A Class XI student was killed on Thursday near the site of an encounter between security forces and militants in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Unconfirmed reports suggest that two militants were killed in the encounter.A police official said Amir Wani, a resident of Pulwama’s Beegumbagh-Kakapora, was “hit by a stray bullet” as civilians clashed with the security forces to help the militants escape.Chief Medical Officer of Pulwama, Talat Jabeen, confirmed the death of Wani.The encounter broke out at 5 a.m. at Padgampora area in Awantipora.Police sources said the militants — Jehangeer Ahmad Ganai and Shafat Ahmad Sherguri, finding themselves trapped inside the house, opened fire at the security forces.Locals told The Hindu that relatives of Ganai were called in to persuade him to surrender. The local public address system was also used asking the militants to surrender.They said there were blasts near the house.Army spokesman Colonal Rajesh Kalia said, “The details of the operation are being ascertained.”
Fourteen years after she went missing from a mental asylum in Assam, Subhadra Patir was found wandering in Uttarakhand’s Tehri and lodged in a women’s shelter here in 2015.Life came full circle when the 50-year-old was finally reunited with her son this month.Over 200 people, most of them women and children, who were missing or languishing in asylums and other institutions, have been reunited with their families over the last year by the Uttarakhand government.Additional Secretary of the Social Welfare department, Manoj Chandran, said 232 such people living in women’s shelter homes, asylums and orphanages have got back to their families.Of them, 38 were lodged in asylums, but most had recovered from their mental illness. They also expressed a desire to meet their families again, he said.However, what was saddening was that several of their relatives living in the state did not appear too keen on taking them back, the official said. Such families took their relatives home only after the state government warned them that a share of their property would be seized and alloted to the estranged relatives.Patir’s story is happier. After officials finally managed to track down her family after a painstaking search, her son, Durlabh Patir, rushed all the way from Assam to Dehradun to take his mother home.
Trinamool Congress MLAs in Tripura would not vote for the party-supported Opposition candidate Meira Kumar in the presidential election. State TMC president Ashish Saha, who is one of six legislators of the party said, they have taken the decision to keep distance from the ruling CPI(M) which is the ‘main political rival’ for them in the State.“We left the Congress and joined the TMC with a strong resolution to out-seat the CPI(M). We cannot vote in line with the CP (M)”, Mr. Saha told The Hindu on Sunday adding that the MLAs met on Saturday to adopt unanimous resolution on not supporting Ms. Kumar.Leader non-committalTMC president, however, remained non-committal on supporting the NDA candidate, but said BJP’s Assam stalwart Himanta Biswa Sarma and national general secretary Ram Madhav appealed them to vote in favour of Ram Nath Kovind. Both of them spoke to party leader Sudip Roy Barman on the issue.BJP’s central observer Sunil Deodhar on Sunday confirmed that Mr. Madhav spoke to Mr. Barman on the presidential election. “He also requested them to meet Mr. Kovind when he comes to Guwahati”, he stated.On rebel Congress MLA Ratan Lal Nath who is currently hobnobbing with the BJP, Mr. Deodhar said he has given assurance to vote for Mr. Kovind. With one Congress MLA pledging support to the BJP and the TMC apparently going for NDA aspirant, Opposition candidate Meira Kumar is likely to garner votes of the Left and two Congress legislators.
