VOICE OF ASIA 1
VOICE OF ASIA The Largest Asian-American Newsweekly in Texas
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Serving Harris, Fort Bend and Surrounding Counties for 30 years
Vol. 31 No. 4 • Friday, January 26, 2018
Published Weekly from Houston
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FRIDAY, January 2 26, 2018 In Section l l l l l l l
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White House to release immigration 'framework' Monday by Michael Mathes
ASHINGTON | AFP | Wednesday 1/24/2018 - The White House will release a "legislative framework" for immigration reform on Monday that is acceptable to both Democrats and Republicans, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said. The immigration issue is a source of bitter partisan tension in Washington, and was the primary cause of a threeday federal government shutdown that saw employees who were deemed non-essential furloughed without pay. "After decades of inaction by Con-
gress, it's time we work together to solve this issue once and for all," Sanders told journalists Wednesday. "The White House will release a legislative framework on Monday that represents a compromise that members of both parties can support," which is based on "dozens" of meetings with Republican and Democratic leadership and legislators, she said. It "will fulfill the four agreed-upon pillars: securing the border and closing legal loop holes, ending extended family chain migration, cancelling the visa lottery, and providing a permanent solution on DACA."
The first three "pillars" are Republican priorities, while the last -- the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program -- is a cause championed by the Democrats. DACA, which was instituted by President Donald Trump's predecessor Barack Obama in 2012, protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as children. - Border wall debate Trump said in September he was scrapping DACA, throwing the future of those it covers, who are known as "Dreamers," into doubt, but delayed
Foundation for India Studies marches at MLK Grande Parade This was the 24th Annual MLK Grand Parade; FIS participated in the last seven
(Photo: Justin Lane, EPA)
enforcement to give Congress six months -- until March -- to craft a lasting solution. Democrats unsuccessfully sought to tie a solution to the DACA issue to a
stop-gap measure to fund the federal government, but Republicans rejected the effort, leading to a shutdown from Saturday to Monday after it ran out of Continued on next page
Grand Andal Kalyanam and Pongal celebrations at Sri Meenakshi Temple
-R: Ravi Brahmbhatt, Pradip Brahmbhatt,Sudhakar Chinasumala, Raghavender Nednur, Neelaveni Oruganti, Krishna L Vavilala, Lalith Chinasumala, Pranav Konduri, Rohan Perumaalla, Adarsh Nednur, Saureesh Aparasu, Praveen Kasthala, Aakarsha Saridey, Krishna Marepalli, Hamsini Perumaalla, Keerthana Chinasumala, Rajender Aparasu, Kaumudi Saridey, Shraavya Aparasu, Satish Saridey. by Pranav Konduri and Shravya Aparasu
OF PEJMAN ICE MA A
n an unexpectedly clear weather day of fifteenth of January 2018 thousands of Houstonians came together in Midtown Houston to celebrate a mo-
mentous occasion, Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. FIS joined the parade to honor a great man who adopted Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of non-violence in his struggle for racial equality and Civil Rights in America akin to Mahatma Gandhij’s struggle for inde-
pendence in India against the British using non-violent means such as passive resistance. FIS was a past recipient of the Grand Marshal Award in 2015 under Continued on page 3
Serious Car Accident?
Families partake in preparing pongal in the Raja veedhi, in front of the main temple. Report on Page 4
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by Peter A. Barnes and H. David Rosenbloom
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 Legal: Surendran K. Pattel Research: Prof. Meenakshi Bhattacharjee Opinion: Dr. Chandra Mittal
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is the policy of Voice of Asia to publish letters to the editor which evidence a variety of viewpoints. The opinions expressed in any particular letter to the editor are not necessarily those of the management. Voice of Asia welcomes letters in reply to issues raised in letters to editor. In as much letters to the editor are not articles written or researched by members of Voice of Asia, it is not the policy of the Voice of Asia to perform any investigation or confirmation of any facts or allegations contained in letters to the editor. Moreover, Voice of Asia reserves the right to edit letters to the editor as necessary to correct errors of fact, punctuation, spelling and to comply with space constraints. Although paid advertisements may appear in Voice of Asia Group Publications in print, online, or in other electronic formats, the Voice of Asia Group does not endorse the advertised product, service, or company, nor any of the claims made by the advertisement. - The Publisher
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t lies somewhere beyond foolish to assume that the United States, in the year 2018, has the only important voice in international affairs. Yet, that is precisely the assumption that permeates the international provisions in the newly enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). What in heaven's name were the folks responsible for these provisions thinking? Or, more precisely, what were they NOT thinking? A blithe “us against them” attitude and a cavalier regard for U.S. obligations under international agreements emerge clearly from the legislative text. The consequences will play out for years and handicap the United States in seeking to influence the development of rules in the area of international taxation. With the U.S. government isolating itself, U.S. companies and their affiliates are likely to pay heavily in additional foreign taxes.
But the new law also contains some startling provisions, with unsettling consequences. First, the new law may well violate U.S. obligations under both tax and trade agreements. For example, it appears to backtrack on the repeated U.S. assurance that it will not adopt discriminatory rules. In early December, finance ministers of five European countries (Germany, France, Britain, Spain, and Italy) wrote Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to highlight provisions of the legislation that impose a tax on payments from U.S. companies to related foreign affiliates. Those provisions appear to violate nondiscrimination requirements of tax and trade agreements.
Going forward, when a U.S. company has a foreign subsidiary engaged in an active business in another country, the earnings of that subsidiary will not be subject to U.S. tax in many, and perhaps most, situations unless the income is sub-
It is true that the U.S. Constitution allows Congress to enact laws overriding treaty obligations, but actually enacting such laws sparks adverse reactions abroad. And Congress said nothing at all about a treaty override in the new law.
If the 2017 tax bill had progressed through Congress in a typical manner, these issues might have been aired and perhaps addressed in the legislative process. The lightning speed of the legislative exercise precluded anything of that sort. Moreover, the legislation adopts a unilateral view of taxation — the United States versus the rest of the world — in several of the international provisions. These rules lump all foreign investment, and thus all foreign countries, together, in sharp contrast to the country-by-country approach reflected in the bilateral treaty network of the U.S. and every other country. Independently, the legislation includes deliberate incentives for U.S. exports, probably in violation of international trade agreements and another source of irritation for our foreign trading partners. In the Washington sausage factory that produced the TJCA, two issues dominated the attention of both elected officials and the public: tax rates (for corporations, pass-through entities and individuals) and the deduction for state and local taxes. There was neither time nor mental bandwidth for public scrutiny and debate on the hundreds of other tax issues buried inside the mammoth statutory text, including the international provisions. International tax policy is in a transformative stage. Eu-
DACA... Illustrating the sharp divide on immigration, Trump took aim at Chuck Schumer overnight after the Senate minority leader withdrew an offer to fund a controversial wall on the Mexican border.
But when Trump rejected the deal, Schumer pulled the offer. "Cryin' Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA," Trump tweeted shortly before midnight Tuesday.
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Foreign tax examiners pursue “base erosion and profit shifting” with the single-minded view that U.S. companies should be contributing more to their coffers. The U.S. government has historically been a leader in policy discussions and in protecting the interests of its companies abroad. By taking an obvious "America First" view and a casual attitude toward treaty commitments, the U.S. risks undermining both its moral authority in shaping tax policy and its effectiveness in dealing with other countries. That is bound to be costly not only in policy impact but in hard dollar terms. Peter A. Barnes and H. David Rosenbloom are international tax attorneys at Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered. Prior to joining the firm, Barnes was senior international tax counsel for General Electric and served as U.S. deputy international tax counsel at the U.S. Treasury. Rosenbloom also spent time at the U.S. Treasury serving as director of the Office of International Tax Affairs. Additionally, Barnes is a senior fellow at Duke University teaching at the law school and at the Sanford School of Public Policy. Rosenbloom directs the International Tax Program at New York University School of Law. (-TheHill.com)
Trump promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, but it has repeatedly said it will not do so, and the funding for the project has instead fallen to US taxpayers.
Schumer met Trump last week ahead of the government shutdown, reportedly offering as much as $25 billion for the wall, which was among the most prominent planks of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, as part of a broader deal including government spending.
ropean tax authorities and tax examiners in many other countries seek greater tax from U.S. multinationals such as Google, Facebook and Apple and their affiliates.
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Continued from front page
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ject to a low rate of foreign tax.
The 2017 legislation includes many positive changes in U.S. tax law, including important changes in the international provisions. Most significantly, the new law altars for the better several antiquated aspects of the pre-existing tax regime and directly addresses the substantial buildup of nonor low-taxed income in tax havens in a reasonable way.
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US plays Lone Ranger on international tax, to its detriment
Other rules in the legislation limit the ability of U.S. companies to use credits for foreign taxes to satisfy their obligations to the U.S. government. Tax treaties explicitly guarantee that the credits will be allowed and a similar, but much less significant, rule in the Tax Reform Act of 1986, relating to the alternative minimum tax, was generally acknowledged as a violation of tax treaty obligations.
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FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
Protesters hold signs at a rally to defend DACA on September 5, 2017 in New York. (Photo - AFP/Getty Images)
The immigration issue is currently in flux with barely two weeks before a February 8 deadline agreed by both parties to either strike a deal, or take the issue to the Senate floor for debate before the "Dreamers" face mass deportation in March.
VOICE OF ASIA 3
Community Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
ICC hosts India–Fair 2018 celebrating India’s Republic Day by Shobana Muratee ndia Culture Center (ICC) hosted 20th India –Fair on Saturday, Jan 20 at the Stafford Center. It was a fine bright weekend for a family’s day out especially after a spate of icy weather conditions Houstonians were subjected to the earlier. Nearly 2000 people attended to cheer, “Hum sub ek hai,” (We are all one) which was the theme of the day! The day-long program began with the lighting of the traditional lamp by ICC president, Dr Falguni Gandhi and Event Chair Nisha Mirani. This was followed by a formal segment of dignitaries delivering their messages. Deputy Consul General of India, Houston, Mr. Surendra Adhana, spoke about India’s advances in trade and economy, science and technology and the role of NRIs in India’s growth today. HPD’s Adrian Garcia and several other dignitaries graced the occasion. Past president Rajiv Bhavsar and Hasu Patel coordinated on the VIP arrangements. The event was Co-Chaired by Rafi Ansar while the Cul-
ICC Board of Directors and hosts of I-Fair 2018 held at Stafford Center, Texas on Saturday, January 20, 2018.
tural Coordinators were Swapan Dhairyawan and Nimish Sheth. Organizing 22 performances from different dance schools and dance groups, can be a daunting experience but the coordinators being highly experienced in conducting
events of such magnitude for ICC, handled it efficiently. The Cultural program started with an after opening prayer by ICC board members and was followed by the Ismali Matki Band. Young singers, Esha Dhaiyrwan sang the
Indian National Anthem Jana Gana Mana and Shreya sang the ‘Star Spangled’, American Anthem. Both were cheered by the audience. Nira Patel served as the Emcee. Ajit Patel and Rafi Ansar
conducted Llive Antakashri segment with 3 teams on stage, a total with12 participants and had the audience as the 4th team. One hour of pure fun and singing had the crowd totally engaged as it immersed them in the Indian
Bollywood music. At the conclusion, each participant was given a gift bag as a token of appreciation by ICC and Praful Gandhi handed them over. The Musical Evening program was enchanting with lead Hemang Thakkar and 2 musicians. Two talented young singers Akila and Serene were the star atrractions. Akila started the program with Lata Mageshkar’s hit patriotic song “Aye mare vatan ke logo” setting the mood for the evening. Serene and Hemang Thakkar continued to heighten the evening with their melodious set of Bollywood hits. This year too was a sell out for booths thanks to the efforts of Charlie Patel and Pramod Bengani. Nirmlaben and members of Indian Senior Citizen Group were of great help manning ICC welcome booth. This year’s Souvenir was prepared collaboratively by Hemant Patel and Nisha Mirani. At the end of a pleasant, wholesome fun evening, a formal Vote of Thanks was proposed by Sapna Shah, ICC Secretary. With inputs from Falguni Gandhi and Nisha Mirani
Foundation for India ...at MLK Grande Parade Continued from page 1 the Chairman ship of Raghavender Nednur, a unique honor bestowed by the MLK Grande Parade Committee. In some years, Krishna Vavilala and Suresh Shah walked in the parade dressed as Gandhi ji to send out a message that people in both the countries, America and India are committed to a common desire and walk the same path to achieve Peace and ProsperChildren from local school performing at the ICC I-Fair
ity. . The parade atmosphere was festive with several school bands and floats playing music and dancing. Throngs of people lined up on the streets cheering the parade participants, MLK Jr’s Birthday being a declared Government holiday, thousands of people were able to participate in the celebration. The 24th Annual 2018 MLK Grand Parade this year gives a special meaning to all Indo- Americans because of the parade's theme "The Color
of Unity" that resonates well with India’s Constitutional Unity in Diversity. Event Chair, Raghavender Nednur and Co-Chair, Aakarsha Saridey appreciate the enthusiasm of the participants and recognize the increased participation of youngsters this year. To know more about FIS, please visit WWW.Foundationforindiastudies.org or call Krishna Vavilala 713-7955169
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FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
Grand Andal Kalyanam and Pongal celebrations at Sri Meenakshi Temple Celebrations were held during the weekend of January 13-14, 2018 by Bhargavi Golla
ri Meenakshi Temple Society celebrated the sacred wedding of Andal/Goda with Lord Sri Krishna in the form of Lord Ranganatha on Saturday, Jan 13th, 2018. Andal, after observing the Paavai Nombu (vows) during the Dhanur month (December 15th to January 15th), merged with Lord Ranganatha in Srirangam. This union is celebrated as Andal kalyanam. Aandal is an 8th century Tamil saint and one of the twelve Alwars (saints) and the only woman Alwar of Vaishnavism. These twelve alwars were installed at Sri Meenakshi Temple recently as part of CTRP project. She composed the Thiruppavai (30 songs in praise of Lord Narayana) which are steeped in devotion and contain the esoteric truths revealed in the Vedas.
Deity Andal adored in bridal finery for her wedding ceremony (Kalyanam) with Lord Sri Krishna.
Sam Kannappan and members of Sri Meenakshi Temple Society showing the proclamation from Mayor of Pearland, Tom Reid.
Mr. Kannappan read the proclamation received from Mayor of Pearland, Tom Reid proclaiming Jan 14 as Thai Pongal Day. “In Pearland as the Indian American community celebrate Pongal and celebrate the festival days with colorful decorations, cooking, and with elders treating younger members of the family with gifts to show their love for the next generation”
Priests decorated Utsava Murthis of Lord Ranganatha and Andal beautifully and placed in the center of the main temple. Devotees gathered at the main temple and were enthralled to witness the holy occasion of Andal Kalyanam and to receive the celestial blessings. It started with Chairman Dr. Padmini welcoming the devotees and a board member Dr. Saranathan explaining the story of Sri Andal. Priests Pavan Kumar Sri Bhashyam, Sriman Narayana and Sridharan Raghavan performed the authentic divine wedding ceremony after the initial rituals including Sankalpam, Vishwaksena Aradhana (Obstacle removal) and Punyahavachanam (purification). Priests along with devotees recited Sri Andal’s Thiruppavai and Thiruppaan Alwar’s ten Pasurams. Later Priest Sridhar Raghavan explained the meaning Thiruppaan Alwar’s Pasurams the principal purport in them is: "Perumal is the principal supreme entity and our aims and aspirations should be to attain Him through total surrender to him signified by our placing all of ourselves at his lotus feet." As part of kalyanam, the priests performed homam while devotees chanted Varanamayiram, Andal's narration of her dream and experiences with her friends on the way to getting married to Lord. Then it concluded with exchange of coconuts, and final chanting by priest Manicka-
Priests offered the delicious Pongal prasadam to all four deities inside the main Temple: Siva, Meenakshi, Venkateswara and Padmavathi with a special aarathi. Padmini Nathan, Kamala Raghavan and Ram Reddy were the coordinators of the Pongal celebration.
Women and children merrymaking during the two major celebrations held at the Sri Meenakshi Temple on January 13-14, 2018.
sundara Bhattar with a praise of goddess Meenakshi.
Meenakshi Temple on January 14th, 2018.
Sheila Sriram from RAC Committee thanked the event coordinators (Bhargavi Golla and Preetha Sreenivasan), many volunteer devotees who brought prasadams, staff, silpis and priests at Sri MTS.
Pongal is a popular harvest festival of south India that marks the return of the sun to the northern hemisphere. It's celebrated to reaffirm and appreciate the many significant sacrifices of our ancestors, quite like Thanksgiving in America. Pongal is the only festival of Hindus that follows a solar calendar.
abulous! Festive!! Fun for All!!! Despite cold weather, it was a full house with enthusiastic devotees participating in outdoor Pongal celebrations at Sri
time this year after it was constructed as part of CTRP project.
Though the day started out
Chairman Dr. Padmini thanked silpis Ramanathan, Arumugam and Viswanathan for the hard work in setting up the stoves and beautiful decorations, which was a visual treat. She also thanked Sheila for all the prep work and Malathi for audio and Rani and her team for feeding big crowd with a smile. Thanks to our priests, staff, board members & volunteers without whose help this would have not been possible.
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More than 90 families, some from out of town, came to prepare pongal in the Raja veedhi, in front of the main temple. Pongal celebrations were in the Raja Veedhi for the first
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cold with temperature in the forties, Surya Bhagavan (Sun God) graced us with his bright presence. The temperature soon warmed up to the cozy heat from all the wood burning stoves & so did the tempo with traditional pongal music & folk dances by energetic devotees. Pongal was cooked by each family in beautifully decorated brass pots on stove made with clay and wood used as fuel. Rice and milk are boiled in a pot till the pot starts overflowing. The overflowing pot symbolizes fulfillment. When milk started to boil over, everyone shouted out "pongalo pongal". The ambience was very similar to what you would see in the villages of South India as per feedback from several devotees.
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Fort Bend View
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
Sugar Land, Katy, Stafford, Missouri City, Richmond, Rosenberg and Meadows Place
Recovery from extreme weather to be addressed at Sugar Land Home & Garden Show Homeowners looking for repair/renovation tips can meet the experts with the answers at the Stafford Center, Jan. 27 and 28
Avant Tax Opens New Location in Sugar Land by Susan Pothanikat
UGAR LAND, TX— Tuesday, January 23, 2018, Avant Tax held its grand opening at 12808 West Airport Blvd., Ste. 324, Sugar Land, TX 77478. Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman, inaugurated the ribbon cutting ceremony with Directors, Frixmon Michael and Prem Shahi. Other dignitaries present were Stafford Council Member, Ken Mathew and Nepalese President of Houston, Madhukar Amatya. Directors, Frixmon Michael and Prem Shahi, saw a need to open up a new location in the Houston area due to the increase in population from the Asian community and requests
Directors, Frixmon Michael and Prem Shahi welcome Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman
Catrina Kidd, a star of DIY Network’s ‘Texas Flip n’ Move,’ will appear twice each day of the Sugar Land Home & Garden Show to share her extensive renovation knowledge as well as her recipe for a homemade product that can give new lumber the appearance of reclaimed wood. (Photo: DIY Network)
UGAR LAND, Texas – Jan. ??, 2018 – On Jan. 27 and 28, the 8th Annual Sugar Land Home & Garden Show will continue its tradition of providing more than 200 home improvement experts under one roof at the Stafford Centre, 10505 Cash Road in Stafford. “Although the flood waters from Harvey are long gone, many homeowners are still recovering from the more than 40 inches of rain the hurricane dropped on the greater Houston area,” Tony Wood, president of Texwood Shows Inc., pro-
ducer of the Sugar Land Home & Garden Show, said. “To address homeowner concerns about the flooding as well as the recent prolonged freezes we’ve experienced, the show will present experts who will share their suggestions and recommendations on recovering from and preparing for extreme weather events.” Randy Lemmon, host of KTRH Radio’s GardenLine, kicks off the Fort Bend Lifestyles & Homes Presentation Stage’s Saturday schedule of experts with “The Hard Freezes … a Q&A with Randy Lem-
mon About What to do With Your Garden!” Beginning at 10:30 a.m., the Q&A follows the live broadcast of GardenLine from the Sugar Land show – from 6 to 10 a.m. – and a book signing featuring Lemmon’s “Texas Tough Gardening.” After his presentation, Lemmon will be at the broadcast area to continue the booksigning event through 1 p.m. Those attending this year’s show will get an opportunity to meet and hear from Catrina Kidd, star of the DIY NetContinued on next page
Distinguished guests at the event. City of Stafford Council Member, Ken Mathew (3rd from left), Far right are Directors, Frixmon Michael and Prem Shah. (Photo by Susan Pothanikat, VOA) from their existing clients in Houston. They currently have other locations in Austin, Dallas and in India.
