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FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

28 years dedicated service toCounties the community Serving Harris,ofFort Bend and Surrounding for 29 years

What’s at Risk in GOP Health Plan Read on Page 18 or Call 832-806-1000

Vol. 30 No. 11 Friday, March 17 2017 • Published Weekly from Houston • 713-774-5140 24 Pages ( 2 sections) 50 cents E-mail:

India House to honor Ian Grilott at its annual gala

HPD Chief Acevedo meets Asian-American media members by Shobana Muratee HOUSTON – For the first time since his appointment in November last year, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo met an impressive number of the Asian-American media members on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at the Midwest Command Station at 7277 Regency Square Blvd. The initiative was directed by HPD along with assistance from Mustafa Tameez, and Bobby Singh to help deepen the relationship between

Ian Grillot. (Video screengrab/The University of Kansas Health System ). HOUSTON - India House is privileged to honor the true American hero, Ian Grillot, 24 at its 14th annual India House gala on March 25th at J W Marriott in Houston.

HPD and the Asian-American community. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo met with Asian-American media managers on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at the Midwest Command Station at 7277 Regency Square Blvd. Nearly 25 members of the media attended the meet that was initiative and directed by HPD to help deepen the relationship between Continued on Page 3

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo addressing the media. Photo by Shobana Muratee

Golden Moon Festival at ISKCON of Houston

Preet Bharara, the tenacious prosecutor fired by Trump

Ian was at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas on 22 February when suspected gunman allegedly yelled “get out of my country” and opened fire at two Indian engineers, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani. Mr Kuchibhotla died, while Mr Madasani was injured. Nobody was ever more American than was Ian Grillot when he leapt from under the table and started towards the gunman. As Ian tried to stop the gunman, he was hit by a bullet in the hand and chest. Ian is now known across the world as the hero who chased the gunman out of the bar and was wounded trying to stop him. Continued on Page 6

Preet Bharara, former US attorney for the Southern District of New York, pictured in 2016, was fired by President Donald trump after refusing to resign (AFP Photo/SPENCER PLATT) .

Read on Page 7

HG Advaitachandra Dasa delivering a talk on the appearance of Lord Chaitanya. Photo credit: Thejas Rajaram

Read on Page 8

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by Patricia Murphy

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

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

Columnists: Legal: Richard M. Alderman Legal: Sharlene Sharmila Richards Research: Prof. Meenakshi Bhattacharjee Health Insurance: Sudhir Mathuria Astrology: Hardik Vyas 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:; Email for advertising inquiries and submissions: ads@ Voice of Asia (USPS 010-215) (ISSN#10705058) is published every Friday (for a subscription rate of $30 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

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.


efore Tom Price was Donald Trump’s Health and Human Services secretary, he was a conservative member of Congress. Before that, he was a mustachioed orthopedic surgeon in Atlanta, Georgia. For the sake of all that’s healthy, let’s hope that in his doctor days, Tom Price focused on the surgery and let his partners tell the patient the bad news.

FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

TrumpCare needs a new doctor effort at all, especially when he’s been hurting it so much lately. - Promises, promises In fairness to Price, no man, doctor or not, could produce a bill big enough to contain Donald Trump’s swollen promises on health care, while also making it thin and beautiful enough for conservatives to love. Those were always going to be two demands that could not be met at the same time.


ased on Price’s chilly bedside manner explaining to America they’re getting a new version of health care reform and they’ll be grateful once they do, I imagine his conversations with patients used to go something like this: “What do you think, Dr. Price?” asks the patient with a broken leg. Price purses his lips, gently rubs his mustache, and declares that the leg has to go. “But it’s only broken,” the now-alarmed patient argues. “No, no. It’s no good,” Price says. “A broken leg is worse than no leg at all. I have to amputate.” With the thought of losing the leg altogether, the patient now decides he likes his leg. He asks Dr. Price to just leave it broken. “You don’t know anything about legs,” Price says. “I’m the doctor. But don’t worry. Once I take off your leg, I’m going to give you back a knee.” “A knee??” The patient panics and tries to leave, but he’s not scheduled to be discharged until 2018. Plus, his leg is still broken. “Let me finish,” Price says. “You haven’t even heard about

your next two surgeries. I can’t tell you what they will be, but I can tell you that you’ll have access to a very high-quality thigh and a foot after I’m done. You have insurance, right?” And don’t worry about a second opinion from Keith Hall, the doctor Price recruited into his practice a few years ago. He’s not to be trusted. “He does his doggonest to get it right, God bless ’em,” Price says of Dr. Hall. “But he’s woefully underperformed the other times he had to put a cast on a leg.” - No fix? The patient, like America, is left confused and a little hopeless. Wasn’t Dr. Price supposed to fix everything? That was the sales pitch from the Trump administration for Price to be HHS secretary at the crucial moment that Obamacare

would be repealed and replaced after seven long years of Republicans’ swearing it would happen. As a doctor, Price would know the health care system better than anybody. As a member of Congress, he would have relationships with nearly every Republican on the Hill. As a former Budget Committee chairman, he would know the ingredients to produce a bill with good metrics. And as a conservative, the Freedom Caucus and others would welcome the bill that Dr. Price delivered. But somewhere between his confirmation as secretary and the rollout of the Republican health reform plan, it’s impossible to see where having Dr. Price in on the operation has helped the

As if it matters...

Price also wasn’t much help putting out a bill that at least looks good. When the CBO finally scored it, they warned that 24 million fewer Americans would be insured by 2026 than under Obamacare, a number even worse that Price’s own repeal bill that passed in 2015. You can argue that producing legislation isn’t the job of the HHS secretary, even though Republicans said Price would be the one to do it. With all the warmth of a Nor’easter, he has dismissed evidence that the bill could hurt lowincome and elderly Americans and discarded the findings of his hand-picked CBO director. He routinely calls current insurance coverage “just a card.”

One of the great flaws of the Affordable Care Act effort in 2009 was the administration’s failure to sell people fully on the idea, including 19 governors and millions of Americans who have opted out and left the system struggling.

- The Publisher

Instead of a clear — and yes, compassionate — messenger to convince America that the cure won’t be worse than what ails them, the Republicans have sent Dr. Doom to give us the bad news.

PET of the WEEK I need a loving home © 2017 Cartoon by Shobana Muratee PORSCHE - ID#A005935

Unfortunately for Trump, having Price and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney front the effort did nothing to prevent their former GOP House colleagues from mocking the bill in real time, even as Speaker Paul Ryan gave his TED Talk about conservative principles and binary choices.

But as the mother of two preschoolers, I can tell you the pediatrician’s office asks me for my card every time I go in, including last Friday. I like my card.

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.

Shelter staff named me PORSCHE. I am a female, tricolor German Shepherd Dog and Alaskan Husky. The shelter staff think I am about 2 years and 1 month old. I have been at the shelter since Feb 17, 2017.

But the American Health Care Act manages to be both bloated enough to offend conservatives and stingy enough to offend moderate Republicans.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is not the right messenger to sell the GOP’s health care proposal, Patricia Murphy writes. (Photo: Tom Williams)

The patient isn’t exactly buying into the plan of care. (-RollCall. com)

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FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

Second Front Page


Tel: 713-774-5140

HPD Chief Acevedo meets AsianAmerican media members Continued from Page 1 HPD and the Asian-American community. Mustafa Tameez, Outreach Strategist and Bobby Singh, Executive Committee member of Mayor Turner’s Transition Team assisted in putting the event together. Chief Acevedo talked about the importance of foreign language media outlets attending HPD press conferences and newsers to get the latest information about incidents with a crime nexus occurring across the city. “Just today we had a press conference where we announced the arrest of four very violent criminals that had committed at least 10 home invasion robberies included aggravated assaults and aggravated sexual assaults and they targeted disproportionately, members of the Asian community,” Chief Acevedo said. Capt. Dale, commander over Midwest Patrol Station explained that a news conference that was held earlier that day, about the capture and arrest of several robbery suspects involved in home invasions and driveway robberies involving Asia victims on the west and southwest areas of the city. The Asian community could be a rich target as some of them that do not trust bank keep lots of cash and valuable at home which could make them easy targets, Chief Acevedo pointed out. He recognized the efforts of Mustafa Tameez, CEO Outreach Strategist and Bobby, Executive Committee member of Mayor Turner’s Transition Team as both play a role in the training at the academy. Unlike others, Chief Acevedo had a surgical approach Singh said, “He tackles where there are gaps and issues.” Also speaking on the occasion, Tameez said that he learnt a great deal from the officers, “Officers say that, when they stop and Asian American sometimes people get out of their car to come talk to the officer. That should not happen.” He urged that people

Bal Sareen by Manu Shah HPD Chief Acevedo with HPD officers at the event. Photos by Shobana Muratee. stay in their car for the safety of their lives and that of the officer. Chief Acevedo also spoke about the Mayor Sylvester Turner’s pension reform plan and said, “If we do not get that Pension Reform through its going to be extremely challenging for our police department especially at the time when violent crime is going up in many of the big cities.” He said that the media could help inform and mobilize voters on this matter. “I’m not here to keep my job I’m here to do it,” Chief Acevedo said, and assured that his department would more data driven in terms of transparency. Information was also given out about how media outlets could sign up to receive HPD news releases and how HPD uses social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Periscope to promote community outreach events and news conferences. HPD’s Recruiting Division was also on hand to notify media outlets that the Department would like media’s assistance in getting the word out that HPD is actively looking for candidates to hire for upcoming cadet classes and how they need to apply.

L-R: Zak Miller, Rogene Calvert, Mustafa Tameez and Bobby Singh.

HPD Chief Acevedo with Koshy Thomas, Publisher, Voice of Asia.

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Bal Sareen - An Entrepreneur and Philanthropist an offer he took up as soon as he completed his Masters. Why teaching? Not only is it his passion, but growing up, Bal explains, he saw so many teachers who couldn’t or wouldn’t engage their students. He loves teaching so much that to this day he delivers lectures on Heat Exchangers in refineries across the US and goes out of his way to explain any query from his employees.

Career Opportunity




In 1974, Bal wound up at McMaster University, Canada thanks to a Commonwealth scholarship where he completed his second Masters. Two years later, he immigrated to the US and worked with several companies like Lepel Corp., Fuller Co. and Ohmstede, Inc. before striking out on his own.

hen IACCGH member Bal Sareen set out to be an entrepreneur in 1999, his business plan impressed every banker. The hitch: no one would approve the loan. Eventually he acquired IEE, Inc., an engineering plant with an SBA guaranteed loan but it was really in 2002 when ConocoPhillips purchased this plant for its prime land that the Company received a lifeline and found its stride.

Brask, Inc., named after the initials of his family members, (Bal, Rita, Amy, Sangeeta and Kevin) is a provider of “cradle to grave” services for Shell and Heat Exchangers for the downstream and petrochemical industry. Fair business practices, a competent team and a willingness to go that extra step to ensure customer satisfaction helped the Company record a 20% growth for 15 straight years and clock revenues in excess of $60 million.

Bal plowed this money into building a brand new 100,000 sq. feet manufacturing facility in Sulphur, Louisiana and duplicated it in Pearland, Texas in 2011. Today, the company is one of the leading Shell and Heat Exchange manufacturers in Texas. Bal Sareen, 72, is a native of Delhi. A third division in his Higher Secondary exam nearly derailed his plans of becoming a mechanical engineer – a decision, he recalls, he took at the age of 10. However, he aced the joint entrance exam for RIT, Jamshedpur and graduated in second place out of 900 students.

Apart from his entrepreneurial success, Bal is also known to rarely turn down a request for sponsorship of community events. This spirit of service, Bal says, is imbibed from his father who was an authority on the Ramayana and lived according to its precepts all his life. The Bal and Rita Sareen clinic at India House bears this out where Bal singlehandedly underwrote the cost to set up a healthcare center providing low cost medical facilities. As IACCGH Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia puts it – Bal Sareen is a blend of business acumen with “a heart of gold.”

This academic success, Bal reflects, made him “believe in himself” and led him to IIT, Delhi for his Masters. While studying, he was offered the position of a Lecturer –

Bal currently serves as the President of the Hindu Worship Society temple where he devotes his time and energy to revive it to its former prestige.



FRIDAY, March 17, 2017


The People’s Lawyer

by Sharlene Sharmila Richards, Immigration Lawyer Email at


Richard M. Alderman Interim Dean of the Law Center

Sharlene Sharmila Richards

Register now for the “People’s Law School” Once again, it is time for the “People’s Law School,” the oldest and most successful law program for the layperson in the country! This is your chance to learn more about your legal rights, and have fun at the same time. On Saturday, April 1st, the Center for Consumer Law at the University of Houston Law Center, with the sponsorship of the Houston Volunteer Lawyers, will host more than thirty volunteer lawyers, judges, and law professors, teaching courses in thirteen different areas of law. The “People’s Law School” is designed to give you some useful information about your legal rights. Best of all, it is absolutely free! The program runs from 9 a.m. until noon on the main campus of the University of Houston. There

will be classes in business law, health insurance, consumer law, credit and debt collection, wills and estates, family law, landlord tenant law, small claims court, tax law, social security and how to find an attorney. There will even be a class on how you can research the law on the Internet. Each person who attends may choose three classes. Every class will be taught by a different instructor and is a little different, so feel free to take a class more than once if you are really interested in the subject matter. Volunteer lawyers, judges, and law professors teach all the classes. To make sure things run smoothly, dozens of law students and members of the University of Houston Law Center staff will be available to help with everything from the free coffee and donuts, to the final evaluation form. Everyone who attends also will receive comprehen-

sive written materials to supplement the classes. As the more than 50,000 people who have attended the People’s Law School have discovered, when it comes to the law, knowledge really is power. The “People’s Law School” won’t make you an attorney, but it will help you settle disputes and avoid problems. Whether you are buying a car, preparing a will, dealing with a debt collector or a landlord, or in a dispute with your neighbor, knowing your legal rights can make a difference. Although there is no charge for the “People’s Law School,” you must preregister to attend. Registration is limited to the first 1000 people. To register go to, I look forward to seeing you all on April 1st.

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

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A: Dependents of H-1B visa holders (spouse and children under the age of 21 years) can apply for H-4 visa. Q: What are the current Filing Fees for new H-1B cap cases? A: The regular or base filing fee is $460.00. Additionally, the ACWIA Fee will be $750 if Petitioner has 25 full time employees or less or $1500 if more than 25 employees and a Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee of $500 (not applicable to Chile and Singapore H-1B1 petitions). If the employer has 50 or more employees and at least 50 percent of those employees are on H-1B or L-1 status, the Petitioner will have to pay an additional Fee Based on Public Law 114113 amounting to $4000.00. NOTE: For all H-1B filings commencing April 3rd, 2017, there is no Premium Processing option as it has been suspended by USCIS. Q: Do I meet the educational requirements for an H-1B visa if I have a two year Associates Degree and one year of work experience in my field? A: Most likely not. You must hold at least a Bachelor’s Degree. In most cases, this typically means a 4 year degree. Your work experience may be insufficient as three years of work experience equates to one year of university education. You will most likely need an additional five years of work experience in that particular field in order

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Q: My employer is an educational institution. If my employer is cap exempt, when can they file the H-1B petition? Do I have to wait until October 1st, 2017 in order to start my employment? A: Your employer can file the H-1b petition at any time. You do not have to wait until October 1st, 2017 to commence your employment. You can commence work when the petition is approved. Q: I have J-1 Exchange Visitor status. Am I eligible to change my status to H-1B? A: If your J-1 is not subject to the two year home residency requirement, you are eligible to change your status to H-1B. If you are subject to the two year home residency requirement, you will be ineligible for the H-1B or any other employment based status until the requirement has been satisfied (return to your home country for at least two years) or waived by USCIS based on Department of State recommendation. Q: OPT

I am presently on (Optional Practical

tograph following the recital.

Sugar Land Ballroom


A: All foreign degrees have to be first evaluated to determine whether it is equivalent to the Bachelor’s degree offered by an accredited university or institution of higher learning in the United States. This degree evaluation is typically done by a third party credential evaluation service. In addition to that, the Bachelor’s degree you possess must be in the field related to your intended H-1B occupation.

A: I suggest that you approach your employer, usually through their Human Resources Department, to initiate a discussion with them about the possibility of filing an H-1B visa petition for you. The employer, if unfamiliar with such a visa and the procedures involved in the filing may then take action to seek appropriate advice or make inquiries to learn about the options under this visa category. You should initiate these discussions as soon as possible as the start date for filing the H-1B cap cases is fast approaching on April 3rd, 2017. Disclaimer: Any advice provided in this article is general in nature and not intended to constitute legal advice for any specific case. Please consult with an immigration lawyer about the specific circumstances of your case. My Bio Sharlene Sharmila Richards is a licensed Immigration lawyer practicing in Houston, Texas. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2000 and is a member of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and a member of the US Supreme Court. You may contact her at telephone number 713-623-8088 or by email at srichardslaw@ to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

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Q: I have a three year Bachelor’s Degree from my home country. Is it enough for H-1B visa?

Training) with an employer. My OPT will expire this December 2017. How do I ask my employer if they wish to petition for H-1B for me?

Nancy Tsou Performs “Chopin: The Nocturnes”



to have the equivalency of a Bachelor’s degree.