Two years ago, Nida Shaikh, Shifa Qureshi, Kusum Chaudhry, Anu Kumavat, and Pooja Doddi, classmates and close friends, were very disturbed. Their friend Bushira Shaikh was quitting school.This was not unusual in Holy Mother School, where they were all students of Class VI. The school sits in a low-income, high-density slum area in Malwani, a Mumbai suburb, and many other girls had quit school because of the lack of family support. And not unusually, Ms. Bushira’s family couldn’t afford the fees. But her friends decided this was no reason for her to quit. The five went around the community, collecting money, and soon Ms. Bushira was back in school.Crusading spirit Inspired by their success, the girls decided they would now get others also back to school. They went door-to-door, talking to parents about the importance of sending girls to school and collecting money to pay fees for those who couldn’t afford it. “Some parents listened patiently,” Ms. Nida says. “But most of them refused to be convinced. We were unable to collect much funds either.” Come 2016, the girls found a new ally when Jasmine Bala joined their school as a Teach for India (TFI) Fellow. Ms. Bala was impressed by their comittment. “They wanted to be changemakers in their communities and make a positive impact,” she says. “These girls are critical thinkers and are aware of the issues in their community, the foremost being the suppression of young girls. There is a high drop-out rate of girls from secondary classrooms.” Another challenge is the high incidence of alcoholism, drug abuse and abuse of girl children in the area, Ms. Bala says. “We wanted to instil confidence and help them step out of their homes without compromising their safety,” she adds.Ms. Bala helped the group get more organised. And this year the girls, all aged between 12 and 14, started Project Balika.Firsthand experienceThe initial focus of Project Balika was to convince families of the importance of education for girls. But this was not easy. Parents often refused to listen, firm in their belief that a girl’s goal must be to marry and raise a family. Hence, learning household chores was considered more important. The project’s founders knew this first-hand. Ms. Kusum, who scored 92% in Class VII and excels in English, says, “My father too does not want me to pursue higher education, though I am good in academics.”Thanks to their refusal to accept the status quo, the five trailblazers inspired many more to join their effort. Balika’s group of changemakers has now grown to 40, and they have impacted more than 200 young girls and women in Malwani. They want to take that number to 500 next year.The project now runs a number of activities aimed at empowering girls to take up leadership positions, tackling issues of gender discrimination, safety of girls in the community, and improving health. “All the work, from coordinating with government officials to meeting with headmasters of schools to working with various community members, is done by us,” says Ms. Shifa proudly. Balika also runs free English-speaking classes twice a week for young mothers and school dropouts.“I have been teaching English to eight mothers for a month,” says Mahek Bilal, 20. “I have started with alphabets, as they had never studied English before.” Shama Shaikh, 34, who joined the class last week, is ecstatic: “I was good at stud- ies and dreamt of becoming a teacher, but I was unable to continue after Class VIII because of family pressre and financial constraints. Now, if I learn English, I can help my kids with their studies. And if given an opportunity, I may even seek a job!”Yasmin Khan, 30, from a small village near Lucknow, also had to drop out of school after Class VIII, when her family arranged her marriage and she moved to Mumbai to join her husband. “After marriage, I never got an opportunity to re-join classes. By learning English, I can at least give home tuitions and earn for the family,” she says.Going beyond academics Ms. Anu says, “We spread awareness on menstrual health, nutrition and safety of girls around schools in Malwani.” The project members want to install a vending machine in their school to enable girls to get subsidised sanitary pads. So far, Balika’s funds have come from individual donations, but Ms. Bala hopes they can access Corporate Social Responsibility funds as well. This will help the programme expand to other repressed communities in Mumbai, she says.Monthly reviewTo track the leadership journey of each girl, Ms. Bala holds a monthly meet where high-performing girls work with female mentors. “Currently, there are 50 mentors who work with the children and check their progress.” The teaching isn’t one-way, though. “The girls have been invited to deliver lectures to first and second year students at the Narsee Monjee and Government Law College on the importance of student leadership and performance management trackers for leadership development.”Looking back, Ms. Pooja says that she is happy they have helped so many girls re-enrol. But, she adds, “I really wish Balika can convince every parent to send their daughter to school so they can have careers of their choice.” Her personal plan? Apply for a TFI fellowship and become a teacher like Jasmine Didi. “And then, run an education NGO!”Follow Malwani’s changemakers on Facebook.com/projectbalika
