5 held for attack on Swiss couple in Agra

first_imgThe Uttar Pradesh police on Thursday arrested five youth for the assault on a Swiss couple at Fatehpur Sikri near Agra. The Swiss tourists were stalked and harassed by local youth before being brutally assaulted with stones and sticks on October 22.Quentin Jeremy Clerc and his partner Marie Droz, both in their twenties, sustained severe injuries in the attack and were shifted to the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in Delhi after being taken to a PHC and then a government hospital in Agra. Mr. Clerc suffered a fractured skull while Ms. Droz had a broken arm and many bruises. According to the doctor treating them, their condition is stable.Dr. Rajendra Prasad, senior consultant neurosurgeon, said, “Mr. Clerc came in with extensive injury to his skull. He had a fracture and blood clots. His nerve leading to the ear has sustained injury causing hearing loss. He was put in the intensive care unit and was later shifted out after his condition stabilised. Ms. Droz had a fracture on her forearm which was attended to.”“They just want to be left alone at the moment and are not ready to speak to the media just yet. All they want right now is to recover soon and leave,” said an official from the hospital.The locals who harassed and assaulted the couple had allegedly tried to engage them in a conversation and insisted upon clicking selfies with the woman. After a set of intrusive questions, the accused surrounded them and assaulted Mr. Clerc with stones and sticks. Ms. Droz was attacked when she came to his defence.Police said they were informed of the incident through an emergency 100 alert by a local person. After the victims communicated to the police their ‘refusal’ to lodge an FIR, the police filed a non-cognizable report suo motu, U.P. Additional Director General of Police, Crime, Chandra Prakash, said.Sushma seeks reportExternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has sought a report from the State government and directed officials of the MEA to meet the victims in the hospital.The attack could have a negative impact on the image of the country, Union Minister of State for Tourism K.J. Alphons said in a letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.Meanwhile, CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat has written to the Swiss Ambassador Andreas Baum, saying the “shocking and horrifying” attack on two Swiss nationals in Agra was “extremely shameful” for Indians.last_img read more

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Disabled girl denied entry with wheel-chair to temple in Goa

first_imgA disabled girl on a wheelchair was allegedly denied entry to Mangueshi temple by the trustee, in north Goa on Monday. The girl’s parents have lodged a police complaint over the issue.In the complaint which was forwarded to the Superintendent of Police (South) and South Goa Collector DRAG on Monday, Subhada Keskar said that the temple committee member, Anil Kenkre did not allow her daughter Sanika Keskar, who was on her wheelchair due to her physical disability, to enter the Mangueshi Temple, Mardol for worship. Sanika was denied entry into the temple, since wheelchairs were not allowed in the temple as it was a ‘vehicle’.The Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG), a body spearheading the cause of persons with disabilities(PwDs) has demanded immediate action against Mr. Kenkre, for allegedly denying the wheelchair user’s entry to the temple.”Mr. Kenkre also told the Keskars that they were not invited to the temple. This is outright discrimination and abuse of physically challenged person, which is a criminal offence under Section 92(a) of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016 . We also wish to bring to notice that denial of right to worship is a serious offence as right to worship is a fundamental right under the Constitution of India. Hence we request you to register a criminal offence against the Mangueshi Temple Committee member Mr. Kenkre under the relevant sections of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016 and the Indian Penal Code immediately”, the complaint stated.’Implement 2016 law’DRAG has also written to the North and South Goa Collectors and the State Disability Commissioner to direct all heads of religious places of worship in their jurisdiction to ensure that persons with disability and the elderly are not denied entry into places of worship due to their aids and appliances and all places of worship are made accessible as mandated under the Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016 within six months of this letter.However, Mr. Kenkre, denied the allegations. “I exactly don’t remember what they asked me and details of our conversation, but I am very clear that we never deny right to any person to enter the temple and pray. What I told them is there is no facility to take the wheel-chair inside the temple, but it would not be correct to say that we denied them entry,” Mr. Kenkre said.In reply to a question, he admitted that the temple was not disabled-friendly to take a wheel-chair inside, but “persons with disabilities come to temple and nobody has any issues of entry,” he reiterated.Goa State Disability Commissioner Anuradha Joshi confirmed to have received the complaint from DRAG and said that she would on Tuesday herself visit the temple to find out for herself what was the situation and apart from dealing with the complain legally, she would also try and see what could be done so that PwDs do not face problems of temple access.last_img read more

