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Kolkata: Dengue outbreak claims 2 lives

The state government is now collaborating with National Institute of Virology to identify the type of dengue virus present in Kolkata and its suburbs. Experts are of the opinion that this time a different strain of dengue virus is affecting the people.

Earlier, Type-3 virus was more prevalent in the city. This year, those down with dengue-like symptoms have external symptoms like stomach pain or pneumonia, which were not found earlier. They feel that external symptoms related with pneumonia are confusing the doctors in the diagnosis of the disease. Amitva Nandi, a doctor in medicine and associated with School of Tropical Medicine, said the dengue virus appears to be reducing immunity of the affected persons to such an extent that cross infection appears to be leading to gastro-intestinal infection or respiratory infection.

Meanwhile, officials from National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED) said they are yet to receive any samples for identification of the sub-type of the dengue virus in circulation this year.

 

Kolkata is reeling under an outbreak of dengue, two people have died and many are flooding hospitals and clinics for treatment. While doctors work round the clock, the government seems to be doing little to contain the disease.

24 year old Abhay Pratap Yadav, a migrant skilled worker from Uttar Pradesh, was admitted to a nursing home in Kolkata last week with high fever and a splitting head ache. His blood report confirmed that he was suffering from dengue.

Yadav said, “The other workers in my group also fell sick. But while they recovered quickly, I didn’t.”

Kolkata is experiencing one of its worst outbreaks of dengue in recent times. Government and private hospitals alike are flooded with patients.

People with dengue symptoms are queuing up at pathological clinics by the thousands to get their blood tested. Unofficially, at least two patients have died in the city in the past fortnight although the government denies it.

MoS Health Chandrima Bhattacharya said, “We have directed the various medical colleges to have a separate fever clinic which will be dedicated to only dengue affected people. And we have asked them to have 10 seats… Ten beds dedicated for this disease only.”

What sets the the dengue carrying mosquito Aedes Aegypti apart is that it breeds in fresh water and bites during the day. That’s why experts feel its disease is virtually unpreventable in a city like Kolkata which has a high population density. To make matters worse, there’s large scale construction work which requires artificial water reservoirs.

Physician Dr Amitabha Nandy said, “There are sporadic cases of dengue in the city throughout the year and sudden outburst of cases in outbreak form during the rainy season because of the massive availability of mosquitoes. And throughout the year those who were suffering from sporadic cases serve as the reservoir of the infection.”

Despite its endemic proportions and its recurrence of outbreak over the past few years, there seems to have been very little organised effort to combat dengue in Kolkata. While awareness about the disease is the key, the lack of a general government master plan to minimise its effect ahead of the rainy season may just be the price the city isn’t ready to pay.

 

 

Madhya Pradesh: Villagers protest in waist-deep water

An unusual form of protest has been taking place in Madhya Pradesh as 34 residents from the village of Gogalgaon in the Khandwa district have been standing submerged in waist-deep water for the past four days.

The villagers are demanding compensation for their land, which was submerged after the height of the Omkareshwar Dam was raised. “We are sitting here with a resolve, we will stay here until we drown,” said one of the protestors.

The ‘Narmada Bachao Andolan’ is demanding land for land for the villagers, but the government says they have already been compensated.

Communication towers: expert committee report plagiarised

The “Report on possible impacts of communication towers on wildlife including birds and bees,” is a textbook example of how not to write scientific reports.

An expert committee, also comprising a few scientists from reputed institutions, was constituted in August 2010 by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to study the issue. It was on the basis of their recommendation that the Central Department of Telecommunications was recently directed to ensure that new mobile towers do not come up within a one-kilometre radius of existing towers.

The report begins by emphatically stating that “adverse effects… from mobile phones and communication towers on health of human beings are well documented today!” Nothing can be more incorrect than this. Brain cancer is one of the most feared adverse effects of extended duration of usage of mobile phones over a long period of time. However, many large-scale studies, including the Dutch and Denmark study and WHO’s INTERPHONE study have not found any significant risk.

