid, allowing millions of low-income earners to join the Medicaid rolls. But many conservatives believe able-bodied adults should not be permitted to benefit from the coverage without either working, training or actively seeking a job. The Obama administration opposed the demands by the

US moves to limit Medicare, the publicly funded health insurance program for the poor and disabled, have been the subject of protests like this one in New York City (Photo/Drew Angerer) states. The could

shift under Trump draw legal chal-

lenges from health care, rights or seniors’ groups. House Democrat Eliot Engel

called the decision “a cruel attempt to sabotage Americans’ safety net.”



FRIDAY, January 19, 2018

Breastfeeding for 6 mos cuts diabetes New ‘emotional’ robots aim to read risk in half: study human feelings


IAMI, United States | AFP |1/16/2018 - Women who breastfeed their babies for six months or more may be able to cut their risk of developing diabetes in the future by nearly half, according to a study Tuesday. The findings from a threedecade US study of more than 1,200 white and AfricanAmerican women were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine. “We found a very strong association between breastfeeding duration and lower risk of

developing diabetes, even after accounting for all possible confounding risk factors,” said lead author Erica Gunderson, senior research scientist with Kaiser Permanente. The study showed that women who breastfed for six months or more across had a 47 percent reduction in their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, when compared to those who did not breastfeed at all. For women who breastfed for six months or less, there was a 25 percent reduction in diabetes risk. Researchers suggested that breastfeeding may unleash

protective effects via hormones that act in the pancreas, controlling blood insulin levels and blood sugar. “The incidence of diabetes decreased in a graded manner as breastfeeding duration increased, regardless of race, gestational diabetes, lifestyle behaviors, body size, and other metabolic risk factors measured before pregnancy, implying the possibility that the underlying mechanism may be biological,” Gunderson said. Previous research has shown that breastfeeding has other long-term benefits for mothers, including a lower a risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Early periods, menopause linked to heart disease: study


ARIS, France | AFP | 1/15/2018 - Women who started menstruating at the age of 11 or younger, or entered menopause before 47, face a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a study published Tuesday. Miscarriage, stillbirth, undergoing a hysterectomy, and bearing children at a young age were also associated with elevated odds of cardiovascular problems later in life, researchers found. The additional risk varied from only a few percentage points to more than 40 percent, they reported in the journal Heart. The findings are not the first to uncover a link between reproductive factors and cardiovascular diseases, and the data do not show a causal relation-

ship, the authors cautioned. But their findings do strengthen the association, and suggest that women with premature reproductive cycles or a history of adverse events should be frequently screened for heart trouble and conditions leading to blood clots. The scientists drew data from a long-term health survey in Britain that monitored and tested more than a quarter of a million women from 2006 to 2016. The women’s average age was 56 when monitoring began. More than four-fifths had been pregnant, and nearly half had two children. On average, they started having their periods at 13, and had their first child at 26. In 2016, two-thirds of the

women had gone through menopause, at an average age of 50. The study showed that women who began menstruating before the age of 12 faced a 10 percent greater risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who were 13 or older. For those who went through menopause before the age of 47, the risk for cardiovascular disease rose by 33 percent, and for stroke alone by 42 percent. Miscarriages were likewise linked with a greater danger of heart disease, with each stillbirth increasing the risk by six percent. A hysterectomy was associated with a 20 percent higher chance of developing heart disease, the team found

The Omron Forpheus robot plays table tennis against a human at CES in Las Vegas. by Rob Lever / Julie Charpentrat


AS VEGAS, AFP The robot called Forpheus does more than play a mean game of table tennis. It can read body language to gauge its opponent’s ability, and offer advice and encouragement. “It will try to understand your mood and your playing ability and predict a bit about your next shot,” said Keith Kersten of Japan-based Omron Automation, which developed Forpheus to showcase its technology. “We don’t sell ping pong robots but we are using Forpheus to show how technology works with people,” said Kersten. Forpheus is among several devices shown at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show which highlight how robots can become more humanlike by acquiring “emotional intel-

Sharing the housework more equally could help give elderly men a health boost New research has found that elderly men across Europe and the US are doing less housework than elderly women, which could be affecting their health as they miss out on the chance to be more physically active.


