In India visit, US media sees geopolitical implications

In India visit, US media sees
geopolitical implications
By Arun Kumar
Washington: Taking a generally positive view of US President
Barack Obama's India visit, the
US media has suggested that his
personal chemistry with Prime
Minister Narendra Modi had
opened a new chapter in India-US relations.
"After years of near misses and
unfulfilled promises," Obama
and Modi "appear to have set
relations between their democracies on a deeper, perhaps even
revolutionary, path," the influential New York Times commented. "Part of the improvement in
bilateral relations has to do with
the personal chemistry between
the two, which by all accounts
appears warm and genuine," it
said in an editorial titled "A New
Chapter for America and India."
Apart from "plenty of colourful symbolism" the Times said
"There are strategic imperatives
at work as well." "Both leaders
need to expand their economies, and both see the other as
a crucial partner in offsetting
China's increasingly assertive
role in Asia," it said suggesting
"The potential for cooperation
is considerable." With their talk
of an "enduring commitment,"
Obama and Modi "have raised
expectations and set a firm basis
for moving forward," the Times
said. But "Building a true part-
nership will take sustained efforts over many decades." The
Wall Street Journal in a review
titled "A US-India Nuclear Test"
suggested "Obama's visit leaves
Modi with a chance to show his
reform chops." "Given the oncefrosty relations between the US
and India, it is worth celebrating the bonhomie displayed by
Modi and Obama this week,
along with the growing coop-
eration between US and Indian
defence planners," it said.
"Yet protectionist policies and
political dysfunction in New
Delhi continue to limit India's
growth as an economic and diplomatic power," the Journal said.
"The latest US-Indian civil-nuclear pact is a test of Mr. Modi's
ability to overcome political resistance to pro-market reforms,"
it said.
CNN also wondered "Is
Obama-Modi 'bromance' a
turning point in US, Indian
relations?" "The biggest takeaway from Obama's three days
in India was the symbolism of
the leaders of the world's two
biggest democracies cozying
up," it said. "But others would
have seen greater geopolitical
implications." "Unlike Obama's
previous India visit in 2010, Pakistan was not a focus -- at least
in public statements," the news
channel noted. "Instead, India
seems to be positioning itself
for a more global role, playing
a part in issues that go beyond
its borders." Giving "symbolism
its moment and its due," CNN
suggested "Maybe it will make
India a more prominent player
in global issues, over time." "And
maybe, just maybe, India and
the US may move a little closer
to forming the 'defining partnership' that Obama first promised
in 2010," it said.
Obama's visit to India had angered Pakistan, the Los Angeles
Times suggested citing Islamabad's comments lambasting the
US "selectivity and discrimination" favouring rival India. "The
comments reflected deep concern in Pakistan that Obama's
heavily choreographed embrace
of India and its ambitious new
prime minister could jeopardise
Islamabad's lucrative but troubled relationship with Washington," it said.
Myanmar to stop
Master math via body movements
York: Imagine your kid con- angle measurements by elemen- large Kinect screen. The screen
recruiting child soldiers New
torting his or her body and wav- tary school students who per- changed colours when the stu-
Yangon: The Myanmar military has reiterated its strong
commitment to end recruitment of children in the army, a
media report said Wednesday.
Forty-two child soldiers were
recently released from military
service and returned to their
families, taking the total number
of child soldiers released from
the armed forces in the last one
year to 418, Xinhua reported.
Since June 2012, 595 children
have been discharged, of which
70 percent were released in the
last 12 months. Under the ministry of social welfare relief and
resettlement, various partners
provide immediate support for
the reintegration of these children, with an access to education and vocational training, and
income generating activities. "As
children continue to suffer from
the ongoing conflict in Myanmar, such efforts must continue,
intensify and be more systematic to provide children with
effective protection against any
form of abuse," said Bertrand
Bainvel, UNICEF representative in Myanmar and co-chair of
the UN Country Task Force on
Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR). Under a programme to
protect under-age children from
taking military services, Myanmar signed a 18-month action
plan with the CTFMR in 2012
and renewed it to another six
months in Dec 2013. The country formed the Committee for
Prevention against Recruiting
Minors into Army in Jan 2005.
