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VOICE OF ASIA 1

FRIDAY, In January Section 3, 2 2020

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College funding: the best New Year’s resolution for parents?

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Harris County Judge urges residents to purchase flood insurance surance policies go into effect. . According to FEMA, just 1 inch of water can cause $25,000 in damage. . Many flood claims come from outside of high-risk flood zones. Of the 3,990 homes flooded from Imelda, 2,479 (62%) were outside the 1% (100-yr) floodplain. Of those who responded to a survey following Tropical Storm Imelda, over 77% self-reported not having flood insurance.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. Image County

Judge office.

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arris County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Tuesday, January 7th urged residents to “Resolve” to purchase flood insurance ‘regardless of whether or not they reside in a high-risk zone’ Flooding is the most common and costly disaster and purchasing flood insurance is the only way for families to protect themselves financially from this ongoing threat to Harris County. Hidalgo had met with Pete Gaynor, the Acting Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to discuss areas of ongoing attention between Harris County and FEMA, including the importance of increased adoption of flood insurance among residents in Harris County and the urgent need to focus on mitigating the threat of future disasters. Key Facts: . Standard homeowners and renters insurance does not typically cover flood damage. Additionally, residents should not wait for a pending storm to purchase insurance since typically there is a 30-day waiting

period from the date of purchase until flood in-

. Flood insurance can pay regardless of whether or not there is a Presidential Disaster Declaration. To learn more about flood insurance, or to find out how to get covered visit floodsmart. gov.

Indian court orders bus rapists hanged on January 22

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EW DELHI | AFP | 1/7/2020 - An Indian court Tuesday ordered the execution on January 22 of four men convicted of the infamous 2012 gang rape and murder of a Delhi university student.

Six people were originally charged with taking part in the brutal attack aboard a city bus, but one was released after a brief detention as a juvenile, while another committed suicide while awaiting trial. On Tuesday Delhi court judge Satish Kumar issued a warrant ordering the four on death row to be executed on January 22 at 7:00 am. The condemned men still have one avenue of appeal remaining, and

Asha Devi, mother of the victim of the fatal 2012 gang rape on a moving bus, speaks to the media as she leaves a court in New Delhi Tuesday. A death warrant was issued Tuesday for the four men convicted in the 2012 gang rape and murder of a young woman on a New Delhi bus that galvanized protests across India and brought global attention to the country’s sexual violence epidemic. | AP

they can also petition the Indian president for mercy.

Jyoti Singh, 23, was attacked in December 2012 while returning

home after visiting the cinema with a male friend.

Her assailants took turns to rape and vioContinued on Page 7

Masked suspects terrorized vic- Furore after top tims during restaurant robbery Bollywood star attends in SW Houston student demo locked themselves in the room. The suspects later made their way inside that room. No one was seriously hurt during the robbery, but people who went through the nightmare told ABC13 the masked suspects screamed at them, kicked them, ripped their jewelry, and several others were pistol-whipped in the head and face. The door at the Bombay Express restaurant on West Belfort where armed suspects shot their way inside. Image credit: KTRK

by Brhe Berry

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O U S TO N Tuesday, January 7, 2020 (KTRK) -- Police are searching for the armed suspects they say shot their way into a southwest Houston restaurant and held people at gunpoint.

According to authorities, five to seven masked men are believed to be involved in the robbery at the “Bombay Express” on West Bellfort near Wilcrest.

the location five minutes after it had closed. The employees were in the front of the business, while almost 20 people were in the back eating and playing pool.

Houston police say the suspects arrived at

Once they heard gunshots, the victims

“They hit everybody. They tried to kill us. I thought ‘we’re all gonna die tonight.’ It’s so traumatizing, like it was your last day,” one victim said. At least $30,000 was taken in total from the business and the victims inside. Police said the suspects also took surveillance equipment from the restaurant.

Padukone’s appearance at the demonstration led to calls for her upcoming film “Chhapaak” to be boycotted (AFP Photo/STR)

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ew Delhi | AFP | 1/8/2020 One of Bollywood’s top stars sparked a social media storm on Wednesday, attracting admiration and vitriol after showing solidarity with students who were attacked at a Indian university this week.

Indian film stars have traditionally shied away from politics, fearing their films could be boycotted or their safety threatened. The industry also relies heavily on government support.

But Deepika Padukone, 34, the country’s top-earning female celebrity according to Forbes India, broke the mould when she attended a demonstration in New Delhi on Tuesday evening. Continued on Page 7


OP-ED/COMMENTARY/ANALYSIS

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Editor Online: Shobana Muratee All rights reserved. No material herein or portions thereof may be published without the consent of the publisher. Voice of Asia assumes no liability resulting from action taken based on the information included herein. Published weekly by Free Press LLC, 8303 SW Freeway, Suite # 325, Houston, TX 77074. Tel: 713774-5140. Fax: 713-774-5143. Email for editorial submissions: voiceasia@aol.com; Email for advertising inquiries and submissions: ads@voiceofasiagroup.com. 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 inVoice of Asia Group Publications in print, online, or in other electronic formats, theVoice of Asia Group does not endorse the advertised product, service, or company, nor any of the claims made by the advertisement. — The Publisher Voice of Asia (USPS 010-215) (ISSN#10705058) is published every Friday (for a subscription rate of $50 per year) by Free Press LLC, 8303 SW Freeway, Suite # 325, Houston, TX 77074. Tel: 713-774-5140. Fax: 713-774-5143. Periodical postage paid at Houston, Texas. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Voice of Asia, 8303 SW Freeway, Suite # 325, Houston, TX 77074.

ill President Trump make immigration a centerpiece of his 2020 reelection campaign? Pollsters, pundits and political insiders seem to think so. After all, anti-immigrant sentiment is a hallmark of the base that helped catapult Trump to election victory in 2016.

One needs to recall that in announcing his candidacy for the presidency in 2015, Donald Trump excoriated Mexican immigrants as follows: “They’re bringing drugs.They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” An impartial, factually-based assessment would have addressed immigration this way: “They’re bringing skilled and semi-skilled labor, which we sorely need. They’re bringing entrepreneurs. And I assume there will be some bad people in the group.” The administration’s defenders will retort that its position on immigration refers to illegal entrants only. But under Stephen Miller, President Trump’s senior advisor for policy, the lines between legal and illegal immigration have blurred. Just talk to would-be visitors from developing nations (including investors) who have been denied visas of entry for no specific reason. With Latin America accounting for the majority of America’s current immigrants, the administration’s policies and actions are clear in their implication: If you are Northern European and can speak English, come on in; if you are brown and Spanish-speaking, stay away. (Emma Lazarus, the poet who inscribed the base of the Statue of Liberty, must be turning over in her grave.) Social, moral, political and legal issues aside, increased immigration is an economic plus for the U.S. Nearly 45 million people in the U.S. are foreign born, according to Census Bureau. That equals 15 percent of the population. A myriad of economic studies finds that immigrants are a net economic benefit to the country. And while new arrivals may depress some wages initially, they go on to contribute economically more than they cost and do not take jobs away from the pre-existing workforce. In fact, they fill roles that nations need to succeed, and often take jobs that native-born citi-

David Balat’s opinion article (There is no free lunch – even in health care, Voice of Asia, Friday, January 3, 2020) misses the many important points, and focuses only tangentially on the many others, when it comes to healthcare. The central point is a broad issue with what is termed as “government takeover” of healthcare. The implied implications are mainly two-fold, and have been repeated, oftentimes in very vivid terms. First is that a so-called government takeover of healthcare is a direct attempt at shackling people and taking away their freedoms. This specious argument is clearly ludicrous. Providing citizens access to healthcare is not taking away their freedoms, but in fact adding to them. In the same vein, providing people access to well-laid surface roads and highways, and airports by the government does not take away anyone’s freedoms, but adds to them (on the contrary, reducing people’s access to public transport and forcing them all into private cars when they cannot afford to own and maintain one in fact takes away their freedoms and keeps many in poverty). I am also sure people in Canada, or the U.K., where there is a much greater access to healthcare than in U.S.A., enjoy their freedoms as much as any citizen of any other developed, industrialized nation. Second is that a government run access to healthcare is necessarily much, much inferior to a private run access (read: insurance companies). This is also not based on any solid fact. Anyone who’s ever dealt with private health-insurance companies, or has had to negotiate the cost of access with a provider, may have first-hand experience in the frustrations in dealing with such entities. We are all aware of at least a few horror stories here. To say that private insurance companies are paragon of efficiency and customer service

is also therefore ludicrous. Look closely enough, and one can find problems with government run access and with private insurance, across the globe. Government run access to healthcare has not been found to be any inferior to private insurance companies. Needless to say, it is important to understand that Obamacare, or ACA, is not the same as, or a lesser version of, Medicare For All, as David Balat seems to imply. The former utilizes a regulated private insurance market to expand insurance coverage to everyone, while the later is indeed, as broadly understood, a government run access/insurance, into which everyone buys through taxes instead of paying insurance premiums to private organizations. By most current measures, Obamacare has indeed expanded coverage and kept costs under control. This is despite an openly hostile current administrations in Washington DC and many states towards it, trying to sabotage it. This brings me to the disturbing untruths around Medicare For All that are being spread, and why Medicare For All will work, and work very well. First, let’s take care of the untruth that you, the consumer, have control over your healthcare. No, you do not. If you have employer provided insurance, your coverage quality is at the mercy of your employer and insurance company. This also includes access to your doctors. You can only keep your doctors if your employer and the insurance company want you to. The same goes if you have private coverage. The insurance company can change the rules at any time. This will not be the case in Medicare For All. Your coverage and access cannot be changed by fiat by any insurance company and/or your employer. And let us not indulge ourselves with thoughts of “death panels” with Medicare For All. The original death-panels were the insurance

Immigrants are an economic boon to America year of birth declines. The Senate and House introduced comprehensive immigration reform bills in the 109th Congress. Regrettably, the two Houses were not able to reach an agreement to go to a conference committee. The end of the congressional session (January 3, 2007) marked the defeat of both bills.

zens are not interested in taking, such as low-level service jobs. In a telling economic statistic, the International Monetary Fund found that a 1 percent increase “in the share of migrants in the adult population increases GDP per person in advanced economies by up to 2 percent in the longer term.” Last year a Citigroup and Oxford University report found that two-thirds of the GDP expansion since 2011 was directly attributable to migration. Furthermore, the presence of immigrants in the workforce is associated with higher wages, higher productivity, lower unemployment and higher female workforce participation. And lest we forget, immigrants are disproportionately represented among the entrepreneurial class. Immigrant entrepreneurs and their children founded or co-founded more than 25 percent of technology and engineering companies from 1995 to 2005. Apple,

Google, Amazon, eBay and Yahoo! are notable examples. Immigrants are also more likely to obtain a patent and launch a start-up. Still another reason we need more immigrants is Social Security. In 2020, the Social Security Administration will be paying out more in benefits than what is contributed to the system. This means that Social Security’s large current reserves will run dry by 2034. If that is the case, beneficiaries will receive only 80 cents for every dollar owed to them. But won’t the future American workforce contribute sufficiently to replenish the fund? Absolutely not. The huge bulge created by Baby Boomer retirees drawing Social Security checks will be exacerbated by the declining birth rates (meaning future workers) in the nation. U.S. births fell to a 32-year low in 2018, the fourth consecutive

Given the current political climate in the U.S., with greater polarization on the immigration issue, it is highly unlikely that the next Congress will move swiftly to pass comprehensive immigration reform. In the long term, however, such reform is inevitable. The anti-immigrant base will die off, due to low fertility rates, health problems such as obesity and opioid addiction. Meanwhile, immigrant citizens – both skilled and semi-skilled – will give birth in greater numbers to future voters, with the assumption (and hope) that this cohort of voters will remember where they came from and how they got here. Jerry Haar is a professor of international business at Florida International University and a Global Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. His latest book, with Ricardo Ernst of Georgetown University, is “Globalization, Competitiveness and Governability.” - The Hill

Online ordering worsens pollution

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very year as Christmas approaches, businesses along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway in Chico — like this newspaper — cringe. As the days to Christmas dwindle, the traffic on the street increases to an unbearable point of congestion.

The pollution and problems don’t stop there. Commercial and government deliverers of packages drive thousands of circuits around a community getting the orders to the right addresses. That’s

package pollution it’s not nearly as bad as that from online retailers. You could argue that the retailer gets the goods in wasteful packaging too, but generally the retailer orders in bulk which

One year, it took two reporters to stop traffic on MLK so our photographer could get out of the parking lot for an assignment. But this year was different. The congestion didn’t happen. It was easy to get out onto the street, going north or south, no matter the day or time. What happened?

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Dear Editor,

FRIDAY, January 10, 2020

companies before Obamacare, where they could deny coverage and let one to die. Second, the untruth that Medicare For All increases your taxes. This statement seems to imply that your income remains the same while your taxes go up. With Medicare For All, your income and earnings go up. If you are covered through your employer, you are already currently paying out-of-pocket and huge deductibles. Second, your employer is also currently paying a significant premium, and spending significant overhead in personnel and documentation costs. For a family of four, this total amount can run into the tens of thousands. All these cost-savings with Medicare For All will go into increased salaries and increased profitability (which will be reflected in 401K portfolios). Medicare For All for the over 330 million people also benefits from the massive economy-of-scale. This will work to reduce the overall medical costs to the economy and to the individual. It will also make the economy and the nation more productive by reducing wasteful paperwork and overhead costs to individual businesses. It will also encourage more people to become entrepreneurs when they do not need to fear losing their coverage as they transition from job-holders to job-creators. For some, Medicare For All may be about helping those who most need help. For me, it is also about helping myself. It is for me to be able to earn more and spend more on things I want to spend on. It is about making a future I and my family deserve and work for. And so do you. Amit Verma is a resident of Cypress, TX. He is a professor in Electrical Engineering, and author of two literary fiction works – The Lives and The Times, and The Lives and The Times II. His third work, A Quiver in the Purlieu, is expected to be released in 2020.

