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Archives for: December 9, 2019

On Your Competitors and Pricing

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first_imgWe spend an awful lot of time and energy worrying about our competitors. You need to know how they create value, how they compete, and how they win so you can give them a good fight. But beyond that, you aren’t going to beat your competitors by playing their game; you are going to beat them by playing your game.You can’t win a fight with someone who is willing to die to beat you. So, you don’t fight that fight.They Will Go Where You Won’tWhen I was a young kid, I hung around with the roughest of rough crowds. Some of my friends were gifted fighters. Some were just mean. It never seemed to matter how much skill someone had when it came to fighting, the guy that won the fight was the guy that was willing to go someplace the other guy wasn’t willing to go.Some guys were willing to dish out more damage; they never felt bad about doing it either. They were just mean guys. Other guys were willing to put themselves in harm’s way to win. They were willing to bring themselves close to serious physical harm just to win.This is what you are up against.Doling Out PunishmentSome of your competitors are willing to destroy their business model faster than you are willing to destroy your business model.If your business model isn’t built around lowest price and you compete that way, your competitor is doling out the punishment. By trying to follow them and winning on price, you are destroying your profitability—and with it your ability to deliver for your clients.This isn’t your fight. If you built your value proposition on trust, caring, and delivering for your clients, this is the fastest and surest way to destroy what you’ve built. It might look like you are winning, but I promise: you are really losing.Willing to Die to WinSome of your competitors are willing to go out of business faster than you are willing to go out of business.That’s not a race you should try to win.I know some companies that have sold price for so long, their debt is now approaching their annual revenue. They’ve acquired. Their cost structures have increased over time. Now they are straddled with debt and all they can do is try to feed the beast more revenue. They continually fail their clients, and everyone inside the company is miserable and stretched. These stories never end well—for the company, for their clients, or for their employees. As it turns out, you actually need profits to survive.Why would you want to fight this fight? You are better off being a smaller, profitable, company than you are a giant, poorly performing, client-disappointing, loss-making machine.Sometimes it’s best to walk away from a fight. You never lose a fight that you never engage in. Instead, play your game better than anyone else.QuestionsDo you compete against companies that are destroying their model by selling price? How do you avoid following them down this path?Who do you compete against that is trying to go out of business faster than you? How do you let them win that race?What game should you be playing? How do you stick to your game and not get goaded into a fight that’s not for you? Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Nowlast_img read more

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Ten Things I Wish I’d Have Known Before I Managed Salespeople

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first_img Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Now Balance activity and effectiveness. When I first managed salespeople, I was laser-focused on activity. Over time I learned that, even though an active rep will bump into deals, you can’t build a high-performing sales organization on activity alone. That takes a careful balance of both activity and effectiveness. You have to do as much work—or more—on building that effectiveness.Hire for attributes. Even though I worked in staffing, I defaulted to always hiring for experience. That’s always my clients wanted, too. I believed that by hiring for experience, I wouldn’t have to do so much managing. I believed it would make my job easier. Over time, I found that managing is easier when you hire people with the right attributes and coach, train, and develop them.You live and die by your pipeline. It’s easy to be distracted by all kinds of sales management tasks. But the real action is in the pipeline. I wish I’d have known that your future is easily predicted in the pipeline you have right now. If you want to know what the next two quarters look like, your pipeline has the answer. And there is no cramming for sales results.Serve salespeople before the organization. The organization makes incredible demands of the sales manager. Many of those demands do nothing to help the sales manager or to help his team produce better results. The more time I spent with salespeople, actively helping them with their live deals, the better the results. Even if the organization has to wait for what it needs, I learned it is better to serve the sales force first.You sell to your organization. I had know idea how much time I would need to spend selling within my own organization. Even though we all want the same things, there are all kinds of agreements that need to be negotiated. For clients. For the sales force. For the company’s benefit. Your team needs you to sell on their behalf. And, a lot of the time, you’re the only one that can make the internal sale.You build and manage the process. It was great to find someone that could sell. It was awesome to help someone grow into an effective salesperson. But the challenge is in notching the whole sales organization up. The real key to a high performing sales force is in building and managing a process that improves the performance of the 80% of the sales force that makes the top 20% possible.You have to see for yourself. If you really want to know how a salesperson performs in front of your prospective clients, you have to go see for yourself. It’s impossibly difficult to know how to help if you haven’t seen it for yourself. My ability to know how to help salespeople was improved by seeing things for myself.There is only one forecast date that matters. It doesn’t matter what the close date in your sales force automation says, if it isn’t a date your dream client has agreed to, the opportunity isn’t going to close on that date. Period.Show no mercy when cleaning the pipeline. Salespeople are happy to work on opportunities. They need opportunities to make their number. But much of what comes into the pipeline aren’t really opportunities. I wish I’d have known sooner that you have to protect the sales force from themselves when it comes to disqualifying. Show. No. Mercy.The big lever is caring enough to personally coach. I managed salespeople. But, if you want a high performing sales force, you need to care enough about the individuals on your team to coach them directly. It takes time and energy. But that investment is returned many times over in results. Yesterday I wrote about ten things I wish I’d have known before I started selling professionally. Here are ten things that I wish I’d have known before I started managing a sales force.last_img read more

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The Sky Is Falling!

