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World's fastest water heater produces exotic state of liquid

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In an experimental set-up that can be seen as the world's fastest water heater, scientists have used a powerful X-ray laser to heat water from room temperature to 100,000 degrees Celsius in less than a tenth of a picosecond - millionth of a millionth of a second.

This set-up produced an exotic state of water - driving its transition from liquid to plasma.

The researchers said they hope to learn more about the peculiar characteristics of Earth's most important liquid from this exotic state of water.

The observations, detailed in a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), could have a practical use for probing biological and many other samples as X-ray lasers are often used to investigate the atomic structure of tiny samples.

The team led by Carl Caleman from Sweden's Uppsala University used the X-ray free-electron laser source at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in the US to shoot extremely intense and ultra-short flashes of X-rays at a jet of water.

"Our heating is fundamentally different," explained Caleman.

"The energetic X-rays punch electrons out of the water molecules, thereby destroying the balance of electric charges. So, suddenly the atoms feel a strong repulsive force and start to move violently," Caleman added.

In less than 75 femtoseconds, that is 75 millionths of a billionth of a second or 0.000 000 000 000 075 seconds, the water goes through a phase transition from liquid to plasma, the study said.

A plasma is a state of matter where the electrons have been removed from the atoms, leading to a sort of electrically charged gas.

"But while the water transforms from liquid to plasma, it still remains at the density of liquid water, as the atoms didn't have time to move significantly yet," said co-author Olof Jonsson from Uppsala University.

This exotic state of matter is nothing that can be found naturally on Earth.

"It has similar characteristics as some plasmas in the sun and the gas giant Jupiter but has a lower density. Meanwhile, it is hotter than Earth's core," Jonsson added.

IANS

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Jaipur Foot organisation working with US university to develop artificial hand

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Having helped 1.7 million people around the world gain mobility with the famous Jaipur Foot, the organisation is now embarking on a mission to develop an affordable artificial hand, its founder D.R. Mehta has said.
 
The US affiliate, Jaipur Foot USA (JFU), is helping the organisation in the development of the artificial hand in collaboration with a US university and it was fitting that US and Indian organisations should cooperate in developing the technology, he said here on Monday.
 
He was speaking at an awards ceremony organised by the JFU at the Indian consulate honouring those who have contributed to its efforts.
 
Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, the president of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, said the Jaipur Foot organisation was promoting "aspirational justice", which he likened to concepts like economic justice that seek to create equal conditions for all.
 
"Aspirational justice" does this by making it possible for those without legs to have aspirations like everyone else when they are fitted with Jaipur Foot, said Sahasrabuddhe, who is also the national vice president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a member of parliament.
 
Narayan Lal Panchariya, a BJP MP, said that Mehta through his work spans the globe like a colossus.
 
Prem Bhandari, the chairman of JFU, said that an accident that Mehta had became a boon for the 1.7 million people who have received Jaipur Foot or other mobility aids because that incident made him empathise with those who have lost their mobility and inspired him to start the Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti that provides the prosthetics.
 
Consul-General Sandeep Chakravorty said Jaipur Foot has emerged as India's international brand and an ambassador for the nation projecting its best qualities.
 
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Among those who were honoured for helping JFU were Suresh Venkatachari, a technology entrepreneur and the chairman of 8K Miles Media, and Rajeev Bhambri, the COO of India Abroad Publications.
 
O.P. Choudhary, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who is coordinating the artificial hand project, told IANS that they were working with the Frugal Innovation Lab of Santa Clara University in California.
 
The prosthetic, known as a myelectric hand, would connect to the nerves in the arm, which would control its movements through electrical impulses, he said.
 
Such devices now cost between $10,000 and $30,000 and their goal was to bring it down to $500, he said.
 
The Jaipur Foot had achieved a large scale of savings, with the prosthetic costing only $70 compared to $10,000 for a similar product in the US.
 
Bhandari said that the JFU has so far collected $1.2 million for Jaipur Foot.
 
It had sponsored four camps in India for people missing legs to be fitted with the device, he said.
 
JFU is also aiding Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's project for a university in Jamdoli near Jaipur for the differently abled people.
 
IANS
 
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Melania Trump hospitalised after kidney surgery

US First Lady Melania Trump. (File Photo: IANS)
US First Lady Melania Trump. (File Photo: IANS)
US First Lady Melania Trump has undergone a "successful" kidney surgery and is currently recuperating at a naval hospital in Maryland, her office said.
 
She underwent the surgery at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre in Bethesda on Monday, New York Post reported.
 
"Melania Trump underwent an embolisation procedure to treat a benign kidney issue. She will likely remain there for the duration of the week," her office said in a statement.
 
"The First Lady looks forward to a full recovery so she can continue her work on behalf of children everywhere," it said.
 
An embolisation is a minimally invasive treatment that blocks one or more blood vessels or abnormal vascular channels.
 
A spokeswoman for the First Lady declined to offer more details on her condition, but said the 48-year-old is recovering.
 
"She's doing great. She's in good spirits," Stephanie Grisham told the Post.
 
President Donald Trump stayed behind in the White House, officials said, since his travel to the hospital could have meant a press pool would have camped out during the private medical procedure.
 
But once the East Wing announced her hospital stay, the President boarded Marine One two hours later to visit his wife.
 
"Heading over to Walter Reed Medical Center to see our great First Lady, Melania," Trump tweeted. "Successful procedure, she is in good spirits. Thank you to all of the well-wishers!"
 
Earlier on Monday, Trump kept a light schedule with no public events and was planning to visit his wife.
 
The East Wing keeping her medical condition private until after the procedure was nothing unusual, the Post said.
 
She largely stayed away from the campaign trail during her husband's 2016 historic run for the White House and has only of late taken on a more public role.
 
IANS
 
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43 Palestinians killed as US opens embassy in Jerusalem

 
Dozens killed in Gaza protests ahead of embassy opening
 
 
At least 43 Palestinians were killed and 2,200 were injured on Monday as Israeli troops fired on demonstrators along the Gaza-Israel boundary protesting the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, Palestinian officials said, making it the deadliest day of violence since the 2014 Gaza war.
 