We can guess only one factor: Online ordering. A walk around one neighborhood on garbage day pointed to the proof. Trash receptacles were overflowing, or more accurately overflowing with packaging. From cardboard shipping boxes, to graphic display boxes, to stuffing, to plastic wrapping to shipping peanuts, bins struggled to hold in their contents. One order from an Amazon or ecommerce company is a huge source of pollution, especially if what’s cast aside doesn’t end up in the recycling bin. It’s appalling how much packaging some of these orders create, especially the farther away the delivery point is from the source.

Getty Images

not even taking into consideration if the purchase doesn’t fit, isn’t liked or needs to go back for some reason. That’s a new round of pollution, from air quality to further pressure on already butchered and potholed streets. Decreasing the carbon footprint? Right. It’s hard to imagine, but it gets worse. Lost taxes. Communities and government jurisdictions miss out on revenue from retail taxes when consumers buy online. One stop at a local gift store represents dollars into the community, jobs in the community, and while there still is

means more items in less packaging. When an entity wants you to give up plastic straws to cut pollution is one thing, but how about giving up online ordering because of the pollution? Let’s see who’s really committed to cutting pollution. It takes a little more work to buy local, but it sure is worth it. And starting to plan now can make the transition for next Christmas easier. - by the Editorial Board, The Enterprise-Record


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H.O.P.E celebrates Christmas with children and adults with special needs

Children with special presented a musical program.

Heaven’s Own Precious Eyes (H.O.P.E) celebrated Christmas for children and adults with special needs on Dec. 28th at 5pm at the Immanuel Mar Thoma Church, Stafford, Houston. Choirs from different churches participated and presented carols for the kids with special needs. Adults with special needs presented musical pieces. It was well appreciated. Rev.Roshan V. Mathew gave Christmas message and Rev.Jacob Thomas, Rev. A.V.Thomas and Rev.Abraham Varghese attended the program. HOPE plans to start a Day Activity Center in the facility improvement project of the IMTC, The program ended with dinner sponsored by the well wishers.

HOPE members with Immanuel Mar Thoma Church officials during Christmas celebrations.

Mayor Sylveter Turner celebrates his 2nd win as Mayor

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huge celebration took place on the eve of 2nd Jan. 2020 at The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston . Here, the entire City Council joined several prominent people of Houston and supporters of Mayor Turner who were invited to celebrate Mayor Turner’s 2nd term victory as Mayor of Houston ( Jan. 2020 to Dec. 2023).

This was a celebration after the oath taking ceremony in that morning. The evening was festive with the beating of drums , music and several tables decked up with a variety of food and drinks . The Mayor took the stage flanked by his daughter about 7:45 p.m. to recognize the council members , Congresswoman Shiela Jack-

son Lee and several other dignitaries. He thanked volunteers and supporters for all their help in getting him re-elected and looked forward to 4 more years of progress in making Houston a much Better City.

ond four-year term leading Texas’ largest city — and the fourth most populous in the country.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner easily won reelection against challenger Tony Buzbee in a runoff that proved less dramatic than the first round and affirmed the city’s status as a Democratic stronghold, despite an 11th-hour intervention tied to President Donald Trump.

The race was nonpartisan, though Turner, a former longtime Democratic state representative, harnessed the support of his party to beat back Buzbee, who presented himself as an independent reformer. He refused campaign donations while self-funding his bid to the tune of over $10 million. Turner almost won reelection outright in the initial Nov. 5 election, getting 47% of the vote to Buzbee’s 28% in a crowded field.

Turner defeated lawyer Tony Buzbee, 57% to 43%, in mid December 2019 runoff election . Turner will now serve a sec-

Turner was first elected in 2015 in a much tighter runoff, defeating businessman Bill King by 2 percentage points.

Indian American community leaders Dr. Arun Verma and wife Vinni Verma (left and right side of the Mayor) share a moment with Mayor Turner at the victory party.


VOICE OF ASIA 4

Section 2

FRIDAY, January 10, 2020

Family Health Email: voiceasia@aol.com

Delayed Zika effects seen in babies who appeared healthy at birth by Ivan Couronne

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ASHINGTON | AFP | 1/6/2020 - Infants in Colombia who were exposed to the Zika virus in the womb showed motor and cognitive development delays in their first 18 months of life, despite having a normal head circumference at birth, scientists reported Monday. Their study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, involved 70 babies born on Colombia’s Caribbean coast between August 2016 and November 2017, the height of an epidemic that spread across South America and led the World Health Organization to declare a global emergency. The Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes, and can cause pregnant mothers to give birth to babies with a pattern of defects and disabilities called “congenital Zika syndrome.” These include severe microcephaly, decreased brain tissue, damage to the eyes, clubfoot and restricted motion. But some 90-95 percent of babies whose mothers carried the Zika virus during pregnancy are born without any defects, and the impact on their brain development had remained largely unknown. “This is the group of babies that I think no one was very worried about,” Sarah Mulkey, a fetal and neonatal neurologist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington and the study’s first author, told AFP. “Now we’re finding that these normal appearing babies are having a difference in their developmental trajectory over time,” as measured by the time it took them to hit markers like crawling, walking, or playing peekaboo. To approach the question, a multi-institutional group enrolled pregnant women in Colombia’s Atlantico Department who had laboratory-confirmed Zika infections, and then selected babies

Zika can cause pregnant mothers to give birth to babies with a pattern of defects without birth defects for the study. After birth, the babies were evaluated twice up to the age of 18 months using two widely recognized tools: a 50-item questionnaire called the Warner Initial Developmental Evaluation of Adaptive and Functional Skills, and the Alberta Infant Motor Scale, which is based on observations. - Follow-up needed Most of the babies were also given postnatal cranial ultrasound scans, with about 30 percent showing subtle brain abnormalities like tiny cysts that are also found in the general population but at much lower rates, of around two to five percent, and aren’t normally deemed problematic. When it came to the questionnaire, researchers found that the babies in the study performed on the whole worse than average. “We saw the largest difference, though, in their mobility score, which asked questions about a baby rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, climbing stairs,” said Mulkey. There was also some divergence in social and cognitive

scores, based on questions about their ability to perform tasks like taking turns to roll a ball or playing peekaboo. During the observational assessments of motor skills, which were videotaped, the team found that the babies with the minor brain abnormalities performed worse than those without the defects. According to Mulkey, taken together, the development delays were generally in the order of several months compared to babies not exposed to Zika, subtle enough to be missed in the absence of specialized testing, and underscored the need for longterm follow-up. “What this paper shows is that these babies that are normal appearing that were exposed in utero have differences in their development, but we don’t yet know how it’s going to affect them at age five and age eight, because none of these children have reached that age.” The children could conceivably catch up over time, or their development could continue to get worse -- a question the team is trying to answer with the next phase of the study.

No link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, finds major study

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Flu vaccination is especially important for people 65 years and older because they are at high risk of developing serious complications from flu. Flu vaccines are updated each season as needed to keep up with changing viruses. Also, immunity wanes over a year so annual vaccination is needed to ensure the best possible protection against flu. A flu vaccine protects against the flu viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. 2019-2020 flu vaccine has been updated from last season’s vaccine to better match circulating viruses. Immunity from vaccination fully sets in after about two weeks. People 65 years and older should get a flu shot and not a nasal spray vaccine. They can get any flu vaccine approved for use in that age group with no preference for any one vaccine over another. There are regular flu shots that are approved for use in people 65 years and older and there also are two vaccines designed specifically for people 65 years and older: High dose flu vaccine and adjuvanted flu vaccine. If your doctor recommends that you get a vaccine, in most cases it will be covered by your Part D plan. Part D plans must include most commercially available vaccines on their formularies, including the vaccine for shingles (herpes zoster). The only exceptions are flu, pneumonia, and hepatitis B vaccinations, which are covered by Part B of Medicare. The amount you pay for your vaccine may vary depending on where you get vaccinated. Be sure to check your plan’s cover-

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suspected of entering the ovaries via the vagina and uterus.

It comes after Johnson & Johnson was ordered in 2018 to pay out $4.7 billion to 22 women who had claimed that asbestos in the company’s talcum powder products caused them to develop ovarian cancer. An appeal is underway.

The effect is also difficult to isolate because ovarian cancers themselves are rare: only 1.3 percent of all women risk being affected in their lifetimes.

Four in ten US women say they have used the powder, either through direct application or via underwear, sanitary pads or a diaphragm. The practice is common among older generations but persists among some younger women too. In the 1970s, concern began to arise over the contamination of the mineral talc with asbestos, which often form alongside each other in nature. Some studies showed a higher risk of ovarian cancer among users of talcum powder, which was

The link remained contested because of the low number of studies carried out over five decades, and some had statistically weak results.

In the new paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from various centers across the US therefore synthesized the data from four large studies which followed a quarter of a million women from 1982 to 2017. The studies surveyed participants every year or two on a diverse set of questions related to health, including the use of talcum powder. The hope was that by scaling up the number of participants, it would be possible to discern with statistical validity weak effects that on a smaller popu-

lation would not be detectable. Among the 252,745 women followed for a median period of 11.2 years, 2,168 developed ovarian cancer. No statistically significant association was found when comparing women who had used powder and those who had never used it. Nor was any significant association found when comparing frequent against infrequent use and long time use against short. But, although the study is the largest of its kind with the longest follow-up time, the authors said there were several limitations. These included that two of the four data sets missed information on frequency and duration of use. There are also inherent limitations associated with so-called observational studies of the population at large -- as opposed to controlled clinical trials for drugs -- including failure to account for all possible external factors.

age rules and see where you can get your vaccine at the lowest cost. Typically, you will pay the least for your vaccinations at: •

In-network pharmacies

A doctor’s office that

o coordinates with a pharmacy to bill your Part D plan for the entire cost of the vaccination process (the drug and its injection) o or, can bill your plan directly for the vaccination process using an electronic billing system When you are vaccinated in either of the above settings, you should only need to pay the plan’s approved coinsurance or copay for the drug and vaccination process. When you get a vaccine at your doctor’s office, ask the provider to call your Part D plan first to find out if your provider can bill your Part D plan directly. If this is possible, you should not have to pay the full out-of-pocket cost and later request reimbursement from your plan. You may end up paying more for your vaccination if your provider: • cannot coordinate with a pharmacy to bill your Part D plan for the entire cost of the vaccination (the drug and its injection) • and/or, cannot bill your plan directly for the vaccination process using an electronic billing system In these circumstances, your provider will bill you for the entire cost of the vaccination (the drug and its injection). You

Sudhir Mathuria HEALTHLIFE 360 713-771-2900

will have to pay the entire bill up front and request reimbursement from your Part D plan. It is important to know that your provider may charge you more than the Part D approved amount for the vaccination, but your plan will only reimburse up to the approved amount—and you will not be refunded for any amount you pay the provider above the Part D approved amount. If you have Extra Help, you can go to any provider or in-network pharmacy to get vaccines. You will be covered for your vaccination and will only be responsible for the Extra Help copay. However, if you get your vaccine from a provider who does not directly bill your plan, you may need to pay the entire bill up front and then request reimbursement from your plan. To learn more about Medicare plans and choose a suitable Medicare Advantage plan, Medicare Supplement plan or Medicare Prescription plan contact Sudhir Mathuria at 713-771-2900.

READ LATEST ON HEALTH INSURANCE by Sudhir Mathuria ONLINE WWW.VOICEOFASIA.NEWS

Texas HHS Receives Grant to Improve Nutrition for Older Texans State’s Congregate Meal Program to Help More Seniors

“Having a place to go to share a meal and good company reduces hunger and food insecurity, and is important to maintaining good health,” said Wayne Salter, deputy executive commissioner for HHS Access and Eligibility Services. “Serving meals in a group setting is more than just nourishment for the body, it nourishes the soul for those who participate.”

ASHINGTON | AFP | 1/7/2020 - A new study published Tuesday examining data from over 250,000 women across the United States found no link between the use of talcum powder in the genital area and ovarian cancer.

Tel: 713-774-5140

Learn How Medicare covers Part B vaccines-Influenza Vaccination

AUSTIN – Texas Health and Human Services will use a threeyear, $750,000 grant to increase participation in the congregate meal program, which provides nutritious meals in a community setting to people age 60 and older.