Avant Tax is a full service tax and business consulting firm committed to meeting the complex needs for their clients with
the highest standards of expertise, integrity and performance. They provide various services Continued on next page
VOICE OF ASIA 6
COMMUNITY - FORT BEND
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
Houston Methodist Sugar Potential tax revenue loss Land Hospital earns eight from Katy-area Harvey straight A’s for patient safety reappraisals Buyouts are uncertain at this point according to officials
ew property values for the 2 million plus parcels located in Harris and Fort Bend counties are set to be assessed by county officials, due to the damage caused by Tropical Storm Harvey in August 2017. It has been estimated that over 59,000 homes in Harris, Fort Bend and Waller counties were damaged by Harvey. The city of Katy alone counted 629 homes of thes—which will result in lower values assigned to many of those properties as of Jan. 1.
Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s Quality Improvement Team, (L-R) Chris Siebenaler, CEO; Jackie Trotter; Jo Gilbert; Diane McGraw, Quality Director; Anna Floyd; Ann Prather; Jeffrey Jackson; Tanuja Parmar; Damon Smith; Deanna Powell
UGAR LAND - (January 23, 2018) – The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit organization committed to driving quality, safety and transparency in the U.S. health care system, recently released new Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades, which assign A, B, C, D and F letter grades to hospitals nationwide. Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital was one of 823 hospitals to receive an “A” for its commitment to reducing errors, infections and accidents that can harm patients.
“That takes commitment from every member of the hospital staff, who all deserve thanks and congratulations when their hospitals achieve an ‘A’ Safety Grade.”
“Hospitals that earn top marks nationally in the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade have achieved the highest safety standards in the country,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group.
“This achievement is a testament to the dedication we have for patient safety,” said Chris Siebenaler, CEO at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. “Every employee and
Developed under the guidance of an expert panel, the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses 30 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign grades to more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals twice per year. It is calculated by top patient safety-experts, peer-reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public.
physician at the hospital is focused on how they can impact and improve the safety of our patients. Receiving our eighth consecutive ‘A’ grade since 2014 shows that we are making a significant difference in keeping our patients safe while under our care.” To see Houston Methodist Sugar Land’s full grade, and to access consumer-friendly patient tips for staying safe in the hospital, visit hospitalsafetygrade.org. For more information about Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, visit houstonmethodist.org/sugarland or call 281.205.4514 to find a doctor in your area. Visit our Facebook page at fb.com/methodistsugarland for the latest news, events and information.
Marshall High School students honored at calendar release event
How that damage affects property values remains to be seen, said Jack Barnett, spokesperson for the Harris County Appraisal District. The district appraisers, as well as the Fort Bend Central Appraisal District, reappraised Harvey-damaged homes. “This happened in last year, and we didn’t realize how long it would take to get the reappraisals done,” Fort Bend County Judge Robert Hebert said. “This was a much more serious flood.” A drop in appraised value could result to a drop in property tax revenue, accounting for a majority of county, city and school district operating budgets. Most notable is the little progress made in the way of buyouts for Harvey-flooded properties around the Katy area. As of Jan. 10, Harris County had authorized Harvey-related buyouts for 63 properties—mostly residences and vacant lots—though its own program, according to the Harris County Engineering Department. Buyouts have also occurred for county homes damaged in the 2016 Tax Day Floods. Importantly, Fort Bend County still has not received federal money from either the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the Department of Housing and Urban Development for 2016, officials said. “We’re hoping by midyear, they [the agencies] will tell us,” Hebert said in early January. “It’ll be two years since the floods.” The reappraisal process Properties across Texas are typically reappraised each year beginning Jan. 1 by districts that operate within each coun-
ty. In larger counties, appraisal districts use a formula based on factors, including home prices and sales volume, according to attorney Debbie Cartwright of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association. Storm-damaged properties would receive new 2017 values for the time after Aug. 23, which is when a disaster declaration was made. “Property owners who have experienced disaster or damage to their homes should take photos, get damage estimates from experts and should provide that information to the appraisal district as soon as possible so the district can use it to fill their models and properly appraise that property,” Cartwright said. Fort Bend Chief Appraiser Glen Whitehead said homeowners could begin rebuilding their properties while they wait for a reappraisal, but they should document the damage and keep receipts for construction and cleaning materials. He said FBCAD plans to finish reappraisals by the end of this month while HCAD envisioned a late February time frame. “[HCAD] have used information from various sources—news reports, 911 and 311 calls, information from city and county flood control [districts]—really anything that we could use to identify, first, areas that had been flooded, then neighborhoods and then individual properties,” Barnett said. Appraisers cannot enter houses but they can assess damage based on other factors, including water marks, furniture on the curb and tarps signaling a wind-damaged roof, he said. Hebert and Barnett said even if property owners are waiting to be reappraised, they must still meet the Jan. 31 payment deadline. The difference in value from a reappraisal after Jan. 31 will be reimbursed. Tightening budgets Harris and Fort Bend counties are bracing for decreases in overall property tax revenue, but officials from the city of Katy and Katy ISD said it was too soon to know what the effect this would have on their respective bottom lines. “We’ve got new properties coming online during 2018 that are in good shape, commercial properties and residential prop-
erties,” Katy Mayor Chuck Brawner said. About 80 percent of revenue in Harris County’s fiscal year 2016-17 budget came from property taxes, and they account for nearly 86 percent of Fort Bend County’s latest budget, county officials said. Harris County Budget Chief Bill Jackson said it is unknown what the full effect will be, but some departments will likely have to pass flat budgets or take cuts of as much as 5 percent. “Many of these homes will not be restored to their original values for a long time, especially not by Jan. 1,” he said at a budget review in September. On the other hand, Fort Bend County predicts only a $500,000 loss in property tax revenue for the 2017 tax year and a $1.4 million loss for the 2018 tax year. Buyouts uncertain Many Katy-area homes flooded for the first time during Harvey, notably behind the Barker Reservoir. Its water entered surrounding homes even after the Army Corps of Engineers chose to implement a controlled release of water downstream. Hebert said 3,000 county homes behind the reservoir had water in them, and he wants Congress to authorize money for the federal government to either buy out those properties or repair them. Considering the county still has not received final confirmation on buyouts from the 2016 floods, the timeline for Harvey is expected to drag on. HUD approved about $17 million in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding for Fort Bend County in October, but more steps are needed to get the money. County Community Development Director Carol Borrego said the application process for such funds is lengthy, and added that it also took two years after Hurricane Ike to receive allocations. Meanwhile, danger persists for frequently damaged homes in the flood plain where simply rebuilding is inadequate. “That’s the public safety issue we’re dealing with is that some people are really in harm’s way,” she said.
Sugar Land Home & Garden Show Left to Right: Marshall High School FFA students Christopher Mayers, Tyrese Rhody and Starr Wilson, along with Marshall Assistant Principal Desmond Jones, Assistant Superintendent Mary Ellen Eidson and FFA teacher Kenneth Parker at the Honey Brown Hope Foundation calendar release event.
ORT BEND ISD (January 23, 2018) – Several Marshall High School FFA students were honored for their participation in the 10th annual Honey Brown Hope Foundation calendar this month. The students were recognized for their photography that is featured in this year’s calendar, “We Love America Healthy, Clean and Green.” Dr. Charles Dupre, FBISD’s Superintendent of Schools, sent a video greeting to congratulate the foundation on its anniversary calendar release. Assistant Superintendent Mary Ellen Eidson commended the students on their participation. This year’s calendar highlights the importance of reduc-
ing food waste. As part of the event, the audience members pledged to do their part in cutting waste and helping their family and friends do the same. “At the Honey Brown Hope Foundation it is in our nature to do what is good for the environment because that is what is good for all,” said Tammie Lang Campbell, Founder and Executive Director of the Honey Brown Hope Foundation. The event included remarks from Houston Community College Fashion Professor Andrea Bonner, who encouraged the audience to think about other ways in which their actions influence the environment, including the clothing and shoes
they wear. Sustainably-created clothing by HCC students was also on display. Fox 26’s Damali Keith served as emcee for the event and donations were also collected for the Houston Food Bank. Ron Reynolds, State Representative for District 27, and Neeta Sane, HCC Trustee for District VII, both commended the foundation on its continued success in promoting diversity in the greater Houston area and responsible decision-making in caring for the environment. “The Honey Brown Hope Foundation has been phenomenal and it is my pleasure to be a sponsor of today’s event,” said Sane.
Avant Tax opens in Sugar Land... Continued from Page 5 including: tax planning, estate planning, franchise tax, bookkeeping, payroll, IRS Tax Audit Representation, Notary Services and more. Currently, as a grand opening special, Avant Tax is offering a flat rate of $75.00 for individual tax preparation and free services for all non-profit organizations. This offer is valid for 1 month only. Frixmon Michael and Prem Shahi also have a generous spirit and are always looking for ways to give back to the community. They started
Their goal is to serve over 10,000 meals to those in need. This special project of theirs is called “Feed Texas.” For more details on how to get involved with the Avant FounAvant Tax office in Sugar Land dation and Avant Tax services, the Avant Foundation to help homeless people in the com- please call 469-320-9030 or munity and all over Texas. visit www.avanttax.com.
Continued from Page 5 work’s “Texas Flip n’ Move.” Kidd, no stranger to the damages nature and neglect inflict on homes across the state, will bring her high-energy personality, as well as T-shirts, tumblers and hats to give away, to the stage at noon and 2 p.m. on each day of the show. “I’ll be doing a live DIY project with reclaimed products and demonstrate my formula for a product, made from household items most homeowners already have in their cabinets, that makes new lumber look old and reclaimed,” Kidd said. “I’ll also talk about current trends in home remodeling – back to basics for a more simplistic look is getting very popular – with plenty of befores and afters from ‘Texas Flip n’ Move.’ Following the presentation I’ll take renovation questions from the audience.” Experienced in both residential and commercial construction, Kidd said it was during her commercial build of the Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill in Dallas, that she met the executive producer of the directly related Discovery Channel’s show, “Fast and Loud.” “While I was building the Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill, they did a little bit of filming here and there for the show,” she said. “Fourteen months later, the executive producer of the show, who was then the executive producer for ‘Texas Flip n’ Move,’ followed up on
a conversation in which I mentioned I was getting back into residential construction. He told me they were looking for a female contractor who really knows her stuff for the show and wondered if I had indeed returned to the residential side of the business and if this is something I’d be interested in doing. I had, I was, and here I am today.” Certified Professional Organizer and author Lisa Giesler will present “Uncluttered After Harvey,” providing tips on how to put our homes back together after the devastating flood through decluttering and organization. Bring your home organizing questions for Giesler, who will appear at 1 p.m. on Saturday and 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday. Diane Cowen, architecture and design writer at the Houston Chronicle, will take the stage at 3 p.m. on Saturday to present “Update Your Home With the Hottest Trends – On Any Budget!” Whether redecorating after repairs or just in the market for a new look, homeowners will have an opportunity to peek inside some of Houston’s most beautiful homes for a glimpse of some truly budget-friendly furniture, rugs and other interior products. On Sunday, Cowen will present “Before and After: Taking your home from HoHum to Fabulous!” at 1 p.m. Those in attendance will have an opportunity to see before and after images of inspirational projects and learn about choosing the best products and professionals to get the job
done right. On each day of the show, Tom Tynan will broadcast his SportsRadio 610 HomeShow live from the HomeShow Radio booth from 8 to 11 a.m., and will man the HomeShow booth until 2 p.m., answering questions and providing tips on how to avoid common flood recovery mistakes. Stop by the booth to pick up Tynan’s free guide, ‘12 Projects Every Homeowner Needs To Do,’ available exclusively to those attending the show. “One thing all homeowners who took in water during the hurricane have in common is the damage to their home’s flooring,” Wood said. “I would like to invite them to visit the Hamre’s Remodeling & Flooring, and Floors for Living booths for expert guidance to replace that damaged flooring. The professionals at Hamre’s also specialize in repairing or updating baths or kitchens with quality products.” SHOW HOURS Show hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 28. Tickets for the Sugar Land Home & Garden Show are cash only at $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, and children 12 years and younger can attend for free. Parking is available at no cost. For show and ticket information call 832-274-3944 or visit SugarLandHomeAndGarden.com, where a downloadable discount coupon for $2 off admission is available.
VOICE OF ASIA 7
East & West
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
Super Tasting Dishes
Tel: 713-774-5140 and then blend again for about a minute for a creamy result. Works with unsoaked cashews. Or use premade thin cashew cream (about 1/2 cup). Reserve 1 tbsp of the cream for garnish. Add the rest of the cashew cream to the skillet. Add spices, fenugreek leaves, salt and sugar and mix well. Use 1/2 cup water to rinse out your blender and add to the skillet. Mix and Bring to a boil. Taste and adjust salt, heat (add cayenne) and sweet. Add more water if needed for preferred consistency. Add more cashew cream for creamier.
Average British dinner lasts 21 minutes: survey
Fold in the baked tofu. Simmer for a minute. Mix in the julienned ginger and green chile. Alternatively, mix half of the ginger and chile and use half as garnish. Add a drizzle of the cashew cream and other garnishes as pepper flakes, chopped cilantro. Serve over Easy Garlic Naan, rice or roti. Recipe Notes
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne
Baked Tofu "Paneer" - 12 oz firm tofu pressed between paper towels for 10 minutes, then cubed 1/2 tsp each of garam masala paprika, salt, and turmeric 2 tsp ginger paste or minced ginger 2 tsp garlic paste or minced or 3/4 tsp garlic powder 2 tsp lemon juice 1.5 tsp water 1/2 tbsp 1.5 tbsp cornstarch or other starch such as arrowroot 1 tsp nutritional yeast optional 1 tsp oil Butter Sauce:
1/2 cup water 1 tsp kasooori methi - dried fenugreek leaves 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp sugar or other sweetener to preference Instructions Bake the Tofu: Press and cube the tofu if you havent already. In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients under baked tofu, to make a marinade. Add tofu and toss well. Marinade for 15 min (optional). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F / 200Âşc. Place the tofu cubes on parchment lined sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
1 tsp oil or vegan butter 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped 3 large ripe tomatoes or 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes 1 inch cube of ginger 1/2 inch chopped, 1/2 inch julienned or thinly sliced into sticks 1 hot or mild green chile juilenned or thinly sliced or use very thinly sliced green bell pepper Cashew cream made with with 1/4 cup soaked 15 mins cashews blended with 1/2 cup water 1/2 tsp garam masala 1/2 tsp paprika or kashmiri chili powder
Make the Butter Sauce: Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until golden. You can also add in 1 bay leaf and 1 cinnamon stick with the garlic for additional flavor. Remove these before serving. Puree the tomato with the chopped ginger and half the green chile. Add to the skillet and cook until the puree starts to thicken and does not taste raw tomatoey. Dont wash the blender. In the same blender, blend the cashews and water until smooth. Blend the cashews for a minute, let it rest for a minute
Make this soy-free: Simmer the sauce with chickpeas for 8 to 10 mins. Or add roasted vegetables such as Cauliflower, bell peppers, zucchini ((rub in the marinade for the tofu and bake at 400 deg F for 25 to 30 mins) and simmer for 2 minutes. Make Butter Chikin: Use any vegan chikin strips or seitan. Toss in garam masala, paprika, 2 tsp minced ginger and 2 tsp garlic and oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes then add to the sauce with 1 cup water. Simmer for 10 minutes or longer. With soy curls: Add 1 cup soy curls directly to the skillet at step 4 with cashew cream and 1 cup of water. Simmer for 10 minutes. (-VeganRicha. com)
OKYO, Japan | AFP - A Japanese city has activated an emergency warning system to alert residents to avoid eating locally purchased blowfish, after a mix-up saw toxic parts of the delicacy go on sale. A supermarket in Gamagori in central Japan sold five packages of fugu fish without removing the livers, which can contain a deadly poison. Three of the potentially lethal specimens have been located, but the other two remain at large, local official Koji Takayanagi told AFP. "We are calling for residents to avoid eating fugu,
By Claire Ferrandi
ake this easy Mediterranean trout recipe in just 45
Ingredients: Olive oil, to fry 1 onion, peeled and diced 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced 2 x 400g tins tomatoes, chopped 5ml (1 tsp) dried rosemary 2.5ml (Â˝ tsp) dried parsley 150g asparagus spears 150g green beans 1 x 400g tin white beans Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 500g trout fillets 200g pitted green olives, drained and chopped Green and purple leaves, to garnish
Method: 1. In a large, deep frying pan with a lid, pour a generous glug olive oil and fry the diced onion over medium heat, about 10 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and fry, 1 minute further. Add the tinned tomatoes and dried herbs, and simmer over medium-low heat, 20 minutes. 2. While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch the asparagus and green beans, 3-4 minutes, until just tender. Drain and refresh the blanched
he average British dinner lasts just 21 minutes, according to a survey published Saturday which found increasingly busy schedules a barrier to eating together. A total of 55 percent of families have a smartphone, computer or television present when eating together, according to the survey for supermarket chain Co-op Food. People said increasingly busy lives and conflicting schedules got in the way of dinner. A total of 57 percent of re-
spondents said they do not eat with their family every night. Around half of Britons would like to challenge the status quo, with 47 percent saying they would like the have a meal at home or with family more often. "Families continue to recognize the social importance of sharing food and identify eating together as an activity that most brings them happiness and a sense of togetherness," said Patrick Alexander from the Oxford-based Social Issues Research Centre. "What
means, however, is changing. Screen time during mealtimes, for example, is now common for the vast majority of families," he added. The survey found 20 percent of households do not have a dining table. A three-course meal at home is now very rare, with just 2 percent of people preparing such a feast on a regular basis. The poll was conducted by market research firm Opinion Matters, which quizzed 2,164 people over five days earlier this month. (-Yahoo! Health News)
Deadly fugu fish flub prompts Japan emergency warning
Recipe: One-pan Mediterranean-style tomato and trout bake with asparagus minutes!
People said increasingly busy lives and conflicting schedules got in the way of dinner. (Shutterstock/File)
A quick and healthy Mediterranean dish will satisfy your tastebuds, provide nutrients and fiber along with helping to watch your weight. (Photo: The Citizen)
"This is a delicious way to take advantage of early spring's flavorful asparagus. A great dish to accompany large, busy meals, as most of the work can be done ahead of time and the asparagus reheated with the tomatoes and garlic at the last minute while your side entrees are resting. Also a delicious preparation for green beans in place of the asparagus." vegetables in cold water and set aside until needed.
10 minutes or until cooked to your liking.
3. Add the white beans to the tomato sauce once it has been simmering for 20 minutes. Season to taste and bring to a simmer again, then place the trout fillets in the sauce and cover the pan with a lid. Allow the trout fillets to poach gently over medium-low heat, about
4. Serve the trout bake and the Mediterranean-style tomato sauce on a serving platter (or serve straight from the pan, family-style) and top with the blanched greens, chopped green olives and basil leaves. (-Source: The Citizen)
using Gamagori city's emergency wireless system," which broadcasts over loudspeakers located around the city, he told AFP. "Three packages will be retrieved today, but we still don't know where the remaining two are." Fugu is one of Japan's most expensive winter delicacies, and is often served in thin slices of sashimi or hot pot. But the fish's skins, intestines, ovaries and livers contain a poison called tetrodotoxin that can be fatal. The part of the fish that contains the deadly poison differs from one kind of fugu to another. Japanese chefs are required to obtain a special permit to
A supermarket in Gamagori in central Japan sold five packages of fugu fish without removing the livers, which can contain a deadly poison. (Shutterstock/File) prepare the fish, but several people in Japan are killed each year by incorrectly prepared
fugu, with dozens more suffering non-fatal side effects, according to the health ministry.