Q: What status will my spouse and children receive if I have been granted H-1B visa?


sou has recently recorded a nationally acclaimed CD of “Chopin Nocturnes.” This CD is available on iTunes, and will be for sale with au-

About Nancy Tsou Tsou began her musical education at age five, in Argentina, and continued her studies in Melbourne and New York. She was awarded a scholarship to study at the Conservatorium of Music at Melbourne University where she gained her Master of Music degree. She has since been on the faculty staff at Melbourne, Monash and Wol-

longong Universities. Professional engagements have included solo recitals in Australia and overseas, among them are several tours with the Queensland, NSW, ACT and the Victorian Arts Councils, performing extensively in each state to laudable reviews. She has also taken part in many Arts Festivals, such as the Chinese Arts Festival and the Brunswick, Kyneton, Bendigo, Swan Hill and Ballarat Arts Festivals. Nancy Tsou will also perform at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music on Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 3 PM. To RSVP for that performance, please call 281.495.3100.

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


Tel: 713-774-5140

‘Hands free’ ordinance set to take effect March 20 in Sugar Land


UGAR LAND - The city council has made texting or talking on the phone while driving punishable by up to a $500 fine and it will take effect on Monday, March 20, 2017 City council passed 5-2 an ordinance on Feb. 21 that banned the use of any portable electronic device while driving. Devices include cell phones, laptops and hand-held music players. Exemptions to the ordinance include using the device in hands-free mode or to call an emergency number. The ordinance makes Sugar Land the first city in Fort Bend County to ban portable electronic device use while driving, a fact council members Missouri City city council already has enacted a ban on texting while driving. Several bills banning texting while driving have been filed this leg-

islative session. Sugar Land’s bill is more comprehensive than those of the Legislature, which only prohibit texting while driving. Bills addressing portable electronic device use while driving bills been filed in the Legislature in previous sessions, but were never passed. Forty-six states have some kind of laws regulating portable electronic device use while driving. The ordinance has been in the works since 2016. Police department staff held workshop sessions with city council to consider implementing such an ordinance in May and December of 2016. A first reading of the ordinance passed 5-2 on Feb. 7. Drivers will be issued a warning during a grace period over the first 90 days. (


This summer, high school summer school programs will be offered at Ridge Point High School and Bowie Middle School. All middle school programs will be offered at Missouri City Middle School. Elementary students will attend summer school at Jones Elementary and Seguin Elementary. Read on for details regarding times, dates and locations of the programs that are being offered. Details about the registration process, course offerings and tuition can also be found on

Fort Bend residents worry about possible mail theft

Kite Festival takes annual flight again


ICHMOND (KTRK) Wednesday, March 15 2017 -- Many people in Fort Bend County’s Pecan Grove neighborhood woke up to find their mailboxes open this morning. The unusual sight led many to wonder if a theft is targeting the community. When Eyewitness News visited the area, mailbox after mailbox were found left open. The contents seemed untouched. Richard Spoonts said when and his wife left this morning, they found their mailbox open as well. “The only thing I can think of is maybe they are looking for credit cards or private information,” said Spoonts. “Absolutely. It concerns me.” ABC13 checked in with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office.

Fort Bend ISD announces Summer School registration dates, course offerings ort Bend ISD will offer various summer school programs in 2017 to meet students’ academic needs at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

Investigators said they received no official reports of stolen mail. The Postal Service said if any residents suspect their mail is missing, they should file a report.

Photo: Randy Kozlovsky


ugar Land’s fourth annual free Cultural Kite Festival event is normally held at Memorial Park. This is the first year at the Brazos

the Summer School webpage.

You can file a report at any post office or by phone at 1-877-876-2455.

Two High School General Summer School sessions will be offered at Ridge Point High School (500 Waters Lake Blvd., Missouri City, 77459) and Bowie Middle School (700 Plantation Dr., Richmond, 77406).

Expansion plans in Rosenberg

Session I will take place June 12 – June 29 Session II will take place July 10 – July 27 High school students attending the Original Credit program will attend Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (transportation is provided). All programs will be closed July 3 – July 7. (-FBISD)

ORT BEND - Summer Lakes subdivision in Rosenberg is in the process of expanding.

First Colony Roofing and Mario’s Paint & Body are both set to open by the end of this year.

The neighborhood is scheduled to tack on 32 lots, two blocks and one reserve, and at the Rosenberg Planning Commission meeting Wednesday, staff will recommend approval to continue with the platting process.

The commission meets the third Wednesday of the month at 5 p.m. in City Hall, 2110 Fourth St.


If the plat is approved, it will take one or two weeks before construction can begin,. (-KTRK)

River Park near the Sugar Land water tower. Scores of visitors with kites and children in tow made their way to the sprawling park where they offered cultural dances, train tours, food trucks and of course, colorful kites. The weather was perfect for flying kites with strong enough winds and cloudy skies holding back the rain until just before 1 p.m., an hour before the event was to end. Three food trucks were on the scene but some participants complained that several trucks did not show fearing rain. The event was sponsored by the Sugar Land Parks and Recreation Department and Republic Services. In addition to kite flying, a cultural stage featured dancers and the children’s stage featured a magic show and comedy show by Ted Schwank.(-FBCC)



HPL and FIS join India House hands to launch Indo- to honor Ian American Heritage Grilott .... Celebrations Continued from Page 1 “Without all the prayers and positive support from everybody, I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am right now. It’s been a blessing to be alive. I am looking forward to attend India House Gala event on March 25th in Houston, TX. You guys are wonderful and I thank you all for such a support”, Ian said.

Left to Right: Krishna Vavilala, FIS Founder- Chairman, Roosevelt Weeks, HPL Deputy Director of Administration, Judith Hiott, HPL Chief of the Houston Area Library Automated Network, Jennifer Schwartz, HPL Programs and Outreach Manager, Kulwant Bhatia, FIS Director, Helen Chou, Manager International Services, City of Houston / HPL OUSTON –Houston Public Library (HPL) and Foundation for India Studies (FIS) have joined hands and formed a Steering Committee to plan and execute the Annual Indo-American Heritage Celebrations starting from year 2018.


Encouraged by the success of last year’s “ Indo-American Heritage Day” event, held on March 26 in HPL’s historic Julia Ideson Library, Mr. Vavilala , Chair of FIS suggested to Mr. Roosevelt Weeks, Deputy Director of HPL that the “IndoAmerican Heritage Day” could be made into a City wide Annual event in the same way as HPL observes the African American and Hispanic American heritages.

Indians being a highly visible minority, the Indo-American Heritage Celebration would provide a great opportunity for the main stream Americans to learn and understand more about the heterogeneous composition and diversity of the Indian- American community living in the greater Houston area. “It would also help minimize the hate crimes” said Krishna Vavilala. Ms. Jennifer Schwartz, Manager, HPL Programs and Outreach would Chair the Steering Committee. HPL, presently a working partner in FIS’s Oral History Project will plan and coordinate the Indo-American Heritage Celebrations.

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“We are privileged to honor Ian Girlott at our biggest event of the year. We invite all Houstonians to come, celebrate Ian’s true American spirit and support India House’s annual fundraising event,” said Jiten Agarwal, Board Member and 2017 Gala Chair of India House. “I don’t know if I could’ve lived with myself if I wouldn’t have stopped or attempted to stop the shooter because that would’ve been completely devastating. I do now have a very powerful message and if I can help empower people and spread hope and love, then why not? I love to be associated with India House that serves so many economically challenged families from all communities in Houston area. It is truly a temple,” Ian said. The annual Gala is the main fundraising event of the India House, with all proceeds going to the day to day community programs and expansion of India House. Guests of honor this year include many dignitaries including India’s Ambassador to USA Mr. Navtej Sarna, Former US Ambassador to India, Mr. David Mulford, Former US Assistant Secretary of State, Ms. Nisha Biswal, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, and Master Chef Vikas Khanna. For further details, please visit gala2017

FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

The 14th Annual Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair Coming April 6- 9

Epicureans to celebrate the region’s diverse food and drink culture By partnering with leading regional and national culinary talent, expanding the weekend’s educational programming and adding curated dinners and events, Sugar Land is poised to showcase why the region is gaining a reputation as the next global food mecca. In 2017, Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair partnered with IWSC Group North America, a globallyrecognized events company dedicated to delighting, inspiring and connecting people and brands through great exBartender’s Challenge will become part periences. “We are of The Grand Tasting. Images credit: thrilled to have IWSC spearhead this year’s affair. The elevated January 18th, 2017 (Sugar Land, TX)---On April 6, Sugar level of talent, programming Land Wine & Food Affair will and consumer options will exofficially kick off, celebrating cite and delight guests. We look the region’s diverse food and forward to Sugar Land providdrink culture while telling the ing the stage to tell the stories untold story of its epicurean tra- of our region and to welcomditions. The four-day festival is ing food and drink lovers from gearing up for its biggest year to around the country,” said Keri date with award winning chefs, Schmidt, president of the Fort sommeliers and mixologists via Bend Chamber of Commerce. dinners, events, learning expeSugar Land Wine & Food Afriences, the Grand Tasting and a two-day Sip & Stroll. Tickets fair will include: will go on sale for this unique Dinners & Events – from event on January 20, 2017 via SugarLandWineandFood Af- unique seated dinner experiences to a meat-lovers lunch, these new dinners and events Located in Fort Bend County, will educate, entertain and dewhich is the most ethnically diverse county in America, the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair will focus on the untold stories of the region’s melting pot of African, Asian, Latino, European and Southwestern flavors that are drawing attention from food and drink lovers from around the country.

light attendees: • The Boiling Point – Thursday, April 6 | 7:30pm Double, Double Boil and Bubble … seafood lovers delight! The seafood boil is a long-standing southern tradition that showcases the freshest local shellfish and ingredients while bringing together community. Most notable are the Cajun crawfish boils from Louisiana and the shrimp boils of the Low Country, but boil fever has taken over most coastal towns throughout the South. Join Chefs David Bancroft (AL), Bryan Caswell (TX), and Edward Lee (KY), as they put their own spin on the boil, including Bryan’s hit Texan BBQ blue crabs. No boil is complete without refreshing libations specially selected to tame the spice … so guests can “Keep Calm & Boil On!” But there’s more ya’ll! The evening will boil down with Texas’ own “Sugar Fairy,” Rebecca Masson, and her magical confectionaries. Adding to the sweetness, a portion of proceeds from this dinner will benefit the Southern Salt Foundation. Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair was founded and produced in 2003 by the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce and benefits the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. For tickets, the full lineup and more information, please visit SugarLandWineandFood



UTMB’s first PCORI award to develop big data visual analytical methods for precision medicine

Suresh K. Bhavnani, PhD


ALVESTON, Texas (March 13, 2017) – Knowing which patients are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital after a procedure would be helpful to both patients and their health care providers. Doctors would be able to customize care for high-risk patients, which could result in reducing the personal and financial burdens associated with hospital readmission. However, current models designed to predict hospital readmission need to be more accurate before they can be useful in hospital settings, said Suresh K. Bhavnani, associate professor from the Institute for Translational Sciences at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. “We believe current models can be improved because they assume that all patients admitted for a specific condition like a hip fracture can be described by a single model,” Bhavnani said. “However, numerous studies have shown that most humans tend to share key characteristics such as gene profiles or pre-existing conditions, forming distinct patient subgroups. Predictive models that take such patient subgroups into consideration should be more accurate compared to the current models that do not.”

To achieve that goal, the PatientCentered Outcomes Research Institute awarded Bhavnani and his multidisciplinary team of data scientists and clinicians $525,000 to develop a new visual analytical method which will automatically identify patient subgroups in large datasets such as Medicare data, and test whether those subgroups can help to improve the prediction of hospital readmission in the elderly. This is the first PCORI award that UTMB has received, and is in the funding category of improving methods for PCORI. “We are honored to be recommended for funding by PCORI and are excited to develop big data visual analytical methods focused towards improving patient-centered outcomes such as hospital readmission,” Bhavnani said. Bhavnani knows the importance of reducing unplanned hospital readmissions. His mother recently suffered a hip fracture, but despite the surgery being successful, she was back in the hospital a few weeks after discharge. This was because the surgery, bedrest and modified nutrition interacted poorly with her pre-existing conditions, resulting in a costly hospital readmission. His mother’s experience demonstrates how seemingly unrelated factors can result in a patient having to be readmitted. Bhavnani, who heads the Discovery and Innovation through Visual Analytics lab at UTMB, will use an advanced form of visual analytics to automatically identify patient subgroups that share similar characteristics – those with diabetes and renal failure, for example – and build prediction models that are targeted to those subgroups. “A key goal of precision medicine is to identify patient subgroups, comprehend the reasons for their negative

FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

Preet Bharara, the tenacious prosecutor fired by Trump by Sébastien BLANC / Maggy DONALDSON

outcomes, and design interventions targeted toward those patient subgroups. Our visual analytical method for automatically identifying patient subgroups and their characteristics in large datasets therefore has direct relevance to precision medicine,” said Bhavnani. The study will focus on three conditions common in elderly patients: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure and hip/ knee surgeries. His team will include clinicians and researchers to develop and test the predictive models which will use information about patient subgroups. “This is UTMB’s first funding award from PCORI and we share Dr. Bhavnani’s enthusiasm for using innovative visual analytical methods to improve patient care,” said Dr. Danny O. Jacobs, executive vice president, provost and dean of the School of Medicine at UTMB. PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions. For more information about PCORI’s funding, visit www.pcori. org. “This project was selected for PCORI funding not only for its scientific merit and commitment to engaging patients and other stakeholders, but also for its potential to fill an important gap in our health knowledge and give people information to help them weigh the effectiveness of their care options,” said PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby. “We look forward to following the study’s progress and working with UTMB to share the results.”


ASHINGTON (AFP) -An Indian-born, New Jerseyraised Bruce Springsteen fan, former Manhattan federal attorney Preet Bharara ascended to rock-star status in the straitlaced world of law for his aggressive skewering of public corruption and Wall Street crime. And staying true to style, the outspoken holdover from the Obama era refused to go quietly when the White House requested his resignation on Friday, forcing the Trump administration to fire him. The federal attorney’s dismissal capped his arm wrestle with the executive branch that started when Bharara -- perhaps the most high-profile US prosecutor in the nation -- flouted the White House order that he along with dozens of other US prosecutors resign. “I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired,” Bharara, 48, tweeted Saturday using his recently created personal account. After former US President Barack Obama appointed him in 2009, Bharara had reigned over the high-profile Southern District of New York -- which includes the Manhattan and Bronx boroughs as well as areas just north of the city -- prosecuting corrupt public officials, gang kingpins, cyberhackers and terrorists. The sapphire-eyed attorney took the helm of the prominent prosecutorial post in the throes of the mortgage crisis, becoming known as “the sheriff of Wall Street” for zealously pursuing white-collar criminals in wealthy Manhattan. During his more than seven years at the powerful criminal justice perch he also became the scourge of New York lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle, notably taking down on federal corruption charges the former Democratic speaker of New York’s assembly as well as the former Republican majority leader of the state Senate.

- ‘Sorely missed’ Born in Punjab to a Sikh father and Hindu mother, Bharara arrived stateside at the age of two. After growing up in New Jersey he graduated from the prestigious Harvard University and later Columbia Law School. Before Obama appointed him to the post he has held for the better part of a decade, Bharara served as chief counsel to New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, now the Senate Democratic leader, with whom he maintains friendly relations. It is not uncommon for US presidents to clean house by replacing federal attorneys appointed by the previous administration, but the abruptness and scope of the Trump administration’s resignation demands raised eyebrows. Bharara’s ouster came as a particular shock because the attorney had met with Trump shortly after his November election, and had said he agreed to remain in his position at Trump’s request -- a seemingly bipartisan move Schumer had lauded. “Preet Bharara was an excellent US attorney,” Schumer tweeted following Bharara’s firing. “He’ll be sorely missed.” Bharara’s departure comes as his office was set to try former members of New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration for bribery and bid-rigging schemes. It also came amid a high-profile probe into the campaign fundraising efforts of New York City Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio and his aides. - Supercop Still, Bharara leaves behind an impressive legacy of prosecuting South American cocaine barons, arms traffickers, antiques looters, corrupt police officers and bankers. “Whether you are a street-level dealer, a member of a cartel, or the son of a former foreign president, drug dealing is drug dealing,” he said after the son of a former president of Honduras pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to import cocaine.

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Golden Moon Festival at ISKCON of Houston

FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

Masi Magam celebrations at Sri Meenakshi Temple


n March12, 2017, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) of Houston celebrated Gaura Purnima, translated as “golden full moon” signifying the appearance of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu during the full moon, 531 years ago. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu also known as Gauranga, due to his golden complexion, appeared in Mayapur, India and propagated “Sankirtana” - congregational chanting of the holy names, specifically the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare as the most effective means to attain the highest spiritual perfection - Love of Godhead. Typically devotees fast on this day until moonrise which signifies the appearance of the Lord. Gaura Purnima is one of the major festivals of Vaisnava tradition and planning and preparation for this festival started weeks in advance. The festival also marks the ushering of the Gaudiya New Year, and devotees from far and wide attended the early morning services at 4:30 AM to offer their respectful prayers to the Lordships and make an auspicious start to the new year. In the early afternoon, a group of devotees went on a public parade at Discovery Green park chanting the names of the Lord and giving out the nectar of the Holy name to one and all. The public celebrations started at 5 in the evening. The temple wore a festive

Priests perfoming abhishek to Lord Gaurachandra and His associate Lord Nityananda. Photos by Thejas look with bouquets of flowers donning its pristine marble walls and exquisitely carved teakwood altar. The festivities started off with a rousing arati / kirtan (chanting of the Hare Krishna mahamantra) and devotees joyfully dancing while chanting the names of the Lord. This was followed by abhishek - bathing ceremony, where both Lord Gaurachandra and His dear associate Lord Nityananda were bathed in colorful sweet fruit juices, milk, ghee, honey, yogurt, and other auspicious substances. HG Advaitachandra Dasa gave an inspiring talk on the appearance of Lord Chaitanya where he spoke about the reasons for the appearance of the Lord, His form and His teachings, specifi-

cally, the key verse of “Siksastakam”The Eight Instructions of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu describing the importance for a devotee of the Lord to cultivate the qualities of humility, tolerance and mutual respect. The Sunday school students, continuing on the theme of Sankirtana presented a well enacted skit glorifying the importance of congregational chanting in this age of Kali, the age of quarrel and hypocrisy. Over 700 enthusiastic devotees attended the event. ISKCON of Houston temple (located at 1320 West 34th Street) invites you to attend our weekly Sunday program, starting at 5 PM.

