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VOICE OF ASIA The Largest Asian-American Newsweekly in Texas

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Serving Harris, Fort Bend and Surrounding Counties for 30 years

Vol. 31 No. 7 • Friday, February 16, 2018

Published Weekly from Houston

Asia Society Tiger Ball 2018 to Celebrate the Diversity of Asia

Honorees Sylvia & Gordon Quan, Nancy Allen, Chevron’s Joni Baird, Asia Society president Bonna Kol, co-chair Sultana Mangalji


iger Ball is Asia Society Texas Center’s annual signature event and one of Houston’s best loved annual society affairs, raising in excess of $1 million to support the organization's ongoing educational and cultural programming. The tradition began in the 1990s and has grown over the years in both size and scope. This year’s gala, led by Sylvia and Gordon Quan as honorees with Chevron as Presenting Sponsor, is scheduled for Saturday, March 3, 2018, at the Center's iconic home at 1370 Southmore at Caroline in the heart of the beautiful Houston Museum District.

With 12 locations throughout the world, Asia Society is the leading educational organization promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among the peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the West. Asia Society Texas Center executes the global mission with a local focus, enriching and engaging the vast diversity of Houston through innovative, relevant programs in arts and culture, business and policy, education, and community outreach. For details about the event visit www.

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FRIDAY, February 2 16, 2018 In Section l l l l l l l

Health Line Young Life Bollywood/Hollywood Business Science & Technology Art & Culture Legal

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Asian Chamber of Commerce host Town Hall-style Luncheon

From left to right: ACC president Milton Young, John Paul Jourard, Dalia Sherif, May Wang Wes Weaver, Board Chair, and Walter Lawson at the ACC at the Luncheon. Photo (s) credit: Shobana Muratee, VOA. by Shobana Muratee


OUSTON - The Asian Chamber of Commerce (ACC) got to an energetic start at the its first Town Hall styled monthly luncheon on Thursday, February 8 at the Hess Club under the new president Milton Young who was also the primary speaker. The topic was civic engagement and why it's important for the Asian community to be civically engaged.

Wes Weaver, ACC board Chair and Vice President, OnTarget! Marketing & Advertising welcomed the guests, board members and the new members, “We are a member driven organization,” he said and mentioned that ACC was focused on three main areas this year as: Membership, Programs and Legislative. The topic was civic engagement and why it's important

for the Asian community to be civically engaged. Young gave an overview of Asian population in the Harris County and how they get more engaged politically and in the community. 90% of eligible voters registered in 2016. “But the turnout is a challenge,” he said. He also mentioned that 20% of the Houston population fell that their participation has no effect. Following Continued on Page 6

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by Hava Leipzig Holzhauer

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


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

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

Shobana Muratee

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

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

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refuse to accept we are helpless. We lie in wait, it seems, from one school shooting to another. Why do we do this? We do this because, according to many of my fellow countrypersons living in America, there is absolutely nothing to be done about it. It’s too big, it’s too complex, it’s the scary, controlling National Rifle Association, and most of all, it’s not about the guns. This is what they say. And I don’t buy it. Today another school shooting occurred — very close to home — at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, a school in suburban Parkland, Fla. How interesting that today’s events have apparently nothing to do with the shooter having a gun. Today, after another hoard of high school students were forced to run for their lives; to hide in lockers and under desks and in closets; to silently contact their parents to tell them they were under attack; to hunker down on top of one another and play dead; to be left with images of blood on the school floors … After there are more dead and more injured; after parents lined up in wait outside the police perimeter to hopefully collect their children unharmed; and after another courageous teacher loses her life shielding her students from bullets intended to kill them, the word on the street by so many is that this has nothing to do with guns. Seriously? I have heard the reasons attributing mass school shooting situations to every-

FRIDAY, February 16, 2018

School shooting: I refuse to accept that we are helpless

thing but guns. Let’s take a few:

They should have had better security.”

• “It’s not the fact that the shooter had a gun, it’s his mental health that was the problem.”

• “There should be guns on campus. Arm the teachers; this would have stopped the shooter.”

• “If someone wants to kill people they are going to find a way to do it — the gun isn’t the problem.”

• “The shooter’s parents should have paid better attention. And the neighbors — no one noticed anything. It’s about people being more observant — not about guns.”

• “American young men are over-stressed and don’t know how to handle when things don’t go their way; it’s a stress or anger management issue.” • “Restricting guns in any way at all will punish the majority of gun owners who are good gun owners.”

• “Should have, could have, would have — someone should have reported the shooter’s loner behavior, or the fact that he liked to share pictures of guns on social media. This could have stopped him.”

• “It is the school’s fault.

These are excuses for not

evolving. Are we really this weak as a collective? Where is our fortitude? Where is our perseverance? Our entrepreneurial spirit? Sure, all of the above issues are relevant to being healthier and safer in community. We do need to do better on mental health, on noticing when people are acting out of the ordinary, on balancing security and safety. But these issues do not abdicate our responsibility from doing the hard work of minimizing guns in the hands of killers. While the above factors differ in each shooting event, there are two factors which are everpresent in school mass shootings — a human being, with a gun in hand. And this human being with gun in hand is the instrument of death, terror and destruction. This combination is a threat to our way of life in America. Since when does having a complex problem stop us from making progress? Since when do we throw our hands in the air and say there is nothing at all we can do? I teach my teenagers to seek and to find solutions — to every problem, big and small. Mass shootings in our schools is a problem. I refuse to accept we are helpless. Hava Leipzig Holzhauer is a mother of four teenagers, an attorney and immediate past director of the Anti-Defamation League, Florida.

America doesn’t care how the sausage is made by David Winston


rocess rather than outcome has become the new definition of governing in D.C. and that’s not good for America. The inside story of how a controversial bill is passed or a presidential decision is reached has historical value. But when day-to-day political discourse thrives on gossipy renditions of process as we see now rather than focusing on the outcomes these actions will deliver, a disillusioned electorate is the unfortunate consequence. And there is plenty of blame to go around for the deteriorating political environment. Legislators and D.C. lobbying groups are advised by political consultants on both sides by Niall McCarthy


Erratum In our issue dated February 2, 2018 we published a report titled 'Mahesh Wadwa is IACF's new president' in which wasstated in the first para that Mahesh Wadhwa, 'is an engineer'. Please note that Mahesh Wadhwa is an architect and not an engineer. We deeply regret the error and apologize for any inconvenience or misunderstanding caused personally or professionally to anyone. The error was an oversight and not intended. - EDITOR

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hina will celebrate the beginning of its new year this Friday, heralding the start of one of the planet's great migrations. Also known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, all of China takes vacation at once to mark the occasion, resulting in the largest human event on earth. To mark the Year of the Dog, 385 million Chinese people are expected to leave the major cities to visit their families in rural parts of the country according to China News, marking a 12 percent increase on last year. The experience is always a difficult one for people making the trip, with airports, roads and trains overcrowded and uncomfortable. This is set to improve in

who tend to shun substantive policy, opting for a few words that work or a catchy, preferably negative, message that fits neatly into a 30-second spot. Pundits and the media focus on insider tell-alls to satisfy political junkies who get their daily fix from ticktocks and anonymous sources. Meanwhile, policy wonks tout solutions, many in search of a problem. And we wonder why people have lost faith in politics. Americans are tired of process. They don’t want to know how the sausage is made. Who is up and who is down in D.C. Which party is at fault this week or predictions of who will take the fall next week. They really don’t care about the internal machinations of the Republican or Democratic House

and Senate conferences. All they want to know about the “sausage” is whether it will impact them and how. Yet it is process that dominates the news, dominates political discourse and disrupts the legislative agenda. The only folks who should be concerned about process are those with a penchant for hot dogs and Velveeta, not the Washington political class — not if it is going to govern effectively, and governing effectively is what the American people expect. Perhaps we focus on the policy process these days because defining policy outcomes is so much harder — for everybody involved. Take the GOP’s efforts to repeal Obamacare. It

was easy to simply call for the end of the Affordable Care Act; defining its replacement and what health outcomes it would deliver, not so much. Republicans lost that battle last year because they were unable to tell the American people what a repeal would mean for them. They couldn’t define an outcome, only an action. On the other hand, the outcomes delivered by the Republican tax reform bill can be far more easily defined and proved — in dollars and cents. People are beginning to understand that the benefits of tax reform will be seen in their paychecks with higher wages and lower taxes, more jobs, and increased economic growth. (-RollCall. com)

Chinese New Year: the world's largest human migration is about to begin the years to come with China steadily expanding its highspeed rail network. Last year was notable as the first time more people took high-speed trains than conventional ones. Comparing Chinese New Year with America's largest annual migration is a good way to gauge its enormous

size. Thanksgiving 2017 saw jam-packed airports, snarling tailbacks on the interstate and a grand total of 50.9 million travelers. The volume of people on the move in China is over seven times bigger, though its massive population does make a difference of course. Nevertheless, the sheer

scale of "chunyun", the annual Spring Festival migration, is simply staggering. It also easily surpasses the world's largest pilgrimages in scale. The Arba'een Pilgrimage in Iraq involved 40 million people in 2016 while the Hajj in Mecca received two million pilgrims last year. (-Forbes)

India House presents VEDANTA STUDY GROUP with Joseph Emmett Lecture and discussion on a series of texts by A. Parthasarathy, beginning with The Fall of the Human Intellect. Designed to support a daily study at home.


Every Saturday (Starting from March 3 11:15 am – 12:15 pm



India House, 8888 West Bellfort Ave., Houston, TX 77031

Joseph is Director of Vedanta Institute Houston. He has been studying Vedanta since 1996. He is a graduate of the threeyear, full-time residential course on Vedanta philosophy at Vedanta Academy, in India.

Vedanta is derived from two words Veda – Knowledge and Anta – End. Vedanta means the end of knowledge. This ancient philosophy presents the eternal principles of life and living. It programs a life of mental peace combined with dynamic action in the world. Equips one with clarity of intellect to deal with the challenges of life. Above all its philosophy leads one to the ultimate goal of Self-Realization. – A. Parthasarathy

For Registration: For more information: 713-929-1900 | |

Gayatri Consciousness Center/ Temple of Katy Invites you to

HOLI PUJA/HOLIKA DAHAN Thursday March 1st---6:00 - 7:00 pm Bring coconut/grains to offer

HOLI DHULETI CELEBRATIONS Sunday Mar 4th---4:30 - 6:30 pm Followed by Arti & Maha Prasad

20914 Park Row, Katy, TX 77449



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Community Email:

FRIDAY, February 16, 2018

Tel: 713-774-5140

Club 24 members bond as family on Valentine's Day By Shobana Muratee OUSTON - Members of Club 24 started their year’s first event with the spirit of love and togetherness celebrating Valentines’ Day on Sunday, February 11 at the at Maggiano’s Little Italy. Manisha Gandhi, Club 24’s elected president for 2018 welcomed the guests and recognized the leadership of the immediate past president Pradeep Gupta. She thanked Kiran for helping in organizing the event before she went to India and Event Chair Hansa for tying it together. “Being in the organization for last 5-6 years Manisha said, “I feel like


Ashok Garg, founder member speaking on the occasion as Manisha Gandhi, Club 24 president looks on. Photos by Shobana Muratee, VOA.

this organization represents a family, a group of people that are accomplished, they are the Who’s Who of the Indian American community and the diverse main stream community.” “I want this Club to progress in the area of diversity where we can involve more people of all backgrounds so we learn about other cultures,” she added. She recognized Harris County Judge Michael Landrum and his wife Mary Grace and other guests whose presence made the event veer Ashok Garg, who among the founder member, is serving on the Club 24 Nomination Committee and is instrumental in bring in new members to the organization. Club 24 was started by a group of Indian Americans who lived close together within the Zip code 77024 from where its name originated. Although limited in membership, in the range of 60-65, the Club had primarily included Indian Americans but is now inclusive and has a long wait list. The Club mission is to support other local charities and bringing communities together. The guests enjoyed a spread of Italian delicacies while being entertained by the couple’s games organized by Hansa. Guests and members took advantage of the professional photo shoot by Bijay Dixit, Unique Image Studio and were later given a gift to take home.

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FRIDAY, February 16, 2018

ASIE welcomes new leadership with swearing in ceremony


OUSTON – On JanuThursday, ary 25, members of the American Society of Indian Engineers and Architects (ASIE) held the ceremonial event at the India House for the farewell to the 2017 Outgoing President Dinesh D. Shah and Board and Recognition and Induction of their new Board for 2018. It was almost a packed hall with nearly a one hundred attendants that included ASIE members, engineers and architects – students and young aspiring engineers, ASIE founders, Corporate Members, past presidents and supporters. The 2013 Past President Vishal Merchant performed the Emcee for the event. Vishal, briefly shared the historical information about ASIE and tradition of this ceremonial event. He mentioned, “It is rightfully said that behind any endeavor there is a team of dedicated individuals, working together in unison, to accomplish a common goal, but it is also equally important for that team to have a leader, who with their hard work and dedication sets an example for the entire team to follow. Who paves the way, lays out a vision, and works hard to make that vision a reality.” Then he shared with the audience, the list of many record breaking accomplishments made by the 2017 Board, under the leadership of the President. To justify the ASIE Mission to build the future of Architecture and engineering students, he recognized the 3rd year Architecture student at U of H, Mr. Tanmay Thakkar. He was mentored by Dinesh D. Shah by giving him an opportunity to earn and learn in this commercial real estate development business. Vishal added, “Tanmay, a student member of ASIE, made ASIE proud. He was selected as the first prize winner of the completion for affordable single family housing sponsored by the organization known as Seeds of Sharstown, in agreement with Gerald D. Hines college

plus fund for the year 2018. He recognized the outgoing board members Chetan Vyas, Madhu Kilambi, Gaju Patel, and Poolkeshi Patel for their dedicated contribution by presenting a plaque. He also presented a certificate of appreciation to continuing second year term board members – Chaitanya Gampa, Sirish Madichetti, Archana Sharma, and Tej Kour.

Incoming 2018 ASIE President presenting a plaque to Outgoing 2017 ASIE President Dinesh D. Shah.

Honorable Guest Dr. Daniel Wong TBPE Chairman and Former Sugar Land Councilman addressing the ASIE audience.

(L-R) Sekhar Ambadapudi, Avinash Patel, Archana Sharma, Tej Kour, Apoorv Kumar, Chaitanya Gampa (Sec), Sirish Madichetti (Tr), Showri Nandagiri (VP) and Sai Gowthami Asam (Pr) with Honorable Guest Dr. Daniel Wong . Photo (s) credit: Navin Mediwala of Architecture and Design at University of Houston.” After the remarkable intro-

duction given by Emcee, the outgoing president Dinesh D. Shah expressed his sincere thanks, with his humble heart,

to his board members and all supporters for making 2017 a successful year in the history filled with fourteen technical

seminars, architectural field trip, two ethics seminars, 40 corporate members, 285 total members, and passed on sur-

As a second part of the event, Emcee introduced the Honorable Guest Dr. Daniel Wong. He graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S.C.E. in 1983, M.S.C.E. in 1985 and Ph.D. in 1988. He currently serves as President and CEO of Tolunay-Wong Engineers, Inc. in Houston, Texas. Dr. Wong is serving as a Chairman for the Texas Board of Professional Engineers (TBPE) since 2012. Dr. Wong was elected and served as an At-Large City Councilman in the City of Sugar Land from 2002-2008. He is a trustee of the Fort Bend Economic Development Council and a member of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Wong serves as a Board member of the University of Houston Civil Engineering Department Advisory Board and is a member of its Academy. He also served on the Board of Houston Council of Engineering Companies (formerly ACME) and as President of Asian American Engineers/Architects. He was recognized as the Young Engineer of the Year by the Sam Houston Chapter of Texas Society of Professional Engineers in 1993. He was named as the Distinguished Young Engineering Alumnus in 1998 and the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus in 2009 by the UH Engineering Alumni Association. Then Vishal introduce the incoming 2018 President Sai Gowthami Asam. Sai has been active member of ASIE since 2012. She served on ASIE Board as IT Chair and in Gala Continued on Page 7

Remebering My Beloved Brother Sri. P.K. Chandapillai, 86 years old was called to eternity on February 4, 2018. He died in the family home at Kozhuvalloor, Chengannoor, Kerala state He is my older brother, my teacher, friend, guide, philosopher, and most of the time father like person whenever I needed He retired as the Head Master of the Venmoney Salem UP school, just walking distance, between school and home, around 500 yards, First part of the funeral services, according to Mar Thoma tradition, was done at home and the body taken to the family church, Venmoney Salem Mar Thoma church Kozhuvalloor. After the final service, the body was buried in private family tomb stone already built in, near to this wife and parents. His beloved life partner for 60 years passed away exactly one year before on January 29, 2018. He was wheelchair bound for the last three years after a fall and broke his back. We are 5 siblings. Other surviving siblings are older sister 90, myself, 83, younger sister 80, and the younger brother 77. He was preceded in his death by his parents, Koshy Chandapillai and Saramma Koshy. He is survived by 2 sons, and grandchildren. He was a well known public speaker His funeral was celebrated on Friday (IST)10.30 in the morning under the leadership of the The Rt. Rev. Thomas Mar Timotheos Episcopa (Diocesan Bishop, Chengannur – Mavelikkar), Vicar Generals, Priests, political leaders, a large number of friends, community leaders ,and relatives from far and near. Sri. P.K. Chandapillai, died on February 4, 2018. He was 86.

Koshy Thomas

The Rt. Rev. Thomas Mar Timotheos Episcopa (Diocesan Bishop, Chengannur – Mavelikkar).

Vicar Generals and Priests during the funeral services on February 9, 2018.