In a statement, the Israel Defence Forces said 40,000 Palestinians were taking part in "violent riots" in 13 locations along the Gaza Strip security fence as the US opened its embassy, with an American delegation including President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin attending the ceremony.
 
There were violent clashes between Israeli police and angry protesters who raised Palestinian flags outside the new embassy. Several protesters were detained, the BBC reported. 
 
Despite the bloodshed, Trump hailed the move in a video message. He told the dedication ceremony that it had been a "long time coming", adding: "Israel is a sovereign nation with the right to determine its own capital but for many years we failed to acknowledge the obvious."
 
According to Gaza's Health Ministry, among those killed was a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old. Two hundred minors were wounded while 30 injured protesters were in critical condition.
 
It said 918 protesters were wounded by live ammunition and shots were fired at journalists and medical personnel, with one paramedic killed and two injured.
 
Palestinians hurled stones and incendiary devices while the Israeli military used snipers as black smoke poured from burning tyres. Israel said the protests were aimed at breaching the border and attacking Israeli communities nearby.
 
The Israeli military said it killed three people trying to plant explosives near the security fence in Rafah. Aircraft and tanks had also targeted military positions belonging to Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip.
 
The Palestinian authority called for an "immediate and urgent international intervention" to stop the "horrific massacre committed by the Israeli Occupational forces against our heroic people," government spokesman Youssef Mahmoud said in a statement. 
 
The demonstrations and general strikes had been planned to protest against the US embassy's relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which many consider contravenes international consensus to not recognize the city as Israel's capital until its status is established during negotiations.
 
Palestinians see East Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in 1980, as the capital of their future state.
 
The timing of the move has also been slammed, as it is being held a day ahead of Nakba Day ("Day of the Catastrophe"), which this year marks the 70th anniversary of Israel's creation and subsequent displacement of some 700,000 Palestinian refugees.
 
IANS
 
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37 Palestinians killed as US embassy opening in Jerusalem looms

 
Dozens killed in Gaza protests ahead of embassy opening
 
 
At least 37 Palestinians were killed and around 1,500 were wounded on Monday by Israeli troops in clashes on the Gaza border before the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
 
The Israeli Army said on Twitter that 35,000 Palestinians were demonstrating along the Gaza-Israel boundary.
 
Among the deceased was a 14-year-old boy and reports from the Palestinian Health Ministry and the Red Crescent medical relief group said hundreds were suffering from gunshot wounds, while many others were hit by shrapnel or affected by smoke, the BBC reported.
 
Witnesses said that several Palestinians managed to get through the security fence and that tens or hundreds were crossing into the Israeli territory.
 
The demonstrations and general strikes had been planned to protest against the US embassy's relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which many consider contravenes international consensus to not recognize the city as Israel's capital until its status is established during negotiations.
 
Palestinians see East Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in 1980, as the capital of their future state.
 
The timing of the move has also been slammed, as it is being held a day ahead of Nakba Day ("Day of the Catastrophe"), which this year marks the 70th anniversary of Israel's creation and subsequent displacement of some 700,000 Palestinian refugees.
 
A small interim embassy will start operating on Monday inside the existing US consulate building in Jerusalem. A larger site will be found later when the rest of the embassy moves from Tel Aviv.
 
US President Donald Trump will address the ceremony by video and he will be represented by his daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. 
 
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will also be present at the event.
 
IANS
 
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18 Palestinians killed ahead of US embassy opening in Jerusalem

 
Dozens killed in Gaza protests ahead of embassy opening
 
 
At least 18 Palestinians in Gaza were shot dead by Israeli troops on Monday after bloody clashes erupted on the border before the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, which has infuriated Palestinians.
 
A 14-year-old boy was among those killed and more than 900 people were injured, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said.
 
Palestinians hurled stones while the Israeli military used snipers as black smoke poured from burning tyres, the BBC reported.
 
The Israeli Army said 10,000 "violent rioters" had gathered along the security fence and that its troops were operating "in accordance with standard procedures".
 
Reports said hundreds had suffered gun shot wounds while many others were hit by shrapnel, affected by the smoke or had bruising and trauma.
 
Although the Israeli Defence Forces earlier distributed leaflets that said "Do not approach the security fence and do not participate in Hamas' life-threatening farce", several Palestinians managed to get through the security fence.
 
The demonstrations and general strikes had been planned to protest against the US embassy's relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which many consider contravenes international consensus to not recognize the city as Israel's capital until its status is established during negotiations.
 
Palestinians see East Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in 1980, as the capital of their future state.
 
The timing of the move has also been slammed, as it is being held a day ahead of Nakba Day ("Day of the Catastrophe"), which this year marks the 70th anniversary of Israel's creation and subsequent displacement of some 700,000 Palestinian refugees.
 
A small interim embassy will start operating on Monday inside the existing US consulate building in Jerusalem. A larger site will be found later when the rest of the embassy moves from Tel Aviv.
 
US President Donald Trump will address the ceremony by video and he will be represented by his daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. 
 
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will also be present at the event.
 
IANS
 
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Britain becomes land of self-made millionaires

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Britain's self-made billionaires and millionaires make up more than 90% of the country's 2018 rich list that was published on Sunday, with two Indian-origin brothers ranking second.

The 94% of the 1,000 people on the list is made up of self-made entrepreneurs, the highest level ever. It compares with just 43% of self-made people who were included in the first list in 1989 when inherited wealth dominated the list, Xinhua reported.

Businessman Jim Ratcliffe, brought up in a social housing scheme in Manchester, tops the list published in the Sunday Times, with a personal fortune of $28.5 billion. He has become the first industrialist to head the rich list.

Second on the list are brothers Sri and Gopi Hinduja, based in London where they head a trading empire started by their father in Mumbai in 1914.

The brothers, aged 82 and 78 respectively, have a wealth of $28 billion, up more than $6 billion over 2017 when they topped the list.