\Deities of Lord Karthikeya and his consorts Valli and Devayanai by Kamala Raghavan


asi Magam, a special event for Lord Murugan was celebrated by Sri Meenakshi Temple on Saturday March 11, 2017. This auspicious day usually falls on the Magam nakshathra of the Tamil month Masa (Generally Feb 15 – March 15). Sri Meenakshi Temple closely follows the traditions and customs of Madurai and this festival replicated the grand celebration at the ancient Thirupparankundram Murugan temple. The scriptures say that Goddess Parvathy, in the form of Shakti (Supreme Power) blessed and gave the divine “vel” weapon to Lord Muruga to ensure victory in his battle with the demon Surapadman. The abhishekam is performed on the Vel or spear of Lord Muruga. More than 100 ardent devotees participated in the beautiful puja. The priest performed Abhishekam to the accompaniment of chanting of the sacred Rudra veda mantram. This was followed by the singing of the melodious and popular Tamil hymn

Young devotees performing a skit on the theme Sankirtana





Kanda Shashti Kavacham that was composed by the 19th century poet Devaraya Swamigal. The devotees sang several songs on Muruga while waiting patiently for the thirai (curtain) to open after alankaram. When the curtain opened, there was a spontaneous cry of “Muruganukku Haro Hara, Vel Muruganukku Haro Hara” from all the devotees upon seeing the spectacularly adorned deities of Lord Karthikeya and his consorts Valli and Devayanai. The final archana was performed, followed by Deeparadhana. This was truly a very divine and fulfilling experience for the devotees, aptly described by a devotee’s parents visiting from India as “We never miss Madurai or Mylapore when we are in Meenakshi Temple, Houston, where all the pujas and festivals are done just like in India”. Several of the volunteers had prepared prasadams that were distributed by the coordinators. The event was very well conducted by the priests and temple staff, and coordinated by Dr. T.A. Dorairajan and Mr. Srikanth Venugopalan along with the Temple board members.




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FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

Overwhelming community support for North South Foundation by Sai Rachakonda The Houston Chapter of the North South Foundation (NSF) held its fundraising gala at India House on March 10, 2017. The objective was to raise funds to support NSF’s India Scholarship program and the 2017 National Finals Competition at the University of Houston in August. Over 100 supporters including businesses and individuals from the Greater Houston area attended this event. Honorable Consul General of India, Dr. Anupam Ray, who attended the event emphasized the importance of instilling core values of discipline, perseverance, and humility in children and how these goals are closely aligned with the philosophy of NSF. Dr. Ray also appreciated NSF’s academic efforts in USA and in India. Dr. Ratnam Chitturi, Founder of NSF gave the attendees a summary of NSF’s achievements over the past 28 years and shared his vision of NSF’s future mission in USA and in India. Dr. Chitturi also emphasized that NSF operates on a 100% volunteer-run model with no payroll employees, and complimented the commitment of the Indo-American community in ensuring its sustainability and success. Mr. Sai Rachakonda, longtime NSF-Houston coordinator and convener of the 2017 NSF Nationals Finals, highlighted the Chapter’s success in helping many Houston area children get to the National stage, including Scripps Spelling Bee, Math Counts, Geography Bee and others. He thanked the attendees for their long time encouragement and support. This was followed by three NSF alumni sharing their personal experience with NSF and how this association has helped them look forward to a bright future built on NSF’s core values. The event concluded with dinner and a captivating evening presented by Gary’s Z-band musical group.

Dr. Ratnam Chitturi, Founder of NSF receiving a momento from Cosul General Dr. Ray.

Planting the Seeds of Creativity Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray addressing the gathering at India House. Photos credit: Mani Nutalapati. North South Foundation (NSF) is a non-profit, volunteer run organization established in 1989 by Dr. Ratnam Chitturi. The goal is to promote excellence in human endeavor by providing resources to help deserving and economically disadvantaged students establish successful careers. To realize these goals, NSF has instituted a Scholarship program in India through its 25 centers from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. The students can pursue educational careers in engineering, medical or polytechnic schools. Academic competitions conducted by the Foundation support the India Scholarship program. It is encouraging to note that for the past 10 years, the Scripps National Spelling Bee Champions are NSF Children. Similarly, children trained by NSF have excelled in other national competitions including, National Geography Bee, Math Olympiad, Math Counts, Science Bowl and History Bee and others. NSF-US operates 92 Regional Chapters in the United

States. The Foundation’s Houston Chapter has been conducting the workshops and contests for the past 24 years. NSF-Houston is supported by a team of more than 50 volunteers. The chapter provides volunteering opportunities for high school children too. This year, the regional contests will be conducted on 08/09-Apr. Last date for registrations is 27-Mar. The year marks an important milestone for NSF-Houston which plans to host the 2017 National Finals at the University of Houston on August 12th and 13th. The year also coincides with the 25th Anniversary for the Academic Bee contests. About 1,500 children selected from the centers all over the country are expected to participate. The finals event can be watched live on NSF Channel on YUPPTV while previous years events can be watched on demand. Needless to say, an undertaking of such proportions cannot be successful without volunteer and financial support from our local Indian community.





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Why the new H1B visa curbs are spooking Indian techies

FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

Senate confirms Seema Verma to head Medicare and Medicaid icaid, saying “the status quo is not acceptable” for the federal-state insurance program that covers more than 70 million low-income people.

The latest directive has further reinforced concerns of higher restraints on foreign workers to the US. Analysis by MG Arun


he Indian IT industry’s worst fears seem to be coming true. With the United States government suspending the fast-tracking of H1B visas for six months starting April 3, Indian companies such as Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro, among others, will find it more difficult to send skilled workers abroad to service clients. Coming on the back of a proposed bill to reform H-1B visas tabled in February that is yet to be signed by US President Donald Trump, the latest directive has further reinforced concerns of higher restraints on foreign workers to the US, in line with Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” policy. Indian IT companies reportedly earn around $60 billion annually from the US market, providing a slew of services to top American firms. H1B visas are employment-based visas for temporary workers, issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Being the most coveted among US work visas, only 85,000 H1B visas, including 20,000 for students, are issued every year.

Indian IT companies account for roughly 17,000 to 18,000 of these every year, several of them in the priority category, where visa processing is fasttracked by paying an extra fee of $1,225 (around Rs 80,000). Indian companies used this window to send their staff to the US on urgent assignments. Visa processing through the normal process can take as many as three months, a waiting time companies can ill-afford, especially with competition snapping at their heels. Indian and Chinese staff are preferred for such projects, as they earn salaries of $60,000 (Rs 40 lakh) annually compared to nearly double the salary for local American workers. Another blow to the Indian IT industry would be another key proposal in the pending visa reforms bill, which calls to more than double salaries of H1B visa holders to $130,000 (Rs 87 lakh) in a bid to make such labour unattractive for US firms. The latest US move has spread concern among investors in IT stocks. Shares of Infosys, one of the top sponsors for H1B visas in the US in 2016, and Wipro fell

soon after. However, Nasscom, the Indian lobby group for IT firms, said similar suspension of priority visa has happened in the past too. “They (the US) did it now, since in April the new season starts, and a new set of applications will come in,” says R Chandrasekhar, president of Nasscom. But it still raises some concern, he adds. First, it comes in the midst of a larger atmosphere of negative sentiment about the new administration’s stance on skilled immigrant labour. Second, the suspension is for six months, instead of the usual two months. Third, the scope of the suspension is wider. Earlier, only new applications would come under its preview, but now, even extensions and transfers too would be impacted. “This has made things a little more difficult (for Indian IT companies),” says Chandrasekhar. “However, it is not a show-stopper or a serious barrier.” But with a president as unpredictable as Trump at the helm of affairs, the fear is that things can get more serious over time. (-The Mail Online)

Punjab industry chamber opens office in USA


E N N S Y L VA N I A STATE | March 14, 2017 - To facilitate industrialists of Punjab expand their businesses in North and South America, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) has opened an overseas office in Chester city, the USA. While announcing it on Monday, CICU president Avtar Singh signed a memorandum of understanding with Paul Singal, who will

manage the office. Avtar Singh said, “The overseas office will be a bridge among the members interested in boosting their export performances.” Upkar Singh Ahuja, general secretary of the association, said, “This is perhaps for the first time that an industry association has taken a step like this to help its members in import and export to one of the largest markets of the world. The

primary purpose of signing this MoU and opening CICU office is to provide help to industrialists in getting the marketing avenues in the USA, Canada, Cuba and Mexico.” “Paul Singal has been appointed vice-president of our overseas office in the USA. He has assured that full cooperation and support will be provided to the members of the association when they visit USA. The

Seema Verma testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on her nomination to be the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC on Feb 16, 2017 (Photo: MANDEL NGAN, AFP/Getty Images) by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar,


ASHINGTON March 14, 2017 - President Donald Trump’s pick to run Medicare and Medicaid won confirmation Monday from a divided Senate as lawmakers braced for another epic battle over the government’s role in health care and society’s responsibility toward the vulnerable. Indiana health care consultant Seema Verma, a protégé of Vice President Mike Pence, was approved by a 55-43 vote, largely along party lines. She’ll head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a $1 trillion agency that oversees health insurance

overseas office will also help the CICU delegations in business visits to industrial hubs in different countries and arrange buyerseller meetings,” he added. CICU members have hailed this new achievement. (-Times of India)

programs for more than 130 million people, from elderly nursing home residents to newborns. It’s part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Verma, a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from India, takes over at CMS as a House Republican health care bill backed by Trump would make sweeping changes to the agency. That legislation would roll back key elements of former President Barack Obama’s health care law, including its Medicaid expansion for low-income people. More significantly, the GOP bill would limit overall federal financing for Medicaid in the future. Taken together, those changes could leave 24 million more people uninsured by 2026, the Congressional Budget Office said Monday in an assessment that’s bound to complicate the bill’s already difficult path. With a background in public health, Verma has said she wants government programs to improve health, not just pay bills. She’s been critical of Med-

In Indiana, Verma designed a Medicaid expansion along conservative lines for Pence. Most beneficiaries are required to pay modest premiums. And the program uses financial rewards and penalties to steer patients to primary care providers instead of the emergency room. Critics say the plan has been confusing for beneficiaries and some have incurred penalties through no fault of their own. At her Senate confirmation hearing, Verma defended her approach by saying that low-income people are fully capable of making health care decisions based on rational incentives. She also said she does not support turning Medicare into a voucher plan under which retirees would get a fixed federal contribution to purchase private coverage from government-regulated private insurance plans. Her boss, HHS Secretary Tom Price, is a prominent advocate of such an approach. Medicare covers more than 56 million seniors and disabled people. Some state officials are welcoming Verma’s arrival as a sign that Medicaid has come of age at an agency where it traditionally came in second to Medicare. With Verma’s confirmation and Price as health secretary, Trump has two of the most senior HHS officials in place. Last Friday, the president nominated Dr. Scott Gottlieb to run the Food and Drug Administration. Nonetheless, many senior political appointee positions at HHS remain unfilled. (-Associated Press Wire Service)

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Chinese premier warns US against ‘trade war’

FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

Taj Mahal gardens at dusk

Li Keqiang also expresses optimism the world’s two biggest economies can coexist despite Trump-era frictions


EIJING, China (AFP) Wednesday, March 15, 2017 — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday warned the United States against starting a trade war while expressing optimism that the world’s two largest economies could keep relations steady despite Trump-era frictions. “We don’t want to see any trade war breaking out between the two countries. That wouldn’t make our trade fairer,” Li told reporters at a press conference closing China’s annual parliamentary session. “No matter what bumps the China-US relationship may run into, we hope this relationship will continue to move forward in a positive direction.” China and the United States are currently discussing arrangements for a summit between President Donald Trump and his counterpart Xi Jinping that could help ease tensions stoked by Trump’s fiery election-campaign rhetoric. Trump threatened to upend decades of multilateralism and raised fears of a trade war with China while on the campaign trail. After his election victory, he angered Beijing with a protocol-busting telephone conversation with the president of self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own. Trump and Xi subsequently smoothed over the dispute last month in a phone call in which the US leader reiterated Washington’s adherence to the “one China” policy that nominally endorses Beijing’s claim to Taiwan. In the wake of the Xi-Trump conversation, Li said he saw “bright prospects” for bilateral relations. “I believe whatever differences we have, we can still sit down and talk to each other and work together to find solutions,” he said. Li’s parliament-ending press conference is the only time each year that foreign journalists are allowed to put questions to a member of China’s elite leadership inner

Photo by Fabio Macan

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (C) speaks during a press conference after the closing ceremony of the annual session of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on March 15, 2017. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP) circle, though they are preapproved. Li is second only to Xi in the Communist Party hierarchy. - Fasten your seat belts Li cited a report which he said indicated that if a trade war occurred, “foreign-invested companies, in particular US firms, would bear the brunt of it”. Li vowed that China would continue to act as a steady pillar of the global economy despite trimming its domestic economic growth forecast for this year. Delivering his government’s annual report to the rubberstamp National People’s Congress 10 days earlier, Li cited a “more complicated and graver situation” facing the global and domestic economy this year. He said the government growth target for 2017 was “around 6.5 percent, or higher if possible,” a further deceleration after full-year growth last year came in at 6.7 percent, weakest since 1990. He said Wednesday that achieving the 2016 target “will not be easy”, and warned that China faced a plethora of financial risks at home. China is trying to pivot from hyper-fast growth based on investment, heavily-polluting industries, and exports towards a steadier consumerdriven model. But the transition is compli-

cated by the slowing growth, a slumping currency, bloated industrial firms, capital flight abroad, and fears of a looming housing bubble and bad-loan crisis. Li said China would “continue to be a strong driving force in the face of a sluggish global economy recovery.” But he added that Chinese policymakers need to “take very seriously the risks we are facing on the domestic front, especially in the financial sector.” “We need to fasten our seat belts and prevent any acute outburst of financial risks and we will also make sure that we prevent any regional and systemic risks,” he said. Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit Japan, South Korea and China beginning later this week, with tensions soaring in the region. North Korea has caused alarm with its latest missile tests while US-South Korean military exercises have added to the discord. China also has strongly hit back against the US deployment in South Korea of an anti-missile defense system aimed at the North Korean threat but which China says weakens its own defenses. Li issued a call for all sides to work toward defusing the situation, apparently speaking for China in saying “no one wants to have chaos at their doorstep.”

Chairman Poe introduces Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Act of 2017


ASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism has introduced H.R. 1449, the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Act of 2017. The bill requires the President to issue a report within 90 days detailing whether Pakistan has provided support for international terrorism. Thirty days after that, the Secretary of State is required to a submit a followup report containing either a determination that Pakistan is a state sponsor of terrorism or a detailed justification as to why it does not meet the legal criteria for such a designation. “Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years. From harboring Osama bin Laden to its cozy relationship with the Haqqani network, there is more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on in the War on Terror. And it’s not America’s. It is time we stop paying Pakistan for its betrayal and designate it for what it is: a State Sponsor of Terrorism.”

Japan recalls tsunami, nuclear tragedy six years on The nation paused Saturday to mark six years since a deadly earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster devastated its northeastern coast, as more than 100,000 people remain unable or unwilling to return home. by Harumi Ozawa


“I possess unceasing sympathy for those who lost beloved family members and friends.” Japan’s ageing Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko did not attend this year’s ceremony, but were represented by their son Prince Akishino and his wife Princess Kiko. “Many people are still forced

While it’s customary for presidents to replace the previous administration’s political appointees – which US attorneys are – Bharara’s firing came as a surprise to many, because Trump had asked him to stay on when they initially

Bharara, at the time of his firing, was in the midst of an investigation into Fox News relating to its business practices when it was led by Ailes. Trump fired Bharara on the heels of a segment during which Fox News host Sean Hannity advocated for a “purge” of all Obama-

Marc Mukasey and Edward O’Callaghan are both in line to Bharara’s old job. (Photos: AFP/Getty Images) spoke. The timing of Bharara’s dismissal was also characterized as somewhat abrupt, because the Trump administration had not yet named a replacement for him. While the president has still not nominated Bharara’s successor, two frontrunners have emerged. Marc L. Mukasey Marc Mukasey currently serves as the Global Co-Chair of Greenberg Traurig’s WhiteCollar Defense and Special Investigations Practice. He has experience working as a former prosecutor for New York’s Southern District, and he is the son of Michael B. Mukasey, the attorney general during the Bush administration.