The ruling BJP’s embarrassing defeat in the byelections in Rajasthan has triggered a churn in the party, with senior leaders deliberating on the reasons for the triple drubbing — in one Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats. A beleaguered Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, already battling factionalism within the party and growing resentment among the people, has little time on her hands as she seeks to course-correct with Assembly elections scheduled for December this year.At a core group meeting at Ms. Raje’s residence here on Friday, BJP leaders reportedly analysed the factors responsible for the shrinkage in the party’s traditional support base. While sections of the Rajput community had announced their support to the Congress much before polling day, the impact of the Centre’s decisions of demonetisation and GST rollout was described as a “worrisome trend” beyond the State’s control.Farmers are also upset with the Raje government for its failure to act upon its announcement of agricultural loan waiver of ₹50,000 each. A committee appointed after a 13-day-long farmers’ agitation in the Shekhawati region is yet to take a decision despite having visited Kerala and other States to study their models.Rebel concernThe party is also facing resentment from a section of its workers who are drawn towards the “Deendayal Vahini” front floated by rebel MLA and former Minister Ghanshyam Tiwari. The Sanganer MLA raised the banner of revolt after he was denied a Cabinet berth and his outbursts following the bypoll results were distressful for the BJP. Mr. Tiwari alleged that the party’s central leadership was shielding a “corrupt government” in Rajasthan and questioned Ms. Raje’s continuation in office.Among the other factors responsible for the BJP’s defeat in Alwar and Ajmer parliamentary seats and Mandalgarh Assembly seat, according to political observers, are the bitterness among the business community, deteriorating law and order in semi-urban areas, enactment of a legislation to protect officers charged with graft and Gujjars and Brahmins turning against the party over reservation and other issues.The voting pattern in the urban pockets depicted a marked shift away from the BJP. In Ajmer city, considered the BJP’s stronghold, the party lost Ajmer North by 6,975 votes and Ajmer South by 13,070 votes primarily because of the traders’ anger over loss of business and complications in filing of GST returns.‘Cold shouldered’The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has maintained a distance from the Raje-led faction of the BJP ever since the party came to power in 2013. RSS volunteers were conspicuous by their absence during electioneering for the bypolls. They did not make any serious attempt to mobilise voters in the three constituencies. The “cold shoulder” given by Ms. Raje to RSS volunteers during ticket distribution in 2013 and her subsequent temple relocation drive in Jaipur are considered responsible for the Sangh’s aloofness.The Opposition Congress, on the other hand, put up a united front during the election campaign. Party leaders, including Pradesh Congress president Sachin Pilot, built up an atmosphere against the BJP’s policies and programmes while cashing in on the resentment among different sections of the population.In both Alwar and Ajmer, the Congress tried to forge new alliances with different caste groups in order to pose a fresh challenge to the BJP. The atmosphere was charged in Alwar in the wake of attacks on dairy farmers by cow vigilantes, while the contest in Ajmer was a direct one between Mr. Pilot and Ms. Raje.
A Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant was killed in north Kashmir’s Bandipora on Thursday. In another development, three persons, including two soldiers, suffered injuries in continued firing by the Pakistani troops along the Line of Control in Rajouri and Poonch in the Pir Panchal Valley.According to the police, a Pakistani LeT militant was killed at Shakoor Din Mohalla in Badnipora’s Hajin on Thursday when an exchange of fire took place between the security forces and hiding militants. The security forces were pursuing credible leads about the presence of LeT militants.Ceasefire violationsTwo soldiers and a civilian were injured in Pakistani firing along the Line of Control in the Pir Panjal valley’s Poonch and Rajouri districts.The soldiers were injured when a post manned by the Army’s Mahar regiment came under fire in the Mankote Sector, said the Army.The ceasefire violations spread to Rajouri, Nowshera and parts of Poonch on Thursday .
The Congress in Assam has lashed out at BJP minority cell chief Syed Mominul Awal for stating that the Muslim MLAs belonging to the Congress were of Bangladeshi origin.Mr. Awal had on Monday said that of the 25 Congress MLAs in Assam’s 126-member Assembly, 15 have roots in Bangladesh. The Congress had 15 Muslim MLAs, but Mr. Awal excluded one of them — Rekibuddin Ahmed – from his list.Debabrata Saikia, head of Congress Legislature Party, said Mr. Awal was toeing the communal line of the BJP. “He has probably not read history, but he should think before speaking”.