arried out by researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology, Germany, the study used selfreported data from 15,333 men and 20,907 women aged 65 years and over from Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, France, the Netherlands, and the US to look at a possible link between the time spent doing housework, time spent sleeping, and health. Participants were asked to report the total time they spent per day on 41 activities in 5, 10 or 15-minute increments. Activities were divided into three different categories -- cooking, cleaning and shopping, gardening and maintenance, and childcare. The researchers also asked participants to report on the total amount of time they spent sleeping per day, as well as whether they felt they were in poor, fair, good or very good health. On average it was elderly women who spent the most time doing housework, almost five hours a day, compared to around only three hours a day for elderly men. The team also found that those who did more housework reported better health, with men and women who spent 3 to 6 hours a day on housework re-

The study also revealed that elderly women in Italy and Germany spent the most time on housework (around five hours a day), while women in the US spent the least amount of time doing housework (four hours a day). In contrast, elderly men in Italy spent the least amount of time on housework (2.7 hours a day) and German men spent the most time on housework (4.2 hours a day).

New research has found that those who do more housework report feeling healthier. (© susanguestphoto / porting feeling healthier than those who spent 1 to 3 hours on chores per day. However, women who did long hours of housework combined with too much sleep -more than 8 hours -- or too little sleep -- less than 7 -- reported poorer health. However, for men this combination was still associated with good health. Author Nicholas Adjei commented on the results saying, “Engaging in a few hours of housework may be beneficial to the health of older adults. However, we were surprised to see significant gender differences when looking at the combination of time spent on housework

activities and time spent sleeping.” Some of the main differences observed included the type of housework men and women spent time on, with the team finding that across all countries included in the study men spent less time cleaning, cooking and shopping than women, spending just 88.7 minutes a day on these tasks compared to the 217.9 minutes a day spent by women. Women spent less time on gardening and maintenance tasks, 38.5 minutes a day, compared to men who spent 68.8 minutes a day on these tasks.

Adjei added that, “The percentage of those aged 65 years and above is increasing globally due to higher life expectancy. It is important to understand how older adults spend their time in these later years and the possible positive and negative implications for their health.” A variety of previous studies have also suggested that doing chores around the house and garden could boost health by helping seniors engage in light physical activity. Previous research suggests that some of the benefits of housework include a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, stroke or heart failure, improved sleep, and a lower risk of mortality. The results can be found published online in the open access journal BMC Public Health.

ligence” and empathy.

this year.

Although this specialization is still emerging, the notion of robotic empathy appeared to be a strong theme at the huge gathering of technology professionals in Las Vegas.

“He has a complex brain,” Mourier said at a CES event. “It will ask for a caress or it will get mad if you poke him in the eye.”

Honda, the Japanese auto giant, launched a new robotics program called Empower, Experience, Empathy including its new 3E-A18 robot which “shows compassion to humans with a variety of facial expressions,” according to a statement. Although empathy and emotional intelligence do not necessarily require a humanoid form, some robot makers have been working on form as well as function. “We’re been working very hard to have an emotional robot,” said Jean-Michel Mourier of French-based Blue Frog Robotics, which makes the companion and social robot called Buddy, set to be released later

Other robots such as Qihan Technology’s Sanbot and SoftBank Robotics’ Pepper, are being “humanized” by teaching them to read and react to people’s emotional states. Pepper is “capable of interpreting a smile, a frown, your tone of voice, as well as the lexical field you use and non-verbal language such as the angle of your head,” according to SoftBank. - Robot in human shoes Developing emotional intelligence in robots is a difficult task, melding the use of computer “vision” to interpret objects and people and creating software that can respond accordingly.

Don’t feed your dog raw meat, study says


ARIS, France | AFP | Raw meat, touted by some as an easily-digestible, nutrient-filled superfood for domestic dogs and cats, may put not only your pet at risk, but your own health too, researchers warned Friday. A survey of frozen, raw meat products sold at pet stores and supermarkets in the Netherlands, where more than half of dog owners buy such items, revealed worrying levels of bacteria and parasites, a Dutch team reported in the journal Vet Record. The pathogens included bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria, which can cause mild to severe infections, and the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis with brain and eye damage in rare human cases. “It is clear that commercial RMBDs (raw meat-based diets) may be contaminated with a variety of zoonotic bacterial and parasitic pathogens,” the authors of the study wrote. Such pathogens could sicken animals, but pose an even bigger threat to humans who handle the raw food or come into close contact with infected animals licking their face or hands. It also endangers livestock farming through the shedding of ingested bacteria and parasites into the natural en-