Myanmar's National Committee
on the Rights of Child has also
pledged to protect the rights of
children in the nation.
Americans know nothing
about Sikhism: Study
Washington: Although more than
half a million Sikhs live in the US,
a majority of Americans are unaware of what Sikhism is and some
admit wariness when seeing their
Sikh neighbours, according to new
study. Conducted by Washington-based Hart Research Associates, the study released here Tuesday, shows that there is enormous
potential to increase awareness
and enhance positive sentiments
toward Sikhism within the broader American public. In particular, greater understanding can be
achieved by sharing information
that emphasizes Sikhism's belief in
equality regardless of gender, race,
or religion, highlighting the strong
parallels between Sikh values and
American values, and explaining
the significance of the turban, it
said. The report, "Sikhism in the US:
What Americans know and need to
know," was commissioned by the
National Sikh Campaign (NSC) to
analyse Americans' current view of
Sikhism and identify key messages
to increase their acceptance of Sikh
Americans. The study was developed to provide Sikhs a foundation
for awareness-based initiatives that
dispel the misperceptions that have
driven the dramatic rise of hatebased violence against Sikhs since
9/11. "This landmark study will help
the Sikh community by giving us
the ability to educate Americans in
a way that is both relatable and effective," said Gurwin Singh Ahuja,
Co-Founder of NSC. "We want to
make sure that we pave a way for
a conducive environment for our
future generations so they don't
have to take off their turban to hide
or to feel sorry for their identity,"
said Rajwant Singh, a co-founder
of the NSC. Researchers found that
when survey respondents were given information about Sikh history
and beliefs, their impressions grew
from "neutral" to "warm." Groups
with the most significant change in
views included Republicans, Hispanics and Americans ages 65 and
older. "When people learn this information, it creates a fundamental
change in the way they think about
Sikhs and it's transformative," said
Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research Associates. Conducted in
August and September 2014, the
study included information from
three focus groups consisting of
white Americans with mixed levels
of education. It also covered a nationwide survey of 1,144 non-Asian
Americans conducted in August
and September 2014. Key findings:
. Most Americans have no knowledge of the religion. Many Americans have never heard of the religion
and only 11 percent of Americans
have a personal acquaintance or
friend who is Sikh. . The majority
of Americans (60 percent) admit
to knowing nothing at all about
Sikh Americans and knowledge of
Sikhism is substantially lower than
for other minority religious groups
in the US. . With unawareness levels so high, many Americans make
false assumptions when they see a
Sikh. . While this lack of knowledge
is a challenge, it also represents an
enormous opportunity. Without
much knowledge to form attitudes,
most Americans rate their feelings
toward Sikh Americans as generally
neutral or non-existent. . Sikhs must
tell their American story in familiar
and positive terms, highlighting the
value of equality. . For Millennials
and other receptive audiences, explaining the significance of the turban is highly welcomed. The turban
is most commonly associated with
Sikh Americans, however it is also
what makes many Americans uneasy around Sikhs.
ing arms to master math. This
is the future with body-based
tasks while interacting with a
Kinect for Windows mathematics program, researchers report.
The team from University of
Vermont found that students
learned geometric principles
more easily when they incorporated physical movements into
maths lesson plans. The Kinect
is a motion sensor input device
that allows people to interact
with computers based on their
natural movements. The study by
Carmen Petrick Smith, assistant
professor of mathematics education, showed significant gains in
the understanding of angles and
formed body-based tasks while
interacting with Kinect for Windows. "When students are acting
out a math problem and using
their body to help them explain
the answer, that is another modality," Smith said . "Maybe they
do not know the words quite yet
but they have a way to express
it using their body that they did
not have before when they were
sitting in a row of desks looking
up at the teacher and searching
for an answer," she noted. For
the study, Smith and her team
engaged 30 third and fourthgrade students in a series of tasks
that involved moving their arms
to form angles projected on a
dents' arms formed acute, right,
obtuse and straight angles. A
protractor helped students measure and refine their movements.
