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Kovind pays tributes to Mahatma Gandhi and National Heroes of Cuba

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Visiting President Ram Nath Kovind today paid tributes at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi here today and also to the national heroes of Cuba.
 
On arrival at Santiago de Cuba, Cuba yesterday on the last leg of his three-nation State Visit to Greece, Suriname and Cuba, Mr Kovind visited the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery to pay his tributes to national heroes of Cuba – Jose Marti, Fidel Castro, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes and Mariana Grajales.
 
Later in the day, the President will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Revolution Palace.  Thereafter, he will meet his counterpart President Miguel Díaz-Canel and lead the delegation level talks with Cuba.  The two sides are expected to sign two MoUs – one on Traditional Medicine and Homeopathy and second on Biotechnology.
 
Mr Kovind will also address the students of Havana University before leaving for New Delhi.  
 
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India, Suriname agree to enhance partnership

 
PresidentKovind, his Suriname counterpart perform yoga
 
 
India and Suriname have agreed to enhance and accelerate their partnership, with India commiting to share its expertise with the South American nation for its growth and development.
 
"As two developing countries with similar political trajectories, we have grown hand-in-hand," President Ram Nath Kovind, who is on a state visit to the country, said at an Indian community reception here on Thursday.
 
“It is in that spirit that we are keen to assist you in developing solar energy projects. We hope these would soon glow, both in day and night, as shining examples of our partnership under the International Solar Alliance,” he added.
 
Mr. Kovind said that since his arrival in Suriname he was impressed by its biodiversity “but even more by the diversity of your people, your rich history and culture. You are many people, but One Nation.
 
“The Creoles, Javanese, Chinese, Hindustanis, Maroons and Amerindians have all added their beauty to your rainbow. The Mama Srananholds all her children lovingly in her arm, giving equally care and respect to each,” he added.
 
“The Hindustani community is a colourful part of the Surinamese fabric. I see them in large numbers here. They carry the stories of the arduous journey of their forefathers, undertaken from Kolkata to Paramaribo, close to their hearts. 
 
“In the steps of Baba and Mai, they follow their past, their pride and their history. These inspire millions in India as well. The Baba and Mai monument in Kolkata, an exact replica of the one in Paramaribo, is testimony to our umbilical connect,” he said.
 
“I am happy that the Hindustani community has beautifully assimilated in the Surinamese society and yet, has preserved and kept their traditions and culture alive. The best of India, be it music, art or language has a place of pride here.  And the best of Indian cinema is enjoyed by all.”
 
Referring to the 145th anniversary celebrations of the arrival of Indians in this country, he said, “But  what is deeply inspiring for me is that each and every member of the Surinamese society is sharing the festivities. And you are not just living in harmony with your communities, but also in harmony with nature.
 
“I am told you are the greenest country in the world.  Deep in your forests and river valleys, exist centuries old wisdom and traditional knowledge. We should bring them back into our modern lives. I am happy that you celebrate National Ayurveda Day in Suriname. Today, we have agreed to collaborate in the fields of traditional medicine and plants. I hope we will succeed in bringing the best of Suriname and India together," he added.
 
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Earlier, in remarks to the media here on Wednesday, Mr. Kovind said he had had an excellent meeting with President Desire Bouterse and exchanged views on bilateral and global issues of common concern.
 
"We expressed our highest commitment to further build on the already warm and friendly relations between Suriname and India. We agreed to expand the bilateral agenda especially in the areas of economic relations, cultural cooperation and development partnership.
 
"We conveyed our strong support to make the International Solar Alliance a success and contribute to tacking climate change. I had the privilege to receive the Ratification Instrument of Suriname joining the International Solar Alliance from President Bouterse. To begin bilateral engagement under the Alliance, India will extend concessional financing of US Dollars 20 million for setting up a solar project to provide clean energy to a cluster of 49 villages in Suriname. We look forward to completing the project in a time-bound manner," he said.
 
"Development Cooperation, under the rubric South-South Cooperation, is an important pillar of Indo-Surinamese relations. To further strengthen this privileged partnership, India will extend a Line of Credit of US Dollars 27.5 million to support a power transmission project in PikinSaronarea and another Line of Credit of US Dollars 3.5 million for maintenance of Chetak helicopters. We have also extended financial grants for a craft market project and a digital literacy programme. We hope our assistance will help in promoting economic sustainability and capacity building of women and children in Suriname.
 
"We want to strengthen our capacity building partnership with Suriname through the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programme as well. We have, therefore, offered to raise the annual scholarships to Suriname under the programme from 40 to 50," he said.
 
Mr. Kovind said India would assist Suriname to establish a Centre of Excellence in Information Technology. An MoU to take forward this project has been signed. Besides, the two sides have also concluded four MoUs in the fields of elections, diplomatic academies partnership, employment for spouse of diplomats of the two countries and archives. 
 
Mr. Bouterse expressed Suriname’s continued support for India’s aspiration to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council. 
 
"We also expressed our deepest concern on the threat posed by terrorism and conveyed strong support to each other to fight the global menace.
 
"We conveyed our mutual satisfaction at the strong people-to-people relations and cultural cooperation that exist between the two countries. I thanked President Bouterse for donating land for constructing the new premises of the Indian Cultural Centre in Paramaribo," he added.
 
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Israeli Prime Minister's wife charged with fraud

 
Israeli PM Netanyahu's wife charged with fraud
 
 
Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was charged with fraud and breach of trust on Thursday over the alleged misuse of state funds, the Justice Ministry said.
 
In a case known as the "Meals-Ordering Affair", prosecutors said Sara Netanyahu used state money to fraudulently pay for $100,000 worth of meals at the Prime Minister's residence between 2010 and 2013, according to an indictment filed at the Jerusalem magistrate's court on Thursday.
 
She also illegally paid approximately $10,000 for private chefs, prosecutors were cited as saying by CNN.
 
Sara Netanyahu has denied the charges and refused to settle the payment out of court. 
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
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Brahmos leads Indian charge at Paris defence show

File photo of BrahMos missile.
File photo of BrahMos missile.
There was a stark difference in the Indian presence at Eurosatory, the just-concluded biennial defence show here. While the previous edition, held in June 2016, had seen some of the heavyweights of Indian DPSUs, including the Garden Reach Shipyard and the Ordnance Factories Board, as well as the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the turnout of Indian companies at this years edition could hardly have been more different.
 
Leading the Indian presence was the Brahmos Aerospace Indo-Russian joint venture that can easily be termed the most successful example of an Indian firm developing an entire range of new products that not only meet the requirements of the Indian defence forces, but also elicit regular enquiries from numerous potential buyers around the world.
 