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first_img Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Now “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”Henny Penny would have you believe that the sky is falling, that the end is near. She would most definitely have you believe that your world is coming to end.Henny Penny will tell you that the balance of power in selling has shifted, that the buyer is now completely in control, and that you have no choice as to whether or not you are commoditized. The doom-saying chicken doesn’t believe that anyone can create value because she cannot, refusing to see or hear anything to the contrary.Henny Penny would have you believe—like she does—that because some roles are going to be automated, that all roles will be automated. Hence, you have no place in a future that has no place for you. This disturbed bird wants you to share in her fear. She wants you to be paranoid and to overact with her.According to said Hen:The cold call is dead.The field sales force is dead.Traditional prospecting is dead.Opportunity creation is dead.Closing is dead.Selling is dead. And soon, you too will be relegated to the ash heap of history.This frightened, feathered fowl will squawk about this trend and that trend, offering you evidence that what she foretells is true and unavoidable, leaving out the evidence and information that would suggest that her reading is skewed and inaccurate.The problem with large, loud Chicken Littles that run around making noise about the end of the world is that they are only speaking of their own experience. Because an acorn fell from a tree and hit them on the head, they believe that their experience is shared universally by one and all. In the end, all who followed Henny Penny end up being eaten by a fox.Pay attention to what is going on around you. Don’t ignore trends that require you to change and grow. But while you are doing so, don’t listen to those who would feed you their fears.last_img read more

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Selling is the New Sales

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first_imgA funny thing happened to B2B sales over the last little while. Technology displaced conversation about sales. For certain, there was a lot of talk about the internet, social media, automation, and the merging of sales with marketing, with commerce finding a channel in many new communication mediums and the leveraging of technologies. And a lot of transactions have occurred, and a lot of money has changed hands in exchange for value (or something like it).While all of this hoopla about technology, salesmanship has mostly been ignored, thought by some to have been replaced by new channels, with salesmanship increasingly less important (with some Henny Penny’s suggesting the end times are near).This is one man’s view, but more and more sales organizations are coming to realize that the value of salesmanship and the need to create new opportunities, the promise of technology and new media being unfulfilled despite their time and effort. These same organizations are also finding that not only have they lost the ability to create opportunities, they’ve also lost a good deal of their ability to win them.The internet was supposed to be the new sales channel. Social media was supposed to cause prospects to beat a path to your door, creating more opportunities with far less effort—and fewer sales resources. For all the attention social selling generated, there is not a whisper about it now. Automation, which was supposed to return time to salespeople, has mostly been leveraged to send an email to nurture relationships, missing the fact that nurturing cannot be automated because it is personal and requires caring. The toolkit that allows salespeople to market themselves as a brand is exceptional, but that has proven difficult to scale across a sales force (while being much easier for content creators).Now, the conversation is turning back to fundamentals, like prospecting, like the telephone, like effectiveness. It’s turning to building salespeople who can create value for clients and who can create opportunities and build a pipeline, the number one topic I have heard for more than a year (missed numbers, no hedge against the unforeseen and the unforeseeable, and slow progress in turning things around).Sales is the new sales, and salesmanship is back in style. Get the Free eBook! Want to master cold calling? Download my free eBook! Many would have you believe that cold calling is dead, but the successful have no fear of the phone; they use it to outproduce their competitors. Download Nowlast_img read more

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U.P. civic polls begin on November 22

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first_imgThe BJP has fielded the highest number of ‘crorepatis’ in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh urban body election, according to data analysed by an NGO. It also had the highest number of candidates with criminal record.Voting for 452 municipal posts, including 16 Mayoral posts, will be held in three phases starting November 22. Counting will be on December 1.The data on assets were compiled by Election Watch of the Association for Democratic Reforms, which analyses elections and builds public awareness. Four out of 14, or 29%, of the BJP’s mayoral candidates in U.P. have criminal cases against them. The BSP comes a close second with 21%, or three out of 14 candidates. The SP and the Congress shared the third position among the major parties: 13% of their Mayor candidates have criminal records. The AAP has only one such candidate.Overall, 20 of the 195 candidates across U.P. for the Mayor posts have criminal records against them, 17 of them of a serious nature. Chaudhary Basheer, an independent candidate from Agra, topped the table with six criminal cases under his belt.None of the candidates in Lucknow, reserved for women this time, has a criminal background.The BJP shared the honours for candidates with the highest declared assets with the BSP. Seventy-nine percent of the candidates fielded by the BJP and BSP are crorepatis. It is 73% in the case of SP and the Congress.Overall, across U.P., 70 out of 195, or 38% of the candidates, are declared crorepatis. Navin Kumar Jain, the BJP candidate in Agra, was by far the richest with assets worth ₹409 crore, followed by his party colleague Abhilasha Gupta from Allahabad who declared ₹58 crore. Brijendra Vyas Damdam Maharaj, the BSP nominee in Jhansi, was the third richest with assets worth ₹37 crore.Anil Sharma, coordinator, U.P. Election Watch, said while there was the usual display of money power in the municipal polls, which include Nagar Palika Parishads and Nagar Panchayats, some candidates resorted to innovative ways to escape the radar of the Election Commission. If a candidate was distributing biryani in Jhansi, another in Gorakhpur was giving out free footballs. In Moradabad, a candidate tried to lure voters by distributing brass items, while in Lucknow, a candidate gifted wall clocks in his ward. In Ambedkarnagar, the ADR found, candidates were distributing free biryani and liquor.A good signThe Election Watch also observed that voters this year seemed to consider the credentials of the candidate, instead of merely focusing on party affiliations. “People have shown a tendency to back good candidates. It is a good sign,” said Sanjay Singh, coordinator of the Election Watch. But how did he come to this conclusion? “It was based on a focused group discussion involving 500 people,” he said.last_img read more

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Dhawala is Himachal pro tem Speaker