Fort Bend View

FRIDAY, February 16, 2018

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

Section 1


Tel: 713-774-5140

Sri Preston Kulkarn - Indian American in 2018 US Congressional race from Texas er Dr. David Sherron at Lamar High School writes on Sri’s Facebook page: “One of my all-time best students was named Sri Kulkarni... he was phenomenal as a person as well as a student. If this is the same person who is running for Congress, then I wish him success and can say emphatically that America needs him! When not buried in his books, Sri, at 15, was a dedicated Lieutenant Governor for the KEY Club, organizing and leading food drives, neighborhood cleanups and other service activities.

Srinivas Preston Kulkarni by Manu Shah


or the past year, Srinivas Preston Kulkarni, a diplomat in the US Foreign Service, was experiencing a nagging sense of unease. The rising anti-immigrant sentiment and the veiled justification of the white supremacy rally by the President troubled him, but the tipping point was the Republican Party’s support of Alabama’s Roy Moore and his disparaging remarks about Americans who are not Christians, families under slavery and disrespect for US Constitutional law. Sri, 39, knew he couldn’t continue serving an administration that was in stark violation of his personal code of ethics and “so anti-American.” In mid-December 2017, he did what few would dare to do: he cleared out his desk in the Department of State where he worked and filed for the Democratic Party nomination to run for the 2018 US Congressional elections from Texas. Sri asserts that Roy Moore’s campaign is completely antithetical to American values, “beyond politics, beyond basic morality and values.” The only way, Sri emphasizes, he could make a difference was to run for Congress and speak out against the current administration. Sri did confer with his family before taking such a huge leap. While his siblings had some practical reservations, his mother, Margaret, was completely

Sri with his mother Margaret, brother Silas, sister Margo (Lakshmi), and brother Krishna supportive and joins him on his campaign trail. According to her, “Since he (Sri) was a kid, he has always stood up against bullies. I’m so proud of my son for continuing to follow his convictions throughout his life and standing up for what is right, whether the bully is in his high school or in the White House." Sri filed his nomination for the District 22 seat, which covers Sugar Land, Pearland and parts of Katy, a seat held by Congressman Pete Olson since 2008. “I have been very concerned with the divide in this country caused by the current political discourse. Sri Kulkarni’s message of bipartisan problem solving and respect for all including immigrants resonates with me, and that’s why I support his campaign for Congress,” stated Ramesh Bhutada, local Indian American businessman. In 1980, Sri’s father, Venkatesh

Kulkarni, who is from India, and his mother Margaret moved to Houston where Venkatesh, a novelist, taught at Rice University and Margaret worked for Exxon. The couple have four children – Sri is the oldest, Krishna, a software developer, Margo, a data scientist and Silas runs his own NGO. They are all educated in Ivy League schools such as Princeton, Yale and Columbia and Sri joined their ranks with a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard last year. Sri grew up seeing two different worlds. He lived in Sharpstown, a crime riddled African American neighborhood in Houston but was bused across town to a primarily white public school in an affluent neighborhood. Sri describes it as “feeling out of place in both places.” He excelled in academics, was a bit of a book worm, a Math and Science whiz and an Honors student. His teach-

As the oldest, Sri often pitched in to take care of his younger siblings. At 18, his father was diagnosed with cancer and Sri chose to drop out of UT for a year to take care of his father. It was a subdued time for Sri as he watched his strong father wither in front of his eyes. For solace, he turned to the scriptural prayers his father had taught him, but in 1998 Sri’s father succumbed to the disease. Sri was devastated, and it was only when the family traveled to India to immerse the ashes in the Ganges that he gained some sort of release from the grief. He began to understand one of Hinduism’s tenets – that life and death are part of a cycle and beyond one’s control. A piece of advice from his father is still gospel to him - to take care of “mind, body and family.” He meditates “to clear his mind” and is devoted to his family. After his father’s death, Sri divided his time between helping raise his siblings and graduating from the Plan II Honors program. His study of Linguistics and Russian in college was put to good use when he was commissioned as a Foreign Service Officer by Secretary of State Colin Powell. He served for 14 years and honed his diplomatic skills during postings in Iraq, Israel, Russia, Taiwan, and Jamaica. He constantly sought to reconcile differences be-

tween Arabs and Kurds and Israelis and Palestinians through dialogue, an accomplishment he’s proud of, and a skill, he says, he will bring to the “present politically hostile environment.” Along the way, Sri picked up several languages, Mandarin, Hebrew, Hindi, and Spanish, which is handy when meeting people. At 6.2 feet, he exudes a quiet determination, speaks with a refreshing directness and mingles easily. With campaign manager Karim Farishta who worked in the White House and a team of 15 committed volunteers, Sri hit the campaign trail. He tapped family and friends in a fundraising bid and raised $34,000 in the first 13 days. (more than the previous nominee raised in 1 year). The campaign has now raised over $80,000, more than any Democratic nominee in the last 8 years. The South Asian community, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and AFLCIO – the largest labor union clearly appear to be leaning towards him. He’s also packing in the hours, reaching out to everyone in Gurudwaras, temples, masjids, and churches, and meeting representatives of Indian organizations like the Gujarati Samaj, Maharashtra Mandal, the Telugu Cultural Association, and the India Culture Center as well as all other communities in the district. Some of the issues he’s vocal about is the improvement of the public school system, affordable healthcare for all, adequate care for veterans, greater cybersecurity to protect the country, rejecting demonization of specific faiths and fair wages for all. Sri admits it’s a crowded field of candidates but is confident that if he wins in the primaries on March 6th, he can clinch the seat for Congress in November. His campaign, he adds is “not anti-Republican or anti-Trump,” it’s pro-American.”



FRIDAY, February 16, 2018

Harmony Science Academy Houston Hosts Annual STEM/Multicultural Festival


OUSTON, TX- Harmony Science Academy Houston will again host its annual STEM/ Multicultural Festival on Saturday, February 24 from 10:00 am to 1:30 pm at their 9431 W S Houston Pkwy, S.Houston location. The event is designed to showcase both our student projects and the diversity of our campus. For the multicultural portion of the festival, attendees will see performances by the student mariachi band and will also get to experience a different culture with each station and classroom. Each student will pick a country of their choice and provide information of the country and a food sample of the country. HSA Houston wants to make sure that there is a take away for each station for an educational experience that families and students of all ages can enjoy. About Harmony Schools.


A session on science during an earlier STEM festival. Photo provided by Harmony Science Academy Houston. Harmony Public Schools are 54 high performing K-12 college preparatory charter schools throughout Texas. Harmony blends the highest

standards and expectations, with a rigorous math- and science-centered curriculum and dedicated and engaged teachers and families to cul-

Students interacting at the multicultural festival last year. Photo provided by Harmony Science Academy Houston.

tivate excellence and prepare students to succeed in college, careers and life. At Harmony Public Schools, we believe every child can succeed, and we

are committed to helping them realize their full potential. To learn more about Harmony Public Schools and our 48 campuses across Texas, please

Asian Chamber of Commerce .... Continued from Page 1 his talk was a lively question and answer session with many great points from different perspectives. ACC will post the slides from the presentation on the website and will create a blog to continue discussion on the following questions: • How do you and members of your community currently engage in the community and in the political system (e.g., inform yourself about issues, engage with elected officials, vote, volunteer, run for office, etc.)?

• What motivates you and members of your community to participate in the community and in the political system? • What stops you and members of your community from further participating in the community and in the political system? “Highlights of the discussion will also be presented to the Greater Houston Civic Engagement Planning Committee meeting later this week,” Young informed. ACC’s upcoming events this year include: ACC Night at the Houston Livestock Show and

Rodeo is on March 7. This will be ACC’s 3rd year to hold an event at the Rodeo. This is a collaborative effort with multiple Asian community organizations. Young thanked John Kim for his efforts to pull this event together. For details on events and memberships visit: http:// ACC has several committees for members to develop skills by leading specific activities. These committees are an excellent opportunity to build your networks and engage in new activities. Chamber membership is a prerequisite. ACC has been supporting

the business community in Houston for 25 years. We’re a diverse, multicultural group focused on increasing business with the Asian community locally and abroad for all Asian countries, as well as improving the overall economic prosperity of Houston. We host and support numerous activities around the city to encourage our members to develop lasting relationships.

Picture on the right: ACC President Milton Young delivering his talk at the Luncheon.

COME ONE, COME ALL MARK YOUR CALENDAR! Date: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2018 Time: 10:00 AM to 1:30 PM Location: W Sam Houston Pwky. S HOUSTON, TX 77099

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Thai Sukravara Deepa Pooja celebration at Sri Meenakshi Temple by Nachal Sethuraman

priests. The lamps were decorated with flowers, sandal, turmeric, kum kum and pooja ritual was performed to the lamp, seeking blessing of the divine mother.


ri Meenakshi Temple celebrated Thai Sukravara Deepa Pooja on February 9th Friday. A lamp is the symbol of the inner power of Energy (Shakthi). Its rays symbolise the many forms of energy in this world. All Divine Godesses are considered to reside in a lighted lamp. Vilakku (Deepa or Lamp) pooja is performed by girls and women seeking health, wealth, harmony and long life for their families and removal of sins. The Last Friday (Sukra vara) falling in the Tamil month Thai is considered very auspicious for Deepa Pooja. Priests decorated three traditional lamps symbolizing three Goddesses, Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi and placed in front of the Sri Meenakshi Sannidhi. Devotees assembled at

The chanting of mantras and Lalitha Sahasranamam by all women led by priests

Lamps (deepas) placed around deities as part of the Deepa pooja. Sri Meenakshi's Sannidhi to perform the Deepa pooja and get blessings of the Almighty Goddess.

After the prayer devotees invoked Goddess Meenakshi in the lighted lamps, following pooja instruction by the

Manickasundara Bhattar along with Sriman Narayana and Kalyana Sundaram filled the sannidhi with divine vibration. Neivedhyam and the fruits brought by devotees offered to the lamps completing the pooja and the event concluded with the distribution of Kum kum and flowers to the devotees. MTS Chairman Dr. Padmini Ranganathan thanked the priests, staff, Board, volunteers and devotees. The event was co ordinated by Nachal Sethuraman, Akila Chander and Sheila Sriram.

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Devotees performing the Deepa pooja at Sri Meenakshi's Sannidhi

FRIDAY, February 16, 2018

ASIE.... Continued from page 4 Reception Committee in 2014, as Secretary in 2015 and as Treasurer in 2016. On behalf of ASIE, Sai volunteered for MathCounts, served as Special Award Judge for SEFH and “Future City” competitions several times. Sai was awarded as 2016 YEOY by ASIE. She is currently working as Senior Structural Engineer at Versabar Inc. She has gained over 10 years of work experience in offshore structural engineering of riser and umbilical pull-ins and decommissioning; heavy equipment lift systems utilizing hydraulic winches, chain jacks. She performed lift analysis on various projects for Versabar’s Bottom Feeder and VB10K Systems. She designed multi-level permanent Chemical Injection Skid Packages and developed material handling solutions for equipment handling on offshore structures. She holds Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from JNTU Kakinada, India; and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology (University of MissouriRolla). With this impressive bio, Vishal welcomed Sai, the newly elected 2018 President with a big round applaud. She invited the board members of her team with a brief introduction. Dr. Wong conducted the swearing-in ceremony for the entire 2018 Board and congratulated them. Addressing the audience of mostly Professional Engineers, he praised ASIE and members for the active role they play in the engineering and architectural field. He also congratulated ASIE Architecture Student Member, Tanmay Thakkar for his achievement. He also admired ASIE that offers a forum to assist its engineers and architects members in career advancement by providing networking through continuing educational seminars, workshops and field trips. He briefly talked about

TBPE and added TBPE is also working together for the policy matter with Architecture Board. On behalf of ASIE, as a token of gratitude, Outgoing President Dinesh Shah presented a Certificate of Appreciation and ASIE Coffee Mug to Dr. Wong. Newly inducted ASIE president, Sai Gowthami Asam has been active member of ASIE since 2012. She served on ASIE Board as IT Chair and in Gala Reception Committee in 2014, as Secretary in 2015 and as Treasurer in 2016. She presided and thanked the Past President Shah and his board for carrying out the successful year. She assured the members that she will make sure to keep the momentum and take ASIE to the next level during her one year term. Presenting her vision as a young engineer she said, “Our 2018 mission is to develop management and leadership skills for young engineers, architects, technicians, and designers of Indian origin in the Greater Houston Area. We will continue to increase the corporate membership and annual membership as we will be celebrating ASIE 25 years.” She added, “This year we will continue providing technical knowledge enhancement to all members through continuing educational seminars, workshops, field trips and networking.” She also added the program details for the month of February. Just like every year, the month of February will be busy month for ASIE. ASIE support engineering and science education by volunteering in Mathcounts competition, Engineers EWeek, Young Engineer of The Year event, volunteering as judges during Science & Engineering Fair of Houston and giving out Awards to students in Junior, Ninth & Senior Divisions based on their projects.” She recognized the 2018 ASIE Advisory Council members and presented the plaque to the retiring Advisory Council Members Vishal Merchant and Naresh Kolli. She presented the Glass Plaque to Dinesh Shah for the token of appreciation on behalf of ASIE. For the present surprise for Shah, she unveiled the new banner of Past President with his name added in the history of ASIE.


FRIDAY, February 16, 2018

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Homeless Lebanese dishwasher How to Stay Lucky becomes Michelin-starred chef During the Chinese New Year by Helen Regan ith Lunar New Year fast approaching, many Chinese are maximizing their chances for a prosperous year ahead — one that’s full of luck and good fortune.


Also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, the New Year is China’s biggest and most important holiday. This year, it begins on Friday, Feb. 16 and lasts until Sunday, Feb. 18. It is also celebrated in Vietnam (where it is known as Tet), Korea (called Seollal) and by people of Chinese descent in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and all over the world.

Lebanese chef Alan Geaam poses in his restaurant 'Alan Geaam'.




He started cooking while doing his national service in Lebanon, and the colonel of his regiment was so impressed he made him his personal chef.

hen Lebanese chef Alan Geaam first arrived in Paris two decades ago he found himself sleeping on the streets, lost and penniless with hardly a word of French. This week Geaam, who began his career as a dishwasher while he was sleeping rough in a Paris park, received his first Michelin star from the French gastronomic bible for his acclaimed new restaurant within a stone's throw of the Arc de Triomphe. "I never thought the Michelin would be interested in someone like me, who was selftaught, who had to sleep in the street at 19 and who began as a dishwasher," he told AFP. "I thought the guide was about chefs in big fancy hotels or those trained by the great masters. But it turned out to be the opposite. It's a wonderful surprise," said the 43-yearold, who was born to Lebanese parents in Liberia, before they exchanged one war zone for another by returning to Beirut. By then Geaam's fascination with food was clear, watching cookery shows on television rather than cartoons after

But Geaam never thought we would be able to cut the mustard in France, and only got his break when the chef of the restaurant where he was washing the dishes was rushed to hospital when he slashed his hand with a knife. - 'But you can cook!' "I worked during the day as a construction worker and at night delivering pizzas and washing dishes. One night the cook cut his hand and had to go to hospital. No one asked me, but I just took over. There were 14 tables and so I just feed the customers and at the end of the night they were delighted. "The owner said to me, 'But you can cook!' and I said, 'Yes.'" "The reason I cook is to make people happy," said Geaam. And he has certainly spread joy among restaurant critics with Michelin's rival Gault Millau guide raving about his langoustines and chard and its dark chocolate-coloured sauce

tinged with Vietnamese cardamom. Alexander Lobrano, author of "Hungry for Paris", was even more effusive, declaring this "gentle, shrewd, self-taught chef as one of quiet men of Paris gastronomy... who has a brilliant future ahead of him." Although Geaam delights in bringing the very best of French produce to his table, Lobrano said he also brings the "tender buds of his very personal cooking that makes references to the lost world of a little boy born to a foreign family living in tropical Africa." - Pomegranate lacquered foie gras And the influence of his Lebanese roots is never far away either. One of Geaam's favourite dishes at the moment is "an escalope of foie gras lacquered with pomegranate molasses served with a tartlette of beetroot and pomegranate. "I ate a lot of pomegranates when I was a kid," he said. "I made juice with them, I made lots of reductions with them, and I loved putting this very Lebanese touch with something so French as foie gras."

Monkey Manhattan cocktail

On Friday, the current Year of the Rooster will give way to the Year of the Dog, one of 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. Those born in the Year of the Dog are considered to be loyal, honest and selfless. But they can also be stubborn, cold and critical. While Chinese New Year celebrations are known for the fireworks and food, the holiday is steeped in tradition and ceremony, with rituals invoking good luck and prosperity for the year ahead. If you want to stay lucky this year, follow these Chinese traditions for the New Year. Give your house a spring cleaning In the run up to the Chinese New Year, it’s fortuitous to give your house a good clean. Decluttering and throwing away unwanted items gets rid of the stagnant energy that has accumulated during the previous year. But make sure to get the dusting done before the first day of Chinese New Year, as cleaning during the holiday brings bad luck according to old superstitions. Decorate with red lanterns In Chinese culture, red is the color of happiness and celebration, and leading up to Chinese New Year, the color can be seen everywhere in Chinese cities: adorning doors, walls, office buildings and shopping malls. Hang red lanterns in your doorway, affix red cardboard decorations to your walls, and wear red to attract good energy. Called hongbao in Mandarin, or lai see in Cantonese, these little red packets stuffed with cash are given to children, family, friends and employees during the Chinese New Year. But proper hongbao etiquette must be observed: the envelopes are usually given by married people or employers, the packet should contain new banknotes, the sum should be an even number, and never in denominations of four—because the Chinese word for four sounds like the word for death. Red envelopes are also “fed” to the Chinese lions during traditional lion dances, which are popular during the Chinese New Year. Dance troupes visit offices and parade through the streets accompanied by a din of drums and firecrackers to clean away the energy of the old year and to manifest good energy for the next.