VOICE OF ASIA 8
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
Indian origin British citizen 'Jihadi Sid' on U.S. terrorist list
ONDON - The United States on Tuesday included an Indian origin British citizen in the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs). He left the U.K. in 2014 and joined the Islamic State in Syria, the U.S. State Department said in a statement. 'Jihadi Sid', also known as Abu Rumaysah, was a leading member of now-defunct terrorist organisation al-Muhajiroun. “He is considered to have replaced ISIS executioner Mohammad Emwazi, also a British Muslim known as ‘Jihadi John’. He is believed to be the masked leader who appeared in a January 2016 ISIS video of the execution of several prisoners ISIS accused of spying for the U.K.,” the statement said. Born to Hindu parents in London as Siddhartha Dhar, he converted to Islam, reportedly to marry Aisha. He turned radical and became a
Indian American Manisha Singh sworn in as Asst. Secretary of State
campaigner for Sharia laws in the U.K. Arrested in September 2014 for his association with the al-Muhajiroun group, he was released soon. Hours after being released on bail, he fled the country, defying a ban on his travel abroad. His wife and children also accompanied him. Weeks later, he tweeted a picture of himself holding his newborn son and an AK-47, from Syria. “What a shoddy security system Britain must have to allow me to breeze through Europe to [ISIS],” he wrote. Believed to be in his early 30s, 'Jihadi Sid' posted Islamist propaganda on social media and hailed the announcement of the caliphate by the IS. He used to run a bouncy castle salesman rental company, according to British media reports. Anjem Choudary, who was arrested along with him, was convicted and jailed, while 'Jihadi Sid' became the IS
executioner in the 10-and-ahalf minute gruesome video of executions of those the ter-
rorist organisation accused of passing on information to the U.K. (-Yahoo! News)
ICSSR to conduct survey on NRI brides in India EW DELHI (PTI) The Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), a body under the HRD ministry, is planning to conduct a research on NRI brides in the country.
"The culture by NRI men to come to their homeland and marry girls here is quite old but not all the times these marriages are successful. There have been so many cases when the grooms left the brides here itself or forged certain details about themselves," ICSSR Chairman BB Kumar told PTI.
ASHINGTON: Indian American Manisha Singh, a lawyer and Congressional staffer, has been sworn in as the Assistant Secretary of State for economic and business affairs in the Trump administration. She is the first woman appointed to the post. Singh was sworn in by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday. She will be responsible for advancing American prosperity, entrepreneurship and innovation worldwide.
"We are excited to promote America's growth and secure our future under her leadership!" the US State Department's Economic & Business Affairs Bureau tweeted after her swearing-in ceremony. Her political career began as an staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Before that she was a lawyer, she was in the international law practice of a law firm. (-Source: IANS)
Omar Vaid running for Congress in New York EW YORK – Indian American Omar Vaid is running for the 11th Congressional District seat which is currently being held by Rep. Dan Donovan (RStaten Island, Southern Brooklyn), and has been gaining a lot of attention on social media, according to Voices of NY.
"But there has been no research about how many such marriages happen in the country and what ultimately is their status after few years. What happens to those girls who are cheated on pretext of being NRI brides? Do we need stricter norms? All these need to be studied," he added.
Being a Muslim-American, Vaid has spoken a lot about President Donald Trump’s travel ban throughout his campaign and is focusing on a number of issues including the improvement of transportation, education, Medicare, lowering prescription drug costs, affordable housing, climate change, gun laws, veteran’s benefits,
The research council has not yet sanctioned the research project and the subject is being examined. Kumar said that once the feasibility study is done and preliminary material is available, the project will be sanctioned and work initiated.
women’s rights, worker’s rights and building strong unions, protecting social security, protecting net neutrality, unity and foreign policy, according to his website. Vaid is the son of Gujarati parents and while growing up in Illinois and Florida, “he embraced his family’s rich cultural heritage as well as that of his schoolmates and friends,” according to his website. Vaid received his bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of Central Florida and moved to Brooklyn in 2006 to start a career in the movie industry. (-Yahoo! News)
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VOICE OF ASIA 9
How former Maoist child soldiers became engineers of Nepal's democracy Between 1996 and 2006, a bloody civil war between Maoist revolutionaries and the state tore Nepal apart. A decade later, FRANCE 24 Reporters head to Nepal for the first legislative elections under the new constitution adopted in 2015. In this report, they meet three former Maoists who spent their childhoods fighting for the revolutionary cause, but today they are hoping to make a change not by staring down the barrel of the gun, but through the ballot box. by Thomas Denis, Bhojraj Bhat
ATMANDU, Nepal - The rocky road. Jeevan used to be a Maoist child soldier, but now he’s in charge of his former commander’s election campaign. We had been filming with Jeevan at an election rally, in the upper reaches of the Karnali valley, in western Nepal. As night fell, we descended from the mountain in single file, torches in hand. It took us less than an hour to go down the slopes that had taken us five hours to climb the day before, camera gear on our backs... We had to keep pace with the former soldiers. Halfway through our journey we stopped to catch our breath at a small cottage with red flags flying overhead. It was the home of a local farmer, a friend of the Maoists. There, as we drank cups of lemon tea, the “comrades”, who still go by their "party names", negotiated the price of a goat that we would eat for dinner by an open fire later that night. Soon after, we carried on in silence, as our eyes remained focused on the rocky road. It was hard not to think of those who had fallen here, fighting battles in this unforgiving terrain. Political patronage. Sapana joined the Maoist party at the age of 14. She was one of several young Nepali girls who fought for the Maoists during the war. More than a third of the guerrillas were women. But only a handful of these women stood
Photo: AFP in the elections (7 percent). Sapana was one of them. We followed her as she campaigned in several villages just before the elections. She had to constantly confront the harsh realities of Nepal today. Poverty, caste inequality, poor access to healthcare, water, electricity -- the problems that made Sapana take up arms against the state and the monarchy a decade ago, were still issues during this campaign. In one of the villages we visited, she arrived a little too late. The inhabitants were in the process of cutting up sheep they’ve been “offered” by a rival party. This is a system of political patronage that remains very strong in Nepal. But the dreamer -Sapna means "dream" in Nepali -- remained committed to her democratic mission. An assault rifle painted on the wall. With the elections approaching, we saw several roads being renovated -- a way for
those in power to show Nepali citizens that they are working for them. Are the elected officials the ones who will change Nepal? Arjun and his wife Purna didn’t think so. They are former Maoist soldiers who were devoted to the revolutionary cause. Today, they are a hard-working couple. On their farm everything works like clockwork. They provide employment to many while making sure they respect the environment. We were blown away by Arjun's ingenuity and ideas for innovation. But after their parents and son headed to bed, the eyes of Arjun and Purna hardened and they began to speak freely. They fought fiercely in the jungle for leaders who did not keep their promises after the war. In the small shack serving as a toilet at the bottom of the garden, an assault rifle is painted on the wall. In Nepal, the memory of the war persists, but few are nostalgic.
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Pakistan police arrest key suspect in child murder case
SLAMABAD (AFP) Pakistani police on Tuesday (Jan 23) arrested the key suspect accused of raping and murdering a young girl in a case that enraged the country and stoked fears a serial killer was preying on children in the city of Kasur. The killing of six-year-old Zainab Fatima Ameen - the 12th child found raped and murdered in Kasur within a 2km radius in the last two years - sparked riots, with thousands swarming police stations and setting fire to politicians' homes, accusing authorities of inaction. Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister for Punjab province where Kasur is located, announced the arrest of Imran Ali in a press conference late on Tuesday. "The killer of Zainab has been arrested, his name is Imran, he is 24 years old and a resident of Kasur, he is a serial killer," Sharif said. Sharif added that authorities conducted DNA testing of 1150 people and the DNA of Ali "100 per cent' matched the evidence collected from the crime scene. "Then in a polygraph test, the culprit confessed all of his wrong doings, we have the video recording," said Sharif. Police said preliminary findings found DNA connecting Ali to Zainab's murder. Investigators also found the same DNA on six of the 12 victims, according to medical officials. "Ali lived on a street next to Zainab," a police official in Ka-
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sur told AFP. Another senior police official said Ali had been arrested days after the killing but was later released by authorities after he denied involvement. "The accused was apprehended as a suspect in a doorto-door raids," said the officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "He fled the city and went to other cities for some days without knowing he was under observation," he added, confirming his confession. The murder of Zainab sparked fury across Pakistan with two people killed in riots in Kasur and the hashtag #JusticeForZainab trending on social media, as celebrities, opposition politicians and ordinary citizens demanded action. Television stations have repeatedly broadcast chilling CCTV footage purportedly
showing the young girl walking hand-in-hand with an unidentified male in what may have been her last moments. Following the murder of Zainab, police rounded up hundreds of people and conducted DNA tests on dozens more in the vicinity, but failed to yield conclusive results, spurring accusations of incompetence. A BBC report last week accused police of the extrajudicial killing of a man wrongfully accused in one of the earlier murder cases. Prior to the recent flood of cases, Kasur was already infamous for sexual abuse, after authorities uncovered a huge paedophilia ring in the city in 2015. At least 280 children were sexually abused on camera by men who later blackmailed their families, threatening to leak the footage.
SLAMABAD (Reuters) Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday (Jan 22) said his government will push ahead with plans to seize control of charities run by an Islamist designated a terrorist by Washington, and warned the United States not to weaken Pakistan. Mr Abbasi brushed off US President Donald Trump's recent tweet accusing Pakistan of "lies and deception" in its commitment to fighting terrorism, as he raised the prospect of charging the US to use Pakistan's airspace to resupply Nato troops in Afghanistan. Under pressure from the US and international institutions to crack down on terrorist financing, Pakistan last month drew up secret plans for a "takeover" of charities linked to Islamist leader Hafiz Saeed, who Washington blames for the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people. The US has labelled the charities Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) as "terrorist fronts" for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), or "Army of the Pure", a group Mr Saeed founded in 1987 and which Washington and India accuse of carrying out the Mumbai attacks. Mr Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the Mumbai attacks and says the charitable organisations he founded and controls have no ties with militants.
"Yes, the government will take over the charities which are sanctioned and not allowed to operate," Mr Abbasi, 59, told Reuters in an interview at the prime minister's chamber in Pakistan's Parliament in capital Islamabad.
Surveillance System Home Theater
The killing of six-year-old Zainab Fatima Ameen became the tipping point last week when her body was found on a rubbish heap near her home in the city of Kasur. (-Photo: AFP)
Pakistani PM says gov't 'committed' to seizing Islamist charities
But both he and the organisations have been sanctioned by the United Nations and his freedom in Pakistan, where he holds public rallies, has been a thorn in Islamabad's relations with India and the US.
Anywhere Security System www.a-oneinternational.com
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
Answering specific questions about the proposed takeover of JuD and FIF, Mr Abbasi said the civilian government had the backing of the powerful military, which effectively controls Pakistan's security and foreign policy. "Everybody is on board, everybody is on the same page, everybody is committed to implementation of UN sanctions," he said. He declined to set a deadline.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also warned the United States not to weaken Pakistan. (Photo: Reuters) JuD and FIF did not respond to Reuters requests for comment. The organisations have previously said they would take legal action if the government tried to take them over. Mr Saeed could not be reached for comment. There are concerns in Pakistan that the country may face financial sanctions over accusations of selective action against Islamist militant groups and financing. Pakistan is a base for myriad Islamist movements, and critics accuse Islamabad of only targeting militants who attack the state while leaving unscathed those who target neighbouring Afghanistan and arch-foe India. Pakistan denies those allegations. Mr Abbasi said Pakistan had made progress in curbing terrorist financing after meetings with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international body that warned Islamabad could be put on a watchlist for not doing enough to stop the practice. "We've had several meetings on that, and from what I've seen a large part of those actions have been taken," Mr Abbasi said. A UN Security Council team is due to visit Pakistan this month to review progress against UNdesignated "terrorist"groups, which includes LeT and others such as the Afghan Taliban-allied Haqqani network. Former petroleum minister Mr Abbasi said any sanctions against Pakistan would be counter-productive to the country's own battle against Islamist militants, which he called "the largest war on terror in the world". "Any constraints put on Pakistan, actually only serve to de-
grade our capability to fight the war against terror," he said. Relations between the US and its uneasy ally have frayed since Jan 1, when Mr Trump lashed out against what he called Pakistan's "lies and deceit" over its alleged support of Afghan Taleban militants battling US troops in Afghanistan. Washington has since suspended aid totalling about US$2 billion (S$2.6 billion). Mr Abbasi said Mr Trump's tweet was "unacceptable" in its tone and that Pakistan should not be "scapegoated" for US failures in Afghanistan. "That is something ... we cannot accept because nobody's suffered more than Pakistan," Mr Abbasi said, adding that tens of thousands of Pakistanis have died from militancy that has inflicted damage worth US$120 billion to the economy. US officials last year warned of tougher measures against Pakistan, including potentially withdrawing its "non-Nato ally" status or even designating it a state sponsor of terrorism. Mr Abbasi said much of the suspended aid was from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), a US Defence Department programme to reimburse allies for the costs of supporting counterterrorist and counter-insurgency operations. He said the US needed to respect Pakistan's contribution to the fight against Islamist militancy and raised the prospect of charging Washington for air transport flights that have been resupplying US-led troops and Afghan forces in landlocked Afghanistan. "If somebody wants to start quantifying expenses and aid, I think let's put this on the table also. Let's discuss that," Mr Abbasi said.
VOICE OF ASIA 10
Silicon Valley veteran to head mobile-age TV startup
ONDON | AFP - A British man "obsessed" with Muslims deliberately drove into a group outside a mosque in an act of terrorism intended to kill as many as possible, a court heard Monday.
Whitman will start in March as the top executive at NewTV, a "mobile-first media platform" being nurtured into existence at WndrCo.
Darren Osborne is accused of murdering 51-year-old Makram Ali and trying to kill others in the Finsbury Park area of north London on June 19 last year, after growing angry at recent terror attacks and child sexual exploitation scandals involving gangs of mainly Muslim men.
WndrCo was created by former Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, who will serve as chairman of Los Angeles-based NewTV, the company said in a statement.
Osborne, 48, from the Welsh capital Cardiff, denies the charges.
"NewTV is one of the most disruptive and timely ideas I've come across during my career," Whitman said in the statement.
Whitman added that she was "thrilled to be employee number 1." Whitman, one of the most prominent women in Silicon Valley and a onetime candidate for California governor, recently stepped down as chief executive of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. She kept a seat on the board at HPE, one of the firms created in the 2015 breakup of Hewlett Packard. Whitman joined HP in 2011. Whitman was credited with leading a "turnaround strategy" as the computer company strived to adapt to trends in using mobile devices and cloudbased services for personal and work computing. She also engineered a split between the HP enterprise unit, HPE, and the personal computer and printer business HP Inc., that became a household name but faced increasingly fierce competition. Whitman, 61, was the top
UK man 'obsessed' with Muslims hit group with van
AN FRANCISCO | AFP | Wednesday 1/24/2018 - - A startup created by a Hollywood powerhouse to tailor television for smartphone lifestyles announced Wednesday that its chief will be Silicon Valley veteran Meg Whitman.
"I share Jeffreyâ€™s vision that top-quality programing tailored to our mobile lifestyles is the next big touchpoint in entertainment."
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
Meg Whitman (File photo) executive at eBay from 1998 to 2008 and has been a key figure in the male-dominated tech industry. She is also listed among the wealthiest women in tech. She ran unsuccessfully as the Republican nominee for governor of California in 2010, losing to Jerry Brown. Katzenberg's vision for NewTV, which was said to be a working name for the company, involved high-quality shows custom-designed to be consumed in 'bite-sized' formats of 10 minutes or less.
"Imagine a mobile subscription platform, with library content at its foundation, to deliver content on demand to smartphones," Katzenberg, 67, said at a Wall Street Journal technology conference late last year. "Everything has to be redone from scratch. You cannot take an episode of Game of Thrones and chop it into six pieces; it would be terrible." Katzenberg said he has commitments from "major Hollywood players" to make content for the platform.
Opening the case against him in his trial at Woolwich Crown Court in southeast London, prosecutor Jonathan Rees said he deliberately drove a van at a group of Muslims who had been attending Ramadan prayers at local mosques. Rees said Osborne was trying to kill "as many of the group as possible". Osborne had been living with his partner Sarah Andrews and their four children in Cardiff, said Rees. Andrews said Osborne has an "unpredictable temperament", is a "loner and a functioning alcoholic" and suffers from depression, the prosecutor told the court.
CIA warns Kim Jong Un could use nukes as 'coercive' tool
ASHINGTON (CNN) - CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that the US intelligence community still considers North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to be a "rational actor" but that assessment does not mean he is only developing nuclear weapons as a means to
preserve his regime. "We do believe he would use these tool sets beyond selfpreservation," Pompeo said at the the American Enterprise Institute, adding that Kim is likely prepared to use both nuclear and conventional military forces for "coercive" purposes
with the intent of reunifying the Korean peninsula under his rule. While the CIA has long highlighted North Korea's rapid improvements in the capacity and rate of its intercontinental ballistic missile tests, Pompeo emphasized that Pyongyang's
Darren Osborne, a father of four from Cardiff, in Wales, was arrested after the attack near Finsbury Park Mosque early on June 19, 2017. (Photo: Facebook) She said Osborne "had become obsessed with Muslims" in the weeks leading up to the incident, Rees recounted. Rees told jurors that Andrews said the catalyst for his obsession appeared to have been a May 2017 television drama based on the true stories of victims of Rochdale grooming gangs, which comprised men of mainly Pakistani origin. The terror attacks at the Manchester Arena and London Bridge then seemed to her to "fuel the rage inside him", Rees said. - 'Act of extreme violence' The prosecutor read out a
progress should be measured by reliability rather than in timelines. "Kim Jong Un will not rest with one single successful test" that demonstrates he has the ability to hit a US city with a long-range nuclear weapon, Pompeo said. "His next move would be to develop an arsenal" or the capacity to deliver missiles from multiple firing points simultaneously, he added.
handwritten note found in the van with Osborne's fingerprints on it. It complained about "terrorists on our streets" and child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, a separate scandal not featured in the television drama. "Don't people get it? This is happening up and down our green and pleasant land," Rees said, reading the note, which contained derogatory statements aimed at Muslims. "Islam's ideology doesn't belong here and neither does sharia law." Rees told the jury Osborne seemed to feel that "insufficient was being said or done to counter terrorism and the grooming gangs comprising predominantly Muslim males. "He planned to make a public statement by killing Muslims." While Osborne has not been charged with a terrorist offence, the prosecution consider that the note and comments he made after his detention "establish that this act of extreme violence was, indeed, an act of terrorism", said Rees. The trial is expected to last two weeks.
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VOICE OF ASIA 11
Chinese national sentenced to prison for stealing software code
ASHINGTON | AFP | Friday 1/19/2018 - A Chinese national was sentenced to five years in prison on economic espionage charges in connection with the theft of proprietary software code from a US technology company, officials said Friday. A Justice Department statement announced the sentencing Thursday of 32-year-old Xu Jiaqiang, a software developer. The statement did not identify the company but Xu had earlier been identified as a former IBM employee in China. "As he previously admitted in federal court, Xu Jiaqiang stole high-tech trade secrets from a US employer, intending to benefit the Chinese government," said US Attorney Geoffrey Berman in New York, where the case was heard. Xu pleaded guilty in 2016 to charges related to the theft. Officials said his scheme was intended to benefit China's National Health and Family Planning Commission and that he also offered to sell the software code to undercover federal agents. According to court docu-
Xu Jiaqiang, a Chinese national sentenced to five years for economic espionage, has previously been identified as a former IBM employee in China (Photo: AFP) ments, Xu admitted he built a copy of the proprietary software code -- the essential kernel of software programs often held tightly by their owners -and took it with him when he left the company in 2014. He met two undercover agents in a hotel in White Plains, New York, in 2015, offering the software which was modified in an effort to conceal its origins. At the time, Xu told the agents he had also provided the same code to "multiple
specific customers," according to the Justice Department statement. "Xu not only stole high tech trade secrets from his US employer -- a federal crime -- he did so both for his own profit and intending to benefit the Chinese government," Assistant Attorney General Dana Boente said in the statement. Xu's LinkedIn profile showed he earned a degree in computer science from the University of Delaware and worked for IBM from 2010 to 2014 in Beijing.
