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VOICE OF ASIA The Largest Asian-American Newsweekly in Texas

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Vol. 32 No. 20 • Friday, May 25, 2018

Published Weekly from Houston

Lupe Valdez, Sri Preston Kulkarni win primary bids Valdez beat Andrew White by almost 15 percentage points, while Kulkarni beat his opponent Letitia Plummer by a 2/3 majority.

by Sarah Ruiz-Grossman


ndian-American Sri Preston Kulkarni has won the Democratic primary for the 22nd congressional district of Texas. Kulkarni, 39, a former US diplomat, won the Democratic primary runoff for Texas by defeating his only rival Letitia Plummer yesterday. Kulkarni received 9,466 votes (nearly 32 per cent) while his fellow Democrat Letitia Plummer got 7,230 votes (24.3 per cent). He will now face Republican incumbent Pete Olson in November.

Lupe Valdez gives her victory speech after defeating Andrew White in the Democratic runoff for governor (Photo: Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson for The Texas Tribune)

Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Texas on Tuesday, kicking off a tough race against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in November’s general election. Valdez’s victory in a runoff while somewhat expected, after she ran well ahead of Democratic opponent Andrew White in the ninecandidate primary in March - broke historic barriers as she becomes the first Latina and first openly gay person nominated for governor by a major party in the state. In Valdez, Texas Democrats chose a lesbian woman of color running on a progressive platform over White, a straight, white Houston businessman and s––on of a former governor, running as a centrist.

Indian-American Sri Preston Kulkarni has won the Democratic primary for the 22nd congressional district of Texas. (Twitter)

Valdez faces an uphill battle against Abbott in November. (-Financial Express)

Texas Muslims mourn slain Pakistani exchange student

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for a 17-year-old Pakistani exchange student killed in a mass shooting at her southeast Texas high school.

About 1,000 people, many with Pakistani roots and wearing traditional Muslim dress, converged on an Islamic center in Stafford to honor Sabi-

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OUSTON – In yet another recordbreaking fundraiser, Pratham Houston’s Chapter announced $2.8 million in pledges from its supporters at its 23rd annual gala. More than 900 people attended the sold-out event held at the Hilton Americas, downtown Houston. In her opening remarks, Chapter President Asha Dhume drew attention to India’s staggering numbers of underprivileged children and how Pratham impacted the lives of over 50 million in the past two decades. “There are many more mountains to climb,” Dume said, referring to the 100 million children in India who still cannot read or write. “With its low-cost model, Pratham - India’s largest NGO focused on education - continues to maintain Continued on Page 3

Pratham's Global Ambassador and actor Waheeda Rehman was the guest of honor. This with Asha Dhume, President, Pratham Houston. Photo credit Bijay Dixit.

Mayor Turner's Statement on Santa Fe High School Shooting HOUSTON - May 18, 2018 -- The tragedy at Santa Fe High School is a painful reminder that our children are vulnerable in the very place we send them to be nurtured and educated. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families who must live with the heinous actions committed by cowards. But for those of us in government, expressions of support are not enough. The next steps should be policy changes to provide school districts in our local communities and across Texas with resources to keep students and teachers safe.

ka Sheikh, whose body was brought by hearse to the somber service from Santa Fe, the nearby small rural town where a student murdered 10 people including eight students.

TAFFORD, TX | AFP | 5/20/2018 - Houston's Muslim community gathered to offer prayers Sunday at the funeral service


Pratham raises $2.8 million to combat child illiteracy in India

School districts across Texas should consider installing metal detectors in all campus buildings. Metal detectors are a deterrent to anyone who might try to bring deadly weapons into schools. They also can detect weapons car-

Nasir Shenwari (C), holding daughter Aunza, grieves as the casket of Santa Fe High School shooting victim Sabika Sheikh, 17, leaves after a funeral service in Stafford, Texas, on May, 20, 2018

May 25, 2018 InFRIDAY, Section 2

Among the mourners was the late teen's first cousin who lives in the United States. She said Sheikh's relatives are completely devastated. "The family back home, we are in touch with them. They're crying every moment. Her mother is in denial right now,"

Schools must be made to be as safe as airports and government buildings. The cost of installing metal detectors may be an obstacle for some school districts. Therefore, I call on state elected leaders to make funding metal detectors and other security measures in schools a priority across Texas. When schools open in the next school year, metal detectors should be in place to provide additional safety for our children. For now, there is no end in sight to the evil school shootings plaguing our country. ried by the undeterred. As we care about protecting travelers and visitors to federal, state and locally owned buildings, we must also show the same sense of urgency, concern, and compassion toward children and adults in schools.

We must make a change now because our children’s lives are worth protecting. I will explore further possible policy changes in consultation with the Mayor’s Commission Against Gun Violence, whose members I will announce in a few days.

Shaheera al-Basid, a graduate student in the US capital Washington, told AFP at the funeral service.

time for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

"It's a shock we need our entire life to recover from," the 26-year-old added.

"It's a shock, it's so sad," said realtor Ike Samad, 67, who was born in Pakistan but has lived here most of his adult life and raised his children as Americans.

Men lined up in rows offered traditional mourning prayers as Sheikh's coffin, draped in the green and white flag of Pakistan, was brought into a small, cramped sanctuary. Sheikh had been due to return home in mere weeks, in

- 'Shock' -

"I came here just like her, as a student," he recalled. "God forbid that could have happened to Continued on Page 10

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OP-ED/COMMENTARY/ANALYSIS Another school shooting is A

FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

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

Contributors: Legal: Sharlene Sharmila Richards Mala Sharma 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.

17-year-old armed with a shotgun and a pistol killed 10 people, most of them students, at Santa Fe High School in Texas on Friday. This was a high school that had two armed police officers on campus and had drilled the students for such incidents. And as we learn the names and aspirations of the students, as we see their parents and fellow students express their sorrow on TV, we share their grief and we worry about our own.

This is the deadliest school shooting since the one in February that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. But it’s the 16th shooting at a school during school hours so far this year, according to a Washington Post analysis. “Never again,” we said after Parkland. But it will happen again, here in the only advanced country in which such things happen with regularity, unless we stop it now. Legislators were quick to respond with their “thoughts and prayers,” a phrase that has become an empty cliché. Politicians and pundits have blamed exit doors, mental illness, godlessness, social media and poor parenting for the tragedy. These may be legitimate concerns, but they ignore the elephant in the room: easy access to guns.

past time for action

Yes, let’s regulate doors and Facebook. Let’s do anything but try to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. Thirty miles away from Santa Fe, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo on Friday wrote on his Facebook account that he is tired of hearing “guns aren’t the problem and there’s little we can do. “Today, I spent the day dealing with another mass shooting of children and a responding police officer who is clinging to life,” Acevedo wrote. “I know some have strong feelings about gun rights, but I want you to know I’ve hit rock bottom. … This isn’t a time for prayers, and study and inaction, it’s a time for prayers, action and the asking of God’s forgiveness for our inaction (especially the elected officials that ran to the cameras today, acted in a solemn manner, called for prayers, and will once again do absolutely nothing).” Acevedo speaks for many of us. On “Face the Nation” on Sunday, he suggested we vote out the politicians who are doing nothing and elect lead-

Santa Fe High School students, parents and the community observed a Moment of Silence Monday, May 21, 2018, in Santa Fe. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has called for a moment of silence at 10 a.m. Monday morning to remember the victims of the Santa Fe School Shooting. (Steve Gonzales/AP) ers who will take action. That sounds like a sensible first step. Any legislator who fails to join in concrete action before the November election should be voted out. They can provide funds for more school nurses, counselors and security/resource officers. They can reinstate the Obamaera regulation that made it more difficult for people with mental illness to purchase a gun.

The problem isn’t opioids - it's how we're raising our kids by Melissa Tassé


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.

et’s start with the obvious. Our nation is suffering from the scourge of an opioid epidemic—in the form of addiction to opioidbased painkillers and heroin — that is creating anxiety, fear, and hopelessness among families and communities, while representing the leading cause of natural death in our country.

- The Publisher

Now, let’s discuss what is less obvious.

Voice of Asia (USPS 010-215) (ISSN#10705058) is published every Friday (for a subscription rate of $50 per year) by Free Press LLC, 8303 SW Freeway, Suite # 325, Houston, TX 77074. Tel: 713-774-5140. Fax: 713774-5143. Periodical postage paid at Houston, Texas. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Voice of Asia, 8303 SW Freeway, Suite # 325, Houston, TX 77074

Although 1 in 4 individuals with chronic pain who are prescribed an opioid by their family health-care provider will develop an addiction, the path of substance use disorders (SUDs) typically begins at an earlier point in their lives — in adolescence. Ninety percent of adults currently suffering from an SUD started using substances as children and teenagers.

While overprescribing of painkillers is rightfully understood as contributing to our nation's “opioid epidemic,” the true driver is the underdiagnosed substance use disorder problem that provides the platform for opioid abuse, and which starts years before opioids are first used. This speaks to the most important aspect of our national conversation about opioids, the aspect that we are unfortunately not discussing nearly enough. Any successful strategy to combat the opioid epidemic requires minimizing the exposure and consumption of children and adolescents to substances like nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana; as well as preventing the abuse of prescription medications, which include attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder medications like Ritalin and Adderall, as well as anti-anxiety medica-

tions like Xanax and Valium. The natural question is what should we do to best minimize that exposure and consumption. The best answer falls into three different buckets. The first bucket involves close and active parenting. Because so much of the focus has been on attacking opioid addiction, we have overlooked how important modeling is to countering the behaviors that lead to SUDs. It is incumbent on parents not to drink or consume other substances as a coping mechanism for stress, or to not say “yes” every time a glass of wine or a beer is offered at a restaurant or party. Close parenting also means close monitoring of your children’s communications (yes, this is your job). Check their phones to see who they are engaging with,

They can stop taking money from the NRA, whose influence countermands solutions. This has gone on far too long, receiving lip service and platitudes from politicians more concerned about their re-elections than the children in our schools. One of these times it’s going to be North Carolina — unless we all band together to stop it now. - Greensbourgh Editorial Board

check their school bags to make sure they do not have illicit substances and have frequent conversations about their friends and acquaintances. Finally, instead of relying on a single 60-minute conversation in your living room, rely on consistent, mini-conversations to highlight the negative consequences of substance use. That includes creating “teachable moments” that legacy and digital media provide: a scene on a television show, a billboard image, or an Instagram “story.” Children and teens who are ready for help, who desperately need it, or who simply want to have a conversation about taking a substance for the first time are denying themselves this support because they fear hearing these harsh messages and experiencing the feelings attached to them. Parents can’t control society at large, but they can control their homes, so make sure that this cruel stigma has no place in your home. It could make all the difference between having that life-saving conversation and not.

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Section 1


FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

Tel: 713-774-5140

Pratham raises $2.8 million to combat child illiteracy in India Continued from front page its operational efficiency by contributing over 90% of its revenues directly to the programs and has been successful in breaking the vicious cycle of literacy, poverty, child labor and unemployment.” Pratham has made great progress in its vocational training and women empowerment by giving the youth a second chance, she added. Pratham was established in the slums of Mumba, with support from UNICEF, by Dr. Madhav Chavan, a postdoctoral student from the University of Houston, and Farida Lambay, a social worker in India. As one of India's largest education charities, with a presence in 23 of India's 29 states, Pratham has seen its methods replicated in a dozen

countries, including Mexico. The first US chapter was founded in Houston in 1999 by prominent Indian-American businessman and philanthropist Vijay Goradia, who was looking to make a difference back home. It was reported that last year, donors in the US contributed $20 million for Pratham's mission to have “every child in school and learning well.” Pratham's Global Ambassador and celebrated Bollywood actor Waheeda Rehman was the guest of honor. This was her second Houston gala, the first being in 2000. “All children of Pratham will be blessed with your support,” Rehman said. Gala co-chairs Swatantra and Bimla Jain honored her on the occasion. Reminiscing about her all-time hit song, “Aaj phir jine ki tamanna hai” (Today, I

desire to live again), and that is the kind of feeling Pratham instills in those it touches, Jain said. Bollywood actress and former Miss India Neha Dhupia, along with LA-based comedian Rajiv Satyal, who has performed for Houstonians at several fundraisers, served as the evening’s delightful coemcees. Dr. Anupam Ray, Consul General of India, said he was a witness to Pratham’s work in the most rural areas. “Pratham is the kind of intervention we need in India, to harness the power of youth,” stressing the importance of education. Ganpat Luche, 29, former vocational training student, shared his experience as a testimony to the organization. He received training at Pratham’s

Hospitality Training Center and now works as a waiter in Dubai earning $800 a month. He plans to save up and open his own restaurant in his hometown someday. Dr. Rukhmani Banerji, CEO, Pratham Education Foundation, who founded and directed the Annual Status of Education Report, said about Pratham’s program, “Now it’s time to see if the building blocks are in place - the basic math, science and reading. In India we still have a problem where a child may go to school but does not have the ability to read,” she said, stressing the need to work with the child directly. 50 million children are educated through Pratham’s literacy programs, 75,000 young adults are trained and placed in jobs, and 22,000 girls who dropout are given a second chance to finish high school. Pratham surveys approximately 600,000 children annually to inform education policy. Live and silent auctions, dance performance, cocktails, and an Indian-style dinner kept the guests entertained. The evening concluded with a glamorous fashion show choreographed by Simran Rihal, showcasing dazzling designs from world-renowned fashion designer, Tarun Tahiliani.

Designer Tarun Tahiliani with models. Photos by Bijay Dixit

Pratham USA is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization with a consistent four-star rating from Charity Navigator that seeks to raise awareness and mobilize financial resources for its work in India. For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution, visit

Left to right: Swatantra Jain, CFO, Pratham USA, Pratham Ambassador & Actress Waheeda Rehman, Bimla Jain.

Ganpat Luche, Former Vocational Training student with Neha Dhupia, Host, Former Miss India & Bollywood star.

India's Consul General in Houston, Dr. Anupam Ray with Deepak Raj, Chairman, Pratham USA.

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Mike + Doug Starn: Big Bambú Engulfs the Mies van der Rohe Galleries of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, This Summer This Thing Called Life marks the first time the artists’ ongoing Big Bambú project has been reconceived for a museum’s interior

Artists Mike (left) and Doug Starn during the installation of Mike + Doug Starn: Big Bambú—Minotaur Horn Head, 2012, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rome. Photograph: Sirio Magnabosco


OUSTON—May 23, 2018—In June, Mike and Doug Starn’s internationally acclaimed and ever-evolving Big Bambú project opens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Engulfing two levels of the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe–designed galleries with a monumental wave of bamboo, This Thing Called Life is the fifth consecutive exhibition in the Museum’s summer series of immersive art installations. With This Thing Called Life, the Starn brothers introduce important changes to their ongoing Big Bambú project, for the first time reconceiving the performative work as an indoor installation accessible to the public. A wave of bamboo— consisting of nearly 3,000 poles lashed together in a spontaneous matrix—will rise 30 feet from the main level of Cullinan Hall to the balcony of the Upper Brown Pavilion above, dramatically uniting the two levels of Mies van der Rohe’s landmark building. Visitors are invited to cross a bridge of bamboo that winds from the balcony into the wave’s curl, then onto a path deep within the roiling sea of Big Bambú. The path continues to flow down to the floor of Cullinan Hall, where visitors can wander through the bamboo eddies and currents at ground level. The sea has long been a part of the Starns’ lexicon, for them an emblem of great age, yet continually new and changing. This Thing Called Life is an evolving project developing through May and early June before visitors’ eyes. On May 1, the artists’ studio team of professionally trained rock climbers began performing the sitespecific structure, lashing the bamboo together in a process of philosophical engineering the Starns call “random interdependence.” The sculpture is built from within without scaffolding, as aloft climbers add poles to achieve the 30-foot-high wave. Visitors to the Museum and to the Museum’s website, here, can witness the daily evolution of the installation. The Starns, who are widely recognized for their conceptual photographic work, have created three gigantic photographs that they will install on the walls of Cullinan Hall as the sculpture nears completion. Depicting previous incarnations of Big Bambú on an immersive scale, the gargantuan prints are sculptures in themselves, with a heavy physical presence. Folding and draping off the wall and ceiling, the prints are meant to look extemporaneously installed, implying the process is not yet complete, akin to Big Bambú and This Thing Called Life. On June 10, 2018, the exhibition will fully open to the public. “I had the pleasure of collaborating with Mike and Doug Starn on their first public presentation of Big Bambú in 2010,” said Gary Tinterow, director of the MFAH. “Now, eight years later, I’m thrilled to work with them again as they transform the iconic interior of Mies van der Rohe’s Cullinan Hall into a fluid, pan-dimensional site, transforming our experience of entering a Mu-

seum.” As Mike and Doug Starn have said, “In the ocean, you’re surrounded by a medium so heavy and forceful, it can overpower and sink you—or all that power, the power that is old as forever, can pick you up and take you for a ride! Big Bambú is a demonstration of the invisible architecture that exists in the world. Every culture has been built with random interdependence. We maneuver through everyone else’s world, we gain footholds on circumstances out there, and we surf the invisible structure of life.” “An intensely joyous artwork, This Thing Called Life celebrates freedom and the essential spirit of cooperation,” added Alison de Lima Greene, the Isabel Brown Wilson Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at the MFAH. “While it will fill our galleries at an exhilarating scale, visitors will find that it is also an intimate work of art, one that on every level engages audiences of all ages.” The History of Big Bambú Big Bambú originated in 2008 in the artists’ studio in Beacon, New York, where it remains an ever-evolving project. The first public manifestation of Big Bambú was commissioned in 2010 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for its rooftop garden. With more than 600,000 visitors, it was the ninth most-attended exhibition in the Metropolitan Museum’s history. Subsequent installations followed at the Venice Biennale (collateral exhibition, 2011); Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rome (2012); Naoshima Museum, Japan (2013); Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2015); and Ordrupgaard Museum Sculpture Park, Copenhagen (2018). For each incarnation, the Starns adapted the work to the site, creating new narratives and reflecting local history. To date, Big Bambú installations have been experienced by more than two million visitors. About the Artists Mike and Doug Starn (American, born 1961) are brothers and collaborators who first received critical acclaim in the mid-1980s for their conceptual and physical approach to photography. Assaulting the conventions of the medium, they tore, torqued, and intentionally distressed photographs, integrating process and chaos, resolution and interdependence. In the years that followed, their practice became increasingly interdisciplinary, incorporating photography, video, painting, sculpture, furniture design, and architecture. Their first museum showing was at the 1987 Whitney Biennial, and they have since been featured in exhibitions worldwide. Additionally, the Starns have received many honors, including two National Endowment for the Arts grants, the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award for Fine Art Photography, and a NASA artists-in-residency. Among their most-recent commissions are a monumental glass-andmetal sculpture on the plaza of the Princeton University Art Museum (2016) and a 90foot-long glass wall facade for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow (2017).

FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

Celebration of Indo-American Heritage Day at Jungman Library, May 12 by Nish Bhan


n May 12, 2018 members of the IndoAmerican community gathered at the Jungman Neighborhood Library to celebrate their culture. The event, which showcased the art, food, culture and spirit of the Indian Subcontinent, was presented by the Houston Public Library(HPL) in partnership with the Foundation for India Studies (FIS). Keynote Speaker was a NASA astronaut of Indian descent, Sunita Williams, and the guest of Honor was Dr. Anupam Ray, Consul General of India to the Southwestern United States. The program began with a traditional Indian dance performed by Ms. Soujanya Madhusudan, Associate Director of Bharatha Darshana School of Indian Dance & Music, followed by remarks from Jennifer Schwartz, Manager of Programming for the Houston Public Library. Then, Krishna Vavilala, FIS' founder and chairman introduced Dr. Ray. The Consul General spoke on the nature of Indian heritage, remarking that Ms. Sunita Williams is herself a personification of Indo-American heritage, by virtue of her name. He also noted that Indian culture is about keeping your feet firm on the ground while reaching out for the skies. Dr. Ray also recited a Sanskrit sloka which is inscribed in the Indian parliament stating that, for small minded people, petty differences are important, but for broad minded people, the whole world is one family“Vasudhika Kutumbakam” Fundamentally, Dr. Ray's message sought to drive home the unique ideas at the core of being Indian--the desire to improve and prosper for the good of all mankind, and a recognition that the whole world is one family, as the Sanskrit saying goes.

NASA Astronaut,Ms. Sunita Williams delivering the Key note speech for the Indo-American Heritage Day.May 12.