The Congress on Wednesday questioned the Gujarat government’s decision to form a high-powered committee to resolve the issues in a power purchase agreement signed by the Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam with four firms, which include Adani Power Limited, Essar Power Gujarat Limited and the Tata-owned Coastal Gujarat Power Limited.The four companies had signed an agreement for long-term procurement of power with the Gujarat government in 2007. In 2012, they filed an appeal saying that the rates should be increased, citing the hike in the rate of coal being imported from Indonesia. The case, after moving through various channels, reached the Supreme Court. On April 11, 2017, the court rejected their claim saying that change in international market cannot be used as an excuse to renegotiate the tariff in India.The Congress claims that the Gujarat government, in order to bypass the Supreme Court, had formed the high-powered committee to bail out these industrialists. “This is another another example of crony capitalism practised by the Modi government,” said Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh.
Giving a push to generation next, Congress is looking forward to field young and fresh faces from the state unit of the Youth Congress in the general and Assembly elections due next year.According to sources, Krushna Allavaru, All India Congress Committee joint secretary and in-charge of Indian Youth Congress, interviewed nine possible Lok Sabha candidates and 35 aspirants to the Assembly early this week.Party sources the State unit of the Youth Congress has been pushing for new faces and with this in mind those interviewed for LS include Sujay Vikhe-Patil for Ahmadnagar South, Dr. Ketki Patil for Raver, Shiva Rao for Chandrapur, Naina Gavit for Dindori, Utkarsha Rupwate for Shirdi, and Rahul Thakre for Yavatmal-Washim.Second generation leaders were clearly keen on continuing the family tradition. While Mr. Vikhe-Patil is the son of Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Dr. Patil is the daughter of Congress leader Ulhas Patil, Ms. Gavit the daughter of Congress MLA Nirmala Gavit, Ms. Rupawate a granddaughter of veteran Ambedkarite Dadasaheb Rupwate, and Mr. Thakre the son of the party’s former State unit chief Manikrao Thakre.Among those interviewed for the Assembly were Dhiraj Deshmukh for Latur rural, Manoj Kayande for Deulgaonraj in Buldhana, Rahul Dive for Nasik central, Dr. Jitendra Dehade for Aurangabad west, Vishal Patil for Sangli city, Nishant Bhagat for Belapur, and Satyasheel Sherkar for Junnar. Mr. Deshmukh is the son of former CM late Vilasrao Deshmukh, while Mr. Patil is a grandson of former CM late Vasantdada Patil.“The party wants to promote new and young faces in the State. It is important that these youngsters come from the party background, and especially from party organisation. We are happy that large number of youth Congress workers have come forward to contest,” said a senior leader. However, not all the interviewees will have a smooth sailing as some of the seats belong to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and negotiations over seat sharing are yet to reach the final stage. The interview included questions to aspirants on the reasons for choosing the particular constituency and their plans on how to secure victory. “All these young leaders are working for the party tirelessly. We are sure that if given a ticket, they will bring in the new voter and take the party towards victory. Decision will be taken on candidate’s winnability and nothing else,” State Youth Congress president Satyajit Tambe-Patil.
Kavita Singh. | Photo Credit: Amarnath Tewary In conversation with Hena ShahabIt’s 7.30 a.m. and a motley crowd has gathered outside the modest home of imprisoned “Sultan of Siwan” Mohd. Shahabuddin in Pratapur village. Over two dozen SUVs are parked outside. Some of the occupants are sitting beneath trees, while others form a semi-circle on the verandah of the old house. Fully covered in burkha and hijab, Hena Shahab, Shahabuddin’s wife, is standing on the half-closed doorsill and instructing a group about the day’s campaign. Contesting the Lok Sabha poll on an RJD ticket, Ms. Shahab takes some time off to respond to questions.You have become mature now… earlier in the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha polls you were a contestant with very few words on your lips.Paristhithi sab kuch sikha deti hai (The situation makes you learn everything).This time your fight is against the wife of another don… how do you see the challenge?I don’t see any challenge. And moreover, I do not wish to make any comment on others. I want to focus only on my work and leave the rest to the people of Siwan who know well what my husband has done for them and what others have done.After losing twice, how do you think you’ll win this time?I lost in the 2009 parliamentary poll because I got very little time and I was a new entrant in politics… I could hardly speak at that time. In 2014 it was “Modi wave” that swept the poll. But this time, I’ve got experience and people too have realised what PM Modi promised them and what he has fulfilled. All the people cannot be cheated all the time.Who do you find a better politician — Lalu Prasad or Nitish Kumar? And why?Lalu Prasad always. He is the only mass leader of Bihar who cares for the downtrodden and becomes their voice. He doesn’t change, he doesn’t betray his people.Do you miss your husband?Yes, I miss him a lot… the people of Siwan miss him a lot.In conversation with Kavita SinghIt’s 11. 