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first_imgSenior BJP leader and MLA from the politically important district of Kangra, Ramesh Dhawala, who could not make it to the Cabinet, was made the pro tem Speaker of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly. He was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Acharya Dev Vrat. Chief Minister Jairam Thakur and his Cabinet colleagues including Civil Supplies Minister Kishan Kapoor, Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj and Health Minister Vipin Parmar were present at the ceremony.Mr. Dhawala was a Cabinet Minister in the Prem Kumar Dhumal government from 1998 to 2003. He had then won as an independent candidate (BJP rebel) and was instrumental in the formation of the first BJP government.last_img

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Barpeta hopes NRC will heal its bitter wounds

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first_imgTwo memorials some 30 km apart have for long defined the psychological divide in the Muslim-majority Barpeta, a district that has spawned quite a few agitations in post-Independence Assam.Every day, Kalimun Nessa wipes the dirt off the memorial outside her house at Khandakar Para village, which lists her second son, Maidul Islam Molla among the four martyrs of the 2010 anti-NRC protests.Maidul was 25 when he became a ‘martyr’ of an agitation spearheaded by the All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) against a pilot project of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in 2010.The outsider tagThe police had opened fire on hundreds of protestors who allegedly tried to storm the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Barpeta on July 21 that year. Maidul was hit by a bullet in his chest.“I would often ask Allah why Maidul, the second of my four sons had to die that day. The NRC has made me realise he died so that 10 others would live without the burden of the Bangladeshi tag,” Kalimun Nessa, 62, said.Still retain faithA high school dropout, Maidul used to run a small rice and spice mill at home. The unit shut down after he died.Of the 18 family members he left behind, 16 have made it to the final NRC draft published on July 30. The two members who were left out include Maidul’s aunt Abida Begum.“We are among 40 lakh people excluded from the list, I hear. But we have faith that the final NRC will be an error-free one and settle the (illegal immigrants) issue once and for all,” she said.Khandakar Para has some 4,000 people, and almost every house has one or more members missing from the NRC.In adjoining Kumullipara village, daily wager Nur Begum is the only member of her family not in the NRC.Like Maidul, her 55-year-old husband Majam Ali, who was transporting goods in a handcart, died of bullet wounds in the anti-NRC agitation.Nur Begum’s name does not figure in the final NRC list though her father Burhan Uddin figured in the 1951 NRC, as her legacy code 120-0034-9821 suggests.“They rejected my documents, including one provided by the Kumullipara gram panchayat secretary. I may or may not be included, but the NRC will for our people be a rashtriya daleel (national agreement) that no one can erase,” she said.The youngest of the four ‘martyrs’ was Khandakar Motaleb Ali, 20, also of Kumullipara. The fourth was Sirajul Haque, 27, of Baniarpara nearby. Desperate for peace“If need be, I would sacrifice my other three sons for a correct NRC that ensures peaceful coexistence without anyone being suspected,” Sirajul’s father Kalachand, 60, said.The AAMSU observes May 26 as its martyrs day. The day honours the four who died in the anti-NRC movement along with others who died for the cause of minority rights. “Their death led to discussions among stakeholders, including AAMSU and All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), and changes in modalities of the updating exercise, with the Supreme Court eventually monitoring it,” AAMSU’s cultural secretary Moniruz Zaman told The Hindu.The feeling is similar at Ujan Borbori, the village where Khargeswar Talukdar lived. He died in a police crackdown on another group of protesters 31 years ago. Ujan Borbori, 30 km east of the engraved marble that remembers the ‘NRC martyrs’ at Khandakar Para, sports a memorial in Khargeswar’s honour. The memorial adjoins a government-run school in his name. Khargeswar was just 18 when be became the first of 855 martyrs of the Assam Agitation against illegal immigrants that began in 1979. The agitation ended with the signing of the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985.“Though some issues need to be ironed out, the NRC has reassured us that my brother’s death has not gone in vain. We hope it ends the Bangladeshi issue that has dominated the socio-political landscape and stolen our happiness for decades,” said Chandra Kanta Talukdar, the youngest of Khargeswar’s seven siblings.Khargeswar died in 1979 when protestors tried to prevent Begum Abida, wife of former President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, from filing her nomination for the Barpeta Lok Sabha seat.Co-existence shatteredEver since it was carved out of Kamrup district in 1983 at the peak of Assam Agitation, Barpeta has been synonymous with migration of Bengalis —Muslims and Hindus — from Bangladesh. But old-timers say the area had been an epitome of co-existence until the seeds of division were sown during the Assam Agitation.They refer to Montu Nag, who became AASU’s first Bengali Hindu secretary despite coming from East Pakistan in 1960 and living in one of two refugee colonies — Sonkuchi and Theka — in Barpeta town. He had spearheaded the Assam Agitation in the district in 1979 along with Bengali Muslim leaders Asgar Ali and Abdul Hai Nagori, now a Congress MLA. But the camaraderie snapped a year later with Bengali leaders of AASU deciding to form the AAMSU at the landmark Barpeta Road Howly College in 1980. Things were never the same again.“Barpeta never had a communal problem. But something changed after the Assam Agitation and political parties began cashing-in on religious and linguistic divide. The NRC has given us hope of Barpeta returning to the good old days,” Padmanil Sarma, an AASU leaders of 1979 vintage, said.“We hope so too. An error-free NRC should spell death for divisive politics, and that is what Barpeta and hopefully the country beyond wants,” Mr. Zaman said.last_img read more

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NIA recovers more pistols in Manipur missing arms case