Sharma Indian astronaut, late astronaut Kalpan Chawla and NASA’s fresh Indian American recruit, Mr. Raja Chari, a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. End of 2019 or beginning of 2020 we will have this DRAGON capsule launched on FALCON9 rocket built by Boeing to fly to Mars. She quoted Albert Einstein “ It is not what we can do now, but it is the imagination “an often quoted saying of Einstein by her father, Dr. Deepak Pandya in his books. A short Q&A session followed and then Mr. Krishna Vavilala presented FIS mementos to both Sunita Williams and Dr. Anupam Ray.

Key Note speaker NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and Chief Guest, Consul General, Dr. Anupam Ray received awards from FIS Chair, Krishna Vavilala

FIS is proud to have introduced a variety of new items in this year’s Heritage Day celebration. They were :

Ms. Schwartz then introduced the keynote speaker, Sunita Williams. Ms. Williams, who was accompanied by her father, Dr. Deepak Pandya, delivered an engaging speech focusing on what she has learned throughout her time in space.

· An oral recitation and explanation of Vedas by Mr. Sitaram Ayyagari

Ms. Williams spoke about how she joined the Navy and became an astronaut and how she, who has an Indian father and a American mother of Slovenian descent, is truly "IndoAmerican" in every sense of the word. Her speech detailed the unique lessons she learned while looking at the earth from the space, especially her focus and interest in the unique human message. She remarked that, fundamentally, far more things unify us than divide us as a species, and that for her, going to space is emblematic of this truth. She also recalled the unique challenges presented by operating on the International Space Station, and then devoted some time to discuss NASA's future plans for space exploration aided by video presentations.

· Live painting and display of Madhubani paintings from Mithila, Bihar by Ms. Tanushri Misra assisted by her hiusband Amaresh.

· A lecture demonstration explaining expressions and various mudras of Indian dances by Ms. Pallavi Kumar, Founder of Laasika School of Dance

· Dances by students of Bharata Darshana School of India Classical Dance and Mu-

Helen Chou and Jennifer Schwartz, of HPL managed and Emceed the 4-hour long program that also included an interactive Q&A session with the astronaut. Other attractions included Indian songs and dances, a quiz on India, Madhubani paintings workshop and for the first time, recitation and recitation and explanation of Vedas.

Another key part of her message was to America's children, who she encouraged to explore science and never be limited in their aspirations. Her message was “The finish line does not matter. Get on to the starting line first. It is a journey and mankind has just begun.” Astronaut Sunita Williams said on the International Space Station (ISS) you will learn to work with people from different nationalities. Food is a big deal on ISS. Listening and sharing with other people is the key to work on the ISS. Schedules are busy on ISS and going to toilet is not fun, she said.. Sights from ISS are pretty spectacular. Space exploration makes you think outside the box and work together, she said. Sunita summarized where we are in commercial exploration of space and said, probably by end of 2019 to beginning of 2020 , human exploration of Mars is possible. “ I did not get into schools I wanted to get in. Instead I joined the Navy and became a helicopter pilot and finally a test pilot. She never thought she would become an astronaut. She thought she would become a veterinarian. She mentioned Mr. Rakesh

FIS supporters, friends and Board members with the Consul General . sic. About 30 kids participated, wearing regional dresses of different states of India. · Telugu and Hindi songs were sung by Telugu children brought up in this country, organized by Mr. Sunil Kommineni · An India-BEE fun quiz conducted by Mr. Soundarya Sahoni which attracted a number of participants, young and old who tested their knowledge about India and were rewarde with small gifts. The Indo-American Heritage Day of the Foundation for India Studies was presented by the Houston Public Library under its new series called the Living Room at HPL. It is all about neighbors meeting neighbors and getting to know each other in an informal living room setting and promote meaningful conversations across communities, said Jen-

nifer Schwartz the overall program Manager. Helen Chou, Manager of International Services and a coemcee to Jennifer wore a beautiful Indian Sari which she had bought in Hyderabad, India. during her tour of Southern India, Dominick Spinelli, Manager, Jungman Neighborhood Library Branch and Ana Frade and Carmen Abrego supervised the day’s arrangements. Allen Westrick provided technical support for audio/ video Media Releases were handled by Blanca Quezada of

City of Houston. The NASA Astronaut appearance administrator, Ms.Myritha.J.Cleveland handled all the communications between FIS and NASA. Tasty Indian food was provided by Nirmanz restaurant, courtesy of Mr. Nirman Shah The event was attended by about 300. Traffic and parking was well managed by HPL volunteers. For full video coverage of the event, please visit the link: The.Foundation.For.India.Studies/videos/1766866216711156/·

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Fort Bend View

FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

Sugar Land, Katy, Stafford, Missouri City, Richmond, Rosenberg and Meadows Place Section 1

May 21-25 proclaimed “Flood Awareness Week”


s we approach the third anniversary of the tragic Memorial Day flooding and remember the catastrophic events of Hurricane Harvey, Texas Governor Greg Abbot proclaimed May 21 to 25 as Flood Awareness Week. He encourages all Texans to be informed and prepared for floods and flash floods, and to always remember “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”. It is advised that Texans should also now consider the benefits of flood insurance even if they don’t live in a part of the state that’s prone to flooding. For more information on how to get flood insurance, please visit www. Also, residents are reminded that the 2018 Hurricane Season starts in 10 days and, if disaster strikes, Missouri City’s Emergency Operations Center is ready to respond. In the meantime, residents and businesses in Fort Bend and Harris Counties are encouraged to visit our emergency management website,, to sign up to receive emergency alerts and to learn how to prepare supply kits and stock up on necessary items such as non-perishable food, water, flashlights, batteries, radios, first-aid kits, cell phones, chargers, maps and important documents. Residents may also sign up for Emergency Management alerts via EOC officials also stress the importance of keeping a list of informational resources for reference. Recommendations for City residents include: - Police and Fire Departments: 911 or 281.403.8700 - CenterPoint Energy: 713.207.2222 - Fort Bend County Branch: 281.342.9480 - Greater Houston Branch: 713.526.8300 - Enable Fort Bend (www.en-


Tel: 713-774-5140

Sugar Land selects Volunteer of the Year


UGAR LAND - The city of Sugar Land recently named Annette Shinsky-Hollis as the 2017 Volunteer of the Year. Shinsky-Hollis, who serves as the president of the Citizens Fire Academy Alumni Association (CFAAA), coordinates the Firefighter of the Year program and assists in administering an annual college scholarship program for children of firefighters. Under her leadership, CFAAA volunteers provide dinner to employees working at fire stations and the public safety dispatch center during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Sugar Land's Serve Sugar Land program has coordinated volunteer efforts in the city since 2007 as a way for the citizens of Sugar Land and surrounding neighborhoods to become involved in their city government. In 2017, Serve Sugar Land contributed 27,115 hours of volunteer service to the city, equating to over $654,556 in in-kind service donations. Each year, city departments are asked to select and nominate a volunteer who enhances the delivery of city services by sharing their skills, positive outlook and fostering an atmosphere of community. The employee of the year was selected by the city's executive team; 281.238.3514; the agency assists individuals with functional and medical needs during an emergency or disaster - Ready Harris (; 713.881.3100; the Harris County Office of Emergency Management’s official website - MCTV: Comcast Ch. 16; AT&T U-verse Ch. 99

Serve Sugar Land Volunteers of the Year and their staff nominators include (Front Row, L-R) Lt. Wayne Coleman, Dave Sullivan, Elizabeth Paul, Cheryl Harris, Annette Shinsky-Hollis, Permits Supervisor Debbie Morrison, Becky Adams, Community Engagement Coordinator Kayla Lauhoff, (Middle Row) Capt. Eric Volkmann, Director of Human Resources Paula Kutchka, Ellen Hickmon, Animal Services Manager Kathryn Ketchum, Trudy Thompson, Municipal Court Administrator Kendra Beverly, Brenda Frye, Recreation Coordinator Carla Allen, Jack Bich, Deputy Chief Accountant William Pena, Mayor Joe Zimmerman, (Back Row) Council Member Himesh Gandhi, Council Member Amy Mitchell, Council Member Steve Porter, City Manager Allen Bogard, Council Member Carol McCutcheon, Council Member Bridget Yeung and Council Member Mary Joyce. Not pictured is Patrick Bourque. from a list of the following 10 people who were selected by departments as their volunteers of the year. . Becky Adams, Accounting . Jack Bich, T.E. Harman Center . Patrick Bourque, Permits and Inspections . Brenda Frye, Municipal Court . Cheryl Harris, Animal Services . Ellen Hickmon and Trudy Thompson, Human Resources

. Elizabeth Paul, Police Department . Annette Shinsky-Hollis, Fire Department . Dave Sullivan, Police Department Community Assistance Support Team "The generous efforts of our volunteers enables the city to further expand, enhance and enrich the services it provides to the community in new and innovative ways," said Director of Public Affairs Cindy Dees.

"Volunteers are crucial to our success. While it's impossible to measure the true extent of their service, I feel strongly that their contributions are invaluable to our city's success. We are grateful for the efforts of our many volunteers who take the time to do their part to ensure that Sugar Land remains an exceptional place to live." To learn more about how to become a volunteer with the city of Sugar Land, visit or call 281-275-2329. (-City of Sugar Land)



Sugar Land completes significant expansion, reconstruction of Mayfield Park

FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

Catch the Wave . . . Golf “fore” Student Success! Back to School Scramble benefiting the Fort Bend Education Foundation

Mayfield Park Ceremony

Catch the Wave for Education at the 19th Annual Back to School Scramble Golf Tournament. Sitting Lina Sabouni. Kneeling: Sam Golden and Co-Chair Chris Barton. Standing L-R: Ronald Co, Robin Gill, Lynn Halford, Sue Chiang, Cecilia Buchanon, Peggy Jackson, Jessica Boota and Julie Kohler. Back Row: Ron Bailey, John Haskew, Co-Chair Jeremy Alberty and John Wantuch. For More Information contact the Fort Bend Education Foundation at 281-634-1111 or visit www.fortbendisd. com/foundation

Catch the Wave . . . Golf “fore” Student Success! Back to School Scramble benefiting the Fort Bend Education Foundation Plan now to golf fore education in the Fort Bend Education Foundation’s 19th Annual Back to School Scramble golf tournament, scheduled for Monday, August 27, at Sweetwater Country Club.

Children playing in the newly expanded Mayfield Park SUGAR LAND, TX ¬– The city of Sugar Land’s Mayfield Park, 106 Avenue D, is now open after a significant investment to expand and reconstruct the popular community amenity. Mayfield Park, originally 1.5 acres, has served surrounding neighborhoods for more than 20 years. In early 2017, Johnson Development dedicated approximately 2.6 acres of land to the city as part of parkland dedication requirements for their Imperial project. Reconstruction started in summer 2017 and was completed in spring 2018. The completed park now includes more than 4 acres, and the improvements include an entry

monument sign, loop trails, a playground, a basketball court, a picnic pavilion, picnic tables with barbecue grills, drinking fountains, an open meadow, bike racks and landscaping. “The Mayfield Park community is rich in history and is one of the most historical neighborhoods in Sugar Land,” said Director of Parks and Recreation Joe Chesser. “Staff and the design team met with dedicated neighborhood residents before the design started to understand their desires for the redevelopment of the park. With the help of their input, the park provides a place for recreational activities and enhances the Mayfield Park community.” The project cost approxi-

mately $1 million with funds provided by the Sugar Land 4B Corporation, which was established in 1995 to promote, assist and enhance economic development activities and quality of life opportunities within the city of Sugar Land. The corporation’s funding is provided by a portion of restricted sales tax revenue approved by voters that may not be used to support general operations of the city. For information about parks facilities in the city of Sugar Land, contact the Sugar Land Parks and Recreation Department at 281-275-2900, visit or follow Sugar Land Parks and Recreation at SugarLandParks.


Schlumberger is presenting the Back to School Scramble, chaired by Chris Barton and

Jeremy Alberty. Chick-fil-A is providing breakfast. Your entry fee includes breakfast, golf and cart, beverages, lunch reception and special gifts. Sponsorship opportunities are available starting at $2250, along with Foursome Teams $1,000 and individual entries $275. The Education Foundation touches every school in Fort Bend ISD. Since its inception, the Education Foundation has awarded over $33 million through its Grants to Teachers and Schools program. These grants enable teachers to provide innovative classroom

projects for which tax dollars are not available and they help new teachers with zero years teaching experience to outfit their new classrooms. Your participation in the Back to School Scramble helps make our mission a reality—to enrich and enhance the quality of education for all Fort Bend ISD students. For information about the Back to School Scramble and sponsorship opportunities, call (281) 634-1111 or email carol. For more information visit www.

Two-Lane Closure of Missouri City Drive Set On Thursday, May 24; Friday, May 25 for construction


ue to the construction at the Fort Bend County Missouri City Library Campus, on Thursday, May 24 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Friday, May 25, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., both lanes of traffic will be closed on Missouri City Drive in front of City Hall, 1522 Texas Pkwy., and the Library.

Flaggers will be on either end of the road closure to direct traffic around the back of the City Hall complex. City buildings will still be accessible during this time. The Missouri City Library renovation and expansion project, which is managed by Fort Bend County, will include a 9,600-square-foot, three-story

addition to the existing library. The additional space will be used for a computer lab, study rooms, and meeting spaces. The Missouri City Library closed for renovations on July 31, 2017, and will remain closed until fall 2018. Learn more about the County’s Library expansion project: http://



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FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

DAV Montessori School: Annual Day Celebration displayed; the first attendees by now have graduated from leading universities and have secured jobs at well-known corporations such as IBM or joined graduate schools such as Princeton. There is no doubt that the AA will emerge a vibrant forum for their networking.


unday 20th May was the 18th Annual Day of the DAV Montessori & Elementary School (DAVMS), the flagship of Arya Samaj Houston. Dev Mahajan and Shekhar Agrawal are legitimately proud of planting the seed of the school, unique in North America. This was the second batch of 5th graders to graduate. The morning started with the multi-Kunda Havan, surrounded by the children of the school. It was a sight to admire the children reciting all the mantras harmoniously with the Acharyaji and meticulously following the associated steps. Acharyaji delivered the customary sermon for the children to carry the core of the Vedic message that the DAVMS prides as “Academic Excellence with Spiritual Growth”. Once the little children took to the stage, it was non-stop lively entertainment of delight, starting with the Welcome dance. Audience were thrilled to see small steps moving to the tune of the background music. It was planned and orchestrated in a fantastic manner that it functioned back to back, almost no time required for change over that kills a lot of time in such events. The sequence of dances was interspersed by short speeches. Stuti and Eshaan spoke with confidence and displayed their holistic development that became an integral part of their personality as they graduate from the school after a number of years. This was duly attested by the alumni of the preceding year who shared their experience how their formative years at the DAVMS helped them navigate life in the larger ocean of public schools, one of them appearing via a video link. The school announced a new venture of its Alumni Association that had its first meeting over the lunch. A list of the very first attendees was

DAV Montessori & Elementary School children

Children listening attentively to the Speaker.

The Annual Report was made interesting by its director Arti Khanna, appended with a DVD presentation, voice lent by a school kid. Among highlights, the newly introduced bus service has helped a number of parents being relieved from transportation challenges during the rush hour. Shri Surender Adhana, Deputy Consul General of India, along with his wife and their son joined the event as the Chief Guest. His remarks encouraged the parents to benefit from DAVMS that generates the ideal mix of the Vedic values of Arya Samaj with the American ones. He fondly recalled his association with Arya Samaj, a pioneering movement founded by Maharshi Dayanand in 1875. The school’s all-round activities include Havan training, Vedic recitation, Indian history and customs, Yoga, Hindi conversation, Indian music, dance, etc. The school

Graduating students of DAV Montessori & Elementary School



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leaves no opportunity to inculcate positive human values, be it Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or Diwali, Indian Republic Day. The children hone their public-speaking skills. Their confidence and lack of stage-fear was visible to everyone in the dances well-choreographed by the school teachers. Qualified teachers of DAVMS cater to the needs of pre-school, kindergarten and elementary school, besides after-school care, maintaining an optimum student-to-teacher ratio for each child to receive individualized personal attention. Needless to say, there is zero bullying and zero-bad language usage among students. Voluntary participation from the parents adds further value to the educational quality. The second phase of drama and dance was quite mind blowing, to say the least. A mime skit very imaginatively conveyed the pitfalls of indiscreet (mis-)use of the cell phone. It cautioned to use cell phones judiciously and did so in a very humorous manner, drawing peel of laughter. Soon to be followed was a Bhangra dance. It was unbelievable to see little boys maintain the high beat and high octane required by the folk song, and they certainly delivered up to the mark. The girls were not to be left behind as they performed a Rajasthani folk dance. The program was to end with the Vedic stamp as it had started. The entire ensemble appeared on the stage to sing the Aarti, and as usual, there was a new feather in the DAVMS’s cap in the form of a poetic rendition of the VedaMantra Om Annapate … that is customarily recited before partaking the meal. Indeed, the event was capped by an equally delightful food served by the food committee of Arya Samaj. To know more about DAVMS, please visit website:



Seva Clinic celebrates its First Anniversary

FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

Dr. Ramesh Kumar Foundation pledges ₹ 1crore (rupees) towards trauma rescue initiative in Kerala

Seva Clinic staff. by Dr. S.G. Appan


eva Clinic, a charity medical clinic serving the uninsured and under insured patients in the Pearland area has completed the one-year milestone and had a celebration attended by many officials and over 100 enthusiastic supporters on May19, 2018. Seva clinic has seen over 1000 patients in the first year and is located at the Pearland neighborhood center building, 2335 N. Texas Avenue, Pearland, TX 7758. The clinic was founded by Dr. P. Vaduganathan, a cardiologist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital and now several physicians, nurses, and mid-level providers volunteer their services to run this clinic. The clinic is open every Thursday between 5.30 pm and 7.30 pm and is a walk-in clinic and no appointments are necessary. Patients should be registered by 7 pm in order for them to be seen that evening. Pediatricians are available to see children on every second Thursdays. The anniversary event started with Honorable Mayor Tom Reid’s short prayer and moment of silence for those affected by the Santa Fe shooting. Dr. Vaduganathan gave a brief report of how the clinic was started with over 2 years

of planning. He introduced the members of the Seva Clinic Board: Mayor Reid, Dr. Vaduganathan (Chairman & Medical Director), Dr. Bandhakavi (Medical Director), Joanne Barrett(Nursing director), Jim & Hita Dickson ( Treasurer), Jerry Farmer, Srikanth Venugopalan ( Secretary) , Dr. S.G. Appan and Dr. Deepa Iyengar ( Medical Director). Dr. Vaduganathan reported that now blood tests are done at Seva Clinic for a nominal charge of $5 per test if they can afford it. He also told that after Hurricane Harvey’s devastation, the Seva clinic doctors provided medical care to the Cambodian community at Rosharon, TX over two weekends. Pearland Mayor Hon. Tom Reid admired the services of Seva Clinic and told the crowded audience that his vision is that Seva Clinic should have its own place and a building so that it can expand its services. Texas State Representative Hon. Ed Thompson congratulated Seva Clinic’s success and said that “When you want something done, tell a Texan it can’t be done.” Mr. Kyle Price, CEO, Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital, Mr. John Kelly, superintendent of Pearland ISD, Ms. Melissa Washington from Pearland chamber of com-

merce, and Mr. Brad Christen from the Pearland Neighborhood center spoke in praise of the clinic. The other members of Memorial Hermann Southeast and Pearland hospital who attended the event are Mario Garner, C.O.O, Kelly Ochoa, C.N.O, Dr. Glen Garner, C.M.O, Rebecca Lilly, Ashley Quinonez and Shannon Kimich. All the physicians and nurses had come in their white coat and Dr. Sandeep Gupta spoke about his good experience in the clinic. Several members of Sri. Meenakshi Temple attended the event and Mr. Sam Kannappan, Dr. S. G. Appan praised the clinic. Dr. Padmini Nathan congratulated Seva Clinic and pledged $5000 for the clinic to buy an EKG machine. Dr. Vaduganathan thanked all the donors particularly Memorial Hermann, Jim & Hita Dickson, Mrs. Nach and Dr. Vaduganathan, Mrs. Rajam& S.G. Appan and Mrs. Glenda and Mr. Jerry Farmer A certificate of recognition was given to all the physicians, nurses and the student volunteers including the ones from Turner High school. All the physicians, nurses, medical staff & students who are passionate to be part of Seva Clinc as volunteers deserve to be commended.