Colonel J.P. Uniyal, Director of Business Development and Product Support, at Brahmos said that even though Brahmos had skipped the last edition of Eurosatory, the participation this year has been very successful and highly satisfactory. 
 
"We have had numerous meetings with potential buyers who are very interested in our products and especially the recent innovation of the variants that can be launched from an aircraft, as we have proven by testing Brahmos on the Sukhois used by the Indian Air Force," Uniyal told Media India Group. 
 
According to Uniyal, the principal enquiries came from countries like South Korea and Brazil. 
 
"With some of these countries, we have been having discussions for a while. But it was important to be here and meet with them again as in the weapons' business, like any other business, you need to be seen at key global platforms such as Eurosatory to stay on the top of the mind of your customers. If you are absent frequently, then they tend to find other suppliers," he said.
 
Brahmos had also perhaps the most appealing display at the event, amongst the Indian participants. MKU, a Kanpur-based defence manufacturer, too had an active presence at the event, with the company displaying several of its products to attract buyers at the event, a strategy that perhaps proved to be highly successful, if the beeline of visitors to MKU stall was any indication.
 
One highlight of the Indian presence at the Eurosatory was the participation of a number of Small & Medium Enterprises in the domain of defence, ranging from protective gear and clothing to speciality steels and manufacturers of ancillaries for larger defence material like tanks, trucks and guns.
 
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Sweta Chaudhry Singh, Director of Frontier Protectivewear, a manufacturer of protective clothing based in Kolkata, said the participation in Eurosatory was good for her firm. 
 
"Basically, it was a good show for us. We had come to develop our market in Europe further as we already have some customers in Germany. We were also looking for new partners and on both the parameters, the show proved to be successful," she said.
 
Though there were only a handful of Indian firms that had their own stall like Frontier Protectivewear at the event, a number of SMEs had also come as part of delegations led by chambers of commerce such as FICCI and ICC, Kolkata. 
 
"These firms were looking for collaboration in terms of boosting their design capabilities as well as to identify those French and global partners who could be interested in transfer of know-how to Indian companies," said Sourav Raichudhuri of the Paris Chamber of Commerce (CCIP), which had organised B2B meetings for the Indian delegation. 
 
The Indian companies were also scouting for clients who needed their prowess in software development. Drones and composite materials were high on the wishlist of the Indian firms.
 
(Paris-based Ranvir Nayar is Managing Director of the Media India Group.)
 
IANS
 
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'Twitter Media', a new home for publishers, is here

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In an apparent attempt to get close to publishers, Twitter has launched "Twitter Media" -- a website dedicated to helping small publishers get the most from its platform.
 
Kay Madati, Global Vice President and Head of Content Partnerships officially introduced the new site.
 
"With Facebook disappointing publishers for the last few years Twitter saw an opportunity, and now it's launching 'Twitter Media', a website dedicated to helping small publishers get the most from its platform," tech website WeRSM reported late on Tuesday.
 
"Twitter Media" would feature best practices from content publishers across Twitter, curated by Twitter's news, sports and entertainment partnerships teams.
 
The micro-blogging site said that "Twitter Media" will be updated regularly with case studies and success stories and will also feature a blog to help publishers stay up-to-date with tools for publishers.
 
The website would also include information about new products and features designed specifically for content publishers and there would be an easy-to-navigate help section curating answers to the most common questions Twitter gets from content publishers.
 
IANS
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Kovind meets Greek leaders, leads delegation-level talks

 
Kovind meets Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
 
 
President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday highlighted India's commitment to promote trade and investment engagement with Greece and said India was keen to deepen bilateral cooperation in all areas, especially in the political and economic fields.
 
At a meeting with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and delegation-level talks, Mr. Kovind, who was on a state visit to Greece, emphasized the age-old civilizational ties between the two nations.
 
He said India and Greece shared values of democracy, rule of law and multi-cultural ethos, and these had hadded depth to their bilateral and multi-lateral engagements.
 
Earlier, he was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Presidential Mansion.
 
Mr. Kovind stated that bilateral trade between the two countries, at $ 530 million, was below potential and more efforts must be made to expand and diversify their trade.
 
He informed the Greek delegation that India had accepted the invitation to participate in the prestigious Thessaloniki International Fair, 2019 as the “Honoured Country”.
 
He also apprised the Greek delegation of the steps taken by India to improve the business climate in the country and said that India wished to collaborate with the Greek companies to become partners in the growth story of India. In particular, India could benefit from expertise of Greece in areas such as Shipping, Food and Dairy, and Tourism. On the other hand Indian companies especially in the areas of pharma, IT, agriculture, real estate, infrastructure and start-ups are keen to establish presence in Greece, he said.
 
India also thanked Greece for its support for India’s candidature for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council and for membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
 
On cultural ties, the President said that as two ancient civilizations that have interacted with each other for centuries, they have a deep cultural understanding of each other. He also said that the two countries should work together to develop Greek and Indian traditional medicinal practices as healthcare options for people.
 
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After the delegation level talks, the President also met the Prime Minister of Greece, Mr Alexis Tsipras, and the two leaders discussed different issues of mutual interest to both nations. Later, Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Leader of Opposition of the Hellenic Republic also called on the President.
 
During the day, three memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed between  the two sides: an MoU between Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and National Quality Infrastructure System/Hellenic Organization for Standardization on Cooperation in the Fields of Standardization; an MoU between Foreign Service Institute (FSI), India and Diplomatic Academy, Greece on Cooperation in Diplomatic Training; and the Programme of Cultural Cooperation for the year 2018-2020.
 
Later in the evening, the President was due to lay a wreath at the Phaleron Indian Cremation Memorial where the remains of the 74 soldiers of undivided India who sacrificed their lives during World War II were laid to rest. The President was also slated to attend a State Banquet hosted by the President of Greece.
 
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Your kids' obesity may up knee, hip osteoarthritis risk later

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If your son or daughter is obese during childhood then he or she could be at an increased risk of developing knee and hip osteoarthritis later, new research has found.

Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that occurs when flexible tissue at the ends of bones wears down.

The results showed that childhood body mass index (BMI) significantly increased the prevalence of osteoarthritis by 1.7 per cent per unit increase in BMI, specifically 0.6 per cent in the knee and 0.6 per cent in the hip.

Conversely, high adult BMI significantly increased the prevalence of osteoarthritis by 2.7 per cent per unit increase in BMI, and 1.3 per cent in the knee, and 0.4 per cent in the hip.

"Our results suggest the effect of adult BMI seems to be stronger on knees, whilst childhood BMI might impact both knee and hip osteoarthritis risk similarly," said author Professor Prieto-Alhambra from the University of Oxford in Britain.