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BSF unearths Maoist bunker in Odisha

first_imgThe Border Security Force personnel have unearthed a secret bunker of the Maoists inside the Chiliba jungle in Koraput district which contained explosives and arms.Sources in the police said on Thursday that a BSF team that was on a combing operation stumbled upon the Maoist den in a remote forest area under Machhkund police station limits on Wednesday. They seized two guns, nine detonators, two Improvised Explosive Devices(IEDs) in the form of tiffin boxes and several packets of ammonium nitrate from the spot.It is suspected that the Maoists had stored the explosive materials, arms and ammunition to be used in ambushes against security personnel in the area.BSF personnel involved in anti-Maoist operations in Koraput have intensified their combing operations in the past few days in Boipariguda and Lamtaput areas.last_img read more

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NGT seeks response on destruction of mangrove cover

first_imgThe National Green Tribunal has granted a week’s time to the Deendayal Port Trust to respond to a plea alleging destruction of mangrove cover along coastal Gujarat.A Bench headed by NGT acting chairperson Jawad Rahim, in its order dated May 10, said, “We permit respondent number 6 (Deendayal Port Trust) to file reply and produce such documents as they feel would support their contentions, within one week from now.”The Tribunal’s directions came while hearing a plea moved by the Kutch Camel Breeders’ Association that had alleged that mangroves were being cleared in a “rampant” manner by the authorities in violation of the provisions mentioned in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification of 2011.Earlier, the Bench had issued notices to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, the Gujarat State Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) and the State Forest department.Seeking directions to authorities to “immediately stop the ongoing destruction”, the plea had alleged that the Forest department had failed to take preventive measures in checking the “indiscriminate destruction”.“Incessant destruction activities have severely diminished the cover of sparse mangroves found at the said site, as well as destroyed the habitat of the indigenous Kharai camels, in addition to disrupting livelihoods of villagers dependent on these mangroves” read the plea.last_img read more

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‘Ravana’ killed in Punjab train accident

first_imgAt Jora Phatak’s Ram Leela in Amritsar, Dalbir Singh had been playing the character of Ravana for many years. Friday’s performance turned out to be his last. He was among those who were killed in the train accident.After finishing his performance, Dalbir, who was in his twenties, had headed towards the railway track adjacent to the ground, where Dasara celebrations were about to culminate in the burning of Ravana’s effigy.A friend of Dalbir said that on seeing a speeding train approaching the area, he had rushed forward to save them.“Dalbir was able to push seven to eight people away from the rail track…but there was something else in store for him as the train ran over him, killing him on the spot,” he said.Dalbir is survived by his wife and an eight-month-old daughter. His mother said said that his body would not be cremated until the family gets compensation from the government. “We want justice…it is unfortunate that none from the government or any politician has visited the family,” she said. His wife’s mother has demanded a government job for the widow.(With PTI inputs)last_img read more

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Ten Chhattisgarh pilgrims killed in Odisha road accident

first_imgTen pilgrims from Mahasamund district of Chhattisgarh were killed in a road accident in Odisha’s Nuapada district in the wee hours of Wednesday.The victims were on their way back from a Vaishno Devi temple in Komana block of Nuapada when a truck collided head on with the Bolero vehicle in which they were travelling. The accident occurred near Silda village at around 2.30 am.The victims include four persons from one family, three from another family and three others, including the driver of the ill-fated vehicle. They all died on the spot of the accident, according to Nuapada police.The victims were identified as Dinesh Dandsena, aged 55, his wife Chandini (45), daughter Bharati (17) and son Dhananjay (15) and Meghand Nisan (42), all from Baldihi village of Mahasamund; Ghanshyam Netam(29), his wife Dileswari(25) and daughter Meena(12) from Sakra village; Mukhesh Aggarwal (32) from Ansola village, and driver Sujit Singh Chhabra (45).last_img read more

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In Srinagar, Ram Madhav pushes for third front