HCC welcomes leader of White House Initiative for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders


OUSTON (May 22, 2018) – Houston Community College students and administrators met Monday with Holly L. Ham, executive director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific islanders. The meeting at the HCC Administration Building in Midtown was the latest stop in a national tour Ham is taking to promote the initiative’s desire to help improve the lives of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. “We are looking for ways to

collaborate on solutions to issues that AAPIs face today,” said Ham, an ethnic Chinese immigrant from Vietnam who moved to the Houston area with her family in 1980. “Education is the number one priority to ensuring better lives for the 22 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders living here.” HCC Trustee Neeta Sane said the event marked the first time a White House representative has attended a meeting at the college. “We are looking forward to working with the

White House to help students at HCC and to make sure they have the resources to succeed,” Sane said. HCC is the number one community college in the nation in enrolling international students. About 15 percent of the student population is Asian. The largest contingent of international students comes from Vietnam. Chancellor Cesar Maldonado said, “We are an international college. The Asian American community is such a vibrant part of Houston.”


Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala Chief Minister

by Ajay Ghosh


inarayi Vijayan, the Chief Minister of the state of Kerala, officially launched the much awaited The Trauma Rescue Initiative (TRI), a life-saving ambulance service network in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday, May 11th, 2018. The new initiative was launched in association with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) Kerala Branch, the Kerala Police, and the Dr. Ramesh Kumar Foundation, based in the United States. “We have pledged Rs. One Crore for RAMU service and almost half of the money has already been paid to IMA. Our aim is to help the needy, the nature, and help keep the legacy and the fond memories of our beloved son, Dr. Ramesh Kumar (RAMU),” said Dr. Narendra Kumar, past President of AKMG/AAPI and a Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Recipient. “In case the patient is unable to pay for the services, IMA with the help of Dr. Ramesh Kumar Foundation will provide the financial assistance. I am happy that this project has come into effect all over the Stat from today.” The Chief Minister launched the prestigious Accident Rescue initiative at the CM's Conference Room in the presence of the State Director General of Police Loknath Behera; Inspector General Manoj Abraham; Kerala State MLA and famous Cine Actor Mukesh; Personal Secretary to the CM, Jayaraj; IMA Kerala State Branch President Dr. E K Ummer; Secretary Dr. N. Sulphi; Dr. Marthandapillai; Dr. Sreejith N. Kumar; Dr. John Panicker; Sister of Dr Narendra R Kumar, Dr. Syamala Kumari; Dr. Sunoj and Dr. Danish Salim, who helped develop the software. The Chief Minister released the helpline number 9188 100100 linked to the state-wide network of ambulances. About 1000 ambulances have been registered with the scheme across the state during the first phase of the online network.

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These ambulances will be visible on the police web portal. Under the initiative, ambulance services as well as trauma medical centers, both private and government in the city, will be networked. The project will be first implemented in the capital city on a trial basis. Ten trauma care hospitals have been included in the project and ambulance drivers have been given training. TRI is using the software, web portal and app developed by PRS hospital emergency department head Dr. Danish Salim. The entire network is known as Ambulances Networking System with emergency Response (ANSWER). The number 9188100100 is operating out of Cantonment police station in Thiruvananthapuram. To ensure 24/7 response on this number, IMA has appointed three persons exclusively for handling distress calls. Ambulance drivers have been given training by the IMA and police department for using the online service. Once the call goes to 9188 100 100, the staff at police control room will locate the nearest available ambulance from among those linked to the network. Once the ambulance is located, the police will pass on the message, contact number and address to the driver. Soon the ambulance will reach the place and take the patient to the nearest hospital. The police control rooms have a special portal which gives the real-time location of ambulances close to the accident spot. Similarly, there will be separate mobile applications for ambulance drivers and hospitals to manage the distress calls. The applications can identify various types of available ambulances such as the ICU equipped ones in a particular area. During the next phase, a mobile app will created on the lines of Uber app whereby the users would be able to seek service directly. The project is quite significant considering the fact that

on an average 11 persons die and 120 sustain grievous to minor injuries in road accidents in the state daily. According to the IMA, in the first phase, around 1,000 ambulances plying in the state will be included in the network. IMA also is working towards developing a mobile app for availing the service of the ambulance network in which a person can easily send an alert to the nearest ambulance service available via the app. "Those who dial 9188 100 100 will first be connected to Thiruvananthapuram City Police Control Room. Upon locating the distress call it will be redirected to the nearest ambulance driver available," said Sulphi. In the case of the proposed mobile app, the IMA secretary said once an ambulance driver receives an alert, the app will show the place and the direction to reach there. It will also show a list of hospitals near the accident or emergency spot. Friends and family of Michigan-based Indian American physician Dr. Ramesh Kumar, set up the Foundation in his name to help make medical treatment more affordable for people in financial need. The Dr. Ramesh Kumar Foundation was created in honor of the urology resident at Henry Ford Hospital to continue his generosity. Kumar was known for his largesse, once paying for the surgery of a woman he didn’t know, friends said. The Ramesh Kumar Foundation is dedicated to eliminating the barriers of the financial burden on individuals and families in need of medical treatment and also advocating for programs of medical research and education. The Indian American doctor was the son of Dr. Narendra Kumar, former president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, and Meenakshi ‘Minni’ Kumar. More information about the foundation can be found at

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FRIDAY, May 25, 2018



Texas Muslims mourn slain Pakistani exchange student Continued from Page 1 me when I was here. As a parent, it is just devastating." Samad also addressed the painful irony that a young woman from a country that many Americans associated with the war on terror in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington was killed in a country that millions around the world see as a bastion of freedom. The attacks were a "tragedy, and

tragedy sometimes teaches you life," he said. "But it also revisits, and in this case very close to here." Several Pakistani-American youths also attended the funeral service, including Danyal Zakaria of nearby Sugar Land, Texas. The 17-year-old said it was "truly mind-blowing" that an exchange student his age could be cut down in cold blood at a US school. "This nation is known to be safe," he said. "If America is not safe, then where is?"

Sabika Sheikh funeral in Pakistan

Sri Lanka: Severe monsoon thunderstorms kill five OLUMBO, Sri Lanka - Violent storms have killed at least five people in Sri Lanka, the country’s Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said.


Lightning killed three people, a landslide a fourth, and the fifth died after being hit by a fallen tree, officials at the DMC reported. More than 170 homes were damaged in the severe weather and several accidents were reported on the expressways. About 1,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and given shelter in temporary locations. The majority of those were from the cities of Badulla, Kegalle and Kalutara, all in western and central parts of the island. Warnings are still in force there for torrential rain with totals over 150mm. To put this in context, Colombo usually sees 371mm in the entire month of May. In the previous few days, even heavier downpours have been reported. Landslide warnings have been issued for several areas (-Yahoo News)

Abdul Aziz Sheikh, father of Sabika Sheikh, comforts her friends prior to her funeral prayer in Karachi on Wednesday [Fareed Khan/AP] housands of people in Karachi attended the funeral on Wednesday for a 17-year-old Pakistani exchange student who was killed in a mass shooting at a Texas high school.

After the coffin was lowered into the ground, he said her life and the lives of others would not be wasted if steps were taken for stricter gun control in the whole world.

Sabika Sheikh was among 10 students and staff slain last Friday at Santa Fe High School near Houston.

Sabika Sheikh said she had hoped to one day join Pakistan's foreign service and become a diplomat.

She was her family's oldest child and began classes at the high school last August. She had been planning to return to Pakistan in a few weeks for Eid al-Fitr, the three-day holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

At a memorial service in Texas over the weekend, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said she continues to be a diplomat "because even in her death, she is pulling the relationships between Pakistan and the United States, specifically the Houston area, even closer".

Her tearful father, Abdul Aziz Sheikh, went to the Karachi airport to receive her body early Wednesday as it arrived in her hometown.

Police have said the 17-year-old suspect in the shooting used his father's shotgun and .38-caliber pistol. The shooting reignited the debate over gun control in the United States.


Among the many mourners at a city mosque was the provincial governor. "Before her death, she was just my daughter, but now she is the daughter of Pakistan, and it is only because of the love of people who mourned her killing," her father said.

Pakistan requires gun owners to be licensed, but the rules are poorly enforced, particularly in the tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan. Heavily armed groups have carried out scores of attacks in recent years, including at schools.

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EHRAN, Iran | AFP | Wednesday 5/23/2018 Iran's moderate President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday questioned why the successes of women athletes representing the Islamic republic were not being shown on state television. "What problem is there in television showing women or girls in competition, especially when they courageously take on prestigious international teams and produce great victories?" he asked, quoted by the official IRNA news agency. He was referring specifically to Iran's 4-1 triumph over Japan in the final of an Asian tournament of futsal -- a five-a-side football game played on a hard pitch with hockeysized goals -- on May 12 in Thailand. The Iranian women, playing in white, wore Islamic headscarves, long sleeved shirts and with shorts over tights, unlike their Japanese counterparts whose legs were bare. Women's sports in Iran are normally contested without any male onlookers and in the absence of photographers or television cameras.

by Faisal Mahmud HAKA, 22 May 2018 Bangladesh's security forces have killed more than 30 alleged drug dealers in gun battles over the past week with right activists warning a campaign of extrajudicial killings may be under way.


"People do not want to witness such killings. It is a violation of law to use the firearms, bought by the people's money, in extrajudicial killings. What is the country's judicial system for, if the law enforcers themselves try to serve justice?" said Kamal. The recent spree of "shootouts" started after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina earlier this month asked RAB

The plant, owned by the Tata Group in the Indian state of Gujarat, was built with funding from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a sister organization of the World Bank that specializes in development assistance. The IFC says the plant, which has a capacity of 4,150 megawatts, uses


EW DELHI, India | AFP | Indian police used laxatives for several days to retrieve 106 cocaine capsules worth some $900,000 from the stomach of a Brazilian woman who tried to smuggle them into the country, officials said Monday. The 28-year-old woman and the capsules were presented to a New Delhi court which remanded her in the city's Tihar jail.

ARACHI, Pakistan | AFP | Residents of Pakistan's largest city Karachi were urged to seek shelter Monday as the temperature hit 44 degrees Celsius (111.2 Fahrenheit), sparking fears of widespread heatstroke during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.


The Pakistan Meteorological Department warned the sweltering heat would continue throughout the week, forecasting daytime temperatures of between 40-43 degrees. "Considering the ongoing observance of Ramadan and people fasting, authorities have to ensure adequate supply of power and water," the department said in a statement. Karachi mayor Waseem Akhtar urged residents to stay indoors during the day to avoid heatstroke.


EW DELHI, India | AFP | Indian police on Tuesday killed 12 demonstrators after opening fire on thousands of people demanding the closure of a copper factory due to pollution concerns, a police officer said. Protesters rampaged for hours in the southern state of Tamil Nadu calling for the closure of the plant owned by British-based mining giant Vedanta Resources. "We have confirmation of 12 people being killed in police firing. We fear the toll may rise," the officer told AFP from the state capital Chennai.

Protesters stormed the office of the top local administrator and set it ablaze after they were denied permission to hold a rally at the smelting plant. Members of the Rapid Action Battalion guard a street during an operation in Dhaka in January [File: AP]

On May 14, RAB Director-General Benazir Ahmed told a press conference a "stronger stance" would be employed to prevent drug abuse. Ahmed said police cases through the courts "would be less encouraged ‌ due to backlog. These cases normally take a lot of time to get processed". Thirty-three alleged drug dealers have now been killed in "gunfights" with security forces across the country since the operation began. RAB's mobile court also sentenced 2,471 people, of whom 347 were drug dealers and the rest drug addicts. Po-

The plaintiffs argue that the IFC failed to comply with its charter, which makes the release of funds conditional on compliance with environmental standards. The case will be argued and judged in the next session of the Supreme Court, which begins in October.

"She was taken to Safdarjung hospital where doctors administered laxatives after X-rays showed the presence of the capsules," he told AFP. The capsules, containing in total about 930 grams of pure South American cocaine, were supposed to be delivered to dealers in the Indian capital. "This is the highest number of cocaine capsules extracted from any professional drugs swallower in Delhi," said Vijay.

lice said more than 500 people had been detained over the same period. Philippines model Parallels have already been drawn to the situation in the Philippines, where its President Rodrigo Duterte declared a war on drugs, with his security forces killing thousands of drug dealers. Human rights activist Nur Khan Liton told Al Jazeera "this killing spree" in Bangladesh is similar to what is happening in the Philippines. "The law enforcers think of solving the drug problem through instilling fear. This won't work," said Liton. He urged the government to properly investigate each death so "under no circumstances, such extrajudicial killings are accepted". Minister of Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan defended the anti-narcotics

Still thousands remained outdoors where they huddled around public taps, wetting towels to cover their heads. The city of more than 15 million is hit by frequent power cuts and has few green spaces. People living on its streets have little access to shelter or safe drinking water, making them acutely at risk in blistering temperatures. The heatwave coincides with the beginning of Ramadan, when millions of devout Pakistanis abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. In June 2015 about 1,200 people died in southern Pakistan during a heatwave, with nearly two-thirds of the victims homeless people.

Indian police kill 12 in protest over copper plant

The shootings caused immediate outrage. Rahul Gandhi, leader of the opposition Congress party, said it was "state sponsored terrorism".

According to the Department of Narcotics Control of Bangladesh, there are at least seven million drug addicts, of which five million are hooked on methamphetamine.

But the fishermen and farmers who are plaintiffs in the case denounce the damage caused to marine fauna and the pollution of soil by coal dust.

sweltering heatwave

Some 20 police were also injured in the clashes in Tuticorin, about 600 kilometres (375 miles) south of Chennai.

to tackle the drug problem.

advanced technology to improve efficiency, save fuel and reduce emissions while generating power for areas that are "chronically short of electricity."

106 cocaine capsules found in woman's stomach

An unknown number of protesters were injured in the skirmishes, he said.

The suspects were killed across the country under similar circumstances since the nationwide crackdown on the narcotics trade was launched in early May, Al Jazeera discovered from police reports.

Criticising the deaths, Bangladeshi human rights activist Sultana Kamal said at a press conference on Monday that arrests should be made and suspects tried before a court, but that is not happening.


ASHINGTON | AFP | The US Supreme Court said Monday it will examine a complaint by Indian villagers who say they are suffering from pollution caused by a coal power plant funded by a US-based institution.

The woman was held on May 14

More than 30 alleged drug dealers killed in the past week in 'shootouts' with police amid rights activists' warnings.

Some relatives of the deceased, however, say their family members were picked up by police and later shot dead.

Top US court to examine India power plant complaint

she arrived at Delhi airport from Iran president after The maximum punishment for drug Sao Paulo, according to Vishwa Vitrafficking is 20 years under Indian a Narcotics Control Bureau suquestions lack jay, law. perintendent. of women's Pakistan's Karachi hit by sport on TV

Bangladesh: Extrajudicial killing fears in drug crackdown

In most cases, local police and members of the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) force acted on tipoffs, raided houses where alleged drug traffickers operated, and after coming under fire engaged in deadly "shootouts".

FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

The police officer said efforts to disperse the 5,000 strong rock-throwing group through a baton charge and tear gas volleys failed. Police then fired live ammunition, he added. Another officer said more than 110 vehicles were burnt during the disturbances that lasted nearly four hours. Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami ordered an inquiry into the shootings but defended the police. "The police had to take action under unavoidable circumstances to protect public life and property as the protesters resorted to repeated violence... police had to control the violence," he said in a statement.

compensation, he added. - Controversial factory Residents have been protesting for months against the plant run by a Vedanta subsidiary, Sterlite Copper. Environmentalists and locals allege the plant is contaminating water resources, a charge denied by the company. The protests have intensified after Vedanta, owned by an Indian billionaire but with its head office in London, sought to expand the plant. The plant -- which is currently nonoperational -- has a 400,000-tonne annual capacity. It was shut briefly after an alleged gas leak in March 2013 that left hundreds with breathing difficulties, nausea and throat infections. India's federal green court allowed it to be reopened. The company maintains that it adheres to environmental standards and accused vested interests of spreading "false propaganda" about its operations. Tamil Nadu is one of India's most industrialised and prosperous states and similar protests over environmental concerns have turned deadly. Tuticorin witnessed violent demonstrations in 2012 over a nuclear power plant in neighbouring Kudankulam district that left one person dead. Thousands of protesters blocked roads to prevent supplies reaching the Russian-built plant, concerned about safety standards. One of the plant units is operational. In 2016, the Indian arm of global consumer goods giant Unilever settled a 15-year-old suit with hundreds of its former employees over mercury contamination at a thermometer factory in Kodaikanal.

The families of each victim would be offered one million rupees ($14,700)

The factory was shut in 2001 after it was found to have disposed mercury waste with following proper protocol.

drive on Monday, saying Hasina instructed his ministry to take a "zero

tolerance" policy against the drug trade to stop it "at any cost".



Winner of Wells Fargo Contest Plays with Tiger Woods in Pro-Am Seventeen-year-old Shahbaz Hashmi from The First Tee of Greater San Antonio joined Woods and PGA Tour pros at the Wells Fargo Championship


HARLOTTE, May 20, 2018 – Shahbaz Hashmi, grand prize winner of Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) and The First Tee’s Succeeding TogetherSM contest, fulfilled a lifelong dream and played Tiger Woods as his Pro-Am partner at the Wells Fargo Championship. Wells Fargo hosted Hashmi and three other contest winners of the company’s Succeeding TogetherSM essay contest earlier this month at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. Hashmi’s Grand Prize-winning essay was selected by a panel of judges from Wells Fargo, The First Tee, and the Wells Fargo Championship tournament office. “Tiger Woods is unequivocally my hero,” Hashmi said. “Since I entered the contest,


Rhonda Faehn, who had run USA women's gymnastics since 2015, was no longer with the organisation, the sport's governing body said.

Shahbaz Hashmi he’s always been my first choice to play with if I won and he was in the Wells Fargo Championship field. Watching him dominate in a way no other athlete has in their respective sport has served as such an inspiration for not only me, but my entire generation. It’s a dream, really.” Hashmi and the contest’s

HICAGO - The Michigan university where serial sex abuser Larry Nassar practiced medicine announced Wednesday it has agreed to a $500 million settlement with hundreds of former victims of the USA Gymnastics doctor.

tions with regard to Nassar's behavior.

The agreement with attorneys representing 332 survivors was a "global settlement," Michigan State University said, and resolved claims against individuals that were employed by the faculty and implicated in the wide-ranging scandal.

"It is the sincere hope of all of the survivors that the legacy of this settlement will be far reaching institutional reform that will end the threat of sexual assault in sports, schools and throughout our society," attorney John Manly, who represents many of the victims, said in a statement.

It did not resolve claims against USA Gymnastics, the US Olympic Committee, star gymnastics coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi, and others. Neither did it end a criminal probe of the university's ac-

three other winners each received a four-day/three-night trip for two to Charlotte, N.C. to attend the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship and experience the excitement of a PGA Tour event from inside the ropes. To read Hashmi’s essay and to learn more about the contest, visit: succeedingtogether.

Nassar was sentenced in January to spend his life behind bars after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting women and girls over a two-decade period under the guise of medical treatment.

The scandal is the biggest in US Olympic history and has had far-reaching ripple effects -- ending careers at USA Gymnastics, the Olympic committee and at Michigan State

University. The criminal investigation into the university's role is being conducted by special counsel Bill Forsyth, on behalf of the Midwestern state's top law enforcement office. "It is very important to see resolution on the civil side, and I hope this provides some sense of relief and closure for the survivors. That being said, my investigation is still open and ongoing," Forsyth said in a statement. The criminal inquiry has yielded criminal charges against William Strampel, the former dean of the medical college where Nassar practiced medicine. Strampel faces several charges, including criminal sexual conduct and willful neglect of duty.

Andres Iniesta says going to 'new home' Japan


ADRID, Spain | AFP | Wednesday 5/23/2018 - Andres Iniesta tweeted Wednesday he was going to his "new home" with his "friend" Hiroshi Mikitani, owner of Japan's Vissel Kobe, implying he would now be playing there after leaving Barcelona.