ONDON (AFP) | Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - However a drop in the jobless rate comes alongside news of slowing wages growth.

The quake and tsunami caused widespread damage to homes while radiation spread over a wide area, with more than 450,000 people evacuating in the immediate aftermath.

The disaster “brought unprecedented damage” and “claimed many precious lives”, Abe, dressed in formal mourning attire, told the solemn gathering.


resident Trump created waves when he fired Preet Bharara, US attorney for the Southern District of New York, over the weekend.

toward female employees at Fox News. Ailes later resigned from his position as the allegations gained nationwide coverage.

appointed Justice Department officials. Edward O’Callaghan O’Callaghan assisted the Trump transition team and is currently a partner specializing in white-collar defense at Clifford Chance. He also worked as a federal prosecutor and co-chief of the terrorism and national security unit at the US attorney’s office in New York before resigning in 2008 to work on Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign. While working on McCain’s campaign, O’Callaghan became part of what the campaign called a “truth squad,” formed to provide legal cover and pushback against ethics charges brought against thenvice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. At the time, he spearheaded an effort to quash the pre-election investigation – which became known as “Troopergate” – into Palin when she was governor of Alaska. (-Business Insider)

British unemployment hits 41-year low

The massive flow of water overwhelmed cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, causing meltdowns in three of its six reactors in what was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other participants at a national ceremony in Tokyo bowed their heads in silent prayer, as did many residents across the affected region, at 2:46 pm (0546 GMT) — the exact moment the quake struck.

by Sonam Sheth

Mukasey is also former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes’ attorney and represented him when Ailes faced multiple allegations of sexual harassment

OKYO (AFP) | Tuesday, March 14, 2017 - The magnitude 9.0 quake, which struck under the Pacific Ocean on March 11, 2011, and the tsunami it spawned left about 18,500 people dead or missing.

More than 123,000 remain displaced, the majority from Fukushima due to high radiation.

Here’s who’s in the running to replace Preet Bharara, the ‘Sheriff of Wall Street’

A family offers flowers for victims of the 2011 quake-tsunami disaster at a cenotaph on the sea wall near Sendai, Miyagi prefecture (Photo: AFP | KAZUHIRO NOGI) to face difficult times in the disaster areas and evacuation places,” Akishino said. – Evacuation orders – “Especially for those in prolonged evacuations, I feel pain deep in my heart thinking about the health of those ageing year by year in the disaster zone and people who remain unable to return home due to high radiation levels.” Separately, hundreds of police and firefighters combed beaches along the coast of Fukushima prefecture, as they do on the 11th of each month, in a search for remains or other evidence of people who remain unaccounted for. The latest National Police Agency figures show that the

total of dead or missing from the earthquake and tsunami stood at 18,446 people.

evacuee Miyako Kumamoto said at a press conference ahead of the anniversary.

Besides the number of people killed in the quake and tsunami, more than 3,500 deaths from causes such as illness and suicide have been linked to the aftermath of the tragedy, according to government figures.

“We fled solely to protect our children and grandchildren from radiation,” she said, criticising authorities for failing to help them.

While no deaths have been attributed to radiation exposure, evacuees are concerned the government is moving too fast to deem once closed off areas safe to inhabit. “Many voluntary evacuees (from Fukushima) are mothers with small children fleeing from home in fear of radiation and the elderly who sought refuge in the homes of relatives,”

“I cannot accept this or understand why we have to be in this predicament.”

Unemployment for the quarter ending January 31 fell to 4.7 percent from a rate of 4.8 percent in the final three months of 2016, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement. “The unemployment rate dropped to 4.7 percent in the three months to January 2017… It has not been lower since June to August 1975,” the ONS said. Analysts’ consensus forecast had been for an unchanged rate of 4.8 percent, which would have kept unemployment at an 11-year low point. “The labour market is currently seeing decent improvement, reflecting the economy’s resilience through the second half of 2016,” Howard Archer, chief UK economist at

Government evacuation orders from some 70 percent of the originally closed off areas will be lifted by April 1, except for certain towns near the battered plant, and authorities are encouraging evacuees to return.

main unsafe.

But many have criticised the government for moving too fast, saying radiation levels re-

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the operator of the stricken plant, and the gov-

IHS Markit, said in reaction to Wednesday’s data. “However, markedly slowing earnings growth reinforces the squeeze on consumers coming from rising inflation – and this is likely to increasingly weigh down increasingly on economic activity. Tim Worstall, economic writer for the website and magazine columist writes in an op-ed piece today: “Unemployment, at 4.7%, is now down to its lowest in four decades, to the levels of 1975. Nominal wage growth is at 2.2 % and inflation means that real wage growth is down at 0.8%. “At which point the Resolution Foundation tells us that this is therefore going to be the decade with the worst real wage growth since the Napoleonic Wars. Something that might even be true. Britain followed sensible economic policies rather than the sillinesses which FDR kept trying.” (-AFP/

ernment are facing what is expected to be a four-decade task of cleaning up and decommissioning the facility.



FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

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Section 2


FRIDAY, March 17, 2017


Demonetization demystified through historical context and future steps

Govinda’s has grand opening


OUSTON - The Houston Chapter of The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) – also known as Hare Krishna Temple - celebrated the Grand Opening of Govinda’s (which means “The One Who Brings Pleasure”), the vegetarian/ vegan Indian restaurant next to ISKCON of Houston Center, located at 1320 West 34th Street in the Heights area of Houston, on Saturday March 11, 2017. Govinda’s culinary lineup includes the husband and wife team of executive chefs Joynitai and Jamuna Dasadhikari (formerly with other Govinda’s restaurants worldwide for over 20 years), and Amar Singh Bishwakarma (formerly the executive chef at Bombay Brasserie and other five-star restaurants in India) as chef de cuisine.

Tel: 713-774-5140

Manager Kishan Sardana cuts the ribbon for the lunch official opening as Gen. Manager Shyamasundar Das, staff and guests join. (Photos and story edited by David Garvin)

Seminar presenter was Ranvir “Biki” Mohindra (left) with panelists financial planner Randhir Sahni, CPA Swapan Dhairyawan, banker and SOS Chairman Vivek Mehta, journalist Pramod Kulkarni and Juuhi Ahuja, businesswoman.


Manager Kishan Sardana is a 40year veteran of the restaurant industry.

square foot beautiful center, with a 72-foot high central dome, which debuted on May 16, 2014.

“On the eve of the internationally celebrated Festival of Colors, which ushers in spring, we will be officially celebrating the grand opening of our restaurant, Govinda’s,” stated General Manager Shyamasundar “Shyam” Das. Das, who for decades has owned and managed restaurants, motels and real estate in Houston, is the acting president of the Hare Krishna Temple.

Along the way, they built an organic urban farm, an elementary school -- Goswami Academy -- where they integrated the classroom programs with their values-based curriculum focusing on character development and academic excellence that meets Texas Education Agency requirements. They are even building apartments which will be available to those who are living a healthy lifestyle – (vegetarian, no smoking or drinking of alcohol).

“At 10:30 am, there was an opening of the center grounds to all our neighbors and friends for free tours of our center and school,” stated Das. “We will also had musical entertainment, children’s games on the great lawn, and a vegetarian lunch buffet at Govinda’s Restaurant.” The grand opening special price for lunch on March 11th was “Buy one Get one Free” (regularly $11), plus beverages. More than thirty years ago, the founding members of the ISKCON (The International Society for Krishna Consciousness) bought several acres of land off West 34th street to build a center for their community. In 2004, they began construction of the current 24,000

Organic farming: North of the temple on eight acres, they are planning on having cows for fresh milk, butter and cheese, a vegetable garden and bees, with the hope of supplying Govinda’s with fresh produce, as well as engaging with their neighbors. It also ties into their philosophy of “simple living, high thinking” and applying this concept to what you eat, where it comes from, and how it is prepared. Living community: Across the street from the center, they are building 84 apartments in four buildings which will be offered

to anyone that follows a health-conscious lifestyle. Signature Dishes - Saag Paneer, Paneer Makhani, Okra, Vegetable Korma, Vegetable Kofta, Dal Makhani, Chana Masala, Pindi Chana, Baingan Bharatha (Eggplant Masala), BBQ Tofu, Pasta. All-Vegan Menu on Sundays featuring Seasonal Items: Tomato Soup, Corn Chowder, Vegetable Bean Soup; Samosas, Vegetable Pakora, Pilaf Rice; Desserts: Rice Custard Pudding, Varieties of Vegan Cakes, and Vegan Cookies; Specialty Drinks: Mango Lassi, Ginger/ Mint Lemonade, Rose Drink, Indian Chai.

OUSTON -- India’s demonetization of its currency is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. The demonetization mystery was unwrapped at a free seminar on Tuesday, March 7 at India House.

SOS President Qusai Mahesri served as the emcee for the seminar, which opened with a welcome from IH Executive Director Vipin Kumar.

The seminar was sponsored by India House, which provided an excellent venue for the seminar. The other two sponsors were SOS and NRI Tax & Wealth Advisory. All three organizations have a common thread: Ranvir “Biki” Mohindra.

Mohindra then made a 15-min. presentation about demonetization. The first slide showed the known reasons for demonetization, including: bringing hidden black money into circulation, broadening the tax base, controlling counterfeiting, covering up the failure of public sector companies, and as a political strategy.

A resident of Houston for more than 40 years, Mohindra has helped foster many Indo-American community organizations, including India House, Share Our Secrets (SOS) and NRI Tax & Wealth Advisory. Mohindra is the founder and principal of SOS, which teaches Millenials the intricacies of climbing the corporate ladder, personal growth and enrichment and contributing to society. “SOS teaches important life lessons you don’t learn in schools and colleges,” explained SOS mentor Mani Subrmanian. He also explained the SOS Mentorship Program, which is recruiting additional mentors. Many members of the SOS family worked behind the scenes, including Vishnu Muralidharan, Sapna Vishnu, Nilima Bembalkar, Kalpita Shah, Amit Patil, Rishi Goswami, Kristi Rangel and

Densise McGetrick.

“It is all these reasons and none of these reasons,” explained Mohindra. “Demonetization is one of the intermediate steps that are being taken to bring India to the forefront as a world-class economy with transparent transactions and rule of the law.” “The first step was economic reforms that began with Finance Minister Manmohan Singh. Under Modi, effort is making the economy transparent through bank accounts for the masses, cashless payments. Strict enforcement is the next step.” NRI Tax & Wealth Advisory will hold another demonetization luncheon seminar on March 16 at Madras Pavilion in Sugar Land and SOS will hold a seminar on immigration and hate crimes on April 9 (venue to be announced).

Catering is available with an Outdoor Patio coming soon at the location. All major credit cards accepted and wheelchair accessible. Govinda’s Restaurant, featuring a fresh Vegetarian/Vegan Indian Buffet is located at 1320 W. 34th Street, Houston, Texas 77018 in the Garden Oaks area of Houston (near 610 Loop and Ella exit). Open 7 days a week. Lunch: 11 am 2:30 pm, Dinner: 5 pm - 9 pm. Contact the restaurant at 832-8319951 or visit A section of the audience

MANAGEMENT TIP OF THE WEEK Set Clear Ground Rules for Your Virtual Team All workplaces need ground rules, but they’re particularly important for remote work. When a team is spread out among branch offices, coffee shops, and hotel lobbies, people may have wildly different ideas about what’s expected of them. Make clear what kind of latitude and independence team members can expect, what resources will be available to them, and how much team members will be expected to travel. If people work in different time zones, it’s critical to set ground rules around working hours, too. Managers should think about these questions: What times of day are team members expected to be available? How will you schedule meetings to accommodate each person? What should people do if they find their responsibilities require them to work overtime or outside their scheduled hours? Giving the team this kind of guidance up front will help them work more effectively. Source: Adapted from Leading Virtual Teams (HBR 20-Minute Manager Series)


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FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

Paired-off Americans Woman turns cancelled wedding have sex less often: study into a story of ‘life-changing positivity’ with charity event


IAMI, AFP | Tuesday 3/14/2017 Americans are having less sex than they did in the past two decades, and couples who are married or live together reported the largest drop in frequency, researchers said Tuesday. Americans living as couples had sex 16 fewer times per year in 2010-2014 compared to 2000-2004, said the survey, based on a nationally representative sample of more than 26,000 American adults asked about their sexual behavior since 1989. On the whole, Americans had sex about nine fewer times per year in 2010-2014 compared to 1995-1999. “These data show a major reversal from previous decades in terms of marriage and sex,” said lead author Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University. “In the 1990s, married people had sex more times per year than never-married people, but by the mid-2000s that reversed, with the never-married having more sex.” While the survey did not delve into the reasons for this trend, researchers said it was not because people are working more than ever.

help them start a business.


“There are women in different socio-economic situations overseas that often don’t have the same freedom to say ‘no’ to marrying Mr Wrong which is

date was set, venue booked and invitations sent out. But three months out from her wedding, 24-year-old Sydneysider Angela Tan and her high-school sweetheart of eight years made the mutual and “terrifying realisation” that they were not meant for each other.

Americans had sex about nine fewer times per year in 2010-2014 compared to 1995-1999 (File photo) In fact, people who reported working more hours actually had sex more often than people who worked less. Twenge said people’s age seems to be a critical factor in how much sex they have. Younger generations, such as millennials, tend to have sex less often than their grandparents did when they were young, in part because fewer of them have steady partners. An earlier study by Twenge and co-authors found that millennials had fewer sexual partners than their Generation X predecessors. Sexual frequency tends to

peak around age 25, then declines 3.2 percent per year after that, said the study. In general, people in their 20s have sex more than 80 times per year, declining to 60 times per year by age 45, and 20 times per year by age 65, it added. “In a previous paper, we found that the happiness of adults over age 30 declined between 2000 and 2014,” said Twenge. “With less sex and less happiness, it’s no wonder that American adults seem deeply dissatisfied these days.” The study appeared in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

For the love of chai by Ranjani Ranjendra

the world.


While the one curated by PostTea UK, has more flavours including pieces of butterscotch, sunflower petals, dried apple and natural bacon flavouring from sunflower oil, the other two from USA have different offerings.

hat is the one thing that keeps most of us going on a long, tiring day? Endless cups of chai — the strong, sweet, milky concoction that most of us have come to love. And if it is laced with ginger or masala, then it’s an even better pickme-up. Coffee shops might be a dime a dozen, but it is chai in its many avatars that is most sought after in the country — be it as a conversation starter, a welcome drink or even to just catch a break.

by Nicole Economos

The product by Tattle Tea, Maple Bacon Chai Black, has an enriching blend of spices

mentioned ingredients along with flavours of apple pieces and cinnamon bark. If you think this is the weirdest tea in the world, you are wrong. There are Panda dung tea, dry bubble ice tea, garlic tea, fermented yak butter tea (Pocha), Russian brick tea and many more. Until now, there’s a tie between Panda dung tea and dry bubble ice tea.

ments we could include in the event without full payment. It just goes to show how we can help change lives,” she says. Tan’s advice to other people in similar predicaments is not

While broken engagements are not uncommon, Tan made the unusual decision to turn her “unfortunate story into lifechanging positivity,” saying “I do” to a charity event instead of losing her venue deposit. “I could have easily just hidden on the day that was supposed to be my wedding but for me it was about turning my story into something positive. Life [can] throw us curve balls and you can decide to either go into darkness or rise above and do good with it,” says Tan of her decision.

Angela Tan will be donating all profits from her ball to Opportunity International (Photo: Angela Tan/Facebook) why I chose Opportunity International after coming across it online,” says Tan. “I felt a wholehearted connection to the organisation who empowers women and thus their family and children with something as simply lifechanging as a loan for a sewing machine or shop front. I had a choice about my marriage and I hope that giving women some financial freedoms gives them opportunities to make similar decisions. It is where the concept of Something Borrowed came from, a sustainable solution giving women borrowed money to change the course of their life.”

“We made a mature decision to break off our relationship when we realised it wasn’t working out and we had outgrown each other. Things were slightly unravelling but one of my colleagues helped me come up with the idea because I wanted to make sure I turned the unfortunate into positive, making lemonade out of life’s lemons as they say.” The digital product manager will host a black tie charity ball with a five-course dinner, called Something Borrowed, on April 8, with her colleague and friend, Bec Badcock in support of Opportunity International Australia. The organisation works to empower people around the world and help them out of poverty. All funds raised on the night will be donated.

Tan and her fiance had laid down deposits to the two main suppliers for their wedding including the reception venue. However Tan says she was overwhelmed that other local businesses she was using for the wedding extended their services when learning about her story.