The research, published in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, included data from two genome-wide association studies (GWAS) which identified 15 and 97 specific gene changes, known as SNPs -- single nucleotide polymorphism -- associated with childhood and adulthood BMI respectively.

The team then used a separate GWAS of 3,37,000 unrelated individuals. They identified 13/15 childhood obesity SNPs and 68/97 adulthood obesity SNPs and then analysed the association between these SNPs and self-reported osteoarthritis, as well as hospital data for the knee, hip and hand osteoarthritis.

The study, also presented at Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR 2018) in Amsterdam, showed no association between childhood and adult obesity with the development of osteoarthritis in hand.

"Obesity in both childhood and adulthood is an important public health issue," said Johannes W. Bijlsma, President of European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), a Switzerland-based non-profit organisation.

"These data showing a causal relationship with osteoarthritis should add further impetus to tackle the issue of obesity and reduce related disability," Bijlsma added.

IANS

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AI helps radio journalist regain voice

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A US radio journalist who had lost his voice two years ago due to a rare neurological condition has regained the ability to speak, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), the media reported.

Jamie Dupree, 54, a political radio journalist with Cox Media Group, got a new voice that trained a neural network to predict how he would talk, using samples from his old voice recordings, the BBC reported.

With his new voice, Dupree can now write a script and then use a free text-to-speech software programme called Balabolka on his laptop to turn it into an audio recording.

If a word or turn of phrase does not sound quite right in the recording, he can slow certain consonants or vowels down, or swap a word to one that does work, or change the pitch, and he can have a full radio story ready to go live in just seven minutes.

"This has saved my job and saved my family from a terrible financial unknown," Dupree was quoted as saying to the BBC.

In 2016, Dupree has diagnosed with tongue protrusion dystonia -- a rare neurological condition where the tongue pushes forward out of his mouth and his throat tightens whenever he wants to speak, making it impossible for him to say more than two or three words at a time.

Thanks to the new computer-generated voice, created for him by Scottish technology company CereProc, Dupree is set to come back on the air, the report said.

The AI system slices each word read out by an individual into 100 tiny pieces and does this with lots of common words until eventually, it understands how basic phonetics work in that person's voice and has an ordered sequence for all the pieces in each word.

Then, the neural network can create its own sounds and predict what the person would sound like if they were to say a series of words in conversation.

"AI techniques work quite well on small constrained problems, and learning to model speech is something deep neural nets can do really well," Chris Pidcock, CereProc's chief technical officer and co-founder, told the BBC.

IANS

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WHO classifies 'gaming disorder' as mental health condition

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has now included "gaming disorder" as a mental health condition in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

The ICD, a diagnostic manual published by the WHO, was last updated in 1990 and its new edition, ICD-11, has included gaming disorder as a serious health condition that needs to be monitored.

"Gaming disorder has been added to the section on addictive disorders," the WHO said in a statement.

This classification means health professionals and systems will be more "alerted to the existence of this condition" while boosting the possibility that "people who suffer from these conditions can get appropriate help", Vladimir Poznyak, a member of the WHO's Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, was quoted as telling the CNN.

"Millions of gamers around the world, even when it comes to the intense gaming, would never qualify as people suffering from gaming disorder," he said, adding that the overall prevalence of this condition is "very low".

"And let me emphasise that this is a clinical condition, and clinical diagnosis can be made only by health professionals which are properly trained to do that," he noted.

The new ICD-11 is also able to better capture data regarding safety in healthcare, which means that unnecessary events that may harm health -- such as unsafe workflows in hospitals -- can be identified and reduced, the statement said.

It also includes new chapters, one on traditional medicine: although millions of people use traditional medicine worldwide, it has never been classified in this system.

Another new chapter on sexual health brings together conditions that were previously categorised in other ways (e.g. gender incongruence was listed under mental health conditions) or described differently.

ICD-11 will be presented at the World Health Assembly in May 2019 for adoption by member states and will come into effect on January 1, 2022.

"ICD is a cornerstone of health information and ICD-11 will deliver an up-to-date view of the patterns of disease," said Lubna Alansari, WHO's Assistant Director-General (Health Metrics and Measurement).

The ICD is the foundation for identifying health trends and statistics worldwide and contains around 55,000 unique codes for injuries, diseases and causes of death.

It provides a common language that allows health professionals to share health information across the globe.

IANS

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Taliban resume attacks on Afghan forces as truce ends

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The Taliban on Monday resumed attacks on Afghan security forces after the armed outfit's three-day ceasefire ended the previous night, police said.
 
Taliban militants launched early morning attacks on security checkpoints in Ghormach, Qaisar, Pashtunkot and Shirin Tagab districts and sporadic fighting has been continuing, Xinhua news agency quoted a police officer as saying.
 
The Afghanistan government announced a ceasefire from June 12 to June 19 to encourage the Taliban to support the national reconciliation process. 
 
Reciprocating the step, the armed group announced a three-day truce from Friday, the first day of Eid-ul-Fitr, till Sunday midnight.
 
On Sunday, an Afghan Security Council meeting chaired by President Ashraf Ghani extended the ceasefire for another 10 days.
 
However, the armed outfit refused to extend the ceasefire and instead in an online statement released overnight Sunday asked its fighters to resume fighting against Afghan and foreign forces stationed in Afghanistan. 
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
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Kovind urges Indian community in Greece to help enhance links between the two countries

 
By 2025, we plan to make India 5 trillion dollar economy: Kovind
 
 
President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday emphasized the strong economic potential between India and Greece and said the two countries had immense potential for working together.
 
Addressing members of the Indian community in Athens at a reception hosted by Indian Ambassador in Greece Shamma Jain, Mr. Kovind pointed out that Greece had expertise in areas such  as agriculture, food and dairy technology, and shipping whereas India is extensively expanding its capacity in areas such as infrastructure, supply chain, energy, and son.
 
He said Greek companies were active in India and that Indian businessmen and companies had also started setting up enterprises in Greece, and thus generating employment opportunities in this country.
 
Mr. Kovind reached Greece on Saturday evening on the first leg of a three-nation visit that would also take him to Suriname and Cuba.
 
He expressed confidence that the visit would further strengthen the strong relations between India and Greece.
 
He told overseas Indians that India was proud of their success and drew their attention to the many opportunities for business, innovation and investment in India.
 
The President said that there was considerable scope for increasing investment and trade between India and Greece. The two countries will benefit greatly from a mutual partnership.
 
He said that the Indian community in Greece has an important role in strengthening the economic relations between the two countries. He urged them to help enhance economic, cultural and people-to-people links between the two countries.
 