Iniesta, who famously scored the winning goal for Spain against the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final, was top of Mikitani's wishlist. The billionaire businessman is also the founder and CEO of Rakuten, Barcelona's main sponsor. Iniesta had also been linked to a move to Chinese Super League side Chongqing Lifan but they, like Vissel initially,

"At USA Gymnastics, we are focused every day on creating a highly empowered culture that puts our athletes first." Faehn's role in the abuse scandal involving disgraced former team doctor Larry Nassar has come under scrutiny. Olympic gold medallist Aly Raisman, one of Nassar's victims, said she believed Faehn had been slow to act after being made aware of the abuse in June 2015. "I don't know what she did or didn't do with that information, but I didn't get contacted by the FBI for over a year, and in that time 50 to 100 gymnasts were molested," Raisman told the Indianapolis Star. Nassar, 54, was sentenced in January to spend his life behind bars after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting women and girls over a twodecade period under the guise of medical treatment. Raisman and fellow US stars including Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney have all identified themselves as victims of Nassar's abuse in what is the biggest scandal in US Olympic history. USA Gymnastics meanwhile said it would continue to implement "positive changes that reinforce our desire to have our athletes train and compete at the highest level in an empowering and safe environment.

Mohammad Amir, pictured on May 14, 2018, was seen stretching out his right knee as Pakistan beat Test debutants Ireland by five wickets during a one-off match by Julian Guyer


ONDON, United Kingdom | AFP | Pakistan spearhead Mohammad Amir is "100 percent ready" for the first Test against England at Lord's starting Thursday despite a knee injury, according to team coach Mickey Arthur. The left-arm fast bowler was seen stretching out his right knee as Pakistan beat Test debutants Ireland by five wickets during a one-off match in Malahide, Dublin concluded last week. Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood suggested Amir had suffered a recurrence of a "chronic" problem. But head coach Arthur, speaking to reporters at Lord's on Tuesday, had no qualms about the fitness of Amir. "He's perfect, 100 percent," Arthur insisted. "He's fine he's ready to go." As for Amir, missing Pakistan's final warm-up match ahead of the two-Test England series, last weekend's drawn match against Leicestershire, Arthur added: "It was his rotation. (Mohammad) Abbas sat out the first (tour) game, Hasan (Ali) sat out the second, so he sat out the third." Amir was the hottest property in world cricket after bursting on the scene as a teenager in 2009 and at 18 he was the youngest bowler to have taken 50 Test wickets. But his world was turned upside down in 2010 when he became involved in a spot-fixing scandal after deliberately bowling no-balls during the Lord's Test against England -- an incident that would eventually see him sent to prison by an English court and given a five-year ban by the International Cricket Council. Amir's first 14 Tests saw him take 51 wickets at just a fraction over 23 apiece, figures that had him on course to be an all-time great. But the 17 Tests since his comeback two years ago have seen him take 49 wickets at a more expensive average of 34.91 Amir, and Pakistan for that matter, have not been helped by the fact that those 17 Tests since 2016 have also seen 16 catches dropped off his bowling. The stigma of his spot-fixing


The midfielder has enjoyed a glittering career, winning eight La Liga and four Champions League titles.

Danish legend Michael Laudrup, himself a former Barcelona fan favourite and one of Iniesta's boyhood heroes, also played for Vissel in 1996-97.

"We recognize that change can be difficult, but we will not be deterred from making necessary and bold decisions to transform our organization.

"Together, we will create a culture of empowerment for the young men and women who are pursuing their gymnastics dreams today while honoring those who have gone before them."

Iniesta announced last month that he would be leaving Barca at the end of the season, bringing an end to a 22-year association with the club.

If the move to Kobe is confirmed, Iniesta will join former Arsenal striker Lukas Podolski in the western Japanese port city after the German completed a move from Galatasaray last summer.

"This is a personnel matter that we will not discuss in detail," USA Gymnastics said in a statement on behalf of chief executive Kerry Perry.

“USA Gymnastics is moving forward and positioning for the future with the commitment to our athletes safety and well-being at the heart of everything we do," the organisation said.

The 34-year-old posted a photo of him and Mikitani in what appeared to be a private jet, along with emojis of the Japanese flag and a football.

Kobe currently sit sixth in the J-League first division standings after 15 games played, having finished ninth in the table last term.

USA women's Pakistan's Amir '100 gymnastics percent ready' to face chief out fol- England says Arthur lowing abuse scandal OS ANGLES, Florida | AFP | Friday 5/18/2018 - The head of the United States women's gymnastics program has been removed from her post in the wake of the abuse scandal that has rocked the sport, USA Gymnastics said Friday.

University reaches $500 mn settlement with Nassar abuse victims


FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

exile has started to fade, with Amir playing for Pakistan during their 2-2 draw in a four-Test series in England two years ago. He also starred for Essex as they won English domestic cricket's first-class County Championship title last season. Now the 26-year-old Amir is set to be the leader of an inexperienced Pakistan attack. England, who didn't manage a single win during their recent seven combined Tests in Australia and New Zealand, collapsed to 58 all out in Auckland in March as Kiwi left-arm quick Trent Boult took six wickets. - 'Finest exponent' And Arthur backed Amir to do similar damage "I think Mohammad Amir is the finest exponent of pace and swing when he gets it 100 percent right," Arthur said. "We've used that spell that Trent Boult bowled in Auckland. We've had a look at his lengths. "We believe he (Amir) bowls incredibly well at left-handers and there will be three lefthanders (Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman and Dawid Malan) in the (England) top four. "He's ready, I just hope it goes really well for him because he's been unlucky at times with the amount of dropped catches. "He's ready, he's determined, he's fit, he's strong, he's excited, he's in a very good place at the moment." Arthur is unusual in having served as the head coach of three leading nations -- his native South Africa, Australia and Pakistan. But he was adamant he had no desire to replace Trevor Bayliss when the Australian steps down as England coach next year. "No, I'm very happy," Arthur said. "I'd like to keep going with Pakistan for as long as they will have me because it's unfinished business for us at the moment. This is a very young cricket team and I worry if we move on what happens to these guys. "Their fitness regime is outstanding, they are training hard and they are enjoying their cricket".

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OR Click a photo of this form, email to: Andres Iniesta in 2018 (File photo) denied the rumours. If confirmed, the Spain legend's decision to choose Kobe would represent arguably Japanese football's biggest transfer coup with many big-name players now moving to bigspending Chinese clubs in the twilight of their careers.

It would also come as a timely boost to the J-League, which used to attract luminaries such as Brazilian great Zico and former England star Gary Lineker when it began in 1993 but has struggled to attract marquee players in recent years.

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Trump can't block his critics on Twitter, judge rules by Rob Lever


ASHINGTON | AFP | 5/23/2018 - President Donald Trump cannot legally block Twitter users who disagree with him, a federal judge ruled Wednesday in a case with potentially far-reaching implications for social media use by public officials. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald said the blocking of Trump critics -- which prevents them from seeing and interacting with the president's tweets -violated the free speech rights of those users guaranteed in the Constitution's First Amendment. In a 75-page opinion, the New York federal judge said the users "were indisputably blocked as a result of viewpoint discrimination" and that this was "impermissible under the First Amendment." The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of Twitter users and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. The lawsuit contended that because Trump uses Twitter for a variety of policy announcements, the account is "a designated public forum" that cannot exclude people due to their political views. The judge acknowledged that even though the president has certain free speech rights, he cannot violate the rights of other Twitter users. "While we must recognize, and are sensitive to, the president's personal First Amendment rights, he cannot exercise those rights in a way that infringes the corresponding First Amendment rights of those who have criticized him," she said in her opinion. Buchwald stopped short of accepting the request for an injunction against Trump and his social media aide, Dan Scavino, who was also named in the complaint, saying she expected the White House to abide by her "declaratory" ruling. - Not above the law "Because no government official is above the law and because all government officials are presumed to follow the law once the judiciary has said what the law is, we must assume that the president and Scavino will remedy the blocking we have held to be unconstitutional," she wrote. The White House directed queries

to the Department of Justice, where a spokeswoman said in a statement, "We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and are considering our next steps." Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute's executive director, welcomed the ruling, saying it "reflects a careful application of core First Amendment principles to government censorship on a new communications platform." Jaffer added in a statement, "The president's practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end." In the lawsuit, the seven individual plaintiffs, including a University of Maryland professor, a Texas police officer and a New York comic, said they were blocked from the @realDonaldTrump account after posting tweets critical of his policies. Although they were still able to see the tweets without logging in to Twitter, and to quote Trump's tweets in their own messages, their comments were excluded from the threads that make up a public "conversation" involving the president and his 52 million followers. The case could affect other social media interactions involving public officials. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group which backed the lawsuit, said the case is part of a "broader issue" on how public officials use social media. "We receive reports about how governmental officials manipulate social media comments to exclude opposing views to create the impression that hotly contested policies are not contested at all," EFF said on Twitter after the case was filed. The Knight Institute said it was lodging an appeal in the case of a Virginia resident blocked on Facebook by a local public official. A supporting brief in the New York case argued that the case is important in guaranteeing political speech. "In light of social media's importance to modern life, President Trump's practice of blocking individual users robs them of a singularly valuable opportunity to make their speech heard," said the brief filed by the Georgetown University Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection.

Trump New face of Democrats? son-in-law Women, minorities win Kushner big in primaries gets security clearance by Michael Mathes


ASHINGON | AFP | Wednesday 5/23/2018 Donald Trump's son-inlaw and presidential advisor Jared Kushner has had his security clearance restored, a person briefed on the matter told AFP Wednesday.

Abbe Lowell, an attorney for Kushner, confirmed his client had now completed the security clearance process. "His application was properly submitted, reviewed by career officials, and went through the normal process," said Lowell. "Having completed these processes, Mr. Kushner is looking forward to continuing the work the President has asked him to do." White House Chief of Staff John Kelly had ordered changes to the clearance system after a top aide -- Rob Porter -- worked for months without full clearance because of allegations he abused both his former wives. Kushner's application had been beset by multiple revisions and previously undisclosed contacts with foreign individuals. In a statement, Lowell also revealed that Kushner had sat with special counsel Robert Mueller for a second time. Mueller is investigating the Trump campaign's ties with Russian election meddling. "He has continued this complete cooperation, providing a large number of documents and sitting for hours of interviews with congressional committees and providing numerous documents and sitting for two interviews with the Office of Special Counsel," Lowell said.


ASHINGTON | AFP | Wednesday 5/23/2018 - A US government employee in China suffered brain trauma linked to "abnormal sounds" that resembled the still-unexplained injuries that befell US and Canadian diplomats in Cuba last year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday.

- Embassy warning Pompeo said the US government has deployed medical personnel to investigate the China case. The embassy's health alert says the employee "recently reported subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure." Embassy spokeswoman Jinnie Lee said the employee experienced "a variety of physical symptoms" between late 2017 and April 2018. The person was sent to the United States and diagnosed with MTBI on May 18.

And with race and women's rights and empowerment emerging as flashpoints in the Trump era, the recent primary victories signal that such hot-button issues will remain at the fore come election day five months from now. In Georgia, former state lawmaker Stacey Abrams became the first black

Canada offers to take in Rohingya refugees, pledges aid

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told a news conference the asylum offer did not exclude the possibility of the Rohingya returning home, as most have said they wish for.

The US embassy in Beijing issued a health alert Wednesday over the incident, while saying it does not know what caused the symptoms or of any similar situations in the country.

"We are working to figure out what took place both in Havana and now in China as well," he said.

As President Donald Trump's Republicans struggle to craft a strategy for defending their majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives, energized Democrats have taken a progressive tack in recent primary races, notably on Tuesday, when several minority candidates led the charge.


US and Chinese authorities are investigating after the unnamed employee, who was assigned to the southern city of Guangzhou, was diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).

"The medical indications are very similar and entirely consistent with the medical indications that have taken place to Americans working in Cuba," Pompeo said in Washington.

Gina Ortiz Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer, is a first generation American from San Antonio.

TTAWA, Canada | AFP | Canada on Wednesday said it stands ready to take in Rohingya refugees, pledged significant aid and called for the prosecution of those behind human rights atrocities in Myanmar.

But the current situation in Myanmar is not conducive to their safe return, she said. The building that houses the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China. (Photo: AFP/ Feng Li) "While in China, if you experience any unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises, do not attempt to locate their source. Instead, move to a location where the sounds are not present," the embassy said, urging people with medical problems to consult a doctor. "The (State) Department is taking this incident very seriously and is working to determine the cause and impact of the incident," Lee said. "The Chinese government has assured us they are also investigating and taking appropriate measures." The Chinese foreign ministry could not be immediately reached for comment. - Cuban case In Cuba, the American victims had associated the onset of their symptoms with "unusual sounds or auditory sensations," a State Department physician told the US Senate in January. Charles Rosenfarb, a doctor and director of the State Department bureau of medical services, said the symptoms were mixed but consistent with

"We are writing the next chapter of Georgia's future, where no one is unseen, no one is unheard and no one is uninspired," Abrams, seen as a rising

That cast serious doubt on his status as a powerbroker inside the White House and his ability to negotiate Middle East peace.

by Paul Handley with Laurent Thomet in Beijing

Both countries scaled back their diplomatic presence on the Caribbean island due to the problem, which continues to baffle investigators and has strained US diplomatic relations with Havana.


ASHINGTON | AFP | Wednesday 5/23/2018 Democratic voters have chosen African-American and Latina women as their candidates for governor in Georgia and Texas, historic wagers for a party embracing minorities and women ahead of November's pivotal mid-term elections.

woman in the country to hold a major party's nomination for governor, soundly defeating a Democratic rival who had courted moderates, independents and crossover Trump supporters.

The 37-year-old aide and envoy -- who is married to Ivanka Trump -- lost his top-level security clearance amid a broader White House shakeup in February, restricting his access to America's most closely guarded secrets.

US staffer suffers brain injury after 'sound' incident in China

Last year 24 US diplomats and their family members in Cuba fell victim to a mysterious attack that left them with injuries resembling brain trauma. Ten Canadian diplomats and their relatives also suffered a strange illness.

FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

brain trauma. The victims suffered headaches, hearing loss, disorientation and some loss of cognitive ability. Initially officials suspected the Americans had been targeted by some sort of acoustic weapon. But so far no evidence has been made public to support that theory, and Pompeo did not suggest the State Department understood the cause yet. The incident prompted the United States to withdraw more than half of its personnel from the embassy in Havana, just two years after it had reopened as part of a restoration of full diplomatic relations. Canada announced last month that it was bringing home the families of its diplomats in Cuba after a yearlong investigation into the illness failed to reveal a cause. Unlike their American counterparts, however, no Canadian envoy reported hearing any suspicious sound prior to falling ill. "The cause (of their symptoms) remains unknown but could be humanmade," the Canadian government concluded.

About 700,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim minority fled to Bangladesh, where they stay in refugee camps, after Myanmar's military last August launched a military operation in Rakhine state. The violence has left a trail of torched villages in its wake, with allegations of murder and rape at the hands of troops and vigilantes. Myanmar has vehemently denied US and United Nations allegations of ethnic cleansing in the Buddhist-majority country. "The Rohingya have a right to return to their homes. But the conditions for their return currently do not exist," Freeland said. "Persecution is still happening." The minister declined to outline when or how many refugees might be taken in, saying it will be up to the UN refugee agency to coordinate the resettlement. Flanked by International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, she said Canada will work with other countries and the UN to come up with a plan. Myanmar and Bangladesh had agreed in November to begin repatriating Rohingya refugees to Myanmar but the process has stalled, with both sides blaming each other for the delays.

star in the party, said in her victory speech. Trump carried Georgia in 2016 by five points over Hillary Clinton, and Republicans control every statewide office. But Democrats, emboldened by fresh grassroots energy and voter frustration with Trump, are angling for an upset in the southeastern state. Texas saw history made on two fronts, as former Dallas sheriff Lupe Valdez became the first openly gay and first Latina gubernatorial candidate from either party in the Lone Star State. Actor-turned-activist George Takei offered a snappy take on Valdez: "Trump's worst nightmare." And if Gina Ortiz Jones, a former US Air Force intelligence officer and Iraq war veteran who prevailed in her Democratic primary, wins her Texas US House seat in November, she will become the first lesbian and first Filipina-American to represent Texas in Congress. Adding to the slate of firsts, Paulette Jordan won the Democratic nomination for governor in Idaho. The state is unquestionably conservative, and her race is a longshot, but should Jordan win, she would become the first Native American governor in US history. Other primary winners included a gun-control activist in Georgia whose son was shot to death at age 17, and a female political novice and former fighter pilot in Kentucky who defeated an incumbent mayor in their congressional primary. "All of these outstanding nominees are harnessing the grassroots energy in their states and leading with Democratic values," Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez said in a statement. The Republican reaction? Bring it on. "You saw last night the progressive wing of the (Democratic) party continues to win," Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told Fox Business Network Wednesday. "What do they want? They want more government in your lives, they want you to take home less money in your paycheck," she added. "I don't think that's a winning strategy for the American people." Analysts predict Democrats have a strong shot at regaining control of the US House, although the Cook Political Report says Republicans have seen a recent uptick in their overall chances of maintaining their majority. Democrats would need to flip 24 seats to seize the chamber. As more states hold primaries, the influence of women on the Democratic Party and its election chances has grown. Last week in Pennsylvania, a large state with no women in its 20-member congressional delegation, seven women won Democratic primaries.


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Federal Reserve likely 1.5C cap on warming saves global to raise interest rates economy trillions: study ‘soon’: minutes by Marlowe Hood

by Heather Scott ASHINGTON | AFP | 5/23/2018 - US central bankers are likely to raise the key interest rate “soon” given the strength of the economy and as inflation has inched higher, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.


It seemed a clear signal of a rate hike coming next month, as financial markets expect. However, the Fed will continue to move only gradually, even if inflation is “modestly” above its two percent target, as long as that increase is only “temporary,” according to the minutes of the May 1-2 meeting of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee. “Most participants” at the meeting agreed that if the economy continued to perform as expected “it would likely soon be appropriate for the committee to take another step,” the minutes said. The Fed last raised the benchmark federal funds rate in March, the sixth increase since December 2015, to a range of 1.5-1.75 percent. It is expected to hike at least twice more this year but markets have been watching closely for signs the FOMC might be more aggressive in combatting inflation which has finally picked up to about two percent after languishing for months well below that level. The minutes confirm the widespread interpretation of the May 2 statement that twice highlighted the fact the Fed’s inflation target is “symmetric” -- meaning central bankers will not overreact to some increase in prices. Officials noted that even with the recent uptick, it was “premature to conclude” that inflation would remain at the target level, given that prices have remained stubbornly subdued in recent years. But some said inflation was likely to “modestly overshoot” the target level. However, “it was also noted that a temporary period of inflation modestly above two percent would be consistent with the committee’s symmetric inflation objective,”

the minutes said. In fact, a period a bit above that level “could be helpful” in solidifying expectations that some price increases are on the way -- a process central bankers call “anchoring” inflation expectations. That is important in monetary policy since expectations that prices will fall can sap economic activity. But the minutes said there were “a range of views” among FOMC participants about how many more times the Fed would have to raise interest rates. - ‘Risks and uncertainties’ While they generally expect “above-trend economic growth” the officials noted “a number of risks and uncertainties” about the outlook. That includes labor shortages that could constrain some industries and pressure wages and prices higher, as well the President Donald Trump’s trade policies. While the minutes noted that the impact of trade policies would depend on US actions and the reaction of trading partners, “the uncertainty surrounding trade issues could damp business sentiment and spending.” The Fed has mentioned trade uncertainty several times in recent statements given the potential for undermining business investment, as Trump officials negotiate with China to head off a potential trade war. Trump has imposed steep tariffs on steel and aluminum and the Fed noted rising costs for those and other inputs for US businesses, as well as the potential for higher Chinese tariffs on US agricultural goods, to “hurt US competitiveness.” In addition, rising oil prices, if they remain high, could fuel US price increases directly, the Fed said. Wall Street, which had been wobbly for much the day, greeted the news warmly, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq and S&P 500 turning positive and the Dow Jones Industrial Average sharply paring earlier losses shortly after the minutes’ release at 1800 GMT.

ARIS, France | AFP | Failing to cap global warming at two degrees Celsius or less could cost the world economy tens of trillions of dollars over the next 80 years, researchers warned Wednesday.