Johnson & Johnson was ordered last year to pay out $4.7 billion to 22 women who had claimed that asbestos in the company’s talcum powder products caused them to develop ovarian cancer

While Texas’ aging population continues to grow, participation in the congregate meal program is declining. Established through the Older Americans Act of 1965, the program provides a wholesome meal in a community setting where people can socialize and participate in activities offered at the site, such as board games. The program includes nutrition education classes, chronic disease prevention classes, and other activities. The grant will fund modernization of Texas’ congregate meal program through the creation of the Texas Congregate Meal Ini-

tiative. As part of the initiative, HHS will partner with Texas A&M University to conduct research to identify causes for the decline in program participation. The Texas Congregate Meal Initiative will also provide training and project development practices, inspire innovation, increase participation in local congregate meal programs, and improve satisfaction, health, and well-being among the senior population in Texas. “This is great news for our senior citizens,” said Rep. James White. “We stand on the broad shoulders of these great Texans and I am elated that HHSC will provide our local communities with more resources to serve our seniors.” According to the US Census Bureau, between 2005 and 2017 the population of individuals age 60 and older has increased by 65 percent in Texas while the number of meals served through this program has decreased by nearly 25 percent. Participation in congregate meal programs has declined nationwide as well. “We are especially pleased to be partnering with the Mays Business School, Texas Health and Human Services, and the Area

Agencies on Aging on a project with the potential for improving the quality of life for aging populations throughout Texas,” said Nandita Chaudhuri, research scientist at the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University. “This type of project fits perfectly within the mission of the Public Policy Research Institute. The results have the potential to reduce social isolation among aging populations by connecting seniors to other members of their community through congregate meals.” As a part of this initiative, HHS will utilize Texas’ 28 Area Agencies on Aging and their congregate meal providers to gather comprehensive statewide data. Area Agencies on Aging provide supportive services to people age 60 and older, their family members, and caregivers across the state’s 254 counties. These services give individuals the resources to maintain healthy and independent lives in their communities. Seniors interested in participating in the congregate meal program can call 2-1-1 for the nearest location. For more information about HHS programs and services, visit hhs.texas.gov


VOICE OF ASIA 5

FRIDAY, January 10, 2020

Food & Fine Dinning

Section 2

Email: voiceasia@aol.com

For Healthier Eating, Grill More in the New Year

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• Grate ginger into a separate “wet ingredients” bowl. Mince garlic cloves and dice onions into the same bowl. Juice limes and add chicken bone broth, aloe leaf juice, Truvia and Truvia Nectar. Mix and set bowl aside.

lanning to follow a trendy diet like keto in 2020 or simply want to eat right? There’s good news -grilling can be a great option for you to kickstart eating healthier in the new year. Indeed, the American Heart Association recommends it. “Grilling is a yearround way of life, bringing together family and friends,” says Jeff Thiessen, president of Pit Boss Grills. “Luckily, those watching their diets can still get healthy foods with the fun and flavor of a backyard barbecue.” Use these tips to make healthier meals prepared on the grill: • Let your spices do the heavy lifting: You can add exciting and bold flavor to any recipe using seasoning mixtures. Spice up foods like veggies or lean meats with seasoned rubs or marinades for amazing flavor without all the calories. • Eat fresher: Round out recipes by including fresh vegetables. For the best flavor and highest nutritional value, look for locally-grown produce. Vegetables make an excellent addition to any meal as grilled kabobs or chopped up and tossed in your favorite chili. • Be versatile: A healthy diet is a versatile diet. Look for a grill offering multiple cooking options, including baking, roasting and smoking, such as Pit Boss Grills. Their 8-in-1 versatile grills allow you to do it all with one-ofa-kind hardwood flavor. • Try it yourself: For a delicious spin on a favorite barbecue classic, try this Healthy Hawaiian Pulled Pork, right from the Pit Boss playbook. Ingredients:

• 2 cups aloe leaf juice • 1 teaspoon coriander, ground • 2 teaspoons cracked pepper • 1 teaspoon cumin • Dash of salt • 4-6 garlic cloves • 1 3-inch ginger, fresh • 1-2 limes • 4 cups no sodium added chicken bone broth • 1/4 cup olive oil • 4 teaspoons paprika • 6-8 pounds pork shoulder/butt • 1/2 sweet onion • 2 packets Truvia • 2 tablespoons Truvia Nectar Directions: • Set grill to “smoke.” Once the pot catches, turn the grill up to 300 degrees F. Make sure your flame broiler is closed, you’ll want to use indirect heat. • Add spices to a bowl. Set aside.

• Add the oil to your Pit Boss Cast Iron Roasting Pan and coat the bottom and sides. Place pork inside. • Coat pork with dry rub. • Pour wet ingredients around the pork. Cover with lid and set on the grill. • Check every couple hours, basting if needed. When internal temperature reaches 195 degrees F (after 6-8 hours), it should easily start to pull apart. Don’t pull apart the whole shoulder yet. • Remove roasting pan from grill and set aside for 1 hour. Remove lid to help speed cooling. • Once cooled, shred pork into a separate bowl, removing fat. If adding marinade for additional flavor, skim fat off the top and discard. • Pair with fresh grilled veggies, delicious fruit or make tacos or salads, and voila! To shop grills, as well as find cooking tips, grilling resources and additional recipes, visit pitboss-grills.com. By following the keys to healthy grilling, you can create guilt-free meals in 2020. - StatePoint

LONDON | AFP 1/3/2020 - A British judge ruled Friday that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief and is protected under anti-discrimination laws. The ruling came as part of an employment tribunal being heard in Norwich, eastern England, between Jordi Casamitjana and his former employers the League Against Cruel Sports, a group that campaigns Jordi Casamitjana after a judge ruled that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief against blood and therefore protected by law. sports such as recreational hunting.

Judge Robin Postle determined that ethical veganism meets the tests required to be a philosophical belief and is therefore protected under the Equality Act 2010. Ethical vegans follow a vegan diet but also exclude animal-derived products such as wool and leather from their daily lives. They also try to abstain from using items such as cosmetics that underwent animal testing. Spanish-born Casamitjana, 55, says he was fired from an animal welfare charity for raising concerns about its pension fund’s alleged investment in companies that use animal testing.

Tel: 713-774-5140

Why a Personalized Diet Can Help You Achieve Better Results From custom-designed sneakers to tailor-made sunglasses, the trend of personalization is going head-to-toe, and for good reason, making its way to the world of weight loss and wellness.

Ethical veganism is a protected belief: UK judge

The decision “will influence the life of many vegans”, said Casamitjana, who declined to discuss the rest of the ongoing case for legal reasons.

www.voiceofasia.news

He claims he was unfairly disciplined for making this disclosure and that his dismissal by the League Against Cruel Sports was due to his vegan beliefs. The league says he was dismissed for gross misconduct. Following Friday’s decision, the tribunal will go on to determine whether the League Against Cruel Sports treated Casamitjana less favourably due to his belief in ethical veganism. - ‘Domino effect’ “I was successful because of the weight of the evidence. It’s so obvious that veganism is a philosophical belief,” said Casamitjana. He said the judge’s decision would help promote veganism. “Vegans that might be afraid

about talking about their belief, that might be feeling that they are not welcome, they will feel empowered now,” he told reporters. “They will be more expressive in manifesting that veganism. “That expression will create more vegans and more vegans will help more animals, the environment, health. It will be a domino effect.” Britain’s 2010 Equality Act says a “philosophical belief” must be genuine “and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information available”. To be protected under the act, a belief must meet certain tests, including being worthy of respect in a democratic society, not being incompatible with human dignity and not conflicting with the fundamental rights of others.

Specifically, researchers have been studying two converging topics in recent years. One is the importance of body type in determining the combination of fats, carbohydrates and protein that will provide the best results for a given individual. The other is the variability of results associated with a single diet -- the idea that if two people start the same diet at the same time, their results could be drastically different. On top of that, consumer research shows that people overwhelmingly prefer personalized experiences. Sixty percent of consumers agree that personalization is essential to weight loss and overall wellness. Here’s what to know about why personalized diets are becoming so popular and how to find the right diet for you: The Importance of Body Type The places your body stores excess fat may be the single greatest predictor of health outcomes. This is the concept behind Nutrisystem’s assessment of the four most common body types: “Apple,” “Pear,” “Hourglass” and “Rectangle.” “We’re going a bit old school here, because these categories have stood the test of time for a reason. They provide crucial information on how you respond to food intake and can help you to adjust what you eat based on your goals,” says Courtney McCormick, corporate dietitian at

Photo source: (c) Rawpixel / iStock via Getty Images Plus Nutrisystem. Body type can also influence how macronutrients like fat, protein, and carbs are processed. To fulfill your individual needs, first determine your body type, food preferences and goals, then look for a weight loss plan that takes these important factors into consideration, such as Nutrisystem. One Size Does Not Fit All The DIETFITS study, a large, randomized research study comparing low-fat versus low-carb dietary patterns found no difference in weight loss between them. But drilling down into the data, one can see great variability. Some dieters gained weight while others lost a lot. But it’s not always about weight outcomes, as recent research has shown that factors such as body shape may play a bigger role in the determinants of health risks than body weight alone. For instance, a woman who is

apple-shaped tends to carry her extra weight in the mid-section. She would see best results on a lower-glycemic nutrition plan that is lower in refined carbs and higher in healthy fats and protein. “Research shows that one size does not fit all when it comes to weight loss and disease prevention,” says McCormick. “That’s why we’ve created a unique, personalized approach that’s easy to follow and designed to help participants lose weight and get healthy.” For more insights on how to personalize your diet and maximize results, visit leaf.nutrisystem.com. While it’s no secret that achieving one’s weight loss goals is challenging, personalizing your plan can help make things easier, ultimately providing you a greater chance of success. - StatePoint


COMMUNITY

VOICE OF ASIA 6

FRIDAY, January 10, 2020

Swapan Dhairyawan sets a new trend for IACCGH as its 2-term President by Manu Shah

the US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster as Keynote Speakers at the Annual Galas, joining the Mayor’s trade delegation to India and being featured in the Houston Business Journal’s Business page. All

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owards the end of 2018, IACCGH’s Board of Directors called for a special meeting to amend the bylaws that would enable the present President to continue for one more year. This change would make Swapan Dhairyawan the first President in the history of the Chamber to have a two year term. This extension, Swapan believes, offered greater continuity and more time “to sow the seeds” in the planning and execution of programs.

Swapan, a business owner who heads his own Certified Public Accountancy firm - MD & Associates LLP, has been associated with the Chamber since 2004 when he took up a friend’s invitation to attend a Chamber networking event. The potential made him renew his membership every year. In 2012, he joined the Board and became Treasurer. For five years, Swapan oversaw the books and in 2017, was voted unanimously as President for the year 2018. On December 31, 2019, he completed his term and describes the experience as “gratifying and incredibly rewarding.” During these two years, the Chamber put out 71 events that ran the gamut from Women’s initiatives, entrepreneurship and trade delegations. Having worked closely with Swapan all these years, Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia says his ability to “think beyond the possibilities and build on a program is one of the many traits that make him a true leader.” Apart from empowering small businesses, one of Swapan’s goals was to reach out to different communities and work with other organizations like the Jamatkhana, the Indian Doctors Association, TiE, IIT Alumni, Vadtal Dham and

Swapan Dhairyawan served two terms as IACCGH President

the Meenakshi Temple to see how the Chamber could help their members. Events were organized with them including several others which connected businesses that had been impacted by Hurricane Harvey to access interest free loans and other business resources. Speaking of the Howdy Modi event where he was drafted into the Special Invitations Committee, he says that not only did the event put Houston on the world map 50 years after the landing on the moon, (remember “Houston, we have a problem”) but the chemistry between Prime Minister Modi and President Trump bode well for US-India relations. Swapan was also part of the Trade Mission to India led by Mayor Turner in 2018 that comprised of three big partners – the Chamber, the Greater Houston Partnership and Visit Houston. As of May 2019, India was ranked as Houston’s

4th largest trading partner and such trade missions – Swapan believes, strengthen ties with Indian businesses, investors and government officials. Under Swapan’s watch, there were two new entrants to the Chamber’s list of events. The Generational Transition panel discussion which invited a parent and child of Indo American business families to weigh in on the business transition plan and the Open Forum Radio Talk Show featuring a live interview with one member of the Chamber every month. The former, unsurprisingly, elicited a great deal of interest and discussion while the latter brought some high visibility to Chamber members. What does he consider the highlights of his term? Considering his answer carefully, Swapan lists three: having Governor Greg Abbott and

three, he believes, were possible because of the continuous contributions of the Chamber to Houston’s economy over the last 20 years. As he leaves his unique

footprint on the Chamber’s activities, Swapan intends to remain closely involved with the Chamber and continue his championing of small businesses – a cause that’s closest to his heart.


ASIA/SOUTH ASIA

VOICE OF ASIA 7

Pakistan urges US and Iran to ratchet down tensions

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SLAMABAD | AFP | Monday 1/6/2020 - Pakistan’s foreign minister said Monday the country would not be dragged into any conflict between the US and Iran as he urged both sides to lower tensions following the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani last week.

Pakistan shares a 997-kilometre (620-mile) border with Iran, and for decades has tried to balance ties with Tehran with a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia -- while also representing Iran’s consular interests in the US. Tensions continued to mount across the Middle East Monday after a US drone strike killed the 62-year-old general in Iraq, prompting Iran to vow “severe

revenge” on its long-time foe. “We will not become part of any efforts to light a fire, nor will we allow our soil to be used against any other state as part of our policy to prevent instability in the region,” foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told parliament. “It will be disastrous if conflict breaks out. It will also engulf us,” he added, while offering to help mediate as it Pakistan has done in the past. Last year, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan travelled between Saudi Arabia and Iran in a bid to defuse tension between the rivals. Soleimani was one of Iran’s

most popular public figures and was considered an instrumental figure in helping build and lead Shiite militias across the Middle East to expand Iranian influence. The security forces of Sunni-majority Pakistan have kept a watchful eye on hardline Shiites who are believed to have travelled to the Middle East to receive training from Iranian militias, fearing the fighters could ignite sectarian bloodshed on their return. Iran has also claimed militants have used Pakistan to launch attacks, with Tehran last year accusing a Pakistani suicide bomber of killing 27 members of its elite Revolutionary Guard, which Soleimani headed.

Pakistan parliament passes law limiting age, tenure of army chief

Pakistan Indian court orders urges US bus rapists hanged and Iran on January 22 to ratchet down tensions

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SLAMABAD | AFP | Monday 1/6/2020 - Pakistan’s foreign minister said Monday the country would not be dragged into any conflict between the US and Iran as he urged both sides to lower tensions following the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani last week.