first_imgBJP national general secretary Ram Madhav, during his two-day visit to Kashmir, commended newly elected Srinagar mayor Junaid Azim Mattu and held a meeting with Peoples Conference (PC) chief Sajad Lone, pushing for a third front ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls in the State.Emerging as permanent partners, the PC and BJP leaders uploaded pictures on social media of their meetings with Mayor Mattu, PC’s councillors and Mr. Lone. “I interacted with newly-elected councillors of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC). It’s a team of youngsters led by young Mayor Mattu from Sajjad Lone’s PC. He was supported by the BJP and independents. He defeated a candidate supported by the Congress, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and National Conference (NC),” said Mr. Madhav.Former NC spokesman Mattu, 34, became Srinagar’s Mayor this week in closely contested polls between the Congress and the PC-BJP alliance. Mr. Mattu won 40 wards out of 74, while the Congress managed just 26 with its own members resorting to cross-voting. Mr. Mattu has graduated in Business and Finance from Michigan State University and returned to J&K in 2009. He joined the National Conference as spokesman and quit it recently to contest the polls. “The two parties discussed various plans to usher Srinagar into an era of development,” said Mr. Mattu.Madhav’s meeting comes as a shot in the arm of PC ahead of the Assembly polls. The PC has two MLAs from north Kashmir as of now, including Mr. Lone representing Handwara constituency. The party plans to field more candidates from Srinagar for the first time, in a bid to bring to the fore a third front within the Kashmir valley. “We managed to penetrate the base of the electorate in Srinagar through diligence. We will build on this. This will help our prospects in the next polls. PC will field candidates from Srinagar too next time,” Mayor Mattu told The Hindu after winning the mayoral elections. Meanwhile, Mr. Madhav, who sought feedback from party leaders in Srinagar for the upcoming panchayat polls, flew back to Delhi on Friday.Boycott callMeanwhile, JKLF chief Yasin Malik on Friday called for a boycott of panchayat elections, starting from November 17.last_img read more

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North Bengal gets HC Circuit Bench

first_imgChief Justice Biswanath Somadder on Saturday unveiled a plaque to mark the operationalisation of the Calcutta High Court Circuit Bench at Jalpaiguri. The programme was attended by West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, among others. The Centre and the State had been engaged in a bitter rivalry over the past few years over the fate of the Bench in Jalpaiguri. The foundation stone for it was laid by Ms. Banerjee in 2012, but it was only on February 8 this year that Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the facility. It triggered a prompt protest by the CM, who claimed that her government as well as the high court were kept out of the loop.On Saturday, Ms. Banerjee refused to get drawn into any controversy. “There have been some struggles along the way, but I don’t want to fuel any controversy about it. All’s well that ends well,” she said. Relief for manyThe new Bench is the third one of the Calcutta High Court, the other two being the principal Bench in Kolkata and a permanent Circuit Bench in Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Calcutta High Court retains jurisdiction over the Port Blair Bench. The new Bench will have jurisdiction over five north Bengal districts of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Cooch Behar, Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri. Acting Chief Justice Somadder and three other judges will hear matters at the Jalpaiguri Circuit Bench. The judges will begin hearing petitions from Monday at the Jalpaiguri Zilla Parishad bungalow till a new building comes up on land allotted by the State government.More than 10% of Bengal’s almost 10 crore people reside in the area and they had to travel to Kolkata, about 600 km away, for “every tiny issue or dispute”, said Tanmay Mallick, a Siliguri resident. The Circuit Bench will stop the ordeal, he said.(With PTI inputs)last_img read more

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Not refusing examination: Mirwaiz

first_imgSoftening his earlier stand, Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has conveyed to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) “his willingness to cooperate” in an “illegal funding” case registered in 2017.In the latest letter, in response to a fresh NIA summon, the Mirwaiz’s lawyer wrote: “The Mirwaiz is willing and was always willing to be examined by the agency. It’s once again urged that such examination and sitting be held at Humhama office (in Budgam) of the NIA”.The Mirwaiz’s letter has attached “several social media threats”. “The Mirwaiz has received open calls for his assassination (online). The examination at the NIA’s office in the Valley will avoid any adverse consequences,” the letter reads. The NIA has served two summons so far to the Mirwaiz, who is considered a moderate and a pro-dialogue voice within the separatist spectrum. The Mirwaiz has lost his father and uncle in 1990 and 2004 to unknown assassins in Srinagar.“The Mirwaiz has not refused examination in the case,” the lawyer added.The letter also refers to the recent move by the State government to withdraw his Z-plus security. “The Mirwaiz has serious concerns about his safety,” it added. The NIA on February 27 searched the residence of the Mirwaiz in Srinagar and later issued two summon notices to him. The summon saw a spontaneous shutdown in the old city and protests from Valley-based civil society and religious groups. The Mirwaiz is also head priest of the Valley and delivers sermons every Friday at Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid.‘No intimidation’ The National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Thursday said his party “will not allow the NIA to intimidate innocent Kashmiris”. “In my tenure, the NIA was only used once, that too to save the life of Liyaqat, a local. It was (PDP president Mehbooba Mufti) who used NIA against hundreds of locals. We will ensure that undue intimidation of our youth is not done by the NIA,” the former Chief Minister said at an election rally in north Kashmir.last_img read more