Four-fifths of countries and 90 percent of the global population, in other words, stand to reap major economic benefits by avoiding costs linked to higher temperatures, they reported in the journal Nature. Such costs stem from more frequent and severe extreme weather, lower yields in agriculture, and negative health impacts. The 196-nation Paris climate treaty calls for holding the rise in Earth’s surface temperature to “well under” 2 C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and 1.5 C if possible. The lower target was included in light of severe climate impacts after only 1 C of warming, including deadly heatwaves, droughts, and storms surges made more destructive by rising seas. A UN special report due in October will detail likely damage in a 1.5 C world, and help leaders decide if the target is within reach. But few efforts have been made to quantify the impact of different temperature goals on long-term economic growth. “Achieving the more ambitious Paris goals is highly likely to benefit most countries -and the global economy overall -- by avoiding more severe economic damage,” said senior author Noah Diffenbaugh, a professor at Stanford University’s School of Earth. Over the course of the century, the global economy in a 1.5 C world would generate an additional 20 trillion dollars in GDP compared to one in which temperatures rise by 2 C, the study found. There would be exceptions: the economies of Russia, Canada, Nordic and Baltic nations, and central Europe would all take a hit in a 1.5 C scenario. Diffenbaugh and colleagues made their calculations by studying how economic performance over the last 50 years, measured by GPD, matched

Four-fifths of countries and 90 percent of the global population could benefit economically by avoiding costs linked to the negative impacts of higher temperatures

changes in temperature around the world.

heavily on underlying assumptions.

Then, using climate model projections, they calculated how overall economic output is likely to change in the coming decades as temperatures warm to different levels -- 1.5 C, 2 C and 3 C.

“GDP is a useful metric to assess the benefits of limiting global warming,” said Wolfram Schlenker, a professor at the Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

- GDP a ‘useful metric’ Voluntary national pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, annexed to the Paris Agreement, would see the thermometer go up 3 C by 2100, the UN has estimated. That scenario -- described by many scientists as catastrophic -- would lower per capita economic output up to 25 percent by century’s end, according to the study. Outside experts reacted favourably to the research but noted the findings depend

But predicted impacts of global warming would be even greater, he said, “if the nonmarket benefits of reduced fossil-fuel use -- for human health and ecosystems, for example -- were considered.” Nor does the Stanford team allow for the possibility of catastrophic changes, such as an acceleration in the melting of the Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets, which could lift sea levels by many metres in the coming centuries. At the same time, however, the study may underestimate

the costs associated with engineering a wholesale shift to a low-carbon global economy. “The results should be interpreted with caution,” said Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in London. “They have not taken into account the additional costs of reducing emissions to meet the stronger [1.5 C] target, which could be substantial, particularly if negative emissions technologies are needed.” Scientists say it is unlikely the 2 C target -- much less 1.5 C -- can be met solely by reducing carbon pollution, giving rise to the need to pull excess CO2 out of the air. But all of the “negative emissions” technologies proposed so far remain problematic.

Elon Musk presents underground LA tunnel project


OS ANGELES Entrepreneur and founder Elon Musk has given updated details of a project to build high-speed transport tunnels underneath Los Angeles in a bid to combat traffic and said he wanted to work with the city’s subway

operator. His firm behind the project -- “The Boring Company” -wants to create tunnels that link up with existing subway lines to “complement the system”. During the presentation in

Los Angeles Thursday, Musk showed a video explaining the tunnels. Passengers would embark at ground-level into an 16-person shuttle -- an elevator of sorts, which then joins a high-speed, electricity-powered network that travels at up to 125 miles per hour (200 kmh).

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FRIDAY, May 25, 2018


“Destined for better” Jackie Shroff


Cannes Palme d’Or Winner ‘Shoplifters’ find triumph

ackie Shroff said he never thought he would become an actor but his father, an astrologer, always believed that he was destined for better things in life.


The actor, who ruled the silver screen in the ’90s, says he realised he had become famous when megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s children came up to him for an autograph. The 63-year-old actor said he was shooting in Chennai and Bachchans had booked an entire top floor of a five-star hotel he was also staying in. “I asked the waiter what time does he (Bachchan) come, because I really wanted to meet him. But I find his kids coming to take my autograph. I said, ‘Wow, here I am waiting to see Bachchan sir and his kids want my autograph!’ I realised then that I had become famous,” Shroff said.

Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival


ANNES, France - A quiet, selfie-less Cannes film festival came to a close Saturday night with fireworks as Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters took home the Palme d’Or, while Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman landed the runnerup Grand Prix award. Japanese helmer Hirokazu’s film revolves around a family of small-time crooks who take in a child they find on the street. Lee’s film, heralded as his best in decades, centers on a black cop who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s and is based on a true story. “I’ve been coming since 1986. It’s always been great,” Lee said of his first trip to Cannes, for She’s Gotta Have It. “Thanks to everybody who worked hard on the film in front of the camera and behind the camera. During interviews, people think I know what’s going on in America, but I don’t — and they ask me, ‘What do you think of what’s going on in the

world today?’ I refer to Peter Weir’s film The Year of Living Dangerously. I repeat that, this is the year of living dangerously.” But the real drama of the night came when Asia Argento, upon bestowing the best actress award to Ayka’s Samal Yeslyamova, said: “I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here at Cannes. I was 21 years old. The festival was his hunting ground. ... Even tonight sitting among you, there are those that need to be held accountable for their conduct. You know who you are. But most importantly we know who you are, and we will not allow you to get away with it any longer.” Argento’s words were met with such deafening applause that it was difficult to hear Yeslyamova’s name called. Gary Oldman, Adrien Brody and Un Certain Regard jury president Benicio Del Toro were on hand for the gala, as was Adam Driver and Laura Harrier. Sting and Shaggy closed out the ceremony with a performance. (-HR)

Coming from a chawl in South Mumbai, the actor said he never thought he would become an actor but his father, an astrologer, always believed that he was destined for better things in life. “My father said that I will be an actor but I scoffed at him. I wondered, ‘How can a boy from Teen Batti (Mumbai) become an actor?’ I went to a hotel to become a chef and then tried becoming a flight attendant but no one took me. “I then worked in a travel agency and got into advertising and modelling after someone spotted me. So I started doing ads. I did ‘Charminar’ ad, because of which I got two films. Dev Anand saab gave me my first film and then I got Hero.


Priyanka Chopra in Bangladesh


Adhikari (81) was suffering from a lung infection for the last one-anda-half years. The renowned actor has acted in Sai Paranjpe’s Katha and Marathi films like Dhyaas Parya and Harishchandrachi Factory too. His last rites were performed last night, the sources said.

The actor wrote, “Sad to know the demise of our dear friend, wonderful

is set in Chambal with a power struggle between four principal characters forming the crux of the story. (-PTI/ / Indian Espress)

Priyanka Chopra visited the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh as Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF.

UMBAI - Veteran film and theatre actor Hemu Adhikari, known for his cameo in Rajkumar Hirani’s Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006), died due to a lung ailment at his residence in Dadar here yesterday, family sources said.

Noted Bollywood and Marathi film actor Sonali Kulkarni expressed her condolences on Adhikari’s death.

Shroff will next be seen in Phamous, directed by Karan Lalit Butani. The film, also starring Jimmy Sheirgill, Kay Kay Menon and Pankaj Tripathi,

The actor said thanks to his background, he did not fear failure because he “never had anything to lose”. “I used to live in Teen Batti. We used to have a queue for the washroom, what did we have? A cot, that too for ‘aai-baba’. We slept on the floor. So what came to me, has been more than enough.”

Lage Raho Munna Bhai actor Hemu Adhikari dies at 81

The actor is survived by wife, two daughters and a son.

“My father said that I will be an actor but I scoffed at him. I wondered, ‘How can a boy from Teen Batti (Mumbai) become an actor?’

Veteran film and theatre actor Hemu Adhikari died at his residence in Mumbai. The 81-year-old actor was suffering from a lung ailment.

fter meeting Syrian children in Jordan last year, Priyanka Chopra, actor and the Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF, visited one of the Rohingya refugee camps at Cox Bazar in Bangladesh on Monday. The Quantico actor posted her photographs with the children of the camp and described the appalling condition at the overcrowded camp. She appealed to her followers to support the good cause of UNICEF.

from the Rakhine State of Myanmar (Burma). This violence drove nearly 700,000 Rohingya across the border into Bangladesh – 60% are children!”

In her post, Priyanka said: “I’m in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh today for a field visit with UNICEF, to one of the largest refugee camps in the world. In the second half of 2017, the world saw horrific images of ethnic cleansing

Priyanka will be next seen in A Kid Like Jake also starring Claire Danes and Jim Parsons. In Bollywood, she will share the screen with Salman Khan in Ali Abbas Zafar’s Bharat.

Apart from setting her foot in the film and television industry, Priyanka has been acting as an instrument of change. She has associated herself with many noble causes including issues surrounding girl empowerment, child education and child marriage among others.

actor, sharp audience, deep thinker, passionate reader and a fearless, concerned citizen..RIP Hemukaka, you’ll be missed. #RIP #HemuAdhikari” (-Indian Express)





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FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

85 Local HS Seniors honored with prestigious RMHC US scholarships from Ronald M​cDonald House Charities of Greater Houston/Galveston ton. This year, for the first time, we are celebrating the BMOA Houston Scholars, HACER Houston Scholars, McDonald’s Houston Asia Scholars, and the McDonald’s Houston Scholars at a single event. We’re excited to celebrate their accomplishments together and help support the next step in their education.” “The caliber of scholarship applicants was so high that the judges for RMHC® of Greater Houston/ Galveston had a very difficult time choosing the finalists,” stated Tanya Gee, Executive Director of RMHC® of Greater Houston/Galveston.

Scholarship recipients at RMHC Scholarship Breakfast: Photo by Morris Malakoff, CKP OUSTON (May 19, 2018) – Eighty-five high school students in the Greater Houston area have been awarded scholarships through the prestigious RMHC® Scholars program due to their outstanding community involvement and academic performance. Recipients received a $2,000 scholarship at the celebratory RMHC Scholars brunch, May 19th at The Briar Club at 10:00 a.m.


The RMHC® U.S. Scholarship Program has awarded over $52 million dollars in scholarships since 1985. Of that $52 million dollars, RMHC® of Greater Houston/Galveston in partnership with Greater Houston Operators Association have awarded over $3.2 million dollars for college scholarships to nearly 2,000 high school seniors in our community. The support of the local McDonald’s owner/ operators is a critical cornerstone to this program and their support greatly appreciated. Annually for over two de-

About Ronald House Charities®

Councilman Mike Knox, McDonald’s Owner Operator Dave Moss, and McDonald’s Owner Operator Nelly Quijano_Photo by Morris Malakoff, CKP.jpg cades, the McDonald’s owner/ operators of Greater Houston have united in sponsorship for this important program. Their commitment to provide steadfast support ensures dreams of college are granted to some of the most diverse and amazing high school seniors our community has to offer. “As local

business people, we are invested in the education of our families, our employees, and our neighbors,” said Matthew Kades, co-op president for the McDonald’s owner/operators of Greater Houston. “For many years, we have p​roudly given scholarships to high school seniors from across Greater Hous-

Scholarship Recipient Raniyah Nathani_Photo by Morris Malakoff, CKP

Texas schools tighten security after deadly shooting ANTA FE, Texas | AFP | Monday 5/21/2018 - Some Texas schools beefed up security Monday as students returned to classrooms following the mass shooting Friday at a rural high school that left 10 dead and 13 wounded, mostly teenagers.


At least two of the wounded were still hospitalized, including school police officer John Barnes who remained in critical condition, said the University of Texas Medical Branch. A statewide moment of silence was held at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT) to remember the eight students and two teachers killed at Santa Fe High School, where mourners gathered Monday around white wooden crosses representing each victim. Dimitrios Pagourtzis, a 17-year-old student at the school, faces charges of

capital murder and aggravated assault of a public servant.

Some school administrators announced new measures.

He is alleged to have used his father’s legally owned shotgun and revolver in Friday’s rampage.

“We will be increasing police visibility at each school through the remainder of the school year,” Greg Smith, the superintendent of schools at Clear Creek, neighboring Santa Fe, said in a letter.

“He was playing music, making jokes, had slogans and rhymes he kept saying,” student Trenton Beazely told ABC’s “Good Morning America” program Monday. “Every time he’d kill someone he’d say, ‘another one bites the dust.’” Schools in Santa Fe were closed through Tuesday and a crisis hotline was set up for traumatized students and parents. In a state where support for gun rights is strong, parents called for increased security as their children returned to classrooms following a wrenching weekend.

Inspired by McIlroy, 15-year-old to make European Tour debut


McKibbin, who is a member of his hero Rory McIlroy’s home course at Holywood Golf Club, will compete in the innovative event which will see every shot timed as part of the European Tour’s bid to combat slow play. McKibbin has won 16 junior tournaments worldwide and played alongside

McIlroy in the pro-am ahead of the 2016 Irish Open. “It is very exciting to play on the European Tour for the first time and especially in the first ever tournament like this,” McKibbin said. “Teeing it up at Diamond Country Club will be an amazing experience, but I’m also looking forward to seeing the shot clock technology and how the whole event works. “I’m in favour of fast play and I consider myself to be a fast player so I think the idea behind the Shot Clock Masters could be great for the future of golf.”

Teen wins best actor in Cannes section for transgender role

Other schools focused on students’ dress. Pagourtzis was said to have concealed his shotgun and handgun under a coat. “Through the end of the school year, we are asking that no students wear trench coats or other heavy clothing,” said Mark Henry, administrator at a school district outside of Houston. “We feel any extra safety measure that assists our officers and administrators should be utilized.” Other school districts in the Lone Star state reminded parents that they had received no threats while others stressed emergency drills they have conducted.

US officials look to house migrant kids on military bases: report

ONDON, United Kingdom | AFP |Northern Ireland’s 15-year-old Tom McKibbin is set to make his European Tour debut after accepting an invitation to compete in the inaugural Shot Clock Masters at Diamond Country Club in Austria next month.

Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®), a nonprofit, 501 (c) (3) corporation, creates, finds and supports programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children. Through its global network of 300 Chapters in more than 63 countries and regions, its three core programs, the Ronald McDonald House®, the Ronald McDonald Family Room® and the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile®, and millions of dollars in grants to support children’s programs worldwide, RMHC® provides stability and vital resources to families so they can get and keep their children healthy and happy. All RMHC®-operated and supported programs, enable family-centered care, provide a bridge to quality health care, are a vital part of the health care continuum and give children and families the time they need to heal and cope better together.

In online forums, some parents called for metal detectors in schools, while one school banned backpacks to prevent hidden weapons from slipping through.

Santa Fe high school had recently won a statewide safety award for its efforts to secure the school against active shooters.

Tom McKibbin of Northern Irleand (left) has won 16 junior tournaments worldwide and played alongside his hometown hero Rory McIlroy in 2016


ASHINGTON | AFP | fficials plan to visit four US military installations to see if they could be used to house migrant children, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.


The move comes after US Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week warned that people who enter the United States unlawfully with children will have them taken away. Citing an email notification to the Pentagon from the Department of Health and Human Services, which provides minors with foster care, the Post said officials will inspect four bases in Arkansas and Texas to see if they would be suitable for child shelters. Neither the Pentagon nor HHS im-

Belgian actor Victor Polster, 16, won best actor in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes for playing an aspiring transgender ballerina


ANNES, France | AFP | A 16-year-old Belgian actor won best actor in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes film festival Friday for playing an aspiring transgender ballerina who brutalises her body to further her dreams. Victor Polster, a trained dancer, won the award for his cinematic debut in Lukas Dhont’s “Girl”, about a teen trapped in a boy’s body desperate to speed up the gender reassignment process while trying to perfect her dance technique. A jury led by Benicio Del Toro awarded the section’s top prize to the Swedish film “Border” by Ali Abbasi, about a female customs officer with a facial disfigurement but a extraordinary sense of smell that helps her detect fraudsters. The best director’s prize went to Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa for mediately responded to requests for comment. According to the Post, unaccompanied minors under 18 who arrive at the border would be housed on the bases, along with children who have been separated from their parents. The email seen by the Post said the site visits are preliminary, and that no decisions have yet been made. During a border visit to Arizona and California last week, Sessions warned that anyone attempting to bring a child into the US would be prosecuted and would likely be separated from the minor. “If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally. It’s not our fault that somebody does that,” Sessions said.

“Donbass”, a 13-episode odyssey set in the eastern Ukraine region of the same name, where government forces have been fighting pro-Russian separatists since 2014. The award for best screenplay went to French-Moroccan director Meryem Benm’barek for “Sofia”, about a middle-class, Moroccan 20-year-old scrambling to avoid bringing shame on her family after falling pregnant out of wedlock. Un Certain Regard generally showcases more edgy, up-and-coming directors than Cannes’ main competition. The prizes are awarded a day before the awards ceremony in the main competition. “Traffic” star Del Toro won the best male actor prize at Cannes in 2008 for his portrayal of Che Guevara in Steven Soderbergh’s two-part film “Che”. According to an HHS official who spoke to the Post, the agency’s facilities for children are at 91 percent capacity. The crackdown by President Donald Trump’s administration could see its centers overflow. The Democratic National Committee has denounced Sessions’s comments and the Trump administration’s immigration policy as an “affront to our values as a nation.” In July 2014, the US was confronted with a spike in Central American children crossing its border, with an influx of 60,000 minors. At the peak of the crisis, former president Barack Obama’s administration used bases in California, Oklahoma and Texas to shelter thousands of children, the Post reported.



Section 2

FRIDAY, May 25, 2018


Tel: 713-774-5140




by Sharlene Sharmila Richards, Immigration Lawyer Email at


Sharlene Sharmila Richards

Trial Lawyers Association and South Asian Bar Association. She is also a member of the Houston Bar Association. This material is available for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.

the accident or treatment following. Mala Sharma When a negligent person causes you or a loved one to be harmed in an accident, you may recover all damages relating to the incident. There are many categories for damages you are allowed to recuperate, including present and future medical bills, lost income, physical pain, mental anguish, and other related bills. By providing your personal injury attorney all the proper information, you are better prepared to be compensated for all your injuries. Medical bills range from the expensive ambulance bill, the hospital bill, the emergency physicians’ bill, x-rays, MRI’s, CAT scans, prescriptions, primary care physicians’ follow-up medical care, medical equipment needed, and more depending on the severity of your injuries. For more serious injuries, future medical bills for further treatment will be needed. Lost Wages may also be proven if you were not able to go to work due to

Non-monetary damages, mental anguish and physical pain, may also be assessed. These damages may be recovered for the pain and suffering you or a loved one entailed after you suffered from the negligence of another. Accidents can be extremely difficult to deal with and very frustrating. Sometimes, victims may suffer from emotional distress, post-traumatic stress (PTSD), or even the loss of a loved one!

Mala Sharma has been practicing family law and personal injury with her family at the Law Offices of Sharma & Associates, founded in 1997. Mala is President Emeritus of the Houston Northwest Bar Association, Board member of the Houston Trial Lawyers Association and South Asian Bar Association. She is also a member of the Houston Bar Association.

Don’t remain a victim and get fully compensated! An experienced personal injury attorney will help guide you or anyone you know involved in an accident to get the most they deserve, instead of settling for less by the hands of an insurance company. About the Author: Mala Sharma Mala Sharma has been practicing family law and personal injury with her family at the Law Offices of Sharma & Associates, founded in 1997. Mala is President Emeritus of the Houston Northwest Bar Association, Board member of the Houston

Disclaimer: This material is available for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.

How AI and machine learning are transforming law firms, legal sector by Bernard Marr


henever a professional sector faces new technology, questions arise regarding how that technology will disrupt daily operations and the careers of those who choose that profession. And lawyers and the legal profession are no exception. Today, artificial intelligence (AI) is beginning to transform the legal profession in many ways, but in most cases it augments what humans do and frees them up to take on higher-level tasks such as advising to clients, negotiating deals and appearing in court. What is artificial intelligence? Artificial intelligence mimics certain operations of the human mind and is the term used when machines are able to complete tasks that typically require human intelligence. The term machine learning is when computers use rules (algorithms) to analyze data and learn patterns and glean insights from the data. Artificial intelligence is a large factor shifting the way legal work is done. AI-powered software improves the efficiency of document analysis for legal use and machines can review docu-

ments and flag them as relevant to a particular case. Once a certain type of document is denoted as relevant, machine learning algorithms can get to work to find other documents that are similarly relevant. Machines are much faster at sorting through documents than humans and can produce output and results that can be statistically validated. They can help reduce the load on the human workforce by forwarding on only documents that are questionable rather than requiring humans to review all documents. It’s important that legal research is done in a timely and comprehensive manner, even though it’s monotonous. AI systems such as the one offered by ROSS Intelligence leverages natural language processing to help analyze documents.

duct their due diligence more efficiently and with more accuracy since this work is often tedious for humans.