Pakistan shares a 997-kilometre (620-mile) border with Iran, and for decades has tried to balance ties with Tehran with a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia -- while also representing Iran’s consular interests in the US. Tensions continued to mount across the Middle East Monday after a US drone strike killed the 62-year-old general in Iraq, prompting Iran to vow “severe revenge” on its long-time foe. “We will not become part of any efforts to light a fire, nor will we allow our soil to be used against any other state as part of our policy to prevent instability in the region,” foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told parliament. “It will be disastrous if conflict breaks out. It will also engulf us,” he added, while offering to help mediate as it Pakistan has done in the past.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa is set to benefit from the new law, with his tenure already due to have been extended in November [File: AFP]

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan | AFP | Tuesday 1/7/2020 - Pakistan’s parliament on Tuesday passed laws limiting the maximum age and tenure of the country’s army chief, a significant move in a country which has been ruled by the powerful military for nearly half its existence. The legislation came after the supreme court last year challenged Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to extend the appointment of army chief General Qamer Javed Bajwa, 59, by a further three years.

Pakistan has been ruled by the military for roughly half its 72-year history, and the army is seen as the most powerful institution in the country. The term for a military chief is supposed to be three years, but Bajwa was the latest in a long line of generals to see their tenure extended. The legislation passed in Pakistan’s lower house Tuesday also sets a maximum age of 64 for the chiefs of the army, air force and navy. The bill now goes to the senate, where it is expected to pass

before being signed into law by the president. Bajwa was appointed to lead the military in 2016, taking over from the popular General Raheel Sharif. Since taking power, however, Bajwa and the military have been criticised for cracking down on civil society and have been accused of orchestrating Khan’s victory in the 2018 elections. There have been nine army chiefs since Pakistan’s independence in 1947 following partition with India.

Airlines avoid Iran and Iraq airspace

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ARIS, France | AFP | Wednesday 1/8/2020 Several international airlines said Wednesday they would avoid Iranian and Iraqi airspace after Tehran fired ballistic missiles at bases housing US troops in Iraq.

Lufthansa and its Austrian Airlines unit nonetheless decided to maintain flights to the Iranian capital, Tehran, this week, a statement said. Iran launched more than 20 missiles at bases housing US troops in the early hours, officials in Washington and Tehran said. Iran’s supreme leader called the attacks a “slap in the face” after a US drone strike killed Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani near Baghdad international airport last week. In Germany, Lufthansa said it had halted overflights of Iran and Iraq until further notice. But it added that “since Tehran Airport is open and there are no security restrictions for the approach route or the area around the airport, Austrian Airlines will operate today’s flight OS 871 to Tehran with a delay of around six hours. “Lufthansa also plans to resume the route tomorrow,” the airline said. Lufthansa said it had cancelled a flight scheduled Satur-

day to the northern Iraqi city of Erbil. - Iran/Iraq overflights Meanwhile, the US Federal Aviation Administration banned US-registered carriers from flying over Iraq, Iran and the Gulf, citing the potential for “misidentification” of aircraft. Its Russian counterpart, the Federal Air Transport Agency, said it was recommending that airlines avoid the air space over Iran, Iraq and the Persian and Oman Gulfs “due to information about current risks for safety of international passenger flights”. The region is a central corridor for flights between Europe and Asia, but aircraft can be rerouted fairly easily.

and Iraq. Japanese airlines ANA and JAL, and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific said their planes do not fly through airspace affected by latest flare-up. UAE carriers Emirates Airline and low-cost Flydubai scrubbed flights to Baghdad for “operational reasons”. Bahrein Airways and Kuwait Airways had already suspended flights to Iraq shortly after Soleimani’s assassination, and on Tuesday, EgyptAir said it would as well, for three days.

When you find some time, READ!

An Air France spokesman told AFP: “Air France has decided to suspend until further notice all flights through Iranian and Iraqi airspace.” Partner airline KLM was doing likewise, a spokesman said. Carriers that took similar decisions included Air Canada, Air India, Malaysia Airlines, Polish LOT, Singapore Airlines, Swiss and Quantas. Vietnam Airlines said it would make “appropriate adjustments” to routes to avoid areas of potential instability although its regular flight paths to Europe do not pass over Iran

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FRIDAY, January 10, 2020

Last year, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan travelled between Saudi Arabia and Iran in a bid to defuse tension between the rivals. Soleimani was one of Iran’s most popular public figures and was considered an instrumental figure in helping build and lead Shiite militias across the Middle East to expand Iranian influence. The security forces of Sunni-majority Pakistan have kept a watchful eye on hardline Shiites who are believed to have travelled to the Middle East to receive training from Iranian militias, fearing the fighters could ignite sectarian bloodshed on their return. Iran has also claimed militants have used Pakistan to launch attacks, with Tehran last year accusing a Pakistani suicide bomber of killing 27 members of its elite Revolutionary Guard, which Soleimani headed.

Pawan Gupta (left), Vinay Sharma (second left), Mukesh Singh (second right) and Akshay Singh (right) have been sentenced to die on January

Continued from Page 1

late her with a metal rod as the bus drove around the capital, before dumping her and the beaten-up friend in a roadside ditch. Singh died of her injuries nearly a fortnight after the attack -- in Singapore, where she had been flown for specialist treatment. Tens of thousands of Indians took to the streets in protest, and the case led to a major overhaul of laws surrounding sexual assault. It also spawned an award-winning documentary as well as a

Netflix series. Singh’s family said they were pleased with the ruling. “This judgement will reinstate women’s faith in the judiciary,” Jyoti’s mother Asha Devi told journalists. “My daughter will finally get justice.” Her father Badrinath Singh described it as a “good decision for the entire country”. “But our struggle will continue for many other daughters who are in a similar situation across India,” he added.

Furore after top Bollywood star attends student demo Continued from Page 1

The protest came two days after masked attackers went on a rampage inside the campus of the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), leaving 34 students and faculty members injured. Police reportedly stood by and did nothing, while videos purportedly from the scene showed masked men swinging batons as students screamed in terror. Noone has been arrested in connection with the violence. The incident has been blamed on the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a student body linked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. The group denied involvement. Padukone’s appearance led to calls -- including from BJP

spokesman Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga -- for her upcoming film “Chhapaak” to be boycotted, while others accused her of a publicity stunt ahead of its release on Friday. “It is said Bollywood doesn’t take a stand,” Advaita Kala, a screenwriter and commentator, said on Twitter. “@deepikapadukone has decided to take a stand with the Leftist students at JNU. She shd be informed that ABVP students have also been injured. Rather than a partisan approach, wish she’d used her celebrity to build a bridge between students,” Kala added. But others jumped to her defence, calling for people to go and see her movie in solidarity, leading to a battle of hashtags including “#ISupportDeepika” and “#boycottChapaak”.


US/WORLD

VOICE OF ASIA 8

NATO chief backs Trump: Allies can do more in MidEast

FRIDAY, January 10, 2020

Ukraine passenger jet crashes in Iran killing all 176 on board

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RUSSELS, Belgium | AFP | 1/8/2020 - NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg spoke with US President Donald Trump on Wednesday and agreed that the western allies should take a more prominent role in the Middle East.

“The President asked the secretary general for NATO to become more involved in the Middle East,” a NATO statement said, after the call between Washington and Brussels. “They agreed that NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism.” Earlier, in a statement on a night of Iranian missile strikes on US bases in Iraq, Trump had said: “Today I am going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East process.” The 70-year-old Atlantic alliance boasts that it is the most successful in history, and was the lynchpin of Western European security throughout the Cold War. But its role, and indeed its founding treaty, has been focused on Europe and North America,

File photo of NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg. (AFP) despite the challenges facing the allied militaries in Asia, North Africa and the Near East. NATO does have a roughly 500-strong training mission in Iraq, but it has been suspended since Friday’s US strike killing Iranian commander Qasem Suleimani in Baghdad. Some of the allied troops attached to the mission have been withdrawn from Iraq for their safety, but Stoltenberg has described this as a temporary measure. Trump has often criticised

Washington’s European allies for not pulling their weight, as he sees it, within the alliance, but Stoltenberg has said they are ready. The NATO statement did not go into detail as to what more the allies could do in Iraq and the crisis with Iran, but the leaders “agreed to stay in close contact on the issue.” “NATO plays a key role in the fight against international terrorism,” it said, citing training missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and the coalition against the Islamic State group.

Britain’s Prince Harry, Meghan to step back as ‘senior’ royals

Iranian recovery teams inspect the wreckage of the Ukrainian airliner which crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran with the loss of all 176 people on board. AFP Photo.

by David Vujanovic with Ania Tsoukanova in Kiev

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EHRAN, Iran | AFP | Wednesday 1/8/2020 - A Ukrainian airliner crashed shortly after take-off from Tehran Wednesday killing all 176 people on board, in a disaster striking a region rattled by heightened military tensions.

The crash -- which killed mainly Iranians and Canadians -- came shortly after Tehran launched missiles at bases in Iraq housing American troops, in response to the US killing a top Iranian general last week. There was no immediate indication of foul play over the plane crash and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned against “speculating” on causes. An aviation risk monitoring group pointed to “obvious projectile like holes in the fuselage and a wing section,” but Nick Waters, a senior investigator for Bellingcat, urged caution.

The duke and duchess of Sussex, also known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, have announced that they will step back from certain royal duties. The couple is seen here on Tuesday in London. AFP.

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ONDON | AFP | 1/8/2020 - Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will step back as senior members of the royal family and spend more time in North America, the couple said in a shock announcement on Wednesday.

The surprise news follows a turbulent year for the monarchy, with signs that the couple have increasingly struggled with the pressures of royal life and family rifts. “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the royal family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen,” they said in a statement released by Buckingham Palace. “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” they added. “We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America.” What constitutes a senior royal is not officially defined, although it is generally considered to be one who is close to the throne and continually carries out duties on behalf of the crown. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent Christmas in Canada after speaking of the pressure of being in the spotlight following their fairytale wedding at Windsor Castle in 2018 and son Archie’s birth in May. They had previously announced they would miss Christmas with Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the royal family, choosing to spend it instead with the duchess’ mother, Doria Ragland. Harry, who is sixth in line to the throne, said in October that he and his brother Prince William were on “different paths” and admitted tension in their re-

lationship. “We don’t see each other as much as we used to because we are so busy but I love him dearly,” he said in an ITV television interview. - Media war Meghan also admitted that it had been a “struggle” becoming a mother while living under an intense media spotlight. There are rumours of a feud with William’s wife Kate, and she said her British friends had warned her not to marry Harry. “The British tabloids will destroy your life,” she said they told her. Asked in the ITV interview if she was “not really OK” and life had “really been a struggle”, she replied simply: “Yes.”. The couple recently launched legal action against British tabloid The Mail on Sunday for al-

leged invasion of privacy over a letter from the duchess to her father. It came with a stinging statement from Harry about general tabloid coverage.

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“Together with the Academy, we have decided there will be no traditional host, repeating for us what worked last year,” ABC entertainment president Karey Burke told a television summit near Los Angeles, according to showbiz website Deadline Hollywood. “[It will have] huge entertainment values, big musical numbers, comedy and star power.” An ABC spokeswoman confirmed the report to AFP.

Search-and-rescue teams combed through the smoking wreckage of the Boeing 737 flight from Tehran to Kiev but officials said there was no hope

The vast majority of the passengers on the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight were non-Ukrainians, including 82 Iranians and 63 Canadians, officials said. The US aviation authority said it had banned US-registered carriers from flying over Iraq, Iran and the Gulf, and airlines including Lufthansa and Air France suspended flights through Iraqi and Iranian airspace. Footage released by Iranian state media showed a field on fire and the smouldering wreck of the plane. Body bags were lined up on the ground and the passengers’ personal items -- including luggage, clothes, a Santa Claus doll and a boxing glove -- were scattered in the debris. UIA, the ex-Soviet country’s privately owned main carrier, said flight PS752 took off from Tehran airport at 6:10 am and disappeared from radars minutes later. It slammed into farmland at Khalaj Abad, in Shahriar county, about 45 kilometres (just under 30 miles) northwest of the airport, Iranian state media said.

Iran’s civil aviation authority said it would not hand the airliner’s two black boxes over to Boeing or US authorities, but that Iran would cooperate with Ukraine. Without naming Iran directly, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for “complete cooperation with any investigation into the cause of the crash”. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Ottawa would work to ensure a thorough investigation. “This morning, I join Canadians across the country who are shocked and saddened” by the crash, he said. “Our government will continue to work closely with its international partners to ensure that... (it) is thoroughly investigated, and that Canadians’ questions are answered.” Passengers also included 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons, Ukraine’s foreign minister said. Eleven Ukrainians -- including the nine crew -- were among the victims. Canada is home to a large Iranian expatriate community and UIA offers discount flights between Tehran and Toronto, transiting Kiev.

Harry is also suing two newspaper groups over alleged voice mail interception, or phone hacking.

Trump viewed negatively around the world: Pew survey

Asked if Meghan was facing the same media pressures as Diana, Harry replied: “I have a family to protect.

Washington, United States | AFP | Wednesday 1/8/2020 09:07 UTC-6 | 396 words

“I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum.” The royals had hoped to turn over a new page in 2020 following a year of trials and tribulations that Queen Elizabeth called “quite bumpy” in her Christmas Day message. Last year began with the monarch’s husband Prince Philip overturning his Land Rover after crashing it into an oncoming car.

Oscars to go without host for second year OS ANGELES,s | AFP | 1/8/2020 - The Oscars will again go without a host next month, repeating a format credited with boosting ratings last year, US network ABC confirmed Wednesday.

At least some of the purported holes “actually appear to be small rocks or other debris in higher resolution images”, he said on Twitter.

of finding anyone alive.