Monkey Manhattan cocktail made for each other

Did you try something new on Valentine’s Day? n Valentine’s Day you were either forking out a nice dinner somewhere, or sat at home watching. If you didn't try something new, file this for next year


The romantic-inspired Monkey Manhattan cocktail is where Scotch whisky meets the distilled essence of bitter oranges. It’s the perfect combination of whisky and bitter sweet – probably a better combination than most of the relationships you’ve had. Monkey Shoulder is a whisky that loves company and shows its versatility in cocktails. It was recently voted the number one trending whisky amongst the top

100 most influential bars in the world for 2018! If that doesn’t convince you, we don’t know what will. So be inspired and mix things up on your next Valentine’s Day (or something special coming up soon) – either for your significant other, or for yourself. After all, you deserve it more if you’ve managed to maintain your single status. Skip buying flowers and chocolate next year, and instead spark romance with a firm grip and a fair amount of scotchy notes, with the elegant, multipurpose Monkey Manhattan. The orange bitters helps to tie everything together so things don’t get too out of hand. Monkey Manhattan Tastes Like

I don’t know about art, but I know what I love. Ingredients 2 parts Monkey Shoulder whisky 1 part sweet vermouth 1/2 part Grand Marnier (orange flavoured liqueur) 1 dash Angostura aromatic bitters 1 dash Angostura orange bitters Method 1. Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass or Kilner jar. 2. Add lots of chunky ice cubes to your shaker. 3. Stir gently with a bar spoon, long teaspoon or a chopstick until the glass or jar feels nice and cold. 4. Strain carefully through a strainer into a chilled martini glass.

A donor seen holding a red envelope in Semarang City, Indonesia on Jan. 31 2016. NurPhoto/Getty Images A donor seen holding a red envelope in Semarang City, Indonesia on Jan. 31 2016. NurPhoto/Getty Images NurPhoto/ Getty Images Watch a fireworks display Fireworks are a Chinese New Year tradition that goes back thousands of years. In Chinese lore, firecrackers were used to scare off the evil New Year spirit, Nian. On the first day of the New Year, the beast would wreak havoc in the villages. One day, as the myth goes, an old man saved the villagers by telling them to put up red banners and bang drums to scare the Nian away. Today, those traditions can be seen in the red decorations and lion dances, but also in the form of firework displays. Fireworks are a huge part of New Year festivities, with impressive displays put on in major cities. A Chinese phrase for celebrating Chinese New Year is Guo Nian, literally, “overcome Nian,” or “the passing of the beast.” Perhaps the most important part of the Chinese New Year is spending time with family. With schools and offices closed, hundreds of millions of people will make the trip to China or go on a trip. The annual travel rush is considered the largest movement of humans on Earth and about 2.98 billion trips are expected to be made between Feb. 1 and March 12. Central to family time is the New Year feast, also known as the “reunion dinner.” Certain dishes are eaten for their symbolic meaning and some are part of traditions going back thousands of years. Though each household and region has its own traditions, there are some of the dishes that are considered essential. Fish is a huge part of the reunion dinner as it symbolizes wealth. In Chinese, fish (yu) is a homonym of the word for “surplus” or “extra.” Spring rolls also symbolize prosperity

as they are fancifully thought to look like little gold bars. They also take their name (chun juan) from the Spring Festival (chunjie) — Chinese New Year. Dumplings are always served on New Year’s Eve, especially in the north, as they represent the transition from the old year to the new. Noodles, because of their length, are playfully said to signify a long life. A traditional (and fun) dish to eat during the New Year are Longevity Noodles, also known as Changshou Mian. The noodles are commonly made from one piece of dough that’s stretched into many long strands. Eat them uncut and serve fried or with a broth. Well, what is wealth without a long life and family and friends to enjoy it with? Not to worry. Noodles are believed to bring longevity and happiness. A Chinese New Year meal is not complete without this. In Singapore, a dish called yu sang (also known as yu sheng, lo hei and the prosperity toss) is a staple on the New Year’s dinner table. It’s a large platter full of carrots, radishes, pickles and raw fish. As the ingredients are added, diners will shout auspicious wishes for the year ahead. What a brilliant experience it’s been; this is us officially starting the Chinese New Year celebrations by throwing (tossing really) a dish called Yu Sang (fish raw) which is done for prosperity - while saying Gong Xi fa Cai which means ‘wish you good wealth’ In China’s south, niangao — a glutinous rice cake that’s eaten with stir-fried vegetables and meat, or as a dessert — is popular over the Chinese New Year. In Cantonese, the word sounds similar to the phrase “lofty year”— or a wish to achieve higher heights every year. Mandarin oranges and tangerines can be seen on offer at market stalls all over China. Known as ‘Good Fortune Fruit,’ oranges are eaten during Chinese New Year to bring fullness and wealth. (-Time)


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First Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi, UAE to be built by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha construction of the traditional stone temple. Representatives of all Indian religious denominations and communities, as well as, representatives of the Jain, Sikh, Muslim, Christian and other faith communities also attended the auspicious ceremony. In particular, Pujya Shri Rakeshbhai, founder of the Shrimad Rajchandra Mission in Dharampur, India, participated in the Vedic rituals.

BAPS Swamis meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and present an introductory book of plans for the upcoming Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi.


BU DHABI, February 11, 2018- India's Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi on Sunday, February 11, 2018 inaugurated the BAPS Hindu Mandir model, and thus officially launched the construction of the first BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami performed the foundation stone laying ceremony of the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi to be built on 55,000 square meters of land. The temple will be hand-carved by Indian temple artisans and assembled in the UAE. It is expected to be completed by 2020, and open to people of all religious backgrounds. The temple, inspired by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and blessed by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, will be a significant symbol of global peace and harmony. The foundation stone-laying ceremony for the first Hindu temple in the capital of the

Speaking on the occasion, Pujya Brahmaviharidas swami, the spokesperson of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha said, “The generous gift of land for a Hindu Temple by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is a strong and sound message to the world that cultural and spiritual inclusiveness is the way forward for global harmony. Especially in the 21st century, when the world is fragmenting for frivolous reasons, this timely noble gesture creates hope for unity in diversity. It reinforces the guiding vision of tolerance and harmony of the founding fathers of the UAE. "We are sincerely grateful and indebted to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the Honorable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, as well as the people of both nations for their commitment towards peace and harmony.”

Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharandas swami doing Foundation Stone laying ceremony of BAPS Hindu Mandir, Abu Dabhi, UAE. UAE, home to over three million people of Indian origin was live-streamed to the Dubai Opera House where the prime minister was interacting with Indian and Emirati dignitaries from all walks of life.

his generous gift. "I believe this temple will not be only unique in terms of architecture and splendor, but will also give a message of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' to people across the world," he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minster, thanked the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for

Several thousand devotees from all over the world, wellwishers and guests participated in the Shila Pujan ceremony marking the first step in the

Commenting, the Consul General of India, Shri Vipul, said, “This is a historic event, rightly called the millennial moment. The first traditional stone temple built by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha shall serve the needs of the entire community. Closely working with their hundreds of volunteers and saints, I know the selfless spirit with which they dedicate themselves. The temple and its activities shall be path-breaking for promoting love, tolerance and harmony in the UAE and the neighboring regions.”

FRIDAY, February 16, 2018

Indian engineer part of team awarded sci-tech Oscar

The camera, developed by the four techies, comes with an enhanced ability to frame shots while looking straight down. (Photo: Twitter/ USConsulateMumbai)


UMBAI: An engineer raised in Mumbai, Vikas Sathaye, was part of the team that bagged the scientific and engineering award at the Oscars 2018 Scientific and Technical Awards on Saturday. The fourmember team was honoured at the Beverly Hills ceremony "for the concept, design, engineering and implementation of the Shotover K1 Camera System", which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences describes as a "sixaxis stabilised aerial camera mount" that has an "enhanced ability to frame shots while looking straight down". In his statement to the press, Sathaye said that in 2009 he joined a new company called Shotover Camera Systems in Queenstown, New Zealand, which is where he worked on the aerial mount. "One of the reasons to start this company in Queenstown was the natural beauty and stunning scenery which attract a lot of film producers and directors," he said.

ter, which carries the camera and lens. Its primary function is to eliminate any vibration from reaching the camera and thus getting steady footage. The other function for the camera mount is to move the camera head in the desired direction as required by the camera operator, who sits inside the helicopter and uses a joystick to control the camera head movement," Sathaye explained. The aerial mount or gimbal used for 3D aerial filming was named Shotover K1. Sathaye, born in Pune in 1967, grew up in Mumbai. After school, Sathaye completed a diploma in instrumentation from VPM's polytechnic, Thane, followed by a BE in electronics from VIT Pune, and an MTech in instrumentation from IISc.

"The camera mount gets attached to the base of a helicop-

He taught at Pune's Cummins College of Engineering for Women for seven years, during which he was sent to Italy for a project with Fiat for three months. It was this experience that inspired him to enter the field of embedded software technology. (Times of India).

PM Modi, thanked the gulf countries which provided a home like environment to

almost 30 lakh people from India who are living there. (-BAPS Houston)



Trump pushes immigration plan as Senate mulls narrower path


ASHINGTON | AFP | 2/14/2018 - President Donald Trump was on a collision course over immigration Wednesday with US senators, including some within his own party, as they grasped for a solution protecting 1.8 million immigrants from deportation. With senators racing against a self-imposed end-of-theweek deadline to strike a deal, Trump demanded the chamber rally around his proposal, which puts the "Dreamer" immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children on a pathway to citizenship -- but severely curtails legal immigration. Trump's hard line was imperilling the prospects of a deal, as he urged senators to oppose a series of bipartisan efforts, including one gaining traction.

exas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz stood alone Monday in voting against a GOP motion to start debate on a new immigration proposal that could resolve the standoff over "Dreamers."


The 97-1 vote dramatized the Texas Republican's hardline stance against President Donald Trump's proposal to grant a path to citizenship for as many as 1.8 million young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children. Cruz has frequently derided as "amnesty" any plan that confers legal status or citizenship on people living in the country illegally.

The president's plan protects Dreamers and boosts border security funding, but also abolishes the diversity visa lottery and restricts family reunification, a policy Trump calls "chain migration."

every solution that might pass because it isn't 100 percent of what he wants," top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said.

In a statement, the president urged all senators to support his measure and "oppose any legislation that fails to fulfill these four pillars –- that includes opposing any shortterm 'Band-Aid' approach."

"If, at the end of the week, we are unable to find a bill that can pass... the responsibility will fall entirely on the president's shoulders and those in this body who went along with him."

The remark brought action in the Senate to a standstill, with no votes on actual immigration legislation, despite assurances by leadership that an open-ended floor debate on the issue would take place this week, with both sides invited to offer amendments.

A handful of Senate Republicans have said they would consider voting for the Collins compromise if the text is reasonable.

"Here we are on Wednesday, and we're off like a herd of turtles," sneered Republican Senator John Kennedy. "Nothing's happened." Lawmakers for months have struggled to craft a compromise after Trump scrapped a program that allowed Dreamers to stay, and gave Congress until March 5 to find a solution. Some 690,000 Dreamers registered under the Obamaera Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program -- plus 1.1 million others who were eligible but did not sign up -- could begin to face deportation by that date if no fix is in place. Top Republicans said Trump's plan has the best shot at becoming law out of those being considered. But Democrats have panned it, making it highly unlikely that it would garner the 60 votes necessary to advance in the 100-member chamber. - 'Growing consensus' A compromise was emerging from a bipartisan group nicknamed the "common sense coalition," which appeared set to release the text later Wednesday. "We're making real progress," Republican Senator Susan Collins tweeted after hosting coalition members in her office. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said there was "growing consensus" around the plan, a narrower bill that would legalize 1.8 million Dreamers and provide $25 billion for border security including funding for a wall on the US-Mexico border, a long-held Trump priority. But it would only make limited changes to family reunification, and leave the diversity lottery untouched because it is too "politically toxic," Graham said. "I think that's got the best chance of getting 60" votes, Graham told AFP. With just three weeks before DACA recipients face possible deportation, young immigrants in Santa Monica, California used the occasion of Valentine's Day to conduct a "Vote for Love" outreach effort by imploring people to call senators' offices and urge them to back legislation that protects Dreamers. In the midst of the showdown, Democrats stressed Trump would be to blame for any failure to reach a deal. Americans "know this president not only created the problem, but seems to be against

17 killed in Florida school shooting by former student by Leila Macor

Cruz stands alone

But number two Senate Republican John Cornyn said it

was critical to pass legislation that could clear the House, where conservatives bridle at the thought of providing "amnesty" to millions of immigrants, and pass muster with Trump. "The White House has been pretty adamant, and we agree, that the president's proposal will be the final deal," Cornyn told reporters. With two legislative days remaining in the week, the path forward has narrowed dramatically. "We're going to run out of time," Cornyn said, "and I'm kind of at a loss."

FRIDAY, February 16, 2018


ARKLAND, FL | AFP | Thursday 2/14/2018 - A former student armed with an AR-15 rifle opened fire at a Florida high school on Wednesday, killing at least 17 people, officials said, in a harrowing shooting spree that saw terrified students hiding in closets and under desks as they texted for help. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel identified the gunman as Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland who had been expelled for "disciplinary reasons." Cruz was arrested without incident in the nearby town of Coral Springs after the Valentine's Day rampage and taken to hospital with minor injuries, the sheriff said. "We have already begun to dissect his websites and things on social media that he was on and some of the things... are very, very disturbing," Israel said. "He had countless magazines, multiple magazines, and at this point, we believe he had one AR-15 rifle," the sheriff added. Israel said he was uncertain about the exact number of people injured, but at least 14 were taken to hospital and two had died there of their wounds. The shooting, one of nearly 20 since the start of the year, will once again throw the spotlight on the epidemic of gun violence in the United States and the ready accessibility of weapons in a country with 33,000 gun-related deaths annually.

"This is a terrible day for Parkland," Israel said, speaking of the city of about 30,000 people, located 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami. "My very own triplets went to that school." A teacher at the school told the Miami Herald that Cruz had been identified previously as a potential threat to his classmates. "We were told last year that he wasn't allowed on campus with a backpack on him," math teacher Jim Gard said. "There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus." A law enforcement source told CBS News that the gunman pulled a fire alarm before opening fire, but Israel said he could not confirm that report. - 'Very scared' Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky told CNN she had spoken to a number of students after the shooting erupted shortly after 2:00 pm (1900 GMT). "They were very scared," she said. "And almost in shock when they came out." Asked about security, the Parkland mayor said a police officer is always stationed at the school and there was a "single point of entry." Television images showed students, some with their hands in the air, being led out of the school by heavily armed police officers and an armored vehicle filled with a SWAT team on the scene.

One injured victim was seen being placed into an ambulance on a stretcher. Police officers in helmets, bulletproof vests and armed with automatic weapons could be seen stationed at several points around the sprawling school complex, which serves nearly 3,000 students. "Just a horrible day for us," said the superintendent of the county's school district, Robert Runcie. The FBI said it was assisting local law enforcement with the investigation. - 'Everyone started running' Student Jeiella Dodoo told CBS News that she and her schoolmates had evacuated their classroom calmly after hearing what they thought had been a routine fire alarm. "The alarm went off so we had to evacuate from our classes," she said. "Then we heard gunshots. "I heard about six gunshots," she said, "and then some people started running and then everyone started running because we were like 'If it's real, then just run.'" Teacher Melissa Falkowski told US networks that she had helped 19 students squeeze into a closet with her. "We were in there for probably 40 minutes. We were locked in the closet until SWAT came and got us," she told CNN. President Donald Trump offered his "prayers and condolences to the families of the victims.



OLYMPICS USA, with Statue of Liberty on helmets, blank Russians by Jim Slater


ANGNEUNG, South Korea (AFP) - American goaltender Nicole Hensley kept the Statue of Liberty on her helmet and the Olympic Athletes from Russia out of her net Tuesday at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

"It's just a great representation of our country," Hensley said. "As far as I knew it had been approved so I put it on there." Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored the fastest two goals in Olympic hockey history just six seconds apart in the second period, shaving two seconds off the old mark by Sweden's Carl Goran Oberg from 1960 at Squaw Valley. "I don't think I've scored two quick ones like that before," said Lamoureux-Davidson, who charged forward and took the puck from the feet of two defenders before netting a backhand breakaway for the second goal. "I just caught them in miscommunication. I was pretty happy with that one." Kacey Bellamy, Gigi Marvin and Hannah Brandt also found the net in the US triumph.


Warne, who lead the Royals as they clinched the IPL cup in its inaugural edition in 2008, rejoins the franchise as they return to the lucrative Twenty20 league after a two-year ban for illegal betting. The club hopes the 48-yearold leg-spinner will "recreate the old magic" he brought to the Royals as captain -- and later coach -- in the IPL's first four seasons, it said in a statement. "I am very happy and excited to be back with the Rajasthan Royals who I believe hold a very special place in my cricketing journey," said Warne. "I am overwhelmed by the love and affection showered on me by the franchise and fans of Rajasthan Royals." IPL teams are known to keep retired players as coaches and

The scripted series, to be called "Swagger," will be written by noted screenwriter Reggie Rock Bythewood and produced by Imagine Television and Kevin Durant's Thirty Five Media, a source familiar with the plan said, confirming earlier media reports.

NBA'S Kevin Durant signs with Apple for TV series

and Apple on this series...much more to come." Durant, the star forward for the Golden Star Warriors, will

produce the show with Imagine, which is led by producer Brian Grazer and director Ron Howard.