Earlier in the day, the President visited the Acropolis as well as the Panathenaic Olympic Stadium and Temple of Zeus.
 
On Monday, the President will hold bilateral meetings with the Greek leadership and lead the India-Greece delegation level talks.
 
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Afghanistan extends ceasefire with Taliban

 
Hugs and selfies all round as Afghanistan enjoys moment of peace
 
 
Afghanistan has extended its unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban following an initial truce observed by both sides over the Eid festival period.
 
President Ashraf Ghani appealed to the militants to follow the government's lead and enter peace talks, reported BBC.
 
In extraordinary scenes, militants have been embracing security force members and taking selfies with citizens.
 
However, 25 people died in a suicide attack on one gathering of Taliban and government officials in Nangarhar.
 
Taliban members and local residents were among the victims of the attack, province spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told BBC, adding that 54 people were wounded.
 
The Islamic State group, which is active in the area, said it carried out the attack.
 
In a TV address, Ghani said the government was ready for "comprehensive negotiations" with the Taliban.
 
"All those issues and demands that have been put forth we are ready to discuss them at the peace talks," he said.
 
The past day - where Taliban and government forces and officials mingled during Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan - "proved that we are all for peace", Ghani said.
 
During the ceasefire Taliban militants could receive medical and humanitarian assistance and Taliban prisoners could see their families, he added.
 
The government has also released some Taliban prisoners, he said.
 
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said peace talks would have to include a discussion on the role of "international actors and forces".
 
"The US stands ready to work with parties to reach a peace agreement and political settlement that brings a permanent end to this war," he said.
 
Earlier this month the Taliban denied that they were in secret talks with the Afghan government.
 
Ghani has also confirmed the death of the commander of the Pakistani Taliban, Maulana Fazlullah, in a US drone strike in Afghanistan on Thursday.
 
IANS
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Indian-American mother's crusade leads to conviction of son's murderer

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After a four-year crusade by an Indian-American mother seeking justice for her murdered son, the assailant has finally been convicted.
 
A jury on Thursday found Gaege Bethune guilty of Pravin Varughese's murder in Carbondale in 2014, according to media reports.
 
After the verdict, Pravin's mother Lovely Varughese told the Chicago Tribune: "Pravin's day finally came. He can rest in peace now."
 
After authorities had dismissed Pravin's death as an accident, his mother waged the relentless crusade mobilising politicians, media and the public. Under pressure, authorities ordered a fresh investigation and appointed a special prosecutor. Carbondale Police Chief Jody O'Guinn was also dismissed.
 
Bethune now faces a sentence of 20 years to 60 years.
 
The 19-year-old Pravin's body was found in a forested area in a frozen condition in February 2014, four days after the Southern Illinois University student went missing.
 
The local coroner declared his death an accident caused by exposure to extreme cold. But his family commissioned an independent post-mortem which found that he had died from a severe blow to his head and had other injuries.
 
Lovely Varughese held several news conferences and addressed vigils to draw attention to the finding. Volunteers from Archangels of Justice, a retired law enforcement officials' organisation, researched the case and wrote a report that pointed to Bethune.
 
The family's campaign rallied the support of community, with over 500 people attending his death anniversary observance.
 
Congressman Danny K. Davis took up the issue with the Justice Department and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, then-Congressman Bob Dold and former Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon joined the demand for a proper investigation.
 
Lovely Varughese also filed a case against Carbondale, its police department and O'Guin alleging negligence and seeking $5 million in damages.
 
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The local prosecutor, Michael Carr, who initially took up the case removed himself from it after failing to get a grand jury to charge Bethune.
 
Special Prosecutor David Robinson, who was appointed to take it up, tried the case and got Bethune convicted.
 
The charge against Bethune said that even though Pravin might have frozen to death it "was a natural and foreseeable consequence of that independent felonious conduct" of the aggravated assault by Bethune.
 
The prosecution said that Bethune had given Pravin a lift and allegedly went looking for cocaine, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
 
A dispute ensued over money when Pravin made him stop the vehicle and got out. Bethune then attacked him and took the money, leaving Pravin injured and in early stages of hypothermia, the newspaper said quoting the special prosecutor.
 
A state police trooper who passed by questioned Bethune but let him off after he told him that he had picked up a hitch-hiker who tried to rob him and that he had chased him into the woods.
 
IANS
 
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Hawking rests between Newton, Darwin at Westminster Abbey

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The ashes of the late British physicist Stephen Hawking have been laid to rest at London's iconic Westminster Abbey alongside the graves of two of humanity's greatest scientists, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, while a satellite dish beamed a recording of his distinctive voice into a black hole in deep space.

Relatives, scientists, astronauts, Nobel prize winners, actors and students congregated at the Gothic church on Friday to honour a man who made extraordinary contributions to modern cosmology and helped make the complex world of black holes accessible to the wider public in his trademark didactic and straightforward manner, Efe reported.

Among the attendees were some 1,000 people from over 100 countries that were lucky enough to be selected in a draw allowing them access to the solemn farewell to the brilliant astrophysicist, who passed away on March 14 aged 76 in the medieval university city of Cambridge.

The high demand for tickets (some 25,000 people took part in the sweep) bespoke Hawking's enormous popularity all over the world, as his larger-than-life persona transcended the obscure world of academics and became a staple of pop culture, with appearances on "The Simpsons" and an award-winning biopic starring Eddie Redmayne, who was also present at the ceremony.

Hawking's cremated remains were placed in the abbey's so-called "Scientists' Corner," a section dedicated to the United Kingdom's most groundbreaking scientists, including Michael Faraday (the discoverer of electromagnetic induction and inventor of the electric dynamo) and James Clerk Maxwell (who formulated the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation).

Hawking's tombstone was inscribed with a formula that constitutes his most famous equation, describing the entropy of a black hole.

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Hawking in a BBC series, read a Biblical passage -- despite the physicist's assertive atheism -- while British astronaut Tim Peake did the same with a different excerpt from scripture.

Shortly after the burial, Hawking's voice was broadcast from the European Space Agency's parabolic antennae in Cebreros (central Spain) along with a musical background composed by Greek musician Vangelis, known for his memorable film soundtracks such as "Chariots of Fire" or "Blade Runner."

"It is a message of peace and hope, about unity and the need for us to live together in harmony on this planet,” said Hawking's daughter Lucy in a statement. “This is a beautiful and symbolic gesture that creates a link between our father’s presence on this planet, his wish to go into space and his explorations of the universe in his mind.”

The recording was beamed towards Earth's nearest black hole, 1A 0620-00, which lies in a binary system with an orange dwarf star.