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Ravi Kishan launches campaign in Gorakhpur

first_imgBhojpuri actor Ravi Kishan, fighting for the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat, on Thursday began his campaign by claiming that he will win the poll with Baba Gorakhnath’s blessings. Mr. Kishan launched his campaign with a roadshow which he started from Gorakhnath Temple after paying his obeisance there with a huge crowd cheering him. “Ee Modi ji ke tsunami ba” (It’s a Modi wave). We will win more than 73 seats. With the blessings of Baba Gorakhnath, I will win from Gorakhpur with a record margin,” he told reporters on the sidelines of his roadshow.Jibe at Opposition The actor also made a jibe at Opposition parties with his trademark Bhojpuri dialogue. “Virodhiyan ke jindagi jhand ba, phir bhi ghamand ba (the life of Opposition is at peril, still they have ego),” he said. In the middle of his roadshow, a seer climbed atop his car, flashing Lord Shiva’s trishool (trident) with a live snake curled around it and beating a ‘damroo’ as the actor kept waving at the crowd. He asked the crowd to vote for him, saying U.P. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath himself gave his blessings to him to contest on his seat. Mr. Adityanath, who is also the ‘mahanth’ (chief priest) of the Gorakhnath Temple since 2014, was the MP from Gorakhpur till 2017. The actor kept on taking brief halts to garlanded statues of Sardar Ballabh Bhai Patel at Kali Mandir and Lal Bahadur Shastri at Shatsri Chowk along the way. “Modiji’s policies for farmers, youths and women and his commitment to fight corruption and terrorism will ensure him a second term in the office,” Mr. Kishan told the crowd.last_img read more

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Video: How to Make Flies Do the Moonwalk

first_imgWalking backward may seem a simple task, but researchers don’t know how the mind controls this behavior. A study published online today in Science provides the first glimpse of the brain circuit responsible—at least in fruit flies. Geneticists created 3500 strains of the insects, each with a temperature-controlled switch that turned random networks of neurons on when the flies entered an incubator. One mutant batch of fruit flies started strolling in reverse when exposed to warmth (video, right panel), which the team dubbed “moonwalkers,” in honor of Michael Jackson’s famous dance. Two neurons were responsible for the behavior. One lived in the brain and extended its connections to the end of the ventral nerve cord—the fly’s version of a spine, which runs along its belly. The other neuron had the opposite orientation—it started at the bottom of the nerve cord and sent its messaging cables—or axons—into the brain. The neuron in the brain acted like a reverse gear in a car; when turned on, it triggered reverse walking. The researchers say this neuron is possibly a command center that responds to environmental cues, such as, “Hey! I see a wall in front of me.” The second neuron functioned as the brakes for forward motion, but it couldn’t compel the fly to moonwalk. It may serve as a fail-safe that reflexively prevents moving ahead, such as when the fly accidentally steps onto a very cold floor. Using the two neurons as a starting point, the team will trace their links to sensory neurons for touch, sight, and smell, which feed into and control the moonwalking network. No word yet on the neurons responsible for the Macarena.last_img read more

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African Bird ‘Cries Wolf’ to Steal Food