SOCCER 'Nothing is impossible', says Neymar after loss to Real USA goaltender Nicole Hensley, with the Statue of Liberty image on her helmet. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski) Hensley, who helped the US women capture the past two world championships, has a large Statue of Liberty image painted on the left side of her mask and reserve Alex Rigsby has one on the chin of her mask. - 'Focused on the game' American media reported the Statue of Liberty image might violate the IOC's rules against political symbols and the IOC wanted it gone. IOC guidelines on authorised identification say no item can have national anthem words or lyrics, motivation words, political messaging or slogans related to national identity. But the IOC later said they hadn't asked for the images to be taken off. "There seems to have been a misunderstanding," an IOC spokesperson said. "We have not asked for the symbol to be removed." Hensley said she was not bothered by the possible need

for last-minute helmet alterations as she prepared to face the US political rivals. "Our equipment guys took care it," she said. "I was just focused on the game." Together with four-time defending champion Canada's 4-1 victory over Finland, which stretched their Olympic win streak to 22 games, the Americans and Canadians clinched semi-final berths. Their roundrobin meeting Thursday will decide a top seed. Canada's Meghan Agosta and captain Marie-Phillip Poulin scored in the first period and team-mates Melodie Daoust and Jillian Saulnier followed in the second. Finland's Riikka Valila, at 44 the oldest player in Olympic hockey history, scored with 12:43 remaining to avert a shutout. "I like where we're at," Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados said. "We have grown over the year and I think we are in a good spot."

CRICKET Warne reunites with Rajasthan as mentor for IPL season EW DELHI, India | AFP | Tuesday 2/13/2018 - Australian spin legend Shane Warne has been reunited with the Rajasthan Royals, as the Indian Premier League club announced Tuesday he will mentor the side he once captained to victory.


EW YORK | AFP - NBA star Kevin Durant has agreed to co-produce a basketball-themed drama television series that will be part of Apple's original television programming.

Durant himself tweeted about the new program, saying "So excited to partner with Imagine

As a result, the Americans and four-time defending champion Canada are on their way to Monday's women's hockey semi-finals. Hensley made 13 saves in a 5-0 victory to cap a day where the International Olympic Committee blamed a "misunderstanding" for reports the Statue of Liberty image might have to be removed from US goalie helmets.

FRIDAY, February 16, 2018


ADRID, Spain | AFP | Thursday 2/14/2018 - Neymar insisted that Paris SaintGermain can still qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals despite losing 3-1 to Real Madrid in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Wednesday. "My analysis is that we committed errors at certain moments. We were not mature enough at the end of the match," the world's most expensive player told Brazilian media after PSG squandered the lead at the Santiago Bernabeu. Adrien Rabiot had put the French side ahead, but Cristiano Ronaldo's double strike and a Marcelo goal turned the game on its head in the Spanish capital. "We didn't play badly, but I think we need to be better if we want to eliminate Real Madrid," added Neymar. He was in the Barcelona side that lost 4-0 away to PSG in the first leg of the last 16 last season, before a stunning 6-1 victory in the return. On PSG's chances of beating Real in the return leg on March 6, he said: "I think it is difficult, but nothing is impossible. Last year I was in

Neymar during a practice session (Photo: Getty Images) a much worse situation and we managed to get through. I

hope we will be able to play better."

Australia's Shane Warne

mentors to help motivate the young and senior members in their dug-out. Warne took 56 wickets in his 52 games with the Royals, who were barred for two seasons along with Chennai Super Kings in 2015 over an illegal gambling scandal. They have put together a strong squad ahead of their return for the 2018 edition, bagging top names including England all-rounder Ben Stokes in the player auction last month. Stokes was secured for close to $2 million while Indian seamer Jaydev Unadkat was contracted by the Royals at $1.8 million. They were two of the biggest buys in a two-day auction that witnessed almost $70 million

splurged by the franchises. "The guys have done a wonderful job at getting the squad together. So many talented Indian, international, senior and young players they always support," said Warne. "It really is a wonderful squad and I think it can achieve some special things in 2018." Warne, regarded as one of the greatest leg-spinners in the history of cricket, picked up 708 wickets in 145 Tests during his 15-year international career. The IPL, the world's most popular T20 domestic league, is slated to be held between April 7 and May 27. The tournament has been boosted by a new five year $2.5-billion media deal.

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Pakistan still going easy on militants: US intel chief


ASHINGTON, United States | AFP | Tuesday 2/13/2018 - Pakistan's military is holding back counterterrorism cooperation with the United States while continuing to go easy on militant groups based in the country, US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Tuesday. Coats told a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee that despite Washington’s requests to do more, the Pakistan military is only trying to appear tougher against the Taliban and Haqqani militants.

"Pakistan-based militant groups continue to take advantage of their safe haven to conduct attacks in India, in Afghanistan, and including US interests therein," Coats said. "Ongoing Pakistani military operations against the Taliban and associated groups probably reflect the desire to appear more proactive and responsive to our requests for more actions against these groups." However actions taken thus far "do not reflect a significant escalation of pressure against these groups and are unlikely

to have a lasting effect."

FRIDAY, February 16, 2018

Pakistan officials arrest gang in spinal fluid scam

Coats said that the US Treasury Department had announced terror designations in recent weeks on eight members of the Taliban, the Haqqani Group and other groups, aiming to boost pressure on the militants' abilities to operate. However US intelligence agents believe that Pakistan "will maintain ties to these militants while restricting counter-terrorism cooperation with the United States," he said.

c will be coming into your home through Netflix soon A Pakistani doctor and his assistants arrested last year for illegal kidney transplants: now a gang is accused of stealing spinal fluid


akistan police have arrested a gang accused of extracting spinal fluid from swindled victims, officials said Tuesday, the latest case involving the country's notorious medical black market. Police in Punjab province's eastern Hafizabad district arrested five suspects after being tipped off by relatives of a woman victim, who was told the procedure was needed for a programme which offers free wedding dowries. Officials suspect the fluid was being sold on the black market to be used in bone by Aimée Lutkin


arie Kondo’s books have sold more than 8.5 million copies, but how do you reach people who hate books? Broker a deal with Netflix. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kondo will be spreading the joys of tossing out your life in her own unscripted show, which will run 8 episodes and support Kondo’s personal beliefs about getting rid of junk to make way for happiness. She’ll be going to the homes of hoarders and regular people who, contrarily, love stuff to help them fill trash bags. And it’s all part of her plan, whahahaha:

The wildly successful English translation of Ms. Kondo's book is headed for the small screen. “My mission is to organize the world and spark joy in people’s lives,” Kondo reiterated in a statement, noting of her global ambitions: “Through this partnership with Netflix, I am excited to spread the KonMari Method to as many people as possible.” The show is produced by Gail Berman of Jackal Group, and he told THRthat he’s expecting the series to showcase the “astonishing and moving personal journeys” of folks who come in contact with Kondo, which I can believe. By the way, did you know you can even become a certified acolyte of her methods, not just a Pinterest super fan? There are currently 85 official KonMari consultants, as they’re called, and there are three seminars inviting more than 400 participants to potentially join the ranks over the coming year. I bet it’s competitive—you can get cut anytime you stop bringing her joy. There’s also an online course, if you’re not ready to leave the minimalist comfort of a newly tidied apartment. Obviously, Kondo is going to take over, but at least it will be an extremely neat new world?

Visit us at:

marrow transplants. "They confessed to extracting the spinal cord fluid from at least 10 women in the area and selling it to a cleaner at a local government hospital, who has also been detained," Abdul Majeed, an investigator with the Hafizabad police department, told AFP. Another police officer, Muhammad Imran, confirmed the incident. "Further investigation is underway," Majeed said. The top-selling Urdu-language newspaper, Jang, said

the accused had extracted fluid from at least 90 impoverished women who were left disabled by the procedure. Pakistan is infamous for illegal kidney transplants that have attracted customers from across the world. Last year authorities in Lahore arrested a group of medics for performing illegal kidney transplants for two Oman nationals. Organs can only be donated by close relatives in Pakistan and buying and selling them is illegal. (-PTI)




FRIDAY, February 16, 2018

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TiE hosts special dinner event Asian Agent‘s Success in appreciating Charter Members No. 1 RE/MAX Brand Josie Lin won 2017 Top Commercial Producer in RE/MAX Houston Council


Dr. Arun Pasrija, President of TiE Houston speaking at the Charter Members’ Dinner


OUSTON, January 9, 2018 -TiE Houston hosted is annual special dinner event for their Charter Members and their guest to celebrate the previous year’s accomplishments and share the exciting plans for the upcoming year. TiE’s Charter Members are the backbone of the organization. Our Charter Members play a key role as leaders, mentors, investors, and do so with a spirit of giving. They emphasize that they are not a club. They are a group of individuals dedicated to the fostering of entrepreneurship here in Houston and beyond. At this event Dr. Arun Pasrija, President of TiE Houston, recognized the board members for their leadership and contributions for a successful 2017. Several board members shared update on the initiative they are leading in the areas of venture investment, mentoring

ditional members Juan Arjona (executive at TechnipFMC) and Vinita Gupta (founder/CoCEO of Apex Resources, Inc.). The board members for 2018 are: Dr. Arun Pasrija – President, Dr. Atul Varadhachary - President Elect, Karl Maier, Ravi Brahmbhatt, Michael Raspino, Dr. Ram Shenoy, Dr. Roopa Gir, Aruna Viswanathan, Juan Arjona, Dr. Shri Iyer, and Vinita Gupta. With board members and charter members combined efforts TiE was able to host 21 different events focusing on TiE’s pillars of networking, mentoring, investing, and educating. Charter Members served as expert panelists and moderators to discuss successful exits, commercial real estate, how to start a food business, and more! By harnessing the power of their network they were able to mentor several startups in the software, medi-

Charter Members since the start of 2018. They are Sanjay Gupta (CEO of Amber Sporting Goods), Aju Koshy (CEO of ConvergePoint, Inc.), Khalid (Ken) Parekh (Chairman & CEO of AMSYS), and Nishad Mehta (President, Avnee L.P.) 2018 has already brought two successful events in January with the completion of the Venture Forum and kick off of the TiE Young Entreprenuer program. This year promises to be another great year thanks to the support of Platinum sponsor BBVA Compass and Corporate Sponsors, HCC, Songkhran, Ilan Investments, APEX, TMCx, and various partnerships within Houston’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. The next event on February 21, 2018 is a joint effort with the Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston and the Consul General of In-

E/MAX Texas Convention 2018 was held recently, Josie Lin, owner/broker associate of RE/MAX United were honored with 4 big awards. She is 2017 Top Commercial Producer in RE/MAX Houston council which has more than 1800 agents, and RE/MAX Texas Statewide No. 8th Top Producer among more than 5000 agents. In addition, Josie earned Lifetime Achievement Award, and Titan Club award. Josie’s achievements set as an example of Asian Agent’s Motivations and Efforts RE/MAX United has been serving Houston for over a decade. It offers one stop real estate services ranging from residential, commercial, project development, investment, and property management. RE/ MAX United forges multicultural platform for real estate agents, not limited to mainstream, but also from Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and other parts of Asia. It can provide professional services to accommodate with diverse cultures either to the agents or to the clients. Josie Lin has won numerous achievements in real estate industry over the years. She is a quintessential example of Asian real estate agents and their efforts. Josie came to the U.S. for further study in master degree 26 years ago and

Josie Lin with her Lifetime Achievement Award. unintentionally joined the real estate industry. After being productive under RE/MAX United, she got opportunity to acquire the ownership of the brokerage and have worked on developing the diverse platform with her full forces. Since 2016, Josie and her RE/MAX United team started their major commercial endeavor, Katy Asian Town, a unique Asian Town in master commercial district. As the designated leasing broker

of this promising center, Josie is instrumental in bringing “Taste of Asia”, include dinning, shopping, entertainment, medical, office and lifestyle experiences, to meet the diversity of growing west Houston metropolitan. The undertaking journey made a new immigrant’s American Dream coming true. It is also the reason why Josie would like to share more of her experiences to her agents to grow their business in a proper platform.

TiE Houston Board of Directors and working with high school students (TiE Young Program). Dr. Pasrija was also announced that the board has unanimously elected Dr. Atul Varadhachary as the President Elect – who will take over from Dr. Pasrija from January 2019. He also introduced all the board members for 2018 including two new ad-

cal, and oil & gas space which has led to successful advancements in their funding efforts. Those same Charter Members came together to support the Rice Business Plan Competition and as an Angel Investment group, invested in the winning team. TiE welcomed four new

dia to welcome author Alyssa Ayres to have a moderated discussion with Sunanda Vashisht about her latest book release “Our Time Has Come – How India is Making its Place in the World”. To RSVP please contact Swathi Vikraman via email at

Josie Lin speaking at the press conference.

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Human eggs grown to maturity in lab: researchers ARIS, France | AFP | Scientists have grown human egg cells to full maturity in the lab in a potential breakthrough for fertility treatment, they announced in a study published Friday. Researchers in New York and Edinburgh developed a new method to grow eggs from very early-stage cells obtained from ovary tissue, a team reported in the journal Molecular Human Reproduction.


The eggs were grown to the point at which they could be fertilised.

Experts who did not take part in the research hailed the achievement as promising, but stressed it would take years to translate into a safe and proven therapy. The technique holds promise specifically for women who have to go through sterilising treatments such as chemotherapy. It would allow them to freeze early-stage egg cells before undergoing treatment, to be matured in the lab at a later time to be fertilised with sperm to make a baby.

This had previously been achieved with mouse egg cells, while human eggs had been successfully cultivated starting from a much later stage of development.

Traditionally, cancer patients can have a piece of ovary removed before chemotherapy, but reimplanting the tissue later may risk reintroducing cancer.

“The latest study is the first time a human egg has been developed in the lab from its earliest stage to full maturity,” said a statement from the University of Edinburgh.

“This is an elegant piece of work, demonstrating for the first time that human eggs can be grown to maturity in a laboratory,” Channa Jayasena of the Imperial College London said in a comment on the study

results. “It would take several years to translate this into a therapy. However, this is an important breakthrough, which could offer hope to women with infertility in the future.” Azim Surani of the University of Cambridge pointed out that the eggs yielded by the research were smaller than normal, and “it might be of interest to test the developmental potential of these eggs”.

Atul Gupta (pictured) is one of the three Gupta brothers accused of exerting undue influence (AFP Photo) minister, in return for obeying the family’s instructions -- for which he would allegedly be paid 600 million rand ($50 million). Backbench ANC lawmaker David van Rooyen was then revealed to have visited the Guptas’ home the night before his brief appointment as finance minister on December 9, 2015. Both the Guptas and Zuma, who has described the brothers as friends, deny any wrongdoing. - Tied in knots Perhaps one of the most colourful Gupta-linked incidents related to a family wedding in 2013.

They had developed close links with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party focussing particularly on Zuma, well before he became president in 2009.

Public anger erupted after it was revealed that a jet carrying 217 foreign guests to a Gupta wedding landed at Waterkloof Air Force base, outside Pretoria.

- What ties the Guptas to Zuma? -

The airport is a military facility normally used for receiving heads of state.

Zuma’s third wife Bongi Ngema and one of his daughters have also been in the employ of the Guptas. Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas claimed in March 2015 that the Guptas had offered him the post of finance

In clinical trials involving 116 patients in the Netherlands, virtual reality exercises led to less fraught social interactions, a team wrote in The Lancet Psychiatry.

As a result, many psychotics avoid public places and contact with people, spending a lot of time alone. So-called cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) -- in which therapists help patients break down seemingly overwhelming problems to render them less threatening -- helps reduce anxiety, but does little to quell paranoia.

For the trial, the 116 participants -- all receiving standard treatment, including antipsychotic medication and regular psychiatric consultations -were divided into two groups of 58. Only one group practised social interactions in a virtual environment.

- Who are the Guptas? -

Zuma’s son Duduzane was a director of the Gupta-owned Sahara Computers, named after their hometown of Saharanpur, and has been involved with several of the family’s other companies.


Researchers led by Roos PotKolder of VU University in the Netherlands extended this method into a virtual environment.

A day after the ruling ANC ordered Zuma out of office, the Guptas’ prominent role in his presidency was highlighted on Wednesday as elite crime-busters raided the family’s mansion in Johannesburg.

The New Age, an ardently pro-Zuma newspaper, was launched in 2010, and the 24hour news channel ANN7 took to the airwaves in 2013 with a similar editorial slant.

ONDON | AFP | Facebook said Friday that it will issue up to $10 million (8.2 million euros) in grants to help support and train community leaders around the world.

Up to 90 percent of people with psychosis suffer from paranoid thoughts, leading them to perceive threats where there are none.


As the country opened up to foreign investment, the Guptas -- previously small-scale businessmen in India -- built a sprawling empire involved in computers, mining, media, technology and engineering.

ARIS, France | AFP | Thursday 2/8/2018 Virtual reality-based therapy combined with standard treatment reduced paranoia and anxiety in people with psychotic disorders, scientists reported Friday.

Study co-author Evelyn Telfer of the University of Edinburgh said the team was now studying how healthy the eggs are.

OHANNESBURG, South Africa | AFP | 2/14/2018 - A politicallyconnected business dynasty that moved to South Africa from India, the Gupta family finds itself at the centre of many of the scandals that have dogged President Jacob Zuma’s administration.

Led by Atul, they arrived in South Africa in 1993 as white-minority apartheid rule crumbled, a year before Nelson Mandela won the country’s first democratic elections.

Facebook pledges $10 mn for community leaders

More research is needed to confirm the long-term benefits of such technology, which gave the impression of being in an alternate reality populated by life-like avatars.

The Guptas: A family at the heart of Zuma’s troubles

The family is headed by Ajay, Atul and Rajesh (“Tony”) Gupta, three brothers from the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Virtual reality may reduce paranoia in psychotics

And Robin Lovell-Badge of The Francis Crick Institute said the procedure was “really quite inefficient”, with only nine out of dozens of early-stage cells becoming mature eggs.

“We also hope to find out, subject to regulatory approval, whether they can be fertilised,” she said.