vironment, and could spread any antibiotic-resistant germs present in the raw food. Of 35 commercial rawmeat foods from eight brands that were analysed for the study, eight (23 percent) had traces of an E.coli type dangerous to humans, while almost half tested positive for Listeria and one in five for Salmonella. Two products were infected with T. gondii. “This is in contrast with dry, semi-moist and canned pet food, which is rarely contaminated with pathogens,” the research team wrote. “It is important to encourage awareness of the possible risks associated with feeding RMBDs to companion animals, and pet owners should be educated about personal hygiene and proper handling of RMBDs,” said the paper. It also called for warnings and handling instructions on product labels and packaging. The touted benefits of raw meat diets for dogs and cats “are not backed by evidence,” the authors added. Besides the risk of germ infestation, many fear that raw meat-based diets do not provide all the nutrients our animal friends require.



With headbands, sensor socks, wearable tech seeks medical inroads

An exhibitor at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show demonstrates the Pegasi Smart Sleep Glasses to help the body’s circadian rhythm. by Rob Lever


AS VEGAS, United States | AFP | Friday 1/12/2018 - Want to manage your stress? A “neurofeedback” headband could help. Need to be sure your elderly father is taking his medication? Attach a sensor to his sock. With virtual reality and motion-tracking sensors, the tech world is borrowing some of the gadgetry from self-driving cars, gaming and fitness applications and bringing them to medicine. The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, a high-tech showcase this week in Las Vegas, included the latest advances in digital health, suggesting promising avenues for treatment, even if many lack full-fledged medical approval. Tech firms are looking to cash in on a digital health industry estimated at about $200 billion annually in areas ranging from app-based diagnoses, to pain management and telemedicine. A growing number of startups focused on the brain -- capturing or “hacking” brainwaves with the goal of improving sports performance, enabling relaxation, aiding sleep, and potentially treating pain, anxiety or other ills. “Brain technologies can help

people learn and practise meditation,” said Chris Aimone, founder of Interaxon, a Canadian startup which exhibited its Muse headband aimed at using “neurofeedback” to manage stress and improve athletic performance. South Korea-based Looxid Labs featured a brainwavemonitoring headset which is now in the research phase but could be used for treatment of ailments like post-traumatic stress syndrome. “We can use these brain sensors to analyze emotions and stress level,” said Looxid’s Honggu Lee. Neurofeedback, which teaches self-control of brain functions, has been around for decades, but the arrival of lowcost sensors has made it easier to produce affordable consumer devices. While some exhibitors said their claims are backed by research, a 2016 study said longterm results were still inconclusive. - Tracking the elderly Some of the same sensor technology being used to help runners track performance or golfers perfect swings is now being adapted for medical applications, notably for the elderly. Sensoria Fitness, a Wash-

ington state startup which has produced wearable tech for runners and soccer players, unveiled a system to use sensors to keep track of seniors and persons in rehabilitation. By attaching sensors to socks, the system can detect if a patient is taking medication, doing exercises or is in distress. “If a patient is in distress it affects their gait,” explained Sensoria founder Davide Vigano. France-based Helite was at CES with hip airbags designed to deploy when someone falls, protecting him or her from shattering bones. A Japanese firm, Xenoma, also aimed to help those at risk of falls, as well as people with dementia, by adapting its wearable clothing designed initially for golfers. “We track their movements and if they go too far we can find them,” said Xenoma engineer Yihan Qian. Other firms offered tools for gauging the risk of disease. Maryland-based startup RightEye announced an eyetracking assessment in a gaming application to screen for concussions and other brain health problems, with the possibility of early detection indicators for autism and Parkinson’s disease.

How a Taipei school for the visually impaired is helping make Microsoft Windows even more accessible


AIPEI, Taiwan | AFP | 1/15/2018 - Shen Yan-lin can mix music by computer. His fingers whip across the panel of a smartphone from app to app, changing settings at the same high speed. The faithful Windows user who studied PCs mostly by himself just wants more precision when using Narrator, a built-in Microsoft tool that literally reads things aloud, voicing text and describing notifications or calendar appointments. Shen, 18, is in his third year at Taipei School for the Visually Impaired, which partners with Microsoft to provide feedback on Narrator and other accessibility features of its operating system. Shen is “totally blind,” to use his own words. The screen readers are crucial. “Only direct users of the screen readers will understand the challenges on the frontlines,” Shen said. “Because Microsoft and my school cooperate, I’ve been paying attention to accessibility matters.” Shen grew up in a rural, mountainous part of Taiwan where local schools for the visually impaired offered little computer education. He was supposed to take his first course in computers in third grade but didn’t start until sixth grade because the schools fell short of resources. “Curiosity” about the outside world that he cannot physically see piqued an interest in the internet in middle school, Shen said. It was then that he memorized the keyboard by touch and sound. Thanks largely to his self-education to date and daily voluntary use of PCs, Shen can now use Windows to