Born in Oxford on January 8, 1942, Hawking was undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in the world of science in the 20th century, not just as a theoretician and astrophysicist, but also as a popular science writer, as evinced by the millions of people who still buy his books to this day.

In 1986, he wrote "A Brief History of Time," an international bestseller which made him one of the most prominent names in science since Albert Einstein.

Over the course of his adult life, Hawking suffered from a motor-neuron condition linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), diagnosed in 1963.

The disease aggravated with time until he was practically paralysed and forced to communicate with a speech synthesizer, although this did not stop him from delving deeper into the secrets of the universe.

Despite his physical condition, which started to deteriorate when he was 21, Hawking went on to live for more than half a century with a disease that often leads to a premature death.

IANS

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High Vitamin D levels associated with low colon cancer risk

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Consuming a Vitamin D rich diet is not only beneficial for your bones but can also keep colorectal or colon cancer at bay, a new study shows.

Compared to participants with circulating vitamin D concentrations considered sufficient for bone health, people with deficient concentrations of the vitamin had a 31% higher risk of colon cancer.

Similarly, concentrations above bone health sufficiency were associated with a 22% lower risk. However, the risk did not continue to decline at the highest concentrations.

"Currently, health agencies do not recommend vitamin D for the prevention of colorectal cancer," said Marji L. McCullough, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society.

"This study adds new information that agencies can use when reviewing evidence for vitamin D guidance and suggests that the concentrations recommended for bone health may be lower than would be optimal for colorectal cancer prevention," he added.

According to the researchers, optimal vitamin D concentrations for colorectal cancer prevention may be higher than the current National Academy of Medicine recommendations, which are based only on bone health.

The study, published in Journal of the National Cancer Institute, included data from 5,700 colorectal cancer cases and 7,100 controls.

Further, the association was noticeably stronger in women than men at concentrations above bone health sufficiency, the researchers said.

Vitamin D can be obtained in the diet, particularly from fortified foods, from supplements, and from sun exposure. However, experts recommend vitamin D be obtained through diet whenever possible because excessive ultraviolet radiation is a major risk factor for skin cancer.

IANS

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Brain values foods loaded with fats and carbs

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Ever wondered why you tend to buy processed foods such as fries, sausages, bacon, ham or ready meals, even if the cost is high?

It is because human brain values foods that are high in both fat and carbohydrate than those containing either fat or carbohydrate alone, researchers say.

These foods tend to hijack body's inborn signals governing food consumption.

Thus, our brain's rewarding system -- group of neural structure responsible for motivation, desire, craving for a reward -- is more likely to choose them, a reason why people feel difficulty in losing or keeping off excess weight, the researchers explained.

"Surprisingly, foods containing fats and carbohydrates appear to signal their potential caloric loads to the brain via distinct mechanisms," said Dana Small from the Yale University in the US.

"Our study shows that when both nutrients are combined, the brain seems to overestimate the energetic value of the food," Small added.

The study published in the journal Cell Metabolism analysed data from 206 adults. The participants underwent brain scans while being shown photographs of familiar snacks containing mostly fat, mostly sugar, and a combination of fat and carbohydrates and were allocated a little amount of money to bid on their first-choice food.

The results showed that the participants were willing to pay more for foods that combined fat and carbohydrates.

The researchers noted that the results may help explain brain-body mechanisms underlying the genetic predisposition for obesity, eating in the absence of hunger, and difficulty losing or keeping off excess weight.

IANS

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Major fire ravages Glasgow art school

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Glasgow's world-renowned School of Art has been gutted by another huge blaze, four years after part of the building was destroyed by fire, a Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said.

Flames ripped through the celebrated Mackintosh building, after it caught fire at around 11.15 p.m., on Friday, the BBC report said.

Nearby buildings, including the Campus nightclub and O2 ABC music venue, were also damaged when the flames spread.

No casualties had been reported.

"A number of engines" were sent to the scene, where more than 60 firefighters were "working hard to extinguish the well-developed" blaze, she added.

The Mackintosh building was badly damaged by fire in May 2014 and was due to re-open next year following a multi-million-pound restoration project.

As the fire raged into Saturday morning, witnesses saw it spread to the Campus nightclub and O2 ABC.

The Mackintosh building was completed in 1909 based on designs by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Scotland's most-lauded designer, the BBC reported.

It has been described as "a working art school as well as a work of art", and has an A-list rating from Historic Scotland.

IANS

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Ramp-up in Antarctic ice loss speeds sea level rise: NASA-ESA study

Crevasses near the grounding line of Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica. Photo credit: University of Washington/I. Joughin
Crevasses near the grounding line of Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica. Photo credit: University of Washington/I. Joughin
Ice losses from Antarctica have tripled since 2012, increasing global sea levels by 0.12 inch (3 millimeters) in that timeframe alone, according to a major new international climate assessment funded by US space agency NASA and ESA (European Space Agency).
 
According to the study, ice losses from Antarctica are causing sea levels to rise faster today than at any time in the past 25 years. Results of the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (IMBIE) were published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
 
“This is the most robust study of the ice mass balance of Antarctica to date,” said assessment team co-lead Erik Ivins at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). “It covers a longer period than our 2012 IMBIE study, has a larger pool of participants, and incorporates refinements in our observing capability and an improved ability to assess uncertainties.”
 
A press release from NASA said on Wednesday that the latest IMBIE was the most complete assessment of Antarctic ice mass changes to date, combining 24 satellite surveys of Antarctica and involving 80 scientists from 42 international organizations.
 
The team looked at the mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet from 1992 to 2017 and found ice losses from Antarctica raised global sea levels by 0.3 inches (7.6 millimeters), with a sharp uptick in ice loss in recent years. They attribute the three-fold increase in ice loss from the continent since 2012 to a combination of increased rates of ice melt in West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula, and reduced growth of the East Antarctic ice sheet.
 
Prior to 2012, ice was lost at a steady rate of about 83.8 billion tons (76 billion metric tons) per year, contributing about 0.008 inches (0.2 millimeters) a year to sea level rise. Since 2012, the amount of ice loss per year has tripled to 241.4 billion tons (219 billion metric tonnes) – equivalent to about 0.02 inches per year (0.6 millimeters) of sea level rise, the release said.
 
According to it, West Antarctica experienced the greatest recent change, with ice loss rising from 58.4 billion tons (53 billion metric tons) per year in the 1990s, to 175.3 billion tons (159 billion metric tons) a year since 2012. Most of this loss came from the huge Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers, which are retreating rapidly due to ocean-induced melting.
 