It appeared that Zuma, who was the guest of honour, had tacitly approved the decision, which breached air force and customs and immigration rules. There were also allegations that the law was broken when the guests were given a police “blue light” escort. - What about their businesses? The Gupta business empire has been repeatedly accused of securing deals with South Af-

rica’s giant state-owned companies on wildly favourable terms. South Africa’s ethics watchdog, the Public Protector, published a damning report in October 2016, finding that the state-owned electricity monopoly had awarded a massive coal order to a then-Gupta linked business at well above market prices. The report also alleged that former mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane “travelled to Switzerland with the Guptas to help them seal the deal” to buy a struggling coal mine. The family is mentioned 232 times in the report, entitled “State of Capture” because of the influence that the Guptas are alleged to have exerted on some branches of the state. - What now? In recent years, major banks have withdrawn their facilities to the Gupta family, complicating the payment of salaries to staff and the day-to-day running of a complex, cash-intensive business empire. India’s Bank of Baroda, thought to be the last major bank to continue its relationship with the Guptas in South Africa, recently announced it would withdraw from the country, effectively ending its association with the controversial family. They also face the prospect of a judge-led inquiry into their business dealings, as recommended by the public protector’s report.

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FRIDAY, February 16, 2018

The treatment consisted of 16 one-hour sessions over 8-12 weeks in which the participants were exposed, via avatars, to social cues that triggered fear and paranoia in four virtual settings: a street, a bus, a café and a supermarket. Therapists could alter the number of avatars, their appearance, and whether pre-recorded responses to the patient were neutral or hostile. The therapists also coached participants, helping them to explore and challenge their own feelings in different situations, and to resist common “safety behaviours” such as avoiding eye contact. Participants were assessed at the start of the trial, as well as three and six months afterwards. Exposure to virtual reality did not increase the time participants subsequently spent with other people, the study found. But it did affect the quality of their interactions. “The addition of virtual reality CBT to standard treatment reduced paranoid feelings, anxiety, and use of safety behaviours in social situations, compared with standard treatment alone,” said lead author, Roos Pot-Kolder, a researcher at VU University, Netherlands. The virtual reality CBT group -- which showed no adverse effects -- went on to use fewer “safety behaviours”. “With the development of virtual reality and mobile technology, the range of tools available in psychotherapy is expanding,” Kristiina Kompus of Bergen University said in a comment also carried by the journal.


The tech giant unveiled its new initiative at a London summit of more than 300 community leaders from across Europe. The Facebook Community Leadership Programme will offer residency, fellowship and training opportunities, as well as community leadership circles and specialised assistance on the social networking platform. “Facebook will commit tens of millions of dollars to the programme, including up to $10 million in grants that will go directly to people creating and leading communities,” it said in a statement. While the social network

is a platform for virtual communities to gather, it is also a vehicle for advertisers to reach its more than 2 billion active users. Facebook last week said it booked nearly $13 billion in sales in the last three months of last year. Leaders at Friday’s Facebook gathering included those from Blind Veterans UK, which supports blind veterans and their families; Donna Mamma, a support group for French mothers; and Berlin Bruisers, which is Germany’s first gay-inclusive rugby club. “Community leaders often tell us that with additional support they could have more impact,” the company added in the statement. “The ... programme is designed to empower leaders from around the world who are building communities through the Facebook family of apps and services.”

Google takes on Snapchat with its own ‘Stories’ format ARIS, France | AFP | Google launched its own “stories” format Tuesday to compete with Snapchat and Instagram with image-driven news articles aimed at mobile phone and tablet users. Content for its “AMP stories” initially comes from outlets like CNN, The Washington Post, Conde Nast, Wired and US People magazine, and is designed to load much faster on mobile devices than conventional articles and videos.


“On mobile devices, users browse lots of articles, but engage with few in-depth,” said Rudy Galfi, who is heading the drive at Google. “Images, videos and graphics help get readers’ attention as quickly as possible and keep them engaged through immersive and easily consumable visual information,” he added. “AMP stories” articles fill the screen and are image and video led. Users can tap on the home screen to read further or simply swipe to the next article. Google claims the format,

which it is opening up to software developers, gives “novel ways to tell immersive stories” without the “prohibitively high start-up costs, particularly for small publishers”. It was developed with major US media outlets and can also be read on a computer, although its promoters said the immersive effect is better on mobiles. “AMP stories aim to make the production of stories as easy as possible from a technical perspective,” Google said. “The mobile web is great for distributing and sharing content, but mastering performance can be tricky,” it added. But AMP Stories give “gives great editorial freedom to content creators,” it claimed. Snapchat, Instagram and particularly Facebook have all heavily used their own stories formats for full-screen displays of content. Google said it eventually plans to bring “AMP stories to more products across Google, and expand the ways they appear in Google Search.”

Qualcomm mulls ‘next steps’ in takeover bid


AN FRANCISCO | AFP - Qualcomm said Wednesday its board would “promptly” consider a hostile $121 billion takeover bid by Singapore-based Broadcom following a meeting of top executives of the two computer chipmaking giants. “We met with representatives of Broadcom for two hours earlier today, and listened carefully to what they had to say,” Qualcomm said in a statement. “The Qualcomm board will promptly meet to discuss the meeting and to determine next steps.” The meeting comes with Broadcom stepping up pressure on its US rival to accept a takeover bid which would be the largest-ever in the technology sector.

Qualcomm chairman Paul Jacobs and chief executive Steve Mollenkopf were among the executives of the Californiabased firm at Wednesday’s meeting, according to the statement. Broadcom announced on Friday that it would pay Qualcomm $8 billion if regulators fail to approve the planned tieup. The “termination fee” offer came a day after Qualcomm rejected a record $121 billion hostile bid as too low, while citing a risk that the proposed tie-up could be blocked by regulatory authorities. Broadcom -- which has announced plans to move back to the United States -- offered $60 per share in cash plus $22 in Broadcom stock.

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‘Get Out,’ ‘Call Me by Your Name’ win big at WGAs

Writer-director Jordan Peele picked up the trophy for best original screenplay for “Get Out,” a dark satire of the African-American experience and liberal white guilt, at the Writers Guild of America Awards


OS ANGELES, | AFP | “Get Out” and “Call Me by Your Name” won top prizes at the Writers Guild of America Awards Sunday, three weeks before the Oscars, the glittering climax of Hollywood’s awards season. Writer-director Jordan Peele picked up the trophy for best original screenplay for “Get Out,” a dark satire of the African-American experience and liberal white guilt.

Shape of Water.”

“This was a passion project. It was something I put my love into, I put my soul into, so getting this from you means so much,” Peele said as he picked up his trophy.

James Ivory scooped the prize for best adapted screenplay for his work transforming Andre Aciman’s 2007 novel “Call Me by Your Name” into the film of the same name, starring Timothee Chalamet.

“I started writing it in 2008 and there were a lot of ups and downs.” The film, starring Daniel Kaluuya, has already landed Peele best first time feature at the Directors Guild of America Awards and is nominated for four statuettes at the Oscars, to be held on March 4. “Get Out” beat out “The Big Sick,” “I, Tonya,” “Lady Bird” and “The

The evening was hosted for the third year in a row by Emmy and Grammywinning actor, writer and comedian Patton Oswalt, who began by lightheartedly chastising the WGA for bringing him back. “Given the current atmosphere, maybe get a female host next year. There are hilarious comedians and writers out there,” he said.

Luca Guadagnino’s paean to the universal heartbreak of first love, set in 1980s northern Italy, bested highlytouted rivals, including “The Disaster Artist,” “Logan,” “Molly’s Game” and “Mudbound.” It is also nominated for four Oscars, including nods for Ivory’s screenplay, best picture, best actor for Chalamet and best original song.

Hrithik Roshan plays Anand Kumar in Super 30

Kangana Ranaut in Manikarnika. Image via Facebook


rithik Roshan is all set to play Anand Kumar — the mathematician from Bihar who helms the Super 30. The movie, aptly titled Super 30, deals the struggles that Anand Kumar faced in his tumultuous, and ultimately fruitful life. Super 30 is a group of thirty underprivileged students who are also some of the brightest academic minds. Anand Kumar takes them under their wings and makes sure these children crack the prestigious IIT-JEE examinations without facing any financial strain. Hrithik Roshan, on 5 February, released his first look from the movie on Twitter. It looked as if the actor has convincingly slipped into his role. Playing Anand Kuamr, a man who’s life has been far from glamorous, will be a tough role for any actor to play, but, Hrithik Roshan seems to be fitting right into it. Super 30 is being directed by Vikas Bahl (director of Queen) and will be produced by Sajid Nadiadwala along with Phantom Films and Reliance Entertainment. The film is slated to release on January 25, 2019.

Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi — Kangana Ranaut’s film reportedly pushed to 3 August


IKANER/Mumbai: Kangana Ranaut’s upcoming film, Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi was originally slated for a 27 April release. However, the release date has now been pushed to August 3, 2018 as the makers want to utilise the month in which India gained independence, according to a DNA report.

titular role while Atul Kulkarni will be seen as Tatya Tope.

The shooting for the period drama is currently underway in Alsisar, Rajasthan. Despite reports of the film being delayed due to heavy VFX, a source close the film refuted all such claims in a statement given to the publication.

In response to their allegations, Kamal Jain, producer of the film says, “As responsible filmmakers, we have taken utmost care while portraying Rani Lakshmibai’s character and have consulted historians and scholars. Rani Laxmibai was a freedom fighter and one of the most respected leaders our country has seen. She is a symbol of valour and the film’s story depicts the same.”

Manikarnika is based on the life on Rani Lakshmibai, a prominent figure in Indian modern history. Ranaut, who was last in Simran, is playing the

Directed by Krish, the film is currently in hot waters because of opposition from the Sarva Brahman Mahasabha. The group alleges that the film distorts history and depicts a love affair between the warrior queen and a britisher.

Sony apologizes to parents over Oscar-nominated Syrian film screened in ‘Peter Rabbit’ food allergy scene rebel-held Idlib


DLIB, Syria | AFP | An Oscarnominated Syrian documentary following rescuers under regime bombardment in Aleppo was screened Monday before dozens of spectators in the rebel-held city of Idlib. “Last Men in Aleppo” by Syrian Feras Fayyad and the rebels’ Aleppo Media Centre shows the work of the feted White Helmet volunteer rescuers during the brutal government seige. Government forces are now conducting a Russian-backed offensive to regain territory in Idlib province, the last one that had remained fully outside the regime’s control. Spectators on the campus of Idlib University laughed, cried and sat

The cast of “Peter Rabbit,” a film that has stirred anger among parents upset over a scene they say belittles food allergies


OS ANGELES | AFP | - Sony Pictures is under fire for a scene in its new “Peter Rabbit” film, which critics say trivializes food allergies when a herd of rambunctious bunnies weaponize blackberries to gang up on their human nemesis. The controversial sequence shows rabbits attacking the movie’s villain, human character Tom McGregor, with the fruits, to which he is allergic.

reactions seriously.”

After a berry flies into his mouth, the character attempts to inject himself with an EpiPen -- but has anaphylaxis and crumples to the ground.

A petition accusing “Peter Rabbit” -- which nabbed second place and raked in $25 million at the North American box office this past weekend -- of “irresponsible allergy bullying” drew more than 10,000 signatures.

In an open letter to Sony, the Kids with Food Allergies charity admonished the film’s “cavalier attitude” towards allergic reactions, saying “making light of this condition hurts our members because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic

“To spread a message that condones such victimizing and dangerous behavior amongst children is grossly offensive to worldwide viewers especially those who live with severe allergic disease,” the petition demanding an apology read.

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Syrians attend the screening of the Oscar nominated film ‘Last Men in Aleppo’ at the university of Idlib in the country’s rebel-held province, on February 12, 2018 (AFP Photo/OMAR HAJ KADOUR) in stunned silence as they watched scenes of carnage and loss in the documentary. “It stirred memories of the last difficult days in Aleppo and the many people who died before our eyes,” said Mohamad al-Shaghel, who fled the city. The December 2016 defeat of the rebels in Aleppo after a ferocious onslaught proved a major turning point in the war as leader Bashar al-Assad and his Russian backers seized the up-

per hand. “What the heroes of this film lived through is what all Syrians have lived through,” said Alaa al-Abdallah, the director of the university’s media institute. The film which already won a grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival is nominated for best documentary at this years Oscars. Last year another film about the White Helmet civilian rescuers won an Oscar for best short documentary.


Young Life

FRIDAY, February 16, 2018

For the deaf, Rio samba parades are all about the vibes

Couples make Valentine’s Day deposit in ‘Love Bank’

Aulio Nobrega (L) and Daniela Abreu use sign language to communicate during the second night of Rio's Carnival at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro

A couple embraces inside the Love Bank, part of the interactive exhibition dedicated to the longest love poem in the world, written by Andrej Sladkovic in 1844


IO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Aulio Nobrega can't hear a thing when hundreds of drummers march into Rio de Janeiro's Sambodromo, or when thousands sing or the crowd cheers. But he feels the vibe -- literally. Nobrega, 40, works as a journalist for TV INES -- a channel aimed at deaf people, where the correspondents report in sign language -- and his challenge Monday night was to cover samba parades famous for their decibel levels. Before every parade, the noise onslaught starts with fireworks announcing the new samba school. It sounds like a battle. Next the drum section fires up, hundreds of drummers working in unison. Then come some 3,000 costumed dancers singing the school's anthem, which simultaneously belts out from loudspeakers. And that's before you factor in the cheering and singing of 72,000 fans crammed into the narrow stadium. The whole drama passes in

silence for Nobrega, yet somehow needs to be described to his equally deaf viewers. And that's where the vibrations come in. Nobrega says the music doesn't have to reach his ears: it courses through his entire body. "I hear none of the music, really nothing, but I feel the vibrations. It's as if there's a force that I feel on my skin," he said, speaking in sign language through one of TV INES's hearing-capable interpreters. "The vibrations are real. I feel it... It's really good. It's really emotional." - Reaching Brazil's margins Brazil has a long way to go in providing adequate help to the hearing impaired, said Daniela Abreu, who can hear but learned sign language from her deaf parents and works as a TV INES interpreter. For example, public institutions like the police do not provide access to a signer. "You have to bring your own," said Abreu, 35. Standard television outlets, including the huge Globo net-

work, offer subtitles but not sign language. "Text only works if you have enough education. My mother, for example, can't read well enough," Abreu said. "People like that are pushed to the margins of society." TV INES started five years ago in hopes of reaching the forgotten. Its videos currently get around 10,000-13,000 individual views, with traffic rising steadily among Brazil's estimated 10 million deaf people, organizers say. This was its first coverage of the Sambodromo festival. "It's important for society to understand there is this diversity," Nobrega said. As he spoke, the Unidos da Tijuca samba school swung into action for its parade down the Sambodromo piste: first the fireworks, then the drums. For anyone unable to use sign language, attempting to talk had become useless. It was time for the deaf correspondent and his camera team to go catch some samba vibes. (-AFP Relax News)

A Texan fights to save son -- who plotted his family’s murder by Sébastien Blanc


ASHINGTON | AFP | 2/13/2018 Lying on a hospital bed, his thorax punctured by a nine-millimeter bullet, Kent Whitaker vowed to take revenge on the person behind his family’s brutal murders. Today, Whitaker is fighting to save that same mastermind from a death sentence, for a particularly personal reason: it’s his own son. “Forgiveness was the last thing on my mind,” the 69-yearold Texan told AFP. “I couldn’t fathom why this had happened, only that I wanted to hurt the masked shooter -- whoever he was -- as much as possible, as revenge for destroying my life.” That fatal night in December

by Laszlo Juhasz


A N S K Á ŠTIAVNICA, Slovakia | AFP | In a small medieval Slovak town, couples are getting ready on Valentine’s Day to make a “deposit” about their romance in a place dedicated to love stories. The “Love Bank” is the main attraction of an exhibition commemorating the world’s longest love poem, “Marina” by Slovak poet Andrej Sladkovic. Written in 1844, the 2,900line long poem tells the tale of the doomed love between the poet and Maria Pischlova. They were star-crossed lovers but unlike Romeo and Juliet their tragic romance is a true story. Marina’s parents shunned the poor poet and forced her to marry a wealthy gingerbread maker. The house where Marina lived in the former silver mining town of Banska Stiavnica is now known as the “Epicentre of Love” and features an interactive exhibition inspired by the poem, including a “love-ometer” measuring the strength of a couple’s affection. “Our visitors say they are amazed by how a part of history and a poem that was on their elementary school compulsory

- 100,000 boxes – For many couples, it’s the “Love Bank” that attracts them to the site where they can store and preserve mementos of their romance. A long tunnel in the basement of the house has been turned into a vault with exactly 100,000 tiny drawers, one for each letter, gap, and punctuation mark of the original, 174-year-old manuscript of “Marina”. Lovers can only make “deposits” a few times a year -- the next date is Valentine’s Day. “My fiancee and I will come back in a couple of days and hide the cinema tickets from our first date here,” 24-year-old Dominika Hrabusova told AFP. Another couple, Jan and Anna have brought their seven-month-old baby son along. “This is our fourth or fifth visit to Banska Stiavnica, before we got married we used to come more often,” said 38-year-old Jan. “The town is a jewel box itself, I am impressed by how clever and inventive this ex-

hibition is,” he adds, lauding the charm of Banska Stiavnica, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993. - ‘Register of Love’ As visitors to the exhibition pass through rooms combining modern design and 500-yearold rafters, a truly Potteresque experience awaits them: four “paintings” -- large flat-screen TVs -- on the wall suddenly come alive and act out scenes from the life of the poet and Marina. In another room, one can flip through the pages of the “Register of Love”, weighing 53 kilogrammes (117 pounds) and consisting of 3,200 pages that will be gradually filled with notes from lovers who visit the former dwelling of the poet’s muse. The designers of the exhibition eye turning the “Epicentre of Love” into a major attraction, a sort of place of pilgrimage for lovers from across the globe. “Some say it’s a bold and ambitious plan. But if millions are willing to make the trip to Verona to see the balcony of the imaginary couple of Romeo and Juliet, I believe many will come to the Epicentre of Love to relive a real love story,” Javorska said.