first_imgFork-tailed drongos, glossy black African songbirds with ruby-colored eyes, are the avian kingdom’s masters of deception. They mimic the alarm calls of other species to scare animals away and then swipe their dupes’ dinner. But like the boy who cried wolf, drongos can raise the alarm once too often. Now, scientists have discovered that when one false alarm no longer works, the birds switch to another species’ warning cry, a tactic that usually does the trick.“The findings are astounding,” says John Marzluff, a wildlife biologist at the University of Washington, Seattle, who was not involved in the work. “Drongos are exceedingly deceptive; their vocabularies are immense; and they match their deception to both the target animal and [its] past response. This level of sophistication is incredible.”Since 2008, Tom Flower, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Cape Town, has followed drongos in the Kuruman River Reserve in the Kalahari Desert. He’s habituated and banded about 200 of the robin-sized birds, and, using food rewards, has trained individuals to come to him when he calls. After getting its snack, the drongo quickly returns to its natural behavior—catching insects and following other bird species or meerkats—while Flower tags along.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(*)Drongos also keep an eye out for raptors and other predators. When they spot one, they utter metallic alarm cries. Meerkats and pied babblers, a highly social bird, pay attention to the drongos and dash for cover when the drongos raise an alarm—just as they do when one of their own calls out a warning. Studies have shown that having drongos around benefits animals of other species, which don’t have to be as vigilant and can spend more time foraging. But there’s a trade-off: The drongos’ cries aren’t always honest. When a meerkat has caught a fat grub or gecko, a drongo is apt to change from trustworthy sentinel to wily deceiver. In a previous study, Flower showed that the birds get as much as 23% of their daily food by emitting a false alarm and then stealing their victim’s meal. The meerkat that’s just caught a gecko, for instance, is likely to drop it and run for the nearest burrow when it hears a drongo’s alarm—whether true or false.Drongos also imitate the alarm calls of numerous other species. Altogether, the birds can make as many as 51 different warning cries. Six are those that drongos themselves use to announce the presence of various types of predators; the other 45 are the alarms of other species. And all the species—including the meerkats and babblers—know and pay attention to one another’s warning calls, Flower says. “They’re all eavesdropping on each other. It’s like they speak each other’s language.”But what benefit do drongos get by imitating the alarm calls of other animals? To answer that question, Flower and his colleagues carried out a series of playback experiments using pied babblers as the target species. The results showed that after hearing a drongo imitate a babbler’s or starling’s alarm cry, the babblers stayed away longer from a foraging area than when they heard the drongo’s warning call. The babblers also ignored alarm calls after they’d heard one type three times in a row. But when the third call was a warning that they’d not previously heard, they took flight. The experiments show that “it pays for drongos to have large alarm repertoires, to use their target’s alarm call, and to vary their calls,” Flower says.Which is exactly what the birds do. By following 42 marked wild drongos, he and his colleagues observed 151 occasions when the birds repeatedly attempted to steal food from the same victim. In 74 of these attempts, the birds changed the type of alarm they were using. They were most likely to do so, the scientists found, when one type of false call didn’t do the trick. Moreover, when a drongo changed its call, it was more likely to succeed in stealing its target’s food, the team reports online today in Science.“The drongos are producing their calls tactically. They’re changing their calls in response to the feedback they get from their target,” Flower says. “And that’s how they’re able to overcome the problem of crying wolf too often.”“The birds’ tactical deception must reflect sophisticated cognitive abilities,” says Karl Berg, an ornithologist at the University of Texas, Brownsville, who was not involved in the work. Indeed, Flower and his colleagues note that some might be inclined to see the birds’ talent as suggestive of something like “theory of mind”—the ability to intuit what others are thinking, a skill that has definitively been found only in humans.But Dorothy Cheney, a primatologist at the University of Pennsylvania, says that “simpler explanations,” such as associative learning, “are more likely” to explain “what the drongos are thinking when they produce their deceptive calls.” For example, she notes, it’s possible that drongos have learned two behavioral contingencies: “One, targets flee when they hear alarm calls,” and “Two … switch alarm call type if the previous call failed” to send the victim fleeing. At the very least, the birds seem to have an understanding of cause and effect, notes Flower, who is now working on a new study to try to nail down what goes on in a drongo’s head.last_img read more

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Parenting Rewires the Male Brain

first_imgCultures around the world have long assumed that women are hardwired to be mothers. But a new study suggests that caring for children awakens a parenting network in the brain—even turning on some of the same circuits in men as it does in women. The research implies that the neural underpinnings of the so-called maternal instinct aren’t unique to women, or activated solely by hormones, but can be developed by anyone who chooses to be a parent.”This is the first study to look at the way dads’ brains change with child care experience,” says Kevin Pelphrey, a neuroscientist at Yale University who was not involved with the study. “What we thought of as a purely maternal circuit can also be turned on just by being a parent—which is neat, given the way our culture is changing with respect to shared responsibility and marriage equality.”The findings come from an investigation of two types of households in Israel: traditional families consisting of a biological mother and father, in which the mother assumed most of the caregiving duties, though the fathers were very involved; and homosexual male couples, one of whom was the biological father, who’d had the child with the help of surrogate mothers. The two-father couples had taken the babies home shortly after birth and shared caregiving responsibilities equally. All participants in the study were first-time parents.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(*)Researchers led by Ruth Feldman, a psychologist and neuroscientist at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, visited with the families in their homes, videotaping each parent with the child and then the parents and children alone. The team, which included collaborators at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Israel, also took saliva samples from all parents before and after the videotaped sessions to measure oxytocin—a hormone that’s released at times of intimacy and affection and is widely considered the “trust hormone.” Within a week of the home visit, the participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning to determine how their brains reacted to the videotapes of themselves with their infants.The mothers, their husbands, and the homosexual father-father couples all showed the activation of what the researchers term a “parenting network” that incorporated two linked but separate pathways in the brain. One circuit encompasses evolutionarily ancient structures such as the amygdala, insula, and nucleus accumbens, which handle strong emotions, attention, vigilance, and reward. The other pathway turns up in response to learning and experience and includes parts of the prefrontal cortex and an area called the superior temporal sulcus.In the mothers, activation was stronger in the amygdala-centered network, whereas the heterosexual fathers showed more activity in the network that’s more experience-dependent. At first glance, Feldman says, the finding would seem to suggest that mothers are more wired up to nurture, protect, and possibly worry about their children. The fathers, in contrast, might have to develop these traits through tending, communicating, and learning from their babies what various sounds mean and what the child needs.”It’s as if the father’s amygdala can shut off when there’s a woman around,” Feldman observes. It could be assumed, she says, that this circuitry is activated only by the rush of hormones during conception, pregnancy, and childbirth.But the brains of the homosexual couples, in which each partner was a primary caregiver, told a different story. All of these men showed activity that mirrored that of the mothers, with much higher activation in the amygdala-based network, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.This finding argues strongly that the experience of hands-on parenting, with no female mother anywhere in the picture, can configure a caregiver’s brain in the same way that pregnancy and childbirth do, Feldman says.She adds that in the heterosexual fathers, the activation of the amygdala-based network was proportional to the amount of time they spent with the baby, though the activity wasn’t as high as in the mothers or in the two-father couples.Feldman does not believe that the brain activity of the primary-caregiving fathers differed because they were gay. Previous imaging studies, she notes, show no difference in brain activation when homosexual and heterosexual participants viewed pictures of their loved ones.Future studies, Pelphrey says, might focus more closely on this question. “But it’s clear that we’re all born with the circuitry to help us be sensitive caregivers, and the network can be turned up through parenting.”last_img read more