At the northern tip of the continent, ice-shelf collapse at the Antarctic Peninsula has driven an increase of 27.6 billion tons (25 billion metric tons) in ice loss per year since the early 2000s. Meanwhile, the team found the East Antarctic ice sheet has remained relatively balanced during the past 25 years, gaining an average of 5.5 billion tons (5 billion metric tons) of ice per year.
 
The release said Antarctica’s potential contribution to global sea level rise from its land-held ice is almost 7.5 times greater than all other sources of land-held ice in the world combined. The continent stores enough frozen water to raise global sea levels by 190 feet (58 meters), if it were to melt entirely. Knowing how much ice it’s losing is key to understanding the impacts of climate change now and its pace in the future.
 
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“The datasets from IMBIE are extremely valuable for the ice sheet modeling community,” said study co-author Sophie Nowicki of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “They allow us to test whether our models can reproduce present-day change and give us more confidence in our projections of future ice loss.”
 
The satellite missions providing data for this study are NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat); the joint NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE); ESA’s first and second European Remote Sensing satellites, Envisat and CryoSat-2; the European Union’s Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 missions; the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Advanced Land Observatory System; the Canadian Space Agency’s RADARSAT-1 and RADARSAT-2 satellites; the Italian Space Agency’s COSMO-SkyMed satellites; and the German Aerospace Center’s TerraSAR-X satellite.
 
Tom Wagner, cryosphere program manager at NASA Headquarters, hopes to welcome a new era of Antarctic science with the May 2018 launch of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-on (GRACE-FO) mission and the upcoming launch of NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2).
 
“Data from these missions will help scientists connect the environmental drivers of change with the mechanisms of ice loss to improve our projections of sea level rise in the coming decades," Wagner said.
 
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Dubai hotel sacks Indian-origin chef over anti-Islam tweet

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A popular Indian restaurant here has fired its head chef, Indian-origin celebrity chef Atul Kochhar, following his "anti-Islam tweet".
 
Michelin-star chef Atul Kochhar of the Rang Mahal restaurant at the JW Marriot Marquis hotel received flak after taking a dig at actress Priyanka Chopra for her tweet over a "Quantico" episode that portrayed Hindu nationalists as terrorists. 
 
Kochhar's anti-Islam tweet created a furore on social media, with twitterati calling for his sacking.
 
"Following the recent comments made by Chef Atul Kochhar, we have taken the decision to end our agreement with him for Rang Mahal. With the termination of our agreement, Chef Atul will no longer be associated with the restaurant," JW Marriot Marquis Hotel said in a statement cited by Gulf News.
 
"At the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai we pride ourselves on creating a culture of diversity and inclusion for our guests and associates across the hotel and our restaurants. We also remain committed to delivering the traditional culinary experience and high service standards that Rang Mahal is renowned for," it added.
 
Kochhar issued an apology for his remarks after sparking the controversy. 
 
"There is no justification for my tweet, a major error made in the heat of the moment. I fully recognise my inaccuracies that Islam was founded around 1,400 years ago and I sincerely apologise. I am not Islamophobic, I deeply regret my comments that have offended many." 
 
The chef told Gulf News on Wednesday that he was "deeply upset" by the Dubai hotel's decision.
 
"The decision by JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is deeply upsetting. However I fully accept the great pain I have caused and the difficult position the hotel has been put in. 
 
"I have great respect for JW Marriott and in particular their staff in Dubai and wish the hotel well for the future. I hope my friends and well-wishers in Dubai will forgive me and continue to support me in the future," he said.
 
Kochhar faced the wrath of social media users with a call to boycott his restaurants after he criticised Chopra on Twitter who had posted an apology of her own for offending her fans over the recent "Quantico" episode.
 
Following the swift online backlash, Kochhar retracted his tweet. According to the hotel, the restaurant will continue to operate without the chef's affiliation.
 
IANS
 
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NASA flies large unmanned aircraft in public airspace without chase plane for first time

NASA’s remotely-piloted Ikhana aircraft, based at the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, is flown in preparation for its first mission in public airspace without a safety chase aircraft.Credits: NASA/Carla Thomas
NASA’s remotely-piloted Ikhana aircraft, based at the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, is flown in preparation for its first mission in public airspace without a safety chase aircraft.Credits: NASA/Carla Thomas
US space agency NASA's remotely-piloted Ikhana aircraft, based at its Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, successfully flew its first mission in the National Airspace System without a safety chase aircraft on Tuesday. 
 
"This historic flight moves the United States one step closer to normalizing unmanned aircraft operations in the airspace used by commercial and private pilots," a press release from the agency said.
 
Flying these large remotely-piloted aircraft over the United States opens the doors to all types of services, from monitoring and fighting forest fires, to providing new emergency search and rescue operations. The technology in this aircraft could, at some point, be scaled down for use in other general aviation aircraft, the release said.
 
“This is a huge milestone for our Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System project team,” said Ed Waggoner, NASA’s Integrated Aviation Systems Program director. “We worked closely with our Federal Aviation Administration colleagues for several months to ensure we met all their requirements to make this initial flight happen.”
 
Flights of large craft like Ikhana, have traditionally required a safety chase aircraft to follow the unmanned aircraft as it travels through the same airspace used by commercial aircraft. The Ikhana flew in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Technical Standard Order 211 -- Detect and Avoid Systems -- and Technical Standard Order 212 -- Air-to-Air Radar for Traffic Surveillance.
 
The FAA granted NASA special permission to conduct this flight under the authority of a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization on March 30. The certificate permitted Ikhana’s pilot to rely on the latest Detect and Avoid technology, enabling the remote pilot on the ground to see and avoid other aircraft during the flight.
 
NASA successfully worked with its industry partners to develop a standard for Detect and Avoid technologies, complied with the requirements of the FAA Technical Standard Orders, and garnered flight approval from the FAA.
 
The Ikhana aircraft was equipped with detect and avoid technologies, including an airborne radar developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., a Honeywell Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System, a Detect and Avoid Fusion Tracker, and an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast capability – a surveillance technology where the aircraft determines its position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasts this information so other aircraft can track it.
 
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The flight took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California and entered controlled air space almost immediately. Ikhana flew into the Class-A airspace, where commercial airliners fly, just west of Edwards at an altitude of about 20,000 feet. The aircraft then turned north toward Fresno, requiring air traffic control to be transferred from the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center to the Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center. On the return trip, the pilot headed south toward Victorville, California, requiring communication control to be transferred back to Los Angles.
 
During the return flight, the pilot began a gentle descent over the city of Tehachapi, California, into Class E airspace -- about 10,000 feet -- where general aviation pilots fly. The pilot initiated an approach into Victorville airport at 6,000 feet, coordinating in real time with air traffic controllers at the airport. After successfully executing all of these milestones, the aircraft exited the public airspace and returned to its base at Armstrong.
 