American teen Kim melts hearts with tearful snowboarding gold

2003 saw the family -- Whitaker, his wife Tricia and their two sons, Bart and Kevin -- return to their home in the upscale Houston suburb of Sugar Land, after a dinner Bart said was to celebrate his upcoming university graduation. But they were met with carnage: a sniper ambushed the four, killing Tricia, 51, and Kevin, 19, and leaving the father seriously wounded. The elder son Bart took a bullet to the arm.

reading list has been turned into a hands-on experience,” said Katarina Javorska, spokeswoman for the NGO running the exhibition.

Kent Whitaker (L) and his son Bart during a visit to Bart’s prison in Polunsky, Texas, where Bart is sentenced to die for plotting the ambush that killed his mother and brother in 2003

Overwhelmed with anger and shock, it was Whitaker’s faith that helped him curb his desire for vengeance.

promises in the Bible that I was forced to question.”

“I was wrestling with my faith,” he said. “And was mad at God -- not just for allowing this to happen, but it seemed to me that it contradicted some

“But God met me in the hospital room on the night of the shootings and helped me arrive at a ‘miracle’ forgiveness for everyone involved,” he said.

- ‘Miracle’ forgiveness -

“Long before I ever even suspected that that forgiveness might extend to my own son.” It would take more than a year for authorities to conclude that the director of the savage attack was none other than the surviving son, whose injury was intentional to throw investigators off the scent. Bart had hired a gunman, instructing him to take out his family, for whom he had cultivated hatred. Prosecutors would accuse him of wanting to seize an inheritance he estimated to be $1 million. For seven months, the young man lived with his father, who stood by his son even after police pinpointed him as a suspect in the murder plot.

American teenage sensation Chloe Kim romped to Olympic snowboarding gold in the women’s halfpipe Tuesday before bursting into tears as the enormity of her achievement sunk in. The 17-year-old, who has melted the hearts of home fans in Pyeongchang thanks to her ever-ready smile and Korean heritage, justified her status as the hot favourite with an eye-popping top score of 98.25. (Photo: AFP) A year later, one of his accomplices finally confessed. Bart was arrested in September 2005 and extradited to the United States. - Kill the remaining son? Bart was condemned to death in March 2007, despite his father’s pleas to spare his life.

Investigators quickly dropped their earlier assumption that the tragic incident had been a burglary gone wrong: nothing had disappeared, except Bart’s cell phone. There was no evidence of a break-in.

“I was crushed and have worked for years to process the loss of my wife and son through therapy -- and then had to include more counseling to wrestle with might happen in the future,” Whitaker said.

The probe led officials to discover the surviving son had in fact never been enrolled in college -- it was but a detail in his murderous scheme.

“Now that that future is here, I am faced with more trauma and loss from his upcoming execution.”

Sensing police might be on his tail, Bart fled to Mexico in 2004 and assumed a false identity.

Whitaker’s convicted son, who is now 38, is to receive a lethal injection on February 22. Prison guards say he is a model inmate, helpful and altruistic.

“Bart has matured,” said Whitaker, who documented his heartbreak in the book “Murder by Family.” He said his son has taken anger management and religion classes, completed his undergraduate degree, and has nearly wrapped a master’s course. Bart’s attorneys have exhausted their legal options to shield him from death row; his fate is now in the hands of the state’s governor, who could commute the death sentence. “This case is unique,” said his lawyer Keith Hampton. “Imagine two people in your family who you love most. Now, imagine one of them murders the other. There must be punishment.” “But would you prefer execution?” he continued. “What if that person was your only remaining child?”


FRIDAY, FRIDAY, February February16, 16,2018 2018

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Studies on Weight l Loss


Certain Compounds in Aparagus Linked to Cancer

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The solution to your balance problems


ave you ever felt dizzy, lightheaded, or as if the room is spinning around you? If the feeling happens often, it could be a sign of a balance problem. Balance problems can make you feel unsteady. You may also have blurred vision, confusion, and disorientation. They are one cause of falls and fall-related injuries, such as a hip fracture. Some balance problems are due to problems in the inner ear. Others may involve another part of the body, such as the brain or the heart. Aging, infections, head injury, certain medicines, or problems with blood circulation may also cause balance problems. It is important to see your doctor about balance problems. They can be a sign of other health problems, such as an ear infection or a stroke. Your doctor may send you to a specialist for a diagnosis. You may need a hearing test, blood tests, or imaging studies of your head and brain. Other possible tests look at your eye movements, and how your body responds to movement. In some cases, treating the illness that is causing the disorder will help with the balance problem. Exercises, a change in diet, and some medicines also can help. What causes balance disorders? There are many causes of balance problems, such as medications, ear infections, a head injury, or anything else that affects the inner ear or brain. Low blood pressure can lead to dizziness when you stand up too quickly. Problems that affect the skeletal or visual systems, such as arthritis or eye muscle imbalance, can also cause balance disorders. Your risk of having balance problems increases as you get older. Unfortunately, many balance disorders start suddenly and with no obvious cause. How does my body keep its balance? Your sense of balance relies on a series of signals to the brain from several organs and structures in the body, which together are known as the vestibular system. The vestibular system begins with a mazelike structure in your inner ear called the labyrinth, which is made of bone and soft tissue. Within the labyrinth are structures known as semicircular canals. The semicircular canals contain three fluid-filled ducts, which form loops ar-

Image Structures of the balance system inside the inner ear. (Graphic: NIH Medical Arts) ranged roughly at right angles to one another. They tell your brain when your head rotates or moves up or down. Inside each canal is a gel-like structure called the cupula [KEW-pyew-lah], stretched like a thick drumhead across its duct. The cupula sits on a cluster of sensory hair cells. Each hair cell has tiny, thin extensions called stereocilia that protrude into the cupula. When you turn your head, fluid inside the semicircular canal moves, causing the cupula to flex, which bends the stereocilia. This bending creates a nerve signal to the brain to tell it which way your head has turned. Between the semicircular canals and the cochlea lie two otolithic [oh-toe-LITH-ic] organs: fluid-filled pouches called the utricle [YOU-trihcull] and the saccule [SACKkewl]. These organs tell your brain the position of your head with respect to gravity, such as whether you are sitting up, leaning back, or lying down, as well as when your head is moving in a straight line, such as up, forward, or sideways. The utricle and the saccule also have sensory hair cells lining the floor or wall of each organ, with stereocilia extending into an overlying gel-like layer. Here, the gel contains tiny, dense grains of calcium carbonate called otoconia [ohtoe-CONE-ee-ah]. Whatever the position of your head, gravity pulls on these grains, which then move the stereocilia to signal your head’s position to your brain. Any head movement creates a signal that tells your brain about the change in position. When you move, the vestibular system detects mechanical

forces, including gravity, that stimulate the semicircular canals and the otolithic organs. These organs work with other sensory systems in your body, such as your vision and your musculoskeletal sensory system, to control the position of your body at rest or in motion. This helps you maintain stable posture and keep your balance when you’re walking or running. It also helps you keep a stable visual focus on objects when your body changes position. When the signals from any of these sensory systems malfunction, you can have problems with your sense of balance. If you have additional problems with motor control, such as weakness, slowness, tremor, or rigidity, you can lose your ability to recover properly from imbalance. This raises the risk of falling and injury. What are some types of balance disorders? There are more than a dozen different balance disorders. Some of the most common are: • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) or positional vertigo: A brief, intense episode of vertigo triggered by a specific change in the position of the head. You might feel as if you’re spinning when you bend down to look under something, tilt your head to look up or over your shoulder, or roll over in bed. BPPV occurs when loose otoconia tumble into one of the semicircular canals and weigh on the cupula. The cupula doesn’t flex properly and sends wrong information about your head’s position, causing vertigo. BPPV can result from a head injury, or can develop just from getting older. •



Positive beliefs about aging could help protect older adults from dementia


lder people who have positive beliefs about old age may be less likely to develop dementia, suggests a new study published in the journal Plos One.

Dementia, which principally affects older people, is associated with a decline in memory and cognitive function, affecting a person’s ability to perform certain everyday tasks.

• Ménière’s [main-YEHRZ] disease: Episodes of vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus (TIN-nihtuss, a ringing or buzzing in the ear), and a feeling of fullness in the ear. It may be associated with a change in fluid volume within parts of the labyrinth, but the cause or causes are still unknown. Read the NIDCD fact sheet Ménière’s Disease for more information. • Vestibular neuronitis [newron-EYE-tiss]: An inflammation of the vestibular nerve that can be caused by a virus, and primarily causes vertigo. • Perilymph fistula [PERRYlimf FIS-tew-lah]: A leakage of inner ear fluid into the middle ear. It causes unsteadiness that usually increases with activity, along with dizziness and nausea. Perilymph fistula can occur after a head injury, dramatic changes in air pressure (such as when scuba diving), physical exertion, ear surgery, or chronic ear infections. Some people are born with perilymph fistula. • Mal de Debarquement [dee-BARK-ment] syndrome (MdDS): A feeling of continuously rocking or bobbing, typically after an ocean cruise or other sea travel. Usually the symptoms go away a few hours or days after you reach land. Severe cases, however, can last months or even years, and the cause remains unknown. How are balance disorders diagnosed? Diagnosis of a balance disorder is difficult. To find out if you have a balance problem, your doctor may suggest that you see an otolaryngologist. An

by Maggie Fox


magine you work in a high-security building. It uses facial recognition technology to keep out known intruders. It works well, until someone figures out how to use clever makeup, or even just grow a moustache to game the cameras.

That’s a little bit how the immune system works, and the flu virus is gaming that recognition technology.

Dementia is characterized by memory loss, cognitive decline and an inability to perform certain everyday tasks (Photo: AFP/File) of participants in the study.

The study found that positive beliefs surrounding old age had a protective effect on the brain for all participants, taking into account their health.

Participants in this group with positive age beliefs were almost 50% less likely to develop the disease than their peers who held negative age beliefs: they had a 2.7% risk of developing dementia, compared to a 6.1% risk for those with negative beliefs about aging, according to the study.

Indeed, the benefit was also observed in people carrying a variant of the APOE gene exposing them to a higher risk of dementia, accounting for 26%

“We found that positive age beliefs can reduce the risk of one of the most established genetic risk factors of dementia,” said lead author Becca Levy,

professor of public health and of psychology. “This makes a case for implementing a public health campaign against ageism, which is a source of negative age beliefs.” A previous study, published in 2015, found that negative beliefs about aging significantly reduced the volume of the hippocampus, a crucial region of the brain for memory and an indicator for Alzheimer’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia. AFP, Relax News

otolaryngologist is a physician and surgeon who specializes in diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, neck, and throat. The otolaryngologist may ask you to have a hearing examination, blood tests, an electronystagmogram (a test that measures eye movements and the muscles that control them), or imaging studies of your head and brain. Another possible test is called posturography. For this test, you stand on a special movable platform in front of a patterned screen. The doctor measures how your body responds to movement of the platform, the patterned screen, or both. How are balance disorders treated? The first thing a doctor will do if you have a balance problem is determine if another health condition or a medication is to blame. If so, your doctor will treat the condition, suggest a different medication, or refer you to a specialist if the condition is outside his or her expertise. If you have BPPV, your doctor might recommend a series of simple movements, such as the Epley maneuver, which can help dislodge the otoconia from the semicircular canal. In many cases, one session works; other people need the procedure several times to relieve their dizziness. If you are diagnosed with Ménière’s disease, your doctor may recommend that you make some changes to your diet and, if you are a smoker, that you stop smoking. Anti-vertigo or anti-nausea medications may relieve your symptoms, but they can also make you drowsy. Other medications, such as gentamicin (an antibiotic) or corticosteroids may be used. Although gentamicin may

Here’s why it’s so hard to make a better flu vaccine

No matter how often the intruders are caught, new infiltrators find new disguises to help them get in.

This new study is the first of its kind to investigate whether culture-based age beliefs influence the risk of developing dementia in older people, including those who carry the high-risk variant of the APOE gene. The study, led by Yale School of Public Health, followed 4,765 people, with an average age of 72 and without dementia at the beginning of the study, for four years.

rinth-EYE-tiss]: An infection or inflammation of the inner ear that causes dizziness and loss of balance. It is often associated with an upper respiratory infection such as the flu.

It sneaks past the body’s immune system to cause misery and mayhem, even as new vaccines update the biological equivalent of facial recognition software. Each year, a new influenza vaccine is formulated and distributed, and each year, viruses develop ways to evade them. Flu vaccines are never as effective as other vaccines, and the current vaccine only provides partial protection against the ongoing flu epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to release preliminary data on Thursday about how well the vaccine has been working this year. It doesn’t look good. A Canadian study showed only about 17 percent protection

against H3N2, the most common strain this year, and 50 to 60 percent protection against the H1N1 and influenza B strains. In a severe flu season, like the current one, that can mean a lot of deaths. Every year, flu kills between 12,000 and 56,000 people, the CDC says. This year is shaping up to be on the high end of that range. That’s why teams of scientists are working on what’s called a universal flu vaccine. The hope is to develop a formulation that will recognize something a little deeper than just the “face” of the flu virus — something that doesn’t change from one virus to another, and that doesn’t mutate over time. That could lead to a flu vaccine that people would just have to get once or twice over a lifetime — one that would protect against new mutant strains of virus as well as the “drifted” strains that pop up during the flu season. A universal vaccine would also use better technology than the current most common technology, which relies on a very old-fashioned and error-prone process starting with chicken eggs. This process itself can cause the virus to mutate, recent research shows. (-CBS News)

reduce dizziness better than corticosteroids, it occasionally causes permanent hearing loss. In some severe cases of Ménière’s disease, surgery on the vestibular organs may be needed. Some people with a balance disorder may not be able to fully relieve their dizziness and will need to find ways to cope with it. A vestibular rehabilitation therapist can help you develop an individualized treatment plan. Talk to your doctor about whether it’s safe to drive, as well as ways to lower your risk of falling and getting hurt during daily activities, such as when you walk up or down stairs, use the bathroom, or exercise. To reduce your risk of injury from dizziness, avoid walking in the dark. You should also wear low-heeled shoes or walking shoes outdoors. If necessary, use a cane or walker and modify conditions at your home and workplace, such as by adding handrails. When should I seek help if I think I have a balance disorder? To help you decide whether to seek medical help for a dizzy spell, ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, talk to your doctor: • Do I feel unsteady? • Do I feel as if the room is spinning around me? • Do I feel as if I’m moving when I know I’m sitting or standing still? • Do I lose my balance and fall? • Do I feel as if I’m falling? • Do I feel lightheaded or as if I might faint? • Do I have blurred vision? • Do I ever feel disoriented– losing my sense of time or location? Having good balance is important for many everyday activities, such as going up and down the stairs. It also helps you walk safely and avoid tripping and falling over objects in your way. Each year, more than 2 million older Americans go to the emergency room because of fall-related injuries. A simple fall can cause a serious fracture of the arm, hand, ankle, or hip. Balance exercises can help you prevent falls and avoid the disability that may result from falling. You can do balance exercises almost anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like as long as you have something sturdy nearby to hold on to for support. Try these balance exercises: stand on one foot, walk heel to toe, and walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other. A number of lower-body exercises – especially those that strengthen your legs and ankles – also can help improve your balance. These include the back leg raise, side leg raise, knee curl, and toe stand exercises, which can be found on the Go4Life website. As you progress in your exercise routine, try adding the following challenges to help your balance even more: l Start by holding on to a sturdy chair with both hands for support. l When you are able, try holding on to the chair with only one hand. l With time, hold on with only one finger, then with no hands at all. l If you are really steady on your feet, try doing the balance exercises with your eyes closed. (-National Institute on Aging).



FRIDAY, February 16, 2018

What to Ask Your Doctor About Parkinson’s Disease Scientists thwart cancer-


alking to your doctor about any health concern can be tough, particularly when symptoms catch you by surprise or cause concern. And when it comes to Parkinson’s disease (PD), experts say there are many symptoms that often go unreported at doctor’s appointments, making them difficult to diagnose and treat.

Parkinson’s disease is a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system. Early in the disease, the most obvious are shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking.

For example, many people are aware of visible symptoms associated with PD, like resting tremors and loss of balance. However, more than half of people living with Parkinson’s also experience a lesser known aspect of the disease -- hallucinations and delusions. “Over time, these symptoms may increase in frequency or become bothersome, as a person with Parkinson’s becomes less able to distinguish between what is real and what’s not. Fortunately, these symptoms often can be addressed.” says Neal Hermanowicz, MD, director of the Parkinson’s Disease & Movement Disorders Program at the University of California, Irvine. To help you prepare for your appointment with a PD special-

gests that caregivers prepare for the next appointment by considering the following statements and speaking to their loved one’s PD specialist if any of them apply. • I have observed my loved one interacting with things, seeing things or sensing things that are not there (hallucinations). • My loved one has had false beliefs toward me or others, such as believing someone is stealing from them or being unfaithful (delusions). • These experiences have affected our daily life.