Thai cops nab Pakistani passport forger with IS links
The arrest is the latest in a series of targeted operations against skilled passport forgers in Thailand as fears over security and immigration have compelled authorities to tackle a shadowy industry that has thrived in the kingdom for decades. Iqbal, who is believed to have operated from Thailand for more than 10 years, was charged with falsifying passports, visa seals and trafficking of fake passports a few days after police seized him as he pulled into his Bangkok condo on a motorbike. Earlier this week defence minister Prawit Wongsuwan linked Iqbal to a group selling passports to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. "The suspect has falsified visa and passports for the IS group with the attempt to make
Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said with India’s economy setting for a higher growth trajectory following economic reforms under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the country offered a vast economic potential and great economic space that Malaysian investors could capitalise on. “Traditionally, Malaysia and India has good relations but I believe the close relations between Modi and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is important in propelling the relations between both countries for mutual interest, he said at a press conference with Malaysian journalists here today.
The operation in a remote part of northern Myanmar came after the Tuesday arrests of four suspected traffickers who led police to a house in Shan State's Kutkai township where the haul was discovered, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement.
Some of the narcotics seized in Shan State. (Photo: Ministry of Home Affairs/Facebook)
"It's the biggest drug seizure with the largest amount (by value and quantity) in (our) history," a senior police officer from the anti-drug department told AFP on the condition of anonymity as the investigation was ongoing.
drugs stacked high on a table was published by the ministry.
nic armed groups use it to buy weapons.
Myanmar is the second largest opium producer in the world after Afghanistan, but levels of poppy cultivation have declined as demand for methamphetamine surges, leading to numerous multi-million dollar busts.
Trafficking routes have also reached into more well-known conflict areas in the west of the country where an army crackdown on Muslim Rohingya insurgents has caused more than 655,000 people from the stateless minority to flee to Bangladesh since August.
In addition to the meth tablets, the authorities found 502 kilograms (1,104 pounds) of heroin and 1,750 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, or ice, bringing the total estimated value to $54 million, or one-fifth of the amount of narcotics seized in the country in all of 2017. A picture of the packages of
Its lawless border areas are the hub for Asia's meth producers, who pump out "yaba" meth pills and ice, the more addictive crystallised version, across Southeast Asia. Drug trafficking has been increasing around the country, especially in war-torn northern Shan State as many eth-
Myanmar police seized more than $5 million worth of methamphetamine pills in the northern part of Rakhine state in October, two months after the army poured into the area for a new counteroffensive against Rohingya militants that has been described as ethnic cleansing.
Japan, Australia push for defence pact amid regional tension
Malcolm Turnbull and Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe are hoping to thrash out a security agreement on joint defence operations and exercises, with one eye also on China as it expands its naval ambitions.
Lt-Gen Suttipong Vongpint, points to a board with information about Diplomats are putting the finan apprehended passport forger during a press conference on Jan 19, ishing touches to the proposed 2018. (Photo: AFP/Roberto Schmidt) defence pact, which would be the first of its kind for Japan them travel from the Middle from South Asia, the Middle and would make Australia ToEast into Thailand," he said East and further afield. kyo's closest military partner before adding that the atImmigration police said after the United States. tempts were unsuccessful. Iqbal was affiliated with a The pact would reportedly But at Friday's press confershadowy Iranian master forger lay the ground for Japanese ence officials downplayed the known as 'The Doctor' who military exercises out of DarIS connections in favor of a sold 'Triple A' quality passports win, the northern Australian portrait of a businessman who to refugees, economic migrants city heavily bombed by Japan welcomed all clients. and criminals from a Bangkok in World War II. suburb for nearly 20 years. "Based on the investigation "The (military) agreement, he will sell to every group, Detectives hailed his 2016 when concluded, will be a not particularly to IS, he just arrest as a major breakthrough pillar of the Japan-Australia made them by orders," Suttiin the fight against passport security cooperation," said a pong said. crime - although other forgers Japanese diplomat ahead of the have taken his place. A typical fake passport talks. would sell for only a few hunTransient, vast and permisBoth capitals say boosting dred dollars, according to the sive, Bangkok has for long military cooperation is vital immigration bureau. provided sanctuary for people given the tense situation in the wanting to disappear or reThailand's role as a global region, with North Korea's misinvent. hub for fake passports came sile programme bringing the under renewed scrutiny folThailand welcomes visa-free lowing the 2014 disappeartravel to many countries and ance of Malaysian Airlines is Southeast Asia's best conMH370. nected transport hub, sharing long, ungovernable borders Two Iranians travelling on with Myanmar, Laos and CamEuropean passports bought bodia. and modified in Thailand were on board the ill-fated flight.
It is an industry dominated by highly skilled Iranians and Pakistanis serving customers
Mustapa is in India to accompany Najib who will attend the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit to be held on Jan 25-26. Commenting on Modi’s speech at the recently concluded World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mustapa said the Indian prime minister had made a strong pitch to investors and gave a strong overview of his commitment to bring India to the world. During the annual meeting, Modi among others said that the Indian government was removing the red tape and would roll out the red carpet to attract more investments into the country. On the Malaysia-India trade performance, Mustapa said 2017 was an outstanding year for bilateral trade between both countries as total trade grew 22.3% during the Janu-
Japan and Australia are seeking to bolster their military ties amid spiking tensions in the region (Photo: AFP/Brook Mitchell) world closer to nuclear conflict than at any time since the Cold War. China's steady expansion of its military and economic influence in Asia Pacific has also encouraged Japan and Australia to draw closer militarily. Ahead of his visit, Turnbull urged the international community to keep up the pressure on North Korea. "Japan and Australia are absolutely united in our resolve to ensure that the global community brings the strongest pressure to bear on North Korea ... to ensure that the regime comes to its senses and stops its threatening and reckless conduct," he said.
During his one-day visit, Turnbull will attend a special session of Japan's National Security Council and visit Tokyo train station, one of the world's busiest. "We have heard the prime minister is a big fan of public transport," the Japanese official said. Also on the agenda for Turnbull is a meeting with Japanese business leaders as well as Tokyo police officials to discuss general counter-terrorism efforts ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The two men will also discuss economic ties, with a joint push to eventually sign a vast Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.
The skies over Taiwan just got a little less friendly
That draws transnational criminals moving everything from people and rare wildlife to drugs, weapons and gems.
Malaysia-India economic ties to elevate to strategic level EW DELHI: The economic relations between Malaysia and India has surpassed the traditional stage following efforts by both countries to raise it to the strategic level.
ANGON, Myanmar | AFP - Myanmar has seized 30 million meth pills along with more than two tonnes of "ice" and heroin in a record bust, the government said Thursday, as drugs pour from labs in lawless border regions.
ANGKOK, Thailand | AFP - A Pakistani passport forger whose fakes may have been sold to Islamic State operatives has been arrested in Thailand, police said Friday, ending a career that helped people slip into Europe illegally.
"He has worked on faking documents for a long time using Thailand as his base," Commander of the Immigration Bureau Lt-Gen Suttipong Vongpint told reporters in Bangkok.
Myanmar makes record drug bust with 30 million meth pills
OKYO | AFP - The prime ministers of Japan and Australia toured a military training camp outside Tokyo Thursday (Jan 18), as the two countries seek to bolster defence ties in the face of the North Korean crisis.
by Aidan Jones
Mohammad Iqbal, 52, was arrested on January 14 in a Bangkok suburb in possession of Singaporean and Indian fake passports as well as plates and laminates to forge entry visas to France, Italy and Spain.
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
ary to November period. The total trade of US$13.12bil over the period has positioned India as Malaysia’s ninth largest trading partner, and nearing the target of US$$15bil by 2020. According to him, India which has a population of 1.3 billion people with some 200 million middle-class group, offered great economic space to Malaysian investors in various sectors, whereby currently the majority of Malaysian companies are involved in the construction and healthcare sector in the republic. “Based on forecast, India’s economy is projected to expand 7.5% annually over the next five years, and considering this potential, it is important for us to promote Malaysia in India. Foreign investors’ confidence to continue investing in Malaysia, he added. (-The Star)
by Ralph Jennings
fter nearly two years of polite complaining, Taiwan's government has taken action against pressure from political rival China by freezing applications from two major Chinese airlines, setting a stage for retaliation. China and Taiwan have been separately ruled since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s, but China claims sovereignty over the island and insists on eventual unification despite surveys showing most Taiwanese oppose it. Officials in Beijing resent Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen for rejecting their "one China" condition for dialogue. On Friday, Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration put on hold applications from China Eastern and Xiamen Air to add a combined 176 flights during the Lunar New Year holiday next month. The government in Taipei cited safety concerns over China's unilateral launch Jan. 4 of four new civilian aviation routes in the Taiwan Strait less than five miles from a median line dividing their air zones. "The Civil Aeronautics Administration has mentioned the risk many times to China Eastern and Xiamen Air," the
Taiwanese government's China policymaking council said in a statement late Friday. "The council respects and supports the Civil Aeronautics Administration plan for handling this matter and appeals to mainland China to hold technical negotiations and protect air safety." The aviation tiff crowned by Taiwan's first retaliatory action since Tsai took office in May 2016 threatens to elevate a spat between the two sides. Since Tsai began her term, China has exerted other pressure, analysts and officials in Taiwan say, by passing military aircraft near the island, scaling back tourism and asking Taipei's diplomatic allies to switch sides. On Wednesday, China passed an aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait, putting the island's Defense Ministry on alert. Tsai's government normally accuses China of frustrating relations and says it has expressed goodwill toward the other side. "Why now the timing? It's because after all these different moves, one after another, the Tsai Ing-wen government doesn't feel like it's got anything else that's efficient for fighting back," said Nathan
Liu, international affairs professor at Ming Chuan University in Taiwan. "This is really very serious." China condemned the delay in approving Lunar New Year flights as a slight to people who expect to travel during the holiday. Despite their hostilities, the two sides opened direct flights in 2008 to promote tourism and make it easier for at least 1 million Taiwanese people in mainland China to return home for the holiday. Chinese airlines planned to add 509 flights during a two-week New Year period. "This kind of deed that disregards relations among people on both sides, especially Taiwanese compatriots going home for the holidays, ignores people's welfare and hurts people's feelings," the Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a statement. "We give it our condemnation." China defends the opening of the Taiwan Strait civil aviation routes, particularly a northsouth route known as M503, as a way to ease congestion along the popular Hong KongShanghai flight path. About 180 flights use that route daily, up from 126 a day 10 years ago, air travel intelligence firm OAG says. (-LA Times)
VOICE OF ASIA 12
Wedding bells & dead bugs! by Daniel Hicks
Caroline’s wedding tips from Serena
ELBOURNE, Australia | AFP - Caroline Wozniacki could be forgiven for not having marriage on her mind when facing two match points at 5-1 down to little-known Jana Fett in the third set on Wednesday.
The IOC last month banned Russia from taking part at Pyeongchang over statesponsored doping, but clean Russian competitors will be allowed to participate under strict conditions, and under a neutral flag.
“I think once you’re engaged, you start looking at things,” she said. First stop was Serena Williams’ wedding to Alexis Ohanian just after the Dane got engaged to former NBA player David Lee in November. “You’re like, oh, I really like that, we’ll steal that inspiration for our own wedding,” she said of the 23-time Grand Slam winner’s ceremony in November. Any Danish traditions for your wedding? she was asked. “Honestly, if you ask about wedding traditions in general, I’m not the one to ask,” she replied. “I don’t really know much.”
Did they? Wedding bell rumours continue to swirl around Karl Stefanovic (left) and Jasmine Yarbrough (right) with Fairfax gossip columnist Andrew Hornery claiming on Saturday that the engagement was a ‘done deal’ (Photo: AFP) at 4:33 am. The early-round scheduling is largely dictated by the demands of local TV, but if anyone happened to stay up past midnight Down Under they would have been mightily disappointed.
Local darling Daria ‘Dasha’ Gavrilova’s match against Elise Mertens set a new record for the latest start time for an Australian Open match -- 11:59 pm.
Gavrilova somehow managed to blow a 5-0 lead in the first set to crash out 7-5, 6-3.
The women were left waiting almost until Thursday morning while third-seed Grigor Dimitrov edged past American qualifier Mackenzie McDonald in a five-set thriller 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 8-6.
If the players were having it tough on Thursday, one player at least spared a thought for the legions of insects that populate Melbourne Park in the heat of high summer.
Coincidentally Dimitrov set the previous record when his match a year ago against Richard Gasquet began at 11.58pm -- after having to wait for Gavrilova to finish a match against Timea Bacsinszky. The latest end to a match at any Grand Slam was at Melbourne Park in 2008 when Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis finished a five-setter
Olympics 2018 IOC cuts number of Russians eligible AUSANNE, Switzerland | AFP - The number of Russian athletes eligible to take part at next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang has been reduced from a pool of 500 to 389, the International Olympic Committee said on Friday.
But the Danish world number two said after her second round great escape that she is constantly trying to pick up tips for her impending nuptials.
- Too hot for a flutter for moths -
Especially as they were literally dropping like, er, flies. “I think it was too hot today and every time the bug come into the court they’re dead,” said Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei after pulling off the shock of the tournament in ousting third seed Garbine Muguruza. “Most of the time I’m picking out the dead body from the bug. It was too hot on court today,” she smiled.
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
“As of today, the original pre-registration pool of 500 athletes has already been reduced by 111 by the panel,” the IOC said in a statement, following the recommendation of an independent invitation
review panel. “For others in the remaining pool of athletes, pre-conditions such as further preGames tests and reanalysis from stored samples have been required,” it said. “Only if these requirements are met can the athletes be considered for invitation.” The IOC added that “more than 80 per cent of the athletes” in the pool did not take part at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, where the level of doping reached its peak. None of the 42 Russian athletes handed lifetime Olympic bans for doping at Sochi remain on the list, with 39 of them set for an appeals hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport next week in Geneva.
Karolyi Ranch, training center tainted by Nassar sex abuse
OS ANGELES | AFP | 1/19/2018 - The Karolyi Ranch, once famed as a breeding ground of champions, is now tainted by revelations of sexual abuse by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. USA Gymnastics announced on Thursday that it will no longer train its elite athletes at the facility tucked into the Sam Houston National Forest in Huntsville, Texas, not far from Houston. However the Indianapolis Star reported that the federation would, in fact, hold its World Team Trials at the venue in February, citing an email from an unnamed USA Gymnastics official obtained by the newspaper. “Please be aware that due to the close proximity and tim-
The famous center in Huntsville, Texas will no longer be used by the USA Gymnastics team to train their elite athletes for worldclass competition. ing, we still plan to host the World Team Trials event at the National Team Training Center in Huntsville, Texas, February 1-4, 2018,” the email to members of the federation’s acrobatic gymnastics program said, according to the Star. The Karolyi Ranch was the brainchild of Bela and Martha Karolyi, coaches who defected from Romania and helped shape US gymnastics teams into powerhouse squads able to dominate on the global stage. Bela Karolyi purchased the property that would evolve into the ranch in 1983, building cabins and a gymnasium.
By 1989, the facility spread over 2,000 acres. The ranch was named the US women’s national team training center in 2001, when Martha Karolyi was named the women’s national team coordinator. Monthly training camps were held for elite gymnasts from around the country at the center which features multiple gymnasiums, medical and rehabilitation facilities a dining hall, dance studio and living quarters for 300 athletes, coaches and administrators. There the Karolyis created a ruthless competitive environment. They have not been
The panel also recommended 51 coaches and 10 medical staff cannot be invited to the Olympics which run from February 9 to 25. “All our decisions were taken by consensus of the panel for each individual athlete, all of which were reviewed anonymously,” said chair panel and former French sports minister Valerie Fourneyron. “It was not easy to put this list together, but we wanted to be absolutely sure that only clean athletes from Russia can be invited to participate in the Olympic Winter Games.” The final list of Russian athletes invited to take part in South Korea will not be published until after a delegation registration meeting in Pyeongchang on January 27. Russia originally topped the medals table in Sochi before losing 13 of 33 medals after an independent report, commissioned by the World AntiDoping Agency, revealed evidence of widespread doping over several years. accused of being directly involved in Nassar’s criminal abuse, but at least one former national team gymnast named them in a lawsuit alleging the environment enabled Nassar. The US Olympic Committee designated the ranch a national team training center in 2011, with then USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny lauding the “team values that are created at the Ranch.” Penny resigned in March, under fire for the federation’s lack of response to accusations against Nassar. Simone Biles, who dazzled in winning gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, said in her Twitter post revealing abuse by Nassar at the ranch this week that it “breaks my heart” to think of returning there to train for the 2020 Games. Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman told ESPN this week that any continued use of the ranch as a national team center was further evidence of indifference on the part of USA Gymnastics.
VOICE OF ASIA 13
WTO gives US deadline to fix anti-China practices
eneva, Switzerland | AFP | 1/19/2018 - A World Trade Organization arbitrator on Friday gave Washington until August 22 to implement a prior ruling faulting the anti-dumping measures taken against Chinese products.
Arbitrator Simon Farbenbloom said in a report that it was "reasonable" to expect the United States to implement the ruling within 15 months. "The reasonable period of time for implementation will expire on 22 August 2018," he said. The case dates back to December 2013, when China filed a dispute against the United States, taking issue with the way Washington assesses whether exports have been "dumped" at unfairly low prices onto the US market. The use of anti-dumping duties are permitted under international trade rules as long as they adhere to strict conditions, and disputes over their use are often brought before the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body. In this specific case, China alleged that the United States, in violation of WTO rules, was continuing a practice known as "zeroing", which calculates the price of imports compared to the normal value in the United States to determine predatory pricing. In October 2016, a panel of WTO experts found largely in China's favour in the case, including on the issue of "zeroing". The United States, which has repeatedly lost cases before the WTO over its calculation method, said in June 2017 that it would implement the panel's recommendations, saying it would do so within a "reasonable" time frame. This prompted China to ask the WTO to appoint an arbitrator to set an end date. The 162-member Genevabased WTO aims to create a level playing field in global trade, although US President Donald Trump's trade envoys maintain the organisation has given unfair advantages to China at the expense of the United States.
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The US Trade Representative accuses China and Russia of continuing to violate the World Trade Organization's free trade rules and should not have been allowed to join the group (Photo: AFP)
Amazon Go is the no-money, no-line store of the future
AN FRANCISCO | AFP - The future is a year behind schedule, but it’s fascinating nonetheless My friends, we’re living in the future. Exhibit A: Amazon Go, the brand-new no-cash, no-creditcard, no-checkout convenience store in Seattle. It’s Amazon--only a brickand-mortar edition. So far, its customers have been limited to Amazon employees, but it’s opening to the public this morning: 2131 7th Avenue in Seattle, if you happen to be in town. Not too far from the Starbucks that just announced it won’t accept cash anymore. The concept is what Jeff Bezos calls “Just Walk Out.” Basically, you download an app, allow your every move to be tracked and analyzed in real time, pick up whatever you want from the inventory, and walk right out the door without anyone stopping you. Then your Amazon account gets charged. The company let reporters in to take a look before the official opening. One of them even tested the idea it might be shoplifter-proof. Here’s what they found. Gates at the front. With no checkout, there has to be a way to at least track who is coming and going. The solution looks kind of like a subway turnstile. You download the Amazon Go app, tap it on your way in, and consider yourself tracked. Literally hundreds of cam-
The store uses artificial intelligence and hundreds of cameras (many of them in clusters in the ceiling) to track every person who steps inside. Then they track what items you pick, and charges you for them. Put something back, and it’s removed from your bill. Convenience store fare, plus Whole Foods stuff. The store itself is about 1,800
KitKat Japan launches world's first naturally pink, fruity 'ruby' itKat Japan has become the first consumer brand to launch the Ruby chocolate characterized by its all-natural pink and berry flavors. Described as the fourth type of chocolate after milk, dark, and white varieties, the Ruby chocolate is made from the Ruby cocoa bean and is the fruit of years of research and development by scientists at the Zurich-based premium chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut. Despite its color -- some call it a convenient shade of Millennial pink -- and berryfruit taste, the Ruby chocolate contains no artificial color or flavoring, and is produced
through a unique processing that unlocks the flavor and color tone naturally present in the Ruby cacao bean. The result is a flavor profile described as a tension between berry-fruitiness and "luscious smoothness." At KitKat Chocolatory stores across Japan and South Korea, which sell specialty flavors, consumers will be among the first in the world to try the Ruby chocolate in the form of Kitkat Sublime Ruby bars.
square feet--not very big. It’s heavy on convenience store fare with a dose of Whole Foods. This first “test store” isn’t what scares other retailers, of course, it’s the idea of Amazon rolling out the concept to entire Whole Foods stores, or even bigger retail concepts.
out with alcoholic beverages. The store sells beer and wine, so there is an employee whose job is to sit in that section of the store and check IDs. Other employees stock shelves and help confused customers; there just isn’t anyone working a register or checkout.