“We are flying with a suite of sophisticated technology that greatly enhances the safety capabilities of pilots flying large unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System,” said Scott Howe, Armstrong test pilot. “We took the time to mitigate the risks and to ensure that we, as a program, were prepared for this flight.”
 
Tuesday’s flight was the first remotely-piloted aircraft to use airborne detect and avoid technology to meet the intent of the FAA’s “see and avoid” rules, with all test objectives successfully accomplished, the release added.
 
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Trump, Kim agree on denuclearization, ready to write new chapter

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pledged to completely denuclearize the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees for Pyongyang during their landmark summit in Singapore on Tuesday.

 
Trump, Kim sign agreement at historic summit
 
 
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pledged to completely denuclearize the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees for Pyongyang during their landmark summit here on Tuesday, ushering in the start of a new era that could break a cycle of nuclear brinkmanship and stave off a military confrontation.
 
"Chairman Kim has before him an opportunity like no other to be remembered as the leader who ushered in a glorious new era of prosperity for his people," Trump said at a news conference in Singapore following more than four hours of talks with Kim.
 
"He reaffirmed his unwavering commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," the US leader said, adding that Kim also agreed to destroy a missile site in North Korea. "We're ready to write a new chapter between our nations."
 
Earlier in the day, Trump and Kim met at the Capella Hotel on Singapore's resort island of Sentosa and signed a pact committing to work towards the development of fresh relations and promote "peace, prosperity and security" in the region. 
 
"President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to North Korea and Chairman Kim reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," the agreement said.
 
Trump said he would push for North Korea to denuclearize as "fast as it can mechanically" but added it could take a long time. He said that sanctions on North Korea would be removed "when we are sure the nukes are no longer a factor".
 
The US leader said the summit marked a "great moment in the history of the world" and stressed that denuclearization would be verifiable by international and US experts. Trump and Kim agreed to have follow-on negotiations led by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a senior North Korean official. 
 
Trump also said joint military exercises with South Korea would be halted, which he described as "too expensive". He said he had agreed to stop the "war games" because he considers them "very provocative" and said it would save the US "a tremendous amount of money".
 
The war games would not be revived "unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should", Trump said, adding that he believed his North Korean counterpart would live up to the agreement. 
 
Trump also said he hopes to eventually withdraw US forces from South Korea, but said "that's not part of the equation right now". 
 
He said he had invited Kim to visit the White House and that the North Korean leader had accepted his invitation. 
 
Pyongyang and Washington also agreed to commit to recovering the remains of prisoners of war and those missing in action during the 1950-53 Korean War, including an immediate repatriation of those already identified.
 
One major issue that appeared to remain unresolved following the summit was North Korea's brutal human rights record, which Trump had slammed in 2017 after the death of US college student Otto Warmbier, who was held captive in Pyongyang for 17 months and then released in a coma. 
 
The University of Virginia student died days after he was flown home to his family in Ohio. Trump said human rights issues were raised on Tuesday, but he did not give details. He said Warmbier "did not die in vain".
 
After the announcement on the joint exercises by Trump, South Korea's presidential office said: "We need to try to understand what President Trump said." 
 
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However, a spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that South Korea understood the need to try to make progress in North Korea's relations with the US.
 
"We believe we need to pursue various measures to efficiently move the dialogue forward during serious ongoing talks to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and to establish good relations between North Korea and the US," the spokesman said.
 
India welcomed the Singapore meeting and described it as a "positive development".
 
"We hope that the outcomes of the US-DPRK Summit will be implemented, thus paving the way for lasting peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula," said the External Affairs Ministry. 
 
China said that sanctions against Pyongyang could be eased if it complies with the UN resolution.
 
"China has consistently held that sanctions are not the goal in themselves. The Security Council's actions should support and conform to the efforts of current diplomatic talks towards denuclearising the Korean Peninsula, and promote a political solution for the peninsula."
 
The dollar jumped to a three-week top and Asian shares rose on news of the agreement.
 
Trump said he had formed a "very special bond" with Kim and that the relationship with North Korea would be very different in the future. He called Kim "very smart" and a "very worthy, very hard negotiator". 
 
The summit in Singapore was the first between the leaders of North Korea and the US after nearly 70 years of confrontation and 25 years of failed negotiations and tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear programme.
 
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Novel 'surgery in a pill' to reverse diabetes

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Researchers have developed "surgery in a pill" that can reduce post-meal blood sugar spikes and help reverse diabetes.

When the pill was administered in rats, it delivered a substance that could temporarily coat the intestine, forming a thin barrier that alters nutrient contact and lowers blood glucose response after a meal, the researchers said.

"We envision a pill that a patient can take before a meal that transiently coats the gut to replicate the effects of surgery," said Jeff Karp, a bioengineer at the Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Massachusetts, US.

After a meal, blood sugar levels rise and can stay elevated over time.

However, one hour after the pill was administered to the rats, the response to glucose was lowered by 47%.

"What we've developed here is essentially, 'surgery in a pill'," added Yuhan Lee, a materials scientist in the BWH.

This response was temporary, and after three hours, the effect essentially disappeared, the study showed.

For the study, published in the journal Nature Materials, the team selected a substance known as sucralfate -- an FDA-approved drug that is used in the treatment of gastrointestinal ulcers -- to adhere to the small intestine and then dissolve within a matter of hours.

Further, the team engineered the substance into a novel material that can coat the lining of the intestine without requiring activation by gastric acid.

The engineered compound, referred to as LuCI (Luminal Coating of the Intestine), can be made into a dry powdered form that can be encapsulated as a pill.

"We've used a bioengineering approach to formulate a pill that has good adhesion properties and can attach nicely to the gut in a preclinical model. And after a couple of hours, its effects dissipate," Lee said.

The team is now testing the effect of the short-and long-term use of LuCI in diabetic and obese rodent models.

IANS

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Trump, Kim end historic summit with pledge to forge new era

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un signed a "comprehensive" document at the end of their historic summit here on Tuesday, vowing to forge a new partnership and reverse decades of American policy toward the rogue regime.

 
Trump, Kim sign 'very important' document at historic summit
 
 
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un signed a "comprehensive" document at the end of their historic summit here on Tuesday, vowing to forge a new partnership and reverse decades of American policy toward the rogue regime.
 
The content of the agreement was not immediately clear although both sides touted it as a significant achievement, reports The New Straits Times.
 