30 a.m. and the blistering heat has forced everyone indoors, including Kavita Singh, the NDA candidate and wife of gangster Ajay Singh. Mr. Singh has been challenging Mohd. Shahabuddin’s sway in Siwan for several years. The couple are inside a local BJP leader’s house in the town. Mr. Singh, surrounded by a few of his men, is busy on his mobile phone asking people to ensure his wife’s victory. Ms. Singh, who has been MLA twice, comes out after some time. Resplendent in yellow sari, bangles, gold earrings, finger rings, mangal sutra and a tattoo of her husband’s name on her right hand, she appears more articulate than her husband. She speaks like a seasoned politician. How do you feel contesting the Lok Sabha poll for the first time?Not much difference, except that we have to visit more people in more areas. But I’m getting an overwhelming response everywhere as people have made up their mind to bring Ram Rajya in Siwan with Modi ji as Prime Minister.How do you find Hena Shahab as a challenger?Everyone knows in Siwan who she is. She has been defeated twice in the last two parliamentary polls and she will be defeated for the third time as well.But you too are a wife of a don accused in several criminal cases.All the cases lodged against my husband are false and politically motivated. He is a desh-bhakt (patriot) and has been challenging the reign of terror unleashed in Siwan. If he is a gangster, why have people voted to elect me as an MLA twice? I feel bad when people call him a don.What are the issues you raise when asking people to vote for you?Desh ko bachana hai, Modi ji ko phir ek baar PM banana hain (We’ve to protect our country and make Modi ji our Prime Minister again). I also tell people about the development work done by Nitish Kumar’s government in the State.Who is a better leader Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad or PM Modi?In the country it is Modi ji and in the State it is Nitish ji.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is taking another crack at how it evaluates inventions derived from nature. The agency has been forced to tighten its eligibility rules in light of recent Supreme Court decisions—including a 2013 ruling that struck down patents on human genes—but its first pass at new guidelines for examiners raised a stink. University groups and industry representatives feared the rules would chill investment by rendering potential new therapies and diagnostics unpatentable. A new guidance, released this week, goes a long way to quell those fears, though many are still uncertain how it will be implemented.The document unveiled this past spring was troubling to the biopatent community for several reasons. It went too far beyond the court’s ruling on DNA, critics claimed, by suggesting that other naturally derived products—including chemical compounds, vaccines, seeds, and antibodies—must be “significantly different” from anything found in nature or else be immediately tossed out as patent ineligible. Many also protested the idea that an applicant had to demonstrate structural differences between a product and its natural counterpart. Amid criticism at public meetings and in written letters, the agency vowed to incorporate stakeholder comments into a revised guidance.But while it’s eager to satisfy the applicants that keep it in business, USPTO also has to respect often murky directions handed down from the courts, says Dan Burk, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. Particularly influential were last year’s ruling in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics Inc. that naturally occurring human genes cannot be patented and the 2012 Mayo v. Prometheus decision, which invalidated a patent on a method of adjusting drug dosage using measures of blood metabolites because it relied on a “law of nature.”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(*)And since the March guidance, another relevant decision came down from the high court: In Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, the judges invalidated a software patent by ruling that a method of financial analysis is an unpatentable “abstract idea,” even when implemented on a computer. That June decision may seem worlds away from biotech, but it aimed to lay out a definitive two-step test for deciding patent eligibility, Burk says, and it forms the backbone of the new guidance: If a patent claim describes “a law of nature, a natural phenomenon, or an abstract idea” (step 1), then it must amount to “significantly more” than what’s found in nature—a phrase borrowed from the Mayo decision—in order to be patentable (step 2).Many biotech inventions may now get a green light at the first step, says Hans Sauer, intellectual property counsel for the Biotechnology Industry Organization in Washington, D.C. The guidance lets examiners decide at first look when an application involves a natural product or process, but obviously isn’t trying to claim it in a way that would prevent others from using it. “In practice, that could make a big difference,” Sauer says, and will ease the way for “a lot of claims that people complained about very much.”An examiner can also decide to let an application proceed because the product is sufficiently different from its natural counterpart based on “structure, function, and/or other properties,” which may be reassuring to academia, says Robert Hardy, director of contracts and intellectual property management for the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR), a Washington, D.C.