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first_imgThe National Investigation Agency has recovered six more of the 56 pistols that went missing from the armoury of the 2nd Battalion of the Manipur Rifles during 2016-17 only to land in the hands of extremists.The recovery of the pistols on Saturday from a place 20 km from Manipur capital Imphal followed NIA’s arrest of Congress MLA Yamthong Haokip, 72, on charges of illegally “procuring” police weapons and distributing them among militant groups “to wage war against the State”.20 recovered so farThe NIA has so far recovered 20 of the missing pistols since taking over investigation into the missing arms case in May. The trigger for the probe was the recovery of three pistols besides two German-made rifles and a semi-automatic shotgun from an SUV near Manipur’s Ukhrul town on May 21 during a search by the Assam Rifles.An NIA spokesperson said David Hangshing, the chairman of the extremist Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) who was arrested on Friday, had provided the address of the place were the six 9mm pistols had been hidden. The KRA is in an agreement of suspension of operations with the government.“During interrogation, he said he had received the police pistols from Saikul (Assembly seat) MLA Haokip,” he said.Matching numbersThe seized pistols were found to be from the lot of missing pistols. The serial numbers of five pistols matched with those of the missing pistols while that of one pistol had been erased, the spokesperson said.Hanshing was on Saturday produced before a magistrate, who remanded him to police custody. He will now be produced before a special NIA court.Mr. Haokip is one of 11 persons arrested in connection with the case of the missing police pistols. One of these pistols, bearing licence number 18506735, was seized from his Imphal residence during a raid on July 30.Two other pistols – a U.S.-made Beretta and an unlicensed 9mm Pietro Beretta Gardone pistol, made in Italy – were also seized from Mr. Haokip’s residence.Investigations revealed that apart from KRA, some of the 9mm police pistols reached United Kuki Liberation Front, another Manipur-based extremist outfit. Nine of these pistols were recovered from the house of this group’s chief Soson Haokip in Imphal on Thursday.last_img read more

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Zika cases in Rajasthan monitored

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first_imgCases of the Zika virus disease have been reported in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The outbreak was detected through the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) surveillance system, said a release issued by the Union Health Ministry on Monday.J. P. Nadda, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, has set-up a seven-member high level Central team, which was deputed to Jaipur immediately following the detection of the first case, to assist the State Government in control and containment measures. The situation is being monitored on a daily basis; the Minister is reviewing. 22 casesTill date, a total of 22 positive laboratory confirmed cases have been detected. A Control Room has been activated at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to undertake regular monitoring of the situation noted the release.“All suspect cases in the defined area and mosquito samples from this area are being tested. Additional testing kits are provided to the Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratories,” noted the Union Ministry.The Zika virus is an emerging disease, currently being reported in 86 countries worldwide.last_img read more

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Heavy snowfall shuts highways in Kashmir

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first_imgKashmir witnessed an early spell of snowfall this year on Saturday, forcing closure of all three major highways connecting the valley with rest of the country. Air traffic was also stopped.“Moderate to heavy snowfall of 1.5 feet was reported in Kashmir valley, with highest snow formation in upper reaches and passes like Zojila. It’s the fourth time in the past two decades that Kashmir witnessed snowfall in November,” said Sonam Lotus, who heads the meteorological department in Srinagar.The three main highways — Jammu-Srinagar, Poonch-Srinagar and Kargil-Srinagar — were closed, cutting off the valley from the rest of India. The Leh-Manali-Zanskar route was also closed due to the snowfall. Over 100 stranded passengers were rescued from the Mughal Road, connecting the Pir Panjal valley with Srinagar.Air traffic suspended Air traffic was also suspended after snow accumulated on the runway at the airport in capital Srinagar. Seven Srinagar-bound flights were cancelled.Authorities have set up emergency control rooms across the valley “to meet any eventuality”.Srinagar recorded a day temperature of 6.3° Celsius, a dip of 13° from normal, sparking a cold wave. “There will be gradual improvement in the weather from Sunday,” said Mr. Lotus.Snowfall also affected power supply in Srinagar. Chief Engineer of the Power Development Department Hashmat Qazi said the snowfall resulted in trees, with thick foliage, “coming down heavily on electrical lines, damaging most of the 33KV lines.”“A full-fledged restoration work is underway but continuous snowfall has made it very difficult to maintain the lines, resulting in decreased power supply to just 80 MW as against the normal 1150 MW,” he said.Snow brings cheerThere was a wave of cheer among hundreds of locals and domestic tourists, as all hotspot tourist destinations of Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonamarg received heavy snowfall.Hundreds of locals uploaded live videos and pictures, as people greeted each other online on the season’s first snowfall. Kashmir has tradition to greet relatives and friends on the first snowfall.Apple crop damagedThe unusually early snowfall has damaged standing harvest of apple in north and south Kashmir. The snow uprooted the fruit-laden trees. Orchardists have appealed to the government to assess the damage in the Valley and “recommend compensation”.“The snow in the Valley looks beautiful as it heralds the arrival of winter but spare a thought for the horticulturalists. Part of the Apple crop is still on the trees, a large part is on the ground waiting sorting and packing and the trees still have leaves,” wrote National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah.last_img read more

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Congress finalises list of probable candidates for 26 LS seats in Maharashtra