do his high school homework. Shen, 11 other students and three teachers from the Taipei School for the Visually Impaired have met twice with members of Microsoft’s Taiwan staff since May 2017 to pass on feedback based on their routine interaction with computers. Some ideas collected get sent back to Microsoft’s head office in the United States. Shen signed up separately, at Microsoft’s request, for the company’s Insider program, allowing him to submit ideas regularly. “I raised ideas to Microsoft,” Shen said, “and I hope they will become part of a later development update.” Skype, which Microsoft acquired in 2011, should make it easier for PC users with standard keyboards – the best kind for the visually impaired – to type in mobile phone numbers, telephone extensions and Chinese characters, he said. Another area of improvement identified by Shawn Chi, Shen’s teacher: Narrator “sometimes might misplace the meaning” that users are looking for, he said, and might announce less important or less relevant results when users go from file to file on a PC. Microsoft, which uses that feedback to improve its Windows accessibility features, says it’s now working on three “fixes” based in part on the Taipei school’s feedback: supporting Chinese-language typing on Skype for a desktop Narrator, allowing more adjustments in Narrator’s volume, and letting Narrator read pictures. Microsoft and the Taipei

school of just 20 students found each other in May through Taipei city council member Wang Wei-chung. It occurred to Wang that Microsoft would want to know how the students were faring with accessibility, while the students could use the experience to take a lead in shaping computer technology. “I think the visually impaired school’s kids need more platforms and shouldn’t just be people who always need help,” Wang said. “Accessibility features in Windows operating system are a first step. What I hope is that the kids can use the accessibility features and study those tools, and then make more inventions and do more things to help people around the world.” School principal Tsai Mingtsang sees engagement with Microsoft as a chance to give voice to a “weak group.” “That a child can be on his own and independent is a moment of pride for us,” she told at a November ceremony for Microsoft’s Computer Science Education Week Kick off campaign in Taiwan. Shen said he may study computer science further after graduation, but fears a lack of instructors who are qualified to teach him. He leans instead toward jazz drumming, something he has practiced since middle school. At the Microsoft event in November, Shen showed his use of software to mix music from the official school song with vocals and sound effects for the school’s 100th anniversary.

FRIDAY, January 19, 2018

Suppressing a sneeze can be dangerous, doctors warn

“Halting sneezing via blocking the nostrils and mouth is a dangerous manoeuvre, and should be avoided”


ARIS, France | AFP | 1/15/2018 - Stifling a sneeze can rupture your throat, burst an ear drum, or pop a blood vessel in your brain, researchers warned Tuesday. Many people -- when they feel a sneeze coming on -block all the exits, essentially swallowing the sneeze’s explosive force. Just how dangerous this can be was illustrated when a 34-year-old man showed up at the emergency service of a hospital in Leicester, England recently, with a swollen neck and in extreme pain.

“The patient described a popping sensation in his neck after he tried to halt a sneeze by pinching the nose and holding his mouth closed,” doctors detailed in a study published in the medical journal BMJ Case Reports. A CAT scan confirmed what they suspected: the force of the suppressed sneeze had ruptured and torn open the back of the throat. The man -- who could barely swallow or talk -- was admitted to hospital, where he was tubefed and given intravenous an-

tibiotics until the swelling and pain subsided. He was discharged after a week. “Halting sneezing via blocking the nostrils and mouth is a dangerous manoeuvre, and should be avoided,” the doctors concluded. In rare cases, stifling a sneeze has led to a condition in which air gets trapped between the lungs, “and even rupture of a cerebral aneurysm,” which is a ballooning blood vessel in the brain, they explained.