Shortly after the WHO labelled electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B),” it clearly communicated in June 2011 that “no consistent evidence of adverse health effects” has been found in humans from radiofrequency fields.

Large-scale investigation into harmful effects of radiofrequency fields from mobile phone towers is lacking.

But despite several studies not finding any significant or “consistent” effects, it is prudent to adopt a precautionary approach and reduce the duration of usage and number of times mobile phones are used. Most importantly, children, especially younger children, should be discouraged from using mobile phones.

In the same vein, steps to reduce exposure to electromagnetic radiation from mobile towers should be taken.

Contradiction

The report contradicts itself in some instances. After stating that wildlife “appear to be at high risk” from electromagnetic field, it retracts by stating that not much information is available on the “biological impact on wild species!”

There is also wilful misrepresentation of facts when they chose not to include details from the cited work that would in any way weaken their argument. For instance, one paper does indicate that other variables in addition to mobile tower radiation might be causing some adverse effects. By not mentioning the co-founding factors, the committee report conveys a completely different message.

Plagiarism

The egregious part is the rampant plagiarism found in the literature survey section. Some sentences have been reproduced verbatim from published papers without any attribution. While some parts of the report on the effects of electromagnetic radiation on birds/house sparrows and honey bees have been attributed, they still fall under the gambit of plagiarism.

This is for the simple reason that the sentences or chunks of material have been reproduced verbatim without quotation marks. According to the IEEE guidelines, “the absence of quotation marks [that] does not clearly reference or identify the specific, copied material” amounts to plagiarism even when the source is cited.

Some of the papers referred to have been published in less credible journals. The report also suffers from a lapse that is commonly encountered at the student level — references cited in the text missing in the bibliography.

What ails science education is that people who are in a position to guide students on the correct ways of science writing are found wanting.

Pandemonium breaks out as microphone mutes Mamata

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee could not speak for more than ten minutes at a public rally in Berhampore on Wednesday as the public address system stopped working and the unruly crowd raised a din. The chaos reached to such a state that the chief minister left the rally in disgust.

Banerjee, who is on a five day tour to the districts, was scheduled to hold a public meeting in Berhampore, a Congress stronghold. As the Chief Minister, this was her first meeting in the Congress-dominated Murshidabad district.

The assembled crowd turned unruly after Banerjee started speaking. However, after speaking for ten minutes, the microphone stopped working. At one stage, the unruly mob started throwing chairs on each other.

It was learnt that a section of the crowd disconnected the wires. While senior Trinamool Congress leaders alleged sabotage to create problems at the Chief Minister’s rally, local Congress MP and CM’s bete noire Adhir Choudhury demanded “proper investigation” into the incident.

But within first 10 minutes of her speech, Banerjee announced a slew of projects for the districts including 121 drinking water projects worth Rs 700 crores, three multi-speciality hospitals, ITIs and polytechnic colleges.

Choudhury, however, accused Mamata of taking credits for the projects in which she had no role to play. “She was there to inaugurate the roads which were built by the Zilla parishad under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna. She was distributing land pattas which were worked on by the Congress-ruled panchayats,” he said.

 

He also alleged that crores of rupees have been spent on the meeting of the chief minister. “More than Rs 1 crore has been spent on the meeting by the district administration taken away from the money allotted to the NREGA scheme, the multi-sectoral development scheme and several other developmental projects,” he added.

Later in the day, Mamata held a meeting in Krishnanagar in Nadia district. She announced setting up of a medical hub in the district and modernisation of local hospitals that will cost the government Rs 16 crore.

Sachin Tendulkar rules out retirement, for now

Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar indicated that he would not retire for now.

“As long as there is a reason to wake up with a reason in the morning, it makes sense in continuing (playing cricket). The day I don’t enjoy wielding bat in my hands, I will think otherwise. But that moment hasn’t come as yet. When I will get that feeling, I will confirm on that,” he said after receiving the Castrol Test Cricketer of 2011 at an awards function here.