For Tan, the “Something Borrowed” theme comes from the double meaning of wedding tradition and the work Opportunity International do in providing microfinance loans to families in impoverished conditions to

“The other suppliers including florist and entertainment have been really supportive. When I told them my situation that all came on board with ele-

to let “the emotional and financial burden” or fear of judgement associated with wedding cancellations dictate your longterm happiness. “If you’re having doubts and cannot picture yourself [together] down the track in ten or twenty years time then it is okay to let go now,” she says. “It wasn’t that I no longer loved him [her fiancé], we love each other enough to muster up the strength to do what was right for the both of us moving forward because we weren’t on the same page. It is a disservice to yourself not to be honest and embrace change wholeheartedly.” Despite their relationship not lasting, Tan says that her expartner is “proud of her event and will be supporting from afar.” And while the event’s success is Tan’s short-term focus, afterward she plans to travel solo to reconnect with who she is on her own. “I am no longer relying on someone to help fulfil part of my happiness, which I think is something we forget, just to be happy on our own,” she says.” (

We Indians love our tea, be it adrak-wali chai (ginger tea) or Kashmiri Kahwah. Even occasional cups of Japanese jasmine tea or English earl grey holds our fancy, but would you be up for some bacon tea? Well, it’s not a hoax, smoked bacon flavoured tea exists in reality, and looks like it’s actually a favourite among people who’s had the guts to try it out. This bizarre ‘bacony’ black tea is made of of pine-smoked lapsang souchong, blended with caramel flavoured Ceylon teas. Different manufacturers around the world have taken this main infusion and given their indigenous twist. The bacon flavoured tea seems to have gained popularity in the last one month and have intrigued tea lovers to try the quirky flavour. Mostly chosen as a Christmas gift option, it has developed into a rising trend among tea lovers. So much so that it is one of the top food trends around

(Photo: Instagram) such as cinnamon, clove, coriander and sweet maple flavour along with the quirky flavour of bacon. The other highly-caffeinated version manufactured by the Adagio Teas is a blend that is an assemblage of the above

While the green tea grown by using Panda faeces as sole fertiliser only restricts itself to the agricultural aspects, the bubble tea is served with dry ice aka frozen Carbon dioxide! Will bacon flavoured tea top the list? Find out on your own. (-TheHinduOnline)

presented by


Dubai hosts largest regional contemporary art expo


UBAI, United Arab Emirates | AFP | Tuesday 3/14/2017 Dubai on Tuesday prepared to open its 11th annual art fair, billed as the largest contemporary art show in the Middle East and North Africa, showcasing the challenges regional artists face. Opening on Wednesday as part of Art Week in March, Art Dubai joins more than 270 artists from 70 countries with a particular focus on contemporary works.

an old Egyptian movie poster with the lead actress’s chest cut out, along with the hips and upper thighs of the lead actor. Beneath the poster is a separate frame holding the cutouts.“We had to cut out a few areas in the posters that may have caused problems” in Saudi Arabia, said Mariam Bilal, curator of the Jeddah-based Athar


Nickelodeon The Thundermans

art gallery where Daydban’s work was on display. “What we are representing here is the entire poster and the missing pieces.” Dubai, famed for its extravagant lifestyles and glitzy architecture, has recently invested in expanding its cultural scene. The emirate last year opened its first opera house.






It also showcases some of the unique challenges of creating art in the Arab world. Among those displaying their work this year are renowned multimedia artist Sadik Kwaish Alfraji of Iraq, who deals with questions of existence and creating art in exile. Saudi-based Palestinian artist Ayman Yossri Daydban imported one of his works from Jeddah to Dubai, altering the artwork to include pieces he had cut out as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on censorship. Daydban’s display includes

Portrait of Sadik Kwaish Alfraji who will be giving a talk at the Dubai Art Week. Now living in the Netherlands, Alfraji has worked there for the last 20 years since himself fleeing from Baghdad during the war. (Photo courtesy, Ayyam Gallery, London)

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Erotica with a social conscience Southall gurdwara temple to helm a writing workshop for women. She has grand plans of bringing literary enlightenment to the illiterate widows of Southall, but her middleaged and elderly students prefer to spend class time spinning raunchy fantasies of what they are missing out on in the bedroom. These range from standard bodice- rippers to downright kinky inventions. One will, for instance, never be able to look at ghee the same way again. The clandestine class begins to grow as more women clamour to share steamy stories, sparking a sexual revolution in the conservative community. But the hilarious escapades of Nikki’s class mask the real stakes of rebelling against such a society.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows By Balli Kaur Jaswal HarperCollins, Paperback 308 pages. Retail: $28.89 4 out of 5 stars

by Olivia Ho


orget Fifty Shades Of Grey. If you like your erotica with a social conscience, this is the book for you. Singaporean author Balli Kaur Jaswal makes her British debut with this warm irreverent comedy that is a gentle nudge at rigid social mores. The book, which was sold to HarperCollins in a hotly contested auction with five other publishers, may seem lighter in tone than her first two novels, both family dramas involving Singapore’s Punjabi Sikh community. This time, the story unfolds in the London district of Southall, where British Punjabis have formed a tightknit community, closed off from a city in which they feel alien and which has made little effort to understand them. Nikki, a young Punjabi woman whose modern ideas have estranged her from her family, applies to the

Jaswal adeptly conveys the myriad microaggressions that could build up into something worse, from the casual racism the Indian characters face from other Londoners, to the oppression of women in the name of virtue. A group of young unemployed Sikh men, who call themselves the Brothers, patrol the neighbourhood, harassing girls who do not cover up.

Nikki’s annoyance at her sister for getting an arranged marriage escalates into horror when she learns that a widow in her class was married off at the age of 10. As she struggles to keep the true nature of the class a secret from its organiser, the severe community director Kulwinder Kaur, she gets embroiled in the unsolved mystery of the death of Kulwinder’s daughter. The plot edges towards a somewhat predictable denouement and certain aspects feel tacked on, especially Nikki’s romance with a man she meets at the gurdwara. But in a world where E.L. James’ Fifty Shades Of Grey trilogy somehow continues to dominate bestseller lists and box offices with misleading notions of female sexuality, tales like this are sorely needed to give a real, unabashed voice to what women - young and old - want. If you liked this, read: Inheritance by the same author (Epigram Books, 2016, $26.64, Books Kinokuniya), about the fissures in a Punjabi family in Singapore from the 1970s to the 1990s, as the nation goes through social and economic upheaval.

Australia child sex charges for Justin Bieber impersonator


YDNEY Australia | AFP A man posing online as pop superstar Justin Bieber was Thursday charged with more than 900 child sex offences in Australia after enticing young fans to send him explicit images, police said. The 42-year-old used online platforms including Facebook and Skype to impersonate the chart-topping Canadian singer, with his alleged offending dating back to 2007. “Detectives had been investigating a man who allegedly posed as Justin online in order to solicit explicit images from young children,” Queensland state police said in a statement. “As part of the investigation, a 42-year-old man had earlier been charged with a number of child sex offences including possessing child exploitation material and using a carriage service to groom persons under 16. “After a thorough examination of the man’s computer, he has been further charged with another 931 child sex offences.” The charges include rape, indecent treatment of children, making child exploitation material, using a carriage service to procure person under 16, and using a carriage service for child pornography material. Bieber, who once enjoyed a squeaky clean image but has recently had frequent runins with the law, has a legendary army of fans dubbed “Beliebers”. Detective Inspector Jon Rouse described the breadth of offences

FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

Mona Lisa’s smile decoded: science says she’s happy by Mariëtte Le Roux


ARIS, France | AFP | Friday 3/10/2017 - The subject of centuries of scrutiny and debate, Mona Lisa’s famous smile is routinely described as ambiguous. But is it really that hard to read? Apparently not. In an unusual trial, close to 100 percent of people described her expression as unequivocally “happy”, researchers revealed on Friday. “We really were astonished,” neuroscientist Juergen Kornmeier of the University of Freiburg in Germany, who coauthored the study, told AFP. Kornmeier and a team used what is arguably the most famous artwork in the world in a study of factors that influence how humans judge visual cues such as facial expressions. Known as La Gioconda in Italian, the Mona Lisa is often held up as a symbol of emotional enigma. The portrait appears to many to be smiling sweetly at first, only to adopt a mocking sneer or sad stare the longer you look. Using a black and white copy of the early 16th century masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci, a team manipulated the model’s mouth corners slightly up and down to create eight altered images -- four marginally but progressively “happier”, and four “sadder” Mona Lisas. A block of nine images were shown to 12 trial participants 30 times. In every showing, for which the pictures were randomly reshuffled, participants had to describe each of the nine images as happy or sad.

Mona Lisa’s portrait appears to many to be smiling sweetly at first, only to adopt a mocking sneer or sad stare the longer you look (File photo) tonishment, we found that Da Vinci’s original was... perceived as happy” in 97 percent of cases. - All in the context A second phase of the experiment involved the original Mona Lisa with eight “sadder” versions, with even more nuanced differences in the lip tilt.

Affected people can have hallucinations, seeing things that others do not, which may be the result of a misalignment between the brain’s processing of sensory input, and perceptual memory.

In this test, the original was still described as happy, but participants’ reading of the other images changed.

A next step will be to do the same experiment with psychiatric patients.

“They were perceived a little sadder” than in the first experiment, said Kornmeier. The findings confirm that “we don’t have an absolute fixed scale of happiness and sadness in our brain” -- and that a lot depends on context, the researcher explained.

Instead, “to our great as-

“Our brain manages to very, very quickly scan the field. We notice the total range, and then we adapt our estimates” using our memory of previous sensory experiences, he said.

as “horrendous” and urged fans to be extra vigilant when using the internet. “This investigation demonstrates both the vulnerability of children that are utilising social media and com-

munication applications and the global reach and skill that child sex offenders have to groom and seduce victims,” he said. “The fact that so many children could believe that they were

“Given the descriptions from art and art history, we thought that the original would be the most ambiguous,” Kornmeier said.

Understanding this process may be useful in the study of psychiatric disorders, said Kornmeier.

Another interesting discovery was that people were quicker to identify happier Mona Lisas than sad ones. This suggested “there may be a slight preference... in human beings for happiness, said Kornmeier. As for the masterpiece itself, the team believe their work has finally settled a centuries-old question. “There may be some ambiguity in another aspect,” said Kornmeier, but “not ambiguity in the sense of happy versus sad.”

communicating with this particular celebrity highlights the need for a serious rethink about the way that we as a society educate our children about online safety.” (- Agence France-Presse)

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Young Life


Section 2


FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

Tel: 713-774-5140

Goswami Academy celebrates 10-year-old South Asian appointed as Houston’s third anniversary

Inaugural Young Ambassador


elebrating its third anniversary, Goswami Academy, hosted an Open House on Saturday, March 11. Neighbors, interested parents, friends and devotees joined in the festivities in the morning and afternoon hours. In addition, the visitors to the Govinda’s Vegetarian Cuisine buffet restaurant we invited to take a tour of the school facilities, if they were interested in the only full-time Vedic school in the region. And hundreds did take advantage of the opportunity to meet the principal and teachers, parents and children, at this most innovative educational facility, serving Pre-K through Grade 5.

Yash Semlani with parents seen receiving the proclamation from Mayor Turner

Goswami Academy is a primary school designed to serve children in grades Pre-K3 through Grade 5 (ages 3-9). The goal is to provide a strong foundation to nurture creative academics and spiritual values in our children.


ash Semlani, son of Indian parents Gauri and Chanakya Semlani, was appointed as Houston’s Inaugural Young Ambassador by Mayor Turner at an event on Feb 7th at City Hall and was awarded a proclamation for his role as a young community leader.

Organized by ISKCON OF HOUSTON in association with Goswami Education, a Texas 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. Top: the entrance was made very welcoming Goswami Academy is a non-profit enitity Dharma. They are interwhose primary objective is to adwoven in the curriculum vance, disseminate, spread and used at Goswami Acadpropagate spiritual-based eduemy. These values-based cational programs to children in educational programs the Greater Houston community. include that the teachers, It has been offering education to policy, school atmosphere children starting from the early and the entire ethos of the organization childhood years to elementary is centered on that. school and eventually up to high Goswami Academy offers an inschool, setting a model for future quiry based curriculum with a core such schools in other cities across mission of inspiring excellence in creNorth America. All educational ative academics through a culture of programs are unique as they are spiritual values by nurturing relationvalues-based and include spiritual ships. Children are placed at the center message from the teachings of the of this model where they interact with ancient Vedic tradition of Sanatana five themes or contexts: living beings,

He is focusing on Children’s Literacy (Entrepreneurship). Hunger and Harmony in Diversity Yash Semlani is a 10-year-old 5th Grader at the public school in Houston. Yash Semlani is a young entrepreneur and community leader and his successes have earned him several prestigious awards, speaking opportunities in the US and overseas and has been featured on major broadcast news and print publications. He is also the co-founder of Make A Difference Entrepreneurs (M.A.D.E.),

nature, God, action and time. Principal Shabashini Lind stressed that the rich topics are mapped to the Texas State learning outcomes. Currently there are six staff and a new dedicated building is under construction for an opening at the end of this year. Visit or call 713-714-2250 for more information.

Every SLP student is a success story Carol Appelbaum founded the Sugar Land Prep, middle and high school in 2009 inspired by her daughter a bright and hardworking student. SLP is a school where student like her daughter Ciara Appelbaum don’t want students to settle for mediocrity. “SLP coaches’ students as young as 6th grade to prioritize, set goals, take responsibility, to be self-respecting, take ownership of learning, and manage oneself in a

ceptance into top universities. Danielle now has time to concentrate on the SAT/ACT subject exams. She mentors other SLP students which also count for community service hours. This will provide Danielle well over the number of hours needed to earn the Presidential Service Award. Logan (7th Grade) - As a 7th grader, Logan is taking high school level coursework including: Algebra II, Biology, His-

Logan (7th Grade) Danielle (11th Grade). tory, and English. Logan has an ACT score that has already earned her DUKE TIP State Recognition. Tayler (10th Grade) Tayler has completed senior level Human Biology as well as honors level English and History. Tayler continues to take official ACT and SAT exams. She mentors other SLP students which also count for community service hours. This will provide Tayler well over the number of hours needed to earn the Presidential Service Award. Tayler is

TSU engineering major named Apple HBCU Scholar

Tayler (10th Grade) on the Sugar Land Prep PR Committee where she showcases her writing and photography talents. Saman (10th Grade) Saman has already completed Pre-Calculus and Chemistry with honors. Because of his diligent work he will be able to have additional time during schools hours to practice and prepare for the ACT and SAT this spring semester. He mentors other SLP students which also count for community service hours. This will provide Saman well over the number of hours needed to earn the Presi-

manner that will create their success,” says. Appelbaum. Here are a few of SLP’s success stories that are inspirational. Danielle (11th Grade) As a 7th grader, Danielle was awarded the prestigious DUKE Talent Identification Grand Recognition Award for scoring in the top 1% of our nation’s Saman (10th Grade) juniors and seniors in high school. She earned dential Service Award. We an ACT composite score are proud to have Saman of 30 in her sophomore hold several positions on year at SLP with 36 being Sugar Land Prep student a perfect score. She was committees. recommended and accepted into the prestigious Harvard Summer School Secondary School Program and Pre-College Program in 2016. Even though still Anywhere Security System a junior, she has already completed 95% of her senior level courses. She is now in a perfect position for ac-

Samuel Kanu


OUSTON - Samuel Kanu, Electrical/ Computer Engineering and Mathematics major, has been selected to join the Apple HBCU Scholars program. Kanu was one of 35 students named from 16 HBCUs. Apple hosted a five-day immersive experience at its headquarters in Cupertino, California, where students learned more about the company’s culture and community. Kanu, a junior, will have the opportunity in May to gain hands-on experience through a paid internship at Apple and will receive a scholarship to complete his final year at TSU. He is president of TSU’s National Society of Black Engineers student chapter and a TSU Calculus Bowl champion. This is the second year of an initiative that Apple launched in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to provide opportunities in the technology industry for students and enhance engagement with faculty on HBCU campuses.

The mission of the Mayor’s Young Ambassador Program is to provide elementary and middle school students the opportunity to develop leadership and citizenship skills while learning about city government. Members develop a sense of personal growth and achievement, a profound understanding of city initiatives and work to establish a rapport with community leaders and the citizens of Houston. Young Ambassadors will serve the city in their roles for one month, participating in various community service projects and special events.

Mayor Turner renews call for local companies to hire Houston youth


OUSTON - With the March 27 deadline to sign up just around the corner, Mayor Sylvester Turner called on Houston corporations to join his Hire Houston Youth (HHY) summer jobs program. The mayor has set a goal of providing 5,000 jobs for Houston youth this summer. As of today, there are pledges from companies for just 3,000 positions. “There is an urgent need for more companies to step up and offer summer employment opportunities for our youth,” said Mayor Turner. “An able and ready workforce is essential to ensuring a strong economic future for Houston. With the demand for skilled workers currently outpacing our workforce supply, it is more important than ever that local youth are connected to employment and training opportunities. Don’t let our kids down. Join us in helping to change lives!” Utilizing public/private partnerships, HHY provides young people ages 16 to 24 with a seven week summer internship or job, earning at least $8 an hour. The young people will attend workforce readiness training prior to their start date. This is the second year for the HHY

program. Fifty seven companies participated and 1,135 jobs were provided in 2016. More than 50 percent of the job candidates had no prior work experience and 50 percent had annual household income of less than $22,000. HHY has been designated as a White House Summer Opportunity Hub and is part of a National League of Cities study on the best practices for educational and workforce development efforts. To sign up as an employer, visit to make your pledge today.

Depression, alcohol and marijuana linked to later use of synthetic marijuana among teens ALVESTON – In the first prospective study of synthetic cannabinoids or SCs – the group of chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana – researchers have found that symptoms of depression, drinking alcohol, or using marijuana was linked to an increased risk of SC use one year later.


Synthetic cannabinoids are a large group of chemicals that are similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that produces its hallmark effects. These chemicals may be sprayed on plant-based materials that resemble cannabis and sold as “not for human consumption” potpourri or incense at stores. These chemicals can be as much as 40-600 times more potent than THC.