In law offices around the world, legal support professionals are kept busy conducting due diligence to uncover background information on behalf of their clients. This works includes confirming facts and figures and thoroughly evaluating the decisions on prior cases to effectively provide counsel to their clients. Artificial intelligence tools can help these legal support professionals to con-

AI has the capability of analyzing data to help it make predictions about the outcomes of legal proceedings better than humans. Clients are often asking their legal counsel to predict the future with questions such as “If we go to trial, how likely will it be that I win?” or “Should I settle?” With the use of AI that has access to years of trial data, lawyers are able to better answer such questions. (-Forbes)

A big portion of work law firms do on behalf of clients is to review contracts to identify risks and issues with how contracts are written that could have negative impacts for their clients. They redline items, edit contracts and counsel clients if they should sign or not or help them negotiate better terms. AI can help analyze contracts in bulk as well as individual contracts. There are several software companies who created AI tools specifically for contract review such as Kira Systems, LawGeex and eBrevia that help sort contracts quicker and with fewer errors than humans.

Q: My parents are applying for permanent residence. As their Petitioner, which form do I have to use for the Affidavit of Support? A: You can use the short form Affidavit of Support known as Form I864EZ if you, the Petitioner will be the only sponsor, the immigrant sponsored is the only one in the underlying petition and you are depending only upon your income from employment to satisfy the requirements under the affidavit of support. If you need a joint sponsor as your income is insufficient or you are relying on other sources of income in addition to income from your employment and there are several intending immigrants, then you must use Form I-864 Affidavit of Support.

A: You will need to look at most recent Poverty Guidelines. This can be found under Form I-864P at, under “Forms”. The I-864P lists the respective amounts of minimum income based on the number of people in the sponsor’s household and the number of family members immigrating. You must be able to show that your income or assets are at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines level for the appropriate size of household members and the intending immigrant(s). For sponsors on active duty in the Armed Forces who are petitioning for their spouse or child under 21 years old, their income or assets must be at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. For example, if a Petitioner (not on active duty in the Armed Forces) has a spouse and two dependent

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Q: My income alone is insufficient to satisfy the affidavit of support requirements to sponsor my mother, so I need to include my husband’s income. We both file joint tax returns every year. How do we do the affidavit of support to include his income? A: In your Form I-864, you will include information that you are including the income of your household member, specifically, your spouse. To be a household member, your spouse must be at least 18 years old and his income must be the result of lawful employment or derived from lawful sources. You will both also sign Form I-864A Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member and submit it with your I-864 and all supporting documents. Q:

If she has accumuA: lated at least 40 Quarters of earnings, she is exempt from Affidavit of Support requirements. She just needs to submit Form I-864W with her permanent residency application to claim this exemption from the Affidavit of Support requirements. What other sources Q: of income qualify for the Affidavit of Support? A: Apart from income from employment, you may use income from other sources such as alimony, child support, interest or dividend income and income from retirement such as pension and Social Security income. My Bio Sharlene Sharmila Richards is a licensed Immigration Lawyer practicing in Houston, Texas. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2000 and is a member of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and a member of the US Supreme Court. If you require advice or assistance, you may contact her at telephone number 713-623-8088 or by email at to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. 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.

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A: Together with the completed and signed Affidavit of Support demonstrating that your income is sufficient to meet the income requirements, you will need to submit your Federal Tax Returns for the most recent tax year including the Form(s) W-2 for that year, evidence of your current employment and proof of your US Citizenship or permanent residence.

in the US for many years and accumulated more than 10 years of Social Security as she had TN visa. Do I, the Petitioner still need to provide an affidavit of support for her permanent residence application? She is adjusting status based on marriage to me, a US Citizen?

Sharlene Sharmila Richards


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Q: What documents do I need to include with the I-864 Affidavit of Support?

Q: How do I determine if my income is sufficient to meet the affidavit of support requirements?

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children in his or her household and with one intending immigrant, the calculation will be like this – look at Form I-864P for 2018 HHS Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support. Assuming you do not live in Alaska or Hawaii, you will look at the top half of the I-864P covering the 48 contiguous states. Look under the column marked 125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines (for all other sponsors). Here, the income to meet the affidavit of support requirements for say 5 persons ie. 4 household members and 1 intending immigrant will be $36,775.00.

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FRIDAY,May May25, 25,2018 2018 FRIDAY,

MAY is Stroke Awareness Month

How to Manage Medicare Out-ofPocket Costs

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An egg a day may reduce heart disease risk ating one egg a day may significantly cut your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a new study from Chinese researchers.


Eggs tend to get a bad reputation, but are they really that bad for you?

The study published in the journal Heart recruited more than 500,000 people in China between 2004 and 2008 to ask about their egg consumption. The study led by researchers from Peking University Health Science Center was then narrowed down to people who did not have prior cancer, cardiovascular disease or diabetes. The results showed people who consumed one egg a day carried a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and strokes compared to those who didn’t eat eggs at all. “Among Chinese adults, a moderate level of egg consumption (up to <1 egg/day) was significantly associated with lower risk of (cardiovascular disease), largely independent of

other risk factors,” reads an excerpt from the study. The study didn’t explore health risks associated with people who eat more than one egg daily. Eggs have long received a bad rap

over concerns it could boost cholesterol, but have been recommended more frequently by dietary experts for their high protein and other nutrients like Vitamins D and K as well as omega-3 fatty acids. (-USA Today)

Costly eczema injection also helps relieve severe asthma: study AMPA, Florida | AFP - An injectable drug for the skin disorder eczema is also effective against severe asthma, a study released Monday said, pointing to broader uses for a costly class of drugs known as biologics.


Dupilumab (Dupixent) was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2017. The drug’s maker, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, set the price at $37,000 per year. Now, the anti-inflammatory has been tested in a randomized, controlled trial of more than 2,000 patients with moderate to severe asthma. When 200-300 milligrams were given by injection every two weeks for a year, it cut potentially life-threatening asthma attacks almost in half when compared to a placebo. It also improved patients’ lung function, said the findings released at the 2018 American Thoracic Society Conference in San Diego, and published online in The New England Journal of Medicine. For patients with high numbers of a specific type of white blood cell, called eosinophils, asthma attacks were cut by two-thirds.

“This drug not only reduced severe symptoms of asthma, it improved the ability to breathe,” said co-author Mario Castro, a doctor and professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis. “That’s important because these patients have a chronic disabling disease that worsens over time with loss of lung function. So far, we do not have a drug for asthma that changes the course of the disease,” he added. Side effects included pain and swelling at the injection site. Five patients who received dupilumab and three patients who were given a placebo died during the study, but researchers said those patients all had multiple severe medical conditions and the drug was not deemed to have caused their deaths. - Implications for wider use The study’s results make it likely that dupilumab will be approved for use against severe asthma, said an accompanying editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine. That means at least three other biologics -- drugs which have some kind of natural source, whether from humans, animals or microorganisms, and

are manufactured using biotechnology -- could also be candidates for use against asthma. They include mepolizumab, reslizumab, and benralizumab -- all antiinflammatory treatments approved by US regulators in the last few years. “This new class of treatments is a clear advance in the treatment of asthma,” wrote the journal editors Jeffrey Drazen and Michael Harrington. But none offer a true cure for asthma, only a reduction in symptoms, and more research is needed, they warned. “How will we decide which of these treatments should be used now? Without more data, these decisions are likely to be driven by the marketing arms of the various entities that produce these drugs.” The editors said they “envision... a cottage industry based on analysis and re-analysis of the current data,” which would be “flawed.” Instead, they called for “pragmatic, head-to-head trials of these four new asthma-treatment biologics.” Otherwise, “we will end up prescribing the treatment with the most effective marketing. Our patients deserve better than that.”

Long legs turn women’s heads, arm length immaterial: study ARIS, France | AFP | Tuesday 5/15/2018 - Labouring over the age-old question “What do women look for in men?”, scientists added an item to the list Wednesday: legs slightly longer than average, with a good shin-to-thigh ratio.

They also found figures most attractive “when the ratio between the lower and upper limb segment -- shin and thigh -- was average,” Versluys told AFP.

Long arms, however, fail to impress.

In the study of sexual selection in humans, limb proportions are known to be an important determinant of attractiveness.


In an online survey, some 800 American women preferred faceless male figures “when their legs are slightly longer than average” -- but not too long, said study co-author Thomas Versluys of the University of Cambridge. The women, aged 19-76 from different racial groups, were asked to judge the attractiveness of computer-generated male silhouettes with slight differences in leg- and arm length. The respondents preferred legs that were just above the average length, but not too long.

However, “we also found that arm length has no effect on attractiveness.”

The latest study is the most detailed investigation yet of how short is too short, and how long is too long, said the authors. - Long and the short of it The results suggest leg length played an important role in sexual selection and human evolution in the past, and has likely remained a subconscious preference in mate choice. “It is probably important because it’s a fairly reliable predictor of fac-

tors that are relevant in human evolution such as health, developmental trajectory, nutrition, and so forth,” explained Versluys. So why would arm length, thought to be important for activities such as spear throwing and fishing, be less important to women than the span of their legs? It could be that long legs are a better signal of good nutrition and health, said the researcher. Also, leg length is more obvious than arm length, and adds to a man’s overall height -- also seen as a plus in competition for mates. “Taken together, our results add to the growing evidence that limb variation influences aspects of human well-being ranging from mate choice to employment prospects to medical outcomes...”, the research team wrote in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

How to Manage Medicare Out-ofPocket Costs edicare beneficiaries need to pay for significant portion of their health care costs. Just like private health insurance some time. Medicare requires beneficiaries to pay premiums, deductibles and coinsurance. But there’s a lot you can do to keep these costs manageable. Here are some steps to minimize Medicare’s out-of-pocket costs.


Premiums. Most people aren’t charged a premium for Medicare Part A hospital insurance. The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B medical insurance is $134 in 2018. This amount is typically deducted from your Social Security check if you are already receiving payments, but those who have not yet claimed Social Security will receive a bill. Retirees with modified adjusted gross incomes above $85,000 for individuals and $170,000 for couples are charged higher Part B premiums. It’s important to sign up for Medicare Part B during the initial enrollment period, which is a seven-month window that begins three months before your 65th birthday. Your Part B premiums will increase by 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible for Medicare Part B but didn’t sign up for it. The Medicare Part B deductible is $183 in 2018. Once retirees meet the deductible, they typically need to pay 20 percent of the Medicare negotiated cost for each service. Part A has a $1,340 deductible for beneficiaries who are hospitalized, and if the hospital stay lasts longer than 60 days, there are additional charges. Supplemental insurance. Medigap policies are supplemental insurance plans that will pay for the copayments, coinsurance and deductibles of traditional Medicare and sometimes extra services in exchange for an additional premium. Preventative care. Medicare covers a variety of preventative care services with no cost-sharing requirements, including a free annual wellness visit, flu shots and screenings for a variety of illnesses. Prescription drug coverage. You can sign up for Medicare Part D beginning three months before you turn 65. A late enrollment penalty is added to your Part D premium if you go 63 or more days without prescription drug coverage after age 65. Medicare Part D premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, copays and covered medica-

Sudhir Mathuria HEALTHLIFE 360 713-771-2900 tions vary depending on the plan you choose and change each year, even if you stick with your existing plan. You can switch Medicare Part D plans during the open enrollment period from October 15 to December 7. You are allowed to change plans every year without penalty, and it is recommended that people do it even if your drugs don’t change, the policies of the plan might change. It’s important to examine how your costs and coverage will change each year, and consider switching if you can find coverage that suits your needs at more affordable prices. The Medicare Plan Finder can help you compare the plans available in your area. Medicare Advantage Plans: Many a times Medicare advantage plans can be very cost effective and provides additional benefits such as dental, vision, hearing aid, gym membership etc. If you can stay within network, get referral in HMO plan and stay within service area, it can go a long way. Prepare for what isn’t covered. While Medicare covers many of the services older people need, there are a few common medical services that it doesn’t. Medicare won’t pay for eyeglasses, hearing aids or dental care. Most significantly, Medicare doesn’t typically cover extended nursing home stays or other types of longterm care. To plan for Medicare by selecting right Medicare Supplement plan, Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Drug plan contact Sudhir Mathuria 713-771-2900. Read complete report online:www.voiceofasiaonline. com

At least 10 dead in Nipah virus outbreak in India deadly outbreak of Nipah virus has killed 10 people and left two people in critical condition in the southern Indian state of Kerala.


The virus, passed along by fruit bats, pigs, or through human contact, causes debilitating fevers, convulsions, and vomiting. It has no cure, no vaccination, and kills about 75 percent of people affected by it. The disease’s quick fatality rate and contagiousness have gripped the area, with patients being placed in isolation. Public health officials have repeatedly declared that the situation is under control. At least eight people who have had contact with the sick are being kept in isolation, in their homes, so their conditions can be monitored, officials say. Nipah can be spread by fruit bats, pigs and through human-to-human contact. Officials suspect the Kerala outbreak may have begun with bats. Kerala state health minister K.K. Shylaja told reporters Tuesday that there had been no new cases of Nipah,

though it was not immediately clear when the last case was reported. Nurse Lini Puthusheri treated one of the first Nipah patients, Mohammed Sadik, who was admitted with a fever to the hospital in the small town of Perambra. “She was very much disturbed by the death of Sadik,” her husband, Sajeesh, told The Hindu newspaper. “She developed fever a day or two after he passed away.” An accountant who works in Bahrain, he had rushed home Sunday as his wife’s condition worsened, but was unable to see her because she was being treated in an isolation ward. Millions of people from Kerala have sought higher wages by working in Persian Gulf countries, returning home only on vacations. Fear of the disease has swept Kerala, even as officials insist the situation is under control. Some ambulance drivers refused to take the nurse’s body to be cremated, The Hindu reported. (-AP)



May is the Stroke Awareness Month

May marks National Stroke Awareness Month, and this year the National Stroke Association is turning the spotlight on the 10 modifiable risk factors that account for 90% of strokes globally. Hypertension remains the single most important modifiable risk factor, accounting for nearly 48% of strokes. With eight in 10 people experiencing their first stroke having hypertension, getting your blood pressure checked is an important first step in controlling your stroke risk. Stroke Facts • Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, killing about 140,000 Americans each year—that’s 1 of every 20 deaths.1

• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg— especially on one side of the body. • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.

• A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.

• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.

• Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds

• Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

• Every year, about 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes; 185,000 are recurrent strokes. • Stroke is an important cause of disability. Stroke reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over.2 • Stroke costs the nation $34 billion annually, including the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.2 • You can’t control some stroke risk factors, like heredity, age, gender, and ethnicity. Some medical conditions—including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, overweight or obesity, and previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)— can also raise your stroke risk. Avoiding smoking and drinking too much alcohol, eating a balanced diet, and getting exercise are all choices you can make to reduce your risk. Common Stroke Warning Signs and Symptoms

• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.

You can help prevent stroke by making healthy lifestyle choices. • Healthy Diet • Eating foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt (sodium) in your diet can also lower your blood pressure. High cholesterol and high blood pressure increase your chances of having a stroke. • For more information on healthy diet and nutrition, see CDC’s Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Program website. • Healthy Weight • Being overweight or obese increases your risk for stroke. To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, doctors often calculate your body mass index (BMI). • Physical Activity • Physical activity can help you stay at a healthy weight and lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. For adults, the Surgeon General

recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, such as a brisk walk, each week. Children and teens should get 1 hour of physical activity every day. • For more information, see CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity website. • No Smoking • Cigarette smoking greatly increases your chances of having a stroke. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for stroke. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit. • For more information about tobacco use and quitting, see CDC’s Smoking & Tobacco Use website. • Limited or No Alcohol The need for public awareness surrounding stroke prevention and awareness has never been greater. Despite being a leading cause of adult long-term disability, and the fifth leading cause of death, less than one in five Americans can correctly classify all five stroke symptoms. The time to take action is now. This May, during National Stroke Awareness month, get to know your stroke risk factors and learn to better identify the signs and symptoms of stroke. The life you save just might be your own. To choose Medicare or Long Term Care plan contact Sudhir Mathuria, HEALTHLIFE 360, Ph: 713-771-2900

Link between tuberculosis and Parkinson’s disease discovered


he mechanism our immune cells use to clear bacterial infections like tuberculosis (TB) might also be implicated in Parkinson’s disease, according to a new collaborative study led by scientists from the Francis Crick Institute and Newcastle University.

- Parkinson’s protein The most common genetic mutation in Parkinson’s disease patients is in a gene called LRRK2, which makes the LRRK2 protein overactive. Drugs that block LRRK2 are a promising new treatment for Parkinson’s, with a number of pharmaceutical companies developing drugs to target LRRK2 and clinical trials underway. But how overactive LRRK2 causes Parkinson’s and why LRRK2 blockers work was a mystery. The biological causes of Parkinson’s remain largely unknown, making it more difficult to develop and improve treatments. Discovering a mechanism that causes Parkinson’s and how drugs affect it could significantly advance efforts to improve treatments. - Insights from TB By studying what LRRK2 does in immune cells called macrophages that are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) - the bacterium that causes TB—researchers believe they have uncovered a potential cause of Parkinson’s. Macrophages recognise and engulf Mtb securing it within tight-fitting internal compartments called phagosomes. Another part of the cell called the lysosome then fuses with the phagosome to destroy the bacterium inside. Using a combination of different experimental approaches, the researchers found that LRRK2 prevents phagosomes from fusing with lysosomes in both human and mouse macrophages, making them less efficient at clearing bacteria. Deleting the LRRK2 gene or treating the cells with an LRRK2 blocker significantly reduced levels of Mtb.

A germ-free childhood could trigger leukemia, scientist suggests

by Meera Senthilingam and Jessie Yeung


EW YORK, Tuesday, May 22, 2018 - Germ-free childhoods followed by infections later in life can trigger the onset of childhood leukemia, a new study suggests. The paper, published Monday in the journal Nature Reviews Cancer, finds that acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common type of childhood cancer, is caused by a two-step process. The first step is a genetic mutation before birth that predisposes a child to the risk of developing this form of leukemia. The second step is exposure to certain infections later in childhood, after clean early childhoods that limited exposure to infections. More specifically, children who grew up in cleaner households during their first year and interacted less with other children are more likely to develop acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the paper says. The author, Institute of Cancer Research Professor Mel Greaves, suggests the cancer could be preventable. Greaves reviewed more than 30 years of research, including his own, on the genetics, cell biology, immunology, epidemiology and animal modeling of childhood leukemia and reached this conclusion. Greaves said he had long wondered “why or how otherwise healthy children develop leukaemia and whether this cancer is preventable.” “This body of research is a culmination of decades of work, and at last provides a credible explanation for how the major type of childhood leukaemia develops,” he said in a statement. “The research strongly suggests that (this cancer) has a clear biological cause, and is triggered by a variety of infections in predisposed children whose immune systems have not been properly primed.” However, other experts warn that more specifics needs to be confirmed and emphasize that hygiene and safety are still crucial. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, known as ALL, is a form of blood cancer that is most of-

The findings, which are published in the EMBO Journal, provide a possible explanation of the cause of Parkinson’s disease and suggest that drugs designed to treat Parkinson’s might also work for TB.