Actor Daniel Craig, famed as the movie character James Bond, Secret Agent 007, makes his debut on the list. He and his wife Rachel Weisz have amassed a fortune of $170 million, becoming the fourth and richest 007 to make the list.

The highest ranked female on the list, Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, who runs the famous Heineken brewery, has seen her wealth rocket by almost $2.5 billion in the last year to more than $15 billion.

Potter magic continues to cast its lucky spell with JK Rowling, the writer of the famous Harry Potter series seeing her wealth increase in 2018 by $68 million to $948 million.

Potter's female sidekick, Hermione Granger, played by Emma Watson saw her wealth in the Young Rich list rise by almost $15 million to $68 million.

Philip Beresford, who compiled the first 28 rich lists for the Sunday Times, credited former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as the person responsible for encouraging the era of the self-made man and woman.

"Thatcher's children, the new generation of entrepreneurs, were getting going in 1989. She poured the concrete for the foundations of entrepreneurial wealth on which the modern Rich List is built," said Beresford.

Queen Elizabeth II topped the first five Rich Lists, but a decision was taken to exclude the value of the Royal Art Collection. She is now 344th on the list, with a wealth of $501 million.

The new list puts the combined wealth of the richest 1,000 people in Britain at more than $980 billion. The number of billionaires has gone up by 11 in the past year to 145.

IANS

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India, Nepal agree to strengthen cooperation, expand partnership

 
Modi meets Nepal PM K P Sharma Oli
 
 
India and Nepal have reiterated their resolve to take bilateral relations to newer heights by strengthening their ongoing cooperation in diverse spheres as well as expanding partnership for socio-economic development on the basis of the principles of equality, mutual trust, respect and mutual benefit.
 
In a joint statement issued here today at the end of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's two-day visit to the Himalayan nation, the two sides underscored the importance of trade and economic ties between the two countries.
 
Mr. Modi and Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, who held delegation level talks here yesterday, reviewed the close and multi-faceted relations between the two countries at different levels.
 
This was the second bilateral summit between Mr. Modi and Mr. Oli in 2018, and their talks were held in an atmosphere of utmost warmth and cordiality that characterizes the deep friendship and understanding between the two countries, the  statement said.
 
The two Prime Ministers recalled their meeting in New Delhi during the State visit of Mr. Oli in April 2018 and agreed to maintain the momentum generated by the visit by taking effective measures for the implementation of all the agreements and understandings reached in the past. 
 
They also agreed that effective implementation of the bilateral initiatives in agriculture, railway linkages and inland waterways development, as agreed upon by the two sides during the recent visit of Mr. Oli to India, would have transformational impact in these areas.
 
The two Prime Ministers emphasized the need for regular convening of bilateral mechanisms, including Nepal-India Joint Commission at Foreign/External Affairs Ministers level, to review the overall state of bilateral relations, and for the expeditious implementation of the economic and development cooperation projects.
 
Expressing concern over Nepal’s growing trade deficit with India, Mr. Oli stated that measures to address this deficit need to be taken. In this context, the two Prime Ministers welcomed the outcome of the recently held Inter-Governmental Committee meeting on Trade, Transit and Cooperation to control unauthorized trade to jointly initiate a comprehensive review of the bilateral Treaty of Trade, and to consider amendments to the Treaty of Transit and related Agreements with a view to further facilitating Nepal's access to the Indian market, enhancing overall bilateral trade, and facilitating Nepal's transit trade.
 
The two Prime Ministers underlined the catalytic role of connectivity in stimulating economic growth and promoting movement of people. They agreed to take further steps to enhance the economic and physical connectivity by air, land, and water. Recognizing the vibrant people to people contacts and friendly bilateral ties, the two Prime Ministers directed the respective officials to expand cooperation in civil aviation sector, including early technical discussion on additional air entry routes to Nepal by respective technical teams.
 
The two Prime Ministers reiterated the importance of advancing cooperation in water resources for mutual benefit in areas such as river training works, inundation and flood management, irrigation, and to enhance pace of implementation of ongoing bilateral projects. They also expressed satisfaction over constitution of the joint team, which will visit areas affected by inundation and floods and consider appropriate measures for sustainable solution.
 
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The two Prime Ministers jointly laid the foundation stone of 900 MW Arun-III hydro-electric project in Nepal. They expressed hope that operationalization of the project would help enhance cooperation in the generation and trade of power between the two countries. 
 
The two Prime Ministers welcomed the outcome of the recently concluded meeting of the Joint Steering Committee on cooperation in the power sector held on 17 April 2018. They agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in power sector in line with the bilateral Power Trade Agreement.
 
Mr. Modi also visited Janakpur and Muktinath and attended civic receptions in Kathmandu and Janakpur.
 
With a view to further strengthening the close religious and cultural ties between the two countries and peoples, the two Prime Ministers launched Nepal-India Ramayana Circuit connecting Janakpur, the birthplace of Sita, with Ayodhya and other sites associated with the epic Ramayana. In Janakpur, the two Prime Ministers flagged off the inaugural direct bus service between Janakpur and Ayodhya.
 
The two Prime Ministers directed their respective officials to address outstanding matters by September 2018, with the objective of advancing cooperation in all areas.
 
The two Prime Ministers underscored the importance of regional and sub-regional cooperation under BIMSTEC, SAARC, and BBIN frameworks for forging meaningful cooperation in identified sectors.
 
The two Prime Ministers agreed that the landmark third visit of Mr. Modi to Nepal has further strengthened the age-old friendly relations between the two countries and has injected a fresh impetus to their growing partnership.
 
Mr. Modi extended an invitation to Mr. Oli to pay a visit to India. Mr.  Oli accepted the invitation; dates will be finalized through diplomatic channels, the statement added.
 
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Modi prays at Pashupatinath temple in Nepal

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday offered special prayers at the Pashupatinath temple here.
 
Modi spent around 30 minutes in the temple after paying homage at the Muktinath temple during his two-day visit to Nepal, largely billed as a religious one.
 
Nepal's Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari and other officials welcomed Modi at the Pashupatinath temple, the Kathmandu Post reported.
 
He is set to meet leaders of various political parties and will be given a lunch reception by Indian Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri.
 