“The study, recently published in Pediatrics, was the first to assess whether marijuana use is predictive of SC use over time or vice versa,” said senior author Jeff Temple, a clinical psychologist at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. “Given that marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug by high school students in the U.S., having a better understanding of how marijuana use affects future SC use and vice versa is essential for designing effective prevention and intervention programs.”

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Temple noted that synthetic cannabinoids appeal to adolescents and young

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Inc, nonprofit inspiring young kids to learn business skills and community service. He also is the host of a video series called GetMADE$ where he interviews successful kid entrepreneurs and their parents who share their journey and passion for inspiring other kids and parents.

adults because of their ease of access, perceived legality, affordable cost, attractive labeling and inability to be detected in urine drug screens. There were 964 high school students who participated in the study. All students completed surveys that gathered information on SC and marijuana use, alcohol and other drug use, symptoms of anxiety and depression, level of impulsivity and demographic information. They completed the survey again a year later. With respect to mental health, the researchers found that depressive symptoms, but not anxiety or impulsivity, were predictive of later SC use, suggesting that symptoms of depression may increase the likelihood of use. The same relationship between depressive symptoms and greater propensity for marijuana use was not found. “The potentially substantial risk associated with using synthetic cannabinoids even once highlights the critical importance of identifying and targeting potential risk factors,” said Temple. “Our findings suggest that prevention and intervention efforts may benefit from targeting depressive symptoms and alcohol and marijuana use to potentially reduce adolescent use of SCs.” SOURCE: University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.


FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

Bollywood -Hollywood

Section 2


Leena Manimekalai’s rebellious spirit pushes her into dangerous waters

Tel: 713-774-5140


Badrinath Ki Dulhania

Badrinath Ki Dulhania is produced under the banner of Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions. Cast: Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Yash Sinha, Sahil Vaid, Shweta Basu Prasad Direction: Shashank Khaitan Rating: ***½ by Rummana, Hindustan Times adrinath Ki Dulhania is a complete entertainer. Helmed by Shashank Khaitan, this Varun-Alia romantic comedy will tug at your heartstrings.


Tamil filmmaker, actor and poet, Leena Manimekalai is an engineer by qualification who started out as Bharathiraja’s assistant.

From the sufferings of Sri Lankan Tamils, CBFC chief’s controversial cuts to the way mainstream cinema works -- Tamil filmmaker Leena Manimekalai has an opinion on everything and she doesn’t shy away from saying so. by Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times


HENNAI - In a very strong way, Tamil filmmaker, actor and poet, Leena Manimekalai, reminds this writer of the fiery Bollywood star, Kangana Ranaut. Both have this overwhelming passion about what they believe in and what they stand for. Ranaut’s earlier battle with someone as powerful as Hrithik Roshan, and her present verbal duel with an even more powerful figure in the world of Hindi cinema, Karan Johar, go beyond the niceties of so-called feminism. To this writer, Ranaut’s anger against Johar’s accusations are perfectly justified. In a similar way, Manimekalai’s grievances with mainstream cinema are worth pondering over. We all know how the big Indian cinema houses/producers muffle the voices of small, independent movies – many of which are remarkable in a myriad ways. Last week, this writer heard Manimekalai speak for almost two hours addressing a gathering of wide-eyed film enthusiasts – students, young documentary makers, writers and so on – in Chennai. And she minced no words while airing her views about what was wrong with Indian cinema. She said that people like Anurag Kashyap were part of a “mafia” that was controlling festivals like Cannes, by aligning with some French producers. She called the Central Board of Film Certification names, and said that Pahlaj Nihalani was bent on silencing the fascinatingly created small, independent movies like Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha (Lipstick Wale Sapne) and Jayan Cherian’s Ka Bodyscapes. And it only seemed to fit in perfectly well with Manimekalai’s mood and thinking that she ought be all set to make a film on Kamala Das, the Malayalam poet, known for her forthrightness and rebellious streak. Manimekalai’s script on Das was ready three years ago, and Malayalam helmer Kamal (not Haasan), had agreed to direct Leena’s work. She herself was to play Kamala. But then, at some point Kamal dreamt big, roped in Vidya Balan – who subsequently fearing a Hindutva backlash (Das had converted to Islam in her later years), walked out of the movie. And now – as Manimekalai told this writer during a chat the other evening

in Chennai – Malayalam actor, Manju Warrier, would essay Kamala Das. “I was appalled by Kamal’s decision, because we also know Manju’s political leaning... So I have decided to take my script and make the film myself.”

Manimekalai has never been afraid of speaking her mind or making a kind of cinema that was bold and honest. The movie on Kamala Das will fit in perfectly well with Manimekalai’s views.

MTV Movie Awards expands into television

Indian state challenges Salman Khan arms acquittal


EW YORK - The MTV Movie Awards, an annual celebration of youth pop culture, will expand this year to include television in a recognition of the power of the small screen. The network announced Monday that the gala will be rechristened the MTV Movie and TV Awards when it takes place on May 7 in Los Angeles. “We’re living in a golden age of content, and great storytelling and characters resonate regardless of whether you’re watching it in a theater or on TV,” MTV president Chris McCarthy said in a statement. “The new ‘MTV Movie and TV Awards’ will celebrate even more of the brightest, bravest, funniest and most shared films and TV shows resonating across youth culture,” he said. MTV will broadcast the awards live and said it plans a “massive, daylong party” outside The Shrine Auditorium as fans gather for a glimpse at the red carpet. Critics have often spoken of a new golden age of television programming in the United States since the 2000s. With the rise of new digital platforms such as Netflix, television can increasingly be consumed instantly. The MTV Movie Awards are determined by fans’ voting and have historically recognized commercial favorites, in contrast to the Oscars and other events based on critical or industry acclaim. Last year, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” -- the latest in the blockbuster intergalactic epic -- won best movie.


AIPUR, India | AFP | Wednesday 3/8/2017 - Indian authorities have challenged a court’s decision to acquit Bollywood superstar Salman Khan over the use of unlicensed firearms to kill protected wildlife almost two decades ago. In January a court in the northwestern state of Rajasthan cleared the 51year-old actor of two charges related to the illegal use of firearms citing a lack of evidence. The charges date back to 1998 when Khan was accused of hunting black bucks, a rare native species of antelope, while shooting a film in Rajasthan. But on Wednesday authorities in the state said they would appeal the court’s decision. “The application has been admitted by the court and notice has been issued to Khan,” public prosecutor Pokar Ram Bishnoi told AFP. Khan, known for his tough guy roles in Hindi films, has accused the state’s forest department of framing him in the case.

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The film starts off as a simple smalltown romance but plays out to make pertinent points about prevalent gender stereotypes among the Indian middle-class. Girls, no matter how enterprising, have to be married off because they will always be viewed as a ‘liability’; boys, no matter how useless, will continue to be considered an ‘asset’ by parents and by the patriarchal society at large. Khaitan is rather more sure-footed directing his second project– the plot follows a consistent trajectory and romance and comedy merge almost seamlessly with the movie’s message. In keeping with the tone of the narrative, the film never gets preachy, even while challenging rampant customs like dowry and other traditions of ‘give-and-take’ that are such a big part of Indian weddings. There are hardly any jarring notes. Even the music complements the flow of the events. The director’s lead pair - Alia and Varun - are almost similar to the char-

acters they played in ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania’: the girl is spunky and smart, the boy more of a buffoon, but presumptuous enough to think he is the most eligible prospect around. It is interesting to see how the filmmaker picks the same lead pair, bases them again out of the North India heartland (places like Jhansi and Kota) and yet, manages to infuse a fresh zing to this love story. Varun woos you over with his charm - as the unsophisticated, naïve, yet, endearing, male lead his comic timing is spot on. Even when he plays the emotional bits, he is completely convincing. I, in fact, did get a little teary-eyed while seeing him nurse his broken heart. Alia belts out another winning performance – she is vulnerable yet ambitious, manipulative yet lovable, selfish yet empathetic. That’s lot of contradictions to bring into a single character. The great thing about Alia’s Vaidehi Trivedi, though, is that she never loses focus of what she wants to achieve. And she manages to convince her audience that she was right in using the means she did to achieve her goal. Alia proves once again she is as dependable in commercial cinema as she has been in the other more ‘serious’ roles, such as the ones in ‘Udta Punjab’ and ‘Dear Zindagi’. I laughed and cried with Badri and his dulhania. This one is paisa vasool all the way.


FRIDAY, March 17, 2017


Section 2


The Dirty Dozen: supermarkets’ most contaminated produce


ASHINGTON, D.C. Whether you’re an environmentalist, a parent or just a shopper, chances are you’ve walked down the produce aisle at the supermarket and asked yourself, “Should I buy organic or conventional fruits and vegetables?” The latter has higher levels of pesticides​ but an all-organic diet ​is not always affordable or readily available. There are ways however, to eat healthier, even if you can’t fill your grocery basket with organic fruits and veggies. The Environmental Working Group Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce ranks pesticide contamination of popular fruits and vegetables based on more than 36,000 samples of produce tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. The guide includes The Dirty Dozen, the produce with the highest amount of pesticide residue (better to buy organic) and the Clean Fifteen, the produce that is least likely to contain pesticide residue (these you can buy conventional). Here is the list released today in descending order: STRAWBERRIES 1. Strawberry growers use jaw-dropping volumes of poisonous gases – some developed for chemical warfare but now banned by the Geneva Conventions – to sterilize their fields before planting, killing every pest, weed and other living thing in the soil. SPINACH 2. Spinach is packed with nutrients, a staple for healthy eating during the winter and spring. But new federal data shows that conventionally grown spinach has more pesticide residues by weight than all other produce tested, with 3/4 of samples tested contaminated with a neurotoxic bug killer. NECTARINES 3. More than 98 percent of samples of nectarines tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide.

Strawberry growers use jaw-dropping volumes of poisonous gases – some developed for chemical warfare but now banned by the Geneva Conventions – to sterilize their fields before planting, killing every pest, weed and other living thing in the soil. For these reasons, strawberries are again on the top of the Dirty Dozen list for 2017. (File photo/Getty Images) APPLES 4. Apples are among the Dirty Dozen’s top produce. Nearly all apples contain detectable levels of pesticide residue. PEACHES 5. More than 98 percent of samples of peaches also tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide. PEARS 6. Pesticides on conventionally grown pears have increased dramatically in recent years, according to the latest tests by the USDA. Overall, more than 20 pesticides were found on pear samples, up from nine pesticides in 2010. All pear samples were thoroughly washed before testing. The majority of pears tested were grow in the United States, not imported. CHERRIES 7. Pesticides are applied to cherry trees at different stages of growth to optimize pest control and ensure a good fruit crop. This makes cherries one of the fruits with the highest loads of pesticide residue.

GRAPES 8. Grapes tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and is among the top produce with the highest concentrations of pesticides. CELERY \9. Celery is among the top 10 of most contaminated foods. According to EWG, celery is sprayed with high concentrations of pesticides and that they are “difficult to wash off.” TOMATOES 10. Tomatoes declined in ranking from last years list but still tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and in higher concentrations than other produce. BELL PEPPERS 11. Tests showed sweet bell peppers also contained high concentration of pesticide residues. POTATOES 12. Potatoes and pears were new additions to the Dirty Dozen, displacing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from last year’s list. (-Enviromental Working Group)

Swift childhood cancer deaths more common than thought


IAMI | AFP | Monday 3/13/2017 - Childhood cancer often strikes its youngest victims the hardest, and the death rate for infants may be up to four times higher than previously thought, US researchers said Monday.

Now that Green has shown the fact of early death in this population, he hopes to work with CU Cancer Center colleagues to design a national prospective study that could more closely examine the factors associated with this outcome.

The study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology examined deaths within a month of diagnosis, those young lives which usually end before the patients can be enrolled in a clinical trial that might save them.

“So that whenever a family has a child who dies of cancer within a month of diagnosis, we could contact the family to gather information about timing of symptoms and their experience accessing care. We can already act on our findings in this current study to improve early identification of these patients.

“During my pediatric residency a teenager came in with leukemia, but had so much cancer when he presented that he had multi-organ failure and died within about 24 hours of coming to our attention, before we could even start treatment,” said lead author Adam Green, investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “I wanted to find out who these kids are in hopes that as a system we could learn to spot them earlier, when treatment still has a chance of success.” So researchers based their study on a US database known as Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER), which showed more than 36,000 cases of pediatric cancer between 1992 and 2011. Most of the research on childhood cancers comes from clinical trials involving treatments that might save lives. But Green and colleagues found that the SEER database showed that 6.2 percent of children with acute myeloid leukemia died early, compared with 1.6 percent in clinical trial data.

“But with prospective, patient-level data, we can move from understanding the scope and risk factors for early death to identifying problems in the diagnostic process we can fix,” Green explains.

Treatments for childhood cancers have improved to the point that 5-year survival rates are over 80 percent.

treated outside trials,” said Green. “However, these kids in our study aren’t surviving long enough to join clinical trials.” Previous research has shown that treatments for childhood cancer have vastly improved the five-year survival rate. Today, more than 80 percent of kids diagnosed with cancer survive for five years. A total of 555 -- or 1.5 percent of the child patients in the SEER database -- died within one month of cancer diagnosis. Those who died so quickly tended to be under age one. “Babies tend to get aggressive cancers, it’s hard to tell when they’re getting sick, and some are even born with cancers that have already progressed,” said Green. “These factors combine to make very young age the strongest predictor of early death in our study.”

When researchers looked at early deaths from all kinds of pediatric cancer in the SEER database, which encompasses a broad section of the United States as a whole, they found that early cancer death rates were at least two to three times higher than reported in clinical trial data.

Knowing more about those who die swiftly could lead to improved diagnostics, and better care so that more children can have a chance at survival, he said.

“Most of what we know about outcomes for cancer patients come from clinical trials, which have much more thorough reporting rules than cancer

“This is a population that deserves our attention.”

Tel: 713-774-5140

What’s at Risk in GOP Health Plan


s Republicans look at ways to replace or repair the health law, many suggest shrinking the list of services insurers are required to offer in individual and small group plans would reduce costs and increase flexibility. That option came to the forefront last week when Seema Verma, who is slated to run the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in the Trump administration, noted at her confirmation hearing that coverage for maternity services should be optional in those health plans.

Maternity coverage is a popular target and one often mentioned by health law critics, but other items also could be watered down or eliminated. There are some big hurdles, however. The health law requires that insurers who sell policies for individuals and small businesses cover at a minimum 10 “essential health benefits,” including hospitalization, prescription drugs and emergency care, in addition to maternity services. The law also requires that the scope of the services offered be equal to those typically provided in employer coverage. Since the 10 required benefits are spelled out in the Affordable Care Act, it would require a change in the law to eliminate entire categories or to water them down to such an extent that they’re less generous than typical employer coverage. And since Republicans likely cannot garner 60 votes in the Senate, they will be limited in changes that they can make to the ACA. Still, policy experts say there’s room to “skinny up” the requirements in some areas by changing the regulations that federal officials wrote to implement the law. Habilitative Services The law requires that plans cover “rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices.” Those rules could be changed. “There is real room for weakening the requirements” for habilitative services, Oral and Vision Care for Kids Pediatric oral and vision care requirements, another

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essential health benefit that’s not particularly common in employer plans, could also be weakened, Prescription Drugs Prescription drug coverage could be tinkered with as well. That standard could be relaxed further, she said, and the list of required covered drugs could shrink. Preventive and Wellness Services and Chronic Disease Management Republicans have discussed trimming or eliminating some of the preventive services that are required to be offered without cost sharing Pregnancy, Maternity and Newborn Care “Having it in the law makes it more difficult to either exclude it entirely or charge an arm and a leg for it,” Sonfield said. Maternity coverage is often offered as an example of a benefit that should be optional, as Verma advocated. If you’re a man or too old to get pregnant, why should you have to pay for that coverage? To choose right Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage Plans, OR Medicare Prescription Drug Plan ,contact Sudhir Mathuria @ 713-771-2900.

Sensory links between autism and synesthesia pinpointed


ONDON | AFP | Tuesday 3/14/2017 Concrete links between the symptoms of autism and synaesthesia have been discovered and clarified for the first time, according to new research by psychologists at the University of Sussex. The study, conducted by world-leading experts in both conditions at Sussex and the University of Cambridge and published in the journal Scientific Reports, found that both groups experience remarkably similar heightened

sensory sensitivity, despite clear differences in communicative ability and social skills. Two previous studies had found an increased prevalence of synaesthesia in autistic subjects, suggesting that although they are not always found in conjunction, the two conditions occur together more often than would be expected by chance alone. However, this is the first study that has attempted to draw a definitive symptomatic link between the two.