The WTO's Dispute Settlement Body ruled last May that some of the US anti-dumping practices were inconsistent with international trade rules.
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
No shopping carts or baskets.
This is really the crux of the innovation. There is no checkout, no registers, no line, no swiping your card or coming up with change. You literally just walk out of the store with whatever you want. Minutes later, you get a receipt. If there’s a mistake, Amazon says you can fix it easily. A guard for the beer. With no checkout, there would be nobody to stop an underage customer from walking
No checkout means no need to show anybody all the things you’ve bought. So, you just carry everything around in whatever bag you’d take it home in (or back to work in, since Amazon anticipates this store will be mostly used by office workers during the day). No crime (maybe). If there’s no way to get into the store without using the app, that should make shoplifting a lot tougher. I suppose
The confectionery was created by Japanese patissier Yasumasa Takagi. Curious gourmands and chocoholics in other parts of the world, meanwhile, can also sample the innovative new chocolate by registering their email address on KitKat Japan's website. Chocolate sampler boxes include the Sublime Ruby, alongside milk, dark and white chocolates, so consumers can compare tasting notes. you could jump the turnstile, but you’d be on camera from hundreds of angles. A reporter for The New York Times said he tried to sneak a four-pack of soda out of the store (with Amazon’s permission), but the system caught it and charged him for it. Total impulse purchases. A lot of the pre-launch reviews say that shopping at Amazon Go feels less like going to a store and more like just raiding your own pantry. That means people potentially pay less attention to the cost of what they’re buying--and make more impulse purchases. Total Big Brother. I suppose we’re past this now, but literally your every move is tracked and on camera. What could possibly go wrong?
P&G profits drop as it fights teen abuse of laundry pods
EW YORK, | AFP | 1/23/2018 - Procter & Gamble reported lower quarterly earnings Tuesday due in part to costs from US tax reform, and said it was amplifying efforts to counter teen abuse of its Tide detergent. The consumer goods conglomerate said net income in the second quarter ending December 31 dropped 68 percent to $2.5 billion, but that was in part because it faced comparison against the year-ago period which boasted a large-one time gain from a divestiture.
strength in P&G’s beauty category, with Pantene and Head & Shoulders among the brands that sold well, along with premium skin-care offerings under Ski-II. Fabric care, which includes Tide, was another strong category, although sales trends have lately been upstaged by a disturbing trend of teens daring each other to eat or chew on single-load packets of the laundry soap and posting videos that have gone viral and led to a surge in poison center visits.
Revenues rose three percent - Dangerous teen fad to $17.4 billion in the latest P&G is working with social quarter. media companies to remove P&G suffered another weak the videos showing these acquarter in grooming, due to tivities, and has joined with continued weakness in shaving other organizations to spread products after the Gillette brand the word about the dangers of cut prices to compete with other the trend, said chief financial companies. Although volumes officer Jon Moeller. rose, the value of sales in this “Our standards and protocols category fell one percent from for safety are stringent, our lathe prior year. bels and warnings are clear, but There
broad-based they can’t prevent intentional abuse fueled by poor judgment and the desire for popularity among peers,” Moeller said on a conference call with reporters. “We’re going to have to work with the broader part of society to address that.” There were 86 “intentional exposures” by teens of the Tide product through the first three weeks of 2017 at US poison centers, the American Association of Poison Control Centers said Monday.
Tide laundry detergent is turning to social media to try to prevent teens from joining in a dangerous new fad of eating single-use pods containing the laundry soap (AFP Photo/JOE RAEDLE) “We cannot stress enough how dangerous this is to the health of individuals -- it can lead to seizure, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, coma, and even death,” said Stephen Kaminski, executive director of the association. Tide recently posted a video on Twitter with Super Bowlbound New England Patriots player Rob Gronkowski stressing that the pods are to be used only for washing clothes.
lower US tax rate as a result of the recently-passed tax reform. But other provisions on deferred taxes and tax repatriation forced a negative charge of $628 million during the quarter. Despite the hit in the justcompleted quarter, Moeller characterized the tax cut as “a very positive change” that would benefit P&G long-term.
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no,” the finger-wagging American football player said. “What the heck is going on people? Use Tide pods for washing, not eating.”
The earnings are the first since P&G appointed activist investor Nelson Peltz to the board after a long and bruising proxy battle. Moeller said Peltz, who joins the board on March 1, had yet to be assigned specific board committees.
P&G also said the just-completed quarter was boosted by a net $135 million due to the
P&G shares fell 1.4 percent to $90.60 in pre-market trading.
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VOICE OF ASIA 14
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Nuclear reactors the size of wastebaskets could power our Martian settlements
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
The high-tech skincare solutions set to shake up the industry this year
ere are some of the concepts that have made headlines this year.
Skincare giant Neutrogena is raising its digital game, with the introduction of its new ‘Neutrogena Skin360’ app and an accompanying ‘SkinScanner’. Powered by FitSkin, the SkinScanner is a tool that attaches to the user’s phone and analyzes the skin via 12 high-powered lights, a 30x magnification lens and highly-accurate sensors. An artist’s illustration of what a Kilopower power plant might look like on Mars. (Illustration: NASA) by Mary Beth Griggs
OUSTON - The cylinder of uranium is the size of a coffee can. Even with its shielding and detectors, the device is still no larger than a wastepaper basket. But this little prototype, soon to be tested in the Nevada desert, fuels a dream of an off-world future for humanity. The Kilopower project, a joint venture between NASA and the Department of Energy, is set to be the first nuclear fission reactor to reach space since the SNAP 10A project in the 1960s. A prototype is in testing, which makes it closer to launch than any of the other projects that popped up in the intervening decades. The Kilopower reactor is designed to operate at two sizes, a one kilowatt (1,000 watt) model and a 10 kilowatt model. “Your toaster uses about a kilowatt,” Pat McClure, Kilopower project lead at Los Alamos, says with a
laugh.“In your average household, you use about 5 KW on average a day, at any given time. Realize, though, that this is a lot of energy for NASA. At NASA they’re used to tens to hundreds of watts. So to have a kilowatt or 10 kilowatts is a lot of electricity.” NASA’s New Horizons mission has a maximum power of 240 watts, and the power source on the Curiosity rover only provides 120 watts of electricity. Both of these are socalled nuclear batteries, converting heat from naturally decaying plutonium directly into electricity. But plutonium is in short supply, and 1,000 or even 10,000 watts is a big step up from what those power sources could pack, even if it’s small compared to our power needs here on Earth. Unlike those nuclear batteries, Kilopower’s system creates a fission reaction, splitting uranium atoms to release energy that is then converted into electricity by attached engines.
Coca-Cola sets 100% recycling goal for 2030
The tool then provides data on the skin’s condition, covering everything from moisture levels to the depth of wrinkles, transmitting the information to the app, which gives the user different scores for various skin elements. As well as offering relevant skincare advice, the app also aims to educate users about how their skin changes over time, to allow them to adjust their beauty routines accordingly. Wearable sun protection L’Oréal is taking sun protection seriously this year, having just unveiled the first battery-free wearable electronic UV sensor. Dubbed ‘UV Sense’, the sensor is designed to be worn on the thumbnail for up to two weeks, where it measures individual UV exposure and can store up to three months of data. It can be reapplied to the nail with additional adhesives, is powered by the user’s mobile phone and comes with an accompanying mobile app that translates data covering the user’s exposure levels and encouraging sun-safety habits when necessary.
Technology is changing our lives -- and our beauty routines. If the latest innovations from the cosmetics industry are anything to go by, skincare is in for a major, high-tech overhaul in 2018. L’Oréal has also launched a limited-edition of its pioneering ‘My UV Patch’, the stretchable skin sensor it debuted in 2016. Both technologies will be available from its La RochePosay brand later this year. Second skin Earlier this month, Japanese beauty brand Shiseido announced the acquisition of an XPLTM ‘Second Skin’ technology from US startup Olivo Laboratories, which creates a “breathable, flexible and nearly invisible artificial skin.” According to the brand, the concept could potentially offer “a number of benefits previously unachievable through traditional cosmetics or even cosmetic surgery,” opening up possibilities for signifi-
cantly enhanced skincare and suncare solutions via “skin shape correction.” “Our transaction with Olivo is an exciting next step in our ongoing pursuit to create entirely new categories of beauty products at a global scale as a part of our VISION 2020, middle to long term strategy,” said Masahiko Uotani, President and CEO of Shiseido. “Olivo’s groundbreaking ‘Second Skin’ technology will join Shiseido’s already robust innovation portfolio, which includes the personalization technology startup MATCHCo, the artificial intelligence-empowered beauty company Giaran, and our own Shiseido-developed OPTUNE, a digital, personalized skincare platform.” Source: AFP Relaxnews
The rising cost of programming talent for start-ups by Krista Tuomi oday, even non-profits and small start-ups are finding that a digital presence is a necessity, and the required sophistication of this digital presence continues to accelerate. Unfortunately, the skills required to develop and maintain even a basic app, are in short supply — at least relative to the growing demand for them.
ASHINGTON | AFP Coca-Cola is launching a campaign to collect and recycle 100 percent of its packaging by 2030, part of a drive to reduce consumer waste globally, the company announced Friday.
The Georgia-based company, which markets more than 500 brands of sodas, juices, water and teas, said it also is working to make all of its packaging 100 percent recyclable worldwide. “The world has a packaging problem -- and, like all companies, we have a responsibility to help solve it,” Coca-Cola President and CEO James Quincey said in a statement. The iconic brand is calling the new campaign “World Without Waste,”
and through it “we are investing in our planet and our packaging to help make this problem a thing of the past,” he said. By 2030, the company said it will help reclaim one bottle or can for every one sold by the company and its independent bottlers, wholesalers and retailers. It also is working to reduce waste by using an average of 50 percent recycled content in its drinks bottles by 2030, developing plant-based resins and reducing the plastics used in packaging. As of 2016, Coca-Cola claimed its brands accounted for nearly two billion daily servings of soft drinks in more than 200 countries.
Instagram, Google+ join EU group fighting hate speech
ONDON - Facebook’s Instagram and the Google+ social network have agreed to join an EU-sponsored group of US internet giants to combat online extremism, EU officials said Friday. EU officials added that the existing members -- YouTube, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook -- have made progress toward meeting the code of conduct they signed up to in May 2016, promising to look at suspicious content within 24 hours and remove illegal material. “Instagram has decided to join forces in the fight against illegal online hate speech and will now also apply the code of conduct,” EU Justice and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Vera Jourova told reporters. “And this morning I also received the message that Google+ is joining,” she added. The EU joined forces with USbased internet firms nearly two years ago amid growing alarm in Europe over the use of social media as a recruiting tool, especially by the Islamic State group. Jourova said Friday she would continue having the industry regulate itself under the code of conduct after hailing progress among the internet
firms to remove threatening material. The commission said IT firms removed 70 percent of the illegal speech notified to them in the last few months, compared to 59 percent before May 2017, and 28 percent in the months after the code of conduct was launched. Jourova also said Facebook had hired 3,500 new staff to fight online hate speech on top of the 4,500 existing employees. She added that IT firms have also strengthened cooperation with civil society organisations, including training, to better detect and report suspected cases of hate speech. “Having these quite positive results of this third assessment, I will be stronger in promoting my view that we should continue the way of doing this through the code of conduct method,” Jourova said before meeting EU ministers of justice next week in Sofia. The leaders of EU states last year urged internet firms to do their utmost to combat online extremism or face the possibility of legislation if the industry self-regulation fails. The Commission is the executive and regulatory arm of the 28-nation EU. (-Yahoo! News/AFP)
This is due not only to the increase in the number of firms requiring software developers, but also to the growing complexity of the apps themselves (multiple uses, platforms etc.). All of this is compounded by the rise in malware and other cybersecurity threats as more commerce moves online. What are the numbers? Even simple app take significant time to develop. The hours required to develop an app range from 70-140 hours for Apple devices and 90-170 hours for Android. For game app that jumps to more than 420 hours for Apple and more than 550 hours for Android. According to 2015 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for computer programmers in the U.S. was $84,360. The top 25 percent earned an average of $103,570, and the bottom 25 percent $60,250. This does not account for stock options and other benefits that are typical at many current tech companies. The top hourly wage was in Washington state, with a figure of $57.23. Competition also results in high turnover, with the average stay of a programmer being about 11 months. All this translates into an average cost of app deployment of $270,000. Only 14 percent cost $50,000 or less, while 18 percent cost between $500,000 and $1 million. These costs have been the main driver of outsourcing app development. (Some companies turn to onshore individuals, firms, platforms that develop the app or software for them. Gigster, for example, builds apps for firms using its own collection of project managers and software developers. These still cost upward of $30,000, so it’s not necessarily the cheapest option.) And the outsourcing costs are accelerating. For example, the price of Ukraine Java programmers has risen from $300 a month in 2001 to $4,000 today, as have Indian outsourced talent. Regardless of costs, outsourcing is increasingly risky. It is harder to control for quality and monitor security risks — both the potential for malware and for commercial espionage — especially when the actual work may be farmed out to subcontractors. Cultural misunderstanding can lead to significant schedule slippages and low-quality code, and if this results in termination of the contract, entrepre-
neurs are left without internal knowledge or real ownership of their product. Outsourcing development can also lead to a knowledge disconnect between the outsourced development team and the entrepreneur. This disconnect may make it more difficult for the entrepreneur to properly support the product and rapidly respond to customer feedback. The impact of this lack of agility could have a significant impact on an entrepreneur’s ability to compete in certain markets. Boosting domestic supply is crucial, but in the short term proposed visa restrictions may worsen the situation. In the long term, more needs to be done to tailor university training to the marketplace, and supplement this with coding boot camps, certifications, apprenticeships and competitions. In the meantime, what can smaller firms and start-ups do? First, they should prioritize strategic planning about the evolution of their digital presence, comparing the costs and benefits of in-house versus outsourcing, perhaps even developing a hybrid model where conceptualization and architecture are run internally, while development and operations are outsourced. Early planning means a better programmer match, and potentially the ability to hire talent more willing to work for stock options and non-pecuniary /re-
sponsibilities. Second, if considering outsourcing, manage all risks. Develop complete specifications and detailed outsourcing contracts that include the right to do regular audits, 24-hour access to work, and perhaps performancebased incentives such as bugs per 100 lines of code. In general, outsourcing should only be considered with medium-sized companies, and for processes such as maintenance of legacy systems, data cleansing and release updates. Outsourcing should be ruled out for the early stages of development and/or projects that have short time frames and require feedback from users. If outsourcing must be used for new development, consider internally employing a lead software engineer who will be responsible for design, architecture and the general software framework, and outsourcing only discrete software components with well-defined inputs and outputs. In a way, this problematic environment can provide an asymmetric advantage. Since almost all firms will be facing it, careful budgeting and planning can be a way to outsmart competitors with less foresight. Krista Tuomi is a professor in International Economic Policy at American University.
VW invests in self-driving tech
RANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany | AFP - The world’s biggest carmaker Volkswagen said Friday it would stuff even more technology into the next generation of its top-selling Golf model, bringing so-called “connected driving” deeper into the mainstream. Slated for release in 2019, the updated cars will be constantly connected to the internet, with greater self-driving capabilities and “more software than ever before on board,” VW compact cars chief Karlheinz Hell said in a statement.
Existing Golf models have a range of driver assistance features, including parking aids, staying in lane and maintaining safe distance in traffic jams and emergency braking. But they remain far removed from visions of completely hands-free self-driving cars.Some 34 million people have bought a Golf, the successor to the iconic Beetle, since the first model rolled off production lines in 1974, VW says, and the range accounted for almost one in 10 of the vehicles sold by the VW group in 2016.
VOICE OF ASIA 15
LIFESTYLE & FASHION
Marriage can make you crazy, but it deters dementia too: Study
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
Asking our elderly parents to immigrate – for love, or free domestic work? by Carol Tanjutco
he grass is not always greener in the land of milk and honey. This is what many seniors sooner or later realize after their children working in the United States have persuaded them to immigrate and live them. “I wanted to go home, but I pity my grandchild,” said one grandma who has been doing the household chores for her daughter for the past seven years gratis et amore. The sad plight of parents of Filipinos in the United States resonates with other seniors who had the opportunity to work and have retired with pension funds and social security benefits, unlike their “enslaved” counterparts. Marriage may test one’s sanity, but living into old age with a partner also lowers the risk of dementia, researchers said. (Photo: ST File)
ARIS (AFP) - Marriage may test one’s sanity, but living into old age with a partner also lowers the risk of dementia, researchers said Wednesday. In a study covering more than 800,000 people, they found that walking through life alone increased the chances of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia by 40 percent. Being widowed after extended co-habitation also took a toll, boosting the odds of mental slippage by about 20 per cent. “There were fairly well established health benefits of marriage, so we did expect there to be a higher risk in unmarried people,” said lead author Andrew Sommerlad, a psychiatrist and research fellow at University College London. “But we were surprised by the strength of our findings,” he told Agence France-Presse. Couples living together without having formally tied the knot were still considered as being married for the purposes of the study, he added. Interestingly, elderly people who had divorced were no more likely to suffer from dementia that married couples. Across the different categories, there was also no detectable difference between men and women in the rates of mental decline. To explore the links between marriage and dementia, Sommerlad and colleagues reviewed data from 15 earlier studies covering 812,000 peo-
ple from a dozen countries. The vast majority were from Sweden, but there were enough from other nations - including France, Germany, China, Japan, the United States and Brazil - to confirm surprisingly little variation across cultures. The finding were detailed in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. But even if the results were robust, the question remained: why? Because the study was observational rather than based on a controlled experiment - something scientists can do with rats or mice but not humans no clear conclusions could be drawn as to cause and effect. Still, the evidence suggests at least three mutually compatible explanations. “We don’t think it is marriage itself which reduces the risk, but rather the lifestyle factors that accompany living together with a partner,” Sommerlad explained. “These include a more healthy lifestyle - taking better care of physical health, diet, exercise - but also the social stimulation that comes with having a partner to talk to.” Earlier research has shown that people who live alone die younger, succumb more quickly when they get cancer, and are generally in poorer health. But the “dementia gap” between married folk and singletons is even wider than the gap in mortality, suggesting that living with someone has direct benefits for the brain too.
A second factor may be the extreme stress that comes with losing a life-long partner, which measurably impacts neurons in the hippocampus, the main locus of memory, learning and emotion. “This theory could explain the increased dementia risk for widowed, but not divorced, people,” the study said. Finally, there is the possibility that some people who have not married - especially in societies where that is the overwhelming norm - may have had cognitive challenges to begin with. A marked difference in rates of dementia among loners of the same age but different generations bears this out. “Single people born during the first quarter of the 20th century had a 40 per cent higher risk, whereas people of equivalent age who were born more recently have only a 24 per cent higher risk,” Sommerlad said.