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Battling Birds Pull Extreme Aerial Maneuvers

first_imgHotshot jet pilots are no match for cliff swallows. The acrobatic migratory birds rocket over bridges and skim over lakes, careening around each other at accelerations that would knock an Air Force ace out cold. By tracking these contests with high-speed cameras, a new study gives the first, in-depth peek into avian aerodynamics in the wild. The findings may even provide insight into how to design better micro air vehicles—tiny drones.“This technology will be brilliantly useful,” says biomechanics expert Jim Usherwood of the United Kingdom’s Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield, who was not involved in the study. High-resolution field studies like this have never been done before for birds, Usherwood continues.For cliff swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota), the trouble starts when they return from wintering in South America to their summer homes in North America. After arrival, they seek out their old mud nests—usually located under concrete bridges and freeways—and start rebuilding their homes. But rather than hunt down a fresh supply of mud, some swallows prefer stealing supplies from their more industrious neighbors. Others take things further and will even lay an egg or two in their neighbor’s nest before taking off.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(*)Aerial squabbles ensue if the intruders are caught in the act, and a new study takes advantage of these fights to learn how birds execute high-speed maneuvers. The team placed three cameras along a North Carolina lake crossed by a highway bridge that houses several cliff swallow nests and waited for the battles to commence.The cameras captured some impressive maneuvers, the researchers report online today in The Journal of Experimental Biology. For instance, a pursued bird would occasionally speed toward a concrete pylon. Right at the last moment, it would peel away in a seeming attempt to make the other bird crash. Actual collisions weren’t observed, but this evasion strategy was extra hard for the pursuer because it wouldn’t chase from directly behind. “There’s a little downwash air region behind each bird that would make flying difficult for the one in pursuit,” says one of the study’s authors, biologist Tyson Hedrick of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “Similar to geese in a ‘flying V,’ the following bird stays close, but clear of downwash.” The lead swallow would bank in the direction away from the chaser 65% of the time, making the follower exert more energy to keep up or forcing a bailout.The team was also surprised to learn that most of the time, chasers copied the motion of fleeing intruders, wingbeat for wingbeat (see video). This rapid processing of visual information—seeing the leader’s wings, shooting those messages into the brain and then down into the muscles—all happened within 81 milliseconds, according to the team. This rivals the reflexes of some of the fastest fliers, such as dragonflies, which conduct similar moves in 20 milliseconds. Given that cliff swallows are voracious insectivores, this talent may help them catch food.Swallows also pull very hard turns to escape a foe, with one extreme case reaching 7.8 g. Fighter pilots usually pass out at about 5 or 6 g, which is why these experiments have garnered interest, and partial funding, from the Office of Naval Research. The Navy may use the findings to build better guidance systems for micro air vehicles. However, the swallows’ biomechanics are complex, and for now the team is simply trying to glean a few tricks. “Swallows probably have a better onboard pilot than anything we’re going to build anytime soon,” Hedrick says.last_img read more

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Were Neandertals cave artists, too?