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) Monkey Business/ ist, Dr. Hermanowicz says to consider the following statements, and if they apply to you, to tell your doctor at your next appointment. • I sometimes feel out of touch with reality. • Others tell me that what I am hearing, seeing or sens-

ing (e.g., people, animals or objects) are not actually there (hallucinations). • I have beliefs or fears that a loved one (perhaps a spouse, caregiver or friend) is stealing from me or being unfaithful (delusions). Dr. Hermanowicz also sug-

Learn more about hallucinations and delusions associated with Parkinson’s and download resources that will help initiate these critical conversations at If you or someone you care for is experiencing these symptoms, you are not alone and you may be able to get help. Talk to a PD specialist to learn more about available treatment options. Be prepared for your next appointment by ensuring the conversation first starts at home. (-StatePoint).

spreading compound in mice


ARIS, France | AFP | A common amino acid produced in the human body or absorbed from food can be suppressed to stop breast cancer spread in mice, researchers reported Wednesday. They hope the finding may yield a method to prevent cancer cells spreading from their origins in a woman’s breast to form tumours in her lungs, brain, other organs or bones — a process known as “metastasis” which is the most common cause of death. Tests with lab mice revealed that a non-essential compound dubbed asparagine may be a key enabler of breast cancer spread, the researchers said. The amino acid — a building block of proteins — can be produced by every cell in the human body, including cancer cells, or absorbed from foods such as beef, dairy, poultry, seafood, asparagus and soy. In mouse studies, “we could reduce metastasis either by changing the ability of tumour cells to make asparagine, by treating mice with a drug that reduces the availability of as-

paragine in the body, or by eliminating asparagine from the diet,” said Greg Hannon of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. He was the lead author of a study published in the science journal Nature. By reducing asparagine in the mouse diet, metastasis was reduced by half, Hannon told AFP. – ‘Potentially a big deal’ – And when combined with other methods of asparagine limitation, metastasis was reduced by about 20 times, he said. This may be the first time that a change in diet has been linked to a biological process that promotes cancer spread, the researchers said. Could an asparagine-restricted diet help stop tumour spread in cancer patients? The researchers cautioned it was too early to jump to conclusions about asparagine’s role in human cancers, or to advise dietary changes. “This is potentially a big deal,” Hannon told AFP.

Spread of breast cancer linked to compound in asparagus and other foods Using drugs or diet to reduce levels of asparagine may benefit patients, say researchers


reast cancer patients could be encouraged to cut asparagus and other foods from their diets in the future to reduce the risk of the disease spreading, scientists say. Researchers are investigating whether a change in diet could help patients with breast tumours after studies in mice showed that asparagine, a compound first identified in asparagus but present in many other foods, drives the spread of the disease to other organs. When scientists reduced asparagine in animals with breast cancer, they found that the number of secondary tumours in other tissues fell dramatically. The spread of malignant cells, often to the bones, lungs and brain, is the main cause of death among patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer. “This is a very promising lead and one of the very few instances where there is a scientific rationale for a dietary modification influencing cancer,” said lead scientist Prof Greg Hannon, director of the Cancer Research UK Cancer Institute in Cambridge. Asparagine is an amino acid that is made naturally in the body as a building block for proteins. But it is also found in the diet, and in high levels in certain meats, vegetables and dairy products. The international team of cancer specialists from Britain, the US, and Canada studied mice with an aggressive form of breast cancer. The mice develop secondary tumours in

a matter of weeks and tend to die from the disease within months. Writing in the journal Nature, the researchers describe how they reduced the ability of breast cancer to spread in the animals by blocking asparagine with a drug called L-asparaginase. To a lesser extent, by putting the animals on a lowasparagine diet worked too. Inspired by the results, the scientists examined records from human cancers and found that breast tumours that churned out the most asparagine were most likely to spread, leading patients to die sooner. The same was seen in cancers of the head, neck and kidney. Asparagine appears to help cancer cells change into a form that easily spreads from the breast, through the bloodstream, to other organs where they grow into secondary tumours, Hannon said. While suppressing levels of asparagine reduced the spread of breast cancer around the body, it did nothing to prevent breast tumours forming in the first place. If the findings hold in humans, breast cancer patients may be put on low asparagine diets while they have conventional treatments, such as chemotherapy, for the disease. But because asparagine is so ubiquitous in food, drugs that target the amino acid may be more effective. L-asparaginase breaks the amino acid down in the bloodstream, but more targeted drugs could block its production altogether. “This is one case where we

can show at a deep biochemical level how a change in diet can impact properties of cells that are relevant to the progression of lethal disease,” said Hannon. “But of course, until human studies are done, this isn’t a DIY method to prevent cancer.” Prof Keqiang Ye, a cancer researcher at Emory University in Atlanta, said that lowering asparagine levels, either with drugs or dietary restriction, would help prevent cancer cells from spreading. But for patients, he said that drug treatments held more promise than changes to their diets. “Asparagine is frequently found in various animal sources including beef, poultry, eggs, fish and seafood. It is also found in many vegetables including asparagus, potatoes, nuts, legumes and soy. Since these foods are so common, it seems that diet restriction may not be the ideal approach,” Ye said. Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, said: “This early discovery could offer a longawaited new way to help stop breast cancer spreading – but we first need to understand the true role of this nutrient in patients. With nearly 11,500 women still dying from breast cancer each year in the UK, we urgently need to stop the disease spreading around the body, .

also encourage all patients to follow a healthy and varied diet – rich in fruit, vegetables and pulses, and limited in processed meat and high fat or sugar foods – to help give them the best chance of survival.” Asparagine appears to help cancer cells change into a form that easily spreads from the breast, through the bloodstream, to other organs where they grow into secondary tumours, Hannon said. While suppressing levels of asparagine reduced the spread of breast cancer around the body, it did nothing to prevent breast tumours forming in the first place. If the findings hold in humans, breast cancer patients may be put on low asparagine diets while they have conventional treatments, such as chemotherapy, for the disease. But because asparagine is so ubiquitous in food, drugs that target the amino acid may be more effective. L-asparaginase breaks the amino acid down in the bloodstream, but more targeted drugs could block its production altogether. “This is one case where we can show at a deep biochemical level how a change in diet can impact properties of cells that are relevant to the progression of lethal disease,” said Hannon. “But of course, until human studies are done, this isn’t a DIY method to prevent cancer.”

Asparagine is an amino acid that is made naturally in the body as a building block for proteins. But it is also found in the diet, and in high levels in certain meats, vegetables and dairy products. (Photograph: Alamy) Prof Keqiang Ye, a cancer researcher at Emory University in Atlanta, said that lowering asparagine levels, either with drugs or dietary restriction, would help prevent cancer cells from spreading. But for patients, he said that drug treatments held more promise than changes to their diets.

awaited new way to help stop breast cancer spreading – but we first need to understand the true role of this nutrient in patients. With nearly 11,500 women still dying from breast cancer each year in the UK, we urgently need to stop the disease spreading around the body, .

“Asparagine is frequently found in various animal sources including beef, poultry, eggs, fish and seafood. It is also found in many vegetables including asparagus, potatoes, nuts, legumes and soy. Since these foods are so common, it seems that diet restriction may not be the ideal approach,” Ye said.

“On current evidence, we don’t recommend patients totally exclude any specific food group from their diet without speaking to their doctors. We’d also encourage all patients to follow a healthy and varied diet – rich in fruit, vegetables and pulses, and limited in processed meat and high fat or sugar foods – to help give them the best chance of survival.”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, said: “This early discovery could offer a long-

(-SOURCE: The Guardian)

“On current evidence, we don’t recommend patients totally exclude any specific food group from their diet without speaking to their doctors. We’d

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FRIDAY, February 16, 2018

Linger over lunch to lose Environmental chemicals may boost body weight: study weight: study suggests by Mariëtte Le Roux


ARIS, France | AFP | Monday 2/12/2018 People who wolf down their food could lose weight simply by chewing longer and pausing between bites, study results suggested Tuesday.

21.5 percent of the total. - It’s not a race By comparison, more than 44 percent of the fast-eating group of 22,070 people, was obese, with a mean BMI of 25. The team also noted changes


IAMI | AFP | Tuesday 2/13/2018 Chemicals used in food wrappers, non-stick pan coatings and clothing may boost body weight by interfering with metabolism, especially in women, US researchers said Tuesday. These chemicals -- known as perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) -- have previously been linked with cancer, hormone disruption, immune dysfunction, high cholesterol, and obesity. “Now, for the first time, our findings have revealed a novel pathway through which PFASs might interfere with human body weight regulation and thus contribute to the obesity epidemic,” said senior author Qi Sun, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Decreases in eating speeds can lead to reductions in obesity and BMI (Photo: Shutterstock) Research involving nearly 60,000 Japanese people showed a link between eating slower or faster, and losing or gaining weight.

in eating speed over the six years, with more than half the trial group reporting an adjustment in one direction or the other.

“Changes in eating speed can affect changes in obesity, BMI and waist circumference,” a research duo from Japan’s Kyushu University wrote in the journal BMJ Open.

“The main results indicated that decreases in eating speeds can lead to reductions in obesity and BMI,” they found.

“Interventions aimed at reducing eating speed may be effective in preventing obesity and lowering the associated health risks.” BMI stands for Body Mass Index, a ratio of weight-toheight used to determine whether a person falls within a healthy range. The WHO considers someone with a BMI of 25 overweight, and 30 or higher obese. In line with recommendations by the Japanese Society for the Study of Obesity, however, a BMI of 25 was taken as obese for Japanese populations for the purposes of the study. The researchers analysed health insurance data from 59,717 individuals diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes -- a form of the disease that generally hits in adulthood as a result of being overweight. The participants had regular check-ups from 2008 to 2013. Data captured included their age and gender, BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure, eating habits, alcohol consumption, and tobacco use. From the outset, the sloweating group of 4,192 had a smaller average waist circumference, a mean BMI of 22.3, and fewer obese individuals --

Other factors that could help people lose weight, according to the data, included to stop snacking after dinner, and not to eat within two hours of going to bed. Skipping breakfast did not seem to have any effect. Limitations of the study included that eating speed and other behaviours were selfreported. There was also no data on how much participants ate, or whether they exercised or not. Commenting on the research, Simon Cork of Imperial College London said it “confirms what we already believe, that eating slowly is associated with less weight gain than eating quickly.” This may be due to the fact that the satiety signal takes some time to travel from the stomach to the brain, and may arrive only after the fast eater has already consumed more than enough.

Researchers found that PFASs -- also known as “obesogens” because they interfere with body weight regulation -were linked to a slower resting metabolic rate. People with higher levels of PFASs in their blood also had more sluggish metabolisms after weight loss. The study tracked data from 621 overweight and obese participants in a clinical trial on weight loss conducted in the mid-2000s. The study looked at the effects of four heart-healthy diets on weight loss over a period of two years. Participants also had levels of

“We typically think about PFASs (which can be found in food wrappers) in terms of rare health problems like cancer, but it appears they are also playing a role in obesity, a major health problem facing millions around the globe,” said a study author PFASs in their blood measured. On average, those in the program lost 14 pounds (6.4 kilograms) in the first six months, but regained six lbs (2.7 kg) over the course of the following year and a half. “Those who gained the most weight back also had the highest blood concentrations of PFASs, and the link was strongest among women,” said the report in the journal PLOS Medicine. “On average, women who had the highest PFAS blood levels (in the top third) regained 3.7-4.8 lbs (1.7-2.2 kg

more body weight than women in the lowest third.” Researchers also discovered that those with higher blood concentrations of PFASs “were significantly associated with lower resting metabolic rates.” PFASs have been have been around for 60 years, and have contaminated drinking water near some industrial sites, military bases, and wastewater treatment plants. The chemicals can accumulate in drinking water, persist for a long time in the body, and

are difficult to avoid. “We typically think about PFASs in terms of rare health problems like cancer, but it appears they are also playing a role in obesity, a major health problem facing millions around the globe,” said study co-author Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard Chan School. “The findings suggest that avoiding or reducing PFAS exposure may help people maintain a stable body weight after they successfully lose some weight, especially for women.”

160 97

But he said that relying on the participants themselves to score whether they eat slowly, or fast, was “considerably subjective” and may skew the data. Katarina Kos, an obesity researcher from Exeter Medical School, said similar research has to be conducted in non-diabetic people to rule out a potential role for diabetes medication in weight loss or gain.

Ants nurse wounded warriors back to health: study

HARPREET, heart attack survivor.

THIS IS WHAT HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE LOOKS LIKE. African Matabele ants dress the wounds of injured comrades and nurse them back to health by Mariette le Roux


ARIS, France | AFP | 2/13/2018 - African Matabele ants dress the wounds of comrades injured during hunting raids and nurse them back to health, according to an “astonishing” discovery reported Wednesday. After collecting their wounded from the battlefield and carrying them back home, nestmates become medics, massing around patients for “intense licking” of open wounds, according to a study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. This behaviour reduces the fatality rate from about 80 percent of injured soldiers to a mere 10 percent, researchers observed. The study claimed to be the first to show such nursing be-

You might not see or feel its symptoms, but the results – a heart attack or stroke – are far from invisible or silent. If you’ve come off your treatment plan, get back on it, or talk with your doctor to create a new exercise, diet and medication plan that works better for you. Go to

haviour in any non-human animal. “This is not conducted through self-medication, as is known in many animals, but rather through treatment by nestmates which, through intense licking of the wound, are likely able to prevent an infection,” said study co-author Erik Frank. He contributed to the research when he was at the Julius Maximilian University of Wuerzburg in Germany, and continues his work at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. Frank had also taken part in a previous study, published last year, describing the ants’ battleground rescue behaviour. The new research focused on what happens to the injured back in the nest.

Matabeles, one of the world’s largest ant species, are fierce warriors and attack even humans with their ferocious bite. Named after Southern Africa’s feared Matabele warrior tribe, the insects hunt termites bigger than themselves, attacking their feeding sites in column formations of 200-600 individuals. This hunting method causes many ants to get hurt, often having their legs bitten off by termite soldiers. before it’s too late.

- How do they know? In the aftermath of fighting, while some of the ants return home with their dead termite prey, others scuttle around the battlefield looking for injured colleagues. “After the battle, injured ants call for help with pheromones,” a chemical SOS signal produced in a special gland, said Frank. Rescuers use their strong jaws to pick up the wounded

and drag them back to the nest for treatment. Astoundingly, warriors that are too severely injured -- missing five of their six legs, for example -- signal rescuers not to bother picking them up. Unlike peers that are less seriously hurt and lie still to make their saviours’ job easier, terminally-wounded ants lash out and struggle until rescuers give up and move on. According to Frank, three to

five ants from a colony are injured in an average raid -- adding up to about 20 casualties a day. “Since the colony has a relatively small birth rate of only 10-14 ants per day, this high number of injuries per day would be very costly for them if they wouldn’t save the injured,” he told AFP by email. The discovery raised several questions, said the University of Wuerzburg, hailing the “astonishing discovery”.



India-Art Fair 2018 takes a whimsical twist on the familiar

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston presents

Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India


OUSTON - Centuries of royal treasures from India come to the United States for the first time in an epic presentation. Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India features masterpieces and relics—never before seen beyond palace walls—that illustrate the history and artistic legacy of the Rathore dynasty. The exhibition showcases nearly four centuries of artistic creation from the kingdom of Marwar-Jodhpur, in the northwestern state of Rajasthan. Lavishly made ceremonial objects; finely crafted arms and armor; sumptuous jewels; intricately carved furnishings; a monumental 17th-century court tent; a 1944 L-5 Sentinel aircraft, and more outline the dynamic history of the Marwar-Jodhpur region and the Rathore dynasty that ruled it for more than 700 years. Some 250 objects from Indian courtly life illuminate how the Rathores acquired and commissioned objects amidst cross-cultural exchanges to leverage patronage, diplomacy, matrimonial alliances, trade, and conquest. Drawn primarily from the collections of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust and the private collections of the royal family of Jodhpur, Peacock in the Desert includes textiles, tapestries, ceremonial regalia, paintings, jewels, furniture, tents, canopies, carpets, and weapons. Large-scale photomurals evoke the stunning setting of the Mehrangarh Museum in Jodhpur.

and the Rathore dynasty that ruled it for more than 700 years. Some 250 objects from Indian court-

of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust and the private collections of the royal family of Jodhpur, Peacock in the Desert includes textiles, tapestries,

Shiva on His Vimana (Aircraft) with Himalaya, folio 53 from the Shiva Rahasya, Jodhpur, 1827, opaque watercolor and gold on paper, Mehrangarh Museum Trust. ly life illuminate how the Rathores acquired and commissioned objects amidst cross-cultural exchanges to leverage patronage, diplomacy, matrimonial alliances, trade, and conquest. Drawn primarily from the collections

ceremonial regalia, paintings, jewels, furniture, tents, canopies, carpets, and weapons. Large-scale photomurals evoke the stunning setting of the Mehrangarh Museum in Jodhpur. (Article courtesy of the MFAH)

Raghubir Singh, India’s color pioneer, showing at MFAH

A sculpture engages a viewer in the exhibition space (Photo: The Daily Mail) by Adila Matra


en years ago, an art fair came to Delhi and brought with it, a revolution of sorts. That was the first time so many Indian and international artists assembled on a common ground with artworks as diverse and varied as it can get. It became the leading platform to discover modern and contemporary art from South Asia. The tenth edition of India Art Fair is as exciting as its previous years, especially with a new fair director, Jagdip Jagpal. Other than noted Indian galleries such as DAG, Dhoomimal, Vadehra, Art Heritage and Gallery Espace among others, the fair also features younger galleries including TARQ (Mumbai) and Anant Art (New Delhi), alongside first time participants like Samara Art Gallery and ZOCA (both Ahmedabad. Tribal and indigenous art forms also thrive on the exhibition grounds.

Centuries of royal treasures from India come to the United States for the first time in an epic presentation. Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India features masterpieces and relics—never before seen beyond palace walls—that illustrate the history and artistic legacy of the Rathore dynasty. The exhibition showcases nearly four centuries of artistic creation from the kingdom of Marwar-Jodhpur, in the northwestern state of Rajasthan. Lavishly made ceremonial objects; finely crafted arms and armor; sumptuous jewels; intricately carved furnishings; a monumental 17th-century court tent; a 1944 L-5 Sentinel aircraft, and more outline the dynamic history of the Marwar-Jodhpur region

FRIDAY, February 16, 2018

Presented concurrently with Peacock in the Desert is Modernism on the Ganges: Raghubir Singh Photographs, on view through June 3. The retrospective features work by visionary Indian photographer Raghubir Singh spanning the 1960s to 1990s. Shown above: “Dhabawallah, or Professional Lunch Distributor, Bombay, Maharashtra,” 1992.