Last year, the Oscars decided to go without a host -- the first time in three decades -- after their original choice Kevin Hart pulled out when old homophobic tweets of his resurfaced. In the end the event was considered a success and the show enjoyed a year-on-year increase in ratings. The host-less format has not always been so well received, however. The previous time the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tried it, one of the most infamous moments in Oscars history was born: an awkward song-and-dance number featuring actor Rob Lowe and... Snow White.

President Donald Trump is viewed negatively by the public in many countries, but the image of the US itself is generally favorable, according to a survey published on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed outside the US said they do not have confidence in Trump to do the right thing in foreign affairs, while just 29 percent expressed confidence in the US leader. The survey looked at public opinion in 33 nations and was conducted among 37,000 people between May and October 2019. Trump is viewed particularly poorly in Western Europe, Pew said. Only 13 percent of those polled in Germany said they had confidence in Trump, 18 percent in Sweden, 20 percent in France, 21 percent in Spain, 25 percent in the Netherlands and Greece and 32 percent in Britain. In Russia, 20 percent said they have confidence in the US president to do the right thing in world affairs. In Mexico, 89 percent do not have confidence in Trump, Pew said. In some countries, the public did express support for Trump: India (56 percent), Nigeria (58 percent), Kenya (65 percent), Israel (71 percent) and the Phil-

The majority of people in non-US countries view President Donald Trump negatively, the Pew Research Center found (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)

ippines (77 percent).

leaders.

There was overall disapproval, however, of some of Trump’s signature foreign policy initiatives.

Germany’s Angela Merkel received top marks with 46 percent expressing confidence in her leadership, followed by France’s Emmanuel Macron (41 percent), Russia’s Vladimir Putin (33 percent) and China’s Xi Jinping (28 percent).

Researchers used the median -- the middle value in any list of numbers -- to summarize nonUS opinion on Trump’s performance. A median of 68 percent opposed his imposition of tariffs, 66 percent opposed the withdrawal from climate change agreements and 60 percent were against the US-Mexico border wall. Trump’s direct negotiations with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un met with 41 percent support and 36 percent disapproval. Pew also asked respondents for their views on other world

Overall attitudes towards the United States, however, were favorable, Pew said. The most positive reviews in Europe came from Poland, where 79 percent said they have a favorable attitude towards the United States, followed by Lithuania (70 percent) and Hungary (66 percent). The lowest ratings for the United States in Europe came from the Netherlands (46 percent), Sweden (45 percent) and Germany (39 percent).


VOICE OF ASIA 9

Fort Bend View

FRIDAY, January 10, 2020

Section 2

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

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Islamic religious teacher accused of sex crimes was hired to teach Quran to kids Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls revealed details in the arrest of an Islamic teacher, who faces four counts of sex crimes against children.

F

ORT BEND COUNTY, (KTRK) -- An Islamic religious teacher has been arrested for sex crimes in Fort Bend County.

They’re wanting any other victims to come forward and say they’ll protect their identities.

Authorities identified the suspect as 59-year-old Mohamed Omar Ali. He was arrested outside of a restaurant at Highway 6 and Beechnut on Friday, a few feet from the mosque where he’s known to attend.

“We always want to make sure that any child that something’s happened to has a voice and that we can bring justice to that child,” said Alexander.

An investigation into the allegations of Ali reportedly abusing children began in September 2019. During the investigation, authorities learned that Ali attended mosques and schools teaching the Quran. He then reportedly found a job teaching private lessons. Members of the Muslim community said he attends the mosque Masjid Marwaas. That’s where Rafiq Ali has gotten to know him. “I know him from the mosque,” he said. “I come here to pray. He’s a good man, and I don’t think he did such a bad thing.” Rafiq said he’s known Ali for seven months and doesn’t believe the allegations are true. Detectives said Ali met his victims through different mosques, offering to teach them the Quran.

Mohamed Omar Ali (Photo: FBCSO) “We do believe that he’s been to several of the victims’ homes,” said Det. Michael Alexander with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office. “That’s part of what he does. He goes to people’s homes and teaches Quran lessons.” The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office says there are four victims dating back to 2013 and they are certain there are more, including victims from other states. Some of the crimes could have occurred at mosques.

Shariq Ghani with the Minaret Foundation said Ali was not employed with a mosque in Fort Bend County or an official volunteer.

“He was looked at as a religious leader, possibly by his victims, but as far the Muslim community, he’s unknown to us,” said Shariq Ghani with the Minaret Foundation. Ali has been charged with three counts of indecency with a child and one count of sexual assault of a child. According to the sheriff’s office, there are four victims who were minors at the time of the assault. Ali is being held on a $125,000 bond and an immigration hold.

Sugar Land coffee shop is seriously scientific about its beans & brews

W

hile some might think of Sugar Land as a “Chain Mecca of Generica,” there are great discoveries of restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops to be made for those willing to look. Blendin Coffee Club at 8410 US-90A (between Eldridge and Highway 6) is one such place.

The shop is owned by Weihou Zhang, who holds a PhD in biochemistry and is also a certified

Arabica coffee grader. Raised in China, he came to the United States to attend college. “At that time, coffee was simply a bitter energy drink for me until I participated in a coffee cupping event by chance. The coffees on the cupping table opened my eyes. I never thought coffee could be so tasteful and full of personality, from the bright floral tune to pleasant fruity flavor to chocolatey and nutty

richness. I started to learn about coffee,” said Zhang in a quote on the Blendin Coffee Club website. His shop, a stylish, bright space with big windows, serves all the traditional espresso bar beverages — lattes, mochas, cappuccinos and the like at prices ranging from $3.25 to $4.50 — alongside an ever-changing list of single-origin coffees. The baristas also execute some im-

Tel: 713-774-5140

Methodist Hospital installs soundproof pod to help ER staff members de-stress by Stephanie Whitfield

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ethodist Hospital is testing a new concept in its emergency department to help staff decompress during stressful days.

It is called a “Rejuvenation Station.” It looks like a phone booth, but it’s a private, peaceful place to decompress. Staff can choose from six soothing nature videos to watch in the soundproof pod. “The music they put with it tends to bring your blood pressure down and your heart rate down. It allows you a moment to just breath and be yourself,” said Kimberley DuBose, Emergency Services Operations Manager at Methodist Hospital. The booth was designed by Aesthetics, Inc. specifically for medical professionals. Methodist Hospital is the first hospital in the country to test it. The Center for Performing Arts and Medicine is conducting the pilot. “We did an analysis where we let people pre and post-rate how we felt. There was a unique, very distinct decrease in stress

Short videos are paired with music that can help bring blood pressure and heart rates down.

It looks like a phone booth, but it’s a private, peaceful place to decompress. (Video screengrab: KHOU)

level,” DuBose said. It’s available to all emergency room staff, from security and housekeeping to doctors and nurses. “In the break room, you’re seeing other people and maybe listening to other stories or other cases. You’re hearing the PA system go off all the time.

This is just a break away from everyone. It’s just you and your thoughts,” said Winslow Young, Methodist Hospital, a registered nurse at Methodist Hospital. Methodist is trying the Rejuvenation Station in their hospital Baytown next to retest its impact on its emergency department staff. - KHOU

Sugar Land named one of the happiest small towns in America

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he city of Sugar Land was named one of the happiest small towns in America, according to a study.

The study, which based its results on multiple factors such as population, poverty rate, education, crime and income, ranked the 20 happiest small towns.

pressive latte art on the milky, hot coffee drinks as they pull shots from the Italian Sanremo espresso machine. BlendIn Coffee Club is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Sugar Land, which celebrated 60 years since it was officially incorporated as a city Sunday, ranked as one of the highest in Texas and in the nation, coming in at No. 4 on the list. The city boasts a versatile restaurant scene and lots of activities for residents to enjoy during the weekends. With an average commute time of just 28.5 minutes, residents enjoy the slow pace and peaceful life they are looking for, according to the study. Here is the breakdown of Sugar Land’s results: Population – 85,681

Poverty rate – 5.15% Education – 93.5% bachelor’s degree or higher Crime – 4.15 per 100,000 residents Median household income – $108,504 Median property value – $283,400 Here are the other two Texas cities which made the top 20: 6th place - Boerne, located in the Texas Hill Country 2nd place - Flower Mound, located in the Dallas-Forth-Worth metro area - KTRK


VOICE OF ASIA 10

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Serving the community for 32 years, since 1987

Inviting CPAs, Accountants, Financial Advisors To reach your next clients

Every day thousands of young adults are becoming Tax Payers Everybody must maintain their financial accountability File Tax Returns by April 15 of each year. This year it falls on April 15, Wednesday 2020 Voice of Asia - The largest circulated Community Newspaper in English offers • 13,000 copies over the other 2 newspapers combined every week. • • Special discounted rates are offered for advertising in the Special issue. • • Discounted rates for advertisers for the remaining 17 weeks. • • Special rates for advertisement in the web sites. • • E blast to over 10,000 subscribers at a lower rate. • • Advertorials accepted on a discounted rate. • • For prime spaces, wrap pages, special sizes, etc. available.

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War film ‘1917’ stuns Golden Globes as Tarantino bags most prizes and everyone involved. It’s the biggest team effort ever.” Tarantino won the best screenplay award, and Brad Pitt took home best supporting actor honors for his role as a loyal stuntman to Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in “Once Upon a Time...” “I also have to thank my partner in crime, LDC,” said Pitt. “I wouldn’t be here without you, man... I would have shared the raft, though,” he added, referring to the closing scene of “Titanic.”

-

- Phoenix, Zellweger win big

“Rocketman,” the Elton John musical biopic, was the other big winner on the night, scooping best actor for Taron Egerton US film director Quentin Tarantino (C), poses with cast and crew of “Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood” including actors Brad Pitt (next to Tarantino) and Leonardo DiCaprio, after the film won three Golden Globes (AFP Photo/Frederic J. Brown)

by Andrew Marszal

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OS ANGELES | AFP | 1/6/2020 - War epic “1917” shocked the Golden Globes on Sunday by claiming the top prize for best drama film, while Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood” won the most honors, massively boosting their prospects for next month’s Oscars.

“Once Upon a Time...” -- an homage to 1960s Tinseltown -won three prizes including best comedy, but Martin Scorsese’s much-vaunted Netflix crime saga “The Irishman” went home

empty-handed. The Globes are the first major awards gala of the year, in a packed season that ends with the Academy Awards in just over a month’s time, so Sunday’s winners will hope to capitalize on some much-needed momentum. “1917” follows two British soldiers through the trenches in World War I, and is filmed to look like one continuous, twohour-long shot. “Goodness me, that is a big surprise,” said stunned filmmaker Sam Mendes, who best-

ed Scorsese and Tarantino in the crowded best director category. Dedicating the film to his grandfather who signed up to fight aged just 17, Mendes added: “I hope he’s looking down on us and I fervently hope it never happens again.” The film’s lead actor George MacKay -- a 27-year-old relative unknown in Hollywood -told AFP he was “just thrilled, proper thrilled” when the announcement was made. “It’s a wonderful thing. It’s truly just so brilliant for the film

Harvey Weinstein hit with new sex crimes charges in LA

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OS ANGELES | AFP 1/6/2020 - by Jocelyne Zablit and Peter Hutchison in New York

Harvey Weinstein was hit with new sex crimes charges in Los Angeles on Monday just as his high-profile trial in a separate case opened in New York, kicking off proceedings key to the #MeToo movement. The case in California stems from a two-year investigation into allegations from several women that the disgraced movie mogul assaulted them in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and his attorney could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday. According to the charge sheet, Weinstein on February 18, 2013, allegedly went to a hotel in the Los Angeles area and raped a woman after pushing his way into her hotel room. The next day, he allegedly assaulted a woman at a hotel suite in Beverly Hills. The two victims were not identified. “We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement. “I want to commend the victims who have come forward and bravely recounted what happened to them,” she added. “It is my hope that all victims of sexual violence find strength and healing as they move forward.” Earlier Monday, Weinstein entered the New York state courthouse looking frail in a dark suit and using a walker, more than two years after a slew of allegations against him triggered waves of outrage over pervasive sexual assault in the workplace, leading to the downfall of dozens of powerful men. Demonstrators anchored by actresses Rose McGowan and Rosanna Arquette, two of Weinstein’s most prominent accusers, gathered outside the Manhattan court wielding signs with slogans like “Justice for survivors.” “Time’s up on sexual harassment in all work places,” Arquette said. “Time’s up on empty apologies without consequences. And time’s up on the pervasive culture of silence that

has enabled abusers like Weinstein.” The first day in court was largely technical and lasted just over an hour, with Justice James Burke rejecting a defense

request that the jury be sequestered. Weinstein did not speak during the hearing or to reporters outside. He is unlikely to testify during the trial.

Pakistani star Ayeza Khan Winning the hearts of people she is a natural beauty who has delivered great hits

Ayeza Khan says she trusts people too easily and considers this as her biggest weakness. Image Credit: Instagram

Ayeza Khan is riding high with her controversial role for playing an infamous character in drama serial Mere Paas Tum Ho. Khan can be subsequently seen in drama serial Thora Sa Haq . Her character is totally different from Mehwish. She disclosed in an interview with host Ahsan Khan that she was offered to work in Bollywood. However, due to Pak-India relations it could not be possible. Interestingly, Ayeza Khan

has not yet worked in any film throughout her career. She keeps her fans updated via her official Instagram account which has around 4.6 million followers. She does not have an account on the micro-blogging site, Twitter. She is married to Danish Taimoor who is one of the famous actor of Pakistan showbiz industry. They have two children. She chooses to be part of dramas which have some kind of a message. - Gulf News

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas attend the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Golden Globes, at Hotel Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, USA, on 05 January 2020.

and best original song for John, who was heavily involved in the movie. “I’m overjoyed -- it’s incredible,” Egerton told AFP. “It’s been the best experience of my life, and winning this is just such a lovely crystallization of

all of that.” The top films clearly resonated with the 90-odd members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which doles out the prizes, but frontrunners in the acting categories also made their mark.