His younger contemporaries like Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman have hung up their boots from international cricket.

Receiving Special Award for notching up a double ton in a ODI match against Sri Lanka, Virender Sehwag said his next target was to play 100 tests for the country.

In a lighter vein, Sehwag said superstition did not apply to him when he approached double ton in any form of cricket as he did not give any room for the bowlers to think much.

“If the ball is there to hit along the fence or over it, I do that without much thinking,” he said.

However, Sehwag said he was a bit superstitious when Tendulkar neared his first double ton in one-day internationals.

“We all thought even if Sachin gets out on 190s, we will all stand up and clap anyhow. But when he got there, all players and sports staff gathered at the players balcony and applauded his achievement. That feeling cannot be expressed,” he said.

Receiving Performance Under Pressure Award, Gautam Gambhir said last two T20 World Cups were disappointing for Team India after winning the first. However, the team would try to give 100 per cent and play well in the competition.

“I am not sure of winning the cup. It is not in our hands, but will put up a good show in the upcoming T20 World Cup to be played in Sri Lanka,” he said. On lifetime achievement awardee Ajit Wadekar, Tendulkar said the former Indian captain was a fantastic coach who knew the art of mentally preparing before he walked out on the field.

Nagarjuna’s Damarukam release on October 12

In a span of less than 40 days, two films of Nagarjuna would hit the screens across the world in a big way. Both are big-budget movies, and may be termed as the most prestigious ones to be coming from him.

As we know, ‘Shirdi Sai’ is gearing up for September 6 release (in all probability). The news is that RR Movie Makers is planning to release ‘Damarukam’ days before or during the Dussehra festival season. Srinivasa Reddy’s film has been in the making for long now. A socio-fantasy film with a mythological character of its own, the film sees Nag and Anushka in the lead roles.

The shooting has been wrapped up except for a song and it will be canned from the end of the month on the lead actors. Abhimanyu singh is playing the negative lead in Damarukam.

Damarukam is Nagarjuna’s first socio fantasy film directed by Srinivas Reddy with lavish budget of about Rs 36 Crores produced by Venkat under the banner of RR Movie Makers. Anushka is playing the female lead in the movie. Devi Sri Prasad is composing the musical scores for the film.

Damarukam Vizag rights bagged by Bellamkonda Suresh

Nagarjuna’s highest budgeted socio-fantasy film Damarukam is slated for a release in October and meanwhile, Damarukam pre-release business is hitting the headlines for being sold out for whopping prices in all the areas.

The distribution rights of Damarukam for the Vizag (Uttarandhra) area were bagged by Producer Bellamkonda Suresh for a sum of 2.25 crores. This Nagarjuna’s expensive film has extensive special effects of nearly 50 minutes. Directed by Srinivas Reddy and produced by Venkat of RR Movie Makers, Damarukam casts Anushka as the female lead and Prakash Raj, Abhimanyu Singh in important roles.


Sony launches upgraded 9.4-inch Xperia tablet

Sony Corp released an upgraded version of its Android tablet on Wednesday, branding its rival to Apple Inc’s iPad and Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy as “Xperia” in a bid to unify its mobile devices under one name.

Sony has identified its mobile devices unit, which also makes Xperia smartphones, as one of its key units as it tries to overcome losses from televisions that contributed to an overall record net loss of 455 billion yen ($5.8 billion) in the year ended March 31.

Featuring a 9.4 inch screen and loaded with the Android 4.0 operating system, the Xperia is the second tablet from Sony, which released its first models in April last year.

At the time, Sony said it wanted to claim second spot in the increasingly competitive tablet market ahead of Samsung, but failed to ignite enough consumer interest in the devices.

The iconic Japanese consumer electronics brand also wants to boost sales of digital cameras and games consoles, while nurturing new businesses including medical devices.