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first_imgThe Maharashtra unit of Congress has recommended names of probable candidates for 26 Lok Sabha constituencies in the State, proposing only one name each in seven of the seats. Milind Deora (Mumbai South), Sushil Kumar Shinde (Solapur), Charulata Tokas (Wardha), Mukul Wasnik (Ramtek), Rajeev Satav (Hingoli), Manikrao Thakre (Yavatmal) and Amita Chavan (Nanded) have no competitors in their respective constituencies. The recommendations will now be presented to the all-India screening committee for final approval, and the candidates will be confirmed at the highest level.On Tuesday, the State Congress held a meeting to discuss names suggested from district committees for 26 of the 48 constituencies in Maharashtra. According to sources, the party will not contest more than 26 seats in the State. State Congress president Ashok Chavan, who currently represents Nanded in the Lok Sabha, seems to have decided not to seek re-election and instead concentrate on State politics. His wife, MLA Amita Chavan, is the proposed candidate for the constituency.The party has also recommended Abhay Chhajed and Mohan Joshi in Pune, Vishal Patil, Prithviraj Patil and Mohan Kadam in Sangli, and Utkarsha Rupawate, Bhausaheb Kamble and Raju Waghmare in Shirdi. All constituencies have three or more interested candidates. In Mumbai, Mr. Deora is the only name sent to Delhi from Mumbai South, while a number of individuals have shown interest in contesting from Mumbai North West, including Suresh Shetty, Kripashankar Singh and Sanjay Nirupam. Mr. Nirupam had won the election from Mumbai North in 2009, and lost in 2014. His plan to contest a different seat hasn’t gone down too well within the party ranks. While Priya Dutt declining to contest from Mumbai North Central, the local leadership has suggested her name along with that of Nagma, Hussain Dalwai and Baba Siddiqui. From Mumbai South Central, Eknath Gaikwad, Bhalchandra Munagekar or Uttam Khobragade might contest the election.last_img read more

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U.P. BJP leader’s father killed in road accident

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first_imgTwo persons, including the father of a Uttar Pradesh BJP leader, died when their car rammed a truck here on Sunday due to poor visibility owing to dense fog, the police said. Om Prakash Pathak (65) – father of BJP leader Subrat Pathak – along with his relative Mahesh Dubey (55) died in the accident on the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, they said. Three other occupants of the ill-fated car, which was on its way to Kannauj from Ghaziabad, were seriously injured and referred to Kanpur for treatment, they added. “The accident took place around 4 a.m. on Sunday, when the car rammed a stationary dumper on the Agra-Lucknow Expressway owing to fog,” Additional Superintendent of Police K.C. Goswami said. Pile-upThe accident, that took place in the Faguha Bhatta area under the Tirwa police station, led to a multi-vehicle pile-up, he added.last_img read more

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SC pulls up Assam government over inadequate functioning of Foreigners’ Tribunals

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first_imgThe Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the Assam government over inadequacies in the functioning of Foreigners’ Tribunals in the state and sought details on it by March 27. The government told a bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, that 50,000 migrants were declared foreigners by the Tribunal in the past 10 years. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Assam government, said around 900 people were kept in six detention centres of the State.The bench, which also comprised Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, said the State government would have to specify through an affidavit whether the foreigners tribunals functioning in the State were adequate and how they were functioning. The top court, however, added that it was not insisting on the presence of Assam chief secretary in the court at present. The apex court was hearing a PIL filed by activist Harsh Mander through advocate Prashant Bhushan on the plight of foreigners in detention centres. The plea alleged that they were kept in detention indefinitely just because they were not Indians and were treated as “illegal aliens”.During the previous hearing, the court had expressed concern over thousands of illegal migrants being kept in detention centres for years in Assam without being repatriated or deported to their countries of origin. It had raised several issues connected with the detention centre and said the detainees could not be held for an indefinite period. The apex court had also sought to know the condition of detention centres, saying the PIL alleged sub-human conditions there. Mr. Mehta had said there was a need for evolving a mechanism for repatriating them and it should be done expeditiously. The solicitor general was responding to the January 28 queries of the apex court, which had asked the Centre and State to provide details of functional detention centres in Assam and the foreigners detained in them during the last 10 years.Mr. Mehta had told the apex court that 938 people were lodged in six detention centres in Assam and 823 of them have been declared foreigners by tribunals. The Centre had said over 27,000 foreigners have been pushed back at border points while attempting to enter India illegally.last_img read more

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Deadly Virus Widespread in British Bumblebees