A moving image work by British artist Hetain Patel is one of the highlights of the festival. The film follows a ceremonial ‘fight’ between two protagonists, a man and a woman, in the grand architectural setting of a church. There is also a dedicated exhibition space for the first time called Art Projects that will showcase large-scale installations by Indian artists G. Ravinder Reddy (THE LOFT at Lower Parel with Emami Art), Shilpa Gupta (FICA), Nandan Ghiya (Exhibit 320), Tanya Goel (Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke), Sudipta Das (Latitude

28), Subba Ghosh (Anant Art) and Navjot Altaf (The Guild) alongside Pakistani artists Imran Qureshi (Nature Morte), Zoya Siddiqui (Shrine Empire) and South Korean artist Timothy Hyunsoo Lee (Sabrina Amrani) amongst others. A new strand of talks titled ‘I know what you did last summer’, took place with South Asia’s most established artists presenting on recent international exhibitons and projects. New fair director Jagdip Jagpal says, “This year is about inspiring visitors to discover the best of the local and regional art scene, from its fascinating history through to its modern day icons and emerging talent.” Complementing the fair’s regional perspective, galleries from across Asia, Europe, South America, the United Kingdom and United States are showcasing their globally-recognised artists, many of whom have never exhibited in India before. International galleries participating for the first time include David Zwirner (London, UK/ New York, USA/Hong Kong), Blain | Southern (London, UK/Berlin, Germany), Karla Osorio Gallery (Brasilia, Brazil), Mo J Gallery (Busan, South Korea) and Richard Koh Fine Art (Singapore/Kuala Lumpur). Penguin Random House India has partnered with India Art Fair for the first time to present a creative zone and open-air library for children between the ages of 6 and 12. There are also various collateral events happening around the city as part of the fair. (-Times of India)

Tickled pink: Japan lovers taste new chocs on Valentine's Day


t is a marriage made in Heaven for cute-obsessed Japan: this Valentine's Day, lovers can present the object of their affection with a world first -- naturally bright pink chocolate. The KitKat store in the glitzy shopping area of Ginza in Tokyo is a riot of wall-to-wall pink, as marketing departments go into overdrive to promote the "fourth" type of chocolate, after milk, dark and white. And the salespeople have chosen their moment wisely: Valentine's Day is massive business in Japan -- with tradition dictating that the women give presents to the men. "I love pink. I love chocolate. So this is just great for me," said 24-year-old Natsuko Takeuchi, searching for a sweet treat at the Ginza store. "Knowing that this chocolate is created purely naturally, without any additional flavour or colour. I think it's really good," added Takeuchi, who operates a food trolley on Japan's iconic bullet trains.

For more than 80 years, when white chocolate was invented, the world has had to be content with just three varieties.

So consumers have a huge choice in what chocolates to buy: "Honmei-choco" for lovers, "giri-choco" for male bosses and colleagues and "tomo-choco" for close friends.

Then in September, Swiss group Barry Callebaut unveiled its new "ruby" type -the fruit of more than 10 years of research -- and five months later, bars appeared on shelves in both Japan and South Korea.

In a sign of how seriously Valentine's Day is taken, Belgian chocolate firm Godiva created a storm when it called on people to forgo the chocs for colleagues (known as "obligation chocolate") to focus on loved ones.

The pink colour is obtained naturally, without using additives or artificial colouring, explained Akiko Hara, a manager for Barry Callebaut in Japan.

Convenience stores on every corner are packed with potential presents and master chocolatiers also go to town for the occasion, creating ornate shapes such as pink highheeled shoes made of chocolate.

The colour comes from ruby cocoa "that can be found in normal plantations," Hara told AFP. The firm's R&D department keeps the recipe a closely guarded secret, locked away in a safe. The result is a chocolate that tastes both creamy and fruity, with a subtle hint of raspberry. - 'Obligation choc' If Japan is the testing ground for the new variety of chocolate, it was well chosen.

Akiko Hara, a manager for Barry Callebaut in Japan, explaining how the pink color is obtained. (AFP Photo) The Japanese chocolate market is worth nearly five billion dollars per year, according to figures from research group Euromonitor.

This places Japan still way behind the United States ($18.9 billion) but still at the top of the Asian league table. Japanese



Feng shui masters predict claws out in Year of Dog by Elaine YU

mise their luck and wealth.


The philosophy says that all events are dictated by the varying balances in the five elements that make up the universe: metal, wood, water, fire and earth.

ONG KONG, China | AFP | Wednesday 2/14/2018 - As the Chinese zodiac switches into the Year of the Dog later this week, Hong Kong feng shui experts predict anything but a walk in the park for global leaders. Born in another dog year, 1946, United States president Donald Trump faces a run of bad luck, according to soothsayers, as his zodiac animal clashes with 2018’s canine theme. Feng shui -- literally meaning “wind-water” -- is influential in many parts of Asia, where people adjust their lives and carefully position items such as a cup of wine or pieces of crystal in offices and homes to maxi-

Trump’s birth date makes him a “fire dog”, but 2018 is an “earth dog” year, a mismatch of elements. The fire in Trump’s own birth chart will foment and affect his health, says feng shui master Thierry Chow, while his words -- the fire element also represents speech -- may bring about “real problems” and tangible consequences. “The elements are too much fire and too much earth, so that’s going to be causing him imbalance in his fortune,” Chow told AFP.

Chow uses the “flying star” system to make her predictions based on constellation positions, foreseeing more tensions between the US and North Korea, which is afflicted by the most malevolent number five star. She also warned of the risk of crossed wires between Trump and China on the thorny issues of trade and the economy. “The seventh star is falling onto the east side -- the star affects communication, it causes gossip and misunderstanding,” says Chow. Feng shui runs through life in Hong Kong, with many people seeking advice from masters before making important life decisions, from picking a wedding date to choosing a new home.

Major companies also employ their own feng shui consultants to dictate interior designs and give investment advice. Each year, brokerage firm CLSA comes out with its own Feng Shui Index, predicting what the next 12 months holds for the business world. In 2018, it divined that the internet, utilities and technology sectors would perform with flying colours. All are categorised as “firerelated” industries, and will do particularly well between May and July, feng shui experts said. However, with the city’s bourse going through a rollercoaster of highs and lows, the brokerage masters advised a cool head to navigate the earth dog market.

crave a huge variety of products, as can be seen from the enormous range of KitKat flavours -- from wasabi to green tea to sake.

“The dog represents duty and loyalty and is a sign of defence and protection,” it said in its public predictions. “Entrepreneurs should stick with their most loyal clients, and investors are advised not to bite off more than they can chew.” Away from politics and finance, Chow predicted a happy wedding for Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who will tie the knot in May. The earth element represents royalty in the Chinese calendar and combined with the image of a candle associated with May in the traditional almanac the elements are aligned for a day of celebration. “I think it will be very smooth -- it will bring very good things to the country and good energy to the world,” Chow said of the marriage.

The result: huge sales. This year, love-struck Japanese are expected to shell out 130 billion yen (one billion dollars) on Valentine's Day chocolates, according to Kinenbi Culture Laboratory, a research group on Japanese festivals. The tradition of women giving chocolate to men stems from a promotional campaign at the end of the 1950s. "Males reciprocate the favour a month later on a holiday called 'White Day', where female significant others receive a gift in return for their Valentine's Day present," said Megumi Matsunaga, an analyst at Euromonitor. Frederic Madelaine, a French pastry chef who runs several shops in Tokyo, said Valentine's Day was the be-all and end-all for the industry. "A Japanese woman will hand out on average between eight and 10 presents. Then the man has to return the favour -- and triple or quadruple the value of the gift," he told AFP. "You have to try things out, be innovative, stand out from the crowd," he said. This year is no exception and among his offerings at this year's annual chocolate fair in Tokyo were a Camembertshaped chocolate and "dalmatian eclairs" to celebrate the year of the dog.



Section 2


YOUR IMMIGRATION LAWYER by Sharlene Sharmila Richards, Immigration Lawyer Email at

Sharlene Sharmila Richards


Q: What is the H-1B Visa?

visa cap? Are all H-1B Visas subject to the cap?

The H-1B visa is A: a visa for foreign skilled professionals who wish to work in the U.S on a temporary basis in a ‘specialty occupation’. A specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge along with at least a US Bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent. In addition to that, the Bachelor’s degree must relate to the intended field of occupation. In some cases, relevant work experience in that field or related field may be used as a substitute for the required bachelor’s degree if the individual does not possess such a Degree.

The H-1B cap refers A: to the yearly numerical limit set by Congress for the number of foreign workers that can be granted H-1B visas. For each fiscal year, the quota for H-1B visas has been set at 65,000 (regular cap). Another 20,000 visas are set aside for foreign nationals who possess an advanced degree which includes a US Master’s degree or higher (advanced degree cap). If you are applying for the H-1B visa for the first time, you will be subject to this numerical limitation of 65,000 visas unless you come within the advanced degree cap or your petitioning employer is categorized as a cap exempt organization. In the past few years, the cap or quota was reached within the first week after the April 1st filing date. Because there are more petitions than visas available each year, a lottery or random selection process is used to select from the petitions that are received.

Q: When can the sponsor file for H-1B cap subject visa for the 2019 Fiscal Year? A: The earliest filing date for the 2019 H-1B cap subject H-1B petitions is April 1st, 2018. For this year, since April 1st, 2018 is a Sunday, USCIS will most likely announce that it will start accepting H-1B cap petitions starting Monday, April 2nd, 2018. Q: Can I self-petition or apply for the H-1B visa myself as I do not have a job offer from any employer? A: No. For the H-1B visa classification, you will need to have a job offer from an employer who will then petition for the visa on your behalf. The job offer must be for a position which normally requires the minimum of a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent for the position. Q:

What is the H-1B

Q: What kinds of petitions are cap exempt from the annual 65,000 H-1B visa cap? A: If you already have the H-1B visa and you are just applying to extend the period of validity for the visa, or you’re a changing H-1B employers, you are exempt from the quota. Institutions of higher education or those that are related or affiliated nonprofit entities as well as nonprofit research organizations or governmental research organizations are all cap exempt. Further, if you have an advanced degree, there are an additional 20,000 visas available. Q: What happens if my petition was not selected by the random selection process? A: USCIS will return the petition package together with the filing fees. Your em-

ployer has the option re-file the H-1B petition for you for the next fiscal year (FY 2020). What are the curQ: rent changes to the H-1B visa? A: There are several bills introduced in Congress which contain various proposals among others, to increase the minimum salary requirement to over $100,000 per year from the current salary of $60,000 and to eliminate the Master’s Degree exemption. These bills have not been passed in Congress yet. As such, at time of this publication, the H-1B program remains the same with no changes. However, there are some new rules which apply to the wage levels for computer programmers and also for extension of current H-1B status. Disclaimer: Any advice provided in this article is general in nature and not intended to constitute legal advice for any specific case. Please consult with an immigration lawyer about the specific circumstances of your case.


ASHINGTON | AFP | Tuesday 2/13/2018 - The US Senate’s much-touted freewheeling immigration debate failed to materialize Tuesday, raising prospects of Congress and President Donald Trump falling short in striking a deal on border security and the legalization of young immigrants. Lawmakers have spoken for months about the need to craft a bipartisan compromise after Trump scrapped a program that allowed so-called Dreamers brought to the United States illegally as children to stay, and gave Congress until March 5 to find a solution. Some 690,000 Dreamers registered under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and 1.1 million others were eligible but did not sign up. Last month, Trump introduced a proposal that would put all 1.8 million of them on a pathway to citizenship, in exchange for stiff cutbacks on overall immigration and funding for a massive wall on the US border with Mexico. Senate Republicans transforming that plan into legislation say it has the best chance of becoming law. But Republicans who control the Senate need Democratic votes to get an immigration bill across the finish line, and the opposition party has panned

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The president weighed in, heaping pressure on both sides.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised Republicans and Democrats a week of rare open-ended debate in which they could introduce immigration-related measures.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could finally, after so many years, solve the DACA puzzle,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “This will be our last chance, there will never be another opportunity!”

- ‘The sooner, the better’ -

Lawmakers scrambled to find a path forward. “If there’s no deal by the end of the week then that, I think, leaves the DACA recipients in some jeopardy,” Senate Republican John Cornyn said.

By Tuesday, Senate floor action was gummed up by procedural hurdles, as both parties failed to agree on the opening amendments to debate.

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The US Congress faces a shrinking timetable for addressing immigration, including the fate of some 1.8 million people who came to the United States illegally as children (Photo: AFP)

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Your Horoscope for the Week of FEBRUARY 16, 2018

Aries - 21 March to 20 April

This morning could bring a few little problems (not necessarily romantic, fortunately). Try not to get too worked up -- you need to welcome the fresh, positive energy that’s coming later on. A lack of funds is affecting everything, and in ways you’re not even aware of. It’s even seeping into subliminal territory. So if you feel generally unmotivated and introverted, now you know why.


Here’s how this month’s Black Moon will influence your zodiac sign

Taurus - 21 April to 20 May

Anyone who tries challenging your philosophy today is sure to leave you feeling a little irritated. Try not to take it too seriously, though -- it might actually be an intriguing discussion. Something is stirring deep emotions in you. No, it’s not relationships or even marriage you’re so passionate about, it’s money. Remind yourself that it’s the root of all evil, and don’t get carried away.

Gemini - 21 May to 20 June

Some crazy energy is coming up from deep within -- so how do you keep it from making you insane? Find new ways to bump up your karma by offering assistance, passing out compliments, and putting others first. You managed to lose money just as quickly as you made it. You could have a slight advantage, now that things have actually slowed down. This pace might suit your better, so make hay while it shines.

Cancer - 21 June to 22 July

Today is chock-full of big decisions, and by tonight, you might just decide to stop making any more of them until tomorrow. Throw yourself on the mercy of an awesome friend or just down on your couch. Scrutinize new friends just as carefully as you would legal or financial documents. Otherwise, things could blow up in your faces. Give them the once over, to avoid future upheaval.

Leo - 23 July to 22 August

Your intuition definitely makes life easier when it comes to your love life today. Get out in the world and meet new people. Listen up, both to what they’re telling you and to your own emotional responses. If you’re already tuned into things beneath the surface, you should be ready for approaching plotters. If not, then don’t be taken by surprise. Forewarned is forearmed.

Virgo 23 August to 22 September

This morning is perfect for communication -- so email that online hottie, firm up tonight’s plans or just smile at that random hottie to stay in practice. Later tonight, you need to blow off some steam! Your money is not your own. If you’re buying something, it should go without saying to check with your partner first. If said partner is a bank or a credit card company, all the more reason not to go to town on your own.

Libra - 23 Sept to 22 Oct

It might be hard, but do your best to keep focused on work so you can get it all done early. Then you have plenty of time this afternoon for sweeter stuff, like making hot plans for tonight. Changes in your financial status are still causing pretty deep ripple effects. Your entire view of yourself in relation to others has been affected, and stinginess versus generosity is just the tip of the iceberg.

Scorpio - 23 Oct to 21 Nov

Early today, you need to make an offer nobody can refuse -- which, given your amazing energy, could be almost any offer at all! Later on, heed your instincts when they alert you to a matter of the heart. It’s hard to radiate strength and power when your fear is so intense. Getting a grip on yourself should be your first step towards regaining your confidence. In fact, if you’re lucky, it could be your only one.

Sagittarius - 22 Nov to 21 Dec

You’re not exactly on fire early today -- it’s much more like a slow burn! Just in time for tonight’s big plans, your energy really starts to heat up in a big way, so you can bring it to anyone you meet. Don’t spend any time trying to figure out why things played out the way they did, at least not what your role in the disaster is. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the bigger picture.

Capricorn 22 Dec to 20 Jan

Organize that social schedule early today -- you find that setting priorities and choosing among your various options is almost shockingly easy. Keep backup plans ready, though, as fate may interfere. Mmm, power and prestige. You’d love to have them with unconscious speed. That won’t happen, especially in this financial climate. But if you plod ever onward and upward, you’ll eventually get them. Keep working.

Aquarius - 21 Jan to 19 Feb

Wear those earbuds and stay in your own happy little world early today, but make sure you’re ready for the real world later on. It’s ready to draw you in and give you something sweet! You would love nothing more than to be alone, but unfortunately you can’t get out of having an audience. You don’t have to reveal your deep feelings. Just showing up is socially useful.

Pisces - 20 Feb to 20 March

Expect some serious emotions to rock your world, but you can see calmer waters ahead. Find your center and ramp up your speed so you can start to move into the place you really need to be. You have all the warmth of a stone. It’s the right day of the year to feel all warm and fuzzy, but you’re not up for the occasion. If you need some mental help, stop thinking about money.

by Gabriela Herstik ebruary is a special month. Not only is it shorter than the rest with 28 days, and not only do we have Valentine’s Day to celebrate, but this year we have something extra cosmic happening as well. Yes, we did start out the year with two full supermoons in January, but this will affect our February as well. We don’t actually have a full moon this month. Instead, we have a Black Moon, which will affect all of the zodiac signs in the same way.


But what is a Black Moon? A Black Moon occurs when there are two new moons in one month or when there are no new or full moons in February. A third new moon in a season with four new moons is also called a Black Moon. In our case, it means that this month we don’t have a full moon at all. So our next question is… how will that affect us? Specifically, how will the Black Moon affect your zodiac sign? The truth is, February’s Black Moon will probably affect all of us the same way, and the answer is by not affecting us very much at all. Since the full moon is a time of completion, we can see the Black Moon as a time of manifesting and starting new things, a lot like its counterpart the new moon (which, wait for it, is also known as the dark moon). If you’ve been putting off a project, or looking for something to start, now is the time. Take that class, buy that website, make that business plan. We haven’t missed a full moon in February since 1999, so go for it. No time to waste, so focus on manifesting and the universe is sure to meet you halfway. (-Source: WPTV)



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Voice of Asia E-paper February 16, 2018  

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

Voice of Asia E-paper February 16, 2018  

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