He will also attend a civic reception hosted by Kathmandu Metropolitan City before leaving for New Delhi. 
 
Modi arrived in Nepal on Friday. He inaugurated the Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service, a 900 MW Hydropower Project and also announced Rs 100 crore aid to develop Janakpur city.
 
He also held extensive discussions with his counterpart K.P. Sharma Oli, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and other government officials to better bilateral ties on Friday when he said: "All misunderstandings with Nepal are over." 
 
IANS
 
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Modi inaugurates Janakpur-Ayodhya bus link, pledges Rs 100 crore aid

 
India, Nepal to work towards building 'Ramayan' circuit: Modi
 
 
In a bid to mend ties with its Himalayan neighbour, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Nepal on Friday on a two-day visit and launched the Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service besides pledging Rs 100 crore aid to develop Janakpur city.
 
Visiting Nepal for the first time since the 2015 border blockade blamed on India crippled Nepal's economy, Modi -- calling himself a pilgrim -- said his government gave top priority to relations with Kathmandu under his Neighbourhood First Policy. 
 
He later held talks with Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari where the two leaders renewed their commitment to take their relations to new heights.
 
The Indian leader kicked off his visit at Janakpur where he performed special prayers with his Nepali counterpart K.P. Sharma Oli at the Ram Janaki temple. Then they inaugurated the "Ramayan Circuit" to promote tourism in Nepal and India. 
 
"This will act as a foundation for strong people-to-people ties between our two countries," Modi said. The circuit is a part of Modi's vision to build a 650-km connectivity project. 
 
Modi told Oli that he was honoured "to be received you the way you welcomed me here".
 
"Mere Bhai, this welcome is an honour to all Indian citizens," Modi said. This is Modi's third visit to Nepal since he became Prime Minister in 2014.
 
The Indian leader described his visit as "that of a pilgrim rather than as a Prime Minister" and participated in the civic reception bestowed upon him by Janakpur Sub-Metropolitan City at the Rangabhumi Maidan. He was felicitated with a garland weighing 121 kg and a key to Janakpur city.
 
Addressing thousands, Modi said: "Ayodhya is incomplete without Janakidham. Similarly, Nepal is incomplete without India and India is incomplete without Nepal. Our ties are religious, based of deep faith and historical and complement to each others."
 
He began his speech in Maithali language followed by Bhojpuri and Nepali. He completed the rest of his address in Hindi. "Without Nepal, India's faith, belief and history are incomplete. Our 'Dhaam' is incomplete and Ram is also incomplete."
 
Modi announced assistance of Rs 100 crore for the development of Janakpur and said it will be added in the Ramayana Circuit while Lumbini will be included in the Buddhist Circuit. 
 
Modi said he wanted to help Nepal to achieve development and prosperity, adding that he wanted to enhance better connectivity with Nepal through highways, information ways, transmission lines, railways, waterways and airways.
 
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"We know that the regional development is connected with the development of Nepal... History is witness to the struggles faced together by India and Nepal. India is moving ahead to be one of the economic giants of the world and Nepal is following suit.
 
"These connectivity measures will help Nepal to get better market access, thereby encouraging the establishment of industries and employment creation."
 
He said the two sides can work on 5Ts -- Tradition, Trade, Tourism, Technology and Transport.
 
After completing his engagements in Janakpur, Modi arrived in Kathmandu where he was accorded a 21 gun salute and a guard of honour.
 
Modi paid a courtesy call on President Bhandari at the Rastrapati Bhawan and discussed matters relating to bilateral relations and mutual concern. 
 
"The two leaders renewed their commitment to take our friendly relations to new heights, said External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
 
Similarly, Modi also called on Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun and held a discussion with Nepali Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali about areas of mutual interest. 
 
He was scheduled to hold one-one-one talks with Oli where various India funded projects in Nepal will be discussed followed by delegation level talks and joint press briefing. Modi will also lay the foundation stone of Arun III hydroelectricity project in Sankhuwasabha district in eastern Nepal, undertaken by India's Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam, through video conferencing. 
 
IANS
 
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Modi, Oli flag off Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepali counterpart K.P. Sharma Oli on Friday jointly flagged off a bus service connecting Janakpur with Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.
 
"Mere Bhai, this welcome is an honour to all Indian citizens. I am really happy with you the way you welcomed me here," Modi told Oli. He is in Nepal on a two-day visit.
 
The Indian leader then attended a civic reception in his honour at the city's Rangabhumi Maidan witnessed by thousands. He was felicitated with a garland weighing 121 kg.
 
A key to Janakpur city was also handed over to Modi.
 
Before the reception, Modi met Oli at Ram Janaki temple here and the two leaders jointly performed prayers.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
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Modi in Nepal, meets Oli in temple

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a two-day trip to Nepal, on Friday met his Nepalese counterpart K.P. Oli at the famous Ram Janaki temple here.
 
Oli welcomed Modi at the temple after he arrived here in the morning for his third official visit to the Himalayan nation. 
 
The two leaders jointly performed a special puja at the shrine in the temple town of Janakpur, some 225 km from capital Kathmandu.
 
Modi's visit to Nepal comes a month after Oli visited India. 
 
"These high-level and regular interactions reflect my government's commitment to the 'neighbourhood first' policy, in consonance with the motto of 'sabka saath, sabka vikas'," Modi said in a statement.
 
Modi and Oli are slated to jointly flag off a direct bus service from Janakpur to Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.
 
They will also inaugurate the inclusion of Janakpur in the Ramayana Circuit under the Indian government's Swadesh Darshan scheme.
 
Modi will then attend a civic reception organised by the Janakpur sub-metropolitan city.
 
He will leave for Kathmandu later in the day to hold delegation level talks with Oli.
 
IANS
 
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Modi arrives in Nepal on two-day visit

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Nepal on Friday on a two-day official visit.
 
He landed in Janakpur where he was received by Defence Minister Ishwor Pokhrel, Chief Minister of Province-2 Lal Babu Raut, and other senior Nepal government officials. 
 