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first_imgHoney bees are apparently the Typhoid Marys of the pollinator world. A study suggests that honey bees spread two kinds of pathogens to wild bumblebees. And one of these, deformed wing virus (DWV), is killing bumblebees across the United Kingdom, perhaps contributing to the decline of the nation’s wild populations. The wide occurrence of DWV is “truly alarming,” says molecular ecologist Peter Neumann of the University of Bern, who was not involved in the study.DWV can be nasty. Like many other viruses in honey bees, DWV spreads in two ways. Worker honey bees (Apis mellifera) will transmit it orally to other workers, generally resulting in a benign infection. But the parasitic varroa mite is a carrier, too. When the mite feeds on bee pupae, infecting them with DWV, the virus causes ghastly deformities. Young bees develop with bloated abdomens and shrunken or crumpled wings, making DWV one of the worst viral diseases in commercial honey bee hives.DWV first turned up in 2004 among commercial bumblebees; the insect, Bombus terrestris, is often used in greenhouses, particularly to pollinate tomatoes. Commercial breeders initially noticed that about 10% of their bumblebee queens had died with tiny, misshapen wings. Then, Elke Genersch of the Institute for Bee Research in Hohen Neuendorf, Germany, and colleagues discovered that the dead bumblebees had been infected with DWV. The researchers suspected that honey bees had orally infected the bumblebees, because breeders use honey bees to encourage bumblebee queens to start new nests.No one knew the extent of DWV in wild bumblebees. Matthias Fürst and Mark Brown of Royal Holloway, University of London, in Egham and colleagues collected honey bees and bumblebees from 26 sites across Great Britain. The virus was present in 11% of the bumblebees and replicating in more than a third of those, suggesting active infections, they report in Nature. The virus is probably even more common than those data indicate, Brown noted in a telephone press conference. Bees “on their deathbed are not going to be caught by our sampling scheme,” he said.The team found genetic evidence that the virus is shared between the species: When honey bees and bumblebees lived near each other, both had a similar strain of the virus. Because DWV was more prevalent in honey bees—36% were infected—the researchers believe it spreads from them to bumblebees. The team also found the same pattern with the fungal pathogen Nosema ceranae, but it did not appear to cause problems for bumblebees.DWV, on the other hand, spelled trouble. When the researchers fed bumblebees food contaminated with the virus, symptoms of the disease emerged. (See photos of bumblebees with deformed wings, not from this study.) Worker bees became sick and died on average 6 days sooner than normal, a major reduction from the typical lifespan of 21 days. A bumblebee nest contains fewer than several hundred worker bees, so any widespread DWV infection could devastate the nest’s ability to gather enough food.  Jeff Pettis of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, agrees it is likely that honey bees are infecting bumblebees. “This highlights the need to better manage honey bees in a responsible manner and find ways to conserve all pollinators,” he says. Wild bumblebee populations, which help pollinate some field crops, appear to be declining in many places, so the need is urgent. There is no way to treat sick bees, so the best strategy is to keep honey bee hives as healthy as possible, in particular by controlling the varroa mites, which worsen infections in honey bees.last_img read more

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Key narcolepsy–influenza vaccine findings retracted

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first_imgFollowing the 2009 swine flu pandemic, roughly one out of 15,000 children in Europe who received the H1N1 vaccine called Pandemrix developed narcolepsy, a disorder that causes irresistible sleepiness. A leading explanation for the rash of narcolepsy cases is that a fragment of the H1N1 virus used to produce Pandemrix may have triggered an autoimmune reaction in some vulnerable children. Researchers have struggled to find evidence for that hypothesis, however. This week, the picture grew murkier when Stanford University researchers retracted a paper in Science Translational Medicine, published 18 December 2013, that was hailed as the first evidence to support the immunological hypothesis. After several attempts, scientists say they are unable to replicate a key part of the experiment.For more, see the full story in this week’s issue of Science.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

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Podcast: Floating paint pollution, hypoallergenic nuts, and why worms may be to thank for life on Earth

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first_imgWhat’s lurking in the very top layer of the ocean? Could scientists be on the way to creating hypoallergenic nuts? And did ancient burrowing worms save the world?Science’s Online News Editor David Grimm chats about these stories and more with Science’s Sarah Crespi.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

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Seismic mystery: What’s causing the ground to rumble in Italy?

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first_imgFor years, seismologists in Italy have puzzled over odd and persistent seismic signals, seemingly caused by subterranean magma movements but far from active volcanoes. Now, a new analysis has unveiled a concrete and much more prosaic trigger: the machinery in huge cement factories. Researchers analyzed the patterns of hundreds of low-frequency rumbles and discovered ties to many of the country’s 57 cement plants. For instance, 342 events (yellow circles) occurred within 150 meters of the Ghigiano factory. Moreover, there were far fewer occurrences at night, on weekends, and in August, when the giant plants are shuttered. The vibrations may rattle up to half the country, researchers report online this week in Geophysical Research Letters, so seismologists must take them into account when they analyze other low-level seismic signals—yet another example of earthly noise caused by humans.last_img read more

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The money chase, 2016: New head of key House science spending panel likes limited government, unlimited exploration