Credit: The Francis Crick Institute These findings in cells were supported by experiments in mice. When the researchers deleted the gene for LRRK2 in mice, they found that they exhibited an enhanced early immune response to TB infection, and had significantly lower levels of Mtb in their lungs than control mice up to two weeks after infection. “We think that this mechanism might also be at play in Parkinson’s disease, where abnormal masses of protein called ‘Lewy bodies’ build up in neurons in the brain and cause damage,” said Susanne Herbst, joint first author of the paper and postdoctoral fellow at the Crick. The team suspect that LRRK2 might be preventing immune cells in the brain from degrading cell debris properly, leading to a build-up of protein in neurons that disrupts their function. Susanne added: “By studying TB, we have found a possible explanation for why LRRK2 mutations are a genetic risk factor for Parkinson’s disease. It’s exciting when different fields of research connect up in unexpected ways like this!” Co-senior author Matthias Trost, expert in proteomics and phagosome biology at Newcastle University, said: “Both our labs independently identified the main findings and this paper is a great example where sharing data and combining different technologies made the difference. “Our data implies that the conserved machinery that cells use to destroy and degrade external particles such as bacteria and damaged neurons is an important target for drug discovery.” Parkinson’s disease expert

and co-author Patrick Lewis, Associate Professor in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience at the University of Reading, said: “The dogma in the Parkinson’s field has been to focus almost exclusively on what is happening to neurons in the brain to make them degenerate. But over the last few years, there has been a growing appreciation of the integral role of other cells in the brain and particularly the immune system in keeping neurons healthy. “This study reinforces why we should think more broadly about the events that cause neurodegeneration, and that some of the answers to Parkinson’s disease might come from immunology.” Anetta Härtlova, joint first author and postdoctoral researcher at Newcastle University, said: “Our work neatly agrees with recent findings that the immune system plays a key role in Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Thus, targeting inflammatory responses will be a key goal of Parkinson’s disease therapy.” - New TB treatments The findings also suggest that LRRK2 inhibitors could be a powerful new way of combating TB, which kills 1.67 million people every year. “Drug-resistant TB is a serious emerging problem, and boosting the body’s own immune defence against TB is an important step in the battle against antibiotic resistant strains,” said Max Gutierrez, Group Leader at the Crick and co-senior author of the paper. “LRRK2 inhibiting drugs are already being developed to treat Parkinson’s disease and in my lab we’re trying to see if we can repurpose them as a

FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

potential new TB therapy. This should be relatively straightforward because TB infects the lungs, so the LRRK2 inhibitors wouldn’t need to cross the

A rare form of leukemia could be preventable, one researcher suggests. ten diagnosed in children ages zero to 4 years old, though older children and adults can also be diagnosed. It develops quickly, over days or weeks, building up in the blood and spreads to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, liver and nervous system. The main form of treatment is chemotherapy.

ger leukemia in those with the genetic mutation.

Rates of the disease are increasing globally. One study estimated there were 53,000 cases worldwide in 2016. Around 5,960 new cases of ALL are estimated to occur in the United States in 2018, with 1,470 deaths according to the American Cancer Society. Each year, around 810 people are diagnosed in the UK, according to Cancer Research UK.

Greaves emphasized that infection as a cause applies only to ALL. Other types of leukemia, including infant leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia, probably have different causal mechanisms.

While a genetic mutation plays a role in predisposing someone to the disease, just 1% of children born with this mutation go on to develop the disease, according to the paper. Rates are more common in advanced, affluent societies, which suggests the second step could be caused by factors relating to modern life. Previous claims have linked electromagnetic waves and other environmental factors to the disease, but Greaves dismissed this link in his paper. The body of research “busts some persistent myths about the causes of leukaemia, such as the damaging but unsubstantiated claims that the disease is commonly caused by exposure to electro-magnetic waves or pollution,” said Greaves. Greaves instead believes that when a baby is exposed to infections during its first year, its immune system is strengthened. But later infections, without the initial priming, can trig-

blood-brain barrier like they do in Parkinson’s disease.” The research paper ‘LRRK2 is a negative regulator of My-

Population studies have found that early exposure to infection in infancy such as day care attendance and breastfeeding can protect against ALL, probably by priming the immune system, according to the study.

“Preventing childhood leukaemia would have a huge impact on the lives of children and their families in the UK and across the globe,” said Paul Workman, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, London. However, other experts are more cautiously hopeful, emphasizing that genetics and pure chance are still significant factors for developing ALL. “If we could stop this type of leukaemia from happening in the first place it would be enormously exciting, but many more questions still need to be answered in the research lab before we will know for sure whether that could become a reality,” said Alasdair Rankin, director of research at blood cancer charity Bloodwise. “There is no proven link yet with a specific infection,” said Dr. Donna Lancaster, consultant pediatric oncologist at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. “This [new study] still needs further investigation and any exposure of young children to infection has to be balanced with the risk of the infection.(-CNN Health)

cobacterium tuberculosis phagosome maturation in macrophages’ is published in the EMBO Journal.



FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

Don’t want to go vegetarian? A mainly plant-based Ebola in DRC not diet can still protect against obesity says new study ‘currently’ an ‘emergency of international concern’

New European research suggests that following a mainly plant-based diet which still includes some meat could provide protection against obesity as we age, even if it is not a completely vegetarian or vegan diet.


revious evidence has already suggested that vegan or vegetarian diets may cut the risk of developing obesity. However, less is known about how following a mainly plant-based diet which still includes meat -- sometimes referred to as semi-vegetarian or flexitarian diet -- could influence weight and the risk of obesity in middle-aged and elderly populations.

The Ebola outbreak is the first major health challenge facing WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus since he was elected almost a year ago. The Ethiopian is the first African to head the UN’s health agency. Plant-based diets may help ward off obesity even if they are not totally vegetarian. © andresr /

Researchers at Erasmus MC Rotterdam in the Netherlands followed 9,641 adults for a period of 26 years to look at the effect of a plant-based diet on obesity in the long-term.

based diet index had a lower BMI over the long term, mainly due to lower body fat mass. Compared with participants who had a zero-point score on the index, those who had a 10-point score had 0.70 kg/ m² lower BMI and 0.62kg/m² lower fat mass index.

They collected data on participants’ body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, fat mass index (fat weight relative to height), fat-free mass index, and body fat percentage, and how closely they followed a plant-based diet using a food frequency questionnaire.

The team point out that achieving this 10-point higher score can be done in various ways, such as replacing 50g of red meat per day with 200g of vegetables.

From the questionnaire the researchers created an index score to show how closely participants adhered to a plantbased diet, with positive scores given for eating plant-based foods such as nuts, fruits, and vegetables and negative scores given for eating animal foods like meat, dairy, and fish. After taking into account factors such as total energy intake, socioeconomic background, and physical activity levels, the team found that those with higher scores on the plant-

However, study author Zhangling Chen concluded that, “Our study suggests that a more plant-based and less animal-based diet beyond strict adherence to vegan or vegetarian diets may be beneficial for preventing overweight/obesity in middle-aged and elderly populations.”

A higher score was also associated with lower waist circumference and body fat percentage, with the relationship stronger in middle-aged participants age 45-65 years than elderly participants older than 65 years.

“In other words, eating a plant-based diet to protect against obesity does not require a radical change in diet or a total elimination of meat or animal products. Instead, it can be achieved in various ways, such as moderate reduction of red meat consumption or eating a few more vegetables. This supports current recommendations to shift to diets rich in plant foods, with low in consumption of animal foods.”

The researchers noted that as an observational study the findings do not show cause and effect and that more research is needed.

The new research will be presented at this year’s European Congress on Obesity (ECO) which takes place May 23-26 in Vienna. - Relaxnews

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US approves new drug for prevention of migraines


ASHINGTON | AFP | - Migraine sufferers on Thursday got some relief from US regulators who approved the first of a new class of drugs for migraine prevention. The United States Food and Drug Administration said it endorsed Aimovig for prevention of migraine in adults, through monthly self-injections. Aimovig is the first in a new class of drugs that work by blocking the activity of calcitonin gene-related peptide, a molecule involved in migraine attacks, the FDA said in a statement. “Aimovig provides patients with a novel option for reducing the number of days with migraine,” said Eric Bastings, a deputy director in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “We need new treatments for this painful and often debilitating condition.” Migraine is three times more common in women than in men and affects more than 10 percent of people worldwide. The FDA issued its approval to California-based Amgen Inc, which has been collaborating with Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis to develop and commercialize treatments for migraine and Alzheimer’s. Aimovig is expected to be available to patients within one week and is listed at a price of $6,900 annually, Amgen said in a statement.


ENEVA, Switzerland | AFP | Friday 5/18/2018 - The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo does not yet merit being labelled an emergency of “international concern,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday. “It was the view of the committee that the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern have not currently been met,” WHO said in a statement after a meeting of its International Health Regulations Emergency Committee. The statement added that “the response by the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, WHO and partners has been rapid and comprehensive.” The Kinshasa government announced the outbreak of the deadly virus in northwestern Equateur province on May 8. To date, there are 45 suspected, probable or confirmed cases and 25 people have died. In the WHO’s parlance, “a public health emergency of international concern” is an “extraordinary event” in which a disease may spread across borders and requires a vigorous international response. “This definition implies a situation that: is serious, unusual or unexpected; carries implications for public health beyond the affected State’s national border; and may require immediate international action,” the WHO says on its website. The agency first invoked the emergency mechanism in 2009 when a new strain of influenza, so-called H1N1 swine flu, emerged. It was declared twice in 2014, when polio re-emerged after the disease was nearly eradicated and after an Ebola epidemic struck three West Af-

rican countries; and in 2016, in response to an outbreak of the Zika virus. Once the emergency is declared, the WHO plays a coordinating role. It advises countries that are affected on how to contain the disease, including measures on health surveillance and trade and travel guidelines, and helps to pool scientific data. Invoking the measure also helps to mobilise funding and support on the ground. While holding off the official emergency declaration, the committee underscored that the decision can be revisited “if the outbreak expands significantly, or if there is international spread.” It is also noted that “the risk of international spread is particularly high” given the confirmation of a case in Equateur’s capital Mbandaka, a key transit point on the Congo River. - Vaccination plan Separately, WHO DirectorGeneral Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that health workers planned to start Ebola vaccinations on Sunday in Mbandaka and in the remote, rural Bikoro area where the outbreak began. The UN agency expects to have 7,500 doses of the new experimental vaccine dubbed rVSV-ZEBOV on the ground by the weekend. The initial target group of people to be vaccinated is between 8,000 to 10,000 people. That includes health workers, other frontline responders like those tasked with burying Ebola victims, along with 100 to 150 contacts of each Ebola patient. Vaccine maker Merck has said it has 300,000 doses ready for the UN’s use free of charge.

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First violins imitated human voices: study


ASHINGTON | AFP | Tuesday 5/22/2018 - Music historians have long suspected that the inventors of the violin wanted to imitate the human voice, and a study out Monday shows how 16th to 18th century luthiers in Italy did it.

FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

SpaceX rocket blasts off water-tracking satellite duo

Researchers at National Taiwan University asked a professional violinist to play 15 antique instruments, including one from 1570 by Andrea Amati, the early 16th-century luthier from Cremony, Italy who is considered to be the father of the modern four-string violin. Others played in the study were from the Stradivarius family, conceived by Antonio Stradivari, who improved upon Amati’s design. First, researchers recorded scales played on the 15 antique instruments played by a professional violinist and recorded at Taiwan’s Chimei Museum. Then, they recorded the voices of eight men and eight women, ranging in age from 16 to 30 years, who sang common English vowels. Performing a thorough acoustic analysis, they found that an Amati violin dating to 1570 and a Gasparo da Salo violin dating to 1560 mimicked the basses and baritones of male singers, “raising the possibility that master violinmakers from this period may have designed violins to emulate male voices,” said the report.

(Photo courtesy SpaceX)


ASHINGTON | AFP | Tuesday 5/22/2018 - A SpaceX rocket Tuesday blasted off a duo of sports car-sized satellites built by the US and Germany to reveal changes in sea level rise, ice melt and drought on Earth.

“In contrast, Stradivari violins were marked by elevated formants, making them relatively more similar to female voices,” such as tenors and altos, the researchers added. “These properties may explain the characteristic brilliance of Stradivari violins.”

Violinist Lisa-Marie Mazzucco with her 17th century violin.

“Three, two, one, liftoff!” said a SpaceX commentator as the Falcon 9 rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 12:47 pm Pacific time (1947 GMT). The $521 million payload is called the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-on (GRACEFO).

It picks up from GRACE, a satellite pair that launched in 2002 and tracked, among other things, precisely how much ice was lost each year in Greenland and Antarctica until 2017. Groundwater, oceans, lakes, rivers and ice sheets will be monitored by the twin satellites, a joint mission between the US space agency and German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ). The pair will fly 137 miles (220 kilometers) apart, or about the distance from Los Angeles to San Diego.

Global warming may have ‘devastating’ effects on rice: study Amazon banning shoppers who return items too often by Abrar Al-Heeti


mazon’s flexible return policy may not be as risk free as you think.

The company bans shoppers for violations, which include returning items too often, according to The Wall Street Journal. Some users aren’t told what they did wrong. Amazon boasts free and easy returns for several of its items, which has pushed many brick-and-mortar stores to offer the same policies as they struggle to compete with the e-commerce giant. But it turns out Amazon’s return policies may come at a price. Dozens of people have taken to Twitter and Facebook to complain about Amazon closing their accounts without warning or an explanation, according to the Journal.

Farm workers tend to rice in a plantation in Myanmar, one of the countries that consumes the most rice and could be at risk for devastating effects from global warming. AFP Photo. by Kerry Sheridan AMPA | AFP - As carbon dioxide rises due to the burning of fossil fuels, rice will lose some of its protein and vitamin content, putting millions of people at risk of malnutrition, scientists warned on Wednesday.


The change could be particularly dire in southeast Asia where rice is a major part of the daily diet, said the report in the journal Science Advances. “We are showing that global warming, climate change and particularly greenhouse gases -- carbon dioxide -- can have an impact on the nutrient content of plants we eat,” said co-author Adam Drewnowski, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington. “This can have devastating effects on the rice-consuming countries where about 70 percent of the calories and most of the nutrients come from rice.” Protein and vitamin deficiencies can lead to growth-stunting, birth defects, diarrhea, infections and early death. Countries at most risk include those that consume the most rice and have the lowest gross domestic product (GDP), such as Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, Drewnowksi said. The findings were based on field studies in Japan and China, simulating the amount of CO2 expected in the atmosphere by the second half of this century -- 568 to 590 parts per million. Current levels are just over 400 ppm. For the experiments, 18 different strains of rice were planted in open fields, surrounded in certain areas by

56-foot wide (17-meter) octagons of plastic piping that released extra CO2. According to study co-author Kazuhiko Kobayashi, a professor at the University of Tokyo, the experiment is designed to be more accurate than growing in a greenhouse. “This technique allows us to test the effects of higher carbon dioxide concentrations on plants growing in the same conditions that farmers really will grow them some decades later in this century,” said Kobayashi. - Vitamins cut Researchers found that iron, zinc, protein, and vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B9 -- which help the body convert food to energy -- were all reduced in the rice grown under higher CO2 conditions. “Vitamin B1 (thiamine) levels decreased by 17.1 percent; average Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) by 16.6 percent; average Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) by 12.7 percent; and average Vitamin B9 (folate) by 30.3 percent,” said the report. On average, protein content fell 10.3 percent, iron dropped eight percent and zinc was reduced by 5.1 percent, compared to rice grown today under current CO2 conditions. Vitamin B6 and calcium were unaffected, and vitamin E levels rose for most strains. The reasons for the changes have to do with how higher CO2 affects the plant’s structure and growth, increasing carbohydrate content and reducing protein and minerals, said the study. Higher CO2 means less exposure to nitrogen, which also may affect vita-

Paul Fidalgo wrote about being “exiled” from Amazon for “excessive returns.” Other people noted they had also been banned from the site for similar reasons. One customer tweeted a screenshot of an email from Amazon asking her to explain why she returned her orders.

Shoppers have for years complained about being banned from Amazon. One customer told the Guardian in 2016 that he was kicked off Amazon after sending back 37 of 343 purchases. And last month, Amazon Prime members took to social media to share that their accounts had been closed without explanation, with some threatening a class-action lawsuit against the company. Amazon’s return policy doesn’t tell customers that returning too many items can get them kicked out, but its conditions of use say the company reserves the right to terminate accounts at its discretion. “We want everyone to be able to use Amazon, but there are rare occasions where someone abuses our service over an extended period of time,” an Amazon representative said. “We never take these decisions lightly, but with over 300 million customers around the world, we take action when appropriate to protect the experience for all our customers. If a customer believes we’ve made an error, we encourage them to contact us directly so we can review their account and take appropriate action.” (-CNET)

Giant predatory worms from Asia are invading France by Ephart Livni t’s not every day that an amateur gardener’s observations become the subject of scientific study. But one keen-eyed French naturalist named Pierre Gros has managed to alert professional entomologists to a long-ignored giant predatory worm invasion.


In a Peer J study published on May 22, “Giant worms chez moi!” zoologist Jean-Lou Justine of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, entomologist colleagues, and Gros, outline a discovery that “highlights an unexpected blind spot of scientists and authorities facing an invasion by conspicuous large invasive animals.” About 100 citizen scientists ultimately contributed to the assessment of this alien invasion, identifying five (!) giant predatory worm species in France that

min content, researchers said. Not all rice varieties saw the same drops in nutritional value, raising hope that future research could help farmers develop strains of rice that would be more resilient to atmospheric changes. A separate study out last year by researchers at Harvard University found that global warming would cut protein in a number of key staples, including rice, wheat, barley and potatoes. The result: an additional 150 million people globally may be at risk of protein deficiency by 2050.

grow up to 10 inches long. It all began back in 2013, when Gros photographed a large, never-before-seen worm in his garden. The photograph of the worm species, which is believed to have traveled from Asia via plants, eventually reached Justine’s email inbox. The zoologist told the Independent, ““I looked at it and said ‘Well, this is not pos- Entomologists missed this giant worm invading France sible–we don’t have this kind for 20 years. (Photo: CC/Pierre Gros) of animal in France.’” Justine dismissed the image as a prank. But Gros offered further proof that the worms were real, and real weird, taking two more photos of giant exotic hammerheads—so called because of the distinctive flat, arrow shape of their heads, which resemble hammerhead sharks. This convinced Justine to verify the existence of these strange species. Indeed, the worms were real. He and Gros soon embarked on a five-year assessment of the worms. “What we know now is that there are invasive flatworms almost everywhere in metropolitan France,” Justine says. The study relied on contributors’ worm sightings, reported “mainly by email, sometimes by telephone.” Researchers requested photographs and details about locality. In 2013, the Washington Post reports, “a group of terrorized kindergartners claimed they saw a mass of writhing snakes in their play field.” These were giant flat-

worms! The study concludes that the alien creatures appear to reproduce asexually. They prey on other, smaller earthworms, stunning them with toxins. “The planarian also produces secretions from its headplate and body that adhere it to the prey, despite often sudden violent movements of the latter during this stage of capture,” researcher note. In other words, the hammerheads produce a substance that allows them to stick to victims while killing them. France is not alone in facing alien worm invasions, the paper points out. In recent years, European scientists have reported invasive alien flatworms from New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, and Australia—all “conspicuous animals, several centimeters in length.” But the five species of hammerhead flatworms invading France are giants, growing up to 27 centimeters.


FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

Home&Real Estate Bring a change to your home’s seasonal decor Comcast, Hippo introduce

pilot program for smart home insurance in Houston

fter the long winter, it’s nice to bring a change to your home’s decor in every room. Simple details can make a big difference, breathing new life into each space and giving your home a great new look for the season. Here are some fresh and creative spring decor bathroom tips to try:


by Katherine Feser


omcast has launched a pilot program offering smart home insurance in partnership with Hippo in Houston.

- Change the color scheme

The offering, which targets homeowners using integrated “internet of things” home safety devices, is available in Houston and will be rolled out to other markets next year.

One way to instantly change the color scheme in the bathroom without using paint is by changing out the linens. Switch out dark towels and wash clothes with bright whites or light pastels. Switch the current shower curtain for one that’s a crisp white, or one with a bright and cheerful design. Add light colored bathroom rugs, and space will have a light and airy new look without needing a complete makeover.

“This new offering can provide customers with meaningful savings on their annual home insurance premiums and enhanced home insurance coverage,” Comcast’s managing director and general manager of new businesses Jon Kaplowitz said in an announcement.

- Bring in seasonal blooms One of the best parts of the spring season is the fresh flowers that begin to bloom. Bring them inside and enjoy them in every room, including the bathroom. Add a small vase to your vanity countertop, or place a little pitcher with fresh cut flowers on a shelf. Spring blooms add both color and fragrance to space.

“By bringing together smart home devices like monitored smoke and

Comcast and Hippo estimate homeowners could save up to 25 percent on their annual premiums. Hippo CEO Assaf Wand said that the coverage goes beyond traditional home policies. “We’ve added equipment breakdown coverage into our policies so customers have repair and replacement protection on the things that “run” their home - things like heating and air conditioning systems, hot water heaters, major appliances, electronics and more,” Wand said. (-KPRC)

A home repair simulator is one of Steam’s best-sellers

- Get organized Since spring is the ideal season for doing a deep cleaning and getting organized around the house, use the opportunity to tidy up your bathroom. Buy stylish organizers like baskets and drawer caddies to keep your items neat and easy to find. Simple, small baskets make for lovely decor, and they’re perfect for storing hand towels, wash clothes, and toiletries. Spring decor can bring a fresh look to your bathroom after the winter. A few simple touches like seasonal flowers and light colors can make a big difference in a small space. Get your bathroom organized and looking lovely by using these easy tips. (-luxbath)

water leak detectors with home insurance, we’re able to help customers lower their annual home insurance cost and, at the same time, help to provide protection and peace of mind for our customers’ most important assets – their home and family.”