Though more powerful than its predecessors, the new tablet from Sony also faces a more crowded marketplace. In June, Microsoft Corp introduced its first tablet, dubbed Surface.

Signs of a turnaround for Sony are yet to emerge.

On August 2 it cut its full-year operating profit forecast to 130 billion yen from 180 billion, and slashed its combined sales target for Vita and PSP handheld games consoles to 12 million from 16 million.

The Xperia tablet will retail in the US from September 7, costing $399 for a 16 gigabyte version and $599 for a 64 gigabyte model, the company said in a press release. Like Microsoft’s device it is also available with a keyboard that doubles as a cover, for which consumers will be asked to pay an addition $99.99.

Two arrested for woman’s ‘contract killing’

The crime branch of Mumbai police today arrested two persons for allegedly killing a woman identified as Roshni Prajapati and disposing her body after beheading her.

Crime branch sources said the women’s husband Ajay (35), an egg vendor, had given “contract” to the two men to kill his wife as he was unhappy with Roshni’s job at a bar, and her alleged affairs.

The contract killers were identified as Rakesh Kumar Patel (25) and Rehmat alias Khutbut Chabu Khan (26). Patel and Khan were arrested today from a shop, which they had set up with the money given by Ajay.

The body had been found on August 17, and identified as that of Roshni who worked in a bar and stayed in suburban Kandivali.

When police landed at Ajay’s doorstep and summoned him to police station, he fainted and was taken to a nearby hospital where he was reported to be critical. The Police later nabbed Patel who spilled the beans.

According to Patel, in the wee hours of August 17, Ajay made Roshni consume liquor, and later the three of them killed her. She was beheaded before the body was dumped.

Police are waiting for Ajay to be discharged from the hospital, before he is arrested.

Even as Ajmal Kasab got a death sentence in the 26/11 attacks case, the Mumbai police are well underway in their investigations against one of his alleged handlers Abu Jundal. He was confronted with Kasab recently for a joint interrogation.

“This is not a token judgement. This is a milestone and we are in the process of prosecuting one of the masterminds Abu Jundal. We have collected strong evidence against him,” Mumbai Police Joint Commissioner Himanshu Roy said.

The joint interrogation of Kasab and Jundal, sources say, helped corroborate and join the dots in the larger terror plot. Jundal is the man, Kasab claimed, taught him and the nine other terrorists Hindi. He was the voice that guided the attackers at the Chabad House from the Lashkar control room in Karachi.

“State actors are involved, when we file our chargesheet you will see,” Roy said.

With the trial court now allowing access to the orignal recordings of the voice intercepts, the Mumbai Crime Branch is hoping to conclusively establish the identity of Abu Jundal, the man whose chilling message from the Pakistan control room, ‘Yeh to trailer hai, asli film abhi baaki hai (This is just a trailer, the film is yet to finish)’, was intercepted.

Home Secretary RK Singh said, “We will be able to tell Pakistan about the others, the larger involvement.”

The chargesheet against Jundal, whose confession has already been recorded, will be filed by the end of the year and that, prosecutors believe, will further help in nailing the Pakistani hand in the 26/11 attacks.

1 killed, 5 injured in fresh violence in Assam

One person was killed and five others injured in three separate incidents of violence in Assam’s strife-torn Kokrajhar district late last night, police said.

The first incident took place in Phumti Village under Salakati police outpost, but no casualty was reported from there.

In yet another incident, one person was killed and 4 others injured when miscreants opened fire in Pakritola village under Fakira gram, they said, adding that one more person was injured in the third incident that took place in Tupimari under Gossaigaon area of the district.

Miscreants opened fire and set some houses on fire before managing to escape after police reached the incident sites and fired at the miscreants, said LR Bishnoi, IGP, Assam (Law and Order).

Ever since violence erupted in the Bodoland Territorial Administered Districts and Dhubri since July 19, over 80 people have been killed, according to official figures.

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