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first_imgNext week, the Obama administration will kick off the annual U.S. budget process by sending Congress its spending request for the 2016 fiscal year that begins in October. Researchers will be watching the 2 February budget rollout carefully to see where science ranks in the White House’s priorities. But the request is just the beginning, because Congress determines final spending levels in a process that isn’t likely to be finalized until late in the year.This week, ScienceInsider is running a few stories that offer varying perspectives on the process of setting science budgets—and the people involved. On Friday, we’ll follow the money and look at some of the numbers. Tomorrow, we’ll meet Representative Tom Cole (R–OK), a Ph.D. historian who is the new head of a House of Representatives spending panel that oversees the budget of the National Institutes of Health, the major government funder of basic biomedical research. Today, we meet another House appropriations “cardinal,” a lawyer and science enthusiast who is overseeing NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and other key research agencies.    Space exploration is not in the U.S. Constitution. But “promoting the progress of science” is. That makes it easy for Representative John Culberson (R–TX) to reconcile his allegiance to the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution—which states that all powers not vested in the federal government are reserved for the states—with his passionate support for multibillion-dollar scientific missions to distant objects, such as Jupiter’s moon Europa.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)As the new chair of the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS), and Related Agencies spending panel in the U.S. House of Representatives, what Culberson thinks matters a great deal to the U.S. scientific community. That’s because CJS oversees a good chunk of nondefense, nonmedical federal research; its jurisdiction includes NASA, the NSF, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology within the Commerce Department.Last week, Culberson, 58, sat down with ScienceInsider in his Capitol Hill office to discuss his love affair with science, his commitment to small government, and the relationship between the legislative and executive branches. A lawyer and former Texas state representative, the seven-term congressman represents a staunchly conservative district in west Houston, where he grew up.The search for lifeCulberson and Europa go back a long time. He’s been captivated by the jovian moon ever since he viewed it through his classic Celestron 8 telescope, a high school graduation present to himself. As an undergraduate, he was wowed when NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft sent back pictures of its vast frozen oceans during a 1979 flyby.“You could see the cracks—it looked like the Arctic ice cap on Earth,” he gushes.A quarter-century later, a few years after he was elected to Congress in 2000, he visited NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, just as the lab’s Opportunity rover landed on Mars. But for Culberson, the highlight of his January 2004 trip was a briefing on a proposed Europa mission by the project scientist for Galileo, which had orbited Jupiter in the 1990s and bolstered the theory that there is a liquid ocean under Europa’s thick ice shell.“That’s when it all gelled for me,” Culberson recalls. “All the light bulbs went off in my head, and it made spectacular good sense.”As a new member on the appropriations panel he now chairs, Culberson went back to Washington and proposed that NASA begin planning that next mission, called Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO). The money was allocated, but the next year the agency canceled JIMO, pleading poverty.Culberson cares deeply about Europa because he believes it could be harboring extraterrestrial life. “I think it’s inevitable that one day, and I hope it’s in our lifetime, we will discover life in another world,” he says. “And the place mostly likely to find it is in the Europan oceans. It keeps me up at night just thinking about it, it’s so thrilling.”But “Europa needs an advocate,” he says. And it now has a well-placed one, with Culberson taking over CJS from the retired Representative Frank Wolf (R–VA). Culberson gave up leading a panel that funds veterans affairs and military construction to take what he calls “his dream job,” and for work he describes as “pure joy.”“Europa is the only mission that it’s illegal for NASA not to fly,” he says, pointing proudly to language he and Wolf crafted as part of the agency’s 2015 budget, which allocates “not less than $100 million” for planning the mission and developing related technologies. The agency’s current plan is a so-called clipper mission that would make 45 passes of the moon while orbiting Jupiter, and then drop a probe that would penetrate Europa’s surface and explore its frozen underworld. The goal is to launch it sometime in the next decade, ideally on NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket.The Europa mission has other allies, including Representative Adam Schiff (D–CA), whose district includes JPL, and the nonprofit Planetary Society, now led by science education celebrity Bill Nye. Last summer, at a Capitol Hill pep rally for Europa sponsored by the society, Culberson thanked the group for “lighting a fire under the American people.”Europa “is one of the most exciting and meaningful things I’ve ever worked on,” he said. He also described to an audience of space buffs how much he thinks is at stake. “That moment when we realize that we are not alone will be a transformational moment, just like when Columbus reached the shores of North America.”Nye is thrilled to have Culberson as any ally. “He quotes the Bible and he believes that a higher power has put life on other worlds,” he says. “He wants to find it on his watch. And he’s in a position to convince other people in Congress.”Subcommittee chairs are in a good position to make things happen, Wolf agrees. “That’s the reason to be the chairman, isn’t it?” Wolf tells ScienceInsider. “Wherever he wants to take the subcommittee, that’s where it will go.”Limited governmentCulberson says that he’s been interested in science “for as long as I can remember.” He recalls a family vacation to Meteor crater in northern Arizona spent trolling for iron filings with a magnet on a string. As a child he subscribed to several popular science and astronomy magazines, following their recipes to build cloud chambers and a carbon dioxide laser for school science fairs. Spending summers during college as a mud logger on an oil rig—preparing a log that characterized the rock formation based on mud samples coming to the surface—gave him a chance “to be sort of a well-site geologist.”Culberson can’t recall a particular teacher that influenced his scientific studies. “I was pretty much self-directed,” he says. And the only science he took at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where he graduated in 1981 with a history degree, was an introductory astronomy course “that was so basic it was kinda boring.”He chose law instead, following the advice of his grandfather, a probate lawyer. “He said it was a way to help folks, and to make a dramatic difference in people’s lives.”Culberson says he grew up in a family that was “fiscally conservative, devoted to the Constitution, and believed the American republic is a special inheritance.” His father was a graphic designer who, he says, worked only for candidates who shared that philosophy.Founding father Thomas Jefferson is his “guiding light,” Culberson says. After spending “a lot of time studying” what Jefferson said about the purpose of government,” Culberson reached this conclusion: “Government is a necessary evil, and its sole purpose is to protect our liberty. It should give us the freedom and ability to do what God meant us to do, and stay away from my wallet, my gun case, my home, my kids, my church. Just leave me alone.”Still, he believes that keeping the government out of one’s life requires constant vigilance. While still in law school, he jumped into a race for an open seat in the Texas legislature. “I’ve never been a good spectator,” he explains.During his campaign, he turned his youth and relative inexperience into an asset by saying his candidacy demonstrated his eagerness to fulfill his civic obligation. Despite a small campaign chest and a crowded field, Culberson won the seat in 1986 and held it for 14 years before launching a successful bid in 2000 to succeed retiring Representative Bill Archer in Congress.