Students were asked to figure out
the hidden rules that made each
of the four colours appear on
the screen. Smith's paper adds
evidence to a developing area
of cognitive science, known as
embodied cognition. It says the
brain alone does not generate behaviour but that it actually works
in concert with physical movements and other environmental
and neural processes such as perception, action and emotion. The
paper was published in the Journal of Mathematical Behavior.
Creativity depends on
where you are from
Montreal: When it comes to the
creative juices, some people have
a faster flow than others as creativity is closely tied to culture,
new research at the Concordia
University has found. The study
compared nearly 300 individuals
from Taiwan, a collectivist society, and Canada, a more individualistic country.
Results show that those from individualist societies generate a
greater number of ideas as compared to their collectivist counterparts - though the cultures
were on nearly equal footing
when it came to the quality of
that creative output. "We found
that the individualists came up
with many more ideas.
They also uttered more negative
statements - and those statements were more strongly negative.
They also displayed greater
overconfidence,"said Gad Saad,
professor at Concordia's John
Molson School of Business. For
the study, the team recruited
students from two universities
in Taipei and Montreal. When it
came to the quality of ideas produced, the collectivists scored
marginally higher than the in-
dividualists. "This is in line with
another important cultural trait
that some collectivist societies
are known to possess - namely
being more reflective as compared to action-oriented, having
the reflex to think hard prior to
committing to a course of action," Saad explained.
Studies like this one are instrumental in understanding cultural differences that increasingly
arise as the globe's economic
centre of gravity shifts towards
East Asia, the authors concluded. The paper was published in
the Journal of Business Research.
29 JANUARY 2015
Over 13 mn women abort in China
every year
Beijing: Over 13 million abortions are carried out in China every year with an increasing number of predominantly
younger people choosing to end unwanted pregnancies, a
media report said Wednesday. Among female adolescents
who have premarital sex, more than 20 percent have unwanted pregnancies, of which up to 91 percent end in abortion. The repeat abortion situation is particularly serious,
People's Daily said in a report. It cited data published by
China's National Health and Family Planning Commission,
according to which almost half of the reported abortions in
China were conducted on women below the age of 25, the
majority of whom were university students. Misled by deceptive adverting by some private hospitals promising "painless
abortion", more and more young Chinese no longer take the
matter seriously, as if abortion were "safe, affordable, and
with no impact on work", the daily said.
85-year-old New Zealander
survives cliff fall
Wellington: An 85-year-old New Zealander fell on rocks
from a 30-metre high cliff, but he survived with serious injuries, a media report said Wednesday. Stewart Rundle was
cleaning his garden shed on the clifftop property in Auckland
Monday when he plunged down the cliff while his wife was
out for a quick trip to the market, New Zealand Herald reported. The pensioner was unconscious for several hours.
He later used his mobile phone to raise an alarm. Rundle's
property has a glass fence near the perimeter, but their land
stretches just beyond it and is accessible by a gate. He went
down the steep bank to tidy up the area when the ground
gave way, the daily said. "He popped through and suddenly the ground gave way and down he went," Rundle's wife
was quoted as saying. Rundle was rescued by a fire service
team and was taken to the Auckland City Hospital. "He is in
remarkably high spirits. He's a fit man. Okay, he's 85, but
nobody ever thinks he's 85," his wife said.
Syrian troops kill over 60 rebels:
state media
Damascus: The Syrian army at least 66 rebels in several Syrian areas, the state media reported. The government
troops Tuesday killed 35 "terrorists" in the contested town
of Sheikh Miskin in the southern province of Daraa, Xinhua
reported. The Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front has recently focused its attacks against Sheikh Miskin due to its strategic
location in southern Syria. Moreover, the Nusra fighters recently captured a military base near Sheikh Miskin, prompting the Syrian troops to escalate their attacks against the
positions of that terror group in Daraa, according to activist
reports. Separately, 15 rebels were killed Tuesday by the
bombardment of the Syrian troops against the rebel-held
town of Douma in the eastern countryside of the capital
Damascus, according to reports. The Syrian forces also
killed 16 foreign fighters during "qualitative" operations in
the towns Nahla and Sheikh Youssef and elsewhere in the
countryside of the northwestern province of Idilb.