A retired professor recounted how one poor senior offered to cook for a fee so that she could have some spending money. Immigrants who toil a for a basic wage, perhaps married to a partner with an unstable job, may find themselves unable to foot all the household bills and without the means to care for their own children. The easiest solution is to get their parents to the U.S. for a promised good life, to see the beautiful America. That is hardly the case. As many aging parents soon after realize, they are confined to a small house, unable to go anywhere because they are not licensed to drive, have no money to spend for eating out or for recreation, except perhaps going to the nearest senior center,
Lagerfeld, 84, sporting a wispy white beard which is likely to make at least as many headlines as his clothes, took
Lagerfeld’s beard is the designer’s first radical change of image in nearly two decades since he lost 41 kilos (90 pounds) in order to squeeze into Hedi Slimane’s skinny black jeans. Much to the horror of many style watchers, the “Kaiser” wore it rather unkempt, with Harper’s Bazaar saying it made him look “surprisingly (intentionally, we’re sure) scruffy”. Lagerfeld’s friend, legend-
Grandparents usually take care of their grandchildren, do all the cleaning, laundry, cooking and may be tasked to pick up their grandchildren from school a few blocks away. In wintertime, the task becomes even more challenging as the weather falls to a chilling, if not freezing, temperature. Some are luckier than others, because they get paid by their children. The hardest part is when a senior doesn’t only toil for free but is also not treated with respect. Filipino communities are common in big states like California and New York. California offers a fair weather unlike
There is indeed a fine line between voluntary servitude borne out of love of a grandchild and being compelled to do household chores because nobody else can. It is a point when one may ask: Is this elder abuse? Is the elder person subjected to economic distress or fear of some form? Our cultural element of shame is so pervasive it prevents us from knowing the truth. It is therefore your own lookout to spot the telling signs. (-Inquirer)
Researchers must focus on how to translate these findings into strategies for preventing dementia, commented Christopher Chen of National University Singapore and Vincent Mok from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “As sexual activity has been found to associate with better cognitive function - the frequency of which may be reduced in single or widowed individuals - this could be another plausible mechanism,” they wrote in the same journal.
A model presents a creation by German designer Karl Lagerfeld as part of his Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2018 fashion collection for fashion house Chanel in Paris January 23, 2018. (Photo: Reuters}
hanel designer Karl Lagerfeld dived into the brand’s archives for his pretty-in-pink haute couture Paris show Tuesday, giving its founder Coco Chanel’s classics an intensely girly twist. Chanel liberated women from their Edwardian corsets a century ago and recut men’s tweeds and trousers to make the modern women’s wardrobe.
Lucky for those who qualify for government benefits like Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps) and SSI; but part of that is often spent for the entire family.
frigid New York winter; but California has very few mass transit systems unlike New York that affords seniors the freedom to move around without cars. For those with successful sons and daughters may be able to provide their parents with a private place, means of transportation and can leave them alone to enjoy their SSI benefits.
David Beckham launches debut men’s grooming brand
The rise of Brand Beckham! The former England captain appears to have followed his wife’s footsteps with his latest business venture with the launch of his grooming brand, House 99.
ith one foot already in the fashion world, the former soccer star is branching out into cosmetics with the launch of his debut men’s grooming brand, House 99. Developed in partnership with L’Oréal Luxe, this new product line is inspired by David Beckham’s iconic style, combined with British barbershop culture and a certain expertise in crafting products for hair, body, beard and even tattoos.
ary Vogue critic Suzy Menkes, jumped to his defence, however. “So Karl has an exciting new facial accessory. But TRAGICALLY I cannot copy it,” she wrote on Instagram. There was nothing shabby about his uber-girly collection, however, which pushed pretty till it squeaked. Yet amid all the frills and feathers, the bride -- the figure that traditionally closes Paris haute couture shows -- wore trousers. Lagerfeld put Dutch model Luna Bijl in a white tuxedo
ham, leading to the creation of a skincare range. Almost two years later, the former England midfielder is back working with L’Oréal Luxe, this time to design his own men’s grooming brand. This new global brand, called “House 99,” seeks to meet men’s needs while upgrading their daily grooming routine (hair, body, beard, face, tattoos). With this debut range, David Beckham hopes to provide the tools men need to create new styles and experiment with their look.
of David Beckham, the House 99 brand is a perfect meeting of British barbershop culture and the expertise of L’Oréal Luxe laboratories. This gives rise to a range of 21 products (including beard oil, beard and hair balm, hair pomade, tattoo moisturizer, face moisturizer) with formulations based on quinoa and spirulina.
Inspired by the various styles
The House 99 range will launch February 1 in the UK, exclusively at Harvey Nichols, before rolling out to other retailers in the UK and 19 countries worldwide from March 1, 2018. Pricing is yet to be announced. (-Vogue)
with a long white feathered trailing cape.
Grand Palais spectaculars, the flower theme was clear enough.
the designer, walked with Cara Taylor, who is still only 15.
The designer’s nine-year-old godson, Hudson Kroenig, scattered rose petals at her feet.
As well as Sevillian black mesh flower fascinators, bouquets of tiny embroidered flowers lit up a large part of the collection that glinted with crystals and acres of fine embroidery.
Lagerfeld defended his choice of so young a model when Taylor first walked for him in Chanel’s ready-to-wear collection in March, telling AFP that “Kate Moss and Naomi (Campbell) all started at 12, 13, 14.”
Back in 2016, the L’Oréal group announced a major collaboration between its Biotherm brand and David Beck-
her classic silhouettes and turned the femininity dial up to sugar plum fairy.
if it is within walking distance and if their time permits.
This could be due to a diminishing difference in the lifestyles between married and unmarried people, he added.
Chanel goes girly with pretty-in-pink walk in the park
by Fiachra Gibbons
Grandparents with grandchild. (Image:Inquirer)
While rivals Dior make much of their feminist credentials these days under Maria Grazia Chiuri, Lagerfeld may have felt the need to signal that Chanel women are no pushovers either. - Teenage American stars As well as closing the show, rising star Bijl, 19, also led out the run of pink and green beaded tweed suits that opened it. They were matched with similarly beaded mid-calf boots with transparent wedge heels, with some models wearing edged leather gloves in a very Lagerfeld finishing touch. If the set of a French formal garden complete with fountain was decidedly less overwhelming than Lagerfeld’s usual
One bubble-gum pink flower-fringed bustier dress with matching pink crystal-encrusted boots skirted Barbiedom, but the veteran designer just about got away with it.
Taylor, a 1.8-metre (5-foot11) volleyball player from Alabama, has been modelling since last summer, when she was spotted on Instagram.
While the front row was less starry than of late -- BritishKosovan pop star Rita Ora rubbed shoulders with Russian actress and “Valerian” star Sasha Luss -- Lagerfeld’s models included two of the catwalk’s new American teenager stars.
The haute couture shows -which are unique to the French capital -- are the creme de la creme of fashion with sometimes thousands of hours going into the handmade dresses that can be afforded only by the richest women on the planet.
Kaia Gerber, 16, daughter of 1990s supermodel Cindy Crawford, who is working on a capsule collection of West Coast-inspired designs with
Fellow Parisian Stephane Rolland went for a very pale and silky classicism in floorlength gowns. (-AFP)
VOICE OF ASIA 16
Adulthood now begins at 24, say scientists as young people delay work, marriage and families
Young women are using A.D.H.D. drugs in greater numbers by Benedict Carey
by Sarah Knapton
he percentage of young adult women who filled prescriptions for drugs used to treat attention deficit disorder has increased more than fivefold since 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday.
ONDON - Adulthood does not begin until 24, scientists have concluded because young people are continuing their education for longer and delaying marriage and parenthood. The traditional definition for adolescence is currently between and the ages of 10 and 19, which marked the beginnings of puberty and the perceived end of biological growth.
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
The new study suggests that the increase has happened among adults, too. Recent changes in diagnostic guidelines have extended the criteria to adults who have experienced inattentiveness and restlessness since childhood. Psychiatrists generally accept
But, writing in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, scientists from the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne argue the timings needs to be changed. They point to the fact that the brain continues to mature beyond the age of 20, and many people’s wisdom teeth do not come through until the age of 25. And people are also getting married and having children later, with the average man entering their first marriage aged 32.5 and women 30.6, an increase of eight years since the 1970s. Lead author Prof Susan Sawyer, said delays in young people leaving education, settling down and becoming parents, showed adolescence was now longer and argued that policies that support youth should be extended beyond teenage years. Countries such as New Zealand already treat children who have been in care as vulnerable until they are 25, allowing them the same rights as
Young people are still adolescents until they are 24, say researchers (Photo: The Telegraph) youngsters “Age definitions are always arbitrary,” she said, but “our current definition of adolescence is overly restricted.” “The ages of 10-24 years are a better fit with the development of adolescents nowadays.” However other academics argued that just because young people were unmarried or still in education did not mean they were not fully functioning adults. But Dr Jan Macvarish, a parenting sociologist at the University of Kent,
told the BBC: “There is nothing inevitably infantilising about spending your early 20s in higher education or experimenting in the world of work. “Society should maintain the highest possible expectations of the next generation.” Prof Sawyer also admits there could be downsides to he plan, particularly if youngsters were no longer seen as responsible or capable of full engagement in society until they were 24. “Such a view would risk disenfranchising adolescents and undermines their rights to fully participate in society,” she added. (-The Telegraph)
K-pop star Jonghyun’s posthumous album released on Jan 23
Jonghyun, the lead singer of top South Korean boy band SHINee, committed suicide on Dec 18, shocking fans across the world, including in Singapore.
Profits from the album will go to Jonghyun’s mother and those in need, K-pop news outlet Allkpop reported SM Entertainment as saying.
The most commonly used A.D.H.D. drugs among women were Adderall, Vyvanse and Ritalin, the study found. more than anyone else and communicated through music,” it added.
The physical album was released on Jan 24. (-Source: CNA/ad)
Lupita Nyong’o Pens a Book to Inspire Children of Color
OS ANGELES, Jan 19 (PTI) Actor Lupita Nyong’o has written a children’s book and she wishes it inspires people of colour “to walk with joy in their own skin”.
The report broke down prescription rates by region, finding the largest increases in Southern and Western states. Overall rates were sharply higher in the United States, compared with previous estimates in the United Kingdom or Canada. This difference “might reflect higher A.D.H.D. medication prescribing in the United States or differences in the types of A.D.H.D. medications” used in these countries, the authors concluded. The findings come as rising prescription rates for psychiatric drugs are receiving increasing scrutiny.
The Oscar-winning actor shared the news on her Instagram page and said the book’s name is “Sulwe” which has been inspired by her own childhood as a black teenager.
For decades, experts have questioned the increase in A.D.H.D. diagnoses among children and adolescents. The rates far outstrip estimated prevalence of the disorder, and the first-line treatment is almost always a prescription for stimulant medication.
“I am pleased to reveal that I have written a children’s book! It’s called ‘Sulwe’! Sulwe is a dark skinned girl who goes on a starry-eyed adventure, and awakens with a reimagined sense of beauty,” Nyong’o tweeted while sharing a screenshot of her interview with the New York Times.
The actor said the book will be released in January next year and it is aimed at children between the age
Government researchers tracked prescriptions for drugs to treat A.D.H.D., like Adderall and Vyvanse, among women aged 15 to 44 between 2003 and 2015. The sample included more than 4 million women per year, on average, all of whom had private insurance with drug coverage.
Between 3 percent and 6 percent of adult women in various age groups got these prescriptions in 2015, the researchers found, compared with 1 percent or less in 2003. The rate rose among women ages 20 to 24, for example, to 5.5 percent in 2015 from 1 percent in 2003.
Jonghyun’s album Poet | Artist was released online on Jan 23.
“She encounters lessons that we learn as children and spend our lives unlearning. This is a story for little ones, but no matter the age I hope it serves as an inspiration for everyone to walk with joy in their own skin,” she added.
The new report raises questions about the increasing use of a diagnosis that once was reserved for children and adolescents.
A.D.H.D. prescription rates increased sharply in all age groups during that period, but most steeply among young adult women: by 700 percent among women aged 25 to 29, and by 560 percent among women aged 30 to 34.
EOUL: A posthumous album by the late K-pop star Kim Jong-hyun - popularly known as Jonghyun - was released online on Jan 23, announced SM Entertainment on Friday (Jan 19).
“We hope that Jonghyun’s heart is received by you all as he loved music
Women are filling prescriptions for A.D.H.D. drugs like Adderall in growing numbers, government researchers report. The finding raises questions about an uptick in diagnoses once reserved only for children and adolescents. (Credit Elizabeth D. Herman for The New York Times) longstanding A.D.H.D. as a valid, treatable disorder in adults. But many also acknowledge that these drugs have wide appeal as performance-enhancers: among students as study aids, and among adults seeking an edge in their work. Yet prevalence studies, using strict criteria, estimate that around 3 percent of adult women overall have A.D.H.D., well under the 5 percent and higher rates recorded in some age groups by the C.D.C. The new study is also relevant to more recently proposed diagnosis: adult-onset A.D.H.D., in which symptoms emerge out of blue, well after adolescence. Experts fiercely debate whether this diagnosis is valid, and a recent study concluded that the disorder did not exist. “If adult symptoms are being reported by patients, it shouldn’t necessarily be immediately classified as A.D.H.D.,” said Margaret Sibley, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral health at Florida International University, the lead author of that study. “A more careful evaluation often finds that there’s something else causing the problems, like depression, or drug use — which is what we found.” The C.D.C. report looked only at numbers of prescriptions and not at the types of diagnoses to justify them. The study also raises concerns specific to women, according to Coleen Boyle, director of the C.D.C.’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “Half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and women may be taking prescription medicine early in pregnancy before they know they are pregnant,” Dr. Boyle said in a prepared statement. “Early pregnancy is a critical time for the developing baby. We need to better understand the safest ways to treat A.D.H.D. before and during pregnancy.” (-New York Times)
School removes wall from girls’ toilets, parents upset New author Lupita Nyong’o (Photo: PTI) group five to seven. Talking to NYT, Nyong’o shared further details of the book and the character of the protagonist. “Sulwe” means “star” in Nyong’o’s native language, Luo and the book fol-
lows the story of the five-year-old girl growing up in Kenya. She also recalled her struggles during her childhood while trying to embrace her skin colour. She said she was continuously compared to her fairerskinned sister.
Read other articles, your community breaking news and much more!
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ONDON - Parents are keeping their children at home in protest against a local school’s decision to remove the front wall of a girls’ toilet block, which they say is making pupils feel “scared and unsafe”.
“My sister and neighbours are doing the same with their daughters,” Ms Hodgson Jones added.
A privacy row has erupted between St Mary’s College in Wallasey and parents after the exterior wall was removed to make the toilets open plan.
“My daughter told me about it on Thursday but I thought she was making a big deal over nothing until I saw it for myself.
Pictures sent to The Independent show that the toilet cubicle doors are now exposed to an open corridor, and are in clear sight of at least one classroom and a CCTV camera.
“We tried to talk to my son’s head of year about it but he said he couldn’t comment and that we would have to make an appointment with the head teacher on Monday, which we will be doing.
It is believed that the decision has been made by the school in a bid to stop smoking, bullying and truancy, with the new layout meaning pupils can no longer hide in between lessons. Tara Hodgson Jones, who has a daughter in year 11 and a son in year 9 at the school, saw the toilets for herself when she attended a parent’s evening at the school on Friday. She told The Independent that she is keeping her daughter at home as she does not feel safe with the new toilet layout.
“Apparently they are starting on the boys’ toilets next week, so I’ll be keeping my son off too if they do the same.
“If the problem is bullying, smoking and skipping class they could have approached it in so many other ways. “My daughter was bullied in year 10 and that was in the classroom, the yard and the lunch hall, so thinking that taking a toilet wall down will stop it is stupid. “As for smoking, put alarms in. As for skipping class, use frosted glass so teachers can see shapes when they walk past. (-The Independent)
VOICE OF ASIA 17
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
BOLLYWOOD - HOLLYWOOD Section 2
The Bollywood film breaking the taboo around periods
Netanyahu’s Bollywood Selfie with Amitabh Bachchan and other stars
By Alice Hutton
ONDON, AFP - The world’s first feature film on periods is set to be released in the UK. Can a comedy help break the taboo of female menstruation? It’s a scene that captures the 20year struggle by a poor school dropout from southern India to buy sanitary pads for his wife - and ended up changing the lives of millions of women around the world. Arunachalam Muruganantham played by Bollywood star Akshay Kumar - cycles through his local village waving cheerfully. Unbeknown to his neighbours, he is testing the effectiveness of his new invention by wearing pink pants and a home-made sanitary pad which is slowly filling with goat’s blood from a football bladder tied around his waist.
Bollywood star Akshay Kumar plays Arunachalam Muruganantham
PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s selfie with Big B and others. (Image courtesy: Benjamin Netanyahu )
EW DELHI: Amitabh Bachchan, Karan Johar and other Bollywood stars met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who attended the Shalom Bollywood event in Mumbai yesterday. Not only did PM Netanyahu attended the muchanticipated Bollywood event last night but he also called all the Bollywood stars to join together for a selfie which was shared by him on his official Twitter handle.
But behind the laughter of the comedy- Pad Man - is the true story of how Muruganantham invented a low-cost machine that revolutionized women’s healthcare. It started in 1998 when newly married Muruganantham noticed his wife Shanti hiding something. “It was a nasty rag cloth - she was going to use it during her menstruation. I wouldn’t even use it to clean my vehicle,” he tellsthe BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Programme. “So I decided to gift her a sanitary pad. The shopkeeper gave it to me as a smuggled product. Out of curiosity I opened the packet. The cotton product was sold for four rupees (4p) - 40 times what it cost to make.” Muruganantham, now 55, threw himself into researching a cheaper alternative. Period poverty leaves an estimated 300 million women in India without access to sanitary products - making them vulnerable to disease, infertility and even death. He began analysing pads from Western companies, canvassing opinions and used napkins - of female medical students and, finally, tested his inventions out himself. “I wanted volunteers to try my new pads and give me feedback - but not even my wife was ready.” It all came at a cost. “My wife left, mother left. The whole village thought I had a sexual disease,” he explains. But he persevered, and in 2006 launched not-for-profit Jayaashree Industries, which supplies machines making Muruganantham’s sanitary pads at cost-price to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and women’s organisations across India. Today it reaches an estimated 40 million Indian women, and there are plans to take the machines to Kenya, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Bangladesh. Twinkle Khanna, Pad Man’s coproducer, spotted his story online and says she was immediately gripped by the magnitude of what he had achieved. “I thought this was a remarkable story which really needed to reach every household in India, and globally, because I think the taboo around menstruation is not just in India, it’s a global problem.” Khanna’s husband, actor Akshay Kumar, immediately signed on to play Muruganantham. The 50-year-old, who is a popular and powerful role model in India, has a history of political message projects and is calling for sanitary pads to be made free for all women in India. “Tackling the taboo is very important to me, because I am only now learning about the extent of the crises that countries around the world have been suffering with,” he tells the pro-
Akshay Kuma, Twinkle Khanna and Arunachalam Muruganantham on the set of Pad Man (Photo: AFP) gramme. “I’m ashamed to say how little of all this I knew, which is why this issue has become so close to my heart. “The conversation is starting though - I’ve seen men talking about pads on my social media account. “After Pad Man starts the conversation, it will be up to audiences to take it forward and help to end all of the taboos around periods worldwide.” But period poverty is not only a problem affecting women in India. In the UK, one in 10 disadvantaged girls below the age of 21 cannot afford sanitary products, according to charity Plan International UK. Manjit Gill, who co-runs London based charity Binti - which campaigns against period poverty - says the film is a watershed moment for “smashing shame around periods”. “We have worked with Muruganantham for a few years now - we use one of his machines in India - and he really does have a halo,” she says. “The conversation has definitely been started around this film - the words ‘pad’ and ‘periods’ have been used more in the last month than in the last 10 years.” The potentially revolutionary nature of Pad Man lies not only in how it tackles a subject that is still considered unmentionable in many countries, but also in the vote of confidence from distributors Sony Pictures in giving a foreign language film about periods a worldwide release as a major motion picture. The real ‘Pad Man’, who now has a daughter with his wife after she came back to him, feels “happy” about seeing his life on the big screen but prefers to throw a spotlight on the women taking the movement forward. Despite his success, he owns no shares in his company and earns roughly 70,000 Rupees (£790) a month - enough for him to cover the storage and transportation for the raw material he imports from the US and Germany.
“A school drop-out, to a rural innovator, to now [there being] a movie, shows the power of dreams,” Muruganantham says. “My vision is to make India into a 100% sanitary-pad using country.
Praising Amitabh Bachchan, PM Netanyahu said, “I just found out that Amitabh Bachchan had 30 million more followers than I do.” “I looked at other stars as well and I realised that you guys are a big thing. And the reason for that is that the world loves Bollywood, Israel loves Bollywood and I love Bollywood. We are putting our money where our mouth is.” PM Netanyahu signed off the Shalom Bollywood event with “Jai Hind, Jai Maharashtra, Jai Israel”.