How to make it in Bollywood, or die trying by Ammu Kannampilly

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UMBAI, India | AFP | It took a minute for Malhaar Rathod, then an aspiring teenage actress, to realise what the 65-year-old Indian film producer was asking her to do -- and to make the decision to walk away.

“He claimed he had a part for me and then asked me to lift my top. I got so scared, I didn’t know what to do at first,” Rathod, now an up-and-coming television star, told AFP in Mumbai. Her experience with what is euphemistically known as Bollywood’s “casting couch” culture underlines the challenges facing anyone seeking to break into India’s massive, insiders-only film industry, where the #MeToo movement has secured few wins. After #MeToo triggered the downfall of top Hollywood powerbrokers like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, many women in Bollywood spoke up about their experience of sexual harassment, breaking a long-established culture of silence. The Indian industry has largely looked the other way however and many of the alleged perpetrators have been able to revive their careers after lying low for a few months. Movie-mad India is the world’s largest producer of films, with around 1,800 releases a year in multiple languages, easily dwarfing Hollywood’s output -- but forging a career in the nepotistic industry can be a challenge. Unlike the children of celebrities who are groomed for stardom and tailor-made debuts, outsiders have to fend off lecherous men and contend with a gruelling routine of auditions and rejections. - ‘Dream come true’ “It’s very difficult to crack Bollywood if you don’t have connections. No-one is going to offer you a launch, you have to do small parts and work your way up,” actor Paras Tthukral told AFP. “I have done all kinds of jobs to survive. Worked in a call centre, in corporate gifting, marketing, you name it,” Tthukral, who moved to Mumbai in 2008 and has since appeared in two TV shows and a couple of films, added.

Aspiring actress Malhaar Rathod experienced Bollywood’s “casting couch” culture when a film producer sexually harassed her

“An alternative career would have been easier for sure... but being an actor is a dream come true.” Rathod is one of the lucky ones. After her early brush with the casting couch, she is now a familiar face to Indian viewers, appearing in advertisements for global skincare brands including Garnier and Dove. The sole breadwinner for a family of five including two younger sisters, she has managed to make inroads into television with a part in the hit show “Hostages” on India’s Disney-owned streaming platform Hotstar.

lywood career with advertisements. But she is keenly aware that it could all disappear in a flash. “Waiting to hear back about roles has given me sleepless nights,” she said, adding that she has recently turned to prayer and meditation in a bid to calm her mind. “You can’t have too many expectations, otherwise you will be perpetually disappointed.” For every success story, there are tens of thousands of aspiring actors who fail to make it into the big leagues. Even so, more and more peo-

Movie-mad India is the world’s largest producer of films, with around 1,800 releases a year in multiple languages, easily dwarfing Hollywood’s output -- but forging a career in the nepotistic industry can be a challenge. AFP

The 25-year-old is hoping to see that success translate to the silver screen, following in the footsteps of film stars such as Preity Zinta and Deepika Padukone who began their Bol-

ple are joining their ranks, lining up for auditions in Mumbai’s northern suburbs where Bollywood’s major studios are based. - AFP


Young Life

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Make Planning to Pay for College a New Year’s Resolution

hen it comes to financial resolutions, a new survey suggests that creating a plan to pay for college should be top of mind for more families.

Only 54 percent of parents are comfortable with their plan to pay for their child’s college education, according to a College Ave Students Loan survey conducted by Barnes & Noble College Insights. As you solidify your New Year’s resolutions, consider the following financial strategies: • Apply for reputable scholarships and grants early and often. One easy one to apply for is the College Ave Student Loans $1,000 Monthly Scholarship Sweepstakes. • Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid

(FAFSA), even if your family has a high income. Doing so is the only way to access the big pool of financial aid available from the U.S. Department of Education, which awards over $120 billion annually in the form of scholarships, grants, work-study programs and loans. What’s more, states and some individual schools use it to determine aid packages as well. • Ask family members to gift or contribute toward the cost of education. • Fine-tune the college application process to save money. For example, zero in on state schools for in-state tuition, or schools where your child’s grades and SAT scores are above average to boost the likelihood of receiving merit aid. • Ninety-one percent of parents currently help or plan to help their child pay for college

and 75 percent of parents expect their child to help pay, which means that for most families, a candid discussion about what you can afford and how much you expect him or her to contribute is essential. • Financial aid letters arrive in the spring. Review this, and if your expected family contribution (EFC) is more than you can afford, reach out to the financial aid office to discuss. • If needed, borrow federal loans in the student’s name first. They carry special benefits, such as public service forgiveness and income-driven repayment options not typically available on private loans. • When federal loans in the student’s name don’t cover you fully, consider a private student loan or parent loan with a good interest rate. You may also need to find a cosigner with strong

‘Atrocious’ child cancer ward reveals ills of Russian healthcare

Photo source: (c) monkeybusinessimages / iStock via Getty Images Plus

credit. With the pre-qualification tool offered by College Ave Student loans, you can find out if your credit qualifies for a College Ave loan and what rates to expect before applying. Pre-qualification does not affect

your credit score, making this a convenient way to get your ducks in a row. To learn more, visit CollegeAveStudentLoans. com. “Families would be wise to prioritize their plan for financing college so they are not taken

by surprise when the first tuition bill is received,” says Joe DePaulo, CEO and co-founder of College Ave Student Loans. “Knowing where the money is going to come from is essential.” - StatePoint

Dozen hurt in fresh Indian student clashes

The Russian government stresses the need to overhaul an inefficient health system, inherited from the Soviet era and hit hard by the economic turmoil of the 1990s (AFP Photo/Alexander NEMENOV)

by Victoria Loguinova-Yakovleva

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OSCOW, Russia | AFP | Underfunding, corruption allegations, internal feuding, facilities in disrepair -- flaws revealed at a Moscow paediatric cancer ward have shone a harsh spotlight on the afflictions plaguing Russia’s public healthcare system.

The Blokhin cancer centre, housed in a brutalist 1970s-era compound in the south of the capital, is so notorious that some have taken to calling it “Blokhinwald” after the Nazi-era Buchenwald concentration camp. “Children with cancer are being treated in atrocious conditions, with a lack of ventilation, mould on the walls and overcrowded rooms,” the hospital’s former deputy director of paediatrics, Maxim Rykov, told AFP. Along with 20 of his colleagues, Rykov quit the hospital, which describes itself as Russia’s biggest oncological clinic, in September, accusing its new chief of mismanagement. A health ministry investigation cleared the hospital, but the accusations were hardly a surprise to the parents of children treated there. “The air vents had to be blocked up because the ventilation ducts hadn’t been cleaned for years,” said Tamara Tsvetkova, whose five-year-old daughter Veronika spent a year at the centre for leukaemia treatment and is now in remission. “In the rooms there were no lockers to put things, we had to buy them ourselves, as well as camp beds so that we could sleep next to our children,” Tsvetkova said. An AFP request to visit the Blokhin clinic was refused. The oncologists who resigned

accused the new management, which took over in June, of cutting their salaries by 35 percent, as well as changing treatment regimes to save money. - Lack of transplant funding Following media reports, the health ministry opened an investigation that instead accused doctors of enriching themselves through opaque schemes to fund bone marrow transplants. Contacted by AFP, hospital management refused to comment, saying the conflict was “closed”. The medics denied any corruption, saying they arranged for private foundations to pay for transplants because of a lack of public financing. “We do 50 or 60 transplants per year and the state pays for around 30. For the rest, either we abandon the patients or we look for a funding source,” said surgeon Igor Dolgopolov, who resigned in November after a 20-year career. Parents of child patients say they see the doctors who quit as victims of the system. “They’ve saved so many children. I can’t condemn them,” said Nailiya Tugusheva, whose five-year-old daughter Amira also has leukaemia. - Growing dissent What causes the greatest alarm among parents of young Blokhin patients are changes in some treatment protocols. Foreign-made medicines are being replaced with Russian equivalents, partly because they are cheaper but also due to a government requirement in place since 2015 to support the national pharmaceuticals industry. About 30 parents have written to President Vladimir Putin ask-

ing him to reconsider the policy but “nothing came of our message,” Tsvetkova said. The deaths in early December of two girls, aged 14 and 17, at the cancer centre after bone marrow transplants have only increased concerns, though no link has been established with the new drugs regime. Russian doctors have generally avoided public disputes, despite very low pay by Western standards, but those at the Blokhin clinic are not the only ones speaking out and posting videos online. In October, neonatologists -treating newborns -- threatened to resign from a hospital in the city of Perm in the Urals mountains over low pay and long hours. In the Kurgan region of Siberia, the closure of a tuberculosis centre led to protests. And in Moscow in November, two renowned specialists in children’s kidney transplants condemned the veto on foreign medicines, saying no Russian equivalents existed. - ‘Very little’ spent on health The government stresses the need to overhaul an inefficient health system, inherited from the Soviet era and hit hard by the economic turmoil of the 1990s. Its so-called optimisation drive over the last two decades to better allocate resources has led to the closure of smaller rural hospitals and a concentration of doctors in large multifunctional hospitals in major cities. But in some areas “people have to travel 200 kilometres” (125 miles) for medical help, said Ivan Konovalov, of the Alliance of Doctors trade union. And parts of the countryside

An activist holds a placard protesting against the national register of citizens in Bangalore (AFP Photo/ Manjunath Kiran)

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HMEDABAD, India | AFP | At least a dozen people were injured Tuesday in fresh clashes between student groups loyal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and opponents with the main opposition Congress party, police said.

Student politics has turned ugly in recent weeks over several issues, including a new citizenship law, heavy-handed police tactics and hikes in university fees. The latest confrontation, in Modi’s home state, came two days after attackers rampaged through a Delhi university, leaving 34 injured and sparking nationwide protests. Critics and media reports blamed the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a student body linked to Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, for the violence on Sunday evening at the Jawaharlal Nehru

often have no more than just first-aid drop-in centres. From 2000 to 2018, the number of hospitals fell from 10,700 to 4,390, according to official figures, while the number of beds per 10,000 Russians dropped from 115 to 71. “Hospitals are short of medicines and patients have to buy them themselves,” Konovalov said. “In our country, a lot of money

University (JNU). Police reportedly stood by and did nothing to stop the attack, while videos purportedly from the scene showed masked men swinging batons as students screamed in terror. Police in Gujarat state in western India said fresh violence broke out on Tuesday when members of the the Congress-affiliated National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) held a protest outside the ABVP’s offices. “Some 10 to 12 people have been injured in the clash,” K.N Damor, deputy commissioner of Ahmedabad police, told journalists. One unverified but widely shared video suggests members of the ABVP chasing and hitting an NSUI activist with sticks. The ABVP accused the NSUI of instigating the clashes. Beyond univerities, almost a

month of violent protests across the country against the new citizenship law has left more than 25 people dead. The law speeds up citizenship claims from persecuted minorities from Islamic-majority Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, but not if they are Muslim. Combined with a mooted citizens register, it has stoked fears that Modi wants to remould India as a Hindu nation and marginalise its 200 million Muslims, something he denies. Delhi police fought street battles with JNU students in November after protests broke out over fee increases at the top university. Student organisations dominated by left-wingers have since staged demonstrations demanding a rollback of the fee increase, while facing accusations of obstructing administration officials.

gets spent on the security forces, army and police and very little on health,” he added. Russia’s health expenditure was 3.7 percent of GDP last year. That’s much less than the 9.5 percent in France or Germany, according to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development data. Putin has acknowledged certain problems, notably a lack of facilities, equipment and staff, and announced an extra 150 bil-

lion rubles ($2.3 billion/2.1 billion euros) funding in total for a three-year period beginning this year. Yet, medical student Darya Sosedova, who recently protested outside the health ministry, says she is not convinced by Putin’s promises. “People being fired, the low pay -- when you see all that, you wonder if it’s worth continuing your studies and staying in Russia,” she said.

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JetBlue says to go carbon Ikea to pay $46M to family of toddler killed in dresser accident neutral by July 2020

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ew York | AFP | 1/6/2020 - A No-frills US airline JetBlue will go carbon neutral for all domestic flights starting this summer, the company announced Monday.

The carrier said it will be the first major US airline to do so in a bid to reduce its contributions to global warming. The company also said it would begin using “sustainable aviation fuel” on flights from San Francisco later this year. “We reduce where we can and offset where we can’t,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in the statement. Offsets are investments in things like planting trees or renewable energy, which reduce or consume carbon and effectively cancel out other emissions elsewhere. The world’s largest Ikea store, in Kungens Kurva, Sweden, seen in 2016 (AFP Photo/Jonathan Nackstrand)

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ASHINGTON | AFP | 1/7/2020 - Ikea has agreed to pay $46 million to the parents of a two-year-old boy who was killed when a chest of drawers tipped over on him, the family’s lawyer said Tuesday.

Jozef Dudek died in May 2017 at his home in California when a Malm model dresser toppled over on him, inflicting neck crushing injuries that caused him to suffocate. That piece of furniture had been recalled a

year earlier following a series of similar accidents. The boy’s parents sued the Swedish furniture maker in 2018 on grounds the company failed to take measures to make its products safer and more stable, the law firm Feldman Shepherd said in a statement. Ikea agreed Monday to pay the family $46 million in what could be the largest child wrongful death settlement ever in the United States, the law firm said.

The same company in 2016 won a $50 million dollar settlement shared out among three families that lost children to similar accidents involving the Malm chest of drawers. Ikea confirmed the new settlement to AFP. “We remain committed to working proactively and collaboratively to address this very important home safety issue. Again, we offer our deepest condolences,” Ikea said in a statement.