Model who lost her leg to toxic shock syndrome from her tampon has the other amputated by Kayla Brantley


OS ANGELES - The model who lost her leg to toxic shock syndrome has had surgery to amputate the other. Lauren Wasser, 29, lost her left leg last week after having the right amputated in 2012 when she contracted the lifethreatening infection toxic shock syndrome (TSS) from using a super-plus tampon while on her period. The Los Angeles-based model revealed last month that she would ‘inevitably’ lose her left leg because she was in ‘daily excruciating pain’ as a result of the TSS. ‘Life is about to be so different, again! I’m in great spirits though and ready for my next chapter,’ Wasser said in an Instagram post. The double below-the-knee amputee will continue to advocate about the potential risks associated with tampons as she gets accustomed to her new prosthetic. Since last week’s surgery, Wasser has had visitors including Paralympian Amy Purdy, who is also a double amputee. Wasser’s body had produced calcium which caused the bones on her remaining foot to grow as her brain’s way of telling the missing toes to grow back. ‘My left foot has an open ulcer, no heel, and no toes,’ she wrote last month in an op-ED featured in InStyle. ‘I’m in daily excruciating pain.’ She has needed surgery to shave down the bone because it became too unbearable to walk. Wasser also could not wet her foot due to the open ulcer - something that is difficult for the California-born model. ‘In a few months, I’m inevitably going to have my other leg amputated. There’s nothing I can do about it. But what I can do is help make sure that this doesn’t happen to others,’ she said. The model is now an advocate by pushing legislation urging the National Institutes of Health to help test feminine hygiene products to determine they are safe. Wasser is advocating for a bill called the Robin Danielson Act, named after a woman who died from TSS in 1998, which

Wasser, 29, had her right leg and toes from her left foot amputated in 2012 after she nearly died from toxic shock syndrome from a tampon. | Facebook directs the National Institutes of Health to do research on the potential health risks of feminine hygiene products. The bill has been introduced 10 times and has never come to a vote before the full House of Representatives. She has spoken publicly about her condition and given a TED Talk to share her story. The model was 24 when she fell ill after using a tampon. She was found in her apartment 10 minutes from death, face down, unconscious on her bedroom floor covered in feces and vomit, after her mother called police for a wellness check when she had not heard from her for a while. While in the hospital her fever reached 107 degrees, she suffered a heart attack and her organs began to fail before she was put into a medically induced coma. An infectious disease doctor ordered to check if Wasser had a tampon in and after a test was done, she was diagnosed with TSS.

However, the damage was done to her legs from gangrene and doctors needed to amputate. She now uses gold prosthetic leg. Toxic shock syndrome is a rare and life threatening bacterial infection. It is commonly misdiagnosed because the symptoms resemble other more common illnesses. The infection occurs when usually harmless Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus bacteria, which live on the skin, invade the bloodstream and produce dangerous toxins. Symptoms include a high fever, low blood pressure, vomiting, confusion and seizures. It most commonly occurs in women using tampons. Tampon boxes come with a warning of the deadly infection after leaving it in for more than eight hours, though Wasser said she changed them regularly. Each year toxic shock syndrome affects about one in 100,000 women. (-Source: DailyMail.)







FRIDAY, January 19, 2018


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Cricket Chatara grabs four as Zimbabwe edge Sri Lanka in thrilling win


A pair of North Korean figure skaters qualified for this year’s Olympics, but North Korea missed a deadline to confirm their participation. The IOC said recently it has “kept the door open’’ for North Korea to take part in the Games. IOC officials are to meet with sports and government officials from the two Koreas and officials from the Pyeongchang organizing committee in Switzerland on Saturday. The IOC said in statement Wednesday that it has “taken note of a number of interesting proposals from different sources.’’ “There are many considerations with regard to the impact of these proposals on the other participating NOCs (national Olympic committees) and athletes. After having taken all this into consideration, the IOC will take its final decisions on Saturday in Lausanne,’’ it said.

He also took two catches, off Angelo Mathews and former Sri Lanka captain Thisara Perera. It was the Thisara catch that finally swung the game Zimbabwe’s way. Thisara climbed into Graeme Cremer for 15 runs in the 38th over, after his side slipped to 199 for 6 chasing 291 to win.

North and South Korean ice hockey players after a game in Gangneung, South Korea, in 2017. The South has proposed a joint women’s ice hockey team with the North for the Pyeongchang Olympics next month. (Kyodo News/Kyodo News via Getty Images)

Wanindu Hasaranga’s dismissal in the 40th over didn’t deter him either. Thisara hit Cremer over long-off for his second six before an edge through third man brought the equation down to under a run-a-ball. Akila Dananjaya then holed out at cover, and although replays showed that Tendai Chatara may have marginally overstepped, the third umpire’s decision went in favour of Zimbabwe.