Three helipads were constructed at the Janakpur Airport for the landing of Modi's helicopter.
 
Thousands of people from Nepal and India have gathered in Janakpur to see Modi where he would be addressing the public after a civic reception. 
 
Prime Minister K.P. Oli has also reached Janakpur. He will receive Modi at the Ram Janaki temple.
 
Modi would be offering special prayers at the temple, making him the first Indian Prime Minister to do so with "khodasopachar" rituals.
 
This is Modi's third visit to Nepal as Prime Minister.
 
IANS
 
 
 
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104-year-old scientist David Goodall ends life in Switzerland

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David Goodall, a 104-year-old Australian scientist who had campaigned for the legalisation of assisted dying in his home country, ended his life at a Swiss clinic on Thursday, a representative from the pro-euthanasia group Exit International said.

Goodall, a respected botanist and ecologist, died at the Life Circle clinic in Basel, Switzerland, after administering a lethal drug under the guidance of doctors, ABC News Australia reported.

Exit International, which represented the scientist, said Goodall passed away while listening to Beethoven's "Ode to Joy".

Euthanasia is illegal in Australia, thought the state of Victoria is planning to allow assisted dying from mid-2019. Goodall's home state Perth is currently debating whether to introduce the policy.

The story of the academic, who is one of the first Australians to undertake the procedure due to old age rather than a terminal illness, attracted international headlines and further inflamed a highly divisive debate.

His supporters applauded his decision to take charge of his fate after declaring his life was no longer worth living.

But critics warned his decision solely on the grounds of old age set a "dangerous precedent".

The grandfather of 12 had attracted over $20,000 in donations from the public to help fund his journey to Europe from Australia earlier this month.

Earlier this week, Goodall said he resented having to travel so far to carry out his plan, but was relieved the end was near. "Life stopped being enjoyable five or 10 years ago," he said, in part because of his failing mobility and eyesight.

"I am glad to arrive (in Basel). I'll be even more pleased when further steps of my journey are completed. I have been able to say goodbye. I was a bit sorry to say goodbye to my family in Bordeaux but that's the way it was."

Goodall said he hoped his story would lead to the legalisation of assisted dying in other countries. "I'm looking forward to it," he said of his imminent death.

"What I would like is for other countries to follow Switzerland's lead and make these facilities available to all clients if they meet the requirements and the requirements not just of age, but of mental capacity."

Several US states have a form of physician-assisted suicide, as do countries including Japan, Belgium and Switzerland.

Born in London in 1914, just months before the outbreak of World War I, Goodall and his family moved to Australia when he was a child. He went on to hold academic positions across the world, including in the UK, the US and Australia.

IANS

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European powers pledge to uphold Iran N-deal after US exit

 
Trump withdraws US from Iran nuclear deal
 
 
European leaders have pledged to remain committed to the Iran nuclear deal after US President Donald Trump dumped it as a "horrible, one-sided" agreement rooted in "fiction" and ordered the highest level of economic sanctions against Tehran.
 
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday called Trump's Tuesday speech "silly and superficial" and said he was "making a damn mistake". He also said that he did not trust Britain, France or Germany and would need "guarantees" before continuing the nuclear deal.
 
Following Trump's announcement, the UK, France and Germany urged Washington not to obstruct the implementation of the Iran deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 
 
They said they would work with the other signatories to the agreement to stress continuing support for the accord. Iran -- in the 2015 pact with China, France, Russia, Britain, the US and Germany plus the EU -- had agreed to halt its nuclear programme in return for an easing of economic sanctions. 
 
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio that "the deal is not dead. There's an American withdrawal from the deal but the deal is still there". 
 
"President Emmanuel Macron would also speak to his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, about our wish to stay in the agreement," he said, adding that there would be a meeting between France, Britain, Germany and Iran on Monday.
 
France also said it would do everything possible to protect European businesses after Trump warned he would seek to hit European firms that continued to trade with Tehran.
 
EU Foreign Ministers will meet their Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif next week to offer personal reassurances they will take practical steps to protect the deal from sweeping US Treasury sanctions due to come into force over the next 180 days.
 
The Iranian President said his government remained committed to the nuclear deal with world powers, despite the US withdrawal. But he warned that Iran "was also ready to resume uranium enrichment if the accord no longer offered benefits".
 
In the Iranian Parliament, members burned an American flag.
 
Iranian Leader Khamenei said: "Trump, I tell you on behalf of the Iranian nation: You are making a damn mistake and you cannot do anything."
 
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India called on all parties to "engage constructively" to resolve all contentious issues.
 
In a televised address, Trump said the US would withdraw from the "horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made" and that economic sanctions against Tehran would be reinstated.
 
Rather than protecting the US and its allies, he said it had placed "very weak limits on the regime's nuclear activity and no limits at all on its other malign behaviour, including its sinister activities in Syria, Yemen and other places".
 
Trump called the agreement "decaying and rotten" and "defective at its core".
 
The EU moved to protect the nuclear agreement by vowing to take steps to immunise European firms doing business with Tehran from any US sanctions. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Europe will abide by the JCPOA.
 
Russia said it was "deeply disappointed" by Trump's decision. A meeting is scheduled between France, Britain, Germany and Iran on Monday.
 
Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, under whose administration the deal was signed, said Trump's announcement was "misguided" and "a serious mistake". 
 
But the move was welcomed by Iran's major regional rivals, Saudi Arabia and Israel. 
 
IANS
 
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Walking may help women conceive: Study

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If you have a history of pregnancy loss, do not lose hope as a new study suggests that physical activity such as walking may improve the chances of conceiving among women who are overweight or obese.

The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, suggested that women reporting more than four hours a week of vigorous activity had significantly higher pregnancy chances compared to no vigorous activity.

"One of our main findings is that there was no overall relationship between most types of physical activity and the likelihood of becoming pregnant for women who had already had one or two pregnancy losses, except for walking...," said co-author Lindsey M Russo from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the US.

"... which was associated with higher likelihood of becoming pregnant among women who were overweight or obese," Russo added.

For the study, researchers recruited 1,214 women between 18 to 40 years old with a history of one or two pregnancy losses.