–based association of research universities. COGR had submitted a critique of the March guidance to USPTO. Hardy suspects academic technology transfer offices will receive fewer USPTO rejections on grounds of eligibility and believes the agency did “kind of a heroic job of trying to reconcile a great many court decisions.”Still, it’s not clear what kinds of differences from nature will be enough to confer eligibility in the eyes of the examiners, Sauer warns. For example, if you purify an antibiotic from an organism, you might be changing it so that it can be formulated as a medicine for the first time, he says, but you’re probably not changing its essential bacteria-killing abilities. Does that count as a functional difference? “It seems to me that under PTO guidance the answer is probably no,” he says. And demonstrating a functional difference gets even harder, he notes, if a molecule’s original “function” in nature is unknown.Another persistent concern is how evaluators will deal with patents on diagnostic processes or technologies related to personalized medicine. It’s not clear, for example, if the process of analyzing gene expression from a tumor biopsy to decide on a course of treatment can be protected by a patent. “Personalized medicine companies [have been] trying to deal with this for going on 2 years and keep expressing a lot of frustration,” Sauer says. “There have been lots of rejections, and they’ve been difficult to overcome.”USPTO has announced a meeting in January to gather more feedback and may yet tweak its guidelines further. Meanwhile, another decision from the nation’s specialized patent court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., may further muddy the waters. The 17 December ruling upheld a lower court’s decision to deny an effort by Myriad Genetics to prevent another company from developing genetic tests that Myriad says are still protected by its patents—despite the 2013 Supreme Court decision that knocked out some elements of those patents. And the Federal Circuit seemed to emphasize the need for structural differences from naturally occurring products, Burk says, which might just undermine part of the shiny new guidance.
All galaxies are thought to have supermassive black holes at their center. These start out small—with masses equivalent to between 100 and 100,000 suns—and build up over time by consuming the gas, dust, and stars around them or by merging with other black holes to reach sizes measured in millions or billions of solar masses. Such binge eating usually takes billions of years, but a team of astronomers was stunned to discover what is, in galactic terms, a monstrous baby: a gigantic black hole of 12 billion solar masses in a barely newborn galaxy, just 875 million years after the big bang. The researchers report online in Nature today that they were scouring through several astronomical surveys looking for bright objects in the very early universe called quasars, galaxies that burn very bright because their central black holes are consuming material so fast. The monster they found (depicted in this artist’s impression) is roughly 3000 times the size of our Milky Way’s central black hole. To have grown to such a size in so short a time, it must have been munching matter at close to the maximum physically possible rate for most of its existence. Its large size and rate of consumption also makes it the brightest object in that distant era, and astronomers can use its bright light to study the composition of the early universe: how much of the original hydrogen and helium from the big bang had been forged into heavier elements in the furnaces of stars.
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A woman was arrested in Chandigarh on Saturday after a video in which she is seen thrashing her 80-year-old mother-in-law had gone viral on social media. The act was captured on a mobile phone by a girl who is the neighbour of the victim residing in Niwaz Nagar village in Mahendragarh district’s Narnaul. Haryana Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar described the incident as “deplorable and condemnable”, saying such behaviour should not be tolerated in a civilised society. In a tweet on Saturday, Mr. Khattar informed that a case has been registered and the accused woman had been arrested. In the video, the victim identified as Chand Bai is seen sitting on a cot while her daughter-in-law Kanta Devi pushes her forcefully and pulls her hair.“She (accused) could not take care of the old woman and considered her to be a burden. That is why she assaulted her,” Narnaul Superintendent of Police Chander Mohan said over phone on Saturday. A widow, Chand Bai’s husband was an Assistant Sub Inspector in the Border Security Force. She gets pension from the government, police said. Kanta Devi was arrested on Saturday morning and has been charged with section 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the IPC, the SP said. After recording the statement of the victim, police got her medically examined, a police officer said, adding that further investigations were underway.