A surprisingly earnest take on home ownership by Charlie Hall

rounding wiring and plumbing.

pon opening up Steam’s best-sellers list this morning, I was surprised to see an unlikely newcomer. It’s called House Flipper, and it claims to be a sort of home repair simulation. Believe it or not, this is an incredibly earnest take on a viable business strategy that has come to dominate reality television, especially on networks like HGTV


Don’t be afraid of being obvious with a spring make-over. Flowers, bright contrasting colors, and/or airy rooms will practically shout out the season’s style. Keep it nice and simple but comfortable in outlook. A few interior design stores will have seasonal items or outdoor/indoor fabrics. And think of others, since springtime parties are sensational. (Photo: Instagram)

Steam users aren’t the only ones taking notice: House Flipper landed among the top 10 games on Twitch this morning. At the top of the heap was Korean streamer saddummy, who had nearly 7,000 viewers along for the ride. I watched for about 30 minutes while they cleaned and sorted trash in a basement and then installed a shower — no small feat, considering it was

All the best Memorial Day 2018 home goods sales to shop this week Lazy summer days start now by Emily Heller s the first three-day weekend of warm weather, Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer. Hopefully you’ll be taking advantage of some sun and BBQ this long weekend, but you may also want to dedicate a few hours to shopping some of the biggest home goods sales of the season.


Homes in House Flipper start out pretty messed up. (Image: Empyrean/PlayWay S.A and Frozen District)

Whether you’re looking to refresh your decor, invest in an outdoor furniture set, or finally upgrade your mattress, this weekend is probably the best shopping opportunity you’ll see until Amazon Prime Day. We’ll continue to update this list all week so keep checking back for the most up-to-date sale info. Allswell: Use code LONGWEEKEND for 15 percent off mattresses and bedding. Ends May 28. Anthropologie: All full-priced furniture and decor is 20 percent off at this summer kick-off sale. Apt2B: Save 15 percent off sitewide and 50 percent off at the Apt2B outlet. If you’re spending $1999 or more use code 5MORE for 20 percent off or use code 10MORE for 25 percent off orders of $3,499 or more. Ends May 28. Article: Save up to 50 percent off select items including seating, lighting and storage. Ends May 28. Best Buy: Save up to 40 percent off major appliances and get a free Google Home when you purchase two or more select appliances. Ends June 6. Birch Lane: Memorial Day pre-sale includes up to 60 percent off indoor and outdoor furniture, rugs, lighting and more. Ends May 23.

eBay: Use code PMEMDAY for 15 percent off select products sitewide. The minimum purchase is $50 and the maximum discount is $50 as well. Ends May 25. Hayneedle: Save up to 35 percent

Here are some of the biggest home goods sales of the season (and great discounts are possible) off indoor and outdoor finds. This fringe-covered hammock looks perfect for lazy summer days. Helix: Take $100 off a Helix mattress with code MDW100, or use code MDW150 to take $150 off a mattress plus another Helix product, like a bed frame or adjustable pillow. Home Depot: Save on a wide range of products from patio furniture and home decor to gardening essentials and hardware. Check out Home Depot’s Memorial Day Savings landing page for the full list. Houzz: Save up to 80 percent off site-wide on home decor and remodeling products. Ends May 30. Joss & Main: Get early access to Joss & Main’s Memorial Day deals of up to 75 percent off furniture, decor, lighting and more. Ends May 22. Leesa: Take $150 off the Leesa mattress and $225 off the Sapira mattress (which adds spring coils to Leesa’s foam layers.) Ends May 30. Lowe’s: Save up to 40 percent off patio furniture, grills, appliances and

more. Nectar: Take $125 off a Nectar mattress plus get two free pillows with purchase. Ends May 29. Overstock: Save up to 70 percent off outdoor furniture, bedding, decor and more. The gorgeous Christopher Knight chaise pictured above is on sale for $193. Target: Online-exclusive deals include up to 30 percent off furniture and decor, with an extra 15 percent off patio furniture, rugs and Casper mattresses. Use promo code HERO at checkout.

and TLC.

below grade.

In House Flipper, you buy a distressed property, fix it up and then try to sell it. Through a combination of demolition, renovation and good oldfashioned sweat equity, the goal is to make the best use of your time and money to turn a profit. Everything is done from the first-person perspective, from picking up trash to putting a new island in the kitchen.

I kept waiting for something unusual to happen. But, honestly, the action looks to be a lot like what I do every weekend as a homeowner. It just happens a lot faster, and with the use of fewer medical supplies.

You might remember another, similarly odd game from a few years ago, called Viscera Cleanup Detail. That’s the one where players take on the role of a space janitor cleaning up a starship after a particularly awful accident. But where that game was a very tongue-in-cheek parody, House Flipper appears to be remarkably earnest. This is a straightforward, semi-realistic job simulation game along the lines of the Farming Simulator or Truck Simulator series. Cleaning up a mess with a generic version of a Swiffer and a garbage can is just the first step; the game also includes mini-games sur-

You may have seen some footage from the game dating from months ago, but that footage likely came from a beta; House Flipper never went into Steam Early Access.

Wayfair: Save up to 70 percent off furniture, decor, bedding and more at Wayfair’s Memorial Day clearance sale. Ends May 28.

Market’s free Explorer Rewards Program can save 20 percent off sitewide with code FLAGWME. Non-members still get 15 percent off everything with code STARS15.

YouTuber ZerkaaPlays also put up a video a few days ago, and it’s so far received just shy of 500,000 views.

House Flipper, from Polish indie developer Empyrean, sells for $19.99 and is compatible with Windows and Mac. It’s available on Steam right now, where it’s on sale for $17.99. House Flipper also includes some free downloadable content at launch. Called Apocalypse Flipper, it adds safe rooms and fallout shelters as well as three unique home appraisers with different needs. (

World Market: Members of World Urban Outfitters: The Summer Fun sale at UrbanOutfitters. com offers up to 40 percent off summer essentials including breezy decor, bedding and pool floats. Who wouldn’t want to float away on a bottle of rosé? Ends May 23.


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Week of MAY 25, 2018 21 March to 20 April You live for excitement, so what happens when you have to endure the boring or mundane? It isn’t pretty.Your love life can’t be thrilling all the time, so you’ll have to find a way to compromise.

21 April to 20 May You need to give up in order to gain. Make compromises so that you can get ahead in other areas. Now is a time for you to streamline instead of trying to tackle every single thing at once. Focus in on what is most important.

21 May to 20 June Aspects are slowing down your ability to earn the kind of money you may have become used to and asking you to become more responsible about how you spend your cash.

21 June to 22 July An emphasis on exercise this week! There is much psychic information in the air - thanks to the planets’ position - that will help you in your journey to the mountaintop, and the best way to access it is with an empty mind.

23 July to 22 August It would be great if you could separate love and money, but the two are inextricably linked. If you suspect someone only wants you for what you can offer in a material sense, that person isn’t “the one.” Show off what you’ve got!

23 August to 22 Sept You may be feeling especially moody and slightly passive-aggressive now. Just do the best you can with whatever is simplest and most urgent. Talking about your feelings can help prevent misunderstandings.

1. *Key farm-to-table attribute 6. Goldfish or koi

23 September to 22 Oct

10. Excessively abundant

You’re breathing new life into something you’d long since lost interest in, so much of your energy is moving in this direction. In fact, you may enjoy a lucky break that makes it happen for real this time. Make sure your cash flow remains steady.

15. Black and white treat

23 October to 21 Nov The kind of nourishment you ingest continues to be critical. Pay attention to what you eat and drink. If you’ve been neglecting your diet, start a food log. It’s that important. The way you eat contributes greatly to your overall health.

22 November to 21 Dec Discussions about controversial topics are okay to have on a first date if you each agree to keep an open mind about the other’s opinions. If you aren’t sure whether you’ve made a good impression, wait until the end of the week.

22 December to 20 Jan This is a powerful time for you. If you’re in a position of authority, you may be facing challenges from others who think their way is best. Any business concerned with food or community development will see expansion, to your benefit.

21 January to 19 Feb You may need to brace for some disappointing news this week. Though you’re encouraged to share your knowledge and skill set with others, your work life is getting hit with more rules, regulations, and paperwork.

20 February to 20 Mar This period may bring certain health issues to the fore. If you’re suffering from certain symptoms, be sure to get them checked. If you need to resolve to lose weight or eat more healthfully, do it now. You’ll lose the attachment to those extra pounds.

14. Obelus, pl. 16. Revise for publication 17. Swamp plant 18. “Saved by the ____” 19. Guilty, e.g.

DOWN 1. Leave in the dust 2. Do as directed 3. Relinquish 4. Capital of Algeria 5. Relating to spleen 6. *Corn holder 7. Bellicose deity 8. Archeologist’s find 9. *”The Omnivore’s Dilemma” author

20. Looking at

10. One in a set

22. Silage storage

11. Lazybones

24. Building add-on 25. James ____ Jones

12. *____-to-table, farm-totable alternative

27. Baloney

13. And others, for short

29. *____ varieties

21. Search blindly

33. Greek letter N, pl.

23. Cross to bear

34. Caterer’s coffee pots 35. *Key component of manure 37. Lady’s wrap 41. Fleur-de-____ 42. Accustom 44. River in Spain 45. Sailing vessel with two masts 48. Evoke emotion 49. 2016 animated musical 50. Female sib 52. *____ breeds 54. *Lettuce units

26. Duck-like divers 28. Holy Wednesday 29. a.k.a. Dr. Robert Bruce Banner 30. It’s between Ohio and Ontario 31. Research facil. 32. Oral cavity 36. Snooped 38. “Summertime” of Porgy and Bess, e.g. 39. POTUS’ West one 40. Private theater box 43. Computer message

57. ____ well ____ someone

46. *Harvest subscription, acr.

58. Small one in a large machine

47. *Honey-producing facility

59. Per person

49. Astringent drug

61. Peace of mind

51. *What’s in ____?

65. Os in XOXO

53. I-resembling supports

67. Takes to court

54. Canine foe

69. Away from harbor

55. Daytime moth

70. Biblical twin

56. Aqua-lung

71. Final notice

58. *One who runs the show

72. *Food ____, as in distance

60. George or Louis to Kate and William

73. Shade-loving plant

62. Capital on a fjord

74. “____ a soul”

63. Nostradamus, e.g.

75. Game outcome

64. Alleviate 66. *”Full ____,” on a seed package 68. Wilbur’s home




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FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

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Harry and Meghan go straight to work after lavish wedding Prince Harry and his new wife Meghan began married life on Sunday after their spectacular, rule-breaking wedding, but will be delaying a honeymoon as they turn immediately to royal duties.

FRIDAY, May 25, 2018

World’s largest freshwater pearl to sell at Dutch auction


he newly ennobled Duke and Duchess of Sussex staged a huge party after the ceremony on Saturday at Windsor Castle, where they were greeted by around 100,000 people lining the streets and watched by millions around the world. The beaming couple were seen driving to the evening bash in a vintage Jaguar, Meghan having changed from her sweeping Givenchy wedding gown into a sleek Stella McCartney halterneck dress, with Harry switching his military frockcoat for black tie. On the bride’s finger was a large aquamarine ring, which belonged to Harry’s beloved late mother, Diana. Details of the bash, hosted by Harry’s father Prince Charles in a house on the castle grounds for 200 close friends and family, were a top secret although fireworks were seen over Windsor late in the evening. Some of the celebrities who attended the earlier service, including George Clooney and tennis star Serena Williams, were also spotted heading in. The wedding was like no other the royal family has ever staged, a mix of the pageantry that Britain does so well, with celebrity razzmatazz and African-American culture. In a ceremony filled with laughs and not a few tears, the couple held hands, and the prince was visibly emotional as he greeted his bride at the altar saying: “You look amazing.” A gospel choir sang “Stand By Me” and US pastor Michael Curry delivered a passionate,

The newly married Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, leave Windsor Castle on Saturday after their wedding to attend an evening reception at Frogmore House. (Photo: Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP.) lengthy address about the power of love, referencing slavery.

London at some point on Sunday afternoon.

Meghan, a mixed-race television actress, also made her mark by walking up the aisle partly on her own, and giving a speech at the evening reception.

They will not be taking a honeymoon immediately, as they are due to attend a charity garden party for Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday.

“Kisstory: Harry & Meg’s historic change for monarchy,” headlined The Sun on Sunday, with a photograph of the couple kissing on the steps of St George’s Chapel.

Meghan and Charles have reportedly forged a strong bond, and he stepped in to escort her to the altar at the wedding after her own father pulled out following a media furore and subsequent heart surgery.

“If ever there was a wedding to symbolise modern, multicultural, multi-racial Britain, yesterday’s was it,” the Sunday Mirror wrote in an editorial. “Disney could not have come up with a better princess,” said the Sunday Telegraph, while The Mail on Sunday simply said: “Harry ever after!” - Back to work After staying at Windsor overnight, Harry and Meghan were due to return to their home at Kensington Palace in

Charles also invited Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland, the only member of the Markle family to attend the wedding, for tea before the big day and chatted to her in the church. Windsor was transformed into a sea of Union Jack flags for the wedding, with the world’s media mixing with thousands of well-wishers, many of whom camped out for days.

“Thank you to everyone who came to Windsor and those who followed from around the UK, the Commonwealth, and the world,” the royal family tweeted. As a member of the monarchy, Meghan now has her own section of the website, which highlights her charity work -- and plays down her acting career. The section “About the Duchess of Sussex” notes her activism from an early age, as well as her work with UN Women, One Young World and World Vision, with only a passing reference to “filming in Toronto”. The biography section offers a few more details about Meghan’s near 15-year career as an actress, including in hit US television series “Suits”, shot in Toronto. It also references her lifestyle blog, The Tig -- which, like her acting, she has given up to join the House of Windsor.

The Louvre was the most-visited museum in the world in 2017 Around 8.1 million people stepped through the hallowed halls of the Louvre in Paris last year, making it the most-visited museum in the world for 2017.


hat’s according to the latest edition of the Theme Index and Museum Index report, which ranked the most popular attractions around the world by attendance.

The report was published jointly by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and AECOM. Authors credit the Louvre’s performance -- it saw a 10 percent increase in visits -- to Paris’s tourism recovery, following a tumultuous few years of being rocked by terrorist attacks. They also point to interest in one of the Louvre’s top-selling exhibits “Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting” which was unveiled last year, for its leap to the top spot. In North America, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington DC single-handedly helped

The world’s largest known freshwater pearl, which once belonged to Catherine the Great, will go on sale in the Netherlands later this month, the auctioneers announced Thursday.


Auction house Venduehuis said the jewel weighs some 120 grams and is almost seven centimetres long making it one of the three largest known pearls in the world. It has an estimated value of between 340,000 and 540,000 euros ($400,000 to $637,000).

After more adventures, it was bought in 1865 by a Dutch goldsmith and remained in his family’s possession for four generations, before the “Amsterdam Pearl Society bought the pearl in 1979 intending to research it and trace its history,” the auctioneers said.

Around 1765, the pearl was shipped to Batavia, now known as Jakarta, by a Dutch merchant of the United East Indies Company. It was there that it came

The society is now putting the pearl, and its custom-made copper box, up for sale at the auction on May 31 in The Hague.

Building more positive relationships through art: Questions for artist collaborative teamLab


boost visitor numbers three percent across the region. But a closer look at the figures suggest that when the NMAAHC is taken out of the equation, numbers were relatively flat -a finding that authors speculate could be tied to the decrease in international visitor numbers to the US in 2017. Bucking the global trend of stagnant numbers, meanwhile, is Asia-Pacific, which recorded the fastest growth in the 2017 Museum Index, at 11 percent year-on-year growth. An emerging middle class, cultural awareness, disposable income and social media are reasons cited for rising visitor numbers among Chinese museums. China landed seven of the

top 20 museums on the index.

1. Louvre, Paris

Likewise, Japan is singled out as a global leader in the museum sector, thanks to a high level of cultural appreciation among the Japanese, and widespread support for the sector, authors note.

2. National Museum of China, Beijing

In 2017, more than 11,300 people visited the Tokyo National Museum per day, during its temporary exhibit of 13thcentury Japanese artist Unkei’s work, making it the most popular single exhibition of the year.

5. Vatican Museums, Vatican

A quarter of the world’s top 20 exhibitions were also held in Tokyo in 2017. Here are the top 10 mostvisited museums in the world for 2017:

3. TIE: National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 6. Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, Shanghai 7. National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC 8. British Museum, London 9. Tate Modern, London 10. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. (- Relaxnews)

A: Existing art is a one-way experience: you look at the artwork. But in our work, the artwork changes according to the presence of yourself, and also the presence of others. We’re hoping to make the presence of others in any space -- especially in our exhibitions -- much more positive than you normally see it. Q: Children seem to really enjoy your exhibitions. What reactions to they usually have to your work? A: Yes, they just get so excited. But we hope to give them a very basic understanding of how nature is related to humans. Especially in “Graffiti Nature” [which invites visitors to scan their own animals and add them to the work] you affect the ecosystem of the art-

Chinese vase, left in attic, worth at least half a million: Sotheby’s by Antoine Froidefond

Left: A rare Imperial Qianlong porcelain vase (18th century) is displayed at Sotheby’s in Paris. (PHOTO: AFP)

ARIS A Chinese vase discovered in a battered shoebox stuffed in an attic in France is set to be the star of a Sotheby’s auction next


month. Experts have identified the find as an exquisite porcelain vessel made for the 18th century Qing dynasty Emperor Qianlong and the guide price for its auction on

“After Sander passed away, the pearl was auctioned off in Amsterdam in 1778 and acquired by Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia,” the auction house said in a statement. Catherine had the pearl displayed in the Hermitage in St Petersburg until 1796. In the turbulent years that followed her death, the pearl vanished from China and surfaced again in Poland,

: teamLab says it believes that “the digital domain can expand the capacities of art, and that digital art can create relationships between people.” What do you hope visitors will take a from a teamLab show?

The Louvre museum in Paris. (Photo: ©

into ownership of the company’s accountant, Hendrik Coenraad Sander.

nown as the Sleeping Lion pearl due to its distinctive shape, the pearl was likely formed in the first half of the 18th century in Chinese waters, possibly even the Pearl River.

Over the past few years, the collective teamLab has been showcasing its digital art in immersive installations and exhibitions around the world. The latest of those exhibitions opens in Paris on Tuesday, and Relaxnews spoke to project manager Kazumasa Nonaka on the eve of its launch about teamLab’s mission and plans for the future.

While growth among the top 20 museums was relatively flat (0.2 percent growth worldwide between 2016 and 2017), authors note the exceptional performances of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, which saw an impressive 25 percent spike in visitors in 2017, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, which also saw a 23 percent growth over the previous year. After the Louvre, Beijing’s National Museum of China, and the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, tied with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, round out the podium.

Largest freshwater pearl will go up for auction in The Hague on 31 May 2018. (Photo courtesy of Venduehuis)

June 12 starts at a modest 500,000 euros ($590,000). It was found by chance among dozens of other pieces of Chinoiserie. “We didn’t like the vase too much, and my grandparents didn’t

work. The creatures within that artwork have a predator-prey relationship, so there’s a balance in it, and what you add into the ecosystem really affects the whole relationship of these creatures. Q. Your first permanent museum opens in Tokyo this summer. How do you expect the visitor experience there to differ from that of your temporary exhibitions? A: That museum is, first, much, much bigger. Second, since the building is dedicated to the teamLab exhibition, we were able to do an installation that requires much more complex architectural interior design and configuration. It’s not just a series of’ll see. Q: You’re involved in a project in Shenzhen for which digital art is being used as a way of creating personalized public space. What role do you see digital art playing in the cities of the future? A: As I said, teamLab is all about making people’s relationships more positive using artwork. Usually in a big, fast-moving city, the presence of others is not necessarily the best thing -- the city gets crowded. We have been trying to realize this concept on an urban scale, to get all the people in a city to be part of our artwork. Shenzhen is going to one of our first such projects, especially of this size, and we’re really looking forward to it. (- Relaxnews) like it either,” said the owner of the piece, who got in touch with Sotheby’s auction house three months ago. Porcelains with such elaborate and challenging designs are exceedingly rare on Qing imperial porcelain and is decorated with an idyllic landscape with deer and cranes. (-AFP)

Voice of Asia E-paper May 25, 2018  

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

Voice of Asia E-paper May 25, 2018  

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