The researchers found that the association of walking with the ability to become pregnant -- known as fecundability -- varied significantly by body mass index (BMI).

Among overweight or obese women, walking at least 10 minutes at a time was associated with improvement in fecundability, the researcher said.

Moderate activity, sitting and other activity categories were not associated with fecundability overall or in BMI-stratified analyses, they added.

The researchers noted that these findings provide positive evidence for the benefits of physical activity in women attempting pregnancy, especially for walking among those with higher BMI.

IANS

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Suffering from osteoarthritis? Have fish oil, spinach

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Consuming one gram of fish oil every day and including spinach in the diet could help reduce the pain of patients with osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis that generally affects the hands, hips and knees.

In the study published in the journal Rheumatology, the researchers examined the link between diet and the effective self-management of osteoarthritis.

Analysing 68 previous studies in the field, they found that a low-dose supplement of fish oil (one and a half standard capsules) could result in pain reduction for patients with osteoarthritis and help improve their cardiovascular health.

Essential fatty acids in fish oil reduce inflammation in joints, helping to alleviate pain, the study said.

An increase in foods rich in vitamin K such as kale, spinach and parsley was also found to deliver benefits to patients with osteoarthritis.

Vitamin K is needed for vitamin-K-dependent (VKD) proteins, which are found in bone and cartilage.

An inadequate intake of the vitamin adversely affects the working of the protein, affecting bone growth and repair and increasing the risk of osteoarthritis.

"The importance of a good diet and regular exercise should never be underestimated. Not only does it keep us fit and healthy, but as we have learned from this study, it can also lessen painful symptoms of osteoarthritis," said study co-author Margaret Rayman, Professor at the University of Surrey in Britain.

"We are what we eat and it is important that we have the right amount of nutrients from our food to ensure that our body systems work as they should," Rayman added.

The researchers also found that a reduction of weight for overweight and obese patients and the introduction of exercise tailored to mobility could also help ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Not only does obesity increase strain on joints, it can cause low-grade, systemic inflammation in the body aggravating the condition further.

A calorie-restricted diet, combined with strengthening, flexibility and aerobic exercises, was identified as an effective approach to reducing pain in overweight patients.

There is no evidence that a calorie restricted diet does anything beneficial for lean patients with the condition, the study said.

IANS

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Researchers find potential new cure for hair loss

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There is new hope for bald people to get back hair without going for transplantation as researchers have found that a drug originally developed to treat the bone disease, osteoporosis, stimulates hair growth.

The drug works by targeting a protein that inhibits the development and growth of many tissues, including hair follicles, said the study published in the journal PLOS Biology.

"The fact this new agent, which had never even been considered in a hair loss context, promotes human hair growth is exciting because of its translational potential: it could one day make a real difference to people who suffer from hair loss," said project leader Nathan Hawkshaw from The University of Manchester in Britain.

The researchers found that the compound WAY-316606, which was originally developed to treat osteoporosis, has a dramatic stimulatory effect on human hair follicles.

The researchers said that the few drugs which are currently available for treatment of male-pattern balding have moderate side effects and often produce disappointing hair regrowth results.

The only other option available to patients in such a situation is hair transplantation surgery.

The researchers, therefore, sought to develop new ways to promote human hair growth.

The approach was to first identify the molecular mechanisms of an old immunosuppressive drug, Cyclosporine A (CsA).

Cyclosporine A has been commonly used since the 1980s as a crucial drug that suppresses transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases.

However, it often has severe side-effects, the least serious -- but most interesting -- of which is that it enhances cosmetically unwanted hair growth.

The team carried out a full gene expression analysis of isolated human scalp hair follicles treated with CsA.

This revealed that CsA reduces the expression of SFRP1, a protein that inhibits the development and growth of many tissues, including hair follicles.

The inhibitory mechanism is completely unrelated to CsA's immunosuppressive activities, making SFRP1 a new and highly promising therapeutic target for anti-hair loss strategies.

The researchers then found that the compound WAY-316606, which was originally developed to treat osteoporosis, targets the same mechanism as CsA by specifically antagonising SFRP1.

When they treated hair follicles with WAY-316606, the unrelated agent also effectively enhanced human hair growth like CsA.

This led the researchers to conclude that external application of the osteoporosis compound or similar compounds to the balding human scalp may promote hair growth to the same magnitude as CsA or even better, but without its side effects.

"We were able to conduct our experiments with scalp hair follicles that had generously been donated by over 40 patients and were then tested in organ cultures," Hawkshaw said.

"This makes our research clinically very relevant, as many hair research studies only use cell culture," he said, adding that a clinical trial is required next to tell us whether this drug or similar compounds are both effective and safe in hair loss patients.

IANS

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Scientists unravel jumping strategies of spiders

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In a study that could lead to new generation of micro-robots inspired by mature, scientists have unlocked the secrets of how some predatory spiders catch their prey while hunting by successfully training one to jump different distances and heights for the first time.

Researchers from the University of Manchester in Britain trained the spider, which they nicknamed Kim, to jump different heights and distances on a man-made platform in a laboratory environment.

Kim belongs to a species of jumping arachnid known as Phidippus regius, or 'Regal Jumping Spider'.

The findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed that Kim can leap up to six times its body length from a standing start. The best a human can manage is about 1.5 body lengths.

"The force on the legs at take-off can be up to 5 times the weight of the spider - this is amazing and if we can understand these biomechanics we can apply them to other areas of research," said Mostafa Nabawy, lead author of the study.

The researchers used 3D CT scanning and high-speed, high-resolution cameras to record, monitor and analyse a spider's movement and behaviour.

The results showed that this particular species of spider uses different jumping strategies depending on the jumping challenge it is presented with.

For example, to jump shorter, close-range distances Kim favoured a faster, lower trajectory which uses up more energy, but minimises flight time. This makes the jump more accurate and more effective for capturing its prey.

But, if Kim is jumping a longer distance or to an elevated platform, perhaps to traverse rough terrain, she jumps in the most efficient way to reduce the amount of energy used.