Former MLA and Awami Ittehad Party chief Engineer Rashid joined hands with IAS topper and J&K Peoples Movement chief Shah Faesal on Tuesday to contest the upcoming Assembly elections together under the banner of the Peoples United Front (PUF). “We will pursue an agenda of hope. We will not let people down,” said Mr. Rashid, who surprised all by garnering over one lakh votes in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls in north Kashmir.Mr. Faesal said the new front “will provide justice and opportunities to all”. “History will take note of the fact that when the State was fighting its existential battle, there were some people who avoided staying divided and joining hands together,” said Mr. Faesal, who quit his IAS post in January and floated his own party.The two leaders, who hail from north Kashmir’s Kupwara, also released a 45-point common minimum programme (CMP). “We will pursue and facilitate the peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue in its historical context as per the will, aspirations and sacrifices of the people of the erstwhile J&K State and support all confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan that can give relief to the people on both sides of LoC,” reads the CMP.It pledged to protect the special status and constitutional guarantees of the people of J&K State, including Articles 370 and 35A pending the resolution of the dispute.“Will work towards undoing the erosion of the special status and revoking the amendments extended from time to time by successive governments in violation of the principles of Accession,” it added.The alliance is likely to dent the political prospectus of the Peoples Conference (PC), headed by Sajad Lone, whose party is also headquartered in Kupwara district. Mr. Rashid bagged just 2,000 votes less than the PC in the Lok Sabha polls. Mr. Lone, who earlier intended to head a third front in Kashmir ahead of the polls, may find it hard to create any major grouping to counter the new political arrangements in north Kashmir.
A Supreme Court-appointed committee on road safety has observed that Odisha lacks road signage, markings and traffic signals conforming to the Indian Road Congress specifications.The committee headed by Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan made the observations based on a report of Institute of Road Traffic Education, which had conducted training on road safety for traffic police personnel deployed in Bhubaneswar, and for civil engineers on standard installation of traffic-control devices, types of road traffic violations and identification of black spots.Although the IRTE conducted the survey in Bhubaneswar, the committee wanted the Odisha government to “treat it as a sample study and implement the recommended actions throughout the State”.11% rise in fatalitiesThe committee’s observation becomes significant as there has been a rise of 11% in road accident fatalities in Odisha. According to State Road Safety Council, which met here earlier this week, 5,315 people were killed in road accidents in Odisha in 2018, 525 more than 2017 when 4,790 people lost their lives. The average growth in road accident fatalities in the country has been below 1% in this period.“A large percentage of road signage, road markings and traffic signals do not conform to IRC specifications,” the SC committee said in a letter to the State government.“Police personnel were not fully conversant in Motor Vehicles (Driving) Regulations, 2017. These regulations have been notified by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on June 23, 2017, and have superseded the rules of the Road Regulations, 1989,” the letter addressed to the State Transport Secretary said.The committee recommended that all the road signage, markings and traffic signals should conform to the IRC specifications.“Traffic police, transport officers and road engineers should be imparted training in Motor Vehicle Acts, 1988, Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989 and all the rules and regulations made thereunder,” it added. Enforcement of traffic laws by the State agencies should be as per the extant law and evidence, the committee emphasised.
The Punjab government is mulling over a new law for strict action against artistes who promote and glorify the use of drugs through songs or films.Expressing concern over the issue of the State’s youth being caught up in a cobweb of drugs, Tourism Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Tuesday said the films and songs by Punjabi artistes have encouraged this trend. “The State government is going to bring in a law soon to curb the menace,” he said at a meeting with famous folk singer Pammi Bai, who called on him to voice his concern over the issue. Appealing to the artistes hailing from Punjab to not encourage drugs in their songs and films, Mr. Channi said: “The young generation considering them as their role models has been one of the reasons for them being attracted to drugs. They should not encourage the youth to take to drugs by glorifying the menace.”