Musk hands over made-in-China Teslas to early buyers in Shanghai

While it is “not a silver bullet,” Hayes said that “By offsetting all of our domestic flying, we’re preparing our business for the lower-carbon economy that aviation -- and all sectors -- must plan for.”

JetBlue has announced plans to go carbon neutral for all US flights this summer (AFP Photo/BRUCE BENNETT)

shaming” movement encourages adherents to forgo air travel to reduce carbon emissions. - Wind farms and landfills JetBlue says it is relying on an existing partnership with Carbonfund.org, as well as the companies EcoAct and South Pole to reach its new goal.

Commercial aviation reportedly accounts for about two percent of all carbon emissions worldwide. The industry in 2009 pledged to cut emissions in half by 2050, but according to the International Civil Aviation Organization, fuel consumption is instead set to triple by then.

The air carrier says it will support such things as solar and wind-powered electricity farms, the capture of gas from landfill and forestry projects, among others, to offset an additional 15 to 17 billion pounds (7 to 8 million metric tons) in emissions each year -- representing the company’s entire carbon footprint from aviation.

Research by the Rhodium Group shows US greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2018 for the first time in three years, due in large part to demand for jet fuel.

The airline told AFP it also already has a corporate plan to cover most international flights but JetBlue primarily operates domestically.

Consumers increasingly are aware of the environmental damage air travel does, and the “flight

JetBlue is not the first airline to announce carbon offset programs. In the US, Delta and United currently offset some

emissions. In Europe, Air France announced last month all domestic flights wouild be carbon neutral as of January 1, 2020. British budget airline EasyJet said in November it would offset emissions for its entire network. And though declining to disclose the program’s cost, JetBlue said the traveling public would not be squeezed. “This will not affect airfares. This is the cost of doing business,” a spokesperson said. Critics have said some carbon offset projects often fail to deliver the emissions reductions they promise, with forests marked for preservation in fact suffering deforestation while those who have purchased credits continue to pollute. According to JetBlue, the carbon offset projects it selects are independently audited and verified, and are designed to avoid double-counting and over-estimation.

Plunging US imports push trade deficit to 3-year low in November by Douglas Gillison

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ASHINGTON | AFP | Tuesday 1/7/2020 - America’s trade deficit continued to tumble in November, hitting its lowest level in three years as imports of crude oil, computers and industrial supplies fell off sharply, the government reported Tuesday.

Elon Musk oversaw the delivery to customers of the first batch of made-in-China Tesla Model 3 cars (AFP Photo/STR)

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HANGHAI, China | AFP | 1/7/2020 - Tesla CEO Elon Musk presented the first batch of made-in-China cars to ordinary buyers on Tuesday in a milestone for the company’s new Shanghai “giga-factory”, but which comes as sales decelerate in the world’s largest electric-vehicle market.

The eccentric entrepreneur danced awkwardly, gave out high-fives, and mugged on a stage as sleek Model 3 sedans -- the company’s mid-price, mass-market offer -- were driven up one by one and presented to buyers who jumped into the back seats before being driven away at the plant. The factory is the company’s first outside the United States and a key step forward in Musk’s strategy of going global. Musk said it was just the start of what will be a growing investment in China by the California-based electric-vehicle pioneer. “We intend to continue making a significant investment and increasing that investment in China, making the Model 3 and the Model Y, and future models also in China,” he said. Musk, 48, said Tesla also planned to establish “a China design and engineering centre to actually design an original car in China for worldwide consumption.”

Tesla has said the multi-billion-dollar plant is producing more than 1,000 vehicles per week. It has already delivered a small batch of Model 3s on December 30 to employees who had pre-ordered them. Those being driven away at Tuesday’s event were the first for regular consumers. The giga-factory is unusual for China, which typically requires foreign automakers to forge manufacturing joint ventures with domestic firms, which means sharing profits and technology with local partners. - Sales slowdown But amid sustained US pressure on China to open its markets, that requirement was waived for the Shanghai assembly line, which is wholly-owned by Tesla and believed to be the first to enjoy that status. Musk has said that the plant would eventually have an annual production capacity of 500,000 vehicles, and has billed it as the solution to the company’s perennial struggles with production delays and failure to keep up with demand. Tesla’s output woes in the US are easing however, with the company reporting that 2019 deliveries surged 50 percent year-on-year to 367,500.

But China’s auto market has slowed significantly since plans for the Shanghai factory began to take shape more than 18 months ago. After surging to become the world’s largest automotive market, sales fell last year for the first time since the 1990s amid a slowing economy, US trade tensions, and a Chinese credit crackdown that has crimped car-financing channels. Sales of “new-energy vehicles” such as electric models have particularly suffered, plunging nearly 44 percent in November, the fifth straight month of contraction, after the government slashed subsidies for such cars earlier last year. A number of automotive analysts have said Tesla could struggle to measure up to Musk’s promises for Shanghai output. But at more than $450 per share, Tesla’s stock is at record highs, having more than doubled since June on improving output and earnings. Morgan Stanley said in late December that Tesla shares were positioned for a “potential surge” through the middle of 2020 due to the Shanghai factory coming on line and other potentially positive catalysts.

That put the United States on track for the first drop in the annual deficit in six years, likely reflecting the damage to international commerce from the US-China trade conflict and a sluggish global economy. Lowering the deficit has been a chief goal of President Donald Trump’s aggressive trade policy but whether the decline will be sustained remains in question. The drop should help lift GDP growth for the final months of 2019 but falling imports are not necessarily a good sign, as it can be a sign of a weakening domestic economy. The trade gap -- the difference between what the United States buys from and sells to international trading partners -fell 8.2 percent in November to $43.1 billion, even lower than economists had expected and the lowest since October 2016, according to the Commerce Department data. Imports fell 1.7 percent to $251.7 billion for the month, the lowest level in more than two years, as Americans purchased fewer mobile phones, artwork, civilian aircraft, and computers. Crude oil imports, adjusted for inflation and seasonal changes, were the lowest since records began in 1994, reflecting increased domestic supply, as America transformed in recent years to become the world’s largest producer. Autos and parts bucked the trend, with imports rising $1.1 billion. Exports rose but not enough to compensate for the drop in imports, rising 0.7 percent to $208.6 billion, as Americans

A cargo ship arrives into the Port of Los Angeles, the busiest container port in the United States, after departing from the Port of Yantian, China (AFP Photo/Mario TAMA)

shipped out more drilling and oilfield equipment, jewelry and gems, autos and aircraft engines. - Imports to rebound? Even that modest gain put exports at a new record. But imports of services, an area where the United States typically enjoys an advantage over foreign competitors, also hit the highest level ever. Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the plunge in the US deficit was not sustainable, particularly because US demand is much stronger than the import figures suggest. “This can’t last; we expect a rebound over the next few months, likely starting in February,” he said in an analysis. Some tariff rates on Chinese goods are due to fall that month as part of the partial deal announced in December between the United States and China. Trump announced that Washington and Beijing are due to sign a partial agreement in Washington next week, halting the escalation in their trade conflict of nearly two years. But many of the trade barriers remain, including retaliatory tariffs on some US goods. Despite the November in-

crease, Shepherdson said US exports are “struggling,” Shepherdson said. He noted that excluding oil and aircraft, foreign goods sales had actually fallen sharply, which was in line with survey data pointing to continued declines. The US trade deficit has not decreased on a full-year basis since 2013, but over the first 11 months of 2019, it dropped 0.7 percent compared to the same period in the prior year. Economists say falling imports could partly reflect the steep tariffs Trump imposed earlier this year on Chinese imports, even though last month he cancelled plans for what threatened to be the most painful round of duty increases yet. In November, the goods trade deficit with China fell 7.8 percent compared to October, and it is down 16 percent since the start of the year. With Mexico, however, the goods deficit continued to rise, growing 8.7 percent compared to October, marking a year-todate increase of nearly 28 percent. Trump likens the trade deficit to stealing from America, but economists do not share this view, saying the United States does not produce enough domestically to meet its own needs.


LEISURE

VOICE OF ASIA 14

FRIDAY, January 10, 2020

Samsung unveils AI-powered digital avatar by Rob Lever

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AS VEGAS | AFP | Tuesday 1/7/2020 - A Samsung lab on Tuesday unveiled a digital avatar it described as an AI-powered “artificial human,” claiming it is able to “converse and sympathize” like real people.

The announcement at the opening of the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas touted a new kind of artificial intelligence called NEON, produced by the independent Samsung unit Star Labs. But some industry experts questioned the lack of detail provided by Samsung on the underlying technology. “As far as we can tell, there’s no mystery here at all. NEON is just digital avatars — computer-animated human likenesses about as deserving of the ‘artificial human’ moniker as Siri,” said the specialised tech website, The Verge. “Don’t worry about any ‘AI android uprising’ — these aren’t the artificial humans you’re looking for,” it added. According to the Califor-

nia-based unit of the South Korean giant, the technology allows for the creation of customized digital beings that can appear on displays or video games and could be designed to be “TV anchors, spokespeople, or movie actors” or even “companions and friends.” “NEONs will be our friends, collaborators and companions, continually learning, evolving and forming memories from their interactions,” said Pranav Mistry, chief executive of the lab. The NEON creators said the new virtual humans are the product of advances in technologies including neural networks and computational reality. According to Star Labs, NEON is inspired “by the rhythmic complexities of nature and extensively trained with how humans look, behave and interact.” The avatars “create life-like reality that is beyond normal perception to distinguish, with latency of less than a few milliseconds.” While digital avatars have

Samsung’s Neon shows their “artificial humans,” AI composed animations displayed at human scale, on opening day of the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas (AFP Photo/David Mcnew)

long been able to be programmed for specific tasks such as role players in games, NEON goes further by enabling interactions that can incorporate human emotion. Although the artificial humans may borrow features from real people, “each NEON has his or her own unique personality and can show new expressions, movements, and dialogs,” the company said. - New kind of deepfake? The announcement comes amid a proliferation of AI-ma-

nipulated computer videos known as “deepfakes,” and growing concerns about how they could be used to deceive or manipulate. Some analysts fear these fakes could be misused during an election campaign to exacerbate political tensions. Jack Gold, analyst at J. Gold Associates, said Samsung may be ahead of the pack if it can develop avatars that can show emotions and expressions. “We have to wait and see what this means,” Gold said.

“But it has major implications for many fields like customer service, help desk functions, entertainment, and of course could also be used to ‘fake’ a human interacting with a live person for bad or illegal purposes.” Avi Greengart of the consultancy Techsponential said the avatars could be realistic but also “creepy.” “Leaving aside how impressive the technology is, will NEON be used in ways that people like, just tolerate, or actively hate?” he said. According to Samsung and Star Labs, NEON offers avatars with lifelike reality “that is beyond normal perception to distinguish.” The company envisions commercial opportunities to create avatars to be service representatives, financial advisors,

healthcare providers or concierges. “We have always dreamed of such virtual beings in science fictions and movies,” Mistry said. “NEONs will integrate with our world and serve as new links to a better future, a world where ‘humans are humans’ and ‘machines are humane.’” The laboratory was launched in 2019 by Mistry, who had previously been a senior Samsung vice president and head of innovation at Samsung Mobile. He was known for developing Sixth Sense, a gesture-based wearable technology system built at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The India-born Mistry also worked on projects with Microsoft and Google and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

STATEPOINT CROSSWORD THEME: MOVIE CHARACTERS

Week of January 10, 2020 Horoscope.com

21 March to 20 April While fiery Mars continues its journey through your travel zone, a desire to get away from it all could increase. Still, this week may bring other concerns into the mix as a potent lineup of planets in your sector of goals and ambitions is very much to the fore.

21 April to 20 May Are you eager to explore new opportunities? You might need to expand your beliefs in order to leave your comfort zone. This is a time when you may become aware of old patterns and ways of thinking that have discouraged you from exploring your true potential.

21 May to 20 June Although Mars in your sector of relating can increase the pace of key interactions and enhance your social life, your focus may be on more pressing issues. An intense Saturn-Pluto connection linking with other key planets, money matters could be very much to the fore.

21 June to 22 July Relationships are very much to the fore this week and for some time to come. But this week is particularly special in that it sees a rare connection between prudent Saturn and volcanic Pluto in your relationship zone. It suggests that a key bond could come to a natural end.

23 July to 22 August Your relationship to your work and health could be held up to the light this week, with key influences encouraging a process of change. If you’ve felt suffocated by your job, this could be a time when you feel ready to try something new. It’s also possible that a job could come to an end, and this might inspire you to look for something new.

23 August to 22 Sept As dynamic Mars journeys through your domestic sector, it’s a great opportunity for some decluttering. In fact, this week can be a time of clearing out and paring things back to the essentials. You could be on the verge of a powerful shift.

23 September to 22 Oct Your domestic zone takes center stage this week with a powerful lineup here. It can mean that an issue that has been ongoing comes to a head, yet this is likely no surprise. This may be a time of discovery to understand something about your history.

23 October to 21 Nov Your words might have more power than usual, so it would be wise to be careful about what you say. The intense focus on your sector of communication can be a call to change your mindset, particularly if negative thinking has held you back.

22 November to 21 Dec Finances could keep you on your toes over this week because the focus is very much on this sector. Issues of self-worth may come to the surface, and if so, this can give you much food for thought. enough. Get yourself on the road to success.

22 December to 20 Jan You may need to face certain truths this week as sobering Saturn and dynamic Pluto merge in your sign. This can be a time of paring back your goals and ambitions and simplifying them as much as you can. You might have felt the pressure for too long now.