Insects and spiders jump in a number of different ways, either using a spring-like mechanism, direct muscle forces or using internal fluid pressure.

Scientists have known for more than 50 years that spiders use internal hydraulic pressure to extend their legs, but what is not known is if this hydraulic pressure is actively used to enhance or replace muscle force when the spiders jump.

"Our results suggest that whilst Kim can move her legs hydraulically, she does not need the additional power from hydraulics to achieve her extraordinary jumping performance. Thus, the role of hydraulic movement in spiders remains an open question," explained Bill Crowther, co-author of the study.

IANS

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India, Guatemala agree to support each other for non-permanent membership of UNSC

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India and Guatemala have agreed to support each other’s candidature for Non-Permanent Membership in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
 
Guatemala will support India’s candidature for UNSC membership for 2021-22 while New Delhi will push for Guatemala’s candidature in 2031-32.
 
This decision was one of the several outcomes of extensive talks Vice- President of India M Venkaiah Naidu held with the President, Vice President and Parliament Speaker of Guatemala here yesterday.
 
Kickstarting India’s high-level outreach to the Latin American countries, Mr Naidu held discussions on a wide range of issues spread over two hours with top leaders of Guatemala. The Vice-President’s visit is the highest level from either side since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries in 1972.
 
“India is keen on enhancing its engagement with Latin America and looks at Guatemala, the most populous and biggest economy in Central America, as the gateway. My visit to Guatemala is a clear indication of this thinking in New Delhi.
 
"Going by trade patterns and consumption needs, we are complementary in nature and not competitors and need to take our relationship to a new high taking advantage of emerging opportunities in both countries for mutual benefit,” Mr Naidu said.
 
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said his country could benefit from the ‘’successful economic story of India” and stressed on the need for improving bilateral engagement in various fields.
 
Referring to India’s soft power, he said he was aware of the popular TV serial “Kaun Banega Karodpati” and films like “The Slum Dog Millionaire” and “The Life of Pi”. He also referred to the huge popularity of Indian made two-wheelers given their quality and after-sales service in Guatemala.
 
After talks with Mr Naidu and before leaving for Costa Rica on an official visit, he directed his deputy for detailed talks with the visiting dignitary for exploring new avenues of cooperation with India.
 
Mr Naidu later held detailed discussions with Guatemalan Vice-President Dr Jateth Cabrera Franco and Speaker of Parliament Alvaro Arzu Escobar.
 
Leaders of both countries agreed that India and Guatemala are faced with similar challenges including governance issues, terrorism in different forms, poverty and economic disparities and democracy is the best form of governance to address them.
 
Dr Franco noted that contrary to the perception their government was making determined efforts to check corruption and his country was facing a different kind of terrorism in the form of criminal gangs.
 
Guatemalan Speaker Escobar said, “India’s vibrant democracy is a role model in harmonizing vast diversities and offers a lot to learn and India’s economic success is equally inspiring”. Mr. Naidu suggested setting up of a Parliamentary Friendship Group to promote interaction among MPs of both sides.
 
During the talks, the Indian side agreed to Guatemala’s request for supplying solar panels to its airports. After discussions and in the presence of both the Vice-Presidents, both the sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the training of diplomats and a Letter of Intent for training Guatemalan English Teachers in India. These agreements will be valid for three years and will be extended thereafter if required.
 
During the talks, Mr Naidu said, “In the integrating world order, all the countries need to work together for mutual benefit and for this reason, India is keen about enhancing its engagement with Latin America. India is now making rapid strides with a stable government and able leadership with a focus on reforms and performance for transformation. India and Latin American countries could benefit hugely from increased cooperation for enhanced trade and investments”.
 
At the banquet hosted for the visiting delegation, Dr Franco invited India to send a delegation to the Conference of Ibero America to be held in Guatemala City in November this year which is to be attended by all the Latin American Countries besides Spain and Portugal.
 
This is the first time India got such an invitation for the conference held once in three years. Mr Naidu invited Guatemala to join the International Solar Alliance stating it has found wide appeal with 61 countries already joining it. 
 
Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Jaswant Sinh Bhabor and Members of Parliament Anil Desai (RS-Shiv Sena), Chhaya Verma (RS-Congress), Tiruchi Siva (RS-DMK) and Kamlesh Paswan (LS-BJP) besides Preeti Saran, Secretary, External Affairs and senior officials participated in the delegation level discussions.
 
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Pakistani minister injured in assassination attempt

Ahsan Iqbal
Ahsan Iqbal
Pakistan Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal was shot and injured in an assassination attempt during a rally in Narowal district of the country's Punjab province on Sunday, police said.
 
District Police Officer of Narowal Imran Kishwar said a local resident opened fire at the minister soon after he concluded his speech during a rally in Kanjrur town of the district, Dawn reported.
 
The gunman Abid Hussain, 22, managed to fire just one shot that hit the minister's right arm. The suspect was arrested by the police soon after he fired the shot, the officer said.
 
The minister was rushed to the District Hospital in Narowal where he is undergoing surgery. He is out of danger, the officer said.
 
Chief Minister of Punjab Province Shahbaz Sharif sent a helicopter to shift the minister to a hospital in Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab.
 
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi condemned the attack and ordered the police to trace the planners behind the attack.
 
Iqbal is considered among the top brains of Pakistan's political elite. He has two portfolios, including minister of interior and minister of planning, development and reform.
 
IANS
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Six Indians abducted in Afghanistan, Taliban blamed

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Militants abducted seven people, including six Indians, on Sunday in Afghanistan's Baghlan province, officials said, adding that talks were on to get them freed.
 
The kidnapping took place in Bagh-e-Shamal village, Tolo News reported.
 
Baghlan Governor Abdulhai Nemati said that those abducted worked for an Indian company KEC. The seventh person who was seized was an Afghan.
 
Nemati said the Taliban had done the kidnapping and moved the group to the Dand-e-Shahabuddin area of Pul-e-Khumri city.
 
He said they contacted the Taliban, whose representatives said the abduction took place because the insurgents thought that the seven were Afghan government employees.
 