first_imgOne of the biggest debates in archaeology is whether Neandertals were capable of the kind of abstract and symbolic expression that prehistoric modern humans demonstrated in abundance—for example, by painting animal images on the walls of caves like Chauvet and Lascaux in France and Altamira in Spain. Possible evidence for Neandertal art was reported a couple of years ago in the Spanish cave of El Castillo, but researchers are not sure whether Neandertals or modern humans painted a red disk on its wall 41,000 years ago—right around the time that modern humans entered Europe. Now, archaeologists working at Gorham’s Cave, a former Neandertal haunt on the coast of Gibraltar, report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they have found this crosshatched pattern etched into the hard rock floor of the cave (see photo above). The pattern was deeply incised using some sort of stone tool and was found under archaeological layers dating back at least 39,000 years—but containing stone tools that only Neandertals made. The image is somewhat reminiscent of a 75,000-year-old geometric pattern found at Blombos Cave in Africa, and indeed the Gorham’s team argues that it is proof positive that Neandertals were just as capable of abstract thought as modern humans. The claim is likely to attract some skepticism, however, from archaeologists who have argued that such simple patterns are poor evidence for complex symbolic expression.last_img read more

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Male birds eat poison to attract females

first_imgMuch akin to the behavior of some binge-drinking college students, certain male birds intentionally consume poison in order to attract females. Especially during mating season, great bustards (Otis tarda) eat certain toxic species of blister beetles to prove how tough and healthy they are. Scientists have discovered that it’s not just bravado; the toxins from the beetles also kill parasites that live in the birds’ reproductive orifice known as the cloaca, researchers report today in PLOS ONE. The cloaca, which is also used for defecating, is then rigorously inspected by the female (seen above). The male’s white plumage is thought to make this examination easier, as the darker orifice stands out against the bright feathers. If the female deems him to be low enough in parasites thanks to all the poisonous beetles he’s been slugging down, the pair will mate. Ah, romance.last_img read more

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Belgium’s federal research agency under threat

first_imgBRUSSELS—Pretty much everything in this tiny country of 11 million is divided along the language border between Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north and Wallonia, the predominantly French-speaking southern part—including science policy. Now, the Belgian government wants to ax one of the few agencies that still straddle the divide, the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO). The plan has triggered protests from Belgian researchers who worry that the move will harm collaboration across the language frontier and endanger internationally renowned research projects.In the past decades, science responsibilities have already been devolved from Belgium’s federal government to authorities in Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels, the bilingual capital. Together, regional and community governments now manage about three-quarters of the nation’s science funds. BELSPO is in charge of 10 federal museums and science institutes, including the Royal Observatory of Belgium and the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium; it also manages Belgium’s contribution to the European Space Agency, worth about €200 million per year.Last month, the coalition government pledged to scrap BELSPO and integrate its functions “elsewhere,” and to carry out an audit of science funding channels. “In mid-2015, the government will rationalize current funding channels in a bid to make net savings,” says the government plan, issued on 10 October.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(*)In a petition launched last week, scientists urged the government to reverse the decision, saying it would push the country “below the threshold of scientific … poverty.” (The plea now has about 9000 signatures—and counting.) “The government is planning to destroy the existing structures, but we don’t really know what will replace them,” says marine biogeochemist Frank Dehairs, from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel—one of the scientists who launched the petition.BELSPO President Philippe Mettens says other small, federal states such as Switzerland maintain a strong central oversight of the science system. “On the international science scene, Wallonia, Flanders, or Brussels alone don’t mean much,” Mettens says.BELSPO provides the only funding tools available to link up researchers from the Dutch, French, and German-speaking parts of the country working on joint projects, Dehairs says. “BELSPO projects have largely helped bring us to the forefront internationally,” and enabled collaborations with colleagues in other parts of the world, he adds. For instance, Dehairs secured BELSPO funding for a marine biochemistry project in the Southern Ocean called BIGSOUTH, which brings together five Belgian research teams with a budget of €1.2 million over 4 years—plus logistics support for costly missions in the Antarctic.Belgian researchers worry in particular about losing a funding program called Interuniversity Attraction Poles (IAP), which funds the “crème de la crème” of the nation’s science, as Mettens puts it. (This summer, researchers already raised the alarm about the possible end of the IAP after 2017; François Englert, the Belgian physicist who shared the 2013 Nobel Prize in physics with Peter Higgs, called on the government to maintain the program.)Speaking to the federal parliament’s lower house last week, Elke Sleurs, the state secretary in charge of science, announced plans to set up an “Interfederal space agency,” with more involvement from the regional authorities. The federal museums and institutes will become autonomous and should seek more external funding from private sponsors or crowdfunding, she said. Sleurs, a member of the separatist New Flemish Alliance party, will explain how these political intentions will translate into “concrete measures” on 9 December, says her representative.last_img read more