Under Trump, the Moon regains interest as possible destination by Jean-Louis Santini, AFP



Even though Trump himself has said little about the subject, his close circle and some former NASA officials have made clear their interest in returning to the Moon by way of partnerships with the private sector. Billionaire Elon Musk, the president and chief executive of SpaceX, along with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who also runs a rocket company called Blue Origin, have met with Trump’s advisors several times since the Republican won the presidency. “There is certainly a renewed interest in the Moon in the Trump administration,” said John Logsdon, former director of the Space Policy Institute at The George Washington University. Some of Trump’s advisors worked on the Constellation program, conceived by former president George W. Bush with a goal to return humans to the Moon for the first time since the pioneering US Apollo missions of the 1960s and ‘70s. Obama cancelled Constellation, deeming it too costly and repetitive in nature, opting instead to work toward new and unexplored destinations like an asteroid and, one day, Mars. “The people advising Trump on space in a sense are still angry at that and believe it was a mistake,” said Logsdon. “If the Trump administration gets out of the current chaos and if their approach to the budget would allow it, I think within the next 12 months, we will see a major space initiative involving a public-private partnership—hopefully inter-

Even though President Donald Trump has said little about it, his close circle and some former NASA officials have made clear their interest in returning to the Moon (Photo: AFP File) national partnership—focused on a return to the Moon.” Eric Stallmer, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which represents the private sector of spaceflight, agreed. “I think the Trump administration wants to do something big and bold and the Moon is certainly that idea,” he told AFP. NASA’s current focus on developing what will be the world’s most powerful rocket, known as the Space Launch System, which will propel a new capsule, Orion, to deep space, one day carrying people around the Moon, to an asteroid or even to Mars by the 2030s. Stallmer described this program as “very expensive.” “I think you cannot proceed with a mission to the Moon and beyond at this point anymore without a partnership with the commercial industry,” he added. Since the US-run space shuttle program ended in 2011, NASA has forged partnerships with private industry, including SpaceX and Orbital ATK, to resupply the International Space Station. SpaceX plans to start sending astronauts to the orbiting outpost as early as 2018. “I know that there is no backing down from the commercial sector, from the commercial launch companies on their desire and vision to go to the Moon and beyond. These are very exciting times,” said


ne weekday morning in 2007, Bethanye Blount came into work early to interview a job applicant. A veteran software engineer then in her 30s, Blount held a senior position at the company that runs Second Life, the online virtual world. Good-natured and self-confident, she typically wore the kind of outfit—jeans, hoodie, sneakers—that signals coding gravitas. In short, everything about her indicated that she was a serious technical person. So she was taken aback when the job applicant barely gave her the time of day. He knew her job title. He knew she would play a key role in deciding whether he got hired. Yet every time Blount asked him a question about his skills or tried to steer the conversation to the scope of the job, he blew her off with a flippant comment. Afterward, Blount

spoke to another top woman—a vice president—who said he’d treated her the same way. In the hierarchy of sexist encounters, it didn’t rank very high. Still, it was a reminder that as a woman in tech, she should be prepared to have her authority questioned at any moment, even by some guy trying to get a job at her company. Blount decided it was never too late to start speaking out, and teamed up with other women who had undergone a similar awakening. This past May, they formed a group called Project Include, which aims to provide companies and investors with a template for how to be better. Such undermining is one reason women today hold only about a quarter of U.S. computing and mathematical jobs—a fraction that has actually fallen slightly over the past 15 years, even as women have made big

“It seems that men with a relatively shorter body height have a higher chance of losing their hair,” University of Bonn professor Stefanie HeilmannHeimbach, lead author of the study published Wednesday, told AFP.


“Our data indicates that some of the genes involved in baldness are associated, on average, with shorter stature.”

SpaceX said last month it had signed its first contract to send two space tourists on a trip around the Moon at the end of 2018, but did not give many details, including the cost or their identities.

Earlier research has shown that men with so-called male pattern baldness are also statistically more likely to suffer from heart disease and prostate cancer, though the added risk is slight.

SpaceX has also vowed to send an unmanned spacecraft on a journey to Mars in 2018, as a prelude to manned missions one day.

Reduced body size and early onset of puberty are also linked with loss of hair for men.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that its owner Bezos is working on an Amazon-like delivery service to the Moon. The proposal has not been made public, but was circulated to the Trump team and NASA in the form of a seven-page white paper, the report said. Moon colonies The goal of the project is to enable “future human settlement” on the Moon. “It is time for America to return to the Moon—this time to stay,” Bezos was quoted as saying in an email to the Post. “A permanently inhabited lunar settlement is a difficult and worthy objective. I sense a lot of people are excited about this.” Oklahoma Republican lawmaker Jim Bridenstine, who has told Trump he wants to be the next NASA administrator, has praised cooperation between the US space agency and private industry, and called for a return to Moon mission as a way to boost needed resources on Earth, such as water.

Why Is Silicon Valley so awful to women? by Liza Mundy

Short, white men more likely to go bald - study ARIS, France (AFP) — You can add enhanced risk of premature balding to the list of illnesses and indignities faced by diminutive men of European descent, according to a new study.

ismissed by former US president Barack Obama as a place explorers had already seen, the Moon has once again gained interest as a potential destination under Donald Trump’s presidency. Private sector companies in particular are energized by the prospect of future space exploration missions beyond lowEarth orbit, where the International Space Station circles the Earth.

FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

strides in other fields. Women not only are hired in lower numbers than men are; they also leave tech at more than twice the rate men do. It’s not hard to see why. Studies show that women who work in tech are interrupted in meetings more often than men. They are evaluated on their personality in a way that men are not. Last year, when Slack received the TechCrunch award for Fastest Rising Startup, the company sent four black female software engineers—rather than the CEO, Stewart Butterfield (who’s white)—onstage to accept the award. “We’re engineers,” one of the women, Kiné Camara, said, meaningfully. From September 2015 to February 2016, as Slack grew, its technical workforce went from 18 percent to 24 percent female. However slowly, the industry seems to be changing its mind about innate talent and where genius comes from. (-The Atlantic)

Some of the same genes that regulate human height, it seems, also play a role in the emergence of these conditions and diseases. The study, published in Nature Communications, identified 63 genetic variations “that increase the risk of premature

Some of the same genes that regulate human height appear to also play a role in determining one’s risk of premature hair loss (Photo: Shutterstock) hair loss”, Heilmann-Heimbach said. The researchers did not set out to find a link with height, she added.

30s. Up to 80 per cent of European men are affected to some extent.

Nor did they quantify the relative risk of baldness associated with different statures.

Hair loss in Asians comes about a decade later, and the overall frequence is much lower, impacting 50 to 60 per cent men.

“Future studies that assess both hair loss and body height may be able to answer that question,” she said by email.

There is relatively little data on baldness in Africa, but male hair loss there seems even less frequent.

But the statistical link was clear.

Some of the gene variants uncovered in the study “may constitute promising targets for therapeutic interventions” Heilmann-Heimbach said.

In men of European origin, balding usually starts in one’s

The IT equipment you can take into battle by Josh Fruhlinger, IDG


o modern city folk, the scythes and pitchforks farmers use in their work may seem quaint, but of course they represent a specific form of technology—an innovation at one point that become everyday over the centuries. And as the stereotypical image of the pitchfork-wielding mob makes clear, these implements could be quickly transformed into improvised weapons. In fact, in Japan, traditional kama scythes were integrated into various forms of martial arts. If you’re in IT, you’re as familiar with your laptop and your cell phone as a farmer is with his tools. And just like Japanese farmers with their kama, you might find yourself using one of those tools in battle, for offense or defense. We admit, that’s pretty unlikely, but we’ll step you through some of the odder possibilities. Shoulder bag armor What fashion item is more emblematic of modern white collar life than the shoulder laptop bag? But if your bag is just holding your computer and maybe your keys, it’s not living up to its potential. Don’t you also want one that can stop a knife, or a bullet? That’s the promise of the MTS MultiThreat Shield, an eight-pound, one-piece, $900 bag that quickly unfolds for greater coverage. Does the manufacturer offer video of people pumping the bag full of lead? You’d better believe it! The folks at IDG. TV also tested it out, and were

reasonably impressed. If you’re looking to protect your back instead (or in addition), check out a $350 bulletproof backpack. Sacrifice your systems If you don’t have several hundred dollars to spend on a bulletproof laptop bag, you might think: maybe I could just stop bullets with my laptop itself? The Mythbusters crew proved that it was possible—sort of, with huge caveats. It seems that the classic G4 PowerBook could save you from incoming fire, assuming the bullets hit the remarkably durable battery case. Unfortunately, we can’t imagine that modern-day MacBook Airs offer the same layer of protection. Escalating up the phone tree The logical next step from here is of course an actual bullet-shooting gun that looks like a cell phone, and, if that sounds like your speed, there might be an option for you sometime soon: Ideal Conceal aims to de-

liver a full-fledged pistol that looks remarkably like an iPhone ... someday. Don’t try this at home Having gotten you all excited with the idea that your humble IT equipment could become a combat weapon, we must now dump a healthy amount of cold water on all of the concepts outlined here. A security-aware correspondent who asked to remain anonymous gave us the following take when we asked him about the bulletproof laptop bag: “If someone is shooting at you, you simply don’t have time to deploy anything. Plus, Kevlar is hot, bulky, and uncomfortable, and is going to attract attention. The good guys are going to think you’re a bad guy (because you aren’t one of them, so why are you wearing a bulletproof vest?), the bad guys are going to think you’re a good guy (because you’re wearing a bulletproof vest), and now you’re a target for both sides.” (



by Joseph Hincks, TIME


very year millions of people in India, Nepal, and around the world celebrate the Hindu festival of Holi under clouds of technicolored powder.

FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

Here’s What You Should Know About the Hindu Festival of Holi

When is Holi? Holi takes place on the last full moon of the Hindu lunar month Phalguna. This means it can fall anywhere between late February and late March on the Gregorian calendar — this year it’s March 13 and 14 — and coincides with Indian winter’s transitions into pre-monsoon or summer season. Spring isn’t one of the four seasonal designations of the Indian Meteorological Department but Holi celebrates many of its traditional associations: youth, fertility, playfulness and vigor. It’s not clear exactly when Holi celebrations first began but they’re reportedly referenced in the Puranas, or ancient Indian texts, in 4th century poetry, and in the 7th century play Ratnaval. Appropriately for a festival of many colors, Holi has no singular significance. Instead it’s tied to an array of stories from Indian mythology. One of the most popular is that of good overcoming evil in the guises of Prince Prahlad and the demon Holika. Here’s the short version: Enraged

What actually goes down? Although in some regions the festival is drawn out for longer, Holi is normally spread over two days — pretty short by Indian standards where some religious festivals, like the Kumbh Mela, last almost two months.

The raucous Festival of Colors — a celebration of the vibrancy of spring, fertility, love and the triumph of good over evil — has inspired movies, music, and a plethora of whitewashed imitations. Here are some facts behind the ancient festival.

Why is it celebrated?

color. On the advice of his mother, he smears his crush’s face with paint so they look alike. And it works: Krishna enchants the world, the saying goes, but Radha “enchants even Him.”

Indian Hindu devotees celebrate Holi, the spring festival of colours, during a traditional gathering at Nandgaon village in Uttar Pradesh state on March 7, 2017. AFP/Getty Images that his son Prahlad worshiped Lord Vishnu instead of the god he claimed to be, a powerful king named Hiranyakshyap conspired to have his wayward progeny killed by fire. The deal was that Prahlad would sit on the lap of the

King’s sister, the demon Holika, who had a boon to protect her from flames — in some versions a magic sari. But when the pyre was lit, Prahlad recited the name of Vishnu and emerged unscathed. Holika, on the other hand,

was eaten up by the flames. There are cuter stories associated with Holi too, like that of Krishna and his beloved Radha. Krishna — whose skin was blue — loves Radha. But he’s embarrassed by his different skin

On the evening of the first day, Holika Dahan, wood and dung pyres are burned to symbolize the triumph of good over evil. The second day, known as Rangwali Holi, is the carnival of color. Millions take to the streets to throw fistfuls of colored powder and soak each other with water guns. Traditionally, people were doused with turmeric and flower extracts and smeared with sandalwood paste but these days synthetic powders and dyed water are common: locals recommend you moisturize beforehand so the powder is easy to remove. Leave your iPhone at home. Maybe don’t wear your best sari. Holi is purportedly a time when people can celebrate together unbound by caste or ethnicity. It’s also traditionally an occasion for scoffing marijuana-infused goodies such as bhang lassi, a yogurt drink mixed with cannabis paste. The cultivation, sale, and purchase of cannabis is technically illegal in India, but various loopholes mean that consuming bhang, especially during Holi, is allowed. A more serious issue however is harassment during the festival. There have been numerous reports of men using the permissive atmosphere as a justification to sexually assault women over Holi.

The Sikh Festival: Holla Mohalla


olla Mohalla is a Sikh festival celebrated in the month of Phalguna , a day after Holi.An annual festival held at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, Hola Mohalla was started by the tenth Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, as a gathering of Sikhs for military exercises and mock battles on the day following the festival of Holi. It reminds the people of valour and defence preparedness, concepts dear to the Tenth Guru who was at that time battling the Mughal empire. On this three-day festival mock battles are held followed by music and poetry competitions. The Nihang Singhs (members of the Sikh army that was founded by Guru Govind Singh) carry on the martial tradition with mock battles and displays of swordsmanship and horse riding. They perform daring feats, such as Gatka (mock encounters), tent pegging, bareback horse-riding and standing erect on two speeding horses. There are also a number of dur-

Sikhs perform daring feats, such as Gatka.

bars where Sri Guru Granth Sahib is present and kirtan and religious lectures take place. Sporting shining swords, long spears, conical turbans, the Nihangs present a

fierce picture as they gallop past on horseback spraying colors on people.On the last day a long procession, led by Panj Pyaras, starts from Takth Keshgarh Sahib, one

Indian Sikh devotees spray perfume on the Palki Sahib, which carries the Sikh holy books, to mark the Hola Mohalla festival at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on March 17, 2014.AFP Photo.

of the five Sikh religious seats, and passes through various important gurdwaras like Qila Anandgarh, Lohgarh Sahib, Mata Jitoji and terminates at the Takth.

For people visiting Anandpur Sahib, langars (voluntary community kitchens) are organized by the local people as a part of sewa (community service). Raw materials like wheat flour, rice, vegetables, milk and sugar is provided by the villagers living nearby. Women volunteer to cook and others take part in cleaning the utensils. Traditional cuisine is served to the pilgrim who eat while sitting in rows on the ground The tenth guru Gobind Singh felt that Holi, had lost its original meaning over the years. It was no longer a celebration to reaffirm fraternity and brotherhood. In 1757 AD he decided to revive the spirit of Holi and weave its essence into a festival created in the Khalsa traditions. Holla Mohalla is celebrated in the month of Phalguna a day after Holi. Early morning prayers at the gurdwaras mark the beginning of the festival. The Guru Grantha Sahib is brought out with ceremony and placed on the dais. It is given a symbolic bath with milk and water. Akhandapathas, Kar seva, Shabads and Kirtans are performed The Karah Prasad is distributed to the congregation, after it has been consecrated by the guru. At noon, men and women from all castes and creed eat together at the guru ka langar. Stories are narrated about the bravery of Guru Govind Singh in prose and verse. Tribute is also accorded to Guru Har Gobind, who led his army to free 52 captive kings from the Gwalior jail in 1612 AD. Colorful processions are organized on Holla Mohalla. Sikhs, especially the Nihangs, dressed in their traditional martial costumes, display their skills in archery, sword fencing, horse riding and shooting. Battles are enacted and ancient cannons fired to focus on the training required for war. Holla Mohalla is an occasion for the Sikhs to reaffirm their commitment to the Khalsa Panth

HMM Holi 2017 Colorful celebration at Vastu by Bhakti Naik

colors to celebrate in a colorful way. As we were collecting our colors we saw our friends coming from nowhere to smear colors all over us. Kids, adults, and even seniors had a lot of fun. The sacred Holi bon fire was lit up and crowd gathered and shouted “Holi re holi and Har Har Mahadev”. Waterslides were arranged for all ages, kids no doubt had a blast. There was a DJ organized by cultural committee – Chaitrali Gokhale and Abhishek Bhat. Holi is an ancient Hindu re- Everyone danced at the classic ligious festival that signifies Bollywood tunes. the victory of good (Vishnu) We were served scrumptious over evil (Holika) and is well Maharashtrian special lunch known for splashing colors on prepared by ex HMM Presieach other. It also marks the start of spring. It is celebrated dent Megha Ozarker along all over India and now around with Puran Poli that was orthe world. Playing colors are dered from India by Abhishek the most joyous part of the Holi Bhatt. Our special thanks to celebrations. They add life and both. Puran Poli is a popular vitality to the festival. Holi sweet dish typically eaten in celebrations start on the night Maharashtra. It is a sweet flatbefore Holi with a Holika – a bread with a buttery taste and a bonfire. People gather around stuffing of lentils and jaggery. the Holi, perform religious ritu- It is served with warm ghee. It was a dream come true for als, and pray with an intention to destroy all the internal evil. entire HMM to celebrate the The next morning is celebrated first event at the Vastu. The as Rang Panchami - a free-for- entire HMM community conall carnival of colors, where gratulates the committee memparticipants play, chase, and bers for a yet another fantastic color each other using a safe successful event. Huge thanks and dry color powder. Some to HMM committee and Vastu carry water guns and others team who made it possible. colored water-filled balloons The next event by HMM for their water fight. is live concert with Radha


OSENBERG, TX, March 4th, 2017 Houston Maharashtra Mandal (HMM) celebrated Holi on Saturday, March 4th, 2017 at its own Vastu in Rosenberg. This was the first grand celebration at the Vastu. HMM has purchased 11.5 Acre property near Rosenberg, Texas and plans to build Shri Siddhivinayak Temple and Community Center at this Vastu.