EW YORK - AFP - Dismissed as “fiction” by the Versace family and met with mixed reviews, a controversial new drama depicting the 1997 murder of Gianni Versace makes its US television debut Wednesday. “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” is the second edition of a crime story franchise whose first iteration won rave reviews and a bevy of awards for revisiting the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder trial. The latest nine-episode series begins airing on television network FX late Wednesday, before being released on demand in Europe later this week.
This file photo taken on January 18, 1997 shows Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace (C) walking with his models at the Ritz Hotel in Paris at the end of the presentation of his Spring/Summer Haute Couture collections. The Versace family on January 10, 2018 slammed a new television series on the murder of fashion giant Gianni Versace, saying
it was based on nothing more than (AFP/Pierre Verdy) Like “The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” which won two Golden Globes But publicity in the run-up to its reand nine Emmy Awards, lease has been dominated by the Ver“The Assassination of Gianni Versace family, who released an angry sace” is a 1990s celebrity crime stostatement from their global fashion ry, uniting fame and wealth with the emporium in Milan on January 10. darker underbelly of human nature.
Like “The People,” which spun a larger narrative of racial tension between black and white Americans, “The Assassination” paints a wider portrait of gay life in America in the 1990s, prejudice, hostility and bigotry.
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“Will my Bollywood selfie beat @ TheEllenShow Hollywood selfie at the Oscars? @SrBachchan @juniorbachchan @rajcheerfull @imbhandarkar @vivek_oberoi,” PM Benjamin Ne-
At the Shalom event, PM Netanyahu spoke about Bollywood and said, “We believe in you. We believe in Bollywood, we believe in India.” He added: “I want to make a pledge tonight, if you guys come and you guys need more, we will put in more. We want Bollywood in Israel.”
by Thomas Urbain
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LOCATED NEXT TO BOLLYWOOD CHAT
“I want all the Bollywood celebrities, producers and stars to join together for a selfie. Let a few hundred million people see the friendship,” Mr Netanyahu said.
Karan Johar, who also attended the event on Thursday, posted a picture with PM Netanyahu. He wrote: “A complete honor and privilege to meet with the honourable Prime Minister of Israel @netanyahu ....such a wonderful evening with friends of the fratenity....”
Contested Versace murder drama hits US television
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In the selfie, which is now viral, PM Netanyahu was joined in by stars like Big B, Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan, Vivek Oberoi and Madhur Bhandarkar among others. In his speech, PM Netanyahu referred to one of the most viral pictures of all time that took place at the Oscars, in which several celebrities including Brad Pitt took a selfie.
tanyahu captioned the selfie.
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Versace is played by Venezuelan heartthrob Edgar Ramirez, Oscar-winner Penelope Cruz is Donatella -- the hard-headed sister who took over the label after her brother’s death -- and singer Ricky Martin is Versace’s long-term boyfriend, Antonio D’Amico.
They slammed the series as a “work of fiction,” saying they had “neither authorized nor had any involvement whatsoever in the forthcoming TV series” and reacted with particular fury to claims that Versace was HIVpositive. “After so many years we still lack respect for the dead, we want to create a scandal around someone who can no longer defend themselves,” said Donatella. D’Amico, who found Versace on the steps of his beachfront Miami mansion just moments after the July 15, 1997 killing, has complained that images he had seen online of his reaction in the series are incorrect.“The picture of Ricky Martin holding the body in his arms is ridiculous,” he told the Observer newspaper last July. “Maybe it’s the director’s poetic license, but that is not how I reacted.” - ‘Love and respect’ “Its responsibility may be to just be
true enough. But there’s something tragic and unfair about becoming a spectacle in death, especially in a spectacle that’s more about a murderer than any of his victims,” griped a New York Times review. The series is based on the book “Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace and the Largest Failed Manhunt in US History,” by Maureen Orth, which was published two years after the killing and retraces Cunanan’s three-month murder spree. As such, the drama is centered less on the Italian fashion genius and more on spree killer, social climber and compulsive liar Andrew Cunanan, who murdered four other gay men before killing Versace. His motives remain shrouded in mystery. Murdering men from San Diego to Miami, Cunanan was on America’s list of top 10 most wanted criminals for more than a month before the Versace murder. Cunanan -- portrayed by actor Darren Criss -- comes across as an enigma, at times brilliant and charming but also narcissistic and violent. He committed suicide, aged 27, a few days after assassinating 50-year-old Versace.
VOICE OF ASIA 18
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
International Business and FCPA Compliance - Part 2
What is the effect of a “no refund” sale? representing what it is going to do, you are entitled to damages, which usually means some or all of your money back.
Richard M. Alderman Interim Dean of the Law Center
Based on what you say, the seller made representations and guarantees about the services to be provided through its website. If the trainer does not perform as represented, he violates the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act [DTPA]. This is our state’s consumer protection law, and it allows you to recover the money you have lost, and up to three times that amount if the person acted knowingly. You cannot sue, however, without first giving written notice. I suggest you let the company know in writing that you know about this law and believe it been violated. Tell them why you think the law was violated—they misrepresented what they would do and breached their warranties—and how much money you want. You then must wait 60 days to see if they respond and offer to settle. If you hear nothing, I suggest you consider a claim in justice court.
Q. I signed up and paid $1,100 for online fitness coaching. The website said I would receive exercises, meal plans, and 24-7 access to the trainer for one year. The site states no refunds (on the page where you enter payment), and also guarantees 24-7 access with responses guaranteed in 12 hours. From the beginning meal plans were not always provided, exercises were not clear, and our communication was off from the beginning. Most recently, I asked for a return phone call to clarify a few questions, and after never receiving it after a week, I texted the trainer telling him that because we couldn’t communicate, I wanted to terminate his service and negotiate a partial refund. He refuses to do so, and states “no refunds” was clearly on the website when I paid. Do I have a claim, and under what law? It seems unfair that he gets a windfall when the very thing he guaranteed, he was unable to comply with.
Q. I have a question about medical law in the state of Texas. I was under the impression that people can’t be sued in Texas for outstanding medical bills or have it count against their credit report score, if they are making an attempt to pay. Have the laws changed or am I mistaken?
A. It is unfair, and that is not how a “no refund” clause in an agreement works. When a seller says “no refunds,” it means you cannot just change your mind and get your money back. Regardless of what a contract says, however, if a party breaches it by not performing as promised or mis-
A. I am surprised how many times I am asked this question. The law has not changed, and you are mistaken. Debts arising from medical care are not
treated differently from debts arising from any other obligation. Whether you owe a credit card bill, a hospital bill or a doctor’s bill, the collection procedures are the same and the information stays on your credit report for the same seven-year period. Q. I am 73 years old. I don’t pay much in property taxes because of my exemptions. Someone just told me that when I die all the back taxes, plus interest, would be due. Is this true? A. Based on what you say, it is not true. Your question, however, points out the difference between a tax “exemption” and a tax “deferment.” Under the property tax system, you pay taxes based on the value of your property. Some portion of that value is “exempt” and no taxes are due on that portion. The amount of the exemption increases at age 65. In your case, you pay very little in taxes because the amount of the exemption is significant. On the other hand, if you owe taxes even when the exemption is applied, you have the right to “defer” the taxes when you reach age 65. This means that you do not have to pay when the taxes are assessed. The taxes, however, are still owed. Taxes, plus interest, must be paid when you die or sell the property. If you had your taxes deferred, your estate would owe the taxes plus interest after your death.
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munication occurred intrastate; the acts of U.S. companies and individuals are subject to the FCPA even if they have acted outside the United states.
Question: What are the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA? Answer: It is unlawful under the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to offer, pay, promise to pay, or authorize payment of money, or to offer, give, or promise to give anything of value to a foreign official in an effort to obtain a business or secure a questionable business advantage. Anti-bribery provisions can apply both within the United States and abroad. While the original FCPA anti-bribery rules applied only to U.S. nationals and to U.S. firms and issuers, a 1998 amendment expanded the scope and application of FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. As a result, anti-bribery provisions now apply not only to an act that promotes a foreign bribery scheme that occurs in the United States, but also to any act that utilizes any sort of interstate communication. It is irrelevant weather such com-
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BIO: Surendran K. Pattel is an Indian-born attorney in private practice in the Houston area. He is the founder of PKS Law Firm, PLLC. He is licensed to practice in Texas, United States District Court Southern District of Texas, and in India. To contact please email: adv.surendran@ gmail.com
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In the next column we will look at FCPA accounting provisions.
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There are possible defenses under FCPA anti-bribery provisions. One deals with whether transactions or payments comply with the local laws of the foreign country at issue. The other is rooted in determin-
Since there is no specific statute of limitations in the anti-bribery provisions, a general five-year limitation period applies to what are viewed as serious violations. However, there are circumstances in which the limitations period can be extended; for instance, when it is determined that a conspiracy exists or simply to obtain evidence from foreign companies.
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Improper payments may be anything of value, not just cash. These can be in the form of travel or entertainment expenses, or expensive gifts of a non-monetary nature. Foreign charitable contributions are allowed as long as they are not meant to influence a foreign official. Whatever the nature of the payment, be it direct or indirect, it is illegal if it is made for the purpose of influencing a foreign official. Payments to foreign officials through third parties or intermediaries, or payments to friends or family members, can be illegal if they are made with corrupt intent.
ing whether an exchange of money is a legitimate and bona fide business expense. Payments made for routine nondiscretionary governmental actions or payments made to protect against imminent danger of physical harm do not violate the FCPA.
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In order to violate FCPA anti-bribery rules, a payment must be made “corruptly.” This means that there must be wrongful intent in efforts to influence the recipient. A violation may be cited even if no bribe is paid, and the identity of the recipient remains unknown. It is not important, either, whether the company receives the benefit of a corrupt payment. It is the intent that is important.
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VOICE OF ASIA 19
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
Hot air: Study finds bikram no healthier than other yoga
Proponents claim the hot, humid workout, which puts sweaty participants through a series of 26 poses, burns more calories than yoga performed at room temperature, and is better at flushing out toxins.
A study published in the journal Experimental Physiology found that yoga was beneficial regardless of whether it was done in a hot room or at ambient temperature. Both forms reduced changes in the lining of blood vessels that can lead to heart disease, and appeared to delay the progression of plaque build-up in arteries that can cause heart attacks or stroke. The findings highlight yoga’s
BY DR. ANUPAM B. JENA
A hot bikram yoga classroom (Photo: AFP) effectiveness “in the absence of a heated practice environment, in improving vascular health,” the study authors wrote. The findings were important, they added, “given the increased propensity toward heat intolerance in ageing adults.” The team enrolled 52 “sedentary but apparently healthy” adults aged 40-60 for the trial. They were divided into three groups, two of which did
yoga three times a week for 12 weeks, and a third “control” group which did none. One of the yoga groups exercised in a room heated to 40.5 C, the other at 23 C. “The heated practice environment did not seem to play a role in eliciting improvements in vascular health with bikram yoga,” said study co-author Stacy Hunter of Texas State University.
Eating leafy greens may stave off memory loss: study
IAMI | AFP | 12/20/2017 - Eating one serving of leafy greens per day may stave off memory loss in old age and keep the brain more youthful, according to research published Wednesday. The difference found between elderly people who ate greens and those who did not was stunning: the equivalent of being 11 years younger in age, said the study in the journal Neurology. While the research was based on survey responses and therefore fell short of proving cause and effect, researchers said it offers further evidence of the association between healthy eating and healthy aging. “Adding a daily serving of green, leafy vegetables to your diet may be a simple way to foster your brain health,” said study author Martha Clare Morris of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The study tracked 960 people with an average age of 81, and followed them for an average of nearly five years. None had dementia upon entering the study. Participants completed questionnaires that asked how often they ate certain foods, including spinach, kale, collard greens and lettuce. They also had their thinking and memory skills tested once a year. People who ate the most greens averaged about 1.3 servings per day. Those on the opposite end of the spectrum ate 0.1 servings per day. A serving is about a half cup, cooked. People who ate at least one serving daily “had a slower rate of decline on tests of memory and thinking skills than people who never or rarely ate these vegetables,” said the study. These results persisted even after researchers accounted
US drug prices are higher than in the rest of the world. HERE’S WHY...
ARIS, France | AFP | Friday 1/19/2018 Practiced in rooms heated to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), bikram yoga is no better for your health than other, cooler forms of the ancient discipline, scientists said on Friday.
Others have pointed to potential dangers such as dehydration and heat stroke.
mericans pay prices for prescription drugs that are two to six times the rest of the world, despite having personal incomes that are on par with many developed countries. For instance, the average price for Humira — a top-selling drug to treat rheumatoid arthritis — is nearly $2,700 per administration in the U.S., more than twice the price in the U.K. American salaries are not twice as high as British salaries. It’s not surprising that in countries with different per capita incomes (e.g., U.S. vs India), the prices of drugs are different. But why is it that in countries with similar per capita income as the U.S., drug prices are so much lower than in the U.S.? One answer is that nearly all countries except the U.S. have policies to lower drug prices, including price controls, regulations that limit the profitability of drugs, reference pricing, and cost-effectiveness thresholds (e.g., in the U.K., the National Health Service is the main purchaser of drugs and frequently does not cover therapies whose cost per “quality-adjusted” life year gained exceeds $50,000 per year). This answer provides a good explanation for how some countries achieve lower drug prices but not why drug prices are higher in the U.S.
One key aspect of the so-called Mediterranean diet is consuming plant-based foods, while limiting the intake of red meat. Image: Gordana Jovanovic/Istock.com / AFP.
for factors like smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, education level and mental and physical exercise. “These observations are consistent with a broader body of evidence suggesting that people adhering to a Mediterranean diet may reduce their risk of dementia,” said David Llewellyn, senior research fellow in clinical epidemiology at the University of Exeter, in England, who was not involved in the study. One key aspect of the socalled Mediterranean diet is consuming plant-based foods, while limiting the intake of red meat. James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society in London, pointed out that “the researchers did not directly look at dementia, so we cannot say that it would delay or prevent the onset of the condition. “However, older people who ate one or two servings of Vitamin K-rich food per day performed better on memory tests than those who didn’t,” he added.
“A healthy diet rich in essential nutrients, combined with regular exercise and avoiding smoking, can help to reduce your risk of developing dementia.”
Perhaps the most common explanation for why drug prices are high in the U.S. is what economists call “free riding.” The argument goes like this: because the U.S. is willing to pay higher prices for drugs, other countries don’t feel the ‘need’ to do so and therefore don’t. This explanation is overly simplistic and misses the two key economic issues at stake. First, pharmaceutical companies are concerned with global profits, not the profits from any
single country. Second, expectations of future profits drive pharmaceutical investments, which means that reducing profits will negatively affect research and development (more on this point below, which is more controversial than it should be). This creates an innovation-access trade-off. All patients would prefer lower drug prices; in fact, the efficient way to increase access today would be to charge prices for drugs that equal their marginal cost, which is sometimes pennies. But, doing so would lower the expected profits of companies who take on uncertain R&D investments (only 1 out of every 12.5 potential drugs ever reach patients, the average drug takes 11-14 years to develop, and the costs of bringing a drug to market range from $1 to $2.6 billion). Multiple economic studies suggest that lower profits will lead future patients to have fewer new therapies. These studies typically examine how the number of new FDA-approved drugs change when policies make drugs more or less profitable (e.g., Medicare Part D, which expanded drug insurance coverage for the elderly and raised expected profits to drug manufacturers, was associated with increases in R&D for drug classes with high Medicare market-share). The key economic consideration is not whether this empirical fact is true, but whether reducing drug company profits and the prices of medications today will outweigh the societal benefits of those innovations just at the cusp of not being discovered. Although this question is difficult to answer, several studies suggest that the benefit of lower prices today is offset by the for-
Does Texas Need More Medical Schools? by Sean Price, Texas Medicine
pencer Pruitt, MD, had every intention of being a Texas physician.
But despite growing up in Houston and graduating from McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in 2010, it hasn’t worked out that way so far. He didn’t match for a Texas residency and instead did one in Louisiana. Since then, Dr. Pruitt returned to Texas briefly for a fellowship, but he soon left again to pursue a pediatric critical care position in Minneapolis. While he loves Texas and hopes to return one day, he says losing a residency spot here definitely loosened his
professional and personal ties to the state. “I think if I’d had a residency in Texas, I would have been a lot more committed [to staying in Texas],” he said. “Part of my move to Minneapolis specifically was in regard to my wife and my children and where they wanted to put down roots while I was at the hospital. If they’d had more years in Texas, we would have had that much stronger roots and support structure.” State lawmakers, education officials, and many physicians worry that stories like Dr. Pruitt’s are about to become more common. Two public universities in Texas ― the University of Houston and the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC), which is partnering with Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth ― are planning new allopathic medical schools. Meanwhile, Sam Houston State University is planning an osteopathic school in Conroe. (See graphs.) The concern is that once all these schools are online in 2020, there won’t be nearly enough graduate medical education (GME) slots to accommodate the graduates those schools and the current 12 medical schools in Texas produce. That’s important because most new physicians set up practice close to the place where they complete their residency. According to the Association of American Medical
Colleges (AAMC), Texas retains 80 percent of physicians who complete medical school and residency in Texas and more than 58 percent of graduates from other states who complete residency in Texas. Maureen Milligan, PhD, president and chief executive officer of Teaching Hospitals of Texas, says GME is currently the “critical choke point” in medical training. “If you don’t have the positions for the residents, the concern is that you invest in them in medical school and then they go to other states,” she said. “You not only don’t get the physicians that you’re looking for, but you’ve lost some of your state funds [for public medical schools] to other states.” Texas currently spends $369 million per year specifically on medical students, or about $45,000 per student, according to data compiled by the Texas Medical Association. Building medical schools is attractive for universities because they bring prestige and donations. Medical schools also can serve as economic drivers for local economies. But som say there is not enough money available to fund both state-supported medical schools and new residency positions. These critics argue that the state should focus on creating as many residencies as possible and leave building medical schools to other states.
gone value created by drugs that never reach the market. According to one estimate, if the U.S. were to adopt European-level price controls, the reductions in U.S. prices today would result in 0.7 years lower longevity for future cohorts of Americans and Europeans due to fewer new drugs. This would cost Americans more than $50,000 per person when the value of foregone health is valued. These points lead to an important economic conclusion. Because the U.S. accounts for the plurality of global pharmaceutical revenues — in 2016 the U.S. comprised 42 percent of global pharmaceutical revenues — it faces an “innovation-access” tradeoff that other countries do not. If the U.S. were to adopt price regulations like other countries, the impact on global pharmaceutical revenues would be substantial because the U.S. comprises a large share of global revenue. A 20 percent reduction in U.S. pharmaceutical prices would directly impact global pharmaceutical revenues, whereas an identical policy by any single European nation would have a small impact. If reductions in global profits ultimately lower innovation, it could therefore be in the longterm self-interest of Americans to pay higher prices for drugs than citizens of other developed countries. Problematically, policies designed to lower the prices that Americans pay for drugs and increase the prices that other countries pay may be difficult to enact. The core challenge is that individual countries behave, well, individually. Although many European countries have economic agendas that are unified through the E.U., and the E.U. is, as a whole, comparable in size to the U.S., there exists no mechanism for cross-E.U.-country harmonized pricing that balances the innovation-access tradeoff that the U.S. currently privately faces. Recognizing that countries have different incomes per capita, pricing policies could flexibly allow for higher prices in nations with greater income per capita. Ultimately, collective incentives across countries of similar income per capita are needed to support medical innovation. In addition to harmonized pricing, this could be achieved through bilateral trade agreements, but those negotiations, too, would be difficult to negotiate. The discrepancy in drug pricing between the U.S. and other countries continues to draw attention, both from those that view price controls as a muchneeded way to lower U.S. pharmaceutical spending, as well as those who believe that price controls may adversely impact innovation. Answers to this debate depend on recognizing the importance of collective action across countries of similar wealth to balance affordability of medications today with access to new medications in the future. At present, the way to achieve this balance isn’t clear. While a single-payer approach to paying for drugs in the U.S. will lower drug prices today, the ‘price of health’ will rise as the future availability of health-improving technologies falls. Whether this is a price society is willing to pay remains the critical question. Anupam B. Jena is the Ruth L. Newhouse associate professor of health care policy a Harvard Medical School, an internist at Massachusetts General Hospital. (-TheHill.com)
VOICE OF ASIA 20
‘Inflammatory’ diet linked to higher risk of colon cancer
5 things pediatricians want parents to know about the flu epidemic
eople who consume lots of foods linked to chronic inflammation, such as red meat and refined grains, may be more likely to develop colorectal cancer than individuals who tend to avoid these foods, a U.S. study suggests.
he deadly flu epidemic sweeping the nation has closed schools in states from Alabama to Texas and killed at least 30 children since its official start on Oct. 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Researchers examined more than two decades of U.S. survey data on eating habits and cancer diagnoses for 74,246 female nurses and 46,804 male health professionals. They sorted participants into five groups based on how likely it was that their daily diets could contribute to inflammation.