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Open records laws becoming vehicle for harassing academic researchers, report warns

first_imgThe electronic age of communication is making it easier for activists, companies, and lobbying groups to use state open records laws—designed to promote transparency—to harass academic researchers they disagree with, a scientific integrity group warns in a new report. The findings underscore the need for states to revisit how the laws are implemented and for universities to clarify how they balance privacy, transparency, and academic freedom in responding to requests for e-mails, letters, and other documents, the report argues.“[I]ndividuals and well-heeled special interests across the political spectrum are increasingly using broad open records requests to attack and harass scientists and other researchers and shut down conversation at public universities,” warns the report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which was unveiled today at a session of the annual meeting of AAAS (which publishes Science) in San Jose, California. It documents numerous examples of university researchers becoming engaged in often lengthy and complex battles with outside groups requesting internal records.But that doesn’t have to happen, concludes the report, authored by Michael Halpern, a program manager for strategy and innovation at UCS’s Center for Science and Democracy in Washington, D.C. “If lawmakers, universities, and researchers develop a shared understanding of what they should disclose and a system for proactively doing so, they can avoid costly and time-consuming lawsuits and other battles,” it states. “And that, in turn, will allow researchers to get back to what they are supposed to be doing: learning more about our world.”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(*)At issue are federal and state laws, often modeled on the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), that allow the public to request the disclosure of documents related to government-funded activities, including university research. The laws typically exempt many types of information, such as proprietary data and information that would violate privacy, from requests. Journalists, activists, and others routinely use the laws to request documents that shine a light on potentially troubling issues, including mismanagement and financial conflicts of interest. The laws have also been used by an array of groups troubled by the policy uses of certain kinds of science, including research into water and air pollution, climate change, genetically modified foods, and gun violence.UCS says the laws are, in principle, useful for promoting transparency and scientific integrity. But the group warns that unfettered open records requests can have an ill effect by threatening researchers’ privacy and discouraging the candid discussions that occur during the scientific process. And anecdotal evidence suggests that electronic record keeping, which has increased the paper trail left by scientists, is making it easier for members of the public to file overly broad and burdensome requests, the UCS report finds.“These companies, organizations, and activists may disagree with researchers’ findings or even dislike an entire field of study,” it states. “They request all materials on a topic in a university’s possession, including researchers’ draft papers, emails, and even handwritten notes. This strategy can curb the ability of researchers to pursue their work, chill their speech, and discourage them from tackling contentious topics.”Prominent examples in recent years include a widely publicized 2010 attempt by former Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, a Republican, to obtain documents from climate scientist Michael Mann from the University of Virginia. Cuccinelli, a self-avowed doubter of climate change, had subpoenaed the university for the records under the state’s Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.When the state’s highest court rebuffed that effort, conservative groups led by the American Tradition Institute (ATI) tried obtaining the records under the state’s open records laws. The university and Mann ultimately fended off that effort, with a state court ruling that the university could withhold certain records if disclosing them would hurt university research efforts, damage faculty recruitment, violate privacy and confidentiality, and impair free exchange of ideas. ATI, now called the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, has since expanded its open records push by targeting climate researchers in other states, including Arizona, Alabama, and Texas, the UCS report notes.In another example, the Highland Mining Company in 2012 filed open records requests seeking raw data, documents, and peer-review comments on the work of Michael Hendryx, formerly of West Virginia University and now at Indiana University, “who had investigated connections between mountaintop removal mining and adverse health effects such as cancer,” the report states. When the university refused to provide all requested documents, the company took it to court, but the court sided with the university.One pattern emerging from case studies examined in the report is a lack of consistency in how officials at public universities respond to open records requests, UCS concluded. “Although some are pushing back, universities and researchers are often unprepared to respond appropriately, partly because laws and privacy protections vary by state,” the report says.For example, when the environmental group Greenpeace sought e-mail correspondence and other records on the work of climate skeptic David Legates, “University of Delaware officials seemed confused about how best to respond” under the state’s open records laws, the report notes. Citing testimony by Legates to a Senate panel, the UCS report says it took “more than four years of inconsistency and confusion before the university determined that it had no records to supply in response.”Many scholars want university governing boards to clarify their policies and procedures on open records requests, the report notes. Academic institutions and lawyers should also develop strategies on how to respond to overly broad requests, UCS argues, and should disclose to the public their general approach for responding to open records requests.On the policy side, UCS suggests that state lawmakers revisit their open records laws to “ensure that they include appropriate exemptions but are not so broad as to compromise accountability.” And the group urges the National Academy of Sciences and other research organizations to give lawmakers and universities guidance on how to determine which materials need to be disclosed.Check out our full coverage of the AAAS annual meeting.What message would you send into space? Tell us on Twitter and Vine with #msgtospace!last_img read more

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