"Today we had a very historic meeting, overcoming our past history and embarking on a new beginning... The world will see a major change," Kim said before leaving for the St. Regis hotel after the summit.
 
Trump said he had invited Kim to the White House.
 
The summit took place at the British colonial style Capella Hotel in Sentosa Island, a tourist paradise.
 
Kim and Trump became the first leaders of their countries to ever come face to face. Trump said the US relationship with North Korea will be different from the past.
 
"We're both going to do something, and we've developed a very special bond... We're going to take care of a very big and dangerous problem for the rest of the world.
 
"It worked out far better for both of us than anybody could have expected," he added.
 
When asked about denuclearisation, Trump said: "We are starting the process very quickly."
 
In response to a question on whether the two leaders will meet again, Trump said: "We'll meet again, we'll meet many times." 
 
He said the two leaders learned a lot about each other since they shared a historic handshake for the first time earlier this morning.
 
Trump described Kim as a "very worthy, very smart negotiator".
 
During the signing ceremony, the two leaders sat side by side at an expansive wooden table decorated with white flowers and were flanked on either side by American and North Korean flags, The New Straits Times reported. 
 
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The signing came after a one-on-one meeting between Kim and Trump which was followed by an expanded bilateral meeting with their aides and a working lunch.
 
They even went for a stroll. 
 
Before the signing, Kim said the summit was a "great prelude to peace".
 
"Of course there will be difficulties along the way, but as of today, a day that a good start has been made, I am determined to start a grand undertaking together," he added.
 
They began their summit in a carefully choreographed encounter at 9 a.m. The two leaders then shared a 12-second handshake against a backdrop of American and North Korean flags.
 
They reached Singapore on Sunday followed by their individual meetings with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
 
Trump and Kim will depart Singapore later on Tuesday.
 
The summit, which was almost scrapped by a mercurial Trump last month, comes after a flurry of diplomatic activities and barrage of invective and insults traded between the US President and an equally aggressive Kim.
 
It also marks a diplomatic landmark between the two countries with a long history of tense ties. 
 
The 1950-53 Korean War ended without an official peace treaty. Previous US Presidents have made several attempts to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons, without success.
 
Two major diplomatic efforts - an agreement in 1994 and the six-party talks in the 2000s - were ultimately abandoned, with both sides either failing to agree or accusing the other of not abiding by the terms of the agreements.
 
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Trump, Kim shake hands, begin new era of 'terrific relationship'

US President Donald Trump shook hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday and welcomed the beginning of a "terrific relationship", a momentous step in an improbable courtship that has opened a new era for the world's largest nuclear power and the most reclusive one.

 
Trump meets Kim in historic summit in Singapore
 
 
US President Donald Trump shook hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday and welcomed the beginning of a "terrific relationship", a momentous step in an improbable courtship that has opened a new era for the world's largest nuclear power and the most reclusive one.
 
In a carefully choreographed encounter at around 9 a.m., Trump and Kim strode towards each other, arms extended, in the red-carpeted reception area of the grand Capella Hotel, in Singapore's Sentosa Island, reports The New York Times.
 
This is the first time a sitting American President and a North Korean leader have ever met.
 
The two leaders then shared a 12-second handshake in the courtyard of the British-colonial style hotel against a backdrop of American and North Korean flags.
 
Posing for photographs, Trump put his hand on the younger man's shoulder. Then the two, alone except for their interpreters, walked off to meet privately in an attempt to resolve the crisis over North Korea's nuclear programme.
 
"I feel really great," Trump said. 
 
"It's gonna be a great discussion and I think tremendous success. I think it's gonna be really successful and I think we will have a terrific relationship, I have no doubt."
 
Kim spoke in Korean, saying that "the old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward, but we've overcome all of them, and we are here today".
 
The goal of the summit was to ratify the outlines of a joint statement, to be released before the two men left Singapore later on Tuesday, that laid out a framework for additional talks, reports The Washington Post.
 
After their one-on-one meeting which lasted for about 45 minutes, the two leaders were joined by senior aides for an expanded bilateral meeting and working lunch. 
 
Asked how the earlier discussion went, Trump said: "Very, very good," The Straits Times reported. 
 
On the US side, Trump's team included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim.
 
The North Korean delegation included Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui and Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, Kim Yong Chol.
 
The two delegations are sitting across a nearly 80-year-old, 4.3 metre-long teak wood table formerly used by the Chief Justice of Singapore in the daily administration of the court. 
 
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It has been loaned by the Singapore National Gallery to the US Embassy.
 
On Monday, North Korea's Choe and US Ambassador Sung Kim led a working-level meeting to finalise last minute details of the summit.
 
The two leaders reached Singapore on Sunday followed by their individual meetings with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
 
The summit, which was almost scrapped by a mercurial Trump last month, comes after a flurry of diplomatic activities and barrage of invective and insults traded between the US President and an equally aggressive Kim.
 
While the US seeks complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Kim fears giving up of all nukes may invite an invasion by Washington.
 
In 2017, Pyongyang fired off ballistic missiles and even conducted the most powerful nuclear test till date infuriating the US. Its sole ally China was left embarrassed.
 
The summit also marks a diplomatic landmark between the two countries with a long history of tense ties. 
 
The 1950-53 Korean War ended without an official peace treaty. Previous US Presidents have made several attempts to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons, without success.
 
Two major diplomatic efforts - an agreement in 1994 and the six-party talks in the 2000s - were ultimately abandoned, with both sides either failing to agree or accusing the other of not abiding by the terms of the agreements.
 
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Trump, Kim begin historic summit meeting in Singapore

 
Trump meets Kim in historic summit in Singapore
 
 
United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met at the Capella Hotel on Singapore's Sentosa Island on Tuesday morning and began a first-ever summit in history between the sitting leaders of the two countries.
 
The summit began at 9 a.m. local time (6.30 IST) with a handshake greeting before the cameras. 
 
Trump and Kim then began around 45-minute meeting behind closed door before having a working meeting with their respective delegations and a lunch, Efe reported.
 
Trump arrived at the Capella Hotel at 8.14a.m. in the morning, after a journey of less than 15 minutes from Shangri-la Hotel, where he was staying. Kim left a little later from his hotel, St. Regis, and arrived shortly after 8.30am at the meeting place.
 
The initial handshake took place in a courtyard of the British colonial-style hotel, amid US and North Korean flags that flank the red carpet.
 
Tuesday's summit in Singapore, which aims to address the possible denuclearisation of North Korea, is the first between the two countries' sitting leaders after nearly 70 years of confrontation in the wake of the Korean War (1950-1953), and 25 years of failed negotiations and tensions over the North Korean nuclear programme.
 
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