Spain charges priests with
child sex abuse
Madrid: A judge in the southern Spanish city of Granada
has charged 10 Roman Catholic priests and two Catholic
lay workers with child sex abuse. The 12 are suspected of
abusing four teenage boys between 2004 and 2007, the
most serious offences occurring in a house used by the
priests, BBC reported. Pope Francis telephoned one of the
alleged victims, now 24, in November to offer his apologies.
He acted after the man wrote him a letter about the alleged
abuse. The pontiff, who has pledged zero tolerance of child
sex abuse, then ordered a Church investigation. Several
arrests were made in November but the suspects are now
free on bail. It is alleged that they were invited by a priest
to spend time at his parochial house and at another property, where the most serious assaults were committed. Many
survivors of abuse by priests are angry at what they see as
the Vatican's failure to punish senior officials who have been
accused of covering up scandals.
Obama wants to regulate Ancient star with five Earth-size
drone use after White
planets discovered
over four
House incident
years of data from NASA's Kepler
Washington: US President
Barack Obama urged regulation
of the commercial and recreational use of un-crewed aircraft
-- or drones -- a rapidly growing industry, after one of those
devices crashed on the White
House grounds. In remarks released Tuesday in an interview
with CNN recorded in India,
Obama commented that drones
can perform "incredibly useful"
tasks and gave the example of
their ability to monitor crops or
the plan by Amazon to use them
to deliver packages. "But we
don't really have any kind of regulatory structure at all for it," he
said. Obama said he communicated with the Federal Aviation
Administration, which has already issued some guidelines on
the use of drones, and with other
government departments asking
them to study how to regulate
"this new technology." On Monday morning, a man operating a
small drone known as a "quadcopter" apparently lost control
of it and it crashed on the White
House grounds. It was about
60 cm (2 feet) in diameter. The
man -- who had been operating
the drone recreationally -- called
the US Secret Service Monday
to "self-report" the incident and
was questioned by agents. According to White House spokesman Josh Earnest, the incident
posed no threat to anyone in the
presidential residence. Obama
and his wife Michelle were on an
official visit to India at the time
and their two daughters and the
president's mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, who lives with the
First Family, were in Washington but it has not been reported
whether they were at the White
spacecraft, a team of astronomers
has discovered a star that is 11.2
billion years old and has at least five
Earth-size planets. "The findings
show that Earth-size planets have
formed throughout most of the
universe's 13.8-billion-year history,
leaving open the possibility for the
existence of ancient life in the galaxy," said Tiago Campante, research
fellow at the University of Birmingham who led the research project.
The paper describes Kepler-444, a
star that is 25 percent smaller than
our Sun and is 117 light years from
Earth. The star's five known planets
have sizes that fall between Mercury
and Venus. Those planets are so close
to their star that they complete their
orbits in fewer than 10 days. At that
distance, they are all much hotter
than Mercury and are not habitable.
"Kepler-444 is very bright and can be
easily seen with binoculars. This is
one of the oldest systems in the galaxy," added Steve Kawaler, an Iowa
State University professor of physics
and astronomy and co-author of the
paper. Kepler-444 came from the
first generation of stars. "This system tells us that planets were forming around stars nearly seven billion
years before our own solar system,"
Kawaler noted. Planetary systems
around stars have been a common
feature of our galaxy for a long, long
time. That discovery is going to help
astronomers learn even more about
the history of the Milky Way. "From
the first rocky exoplanets to the discovery of an Earth-size planet orbiting another star in its habitable zone,
we are now getting first glimpses of
the variety of Galactic environments
conducive to the formation of these
small worlds," the astronomers
wrote. As a result, the path toward
a more complete understanding of
early planet formation in the Galaxy
starts unfolding before us, they concluded in the paper that appeared in
the Astrophysical Journal.