Mangeshkar (disciple & daughter of Pandit Hridaynath Mangeshkar and niece of two greatest living legends, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle) and Hrishikesh Ranade (playback singer of Bollywood and Marathi film industry, recently toured with Shreya Ghoshal to celebrate 100 years of Bollywood) on March 19th, 2017 at 4:00 pm at Berry Center. They will sing classic Hindi as well as Marathi songs. For details All the attendees were given and tickets please visit www. Pichkaris (water guns) and Holi

Revelers gather around the bonfire during Holi celebrations.

HMM President, Anjou Sathe Keller, with her enthusiastic committee members organized the event very well. From getting the warmth around the Holika bonfire, to playing colors and visiting with friends and family, Holi is a wonderful celebration to bring the community together and celebrate the triumph of good over evil. Entire event footage was captured by Aditya Patil‘s drone which was a big surprise to all.

MHH members gather to celebrate Holi.




N’Golo Kante: The Premier League’s silver bullet

It would probably be an exaggeration or over-simplification to say that the difference between the relegation-haunted Leicester this season and the title-winners of last year is Kante’s departure, but nobody should doubt its significance. In that deep-lying midfield role he protected the center backs Wes Morgan and Robert Huth so thoroughly that their jobs became little more than heading away balls played over him or crossed in from the flanks. Without Kante, both Morgan and Huth have been exposed and have looked exactly what they are: aging players of limited pace who struggle to cope when players get a run at them. Similarly, Danny Drinkwater, who last season was forever measuring balls over the top for Jamie Vardy to run onto, has found himself having to perform additional defensive work and has looked vulnerable without his hyperactive partner. He’s been reduced to 0.5 key passes a game this season, compared to 1.3 in the

Williamson moved from fourth to second in the standings following last week’s draw, leap-frogging India’s Virat Kohli and England’s Joe Root, and now sat only behind Australian captain Steve Smith.

N’Golo Kante in action. (File photo) title-winning campaign. Kante is not the only difference between the Chelsea of last season and the Chelsea of this much more fruitful campaign, but on the field he is the biggest change. Just as he got the best out of Drinkwater, so, too, has he rejuvenated Nemanja Matic, whose key passes are up by a third. And just as he protected Morgan and Huth, Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta and David Luiz have thrived behind him. Entering the weekend, Kante had made 3.6 tackles per game this season, the third most of any player in the Premier League. He had also made 2.3 interceptions per game, the fifth-most of any midfielder. But to categorize Kante as purely a destructive player would be misleading. The obvious comparison is with Claude Makelele, another French former Chelsea player who operated to profound effect just in front of the defensive line. It was his reading of the game and his ball-winning that caught the eye, but he was also vital for the way he would initiate attacks, a metronome who could be relied upon not to give the ball away. (Kante himself says his role model was Lassana Diarra, another French former Chelsea player who is only six years older but is currently without a club having been released by Marseille). Kante’s pass success rate is 88.3% this season, the 16th best in the league. That only tells part of the story though. Only two of the players above him in that ranking play more

passes per game and only one more plays more long passes. Kante is not, in other words, just nudging a simple ball to a teammate; he is achieving that level of accuracy with a full range of passing. Last Monday, Kante made 50 passes, 45 of them accurate. “He made five mistakes,” Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said in mock frustration after the game. “He has to improve in this. He has to improve. I am joking. But I have to find one situation to tell him to improve. He’s playing really well. He has great stamina, great quality and we are working to improve that quality.” Yet just four years ago, before his reported £29 million move to Chelsea and before he became a part-time starter for host France at Euro 2016, Kante was playing for Boulogne in the French third tier. He helped Caen to promotion from the French second tier the following season and after just one year at the highest level in France, moved to Leicester. What happened there, of course, bordered on the miraculous, so much so that Chelsea’s elevation from 10th to first seems almost normal.


Where just three per cent of the top 100 men’s tennis players in 1990 were 195 centimetres or taller, 16 per cent of the top 100 in August 2016 reached that mark. While acknowledging the difficulty of discussing potential changes while he is still on the tour, Nadal believes the athleticism of future players will force adjustments. “I am talking here about the sport overall, not about my generation, because with these conditions I had a lot of success. If you ask me, I don’t want changes,” he quipped to reporters.

Rafael Nadal jokes that his success means he is happy with tennis as the sport is played today, but the 14time major winner is open to setting a date for evolution. “But it’s true that looking forward ... five, 10 years in front, you see every time the (players are) taller. Every time people have the chance to serve faster, and if we want to maintain, I think, good points, if we want to maintain a good show for the people, it’s something we need to do, no? “We need to start from the younger generations. So you need to put at that line and say in seven years that’s gonna change.

Ross Taylor also moved up the rankings, from 16th to equal 15th. There was no change in the top 10 ranked test bowlers, with Neil Wagner holding his spot at number 10. The results of the opening test also saw the rise of South African cricketers, with Dean Elgar rising 10 spots to a ranking of 11th, while AB de Villiers moved up one spot into the top 10. (

India’s Virat Kohli finds himself demoted. (File photo)

Bangladesh Vs Sri Lanka: Soumya Sarkar opts for DRS after getting bowled Fans were not just enthralled by the cricketing skills of the two teams, but also left amused by a couple of incidents by Dattaraj Thaly, NDTV


usal Mendis and Rangana Herath’s sterling performances helped Sri Lanka crush Bangladesh by 259 runs in the 1st Test.

occurred during the match. Bangladesh pacer Subashis Roy broke into a premature celebration when he thought Mendis was caught at deep fine-leg. Mendis’ shot had actually cleared the boundary and

Kante hasn’t even played a Champions League game yet, and that is the next challenge. (-Sports Illustrated)

We cannot change things like this (immediately).” The introduction of aluminium racquets, and later carbon fibre and graphite, in the 1980s was a significant shift from wooden racquets, which drew little power from shots in comparison to the new materials. Nadal is one such player who has combined new technology with physical strength to shake up the tennis world, but even the 30-year-old understands his advantages will be superseded by the next generation. Statistics show juniors 195cm or taller, even mid-ranked players, outperform their shorter peers once they reach the pros. The same occurs on the women’s tour for players over 182cm, and it goes a step further: taller women already win more grand slams than their presence on the tour suggests they should.

dured an embarrassing moment after he run out. The left-hander tried to pick up a run, assuming the ball had gone down the legside. Unfortunately for him, the ball was actually in the hands of the Sri Lankan wicketkeeper. However, Soumya Sarkar produced the biggest laugh from the crowd when he did the unthinkable. The batsman, who was bowled by Asela Gunaratne, asked for a Decision Review System (DRS) referral due to the slight delay in the umpire raising his finger.

Cantona, of course, stayed at United and after his glorious first season and won three more league titles. Kante is only 25. He could easily match that. But he could surpass Cantona, who never quite turned it on in the Champions League.

‘Tennis will need changes’ Nadal flags set date for evolution fter defeating Argentine opponent Guido Pella to progress to the third round at Indian Wells the Spaniard was quizzed about the future of tennis.

Kane Williamson scored 130 runs against South Africa (Photo: John Cowpland / Photosports)

Williamson was previously the top ranked test batsman, holding the title in NovemberDecember 2015.


by Glenn Valencich, Yahoo!

Kane Williamson leapfrogs Kohli in world test batsmen rankings



ONDON - The last player to win the Premier League title while playing for different clubs in successive seasons was Eric Cantona*. This season, 24 years on and assuming Chelsea defends its 10-point lead, N’Golo Kante will emulate him. Both are French, they share a first syllable to their surnames, both are hard-working and both have galvanized doubting teammates, but it’s hard to imagine two less similar players.

Cantona arrived giving the impression that he was doing English football a favor by playing in it. He had an arrogance and a charm, he was reckless and he sought the limelight; he made those around him believe because he had such an excess of self-belief. Kante, on the contrary, is self-effacing. He has risen from the obscurity of the French lower leagues in a remarkable short period of time. He is humble and diligent, and the inspiration he offers stems from the fact that he plays with the energy of two men.


HRISTCHURCH, New Zealand - Black Caps captain Kane Williamson’s innings-steadying 130-run knock in the first test against South Africa last week has seen him jump in the ICC test batsmen rankings.

by Johnathan Winter

*That’s assuming you ignore the claims of Mark Schwarzer who was a backup goalkeeper at Chelsea in 2014-15 and Leicester in 2015-16 and so was part of two title-winning squads–without playing a game in either season.

FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

Soumya Sarkar produced the biggest laugh from the crowd when he did the unthinkable. (Photo: © AFP) Fans were not just enthralled by the cricketing skills of the two teams, but also left amused by a couple of incidents that

Mustafizur Rahman strayed over the rope as he completed the catch. On Day 2, Tamim Iqbal en-

Herath grabbed six wickets in the second innings to become Test cricket’s most successful left-arm spinner. Herath finished with 6-59, his 23rd five or more wicket haul, which took his tally in Tests to 366 wickets, going past New Zealand’s Daniel Vettori, who has 362 wickets to his name. Herath’s exploits helped Sri Lanka dismiss Bangladesh for 197 runs in the second innings in less than two sessions on the fifth day after the visitors resumed play promisingly on 67-0.


McLaren crisis uncovered: Team could face choice between Fernando Alonso and Honda Fernando Alonso could walk away from McLaren over their problems with the Honda power unit after the team endured a brutal two weeks of pre-season testing. by James Gray, ExpressUK


lonso and F1 rookie Stoffel Vandoorne were both severely limited in McLaren’s test runs in Barcelona by an Honda engine that is both slow to the tune of nearly 20mph behind its rivals on the straights and unreliable to the point where a session barely passed without a stoppage. The problems have deflated

the optimism instilled by new boss Zac Brown, who promised during the winter that “championships are not far away”. McLaren have endured a torrid few years and have not won a race since Jenson Button’s triumph at the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2012. And the team have not secured an F1 World Constructors’ Championship since 1998.

In 2015, they re-signed twotime world champion Fernando Alonso to partner Button in the hope of breaking that streak. However, the Spaniard has not finished on the podium in his two seasons back with the team and retired from a quarter of his races. And with his contract expiring at the end of the season, the 35-year-old could easily have sealed a move away from McLaren by the summer. “My future is not my priority right now,” Alonso said. “I live in the present and try to enjoy myself as much as I can right now.”



FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

Your Horoscope for the Week of March 17, 2017 READ YOUR COMPLETE HOROSCOPE

by Hardik Vyas, Astrologer Cell : 832-298-9950


Aries (A,L,E) 21 March to 20 April

Libra (R,T) 23 Sept to 22 Oct

Maybe there really is a way to benefit from this excitement you feel. You have a great network of friends that can provide you with some support & returns as well. Partnerships will bring you more resources than if you try to go it alone. Listen to reason rather than emotion. If you start to promote your own ideas others will find it hard to deny your requests. By week’s end, you should try to slow down your pace a little so you don’t forget certain details that are important to you.

You need to find your voice and figure out how to use it to your best advantage. Before moving ahead on your own, think about ways to unite others. Human emotions cannot rule you, this time. You must try to look at things on a more intellectual plane. Try your best to stay clear of those who try to bring you down to their level. You need to look beyond the immediate to understand how the bigger picture works. Everyone needs to feel secure, some may rely on luck but you have your own strategy in place.

Taurus (B,V,U) 21 April to 20 May

Scorpio (N,Y) 23 Oct to 21 Nov

Recent events may have made you upset and you need to re-organize and consolidate your energy. Even though you feel agitated, you’re very social and very capable. Once the meetings are over, transform your home into a refuge from the real world for a while. Step back and realize that things aren’t quite as bad as you thought. Your positive flow has actually put you in a better position than you were before. You may have to act before you think you are ready to do so. Trust your intuition and don’t allow others to intimidate you.

Sometimes, you may be too quick to re-act, but this week, you’re right to take a stance. Others are the same as always, but your perception of them will change radically. Be aware that your words and your actions will affect them greatly. You can probably talk your way out it, but everybody is watching to see the outcome. Stay calm and your confidence level will rise. Everybody wants security, but their concepts may be different than yours. Your job is to find some common ground and then to start from there.

Sagittarius (BH,F,DH,TH) 22 Nov to 21 Dec

Gemini (K,CHH,GH) 21 May to 20 June If you want to try to turn present situation around, you’d better start now. Use your imagination you have on hand to demonstrate your idea of art and beauty. You’ll have no choice but to be yourself when you journey on this new adventure. By week’s end, the mysteries will start to wear thin and expose the harsh reality that really exists. You may have to temporarily withdraw from your profession in order to handle this personal matter.

You usually work hard but lately you’ve been very lax in matters of importance. Everyone is a specialist or is in need of one. Prove that you know more than your history suggests. Save time and money by drawing on the resources that you already possess. If this strategy has worked for you in the past, then it will probably work again. Strike a happy medium with authorities who are being too rigid about your boundaries. An apology, a smile or a hug will get you what you want.

Capricorn (KH,J) 22 Dec to 20 Jan

Cancer (D,H) 21 June to 22 July You need to continue to play the waiting game. Others want answers right away, but you should take some time to analyze the whole picture. If you try to push the process faster, something will hit the fan. Unfounded suspicions and accusations will only make others more uncomfortable. It’s better to keep quiet than to be negative. A surprise will shake things up and provide you with some answers. Try to be as discreet as possible. You’re ready to accept the news but not everybody is.

People with good attitudes are much easier to be around. So, just be yourself and others will fall in love with you. Your impeccable charm will help you to handle your responsibilities with strong authority and creative style. Important details may be overlooked by those who do not care. You need to oversee everything of any importance. Pace yourself so that you don’t get too tired or run down. Since you may not get the time to play that you wanted, find ways to enjoy whatever it is that you have to do.

Aquarius (G,S,SH) 21 Jan to 19 Feb

Leo (M) 23 July to 22 August A show of strength will improve your standing in the community. Choose the honorable road. You may need to go out on a limb, but you’ll have strong support from those in authority. You may need to fulfill a family obligation that you almost forgot about. You’ll realize that your personal relationships need more attention than you’re giving them. Someone who you’ve recently pushed away will try to return into your life. Everybody will want to be your friend, but your words may hurt your cause.

Virgo (P) 23 August to 22 September The warmth you feel inside will spark your passion for life. Get out there and enjoy all that life has to give. Look past others misgivings in order to take advantage of their expertise. You may not understand all the workings of a new technology, but you can figure out how to use it for your own purpose. Check your list and make sure you cover all the bases. Others will be ready to open up to you and to share all of what they have, both spiritually and physically. In time, you’ll do well, but don’t expect the cash to flow immediately.


Your message will come across in a way that encourages others want to join in. You know just which emotions to draw out of others and when to do it. You could combine valid points of view to provide a dynamic effort. Supporters will rally for your cause. Look upward and forward. Doubts should not be considered an option. Teamwork is easy for you and it could prove to be very profitable, in the long run. You’ll come out ahead no matter where you start from. By week’s end, you may get tired of being patient.

Pisces (D,CH,Z) 20 Feb to 20 March Simple conversations will be needed in order to pass the days smoothly. Strong words will only bring strong re-actions. Realize that tempers may be short in some specific areas. You need a break from away from extreme solutions to dealing with simple problems. Stay confident in who you are and you’ll be ensured a smoother ride. Being in between jobs or within family can make you feel very isolated. A compromise on your part will restart stalled talks. By combining your resources, you’ll be able to find the perfect kind of operation.


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id you remember to change your smoke detector batteries when you changed your clocks today?

tor or have no smoke detectors present. When smoke alarms fail to operate, it is usually because batteries are missing.

The Houston Fire Department reminds citizens to change the batteries in your smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarms when you reset your clocks as Daylight Saving Time begins and ends. If your smoke detector is older than 10 years or does not work, HFD also suggest replacing it with the newer 10-year battery smoke detectors which will prevent the need to replace the battery.

Smoke is usually what kills fire victims, not the fire, because the smoke puts you in a deeper sleep and without the sound of the smoke alarm, you succumb to the smoke as you breathe it in.

The sound of the alarm will give you and your family those few extra seconds to get out and stay out of your home. Checking your smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm and changing the battery are one of the simplest things you can do to protect your family. HFD statistics indicate that more than 30 percent of the home and apartment fires HFD responds to, do not have a working smoke detec-

State law requires apartment owners to ensure that apartment units have working smoke detectors in them before they are occupied. Apartment residents are responsible for changing the batteries in those smoke detectors. The HFD also encourages everyone who has a carbon monoxide alarm to change the batteries in them as well. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that can kill you before you are even aware it is in your house. It causes side effects such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, disorientation and fatigue that are often mistaken for the flu. These effects

can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health and length of exposure. The HFD recommends purchasing a carbon monoxide detector if you use gas or a fireplace for your heating; have your furnace professionally inspected every year and check for carbon monoxide emissions and install a carbon monoxide detector in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of the home. When your carbon monoxide alarm sounds, ventilate the house with fresh air by opening windows and doors. Check your carbon monoxide detector by every month pressing the test button and replace the detector every 5 years. The HFD also reminds citizens to have an evacuation plan in place so once you are alerted by the smoke detector; you know how to get out and stay out. It’s important that everyone not only have an escape plan, but that they know it and know where to meet if they should need to get out of their burning home.

FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

Houston Community College Request for Proposals (/RFP) Media Arts and Technology Center of Excellence Project No. RFP 17-39 Sealed proposals will be received in Procurement Operations (3100 Main Street, Room No. 11B01, Houston, Texas 77002) until 2:00PM (local time) on Thursday, March 31, 2017.

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FRIDAY, March 17, 2017

Voice of Asia Newsweekly e paper March 17 2017  

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 Newsweekly e paper March 17 2017  

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