Nemati said they were trying to rescue the victims with the help of tribal elders.
 
According to local officials, the incident occurred while the employees were travelling to the area where the company has a contract for an electricity sub-station.
 
Kidnapping of locals for extortion is common in Afghanistan. Most of those abducted have been Afghans but foreign workers have also become targets.
 
In 2016, Indian aid worker Judith D'Souza was kidnapped in Kabul. She was released after 40 days.
 
IANS
 
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NASA's InSight spacecraft blasts off to Mars

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NASA's InSight mission to study the deep interior of Mars blasted off to the Red Planet on Saturday aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base.

"Humanity's next mission to Mars has left the pad! NASAInSight heads into space for an approximately six-month journey to Mars where it will take the planet's vital signs and help us understand how rocky planets formed," NASA tweeted soon after the launch at 7.05 AM (4.35 PM. India time).

InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, will study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all rocky planets formed, including Earth and its Moon. The lander's instruments include a seismometer to detect marsquakes and a probe that will monitor the flow of heat from the planet's interior.

InSight will be the first mission to peer deep beneath the Martian surface, studying the planet's interior by measuring its heat output and listening for marsquakes, which are seismic events similar to earthquakes on Earth.

It will use the seismic waves generated by marsquakes to develop a map of the planet's deep interior.

The findings of Mars' formation will help better understand how other rocky planets, including Earth and its Moon, were created.

IANS

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6.9-magnitude quake jolts Hawaii as residents flee volcanic eruptions

 
Hawaii residents evacuated as volcano erupts
 
 
A massive quake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale jolted Hawaii as residents were evacuating from their homes following a volcanic eruption that has not showed any signs of slowing down, authorities said.
 
The temblor that struck 16 km southwest of Leilani Estates at 12.32 p.m., on Friday, was one of more than 110 earthquakes that hit the island since the Kilauea volcano, one of the world's most active, erupted on Wednesday, reports CNN. 
 
US Geological Survey (USGS) seismologist Jana Pursley said there have been 119 earthquakes on the Big Island since Thursday afternoon. 
 
The USGS said Friday's 6.9 quake was the most powerful on the island since 1975.
 
About 14,000 customers of Hawaii Electric Light lost power immediately after the earthquake.
 
The quake has knocked out power to residents who were already dealing with mandatory evacuation orders, molten rock and high levels of sulphur dioxide in the air.
 
The situation wasn't getting any better, Civil Defence Administrator Talmadge Magno told reporters on Friday afternoon.
 
"Activity continues. It doesn't look like it is slowing down," CNN quoted Magno as saying.
 
He said five volcanic vents have opened and indicated that at least one house and another structure were destroyed by lava.
 
It is highly unusual to see the vents so far from Kilauea volcano, he said.
 
Hundreds of people have evacuated from Leilani Estates, a community of about 1,700 people, and Lanipuna Gardens. 
 
Harry Kim, Mayor of Hawaii County, said the government will support residents, including those who want to go back to their homes to pick up some belongings.
 
"We have to work with them as to how we are going to minimise (the inconveniences) as best as possible," he said. 
 
Kim said people who want to check on their homes would be allowed into the neighbourhoods.
 
Cracks in Kilauea volcano's rift zone -- an area of fissures miles away from the summit -- erupted on Thursday and early Friday, spurting lava near the island's eastern edge.
 
Video posted on social media showed lava spewing several feet into the air from a new crack in a Leilani Estates street. 
 
Aerial videos showed lava searing a long orange and smoky line through a wooded area.
 
Hawaii Governor David Ige has activated the National Guard to help with evacuations and security.
 
IANS
 
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Nobel Prize in Literature 2018 cancelled after sexual assault scandal

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The Swedish Academy that decides the Nobel Prize for Literature said on Friday that it won't announce the award for 2018 in the wake of a sexual and financial scandal that has engulfed the organisation.

The Academy, one of Sweden's most highly respected institutions, made the announcement on Friday morning following a meeting of its remaining 10 active members late on Thursday.

The decision came after a string of sexual assault allegations made against French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, a leading cultural figure in Sweden and husband of Academy member and poet Katarina Frostenson. Six Academy members, including her, stepped down following the crisis.

For the first time in 75 years, the jury will not unveil a winner this year. The Academy said it will now announce the 2018 winner along with the 2019 winner.

"We find it necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence in the Academy before the next laureate can be announced," Academy's Permanent Secretary Anders Olsson said in a statement. He said the Academy was acting "out of respect for previous and future literature laureates, the Nobel Foundation and the general public".

The Nobel Foundation said in a press release that "the crisis in the Swedish Academy has adversely affected the Nobel Prize. Their decision (the Swedish Academy) underscores the seriousness of the situation and will help safeguard the long-term reputation of the Nobel Prize".

"None of this impacts the awarding of the 2018 Nobel Prizes in other prize categories," the foundation said.

Arnault, who ran a cultural project with funding from the Swedish Academy, has been accused by 18 women of sexual assault and harassment, first reported in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter in late 2017. Several of the alleged incidents reportedly happened in properties belonging to the Academy.

Arnault is also facing the accusation that he touched Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria inappropriately at a Swedish Academy event over a decade ago. Another accusation is that he leaked the names of seven former Nobel winners.

He has denied all the allegations.

The Academy later cut all ties with Arnault and the organisation voted against removing his wife Frostenson from its 18-person committee. There were additional claims that some Academy staff and members' relatives had experienced "unwanted intimacy" at the Arnault's hands.

Followed it, there was a wave of resignations including Frostenson and Academy head Sara Danius.

The Academy is also under fire for contravening its own conflict of interest regulations by providing funding to the Kulturplats Forum, the cultural centre run by Arnault and Frostenson.

Carl-Henrik Heldin, Chairman of the Board of the Nobel Foundation, said that they now expect "the Academy to put all its efforts into restoring its credibility and called on members to show greater openness towards the outside world in the future".

The Nobel Prize for Literature was postponed on seven previous occasions since its launch in 1901, six of which occurred during World War I and II.

IANS

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