The outbreak has left parents wondering what they can do to protect their families against the flu and what to do once their child is diagnosed.
Compared to people with diets that had the least potential to cause inflammation, individuals with diets that were most likely to cause inflammation were 32 percent more likely to develop colorectal cancer during the study, researchers report in JAMA Oncology.
inflammatory diets were 44 percent more likely to develop colorectal cancer than men with diets that were least likely to cause inflammation, the study found. Women with the most pro-inflammatory diets were 22 percent more likely to get colorectal tumors.
“A dietary pattern that is associated with higher levels of inflammation will chronically stimulate the bowels, leading to the production of a constantly higher level of circulating inflammation mediators that may contribute to the development of cancer,” said lead study author Fred Tabung, a researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
In both men and women, the connection between a pro-inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer risk persisted across all anatomical sites where these tumors can develop, except for the rectum for women.
“Such a pro-inflammatory dietary pattern has a high intake of red meat, processed meat, organ meat, refined grains, and sugary beverages and a low intake of tea, coffee, dark yellow vegetables and green leafy vegetables,” Tabung said by email.
Some of the most important risk factors for colorectal cancer are family history, personal history of polyps or cancer, certain diseases such as ulcerative colitis, and not getting screened, previous research has found. Not smoking, maintaining a normal weight and taking
Men with the most pro-
The risk of developing colorectal cancer was even higher among overweight or obese men and lean women, and also among men and women who didn’t consume alcohol.
aspirin are associated with a lower risk of colon cancer. Limitations of the current study include its reliance on survey participants to accurately recall and report what they ate and drank. The study also wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how certain dietary habits might directly influence the chances of developing colorectal cancer. Even so, the findings offer fresh evidence that a typical Western diet full of pro-inflammatory foods like meat and processed grains and low in fruits and vegetables can lead to health problems, said Ursula Schwab, a nutrition researcher at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio who wasn’t involved in the study. “This study adds to the previous evidence that a pro-inflammatory diet is associated with several types of diseases, including cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases,” Schwab said by email. (-Reuters)
Young women skip pap tests ‘due to body shame’ ONDON - More than a third of young women say they are too embarrassed to attend Pap test appointments because they are ashamed of their body shape, says a UK cancer charity.
Top concerns include the appearance of their vulva and worries over whether they smell ‘normal’. Almost a third of the women admit they would not have a Pap test unless they waxed or shaved their bikini area. The poll also reveals that 16% would rather miss their Pap test than a gym class. The charity says it is concerned that body image issues could be putting women’s lives at risk. - Life-Saving Test Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, says in a statement: “Smear tests prevent 75% of cervical cancers so it is a big worry that so many young women, those who are most at risk of the disease, are unaware of the importance of attending. It is of further concern that
ABC News spoke to pediatricians across the country to find out what they want parents to know about the flu epidemic. We also had the doctors answer questions from ABC News’ viewers about the flu. Here is the information pediatricians want parents to know about this flu season. 1.The flu shot really works. Each doctor ABC News spoke with said getting your child a flu shot is the number one way to make sure your child is safe from the flu. This year’s influenza vaccine is not as effective as officials would like for influenza H3N2, the most common strain in this cycle, but doctors say it will still ease your child’s symptoms if not prevent them entirely. “If you’re talking about protection and issues about how you try to keep your loved ones as healthy as possible, the number one is still getting the flu vaccine,” said Dr. Randy Bergen, a pediatrician and the clinical lead of Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s Flu Vaccine Program. “Some protection is better than no protection.” It’s also not too late to get a flu shot for your child if they have not yet received one, experts say. “The flu shot cannot make a child sick,” said Dr. Don Schaffer, managing partner of Pediatrics of Greater Houston. “There’s no reason to not give it and give your child every advantage they can.” 2. You know your child better than anyone else. Dr. Joshua Schaffzin, pediatric infectious diseases physician and director of infection, prevention and control at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, said parents should listen to their gut instincts if their child becomes ill.
One in 4 women aged 25 to 64 in the UK who are eligible for cervical screening do not take up their invitation to be tested. However, among 25 to 29 year olds the figure is 1 in 3, and even as high as 1 in 2 in some parts of the country. A survey carried out by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust found that 35% of 2,017 women aged between 25 and 35 say body shame caused them to delay attending. This rose to 50% when women who had never had a Pap test were included.
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
“Classic flu feels like you’ve been hit by a truck because it’s abrupt onset, high fever, cough, sore throat and all over body aches,” he said. “It’s very striking for parents because their body worries are contributing to non-attendance. “Please don’t let unhappiness or uncertainty about your body stop you from attending what could be a life-saving test. Nurses are professionals who carry out millions of tests every year; they can play a big part in ensuring women are comfortable.” Cervical cancer is the 13th most common cancer among UK women but the most common among women under the age of 35. “Worryingly high numbers” do not understand that Pap tests can prevent cervical cancer, according to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. Its survey showed that 61% of young women aged 25 to 35 are unaware they are in the most high-risk age group for the disease. - ‘I Didn’t Want to Get Naked in Front of a Stranger’ Lindsay, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer aged 29,
told the charity: “I had my first ever smear at 29 because I had ignored all my previous invitations. I was too busy with a baby and a small child, working and I didn’t like the thought of having to get naked in front of anyone I didn’t know. “I don’t want other women to have to go through what I experienced. Diagnosis and treatment was awful. I needed a radical hysterectomy and still struggle with some side effects of treatment today.” Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is also concerned that not enough is being done to increase access to cervical screening. In a report, it says 34% of clinical commissioning groups and 32% of local authorities in England had not undertaken any activities to boost Pap test take-up between August 2016 and August 2017. The charity is releasing its new data at the start of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. (-Mediaite)
Doctor giving a child a checkup in an undated stock photo. kid is running around and all of a sudden they don’t want to get out of bed.” He added, “If a child comes home with a fever and isn’t feeling well, it’s not necessarily a time to panic. You do what you normally do. Parents take great care of their kids and [pediatricians] trust in that ability and knowledge and your keen sense of what’s normal and not. If parents have a gut sense that something is not quite right, it is perfectly reasonable to call your doctor. If the parents feel comfortable managing it at home, then that’s great.” 3. Your child’s illness may not be the flu. The flu season overlaps with seasons for other illnesses -from RSV to the common cold -- that could also infect children, the doctors said. “In pediatrics there tends to be a little bit of a difference in that very young children are more frequently affected by another respiratory virus called RSV,” Bergen said. “We’re seeing the flu peak right now – cough, cold, high fevers, body aches and pains and children tend to have more stomachrelated issues with influenza -- but we haven’t seen quite the peak of RSV season.” Doctors advised parents to stay alert and treat their child as needed, but not to panic that the first sign of illness means their child has the flu. 4.It’s important to take care of yourself. “If you’re a parent you still have to care for your child,” said Bergen, who advises parents to be proactive about washing their hands and staying away from sick people to avoid getting sick themselves. Good hygiene -- using soap and water, cleaning toys, using hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes on grocery carts and gym machines -- was also
recommended for parents by Schaffzin. If a parent does become sick, the best approach is to stay home and quarantine yourself as much as possible from family members. “The earlier you are in the illness, the more contagious you are in general,” said Bergen. “The critical thing is the fever. Most doctors will say if you’ve been without a fever for 24 hours you’re safe to return [to work or school].” 5. Your pediatrician is ready to make a plan. Schaffzin recommends making a plan with your child’s pediatrician now, and again before the start of flu season next year, for what to do if your child becomes ill. This is critically important, according to Schaffzin, for parents of children who are higher risk for complications due to flu, including kids younger than two, or with congenital heart issues or lung issues. “Treatment is most effective when started early,” he said. “So it’s good to have a conversation beforehand, ‘If the child becomes ill, what should our plan be?’” For instance, if your child has a pre-existing medical condition, such as asthma, a pediatrician would likely want to administer Tamiflu, an antiviral medication, right away. Medication could help prevent other complications, like pneumonia, from occurring and could help shorten the duration of the flu. “It works best if you start it as early as possible, at the first sign of symptoms,” Schaffzin said. Not everyone, though, needs Tamiflu to recover. In some kids, Tamiflu can cause vomiting and dehydration so knowing ahead of time what your doctor advises for your individual child can help. (ABC News)
Virginity pills and surgery: Iran’s fake hymen industry EHRAN, AFP - In Iran, many people believe that it is important for women to be virgins on their wedding day. Even so, many women do have sex before marriage. As a result, a real industry has grown up around hymen reconstruction and “virginity pills.” More and more ads for these kind of products and services are popping up on Iranian social media.
For many years, women have been turning to surgery to mask the fact that they’ve had sex before marriage. The surgical procedure involves closing up, sometimes almost completely, the vaginal opening so that the woman will bleed when she has intercourse with her new husband. This bleeding is supposedly proof of the young
woman’s purity, as most will assume that the bleeding comes from the tearing of her hymen. A woman’s hymen, however, doesn’t necessarily tear the first time she has sex and, even if it does, it might not bleed. Secondly, a hymen can be torn outside of sex. But the myth that a woman must bleed during her first experience of vaginal penetration is widely believed in Iran and around the world. The result is that these operations have been common in Iran since the 1970s (as well as in many other countries, including France.) Starting in the 1990s, another option appeared for women wanting to fake their virginity: pills that are supposed to make it seem as if a woman has an intact hymen. The price of these
pills vary widely, but most seem to work in the same way. About an hour before having sex, the woman is supposed to put a pill in her vagina. When the pill becomes damp, its exterior softens. During penetration, the exterior breaks and releases a red liquid, which is supposed to trick the husband. In recent years, more and more ads for these pills have been popping up on both Telegram, an encrypted instant messaging service that is extremely popular in Iran, and Instagram, which is also widely used. Women can order these pills to whichever postal address they want in just a few clicks. The ads promise to deliver the pills in plain packaging so as not to arouse suspicion.
VOICE OF ASIA 21
Memory Gene Goes Viral
NIH-funded research reveals novel method for transferring genetic material between neurons
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018
‘Mutant flu’ could lead to more effective vaccine: study
wo independent teams of scientists from the University of Utah and the University of Massachusetts Medical School have discovered that a gene crucial for learning, called Arc, can send its genetic material from one neuron to another by employing a strategy commonly used by viruses. The studies, both published in Cell, unveil a new way that nervous system cells interact. “This work is a great example of the importance of basic neuroscience research,” said Edmund Talley, Ph.D., a program director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health. “What began as an effort to examine the behavior of a gene involved in memory and implicated in neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease has unexpectedly led to the discovery of an entirely new process, which neurons may use to send genetic information to one another.” While Arc is known to play a vital role in the brain’s ability to store new information, little is known about precisely how it works. In addition, previous studies had detailed similarities between the Arc protein and proteins found in certain viruses like HIV, but it was unclear how those commonalities influenced the behavior of the Arc protein. The University of Utah researchers began their examination of the Arc gene by introducing it into bacterial cells. To their surprise, when the cells made the Arc protein, it clumped together into a form that resembled a viral capsid, the shell that contains a virus’ genetic information. The Arc “capsids” appeared to mirror viral capsids in their physical structure as well as their behavior and other properties.
Viral capsid. Memory gene acts like a virus: Two independent teams of NIH-funded researchers discovered that the Arc gene can package its genetic material in a virus-like shell for delivery to nearby cells. (Image: NIH) “Beforehand, if I had said to any neuroscientist that this gene sort of acts like a virus, they would have laughed at me,” said Jason Shepherd, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. “We knew this was going to take us in a completely new direction.” The University of Massachusetts scientists, led by Vivian Budnik, Ph.D., a professor at UMass Medical School, and Travis Thomson, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the institution, set out to scrutinize the contents of tiny sacks released by cells called extracellular vesicles. Their experiments in fruit flies revealed that motor neurons that control the flies’ muscles release vesicles containing a high concentration of the Arc gene’s messenger RNA (mRNA), the DNA-like intermediary molecule cells use to create the protein encoded by a DNA sequence. Both groups also found evidence that Arc
capsids contain Arc mRNA and that the capsids are released from neurons inside those vesicles. In addition, Dr. Shepherd’s team showed that the more active neurons are, the more of those vesicles they release. Further experiments performed by both teams of researchers suggested that Arc capsids act like viruses by delivering mRNA to nearby cells. Dr. Shepherd and his colleagues grew mouse neurons lacking the Arc gene in petri dishes filled with Arccontaining vesicles or Arc capsids alone. They discovered that the formerly Arcless neurons took in the vesicles and capsids and used the Arc mRNA contained within to produce the Arc protein themselves. Finally, just like neurons that naturally manufacture the Arc protein, those cells made more of it when their electrical activity increased. (-NIH)
Vaping may be bad for kids, good for adults: Study
aping, or smoking battery powered devices known as e-cigarettes, may encourage youths to start smoking but may also help adults quit, said a US review of scientific research out Tuesday.
Currently, influenza vaccines must be changed every year because the viruses are constantly evolving
IAMI | AFP | 1/18/2018 - Experiments in lab animals have shown signs of success for a newly engineered flu virus that may lead one day to a more effective vaccine, researchers said Thursday. Trials in humans are still a long way off, but the report in the US journal Science earned praise from experts who described it as a promising first step toward better prevention of the flu. The World Health Organization considers the flu a major public health concern because it infects up to five million people with severe illness each year and causes up to 650,000 deaths. “Because the variations of seasonal influenza viruses can be unpredictable, current vaccines may not provide effective protection against them,” said senior author Ren Sun, a professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). “Previous pandemics and recent outbreaks of avian influenza highlight the need to devel-
op vaccines that offer broader, more effective protection.” Scientists arrived at the new approach by studying the genome of the flu virus and finding eight locations where they could disable its interferonevasion functions, which affect whether a host can fight the illness or not. Regular flu viruses are known for their ability to evade the immune system, but this engineered virus showed it “is hypersensitive to one of the body’s primary immune defense mechanisms,” said the report. The mutant virus can “escape type 1 interferon (IFN-1) function, the body’s first line of defense against viruses.” The engineered influenza virus “induced strong immune responses” in mice and ferrets without causing them to become ill, said the report. It also protected against infection by different strains of the influenza virus. More animal studies are planned before any vaccine based on the approach can be tried in people.
Jonathan Ball, professor of Molecular Virology at the University of Nottingham, described the paper as a “neat bit of science.” “There’s still lots of work to do in order to progress this exciting development down the vaccine development pipeline,” said Ball, who was not involved in the research. “These experiments were performed in laboratory animals and the proof of the pudding will be how the mutant virus performs in humans, especially those who have been exposed to multiple strains of virus and might already have built up a degree of immunity.” Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, described the work as a “collaborative tour de force between groups in North America and China,” that could lead the way to a universal flu vaccine. “This advanced approach combines state of the art virology with incisive immunological techniques, potentially leading to greatly improved vaccines in the future,” he said.
Hong Kong engulfed in smog as fears grow over air
The report by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is based on more than 800 peerreviewed scientific studies on the health effects of electronic cigarettes. It was compiled at the request of the US Congress, amid a growing international debate over whether e-cigarettes are safe or harmful. E-cigarettes, which have gained popularity in the last decade, are handheld devices that heat up a nicotine-containing liquid so users can inhale the vapors.
Smog, made worse by winter weather conditions and wind, has blanketed the city. The coastal skyline is barely visible, and local residents are worried about longterm effects. (Photo: AFP)
They contain “fewer numbers and lower levels of toxic substances than conventional cigarettes,” said the report. The amount of nicotine they deliver can vary, but experienced adult e-cigarette users tend to get “a comparable level of nicotine as conventional cigarettes” -- leading to “symptoms of dependence” in those who use them.
“In some circumstances, such as their use by non-smoking adolescents and young adults, their adverse effects clearly warrant concern,” said Eaton, dean of the graduate school of the University of Washington, Seattle. Young people are more likely than adults to use e-cigarettes, and the report found “substantial evidence” that vaping increases the risk of smoking conventional cigarettes. But when adult smokers use e-cigarettes to quit smoking, “they offer an opportunity to reduce smoking-related illness,” said Eaton.
grams per cubic metre in a 24hour period.
tine without being close to the clogged roads.
In Beijing, where pollution has reached hazardous levels in the past, the average reading was 25, categorised as “good”.
The winter months regularly bring worse air quality to Hong Kong and other parts of the region due to wind direction and weather conditions.
The government said that pollution in Hong Kong was higher than normal and that the risk to health was “very high”, as it warned residents to avoid outdoor activities.
A clean air plan was introduced in 2013, and the environment bureau has said roadside pollutants have dropped by up to 74 percent in the past 20 years.
But they are also addictive.
Reviewed evidence suggests that e-cigarettes are “likely to be far less harmful than tobacco products,” said David Eaton, chair of the committee that wrote the report.
ONG KONG, China | AFP | Monday 1/22/2018 - Hong Kong’s famous skyline was engulfed in smog Monday, with residents urged to stay indoors.
A New York man puffs away on his electronic cigarette. E-cigarettes may encourage youths to start smoking but may also help adults quit, according to a US review of scientific research The report found “conclusive evidence” that substituting e-cigarettes for conventional cigarettes “reduces users’ exposure to many toxicants and carcinogens present in conventional cigarettes.” Switching from regular cigarettes to e-cigarettes also “results in reduced short-term adverse health outcomes in several organ systems.” But their long term effects remain unknown. The report found “no available evidence whether or not
e-cigarette use” is associated with cancer in people. Animal studies however suggest that long-term e-cigarette use “could increase the risk of cancer.” Researchers also declined to categorize e-cigarettes as a positive or negative influence on public health. “More and better research on e-cigarettes’ short- and longterm effects on health and on their relationship to conventional smoking is needed to answer that question with clarity,” said the report.
But as acrid air shrouded the city’s skyscrapers, harbour and surrounding hills, residents said they were afraid for their health. “It feels stuffy and airless. It’s more difficult to breathe,” said Elsa Choi, 32. “I’m not sure if masks could filter out (the particles). I won’t go outside as much,” Choi added. The air quality in Hong Kong Monday was categorised as “unhealthy” on the World Air Quality Index.
Schools were urged to take “appropriate measures” to safeguard students’ health. The environment bureau blamed the smog on a mix of light winds, preventing dispersion of pollutants, and sunshine which it said worsens the problem. But campaigners said authorities should not simply look to the weather.
Readings of damaging fine particles known as PM 2.5 hit an average concentration of 198 micrograms per cubic metre.
“We know that there is a weather factor but we also know that roadside air pollution comes from traffic,” said Patrick Fung of NGO Clean Air Network, who said there should be traffic controls on high pollution days.
The World Health Organization recommends a maximum average exposure of 25 micro-
Fung added that few people in the densely packed city could go about their daily rou-
But the number of days where pollution readings were categorised as a high health risk in 2017 was almost double the number in 2016, according to bureau statistics, although it was an improvement on 2014 and 2015. Campaigners have questioned the speed at which authorities are implementing change and encouraging a drop in fossil fuel use. In February last year the government was slammed by environmentalists, lawmakers and manufacturers for axing a tax waiver on electric cars as a way to fight congestion. Resident Susane Yip, 40, said the smog would also put off tourists who want to capture the city’s epic harbour views. “I hope the government can devote its efforts to solving this problem,” Yip told AFP.
VOICE OF ASIA 22
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VOICE OF ASIA 24
FRIDAY, January 26, 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...
Published on Jan 25, 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...