21 January to 19 Feb You may have been working on your inner game for some time now, and this week things reach a new and empowering stage. The potent blend of prudent Saturn and transformative Pluto can help you uncover your true purpose, making this a very powerful time for you.

20 February to 20 Mar Get ready for a shift in your social scene, because powerful influences and aspects this week could change everything. You already have expansive Jupiter moving through this sector opening doors and bringing fresh possibilities your way.

ACROSS 1. Curaçao neighbor 6. Lungful 9. Not on a rolling stone 13. British unemployment checks 14. Schiller’s famous poem, e.g. 15. “Will comply” in radio communication 16. Opposite of liability 17. Napoleon Bonaparte or Louis Vuitton, e.g. 18. Embedded design 19. *Teen with telescopic powers 21. *Adventurous professor with fear of snakes 23. *He played it in “Casablanca” 24. Sign of escape 25. Steampunk decoration 28. Thanksgiving tubers 30. Fear of flying, e.g. 35. Bun baker 37. “CliffsNotes,” e.g. 39. Bound by oath 40. Nay, to a baby 41. Bread spreads 43. *She takes on PG&E 44. Sacrificial spot 46. Wedding promise? 47. Not yet final 48. Eats between meals 50. Blood-related problem 52. Ship pronoun 53. Diamond’s corner 55. Be obliged 57. Name before X 61. *Orphan who wanted more gruel 64. Love between Abélard and Héloïse 65. Pitching stat 67. Nostrils, anatomically speaking 69. Pine 70. Fleur-de-____ 71. Novelist Wharton 72. *Adopted orphan of Green Gables 73. Auction set 74. Like a disreputable neighborhood SOLUTION:

DOWN 1. Palindromic title 2. CISC alternative 3. *Female Superman foe alongside General Zod 4. Afrikaners’ ancestors 5. Off course 6. First-rate 7. Nuptial agreement 8. Version of a song 9. Mr. Bean’s ride 10. Paella pot 11. Diagnostic test 12. Bean that rhymes with Goya 15. Distance from side to side, pl. 20. Insect in adult stage 22. Tiny bite 24. Most vital part 25. *A barbarian 26. Convex molding 27. Ladies and ____, for short 29. *a.k.a. The Mayor of Castro Street 31. *Hutch actor in 2004’s “Starsky & Hutch” 32. *Famous Frankenstein portrayer 33. Like Michael Collins 34. *One of Miss Hannigan’s orphans 36. *Russell Crowe’s Biblical role 38. ____ of the trade 42. Bar seat 45. Type of realistic baby doll 49. *Pizzeria owner in “Do the Right Thing” 51. Strings 54. Olfactory sensation 56. Avoid 57. Poet Angelou 58. Flock’s affirmation 59. Bank’s provision 60. Dry or salt 61. Brewer’s kiln 62. Great Lake 63. Retired, shortened 66. Spanish river 68. Like a wallflower

MOVIE CHARACTERS on Page 15


CLASSIFIED /SMALL BUSINESSES

VOICE OF ASIA 15

Deputy uses tourniquet and training to save life

OBIT

In Loving memory

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OUSTON, Tuesday January 7, 2020, Harris County Sheriff’s Office - Hundreds of life-saving tourniquets have been issued to specially trained Harris County Sheriff’s Office patrol deputies in the past year.

On Dec. 30, 2019, Deputy D. Landry was among several deputies dispatched to a shooting at a home in the 14600 block of Waldine, where he applied tourniquets to the legs of two gunshot victims. One of the men had been shot through the femoral artery and it’s likely that Deputy Landry’s actions saved his life. On Wednesday, body camera video footage of Deputy Landry’s life-saving actions will be released and Sheriff’s Office personnel will demonstrate the tourniquet training they have received.

FRIDAY, January 10, 2020

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. (File photo)

READ MORE COMMUNITY NEWS ONLINE WWW.VOICEOFASIA.NEWS

STATEPOINT CROSSWORD SOLUTION

Mahesh Oberoi… Maheshi darling…Dad…Dadaji…Uncle…Mahesh bhai; all terms relating to the personage that this world was privileged to know but lost to the hereafter on 12/15/2019, leaving in his wake a sense of profound loss. Mahesh Kumar Oberoi, as he was fully named, was born on December 5th , 1936 in Rawalpindi , and was the youngest of three siblings. He moved to Yamana Nagar with his family in 1947 to finish his primary education and to the state of Punjab to complete his undergraduate studies. He emigrated to England for further studies and obtained an accounting degree from Birmingham University. He then returned to India to propose to his childhood sweetheart, and love of his life, Rupla Hora, and brought her to England, where they were married in a small ceremony with one witness in a gurudwara. Over time, they were blessed with a son Ricki and a daughter Gita. He maintained em-

ployment as an accountant in a government office but longed to combine a passion for great food and drink with an entrepreneurial interest. Eventually, he opened and successfully ran restaurants in the Birmingham area. In 1982, Mahesh again took a leap of faith as he “crossed the pond” to America to settle in the great city of Houston, TX. As he himself was an excellent chef, he decided to open restaurants specializing in Indian cuisine, continuously balancing authentic flavors with new world cooking techniques. His popularity skyrocketed, culminating in full service restaurants that focused on cuisine as well as hospitality. Natraj Indian Restaurant in Highland Village was followed by Shiva Indian Restaurant in the Rice Village. Those who knew Houston in the 80’s and 90’s may remember the lavish saris draped across the ceilings in Shiva Indian Restaurant, which continues to operate to this

VOICE OF ASIA

day. It was certainly a flagship restaurant that helped put Indian cuisine on the Houston culinary map. He continued to open Indian restaurants throughout the city…Shivani, and Monsoon in the west Houston area and Clay Oven in College Station. His last restaurant was Mantra, which enjoyed a loyal clientele in Katy. He retired from the restaurant industry in 2015 to focus on spending time with family and friends. He loved the finer things in life and, in the words of his nephew, was the “quintessential King of Good Times”. He will be best remembered for the man he was by those who knew him best..a gentle, kind, loyal, “Lion Hearted”, fun loving, and devoted man who touched the lives of many, and loved his wife and family above all else. Though he will be greatly and painfully missed by all, his noble memory will endure in the hearts and thoughts of those he has left behind…there was no finer man.

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Theme: MOVIE CHARACTERS from Page 14

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FRIDAY, January 10, 2020

Home&Real Estate Looking to buy a home? 2020 may be your year!

This rooftop apartment with a bright yellow staircase is sunshine in a bottle Minimalist design - and a spot of brilliance - transform a 775-squarefoot apartment on Mile End Road in East London. by Laura Mauk hen Vine Architecture Studio reimagined this top-floor apartment in East London, they imbued the new design with a fresh, artful sensibility. “The existing apartment was in disrepair,” says architect Rory Pennant-Rea. “Our client Dalip Boora asked that we redesign and reconfigure the space so he could rent it—however he was so taken with the design that his son now lives there.” The starting point for the redesign was Dalip’s desire for timelessness and durability. “We specifically chose finishes that are hard-wearing and easily repaired,” Pennant-Rea says.

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Mortgage rates expected to stay in the 3-4 percent range for all of 2020 and 2021 (PHOTO SOURCE: (c) monkeybusinessimages / iStock via Getty Images Plus)

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f buying a home is on your near-future to-do list, experts say that 2020 may be a good year to make it happen. Mortgage interest rates are near historic lows, providing you with the opportunity to finance a new home purchase at a much lower cost.

According to a new forecast from Freddie Mac, mortgage rates will stay in the 3-4 percent range for all of 2020 and 2021, giving prospective homeowners substantial time to plan their purchase. This, combined with modest inflation and a solid labor market, makes for good climate to buy a home with a fixed rate mortgage. For those who are already homeowners,

refinancing now may be a good idea. “For those serious about homeownership, today’s sub 4 percent mortgage rates should not be taken for granted,” says Freddie Mac chief economist, Sam Khater. “For comparative purposes, in 2000, rates averaged eight percent; and in the 80s, they spiked to 18.5 percent.” Khater stresses that while mortgage rates are an essential factor to consider in the home-buying process, there are other important items to think about as well as you lay the groundwork for your purchase.

These include getting a firm handle on your finances, knowing your credit score (and taking steps to boost it if necessary) and familiarizing yourself with down payment options. For more information and tools on home buying and homeownership, visit myhome.freddiemac. Whether you are making the jump from renting to owning, or looking for a home that better meets your current needs, now may be a great time to consider making your real estate dreams a reality. Today’s low rates could save you money for years to come. - (StatePoint)

Transwestern Development ramps up its Texas industrial business with highprofile hire by Steve Brown

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ne of Texas’ best-known commercial property firms is beefing up its industrial business with the hiring of a new regional partner from a competitor.

Denton Walker is joining Transwestern Development Co. as a regional partner after more than 30 years with developer Trammell Crow Co. At Transwestern, Walker plans to significantly expand the firm’s logistics and industrial building operations across all of Texas’ major markets. “It’s the most exciting opportunity in my career in terms of the times we are in,” Walker said. “It was the right time and the right company and the right product type. “I think industrial is a great opportunity for me,” Walker said. “It also includes the Southwest region — I’m overseeing Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas.” Transwestern currently has more than 4 million square feet of logistics projects in the pipeline in Dallas, Houston and Austin. Texas is one of the country’s biggest warehouse and industrial markets. “There is 30 million square feet of industrial under construction in Dallas-Fort Worth, and more than 20 million square feet under construction in Houston,” Walker said. “A lot of what’s under construction is already spoken for.” Walker said Transwestern plans to focus on both speculative and build-to-suit logistics projects. “Transwestern wants to ramp up and do more in the large Texas markets,” he said.

Former Trammell Crow exec Denton Walker is the new Transwestern regional partner.

The brick-clad rooftop apartment on Mile End Road in East London features a vibrant yellow spiral staircase that links the upper and the lower terrace. (Photos: Laura Mauk/Dwell)

“The spruce panels we used for the kitchen joinery and sliding doors have a consistent core, which means they can be sanded and re-oiled many times [over]. The same is true for the thick veneer of the engineered oak floors.” The building, which sits along Mile End Road, features a busy street entrance. “It has been in my client’s family for many years,” Pennant-Rea says. “When we first toured the flat, we could see the potential in this forgotten rooftop—we wanted to build on what it once was.” Pennant-Rea is a firm believer in preservation. “Vine Architecture Studio’s ethos as a practice embraces the reinvention of existing spaces, which often pose more challenges, but have many benefits,” the architect says. “There’s reduced building material, and we’re able to knit the design into the fabric of a place. This kind of architectural layering requires careful identification of the merits of the existing building in order to produce a successful summation of old and new.” The apartment’s previous incarnation—accessed via a stairwell shared with offices below—had a flat roof, low ceilings, and small windows. “There was also no direct access to the terrace, and there was an untenable drop in floor level from outside to inside,” Pennant-Rea explains. The architect revised the arrangement and flow of the rooms in the apartment to accom-

While the dining area is open to the living room, architect Rory Pennant-Rea delineated the spaces by placing them on different levels; the dining area steps down to the living room, where an inset in the wall provides a frame for artwork.

modate contemporary living. “We sought to rationalize the layout,” he says. “We retained the intersecting load-bearing masonry walls that subdivided the space into equal quarters. In turn, that allowed us to define the four living functions of washing, dining, relaxing, and sleeping.” Pennant-Rea also created a level change between the dining and sitting areas which lines up with the roof valley and helps to delineate the connected spaces. According to the architect, the level change provides a rhythm that animates the procession. “This also allowed us to bring the upper level in line with the

Denton Walker has joined Transwestern after more than 30 years with Trammell Crow Co. (Photo: Transwestern)

The Houston-based commercial real estate firm recently started more than 800,000 square feet of industrial development in two hometown projects. And Transwestern just finished the second phase of its 1.6 million-square-foot Park 20/360 industrial park in Arlington. Transwestern’s National Logistics Group recently added key professionals in six offices around the country. “We are intentional in recruiting the best professionals in the sector to build on our existing pipeline and capitalize on unique opportunities in the market,” said John Thomas, the Transwestern development managing partner who oversees the National Lo-

gistics Group. Walker was a senior managing director at Trammell Crow Co. Over the years, he worked on industrial, office and retail projects. Some of the largest projects Walker oversaw included the Legacy Tower office high-rise in Plano’s Legacy business park and the TimberCreek Crossing shopping center on Northwest Highway in Dallas. “I love Trammell Crow Co. and I always will,” Walker said. “That’s where I started, and I was with them for 30 years. “Transwestern is giving me the opportunity to go back to my industrial roots.” - Dallas News

Whitewashed spruce rafters in the bedroom express the grain of the wood and serve as a canvas for light play.

roof terrace to create a level threshold for a smooth transition from inside to outside,” he says. To create a soft, simple aesthetic for the interior, Pennant-Rea paired whitewashed timber with the smokey finish of the oak flooring. Spruce rafters—both fully exposed and partly concealed—express the structure of the roof, while oiled oak details create a common thread throughout the apartment interior. “Repeating the finishes unifies the spaces and maintains a flow,” the architect says. “We specified a matte finish for all of the timber waxes and oils to create harmony and give a sense of calm.” Pennant-Rea employed sunlight as an integral part of the interior design. “The roof’s incline is in part determined by the angle and path of the sun,” he says. “Soft northern light washes through the wall-to-wall skylights in the double dual-pitched roof. Those skylights allowed us to maintain a large area of glazing while still minimizing direct solar gain. We were able to regulate internal temperatures through the passive measure of orientation and pitch.” Pennant-Rea maintained the Art Deco front facade and installed Critall windows to complement the architecture. The rear facade was rebuilt with pale-colored brick and frameless glazing. “This focuses and frames the view out to the terrace and the townscape beyond,” the architect says. - Dwell.com

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