“Elections are fundamentally about trust and whether people like you,” he says. “So I knocked on a lot of doors and built a network.”In 2003, then–Majority Leader Tom DeLay, another influential Texan Republican, offered him a seat on the powerful House appropriations committee. Culberson says he got the post after telling DeLay: “I’m going to say no to everything except science and national defense.”The story is clearly meant to burnish his credentials as a fiscal conservative. But it also reflects how, in the course of rising through the political ranks, Culberson has never lost his interest in, and enthusiasm for, science.A scientific hierarchyCulberson sees science as a way to explore what he calls “the great mysteries of the universe.” Those mysteries include the “96% of the universe we cannot see”—a combination of dark energy and dark matter—as well as “the fundamental building blocks of matter, like the Higgs boson that they just discovered at CERN.” He would also include new medical technologies that aim to improve human health and cure dreaded diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.But Culberson’s enthusiasm doesn’t seem to extend to the social and behavioral sciences. Those areas, not coincidentally, are hot-button issues with many conservatives. Culberson says he stands squarely with Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), a fellow Texan and chair of the House science committee, in his campaign to crack down on what they see as wasteful spending by NSF and NASA on low-priority research areas.Most scientists have accused Smith of waging a war against science. But Culberson says it’s actually a prudent course for NSF to follow.“I think NSF should focus more on the pure sciences, on the fundamentals, and be careful to avoid funding research projects that would damage its sterling reputation in the eyes of the public,” Culberson says. “I’d encourage them to avoid funding studies like shrimps on a treadmill—I hope we never see anything like that again—or alcoholism among prostitutes in Thailand.” (Culberson is referring to two federal grants that have become notorious in conservative circles.)“If the private sector is interested in funding obscure or obtuse social science question, then let them,” he adds. “But NSF needs to be keenly aware of how these grants would look on the front page of the local newspaper. They are just not a productive use of our tax dollars.”Research on global climate falls into the same category, he argues. “I think human activity has contributed in some way [to climate change]. But there have been dramatic changes in our climate over the planet’s history. We’ve been frozen solid, and we’ve been far, far hotter. I read all the time about scientific evidence of dramatically higher temperatures that are completely unrelated to human activity. There’s also a tremendous amount of data out there that is still in conflict, so I think it’s essential that we follow the facts and the science.”Culberson says those facts also dovetail with his views of the 10th Amendment—and expose what he sees as the real reasons behind the administration’s climate change policies. “The whole thrust of President Obama’s program, and the liberal obsession with climate change, is driven by their desire to raise more money for the government,” he says. “The carbon taxes in Europe, the administration’s efforts to impose costs on industry and the public to mitigate climate change, that’s all about collecting money.”There’s an old adage that politicians are entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts. And following the facts is exactly what most scientists say they are doing when they submit grant proposals to NSF and other agencies on politically sensitive subjects. Those grants are then reviewed and scored by experts as part of the agency’s highly regarded merit review process, which culminates in a final thumbs-up or thumbs-down decision by NSF officials.Culberson’s stance leaves him open to the charge that he is substituting his judgment for that of scientific experts. That’s especially problematic for a lawmaker who emphasizes that his support for the Europa mission is driven not by his own fascination with its frozen oceans but by his desire to reinforce the consensus of the scientific community.The consensus Culberson is referring to is a 2011 decadal study for planetary science, written by a panel convened by the U.S. National Academies. He regards such decadal studies, which identify high-priority research areas and often help set agency spending priorities, as “the gold standard” for setting NASA’s direction. And he vows that the CJS bills his panel produces will continue to require NASA “to fund and fly” the survey’s priority missions. (At the top of the report’s list was a trip to collect, and eventually return, samples from Mars, part of a multistep approach to exploring the Red Planet that NASA is pursuing.)“I didn’t decide to put that $100 million into NASA’s budget this year for the Europa mission,” he tells ScienceInsider. “The decadal study decided it. And I put in the technology money so that NASA could develop the penetrator that we’ll need to get below the ice and down into its ocean.”Culberson is also a big supporter of NSF’s activities to improve science and math education. He sees the work as a key element in creating a tech-savvy workforce and a scientifically literate population.Some might see that view as being in conflict with the 10th Amendment, which is generally seen as giving states complete control over education. But not Culberson, who emphasized the difference during a conversation that began with his criticism of NASA for straying from what he sees as its main purpose.“OMB [The White House Office of Management and Budget] has been driving NASA for far too long … and diverting it into all these activities that are not part of NASA’s core missions, including education,” he began. “Instead, NSF should take the lead in helping to design a model science curriculum. That’s not NASA’s job. And it ought not to be done at the Department of Education, either.”“I’d prefer to see NSF help to design, or recommend—that’s the key word—an ideal science curriculum for our public schools and universities,” he continues. “And then states would be free to adopt it, of their own volition. But not mandate, never. In fact, I authored legislation that passed the House last year that would eliminate all federal education grants in 5 years, and eliminate all federal control over education and return it to the states.”Nye, who is best known by his self-moniker, “the science guy,” says he’s “fascinated” by the interaction of Culberson’s faith-based political beliefs and his interest in scientific discovery. As CEO of the Planetary Society, Nye says, he sticks to the latter. “When we are in his office, we focus on Europa,” he says.That strategy has worked well for the society: Culberson has championed its goal of boosting NASA’s spending on planetary sciences to $1.5 billion a year and takes credit for lifting up its budget to within $65 million of that amount. But NASA’s overall science budget tops $5 billion, including almost $1.8 billion for the earth sciences. And in an era of fiscal constraints, climate scientists and those in the social and behavioral sciences are hoping that Culberson will make room on his science bandwagon for their disciplines, too.Click here to see all of our Budget 2016 coverage.last_img read more

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The Yadav Family Drama Gripping Indian Politics

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The story seems like a good script for a Bollywood film, or as one observer put it, “something straight out of the hit US TV series House of Cards”. Related Items

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Chicago Man Sentenced For Millions of Dollars of Fraud on New York Company

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first_imgAn Indian-American man from Chicago was the second person to be sentenced for defrauding a New York company of millions of dollars.Debashis Ghosh, 54, of Chicago, Illinois, was sentenced April 16, to 57 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, for conspiring to defraud a Plattsburgh, New York, company of $2.5 million. Related Itemslast_img

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