It was Kusal Perera who gave Sri Lanka the early impetus in the chase. He began with cuts and slashes reminiscent of his boyhood hero Sanath Jayasuriya. At the other end, Upul Tharanga survived a scare when the ball hit his leg stump but the bails didn’t come off. He chipped a catch to mid-on in the sixth over, and Kusal Mendis, recalled for this tri-series,

2018 Olympics Koreas to form their first joint Olympic team Will march together during opening ceremonies

HAKA, Bangladesh | AFP | Wednesday 1/17/2018 - Sikandar Raza, Hamilton Masakadza and Tendai Chatara combined to lead Zimbabwe to a 12-run win over Sri Lanka, their first victory against a Full Member at a neutral venue in 15 years. Raza made an unbeaten 81 and took the key wicket of Kusal Perera, who made 80.

Thisara picked singles thereafter but after he had struck a huge six in the 47th over, he struck a low full toss to Raza at deep midwicket. Thisara’s exit, after his 37-ball 64 with five fours and three sixes, was the opening Zimbabwe needed as Chatara eked out the last wicket, that of Dushmantha Chameera in the 49th over.

FRIDAY, January 19, 2018


Tendai Chatara blazes team to victory against Sri Lanka on Wednesday (Photo: AFP) did the same in the next over.

24th over with his score on 77.

But Kusal didn’t relent with his attacking intent, finishing the Powerplay with a brutal cut over point that went for six. Soon after Kusal reached his fifty, Solomon Mire dropped him at deep point on 57.

But finally, Muzarabani used all of his height at short fine leg to pluck out a catch off Kusal on 80. He had struck eight fours and two sixes in his 83ball innings.

Angelo Mathews, who needed some attention for cramps, sprung to life in the 18th over when he smashed Blessing Muzarabani for a six over midwicket, and four through the slips. Kusal kept finding the boundaries too while Zimbabwe found more ways to drop him: Graeme Cremer dropped him off his own bowling in the

Raza though lifted Zimbabwe’s momentum towards the end, striking Lakmal for five fours in two overs. He added 61 runs for the sixth wicket with Peter Moor off just 6.3 overs. Moor struck two sixes in his 19 before becoming Gunaratne’s third victim. Thisara also took two wickets, while the other front-line bowlers couldn’t make much of an impact.

EOUL, South Korea | AFP | Wednesday 1/17/2018 - The rival Koreas agreed Wednesday to form their first unified Olympic team and have their athletes parade together for the first time in 11 years during the opening ceremonies of next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea, officials said.

A joint statement distributed by the ministry said the North Korean Olympic delegation will travel to South Korea across their heavily fortified land border. It said the delegation will include a 230-member cheering group, a 30-member taekwondo demonstration team, and journalists, athletes and officials.

The agreements still require approval from the International Olympic Committee. But they are the most prominent steps toward rapprochement achieved by the Koreas since they recently began exploring cooperation during the Olympics following a year of heightened tension over the North’s nuclear weapons program.

Ahead of the Pyeongchang Olympics, the Koreas will hold a joint cultural event at the North’s scenic Diamond Mountain and have non-Olympic skiers train together at the North’s Masik ski resort, according to the statement. It said the North also plans to send a 150-strong delegation to the Paralympics in March.

During their third day of talks at the border in about a week, senior officials reached a package of agreements including fielding a joint women’s ice hockey team and marching together under a “unification flag’’ depicting their peninsula during the opening ceremonies, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said.

The agreements are highly symbolic and emotional. But it’s still not clear how many North Korean athletes will come to Pyeongchang, because none are currently qualified. South Korean media have predicted that only up to 10 North Korean athletes will end up being covered by an additional quota from the IOC.

The two Koreas have previously sent joint teams to major international sports events twice, both in 1991. One event was the world table tennis championships in Chiba, Japan, and the other was soccer’s World Youth Championship in Portugal. During an era of detente in the 2000s, their athletes marched together during the opening and closing ceremonies of nine international sporting events, including the Olympics and Asian Games, but they failed to produce a joint team. The current reconciliation mood began after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year’s speech that he was willing to send a delegation to the Games. Critics have said Kim’s overture is an attempt to use improved ties with South Korea to weaken U.S.-led international sanctions on North Korea while buying time to perfect his nuclear weapons program. The moves nevertheless have provided a temporary thaw in the Koreas’ long-strained ties and fostered optimism that North Korea won’t launch any new provocations, at least during the Olympics.

Voice of Asia E-paper January 19, 2018  

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

Voice of Asia E-paper January 19, 2018  

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